March 1, 2006 — The Pentagon is funding research into neural implants with the ultimate hope of turning sharks into "stealth spies" capable of gliding undetected through the ocean, the British weekly New Scientist says. The research builds on experimental work to control animals by implanting tiny electrodes in their brain, which are then stimulated to induce a behavioral response.
"The Pentagon hopes to exploit sharks' natural ability to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails," said the report, carried in Saturday's edition. By remotely guiding the sharks' movements they hope to transform the animals into stealth spies, perhaps capable of following vessels without being spotted," the article said.
The unusual project is being funded by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which pioneered the Internet as a platform for robust communications. Scientists involved in the scheme presented their work last week at a meeting on Ocean Sciences in Honolulu, Hawaii, according to the report.
A team at Boston University have implanted electrodes into the brain of a spiny dogfish in a shallow tank. The implants, controlled by a small radio transmitter, stimulate either the right or left side of a brain area dedicated to smell, causing the fish to flick around in that direction in response to the signal.
The next step will be to take this device outside the laboratory. Blue sharks implanted with the gadget are to be released off the coast of Florida. As radio signals will not penetrate the sea, communications with the fish will be made through U.S. Navy acoustic towers capable of sending sonar signals to a shark up to 300 kilometers (187 miles) away.
Other DARPA-funded researchers are working on using implants to record brain activity in sharks in order to understand which neurons are fired by scents, electrical or magnetic fields. These signals help the fish to navigate and offer the reward of food, and could thus in theory be manipulated for surveillance work. New Scientist said the DARPA work was controversial, but also pointed out that work with animal implants also had a potential benefit for medicine.
Understanding more about the brain's electrical signals could one day result in implants to control a prosthetic limb to overcome paralysis.
In an attempt to make this blog somewhat educational, I present the first ever "Legal Term of the Week"
Distress-the seizure of another's property to secure the performance of a duty, such as the payment of overdue rent; the legal remedy authorizing such a seizure; the procedure by which the seizure is carried out; the property seized.
(This week's term comes from Black's Law Dictionary, Second Pocket Edition.)
I’d say that I side with republican “ideals” or “goals:” a smaller federal government, more state autonomy, less federal welfare, fewer federal taxes, etc.But, the suppression of science is not and has never been a republican goal.
Like others, I am angered by what this administration is trying to do.
In physics and other science disciplines, the words "hypothesis," "model," "theory" and "law" have different connotations in relation to the stage of acceptance or knowledge about a group of phenomena.
A hypothesis (or belief) is a limited statement regarding cause and effect in specific situations; it also refers to our state of knowledge before experimental work has been performed and perhaps even before new phenomena have been predicted.
The word model is reserved for situations when it is known that the hypothesis has at least limited validity. For example, the Bohr’s Model of an atom which places electrons in two-dimensional orbits around a center nucleus, similar to how the planets orbit the sun, is a model.The model accurately conveys information about the energy levels of electrons, but does not give an accurate representation of the actual locations of the electrons.
A scientific theory or law represents a hypothesis, or a group of related hypotheses, which has been confirmed through repeated experimental tests. Theories in physics are often formulated in terms of a few concepts and equations, which are identified with "laws of nature," suggesting their universal applicability. Accepted scientific theories and laws become part of our understanding of the universe and the basis for exploring less well-understood areas of knowledge. Theories are not easily discarded; new discoveries are first assumed to fit into the existing theoretical framework. It is only when, after repeated experimental tests, the new phenomenon cannot be accommodated that scientists seriously question the theory and attempt to modify it. The validity that we attach to scientific theories as representing realities of the physical world is to be contrasted with the facile invalidation implied by the expression, "It's only a theory." For example, it is unlikely that a person will step off a tall building on the assumption that they will not fall, because "Gravity is only a theory."
President Bush, the Blues Brothers were on “mission from God.” You are not. While the Big Bang may still be a “theory,” it has more scientific support than your “belief” in intelligent design.
And Mr. George Deutsch, gravity is only a theory, and I suggest that you find a tall building at NASA, step off it, and test the validity of this theory for yourself.
The Frolic SnackShotz Treat Launcher is a new way to play fetch with your dog. Load up one of the specially designed Discos Flying Dog Treats into this dog biscuit pistol, pull the trigger, and boom! It will launch those babies up to 12 feet. Spot will go nuts when he sees these 100%-edible flying dog treats zipping through the air. The Discos are available in three flavors, too: Beef, Chicken, and Mighty Mint to keep your dog’s breath minty-fresh. The product’s humorously-named parent company, Dogmatic, asserts that this biscuit launcher “helps to fight against pet obesity by encouraging your pet to be active.” There are no specifics on how many calories each Disco contains, though—so be wary all you calorie-counting dogs.
