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"Superhumans & Bionics"
Guide & Resources

As you will see on Superhumans and Bionics, technology is helping ordinary people regain lost abilities. Paralyzed muscles can be programmed to work. Eyes with only partial vision can be helped to see better. A heart that fails to pump properly is aided by space-age metal. And, perhaps most amazing of all, is an experimental research project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Most of us would agree that we do not use our brains to their fullest capacity. But could we use brain waves to fly a plane or steer a ship? Stay tuned -- the results may surprise you. Here are the topics and running times of stories on this show and a brief description of related activities in this online teaching guide:

  • Electronic Eyes (running time: 8:13) -- His vision severely limited, Leonard Perra tries on a pair of goggles that may help him see for the first time in years. Activity: A simple modeling activity compares normal and distorted vision.
    Report from the Field: Optometrist and low-vision specialist Joan Stelmack.

  • Mind Over Machine (running time: 11:29) -- Experiments investigating the power of brain waves yield surprising results. Activity: Biofeedback exercises to try in the classroom.
    Report from the Field: Medical Engineer Dave Tumey.

  • A Heart of Titanium (running time: 9:33) -- A device that replaces the left ventricle may become a permanent artificial heart. Activity: Keeping your heart healthy: math challenges.

  • Building Hi-Tech Exoskeletons (running time: 8:45) -- Scientists build machines that magnify the natural abilities of the body. Activity: Investigating the relationship between stride and speed.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.