Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Web Secret 430: you read it here first

Any Matrix fans in the audience?

There is a scene at the beginning of the movie where agents hold Neo down and forcefully insert an insectlike device into his stomach.

Later the bloody wriggling insect is removed from Neo. Is it a machine? Is it an organism? Something in between?


That movie was made 17 years ago.

That creature immediately came to mind when I read "Stingray Robot Powered by Light, and Living Rat Cells," an article by Steph Yin published in a July 2016 issue of the New York Times:

"If a robot is made of living cells, can respond to external stimuli and has the ability to compute and coordinate movement, is it alive?

This question can be posed of a new, tiny stingray-inspired robot that is able to follow pulses of light to swim through an obstacle course.

'It’s not an organism per se, but it’s certainly alive,' said Kevin Kit Parker, a professor of bioengineering at Harvard University and one of the authors of a paper detailing the robot, published in Science on Thursday.

To create the robot, which measures 16 millimeters in length, Dr. Parker’s team layered heart cells from rats onto a gold and silicone scaffold that they designed to resemble a stingray. They then injected a gene into the cells that caused them to contract when exposed to blue light...

The new artificial stingray advances the nascent field of 'biohybrid' robotics, which integrates mechanical engineering with genetic and tissue engineering..."

I encourage you to go to the url, and look at the photos that accompany the article. This man made stingray looks so lifelike that it blows my mind.

What will this technology do for us in the future?

Something amazing.

You read it here first.

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