Friday, August 31, 2012

RNC 2012: Clint Eastwood’s speech to the Republican convention in Tampa (full text)

Video: Clint Eastwood delivers remarks at the 2012 Republican National Convention, utilizing some novel tactics to address President Obama. 


EASTWOOD: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Save a little for Mitt.
(APPLAUSE)

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, what’s a movie tradesman doing out here? You know they are all left wingers out there, left of Lenin. At least that is what people think. That is not really the case. There are a lot of conservative people, a lot of moderate people, Republicans, Democrats, in Hollywood. It is just that the conservative people by the nature of the word itself play closer to the vest. They do not go around hot dogging it.
(APPLAUSE)

So -- but they are there, believe me, they are there. I just think, in fact, some of them around town, I saw John Voigt, a lot of people around.
(APPLAUSE)

John’s here, an academy award winner. A terrific guy. These people are all like-minded, like all of us.
So I -- so I’ve got Mr. Obama sitting here. And he’s -- I was going to ask him a couple of questions. But -- you know about -- I remember three and a half years ago, when Mr. Obama won the election. And though I was not a big supporter, I was watching that night when he was having that thing and they were talking about hope and change and they were talking about, yes we can, and it was dark outdoors, and it was nice, and people were lighting candles.
They were saying, I just thought, this was great. Everybody is trying, Oprah was crying.
(LAUGHTER)

EASTWOOD: I was even crying. And then finally -- and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country.
(APPLAUSE)

Now that is something to cry for because that is a disgrace, a national disgrace, and we haven’t done enough, obviously -- this administration hasn’t done enough to cure that. Whenever interest they have is not strong enough, and I think possibly now it may be time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem.
(APPLAUSE

So, Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them?

I mean, what do you say to people? Do you just -- you know -- I know -- people were wondering -- you don’t -- handle that OK. Well, I know even people in your own party were very disappointed when you didn’t close Gitmo. And I thought, well closing Gitmo -- why close that, we spent so much money on it. But, I thought maybe as an excuse -- what do you mean shut up?
(LAUGHTER)

OK, I thought maybe it was just because somebody had the stupid idea of trying terrorists in downtown New York City.
(APPLAUSE)

I’ve got to to hand it to you. I have to give credit where credit is due. You did finally overrule that finally. And that’s -- now we are moving onward. I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s okay. But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean -- you thought that was something worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did it -- they did there for 10 years.
(APPLAUSE)

But we did it, and it is something to be thought about, and I think that, when we get to maybe -- I think you’ve mentioned something about having a target date for bringing everybody home. You gave that target date, and I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question, you know, he says, “Why are you giving the date out now? Why don’t you just bring them home tomorrow morning?”
(APPLAUSE)

And I thought -- I thought, yeah -- I am not going to shut up, it is my turn.
(LAUGHTER)

So anyway, we’re going to have -- we’re going to have to have a little chat about that. And then, I just wondered, all these promises -- I wondered about when the -- what do you want me to tell Romney? I can’t tell him to do that. I can’t tell him to do that to himself.
(APPLAUSE)

You’re crazy, you’re absolutely crazy. You’re getting as bad as Biden.
(APPLAUSE)

Of course we all now Biden is the intellect of the Democratic party.
(LAUGHTER)

Kind of a grin with a body behind it.
(LAUGHTER)

But I just think that there is so much to be done, and I think that Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are two guys that can come along. See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to the president, anyway.
(APPLAUSE)

I think attorneys are so busy -- you know they’re always taught to argue everything, and always weight everything -- weigh both sides.
They are always devil’s advocating this and bifurcating this and bifurcating that. You know all that stuff. But, I think it is maybe time -- what do you think -- for maybe a businessman. How about that?
(APPLAUSE)

A stellar businessman. Quote, unquote, “a stellar businessman.”
And I think it’s that time. And I think if you just step aside and Mr. Romney can kind of take over. You can maybe still use a plane.
(APPLAUSE)

Though maybe a smaller one. Not that big gas guzzler you are going around to colleges and talking about student loans and stuff like that.
(APPLAUSE)

You are an -- an ecological man. Why would you want to drive that around?
OK, well anyway. All right, I’m sorry. I can’t do that to myself either.
(APPLAUSE)

I would just like to say something, ladies and gentlemen. Something that I think is very important. It is that, you, we -- we own this country.
(APPLAUSE)

We -- we own it. It is not you owning it, and not politicians owning it. Politicians are employees of ours.
(APPLAUSE)

And -- so -- they are just going to come around and beg for votes every few years. It is the same old deal. But I just think it is important that you realize , that you’re the best in the world. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or whether you’re libertarian or whatever, you are the best. And we should not ever forget that. And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go.
(APPLAUSE)

Okay, just remember that. And I’m speaking out for everybody out there. It doesn’t hurt, we don’t have to be
(AUDIENCE MEMBER): (inaudible)

(LAUGHTER)

I do not say that word anymore. Well, maybe one last time.
(LAUGHTER)

We don’t have to be -- what I’m saying, we do not have to be metal (ph) masochists and vote for somebody that we don’t really even want in office just because they seem to be nice guys or maybe not so nice guys, if you look at some of the recent ads going out there, I don’t know.
(APPLAUSE)

But OK. You want to make my day?
(APPLAUSE)

All right. I started, you finish it. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE: Make my day!
EASTWOOD: Thank you. Thank you very much.
(APPLAUSE)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Malaria Cure


CAPE TOWN (2012-08-28):  The University of Cape Town’s Science Department believes that it has found a single dose cure for Malaria. This was announced by researchers that have been working on this compound, from the aminopyridine class, for several years. Unlike conventional multidrug malaria treatments that the malaria parasite has become resistant to, Professor Kelly Chibale and his colleagues now believe that they have discovered a drug that over 18 months of trials ”killed these resistant parasites instantly”. Animal tests also showed that it was not only safe and effective, but there were no adverse reported side effects. Clinical tests are scheduled for the end of 2013. If this tablet is approved in coming years, this achievement will surely usher in a new age for science in Africa. It will save millions upon millions of lives on the continent, helping avoid at least 24 percent of child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Professor Chibale proudly explains: “This is the first ever clinical molecule that’s been discovered out of Africa, by Africans, from a modern pharmaceutical industry drug discovery programme. The potent drug has been tested on animals and has shown that a single oral dose has completely cured those infected with malaria parasites.” This “super pill” could potentially cure millions of people every year, and save the lives of over one million people from around the world each year. This “cure” will most likely save health care systems throughout the developing world billions of dollars and open new areas for development and settlement.