For the Product Page (including action video!) click here.
Robot Demonstrates Self Awareness Dec.
21, 2005— A new robot can recognize the difference between a mirror
image of itself and another robot that looks just like it. This
so-called mirror image cognition is based on artificial nerve cell
groups built into the robot's computer brain that give it the ability
to recognize itself and acknowledge others. The ground-breaking
technology could eventually lead to robots able to express emotions. Under
development by Junichi Takeno and a team of researchers at Meiji
University in Japan, the robot represents a big step toward developing
self-aware robots and in understanding and modeling human
self-consciousness. "In humans, consciousness is basically a state in
which the behavior of the self and another is understood," said Takeno. Humans
learn behavior during cognition and conversely learn to think while
behaving, said Takeno. To mimic this dynamic, a robot needs a common
area in its neural network that is able to process information on both
cognition and behavior. Takeno and his colleagues built the robot with
blue, red or green LEDs connected to artificial neurons in the region
that light up when different information is being processed, based on
the robot's behavior. "The innovative part is the independent nodes
in the hierarchical levels that can be linked and activated," said
Thomas Bock of the Technical University of Munich in Germany. For
example, two red diodes illuminate when the robot is performing
behavior it considers its own, two green bulbs light up when the robot
acknowledges behavior being performed by the other. One blue LED
flashes when the robot is both recognizing behavior in another robot
and imitating it. Imitation, said Takeno, is an act that requires both
seeing a behavior in another and instantly transferring it to oneself
and is the best evidence of consciousness. In one experiment, a
robot representing the "self" was paired with an identical robot
representing the "other." When the self robot moved forward, stopped or
backed up, the other robot did the same. The pattern of neurons firing
and the subsequent flashes of blue light indicated that the self robot
understood that the other robot was imitating its behavior. In
another experiment, the researchers placed the self robot in front of a
mirror. In this case, the self robot and the reflection (something it
could interpret as another robot) moved forward and back at the same
time. Although the blue lights fired, they did so less frequently than
in other experiments. In fact, 70 percent of the time, the robot
understood that the mirror image was itself. Takeno's goal is to reach
100 percent in the coming year. --Thanks to Tracy Staedter, Discovery News
Here's an article from today's The Scotsman that you'll find entertaining, especially if you're eating breakfast!
Stalin's half-man, half-ape super-warriors CHRIS STEPHEN AND ALLAN HALL
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the
Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently
uncovered secret documents. Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s
Russia's top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to
turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a
super-warrior. According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the
scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain,
resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat." In
1926 the Politburo in Moscow passed the request to the Academy of
Science with the order to build a "living war machine". The order came
at a time when the Soviet Union was embarked on a crusade to turn the
world upside down, with social engineering seen as a partner to
industrialisation: new cities, architecture, and a new egalitarian
society were being created. The Soviet authorities were struggling to
rebuild the Red Army after bruising wars. And there was intense
pressure to find a new labour force, particularly one that would not
complain, with Russia about to embark on its first Five-Year Plan for
fast-track industrialisation. Mr Ivanov was highly regarded. He had
established his reputation under the Tsar when in 1901 he established
the world's first centre for the artificial insemination of racehorses.
Mr Ivanov's ideas were music to the ears of Soviet planners and in 1926
he was dispatched to West Africa with $200,000 to conduct his first
experiment in impregnating chimpanzees. Meanwhile, a centre for the
experiments was set up in Georgia - Stalin's birthplace - for the apes
to be raised. Mr Ivanov's experiments, unsurprisingly from what we now
know, were a total failure. He returned to the Soviet Union, only to
see experiments in Georgia to use monkey sperm in human volunteers
similarly fail. A final attempt to persuade a Cuban heiress to lend
some of her monkeys for further experiments reached American ears, with
the New York Times reporting on the story, and she dropped the idea
amid the uproar. Mr Ivanov was now in disgrace. His were not the
only experiments going wrong: the plan to collectivise farms ended in
the 1932 famine in which at least four million died. For his expensive
failure, he was sentenced to five years' jail, which was later commuted
to five years' exile in the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan in
1931. A year later he died, reportedly after falling sick while
standing on a freezing railway platform.
These posts are not legal advice. This is a personal site. As such, views expressed should not be attributed to any law firm. The views of one author do not necessarily represent the views of the others. Copyright 2005-2008.