Contributor corner: Rose Eveleth

Rose EvelethRose Eveleth is a producer, designer, writer and animator based in Brooklyn. She's dabbled in everything from research on pelagic invertebrates to animations about beer to podcasts about fake tumbleweed farms. These days, she explores how humans tangle with science and technology.

Currently Rose is a columnist for BBC Future, the host and producer of the Gizmodo podcast Meanwhile in the Future, and the editor of Smithsonian’s Smart News blog. She’s also the founder and curator for Science Studio, the place to find the very best multimedia about science on the internet. In her spare time she makes paper automata and day dreams about hanging out with a pack of foxes. You can see more of her work at her website, and get in touch with her on Twitter, especially if you have a fox thing to show her.

Twitter: @roseveleth

What is your feature about?

My feature is about Brian Bartlett, an amputee who developed his very own prosthetic knee to get back on the slopes after everybody told him he couldn't. It’s also about the special insights that amputees have when it comes to designing prosthetics—they know what they want, and know what doesn’t work for them in a way that an able-bodied person simply can never fully understand. Brian is one in a long line of amputees who have invented incredibly innovative prosthetics, and I’m sure he won’t be the last to say “hey, wait a minute, I have a better idea.”

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

Brian’s story is full of unexpected twists and turns, and I don’t want to give any of them away here! But I think the thing that most surprised me was how far back this kind of innovation goes. Some of the first prosthetics were developed and improved upon by amputees who had no training in engineering or medicine, but who knew that what they had simply wasn’t working for them. Looking through the early history of prosthetics, and some of the earliest patents, I found a whole trove of fascinating ideas about how to replace missing body parts. Some of them never came to be, but some of them totally changed the way we think about prosthetic devices even today.

Read Rose’s feature on Mosaic, publishing 19 May 2015.