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Bionics means the replacement or enhancement of organs or other body parts
by mechanical versions. Bionic implants differ from mere prostheses by
mimicing the original function very closely, or even surpassing it.
Bionics' german equivalent "Bionik" takes a somewhat broader scope in that
it tries to develop engineering solutions from biological models. This
approach is motivated by the fact that biological solutions will always be
optimized by evolutionary forces. A classical example is the development of
dirt- and water-repellent paint (coating) from the observeration that the
surface of the lotus flower plant is practically unsticky for anything.
While the technologies that make bionic implants possible are still in a
very early stage, a few bionic items already exist, the best known being the
cochlear implant, a device for deaf people. Some versions come quite close
to "normal" hearing; they can even work better than natural ears at
background noise filtering.
Bionics are a common element of science fiction, with The Six Million Dollar
Man as the probably best-known example.