electric optics

10 “Spinoffs of Tomorrow” You Can License for Your Business

The job of the our Technology Transfer Program is pretty straight-forward – bring NASA technology down to Earth. But, what does that actually mean? We’re glad you asked! We transfer the cool inventions NASA scientists develop for missions and license them to American businesses and entrepreneurs. And that is where the magic happens: those business-savvy licensees then create goods and products using our NASA tech. Once it hits the market, it becomes a “NASA Spinoff.”

If you’re imagining that sounds like a nightmare of paperwork and bureaucracy, think again. Our new automated “ATLAS” system helps you license your tech in no time — online and without any confusing forms or jargon.

So, sit back and browse this list of NASA tech ripe for the picking (well, licensing.) When you find something you like, follow the links below to apply for a license today! You can also browse the rest of our patent portfolio - full of hundreds of available technologies – by visiting technology.nasa.gov.

1. Soil Remediation with Plant-Fungal Combinations

Ahh, fungus. It’s fun to say and fun to eat—if you are a mushroom fan. But, did you know it can play a crucial role in helping trees grow in contaminated soil? Scientists at our Ames Research Center discovered that a special type of the fungus among us called “Ectomycorrhizal” (or EM for short) can help enhance the growth of trees in areas that have been damaged, such as those from oil spills.

2. Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Lower Drag

When it comes to aircraft, drag can be, well…a drag. Luckily, innovators at our Armstrong Flight Research Center are experimenting with a new wing design that removes adverse yaw (or unwanted twisting) and dramatically increases aircraft efficiency by reducing drag. Known as the “Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Lower Drag (PRANDTL-D)” wing, this design addresses integrated bending moments and lift to achieve drag reduction.

3. Advancements in Nanomaterials

What do aircraft, batteries, and furniture have in common? They can ALL be improved with our nanomaterials.  Nanomaterials are very tiny materials that often have unique optical, electrical and mechanical properties. Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a suite of materials and methods to optimize the performance of nanomaterials by making them tougher and easier to process. This useful stuff can also help electronics, fuel cells and textiles.

4. Green Precision Cleaning

Industrial cleaning is hard work. It can also be expensive when you have to bring in chemicals to get things squeaky. Enter “Green Precision Cleaning,” which uses the nitrogen bubbles in water instead. The bubbles act as a scrubbing agent to clean equipment. Goddard Space Flight Center scientists developed this system for cleaning tubing and piping that significantly reduces cost and carbon consumption. Deionized water (or water that has been treated to remove most of its mineral ions) takes the place of costlier isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and also leaves no waste, which cuts out the pricey process of disposal. The cleaning system quickly and precisely removes all foreign matter from tubing and piping.

5. Self-Contained Device to Isolate Biological Samples

When it comes to working in space, smaller is always better. Innovators at our Johnson Space Center have developed a self-contained device for isolating microscopic materials like DNA, RNA, proteins, and cells without using pipettes or centrifuges. Think of this technology like a small briefcase full of what you need to isolate genetic material from organisms and microorganisms for analysis away from the lab. The device is also leak-proof, so users are protected from chemical hazards—which is good news for astronauts and Earth-bound scientists alike.

6. Portable, Rapid, Quiet Drill

When it comes to “bringing the boom,” NASA does it better than anyone. But sometimes, we know it’s better to keep the decibels low.
That’s why innovators at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have developed a new handheld drilling device, suitable for a variety of operations, that is portable, rapid and quiet. Noise from drilling operations often becomes problematic because of the location or time of operations. Nighttime drilling can be particularly bothersome and the use of hearing protection in the high-noise areas may be difficult in some instances due to space restrictions or local hazards. This drill also weighs less than five pounds – talk about portable power.  

7. Damage Detection System for Flat Surfaces

The ability to detect damage to surfaces can be crucial, especially on a sealed environment that sustains human life or critical equipment. Enter Kennedy Space Center’s damage detection system for flat composite surfaces.
The system is made up of layered composite material, with some of those layers containing the detection system imbedded right in.
Besides one day potentially keeping humans safe on Mars, this tech can also be used on aircrafts, military shelters, inflatable structures and more.

