magnetic-imaging

MRI of the Fetal Brain

Advancements in MRI are giving us an unprecedented look at the fetal brain.

Until approximately a decade ago, what researchers knew about the developing prenatal brain came primarily from analyzing the brains of aborted or miscarried fetuses. But studying postmortem brains can be confounding because scientists can’t definitively pinpoint whether the injuries to the brain occurred before or during birth. 

Over the years, however, improvements to MRI are finally enabling researchers to study the developing brain in real time. With these advancements, researchers are just beginning to understand how normal brains develop, and how abnormalities can manifest over the course of development. Scientists cataloguing typical infant brain development with the mini-MRI hope to use it eventually to study the brains of premature babies, who have a high risk of brain damage. Ultimately, clinicians hope to intervene early with therapies, if available and approved, to prevent developmental disorders when there are signs of brain damage in utero or shortly after birth.

Read more here in Nature Medicine. 

Interrogation as Torture

Interrogation is probably the scenario that comes to most Western people’s minds when torture is mentioned. The belief that torture can be used during interrogation is heavily ingrained in Western pop culture whether the story believes it ‘works’ or not.

I’m going to go over some of the most common misconceptions about what bringing torture to the interrogation table does and does not do.

Tell the Truth

‘Care must be exercised when making use of rebukes, invectives or torture as it will result in his telling falsehoods and making a fool of you.’ Japanese Kempeitai manual found in Burman 1943

The use of force often has the consequence that the person being interrogated under duress confesses falsely because he is afraid and as a consequence agrees to everything the interrogator wishes.’ Indonesian interrogation manual, East Timor, 1983

Intense pain is quite likely to produce false confessions concocted as a means of escaping from distress.’ CIA Kubark Counterintelligence Manual 1963

I can’t prove conclusively that in the history of the world torture has never ever once produced accurate information. Overwhelmingly often it does not. There are several reasons why.

Torture produces a lot of lies. Both people with information and people without information have a good reason to lie under torture. And they both do. The person with information does not want to give it up. The person without information needs to say something to make the torture stop.

Humans are bad at telling when someone is lying. When tested even people who think they’re good at spotting lies can’t do it consistently. It can be almost impossible to tell who is hiding something and who genuinely doesn’t know what’s going on. A person under torture might have already told the truth and started lying when the interrogator didn’t believe them. Which is exactly what happened to Shelia Cassidy when she was tortured in Chile in the 70s.

Pain and stress destroy the human memory. Experiments with willing volunteers have repeatedly shown that stress, pain and lack of sleep make it difficult for people to remember. A 2004 paper using US military survival school as the ‘high stress situation’ which simulated capture and interment as a POW (C A Morgan et al, International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 27, 265-279) found that between 51-68% of soldiers identified the wrong person as their interrogator. Interrogations had lasted four hours with the interrogator shouting at and manhandling the volunteers. The low stress group identified the wrong person 12-38% of the time.


Torture results in loss of public trust. Most police and intelligence investigations live or die on public support. People coming forward voluntarily with accurate information. People reporting on suspects. In the long term torture actively recruits for the opposing ‘side’. According to the IRA this is exactly what happened in Northern Ireland when the British used torture. It also happened in Aden and to a lesser extent Cyprus.

Torture in short produces more lies than truth and in such a mixture that it can be hard to tell which is which. Because of the pain it causes torture can make it impossible for victims who want to tell the truth to actually do so accurately. And because of the effect it has on communities it often makes it harder to gather accurate information through more reliable sources.

Accuracy in torture is so poor it is ‘in some cases less accurate than flipping a coin’. (No that isn’t exaggeration, that’s a quote from D Rejali who literally wrote the book)

The Ticking Bomb

The famous ‘ticking-bomb’ scenario is a fictional situation (it literally came from a novel, written by a suspected torturer) where a disaster (such as a bomb attack) is known to be approaching and in order to save innocent lives the characters need more intel fast.

So they start debating whether to use torture.

Depending on the story and the characters they sometimes do torture. Usually if they do it gives them information they then use to save lives.

There’s another problem, aside from the total lack of accuracy for information that comes from torture. Torture takes as long or longer than other interrogation techniques.

According to the CIA’s own records detainees were put through several days of sleep deprivation before interrogation. The Senate Torture Report (testimony from Ali Soufan) estimated that their torture techniques took 30 days.

