Posted: February 28, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized

At the 2010 Comic-Con in San Diego, a number of people were asked what they thought to be the greatest superpower. Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four (among many others), said it was “good luck,” because nothing can go wrong if you have good luck. Many superhero stories attempt to give a scientific veneer to the powers given to their protagonists, ranging from radioactive spiders to differences in star wavelengths. And one of the most popular scientific foundations for superpowers is genetics (see The X-Men). So, what would it mean for there to be a gene for good luck? And how would this trait manifest itself? Well, rather than speculating, we can look to Larry Niven, a science fiction writer who has actually explored this. In his stories, there is a certain species of alien that is profoundly cowardly and tries to reduce the danger of its environment. One of their most common methodologies is through artificial selection: breeding various other aliens for different traits they deem beneficial. For example, a militaristic species is manipulated in a series of wars, such that the least warlike (the ones who do not go out and fight) are the only ones who end up reproducing, because everyone else dies in battle. (via The Genetics of Luck | Wired Science |


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