Summary of The Body Builders

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  • Innovative
  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening


Moral questions surround bioengineering – the interface of science and biology. Will future interactions save people from disease and injury or spur exploitation of reengineered bodies and body parts by driven athletes and the immortality-seeking wealthy? Science journalist Adam Piore offers in-depth case studies of prominent bioengineers, their breakthroughs, real-life “superhumans” and ordinary people who are benefiting from bioengineering. Piore provides a glimpse into a not-so-distant future in which physical and mental “human augmentation” techniques will reverse brain damage, aid the paralyzed and enhance the lives of the healthy. Medical scientists work with biology-inspired robotics, stem cells, lab-grown organs, electrical brain implants, and other revolutionary technologies. Big-business interests and military research feature in Piore’s account of the race for body and mind augmentation. getAbstract recommends his consciousness-raising exploration to future-watchers, innovators, technologists and anyone who wants to know how much of the medical future is already here.

About the Author

Journalist and former Newsweek editor Adam Piore writes for Scientific American, Discover and Popular Science.



Completing the Human Spirit and Body

The human spirit craves completeness. Patients facing great physical and mental adversity strive to overcome illness and injury. Dedicated scientists work to repair damaged bodies and brains using revolutionary new techniques. But where is the boundary between “restorative” treatment and “augmentation” enhancements? Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius showcased the issue of bioengineering restoration versus augmentation. And, skeptical observers like Stanford economist Francis Fukuyama warn against medically engineering people into “gods.”

“Moving”: Mountaineer Hugh Herr

Frostbite cost mountaineer Hugh Herr his legs below the knees. Doctors told him to forget climbing. He doggedly built his upper body strength, returning to the rocks in seven weeks. Then he designed new climbing prostheses, including long adjustable legs. Herr drew from the 1950s work of physiologist Giovanni Cavagna, who suggested the importance of “elastic recoil energy” in powering a leg. He knew of zoologist R. McNeill Alexander and others who demonstrated the crucial role of the highly elastic tendons – such as the Achilles – in providing the energy to...

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