The member of an alien species comes to Earth, and our planet’s conditions give him/her abilities to outrace bullets and pick up locomotives with one hand. Can’t happen outside of the comic book world, right?
Well, it can….to an extent.
I read a great article from Scientific American that talked about Super-Earths- planets that we’ve found- around 450- which resemble our own, but are also larger and have more mass.
It went on to discuss whether or not life could exist on one of these rocks.
Conditions on a Super-Earth, which scientists are able to calculate through a number of measurements, are thought to be suitable for life. Silicon-Oxygen compounds should be able to form there much like here. The atmospheres and climates are most likely stable.
Their conditions can potentially give rise to life, but can they breed Supermen?
Superman’s parents sent him to Earth, because their planet Krypton was going to explode. He had been born under the conditions of a red Sun. He was part of a species whose bodies evolved to where they grew accustomed to the environment that their particular star created. When he landed on Earth, the new conditions of a yellow Sun made him super, relative to his new planet’s inhabitants.
Now, one major difference between a Super-Earth and our planet is gravity. Because of the greater mass of a Super-Earth, the force of gravity is stronger.
This is where the realization hit me: The concept of Superman could happen!
Let’s assume that a species much like Homo sapiens (humans) evolved on a Super-Earth. This would be a species born under their planet’s heightened force of gravity. This is where evolution comes into play. Through Natural Selection- the process by which species variate by developing, or shedding injurious, traits that help them to adapt to an environment- species evolve into beings capable of surviving their environment. Evolution dictates that this species would have grown accustomed to their planet’s particular gravity. Their muscles, their bodies would have to develop enough strength to simply be able to survive, just like our bodies have on our planet.
Now, imagine if a member of the Super-Earth humanoid species were brought to our world.
Here’s where the concept of “Superman” comes to fruition: The inhabitants of a Super-Earth had evolved enough strength to survive the strong gravity of his/her world. Now, welcome to our Earth, where gravity is weaker.
Weight is relative to gravity. We can’t lift a car here with our own hands, because it’s too heavy for us in our own gravity. But, say, on the moon, lifting a car is much easier. Our gravity is much stronger here, and so physical things are a lot easier for us to do up on the Moon.
The same would hold true for the Super-Earth alien here. He/she would be stronger and faster than any of us. Their bodies had been evolved to surpass the pull of our own planet’s weaker gravity. I’m not saying these aliens would be able to fly or even clear building tops in a single bound, but he/she would certainty be able to jump a lot higher than any of us.
And I’m sure looks would be deceiving.
The Super-Earth humanoid would probably be shorter than our own planet’s average-sized person. As the Scientific American article put it, even their mountains wouldn’t be as tall as ours, because of the strength of their gravity’s pull.
But evolution would have made the alien species much more than a match for any one of us born under Earth’s weaker gravity.
This concept rings true for every planet that can harbor life. Every planet’s own conditions are going to team up with evolution, and differ the skill sets and appearance of each planet’s potential inhabitants. Scientists have recently speculated that there could be methane-based life on Saturn’s moon Titan instead of the water-based life that fills our own world.
We could lift trucks on one planet with much weaker gravity than ours, but be as slow as a turtle lugging around weights tied to its back legs on one with stronger gravity.
Superman does exist thanks to evolution and the uniqueness each world has to offer.
Let’s just hope that if such a potential alien born under the stronger gravity of a Super-Earth came here, he/she’s less interested in the difference between our strength and speed, and instead possesses a knack for red capes and rescuing Earth cats from trees.