Dollhouse Exists Right Now

•February 18, 2009 • 1 Comment

Joss Whedon‘s new show Dollhouse is about a secret organization that supplies mind-wiped sex ninjas to the rich. It’s not set in the future because neuromanipulated technoslaves could exist today. Here’s proof.

1. We can erase people’s memories.
Back in October a study was published in Neuron that proved an enzyme called CaMKII can erase bad memories while you recall them. In Dollhouse, the “actives” have their own memories erased first, and then new memories implanted. The brain-erasure technology is actually the cornerstone of the operation, as it’s what turns the actives into blank slates ready to be reprogrammed. Right now, with the cooperation of desperate people, scientists could be using CaMKII to erase their old lives. Then they’ll just need to implant new personalities and emotions.

2. We can regulate people’s moods with microchips.
Right now, there are a series of implantable microchips on the market that send out electrical impulses over your nerves that can soothe a depressed person or reduce seizures. Some call them neurological pacemakers, and we are discovering new things about them every day – such as the fact that some can cause instant orgasm. Wipe somebody’s brain, then install these brain pacemakers, and you might start shaping a whole new person by controlling what gives them pleasure and what makes them depressed.

3. We can use brain implants to steer animals left and right.
Several years ago, neuroscientists invented a little rat-sized brain implant that sent directional signals to the rodent’s brain. Using a handheld remote, scientists sent electrical signals to the parts of the rats’ brains connected to right and left whisker sensations – and could induce the rats to turn right or left at the press of a button. Dubbed the “robo-rat,” the creatures could be used for complicated search and rescue efforts that require crawling into small places. Or they could be the beta version for a more nefarious technology implanted into humans’ brains that would allow a corporation like the Dollhouse to remote-control an active’s every move, right down to which street they turn on.

4. Infrared brain scans can predict what people want.
As we reported last week, researchers have discovered that a simple infrared brain scan can reveal patterns in brain activity that show simple preferences. Ask a person whether they’d rather have a dog or a cat, and this scan will give you the answer. This is the first step towards knowing how to shape people’s preferences. If scientists could trigger a reaction in your brain that reversed the pattern, they might be able to turn a cat person into a dog person and vice versa.

5. Human-computer interfaces link human brains directly to computers.
You may have heard of BrainGate, a technology that uses electrodes sunk into your gray matter to convert electrical impulses from your brain into computer commands. It is currently used by people who are profoundly paralyzed to communicate by moving a cursor around. If we can open up communication between brain and computer like that, it stands to reason that the communication might be two-way. Who is to say there is no secret organization using a BrainGate-esque technology to reprogram people’s thoughts?

Willy Wonka-style golden ticket contest for marijuana

•February 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment
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As part of a promotion for the DVD release of The Wackness, the film company has hidden a golden ticket in one of the first 1,000 DVDs. The winner gets a trip to Amsterdam and a free bag of pot.

WIN A TRIP TO AMSTERDAM
AND A BAG OF MARIJUANA!Yes, you heard us correctly! We’re offering the chance for you to win a fabulous weekend break for 2 to the city of smoke itself, the beautiful Amsterdam. But that’s not all… the lucky winner will also be able to pick up a complimentary bag of skunk from legendary Amsterdam café, Hill Street Blues.

Hidden within one of the first 1,000 DVDs of The Wackness is a Golden Ticket. Find the Golden Ticket and you win!* It’s that simple.

TED: MIT Students Turn Internet Into a Sixth Human Sense

•February 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment
By Kim Zetter EmailFebruary 05, 2009 | 3:59:35 PMCategories: TED Conference

020509_mit_bg LONG BEACH, California — Students at the MIT Media Lab have developed a wearable computing system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen. The wearer can summon virtual gadgets and internet data at will, then dispel them like smoke when they’re done.

Pattie Maes of the lab’s Fluid Interfaces group said the research is aimed at creating a new digital “sixth sense” for humans.

In the tactile world, we use our five senses to take in information about our environment and respond to it, Maes explained. But a lot of the information that helps us understand and respond to the world doesn’t come from these senses. Instead, it comes from computers and the internet. Maes’ goal is to harness  computers to feed us information in an organic fashion, like our existing senses.

The prototype was built from an ordinary webcam and a battery-powered 3M projector, with an attached mirror — all connected to an internet-enabled mobile phone. The setup, which costs less than $350, allows the user to project information from the phone onto any surface — walls, the body of another person or even your hand.

Maes showed a video of her student Pranav Mistry who she describes as the brains behind the project. Mistry wore the device on a lanyard around his neck, and colored Magic Marker caps on four fingers (red, blue, green and yellow) helped the camera distinguish the four fingers and recognize his hand gestures with software that Mistry created.

The gestures can be as simple as using his fingers and thumbs to create a picture frame that tells the camera to snap a photo, which is saved to his mobile phone. When he gets back to an office, he projects the images onto a wall and begins to size them.

When he encounters someone at a party, the system projects a cloud of words on the person’s body to provide more information about him — his blog URL, the name of his company, his likes and interests. “This is a more controversial [feature],” Maes said over the audience’s laughter.

In another frame, Mistry picks up a boarding pass while he’s sitting in a car. He projects the current status of his flight and gate number he’s retrieved from the flight-status page of the airline onto the card.