Credit: CDC/Jim Gathany
Anopheles gambiae is a complex of at least seven indistinguishable species of mosquitoes, and includes the most important vectors of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. These diminutive insects thus act as hosts for the protozoan parasite, Plasmodium spp., which is transmitted by the female mosquitos to the human host. (Credit: CDC/Jim Gathany)

The South African Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor elaborates: ”The candidate molecule is novel, potent, and has the potential to have a significant impact on global malaria control and eradication. This is a powerful demonstration of how much can be accomplished when open-minded researchers come together for the sake of the greater good of humanity. The discovery that we announce today is a significant victory in the battle to alleviate the burden of disease in Africa. Clearly the war on disease is not yet won, but I am excited by the role that our excellent scientists have played in finding a potential single-dose cure for malaria and possibly preventing its transmission. South Africa in general had built considerable strength in clinical research over the past decade. The main focus had been on HIV/Aids and TB. This development had occurred together with significant growth in the basic sciences that underpinned infectious disease research.”

Steve Boyes
Mosquitos and mayflies in the sunlight on the water's edge will not strike as much fear into the hearts of weary travelers in the African bush should this "super pill" end the threat of malaria... (Steve Boyes)

I have personally had malaria twice while traveling in East Africa and Zanzibar and can say that it is a deeply painful and depleting experience that leaves you in ruins, unable to care for your family, and in a very poor health if you survive. I have luckily had test kits and treatment each time, which seemed to make me feel worse before I got better. Months on end working in the African bush means that I have to do without prophylactics and must simply avoid being bitten or accept I may get malaria. The only hope being that the fever gets less severe with each re-infection… There is no doubt constant re-infection is not sustainable and has undermined the advancement of rural populations in Africa for thousands of years. As soon as we gather in large numbers in cities like Dar Es Salam and Lusaka, the risk of malaria escalates with huge implications for public health care during the rainy season. I am delighted that an effective cure may have been found for malaria. Prevention is, however, still much better than cure, so please do not throw away your mosquito nets and repellent. Please share your thoughts and comments about this discovery…

Read my latest blog about a recent research expedition across the Okavango Delta: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/08/18/bush-boyes-on-expedition-escape-from-chiefs-island/ In the wilderness there is near zero risk of getting malaria from the thousands of mosquitos that spend their evenings feeding on you outside your tent… Are we solving a problem we created?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bygones


No need to worry about water under the bridge.

It's more the floating bodies,
the bobbing heads,
and that troll who's still there
with big yellow eyes and a wide toothy grin
that give reason for pause.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ta Ta Aircar Debut in India


My thought: I saw news of this in 2005, so I'm not so jazzed to read 'keep an eye out for Airpod in your city in the coming years'.  The design looks very different from earlier and far less stable than I had hoped - not that the Smart Car is anything I'd want to drive on an interstate hwy. At this point, why not just get a Merlin Corbin?

http://www.gizmocrazed.com/2012/08/this-tiny-car-runs-on-air/

This Tiny Car Runs On Air!




Electric cars have been the main source of hope in the alternative car market and have become largely accepted worldwide by many major motor companies, but Tata Motors (an Indian car manufacturer) is changing things up with the first car to run on air, the Airpod.
Airpod air powered car 02 thumb 550xauto 98792 This Tiny Car Runs On Air!
The Airpod’s technology was originally created in France at Motor Development International but has since been bought buy Tata in hopes to bring it to the Indian consumer car market. With virtually zero emissions and at the cost of about a penny per kilometer, it is definitely one of the most environmentally and economically friendly vehicles in the world. The tank holds about 175 liters of compressed air that can be filled at special stations or by activating the on-board electric motor to suck air in from the outside. Costing about $10,000, this car could beat out most smart cars from the market.

The design is still being worked on, as well as inputting more traditional steering tools as it currently uses a joystick to control the rear differential, but this car certainly has a lot of potential for getting around the city. It may start in India but could spread like wildfire from there so keep an eye out for Airpod in your city in the coming years.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Robot Learning To Recognize Itself In Mirror

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19354994

A robot named Nico could soon pass a landmark test - recognising itself in a mirror.
Such self-awareness would represent a step towards the ultimate goal of thinking robots.

Nico, developed by computer scientists at Yale University, will take the test in the coming months.

The ultimate aim is for Nico to use a mirror to interpret objects around it, in the same way as humans use a rear-view mirror to look for cars.

"It is a spatial reasoning task for the robot to understand that its arm is on it not on the other side of the mirror," Justin Hart, the PhD student leading the research told BBC News.

So far the robot has been programmed to recognise a reflection of its arm, but ultimately Mr Hart wants it to pass the "full mirror test".

The so-called mirror test was originally developed in 1970 and has become the classic test of self-awareness.

More usually performed on animals, the creature is given time to get used to the mirror and is then anesthetized and marked on the face with odourless, non-tactile dye.

The animal's reaction to their reflection is used as a gauge of their self-awareness, based on whether they inspect the mark on their own body, or react as if it does not appear on themselves.

Justin Hart and Nico  
Justin Hart is building the software that will help Nico recognise himself
 
To date, only a few non-human species pass these tests, including some primates, elephants and dolphins. Human babies are unable to pass the test until they are 18 months old.

Increasingly scientists have used similar tests to analyse self-awareness in robots but none have yet programmed a robot to fully recognise itself from appearance alone.

"This is based on appearance rather than motion. I'm trying to pass the full mirror test," said Mr Hart.
A study in 2007 saw a robot able to distinguish movements in a mirror by classifying pixels either as belonging to it or to others.

Later studies observed how a robot imitated tasks of other robots versus imitating itself in a mirror and most recently the Qbo robot was programmed to react to different images - responding to specific images of itself with the phrase: "This is you, Qbo."

Mr Hart, who is working on the project with his supervisor Brian Scassellati, will publish his findings in the spring.

"This is an important step but it is not the endgame of artificial intelligence, it is just a step along the way," he said.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Unknown Comic of 2012

But seriously, folks.











Photo By KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Things You See...


A collection of imagery gathered over the last few months.

Click to Zoom.

On my way out the door from Ryan's buffet.

I vote George Jetson with running mate Dino as VP to cover any generation gap.

We all know Sponge Bob is a red herring.

Did you ever notice that some people from other countries pronounce 'women' (plural) as 'woman' (singular)?

