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While scientists have built many artificial organs individually, they have never before been put together to create an entire human body. Rex or as he has recently been renamed Frank (after Frankenstein), the world's first fully functional bionic man has just changed that. Now on display at the National Air And Space Museum in Washington D.C., the human clone was assembled in three short months using state-of-the-art organs that were donated by 17 manufacturers - A good thing given that the total cost came to about $1 million USD!
The dapper bionic man whose face is modeled after University of Zurich psychologist Bertoit Meyer who led the project, is six and half feet tall, weighs 170lbs and can sit, stand and walk with the help of an exoskeleton that is used to help people with spinal injuries.
While the exterior is certainly interesting, it is as they say what's on the inside, that matters - And in Rex's case there is plenty - Starting from most technologically advanced robotic limbs to a functioning heart that pumps oxygen and artificial blood around his body. He also has a lung, kidney, spleen and even a pancreas. A retinal implant allows the bionic man to sense objects around him, while a cochlear insert enables him to hear.
All in all, Rex aka Frank has about 60-70 percent functionality of a normal human. He is still missing some key parts like a digestive system, liver, skin and most importantly, a brain!
According to Richard Walker, the lead roboticist at London-based Shadow Robot Company responsible for creating the bionic man, Rex was assembled to showcase the advances in aesthetic prostheses for people that have lost their limbs or part of their face and maybe even an organ. Having said that, while the organs worked well on Rex some like the kidney, are still in early trial phase and not ready to be used on humans yet.
Rex who was first unveiled at London's Science Museum in February of this year, made his way across the Atlantic neatly packed up in two suitcases, earlier this month. After meeting with his fans at New York's Comic-Con, the bionic man flew to the National Air and Space Museum, where he will will be on display for a few months for all to admire, before heading back to England.
For those that are nowhere close to the area, there is the Smithsonian documentary - Entitled, The Incredible Bionic Man, it chronicles his life from when he was just a bunch of disjointed body parts to present time, and is scheduled to air on the Smithsonian television channel on October 20th at 9/8 Central time, so be sure to tune in.
Resources: geekosystem.com,stuff.co,nz, guardian,co.uk