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 double take.
But rather than some strange powers gleaned from Earth’s sun, some scientists argue that bursts of adrenaline during stressful situations give people somewhat paranormal, 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.
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 North Pole 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.
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 motorcycles, 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.
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.
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 C).
"It hurts so much and your body is saying stop, and you kind of override those mechanisms 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 landmark buildings, 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 claims.
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 thunderstorm days per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
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.