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Fiber Roundup

August 4, 2006

A whole new way of seeing looks a lot like a Star Trek episode.


Replacing eyes with fabric. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In an episode of the original Star Trek, a blind woman could see thanks to the fibers in her light-sensitive dress. And now, in yet another example of science imitating Star Trek, researchers at MIT have developed a mesh of light-senstive fibers that can act as an optical system. The transparent fibers produce an electrical current in response to light. A computer chip processes all those signals into an image, sound, or other output.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Michigan report on a new method of coaxing spinal cord nerves to re-grow after an injury. It uses an enzyme to destroy a compound that our healthy spinal cords use to inhibit excess nerve growth. They’ve gotten the nerves to re-grow in laboratory rats, and are now determining how functional the new nerves are.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.