Archive for the ‘Bioinformatics’ Category

Researcher Wires Four Rats’ Brains Together – Creates Bizarre Organic “Brainet”

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

At Duke University a researcher who’s pioneering brain-computer interfaces has circuited four rats’ together via their brains and created a gooey and organic “Brainet”.

Miguel Nicolelis, the neurobiologist pioneering this neuroengineering at Duke University has spent 30 years doing similar experiments in hopes of uncovering the secrets of the human mind.

Earlier, in 2011, Nicolelis connected the brain of individual monkeys in order to get them to work a virtual monkey arm and grab virtual objects with it using only their mind. It didn’t take long for the each monkey to grasp the process mentally and move their extra invisible monkey hand.

Nicolelis then wondered if it were possible to string together several brains and have the work together to perform particular tasks. He used four rats to test the idea.

In order to get a drink of water the rats would have to learn to work together mentally to get a drink. In a short amount of time the rats were drinking regularly as normal.

Currently the rats have Frankenstein-like electrodes embedded in their heads. That will change as the technology progresses until it’s completely non-invasive.

What can we gain from a “brainet” as humans? Will we eventually become Borg-like? Is it smart to move toward a hive-mind? Who knows.

Downside? Enough people are connected via their brains and someone hacks the “brainet” to make the world bow before them. Upside? Natural disaster takes place and we use the “brainet” to locate those in need of help and almost telepathically send the information needed to medically aid those people even though the person at the receiving end might not be trained in life-saving techniques.

The entire idea is still in its infancy as to the possible applications but as Nicolelis points out:

“These computers will not do word processing or numerical calculation or internet searches, they will be tailored for very specific tasks like what animals are tailored for. It’s a totally different kind of vision for computation that we’re not used to.”

The whole process is intriguingly involved and fascinating….and somewhat terrifying.

Imagine waking up and being hooked to someone else’s brain?

Or imagine that this is slowly becoming a reality….


Why We Will Be Able To Build A Synthetic Dragon In Our Lifetime, Why It Is Okay

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

A few months ago the world was shocked to discover that a US company had designed and manufactured the world’s first synthetic living cell. The researchers had written the genetic code on a computer and then, through the aid of some very helpful yeast, assembled a fully man made strand of DNA that was later injected into a living cell. A few moments later, the cell reproduced creating the first fully artificial life form.

What happened was that, for the first time in human history, genes were written in a computer program and a living synthetic organism was manufactured by a corporation.   Let’s speculate what a few years might do to this basic technology.

Its the morning after Festivus and little Charlie Darwin has received, under the Aluminium Pole,  what he wanted most:  Dr Moreau’s  do-it-yourself Creature Lab. The small box contains a tiny thumb drive and an  authentication code.    He runs upstairs to install the  software and logs in to the Creative Creatures’ website. Within the kid friendly interface, Charlie designs and previews his creation. Using a GUI full of bubbly shapes and pastel colors  he hacks away at designing his own creature.  He adds teeth and enlarges the fangs.   The texture palette includes scales which he selects  and colors them  dark green with purple flakes. When Charlie is happy with the wings  and tail, he can’t contain his excitement as he clicks CREATE!

Slowly a three dimensional creature gets rendered and displayed.  It is a  evil looking  dragon that writhes  and slither’s on the screen . Charlie can spin it and look at it doing several preprogrammed activities like growling and pouncing. Once he is satisfied he clicks  ORDER only to find that he needs a parents receipt code to do so. “Aww Man! Daaaaaaad!,” he yells as he races downstairs to fetch his father. Little Judy pops in and gives a little yelp of joy and starts playing with the mouse. She smiles at the screen and gets distracted by a passing ladybug which she chases out of the room.

The father, Erasmus, sits down, looks at the rendering and frowns  but goes on with the ordering procedure. “Order Confirmed! Delivery estimated: 45 Days. An email has been sent to your account,” is displayed on the  screen. A month and a half  goes by and finally on a glorious Saturday morning Charlie runs downstairs to receive the delivery from Created Creatures Inc.

The doorbell wakes up Erasmus and he struggles to sign the deliveryman’s pad and hand over a tip. As he does so he thinks for a second of the potential horror within the crate.  Was it right messing with nature like this? Was this creature supposed to live at all? What does life mean when a thing like this can be created by a 10 year old?  Was he playing God?  He dismisses these thoughts quickly and says to himself “all the kids have them, they are perfectly safe; It will be alright”.

Erasmus has not completed his thought when he heard his son cry out in pain. Liquid fear shoots into his bloodstream.

Get the rest AFTER THE JUMP…