Urine.. equals to 6 hours of electricity!

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http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7266/ 8161674482_6afa443513_c.jpg

Fact:

One person’s waste is another person’s treasure. Cliche’d much?

Once you hear what these girls in Africa came up with, you just might want to be cliched yourself. Three female students in Africa’s “Maker Faire” (Science Fair) generated 6 hours of electricity by using 1 litre of urine sample with home-made machinery and chemical reactions. Ofcourse, technical knowledge is required (chemistry) – and there are certain elements in the experiment that can be quite hazardous.

The process is not for the faint of heart, but if you are interested, go over to the MakerFaire website for detailed pictures and instructions.

If the students can do it, so can you – its all about learning and applying!

Rant:

I always used to wonder if there was a way to re-use this waste that we constantly produce. It is, after all, a chemical reaction of an input — and whatever has an input always has an output. The reason why us humans are far more advanced than other species on this planet is due to the fact how we can come up with innovative ways to improve our lives, including our own waste for instance. This has to be one of the greatest projects ever made, I’m just surprised why the great people/corporations of the “1st world nations” never came up with something like this. Or maybe they did, but just never bothered to pursue it even further.

Urine is something every single human secretes from birth to their deathbed, constantly. I’m sure the other waste that we produce (in solid form) has a lot more nutrients in there that we can re-use for similar or better purposes.

Just imagine, no dependency on fossil fuels or any non-renewable resources. No need to pay high amounts to these corporations. Buy a simple waste-to-electricity converter — and re-fuel it by simply discharging your own waste. The idea might sound disgusting at first but wouldn’t the waste be BETTER off assisting us than harming the environment where it usually ends up going?! I’m sure even this process has a wasteful discharge but it is probably not as significant as current amounts that flows into the sewage system?! After waste has been passed into the generator, simply re-charge your devices/house/or-whatever-it-may-be, and voila you’re out the door doing something else.

Ofcourse, all dreams are imagined to be beautiful, but the main question (and a real one) we should ask ourselves: Will this tech move forward to the consumers any time soon? I highly doubt it. The incumbents surrounding the oil industry and consumerism are far too greedy and powerful to move people away from oil and oil-based products. Our communities are consumed by products that heavily depend on fossil-fuel dependent products, so its highly unlikely to change for now. Apart from the unproven controversies, there are other and bigger issues surrounding this imminent change. A lot of jobs surround these dependent industries; realistically, it would be disastrous for many companies – including our economies – to bare witness a sudden shift of resource consumption.

Nevertheless, I still have hope – that one day we will get rid of fossil fuel dependency and cave way to better and efficient ways of electricity reproduction — that is good for the economy, environment, and humans in general.

Source 1: Engadget
Source 2: MakerFaire

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The brain remains highly active, even while you sleep.

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http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/sleep-stages.gif

All of us sleep, and according to conventional wisdom – when people sleep, their entire body DIES (including the brain)! The word “dying” is an exaggeration and the latter is simply not true; however, I’m sure not many of us are aware of what actually happens in our brains when it comes to memory transfer, trace, and storage during sleep. Or in fancier terms: memory consolidation.

Let’s lay out some ground rules first — definitions:

Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles.
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep)

Memory consolidation is a category of processes that stabilize a memory trace after the initial acquisition.[1] Consolidation is distinguished into two specific processes, synaptic consolidation, which occurs within the first few hours after learning, and systems consolidation, where hippocampus-dependent memories become independent of the hippocampus over a period of weeks to years. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_consolidation)

According to the source article, researchers in UCLA concluded that during sleep, a brain is constantly: learning, adopting, storing, and analyzing (in short, memory consolidation) — even during anesthesia-influenced trials. This discovery breaks the previously learned norms about memory consolidation. Sleep was seen as a “Relatively suspended sensory activity”, and that’s not the case anymore.

