Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

+ - A Light-Powered Retina Implant for the Blind ->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: In certain diseases of the retina, people lose function in the photoreceptor cells that respond to light and trigger a message to the brain. So engineers have designed various retina implants that do the job instead, including the Argus II system, which received the first FDA approval for an implanted visual prosthetic in 2013. But the Argus II only produces vision of about 20/1200. A new implant in the pipeline from Stanford University has already achieved 20/250 vision in rats, and is aiming at 20/120, which would be below the legal threshold for blindness. This implant is photovoltaic, so the same infrared light that beams an image of the world into the implanted chip also powers its electronics.
Link to Original Source

+ - How deep brain stimulation actually works->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: Pharmaceutical research for neuropsychiatric disorders hasn't produced many breakthroughs lately, which may explain why there's so much excitement around "electroceutical" research. That buzzy new field encompasses deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which an implanted stimulator sends little jolts through the neural tissue. DBS has become an accepted therapy for Parkinson's and other motor disorders, even though researchers haven't really understood how it works. Now, new research may have found the mechanism of action in Parkinson's patients: The stimulation reduces an exaggerated synchronization of neuron activity in the motor cortex.
Link to Original Source

+ - "Smart Sewer" Project Will Reveal a City's Microbiome->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: Public health officials want to turn streams of sewage into streams of data. A new project in Cambridge, Mass. will equip sewer tunnels with robotic samplers that can routinely collect sewage from 10 different locations. MIT scientists will then analyze the sewage content for early signs of a viral outbreak or a food-borne bacterial illness, and may be able to draw conclusions about specific health trends throughout the city. This Cambridge effort is a proof of concept; the MIT researchers plan to deploy a larger system in Kuwait, where officials are particularly interested in studying obesity and the effectiveness of public health interventions.
Link to Original Source

+ - First Prototype of a Working Tricorder Unveiled at SXSW->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: The $10 million Tricorder X-prize is getting to the "put up or shut up" stage: The 10 finalists must turn in their working devices on June 1st for consumer testing. At SXSW last week, the finalist team Cloud DX showed off its prototype, which includes a wearable collar, a base station, a blood-testing stick, and a scanning wand.
Link to Original Source

+ - Humanitarian Drones: Finding Unexploded Bombs from Past Wars->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: During the Vietnam War the country of Laos was pounded by 2 million tons of bombs, including a vast number of cluster bombs that scattered smaller bomblets across the landscape. Many of those failed to explode on impact and lodged in the ground, creating a deadly legacy of war that remains to this day. To help surveyors locate and remove these unexploded bombs, a drone company plans to fly its octocopters over the Laotian countryside. The drones will scan the land with a laser imaging system to make precise topographical maps, allowing surveyors to identify old trenches, bunkers, and other features that were likely targeted in bombing campaigns.
Link to Original Source

+ - Scientists Insert a Synthetic Memory in the Brain of a Sleeping Mouse->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: Scientists are learning how to insert fake memories into the brain via precise electrical stimulation. In the latest weirdness, they gave sleeping mice a synthetic memory that linked a particular location in a test chamber to a pleasurable sensation. (At least they gave the mice a nice memory.)

The researchers first recorded the electrical signals from the mice's brains while the mice were awake and exploring the test chamber, until the researchers identified patterns of activity associated with a certain location. Then, when the mice slept, the researchers watched for those neural patterns to be replayed, indicating that the mice were consolidating the memory of that location. At that moment, they zapped a reward center of the mice's brains. When the mice awoke and went back into the chamber, they hung around that reward-associated location, presumably expecting a dose of feel-good.

Link to Original Source

+ - Cosmic Ray Particles to Reveal the Melted Nuclear Fuel in Fukushima's Reactors->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: Muons, produced when cosmic rays collide with molecules in the atmosphere, are streaming through your body as you read this. The particles pass through most matter unimpeded, however they can interact with heavy elements like uranium and plutonium. That's why engineers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant are using muon detectors to look for the melted nuclear fuel inside the plant's three melted-down reactors. By determining where muons are being diverted from their paths, the detectors create images of the blobs of fuel. That's necessary because nobody knows exactly where the radioactive gloop ended up during the meltdowns.
Link to Original Source

