The Bionic Man -- an idea spawned by TV production company Darlow Smithson Productions and built by Shadow Robot Company, both in London -- is the product of an effort to recreate as human a machine as possible out of artificial body parts. (Source: The Smithsonian Channel)
Thanks, etmax, you stated my question more clearly than I did :) It was based on the previous, failed attempts at interfacing biological elements (nerves, muscles, etc) to electronic ones due to chemical poisoning from metals. In medical materials R&D, there's been a ton of work to identify materials that can be implanted, but most of those are plastics. Titanium is the exception, but as you point out, it's used to bond with bone, not nerves.
Also, AnandY, thank you for the compliment on the story! (I forgot to say that in my previous comment.) It was a great deal of fun to write and research. I found it fascinating and am glad you did, too.
Hi, AnandY. I can answer the artificial heart question at least. It was connected to an artificial circulatory system that did indeed pump blood throughout the robot to show how it can be done. So while it didn't matter to the robot's "life" per se, it did show how it could be done artificially.
@Elizabeth, this is a great piece but one that leaves me with so many questions (a few of which am hoping someone here will answer). For starters, I know the artificial heart can't pump blood into the robot so what is it really doing there? Or is the robot just meant to be a stand on which to hang all the prosthetics and artificial body parts has been able to create without necessarily having these parts communicate or work together. And, any ideas about the artificial intelligence, however minor, included in the whole piece?
This is impressive, not because the team was able to collect all the prosthetic and artificial limbs that are already functionally being used in different parts of the world but because the team was actually able to make these parts actually work together as they would in a human body. More importantly, it provides a clear blue print of what needs to be done now in order to come up with a complete and functional bionic man.
etmax, yes, the degree of non-thinking that we see is probably going toleadto a really big disaster in the future. With the cop-out phrase of "I didn't know", which is one excuse that I don't accept any more. My reply is that when does not know, one must find out, or do something else.
@William K and @etmax, thanks for the update. Seems that nerve cells are much more sensitive than bone cells (would higher bio-electricity levels through nerves be one of the critical factors that causes this characteristic?)
WilliamK, I read an article about 6 years ago where some researchers were studying E.Coli and why it was so fragile outside the body and decideded it was due to dehydration so they transplanted some genes from an extremophile and had E.Coli that could survive anywhere. To me that was total lunacy, if it ever got out of the lab it would be a disaster.
I know they say that can't happen but we have a high security biolab nearby that does research into various pathogens to create vaccines and treatments and they were working on some chicken flu. To cut a long story short there was an accident and worker worker got infected with a non-lethal (to humans) version and was sent home and that weekend she visited family who have a large chicken farm. Nothing happened but it was so close to going awry. People are simply fallable and as a result shouldn't be allowed to do certain things.