(The content for Ask Ms. Jessica comes from real questions from real people sent to AskMsJessica@gmail.com)
Dear Ms. Jessica
I've seen mutants that manage to separate the head from its body or other limb and wanted to know exactly how that works. Thank you
Hello Ms Jessica,
I admit, this is a couple questions in one, but I feel they’re connected because they all have to do with modular mutations:
1. I’ve seen instances where mutants are capable of not only separating parts of their body from themselves, but they can also control these parts with as much functionality as they did when attached. How can these mutants exhibit communication between these detached parts, in what appears like some form of telepathy?
2. Related to (1), what about cases when the detached parts take on minds of their own? Do they have separate brains or brain-like structures, or is it an adaptation that is made when parts separate? And what happens if someone can feel a detached part, but it otherwise functions on its own accord?
3. This isn’t something I can recall seeing in particular, but I have read it mentioned online: are there examples of modular mutants that can attach parts of themselves to foreign locations (such as swapping limbs, or attaching a body part to another person), and give function of this part to that new location? For instance, giving someone who has not mutated control over a third arm from a modular mutant, or a mutant who can remove their head and legs attaching those parts directly to each other, bypassing their chest? If there are examples, is there any explanation or hypothesis as to how this process works?
I apologise that this is a lot all at once, but thank you for looking at my questions.
Don’t worry about asking so many questions. It just means you are curious and curiosity is the backbone of science! I can take a shot at answering them all, no problem.
It seems you are both most interested in modular mutants, and very rightly so. Almost all modular mutants are level 4 mutants, meaning that we have very little understanding on how their bodies work. In fact, some seem to defy the laws of physics themselves! You might think it’s magic, after all that’s what the M in NBM stands for, but magic is just science we don’t yet sufficiently understand, and there are several theories about modular mutants that leading scientists have developed.
First, let’s talk about biology. We have currently recorded three separate types of modular mutants. The first is the one we understand the most, a mutant with redundant bodily systems.
What does this mean? Well some mutants can only detach at certain points. This is because the method of their detachment has to do with their internal organs. In short, each detached segment is, for all intents and purposes, its own being. That means it has its own heart, lungs, digestive system, and even brain. So if a mutant can remove their head, it is possible that the head has its own miniature system of organs, in addition to the body, which has grown an extra brain (possibly a slave brain as mentioned in issue 6.)
Their separation point acts as a sort of “connector” for important body pathways. Arteries, nerves, muscles, and other important body systems at the split have the ability to interlock with the ones on the other separated part of the body, usually through microscopic cellular lattices. This allows them to form one bigger system of redundant organs when attached, or two when detached. They essentially just lock their body systems into one another. Interesting fact, modular mutants with this type of mutation are actually not level 4 mutants. We have seen similar behavior in certain lizards, crustaceans, and cephalopods.
Of course, then there is the question of how they control their modular body parts, and that’s a more interesting one, once again with multiple theories. One theory simply assumes a certain amount of universal determinism. This topic gets a little heavy so let me explain.
Universal determinism is a school of scientific thought that postulates that free will does not exist. For all intents and purposes, on our macroscopic scale of living, free will exists, but if you were able to accurately track and model the state of every particle and wave in the universe, all we really are is just chemical and physical reactions bouncing off one another. Hence everything we do is predetermined since the big bang, and we have all been just systems interacting with each other since then. If you are interested in learning more about this theory, check out this amazing YouTube video by Up and Atom ( https://youtu.be/qRKXFDNjwJ0 )
Didn’t mean to get philosophical on you, but this school of thought is important for the first theory of modularity, which states that modular body parts with a separate brain simply know what to do, because they were aware of the body’s state before they split. Let me try to simplify this a bit.
Say you walked up to the door to your room and opened your door. Easy right? Now do the same thing but when you get to the door close your eyes. You can still open the door right? That’s because, even when you cut off your sense of sight, you still have a general feeling of the world around you based on where you were before.
Modular mutants are theorized to do this on just a much bigger and more complex level. Modular body parts with separate brains don’t actually communicate with their other body parts, but seem to simply because they know what the separated parts will do and vice versa, based on the state of their body before the split. Hard determinism in action.
If this theory were true it would explain a lot of things. For example, sometimes modular mutants that remain separated start developing individual personalities. The theory there is that their individual body parts can predict less and less what each other would do as they stay separate. Take the eyes closed example again. You can probably open the door with your eyes closed if you shut your eyes in front of it. But could you walk from your bed to the door with your eyes shut? Could you walk from your front lawn to the door with your eyes shut? How far removed from being in synch with your open eyes do you have to be before you do something different than you originally predicted, i.e., opening the door? For modular mutants it may be the same, just once again on a bigger scale.
