THE U.S. military has a checkered past when it comes to doing experiments on its soldiers, so any announcement about new advances in “reprogramming cells” in soldiers to promote the faster healing of wounds should rightfully be met with caution … especially when the headlines refer to turning soldiers into “Wolverine” – the X-Men character with a mutant healing factor that regenerates damaged or destroyed tissues. Well, that’s what the U.S. Air Force is seriously researching — technology that could heal wounds more than five times faster than the human body can heal naturally. Does it involve adamantium?
“There are amazing opportunities in the United States, that you don’t see in the rest of the world, to humanize science and meet critical needs in medicine. We have the resources to do this, and it is our obligation to take full advantage of them. Thanks to the Air Force’s help, I was able to acquire the tools I need to advance my research into cellular reprogramming and wound healing.”
By ‘resources’, Dr. Indika Rajapakse, associate professor of Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics and associate professor of Mathematics at the University of Michigan, means money from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and by ‘tools’, he means a live cell imaging microscope that will allow him to reprogram human cells to become different types of cells. Rajapakse proposed this to the Air Force as a way to help wounded aircrew members heal ultra-quickly before hypoxia and other altitude related injuries set in.
“Indika’s research is exactly the kind of breakthrough technology we’re looking for in Air Force Disruptive Technology. This shows the real promise of our efforts to bring warfighters and technologists together to imagine the possibilities of early scientific research.”
According to the press release, Col. Charles Bris-Bois of the Air Force Disruptive Technology Team, brought together the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing, and Air Force Futures and connected them with Dr. Rajapakse as a way to open both sides to using Rajapakse’s medical mathematical research with real-world Air Force medical needs. Rajapakse showed how cellular reprogramming could change the genome of a skin cell into a muscle cell, blood cell, or any other type of human cell. This same technique would make wounds heal more than five times faster, by applying they new cells like a spray-on bandage. Rajapakse and his team had the algorithm to do all of this, but they needed the live cell imaging microscope to make it happen.
“It usually takes decades for basic math research to make it into models which can be applied to a technology. In Dr. Rajapakse’s case, it only took a handful of years. AFRL is proud that our funding enabled mathematical theory for modeling and valuable data to be gathered which contributed to this rapid development.”
Dr. Frederick Leve, program officer for AFOSR’s Dynamical Systems and Control Theory portfolio, got the money and the machine for Rajapakse. The press release is an indication that the research is well on its way to becoming reality. Will it indeed make soldiers into Wolverines? Would they want to?
“There’s not many people that’ll understand what you’re going through. But I think this guy, Xavier, is one of them. He seems to genuinely want to help you. And that’s a rare thing, for people like us. So… what do you say, we give these geeks one more shot?” (Wolverine in X-Men)
That, of course, is Wolverine convincing Rogue to go back to Xavier’s school for mutants. Dr. Rajapakse doesn’t say if he’s tried reprogramming his own cells to heal faster, and there’s no indication that the reprogramming would turn soldiers into mutants. Of course, the military has ‘misled’ soldiers before, and while Rajapakse says the U.S. is leading the world in this, it’s probably not. And, when the military finds out that China or Russia or Iran or some other country is ahead of us in doing something like this, questionable decisions can be made.
“Do I look like a man who exaggerates?” (Logan/Wolverine in X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
Are we ready for Wolverines?
Mysterious Universe (MU)
Invisibility Cloaks Are No Longer Just Science Fiction
Researchers have already created different iterations of cloaking technology and we’re here for it.
By Donovan Alexander
A coat using optical camouflage Z22
Cloaking technology, or invisibility, has been a highly coveted superpower in the realms of science fiction and fantasy. Aliens from distant galaxies, powerful wizards, and humble hobbits have used the ability to be invisible in some form or another. Well, it looks like we could actually get our hands on the invisibility cloak in the near future. Scientists and private companies are already working on the technology. However, the path to creating the magic of cloaking technology is not as straightforward as you might think.
The technology is far from perfect. In fact, not only is it difficult to create, there are many different ways to make something invisible. Finding the most viable and useful option is tricky. However, do not lose hope! Some research and prototypes out there could actually bring an invisibility cloak to market sooner than you think.
