January 8, 2007

Would You Rather?

Which genetic mutation would you rather have?

  • Perfect teeth that need absolutely no maintenance. Somehow they stay plaque, tartar and cavity free.
  • Double the muscle strength of an average healthy human male. (judging by the force you can exert)
Posted by James at January 8, 2007 12:18 PM
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I wouldn't accidentally hurt anyone with perfect teeth.

Posted by: Mike at January 8, 2007 12:43 PM

That's a surprisingly difficult choice. At first I thought I wanted the teeth. But, assuming that the brawn is maintenance-free, I'd prefer that, for the convenience.

Posted by: Julie at January 8, 2007 12:47 PM

Yes - the strength is maintained by your normal, every-day activities.

Posted by: James at January 8, 2007 12:52 PM

And just think how well I'll be able to brush my teeth. Or rearrange the teeth of others. Yes, I'd like that.

Posted by: Julie at January 8, 2007 12:59 PM

Bacteria from poor dental health can cause problems in other parts of the body, such as the heart. Not to mention digestive problems, etc. OTOH, you have some control over that, through hygiene and regular visits to the dentist.

I don't know if there's a long-term benefit of greater muscle strength if you're not using it to exercise, which you can do with normal muscle strength. However, the stronger you are, the more fun exercise is. It's not fun when you're just starting out.

I see monetary advantages to the strength that I don't see with the teeth. For example, I would love to do a lot of physical tasks that I can't do because I'm too small and weak. I don't think I'd make a great carpenter or landscaper because of the physical demands, but I love the work. After I'd won a few contests of strength, or marketed myself as the "strongest woman alive" and did some freak shows or wrestling matches or something, then I could settle down on my 40 acres and clear it like Paul Bunyan. :-P Or use my super strength to do a super job brushing my average teeth.

I'll take the strength.

Posted by: Maggie at January 8, 2007 1:06 PM

That's easy ... A. When you suffer with teeth like mine, the idea of having healthy normal teeth is exceedingly attractive.

Posted by: Chuck S. at January 8, 2007 1:13 PM

I think I'd like to try the strength. Although I worry that it would have adversely affected my development if I'd been extraordinarily strong growing up.

Tooth problems are annoying, but I've got them managed reasonably well.

Posted by: James at January 8, 2007 1:17 PM

Having spent beaucoup d'argent on my teeth in the last few years, I'll take the perfect teeth.

Posted by: Patti M. at January 8, 2007 1:24 PM

After 14 years of orthodontia and one nasty jaw surgery, I'll take the teeth. I can always exercise for more strength, and I really don't have much need for double-male strength at my office job.

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at January 8, 2007 1:25 PM

I will absolutely take the teeth. Considering the costs and pain of maintaining them (all my childhood fillings seem to be failing, replacing with porcelin is costing a fortune). this one is a no brainer for me. I rarely think, boy I wish I was stonger so I could do that. In fact I can't ever remember wishing I was stronger.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at January 8, 2007 1:34 PM

Maggie - I doubt double the average strength of a healthy human male will get you anywhere near stongest woman alive considering what the average human male looks like (fat american slob or poor third world farmer comes to mind) in fact I'd argue most of the males on this page are already on the above average side for strength. Depends on what you mean by healthy I suppose.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at January 8, 2007 1:40 PM

Don't forget you're going to the dentist tomorrow.

Posted by: Patti M. at January 8, 2007 1:44 PM

I don't know either, Bob. I know that the average person can run seven-minute miles. That would be an average healthy young body. The fastest person can run just under 4-minute miles, not quite a doubling in performance. I don't know if it is the same factor of improvement for strength, but I'll bet I would be close to the strongest woman, and with exercise, able to beat many men wrestling.

Posted by: Maggie at January 8, 2007 3:14 PM

Bev Francis's best lifts were 501# on squats; 335# on bench press; 501# on deadlift. I believe she set those records many years ago and they have probably all been beaten by now. I don't know what's typical for an average male.

As for what is and is not possible taking steroid use into account, I couldn't even hazard a guess since most pros will deny using even after they've failed a drug test.

Okay, here are some womens' powerlifting records for the 97 pounds (lightest) weight class, per http://www.powermagonline.com/latest-news/records-women.asp:
Bench press: 231#
Squat: 377#
Deadlift: 385#

The records for heavier women are MUCH higher.

Posted by: Julie at January 8, 2007 3:35 PM

I guess I should have been more specific, because BOB is right - that doesn't sound like much and I actually did mean it to be a little more impressive than it sounds.

