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The self-made man
August 17, 2012 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Nearly a decade ago, Sun Jifa lost his hands in a fishing-related explosion (he was building a bomb for blast-fishing). He soon realized that he couldn't afford the prosthetic hands recommended by the hospital. Undeterred, he decided to build his own bionic hands. Eight years later...
posted by unSane (46 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
You really have to hand it to that guy.
posted by swift at 8:50 AM on August 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


How did he put them together? With his feet or teeth or something? I'm not making fun, I really want to know!
posted by jillithd at 8:51 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


How do you craft bionic hands without the use of your hands?!
posted by etc. at 8:52 AM on August 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wow, that is incredible. I assume he had help in the beginning to build the first few prototypes, but, once he got them going he was able to refine it himself?
posted by yeoz at 8:52 AM on August 17, 2012


Blast fishing is a thing?
posted by bowline at 8:52 AM on August 17, 2012


Someone probably gave him a hand.
posted by unSane at 8:52 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Holy fuck. My first thought was How does one build hands when one lacks hands to build them with? My second thought was, Now he has hands imagine what "Hands: Mark II" will look like!
posted by cjorgensen at 8:53 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that a bionic arm resting on your lap or are you happy to see me?
posted by phaedon at 8:54 AM on August 17, 2012


Related.
posted by unSane at 8:54 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the US we use dynamite to do our blast fishing.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:55 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I've seen this guy at the LIMB clinic in Hengsha.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:55 AM on August 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Society's goal should be to get people like Sun Jifa into government sponsored labs to work miracles for everyone.
posted by deanklear at 8:55 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


He is pretty handy.
posted by Mojojojo at 9:00 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Dynamite fishing or “blast” fishing, is done easily and cheaply with dynamite or homemade bombs created from locally available materials. Fish are killed by the shock waves from the blast and are then skimmed off the surface or collected from the bottom by divers." (From cjorensen's link.)

I need to go lie down.
posted by Eyebeams at 9:00 AM on August 17, 2012


'I control them with movements from my elbows and I can work, love normally and feed myself just like anyone else,' explained the real life tin man.

I think I figured out who helped him build the first prototype...
posted by xdvesper at 9:01 AM on August 17, 2012


'I control them with movements from my elbows and I can work, love normally and feed myself just like anyone else,' explained the real life tin man.

That is a lot of work to figure out how to give yourself a happy ending.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:03 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Insert hilarious hand pun here.)
posted by item at 9:04 AM on August 17, 2012


Soundtrack for blast fishing from my favorite overlooked 90s band, Geggy Tah.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:06 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the third link: His saying that the hands allow him to 'love normally' is just a tad TMI for my prudish tastes...
posted by AwkwardPause at 9:06 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, the fish have secretly been developing concussion helmets.
posted by fairmettle at 9:07 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


This guy has just created a new business. I hope he can get a bit of encouragement from others who don't believe the poor should suffer deprivations because they can't afford expensive medical treatment.

Wait a minute, this is China, right?

Ah.
posted by mule98J at 9:08 AM on August 17, 2012


Kickstarter this guy a new pair, somebody.
posted by warbaby at 9:09 AM on August 17, 2012


Could've done worse, I suppose (nsfw).
posted by item at 9:10 AM on August 17, 2012


If this guy lived in the Marvel universe, this guy would now have 30-feet-long extendo-arms that shoot lasers and create dimensional rifts, and would be involved in a heated-yet-respectful rivalry with Tony Stark.
posted by JHarris at 9:20 AM on August 17, 2012


"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. ...urgh China made it cheaper, faster and better grar!


/bad jokes aside, amazing story...
posted by infini at 9:23 AM on August 17, 2012


Groovy.
posted by The Tensor at 9:24 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wonder if he's built a fishing rod yet.
posted by orme at 9:33 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


So torn... Part of me wants to applaud the guy's ingenuity and resourcefulness, and part of me is thinking well if you hadn't been blast fishing, destroying marine habitat and killing countless other animals in collateral damage, this wouldn't have happened in the first place.
posted by xedrik at 9:36 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bizarrely, I wrote a movie script in which someone did exactly this (minus the blast fishing part).
posted by unSane at 9:36 AM on August 17, 2012


Wait, if he's smart enough to design and create a pair of bionic hands (sans hands of his own), why was he still dumb enough to fish with explosives?
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:59 AM on August 17, 2012


You think long and hard on that one.
posted by klue at 10:08 AM on August 17, 2012


why was he still dumb enough to fish with explosives?