This artist also wrote it that way at the local Cuban place.
Attic Antiques - so this is the gun that inspired Han Solo's blaster.

WWI Mauser.
Huh?

Hmmm.

You picked a fine to leave me, Lucille.
Three hungry weiners and crap on the seat.

Unless this is one of those evolutionary diagrams depicting a woman trapped in a man's body born-again weiner dog who can't seem to budge karmic debt apart from some upward mobility of the tail.
The clerk said it's been on the door for years.

In case Zuckerberg stops in for a YooHoo.

Cartoon journalism - Symbolia

See also Symbolia

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-17/entertainment/ct-ae-0819-borrelli-illustrated-journalism-20120816_1_journalism-cartoonist-poynter-institute

Cartoonist-journalists sketch out a future for their emerging medium

August 17, 2012|Christopher Borrelli
  • Founded by Erin Polgreen, Symbolia is a tablet magazine of illustrated journalism that pairs incendiary reporting with thoughtful illustration and comics.
Founded by Erin Polgreen, Symbolia is a tablet magazine of illustrated journalism that pairs incendiary reporting with thoughtful illustration and comics.
Erin Polgreen folded her iPad into a tight pyramid, slid the tablet across the coffeehouse counter and smiled a confident smile. We were in Humboldt Park, and on the screen — assuming enough newspaper and magazine editors eventually listen to the 30-year-old journalist and media consultant — was the future of journalism. Or rather, a future for journalism. No, wait, make that: a future for journalism that she and a handful of journalists and cartoonists would like to see become a real thing, an honest-to-goodness niche.

She's advocating for illustrated journalism.

I asked to meet her because she has big plans for illustrated journalism, goals that are probably too ambitious for most traditional media outlets. Which suggests the Humboldt Park resident may be on to something. Her iPad showed the first issue of Symbolia, the tablet-based magazine of illustrated journalism that she's launching in October through Apple's App Store. She is very serious about making illustrated journalism a thing. Indeed, she's been advocating for illustrated journalism — meaning, reporting that is mostly drawn and often resembles a graphic novel — for a couple of years, giving seminars on illustrated journalism at the South By Southwest Interactive conference and for the Poynter Institute.

She's also being taken seriously.

Last spring, after landing $34,000 in grants from the International Women's Media Foundation,  McCormick Foundation and J-Lab, an American University-based center that promotes fresh approaches to old-school journalism, she posted an online call for submissions for Symbolia. In less than two weeks, she received more than 80 pitches from journalists and cartoonists. She selected a handful of artists and writers to work with. She insisted her contributors submit audio clips of interviews, photos, contact numbers. And then, once stories began to come in, she hired a fact checker to sift through each one. "I want this to work within journalism structures that already exist," she said. Pieces may resemble comic books, but everything is factual. Every quote is a real quote, and every person in the story exists (or once existed) in the real world, and every situation really happened.

You know, journalism.

"Immersive" is the word she reaches for when asked what illustrative journalism does better than, say, a story like this one, mostly made of words. "Illustrated journalism draws you in. It's accessible in a way 5,000 words of text isn't. Regardless of age, gender or anything, you grasp it faster than most journalism."

I flipped through Symbolia.

Cartoonist-journalist Sarah Glidden has a piece about rollerblading in Iraq; there's a nice primer on psych rock in Zambia; a fun story about scientists and new species; and, best, Bay Area journalist Susie Cagle (who refers to herself as a "former words-only reporter") presents a story about the future of the Salton Sea, rooted in interviews with people who live in California's Imperial Valley and have watched the Salton dissolve. It condenses environmental degradation and class differences, history and anxiety, empathy and anger into about two dozen bright, smartly illustrated pages, painting a literal, graspable narrative of a complex subject.
None of this is new, of course.

Comic book artist Joe Kubert, who died last week at 85, was not just the creator of DC Comics' Sgt. Rock. His "Tales of the Green Beret" newspaper strip in the 1960s (originally distributed by the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate) was rooted in Vietnam War reporting, and his 2010 graphic novel, "Dong Xoai, Vietnam 1965," was based around interviews with war veterans. Polgreen's lectures on illustrated journalism make reference to centuries-old Japanese narratives and illustrated newspapers of the 19th century.

"There's also an argument that Thomas Nast and his (late 19th century) editorial cartoons were some of the earliest examples of comics journalism," said cartoonist-journalist Josh Neufeld, author of the well-received "A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge," a portrait of New Orleans residents struggling through Hurricane Katrina. (Another sign this form may be having a moment: Neufeld is about to begin a Knight-Wallace Fellowship for journalism at the University of Michigan, the first Knight-Wallace fellowship given to a cartoonist-journalist.)

Then there's Joe Sacco, kingfish of illustrated journalism. His book-length narratives about war zones ("Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia," 2001) and the displaced ("Palestine," 1996) — grim, black-and-white, first-person narratives, dense with quotes and choked with details — set the standard for the form.

As Josh Kramer, aWashington, D.C.-based journalist who recently started The Cartoon Picayune, a print quarterly for illustrated journalism, said, "Joe's the standard bearer."
What's different about this moment is how much illustrated journalism there seems to be.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Emperor's New Clothes


The dilemma of speaking one's mind
is that doing so would enlighten those
who would otherwise most deserve the torment of wondering
yet who are least prone to wonder and are most inclined to presume

So one can only hope to foster any inkling of doubt
that may swim upstream the tide of anxiety born of ego
to spawn some realization

And each time the Emperor lurches forward from recline
to delight in the notion of wielding such a spell
Exclaiming 'Poof! I'm invisible!'

One may entertain the Court with a tap dance on the meniscus of supposed suspension of disbelief
as though the Emperor has in fact disappeared at will before our eyes
Mirroring his own astonishment so as not to disturb the surface tension of this fragile prison
and rather ensuring it remain sealed in keeping with the wishes of his Highness

But in service of the Kingdom also venturing to cast an indirect wink
Setting an oblique window into those walls that a Subject may turn their gaze elsewhere
Abandoning witness to the performance altogether

Until the day when he who bellows of invisibility
surrounded only by his own echoes
nods to an empty court, prophecy fulfilled, spell unbroken
and begins to wish for illumination
and imagines a window
Recalls a wink
and begins to wonder



***

Recollection: The Poetics maintain that personal proclamation may reach the few,
but whose devotion may sustain the stream.

