An important corollary on the two greatest super powers of all time

Last week I wrote that the two greatest super powers of all time are immortality and time travel, with teleportation coming in a possible, albeit distant third.

I'd like to offer a corollary on this:

1. If you're not interested in living forever, then I am willing to acknowledge that immortality might not be the greatest super power for you. But you must also be willing to admit that until you actually face death, you might be wrong about your distaste for immortality.

As someone who has faced death three times (and actually died twice), I can assure you that immortality is appealing.

2. Time travel is better than teleportation or any other super power because of the ability to see into the future and warn humanity about (and perhaps even prevent) certain natural disasters and other calamities.

  • Alert authorities about the September 11 attacks in order to stop the terrorists and save lives.
  • Issue evacuation warnings ahead of earthquakes, tidal waves and other natural disasters. 
  • Stop George Lucas from creating Jar Jar Binks.

It would be an enormous burden on the person with this super power, but morally and ethically speaking, how could you not acknowledge that this power is better than the ability to pop in and out of New York City without having to deal with traffic?   

3. There was some concern over the dangers of traveling into the past and catastrophically altering the future in which the time traveler lives (and possibly threatening his or her very existence in the process). There were also concerns over the potential for paradoxes.

While traveling into the past would be appealing, concern over these issues could be mitigated by simply traveling into the future only, and only traveling for observational purposes. A time traveler need only to travel to a library and spend some time reading newspapers or history books in order to find the information he or she needs while risking almost nothing in terms of unintentionally changing the course of human events 

If you're not convinced now, I don't know what to do.

The two best super powers of all time (one of them is not teleportation)

My wife, Deadspin, and many others argue that teleportation is the greatest of all the super powers. 

Teleportation would be an amazing super power to possess. I would love to be able to teleport from location to location instantly.

I think it may be the third best super power.

But objectively, the best super powers, in this order, are:

  1. Immortality
  2. Time travel

All others - including teleportation - pale in comparison.

Not quite immortality, but 95 is a decent start.

If you know me at all, you know that an enormous part of my mental energy is directed at my relentless fear of death. 

It is more constant and overwhelming than you could ever imagine.

And perhaps for good reasons. Two near-death experiences (one and two) involving paramedics and CPR and an armed robbery that resulted in a gun to my head and the trigger being repeatedly pulled might understandably change a person's view of death. 

As a result, my hope is for immortality. My plan is to never die. While this may seem ludicrous, my ability to believe in its possibility is necessary to get me through each day without collapsing into an existential meltdown. 

So here's some good news in that regard:

Two researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have designed a test that utilizes the eight most predictive questions related to American life expectancy to determine a person's probable lifespan. “These are the most important risk factors that we have solid evidence for,” says Lyle Ungar, professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania.

He adds: “If you’re in a happy marriage, you will tend to live longer. That’s perhaps as important as not smoking, which is to say: huge. So feel free to give yourself a little bump if you’ve got a happy relationship."

I took the test, and I was pleased to see that my life expectancy - before the happy marriage bump (which I have in spades) - is 95.

Not quite immortality, but perhaps enough years for the scientists to find the magic elixir.

Or at least to find a way to download my consciousness into some hard drive somewhere, which would be good enough for me.  

Question: Which person alive today deserves immortality for the sake of future generations?

I saw Springsteen on Wednesday night. After watching him perform for almost four hours, I felt so fortunate to have seen him sing and play almost a dozen times over the course of my lifetime.

As I exited the stadium, I thought, "That man can never die. No one does it like him. No one will ever do it that way again. We need that man."

It got me to thinking:

If the Gods were kind and just, they would allow humankind to choose immortals. Human beings who we decide are so universally unique and beloved and needed that we can freeze them in time. Stop their aging process. Hold them as we have them now and forever more.

And it's not like we need an infinite amount of immortals. Let's say that we get ten names. Ten immortals to keep with us forever.

This is what I proposed to my friends as we left the stadium.

Who would those ten people be?

I added the stipulation that the person needs to be alive today. While someone like Abraham Lincoln might be deserving of immortality, once a person is dead, they cannot be brought back.

Given these parameters, which ten people deserve immortality? Who would we choose to keep in place forever?

Bruce Springsteen is on my list. 

I have yet to find a second name worthy of inclusion.