Of course, the scientific community is split on whether or not the universe is actually deterministic, and thus there is another competing theory: quantum entanglement. I know you probably didn’t expect such a complicated answer, but modular mutants are complicated beings.
Many neuroscientists theorize that our brains are essentially quantum computers that operate via electrochemical signals. Well, quantum entities are capable of being entangled. It’s a bit hard to explain but, here’s the long and short of it. Two entities, usually particles, are quantum entangled when the state of one is affected by the state of the other. This can happen regardless of distance between the two particles. For more information, check out this amazing video by Veritasium (https://youtu.be/ZuvK-od647c )
Anyway, some scientists theorize that when a single brain splits into several brains or sub-brains, they become quantum entangled with each other. In theory, every chemical and physical process that occurs in one brain causes chemical and physical processes to occur in the other, regardless of the distance between the two. This would allow a mutant with separated body parts to control them regardless of distance.
(As a small personal side note, quantum entanglement also explains why it’s very likely that multiple parallel universes exist and I just think that is amazing. It’s further explained in this other amazing video by Veriasium. https://youtu.be/kTXTPe3wahc Heck, there’s probably a universe out there where mutants don’t exist at all. Could you believe that?)
Well I certainly fell down a fact hole there. Believe it or not, more complex Level 4 mutations are, strangely, much simpler to explain, though they are much harder to understand.
There is a type of Level 4 mutation, some people call them goo-girls or clay girls, but those aren’t very good scientific designators. What’s really happening in these girls is that their cells are losing differentiation.
You’ve heard of stem cells before, right? These are progenitor cells that can then go on to become whatever organ or tissue we need. Well, some mutants experience a radical mutation that makes their cells regress into variants of these stem cells. Instead of some cells being muscle, some being bone, some being neurons, and so forth, all of their cells perform all of their tasks. In a way, they are much less like humans and much more like slime molds, or the great fungal forests of the world. One has to wonder if they didn’t have their human memories, maybe they wouldn’t retain their human styled forms at all.
Anyway, mutants like these can pretty much detach their body parts at a whim, or really do whatever else they want to do with themselves. They can stretch, they can mold themselves into different shapes, they can even attach their limbs to others or attach other limbs to themselves. Their undifferentiated cells will simply adapt to whatever circumstance they need to be in, forming new systems of muscles and arteries as they need. As for how mutants like this communicate with their body parts, once again it’s not know but the two major theories are the same as the theories above, either the deterministic theory or the quantum entanglement theory.
There is one other type of modular mutant that science knows even less about. They are called “wormhole” mutants, and are currently the biggest mystery in mutant science. When a wormhole mutant detaches a limb, none of the processes we talked about earlier happen. In fact, we aren’t sure what happens… because their body doesn’t actually act like they are separate! For some reason, it’s as if their body is just ignoring the laws of space and time. They are… for all intents and purposes… still connected, but they exist in two places at once.
Let me try to explain better. Say we let one of these mutants swallow a tracer pill. If their head was disconnected from their body, the tracer pill would go down their throat to the point at which their neck ends, and then just show up where their neck would attach to their shoulder, in their body’s esophagus, as if it were teleported. Simply put, these mutants are not separated, they just LOOK as though they are separated.
Mind blowing, right? It’s entirely unclear what is going on here. Perhaps these mutants are some form of ultra-complex quantum entanglement. Perhaps they actually mutated through a higher dimension, like a fourth dimensional space, such that their body is connected in that dimension but is unconnected in these three dimensions. It’s highly unlikely that they are creating “wormholes” because that would require an immense amount of energy and mass to do, but it is fairly clear they are operating in areas of space and time we don’t yet understand.
Personally, I believe they HAVE to be fourth dimensional beings, and their body is simply moving through a dimension that we, and for that matter, they can’t see. (For more information on higher dimensional mathematics and physics, please see this classic video by the great Carl Sagan https://youtu.be/N0WjV6MmCyM)
Well that was quite a lecture wasn’t it? As I said before, modular mutants are an interesting and fascinating topic. There are whole classes devoted to them, and whole teams of scientists and research assistants devoted to studying how they work at universities around the globe. Studying “goo-girls” can likely teach us about how to use stem cells to heal wounds and sicknesses, and studying “wormhole” mutants can teach us about the very inner workings of the fabric of space and time itself.
All this knowledge gained by a few simple quirks of genetics.
As always, stay curious!
Dr. Jessica Park