Sunday, September 26, 2004

Cyborg Rescue Rats

Article: Rats' brain waves could find trapped peopleĀ | New Scientist
Since rats have a very sensitive sense of smell, and can go places that dogs can't get to, they make ideal candidates for finding trapped people and sending a signal to indicate their location to searchers.

"Each rat has electrodes implanted in three areas of the brain: the olfactory cortex, where the brain processes odour signals; the motor cortex, where the brain plans its next move; and the reward centre, which when stimulated gives the rat a pleasurable sensation. The electrodes, each consisting of an array of up to 32 stainless steel wires 75 micrometres in diameter, are permanently implanted in the brain and can give accurate signals for up to nine months."

2 Comments:

Blogger Dustin said...

This reminds of me of the robotic "spders" in the science fiction movie released a couple of years ago "Minority Report." Despite the plotholes and whatnot it was kind of interesting. In it, in order to locate criminals (people wanted by the always ominous science fiction law enforcement "System") they sent robotic spiders through all areas of a building. The search was obviously much faster and more efficient than a human search would be, since the robots were tiny and could travel beneath doors, through air vents and through windows etc. However, the protagonist, who was wanted, managed to avoid them by hiding under some water (I think the water was cold so the robots couldn't sense body heat?) something that wouldn't work too well on a human.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Allison Muri said...

Dustin raises a point that again emphasizes the relationship between the uses imagined by scientists/engineers for new technologies, and the uses imagined in fiction and film for similar technologies. Does this juxtaposition that we keep seeing signal a new function for the literary arts? (By new I mean since the division of knowledge that originated with the new science of the Enlightenment). Is a significant--maybe even dominant--purpose for the "poet" (as in the obsolete old Greek and Latin sense, one who makes or composes works of literature; an author) to be a "watchdog," a harbinger of possible evils wrought by science and technology?

Much of our cultural studies and theory of the past decades has functioned in this sense. Canada's long-time most-famous author, Margaret Atwood, has devoted her most recent book to the subject (Oryx and Crake). Some of our best-selling films in recent years have been devoted to the "what-if" scenario of potentially real science/technology being used in a dystopian setting.

12:56 PM  

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