***

Excerpts from letters of Thomas Jefferson:

" For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read...But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities...I have left the world, in silence, to judge of causes from their effects...I shall leave them, as heretofore, to grope on in the dark."

"For I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents."



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Social Security Administration To Purchase 174 Thousand Rounds Of Hollow Point Bullets

http://www.infowars.com/social-security-administration-to-purchase-174-thousand-rounds-of-hollow-point-bullets/

Preparing for civil unrest? Ammunition to be delivered to 41 locations across U.S.

Paul Joseph Watson

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

UPDATE: DHS Now Covering Up Ammo Purchases?
First it was the Department of Homeland Security, then it was the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and now the Social Security Administration is set to purchase 174,000 rounds of hollow point bullets that will be delivered to 41 locations across the country.

A solicitation posted by the SSA on the FedBizOpps website asks for contractors to supply 174,000 rounds of “.357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow point pistol ammunition.”
An online ammunition retailer describes the bullets as suitable “for peak performance rivaling and sometimes surpassing handloads in many guns,” noting that the ammo is “a great personal defense bullet.”

The synopsis to the solicitation adds that the ammunition is to be shipped to 41 locations within 60 days of purchase. A separate spreadsheet lists those locations, which include the Social Security headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland as well as major cities across the country including Los Angeles, Detroit, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

Hollow point bullets are designed to expand as they enter the body, causing maximum damage by tearing apart internal organs.

It’s not outlandish to suggest that the Social Security Administration is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest. Social security welfare is estimated to keep around 40 per cent of senior citizens out of poverty. Should the tap run dry in the aftermath of an economic collapse which the Federal Reserve has already told top banks to prepare for, domestic disorder could ensue if people are refused their benefits.

Indeed, earlier this year the Department of Homeland Security ran a drill called Operation Shield which included turning the entrance of a Florida Social Security office into a checkpoint manned by Federal Protective Service officers armed with semiautomatic rifles.

“With their blue and white SUVs circled around the Main Street office, at least one official was posted on the door with a semiautomatic rifle, randomly checking identifications. And other officers, some with K-9s, sifted through the building,” reported the Daily Commercial.

A rash of solicitations by federal agencies for hollow point bullets in recent months has stoked fears that the government is preparing for civil unrest caused by a financial collapse on a scale similar or even larger to scenes already witnessed in Europe over the last two years.

As we reported yesterday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has put out a contract for 46,000 rounds of hollow point bullets along with 500 paper targets.
Despite initially asking the bullets to be delivered to the National Weather Service, NOAA claimed this was a “clerical error” and insisted the ammunition was being sent to the Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement. Why powerful hollow point bullets that are designed to tear apart internal organs are needed for practice shooting at paper targets has not been explained.

Back in March, Homeland Security purchased 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets that are designed to expand upon entry and cause maximum organ damage, prompting questions as to why the DHS needed such a large amount of powerful bullets merely for training purposes.
This was followed by another DHS solicitation asking for a further 750 million rounds of assorted bullets, including 357 mag rounds that are able to penetrate walls.

The DHS recently put out an order for riot gear in preparation for the upcoming DNC, RNC and presidential inauguration. The U.S. Army is also busy buying similar equipment.
The DHS also recently purchased a number of bullet-proof checkpoint booths that include ‘stop and go’ lights.
*********************
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show and Infowars Nightly News.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Scientists reverse engineer animal brains to create bionic prosthetic eyes

 
 
By on August 15, 2012 at 8:11 am
 
Utilizing neuroscience, gene therapy, and optogenetics, a pair of researchers from Cornell University have created a bionic prosthetic eye that can restore almost-normal vision to animals blinded by destroyed retinas.

We have discussed bionic eyes at length, but for the most part these have been dumb prosthetics — chips that wire themselves into the ganglion cells behind the retina, which are the interface between the retina and optic nerve. These chips receive optical stimuli (via a CMOS sensor, for example), which they transmit as electrical signals to the ganglion cells. These prosthetic eyes can produce a low-resolution grayscale field that the brain can then interpret — which is probably better than being completely blind — but they don’t actually restore sight.

The Cornell prosthetic eye however, developed by Sheila Nirenberg and Chethan Pandarinath, is a much closer analog to a real eye. Its construction and implementation is rather complex, so bear with me.
Comparison of various prosthetic eye/retina technologies
First, gene therapy is used to deliver special proteins to the patient’s damaged retina (i.e. caused by degenerative diseases, such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy). By using optogenetics, these proteins have been modified so that they’re sensitive to light — they’re not quite rods and cones, but they’re along the same lines.

The next step is the clever/unique bit. For years now, Nirenberg has been working on decoding the signals sent by the retina to the brain. A year ago, she cracked this code. At the time, she had only cracked the code used by the mouse retina, but now she’s cracked the monkey code too — and a monkey’s retina is very similar to ours.

That’s not the breakthrough here, though: Nirenberg and Pandarinath have now taken the mouse retina code and developed a working prosthetic, completely restoring a mouse’s vision.

The prosthetic contains a camera pointed forward, a Texas Instruments OMAP 3530 SoC (system-on-a-chip), and a tiny DLP pico projector. The SoC converts the camera’s output into encoded data that the mouse’s brain can understand, and then the projector is used to beam that data to the optogenetic proteins that were earlier placed in the retina using gene therapy. The optogenetic proteins then transmit the encoded signal to the brain, via the ganglion cells and optic nerve. Voila: restored (grayscale) vision.
Prosthetic bionic eye, encoded vs. plain old optogenetic methods
In the image above you can see just how effective Nirenberg and Pandarinath’s prosthetic eye is. The top row is what a normal mouse eye would see (just before it gets eaten, seemingly), and the second row shows the images produced by the prosthetic eye. The bottom right corner shows the image your eye would see if it had only received the optogenetic gene therapy, and none of the fancy camera/neural-encoding tricks.
A bionic prosthetic eye setupWith the monkey retina code worked out, the next step is to build a pair of spectacles with all of the prosthetic equipment built in (pictured right). Before human testing can occur, the gene therapy step needs to be approved — but because similar gene therapies have been approved before, the researchers seem confident that human trials could begin in 1 or 2 years.

For more information, watch the TED video below, hit up the research paper (which is free for now, but may not remain so), or read our previous story about decoding the optic nerve’s signals.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mars One: Dutch colony on Mars

My thoughts: 

It looks kinda scammy being built around a reality show. The producers are marketers + a graphic artist, but it's in line with the Chinese sending a manned crew to Mars soon.

