13 Creepy Real Experiments That Sound Like Science Fiction
Scientists growing human brains in mice? It sounds like science fiction, but it's happening right now.
Pig bladders regrowing human limbs
Scientists have discovered that tissue from pig bladders can be dried into a powder called extracellular matrix and used to regrow human fingers. While typical mammals heal injuries by growing scar tissue, which prevents any future cell regrowth, the cells in the lining of pig’s bladder contain a protein that stimulates a total regrowth of tissue, similar to how lizards can regrow their tails. So far the treatment has been used to reattach severed fingers, develop new fingertips, and even help regenerate the destroyed muscles of an injured Iraq War veteran. These are the 15 science mysteries no one has figured out.
Goats producing spider silk
Scientists have been able to insert spider silk genes into goats. Why? The goats' milk then contains the protein responsible for the silk, which could then be harvested in large quantities. Scientists hope to be able to use the spider silk, which can be up to five times stronger than steel, to enhance products ranging from artificial limbs to bulletproof vests.
Human brain cells growing in fetal mice
Scientists have injected human embryonic stem cells into the brains of fetal mice still in the womb. After the mice were born, the human brain cells developed along with the mouse brain cells, proving that human stem cells can develop into human brain cells in another living animal. Scientists believe this technology could advance research on human brain disorders and improve testing of experimental medications. Read about the 11 psychology experiments that went horribly wrong.
RFID implants tracking where you go
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips have been implanted in pets for years to help identify and return them if lost. But tracking people? The FDA has approved implantation in humans, meaning soon prisons, hospitals, and companies could use the chips to track people’s locations, medical history, and to grant or deny access to rooms and documents. Many state correctional facilities are already using the technology to monitor the inmates' behavior and location.
Extinct animals brought back to life
Scientists have brought the genetic material of the Tasmanian tiger, extinct since 1936, back to life by splicing it into the DNA of a lab mouse. They have yet to successfully clone an extinct animal, although they’re working hard at developing a 21st century woolly mammoth using well-preserved 10,000-year-old blood.
Cyber-beetles developed for surveillance
Funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), scientists at the University of California have implanted electrodes in giant flower beetles that allow them to wirelessly signal the beetles to turn, take off, or hover mid-flight. The Department of Defense hopes to use these technological terrors to assist with search and rescue missions and for government surveillance. Check out the 17 science "facts" that are actually not true.
Cows producing milk with human proteins
A human-cow hybrid sounds like bizarre science-fiction, but a Dutch biotech company might be bringing this phenomenon to your table sooner than you think. Scientists have genetically engineered cows so their milk contains the human protein lactoferrin, most commonly found in human breast milk. The protein fights a wide range of infections and is an excellent immune system booster; the researchers hope to create dairy products using this protein-packed milk with similar health benefits and nutrients.
Living bacon growing in labs
Imagine a world where bacon could be grown endlessly! Technology now allows researchers to use pig stem cells to grow pig muscle cells. The results are structurally identical to pork that's currently consumed, although the muscles do require exercise to become palatable. Lab-grown meat could have a huge impact on the planet, including feeding the hungry and reducing environmental waste from processing plants. We bet you didn't know that these world-changing discoveries resulted from complete accidents.
Robots eating biomass
The Energy Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) fuels itself by using claws and chainsaws to chop down biomass that is then burned in an interior furnace and turned into steam energy. The robot was heavily criticized after false reports claimed it could feed on human corpses, forcing the Robotic Technology Inc. to release a statement that the robot is strictly vegetarian. It is funded by an agency of the Department of Defense, who hope the robot will be able to perform long-range missions without needing manual refueling.
Humanoid robots that putter around fixing spaceships? It may sound like something out of a galaxy far, far away, but it's actually happening right in Earth's orbit! A few years ago, NASA developed the Robonaut, a robotic torso, head, and arms designed to help astronauts on the International Space Station with menial or life-threatening tasks. The success of the bot has been mixed—it spent a few years on the ISS cleaning things, doing tedious research tasks, and sending Earth-dwellers updates via Twitter. But then in early 2014, an attempt to upgrade it actually caused it to stop working as efficiently. In spring of 2018, Robonaut will be returning to Earth for repairs. Here are some amazing facts you never knew about the International Space Station.