What is our number one killer? No, its not terrorists or airplane crashes. It’s cardiovascular disease! Thankfully some progress has been made recently.
A team from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania successfully used stem cells to create human heart tissue in a petri dish that began to contract. This is a huge step forward towards fighting the grim reaper. There are still steps that need to be made and much more progress necessary to make this into a working organ. At the moment the rebuilt heart doesn’t have the electrical conduction system or enough strength needed to make contractions that would power the rest of the body. This breakthrough could help further medical solutions like rebuilding the heart when there is damage from a heart attack or even creating a heart and transplanting the old one out.
The human body has always been a puzzle for scientists who have yet to fully comprehend the way it all works. However, over time they have been able to understand, organ by organ what their process is and how it is built. The heart is certainly quite complex however it is no match for the brain. It is amazing to think that scientists still have a very poor understanding of how the brain works in its entirety. The brain will be the last frontier for scientists in understanding human biology. Once the brain is fully understood we will see significant progress in computing and artificial intelligence.
In fact there are a few projects currently underway to unravel the mystery of the brain. In April, President Obama announced the BRAIN initiative will map the entire brain. The Human Brain Project(HBP) is a program working with a few European institutions to create machines that work like the brain. Spinnaker is a digital computer(similar to your computer), and the other machine being built is Spikey. This computer is built not like your typical machine which operates on 1’s and 0’s but on varying voltages(1.5, etc.). They plan on building a computer by 2014 that can model 1% of the human brain.
There is a huge amount of progress being made. As the power of computers gets exponentially better, we will see that we are approaching the time when we will fully understand our biological organs. The real question now is: What comes next?