8. Sucrose-Treated Carbon Nanotube and Graphene Yarns and Sheets

We all know what a spoonful of sugar is capable of. But, who knew it could help make some materials stronger? Innovators at NASA’s Langley Research Center did! They use dehydrated sucrose to create yarns and woven sheets of carbon nanotubes and graphene.

The resulting materials are lightweight and strong. Sucrose is inexpensive and readily available, making the process cost-effective. Makes you look at the sweet substance a little differently, doesn’t it?

9. Ultrasonic Stir Welding

NASA scientists needed to find a way to friction weld that would be gentler on their welding equipment. Meet our next tech, ultrasonic stir welding.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center engineers developed ultrasonic stir welding to join large pieces of very high-strength, high-melting-temperature metals such as titanium and Inconel. The addition of ultrasonic energy reduces damaging forces to the stir rod (or the piece of the unit that vibrates so fast, it joins the welding material together), extending its life. The technology also leaves behind a smoother, higher-quality weld.

10. A Field Deployable PiezoElectric Gravimeter (PEG)

It’s important to know that the fuel pumping into rockets has remained fully liquid or if a harmful chemical is leaking out of its container. But each of those things, and the many other places sensors are routinely used, tends to require a specially designed, one-use device.

That can result in time-consuming and costly cycles of design, test and build, since there is no real standardized sensor that can be adapted and used more widely.

To meet this need, the PiezoElectric Gravimeter (PEG) was developed to provide a sensing system and method that can serve as the foundation for a wide variety of sensing applications.

See anything your business could use? Did anything inspire you to start your own company? If so, head to our website at technology.nasa.gov to check them out.

When you’ve found what you need, click, “Apply Now!” Our licensing system, ATLAS, will guide you through the rest.

If the items on this round-up didn’t grab you, that’s ok, too. We have hundreds of other technologies available and ready to license on our website.

And if you want to learn more about the technologies already being used all around you, visit spinoff.nasa.gov.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

This is so awesome! This is an optical illusion of the Silent Mary created by Australian visual effects crew Electric Canvas. The illusion will be in Sydney Harbour to promote the release of Dead Men Tell No Tales, but not only that, it also moves! It will “sail” down the southern end of the harbour, then swing around past the Opera House.  It’s times like this I wish I lived in Sydney.
Fibres in the brain

Credit: MIT

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have, for the first time, succeeded in delivering a combination of optical, electrical and chemical signals back and forth to the brain with a single flexible fibre. The fibre is no larger than a human hair, and is designed to mimic the softness and flexibility of brain tissue.

The fibres could make it possible to leave implants in the brain for longer periods of time, allowing for extensive data collection. They also allow researchers to collect a variety of data using one device instead of different a one for each signal.

In tests, the researchers placed probes into two different regions of a mouse’s brain measured how long it took for responses to travel between them. The fibres are a composite of conductive polyethylene doped with graphite flakes, made by forming layers of polyethylene and sprinkling them with graphite flakes before being compressed, and repeated.

The team hopes to further decrease the width of the fibres to make their properties as close to neural tissue as possible.

I’m a general domestic assistant in a care home for the elderly, and usually I’m understanding of people who complain. It’s your parents/grandparents/spouses final home and you want it to be right. This woman, however, takes the piss. Lets just call her The Woman. That’s literally how half the house refers to her. She has;