Scientists are trying to create technology that would let you disappear in an instant
A true cloaking device would need to find a way to bend light around a person or object from all directions. Yet, one of the ways scientists have created cloaking technology is relatively simple. They’ve used cameras to record and project images of what’s behind an object onto the object’s surface, making it appear like it’s not even there.
In the early 2000s, a team of researchers from the University of Tokyo created an optical camouflage system that makes anyone wearing a unique reflective material seem to disappear. Multiple versions of the technology have appeared since then, with each rendition getting more advanced. A similar, albeit fictional, version of the technology was used in Mission Impossible’s Ghost Protocol.
However, the key to creating a true invisibility cloak may center around metamaterials. These are metal-dielectric composites engineered on the nanoscale. The composite structure acts as an array of artificial atoms, enabling electromagnetic radiation to pass freely around an object. The metamaterial guides light around the object it is coating to create the illusion that the object isn’t there at all.
In 2006, a group of scientists from Duke University used metamaterials to create a simplified cloaking device that was able to hide objects from microwaves. While it could not hide things from human view, it was an important first step in creating a real-life invisibility cloak. Ten years later, the Duke researchers developed a seven-layer metamaterial cloak that could shield a small object from electromagnetic waves all the way from the infrared to the radio portions of the spectrum.
UWM engineers developed a cloaking device that renders objects and people nearly invisible on an infrared screen. Source: HONGRUI JIANG/University of Wisconsin
Another team developed a cloaking device that can hide an object from human sight using a “carpet cloak” made from specially etched layers of silicon oxide and silicon nitride. The cloak is placed over an object, and the etching hides the “bump” of the object under the cloak, making it look like it’s still a flat surface. So, where do we go from here?
Hyperstealth’s “cloaking technology” could hide people, weapons, and buildings
Some of the most practical invisibility technology has come from the minds over at the HyperStealth Biotechnology corporation. The Canadian camouflage company made headlines after unveiling its own iteration of invisibility technology. Dubbed Quantum Stealth, the patented prototype material is being developed primarily for the military.
The Quantum Stealth could be used to hide military personnel and equipment like tanks and jets in combat. However, that is just the beginning. The invisibility cloak cannot only hide or distort objects from onlookers, but it can conceal these objects from infrared and ultraviolet imagers. This is all possible thanks to what is called a lenticular lens.
A lenticular lens is a corrugated sheet in which each ridge is made up of an outward-curving lens. You might come across lenticular lenses on some of your old holographic Pokemon and baseball cards. In a lenticular lens, rows of cylindrical lenses refract light according to the viewing angle.
Quantum Stealth found a way to arrange layers of lenticular lenses to create “dead spots” at certain distances behind the material. When viewed from the front, the object behind the material is not visible, but the background is. This creates the illusion of invisibility. The company’s prototype material is as thin as paper, cheap to produce, and requires no power source.
The cloak might not offer complete invisibility; however, it still distorts and hides objects well enough that it is very difficult to discern the details of the object. We still have a ways to go before creating our own “invisibility cloak” but the technological possibility is there. The biggest challenge facing the development of a practical cloaking device is the ability to cloak a wide range of wavelengths.
But if this could be overcome, a cloaking device would not only have military applications, but the research into cloaking technology could help us develop better LiDar technologies and even solar panels. According to HyperStealth CEO Guy Cramer, the materials used to create invisibility technology could triple the solar panels’ energy output due to its large reflective surface area.
Do you think we will ever create invisibility technology?
A Haunted and Cursed Island in the Great Lakes
Brent Swancer February 20, 2021
Lying out over the great expanse of water that is Lake Superior, is a windswept archipelago of 21 storm beaten islands called the Apostle Islands. They are a place of breathtaking natural vistas and rugged scenery, hosting much natural splendor and a magnet for hikers, campers, boaters, kayakers, and other adventure seekers. It is also a place of historical significance, with old lighthouses set upon craggy perches, meant to keep ships from dashing upon the treacherous rocks, a job in which they were only sporadically successful considering the area’s track record of sunken ships. The area is also populated by numerous legends from both Natives and sailors alike, and the Apostle Islands have accrued a reputation as being some of the spookiest and most haunted places in the Great Lakes region.
