Human exploration of the world
It's a big universe out there, and mankind has only started exploring.
The conquest of space is progressing far quicker than in our world. Putting aside the travels of certain super-powered individuals (Phantom is an alien, and the Avatar once fought Upstart inside Jupiter's atmosphere. The perturbation could be observed with telescopes), the space programs of various nations were not too different from those of the real world...Until the 90s. Just when Omnicorp (having adapted Gashren technology after Garzor's second invasion) was starting to get into the space launch business with its own fully reusable space shuttles, Venture Industries created the Tower of Babel, allowing cheap, massive access to outer space. They have since established a permanent research base on the Moon, as well as sent several manned expeditions to Mars and back. They've suggested that they're working on ways to mine the asteroid belt for raw materials, but they're not quite there yet.
Exploration beyond the Solar System is another matter. Physicists agree that the speed of light cannot be broken, and so far, no Earth-created vehicle can attain relativistic speeds (the Gashren could, but Omnicorp say they haven't been able to replicate that so far). Knowledge of alien civilizations is next to nil: Tagton won't speak of what lies beyond Earth, Phantom claims to have no memories prior to his coming into existence within the confines of the Solar System, and Garzor...Well, Garzor tried to conquer the Earth. Twice.
The exploration of the oceans garners less interest. Though there are as many marine explorers as in our world, they haven't found any trace of intelligent life beneath the seas...Even Atlantis seems to be a mere legend. That doesn't prevent certain people from taking a more pragmatic interest in the oceans - AquaSteed Incorporated, for instance, has made a fortune from shipping, aquaculture, and the gathering of some raw materials from beneath the water.
Last but not least, inter-dimensional exploration - a field that only took off after Madman's arrival. It ought to be noted (and will be known by characters with a few ranks in Physics) that inter-dimensional research is divided into two areas: The exploration of other planes, and the exploration of other universes.
Other planes are still a part of our universe, existing in parallel to the "prime plane" where Earth exists. They're basically "right next" to us, just a little distance away in the extra dimensions predicted by string theory (or at least, so goes the most prevalent hypothesis these days). They often have slightly different rules, but are relatively easy to access with advanced science and magic. Relatively. Limbo, where magic was imprisoned, was one such plane; scientists and mystics alike have concluded that there exists a psychic plane (possibly several) linked to the effects of sentient mind on quantum physics, and Causality of the Global Champions has theorized that the psychic plane plays a central role in the mechanics of magic.
Traveling through the planes is no small matter...But it can still be done by understandable science and magic. Travel to other universes is another matter altogether, though. Each universe has multiple planes, like our own - and, it is believed, the same laws of physics. The only way to travel between them, however, is with hyper-advanced technology that Venture Industries were able to create after observing the site where Madman has portaled into our universe. How it works - like most of Madman's technology - remains a mystery; by Venture Industries' own admission, their portals are still prototypical, imprecise, and unsafe, making inter-universal exploration even more hazardous than inter-planar exploration (which is saying something).
The media, as well as public opinion, are not too favorable to Venture Industries' inter-dimmensional exploration program (whose results are mostly kept secret anyway). After all, Madman came from another universe, and Avalon from Limbo; the whole business is looked upon as "asking for trouble".