LONDON (TIP): Man has once again played God. The world’s first bionic man Rex, created using nearly $1 million-worth of state-of-the-art limbs and organs — synthetic blood from Sheffield University, prosthetic legs and ankle from MIT, retinas from Oxford University, artificial kidneys, pancreas and spleens from University College London and artificial lungs from Swansea was unveiled at London’s Science Museum on Thursday.
A mixture of Robocop and Frankenstein, Rex — who has the face of a man is 6.5-feet tall with striking brown eyes. He was jointly built with the help of over 18 companies and universities and for the first time gives tangible hope that replacing body parts with man-made alternatives can finally be possible. Rex, the work of by UK roboticists Richard Walker and Matthew Godden with the support of the Wellcome Trust, will be displayed at London’s Science Museum from February 7-March 11. In the two centuries since Mary Shelley’s Dr Frankenstein brought a ‘monster’ to life, the subject has fascinated science fiction in books, comics, film and TV.
Now research on advanced prosthetic arms and legs, as well as artificial eyes, hearts, lungs — and even hybrids between computer chips and living brains — means that scientists are finally able to replace body parts and even improve on human abilities. The project involves Bertolt Meyer, a social psychologist from Switzerland who has a bionic hand himself. He met scientists working at the cutting edge of research to find out just how far this new technology can go. “I’ve looked around for new bionic technologies for a very long time and I think that until six years ago nothing much was happening.
And then suddenly now we get this explosion of innovation,” says Bertolt. “I think we are now at a point where we can build a body that is great and beautiful in its own special way.” Bertolt has had prosthetic hands since he was a child. His new £30,000 bionic hand, which can grasp and twist, is the most advanced on the market. But technology is moving so fast that Bertolt’s bionic hand could soon be obsolete. A far more advanced arm is being developed, the product of more than $100 million-worth of research into bionic limbs, funded by the US military.