Wolverine Vs Science

Posted by Methos (40103 posts) - - Show Bio

This is basically in response to a thread i've been reading in the Wolverine forums regarding his healing powers and how they actually work. I thought it'd be fun to actually reseach his healing factor and see if it would actually work with real world science... sort of bringing science back into comics :D
First off, I’d like to say a few things about Wolverine. This Marvel superhero is a well thought out character, with great powers and a great look. He’s savage, he’s mysterious, and is rough around the edges; he’s a loose cannon. Maybe that’s why everyone likes him so much. I however, feel seriously fed up with Wolverine. He’s become so popular that he makes appearances in almost every Marvel video game, television show, or toy line up. It’s kind of pissing me off now.

His mutant power; called his “healing factor,” allows him to rapidly counteract toxins, disease, and irritants. His body heals quickly from physical injury, and he is seldom afflicted by poisons. What a power to have! But what would have to happen on the cellular level for such healing abilities to occur?

Let us start with the physical injuries. Wolverine battles it out with Deadpool in an abandoned factory. As they exchange blows, Deadpool initiates a cunning attack forcing Wolverine to expose his chest. Deadpool seizes the opportunity to lunge his dagger between Wolverine’s ribcage. After withdrawing the dagger Deadpool ducks away in the shadows, assuming his enemy is incapacitated. Now this is where the healing factor kicks in. Within minutes, the wound is nowhere to be seen. It’s as though Wolverine was never stabbed in the first place. For this to occur, all of the surrounding cells would have to multiply at an alarming rate. Any organs, skin, or tissue severed would go into a state of hyper-mitosis. 
There would need to be a trigger in the body telling the cells to quickly make up for any loss of structure. It’s not like his cells are normally in a state of hyper-mitosis, or he would age way too rapidly. Aging is generally a process that takes place after many generations of mitosis. Wolverine would look 50 when he’s 15 if his cells were always in such a state. So these cells divide at extreme speeds when needed. Cell bodies travel through the cytoplasm at incredible rates, and DNA is read and copied without error at similar speeds. After all is said and done, Wolverine shows no sign of scarring, meaning that he heals differently than normal humans do. Scarring is a result of tissue overlap as the wound heals. Wolverine must have an internal mechanism that coordinates all cell structures to lay identical to the original layout of his body.

Let us move on to his immune system. Wolverine walks into a room, and sees a glass of wine on the table. A letter beside the glass says “drink me.” As Wolverine lifts the glass from the table, he inadvertently springs a trap that releases a vapour containing viral and bacterial organisms into the room. The organisms are lethal to humans in few numbers. Furthermore, the wine glass contained a poison strong enough to kill Sasquatch. After a few minutes of torturous pain coming from his lungs and stomach, Wolverine slashes the door with his claws; freeing him of the death trap. Another minute is all he needs for the pain to subside. His body has completely fought off both the poison and the infectious disease. How did he do this?

Poisons are varied from those that simply eat away at bio-matter, to those that shut down integral cellular functions; forcing the cell to become incapacitated. Toxins are similar in its destruction. It is possible to explain the healing process with the hyper-mitosis theory, where the cells just keep dividing until the entire toxin or poison is used up. Once there is no more poison or antigen, the body can return to its normal state. But what will become of the viruses or bacteria? Such organisms multiply endlessly until expunged by the immune system. 
A normal humans immune system takes anywhere from 5 days to weeks when responding to foreign bodies. By the time the immune system recognizes the foreign body and makes the proper antibodies, the person can be in serious trouble. Wolverine’s immune system would not only need to recognize foreign bodies really quickly, but it would need to replicate the proper amount of antibodies almost instantaneously. Such antibodies would also need to circulate through the body at an incredible rate. So does Wolverine have some kind of speed-up mechanism throughout his body? Does the Flash from DC comics have the same ability?

Lastly, his aging. Aging is often due to errors in DNA replication, causing wrinkles, liver spots, disease, and lack of pigment. But it is almost as if there is an internal countdown in our cells. DNA has a tail end with many added proteins (aka Guanine, Tyrosine, Adenine, Cytosine) that do absolutely nothing; however each time a cell replicates, one of those proteins is lost. This means that eventually (after so much replication) the cells will stop cutting out useless proteins that don't code for anything, and will begin to cut out useful proteins that are important to our genetic makeup. 
Remember what I said about Logan's aging? I mentioned that he would look 50 when he was 15, because his cells divide much more rapidly than that of a normal human's cells. But in order for Wolverine's age to be slowed to a crawl (because I think he does still age, if only at a fraction of the rate of everyone else. Mainly because if he didn’t age at some level, then he would still be at the age he was when his healing factor first kicked in), he must have some kind of internal mechanism that either replenishes those proteins at the tail of the DNA strand, or he has way more unused proteins than the average man.
Well, this blog was mostly dedicated to trying to make Wolvey’s powers of healing plausible, rather than seeing if it could actually be possible in the real world. Though the perspective was off, it still pretty much proves that a “healing factor” is not currently explainable with real world science. Sorry Logan.

#1 Posted by .Mistress Redhead. (27083 posts) - - Show Bio

 Im guessing life is not so busy for you right now M?  
your girl on holiday away from you? XD we havent seen you this much for evvvveeerrr!