Do their advisors have much to do with building anything?

They've identified and talked to some legitimate and relevant suppliers, and their only sponsor so far is a web hosting company.

But they do have a t-shirt.

I think the tagline should be 'Mars One. Let's Go Dutch.'

http://mars-one.com/en/
See:
http://mars-one.com/en/

Group plans Mars settlement

http://www.myfoxny.com/story/19262671/group-plans-mars-settlement


MYFOXNY.COM - 
 A Dutch company called Mars One is planning to settle Mars by the year 2023 by sending people on a one-way rocket ride to the red planet.

And Mars One hopes to turn the entire process into a reality TV show.

They say that the only way the mission will be possible is to fund it commercially. And the only business model that they say they believe is currently feasible, is one based on the creation of a "global media spectacle" around the project.

They hope a worldwide audience would help pick the teams of settlers, follow their training  observe the trip, and pay for it.  The mission is estimated to cost $6 billion.

The plan would be to establish a habitable settlement that would receive new astronauts every two years.

The group claims that existing technology would make it feasible.  Mars One estimates the trip would take seven months.

Mars One says a team has worked on the plan since 2011.  It says it expects millions of people will sign up for a chance to be one of the first four astronauts.

Mars One says it plans to build a replica base in a desert here on earth where astronauts will be tested regularly for about three months at a time, in Mars-like conditions, with the presence of cameras. Until they leave Earth, they can always back out.

NASA scientists have also been studying having astronauts make a one-way trip to set up a human colony on Mars or its moons.

A NASA team believes it could send a team of astronauts to settle on Mars by 2030. The journey could take between six and nine months.

NASA also envisions a one-way mission to Mars, since it would be too expensive to fly people back and forth. Instead, the astronauts would establish a colony on the red planet and be sent regular supplies until they could become self-sufficient.

NASA scientists test 4,500mph hypersonic jet

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2187520/London-New-York-hour-Radical-new-aircraft-reach-Mach-6-set-tested.html

  • Scramjet engine can accelerate craft to over Mach 6
  • Could dramatically slash journey times by travelling at five times the speed of sound
By Daily Mail Reporter

|
It looks like something you’d expect to see launch from Tracy Island.
But this Thunderbirds-style aircraft could be the future of long-haul flights.
The hypersonic X-51A WaveRider belongs to the US military and uses a revolutionary ‘scramjet’ engine to reach 4,500mph within seconds.
London to New York in Less than an hour: The X-51A Waverider is designed to ride on its own shockwave, accelerating to about Mach 6
London to New York in Less than an hour: The X-51A Waverider is designed to ride on its own shockwave, accelerating to about Mach 6
The flight of the waverider
Arduous journeys for holidaymakers could be a thing of the past if the technology takes off. A trip across the Atlantic from London to New York would take the plane just one hour, travelling at five times the speed of sound. 

Today the cutting-edge craft will be dropped from a B52 bomber over the Pacific Ocean in its latest test.

It will be flown from Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert in California, attached to the bomber’s wing.

HOW IT WORKS

Scramjets are 'airbreathing' aircraft because rather than carrying both fuel and the oxygen needed to provide acceleration, they carry only hydrogen fuel and 'pull' the oxygen needed to burn it from the atmosphere.

Air is forced into the front of the engine and as hydrogen is injected into the airstream, the gases are compressed causing the temperature to rise and ignition to occur.

This generates huge amounts of thrust and enables the jet to travel at speeds far in excess of the 1,350mph top speed of Concorde.
The jet will then be dropped from almost 50,000ft near the Point Mugu promontory. A rocket booster will ignite and speed it up to about Mach 4.5 and, if all goes well, the aircraft’s engine will take over from there, pushing the speed to more than Mach 6 and lifting the craft to 70,000ft.

The mission will last 300 seconds – the longest the craft has ever flown to date. After the historic test, the plane will crash into the sea, and there are no plans to recover it. 

Hypersonic flight – which relates to speeds of more than five times the speed of sound – is seen as the next step for aircraft. ‘Attaining sustained hypersonic flight is like going from propeller-driven aircraft to jet aircraft,’ Robert Mercier, deputy for technology in the high speed systems division at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio told the Los Angeles Times.

‘Since the Wright brothers, we have examined how to make aircraft better and faster. Hypersonic flight is one of those areas that is a potential frontier for aeronautics. I believe we’re standing in the door waiting to go into that arena.’

The project is being funded by Nasa and the Pentagon, which hope it can be used for military stealth aircraft and new weapons.

The WaveRider programme is estimated to cost £89million, according to Globalsecurity.org, a website for military policy research. It has had a mixed history, with previous tests being aborted after the engine stalled.

Currently the fastest passenger plane in the world is the Cessna Citation X, which has a top speed of 700mph or Mach 0.9, although it takes only seven passengers.
In its wake is the Falcon 7X at 685mph and the Gulfstream G550, which is capable of 675mph. The experimental craft will be tested strapped to the wing of a B-52 bomber. Once released, it's radical scramjet engines will be fired, hopefully accelerating the craft up to Mach 6, over 2,000 metres per second.
The experimental craft will be tested strapped to the wing of a B-52 bomber. Once released, it's radical scramjet engines will be fired, hopefully accelerating the craft up to Mach 6, over 2,000 metres per second.
The X-51A Waverider on the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress. A previous test was the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered hypersonic flight to date.
The X-51A Waverider on the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress. A previous test was the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered hypersonic flight to date.

Mach is a measure of the ratio of the velocity of an object, in this case a plane, to the velocity of sound, which equals Mach 1, or 761.2 miles per hour.
 
Any plane that flies past the speed of sound creates a sonic boom, which often results in a major noise disturbance over close-by areas. Before its 2003 retirement, Concorde was long the shuttle of choice for executives eager to spend as little time as possible in the air and unafraid to shell out thousands for a 3.5-hour transatlantic flight. 

An attempt to launch a hypersonic flight in August last year failed when the soaring heat caused the craft’s surface to peel and the experiment ended prematurely.
The Pentagon’s research arm calls hypersonic flight ‘the new stealth’ for its promise of evading and outrunning enemy fire. The effort to develop hypersonic engines is necessary because they can propel vehicles at a velocity that cannot be achieved from traditional turbine-powered jet engines. 

