5 Sci-Fi Medical Procedures We'll Have in Our Lifetime
Every conversation about health care these days is about the skyrocketing cost, and how we're going to pay for it and what the government should do about it. But in the middle of that conversation, we kind of lose track of the fact that downright jaw-dropping advances are being made every day. That's one reason the stuff costs so much, after all.
So let's at least take a moment to marvel at the fact that we're not too far away from having ...
It's a compelling enough idea that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind built its entire plot around it: selecting and erasing certain memories from the human brain.
After all, we all have a skeleton or two in our closet, and an idiocy or two thousand in our past that we'd like to just wipe off the record. Wouldn't you, if given the chance, choose to erase from your mind that one time in eighth grade that you got hammered on spiked punch and tried to grope your math teacher on the dance floor?
One boy's drunken error was the greatest night of Mr. Jameson's life.
The Sci-Fi Solution:
Well, soon you can! Science has been tinkering with the memory parts of the human brain for quite some time, for reasons that range from potential military applications to curing Alzheimer's disease to "because they can." In fact, some successful lab tests on memory alteration have already been made.
"We found our car keys! Thank you, science!"
"But Cracked," you say, "surely that means nothing? Some wacky doctors playing with lab rats are light years away from any actual, tangible results on humans." Good thing, then, that one Dr. Merel Kindt and her team from Amsterdam University -- Amsterdam having no shortage of people with memories of the "Oh fuck, what did I do last night?" variety -- have already performed memory drug tests on human subjects.
Their project has dealt exclusively with dampening bad memories. Naturally, scientists being scientists, they first artificially created said memories with a slightly serial killer-y method of electric shocks and pictures of spiders, but still -- they managed to tamper that very specific fear-memory back into obscurity, so it's probably OK.
"What a curious little creat- OH MY GOD, IT'S GOT MY HAND!"
It is, by the way, worth noting that most every scientist with some degree of know-how on the subject says the memory alteration process can be used for both erasing and enhancing memories. And they have been dealing exclusively with shitty memories. Keep that in mind when you place your bets on whether Dr. Kindt is on the receiving end of a Nobel Prize or if we're witnessing the origin story of the real life version of Scarecrow here.
A Gun That Heals You
Skin. The largest organ of the human body, the protective layer that both shelters the raw, sausage-like horror movie monster that lurks within and covers it to be at least somewhat presentable. And rarely are you more screwed than when your skin takes so much damage that it can't heal -- burns induced by fire and chemicals can easily mess us up beyond the point of recovery.
At that point, a patient's only option is usually skin grafting, where they basically take some skin from your thigh or, indeed, ass, and sew it right the hell onto the part of you that got burned. It's a difficult process with a healing time of many weeks, but hey, what can you do? It's not like we have magical healing guns like the medics in Team Fortress 2.
He'll heal your whole goddamn face off.
The Sci-Fi Solution:
Oh, wait. We totally do.
Meet the skin gun, a gun that shoots regeneration. Literally -- when you pull the trigger, it shoots liquid skin solution on you, harvested from a sample of your own healthy skin. The process takes a mere 90 minutes -- in a couple of days, the new skin settles in and you're good to go.
The researchers don't consider the gun to be ready yet. It's not a failure or anything -- the skin it makes is just fine -- it's just that they have bigger things in mind. Yes, their goal is to make the gun regrow everything, from hair to muscle tissue to organs. Because after you've managed to build a goddamn gun that heals, reasonable aspirations just cease to be a thing anymore.
The Anti-Depression Magnet
Depression and the various ailments that spring from it are the scourge of modern society. Sure, most of us get the blues every now and again, but when things really go off the rails, that shit goes clinical. Clinical depression is a dead serious thing that goes way beyond listening to shitty country ballads and sulking, deeply affecting the life of the person and likely everyone they're close to.
And here's the problem: Depression is a bitch to treat. Even in fictional universes where they have beams that instantly heal wounds, they'd never depict some kind of invisible depression-curing ray that they could just shoot at your brain.
The Sci-Fi Solution:
Well, here it is:
Nothing treats depression like a dentist's chair attached to a bewildering array of soulless machines.
The secret is magnets, and we're not talking about the pseudoscience bullshit magnetic bracelets that are intended to cure your arthritis. This is no placebo, this is transcranial magnetic stimulation, where a patient's head is exposed to a powerful electromagnet that stimulates the mood-controlling areas of the brain. The principle isn't that much different from electroshock therapy, only without the electrodes and without so many patients running away screaming at the mention of it.
"You take the treatment or we will beat the fucking depression out of you!"
