The 700th issue of Superman goes on sale June 23, 2010. The Man of Steel has incredible superpowers, of course.
Meanwhile, stories of a mother picking up a car to free her trapped child
seem to be more urban legend than reality. But the human body is capable
of some mind-blowing feats that could cause even Superman to do a
But rather than some strange powers gleaned from Earth’s sun, some
scientists argue that bursts of adrenaline during stressful situations
give people somewhat <a href="http://www.livescience.com/topic/cults-religion-paranormal">paranormal</a>,
superhuman abilities, also referred to as hysterical strength. Others
suspect humans are always capable of these great feats - it just takes a
crisis for them to actually perform them.
Surviving Freezing Temperatures
Nicknamed the "Iceman," Wim Hof is a Dutch adventurer and
daredevil who ran an Arctic marathon at minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit
(minus 29 degrees Celsius) – while shirtless. He also holds the world
record for being immersed in ice for an hour and 44 minutes.
In 2007, he was able to survive for 72 minutes outdoors at the <a href="http://www.livescience.com/environment/top10_polar_differences.html">North
Pole</a> while wearing nothing but shorts. Hof says that he is able to
control his body temperature by using the Tantric practice of Tummo,
which is practiced by Yogi monks in Tibet, and involves the practice of
focusing on the body’s energies turning them into heat.
Balancing a Car
Think lifting an SUV is impressive? John Evans can actually balance a
car on his head! The 6-foot-6-inch (2-meter) tall, 343-pound
(155-kilogram) British man managed to balance a 352-pound (159-kg) mini
car on top of his head for 33 seconds – without using his hands.
Calling himself a professional "head balancer," Evans has already
broken 25 records in 11 Guinness World Records categories. He'd
previously balanced <a href="http://www.livescience.com/health/Older-Motorcycle-Riders-Injuries-100419.html">motorcycles</a>,
boats, washing machines, people and beers kegs, but the car is by far
his heaviest – and most dangerous – record-breaking attempt to date.
Evans credits his neck, which has an astonishing width of 24 inches (60
cm), with allowing him to achieve his balancing acts.
Lifting a Car
A standard example of superhuman strength, the "lifting a car to free
someone" story seems rooted in myth. In fact, comic book artist Jack
Kirby once said in an interview that he got the idea for the Incredible
Hulk after seeing a mother lift a car off her child, although the
legitimacy of his story has been disputed. But there have been reported
cases of this phenomenon.
In 2008, Chris Hickman, a Florida firefighter, came to the scene of a
car crash in which an older model Chevrolet Blazer had flipped and
landed on its side, pinning the driver's arm between the vehicle and the
pavement. Hickman then lifted the SUV about 12 inches (30 cm) off the
ground, giving the other firefighters the opportunity to rescue trapped
driver, officials said in news reports of the incident.
Another Guinness World Records holder, Sakinat Khanapiyeva, is the
strongest grandma in the world. The 76-year-old from Dagestan, Russia,
can lift a 52-pound (24-kg) dumb-bell, break horseshoes and twist 2-inch
(5-cm) steel rods. She first discovered her strength when she was 10
years old, after she was able to move a 661-pound (299-kg) container of
grain, which is equivalent to the weight of four grown men, according to
the Guinness Book of World Records.
50 Marathons in 50 Days
Calling it the 50/50/50, Los Angeles native Dean Karnazes ran 50
marathons in 50 U.S. states in 50 consecutive days, beginning with the
Lewis and Clark Marathon in St. Louis on Sept. 17, 2006, and finishing
with the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5.
Karnazes also ran 135 miles (217 km) nonstop across Death Valley in
the Mojave Desert in temperatures reaching 120 degrees F (48 degrees C),
and a marathon to the South Pole at minus 40 degrees F (minus 40 degrees
"It hurts so much and your body is saying stop, and you kind of <a href="http://www.livescience.com/mind/">override those mechanisms</a>
and force yourself to go on," Karnazes told news sources.
Known as the "the human spider," Alain Robert has climbed most of the
tallest skyscrapers in the world without a rope or any climbing
equipment. Using only his hands and climbing shoes, Robert scales <a href="http://www.livescience.com/php/multimedia/imagegallery/igviewer.php?gid=36">landmark
buildings</a>, including the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House and the
Sears Tower. More than once, he was arrested for illegally scaling a
building while wearing a Spider-Man costume, causing him to be arrested
and expelled from China.
Many of his climbs last for over an hour and provide him no chance to
rest until he reaches the top. His training, physical conditioning and
technique allow Robert to climb by holding on to the small protrusions
of building walls and windows, such as window ledges and frames, he
Surviving a Lightning Strike
Between the ages of 30 and 65, Roy Cleveland Sullivan was struck by
lightning seven times - and survived them all. During that time,
Sullivan averaged being struck by lightning once every five years, while
the average person's odds of being struck by lightning in a given year
are one in 750,000. However, Sullivan increased his chances by working
as a park ranger at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, which averages
35 to 45 <a href="http://www.livescience.com/environment/061026_intense_tstorms.html">thunderstorm</a>
days per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Nicknamed the "Human Lightning Conductor" and the "Human Lightning
Rod," Sullivan has been struck by lightning more than any other human
being, according to Guinness World Records. He died in 1983 at the age
of 71 – not as a result of a final lightning strike, but from a
self-inflicted gunshot wound, reportedly over an unrequited love.