Lets say twice as much as your average male bodybuilder. That's much more impressive.

Posted by: James at January 8, 2007 3:37 PM

In the more practical Olympic weightlifting category (as opposed to powerlifting), the women's record for the clean & jerk is 402 pounds. Again, no clue as to how this compares to average male strength.

For some reason I found this info harder to find and it's for a heavier weight class (165+).

Posted by: Julie at January 8, 2007 3:43 PM

I suspect that the factor for strength is far different than it is for speed. I just keep thinking of how much weight professional weightlifters can lift. I'm pretty sure I couldn't lift half of that. With strength you can change your body's physique drastically so I think you can probably double your strength just by working out. I don't think you could cut your mile speed in half no matter how hard you trained. Marathon maybe but there your adding in stamina not just speed.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at January 8, 2007 3:45 PM

OK Julie and James' latest comments are visible now.

There is no way in hell I can lift 201 lb over my head. My spine would fall out if I even tried.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at January 8, 2007 3:49 PM

I'm still sticking with the teeth.

Posted by: Patti M. at January 8, 2007 3:49 PM

By the way none of this changes my answer. I would rather have care free teeth than be the strongest human on earth.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at January 8, 2007 3:50 PM

Running speed is based on the type of muscle in the legs. We all have different proportions of the different types of muscle. If you don't have the proportion of muscle types that makes a fast runner, you won't be a fast runner. And runners do train. Marathon winners run close to 5-minute miles.

If you are starting with double the strength of the average male, then with weightlifting it stands to reason you'd be twice as strong as the average male would be if he lifted weights. I have no idea what that is, and Julie's research apparently didn't turn up any facts in that area. Both running and weightlifting involve training muscles. Since you don't lift weights, Bob, I don't think it's fair to compare what you can lift to what a bodybuilder can lift. They do a lot of training.

The 7-minute mile statistic doesn't mean the average person can run a mile in seven minutes without training. It means a healthy person trained to run a mile. I'm sure most people can't run a mile, although most people seem to think they can. I've had non-runners tell me they could run 4-10 miles, and I just smile and nod. People think that because they can walk, or because they ran as kids, that they can just do it without training.

Posted by: Maggie at January 8, 2007 4:03 PM

OK Maggie, but that's not what you said earlier. You said an average healthy person could run a 7 minute mile. I thought that sounded odd because your right, I could not run for a mile except perhaps at a very slow pace or resting about 3 times. Again though, running a mile takes stamina as well as leg strength. Let's take something pretty much anybody who is mobile can do and pretty much takes stamina out of the equation, run 100 yard/meter dash. Is the fastest runner on the planet 2x faster than an average person? I don't know but I suspect he's not.

For weight lifting if we take Julie's example of clean and jerk I'd say that the average male couldn't do more than 100 -150 lbs (if that). the record for women is 3-4X that and the record for men is something higher than that. I can't believe that multiplier holds for running.

Why am I discussing this again? Oh right. back to the question, what is the benefit of this super strength? Since I'd much prefer that someone else do physical exertion for me unless it's fun (sports) I'm always going to choose teeth. I love gardening. the part I like doesn't require great feats of strength. I went to school so I wouldn't have to work my ass off to make a living.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at January 8, 2007 4:31 PM

It's OK to choose teeth.

Posted by: James at January 8, 2007 4:46 PM

I'm a little pipsqueak, so even 1x the strength of an average male would be nice for doing things around the house and yard.

Posted by: Julie at January 8, 2007 4:59 PM

Besides being able to carry the all your trash to the curb in one trip, there is another upside to greater muscular strength. It will minimize joint pain down the road. You don't just have muscles in your arms and legs, strong back and ab muscles will help relieve pressure on your spine. In similar ways, this works with most other joints. Personally, I've seen it work with shoulders and ankles (two sets of joints that I have rather bad arthritis in already...)

So, hands down, I'd rather have the strength.

Posted by: Pat at January 9, 2007 7:55 AM

I was wondering about that, Pat. I wasn't sure if muscular strength was enough, or if you needed to do weight-bearing exercise in order to maintain healthy bones and joints.

Posted by: Maggie at January 9, 2007 10:15 AM

Can I have perfect, maintenance-free teeth that can lift twice as much as the women's clean and jerk record?

Posted by: Bull at January 9, 2007 10:15 AM

That sounds like the guy in SF who could pull trolleys by rope with his teeth.

I miss "The Wide World of Sports."

Posted by: Patti M. at January 9, 2007 11:49 AM

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