  •  Demanded that her mother only be given vegetarian food as meat is ‘too chewy’ for her (even though we’ve expained that we’re a care home we know how to cook meat so its soft or we can blitz it down). More than once the cook has delivered her vegetarian food fresh to find The Woman feeding her mother meat stew, meat curry, fish, etc.
  • Hammered on the kitchen door during the after lunch clean up rush to ask for a beaker, even though the trolleys (with beakers on) went into the kitchen only ten minutes before. She’s done this several times.
  • Demanded that her mother be moved to a larger room but didn’t want to pay more money. Finally worked out a deal with the home manager, then demanded that the man now next to her mother be moved to a different room because he’s noisy and she doesn’t like being near him. He lived in that room before her mother moved into the one next to him.
  • Demanded that other residents be removed from the lounge for being noisy, staring at her mother, or snoring. Throws a fit when we tell her we can’t do that because all the residents are allowed to be in the lounge if they want to be.
  • Complained to the home manager that a carer was eating food while on shift. Said carer had been working for ten hours with no break, and ate a piece of cake before sending the trolley back into the kitchen - i.e. after the residents had eaten. The Woman regularly eats soup, fish and curry from the trolleys while the carers are still trying to get food around to the other residents.
  • Complained that the dining room wasn’t mopped often enough.
  • Complained that the dining room was being mopped while she was getting her mother a drink 30 minutes after lunch (It takes about 20 minutes to get the dining room vacated some days, some residents need a lot of assistance)
  • Complained that another resident was eating biscuits and her mother wasn’t offered any. The biscuits were brought in by said resident’s daughter.
  • Bought her mother a CD player, then complained when we sent it away to get safety checked even though we told her we had to do that when she brought it in. She bought her mother a new CD player the next day. This repeated for three days until the first one came back. Her mother now has five CD players in her wardrobe, as she doesn’t actually like listening to music.
  • Bought her mother a new wheelchair, even though we’d got her one through the health service. The wheelchair she’d bought was too big, so she bought another. The new wheelchair didn’t have the right support, so she bought another the exact same as the one we had for her. She then threw a fit when she saw four wheelchairs in her mothers room, asking why her mothers room was 'being used as wheelchair storage’.
  • Brought her mother a fibre-optic christmas tree and hung glass ornaments on it, three days after we handed her a leaflet saying she could bring in christmas decorations so long as they weren’t electric (e.g fibre-optic) or easily breakable (e.g. glass). She then got angry after we e-mailed her to say we’d have to take the ornaments off and unplug the tree.
  • Constantly brings her mother 'high-risk’ food (e.g. no use by date, a lot of high-allergy ingredients, we can’t source the shop) even though we’ve asked her not to.
  • Constantly tops up her mother’s drinks without checking/taking note of her fluid intake, then gets angry we’re not monitoring her fluid intake properly.
  • Flipped her lid that another resident was wearing her mother’s shirt. Said resident was twice the size of her mother. They just happened to have the same shirt.
  • Told a cleaner off for singing (with one of the residents) while hoovering.
  • Told a resident off for swearing.
  • Told a resident off for sitting in 'her’ chair.
  • Complained that the tv was always playing either the news or daytime television. During the day.
  • Secured a nightlight (that hadn’t been safety checked) to the end of her mother’s bed with parcel tape. Complained when we got it safety checked. Complained when it came back with damage from the parcel tape.
  • Regularly leaves her dog on its own in her mother’s room, then gets mad if we go into the room to get anything because we’re disturbing the dog. Said dog is lovely, if a little needy and attention-seeking. Probably because its owner leaves it in a room for hours on end on a daily basis.
  • Regularly demands we get her mother up to sit in the lounge, even if her mother doesn’t actually want to.

And that’s all I can think of right now. She’s demanding, and then refuses to work with us to look after her mother. Like I said, I usually get it, but she’s literally making it harder for us. Her mother always looks tense and uncomfortable when she’s around because she demands we do things her mother doesn’t want. But we can’t tell her to just calm down or anything because she has the right to visit/be worried about her mother. I just wish she’d listen to us when we explain procedure/health and safety/other residents’ rights to her.

Submission: Strong!Hinata prompt response

Okay so I saw the strong/political Hinata prompt and I had to write something for it. I hope you don’t mind my sending it to you? 

His father has just died, and he is furious. Hinata can see it in the way his fists clench as her father walks by, the way his jaw tightens when an elder praises his progress, the way he refuses to look at her. It really doesn’t surprise her that he steps too far out of line and pays the price.

Her father is crying. His brother marched to die in his place, now his nephews small body is cradled in shaking arms. The elder that activated the seal, that watched as her cousin writhed and screamed and bled and died, looks on impassively. He does not care.

Hinata is four years old. She cares. She will fix this.

