The US military’s future technology division is reportedly eyeing tampering with soldiers’ genes, allowing them to go for days without food or sleep and re-grow limbs lost in battle or due to landmines.
Scientists at the Pentagon’s high-tech Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hope to find a way to affect certain genes to make the human body do amazing things, like using body fat more efficiently, says British newspaper Sunday Express.
The journalists talked to novelist Simon Conway, who was given a behind-the-scenes glimpse of DARPA’s research, which may seem like it comes straight out of a science fiction novel.
“If you can efficiently convert fat into energy you don’t need to feed your soldiers as often,” Conway said. “So you can send them into battle in remote areas plump and they live off their own fat.
“It is all about improving efficiency of energy creation in the body. Soldiers would be able to run at Olympic speeds, carry large weights and go without sleep and without food,” he said.
Another possible chilling breakthrough is a drug that can make people go for hours without sleep and stay alert, Professor Joel Garreau, of Arizona State University told the tabloid.
“It was tested by the US army on helicopter pilots. They found that after 40 hours, pilots actually had better concentration levels than if they had rested. It is much better than amphetamines, which affect decision making and have led to many so-called friendly fire incidents,” he said.
There is also a project to make soldiers regenerate lost limbs.
“There are well-documented cases of young children losing a finger and it grows back. The trick is how to identify the trigger. Now it’s a well-funded area of research,” he said.
The agency, sometimes dubbed Pentagon’s “mad scientists division”, is known for reaching for far-fetched, eyebrow-raising technology. But it has its record of breakthroughs, including the creation of the precursors of the modern internet.
Among other things, DARPA’s $2 billion-a-year budget is used for a hypersonic unmanned vehicle, insect-sized spy drones, mini-satellites that can cannibalize other spacecraft and new brands of cyber weapons.