“Looking to take advantage of sperm’s awesome swimming ability, researchers have cyborg-ized bull semen by positioning them inside tiny metal cylinders that can be steered with magnets. This means we now have a way to control a cell’s direction inside the body — a breakthrough that could lead to efficient microscopic robots.
With the mobility aspect taken care of, the researchers were able to orient the microtubes using external magnetic fields. The process works similarly to how a compass needle aligns with Earth’s magnetic field. …biohybrid micro-robots are harmless to the human body, they provide their own power, and they can swim through viscous liquids”
“Bioengineers at Harvard University have created the first examples of cyborg tissue: Neurons, heart cells, muscle, and blood vessels that are interwoven by nanowires and transistors.
These cyborg tissues are half living cells, half electronics. As far as the cells are concerned, they’re just normal cells that behave normally — but the electronic side actually acts as a sensor network, allowing a computer to interface directly with the cells. In the case of cyborg heart tissue, the researchers have already used the embedded nanowires to measure the contractions (heart rate) of the cells.”
March 17, 2010 – Original Source: Popular Science
The success paves the way for intracellular processors that could monitor and control on the cellular level
Chips in Cells Human cells might play host to thousands of transistors J.A.Plaza, IMB-CNM (CSIC)
Scientists have already created mini-cyborgs out of living cells and semiconductor materials, but now biological cells can also contain tiny silicon chips. Those silicon chips could become future intracellular sensors that monitor microscopic activities, deliver drugs to target cells or even repair cell structures, according to Nanowerk.
Experiments found that living human cells can ingest or receive injections of silicon chips and continue functioning as usual for the most part. More than 90 percent of chip-containing HeLa cells — the first immortal human cell line derived from a poor, cancer-stricken woman – still survived a week after receiving their silicon loads.
Other studies have tested nanoparticles inside living cells. But silicon chips allow for much easier integration of electronics and mechanical parts, say scientists at the Instituto de Microelectrónica de Barcelona in Spain.
The study published in the aptly-named journal Small opens the doors for possibly putting microprocessors and other silicon-based devices inside cells. That could lead to promising developments for both micro-computing and medicine.
It may also represent a small step toward fulfilling several of the Pentagon’s wishes set forth by DARPA, including engineering immortal controllable synthetic beings with genetic kill-switches. Maybe those mad science dreamers need to think smaller than cyborg beetles.
February 5, 2010 – Original Source: Popular Science
Death-resistant synthetic beings? Don’t worry, there’s a genetically encoded kill-switch
Evolution Done Gone Wrong. This will turn out well Syfy
It’s been a long time since a Pentagon project from the DARPA labs truly evoked a “WTF DARPA?!” response, but our collective jaw dropped when we saw the details on a project known as BioDesign. DARPA hopes to dispense with evolutionary randomness and assemble biological creatures, genetically programmed to live indefinitely and presumably do whatever their human masters want. And, Wired’s Danger Room reports, when there’s the inevitable problem of said creatures going haywire or realizing that they’re intelligent and have feelings, there’s a planned self-destruct genetic code that could be triggered.
Unsurprisingly, molecular biologists have weighed in with huge caveats and raised fingers of objection. First, they say that DARPA has the wrong idea about hoping to overcome evolution’s supposed randomness, and that evolution really represents a super-efficient design algorithm. Then there’s the problem of guaranteeing immortal life for any biological creature in the first place — just look here and here at some really smart people who have yet to find that fountain of youth.
DARPA has committed just a piddling $6 million out of next year’s budget toward BioDesign. But it will also put $20 million toward a new synthetic biology program and give $7.5 million for speeding up the analysis and editing of cellular genomes. We’re pretty sure that means the Pentagon agency hasn’t considered a future where police “blade runners” help violently “retire” escaped lab replicants of humans.
“It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?” said Edward Olmos to Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, long before the actor morphed into the gruff but lovable admiral of Battlestar Galactica. Never mind even the experts, let’s trust Olmos. He’s helped hunt down replicants and save humanity from genocidal Cylon robots of our own making. Are you listening, DARPA?
Go wild with the robotic submarine stalkers, the lightning harnessing, and the cyborg insect spies. Just … give this BioDesign thing a bit more thought.
September 24, 2009 – Original Source: Danger Room, WIRED
The creation of a cyborg insect army has just taken a step closer to reality. A research team at the University of California Berkeley recently announced that it has successfully implanted electrodes into a beetle allowing scientists to control the insect’s movements in flight. “We demonstrated the remote control of insects in free flight via an implantable radioequipped miniature neural stimulating system,” the researchers reported in their new paper for Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. ” The pronotum mounted system consisted of neural stimulators, muscular stimulators, a radio transceiver-equipped microcontroller and a microbattery.”
The research, supported by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is part of a broader effort, called the HI-MEMS program, which has been looking specifically at different approaches to implanting micro-mechanical systems into insects in order to control their movements.
A number of research teams working on this ambitious project have reported specific successes. For example, researchers at the University of Michigan have demonstrated implants in a flying moth, but the Berkeley scientists appear to have demonstrated an impressive degree of control over their insect’s flight; they report being able to use an implant for neural stimulation of the beetle’s brain to start, stop, and control the insect in flight. They could even command turns by stimulating the basalar muscles.
Eventually, the mind-controlled insects could be used to “serve as couriers to locations not easily accessible to humans or terrestrial robots,” they note.