Neocortex (outer brain aka new brain): involved with sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought and language.
Hippocampus (inner brain aka old brain): consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation.
Entorhinal
cortex (intermediary brain aka middle brain): functions as a hub in a widespread network for memory and navigation. It is the main interface between the hippocampus and neocortex.

(Wikipedia)

When we’re all in our conscious state (not sleeping), the ‘middle brain’ is constantly used as a quick storage medium (call it, a clipboard… storing temporary data for instant data retrieval, copy-paste function on computers), and is always active. It was assumed that this heavily used medium would rest or have absolutely no role during unconsciousness, but thats actually not true (anymore).

It had been shown previously that the neocortex (new brain) and the hippocampus (old brain) “talk” to each other during sleep, and it is believed that this conversation plays a critical role in establishing memories, or memory consolidation. However, no one was able to interpret the conversation.

 

The findings challenge theories of brain communication during sleep, in which the hippocampus (old brain) is expected to talk to, or drive, the neocortex (new brain).

Here’s what actually happens while you’re sleeping. New brain (which should also be sleeping and retains day-to-day memories) sends consistent signals to the middle brain (at a much lower pace). While the middle brain is constantly working to process and eventually transfer information into the old brain (hippocampus) for storage purposes. Thanks to the research team’s sensitive monitoring system, they were able to translate what the brain components were actually transferring between each other! This monitoring system was sophisticated enough to monitor all three parts of the brain simultaneously. It even translated data from the neurons that ‘seemed to be an inactive state’.

The whole point of this discovery was to point out two things:

1) The brain is a complex little organ, its sophistication and complexity still amazes me. No matter how much information we discover, there are always some hidden pathways we miss out on. Completely brilliant.

Mehta theorizes that this process occurs during sleep as a way to unclutter memories and delete information that was processed during the day but is irrelevant. This results in the important memories becoming more salient and readily accessible. Notably, Alzheimer’s disease starts in the entorhinal cortex and patients have impaired sleep, so Mehta’s findings may have implications in that arena.

2) The study can lay out a better foundation for discovering brain and performance related deficiencies. Since sleeping and non-sleeping brain activity is (now) highly similar, the path to possible solutions can be simplified. This will help scientists discover whether behaviours can have an adverse impact on memory consolidation, due to how we sleep or live.

Source Article: Gizmodo

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Why do we remember good news, and ignore the bad?

http://philosophy.hku.hk/joelau/media/tms1.jpg

Human brains, in general, are designed to accept good news a lot better than bad news because of the inter-connected cognitive enhancements they represent. Ofcourse, good news is highly subjective to perception; regardless, research has shown that we tend to be a lot more ‘receptive’ to good news (if we perceive it that way), and that is what helps us maintain stability, beliefs, norms, and generate thinking patterns (neural activity, synapses). This doesn’t mean bad news is not read by our brains, its just that they are not strong enough to create effective and long-term links.

What’s unfortunate is that not many of us carry this ability. Some may have more than others, and others may have none whatsoever. Hence, we end up in situations like extended depressions, extreme negativity towards events (again, if we perceive it that way), anger, anxiety, impatience etc. Part of the blame can be given to our evolutionary processes, including: historic events, family history, culture/background/religion, etc. Since its an unbalanced act of nature, several scientists are at it again to make our lives a bit easier.

The attached research/source article focuses on a study performed in University College (London, UK). Their focus was on a phenomena they call “good news/bad news” effect and how they can manipulate it using a device called TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation).

Before we jump to results and conclusions, a few answers for the curious mind.

What’s TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive method to cause depolarization or hyperpolarization in the neurons of the brain.

 

TMS uses electromagnetic induction to induce weak electric currents using a rapidly changing magnetic field; this can cause activity in specific or general parts of the brain with minimal discomfort, allowing the functioning and interconnections of the brain to be studied.

