Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Rachel, Jess, Jesston, Tommy


Mad Science

Amputation originated with the idea of giving a sense of wholeness and balance back to an individual who had lost some part of their body. Most religions feared that if an amputee lost a limb in this world, they would not be allowed to reclaim it in the next (Thurston). However as science advanced, amputees found they could regain more and more function from their fake limbs than they originally believe. Today, scientists are closer than ever to fully replacing what was lost by an amputee. As science begins to catch up to nature, a couple of questions inevitably arise. When does science surpass nature? What if people start to get prosthetic implants not to replace what has been lost, but to improve on what they have? Some already believe the next great evolution in humanity will not be a biological one, but one from technology.
In 1500 BC, First recorded prosthetic was made in Egypt. A gigantic toe made of leather and wood was found on a mummy buried within the tomb of Mery, a priest of Amun. In 484 BC, A Persian soldier escaped imprisonment by cutting off his leg than replacing it with a copper and wooden prosthetic. It was in 1505, a time where most prosthetics were modified crutches and hooks, that Gotz von Berlichinger, losing his hand in battle, replaced it with an Iron hand, which allowed for him to continue fighting and gave him the nickname “Gotz of the iron hand” (Thurston).
Ambroise Pare who lived between the years of 1510-1590, made great strides in the medical world with this work on making amputation more survivable. He designed a mechanical hand that uses catches and springs to operate. He also designed an above-knee which facilitated such features as a locking knee and a suspension harness. Such features are still used today in modern prosthetics.
During the battle of Waterloo in 1815, Henry William, Lord Paget, the first Marquess of Anglesey, known as The Earl of Uxbridge between 1812 and 1815, took a bullet through his right knee. Amputation was needed immediately, no time for anesthetic. Williams was fitted with a leg designed by James Potts of London, and thus it became known as the “Anglesey Leg”. It consists of a wooden shank, a steel knee joint and an articulated foot (Thurston). While the materials that made the prosthetics advanced with time, the design didn’t really change. Not until 1984, when Van Phillips, an amputee himself, designed the flex foot. Made of carbon graphite, the flex foot allowed the wearer to run and jump, just as he or she could with a real foot. This allowed many amputees to live much more active lives (Inventor).
In a horrible accident happened in the year 2001, Jesse Sullivan, working with high power electrical wires, was horribly electrocuted, resulting in both of his harms having to be amputated. A few months later, Jesse was fitted with myoelectric arm devices, which uses nerve-muscle grafts to detect the desired motion the user wants. To put it simply, Jesse needs only to think of what he wants the arm to do and it will do it. For this device to work, nerves that once went to the lost limbs are attached to the healthy muscle, for Jesse it was his chest muscles. Those nerves grow, and when a person thinks about a certain movement for their arm, a certain portion of the new muscle will contract. The device will then read such contractions and implement them (Introducing).
Not more than four years ago, Stéphane Bédard, founder and Chief Operating Officer of Victhom’s Biotronix Division developed the power knee. Vaguely similar to its ancestor the Anglesey Leg, the power knee is an above the knee prosthetic with a built in computer that gets cues from the wearers other original leg. The power knee devise basically copies the repetitive movement from the other leg, which allows for the amputee to move around in a more natural way (Power Knee).

The Philosopher’s Stone is a substance that was highly sought after by alchemists during the middle ages and actually all throughout history. During the fifth century, Zosimus was the first person to think about the basics of the Philosopher’s Stone and try to discover it. It was believed that every metal; zinc, aluminum, lead, etc, had remnants of silver and gold. The Philosopher’s Stone was supposed to extract those remnants of gold and silver and transform that metal into gold or silver. Another thing that the Philosopher’s Stone did for its creator, and something much more amazing, was give eternal life and immortality. This was the real reason why so many people wanted to get their hands on it. It was thought even back to ancient China that gold had immortal powers and if a human consumed it then they would also become immortal (Philosopher’s Stone). This may be one of the reasons why people thought it could create immortality.

The Philosophers Stone and the ideas and ways of thinking that revolved around it all dealt with balance of nature and life and finding the answers to the universe. One of the recipes for the stone that Zosimus created included the lines, “…to distill this liquor for the purpose of separating the spiritual water, air, and fire, to fix the mercurial body in the spiritual water or to distill the spirit of liquid mercury found in it, to putrefy all…” (Philosopher’s Stone). In the picture that I have at the top of my display you can see that it’s divided into different segments. This diagram is meant to symbolize the base metal (worldly) transforming into gold (spiritual). The circle around the outside represents the cosmos, conscious, and God. The circle is meant to represent man and woman or mind over matter. The triangle represents the trinity of the human body; mind, body, and spirit. Lastly, the four sides of the square represent the four basic elements of alchemy; earth, wind, fire, and water.

Nicholas Flamel was one of the alchemists that wanted to discover the Philosopher’s Stone. Legend says that him and his wife Pernelle worked diligently and created the Philosopher’s Stone. It is also commonly believed that Flamel died when he was about 80 years old. The next question is how could the guy who discovered the Philosopher’s Stone die at age 80? Well that is something that Paul Lucas was wondering (Nicholas Flamel). He was an architect that was sent to France to study the science that they had. He was in a conversation with a Turk and he was very knowledgeable about alchemy and the Philosopher’s Stone. He told Lucas that Flamel was still alive and has been for 1000 years. This is all very far-fetched but interesting nonetheless.

