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...

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

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 ;-)

Brain food: Research Channel

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

ResearchChannel ( 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:

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

Quantum computation

I've been feeding my curiosity in Quantum Computation with works from the great pioneer in the field - Prof. David Deutsch. It is not that I like computers but because that the ideas behind quantum computation are so fundamentally profound and far-reaching that I just can't not keep an eye on it! Read up David Deutsch's paper Physics, Philosophy and Quantum Computation for a synopsis of the promises of quantum computation and the implications of quantum constructor theory. There are a couple of other interesting papers available on his site.

If you are all-excited and orgasmic about it and can't wait to bite your teeth into it then check out the "Introduction to Quantum Computation" lectures by David Deutsch. As the page says, you should be able to follow it easily if you understand what a vector space is and what eigenvalues of a matrix are.

Time travel

Time travel is one of those sci-fi fantasies that had fascinated me since I was a very young kid. I reckon most people are fascinated by the idea as well but reject it as being impossible or utterly crazy. However, I for one, have always kept a hold on to the idea that time travel may indeed be possible sooner than never...

I found the link on Digg today to a documentary by the BBC titled "The World's First Time Machine". It follows research by Prof. Ronald Mallet on his quest to build the world's first working time machine - to attempt and succeed at the feat. He thinks that building and testing this machine would pave the way for solutions and answers to the puzzles and complexities involving time travel, including exploring the practical truths of the Grandfather Paradox.

- View the video at Google Video
- Download the video in AVI format

Prof. Mallet's paper "Weak gravitational field of the electromagnetic radiation in a ring laser" is a good read on the principles by which his time machine operates and the theory that goes with it.

I have no idea as to the validity of his claims but I would eagerly watch this quest for time travel. Let us hope there comes a message from the future when the machine is turned on, an event which is suggested in the documentary as being possible! ;-)