 

TMS uses electromagnetic induction to generate an electric current across the scalp and skull without physical contact. A plastic-enclosed coil of wire is held next to the skull and when activated, produces a magnetic field oriented orthogonally to the plane of the coil. The magnetic field passes unimpeded through the skin and skull, inducing an oppositely directed current in the brain that activates nearby nerve cells in much the same way as currents applied directly to the cortical surface.
[Source: WikiPedia]

What’s the good news/bad news effect?

It’s “the tendency to selectively ignore negative information” (Source2). It’s how people *naturally* weaken the strength of negative news because they know how it might affect their thinking patterns. This thought-process in itself is good enough to fight depression, but as mentioned before – those who lack this cognitive analysis end up feeling miserable.

The part of the brain that carries this ability is known as IFG (inferior frontal gyrus), specifically the ‘left-IFG’ (LIFG). IFG, as a whole, is responsible for abilities that make us “human”, for example: reversal learning, integrating information or updating beliefs, carrying or removing desires, tracking errors and learning from them, memory inhibition, multi-tasking, etc. LIFG is known to preserve beliefs and track errors, it’s also the home to “the optimism bias”, which is the main culprit in developing attachment to good news.

What were the results?

Researchers used TMS around LIFG on approximately 30 test subjects, and came up with astounding results.

“.. interfering with activity of the left IFG using TMS paradoxically enhanced participants’ ability to alter beliefs in response to unfavorable information regarding the risk of encountering negative events.”

“.. results should not be interpreted as suggesting that the disruption of left IFG function improves learning or decisionmaking in general. Rather, our study provides an interesting instance of how a selective disruption to a specific brain region may enhance the tendency to integrate negative information into beliefs regarding vulnerability.”
“.. this enhancement may be suboptimal, as underestimating our susceptibility to negative events has adaptive benefits that include increasing explorative behavior and reducing stress and anxiety, a factor that has links with physical and mental well-being”
[Source: PNAS]

So, what’s the big deal here?

The big deal is, scientists have almost pinpointed out where thought processes or beliefs are stored, and how they can be interrupted using magnetic waves. Finally, an answer to depression without pills or chemical enhancements. Ofcourse, any great discovery can be used for either good or bad purpose, but what we need to understand is this: every brain carries the ability to stay positive. It’s part of the package. However, this package has a switch — some have it turned off, turned on, or just not properly programmed — but all can be tweaked regardless of switch-status. Because our brains have the ability to stay ‘positive’ all the time, it might hinder us from oncoming dangers or risks that might be lingering around the corner.

Examples would include:

  • The possible downfall: stock markets (expecting way too much but getting no returns), relationships (expecting things to turn around eventually but they never really do even after multiple attempts), businesses (expecting high rates of return even though things were not executed as they should have) etc.
  • Ill preparedness: facing natural disasters (weather man says get out of the area yet people completely ignore), facing imminent threats (local folks warn the threat of tanks yet people completely ignore the repercussions of an oncoming threat)
  • Overly aggressive decisions: medical (getting an operation done based on simple symptoms), financial (getting everything on credit because it can be done and not thinking about possibilities of what could happen in between)
  • Overconfidence / Over-optimism: self explanatory.

What needs to be done: a thorough self-analysis. Realistically, positivity in anything keeps us stable and calm creatures. A thorough-analysis should help us make *better* decisions for a *better* state-of-mind.

Many of us become lazy when it comes to discovering ourselves. Those who desperately need help can go through this brain-wave switch tweaking process and probably discover how to stay away from depression. While the rest of us can adapt other ways and try to focus on making our lives better.

On a sidenote, that’s why media is always trying to focus on the bad news since its not easily stored by the brain (generally). Since bad news is forgotten news, it sounds fresh and intriguing to the mind every time its on TV. Hence, negative news = *new content for brain* = concentration = but then forgotten = a never ending cycle of concentration = never ending cycle of ratings = media’s livelihood = pathetic.

Source1: Gizmodo
Source2: PNAS (Full research)
Source3: WikiPedia

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Make #gas/fuel from #air: VaporPower!

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Let’s talk about fuel, again.

A question that haunts most of us in the back of our minds… what will happen if we run out of fossil fuels/oil/gas/that thick dark liquid thing!!!?? APOCALYPSE? No, not really. But things will surely get hella lot expensive.

Another question we should ask ourselves instead: what’s being done about it?

Not a whole lot in the upfront scene. Gas consumption is on the rise. World economies have become extra volatile due to political or cultural events, which are adversely increasing oil prices in concurrence with media buzz. But that’s just one side of the spectrum; truthfully, a LOT is being done to combat this dependency in the background. R4T covered a bio-fuel initiative earlier. Another one is in the works, but for now – take this news for instance.

A research company in London, UK by the name of “Air Fuel Synthesis” has discovered how to create gas out of thin air. That’s right, breathing air.

The process isn’t rocket science or new – its uniquely executed though!

First, apparently, they take sodium hydroxide and mix it with carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That produces sodium carbonate, which can then be electrolyzed to form purer carbon dioxide. The CO2 is then combined with hydrogen—produced by electrolyzing water vapor captured with a dehumidifier—to produce methanol. Finally, that methanol is passed through a gasoline fuel reactor—which uses some nifty organic chemistry once developed by Mobil—to create… gas!
[Source: Gizmodo (below)]

The source article’s author even inquired with an expert, to verify the claim:

“It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. They are doing it and I’ve been up there myself and seen it. The innovation is that they have made it happen as a process. It’s a small pilot plant capturing air and extracting CO2 from it based on well known principles. It uses well-known and well-established components but what is exciting is that they have put the whole thing together and shown that it can work.”
[Tim Fox, head of energy and the environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London; Source: Gizmodo {below}]

As per the source article, the company owns a small refinery (lab) where they have been able to produce only 5 litres of gas in a matter of 3 months — ouch :(. Don’t be discouraged though, they intend to create a larger refinery which could prepare a tonne of gas on a daily basis (theoretically).

Just knowing the fact that *it can be done* should bring some sort of optimism in our heads! I mean, its gas, out of ‘invisible’ air we’re talking about!! At least there are people trying!

Source: Gizmodo

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#BCI; Brain computer interfaces help control virtual helicopters!

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Ever wonder what it would be like if we could control what we think with an external device? Or control an external device by simply thinking?

It would be awesome.

Technology has been influencing scientists to engineer devices that could achieve things impossible to imagine a few years ago. Researchers have been testing BCI’s, a concept which is also known as a Brain-Computer interface. Here’s a wiki-reminder:

BCI is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device. BCIs are often directed at assisting, augmenting, or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain-computer_interface

In a nutshell, BCI’s consist of devices that can control each other. There are 2 parts to it; an external part and an internal sensor. The internal sensor acts like a small ‘receptor’ implanted directly inside the brain; the “signals from implanted prostheses can, after adaptation, be handled by the brain like natural sensor or effector channels” [Wikipedia]. That means, an external device can link itself with the sensor inside the brain. The communication can be performed both ways, from the sensor to external & from external to sensor (synchronous transmission). The greatest thing about this sensor its its ability to adopt its environment – it mingles and interconnects with nerves/synapses – which can then make the brain think whatever the external device wants to OR control an external device with the brain (up to a certain degree ofcourse, but that’s the general idea).

The source article talks about humans controlling thought-intensive devices like virtual helicopters (imagine playing a video game with your brain). Many things were successfully tested, like controlling forward and backward movements, angular trajectories, and full control of the helicopter.

Subjects controlled the helicopter with the goal of flying through rings (targets) randomly positioned and oriented in a three-dimensional space. The subjects flew through rings continuously, acquiring as many as 11 consecutive rings within a five-minute period. In total, the study group successfully acquired over 85% of presented targets. These results affirm the effective, three-dimensional control of our motor imagery based BCI system, and suggest its potential applications in biological navigation, neuroprosthetics, and other applications.
[Source: NCBI]

The findings are pretty cool and the technology seems promising. Unfortunately, the tech faces multiple issues:

  • Faulty sensor placement – the sensor needed to be implanted in an area where the ‘rays’ could easily breach the thick skull.
  • Type of procedure, there hasn’t been a proper procedure in place to guarantee longevity of BCI
    • Invasive – an operation that breaches the skull, and places the device in the brain’s “grey matter”. The body automatically starts to rot the ‘unidentified object’ inside the brain and is prone to accumulating extra tissue buildup which can disable or weaken the emitting signals.
    • Non-invasive – to prevent tissue breach – a helmet-like device is worn to ‘scan’ the brain and sensors, while the subject wears another device close to their bodies which helps accumulate data and eventually control thoughts. Problem again is – data inconsistency and communication problems.

All this sounds exciting to me, however, something bad has always happened whenever nature-intrusive procedures are tweaked by humans. BCIs could be beneficial to those who are disabled and would prefer to live (or act) a normal life like others, but if it takes so much fiddling around with natural principles and architecture (inside the brain) – then — no thanks.

If the installation procedures can be improved, then MAYBE I’ll consider it as a positive movement. I mean, we only use 10% of our brains, the rest of the percentage needs to be discovered or known how it can be utilized. Who knows, maybe discovering wireless transmission from our brains could be another % that we’re looking for?

Time will tell, and ofcourse, we can always dream.

Source: NBCI
Source: WikiPedia

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Erase your fears.

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Are you afraid of the dark? I used to be!…. on second thought, I guess I still am. I’m afraid it’s something I’ll have to live with throughout my entire life.

Or, maybe not. Swedish researchers from Uppsula University might have discovered the secret to all things related to ‘feelings’ like fear itself, using functional brain imaging (nuclear sub-branch of fMRI).

The secret to ‘being afraid’ can be blamed on memories that are stored within our brains. Half of the blame can be given to the process of memory storage (aka consolidation process).

Once we experience an event, protein and energy is used to ‘store’ it as a memory. At this point, memory still remains unstable, and people are ‘able’ to forget them. But there are certain events that create an impact and get stored as a permanent memory. Before an event *converts* itself into a permanent memory, it goes through this ‘storage’ stage. During the storage stage, ‘feelings’ get attached to the memory. Scientists have discovered if this ‘storage’ process is disrupted (somehow), the connected ‘feeling’ can be removed (disturbed, rather). Thus, in this scenario, the feeling of being afraid is removable.

Sounds quite simple; surprisingly the theory’s tests and results were positive! The results have been published in a medical journal, confirming its authenticity.

Not sure if it’s me, but whatever idea has been experimented in a Hollywood movie (relating to technology, brain, aliens, and whatever else) is nowadays slowly transpiring into reality – the only difference between now and the 70s is that its happening way too fast. This news reminds me of a movie called “Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind“. If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it. You’ll know exactly what I mean.

If this research goes viral, there are so many possible repercussions that one simply can’t even begin to imagine.

  • People abusing the system to forget about their past, like a drug
  • People removing fearful moments or fiddling around with memories in general
  • Beneficial to those suffering from fear and related health problems (anxiety, phobias, etc)
  • Beneficial to future neuro-research projects

Source#1 – GizModo
Source#2 – ScienceMag

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Life without breathing, possible? Yes.

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Talk about science fiction, but this one is too good to be true!

An average animal’s life halts to a cardiac arrest (or death) if there’s not enough oxygen transferred within the blood-cells. Thanks to researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, things *have* changed.

The team has discovered a way to inject tiny oxygen microparticles surrounded by ‘lipids’ (fats). The solution is portable and has been tested to provide at least 15-30 minutes of healthy blood activity WITHOUT an animal physically breathing.

Basically, if an animal has trouble breathing because of an accident or natural phenomena (which can cause brain damage and heart attacks), they can be injected with these microparticles. This will allow the animal’s brain and heart to survive while being operated, a chance at survival. Those ‘critical moments’ have been granted, extended rather, thanks to science!

The microparticles would likely only be administered for a short time, between 15 and 30 minutes, because they are carried in fluid that would overload the blood if used for longer periods.
Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120627142512.htm

How COOL is that?!

This surely is an outstanding achievement, and deserves more R&D funding. I can imagine great uses in underwater situations, in space, etc.

The plan is to infuse these particles within liquid synringes, while distributing them to every major hospital or emergency ward, office, helicopter, ambulance, etc. Best of luck to them.

Thank you science for developing ways to extend our lives and increasing our time here on this planet.

Just.. don’t the whine about running out of natural resources due to overpopulation. I’m looking at you, World War 3.

Source #1: Gizmodo
Source#2: ScienceDaily

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Google Maps: #Underwater #GPS?

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Technology has significantly improved earth exploration to its finest pixel. First company that comes to mind would be Google. Gathering data from satellites, driving around town with camera-equipped cars, going to forests/mountain areas and capturing images for tourists — Google has done everything and has pretty much been EVERYWHERE.

Guess what though, not everywhere :).

Google’s next project is to fully explore the seas, oceans, rivers, and valleys — that’s right they want to do a thorough exploration of the land under the sea. Google has partnered up with Catlin SeaView Survey – a company known for taking excellent underwater images. With their skills and technology combined, Google is aiming to create “one of the most user-friendly maps in the world” for tourists. Their tablet-controlled camera, known as the “SV2”, is capable of going 30 metres deep while connecting to available satellites and geo-tagging itself automatically. This makes the 360-degree panoramic image capturing an easy task.

They are focusing on “coral reefs” for now – as a pilot project. I can’t wait till they start capturing the ‘deep dark regions’ of the seas – where not a lot of explorers or machines have gone before (literally – because of atmospheric pressure).

Source: CBC

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#Mapping the #brain, a terabyte at a time.

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With gadgets and softwares like smartphones and Google Maps around, earth seems like a smaller and easier place to visit than it actually is. Good, so we’ve got earth all figured out.

What about discovering how information travels in your brain? Does information really “travel” or do we simply come up with ideas/thoughts/emotions? How do we process information, or think? Exactly what happens when we think? Why does something happen in the brain when we think? Where does it happen? What doesn’t happen & why not? What causes information or ideas to move in the first place?

O.M.G :O ?!

All those redundantly annoying (but interesting!) questions are going to be answered when scientists can track and map data-flow in the brain. Researchers already have gotten a head start and labeled it as “brain-mapping”.

For the time being there are several ongoing projects to properly map out the human brain (check the # of sources!). Millions of dollars are being spent on the research; approximately $40 million per project. What triggered these researches were the countless failed attempts at figuring out Alzheimer’s and other severe brain dysfunctional diseases. These issues are surrounded by random theories and ideas which had to be flushed away thanks to latest developments in technology.

I won’t go into specifics as to who is running which project (that’s what the sources and Google are for). What I will tell you is that the brain is being scanned inside and out thanks to fMRI scanning (covered by R4T before) alongside database modeling techniques which require almost a terabyte worth of disk space per brain. Thanks to cheaper hard disk prices and faster computational processing already in place, datasets are being stored and imaged at *very* detailed quality – with efficiency.

Most of the human-brain projects haven’t released a lot of information to the public domain. However, there are a few projects which have been gathering and releasing data, and should be noted.

The virtual brain project
(Toronto-based global effort, research spanning across 10 countries):

This project released a software that provides access to all the collected images/data to anyone around the world. Download it here. It’s still an on-going effort, but seems to be the most promising as it not only aims to discover the active parts of the brain, but the quiet ones as well. Truth is, a brain is CONSTANTLY working (either in an inactive or active state), monitoring all states of minds is what needs to be covered if one wants to understand how information flows inside. The team plans to release a web-interface to access this information::

“The main system will be accessible through a simple web browser, making it very easy to upload imaging data, running 3D-animated simulations in WebGL and getting results back.”

A key statement of their findings:

“The Virtual Brain builds upon the discovery of the critical network parameters of the human brain, their influence to functional processes and their proper tweaking to rectify a malfunctioning or damaged network.”

 

The Human Brain Project (Blue Brain)
(European project)

This group is focusing on using other animals for brain mapping. After thorough testing, they will create ‘default’ mapping tools for human-brain exploration. Eventually their ultimate goal is to simulate a brain of any animal under any state of mind::

As the project progresses the facility will develop the knowhow and tools to model and simulate the brain of any animal, at any stage of its development, in any state of health or with any specific disease.

HBJ has *much* bigger plans than mapping out the brain though, which might sound a bit sci-fi. After learning how to simulate and map the brain: they want to use ‘supercomputers’ doing multi-level analysis and brain-like thinking (neuromorphic computing devices) while using as much power as a human brain; each brain uses power equivalent to a light bulb.

The Brain Architecture
(Database knowledge center of neuron system architecture)

This organization aims to cover brains of human and mouse only. They’ve been releasing data to the public about their Mouse Brain Architecture project. MBA is a project that enticed public and scientific interest for the first time via 2-D and 3D image rendering. Their goal is to specifically highlight inputs and outputs inside the brain. Mouse-brain information and images are available to view and explore: Click here to browse.

After inspecting some of the pictures, I didn’t understand much of it. Although, a visual inspection will show you what a thought process looks like (in colours!!) inside the brain of a mouse. I have to say this is a magnificent achievement! They’ve also created accessible libraries for information on human-brains, check out their website for more info (Source 7).

—-

What do I think of all this? I’m a bit Scared, why?
Well, whatever scientific leap mankind has ever made – it has lead to 2 things: good and bad. Good things would include scientific discoveries, availability of goods or medicines, better healthcare etc. Meanwhile, bad things would include bio-weapons, WMD’s, political and global rivalry, and other pre-apocalyptic concerns.

Realistically, I have to say I’m more inclined towards ‘partially excited’ here. It has been centuries since scientists have been able to explore the brain with such an immense amount of depth. So far, we’ve only touched the surface of the brain, or cut a piece here and there. Brain-inspection has never been a possibility, which is why brain-related diseases have been surrounded by black magic, psychoanalysis, or theories. Nothing has ever lead to a successful/expected human recovery.

I hope this research can help people with abnormal brain activity or show quantifiable results for mankind in general. I can’t wait till the day when doctors start ‘healing’ patients in an instant or just by inserting their information in a browser – sort of like Google/Wikipedia.

Source1: Mapping the brain for Post-Stroke patients
Source2: Required database tech for mapping
Source3: Connectome Project
Source4: Successful brain map of a mouse – 500TB of data released to the public
Source5: Mouse Brain Library (pics)
Source6: Virtual Brain Project
Source7: Brain Architecture – Humans

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From earth to sun: at ultra high speed, via ‘geomagnetic storms’

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Scientists have been desperately trying to find alternative ways to travel faster and farther than their ‘fuel-based’ propulsion jets for years. It seems like a researcher at University of Iowa might have found a ‘natural solution’ to their problems.

According to the research, our beautiful Earth is surrounded by “hidden” magnetic portals. These portals show up every now and then (and quite consistently), enabling energy particles to travel faster than a speeding light’… well not really but here’s what Mr. Scudder has to say (lead researcher).

Scudder says that these portals “create an uninterrupted path leading from our own planet to the sun’s atmosphere 93 million miles away.
[Source: Gizmodo]

Prior to this research the idea was only a hypothesis; Scudder has actually discovered a way to locate the exact ‘x’ point (as they refer it), which is the meeting point of these radiation rays (as indicated in the image above).

So, realistically we’re a bit far away from transporting spaceships or people at the speed of light, but at least we’re getting there. By 2014, NASA will have spaceships ready to monitor such frequencies and ‘x’ points – hopefully this makes space travel a bit easier for those interested and willing.

Source: Gizmodo

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