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We are in a world very similar to ours. But, one day, 1% of the children that are turning 10 are gaining super strength (this is an ongoing process : from that date, all the children under 10 may potentially obtain that super strength at their 10th birthday). This phenomenon is roughly evenly distributed geographically, so no country really has a higher share of these children compared to their population.

This super strength can range from having the strength of a strong adult male (for most of them) to truly ridiculous feats like being able to punch through walls and run hours at 50 km/h without being tired (extremely rare). It isn't lost as they age and grows at the same proportion the strength of a normal child would. The muscle mass isn't increased and there are no apparent changes to their body.

Governments of the world, after initial analysis of this phenomenon, decided it would be better to know exactly which kid has super strength and which kid doesn't. They enacted new laws requiring that children on their tenth birthday submit themselves to testing, and the results of that test are put on a special global database, so people can know if necessary if they have super strength or not. Not having done that test is grounds for arrest and being forced to perform it.

The main problem is the test itself. There is no other way to detect these "super kids" than measuring their strength/speed/stamina etc. but the governments are worried that parents may instruct kids to fake a lower strength and avoid registration as a person with super strength.

Is there a way to be certain that the kids are giving their all at the test, or is there a physical test where strength can be determined regardless of if the kid is trying to dissimulate their super strength?

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    $\begingroup$ You know, you could just ask their parents...or their teachers...instead of a bureaucratic "on their tenth birthday they must submit themselves for exam" $\endgroup$ – user535733 Nov 22 '18 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ @user535733 That would mean, for a period of time, having kids with super-strength that are authorized to live in society but where the authorities don't know if they have super-strength or not, which is unacceptable to the governments. They want to have a complete and exhaustive database of every kid with super-strength, and as it appears on a child's tenth birthday, the test must be done then. $\endgroup$ – motezazer Nov 22 '18 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ There are two conceivable ways super strength can get manifested - upscaling (all basic motions suddenly becoming more powerful, and hero needs to learn to hold back his strength) and extra range (all basic motions are not changing, but hero learns that if tries to push harder than ever, the upper limit also goes higher). Since "upscaling" would be relatively easy to detect, you want to be able to detect "extra range", right? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Nov 23 '18 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ Put them in a situation where their guardian is old AF and needs to change a tire... You should do it at 6yo or something; w/e age is before children learning subterfuge. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Nov 23 '18 at 4:35
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    $\begingroup$ If we are to judge by my son's behaviour, you just look for parents who get frequently injured at home. :p $\endgroup$ – Rekesoft Nov 23 '18 at 12:25

16 Answers 16

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is there a physical test where strength can be determined regardless of if the kid is trying to dissimulate their super strength?

You know that test doctors do, in which they hit you sligjtly below the kneecap with a little hammer to test a reflex?

Do it with their legs tied to something heavy.

Or have them punch a punching bag... It's not hard to see whether someone is pulling their punches.

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    $\begingroup$ @Nelson telling a 10yo to give something a shove and then seeing how far to slides is pretty easy. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Nov 23 '18 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ A 10 year old doesn't know how to punch? A 10 year old kid who has never punched another kid is probably quite rare - punching others comes naturally. NOT punching others has to be learned. $\endgroup$ – Guntram Blohm Nov 23 '18 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ @GuntramBlohm True, but there's a difference between "flailing your fists at someone" and "knowing how to punch someone hard". Talk to any martial artist. $\endgroup$ – Graham Nov 23 '18 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ @graham martial artist here. There is a difference between punching someone with and without skill. You can still tell when someone is pulling a punch on a punchbag. $\endgroup$ – Renan Nov 23 '18 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan Punching bag here, whether they have skill or not it hurts being punched. $\endgroup$ – corsiKa Nov 25 '18 at 16:44
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Make it so they want to be detected. Give the strongest special status and high honours and all the nice things in life. Have special sporting leagues featuring the super strong competing for hordes of devoted fans.

Basically make it so people want to prove they are as strong as possible, rather than trying to hide it.

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    $\begingroup$ This test would seem designed to detect super-powered extroverts. An introvert would do everything they could to avoid being the centre of attention in this way $\endgroup$ – Richard Nov 22 '18 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ I like this idea. Kinda like the Hunger Games. The parents should get lots of gold from advertising contracts if their kids win the contests of strength. $\endgroup$ – hyperion4 Nov 23 '18 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Richard Design the rewards to appeal to a range of people. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Nov 23 '18 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ This seems like the simplest solution and probably the one to be used if something like what OP suggests happened IRL. Have it be all false advertising and you have a basic plot to work with. $\endgroup$ – Brian H. Nov 23 '18 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ A lot of kids will shy away from this out of sheer bloody-mindedness $\endgroup$ – Richard Nov 23 '18 at 10:45
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  1. Children of that age are naive about many things. A trained 'nice cop - nasty cop' setup would easily trip them up. Once they've admitted it verbally (and they will certainly know) getting them to give a demonstration is easy.