“If you need to know what time it is, it’s as simple as drawing a watch on your arm,” Maes said, while Mistry used his right finger to draw a circle on his left wrist. The face of a watch popped up on his hand, which the audience liked.

When Mistry folds his hands in “namaste” fashion, the system opens a menu to allow him to choose an application. If he wants to read e-mail on his phone, he draws an @ symbol in the air with his finger. He can project a phone pad onto his palm and dial a number without removing the phone from his pocket. As he reads the newspaper on the subway he can project a video onto the page that provides more information about the topic he’s reading.

Maes and Mistry told Wired they’ve been working on the project for four months, day and night, and have filed a patent for it.

Maes’ MIT group, which includes seven graduate students, were thinking about how a person could be more integrated into the world around them and access information without having to do something like take out a phone. They initially produced a wristband that would read an RFID tag to know, for example, which book a user is holding in a store.

They also had a ring that used infrared to communicate by beacon to supermarket smart shelves to give you information about products. As you grab a package of macaroni, the ring would glow red or green to tell you if the product was organic or free of peanut traces — whatever criteria you program into the system.

“We wanted to make information more useful to people in real time with minimal effort in a way that doesn’t require any behavior changes,” Maes said. “The wristband was getting close, but you still had to take out your cell phone to look at the information.”

That’s when they struck on the idea of accessing information from the internet and projecting it. So someone wearing the wristband could pick up a paperback in the bookstore and immediately call up reviews about the book, projecting them onto a surface in the store or doing a keyword search through the book by accessing digitized pages on Amazon or Google books.

They started with a larger projector that was mounted on a helmet. But that proved cumbersome if someone was projecting data onto a wall then turned to speak to friend — the data would project on the friend’s face. Last month, they switched to a smaller projector and created the pendant prototype to be worn around the neck.

The TED demo was the first time they’ve shown it in public, though they’re far from making a commercial product or forming a company around their invention. “But we’re really excited about the potential,” Maes said.

They learned recently that cellphone makers soon plan to release cellphones with projectors integrated in them, which will simplify their system even more.

(DragonFaerie Note: Check out the video footage on our sidebar below)

Source: Wired

5 New Seahorse Species

•February 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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Source : National Geographic

Ancestor For All Animals Identified

•January 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Animal Ancestor

Jan. 27, 2009 — A sperm-looking creature called monosiga is the closest living surrogate to the ancestor of all animals, according to new research that also determined animal evolution may not always follow a trajectory from simple to complex.

Yet another find of the study, published in the latest PLoS Biology, is that Earth may have given rise to two distinct groups of animals: bilaterians — animals with bilateral symmetry, like humans — and non-bilaterians, which include corals, jelly fish, hydra, unusual, often poisonous, creatures known as cubozoans, and other organisms.

Free-living, unicellular organisms called choanoflagellates, however, could be on every person’s family tree, so long as it was a gigantic one.

Source: Discovery News

Inaugural UFO on CNN

•January 27, 2009 • 1 Comment

Interesting video straight from CNN’s website, showing what appears to be a UFO flying in front of the Washington Monument.

Although it is hard to miss, it appears approximate 9 seconds into the footage and streaks across the sky from the right side.

Sorry I was not able to directly embed this video, but please check it out on CNN :

UFO Footage During Live Broadcast of Obama Inauguration

Water Lense Glasses

•January 2, 2009 • 1 Comment

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British inventor Josh Silver, a former professor of physics at Oxford University, has come up with a game-changer of a product design with his water-lensed glasses.

Silver has devised a pair of glasses which rely on the principle that the fatter a lens the more powerful it becomes. Inside the device’s tough plastic lenses are two clear circular sacs filled with fluid, each of which is connected to a small syringe attached to either arm of the spectacles.The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane, thus changing the power of the lens. When the wearer is happy with the strength of each lens the membrane is sealed by twisting a small screw, and the syringes removed. The principle is so simple, the team has discovered, that with very little guidance people are perfectly capable of creating glasses to their own prescription.

You can mass-produce millions of these, rather than manufacturing myriad individual lenses each tuned to a user’s specific vision deficiencies. And while the one-size-fits-all mentality may not fly in developed nations, Silver’s goal is to help the hundreds of millions of people in developing countries who suffer from poor eyesight.

Silver calls his flash of insight a “tremendous glimpse of the obvious”–namely that opticians weren’t necessary to provide glasses. This is a crucial factor in the developing world where trained specialists are desperately in demand: in Britain there is one optometrist for every 4,500 people, in sub-Saharan Africa the ratio is 1:1,000,000.The implications of bringing glasses within the reach of poor communities are enormous, says the scientist. Literacy rates improve hugely, fishermen are able to mend their nets, women to weave clothing. During an early field trial, funded by the British government, in Ghana, Silver met a man called Henry Adjei-Mensah, whose sight had deteriorated with age, as all human sight does, and who had been forced to retire as a tailor because he could no longer see to thread the needle of his sewing machine. “So he retires. He was about 35. He could have worked for at least another 20 years. We put these specs on him, and he smiled, and threaded his needle, and sped up with this sewing machine. He can work now. He can see.”

So far 30,000 of Silver’s specs have been distributed, but more are on the way; his eventual target is 100 million pairs.

via the guardian