Biosynthetics: The Study of Living Systems and building working copies.

Biosynthetics: The Study of Living Systems and building working copies.
by Monty K Reed

Under your skin, below the layer of fat, next to the bones there is a stuff that moves.
It is more efficient and more powerful than many other power trains you can get your
hands on.  It is able to operate at a normal rate for long durations and it can be
powered for short bursts at incredible power output levels.  This stuff has components
that are specifically used for endurance and others that are set up for performance.
We are talking about muscles.

On the micro scale you will see myosin and actin fibers that appear to ‘grab’ each other
and pull on one another bringing them together. This causes the muscle to ‘contract’
making it shorter.  In grade school and high school biology class we are taught about the
‘action potential’ that comes down the nerves to the muscles.  Most classes teach or
imply that the electric impulse is what causes the muscle to contract.  You could say
that is true, and for the most part it is.  If you want to really know how the muscles
work it is important to look at the mechanism of operation of muscle contraction.

I began my search for knowledge on this subject at one of my favorite sets of libraries;
the University of Washington.  When I was in grade school I would ride my bike to the
college campus and lock it up and walk into Kane hall or any of the other hundreds of
classrooms on campus.  As a fourth or fifth grader I found I could vanish into the
anonymity of the mob between classes, especially if my destination was one of the large
lecture halls with hundreds of students.

At the time many of the professors were using 35mm slides on carousels or an over head
projector to assist the lecture process.  Many wrote on the chalk board.  By the time I
was in sixth grade I found that many of my grade school teachers did not know what they
were talking about and I had a lot of trouble respecting their position and authority
when I knew they were wrong.  Now we are talking about three decades ago so things were
very different then they are today.

Back to my point about muscles… I went to the UW library and looked up muscle, muscles etc
and wrote down the numbers.  I remember laughing out loud when I was in the aisle of the
library and as I was pulling the book down from the shelf I looked to the right and saw a
title “Muscles as Food” then another and another.  There we books published about the
raw material of muscle as a fuel source.  At that point I thought about the fun way to
clean up from my biosynthetic muscle experiments, cooking it all on the BBQ.

I would not actually do that until I was given an okay by the power’s that be, of course.
There are other countries that will allow the consumption of cultured muscle but that is
another subject all together.

As a kid I dreamed about beef that you could grow in your fridge.  I imagined astronauts
would simply go to the fridge and cut off a slice of steak, chicken, lamb or pork then close
the lid and the meat would continue to grow. It is possible and we can do it. Some day soon I believe
the same technology I am using to grow muscle cells in a dish is a technology that I will
be able to use to do just that and feed the world.

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If you enjoyed this blog post please tell your friends about it.  October 1, 2010 these
blogs were moved to a server that can handle the 12,000 daily views.  The work being done
at They Shall Walk is non-profit medical research to improve the quality of life of persons
with disabilities.  The work includes but is not limited to the development of the
LIFESUIT Robotic Exoskeleton that allows paralyzed persons to walk.  It is similar to the
$45 million DARPA / Department of the Army project with exoskeletons that includes the
Berkley BLEEKS, Sarcos Raytheon XO, as well as other classified military government projects.

The main difference is that the LIFESUIT Robotic Exoskeleton was the first of the current
projects and began in 1986.  It is the only one focused on semi-autonomous robotics that
is for paralyzed persons first.

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______________________________________________________________________________
Monty K Reed, Founder They Shall Walk http://www.facebook.com/TheyShallWalk
NEW Address: 6266 13th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108 USA (206) 297-WALK

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5 Comments

    • Windrow (Beautiful Nails) I love to collaborate. Please feel free to use the information in your project. Please site the reference. Let me know if you have any specific questions about biosynthetics. My lab is small but we are expanding to a new facility this year and we will have room for more interns and more projects. Collaboration is good science.

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