  2. Even more unethical method - Isolate them from their parents and say they will never see them again unless they can escape. If they can break free then they have the strength. If they can't then they will show increasing distress and the test can stop. (I wish I hadn't thought of this, it's reminiscent of Dr Mengele)

  3. Find out what they really want for Christmas (other religions and customs may apply) and tempt them with it if they'll demonstrate their abilities.

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    $\begingroup$ "If they can't then they will show increasing distress and the test can stop" they have to retest once a year, they'll find a way to abuse this. $\endgroup$ – Renan Nov 22 '18 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ Well, I deliberately self-censored when suggesting that. It's easy to imagine more stressful situations than being separated from their parents. I just didn't want to verbalise them. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Nov 22 '18 at 22:03
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that tormenting superpowered children is the best plan. If you set yourself up as "the enemy" on the first day that little miss "can punch through walls" is experimenting with her powers, somebody is going to get killed. $\endgroup$ – Phoshi Nov 23 '18 at 9:50
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    $\begingroup$ Piccolo did something like that in DBZ :-) $\endgroup$ – GnP Nov 23 '18 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ if u use trick 2 again and again, parents will know youre just bluffing, because you can't isolate all children who dont have super strength forever. plus trick one will also be widely known after some time and parents will tell their kids... $\endgroup$ – KGM Nov 24 '18 at 14:37
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"The main problem is the test itself. There is no other way to detect these "super kids" than measuring their strength/speed/stamina etc. but the governments are worried that parents may instruct kids to fake a lower strength and avoid registration as a person with super strength."

"No way"? These children attend school surely? A very normal part of your schooling is gym/recess and so on. It should not be at all hard to notice some 10 year-old punting a football over the school or possessing a seven foot vertical leap. Have your recess monitors and gym teachers actually pay attention- problem solved and without taxpayers having to fork over more money to detect superhumans. Gym has grades to measure exactly how you compare to everyone else physically- as part of a bog-standard schooling experience. This is not something that's going to be hidden- especially not by kids who aren't even teens.

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    $\begingroup$ And if they’re homeschooled? Or in a country where PE isn’t required? $\endgroup$ – DonielF Nov 23 '18 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ Homeschooling is useless as-is unless you take official tests to prove it was adequate teaching. Also many homeschooled children still typically take at least a few years of actual school (typically high school) just to help round them out- which then brings us right back to simply having observant staff. In what country, exactly, does a child not have any sort of gym/recess period ever? $\endgroup$ – Friendlysociopath Nov 23 '18 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ I like this. It's so much easier to fake a one time test than to avoid continuous monitoring. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Nov 24 '18 at 15:55
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Tests that depend on surprise or reflex, not conscious action. Also of benefit is that kids tend to have poor decision making skills, which means it's easy to make them forget instructions to cheat.

For instance, get them playing a physical game, informing them it's just to give them something to do after the tests are done (which are normal, boring tests that could be faked), and that doing well awards them some prize that a 10 year old would want. Then you very subtly start ramping up the difficulty which, if they're invested in the game, they'll unconsciously compensate for. Say, playing a version of dodgeball against an automated cannon, where they have to avoid getting hit by the ball but in turn have to knock over targets to "win" by beating the cannon. You start off with the cannon tracking and firing at speeds a normal kid would be expected to have a chance against and targets that don't require much force to knock over, then slowly ramp up the difficulty.

It's incredibly hard to fake being less physically proficient than you are. Ask a fast runner to look like they're running as fast as they can, but pretend they're slower than they really are; it's a hard thing to do. An example that comes to mind is the Deep Space Nine episode "Take Me Out to the Holosuite". Max Grodénchik, who played Rom, considered a career in pro baseball before going into acting, but Rom was supposed to be the most inept player on the DS9 team, and Grodénchik found it impossible to play that badly. He ended up having to play leftie (throwing, batting, and catching) in order to look realistically bad.

A kid is going to have an even worse time trying to fake it.

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Children are greedy.

Give them as much chocolate / toy cars / whatever they desire most as they can carry. Then measure the weight as they leave the room.

