Researchers at the University of New Mexico have engineered 'zombie cells' – undead replicas of animal cells that may actually be stronger than their living counterparts.
Photo: Sandia National Laboratories
According to a report at Energy.gov, biologists at UNM's Sandia National Laboratories have developed a method of embalming the cell of a mammal with silica to create a functioning replica of the original. The silica acts as a kind of armor plating; when exposed to extreme temperatures the original cell was destroyed... but the silica copy continued functioning.
Bryan Kaehr, head of the research team, says the term "zombie" is fitting because, unlike mummies, which only imitate the appearance of the living, these preserved dead cells just get up and go about their cellular business.
“King Tut was mummified to approximately resemble his living self, but the process took place without mineralization [a process of fossilization]," he explains. "Our zombie cells bridge chemistry and biology to create forms that not only near-perfectly resemble their past selves, but can do future work.” He claims these zombies would be useful in the fields of "fuel cells, decontamination and sensor technologies"... but who knows what else they might have in mind?