Becoming the Bionic Man
Friday, November 04, 2011
Charlie Neumann is a scientist at a design company. After a gruesome accident destroys his leg, he becomes obsessed with creating a prosthetic limb superior to his old biological ones — stronger, smarter, and better-looking. Eventually, he severs his other leg to get a matched pair.
Charlie is the protagonist of Machine Man, a new novel by Max Barry. But his story has a real parallel in Hugh Herr, a leading bionics developer at MIT, and a double amputee following a mountain-climbing accident. Herr has developed legs that allow him to climb better than he could previously. With a generation of young injured veterans needing prostheses, the need to build mechanical limbs that equal or exceed natural ones is urgent.
(Courtesy of iWalk)
Will artificial limbs ever get so good that able-bodied people will want them? “People with ‘normal’ minds and bodies, I predict, will volunteer to use these technologies to go beyond what nature intended,” Herr thinks. “Maybe we shouldn't be cell- and tissue-centric. Maybe we shouldn't view our biological hand as the end-all."
Produced by Jonathan Mitchell, with performances by Ed Herbstman and Chet Siegel.
Video: iWalk PowerFoot Gait Animation
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