Ever want to throw a boomerang shield or, even better, hulk out and throw a bus? Well, after Stanford biologist and postdoctoral research fellow Sebastian Alvarado explains the real science behind the abilities of two members of the Avengers, you just might be able to engineer a way to do so.
How did a ninety-pound weakling become Captain America? We all know that it was from the super-soldier serum and a big dose of Vita-rays. Wait a minute, am I saying that Alvarado knows the secret formula that died with Erskine? Sadly, no. However, Alvarado does understand the various genes responsible for the peak levels of Cap’s abilities. By knowing what genes to manipulate, scientists can use epigenetic modification — the ability to turn a gene on or off. And there are already tools available to specifically target the genes you want to change … or … epigenetically modify. What about Vita-rays? The serum may have used Vita-rays as a means for activation. Strangely enough, there are already drugs, currently in research, that utilize a photo-sensitive carrier. When this carrier is hit by ultraviolet light, it’s dissolved, and the drug is administered to the tissue it’s targeting. Alvarado does give a fair amount of caution to people who want to try this at home.
Moving on to the Hulk, Alvarado thinks that since our favorite green Avenger was created from the bombardment of gamma rays, Bruce Banner’s exposure to them may have shattered his chromosomes in a process known as chromothripsis. The reassembly of Banner’s genes may be the underlying reason of how Banner gained his abilities or curse (depends on if you’re a glass half full type of guy). As for Banner’s ability to transform into the Hulk and back, Alvarado sees this, again, as epigenetic modification. What about the Hulk’s healthy green complexion? The researcher theorizes that this may be due to a metabolite that occurs in blood called biliverdin, a green colored substance. Because of Banner’s traumatic transformation into the Hulk, his blood cells may be destroyed — leaving an abundance of biliverdin. Alvarado gets a bit more creative and says that the biliverdin may be incorporated into some type of “hulkoglobin” that allows the Hulk to carry an immense amount of oxygen to support his strength and stamina. However, Alvarado thinks that the real science mystery is how the Hulk’s pants stay on after every transformation.
I know that Alvarado warned against trying this at home. But come on, I know that inner Loki or Tony Stark of yours really wants to not follow the rules. The hard part’s already done. You just have to go out there and create something that can epigenetically modify your DNA so that you can have plenty of biliverdins. Why use actors for Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when you can have the real thing?