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Bionic Man

May 10, 2007

A listener asks: Could you replace your skeleton with metal?


Time to replace your skeleton? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We got this call from listener Adam of Plattsburgh, New York:

ADAM (caller):
I’m just wondering if it’s possible to have a metal skeleton like the one in the Terminator movies and still be alive?

We asked bioengineer Gordon Blunn of University College London. He and his colleagues routinely switch out limb bones with metal. But replacing more intricate bones like the spine and the skull is extremely difficult.

GORDON BLUNN (University College London):
I mean, we can replace parts of the skull. For example, we can put plates on the skull; we can replace parts of the jaw; but to do the whole thing would be impossible.

What’s more, bones help make blood, so replacing your whole skeleton would leave you without any. If you have a science question, call us at 1-800-why-isit. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.