This Biohacker Is Developing DIY Kits to Grow Human Tissue at Home

The first organ transplant took place more than 60 years ago. Since then, organ transplant and growth technology has made some enormous—and strange—advances. Exhibit A: human tissue grown from ear-shaped apples, an idea from biohacker Andrew Pelling and his team at his Canadian laboratory.

Pelling’s research lab at the University of Ottawa is a playground for creative scientific minds. “We aren’t focused on any particular problem and we’re not trying to solve any particular disease,” he said in a recent TED Talk. “This is just a place where people can come and ask fascinating questions and find answers.”

A frequent question in the Pelling Lab is, “What can we make out of this garbage?”

“I love looking through other people’s garbage,” Pelling said. “It's not some creepy thing. I’m usually just looking for old electronics, stuff I can take to my workshop and hack.”

While hacking electronics, Pelling began to wonder if the same methods—taking something apart, tinkering with the pieces, and building something new—could be applied to, say, plants and animals. “What I'm really curious about is if one day, it will be possible to repair, rebuild, and augment our own bodies with stuff we make in the kitchen,” he said.

He and his team began experimenting with hacking plant tissue. They started with leaves, but found the waxy coating too hard to take apart. One day one of the researchers saw a coworker eating an apple, and something clicked. They turned their attention to fruit instead. Once you get past the apple’s skin, its flesh is unprotected, which makes it easier to remove the material within, in a process called decellularization.

The next step was to implant animal cells into the empty apple "scaffolding" (a term used in tissue engineering for the structure used to facilitate new cells). The cells took to their new habitat and grew quite successfully. Looking at the apple-shaped animal tissue, Pelling realized it might be possible to shape human tissue the same way.

He asked his wife, a skilled carver, to whittle Macintosh apples into ear-shaped slices. The slices were repopulated with human cells, resulting in a pretty successful new ear (or at least human tissue shaped like an ear).

There's more to this than just having fun. "Commercial scaffolds can be really expensive and problematic, because they're sourced from proprietary products, animals, or cadavers," Pelling said in his recent TED Talk. "We used an apple and it cost pennies."

Not one to keep his triumphs to himself, Pelling is determined to make this ear-factory technology available to the public. He has published all the instructions online and will soon start selling the necessary equipment so that people can grow their own body parts at home.

Apple ears are just one sector of the Pelling Lab’s work. For more on the team’s engineering and biohacking projects, check out their website.

Banner images via YouTube // BRich Spare- Tire.

Afternoon Map
The Most Searched Shows on Netflix in 2017, By State

Orange is the New Black is the new black, at least as far as Netflix viewers are concerned. The women-in-prison dramedy may have premiered in 2013, but it’s still got viewers hooked. Just as they did in 2017, took a deep dive into Netflix analytics using Google Trends to find out which shows people in each state were searching Netflix for throughout the year. While there was a little bit of crossover between 2016 and 2017, new series like American Vandal and Mindhunter gave viewers a host of new content. But that didn’t stop Orange is the New Black from dominating the map; it was the most searched show in 15 states.

Coming in at a faraway second place was American Vandal, a new true crime satire that captured the attention of five states (Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Even more impressive is the fact that the series premiered in mid-September, meaning that it found a large and rabid audience in a very short amount of time.

Folks in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon were all destined to be disappointed; Star Trek: Discovery was the most searched-for series in each of these states, but it’s not yet available on Netflix in America (you’ve got to get CBS All Access for that, folks). Fourteen states broke the mold a bit with shows that were unique to their state only; this included Big Mouth in Delaware, The Keepers in Maryland, The OA in Pennsylvania, GLOW in Rhode Island, and Black Mirror in Hawaii.

Check out the map above to see if your favorite Netflix binge-watch matches up with your neighbors'. For more detailed findings, visit

Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

[h/t Thrillist]


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