My question is: I need to improve the muscle fibers and nervous system of my genetically modified human so that it has dexterity and physical responses 4 to 10 times faster than the average human.  ( that is, he could literally catch a fly with his hand, Dodge a bullet, and so on )( Yes, I know that the speed of the bullet is much higher, but if it is possible to increase the speed of the person and his reaction to such indicators that it becomes possible, I will be very grateful. )

The average neural response time is 250 milliseconds. From this time, the human brain takes about 200 milliseconds to turn the "thought of movement" into actual muscle contraction. And actually 50 milliseconds are needed to reduce this muscle ( its movement )

WARNING: I only need biological solutions, meaning no magic or cyborgs.

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    $\begingroup$ Muscle fibers have nothing to do with reaction speed. Or, more correctly, they have nothing to do with how nerve transmission works. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Feb 23 '20 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ I need to increase the speed of the reaction ( how quickly the brain sends a signal and how quickly it actually raises its hand). That is, if I start to react faster, I need to strengthen my muscles accordingly so that they do not stretch or tear with rapid movements. $\endgroup$ – user71408 Feb 23 '20 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ You make a very good point about the strength and speed of the muscle contractions. The reaction time can be faster by a factor of a thousand, but if the muscles can not contract that fast, the reaction time advantage is mute. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme the Second Feb 23 '20 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ That's right, I need to speed up both the speed of the nerve impulse and the speed of muscle contraction. ( at least 4 times ) $\endgroup$ – user71408 Feb 24 '20 at 8:13
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    $\begingroup$ How is this opinion-based? The question may rely on a fundamental misunderstanding of the processes that transmit nerve signals in the first place. That doesn't mean there isn't a "best answer" in the form of either a frame challenge "this isn't possible" or some attempt at modifying existing nerves. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 25 '20 at 18:16

This is going to take some serious ground-up modifications to terrestrial animal biology.

In order to have a reaction time fast enough to dodge a bullet, we're going to have to increase the conduction velocity of the nerves from some velocity measured in mere metres per second to something closer to lightspeed. Metal cored and sheathed nerves would fulfill this requirement. Then, we will have to replace the nerves slow diffusion-based signalling mechanism with something much faster... so instead of relying on chemical diffusion, we could have a mechanical connection between nerves. This could be a mechanism in the transmitting neuron which, on receiving an appropriate electrical signal, rotates a certain amount, and which is physically linked to a sodium gate that also relies upon rotation to be opened. Being mechanically connected means that the transmission speed would occur not at the speed of chemical diffusion, but at the speed of sound in the junction rod.

Having reduced the response time of the brain and nerves, the main limiting factor will be the muscles and body. Mammalian muscles are relatively slow. While there are some things that can be done to speed up muscle contraction speed and response time, the fact is that it is unlikely that muscles are going to be able to be made able to contract at a rate much greater than is currently the case. However there are alternatives.

The nature of muscles is that they must contract bit by bit, a few micrometers at a time, but on relaxing, they may be stretched by external forces much more rapidly. So, in order to maximise the velocity at which a limb can bend, we can increase the ratio of joint-to-muscle vs joint-to-load, so that less force is applied, but is applied more quickly. Additionally, in the directions most likely to be needed to dodge, we can replace the muscles entirely and replace it with a highly elastic muscle-ligament combination. In the event of a stressful situation in which it may be necessary to move quickly, the more powerful antagonist muscle would contract, along with the weaker agonist muscle, stretching the elastic ligament. Then, if it is necessary to dodge, the relevant antagonist muscles could be deactivated, resulting in the stored energy in the elastic ligament being applied to the joint much more rapidly than the muscles are capable by themselves. It would also be possible to have both a powerful antagonist muscle and a smaller muscle-elastic ligament combination in each direction of movement, so as to provide two 'gears' to each direction of movement, slow and powerful, and weak but fast.

To complete the perception-reaction loop, we need faster eyes. This is relatively easily achieved, as human eyes are by no means the fastest in the animal kingdom. Even with optical pigments in traditional retinal cells, by making the cells smaller, they could be made to react faster, but with a more radical redesign, it might be possible to substitute a more responsive photosensor more akin to an electro-optical camera sensor.

Finally, this bullet-dodging superman wouldn't likely look like a traditional superman, with bulging muscles and a Mr Universe physique... all that muscle has mass, and the lower the mass, the easier it is to move. Instead, expect a being with long, slender limbs and a slender body, rather more like a grey alien than a human.