Experts believe hypersonic missiles are the best way to hit a target in an hour or less. The only vehicle that the military currently has in its inventory with that kind of capability is the massive, nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile.
The scramjet engine is designed to ride on its own shockwave, and should see the test craft accelerate to about Mach 6.
The scramjet engine is designed to ride on its own shockwave, and should see the test craft accelerate to about Mach 6.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tom Kenny stand up (voice of Sponge Bob)

I've been looking for this forever - saw him in the 90s on A&E Evening at the Improv - hilarious.

More videos on this link:

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/8rit53/stand-up-tom-kenny--cartoon-universe



--

http://comedians.jokes.com/tom-kenny/videos/tom-kenny---moving/

http://comedians.jokes.com/tom-kenny/videos/tom-kenny---cartoon-universe/

http://comedians.jokes.com/tom-kenny/videos/tom-kenny---high-speed-tank-chase

http://comedians.jokes.com/tom-kenny/videos/tom-kenny---titanic/

http://comedians.jokes.com/tom-kenny/videos/tom-kenny---miss-teen-usa

http://comedians.jokes.com/tom-kenny/videos/tom-kenny---aftershocks

Here's an excerpt from an interview I found:

We recently had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Kenny about all this, how he doesn’t miss stand up, and how he really doesn’t care if you don’t know who he is.

When I was looking at your resume, I was blown away because you do so much stuff.

Yeah, I’m pretty ubiquitous (Laughs). Well I guess secretly ubiquitous. I’m like all over the place but under the radar at the same time, which is kind of a weird occupation in bold description.

How did you transition from film and stand-up to voiceover? You know, Shakes The Clown is kind of a cult classic and you were on the sketch comedy shows and everything.

Well it’s funny. It wasn’t so much a transition as, you know, you’re just doing a whole bunch of stuff. And I started doing standup as a standup comedian and sketch performer and wound up being cast in Shakes The Clown because I knew Bob Goldthwait really well from when we were kids and I was working with Julie Brown on stuff. And he was just calling in favors to his friends. So at the time I was doing Shakes The Clown, I was also at that time, a writer on the America’s Funniest Home Videos spinoff America’s Funniest People while Shakes was filming. And I was also doing standup. And I wanted to be doing voiceover but I hadn’t quite broken into that very much yet. It was the toughest nut for me to crack and the one that I most wanted to do. But yeah, the short answer is it wasn’t so much a transition as you’re just kinda doing a whole bunch of things at the same time. You just gotta take whatever work comes along and dance with whatever girl wants to dance with you and feeling glad to be gainfully employed at any one place let alone a couple of different places and having fun learning how to do stuff. Learning how to write on a show and that was enough to make me realize that that wasn’t a direction I wanted to go in (Laughs). And you know, just trying to build a career and decide what your career’s gonna be.

Are you still doing stand-up?
No, not for many years. I don’t think I’ve done it since sometime in the 90′s.

Is it tough to let that go?
For some people I think it would be tough to let it go but for me it was incredibly easy (Laughs). It’s amazingly easy. I felt like I’d done it and I knew how to do it and it was never my first love. And I had to come of age during the 80′s comedy boom and say “wow, I think I can do that. And I figured out how to do it. But I wasn’t as passionate about it as I think you need to be. Like some guys, they have to go on stage 4 or 5 times a week or they get itchy palms. I was totally lacking that gene. It was starting to not be as fun for me and I think I was starting to realize that since I didn’t have that requisite passion and love for it that there was only so far you can be able to go with it, if you don’t love it. You know what I mean? If it’s not your passion, you get a feeling after a while, cause it’s not what you love. You can figure it out. And I had fun doing it; I got to go to a lot of places and meet a lot of people and make 100% of my living as a stand-up comedian instead of working in a Dilbert-type cubicle (laughs) but I felt like I was ready to transition into something else. And when the voiceover thing started happening, it was an easy door to walk through for me. I still don’t feel like I was leaving anything behind, you know? If I had to walk away from voiceover I would feel like I was leaving something I loved behind. With standup I felt like I had this skillset I accrued from doing this a bazillion times and I think I can put that in this other arena and have a different kind of job that maybe suits me better. But then there’s like Patton (Oswalt) and you know, people I know like Steven Wright, Robin Williams, Bobcat Goldthwait. They love doing standup. They love to pick up their sword and sally forth into battle, you know? And I was always lacking that gene.


Excerpts from Shakes the Clown





http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Kenny






Mars 360 panorama, plate tectonics

360 panorama:

http://www.photojpl.com/curiosity-landing-site-on-mars-first-hd-panorama-of-gale-crater/-/s4fkBPaSqJ/

UCLA scientist discovers plate tectonics on Mars

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/ucla-scientist-discovers-plate-237303.aspx

View of central segment of Mars' Valles Marineris 

View of central segment of Mars' Valles Marineris, in which an older circular basin created by an impact is offset for about 93 miles (150 kilometers) by a fault.

(Credit: Image from Google Mars created by MOLA Science Team)
 
For years, many scientists had thought that plate tectonics existed nowhere in our solar system but on Earth. Now, a UCLA scientist has discovered that the geological phenomenon, which involves the movement of huge crustal plates beneath a planet's surface, also exists on Mars.
 
"Mars is at a primitive stage of plate tectonics. It gives us a glimpse of how the early Earth may have looked and may help us understand how plate tectonics began on Earth," said An Yin, a UCLA professor of Earth and space sciences and the sole author of the new research.
 
Yin made the discovery during his analysis of satellite images from THEMIS (Thermal Emission Imaging System), an instrument on board the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, and from the HIRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. He analyzed about 100 satellite images — approximately a dozen were revealing of plate tectonics.
 
Yin has conducted geologic research in the Himalayas and Tibet, where two of the Earth's seven major plates divide.
 
"When I studied the satellite images from Mars, many of the features looked very much like fault systems I have seen in the Himalayas and Tibet, and in California as well, including the geomorphology," said Yin, a planetary geologist.
 
For example, he saw a very smooth, flat side of a canyon wall, which can be generated only by a fault, and a steep cliff, comparable to cliffs in California's Death Valley, which also are generated by a fault. Mars has a linear volcanic zone, which Yin said is a typical product of plate tectonics.
 
"You don't see these features anywhere else on other planets in our solar system, other than Earth and Mars," said Yin, whose research is featured as the cover story in the August issue of the journal Lithosphere.
 