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    $\begingroup$ This one made me chuckle. I can already picture a 10 year old kid walking out the building with an actual car weight worth of toy cars in their arms. $\endgroup$ – Sumurai8 Nov 23 '18 at 21:04
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If your population is determined to keep the super-strength hidden, use knee reflect test as @Renan suggested, or attach electrodes to a muscle in the body, and zap them with a small amount of electricity to cause involuntary motion. Or several different muscles, stimulated in random order to make faking harder. As a final step, you can sedate kids, but it is a lot of effort to do safely, and kinda boring.

Also, they can do medical test for something in body's biology that is the source (or consequence) of strength: increased adrenalin, higher muscle density, stronger bones or tendons (to handle super-muscles)

"Surpize" tests will not work as population will learn about all of them soon enough.

But, Social Enginnering offers easy ways to ensure that people openly reveal their strength.

  1. Tell your population that enemy countries use their super-strong people as soldiers, so yours needs to defend itself. Make your own super-strong soldiers heroes to the public (like sports stars in US). You do not even have to pay them that much, they might get enough money from product endorsements or simply donations. Can you imagine a teen that does not want that for themselves?

  2. Even if you lock supers up and experiment on them, tell people that uncontrolled super-strength is dangerous, both to super and those around them. Spread viral videos of accidents involving unexperienced supers. The official PR campaign is that testing is a responsible and caring thing to do; also encourage "if you see something, say something"; what if that super accidentally hurts you, or your g/f?

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  • $\begingroup$ Many people wouldn't want their kids to become soldiers because it's too dangerous. On the other hand FUD regarding super strenght could work. $\endgroup$ – user31389 Nov 27 '18 at 10:35
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School sports day

I don't know how common this is these days, but in primary school we used to have an annual sports day. Mostly races, maybe with a sack race or an egg and spoon race. Standing long jump. Bean bag tossing. Simple activities that any child can take part in without risk of anything worse than a grazed knee.

Kids like to win races, and it's going to be very hard for a child of that age to resist throwing the bean bag further than all their peers when placed in a simple competitive situation, they don't have the self control of an adult. All you have to do is observe, and hand out prizes.

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You want to measure physical strength? There's a really straightforward dystopian answer here, surprising that no one has mentioned this one yet

Battle Royale

As per the novel and movie of the same name. Pick or create an uninhabited area that will be completely cut off from the outside world through a full military blockade. Take all the 10 year olds to this area and remove all forms of contact with anyone else, especially their parents. Now tell them that the last man(child?) standing gets to go home. You can provide additional motivation through means like exploding collars, if need be. A simple fight to the death(or the appearance of such) should reveal any "talented" children quickly enough.

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    $\begingroup$ But after its done you have to get in a cleaning crew to get the blood out of the carpet which never properly comes out, or replace the carpet entirely, then there's the argument with the wife that the carpet doesn't match colours with the drapes, so you change drapes then you have to deal with furniture not matching either and so on and so on... is the Battle Royale really worth it? $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Nov 23 '18 at 9:21
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    $\begingroup$ @BladeWraith Why would there be carpets involved? Seems like a blanket statement to me $\endgroup$ – nullpointer Nov 23 '18 at 11:24
  • $\begingroup$ if you fake battle royale multiple times, one will know youre bluffing... $\endgroup$ – KGM Nov 24 '18 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @KGM I don't actually mean to fake it. Rather, it does count as winning if one kid knocks out instead of killing the others. $\endgroup$ – nullpointer Nov 24 '18 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ ahh, so every kid has to fight with all its forces cause else it MAY get killed? smart answer. $\endgroup$ – KGM Nov 25 '18 at 0:33
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Play with them.

I've played with kids and once they're really playing, they won't have the mental focus to pull punches.

I've made them push against me with their hands. In fact, as a 20 yr old guy, I was able to hold off two 10 yr old boys with one hand each, and have lots of strength to spare. I can easily push the two boys across the room.

If one of them can make me struggle, then I know there's something wrong.

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This super strength can range from having the strength of a strong adult male (for most of them) to truly ridiculous feats like being able to punch through walls and run hours at 50 km/h without being tired (extremely rare).

You're actually describing two slightly different things there: Enhanced muscle power and increased muscle stamina. Both of these are relatively easy to test for, but require slightly different methods.

As Renan and Bald Bear already pointed out, involuntary muscle contractions can be triggered by stimulating the right nerves -- either electrically or with a mallet. The resulting force is easy to measure, the test subject has no control over it, and it's perfectly safe.

