Headlines from the Future

The Future of Diagnosis
2015: Get Fit Without Moving a Muscle
Joan Vernikos, Pharmacologist and NASA Consultant

A new study shows that overweight people lose about as much muscle mass in 10 years--10 percent--as astronauts do on extended space missions. Now physicians are fighting fat with the NASA-inspired human centrifuge, a spinning platform that doubles the gravitational load on the body, stimulating metabolism and forcing muscles to contract. The person "exercising" lies on a form-fitting pad, spins at 20 rpm for 10 minutes, and receives a benefit equivalent to an hour of weight lifting.

The Future of Reproduction
2028: Stay fit or pay the consequences
Glenn McGee, editor in chief,American Journal of Bioethics

Fast and reliable gene tests have made DNA screening routine. Doctors can predict many of your future illnesses with 99.9 percent certainty and eliminate them before they happen. Alas, insurance agencies now hold patients responsible when they contract a preventable illness such as diabetes. If you refuse testing and get sick as result, your insurance company could hike up your premiums or refuse to pay your bills altogether.

The Future of Strength
2060: MIT Pioneers Recipe for beating Heart
Robert Langer, biomedical engineer, MIT

The Langer Lab at MIT has finally added a heart to its list of spare parts and organs. For
decades, engineers at the "Body Shop" have custom-built items like livers and kidneys. But the heart has proved the trickiest to manufacture. The solution has three basic steps: First, seed a heart-shaped biodegradable scaffold with cardiac cells. Next, shock it with electricity so that the cells will grow. Last, suture major blood vessels and valves--grown separately--to the organ.