Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why have you never seen a superhero?

When people imagine what the Asteroid Belt is like, they imagine the scene from The Empire Strikes Back, where the Millennium Falcon is dodging a densely-packed array of space rocks. In reality, though, the Main Asteroid Belt in our Solar System holds only about 4% of the mass of the Moon, spread out over an orbit 1.5 billion miles long and over 100 million miles wide just at its core. When we send a spacecraft through it, our chances of even seeing an asteroid, let alone hitting anything, are statistically zero.

It's important to keep this perspective in mind when thinking about other rare, statistically improbable occurrences. A great example is shark attacks. On an average year, sharks kill five people worldwide. That is a ridiculously low number when you consider that there are an estimated 7,125,000,000 people living on the planet today. Even lightning strikes, another very rare form of death, still manage to kill 24,000 people annually. And yet, because the media reports each shark death, we sometimes think sharks are running amok. The reality is, your chance of being struck by either a shark or lightning in your lifetime is statistically next to zero.

Now what  if the media didn't hype an ultra-rare phenomenon? Or what if the phenomenon was purposefully discredited by the mainstream media, either due to its own inherent bias or due to government tampering, leaving only "fringe" elements to cover "the truth"? Examples abound: Bigfoot, ESP, UFOs, conspiracy theories.

Well, let me add one more. It has come to my attention that there are approximately 500 "people" alive on this planet today who are endowed with extraordinary powers that cannot be explained by conventional science. Some may be the next phase of human evolution, some may be aliens in disguise, some may be using technology so advanced that it is incomprehensible to us. In any case, they are not "normal."

If you add to that the number of truly elite, non-superpowered humans - we're talking James Bond / Bruce Wayne / ninja-level awesomeness here - then the number of extraordinary individuals on the planet might be 1,000. That is 0.000014% of the total population of Earth. To put it in a different perspective, it is about half the number of people walking this Earth with a Super Bowl ring. Given that small of a group, what is your chance of accidentally bumping into one of them on the subway? And what is your chance of realizing it even if you do?

Contrary to popular belief, superheroes and aliens are not walking around our planet in broad daylight in day-glow outfits waiting for the FBI to come lock them up at Guantanamo. But they are out there. Suspiciously reclusive, orphaned billionaire with one too many defense contacts? Hyperactive multiple-doctorate scientist working as a freelance photographer? Gluten and corn-intolerant goofball blogger obsessed with aliens, robots and zombies?

Then again, maybe you've already met a superhero and you don't even know it...

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