So she trains. She takes to her lessons with cold fire burning in her body, the kind that hides in the embers, ready to blaze up and burn with the right breath of wind. She learns her characters, reads. Learns her katas, fights. Learns clan politics, plots.

Then Hanabi is born, and things have to change.

She cannot burn too bright, or the seal will be inked onto her sisters forehead. Her progress slows, plateaus, stops. She finds the line and toes it constantly, staying just good enough not to be a failure, but not great enough to be the heir of the Hyuuga clan.

The elders set a limit. If she cannot prove her capability by the time Hanabi reaches genin, then she will be branded in her sister’s place.

Hinata is eight years old. She has eight more to fix this.

She goes to Ino and Shikamaru, children still, but far more knowledgeable than her in general politics. They are bright, bright children, and she soaks in their light and makes it her own. She learns the law of Konoha, not just the laws of her clan. She discovers in what circumstances the former can overrule the latter. She begins to plan under their careful instruction.

Hinata is 12 years old. She has four more years. But, the seal.

Jiriaya of the Sanin is in town, and he is training Naruto. She knows he is a seal master, but she also knows he could never teach her, she is to young, and he is of too low a status for her clan to approve. Instead, she breaks into the apartment he is renting, left unlocked through confident complacency, and steals every book on sealing he owns. Then, remembering just how Naruto graduated, she masks her chakra, dons a henge, and breaks in to the Hokage’s private library.

Now hidden in a storage seal stuck to the bottom of her bed are 13 books on sealing. Most are far beyond her comprehension, but one appears to have been written to teach children. Complete with illustrations of stroke by stroke guides and easy to digest information, Uzumaki Kushina may just be the key to understanding the rest of her stolen goods. She wonders if this book was meant for Naruto, if this is his unknown mothers work, then she squashes the thought. She needs to be selfish.

Hinata is 16 years old. She has no more time.

The elders look down at her from their seats, contempt clear in their eyes. She is weak, a failure, an embarrassment to the clan, they believe. But she isn’t, and she will show them. Hanabi waits behind her, face hardened into something unreadable. Her sister lost her childhood too early, picking up the training and expectations that had slipped from Hinata’s shoulders when she sunk into mediocrity. She is here to see her elder sister branded, they all are.

That will not be happening.

From the storage seal inked onto her forearm, she draws out a single scroll. She clears her throat, begins to read.

“section 9 of the Konoha Clans Act, subsection 1; clans may govern persons of their clan according to their own existing clan laws, so long as a) the existing laws do not contradict any of the provisions set out in this act or; b) any future Acts passed by; i) the Hokage, or; ii) the Council of Clans. Subsection 2; any clan laws passed following the enactment of this act must not contradict Konoha laws of the relevant time.”

All eyes are focused on her now, confused. She is meant to be stating her case to remain heir, throwing her sister to the flames in her place. She is not meant to be quoting laws passed in the founders era.

“Section 17 of the Use and Regulation of Seals Act; no seal may be used to cause intentional pain or ill effects of any kind on any citizen of Konoha unless a) sanctioned by the Hokage, or; b) Torture and Interrogation requires such measures, or; c) the application of such a seal is done so voluntarily.”

The confusion is turning to anger, and she smiles. Finally. They see the threat she poses to their way of life, and they want her gone. They call to her father, demand she be branded for her insolence. But he is smiling, and he does not listen. he turns to her and asks what she would have them do.

She places the scroll on the table before him, revealing the seal she had been developing for the last year and a half. Carefully drawn and explained in the style of Uzumaki Kushina, it is unarguably a better option than the current seal. The control function has been removed, the pain inducer cancelled out, the only effect left the degradation of the eyes after death, and the addition of a trigger feature to combat live removal.

The elders are fuming and furious. Her sister is no longer unreadable, unreachable, but hovering behind her, uncertain. She reaches out her arm, and her sister ducks into the space she has made, understanding. Her useless sister was never useless. She was protecting her the entire time.

The Neji seal is put into use the next day, and Hinata is the first to don it. She wears the seal that bears her cousins name with pride, as does every other member of her clan. No longer a sign of servitude, the seal now stands for unity. All thanks to a little girl who loved her cousin, and lost him.

Failing 4 final-year University students.

First 2 paragraphs are a bit of backstory , real pro revenge story starts from paragraph 3.

So I’m on my final year - final semester for an electrical engineering degree. I had completed all my major subjects, however, 5 of us 4th year students hadn’t done Physics 2 since the first semester. Physics 2 is a 1st year subject divided into 3 modules (electricity , optics , modern physics) , but it surprisingly wasn’t a pre-requisite for any other subject. However , we needed to take it now to graduate.

Being 4th year students , we barely went to any lecture or did any coursework since it was a 1st year subject which we didn’t take seriously. The first module was electricity and magnetism, for which all the other 4 idiots failed and I did pretty well. In the second module , the other 4 students just barely passed. We are now approaching the final exam in 2 weeks. Here is where the pro revenge story begins!

For the entire physics course , the labs weigh 35% of the actual grade. There are 9 experiments in total , and we have to submit the lab report of all 9 reports at the end of the semester. I had 4 other final year students in my group., and not ONE of them would ever help out during experiments. I would literally do the entire lab alone and they would pretend to work whenever the instructor passed by. You know what? It doesn’t bother me. Sometimes, while I’m working on an experiment , one of them would poke me , or slap the back of my head as a joke. Still doesn’t bother me much, I can “laugh” it off, whatever. BUT, what gets to me, is that after 9 weeks of you guys slacking , you message me to complete all the lab reports BY MYSELF and refuse to work , telling me, “you didn’t let us help you , so we don’t know what to do.”

Oh that got to me. I gave you guys a simple task of just plotting graphs with the different data that I had already collected. And you refused to do it. Last week was the final day for submission for all the labs. I didn’t submit a single one. Today we all got a 0% out of 35% for the lab components where,

Labs - 35% Module 1 exam - 20% Module 2 exam - 15% Module 3 exam - 15% Quizzes - 15%

The beauty of this , is that even though I lost 35% , I can still pass. They can’t.
The subject is offered only once per year. In order to graduate now, they have to wait an entire year.

arlessiar  asked:

Thanks for your reply. I didn't quite know how to send you the Kingsman screenshots so I made a tumblr post with them, I'll send you the link in a second. Btw, one thing one cannot see in the caps is that the heart rate is actually changing in the scene where he wakes up, which is sth I don't see often on TV.

No problem!

(And thanks for your reminder! I know I haven’t done much on this blog recently… I have very little motivation for a lot of things as of late and this week in particular sucked pretty terribly, but I’m going to try to answer the best I can)

Disclaimer: I’m not an ICU nurse, nor have I seen (or read fanfic of) this movie. Everything is based on my critical care classes/clinicals in nursing school and my conjecture as to what happened based on what I’m seeing in these screen shots.

From what I’ve seen of ICU settings, this was pretty well done. They clearly did their research and/or hired a consultant when designing this set. Certain things I particularly appreciated were the presence of a central line (an IV that ends in a large, central vein- necessary for drugs that could injure smaller vessels, like many that would be used in an ICU setting), the not-overly-neat wires/tubes/hoses, and the changing vitals on the monitor screen.

(The following is mostly an explanation of what you’re seeing in the screenshots- nitpicks and a real-life pic for comparison at the end)

Here’s what’s present in a couple of those screenshots:

Monitor display: Showing two leads’ worth of ECG readings (green), heart rate (green), central venous pressure (the pressure in the vein that carries blood into the heart- yellow), oxygen saturation (blue), and non-invasive (cuff) blood pressure (purple).

  • The blood pressure cuff: Hooks up to the monitor display and will cycle (take a reading) at set intervals. While manual blood pressure is taken by listening to a pulse as the cuff slowly deflates, automatic cuffs sense vibration in the blood vessels as the cuff deflates, which can be interpreted by the computer.
  • Hardwire ECG leads: These are leads that go directly from the pt and physically plug into the monitor. They measure the electrical activity of the heart and present a graph of that electrical activity. They are common in ICU settings but mean the pt has to be physically disconnected if they ever want to get out of bed. 
  • Pulse-Ox/SpO2: This is a device that optically or physically measures pulse (which can be different than heart rate as measured electrically) and optically measures oxygen saturation. In this case, it would be helping to determine whether the ventilator settings were correct.

Syringe pumps: syringe pumps are used when only teeny-tiny volumes of medication are needed. They’re a lot more common in pediatric settings, but are definitely used in adult ICUs for very high potency drugs (especially drugs to increase blood pressure, sedatives, and painkillers). Syringe pumps are usually not the only pumps in the scene though- likely there would be at least a few “line pumps” controlling delivery of larger volumes of fluid like IV hydration, antibiotics, and electrolyte replacement fluids that come in hanging bags. Line pumps look like this:

(EEEP EEEP ………… EEEP EEEP<— that’s the sound they make. A lot.)

Endotracheal (ET) tube and securement: This is a tube that goes from just outside the pt’s mouth to their lungs, maintaining the pt’s airway and allowing the ventilator to deliver breaths while the person is paralyzed/sedated and unable to breathe for themself. The securement device keeps it from accidentally coming out or moving out of place. Missing is an NG or OG tube to deliver tube feedings, which would be necessary in this situation.

Central Line: This is an IV with a very long catheter (tube) that is placed in a vein (inserted surgically into the arm or upper chest) and that ends near the heart. This allows for administration of drugs/fluids at high pressure/volume and administration of drugs that could harm smaller peripheral veins. Simple versions (PICCs) may just provide reliable IV access to people who don’t have great veins, but they can be very advanced and include monitoring devices built in.

Because the monitor display is reading central venous pressure (CVP) (something that can only be measured by a sensor very near the heart), this guy’s central line is one of the more advanced ones (I’m still not seeing the external component to the CVP monitor but maybe its just hiding).

Also I’m going to guess that his injury has something to do with his chest and they’re monitoring for tamponade/pneumothorax? Because he seems a little young and healthy to be stricken with heart failure.

Peripheral IV: In addition to the central line, he’s also got a peripheral IV. These are much shorter catheters (about two inches at most) that can take IV fluids and many IV medicines that don’t need to go in a central line.

Miami-J collar: These are hard collars that do not allow movement of the neck (versus the soft foam ones that are for comfort only). Usually you see them in the field when injury is suspected, and they’re taken off once it’s ruled out in a hospital. The fact that he’s wearing one in this scene means that they’ve done the necessary imaging and determined that his neck was indeed injured in whatever happened to him. I’m guessing this guy was in a coma for a while (it would be arguably more important when he’s awake and moving around, so I’m guessing he had some time to heal and they took the collar off).

Ventilator: These devices breathe for pts who can’t breathe on their own, or assist for pts who find breathing prohibitively difficult. The screen shows a real-time graph of the breaths delivered and how much air was given with each breath.

There’s really not a whole lot that I’m downright “well that’s not realistic” about, but here are a couple nitpicks based mostly on ease of nursing care for him:

  • How would you suction that ET tube? (I’m sure there’s a way to do it but I’ve only ever used in-line suction before and it seems strange that this setup doesn’t have that given this movie came out so recently)
  • Why no line pumps? Why is EVERYTHING going through a syringe pump? That seems tedious…
  • Why are no lines labeled? That seems dangerous and confusing…
  • If they gave him a CVP monitor, why not also give him an arterial line? Especially since they’re probs going to need lots of arterial blood samples to make sure the vent settings are working right and it would be easier than sticking him that many times IN AN ARTERY…
  • Feeding tube- if he’s out as long as I’m guessing he’s out for (via the collar) and there’s no problem with his digestive tract, I’m gonna guess he’ll need some food (but tube feeds are rather icky for the whump community, so I get why they omitted it aesthetically).

Compare the screenshots you took with a similar scene from an actual ICU:

NOTE: I got this pic from a google image search, if you recognize it and would like it removed, let me know!


“Blown glass human organs encapsulate inert gases displaying different colours under the influence of an electric current. The human anatomy is a complex, biological system in which energy plays a vital role. Brain Wave conveys neurological processing activity as a kinetic and sensory, physical phenomena through its display of moving electric plasma. Optic Nerve shows a similar effect, more akin to the blood vessels of the eye and with a front ‘lens’ magnifiying the movement and the intensity of light. Heart is a representation of the human heart illuminated by still red neon gas. Electric Lungs is a more technically intricate structure with xenon gas spreading through its passage ways, communicating our human unawareness of the trace gases we inhale in our breathable atmosphere.”

What Makes Us Human

A side project I’ve been working on, with a gerita au of Ludwig as an android. 

Feliciano was alone. That’s why he did this, really. 

Feliciano Vargas knew, from the moment F2501 blinked its optics, it was different. The program was lucrative, and emotional boundaries of the subjects had been considered before, but never implemented to form such a being as this. F2501 was not only the program’s master creation, it was Feliciano’s personal accomplishment, as a rather emotional man himself, to shed some light on the androids’ programming. And really, F2501 was perfect in every which way from the moment it activated. Or so he believed.

Keep reading

Can You See What I See?

When you look at this duck, you may not see the same duck that I see. And those black lines I drew around it could appear to you as different shades of grey.

Yes, I’m going to write about… the dress. It was posted on Tumblr this week and we just can’t agree on whether it’s really blue and black, or white and gold. 

When we look out into the world and see something like—a llama—we don’t just see it’s fluffy white and brown coat. The wavelengths of all the light around it, bouncing off the fence, the ground and the field, enter our eyes too.

These wavelengths enter our lenses, hit our retinas and the light rays travel as electrical impulses through optic nerve to our brain’s visual cortex—this process results in us seeing a picture. A picture of a simply adorable, rolling llama. 

This system does have individual differences in how we perceive things we see—be it objects or colour.

Previously I’ve spoken about how the differences in our subjective experiences are tied to the different sizes of certain areas in our brain.  

In one study, researchers asked participants to judge which of these orange circles is larger. Even though you know these two circles are the same size, it’s almost impossible to see it that way.

Using fMRI, they mapped the participants’ visual cortex. They found those with a larger visual cortex were better at judging the true size of the inner circle, and those with a smaller visual cortex were the least accurate. And they came to the same conclusion using other illusions.

It’s difficult to say why exactly the size of one brain area leads to people being more easily tricked by optical illusions. It could have to do with the concentration of chemical messengers inside the visual cortex. Other studies have found that the magnitude of optical illusions differs in people with autism or in people from different cultures.

Which brings us to… the dress. It’s an individual difference in our vision, but it’s a huge individual difference. And it seems to be consuming everyone as we look at “the dress” again and again and ask, why is it so?

Basically, your brain is trying to correct for the other colours you can see around the dress.

Just like that adorable llama, when the wavelengths from the dress enter you eye, so do the wavelengths of all the light all around us. Your brain subtracts the other wavelengths from the “real” colour of what you’re looking at. In this case, a blue and black dress. Yes, really. IRL, it’s blue and black. 

This is where all the drama lama is coming from with “the dress”—our eyes are colour correcting in different ways.

Over at Wired one neuroscientist suggested that some people discount the blue side, so they end up seeing white and gold; and others discount the gold side, so they end up seeing blue and black.

The image seems to hit some kind of perceptual boundary, which makes the individual difference pretty huge.

So you’re just going to have to accept that another person’s visual system gives them different information and their brain processes it differently. 

And it has nothing to do with the i-llama-nati.

Images: via Holly Fischer/wikipedia and furlined/flickr.


Graphene-Based Artificial Retina Sensor Being Developed

Researchers at Germany’s Technical University of Munich are developing graphene sensors like the ones depicted above to serve as artificial retinas. The atom-thick sheet of linked carbon atoms is being used because it is thin, flexible, stronger than steel, transparent and electrically conductive. 

TUM physicists think that all of these characteristics and graphene’s compatibility with the body make it a strong contender to serve as the interface between a retinal prosthetic that converts light to electric impulses and the optic nerve. A graphene-based sensor could help blind people with healthy nerve tissue see, they say.

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BioBots show some real muscle

They’re being engineered at the‪ NSF-funded‬ Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems Science and Technology Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They are tiny living machines that can be controlled with electrical or optical signals and use muscle tissue for power. Check it out!