According to British records and accounts from the IRA during the Troubles a single torture session by ‘walling’ (sleep deprivation, white noise and stress positions combined) could last between nine and forty three hours.

I’ve selected the following quotes to give an idea of the time frame for short tortures used in interrogation. Both are from Northern Ireland by Irish men detained by the British. Emphasis is mine.

‘One powerfully built RUC detective would keep me pinned in a position while the other one would hold my elbow then press back on my wrist. And that could last for an hour or possibly two hours. And it’s excruciatingly painful, to the extent that I remember after three or four days I would simply go unconscious-’ Tommy McKearney

When I was taken away from Girdwood to be interned, I thought I had been there for about eight days, but it was only three. I later realised I was only being allowed to sleep for ten minutes at a time.’ Joe Docherty

Interrogation always takes time. And that time is measured in days not minutes.

Sanitised Portrayals

‘NO useful information so far….He did vomit a couple of times during the water board with some beans and rice. It’s been 10 hours since he ate so this is surprising and disturbing.’ Senate Torture Report, from quoted emails SSCI 2014, 41-42

For me this is one of the most noticeable differences between torture in pop culture and torture in reality. Torture in films and books is always sanitised.

I don’t mean that it isn’t gory or isn’t gory ‘enough’. Blood seems to be a cinematic staple and seeing the hero beaten and bloodied in a dingy lit room has become standard in a certain sort of action story.

What I’m talking about are the body fluids and products we’re trained to think are less acceptable. Vomit. Urine. Mucus. Faeces.

I can think of several movies where a ‘good-guy’ gets beaten to a bloody pulp on screen. I can’t think of any where they piss themselves. But losing control of bladder and bowel function seem to be pretty common in real life. A lot of the eyewitness accounts I’ve read about systematic torture mention the smell of urine and shit.

Vomiting is something I don’t see mentioned as often in survivor accounts but I think it’s very likely to occur frequently because a lot of common methods of torture produce nausea.


The ‘Tough’ Interrogator

 

It may be only later, outside of that specific environment, that the torturer may question his or her behaviour, and begin to experience psychological damage resulting from involvement in torture and trauma. In these cases, the resulting psychological symptoms are very similar to those of victims, including anxiety, intrusive traumatic memories and impaired cognitive and social functioning.’ Psychologists Mark Costanzo and Ellen Gerrity.

Those techniques [CIA ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques] are so harsh it’s emotionally distressing to the people who are administering them.’ Dr James Mitchell, psychologist involved in the CIA’s EIT program.

We are where we are- and we’re left popping our Prozac and taking our pills at night.’ Anonymous torturer quoted in Cruel Britannia

There’s a growing body of evidence that torture has a negative psychological effect on the torturer.

The evidence is for the most part anecdotal, based on patterns emerging across interviews. Torturers, funnily enough, don’t show up in droves for psychological studies. But there is a pattern. One of substance abuse, addiction, PTSD and suicide.

The cause of these symptoms in torturers is the same thing that causes trauma in people who witness horrific things. It is well known that seeing violent attacks on others can cause trauma in witnesses.

Humans are empathic creatures.

There is a measurable, automatic response in the brain to seeing others in pain. We can not control it and we can not stop it. Even when we are told that the other person is anaesthetized our brains still respond to their perceived pain.

This, combined with the destruction of normal social interaction and dehumanisation, appears in a very real sense to harm torturers.

If you’re planning to use torture as part of an interrogation scene it’s worth noting that some torturers do believe torture is a useful way to get information, despite the evidence. Some of them cling to the idea that they had to torture, that what they did was useful and saved lives. Some of them seem to overplay the value of torture in order to justify their own actions and jobs.

None of that makes them immune to the effect of torturing another human being.

Disclaimer

[Additional Sources-

‘Torture and Democracy’, Princeton, D Rejali (Only order this if you’ll be at home to pick it up, at over 850 pages it’s a monster)

‘Accuracy of eyewitness memory for person encountered during exposure to highly intense stress’, The International Journal of Law and Psychiatry C A Morgan, G Hazlett, A Doran, S Garrett, G Hoyt, P Thomas, M Baranoksi, S M Southwick, 2004 (This team have actually done a series on high stress situations and the effects on memory. Charles Morgan is the first author on this set of papers.)

‘Audacity to Believe’ Cleveland, S Cassidy

‘Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation.’ Harvard University Press, S O’Mara (Highly recommended, reasonably accessible for a layman)

‘Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture.’ Portobello Books, I Cobain (Very good history, although the author doesn’t seem to understand many of the techniques he writes about)

‘What are you feeling? Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to Assess the Modulation of Sensory and Affective Responses during Empathy for Pain’, PLoS ONE, C Lamm, H C Nusbaum, A N Meltzoff, J Decety 2007 (The experiments in this paper include brain scans of people seeing photos of a needle and a hand in various different positions, some of which would be painful. There wasn’t much change in brain response if the volunteers were told the hand couldn’t feel pain.)]

Hearing with your eyes – A Western style of speech perception

Which parts of a person’s face do you look at when you listen them speak? Lip movements affect the perception of voice information from the ears when listening to someone speak, but native Japanese speakers are mostly unaffected by that part of the face. Recent research from Japan has revealed a clear difference in the brain network activation between two groups of people, native English speakers and native Japanese speakers, during face-to-face vocal communication.

It is known that visual speech information, such as lip movement, affects the perception of voice information from the ears when speaking to someone face-to-face. For example, lip movement can help a person to hear better under noisy conditions. On the contrary, dubbed movie content, where the lip movement conflicts with a speaker’s voice, gives a listener the illusion of hearing another sound. This illusion is called the “McGurk effect.”

According to an analysis of previous behavioral studies, native Japanese speakers are not influenced by visual lip movements as much as native English speakers. To examine this phenomenon further, researchers from Kumamoto University measured and analyzed gaze patterns, brain waves, and reaction times for speech identification between two groups of 20 native Japanese speakers and 20 native English speakers.

The difference was clear. When natural speech is paired with lip movement, native English speakers focus their gaze on a speaker’s lips before the emergence of any sound. The gaze of native Japanese speakers, however, is not as fixed. Furthermore, native English speakers were able to understand speech faster by combining the audio and visual cues, whereas native Japanese speakers showed delayed speech understanding when lip motion was in view.

“Native English speakers attempt to narrow down candidates for incoming sounds by using information from the lips which start moving a few hundreds of milliseconds before vocalizations begin. Native Japanese speakers, on the other hand, place their emphasis only on hearing, and visual information seems to require extra processing,” explained Kumamoto University’s Professor Kaoru Sekiyama, who lead the research.

Kumamoto University researchers then teamed up with researchers from Sapporo Medical University and Japan’s Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) to measure and analyze brain activation patterns using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Their goal was to elucidate differences in brain activity between the two languages.

The functional connectivity in the brain between the area that deals with hearing and the area that deals with visual motion information, the primary auditory and middle temporal areas respectively, was stronger in native English speakers than in native Japanese speakers. This result strongly suggests that auditory and visual information are associated with each other at an early stage of information processing in an English speaker’s brain, whereas the association is made at a later stage in a Japanese speaker’s brain. The functional connectivity between auditory and visual information, and the manner in which the two types of information are processed together was shown to be clearly different between the two different language speakers.

“It has been said that video materials produce better results when studying a foreign language. However, it has also been reported that video materials do not have a very positive effect for native Japanese speakers,” said Professor Sekiyama. “It may be that there are unique ways in which Japanese people process audio information, which are related to what we have shown in our recent research, that are behind this phenomenon.”

These findings were published in the journal “Scientific Reports” on August 11th and October 13th, 2016.

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In 2001, tragedy happened when 6 years old Michael Colombini was struck and killed at Westchester Medical Center by a 6-pound metal oxygen tank when it was pulled into the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine while he underwent a test. He began to experience breathing difficulties while in the MRI and when an anesthesiologist brought a portable oxygen canister into the magnetic field, it was pulled from his hands and struck the boy in the head.

Wave of the future: Terahertz chips a new way of seeing through matter

Electromagnetic pulses lasting one millionth of a millionth of a second may hold the key to advances in medical imaging, communications and drug development. But the pulses, called terahertz waves, have long required elaborate and expensive equipment to use.

Now, researchers at Princeton University have drastically shrunk much of that equipment: moving from a tabletop setup with lasers and mirrors to a pair of microchips small enough to fit on a fingertip.

Keep reading

Out-of-body flight “really” happens, then–it is a real physical event, but only in the patient’s brain and, as a result, in his subjective experience. The out-of-body state is, by and large, an exacerbated form of the dizziness that we all experience when our vision disagrees with our vestibular system, as on a rocking boat.

Blanke went on to show that any human can leave her body: he created just the right amount of stimulation, via synchronized but delocalized visual and touch signals, to elicit an out-of-body experience in the normal brain. Using a clever robot, he even managed to re-create the illusion in a magnetic resonance imager. And while the scanned person experienced the illusion, her brain lit up in the temporoparietal junction–very close to where the patient’s lesions were located.

We still do not know exactly how this region works to generate a feeling of self-location. Still, the amazing story of how the out-of-body state moved from the parapsychological curiosity to mainstream neuroscience gives a message of hope. Even outlandish subjective phenomena can be traced back to their neural origins. The key is to treat such introspections with just the right amount of seriousness. They do not give direct insights into our brain’s inner mechanisms; rather, they constitute the raw material on which a solid science of consciousness can be properly founded.
—  Dehaene, Stanislas. Consciousness and The Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts. NY, NY: Viking, 2014. 44-45. Print.

So there’s loads of different neuroimaging methods out there that are used depending on what it is you’re looking for! I’ve had the privilege of actually studying it and there’s so so many different types more than just functional MRI that people don’t really know about so here are a few and what they’re used for an how they work.

MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging

The most commonly used form of neuroimaging and for good reason. MRI uses the body’s tissue density and magnetic properties of water to visualise structures within the body. It has really incredible spatial and temporal quality and is predominantly used in neuroscience/neurology for looking for any structural abnormalities such as tumours, tissue degeneration etc. It’s fantastic a fantastic form of imaging and is used in numerous amounts of research.

Functional MRI (fMRI)

These images are captured the same way as MRI but the quality is a little bit lower because the aim is to capture function (those blobs you can see) as quickly and accurately as possible so the quality is compromised a little bit. Nonetheless, fMRI usually uses the BOLD response to measure function. It measures the amount of activity in different areas of the brain when doing certain things, so during a memory test for example, and it does that by measuring the amount oxygen that a certain area requires. The increased oxygen is believed to be sent to an area where there is more neuronal activity, so it’s not a direct measurement but rather we’re looking at a byproduct. There are numerous studies trying to find the direct link between the haemodynamic response and neuronal activity, particularly at TUoS (where I’m doing my masters!) but for the moment this is all we have. This sort of imaging is used a lot for research and checking the general function of the brain, so if you were to have had surgery on your brain, they may run one of these just to see which areas might be affected from it and how, or in research we’ve used this a lot to research cognition - which areas are affected during certain cognitive tasks (ie my MSc thesis - Cognition in schizophrenia and consanguinity). 

Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)

This is my current favourite type of NI right now! DTI is beautiful, unique and revolutionary in this day and age, it’s almost like sci-fi stuff! DTI measures the rate of water diffusion along white matter tracts and with that calculates the directions and structural integrity of them to create these gorgeous white matter brain maps. They are FANTASTIC for finding structural damage in white matter - something that is making breakthroughs in research lately ie. schizophrenia, genetics and epilepsy. It measures the rate of diffusion which tells you about possible myelin/axonal damage and anisotropy, so the directions and if they are “tightly wound” or loosely put together - think of it like rope, good FA is a good strong rope, poor FA is when it starts to fray and go off in different directions - like your white matter tracts. My current research used DTI and it was honestly surreal to work with, the images are also acquired through an MRI scanner so you can actually get these images the same time you’re getting MRI’s done, functional or otherwise! 

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

One of the “controversies” (if you could call it that) is the use of radioactive substances in PET scanning. It requires the injection of a nuclear medicine to have the metabolic processes in your brain light up like Christmas! It uses a similar functional hypothesis to BOLD fMRI, in that it is based on the assumption that higher functional areas would have higher radioactivity and that’s why it lights up in a certain way. It depends on glucose or oxygen metabolism, so high amounts of glucose/oxygen metabolism would show up red and less active areas would show up blue, perfect for showing any functional abnormalities in the overall brain. However it has incredibly poor temporal resolution and due to it’s invasive nature, MRI is chosen more often. (The pictures are gorgeous though!) 

Electroencephalography/Magnetoencephalography (EEG & MEG)

These are not “imaging” types in the stereotypical sense. They create a series of waves that you can physically see (think of the lines you get on a lie detector!). Electrodes/Tiny magnets are placed on the scalp/head in specific areas corresponding to certain brain structures. EEG picks up on electrical activity which is the basis of neuronal function, whereas MEG picks up on magnetic fields - the same property that is utilised by MRI. One of the biggest issues with EEG is that deeper structures passing through tissues get distorted, whereas MEG doesn’t because it only measures the magnetic properties. I’ve not had a lot of experience with either of these but I do know EEG is used in a lot of medical procedures to measure brain activity, from measuring seizures and sleep disorders to measuring brain activity in a coma. It’s fantastic and if you can actually figure out how to conduct and interpret results it’s an invaluable tool into looking at electrical activity. 

anonymous asked:

there is no difference between the brains of men and women. try harder, misogynist.

Female brains have a higher percentage of grey matter.

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/19/10/4065

“While measuring brain activity with magnetic resonance imaging during blood pressure trials, UCLA researchers found that men and women had opposite responses in the right front of the insular cortex.”

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/more-evidence-that-male-and-female-brains-are-wired-differently

“The female brain appears to have increased connection between neurons in the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and males seem to have increased neural communication within hemispheres from frontal to rear portions of the organ.”

http://mobile.the-scientist.com/article/38539/male-and-female-brains-wired-differently

Here are some other links with information on the differences between male and female brains:

http://www.livescience.com/41619-male-female-brains-wired-differently.html

https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2016/06/brain-activity-during-cooperation-differs-by-sex.html

But I guess science is just misogynistic.

The Element: Earth

Earth represents strength, abundance, stability, prosperity, wealth and femininity. In rituals, Earth is represented in the forms of burying objects in the earth, herbalism, and making images out of wood or stone.

Gender: Feminine

Direction: North

Energy: Receptive

Symbols: Rocks, fields, soil, salt, caves, clay

Placing on Pentagram: Lower left

Time: Midnight, night

Cycle of Life: Age

Season: Winter

Colours: Black, green, yellow, brown

Zodiac signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Sense: Touch

Stones/Jewels: Rock crystal, emerald, onyx, jasper, salt, azurite, amethyst, quartz

Magickal tools: Pentacle, Pentagram, salt, images, stones, gems, cords

Metals: Iron, lead

Herbal: Ivy, grains, oats, rice, patchouli, lichens

Trees: Cypress, Honeysuckle, Jasmin, Lilac (some say Lilac is Water)

Animals: Cow, bull, dog, horse, ant, bears, wolf

Type of Magick: Gardening, magnet images, stone (jewel divination, work with crystals), knot, Binding, money spells, grounding, finding treasures, runes.

Ritual action: Burying, making effigies, planting trees or herbs

July 14 Solar Flare and a Coronal Mass Ejection

A medium-sized (M2) solar flare and a coronal mass ejection (CME) erupted from the same, large active region of the sun on July 14, 2017. The flare lasted almost two hours, quite a long duration. The coils arcing over this active region are particles spiraling along magnetic field lines, which were reorganizing themselves after the magnetic field was disrupted by the blast. Images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light.

Solar flares are giant explosions on the sunthat send energy, light and high speed particles into space. These flares are often associated with solar magnetic storms known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). While these are the most common solar events, the sun can also emit streams of very fast protons – known as solar energetic particle (SEP) events – and disturbances in the solar wind known as corotating interaction regions (CIRs).

The Solar Dynamics Observatory is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Its Atmosphere Imaging Assembly was built by the Lockheed Martin Solar Astrophysics Laboratory (LMSAL), Palo Alto, California.

More: Animations of the solar flare

Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)

Time And Space

Bird’s-eye (axial) view of nerve fibers in a normal, healthy adult human brain. Brain cells communicate with each other through these nerve fibers, which have been visualized using diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging. Diffusion weighted imaging is a specialized type of MRI scan which measures water diffusion in many directions in order to reconstruct the orientation of the nerve fibers. Since these images are in 3D, colors have been used to represent the direction of the fibers: blue is for fibers traveling up/down, green for front/back, and red for left/right. These patterns of connectivity in the brain are being used to study brain development and developmental disorders such as dyslexia.

Image and caption courtesy of Zeynep M. Saygin, McGovern Institute, MIT, Wellcome Images

My boss is the best!!

I have an magnetic resonance imaging at noon today. The plan was to leave work at 11, get the MRI done and go back to work for another hour and a half.
But since the doctors office is 2 minutes from my flat, my boss told me I can take the afternoon off!
Yaaaay :)

theguardian.com
Talking to ourselves: the science of the little voice in your head
By Peter Moseley

by Peter Moseley

Most of us will be familiar with the experience of silently talking to ourselves in our head. Perhaps you’re at the supermarket and realise that you’ve forgotten to pick up something you needed. “Milk!” you might say to yourself. Or maybe you’ve got an important meeting with your boss later in the day, and you’re simulating – silently in your head – how you think the conversation might go, possibly hearing both your own voice and your boss’s voice responding.

This is the phenomenon that psychologists call “inner speech”, and they’ve been trying to study it pretty much since the dawn of psychology as a scientific discipline. In the 1930s, the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky argued that inner speech developed through the internalisation of “external”, out-loud speech. If this is true, does inner speech use the same mechanisms in the brain as when we speak out loud?


Keep reading

Theory: The Fiddles Pamphlet, Part 2

Part 2: “A Young But Brilliant Mechanic”

Welcome to Part Two of the Fiddles Pamphlet, a three part series about the secret life and times of Fiddleford Mcgucket.

If you haven’t already, read Part One here, where we establish Fiddleford’s expertise in electronics, mechanical engineering, robotics, neurotechnology and electromagnetic physics, as well as his role in the creation of the Reagan Administration’s mind-control tie.

In Part Two of this theory, I’ll be investigating a few questions about our favorite Arkansas cinnamon (sinnamon?) roll such as:

  • Why did Fiddleford mention having a “retirement party?”
  • Why might the government have hired this team of scientists in the woods to make a mind-control tie for the Reagan Administration?
  • What else was Fiddleford working on before he came to Gravity Falls?

For those of you who remember the early interactions with Old Man McGucket, prior to the bomb being dropped on his identity as Fiddleford Hadron McGucket, assistant to travelling researcher Stanford Pines, you might remember the first real conversation the younger twins had with him, as he sat in the cabin of the Gobblewonker robot.

We learn a couple things about Fiddleford, including the loss of the respect of his son, and how he reacted when his wife left him. We also learn thusly that Fidds is a bit of a saltlord.

When his wife left him, he reacted by creating a “homicidal pterodactyl-tron” which attacked innocent bystanders. And when his pal Ernie didn’t show up at Fiddleford’s retirement party, he created a Shamebot to—

Wait.

Retirement party?

When would Fiddleford had retired? He couldn’t have been much older than Stanford when he was called to Gravity Falls. In fact, seeing as Ford refers to him as “a young but brilliant mechanic” we might even be able to infer that Fiddleford was a bit younger than Stanford. But that doesn’t make much sense.

Around 1981, Fiddleford stopped being Ford’s assistant after only one year of assisting him with his research, and then drove himself completely insane within 618 days of first testing the Memory Gun. He spent the next 30 years living in the Gravity Falls dump. There isn’t a time window where he could have retired between creating the memory gun and meeting Dipper and Mabel in the Gobblewonker.

Meaning it must have happened before then.

If there’s no way for Fiddleford to have retired that late in his life, he must have retired early. Very early. He was, after all, a brilliant mechanic. And judging by his beautiful house in Palo Alto, where he was leisurely spending his time creating personal computers between strums of the banjo with bottles of moonshine in the background, it isn’t so out-of-the-blue to imagine Fiddleford having already made it big at this point, enjoying retirement before 30.

Originally posted by dorkybipper

If Fiddleford had already made a big enough splash in his scientific fields of study that he was able to retire at such a young age, it’s no wonder the masters of the Reagan Administration would seek him and Ford out to create the mind-control tie, an incredible show of his neurotechnological prowess.

So we can assume that Fiddleford retired early, and that he had made a large-enough splash in the field of neurotech beforehand that the Reagan Administration took notice and would commission him (and eventually, Ford) to invent the tie. So what exactly was his contribution to electronics, mechanical engineering and neurotechnology that led to such an early retirement?

Well, let’s see what we can infer from the era.

Assuming Fiddleford retired within 5 years prior to Stanford calling him, we can assume he made some huge discovery/contribution to science between 1975 and 1980, which would gather the attention of political entities. Below are two possibilities:

  • Advancements in computed tomography technology (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) were made throughout the 1970s, which use x-ray and magnetic waves to digitally create computer-processed images for medical purposes. This sounds right up Fiddleford’s alley, combining most of his skills into a huge leap in medical technology that probably could have kept him financed for the rest of his life.
  • We might also be able to place Fiddleford as a scientist with MKUltra, the CIA-run mind-control experiment which included the hopeful outcome of a Manchurian Candidate (sound familiar?) by which government entities could control a puppet politician. If Fidds had worked on MKUltra or a similar CIA-run program, it would certainly explain a large enough payout for him to retire in his 20s, as well as a way for the government to already have his information on file. However, Project MKUltra was ended in 1973 (probably) and thus would probably have still been running while Fiddleford was still in university with Stanford (assuming the graduated around the same time). Not to say that this possibility is impossible, as Fiddleford could have worked on it in college, but it’s definitely a bit of a stretch.

Now, which of these advancements would have financed Fiddleford’s retirement? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. Did Fidds get his fortune from the invention of life-saving imagery-processing technology? Or was he a mad scientist in an evil government-run experiment? Your guess is as good as mine.

As for Ernie not showing up to Fiddleford’s retirement party, the guy was probably jealous. After all, Fiddleford was fresh out of college and already had a fortune under his belt. I’d be pretty salty as well. That, or Ernie was a jerk. (Screw you, Ernie!)

So, we now have a solid explanation for Fiddleford having a retirement party, some more information on his background, and a reason for the U.S. government to keep him in its sights long enough to consider him when the Reagan Administration came to power.

Next time on The Fiddles Pamphlet, we answer these questions:

  • What is up with that stripe in Fiddleford’s hair? Is it a natural highlight? Early aging? A dyed streak leftover from his hippie days? Or something much more sinister….
  • How long did Fiddleford spend working on his memory gun blueprints?
  • What else might Fiddleford want to erase from his mind?

Stay tuned for Part 3, the final installment in this multi-part theory!

The Elements

Earth

Earth is our mother. It’s as fertile and nurturing as farmland; as moist as soil and as dry as sand. In its physical manifestations (such as stones), Earth represents the densest of the elements.

Symbolic associations of Earth

  • Basic Nature: Fertile, moist, nurturing; stabilizing; grounding. Gravity is a manifestation of this element.
  • Type of Energy: Receptive.
  • Color: Green (from the color of living plants).
  • Places: Caves, canyons, chasms, forests, groves, valleys, fields, farms, gardens, arboretums, parks, plant nurseries, farmer’s markets, kitchens, baby nurseries, basements, mines, holes.
  • Rituals: Money, prosperity, fertility, stability, grounding, employment.
  • Ritual Forms: Burying, planting, making images in soil or sand.
  • Herbs: Earth-smelling plants, such as patchouly and vetivert; mosses and lichens; nuts; dry and stiff plants; heavy, low-growing plants; generally roots.
  • Stones: Heavy or opaque, as in coal; green, as in emerald and peridot.
  • Metals: Iron, lead.
  • Musical Instrument: Drum, all percussion instruments.
  • Creatures: Dog, horse, earthworm, gopher, ant, cow, burrowing animals.
  • Season: Winter (the time of darkness).
  • Direction: North (the place of greatest darkness).
  • Time: Night.
  • Magical Tool: Pentacle (a wooden, metal, or clay disc inscribed with a five-pointed star).
  • Point in Life: Advanced age.
  • Astrological Signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn.
  • Sense: Touch.
  • Natural Symbols: Salt, clay dish of fresh soil, rocks, sheaves of wheat, acorns.
  • Types of Magic Ruled: Gardening, magnet, image, stone, tree, knot, binding.

Symbols for:

Air

Air is the power of movement; of freshning and of intelligence. It’s the invisible and yet quite real mixture of gases that we breathe in every day. In magical terms, Air is also the power of the mind: the force of intellect.

Symbolic associations of Air

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