With superpowers, people would lose the desire to build machinery as superpowers can perform most purposes, and people would be less interested in studying the environment than wielding superpowers (especially in worlds where you can pretty much become a god e.g. Naruto and Dragon Ball) , this would slow scientific progress. It would also be harder to study the world if powers that are considered impossible (outside the laws of that universe) happen. Also, if the superpowers are contained within that universe's laws, then it would still be hard to study, for example, IRL, it is hard for particle physicist to study particles that are very small and astronomers to study thing out in space.

How to make scientific progress run along superpowers?

Obviously I could just 'force' it (after all I am the writer) but I want a reason for a scientist character to be pursuing science and a reason for scientific development in this world.

The type of scientific progress I'm looking for is to do with physics but answers related to other types of scientific progress are helpful too.

  • $\begingroup$ Does everyone have all superpowers? Sure I don't need a phone, if I have telepathy, but unless everyone has it, someone still needs a phone. So unless they are close to omnipotent god like entities, they will still need technological solutions $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2021 at 10:15

3 Answers 3


I disagree that the presence of superpowers will cease scientific progress. I expect it would expedite it actually.

Firstly I've watched a lot of superhero movies and in none of them all the scientists quit and go home and flop on the couch for the rest of their lives. Indeed many of them scientists are useful in that they generate plots for the superheroes to fix, or tools to aid the superhero in their story.

Secondly, from personal experience, the desire to try new things and see what happens, or improve on existing things, is basically a character trait of scientists and engineers. If you lock me in a room with a computer I will create something new just for fun. The existence of superpowers would give more experiments to try, more ideas to test, and I feel would lead to an increase in research, not a decrease.

As someone from a science background, if I see someone with godlike powers, my first thought wouldnt be to give up on science cause its "wrong", I'd want to put the guy in an MRI machine and hook up every sensor I have to figure out what the new science is that replaces it is.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ As an evolutionary biologist, I can only imagine how much having superpowers would expedite research. Imagine being able to fly to the Amazon whenever I want, be able to leap up the Andes in a single bound, use lazer eyes and super speed to super-excavate fossils, or use x-ray vision to examine specimens without paying for an expensive CT machine. It wouldn't be much different than Tycho Brache and his "super vision" (at least I think it was Brahe, I remember there was at least one researcher who had abnormally good vision and saw things that couldn't be replicated until years later). $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2021 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ It's curious that this got marked as the accepted answer when it provided no answer to the question. $\endgroup$
    – puppetsock
    Jan 19, 2021 at 15:45

How many superpowered people are there? What can they do?

If every person is superpowered, and every one of them gets the exact powerset desired, maybe.

A more typical superpowered universe has more people without powers than with them, and there is also the possibility that people get powers they don't want and not those they desire above all else. Envy is a powerful additional motivation. Perhaps the impossible powers can not be copied, but they can at least be emulated.

On top of that, some superpowered people will be research minded, and others will find the most effective way to make money with powers is to work for researchers.


In the book The Economic Laws of Scientific Research by Terence Kealey, it is shown that the way to progress scientific research is to have free enterprise and free markets. And not any particular kind of research, but all science.

How can that be? Isn't it an article of faith among academics that science marches on tax dollars?

Kealey demonstrates otherwise.

Consider a private company that wants some research done, say on a new kind of transistor circuit. But they don't want to make their own lab to do one series of measurements. They would like to buy the research from a university.

They must find what motivates academics. Only partly is that money. But another, possibly larger, component comes under the heading of academic freedom. The right to publish, the right to attend conferences, the right to visit places with special resources or special facilities such as labs or archives or historic sites etc.

Money enters into it. Famous scientists have to eat. They want to get journal publications and have the lights on in their office. But they really want a visiting speaker to come tell them interesting things. And to be able to attend a conference and exchange reports on their work and so on. They want to pick their own research assistants and so on. They want to guide their own choices on what research to do.

So the transistor company comes to the uni and says here is this stack of cash to do this research. And here is this other stack of cash for the uni to support the overhead or whatever the uni wants. And the only restrictions are that the transistor company gets time to commercialize the result before full publication. As to how the uni, or the researcher, uses the money, they do not care.

So Kealey showed that this process results in 50% more money for the university as compared to government grants, and far less restrictions.

Science advances fastest with freedom.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .