Do you remember Hugh Herr? Probably not, unless you are in your mid-40s or older.
A remarkable young rock climber of the times, in 1982, when he was 17, he got caught in a blizzard on Mt. Washington. Spent three days in -20 deg temperatures before being rescued, with one of his rescuers dying in an avalanche. Herr ended up with both legs amputated below the knee. After months of surgeries and rehabilitation, he started climbing again, using prostheses that he designed and built. He was able to reach his prior climbing levels, and in 1991 his story was captured in Alison Osius' book "Second Ascent: The Story of Hugh Herr."
I never heard anything of him after that.
Then, last night, I was watching the Olympics, in particular Oscar Pistorius--the South African with the "blade legs." After his competition, he was interviewed and his story was featured. His problems with his legs at birth, and on up to the present. They focused on how he came to his prostheses, and how these near-miraculous devices (for him) were developed. The camera turned to the person who did it, mentioning the name Prof. Herr. Herr discussed the history, and near the end pulled up his pant legs and told how he gave the prostheses a lot of personal workouts before pronouncing them ready. His legs and feet were metal and plastic! The light went on.
Google easily turned up Herr's story after his injuries and recovery. After getting his bachelor's degree in physics, he went to MIT for his master's in mechanical engineering, and then Harvard for his PhD in biophysics. He is currently an associate professor at MIT, the author of 60 peer-reviewed papers, the recipient of several awards, and...well...you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Herr