Magnetic implants: Implantation video

It has been a year and a month since I had a tiny magnet implanted into the middle and ring fingers of my left hand as a central part of my MEng research project in which I was exploring a novel man-machine interface based on these subdermal magnetic implants. The magnets are still in there, safe and sound and still allowing me to "feel" magnetic fields everywhere around me - like around wires, washing machines, microwaves, ATMs, supermarket checkouts, power supplies, hard disks, fans etc. The research is still continuing as we now have another student at the University of Reading Cybernetics department who has gotten the same implants and are providing a second set of data on the properties of the interface.

Anyway, I wanted to share the video of the implantation procedure (blood-filled as it maybe) just posted on YouTube by Mac McCarthy who had performed the procedure on me. The doctors at the university medical practice had refused to do the procedure due to safety and insurance concerns so I had had to find an alternative means of getting the magnets implanted. It took a fair bit digging and looking around before I found Mac's Punctured Body Modification shop. I was slightly nervous at the start since it was the first time that Mac was attempting to perform a procedure of the kind but luckily everything went quite smoothly. It was an interesting experience; sitting in a chair, watching keenly as my fingers were cut, probed, magnet shoved in and incision stitched while blood oozed out...


Yes, that is my hand!

Bonobos, skepticism & chemical scum @ TED

The TED Talks from the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference is among my favourite online edutainment destinations and this month has seen them update the site with yet another collection of thought-provoking and informative talks from various top scientists and thinkers of today. I thought I'd give it a little exposure and drop in a mention of 3 random talks that I took a liking to...

Bonobo
I just watched a recently added talk titled "Apes that write, start fires and play Pac-Man" by Susan Savage-Rumbaugh. The talk is on Dr Susan's work on Bonobo apes - one of the closest hominid primates to humans. I've kept up an interest in Bonobos ever since I learnt of them (not too long ago!) and they've continued to fascinate me. They are quite similar to us in that they share more than 98% of DNA, they are tail-less and walk upright/bipedally. They've demonstrated the ability to understand when talked to, communicate via writing and fashion tools. They display altruistic behaviour, are compassionate and kind, care for their offspring pretty much the same as humans and live peacefully. Infact, their motto literally seems to be "Make Love, Not War". They are also understood to possess some of the fundamental ingredients to an intelligent society - culture and concepts of equality of individuals. Interestingly enough, unlike how human cultures have mostly been thus far, the bonobo culture is matriarchal!
- Check out the talk by Dr. Susan

Skepticism
I adore the Skeptics magazine published by the Skeptics Society. Its founder, Dr. Michael Shermer, gave a very engaging talk titled "Why people believe strange things". There's an abundance of supernatural claims and pseudo-science that litters our societies and his talk goes through some of the common claims - dowsing, creationism, UFOs, crop circles, so-called miracles and the rest of pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo. He encourages critical, rational thought and scientific scrutiny.
- Check out the talk by Dr. Shermer

Chemical Scum
Prof. David Deutsch, whom I had mentioned about in a previous post, delivers a rough painting of the cosmos and where we stand respective to it in a light talk titled "What is our place in the cosmos?". He draws on the contents of the universe and bodies within it, the distances between objects and the ability of the scientific method to explain and model the vast and complex universe. The brain, he says, has the tools needed for solving almost any problem: knowledge, creativity and reason. A very inspiring speech!
- Check out the talk by Prof. Deutsch

Enjoy ;-)

History of religion

An interesting visual mapping of the history of religions...

Who we are :P

Brain food: Research Channel

Here is a little brain-food for anyone interested in such.

ResearchChannel (www.researchchannel.org) is a TV channel that features academic/scientific programming - mostly in the form of lectures and discussions. The lectures are delivered by researchers in their respective fields. The subject areas the site covers are: Arts and Humanities, Business and Economics, Computer Science and Engineering, Health and Medicine, K-12 and Education, Sciences, Social Sciences. They have the channel available live online and the programs can be downloaded separately as well!

A few lectures that I found interesting:
- Winning the DARPA Grand Challenge [Robotics]
- UW/Microsoft 8th Symposium in Computational Linguistics
- Internet2 Overview
- Is Evolution an Algorithmic Process?
- How Does Order Arise in the Universe?
- Sexual Evolution: From X to Y
- Brain Computer Interface Systems: Progress and Opportunities

Gobble it up?

Maldivian life?

I saw an interesting video clip on YouTube today. It is a clip from a program broadcast by Television Maldives featuring the life of a chap named Hussein Moosa from Hanimaadhoo island, Haa Dhaal Atoll. The program follows around his daily schedule a bit and features interviews with him where he rambles on and on (with a cutesy "island" accent) about his childhood (his parents died), why he didn't marry (too much responsiblity?!), what he's seen through his life time (bodu thadhu, Mohd Ameen and Nasir presidency) and a myriad of other things. Quite an entertaining and amusing clip...

Check it out on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIS3eTWagws

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

I am hoooooooked to this TV series called Penn & Teller: Bullshit! It ain't a new show and is currently past its fourth season but I only came across it a few weeks ago and I absolutely love the show.

Penn & Teller are famous magicians. I've loved their weird magic acts ever since magic became my hobby long time ago. They've brought their weird, eccentric touch to the TV world with a show that applies critical thinking to various misconceptions. Their objective is to debunk the various myths we hold individually, socially and even globally. In each show they investigate the selected topic and present alternative, more reasonable, logical and more scientific explanations and attempt to demonstrate how people are just err bullshitting with certain things. They've tackled a variety of interesting topics so far: global warming, the bible, drugs, cryogenics, creationism, circumcision, ESP, alien abduction etc...

The show isn't on any of the TV channels other than the American channel Sho but the DVDs are out and as usual, the episodes are floating around the net. It's a highly entertaining and informative show. I recommend watching it!

Check out these wicked episodes found on Google Video:
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit! War on Drugs
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Circumcision
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit! End of the World
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Environmental Hysteria