Monthly Archives: May 2014

Nerves of steel: repairing nerve damage with liquid metal

iStock_000006935624SmallYou probably know that metal is a good conductor of electricity. And if you weren’t aware of that, take my advice and keep the fork away from the toaster.

The body’s nervous system conducts electricity, too. So researchers in Beijing have put two and two together- why not use metal to help repair damaged nerves?

Nerve damage is tricky- not only can it cause a spectrum of different pain sensations, but it’s generally hard to repair. Current methods for grafting nerves back together are risky, and the potential for muscle damage is a concern.

By using a liquid metal alloy (no, not steel, but gallium, indium, and selenium), researchers were able to bridge the gap between nerves in bullfrog legs. They found that this alloy conducted electrical signals about as well as a healthy nerve would! And not to worry- this alloy is a liquid at room temperature, so once the nerve has healed, it can be removed with a syringe. While there are definitely some limitations to the use of metal in the human body, the potential for its use in promoting nerve growth and healing is interesting. Read more about it here:

Octopuses are awesome. See why…

iStock_000013309695SmallOctopuses are pretty awesome. Not only can they camouflage themselves by changing colors and imitating other animals to blend into their surroundings, but they can teach researchers about the brain’s ability to store and recall memories. Studying the octopus has led to new understanding of linguistics (ever wonder what an octopus and your tongue have in common?), and the venom from some species of octopus has been important in the understanding of new opportunities in drug development. And their arms can detach, taste whatever they’re touching, and also act like penises.

Intrigued? I think I’ve found the ultimate octopus video that proves how much octopuses kick ass. I promise, watch this one, you won’t be sorry. And if you don’t laugh, you may want to have yourself checked out. Click here to watch it.

We can learn a lot from animals, and sometimes, a little bit of humor is all it takes to get people to remember that! And there’s no doubt: octopuses kick ass.