Working brain chips for robo-rats

Synthetic brain implants hold out the promise of augmenting the capabilities of the human mind as well as capturing and exporting that state of the mind in sci-fi tech such as the neural lace.

This possiblity is a step closer as shown by Professor Matti Mintz and team at Tel Aviv University.  They have recently presented reults to show that a synthetic neural implant can be grafted into the brain of a rat to restore functions the rat had lost.  Once implanted the rat proceeded to use the implant to learn new behaviour.

Although the most simple neural functions were targeted, it is a significant step forward and demonstrates that the science is a possibility.

Read the abstract of the paper here: http://www.sens.org/node/2210

Read coverage in International Business Times here: http://uk.ibtimes.com/articles/225407/20111005/robot-rat-robotic-brain-implant-restores-rat-s-mobility.htm

James.

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Fewer mid-sized asteroids meandering about the solar system

Earth-bound asteroids are often the bane of human societies calmly minding their own business in many Sci-Fi films.  They lurk in the outer solar system awaiting an opportune moment to fall towards the sun, only to find a blue-green planet with an oddly large moon in their way.

The WISE mission at NASA has recently released a set of obserations that suggest there are fewer of these asteroids than previously thought.  Most of the larger asteroids have already been discovered and tracked, but the smaller mid-sized asteroids up to one kilometer across are less well known.  Analysis of the observations suggest there are only 19,000 of these rather than the previously expected number 35,000.

Although fewer are now expected only 5,000 of these have been discovered.  So the JPL at NASA still has some important work left to do.

See the press release at NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/sep/HQ_11-333_NEOWISE.html

James.