How many of us, at one time or another, have dreamed about having a super power—to fly like a bird or possess X-ray vision or even have the slings and arrows of ordinary life harmlessly bounce off of us?
Or admire those among us who seem to have superhuman powers like the basketball player who leaps in ways that seem to defy gravity, or gymnasts that contort their bodies into impossible positions, or moms of newborns who survive on seemingly no sleep?
The question that lingers is this: Are superpowers only available to fictional comic book characters or the ultra-rare human with natural abilities that appear granted by the divine? Or are they becoming increasingly available to all of us through almost unimaginable breakthroughs and discoveries in science and technology?
Our guest on today’s episode of In Search of Lost Mojo, Dr. Paul Zehr, is the man to ask.
He is professor of kinesiology and neuroscience at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. He’s well-known in the scientific community for his work on the neural control of human locomotion—how the arms and legs interact during walking—and how the brain’s ability to adapt is associated with rehabilitation in stroke victims.
But he’s best known to the general public as the author of a trilogy of popular science books, all using superheroes as the basis for investigations into the future of human performance.
His 2008 book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero, is essentially a guide for understanding how the human body works and responds to exercise.
In 2011, he published Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine, exploring what it would mean to the human body, and the nervous system in particular, to use an integrated exoskeleton like the Iron Man suit of armor.
His latest book, Chasing Captain America: How Advances in Science, Engineering and Biotechnology will produce a Superhuman, demonstrates the medical and scientific possibilities of recreating an entirely new human by radically altering their biology.
Paul is a regular speaker at conference and comic conventions and has written extensively on exercise, science, and superheroes in publications such as Scientific American, Men’s Health, and Popular Mechanics. He’s practiced and taught martial arts for over 25 years, and is a double black belt martial arts master. It’s his study of martial arts that he attributes to getting him interested in science in the first place.
In this episode, we talk about the genesis of his superhero trilogy, the promise and perils of the science and technology that can enhance human performance, and why everyone can always get a little closer to being superhuman.
Please enjoy this super episode of In Search of Lost Mojo with Dr. Paul Zehr. After the show’s over, check the show notes and all of our other interviews at timzak.com/podcast.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” A generation ago, that question acted as a prompt for young children to let their imaginations run wild and, with encouragement, a way to convey the notion to them that anything was possible. Fireman? Astronaut? Centerfielder for the Yankees? Sure, why not?
Today, that question is used more like a divining rod to get kids funneled into the educational assembly line. There, a carefully curated path of advanced coursework, extracurricular activities, tutoring, and the discipline of a monk might get you into a “good” college which might allow you to get a good job which might ensure that you don’t end up as societal roadkill. No wonder, as Stanford professor Carol Dweck has remarked, that the students she sees are “brittle, exhausted, and broken.”
But what about those who don’t figure out their supreme destiny right away? Is there any hope for the masses who are still trying to figure it out?
Our guest on today’s episode of In Search of Lost Mojo, makes the case that many of us should unload our existential angst about SAT scores, ignore conventional wisdom about early success, and find our own supreme destiny in our own time and in our own way.
Rich Karlgaard is the publisher of Forbes Magazine and author of Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement.
By his own admission, Rich was a late bloomer. He was an unremarkable student at Stanford who was admitted, in part, because his 1000-yard run time in track was mistaken for the longer 1000 meters. After graduation, he kicked around a variety of jobs including dishwasher, security guard, and technical writer for a nonprofit research institute.
His long hours of reading Sports Illustrated in the Stanford library paid off when, in 1989, he and a partner created Upside Magazine, modeled after that magazine’s unique style and designed to be perhaps the first publication “for Silicon Valley about Silicon Valley”. That effort caught the eye of Steve Forbes who brought him into his eponymous magazine to start the magazine Forbes ASAP and write a column entitled Digital Rules. Late Bloomers is the third in a trilogy of Rich’s best-selling books that also include Life 2.0 and The Soft Edge.
In this episode, we talk about how we got so obsessed with early achievement, what science tells us about why so many of us bloom later in life, myths that need be busted about “old brains,” how Corporate America should think differently about their HR policies, and much, much more.
Please enjoy this wide-ranging episode of In Search of Lost Mojo with a late blooming sage of Silicon Valley, Rich Karlgaard.
Clarence Bass is an 80+ year-old writer, fitness expert, and the subject of one of the world’s most comprehensive long-term studies of human aging.
He burst onto the scene in the late 1970’s when he won the 40+ Mr. America and Mr. USA bodybuilding titles with a measured body fat of just over 2 percent; for comparison, world-class marathoners customarily top out at about 5-6 percent! His best-known book and DVD series, Ripped: The Sensible Way to Achieve Ultimate Muscularity, chronicled his unique-for-the-times training methods and lead to becoming a columnist for Muscle and Fitness magazine, one of the earliest bibles of the health and wellness movement.
