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Double Amputee Transformed Into Mermaid With Help From Prosthetics Despite her passion for swimming, it was never Nadya Vessey's dream to be a mermaid. She started swimming after losing her first leg when she was seven, and continued to swim competitively after the second was amputated at the age of sixteen. Vessey picked herself back up on two prosthetic legs and, unlike many Disney fans, didn't give in to any mermaid fantasies. She's used these legs for decades, until now that she's received some assistance from Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop. It all started on the beach where a four-year-old boy questioned her lack of limbs when he saw her taking her fake ones off. The peeps at Weta let us in on how exactly the tail works. Now that she’s been whipping her tail back and forth for a bit, Vessey plans to use it for the swimming section of an upcoming triathlon. Source: the Telegraph Photos via, Matmantra, and Stuff

Kenshiro Robot Gets New Muscles and Bones We’ve seen bio-inspired hummingbird robots, turtle robots, squirrel robots and more… enough to start an extremely profitable robot zoo. But very few researchers have been able to mimic the human body down to muscles and bones. Researchers at the University of Tokyo are taking bio-inspired robots to new heights with Kenshiro, their new human-like musculoskeletal robot revealed at the Humanoids conference this month. They have added more muscles and more motors to their Kojiro robot from 2010, making Kenshiro’s underlying structure the closest to a human's form so far. See the new body in the picture above. Kenshiro mimics the body of the average Japanese 12-year-old male, standing at 158 centimeters tall and weighing 50 kilograms. Check out the video: a headless and armless Kenshiro does squats, looking uncanny enough to give you the shivers. Who are you calling fat? Why try and mimic the human body? That was a lot of weight for a relatively small robot. Muscles and bones

Drugs, Body Modifications May Create Second Enlightenment | Wired Business SAN DIEGO, California — Imagine a drug that can reduce your need for sleep, increase your concentration and make you smarter, with minimal side effects. Call it Morvigil. What would such a drug do to society? The best answers to those questions, writer Quinn Norton told conference-goers at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego Wednesday, is to be found in the history of another substance: coffee. Coffee debuted in the late 17th century in Oxford, England — leading to rowdy coffee houses, jittery arguments and even an attempt by King Charles II to ban the substance for inspiring seditious behavior. The other consequence: the Enlightenment. (Disclaimer: Norton is a contributor and a friend, but her talk was clearly one of the hits of the conference.) A drug like Morvigil could easily do the same, though Quinn thinks its unlikely "people will be popping pills together in a pill house." Call it a second Enlightenment. "How do we give ourselves permission to modify?"

Mind-Reading Experiment Reconstructs Movies in Our Mind The approximate reconstruction (right) of a movie clip (left) is achieved through brain imaging and computer simulation.UC Berkeley It sounds like science fiction: While volunteers watched movie clips, a scanner watched their brains. And from their brain activity, a computer made rough reconstructions of what they viewed. Scientists reported that result Thursday and speculated such an approach might be able to reveal dreams and hallucinations someday. In the future, it might help stroke victims or others who have no other way to communicate, said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the paper. He believes such a technique could eventually reconstruct a dream or other made-up mental movie well enough to be recognizable. People shouldn't be worried about others secretly eavesdropping on their thoughts in the near future, since the technique requires a person to spend long periods in an MRI machine, he noted.

Remote Control of Brain Activity Using Ultrasound  Dr. William J. Tyler is an Assistant Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, is a co-founder and the CSO of SynSonix, Inc., and a member of the 2010 DARPA Young Faculty Award class. Every single aspect of human sensation, perception, emotion, and behavior is regulated by brain activity. Thus, having the ability to stimulate brain function is a powerful technology. Recent advances in neurotechnology have shown that brain stimulation is capable of treating neurological diseases and brain injury, as well as serving platforms around which brain-computer interfaces can be built for various purposes. For example, deep-brain stimulating (DBS) electrodes used to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease require neurosurgery in order to implant electrodes and batteries into patients. A portion of our initial work has been supported by the U.S. How can this technology be used to provide our nation’s Warfighters with strategic advantages?

Scientists Read Dreams By Mo Costandi of Nature magazine Scientists have learned how to discover what you are dreaming about while you sleep. A team of researchers led by Yukiyasu Kamitani of the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, used functional neuroimaging to scan the brains of three people as they slept, simultaneously recording their brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG). The researchers woke the participants whenever they detected the pattern of brain waves associated with sleep onset, asked them what they had just dreamed about, and then asked them to go back to sleep. This was done in three-hour blocks, and repeated between seven and ten times, on different days, for each participant. Perchance to dream Most of the dreams reflected everyday experiences, but some contained unusual content, such as talking to a famous actor. “We built a model to predict whether each category of content was present in the dreams,” says Kamitani.

On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain-Computer Interfaces Brain computer interfaces (BCI) are becoming increasingly popular in the gaming and entertainment industries. Consumer-grade BCI devices are available for a few hundred dollars and are used in a variety of applications, such as video games, hands-free keyboards, or as an assistant in relaxation training. There are application stores similar to the ones used for smart phones, where application developers have access to an API to collect data from the BCI devices. The security risks involved in using consumer-grade BCI devices have never been studied and the impact of malicious software with access to the device is unexplored. We take a first step in studying the security implications of such devices and demonstrate that this upcoming technology could be turned against users to reveal their private and secret information. Papers are restricted to registered attendees until the event begins. Text of BibTeX entry:

How Team Obama’s tech efficiency left Romney IT in dust Despite running a campaign with about twice the money and twice the staff of Governor Mitt Romney's presidential bid, President Barack Obama's campaign under-spent Romney's on IT products and services by $14.5 million, putting the money instead into building an internal tech team. Based on an Ars analysis of Federal Election Commission filings, the Obama campaign, all-inclusive, spent $9.3 million on technology services and consulting and under $2 million on internal technology-related payroll. The bottom line is that the Obama campaign's emphasis on people over capital and use of open-source tools to develop and operate its sophisticated cloud-based infrastructure ended up actually saving the campaign money. As we revealed in our recent analysis of the Romney team's tech strategy, the Romney campaign spent $23.6 million on outside technology services—most of it on outside "digital media" consulting and data management. Smart, not perfect The armor-plated cloud Build, borrow, or buy

First mind-reading implant gives rats telepathic power - life - 28 February 2013 Read full article Continue reading page |1|2 Video: Watch a pair of rats communicate by mind-reading The world's first brain-to-brain connection has given rats the power to communicate by thought alone. "Many people thought it could never happen," says Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The feat was achieved by first training rats to press one of two levers when an LED above that lever was lit. An array of microelectrodes – each about one-hundredth the width of a human hair – was then implanted in the encoder rats' primary motor cortex, an area of the brain that processes movement. Next, the team recreated these patterns in decoder rats, using an implant in the same brain area that stimulates neurons rather than recording from them. Implants linked The researchers then wired up the implants of an encoder and a decoder rat. The rats' ability to cooperate was reinforced by rewarding both rats if the communication resulted in a correct outcome. Wake-up call