Endurance can also be measured in a number of ways that are hard to fake. For example, have the kid run full-tilt for a set amount of time -- I imagine 10 minutes or so would probably be sufficient. A normal child will show an increased heart rate when engaging in this activity. A powered child will show no significant increase in heart rate until they reach speeds a normal child wouldn't even be capable of -- so either they reach those speeds and you know, or they try to hide it by sticking to normal speeds, but then their heart rate doesn't increase like a normal kid's would, so you still know.

Like the previous method, heart rate is easy to measure, the test subject has no direct control over it, and it's perfectly safe. If their parents were really determined to keep their abilities secret, there are ways increased heart rate could be induced, but assuming both resting heart rate and active heart rate are measured and compared against known typical ranges, it would be extraordinarily difficult to administer a drug and get the timing just right to ensure their heart rate looks normal both at rest and when active.

Finally, there are ways to measure muscle fatigue more directly, using electromyography (EMG), or based on biochemistry such as amounts of lactate, muscle glycogen, changes in pH, etc. Any of these would be difficult to fake, though the biochemical tests have the minor drawback of being slightly more invasive -- they are probably the only option discussed here that would require a sample taken by needle. Still, they should be perfectly safe and cause minimal pain.

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Use lots of little weights with unknown mass -- the red one weighs 50lb, the orange one weighs 40lb, the yellow one weighs 70lb, the green one weighs 60lb, but they're all the same shape.

Bring each person into the room and ask which ones they can lift.

If someone can lift the 60lb one but they tell you they can't lift the 50lb one, they're faking.

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offer candy to any kid that can lift the barbell. it's not that complicated.

as long as there is no punishment for the supers, there is no disinclination on their, or their parents account, at demonstrating their prowess.

the actual complication comes in interactions between supers with their non-super peer group, since kids are generally mean, selfish, impulsive and just generally nasty.

in which case, the supers may need to be segregated, which then drives the motive to secrecy. that's good drama right there.

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Skeletal muscles can be engaged using electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). EMS has been featured in several studies on the effects of preserving strength in those suffering from Intensive Care Unit acquired weakness (ICU-AW). A similar application could be used to manually stimulate the child's muscle ensuring that they cannot suppress their own strength.

I might suggest that the most accurate way to measure their strength would be to engineer a force measuring device that could fit in their hand and applying EMS electrodes to their forearm to measure their grip strength.

The benefits of testing this way would be that the test can be done quickly, safely and measured non-subjectively. The EMS kit and force measuring device would also be fairly easy to move about as well.

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This would be dystopian, but one could simply

make them loose all their memory

using strong amnesic drugs and, when they lost their memory, try to

scare them

somehow. (for example, one could put them into a ghost train)

if they have super strenght, they will cause massive destruction

hence they wont remember that this was a test.

To

minimize the problem of knowledge loss,

either

use a drug that only temporary disables the memory,

or

simply avoid that kids are educated much until they are 10

hence educating them before the test would be wasting capacities.

This solution

does not depend on how the super strenght is triggered biologically,

since it causes the kids to trigger it themselves.

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1% of the children that are turning 10 are gaining super strength

Let's break this down for the U.S. real quick.

According to https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/births.htm we have almost 4,000,000 births every year so presuming that all of them survive to their 10th birthday then we have 40,000 children turning 10 every year with super strength; wow.

  1. These super-strength kids aren't all that special
  2. With such an abundance; do we really need to log which ones are super-powered?
  3. Eventually these kids will be prime targets for re-production so that 1% will definitely keep increasing as the decades roll on

That stat is 12.2 births per 1,000 people so if we apply this to the global population then we get:

( ( 7,700,000,000 / 1000 ) * 12.2 ) *.01 = 939,400

In theory we get almost one million super-strength kids turning 10 every single year

You will never achieve a 100% census of these children but here are some forefronts which can be monitored:

  • Parents which are somehow oblivious to this phenomenon will inquire with doctors about this so doctors have a duty to add these kids to databases
  • When a strong child breaks another child's arm without even trying then I will guarantee you that the other child's parent will report your child
  • With 1% having this ability there must be some genetic footprint so it shouldn't be too difficult to identify this with a DNA sample. You can get a sample at birth, doctor visits, dentist visits, school nurse visits, etc...
  • Have observant personnel at schools

Additionally, sports will be filled with nothing but super-strength children in a matter of just a few years so sports try-outs will eventually receive only gifted children.

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protected by James Nov 26 '18 at 14:50

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