Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

There Is Nothing Permanent except Change; in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images, Our Columnist Contemplates the Changing Face of the World of Medicine, Science and Empires

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

There Is Nothing Permanent except Change; in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images, Our Columnist Contemplates the Changing Face of the World of Medicine, Science and Empires

Article excerpt

Byline: Charles Saatchi

The Naked Eye CHANGE is never permanent but always changing this doctrine was conceived by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus in around 500 BC to define the state of the universe and of being.

We tend to be nervous of change because it is unfamiliar we sense the loss of ourselves, existing in a world that we have no real control over. The most graphic example demonstrating how our evolving world impacts on all human life is in medicine.

Approximately 400,000 people around the world suffer from the comparatively rare disorder retinitis pigmentosa.

The condition causes you to lose your sight due to a slow breakdown of cells in the retina.

But sufferers may now be able to regain partial vision by using an implantable device called Argus II.

Developed by Second Sight, the device consists of a small video camera and transmitter mounted on a pair of spectacles.

Images captured by the camera are processed into electronic data and then wirelessly transmitted to electrodes implanted into your retina.

In a recent study, 30 patients blinded by the disease showed that they were now able to perform daily activities such as navigating streets and curbs, matching different coloured socks and even reading large type.

With prosthetic limbs linked directly to the brain, movement of a 'bionic' arm or leg can be controlled by the mind.

Zac Vawter used a thoughtcontrolled bionic leg to help climb 103 floors of Chicago's Willis Tower, and Glen Lehman is one of many war veterans who uses a "thinking" hand, to replace his original hand lost in battle.

There is even the i-Limb Ultra, an artificial hand that allows each five artificial fingers to function independently, directed solely by the owner's thoughts and intentions.

In 1997, Cathy Hutchinson had a stroke, leading to the complete paralysis of her arms.

She volunteered to undergo an early experimental operation.

Scientists implanted a small device in the damaged part of her brain responsible for motor control. She is now able to "magically" control her new robotic arms.

Researchers had tested the brain implant on monkeys and discovered that they were able to control a robotic arm 7,000 miles away.

The brain signals from a monkey were transmitted across the internet, from Duke University in North Carolina to a robotic arm placed in Japan.

Some 220,000 profoundly deaf people have now been successfully fitted with cochlear implants that turn sound waves into electrical impulses, which are then forwarded to the auditory nerve.

Tens of thousands of Parkinson's disease sufferers have been implanted with deep brain stimulators that transmit an electrode into several areas of the brain.

The methodology has recently been tested to help combat clinical depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder with surprisingly encouraging results. …

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