We all know of Leonardo da Vinci, the fifteenth and sixteenth century scientist, artist, engineer and writer. da Vinci painted The Last Supper and Mona Lisa, and invented a giant crossbow and an armored car. Stan Lee is a twentieth and twenty first century writer, actor, media producer and businessman. Over his decades long creative career, Lee has been involved in the creation and promotion of an array of intellectual property including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the Avengers, the X-Men, Doctor Strange, Iron Man and others. In recent years he has become a TV producer and a musical playwright, writing the play The Yin and Yang Battle of Tao. Combined, his creations have made profits in the billions of dollars.
Okay fine, so Stan isn't a scientist in any regard. He once said in the May 2002 issue of Maxim that he doesn't consider psychology to be a science because it claims that any answer is a correct one. (Uh...no it doesn't, Stan.) Still, after doing some casual internet surfing, I found some very interesting science articles that made me think of certain Marvel characters. I don't mean to say that Stan thought of these scientific possibilities himself, he most likely heard about them somewhere and then incorporated the idea into his character's origins. That said, it is pretty cool that some comic book science has parallels in reality.
1. Paging Doctor Curtis Connors
Researchers at University College London have discovered how salamanders can regenerate lost limbs and hope that this can help in recreating damaged appendages in humans. Scientists researching the salamander's "ERK pathways" found that these proteins are constantly active, which tells the cells to divide and reprogram themselves. Humans also have ERL pathways, but they are far less active than the salamander's. While many animals have the ability to regenerate, salamander's are much more similar to humans in that they are vertebrates and have similar limbs.
2. The Looter: Not Such a Crackpot After All
Norton G. Fester, aka The Looter. One of Spider-Man's lesser known, less threatening villains. After looking for the origins of life in meteorites, Fester chiseled into one and was sprayed with a strength enhancing gas. Armed with a blinding "dazzle gun" and one man hot air balloon, he rarely causes the webhead more than some momentary irritation. Panspermia is the theory that microscopic life, or at least the materials needed for micro-organic life to begin, came to earth billions of years ago on meteorites.
3. The Fantastic Four and Salmonella: Super-powered Astronauts
During a journey into space, Sue Richards, Johnny Storm, Reed Richard and Ben Grimm were hit by cosmic rays that gave them the ability to become invisible, fly and control fire, stretch their bodies like rubber and gain rock like skin, respectively. Several years ago, NASA scientists brought salmonella into space to study the effects of space on the disease causing bacteria. They found that the zero gravity environment caused the bacteria to become deadlier, grew faster and was more resistant to antibiotics. When mice were exposed to the space bacteria, they died faster than the mice exposed to earth born salmonella. Researchers found 150 changes in the DNA of the space born salmonella.