The surface of Mars contains the longest and deepest system of canyons in our solar system, known as Valles Marineris (Latin for Mariner Valleys and named for the Mariner 9 Mars orbiter of 1971–72, which discovered it). It is nearly 2,500 miles long — about nine times longer than the Earth's Grand Canyon. Scientists have wondered for four decades how it formed. Was it a big crack in Mars' shell that opened up?
 
"In the beginning, I did not expect plate tectonics, but the more I studied it, the more I realized Mars is so different from what other scientists anticipated," Yin said. "I saw that the idea that it is just a big crack that opened up is incorrect. It is really a plate boundary, with horizontal motion. That is kind of shocking, but the evidence is quite clear.
 
"The shell is broken and is moving horizontally over a long distance. It is very similar to the Earth's Dead Sea fault system, which has also opened up and is moving horizontally."
 
The two plates divided by Mars' Valles Marineris have moved approximately 93 miles horizontally relative to each other, Yin said. California's San Andreas Fault, which is over the intersection of two plates, has moved about twice as much — but the Earth is about twice the size of Mars, so Yin said they are comparable.
 
Yin, whose research is partly funded by the National Science Foundation, calls the two plates on Mars the Valles Marineris North and the Valles Marineris South.
 
"Earth has a very broken 'egg shell,' so its surface has many plates; Mars' is slightly broken and may be on the way to becoming very broken, except its pace is very slow due to its small size and, thus, less thermal energy to drive it," Yin said. "This may be the reason Mars has fewer plates than on Earth."
 
Mars has landslides, and Yin said a fault is shifting the landslides, moving them from their source.
 
Does Yin think there are Mars-quakes?
 
"I think so," he said. "I think the fault is probably still active, but not every day. It wakes up every once in a while, over a very long duration — perhaps every million years or more."
 
Yin is very confident in his findings, but mysteries remain, he said, including how far beneath the surface the plates are located.
 
"I don't quite understand why the plates are moving with such a large magnitude or what the rate of movement is; maybe Mars has a different form of plate tectonics," Yin said. "The rate is much slower than on Earth."
 
The Earth has a broken shell with seven major plates; pieces of the shell move, and one plate may move over another. Yin is doubtful that Mars has more than two plates.
 
"We have been able to identify only the two plates," he said. "For the other areas on Mars, I think the chances are very, very small. I don't see any other major crack."
 
Did the movement of Valles Marineris North and Valles Marineris South create the enormous canyons on Mars? What led to the creation of plate tectonics on Earth?
 
Yin, who will continue to study plate tectonics on Mars, will answer those questions in a follow-up paper that he also plans to publish in the journal Lithosphere.
 
 
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 337 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Six alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.
 
For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.

Friday, August 10, 2012

'Smart Fingertips' Pave Way for Virtual Sensations



http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/08/smart-fingertips-pave-way-for-vi.html?ref=hp

Imagine feeling like you’re lifting a 50-kilogram weight just by pulling at thin air. That’s just one of the possible applications of new "smart fingertips" created by a team of nanoengineers. The electronic fingers mold to the shape of the hand, and so far the researchers have shown that they can transmit electric signals to the skin. The team hopes to one day incorporate the devices into a smart glove that creates virtual sensations, fooling the brain into feeling everything from texture to temperature.

Scientists have already developed circuits that stimulate our sense of touch. Some are used in Braille readers that allow blind people to browse the Internet. The devices work by sending electric currents to receptors in the skin, which interpret them as real sensations. However, most of these circuits are built on flat, rigid surfaces that can’t bend, stretch, or fold, says Darren Lipomi, a nanoengineer at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the new study.

Hoping to create circuits with the flexibility of skin, materials scientist John Rogers of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and colleagues cut up nanometer-sized strips of silicon; implanted thin, wavy strips of gold to conduct electricity; and mounted the entire circuit in a stretchable, spider web-type mesh of polymer as a support. They then embedded the circuit-polyimide structure onto a hollow tube of silicone that had been fashioned in the shape of a finger. Just like turning a sock inside out, the researchers flipped the structure so that the circuit, which was once on the outside of the tube, was on the inside where it could touch a finger placed against it.

To test the electronic fingers, the researchers put them on and pressed flat objects, such as the top of their desks. The pressure created electric currents that were transferred to the skin, which the researchers felt as mild tingling. That’s a first step in creating electrical signals that could be sent to the fingers, which could virtually recreate sensations such as heat, pressure, and texture, the team reports online today in Nanotechnology.

The work is "a striking achievement," Lipomi says, who notes that the device could have lots of applications. "In a virtual world, a trainee could perform virtual surgery, in which the devices were used to trick the trainee’s brain into believing they were actually performing a delicate task."
Rogers says another application of the technology is to custom fit the "electronic skin" around entire organs, allowing doctors to remotely monitor changes in temperature and blood flow. Electronic skin could also restore sensation to people who have lost their natural skin, he says, such as burn victims or amputees.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Oculus Rift virtual reality headset gets Kickstarter cash

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-19085967

Oculus Rift headset design A concept design for the virtual reality headset has proved popular on crowdfunding site Kickstarter
 
A virtual reality headset supported by major video game developers is the latest tech project to cause excitement on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter.
Oculus Rift secured its target of $250,000 (£160,200) within its first four hours of going live.
The kit promises gamers an "immersive experience" using a 640 by 800 pixel screen for each of the user's eyes.
One VR expert noted that previous efforts to build a consumer-targeted device had disappointed.
But Palmer Luckey, the founder of California-based Oculus, said he believed his team had overcome the problems that had caused others to struggle.

Kickstarted cash

Oculus Rift is the latest in a series of tech firms to secure funds via Kickstarter. Backers do not receive a stake in the companies, but may be offered goods or other incentives by project developers to encourage them to donate.

Payments are only triggered if a scheme hits its target within a set time limit. That was not a problem for the VR headset which had given itself 30 days, but achieved its goal in about four hours.
To date the most successful project in financial terms has been the Pebble Watch. Its e-paper display and smartphone connectivity helped it attract more than $10.2m.

Ouya - an Android-based video games console - is also proving a success with about $6.1m of pledges. But sceptics say it is too early to call such projects a triumph until the devices find their way into consumers' hands.

"Most consumer-mounted displays have a diagonal field of view of about 30 to 40 degrees - you see a really small image way off in the distance and it doesn't make you feel like you are there," he said.

"With the Oculus Rift you get a diagonal field of view of 110 degrees. That means you're not looking at a screen any more - you actually feel like you are inside of the world."

