Body parts engineering

30 01 2009

Scientists are making breakthrough discoveries on how to create artificial body parts, everything from bionic bones to makeshift knees.

Think about what these advance could mean: no more season-ending athletic injuries (torn anterior cruciate ligament? We’ve got a new one!). Broken hearts can be fixed, literally. Blindness and deafness could be a thing of the past. And replacement bladders could wipe out the adult diaper marker.

“I think it’s a really promising area,” said William Murphy, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Pharmacology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We’re starting to see significant progress on engineering individual tissue types.”

Murphy’s specialty is in tissue engineering, and he operates a lab at the university that works with mechanical biomaterials acting as regenerated body parts, as well as looking into stem cell development.

Here is a list of the top ten body parts that could be artificially engineered and their significance on the human race:

10. Skin and Cartilage
Thin tissue types such as skin and cartilage are on the cusp of widespread use, said Murphy. They are less complicated to engineer and therefore close to being engineered on a regular basis.

“The tissues that don’t require a functional vascular supply are probably those that have been closest to commercialization or clinical use,” he said. “There are some products that have been developed based on these methodologies.”

9. Bones
“The other area that’s had some fairly significant progress is tissues that tend to remodel themselves actively over time in the body,” Murphy said. “Bone is the best example of that; it’s constantly being re-absorbed and reformed. ”

A shattered bone could simply be replaced by artificial bone that is printed up, as like a copying machine. Badly broken bones don’t always heal correctly, and sometimes end up shorter or in need of amputation. Therefore, surgeons are looking into reproducing substitute bone segments that are copied to match the broken portion.

8. Arms
Dean Kaman, the man who invented the motorized Segway, has developed a prosthetic arm called the Luke arm, after Luke Skywalker from Star Wars who modeled this bionic arm. Kaman released a video on the Institute of Electric and Electronics Engineers’ blog, of an armless man reportedly picking up a chocolate and eating it with a prosthetic model.

7. Brain’s Hippocampus
The hippocampus is responsible for a person’s ability to store brand-new memories, a different sort of long-term memory loss. (Those who remember Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates are nodding their heads right now.) The artificial hippocampus, which would help patients whose brains have been affected by stroke, epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease, is being tested at the University of Southern California.

6. Penis
In May 2006, researchers created an artificial penis for rabbits who were unable to mate normally, a breakthrough that may eventually help men who suffer from premature ejaculation.

“I would say that there’s promise that it could be translated to humans,” Murphy said. “We’re working on not just the penis, but all of the urogenital organs, including the bladder, urethers, etc. This whole system is being addressed.”

5. Knees and Joints
Tissue cartilage in the knee is extremely delicate, and is easily torn or ruptured through intense physical activity. Like the bone, this would be a replacement body part for those in need.

Researchers hope to ultimately find a long-term cure for arthritis, particularly in elderly persons whose cartilage simply disappears from the knee joints altogether.

4. Ears
Cochlear implants would help the connection from the ear to the brain; it’s kind of like adding a tiny microphone inside the head.

But there’s still work to be done. Implant users do not have proper pitch perception, which disallows the user from enjoying music or recognizing a speaker’s tone.

cochlear-implant-324x205A cochlear implant is like a tiny microphone inside the head.

3. Eyes
Same idea as the eye. Visual prosthetics can help retinas focus more easily, and can help a blind person see shapes. It’s probably a long way off, but more advanced technology might be able to cure blindness altogether.

“The sensory organs are a great target for this kind of technology,” Murphy said. “Components of the tissue engineering technologies can be used in the very near term to try to treat blindness and hearing loss.

2. Ligaments
Athletes will like this one. Medial collateral ligament injuries require a month of rest; anterior cruciate ligament tears take up to a year.

“The major challenge of ACL reconstruction isn’t getting it to heal, it’s getting it to heal fast,” Murphy said.

Scientists who have experience with fixing knee joint injuries would like to explore the realm of totally replacing torn MCLs and ACLs, making athletes’ lives a lot easier.

Researchers from the University of Virginia and elsewhere experimented with replacing ACLs in rabbits, and discovered that within 24 hours, these “rabbits could already bear their own weight on their knees, and showed fairly normal mobility.”

1. Heart
The most important organ in the body, the heart runs based on healthy blood cells. Scientists aren’t clear on how to rebuild a heart, but they can envision the act of replacing bad blood cells with good ones. Experiments on lab rats have been successful; the trick is making the jump to humans.