Probably the most famous ghostly story from the Apostle Islands comes from one of the smallest of the bunch, a desolate, 2-mile-long slash of rock called Hermit Island, once known as Round Island and Ashuwaguindag Miniss, Ojibwe for “The Further Island” by the Native tribe. This place gets its Hermit namesake from an ex-fur trader and recluse known as William Wilson, who back in the 1840s took it upon himself to build a modest, ramshackle cabin there out in the middle of nowhere. He went there to escape his miserable life, having lost his wife to illness and seeking to live apart from civilization. Eking out an existence in that lonely, forsaken place, this weird old man had only one friend, an explorer and translator for the local Ojibwe tribe by the name of Benjamin Armstrong, who lived on the nearby Oak Island. Armstrong would often stop by to check up on the old man and make sure he was still alive, as well as making sure he had supplies and a steady supply of booze, which he sold to passing fishermen and partook of himself. There was a rumor that Wilson was actually quite wealthy, and had a small fortune tucked away hidden somewhere on the island. Indeed, Armstrong had on several occasions seen Wilson haul out bulging sacks of coins worth a king’s ransom in the day, but he never asked about it and this is the way it was for many years.
One day in 1861, Armstrong noticed that the steady plume of smoke from Wilson’s cabin on the island had ceased. After weeks went by and no smoke, along with reports that no one had heard from Wilson in some time, Armstrong made his way out to that isolated island cabin with a search party, only to find Wilson crumpled up dead on his cabin floor, the apparent victim of a vicious murder. Armstrong told authorities that he thought it might have been someone looking for the hermit’s treasure, and after scouring the island no secret hoard of money could be found. Over the years, treasure hunters would flock to the island hoping to find some of the buried loot, and it was during this scramble to hunt for lost treasure that weird stories of the supernatural began to surface. Treasure hunters began to report seeing a spectral figure walking about the wilderness, as well as feeling intense feelings of being watched and the unshakeable feeling that they were not supposed to be there. There were also whispered rumors that the dead hermit had cursed the island, and that treasure hunters were meeting with inexplicable and grisly early demises. To those who saw the apparition, it looked a lot like the very dead Wilson, and it was enough to scare many into never returning.
In later years, a wealthy magnate by the name of Frederick Prentice took charge of the island and established the Excelsior quarry to mine for brown sandstone. By all accounts the quarry was a success at first, and brought Prentice loads of money, but the activity also seems to have seriously pissed off Wilson’s ghost. Miners increasingly began to tell tales of seeing the old man’s apparition, seeing strange orbs of light, and hearing loud bangs and booms from the gloom, as well as equipment breaking down for no reason, missing objects, and a much higher incidence of freak mining accidents than usual. At the same time, the large, opulent house that Prentice had just built on the island, called Cedar Bark Cottage, became ground zero for all manner of strange tales. One was that Wilson’s ghost actually chased away Prentice’s wife, who felt an inexplicable revulsion upon seeing the new home, and after that the supposed curse was in full effect as the mines began to have financial issues and were forced to close down, leaving Prentice with no other choice but to sell the island and move back to New York, leaving the house abandoned.
The curse seems to have remained. Hermit Island would later be bought by the Lake Superior Land & Development Company to be made into a Great Lakes resort, renovating the old Cedar Bark Cottage to be a hotel, but it all soon turned belly up when there was a lack of visitors. After that it went through a string of owners, all of whom fell on hard financial times and were unable to tame the island, with it going through cycles of activity and inevitable abandonment, despite the fact that it seemed like a prime location for a resort area. Efforts to build housing on Hermit Island similarly failed, and to this day it remains mostly uninhabited, now falling under the jurisdiction of The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore protected area, operated by the National Park Service. Whether this was the doing of Wilson’s curse or not, there are apparently sightings of his ghost roaming the wilderness there to this day. And so this little speck of land still lies out there, with all of its mysteries, alone and detached from reality as it always has been, perhaps haunted, perhaps not, but nevertheless with its own stories to tell.