We've seen bionic robot-men in films for many years but is fiction now becoming a reality?

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The very latest prosthetics

In the James Bond movie Skyfall, there is a frightening moment when the bad guy of the film removes his prosthetic mouth to show his damaged face. We are scared, but amazed at the possibility. Could it be possible to replace parts of our body and even improve on the original? The UK’s Channel 4 has shown a documentary called ‘How to Build a Bionic Man’, featuring psychologist Bertolt Meyer who himself has a bionic hand. ‘Rex’, the Bionic Man, brings together scientists working on the latest research to test the limits of  prosthetic technology.

Built by leading UK roboticists Richard Walker and Matthew Godden from Shadow Robot, Rex is currently on display at London's Science Museum. The two-metre tall artificial man has 28 of the latest artificial limbs and organs and cost almost $1 million to make. He has a 3D-printed skull, a synthetic blood system and artificial pancreas, kidney, spleen and trachea.

Showing technology to the world

Walker describes how their work began about two years ago when the production company contacted him. His team proposed to obtain the very latest prosthetics and build a human from it. As Walker says, ‘see if it stands up and walks!’ Their objective was to show people the latest artificial body parts, all of which can be used in the real world. Rex was born after two and a half months of late nights and lots of pizza.

Then there are the more conventional prosthetics like the artificial hand, which uses signals from nerves in the human body for picking up and holding things. Walker explains, ‘to get the hand to pick something up, we had to simulate the human nerve signals that it would look for in the human body.’

Replacing failed organs

Walker is very surprised by how well technology is being used to build organs to function effectively when the original organ fails. So the artificial pancreas provides insulin and when insulin levels fall, insulin is released. When the insulin level rises again, the mechanical pancreas can absorb it, just like the real pancreas.

If the Bionic Man can be built again in five years’ time, Walker predicts that we will be even more surprised by what prosthetic technology can do for our bodies.

If you're interested in science check out the British Council's science magazine called Cubed

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Discussion

What do you think about the bionic man article?

Comments

catastrophe's picture
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catastrophe 1 May, 2017 - 16:44

WHOAAAAAAAAA! Science is really reaching it's peak! Who knows, in near future, our world could become something we have never heard of! But here is my request to you all the scientists present here: Please don't neglect nature in terms of science. When we create a world where science and nature co-exist, I would say we have really evolved. By the way, can someone please tell me about the Cubed in detail? Like it's cost, what it offers and stuff? Because I think I'll buy it.

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16 users have voted.
Elsa007's picture
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Elsa007 2 May, 2017 - 12:07

WOW!
This magazine is awesome!
I'll enjoy reading it :)
By the way, how come is the magazine called "Cubed"? I want to know its origine.
Thanks, Jo.

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18 users have voted.
hadia's picture
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hadia 9 December, 2016 - 13:56

Wow! This was really superb.
A Bionic Man. I didn't know the robotic man could have a synthetic blood system. And also, the artificial organs. The most fascinating part was about the stimulation of nerve impulse.
We studied in our Biology Class that nerve cells, if once dead, can never be regenerated. And of course that particular body limb fails to work as nerve impulse fails to stimulate the reflex action in limb. But this technology has really amazed me.
Indeed a great work.
Trachea?! Printed skull. And insulin production!!!!!
Wow! Means that tracheal pipe will allow respiration. Is that possible? Was a pair of lungs also connected??
Hmm.....Did that Bionic Man breathe? I doubt this point. But others, they really are cool.

Also, a funny statement.
"Rex was born after two and half months of late nights and lots of pizzas"

Lots and lots of pizzas. You really have had enjoyed that time period. ;))

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36 users have voted.
aneem's picture
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aneem 21 June, 2014 - 14:46

I really like to have a bionic man, who always be with me and be one my family members.
I think It's an awesome idea to other people not like us around.

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54 users have voted.
engleskigaga's picture
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engleskigaga 14 January, 2014 - 11:35

Bionic man is great article... This is great idea for future I think ... In future I think people have lot of this robots...
In future I want robot who can read, sing, dance and do my homework.

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57 users have voted.
sailor moon's picture
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sailor moon 1 January, 2014 - 19:56

this article is amazing. when i was a little girl i watched a cartoon film called "6 bionics".

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55 users have voted.