#2 Posted by The_Warlord (1777 posts) - - Show Bio

Hmm, this makes Wolverine's powers sound possible.
But how about when Wolverine tries to slash something stronger than his Muscles, wouldn't his claws tear right through his skin?

#3 Posted by Methos (40103 posts) - - Show Bio

lol, nah, just finally got a few days off work :D
Ok, so this isn't completely finished yet... i only worked on his Healing Factor so far, i'll work on his claws and the physics behind them later...

#4 Posted by xerox_kitty (15761 posts) - - Show Bio

I love this.  It's like saying 'Dear Marvel, you got it all wrong' ;)  But you've got to love comic book logic, it allows for so many weird and wacky things.  And then we start to argue over them as if they're real (although that says more about us as fans, rather than the logic of the writers). 
Oh, and I don't mean to sound like a smart-arse, but: Deadpool siezes the opportunity to lunge his dagger between Wolverine’s ribcage    :)
#5 Posted by Methos (40103 posts) - - Show Bio

DoH... spellcheck fail lol

#6 Posted by xerox_kitty (15761 posts) - - Show Bio

Sorry!!  Well, if it makes you feel better it was spelt right...  just the wrong word.  Otherwise, 9.5 out of 10 for research, content & presentation ;)

#7 Posted by Coldheart (367 posts) - - Show Bio

Great article!!!

#8 Posted by Methos (40103 posts) - - Show Bio

thanks peeps...
if there is any other Superhero you'd like me to turn my scientific eye on, just leave me a note :D

#9 Posted by LoganRogue24 (1185 posts) - - Show Bio

wow Methos awesome article i liked it great job.
#10 Posted by Emperor Gonzo Noir (19714 posts) - - Show Bio

Put the Thing under the microscope, I've been wondering about him

#11 Posted by Steph666 (12 posts) - - Show Bio

Well as you stated his healing factor would be understandable if it was due to a state of control of "hyper - mitosis" but it would lead to hyper ageing, as stated by the telomere theory and also by you that after each   successive cell division part of the chromosome is lost hence leading for him to age very fast no matter if he was able to control this state or not as he has healed himself so often he would be a old man by now, also constant cell division has its side effects as mitosis is limited, also known as " degradation" as usually cells have a something called the hayflick limit stoping them from reproducing after the 52nd cell divisions, this would then mean he would loose his ability to heal at one point, not his super healing but just healing like a normal person. But if he was able to successive cell division without damaging the telomeres  (part of chromosome which is lost during cell division) and had "hyper- mitosis" it would explain both his healing abilities as well as him not ageing.  
Now to move on to the toxins part in fact you are correct that he would require his immune system to identify an foreign body and create anti-bodies at extreme speeds, but he would not require fast mechanical circulation of some sort as you believe, it would be more logical that he just had a larger count of white blood cells as the main problem with toxins is that the body is unable to create antigens for a long period of time stretching for several days.But if he was able to make the correct antigens within a short period of time, as white blood cells can travel through tissues using the fact that Wolverine has "hype- mitosis" would mean a cure would be spread around his body in minutes.  
Pardon any typing mistakes I tend to write in short form a lot.

#12 Posted by SoA (4695 posts) - - Show Bio

i actually enjoyed reading this , thanks for this scientific approach to wolvie. idk  if uve done this with other characters but i think you should go for it . it could be like ur own column. "science meets comics" (patent pending) lol

#13 Posted by WoundingFactor (178 posts) - - Show Bio

Wanna take a whack at explaining his recovery from Nitro's explosion? :P Growing enough flesh and tissue to cover one's body again out of nothing is quite the magic trick.

#14 Posted by Joeybagad0nutz (1378 posts) - - Show Bio
Scraps of cells? I guess you could say when nitro exploded wolverine cells hide behind his rib cage and began to reproduce from there.
#15 Posted by WoundingFactor (178 posts) - - Show Bio
@JoeRiccadonna: But he was stripped down to his skeleton... It's not like there was anything left in his ribcage, and being attached to metal while being surrounded with a couple hundred degrees fahrenheit would kill all of the cells (it's not like Wolverine has every demonstrated any sort of superhuman resistance to damage). I mean, I guess he could have reconstituted his tissue from his brain, but realistically, it's not like that tissue wouldn't have been flash-fried as well.
#16 Posted by Joeybagad0nutz (1378 posts) - - Show Bio
Well, Wolverine isn't 100 percent covered in adamantium. So, he could have began his cellular reconstruction begining with the bones that are inside the skeleton.
#17 Posted by Green Skin (2932 posts) - - Show Bio

Sounds a lot like a book I read a few years back.

#18 Posted by WoundingFactor (178 posts) - - Show Bio
@JoeRiccadonna: Well, yeah, but aren't his bones pretty much skinned in the stuff? Heck, I thought I remembered them being fused with adamantium on a molecular level. In either case though, extreme heat is still conducted by adamantium (it just has a ridiculously high melting point) and the same heat would fry all of his bone marrow. Even if his cells all survived, they're creating new cells out of...what exactly? I mean, it's not like a healing factor is just a magic wand that lets you violate the law of conservation.
Ah well, science problems aside, it'll be fun to see Wolverine go to Hell. Maybe he'll meet Jason :P
#19 Posted by mewmdude77 (993 posts) - - Show Bio

If you put perfectly correct science into comics, there really won't be anything, but Spider-Man's webbing and Batman. The real life science of Superheroes is really non-exsistent. 
Nice research

This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.