Body…politically actives

27 01 2009

Hundreds of people (600) completely nacked at the foot of Aletsch glacier in Switzerland. It is the last Greenpeace initiative against climate changes. Under the lead of the famous photographer Spencer Tunick, under a temperature lower than 10 degree, activists posed for a series of  group photos like this:




Fitness, a social event

26 01 2009

Since 1989, the Fitness Festival kept in Firenze, with is interactive formula that make it an unique and original event, has been a loyal mirror about fitness evolution: from being a muscolar event now it is become a real life style for million of people all around the world (9.000.000 in Italy, according to ISTAT), in other words one of the most important social phenomenos of this century, fact dued to the combination of two foundamental factors: movement and correct alimentation, bases for prevenction and healing of a wide range of diseases, including some of the worst kinds, involving a wide target: from children to elderly.

Who goes to the Festival, goes for swearing, having new experiences, discover new methods of training, meeting new disciplines, to learn new forms of power, using new tools but also make new friends and have fun.

The Festival was defined by an American press as
“The Woodstock of Fitness”.

Massimo Gramellini, talked about the festival like an event that led to an elevation in Italians costume.




17 12 2008

Venice Carnival

Its origins are very ancient. The first document in wich the word Carnival for the first time appeared date back to the time of Doge Vitale Falier in 1094. The istitutution of the Carnival by powerful people in Venice  was dued to the necessity to give the population a period just of fun, in which venetians and foiregners gathered into the town.

Through the anonimity granted by masks and costumes, the division between different social classes disappeared and even the public mocking of authorities and aristocracy was allowed.

The first official document declaring the existence of  the Venice Carnival is an edict of 1296, when the Senate declared a public holiday the day before Lent. In this era, and for many centuries after, the carnival lasted six weeks, from December the 26 tothe Ash Wednesday, although the celebrations were sometimes made even start the first day of October.

Wearing masks and costumes the concealing of identity could be totally possible and any form of personnel belonging to social class, sex, religion as well. Everyone could determine attitudes and behaviors according to new costumes and changed appearance. For this reason, the most common greeting continuously echoing down in the streets was simply: “Good morning lady Mask”


With the increasingly widespread disguising custom for the Carnival, in Venice a genuine trade in masks and costumes was born from nothing and gradually developed.

There were all sorts of attractions: jugglers, acrobats, musicians, dancers, animal shows and other exhibitions, audience of all ages and social classes, with the most disparate and imaginative costumes. The sellers traded all sorts of merchandise, from seasonal fruit to the rich fabrics, from spices to foods from distant countries, especially from the East.

In addition to large demonstrations in open places, small representations of any kind spreaded quickly(even very transgressive) in private houses, theaters and cafes in the city. In the sumptuous homes of Venetian palaces nobles began to host grand-long festivities with dancing in great forms.

But it is in the eighteenth century that the Venice Carnival reached its maximum splendor and international recognition, becoming famous and prestigious in the Europe of  the time, creating a tourist attraction and a goal sought by thousands of festive visitors.



16 12 2008

Now a short survey of what happens all around the world about body related events, starting from different carnivals, festival, shows and so on.

Rio de Janeiro Carnival

Once a pagan celebration in ancient Rome, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is now considered one of the greatest shows on Earth. Rio de Janeiro is known as the cultural capital of Brazil. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723.

The famous carnival parade has been going on since the 1830s. The parade starts Sunday evening and continues into Monday early morning  of the celebration. Until 1984, when it was moved to Av. Presidente Vargas, the parade took place at Praca Onze. In 1984 the parade finally found its permanent home, the Sambadrome. The Sambadrome is a large structure that was built in the downtown area, which includes several buildings that make a circular open area in the middle. In the off season, the buildings of the Sambadrome are used as classrooms for the local public schools.



As the parade is taking place in the Sambadrome and the balls are being held in the Copacabana Palace and beach, many of the carnival participants are at other locations. Street festivals are very common during carnival and are highly populated by the locals. Elegance and extravagance are usually left behind, but music and dancing are still extremely common. Anyone is allowed to participate in the street festivals. One of the most well known bandas of Rio is Banda de Ipanema. Banda de Ipanema was first created in 1965 and is known as Rio’s most irreverent street band.



Author’s corner

13 12 2008

Here just a constructive issue: after having seen all the post shown in this blog a question should appear on reader’s mind. Has it all to be considered art and design?Or there is art, design and something completely different?Where does this thin border line start?

On my opinion nowadays, where everything concerns appearence and the way we look like, the real transgression is being yourself, in a world where everybody wants to have a tattoo, a piercing, to cover his entire body with scars or implants and so on, just for the possibility to say i’m different from the others, sometime hiding the person who they really are in order to be involved in the modern society, were the most of the values seem to be disappeared.

You can not be yourself covering and ruining your body with permanent signs. Body painting is art, is design, performing art as well, the rest is only madness.

Being yourself is the real transgression.

Body art all the year

8 12 2008

Rudi Everts, I’ll try to find out who he is, made a beautiful calendar showing zodiac signs played by models fully body painted. Here below some of the signs: