Mind Memes for March 5: Connecting Rat Brains, Bringing Back the Dead and Other Crazy Ideas
1. Every Big Idea Was First A Crazy Idea
Fred Guterl, executive editor of Scientific American, does a nice job of highlighting some of the crazy ideas presented at this year's TED conference, such as this one from Google's Google’s Vint Cerf:
New technologies that make it possible for people to interact with machines by gestures, facial expressions, eye movements and brain activity may also make the minds of intelligent animals accessible.
Read more about this idea, as well as bringing back the dead and uploading our thoughts using fMRI scanners here.
2. Collective Rat Intelligence
Vint Cerf's idea has already arrived. Rats can now share information on the Internet, thanks to the work of Duke neuroscientist Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, who linked the brains of two rats (see the rat brain-computer interface in the image above). Nicoleleis's research is aimed at creating a full exoskeleton that a paralyzed person could operate with brain signals. He gained considerable media attention in 2003 when he enabled monkeys to control a robot arm with their thoughts.
Read Nicoleleis's recent findings in Scientific Reports here.
3. Do You Think You Know The Real Story on Income Inequality in America?
How do you think income is distributed in America? How do you think it should be distributed? How is income actually distributed? If you are like 92 percent of Americans, there is an unbelievable gap between your perception, your beliefs, and the reality. Watch the video below.
4.Morning Star at Saturn: Cassini Sights Venus
"Every so often, our cameras on Cassini digitally record, either intentionally or incidentally, other celestial bodies besides those found around Saturn," the planetary scientist Carolyn C. Porco wrote to us in an email. "Today, the Cassini Imaging Team is releasing a pair of images that did just that."
"Despite a thoroughly hellish environment that would melt lead," Porco notes that "Venus is considered a twin of our planet because of their similar sizes, masses, rocky compositions and close orbits."
To see both images in high res, click here.
5. Inside the Quest for the Great White Whale of Modern Science: the Higgs boson
A special edition of today's Science Times is devoted to the scientists behind the discovery of the Higgs Boson, what Times writer Dennis Overbye describes as this generation’s "rendezvous with scientific destiny." Here's a glimpse into the physicists' lives:
In their down time, they proposed marriage and made rap videos in the tunnels where subatomic particles collided. They ate, slept and partied, threw snowballs and worried that an unguarded smile in the cafeteria or a glance at a friend’s laptop could bias a half-billion-dollar experiment or give away cosmic secrets.
Read more here.
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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