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'Bionic Man' To Creep Out Visitors At Air And Space Museum

With the government shutdown in the rearview mirror, the doors at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum are open once again. Those who head to the museum this weekend may be greeted by a somewhat unusual sight — a human-like "bionic man" constructed entirely of synthetic body parts.

The 6-foot-tall, high-tech cyborg sports prosthetic limbs on a skeletal frame and implantable synthetic organs — including a working circulatory system and FDA-approved artificial heart.

The Bionic Man is on display at the Air and Space Museum through the Fall and is also the subject of a new documentary called "The Incredible Bionic Man" airing on the Smithsonian Channel this Sunday at 9:00 p.m.

With a million sensors, 200 processors, 70 circuit boards and 26 individual motors, the Bionic Man is a showcase — albeit a slightly creepy one — for the most advanced developments in biotechnology. The SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart, for instance, pumps blood through fully-functioning veins and arteries.

"Many of these (organs) are still prototypes," says the show’s narrator, Dr. Bertholt Meyer. "The hope is that one day they’ll solve the worldwide shortage of donor organs, but the (SynCardia) Artificial Heart is already saving lives."

The Bionic Man documentary focuses on the people most affected by this new technology. The cyborg sports the same ankles designed and worn by Hugh Herr, Director of Biomechatronics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, who lost his legs as a teenager.

"Technology has this extraordinary capacity to heal, to rehabilitate and even to extend human capability beyond what nature intended," Herr says in the program.

The Bionic Man will be on display through mid-December.

NPR

Texas Bookseller Picks 3 Summer Reads

Julia Green of Front Street Books recommends Moonlight on Linoleum by Terry Helwig, City of Women by David R. Gillham and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.
NPR

He Used To Live On The Streets Of Mumbai. Now, His Cafe Welcomes Everyone

Amin Sheikh's new cafe is a rarity in class-stratified India: It's open to people from all walks of life. Sheikh is a former street child, and so are many of his employees.
NPR

For Many Black Voters, Trump's 'What Do You Have To Lose?' Plea Isn't Enough

Donald Trump promises to help bring jobs and security to black neighborhoods. But his poll numbers with African-Americans are in the low single digits, and many say his message is insulting.
WAMU 88.5

A Cyber-Psychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online

Dr. Mary Aiken, a pioneering cyber-psychologist, work inspired the CBS television series "CSI: Cyber". She explains how going online changes our behavior in small and dramatic ways, and what that means for how we think about our relationship with technology.

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