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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

Was It Good, Bad, Or Ugly? Takes On Larry Wilmore's Jokes At Correspondents' Dinner

Some say the "Nightly Show" host utterly bombed his routine at Saturday's White House Correspondents Dinner. Others say he simply had a different crowd in mind.
NPR

At Food World 'Oscars,' Category Sneakily Redefines All-American Cuisine

Most James Beard awards go to haute cuisine, but one prize recognizes classic neighborhood joints. And increasingly, the winners are immigrants whose cultures haven't yet dissolved in the melting pot.
NPR

Do The Words 'Race Riot' Belong On A Historic Marker In Memphis?

On May 1, 1866, Memphis was home to a massacre that killed 46 African-Americans and injured many others. Now a historical marker shows an ongoing rift between white historians and black activists.
NPR

Left Behind In The Mobile Revolution, Intel Struggles To Innovate

As PC sales fall, the Silicon Valley giant is struggling to remake itself to keep up with cloud computing and mobile. Intel recently announced the layoff of 11 percent of its workforce.

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