Leftovers: More Mind-Blowing Ways Science Has Done The Impossible

Einstein Writing Equation on Blackboard

Leftovers is where I dump the stuff that never made it onto other sites. Maybe it was an idea that didn’t pan out, or just extra entries that were cut from an article. You get the scraps.

These were some of my cut entries for my Cracked.com article of the same name. Maybe they will get reused if I end up doing a sequel.

– – – – –

1) A Temporary Cure for Respiratory Failure

To prove this article wasn’t written by a bunch of interns 6 months ago, we’ll give you something current to show how hip we are.


Are these still a thing?

Just this past June, researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston created a “cure” for people who stop breathing. They managed to keep rabbits with blocked tracheas alive for 15 minutes, by injecting capsulated oxygen directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the lungs completely. The injection is completely safe, and none of the rabbits showed blood pressure changes or organ damage during the procedure.


Except for, you know…the control group that presumably choked to death.

Fifteen minutes may not seem like a long time, but in medical terms, this is astounding. When your brain is deprived of oxygen (when you begin to drown for example) your brain cells start to die almost immediately. Every single second counts, and 5 minutes of oxygen could literally mean life or death. This breakthrough could save many lives on the operating table.

Even more amazing is the portability of such a device. Heart-lung machines do the same thing, but are pretty impractical outside of the hospital. Now, mountaineers, divers, and others who would be susceptible to oxygen deprivation can carry little oxygen EpiPens around with them in case of an emergency.


In the same pocket they keep a copy of their Last Will and Testament.

Now before you go selling your lungs on Craigslist, note that the maximum extra time we could get out of these is around 30 minutes. Because it’s injected, you are introducing foreign bodies that could over-saturate the blood. But for hospital patients, you can be sure that those 30 minutes are plenty.


We would watch one last episode of Always Sunny.

And if you suddenly find yourself in the hospital with paralysis, there may be hope for you yet.

2) Mind Controlled Robotic Limbs

Cathy Hutchinson had a stroke which left her almost fully paralyzed. Recently, with help from researchers, she was able to move a cup to her mouth and take a sip from a straw, the first time she has been able to do anything for herself in over 14 years. How is this possible? Robots and mind-control.


Knew it.

Scientists running the study of the BrainGate system implanted an electrode device directly into her brain which converted neuron activity in her motor cortex to the robotic arm. All she had to do was think about moving it, and the machine did the rest.

As if nothing else on this list is crazy enough, the implications of this are especially cool. For starters, we have the obvious next step of developing these further to allow paraplegics and even amputees to perform physically impossible tasks, or to use robotic limbs more efficiently. Beyond that, we could see some real future-y shit: instead of just limbs, it could be other stuff. If this device went wireless, we could control theoretically any other thing in our space-mansions, from light switches to coffee machines to ROBOT DOGS HOLY FUCK!



For now, we’ll have to settle on unprecedented mobility for the physically disabled, which, while slightly less fun, is admittedly amazing.

But what about those worse off than that? What about the fully paralyzed?

3) Texting With Your Brain

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machines are incredible. They have previously been used on vegetative patients to read consciousness, and enabled them to answer simple yes-or-no questions. But another recent discovery has taken this to the next level.

A team in the Netherlands (minus the Dutch version of B.A. Baracus) has successfully invented a system that allows the users to type letters just by thinking.

The device works by letting the participant assign a mental task to each letter. For example, reciting a poem by Shakespeare equals “A,” performing a simple math assignment equates to “B,” etc.

Reviewing your life’s accomplishments equals “F.”

Once all 26 are assigned, they can write words by thinking of the associated task, and the machine converts that to a letter. You can have full open ended conversations this way.

The ability to speak with someone in a vegetative state like that would shut the door on a Terri Shiavo-like case from ever happening again. You could just ask a patient directly what they wanted to do. Though, after being unable to talk for months or years, we can’t imagine what their first text would be.


“fuck comas lol”

(top photo source)

See more articles by Chris over at Cracked.com.


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