Ker-pow! Batkid Saves Gotham City
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Leukemia survivor Miles, 5, dressed as BatKid, and Batman release San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal from the Penguin as part of a Make-A-Wish foundation fulfillment at AT&T Park November 15, 2013 in San Francisco. Here Larry Baer, CEO of the San Francisco Giants, and the team's mascot Lou Seal escort Miles and Batman to the outfield to see a message on the scoreboard. The Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area foundation turned the city into Gotham City for Miles by creating a day-long event bringing his wish to be BatKid to life.
Sept. 26, 2012 --
Genetic mutations and advanced technology can give comic book characters super-human abilities. And the same holds true in real life. Sure, humans don't yet have the ability to shape-shift or walk through walls or, as is the case with Wolverine, heal in seconds from just about any injury. But there are a few other super powers that are within practical reach (and no shortage of people claiming to possess super powers). While you wait for "The Wolverine" to hit theaters, with a release date set for summer 2013, why not explore some examples of super human powers and abilities in the real world?
Courtesy of University of Utah Department of
Mindreading Charles Xavier, the leader of the X-Men, has the ability to read minds. While no human has so far demonstrably proven this ability, we have developed technology that could read minds. This mind-reading device was developed by researchers at the University of Utah to help speechless patients form words. Words can be read directly from patients' minds by attaching microelectrode grids to the surface of the brain and learning which signals mean which words, a development that will ultimately help such patients talk again.
Magnetism He's no Magneto, but according to his father, Bogdan, a 7-year-old Serbian boy, has the ability to attract metal objects to him. In fact, his "magnetism" appears to extend to non-metal objects as well. Of course, Bogdan's magnetism hasn't yet been scientifically proven. In fact, it's most likely that he's just a little overweight and oils in his skin make him sticky.
Teleportation Azazel, one of the antagonists in "X-Men: First Class," has the ability to teleport himself and others from one place to another. In reality, we haven't come close to that level of transport ability. However, scientists have successfully teleported light and data over a stretch of 10 miles.
Flight Flying is certainly the ultimate superpower. But until a radioactive pigeon bites you, we'll all just have to rely on technology to get us airborne. Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy has taken solo flight to the extreme with his custom-designed wingsuit. Recently, Rossy even took his jetpack for a spin over the Grand Canyon. Reaching speeds of 190 miles per hour, this jetman could keep up with some of the fastest fictional fliers.
Muscle Mass You wouldn't want to see this dog when she gets angry. Wendy may look like a pitbull but is in fact a whippet with a rare genetic mutation that makes this dog more muscular. Although this dog is gifted with twice the muscle mass as average-sized whippets, Wendy has the same size heart, lungs and other organs.
Courtesy Raytheon Company
Iron Man OK, Tony Stark may be from a different franchise, but his Iron Man suit has become inspiration for military and tech manufacturers testing their own brands of exoskeleton suits. These real-life iron man suits have been designed for applications as mundane as climbing up a flight of stairs and as complex as protecting a soldier on a battlefield.
Echolocation Like the superhero Daredevil, Ben Underwood "sees" with his ears rather than his eyes by employing sonar. By emitting clicking noises with the back of his tongue, Kish is able to determine the distance and a rough outline of the shape of a nearby object. This allows him to navigate without the aid of a cane or seeing eye dog. Other blind people have also developed this ability, so this technique is not unique to Kish.
Soothsaying No one person can predict the future, but a recently developed software program used in Baltimore and Philadelphia is predicting which individuals on probation or parole are most likely to murder and to be murdered. Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. are using or planning on using the program, and the software has already helped reduce the murder rate in some police districts.
A five-year-old boy recovering from cancer became a superhero for a day, as San Francisco transformed itself into Gotham City and thousands turned out to see the Batkid fly to the rescue.
Even President Barack Obama got in on the act after the story went viral, sending pint-size caped crusader Miles Scott a video message telling him "Way to go!"
Scott, who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 18 months old, was cheered as he roared out in his Batmobile to nab arch-villain Riddler and save a damsel in distress tied to the city's famous tram tracks.
Police chief Greg Suhr ordered his men to help the diminutive crime-fighter take on his nemesis the Penguin, while he also got messages from San Francisco's baseball and NFL teams for his day in the limelight.
"Our hero has arrived. The streets of San Francisco are safe today" the San Francisco 49ers tweeted, as social media went wild for the youngster, prompting huge crowds to follow him.
The story then took off, making national and international news, with live coverage by outlets including CNN.
"I've never seen anything go viral like this, with the outpouring of support from across the world," said Patricia Wilson of Make-a-Wish Foundation, the charity which organized the dream day.
Thousands gathered in the city's Union Square when the Batkid took a break to refuel at a local restaurant. "Even superheroes have to have lunch," explained one TV reporter, surveying the throng stretching across the square.
The city's San Francisco Chronicle printed a special edition for, with a "Gotham City Chronicle" masthead and a screaming headline: "Batkid Saves City!"
The US Attorney's office put out a spoof press release -- datelined "San Francisco/Gotham" -- announcing that the Riddler and the Penguin had been charged with conspiracy and kidnapping.
"Duo faces long prison terms thanks to Batkid," it said.
In Washington, Obama released a message via the Vine video sharing service, looking into the camera and saying "Way to go, Miles! Way to Save Gotham City."
The First Lady added, on her Twitter feed: "Thanks for catching all those bad guys #SFBatKid! You're an inspiration to us all. -mo"
Scott, whose leukemia is currently in remission, was also due to be given the keys to the city by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, during his day as the famous comic-book hero.
The US Attorney's press release said "The Riddler" and "The Penguin" were pseudonyms for Edward "E" Nigma, and Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot.
"We?ve been chasing Nigma and Cobblepot for years and just when I was about to give up hope that we would ever bring them to justice, wouldn't you know it ? Batkid shows up and saves the day,? said US Attorney Melinda Haag.
"I've been involved in some unbelievable cases and I've worked with some pretty remarkable law enforcement officers, but the bravery displayed by Batkid is off the charts. I'm absolutely certain that there is no villain this remarkable superhero can't defeat," she added.
The Make a Wish Foundation website was at times overwhelmed by the surge in traffic generated by the story.
"We are humbled ... by the outpouring of support received in response to Miles' larger-than-life, superhero wish in San Francisco," said a statement on the foundation's homepage.
"Due to the drastic increase in web traffic -- and perhaps because of a few troublesome villains -- we apologize for the difficulties experienced in accessing our site," it said, next to a picture of the smiling caped crusader, and a click button for donations to the charity.