Intelligence is not the same as a good perception of risk - also you aren't seeing too many news stories about the people doing this and not losing a limb, same as you don't read about all the people having an uneventful car ride to and from work every day.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:22 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If this guy lived in the Marvel universe, this guy would now have 30-feet-long extendo-arms that shoot lasers and create dimensional rifts, and would be involved in a heated-yet-respectful rivalry with Tony Stark.

Please. Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave, with a box of scraps.
posted by w0mbat at 10:25 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


But he also lives in the Marvel Universe, where super-science can be observed to be a much lower-hanging fruit.

In our universe, Reed Richards commutes to teach quantum physics at MIT, Doctor Doom is a slightly-more-enlightened dictator with leanings towards industry, and Tony Stark still owns the weapons company he founded but hasn't designed any devices for ten years.
posted by JHarris at 10:33 AM on August 17, 2012


Fishing with explosives, as compared to other ways to extract seafood from the earth, is actually quite safe. I think non-rebreather air pump diving (also common in Asia, and when those guys have an accident they get left down at the bottom with the too-small oysters) and anything involving sailing up into the arctic would pretty easily eclipse the injuries-per-ton-harvested ratios of percussive stun fishing. Calling making your own explosives "dumb" is like calling knowing how to start a fire without a lighter dumb or knowing how to clean a gun dumb: you are prioritizing and categorizing another persons entire lifestyle based on the context of your own sheltered experience.

The guy is a craftsman, those hands are brilliant, and you should count yourself lucky that the pure light of his fucking red hot, more-human-than-human back alley trash and hammers ambition and creativity made it all the way to your lazy soft air conditioned and brightness buffered retinas (through the work of other humans who did a lot of "dumb" shit like learning about how to bottle lightning even though there were water wheels and spent their days learning how to make ones and zeros move while all the smart folks were learning how to make huge dollars selling commercial real estate and blow).
posted by jarvitron at 10:41 AM on August 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


Blast fishing is fucking godawful for the environment. Then again, we let shrimpers do basically the same thing to the sea floor, only on a much, much larger scale. Also I'm willing to bet that this place (apparently the location of his home town, as best as I could determine) doesn't offer a lot in the way of employment prospects.

So as much as blast fishing is something that infuriates and saddens me and makes me want to hit things, I feel like maybe we have some systemic societal issues that need to be taken care of before we can hate on this particular guy too much. As a bonus, if we took care of that stuff then we might also be able to see our way to getting this guy some hands that weren't cobbled together from scrap steel and old tires.
posted by Scientist at 10:42 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


w0mbat - Please. Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave, with a box of scraps.

Damn you, you beat me to it!
posted by jason_steakums at 10:44 AM on August 17, 2012


I suppose I should differentiate safe here from "okay". Blast fishing is for the most part environmentally horrible and morally reprehensible, somewhere on the "rape of the sea" scale midway between modern day whaling and dredge trawl. But safe as in, most practitioners of this form of harvest and havok are safe aside from tinnitus.
posted by jarvitron at 10:49 AM on August 17, 2012


I'm opposed to this.




Too much of a reach?
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:37 AM on August 17, 2012


How did he put them together? With his feet or teeth or something?

Hopefully I'm not going out on a limb when I saw that with a little elbow grease you can knuckle down and do almost anything.

Seriously though, this guy is awesome.

(now who make a pun out of "Cubital Fossa"?)
posted by beau jackson at 12:54 PM on August 17, 2012


Wonder if he's built a fishing rod grenade launcher yet.

posted by FatherDagon at 1:14 PM on August 17, 2012


SUN JIFA WAS ABLE TO BUILD THIS WITH NO HANDS... WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!
posted by CheshireCat at 4:23 PM on August 17, 2012


How did he put them together? With his feet or teeth or something?

Well...
posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:25 PM on August 17, 2012


I applaud this, even if it renders all my excuses for not doing things even more paltry and irrelevant.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:57 PM on August 17, 2012


I'd give him a big hand, but blast fishing is kind of awful
posted by SPrintF at 8:19 PM on August 17, 2012


On the other hand...
posted by unSane at 4:42 AM on August 18, 2012


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