Originally published in Sunstar Davao.
I believe in miracles, and it is spelled S-C-I-E-N-C-E.
I have spent the last few hours reading articles and watching videos about the latest scientific breakthroughs. I have focused on research and technology that alleviates human suffering, compensates for human disabilities, prolongs and grants better quality of life.
One such miracle which will be very evident and available for online readers is called HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the “language” of the internet which allows you to simply click at the links I give and you will be instantly whisked away to other websites I have used as source material.
To those of you reading this on paper and ink, you too can access this miracle by going online, not by prayer. Unless, of course, you pray for a laptop (or tablet) to drop down from heaven onto your lap, automatically turn on, hijack your neighbor’s wifi signal, fire up its web browser and go to my article — and it actually happens.
The Deaf Shall Hear
In the meantime, let me tell you about 3-year old Grayson Clamp who hears his dad’s voice for the very first time. That may not sound so spectacular at first, unless you know that baby Grayson was born without a cochlear nerve which transmits signals from the ears to the brain. In other words, there is no connection between his brain and his ear.
To get around the problem, doctors performed a cochlear implant, putting a chip in Grayson’s brain which allows him to receive and process those signals. The look on his face as he hears his father’s voice is priceless.
26-year old Amy Barber went through a similar operation and she was able to hear her six-year old son for the first time. Her aunt who was there, took a video and posted it on Youtube where it went viral.
The Blind Shall See
Diane Ashworth, a 54-year old woman from Australia, is the first recipient of a bionic eye transplant. The result isn’t perfect yet as the technology is still in the prototype stage but Diane can see flashes of light and shapes which proves that the brain is now receiving some sort of signal from the device. Researchers in Israel are also working on such a device and in the near future, we may very well have functional bionic eyes that can enable even those born blind to see in full color.
The Lame Shall Walk (and tie shoelaces as well)
Prosthetics are nothing new and have been around for decades. Still, they are minor miracles in bringing back some sense of normalcy in an amputee’s life. What caught my attention is the degree of advancement in prosthetic development which blends with robotics. A company called Ekso Bionics has developed a robotic exoskeleton that allows those paralyzed from the waist down to walk. This was a boon to Jason Geiser who had a motorcycle accident and was told that he wouldn’t be able to walk again.
Hand prosthetics are a bit more complicated because of the fine-motor tuning involved. In the past, it was nearly impossible to create a bionic hand that could alternate between strongly gripping an object and holding it delicately (like holding an egg without breaking, or holding a pen and writing). 53-year old Nigel Ackland shows off an advanced hand prosthesis that allows him to deal cards and tie his shoelaces, as well as make an omelet and open a beer bottle.
The Dead Shall Rise Again
39-year old Colin Fiedler was dead for at least 40 minutes being brought back to life with a cardiac support pump called the AutoPulse which keeps the patient’s blood running through the brain and other vital organs, as doctors administer medicine or shock treatment. The procedure has revived two other patients under similar conditions as well.
I have no doubt in my mind that science will continue creating, refining and delivering life-changing technology such as these in the years to come — and that they will become available to more and more people. Machines and electronics have become so prevalent and familiar to us that we fail to see the wonder in them any more.
Miracles are all around us, if you would care to open your eyes and see. They are brought about not by a leap of faith, but of science. And unlike other so-called miracles, they can be depended on to work again, and again, and again.
Andy Uyboco is a businessman, trainer and speaker. If you actually had a laptop or tablet drop on your lap from heaven, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.