In this blog, we have discussed the many benefits and advancements that fiber optics have on humanity, like how they’re helping monitor the way we move our bodies. Or like how they’re providing more bandwidth for military and commercial aircraft. Or like how fiber optics are changing the very fabric of National Parks, including Yellowstone, with newly installed internet helping people get a deeper sense of connection with these titans of nature.
Better yet though, fiber optics is allowing us a bird’s eye view of the natural world like Antarctica, but in particular, fiber optics are teaching us how natural disasters work. Back in November, we discussed that fiber optics are being used to possibly predict landslides. In this case, scientists are trying to utilize fiber optic cables to create something like a nervous system, think spider web, which can be monitored for vibrations to determine if a landslide is going to occur.
The things we’re being able to do with fiber optics is truly remarkable. It’s about so much more than internet and digital communication; fiber optics are turning us into superheroes, with an increasingly godlike connection to every world around us, whether it’s the stuff beating inside us like a vibrant drumline or the once-quiet words of nature that we have spider webbed into loud songs we can enjoy, decipher, and improve upon. We are better off with fiber optics – and that is abundantly clear in perhaps the most important field: The medical field.
Fiber optics are making advances in the medical field possible that we had only dreamed of before, the stuff that once seemed like science fiction. Take, for example, researchers at Ecole Polytecnique Federale in Lausanne, Switzerland – they have just completed a study that allows paralyzed rats to walk using flexible implants that imitate dura matter, the soft tissue in our brains and spinal cords. This amazing development could very possibly open the floodgates of possible recovery for men and women. In short, fiber optics are allowing for the realization of decades of hope and research.
Scientists have been manipulating electrical connections to restore nervous system activity for years, but until fiber optic technology, these efforts had been thwarted by the simple fact that wires are hard and bodies are soft. Prior connections have been successful in allowing rats to walk again, but the wires have been too stiff and have wound up further damaging nervous systems in long-term studies.
Gregoire Courtine, a medical researcher at the institution has teamed up with Stephanie Lacour, an electrical engineer to make the project possible. The new implant is called an “e-dura,” short for “electronic dura matter.” The rubbery implants are able to not only transmit electrical impulses, but can also inject medicine to repair damage. Pretty cool, right?
Needless to say, the advance is opening up a world of possibilities. Scientists and medical researchers can now interact with nervous systems on a much more precise level than before. Trials are still running on animals, but with the pace of progress, human trials may begin within the next few years. For many, this is a possible light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.