However, despite appearing to be slender and fragile, this being would not only be able to dodge with superhuman speed, but could also be an incredibly dangerous martial artist. While its limbs might weigh half as much as an average human's, it would be able to achieve a limb speed perhaps ten times that of a human. Given the relationship between impact energy and mass and speed being E = 1/2MV^2, half the mass equates to half the energy, but ten times the speed equates to a hundred times the energy, for a total impact energy fifty times that of a human's. This slender, lanky, wimpy-looking being could literally demolish a human with a single blow.

Of course, this being's adaptations require that it be aware of the potential attack in order to dodge it. In the event of being threatened, it would crouch, and its muscles would tense up, holding its limbs half-flexed while it stretched its elastic ligaments. It could see a nearby assailant contract his trigger finger, or see the flash of a longer-ranged shot, and within milliseconds, it could deactivate its antagonist muscles, the elastic ligaments contracting to propel it out of the line of fire.

Of course, if caught flat-footed, this being would not have the advantage of having energy stored in its elastic ligaments, and given the likely energy requirements associated with keeping the elastic ligaments stretched, it could not go about with them constantly pre-stretched. In such a case, it would be far more likely that it would be hit by an incoming bullet, though it may be able to achieve a less-serious hit.

Finally, this being, no matter how human it might look, would not be even remotely human. The differences between a human and this being are so great that even if human cells had been genetically engineered to create this being, it is so heavily modified that it would be unable to successfully reproduce with a human partner.

  • $\begingroup$ How can we speed up a person's perception? ( I once asked this question: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/165383/… ) Is it possible to combine it with the increased light sensitivity ? (see better in the dark ) $\endgroup$ – user71408 Feb 26 '20 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ This genetically modified person can be super-strong ( lift more than 400 kilograms above the head or 750 kilograms from the Ground ( in a herd pull ))? $\endgroup$ – user71408 Feb 26 '20 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ Do Androids reproduce, or are they manufactured? $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme the Second Feb 26 '20 at 15:13

The trick is to localize the reflex and distribute the processing. Instead of the process being mediated by the brain, at perhaps the opposite end of the body, move the decision making to a localized node within the spinal column. See for instance the pathway in the Hoffman reflex

Thus the reaction movements of the limb would not be directed from the centralized cerebellum in the brain, but from some localized distributed cerebellum-like memory and process perhaps at the base of the spinal chord itself, or even within the muscle group.


You can look to nature for genetic solutions as to how to do this. The praying mantis, for instance, has an ultrasonic ear between the legs for distributed sensory processing.

The frog has an amazingly fast tongue, but please note the connection between the targeting sensor (eyes) is essentially right beside the mechanics of the tongue, such that the feedback loop is as short as possible. The only way to get it shorter would be to put the eyes on the tongue itself. Also, the reference will describe how the frog's tongue is constructed to give it such amazing speed.

You can also look to the insect world for genetic modifications that give tremendous strength in jumping, such as the cricket.

Look to the dragonfly for very fast visual-reaction times. Please note that in the dragonfly, the wing and leg muscles are all compacted together and extremely close to the eyes and the brain, despite that the body itself is very long. It provides the shortest possible nerve conduction path. (WARNING: Gory content in the video, not for the squeamish.)

So maybe move the human pelvis to the arm pits, and suspend the torso under it.

  • $\begingroup$ tell me more, I don't quite understand you. ( how much better is this than the average person?) $\endgroup$ – user71408 Feb 24 '20 at 8:18
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    $\begingroup$ How does your leg know that it needs to push you out of the way? Note, there is no sound before the bullet hits. Even a fairly boring 22 Long goes comfortably faster than sound. $\endgroup$ – puppetsock Feb 24 '20 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ Inertia kills you. There is only so much force you can extert over a foot sized area before you break the static traction index. Even F1 tires can slip if the driver hits the pedal to the metal. Add non ideal surfaces and you will break the tiles before completing the manouver. $\endgroup$ – Gustavo Feb 24 '20 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ In humans, for the body to respond in a co-ordinated fashion, the cerebellum in the lower brain stem calls the shots. Therefore, the signal to the muscles comes from the cerebellum, the proprioceptive feedback signals go back to the brain, adjustments are made, new signals sent out, feedback received, and so on until the movement is completed. The time lag is substantial. Move the 'computing' closer, and the time lag can be cut substantially. The time for a baseball to leave the pitcher, and cross the plate, at today's pitching speed, is faster than the nerve conduction time to process. ctd $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme the Second Feb 24 '20 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ So in a modern pro hitter, the arm movements for the swing are being conditioned into muscle memory. Here is a good discussion about what goes on when a batter swings at a ball. The situation is similar. exploratorium.edu/baseball/articles/biological-baseball.html Here is another reference baseballhittingaid.com/2016/09/… The trick is to get this 'memory' as close to the muscles as possible. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme the Second Feb 24 '20 at 18:44

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