There are numerous ways to treat wounds in the field. Some of the methods seem rather low tech sometimes – special operators have been known to use Superglue as a tissue adhesive to keep wounded comrades from bleeding to death. However, the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (ARFL) has sought to develop something better.
Cellular Programming is Better than Gorilla Glue
AFRL’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research has been funding efforts to research cellular reprogramming, which could allow wounds to heal up to five times faster than the human body would heal naturally. University of Michigan researcher Indika Rajapakse is now working with the Air Force in researching the ways that could allow for a person’s own cells to be reprogrammed to heal wounds faster. Rajapakse secured funding from the military branch to purchase a special live cell imaging microscope and improve an elaborate algorithm to advance the research.
“There are amazing opportunities in the United States, that you don’t see in the rest of the world, to humanize science and meet critical needs in medicine,” Rajapakse said. “We have the resources to do this, and it is our obligation to take full advantage of them. Thanks to the Air Force’s help, I was able to acquire the tools I need to advance my research into cellular reprogramming and wound healing.”
The funding was made possible by collaboration between AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing and the Air Force Futures.
“The impact of this research effort can be far reaching,” said Dr. Rajesh Naik, 711th Human Performance Wing chief scientist. “The convergence of biosciences with mathematical models can truly provide an inflection point to advance the development of wound healing. Dr. Rajapakse’s research can result in innovative solutions for addressing our needs in the aeromedical operations and in future space environments.”
The Air Force isn’t alone in supporting such efforts. This month, the U.S. Navy reports control of some patents that could be described as futuristic and even “outlandish” technologies. Some of those have already been dubbed “UFO patents,” including those of a Dr. Salvatore Cezar Pais, whose technology has been described as being able to “engineer reality.”
While that doesn’t mean that Pais could turn off the time-space continuum, it does range from gravitational wave generators and compact fusion reactors to revolutionary propulsion systems and hybrid aerospace-underwater vehicles. These are patents and not actual devices, and it is unlikely the Navy has actually even fully developed the technology that would be required to build prototypes. However, it highlights the fact that the military remains at the forefront of such technological innovation.
DARPA Driving Force Behind Innovation
While some of the technology that is being developed certainly has “military” applications – such as the electromagnetic technology devised by Pais, which acts as an anti-missile shield – there are civilian uses as well. The same electromagnetic field could protect the earth from rogue asteroids, for example.
Likewise, the cellular reprogramming would certainly be a benefit for those injured in automobile or other accidents.
“The U.S. military, through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was a big fan of science fiction prototyping,” explained technology industry analyst Rob Enderle.
The military has long been involved in such prototyping, Enderle told ClearanceJobs.
“A lot of our advances came from the military and that includes cellular phones, radar and X-rays,” added Jim McGregor, principal analyst at TIRAS Research.
“The military has a number of advanced labs that are at the forefront of this technology,” McGregor, who previously was employed at defense contractor General Dynamics, told ClearanceJobs. “Those groups are working on very unique problems. And it kills me when I hear we’re investing too much in the military, because that is what leads to these advancements in technology and society as a whole.”
McGregor pointed to the efforts that DARPA has brought to the development of autonomous technology as one of the most recent examples. “They were 15 years ahead of their time. Whether it is on a battlefield or in space, it is about finding experts who can address how we deal with the issues we may face in the future.”
Military is Pushing the Technology Boundaries
As McGregor noted, the U.S. military is able to conduct research and develop new technologies well beyond what the most ambitious civilian efforts could hope to achieve.
“The U.S. military is one of the largest sources of funding in applied science and engineering research,” explained Dr. Vahid Behzadan, assistant professor at the Tagliatela College of Engineering at the University of New Haven.
“Many of the projects funded by organizations such as DARPA, ONR, and AFOSR have already brought science-fiction into the real world – notable examples of which include the Internet, autonomous vehicles, satellite-borne weapons, and laser guns,” Behzadan told ClearanceJobs. “One would not be completely wrong to assume that converting science-fiction into reality is indeed the mission of such organizations.”
Even as the Air Force’s research to “reprogram” skin for self-healing may seem radical, there is often an unclassified body of research that corroborates the scientific validity of such ideas.
“However, there are suspicious anomalies in some of the recently popularized research claims made by a few defense research agencies,” added Behzadan.
That certainly includes some of those claims by the Navy and Pais.
“The academic research community is largely skeptical of their validity, there is growing suspicions that these patents may be an intentional attempt at misinformation to detect and deter scientific espionage,” said Behzadan. “These suspicions are well-justified: (1) the claims are not verified through independent peer-review, and the state of scientific research on those areas are far behind the claimed achievements, (2) the unclassified peer-reviewed publications of Dr. Pais are on basic, and at times even irrelevant research problems (e.g., the IEEE TPS paper is at best on par with graduate student abstracts), and (3) it is uncommon for researchers to name an effect after themselves, and repeatedly use the label in their own speeches and writings. That said, skepticism is in the nature of researchers, and there is a chance (however small) for these claims to be a true as other revolutionary ideas developed in defense-sponsored research projects.”
Dead Ends Can Lead to New Opportunities
As expected, some of the technology may be a dead end – like a reported effort into researching teleportation – yet others are leading to current advancements that trickle down to civilian use. As noted, we certainly wouldn’t have GPS or likely the internet were it not for the military.
“A lot of what the military does might sound like science fiction, but that is how it starts,” added McGregor. “It is important in terms of competitiveness too – the U.S. doesn’t really invest a lot in consumer technology the way other nations do, instead here it is done through government labs for the military. Is that the right way? I don’t know, but in the end it still benefits society.”