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The Force is real: how 'Star Wars' neuroscience is revolutionizing healthcare and more

Jedi-training.jpgMore than 40 years after it hit theaters for the first time, the cultural influence of the "Star Wars" movie franchise is undeniable. You can see that reach in the skyrocketing box-office take of the most recent installment, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, whose ticket sales worldwide raced past the $1 billion mark just before New Year's Day.What most people don't realize is how impactful "Star Wars" has been on science and technology.

Take the revolutionary prosthetic hand developed under the direction of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Made available in late 2016 to veterans who had lost an upper limb, this robotic hand is called L.U.K.E. That acronym officially stands for "Life Under Kinetic Evolution." No one is being fooled here: This incredible achievement of DARPA's "Revolutionizing Prosthetics" program-launched a decade earlier-is a clear reference to the robotic hand Luke Skywalker receives at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, after having his forearm cut off by Darth Vader during the dramatic lightsaber fight that culminates with the now legendary "I am your father" line. Recently, a multidisciplinary team at Georgia Tech created a robotic hand, also inspired by Skywalker's, that allows wearers to control each finger independently.

9th January 2018

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