X-gene and the fourth law of thermodynamics

People at the cinema are watching an X-men movie. Historians enjoy. Psychologists enjoy. Lawyers enjoy. Yet biologists think: just what a hell is this X-gene?

The Marvel Universe is full of so called “mutants” – people who has acquired special abilities through mutation. Some of them generate magnetic fields, some of them regenerate like crazy. All seems clear.

Yet questions begin as soon as:

  1. They tell us that all mutants are… connected. Or something. In particular, the Cerebro device highlights all mutants with the same colour; Trask’s device beeps in presence of mutants. They even call all mutants “one species”. Clearly, the entire humankind is divided into mutants and non-mutants even easier than it is divided into males and females.
  2. They tell us that all mutants share a gene. The X-gene.

So what’s wrong about all that? Everything.

To begin with, mutation surrounds us everywhere. Literally every single person is a mutant. EVERY ONE. Some of those mutations are effectively absent, some of them are barely remarkable: blue eyes, extra pair of fingers, an unusual birthmark. So say, a guy was born with unusual eye colour: according to Marvel, is he a mutant or not? Or say, a girl was born who cannot assimilate some amino-acid due to mutation. I guess not. So basically, all people are mutants, but are called mutants only when their mutation is scary or cool. I recon that Trask device is some coolness-meter. Ridiculous.

Now. A human was born with the ability to teleport, because his/her parents did… what exactly? – sat on uranium or something – whatever. The human then is a mutant, obviously. Now, if this mutant had a child, and the child was also a teleporter, then that wouldn’t be a mutation. That’s heredity. Why then the son of Azazel, who can teleport like his dad, is a mutant? If so, than all mammals are mutants: all of us inherit the mutation of some ancient cartilaginous fish to synthesise bone. And let me tell you: bone is a far greater superpower than teleportation.

So on this X-gene. A gene is a fragment of one’s genetic code that codes a particular trait (or, to be more specific – a particular protein molecule). Now, Wolverine regenerates like crazy. Such insane healing rate would be the result of hundreds of various genes that affect virtually every system and function of his body: metabolism, vascular system, nervous tissue – everything! Now, Magneto controls electromagnetic fields. Again, I bet, that would be several genes at work: possibly, they would be coding some “electromagnetic” proteins or something like that. And the question is: what on Earth do the magnetic genes of Magneto have to do withthe  healing genes of Wolverine? What possibly could those two diametrical phenomena have in common, other than “both being cool and all”.

X-gene, like any other gene, has to be a sequence that codes ONE protein, that has a specific function. How could a protein both heal, grow claws, move metal, teleport, and do God knows what else. And if, presumably, it is important for everything – like the DNA-helicase that is present in every cell, – then how do non-mutants survive without it? I mean, it does everything in our body, doesn’t it?

It seems that the purpose of this protein is to make Trask’s trinket beep-beep. Useful, I’ll give you that…

What we have is a typical specimen of “pop science”. Guys who have no idea about genetics just took a cool m-word and twisted it the way they wanted.

Or maybe, there’s something else to that…

In reality, there is a thing that all the mutants have in common. So, maybe this elusive gene is indeed a gene… If I had to name that gene, I’d call it “screwed-I-every-law-of-physics-gene”. Seriously. The X-gene, apparently, does code a protein that then courses through mutants’ veins and allows for total, utter, and unconditional neglect of physics, particularly of the laws of energy and matter preservation.

Take Magneto. He creates magnetic fields and controls metal. Fine, I can go with that. After all, eels and rays do something similar: build electromagnetic fields around them. But…

Apparently, the Magneto’s power is within his body, and thus, he uses the reserves of his body to apply his force. Like a muscle. Some people lift on biceps, Magneto lifts on magnet. Where am I going? Well, I mean, a human being consumes 2500 kcal of energy every day: enough to hold a weight as heavy as dozens of kilos for hours (with a few breaks, obviously). Yet… we saw Magneto lift a stadium that weights hundreds of thousands of tones. A. F*cking. Stadium. Where did he get energy to lift it?

Who cares about magnetism? This dude’s power is not pushing metal, but pushing it any way he wants it. Is he… 100000000000% efficient, or what? Erik, do you even know that you could get a Nobel Prize any day, and solve the eternal problem of clean energy for entire humanity: just push a few gigantic, island-sized rotors of a generator once a day. Bankruptcy for every energy provider in thousand miles guaranteed.

Also, I like the mutant guy from “X-men 3” movie: the one who had his arms cut off by Wolverine like 100 times in a row. He kept growing them back. Again, nothing fantastic: starfish do so all the time. But… starfish don’t do that instantly. They have to feed first before they can regrow a lost part. But that guy… what exactly does he “make” his arms of? Where does he get organic matter from? Is he even aware that his body mass should go negative at some point? Doesn’t seem to bother him at all… Dude, are you even aware that you alone could feed EVERY hungry crocodile in Africa. Just have them chop your hands again and again: I mean, you don’t care, do you?

Iceman. Freezer guy. Let us all remember how does cold work. And this is how: cold is the result of energy transfer from one place to another. Cold CANNOT just be created out of nowhere. It’s only heat that can be transferred from one place to another and leave cold behind. This is how air conditioner work. This is how EVERY piece of cooling equipment work. Now, Iceman unleashes a cold beam – s o bloody powerful that Antarctica can be frozen. It is natural that as he shoots his freezing beam from his palms, there has to be a jedi laser heat beam breaking out of his rear end at the same time. Cold in one place = equal amount of heat at another. This is how it works. Alternatively, he has to have some kind of a heat buffer, where he can suck heat in and keep it there. Trillions of joules: perhaps not a nuclear reactor yet, but far from an oven still. At some point, he’d HAVE to get rid of it. I am afraid to imagine how does he do it… Kids at my school used to blow up toiled seats with fireworks, so what happens when Iceman sits on one… a Godzilla’s opening scene, I bet.

I wonder why do people detest mutants so much. They are fucking Gods: physics are burning their books and tonsured one after another. Fear of mutants? What fear, given that all problems of humanity are solved in fifteen minutes.

Free energy? No problem! What efficiency? Million percent… Billion… I have no idea really! What fuel? I use three sandwiches a day!

Global warming, you say? No problem! By the way, you want skiing resort in Nigeria?


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