Flamel was also a character in J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The Sorcerer’s Stone in this book is a direct reference to the Philosopher’s Stone. Rowling used Flamel as the creator of the Sorcerer’s Stone also which I find very interesting because all of the other characters are fictitious. Voldemort is trying to get his hands on the Sorcerer’s Stone because he is dying and needs the stone to live. While there are some differences to the two stones they are obviously direct relatives to each other.

Cloning is the act of replicating another being down to the genetics. Not only will a clone look like the thing that it is replicated it will also have all the same genes. There are multiple types of cloning and these different technologies “can be used for other purposes besides producing the genetic twin of another organism” (Cloning). The three types of cloning techniques are recombinant DNA technology, reproductive cloning, and therapeutic cloning. The uses of cloning are very important. “When it becomes possible to clone a human being, cloning could be used to save people’s lives” (McMahan) and this will be a breakthrough for the medical field. However, if you look at the Bible for answers on whether cloning is ethical you will find that it tells you it is not. One verse that stands out is, “Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3). Many argue that if you use a clone for transplantation it is unethical because you will essentially be killing the clone when the transplant occurs. The debate on what is ethical with cloning is ongoing and will be for many years. Another ethical issue that has been brought up is that “25 percent of cloned animals have overt problems… culturing or handling of the embryos can lead to developmental errors” (Choi), this causes individuals to feel uneasy when we are talking about actual individuals verse animals. No one wants to have to worry about being charged with murder when they are trying to keep themselves healthy but that is the issue at hand with having a clone. Cloning opens many doors in the medical field but it is not a clear cut issue. There are many grey areas when talking about cloning and those need to be cleared up before any major cloning is performed.

Josef Mengele was a true mad scientist. He was a nazi-era doctor that did his studies on humans. His studies almost always involved torture and/or death. Some experiments involved inflicting disease and trying to cure it. He did several experiments with malaria where he would test various pharmaceuticals on people he inflicted with malaria. This often led to a torturous death. He also would cause phosphorus burns and then attempt to treat them, torturing whomever his subject of the day was. Another goal of his was to find out a way to make salt water drinkable. Subjects would be starved and the only thing made available to them was “treated” salt water. He did several experiments on curing hypothermia where he would put people in cold for hours. Those that lived were then “warmed up” using various means. Still others were subjected to purposeful cuts. “To investigate the effectiveness of sulfanilamide. Wounds deliberately inflicted on the victims were infected with bacteria such as streptococcus, gas gangrene, and tetanus. Circulation of blood was interrupted by tying off blood vessels at both ends of the wound to create a condition similar to that of a battlefield wound. Infection was aggravated by forcing wood shavings and ground glass into the wounds. The infection was treated with sulfanilamide and other drugs to determine their effectiveness. Many victims died as a result of these experiments and others suffered serious injury and intense agony.” (Bülow, Louis)

There is a lot of modern controversy over Mengele’s experiments and whether or not we should use his findings. On one hand, we will never be able to replicate his results and some of his findings have significant importance in health. These people would have died in vain. On the other hand, the findings were gotten in such an unethical fashion, how could we use them? Would we just be shrugging off the deaths?

Works Consulted

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Bülow, Louis. "Josef Mengele and the Medical Experiments." Josef Mengele, The Angel Of Death. 2010. Web. .

Choi, Charles Q. "cloning of a human." Scientific American 302.6 (2010): 36-38. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 19 Oct. 2010

"Cloning Ethics." Popular Issues - 2002. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.

"Cloning Fact Sheet." Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Web. 15 Sept. 2010.

"Dolly the Sheep." Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology. Web. 15 Sept. 2010.

Greig, David. "Ossur Rolls-out next Generation POWER KNEE." Gizmag. Gizmag, 24 Apr. 2009. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

"Introducing Jesse Sullivan, the World's First "Bionic Man"" Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, #1 Rehabilitation Hospitat in America. Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

"Inventor of the Week Archive - Flex-Foot." Lemelson-MIT Program. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jan. 2007. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

Lifton, Robert Jay. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic, 2000. Print.

McMahan, Jeff. "Cloning, Killing and Identity." Journal of Medical Ethics. 2nd ed. Vol. 25. BMJ Group, 1999. 77-86. JSTOR. Web. .

Morales, Nestor Micheli. "Psychological aspects of human cloning and genetic manipulation: the identity and uniqueness of human beings." Reproductive BioMedicine Online 19.S2 (2009): 43-50. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 19 Oct. 2010.

"Nicholas Flamel - Crystalinks." Crystalinks Home Page. Web. 20 Oct. 2010. <>.

Nummedal, Tara. "Alchemical Reproduction and the Career of Anna Maria Zieglerin." Ambix 48 (2001). Ambix. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

"Philosophers' Stone: Definition from" Web. 20 Oct. 2010. <>.

"Power Knee." Vitchom Human Bionics - A Better Life in Mind. Victhom Human Bionics Inc., 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

Prainsack, Barbara. "'Negotiating Life': The Regulation of Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Isreal." Social Studies of Science. 2nd ed. Vol. 36. Sage Publications, 2006. 173-205.JSTOR. Web. .

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. New York: A.A. Levine, 1998. Print.

Thurston, Alan J. "PARÉ AND PROSTHETICS: THE EARLY HISTORY OF ARTIFICIAL LIMBS." ANZ Journal of Surgery Vol. 77.Issue 12 (2007): 1114-119. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

"What Is Cloning?" Learn.Genetics™. Web. 15 Sept. 2010.

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