Sunday, December 30, 2012

Paging Dr. McCoy, Dr. Leonard McCoy...

In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the chief surgeon of the Enterprise was aghast at the medieval tactics planned by 1984 doctors to repair an injury to a man's brain. They were going to...cut his head open! The enlightened Starfleet doctor used his 22nd century technology to non-invasively heal the brain injury.

Scientists at the University of Michigan many have gone several steps down that road with an invisible "scalpel" made of sound waves. Sound is already used to deal with things like kidney stones, but the new technology allows for even more tightly focused beams -- narrow enough to perform actual surgery or even to manipulate single cells one at a time. The beam can be focused to a point inside the body, meaning that the surgeon would not have to break the patient's skin to perform the needed operation, let alone remove tissue, bones or other organs that might be in the way.

The UMich team hasn't said anything yet about transporters or warp drive, but maybe they're just being cagey.

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