Monday, May 31, 2010

Ben's Atomic Garage

Lego diorama in progress...

Eurovision Song Contest

Lena Meyer-Landrut won for Germany. Blah.
I choose Slovakian singer Kristína with her song Horehronie.

The dancers seem to have attended the Durmstrang wizarding school.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Final Flight of Atlantis

Here's some Atlantis pics I really like.

Atlantis docked to Mir.

Atlantis after SRB separation.

Atlantis on the lift for sts-132.

Stark Expo 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Megalithic Structure

A Megalithic structure in danger of being crushed by a dwarf.

Iron Man 2


(Un)real Avatar

First Person Experience of Body Transfer in Virtual Reality:

Altering the normal association between touch and its visual correlate can result in the illusory perception of a fake limb as part of our own body. Thus, when touch is seen to be applied to a rubber hand while felt synchronously on the corresponding hidden real hand, an illusion of ownership of the rubber hand usually occurs. The illusion has also been demonstrated using visuomotor correlation between the movements of the hidden real hand and the seen fake hand. This type of paradigm has been used with respect to the whole body generating out-of-the-body and body substitution illusions. However, such studies have only ever manipulated a single factor and although they used a form of virtual reality have not exploited the power of immersive virtual reality (IVR) to produce radical transformations in body ownership. Here we show that a first person perspective of a life-sized virtual human female body that appears to substitute the male subjects' own bodies was sufficient to generate a body transfer illusion. This was demonstrated subjectively by questionnaire and physiologically through heart-rate deceleration in response to a threat to the virtual body. This finding is in contrast to earlier experimental studies that assume visuotactile synchrony to be the critical contributory factor in ownership illusions. Our finding was possible because IVR allowed us to use a novel experimental design for this type of problem with three independent binary factors: (i) perspective position (first or third), (ii) synchronous or asynchronous mirror reflections and (iii) synchrony or asynchrony between felt and seen touch. The results support the notion that bottom-up perceptual mechanisms can temporarily override top down knowledge resulting in a radical illusion of transfer of body ownership. The research also illustrates immersive virtual reality as a powerful tool in the study of body representation and experience, since it supports experimental manipulations that would otherwise be infeasible, with the technology being mature enough to represent human bodies and their motion.

----Sounds like fun...

Creative Thinking

This article at PLoS caught my eye.

Thinking Outside a Less Intact Box: Thalamic Dopamine D2 Receptor Densities Are Negatively Related to Psychometric Creativity in Healthy Individuals

The main finding in the present study is a negative correlation between divergent thinking and D2BP in the thalamus, thus confirming our hypothesis for this region. There was no significant correlation between divergent thinking and D2BP in the striatum or in the frontal cortex. Furthermore, there were no relations between Raven scores and BIS scores, or between Raven scores and D2BP, which is in line with previous findings showing that divergent thinking is essentially separate from measures of intelligence.

Based on the current findings, we suggest that a lower D2BP in the thalamus may be one factor that facilitates performance on divergent thinking tasks. The thalamus contains the highest levels of dopamine D2 receptors out of all extrastriatal brain regions [33], [45]. Decreased D2BP in the thalamus has been suggested, firstly, to lower thalamic gating thresholds, resulting in decreased filtering and autoregulation of information flow [31] and, secondly, to increase excitation of cortical regions through decreased inhibition of prefrontal pyramidal neurons [46], [47], [48]. The decreased prefrontal signal-to-noise ratio may place networks of cortical neurons in a more labile state, allowing them to more easily switch between representations and process multiple stimuli across a wider association range [49]. This state, which we hereforth will refer to as the “creative bias”, could benefit performance on tasks that involve continuous generation and (re-)combination of mental representations and switching between mind-sets. The creative bias could also explain why the different measures of divergent task performance correlate: A decreased signal-to-noise ratio in thalamus would decrease information gating and possibly increase fluency; decreased signal-to-noise ratio in cortical regions should better enable flexibility and switching between representations; similarly, the associative range should be widened and selectivity should be decreased which might spur originality and elaboration.

It can be speculated that aberrant thalamic function may promote unusual associations, as well as improved performance on divergent thinking tests in healthy individuals, in the absence of the detrimental effects typically associated with psychiatric disorders. In other words, thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Passing of a Legend

From Wikipedia-
Ronnie James Dio (born Ronald James Padavona; July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010) was an American heavy metal vocalist and songwriter. He performed with Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, and his own band Dio. Other musical projects include the collective fundraiser Hear 'n Aid. He was widely hailed as one of the most powerful singers in heavy metal,[1] renowned for his consistently powerful voice and for popularizing the "devil's horns" hand gesture in metal culture. He was collaborating on a project with former Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice, under the moniker Heaven & Hell, whose first and only studio album, The Devil You Know, was released on April 28, 2009.[2] On the morning of May 16, 2010, he died after a six-month battle with stomach cancer. He was 67 years old.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Glucose BioFuel Cell Implanted in Rats

A Glucose BioFuel Cell Implanted in Rats:

Powering future generations of implanted medical devices will require cumbersome transcutaneous energy transfer or harvesting energy from the human body. No functional solution that harvests power from the body is currently available, despite attempts to use the Seebeck thermoelectric effect, vibrations or body movements. Glucose fuel cells appear more promising, since they produce electrical energy from glucose and dioxygen, two substrates present in physiological fluids. The most powerful ones, Glucose BioFuel Cells (GBFCs), are based on enzymes electrically wired by redox mediators. However, GBFCs cannot be implanted in animals, mainly because the enzymes they rely on either require low pH or are inhibited by chloride or urate anions, present in the Extra Cellular Fluid (ECF). Here we present the first functional implantable GBFC, working in the retroperitoneal space of freely moving rats. The breakthrough relies on the design of a new family of GBFCs, characterized by an innovative and simple mechanical confinement of various enzymes and redox mediators: enzymes are no longer covalently bound to the surface of the electron collectors, which enables use of a wide variety of enzymes and redox mediators, augments the quantity of active enzymes, and simplifies GBFC construction. Our most efficient GBFC was based on composite graphite discs containing glucose oxidase and ubiquinone at the anode, polyphenol oxidase (PPO) and quinone at the cathode. PPO reduces dioxygen into water, at pH 7 and in the presence of chloride ions and urates at physiological concentrations. This GBFC, with electrodes of 0.133 mL, produced a peak specific power of 24.4 µW mL−1, which is better than pacemakers' requirements and paves the way for the development of a new generation of implantable artificial organs, covering a wide range of medical applications.