There are video game nerds, comic book nerds, and even sports nerds, but a true nerd isn’t just some guy obsessed with muscle-y men hitting each other. As Milhouse explained in an episode of the Simpsons, “nerds are smart.” Now, a biologist at Stanford is blending these two worlds together by using science to explain how famous superheroes might actually work in real life.

The first two subjects of his science-splaining are Captain America—the scrawny guy that becomes a living embodiment of America’s fondness for tight pants and shields—and The Hulk—the scientist that gets transformed into a green rage monster. For those who aren’t nerds of any sort, the comic book explanation for how Captain America got his super strength is a mysterious “super soldier serum,” with the movie version throwing in some kind of glowing chamber as well. The Hulk became the Hulk by being exposed to gamma rays, a real thing that doesn’t turn people into monsters.


So how might this actually work? Apparently with something called “epigenetics.” We’re not scientitians, though, so we’ll let Stanford’s Sebastian Alvarado explain it for us:

Frankly, we’re most intrigued by the idea that this sort of thing is already being tested in lab mice. Does that mean there’s a superhero mouse running around the biology department at Stanford? Does he have a tiny shield that he throws at Nazi cats?


[h/t Laughing Squid]