And experiments show it apparently works. Once they figured out a way to perform tests in a reliable way (which was, for some reason, bombarding everyone's brain with electric shocks to mask the magnet), the magnet proved its effectiveness and is currently getting tweaked for widespread use. And it'll be available pretty damn soon, considering the fact that magnetic therapy devices have already been approved by the FDA.
Let's face it: America, as a nation, is so fat we can't even get insulted by the jokes other countries make about our moms. Of course her belt is the equator. How else would she keep her pants from falling down?
If we could cut down on the Midwest we might finally be able to draw our Bible belt in a few notches.
Along with obesity comes diabetes, a bitch of a disease that basically stops us from eating what we want ... or else. Today, diabetes is as big a part of America as apple pie and baseball, and it's not shy about showing it: According to this 2008 article, old 'beetus costs us a whopping $174 billion a year, every year. For reference, the utter carnage that was Hurricane Katrina cost us a grand total of $150 billion, and at least it had the decency to only happen once.
That's more than the entire 2010 Air Force budget.
One of the biggest things to prevent the "or else" effects of diabetes from happening, thus wrecking our wallets and health, is monitoring the blood glucose level of patients. But this requires you to lug around one of those glucose meters, and punch a hole in your skin to draw a tiny blood sample every time.
The Sci-Fi Solution:
What if you had the meter always with you, and it made you look badass to boot? The researchers at MIT asked themselves this question and, somehow, came up with a solution with that rarest demographic of all, the health-conscious biker, in mind. Yes, we're talking about goddamn tattoos here, and yes, they will monitor your blood for you.
"My elbow says it's time for a cookie, bitch!"
Nano-ink tattoos are just like the average dolphins and skulls your average tattoo parlor offers, save for one thing: They continuously check the blood glucose levels of diabetics. The nano-ink that is hacked into your skin eliminates the need for pricking your finger several times a day, which is a big reason people neglect their monitoring. When the tattoo detects glucose, it tells you with a fluorescent glow that is visible under ultraviolet light, thus making you the hit of the rave party as well as the biker bar.
The only device you need to have with you is a wrist watch that is equipped with a UV flashlight and a reader that turns the glow into a normal blood sugar readout on its display. But what if you suffer the classic fate of a person with a new tattoo, and realize that you hate that inexpertly drawn anchor in your bicep? Not a problem -- nano ink dissolves without a trace in months. The tattoo needs to be renewed every six months, so next time, you can get a completely different picture.
"Next month, I'm getting 'WHORE' on my lower back."
Age Deceleration Drugs
As much as people may whine and moan about how much life sucks, when push comes to shove everyone would like to live just that little bit longer. Some of us choose to try and achieve those extra years with healthy eating and regular exercise, while most just live their lives, eating and drinking whatever and keeping their fingers crossed. But of course, exactly how long we live depends on a combination of lifestyle, genetics and crapshoot.
Probably don't have to worry about this guy sucking up the Social Security.
It's not as if we can eat sausages and churros and just pop a pill to negate the negative effects, right?
Oh no, surely they haven't ...
The Sci-Fi Solution:
It's called resveratrol, a base ingredient of red wine that is thought to be pretty damn healthy. A while back, scientists found that resveratrol could increase the lifespans of lab animals by a hefty 30 percent. But there was a catch: The animals had to be sustained on a very low-calorie diet to see the benefits.
It's also found in Japanese knotwood, which is both low calorie and a great way to say "boner."
Well, that doesn't do us any good, we already won't change our diets just to live longer. Why would upping the reward change anything? No, we need something that works with our lifestyle.
So, researchers immediately went about finding a way to also extend the lifespans of fat people. A small Massachussetts pharmaceutical company called Sirtris found a drug that would prevent any of the normal diseases that result from obesity in lab mice. By keeping fat out of the liver and fixing the way their bodies deal with insulin to keep the diabetes monster away, the chemical appears to be a "Get Out of Fat Free" card.
Wait a minute, have you been holding out on us, you son of a bitch?
Oh, and it extended the lives of fat lab rats by an astounding 44 percent. The researcher who made the discovery must've been immediately hospitalized because the world's biggest science boner drained his body of almost all blood.
The name of the drug is currently SRT-1720, but expect it to be changed to "Immortafat" or "Upyoursgymgoersiol" as soon as they complete the clinical tests on humans.
Yeah, did we not mention that? It's in human clinical trial stage already.
In the meantime, we're busy patenting the revolutionary "Red wine and broccoli" diet.
For more ways our world is turning into Minority Report, check out 5 Famous Sci-Fi Weapons That They're Actually Building and 5 Deadly Sci-Fi Gadgets You Can Build At Home.