Sony's HMZ-T1 personal 3D viewer, by contrast, offers similar resolution screens but only a 45-degree horizontal viewing angle. It launched last year and sells for £800.

Big beasts
 
Mr Luckey's efforts have already convinced some of the PC games industry's leading figures who agreed to appear in a promotional video. They include:
  • John Carmack, creator of the Doom series and co-founder of Id Software
  • Gabe Newell, chief executive of Valve, the firm behind Half Life and Portal
  • Cliff Bleszinski, design director at Epic Games, the maker of the Unreal Engine that powers Batman: Arkham City and a wide range of other titles
Mr Carmack announced in May that his firm was developing a version of Doom 3 which would be compatible with head-mounted displays.
He told The Verge tech site at the time that he finally felt that VR technology was getting to the point that it could be viable at a reasonable price point.
Oculus Rift field-of-view The developers say their kit has a much wider field of view than rival systems on the market
 
Oculus said it would bundle Doom 3 with early versions of its headset that it was offering to anyone who pledged $300 or more to its development costs.

Mr Carmack tweeted that the Oculus Rift was "a wonderful advance in VR kit" following the announcement, but stressed he had no formal ties to the project.

Tracking glitches
 
Others have doubts: Brain Blau used to carry out university research into virtual reality software and hardware before joining the tech consultancy Gartner.

He recalled that VR systems were popular in video arcades in the late 1980s and 1990s. He said the tech had gone on to win orders from the military and others who used it in training systems, but efforts to develop a consumer-orientated version had repeatedly failed.

"Head-mounted displays gives users a fully immersive experience," he told the BBC.
"But it can be very disconcerting as you're not used to seeing with part of your vision blocked and the tracking does not always perfectly match the visuals.
Doom 3 screenshot The developer kit is being bundled with a version of Doom 3 designed to work on headsets
"People have been trying for the past 15 years to make one that works well. Today's computing engines have advanced, so it's possible that this could work, but I'm sceptical as the other systems I've used have required a conscious effort to suspend your disbelief."

Oculus Rift acknowledged that other VR headsets had suffered latency problems - the issue of graphics not perfectly tracking the user's head movements - but added that it had managed to minimise the problem by using high-density light-weight screens and taking advantage of price drops in the cost of motion sensors.

The firm said it intended to deliver the first of its developer kits before the end of the year, but did not specify when a final product was expected to come to market.

Brain imaging predicts intelligence

‘Global Brain Connectivity’ explains 10 percent of variance in individual intelligence
By Gerry Everding

WUSTL Image / Michael Cole
New research suggests as much as 10 percent of individual variances in human intelligence can be predicted based on the strength of neural connections between the lateral prefrontal cortex and other regions of the brain. Download Hi-Rez.
When it comes to intelligence, what factors distinguish the brains of exceptionally smart humans from those of average humans?

As science has long suspected, overall brain size matters somewhat, accounting for about 6.7 percent of individual variation in intelligence. More recent research has pinpointed the brain’s lateral prefrontal cortex, a region just behind the temple, as a critical hub for high-level mental processing, with activity levels there predicting another 5 percent of variation in individual intelligence.

Now, new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that another 10 percent of individual differences in intelligence can be explained by the strength of neural pathways connecting the left lateral prefrontal cortex to the rest of the brain.

Published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the findings establish “global brain connectivity” as a new approach for understanding human intelligence.


Michael W. Cole
“Our research shows that connectivity with a particular part of the prefrontal cortex can predict how intelligent someone is,” suggests lead author Michael W. Cole, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in cognitive neuroscience at Washington University.

The study is the first to provide compelling evidence that neural connections between the lateral prefrontal cortex and the rest of the brain make a unique and powerful contribution to the cognitive processing underlying human intelligence, says Cole, whose research focuses on discovering the cognitive and neural mechanisms that make human behavior uniquely flexible and intelligent.

“This study suggests that part of what it means to be intelligent is having a lateral prefrontal cortex that does its job well; and part of what that means is that it can effectively communicate with the rest of the brain,” says study co-author Todd Braver, PhD, professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences and of neuroscience and radiology in the School of Medicine. Braver is a co-director of the Cognitive Control and Psychopathology Lab at Washington University, in which the research was conducted.

Todd Braver


One possible explanation of the findings, the research team suggests, is that the lateral prefrontal region is a “flexible hub” that uses its extensive brain-wide connectivity to monitor and influence other brain regions in a goal-directed manner.

“There is evidence that the lateral prefrontal cortex is the brain region that ‘remembers’ (maintains) the goals and instructions that help you keep doing what is needed when you’re working on a task,” Cole says. “So it makes sense that having this region communicating effectively with other regions (the ‘perceivers’ and ‘doers’ of the brain) would help you to accomplish tasks intelligently.”

While other regions of the brain make their own special contribution to cognitive processing, it is the lateral prefrontal cortex that helps coordinate these processes and maintain focus on the task at hand, in much the same way that the conductor of a symphony monitors and tweaks the real-time performance of an orchestra.

“We’re suggesting that the lateral prefrontal cortex functions like a feedback control system that is used often in engineering, that it helps implement cognitive control (which supports fluid intelligence), and that it doesn’t do this alone,” Cole says.

The findings are based on an analysis of functional magnetic resonance brain images captured as study participants rested passively and also when they were engaged in a series of mentally challenging tasks associated with fluid intelligence, such as indicating whether a currently displayed image was the same as one displayed three images ago.

Previous findings relating lateral prefrontal cortex activity to challenging task performance were supported. Connectivity was then assessed while participants rested, and their performance on additional tests of fluid intelligence and cognitive control collected outside the brain scanner was associated with the estimated connectivity.

Results indicate that levels of global brain connectivity with a part of the left lateral prefrontal cortex serve as a strong predictor of both fluid intelligence and cognitive control abilities.

Although much remains to be learned about how these neural connections contribute to fluid intelligence, new models of brain function suggested by this research could have important implications for the future understanding — and perhaps augmentation — of human intelligence.

The findings also may offer new avenues for understanding how breakdowns in global brain connectivity contribute to the profound cognitive control deficits seen in schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, Cole suggests.

Other co-authors include Tal Yarkoni, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder; Grega Repovs, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; and Alan Anticevic, an associate research scientist in psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine.

Funding from the National Institute of Mental Health supported the study (National Institutes of Health grants MH66088, NR012081, MH66078, MH66078-06A1W1, and 1K99MH096801).