Bass' fitness achievements continued after he retired from competitive bodybuilding when, in the early 1990’s, he started concentrating on indoor rowing, which culminated in becoming the 4th ranked rower aged 60 to 69 in the U.S. at 500-meters.
He’s been named "one of America’s greatest fitness visionaries” and has meticulously chronicled his almost 70 years of study and practice of optimizing human performance, much of which is found on his website cbass.com and at the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports at The University of Texas at Austin.
In this episode, we talk about the keys to motivation, bucking conventional wisdom, the role of technology in fitness, adjusting throughout the aging process, the power of optimism, and much, much more.
Please enjoy this age-defying episode of In Search of Lost Mojo with fitness guru and living legend, Clarence Bass.
My long-time friend Chip Walter is an author, journalist, National Geographic Explorer, filmmaker, and was one of CNN’s first and youngest bureau chiefs whose travels have taken him to six continents. His books, including one co-written with the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner, all explore scientific topics at the intersection of human behavior and technology’s rapid advances.
His latest book is Immortality, Inc.--Renegade Science, Silicon Valley Billions and the Quest to Live Forever, written for National Geographic Books. It's a fascinating read chronicling a new, audacious group of scientists, doctors, researchers, and entrepreneurs who are attempting to even the score and discover how we can all live at least hundreds of more years longer than ever thought possible. It’s the story of big money, big ideas, and big egos who are either really on to something or will soon get relegated to the junk heap of dreamers who came before them.
In this episode, we talk about why radical life extension might actually be possible this time, the great debates we should be having now if we really could live almost forever, whether madness and genius are inexorably linked, and what Chip has learned throughout his fascinating career. In addition, we talk about Chip and his wife’s audacious plan to embark on their own epic, once-in-a-lifetime, not-sure-ever-tried-before journey around the world.
Please enjoy this mind-bending and inspiring episode of In Search of Lost Mojo with the perhaps "The Most Interesting Man in the World", Chip Walter!
Dr. Mildred Myers is a Professor of Business Management Communication emerita at Carnegie Mellon University. She’s a consultant on organizational communication and media relations to many C-level executive clients in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Millie is Chair of the Board of Trustees at WQED Multimedia, the nation’s first community supported TV station founded in 1954 and home to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood among other pioneering shows and programming. In addition, she is Vice Chair of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and was formerly on the Board of the world-renowned Pittsburgh Symphony where she was instrumental in marshaling the organization through a number of critical leadership transitions.
On the show, we talk about ageism in modern society, toughness and resilience, navigating through uncertain times, aging with grace, commitment, impact, and much, much more…
Please enjoy this oozing-with-wisdom episode of In Search of Lost Mojo with my good friend, Dr. Millie Myers!
Mitch Seavey is a 3-time winner of the Iditarod, a sled dog race from a ceremonial start in Anchorage to Nome, Alaska that’s been called the “Last Great Race on Earth”. Teams often run the 1000-mile race through blizzards causing whiteout conditions and confront sub-zero temperatures and winds that can cause the wind chill to reach -100 degrees.
In 2017, at 57, Seavey won the race as the oldest winner ever in a record time of just over 8 days. He competed in his first Iditarod in 1982 at the age of 22 and has run ever Iditarod since 1995, racking up more than 15 top-10 finishes.
John Goodenough is a 95 year-old professor at the University of Texas who’s known around the world as the father of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. He’s a National Medal of Science winner with over 800 journal articles, nearly 100 book chapters, and 8 books who recently filed a patent application for a new kind of battery that may usher in the next unimaginable era of discovery that will affect us all.
Joe Friel has coached world class endurance athletes for more than three decades and is the cofounder of TrainingPeaks.com and TrainingBible Coaching. He is the author of more than a dozen books on athletic training including his latest, “Fast After 50”, that provides a detailed blueprint for masters athletes to improve their performance.
Wally Hesseltine is a 73 year-old ultradistance marathoner who, for the past 35 years, has run more than 500 races and 170 ultramarathons including six sub-30 hour finishes of the Western States 100, one of the premier endurance running races in the world.
Mike Schiller is a 50+ big peak mountain climber, wilderness adventurer, and serial entrepreneur preparing to embark on a new quest inspired by a book that’s nearly 150 years-old.
Dr. Vonda Wright is an orthopedic surgeon, Medical Director of the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, founder of the Performance and Research Initiative for Masters Athletes (PRIMA), and an internationally recognized authority on active aging and mobility. She is the author of “Fitness After 40”, “Guide to Thrive”, and “Younger in 8 Weeks”.