+ - Brain Implants Get Brainier->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: "Did my head just beep?" wonders a woman who just received a brain implant to treat her intractable epilepsy. We're entering a cyborg age of medicine, with implanted stimulators that send pulses of electricity into the brain or nervous system to prevent seizures or block pain. The first generation of devices sent out pulses in a constant and invariable rhythm, but device-makers are now inventing smart stimulators that monitor the body for signs of trouble and fire when necessary.
Link to Original Source

+ - A Flexible Electronic Implant That Mimics the Brain's Membrane->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: Brain and spinal implants are rapidly becoming part of clinical medicine, but researchers still worry about these rigid electronic devices causing damage or inflammation within the dynamic environment of the body. To solve this problem, Swiss researchers invented a stretchy electronic device modeled on the dura membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. They showed that their "e-dura" caused less damage to rats' spinal cords than a stiff implant over the course of six weeks, and they used it to stimulate paralyzed rats' spinal cords and allow them to walk again. The researchers hope their biocompatible device will lead to longer lasting and more effective neural implants for humans.
Link to Original Source

+ - Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: In 2007, Google boldly declared a new initiative to invent a green energy technology that produced cheaper electricity than coal-fired power plants. Sure, energy researchers had been hammering at this task for decades, but Google hoped to figure it out in a few years.

They didn't. Instead, Google admitted defeat and shut down the project in 2011. In a admirable twist, however, two of the project's engineers then dedicated themselves to learning from the project's failure. What did it mean that one of the world's most ambitious and capable innovation companies couldn't invent a cheap renewable energy tech? And if Google had met its goals, would that have been enough to solve the problem of climate change?

Link to Original Source

+ - Why Every Cardiac Patient Needs a Virtual Heart->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: In the latest high-tech approach to personalized medicine, cardiologists can now create a computer model of an individual patient’s heart and use that simulation to make a treatment plan. In this new field of computational medicine, doctors use a patient's MRI scans to make a model showing that patient's unique anatomy and pattern of heart disease. They can then experiment on that virtual organ in ways they simply can't with a flesh-and-blood heart. Proponents say this tech can "improve therapies, minimize the invasiveness of diagnostic procedures, and reduce health-care costs" in cardiology.
Link to Original Source

+ - Wave Power Fails to Live Up to Promise->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: One of the leading companies developing wave power devices, Ocean Power Technologies, has dramatically scaled down its ambitions. The company had planned to install the world's first commercial-scale wave farms off the coast of Australia and Oregon, but has now announced that it's ending those projects. Instead it will focus on developing next-gen devices. Apparently the economics of wave power just don't make sense yet.
Link to Original Source

+ - How a Super-Intelligent AI Could Wipe Out Humanity->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: Oxford University futurist Nick Bostrom thinks we're doomed. It's his job to contemplate existential threats to the human species, and he predicts that a super-smart artificial intelligence program will be the end of us.

His new book, Superintelligence, outlines AI takeover scenarios, discusses what might motivate a superintelligent AI, and lays out reasons why the AI’s pursuit of its goals would likely lead to our extinction. This excerpt from the book imagines a situation in which a developing AI lulls humans into complacency before making a "treacherous turn."

Link to Original Source

+ - A Better Way to Make Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Limbs->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: To make a brain-machine interface, you need a way to capture neurons' electric signals. The most precise and most invasive way uses implants that are stuck in the gray matter. The least precise and least invasive way uses EEG sensors stuck to the scalp. But researchers at Johns Hopkins University say there's a third way that gets the best of both worlds, which is not too invasive and fairly precise. They use ECoG systems, in which a mesh of electrodes is placed under the skull, draped over the surface of the cortex.

They're testing their systems on epilepsy patients, who have these ECoG systems inserted anyway while they're waiting for surgery (the electrodes record the source of their seizures). The researchers are capturing these patients' movement commands from their brains, and using them to control robotic limbs. Someday such a system could be used by amputees to control their prosthetic limbs.

Link to Original Source

+ - Open-Source Gear for Making Mind-Controlled Gadgets->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle writes: If you've been hankering to control a robotic battle spider with your mind but haven't known how to begin, you're in luck. A startup called OpenBCI is now selling an Arduino-compatible board that any reasonably competent DIYer can use to build a brain-computer interface. The board takes in data from up to 8 EEG scalp electrodes, and hackers are already using it to pull of some good tricks. There's the guy with the battle spiders, for one. And there's a crew in L.A. building a paint-by-brain system for a paralyzed graffiti artist.
Link to Original Source

Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming. -- J. P. McEvoy

Working...