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Backyard Brains Can Help Satisfy Your Inner Frankenstein (Video)

Roblimo posted more than 2 years ago | from the do-not-try-this-on-your-little-brother-or-sister dept.

Education 199

Did you know that cockroaches have such large nerves in their legs that you can poke into their legs almost at random and hit a nerve with an electrode so you can stimulate that leg with hip-hop music and and watch it move? And that you can easily order the parts to do this at home or at school? You can. And supplies to perform many other neuroscience experiments, too. Amaze your friends! Learn how neurons work! Gross out squeamish people! All that (and more) is what Backyard Brains is about.

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Damn! (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165771)

Damn, that's really neat.
This is one of those times I wished I lived in the U.S... We just don't get such nice stuff by mail order in Europe.

Re:Damn! (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165841)

You can't remove legs from cockroaches in Europe?

Re:Damn! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166151)

We just don't have the size cockroaches you have. And using cats or dogs is often frowned upon.

Re:Damn! (1)

Caratted (806506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166197)

Ratatouille indicates otherwise.

Processing Scheme of the Brain Cracked!!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40165809)

This guy cracked the coding scheme of the brain:

http://deepthought.newsvine.com/_news/2012/05/31/11924142-can-a-satellite-read-your-thoughts-plasma-antennas-and-the-binding-problem

Ignore the premise of the article, just read about neurons work. Current science is wrong.

Unbelievable.

Re:Processing Scheme of the Brain Cracked!!!!!! (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165871)

Current science is wrong.

Unbelievable.

If current science = wrong
and unproven thought = believable
therefor non-science = truth!

Re:Processing Scheme of the Brain Cracked!!!!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40165933)

I know it has yet to be tested, but it works.

The evidence is strong with this one!

Re:Processing Scheme of the Brain Cracked!!!!!! (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165937)

Unbelievable, because he's wrong.

Re:Processing Scheme of the Brain Cracked!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166095)

Care to back that up? From what I read the process works. In fact, he's the first to ever provide a solid framework for neural processing.

Re:Processing Scheme of the Brain Cracked!!!!!! (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166193)

Why should I when he don't? His rantings are also peppered with factual inaccuracies, but someone ignorant would of course not know that.

Re:Processing Scheme of the Brain Cracked!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166265)

Whatever.

That's not funny (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165839)

Sticking an electrode into a creature and have it twitching to music is not funny, it's cruel.

Re:That's not funny (5, Informative)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165875)

That's what I thought, but they cut off the leg (not do it on the cockroach), use juvenile cockroaches that can grow their legs back, and they anesthetize the roach with icewater first.

Re:That's not funny (4, Insightful)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166629)

That's a pretty weak defense against a claim of cruelty. A human analogue: Suppose you need a bunch of healthy teeth for an experiment. Find a child and yank out a few teeth - they'll grow new ones eventually. Shoot them up full of Novocaine first and they won't even feel it. I assume no one thinks that's acceptable?

If you're ok with the process because it's only a cockroach, just admit that. Don't try to use some false justification to convince yourself that you were humane about cutting it's leg off.

Re:That's not funny (5, Insightful)

codewarren (927270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166863)

A human analog is irrelevant. Humans are not analogous to cockroaches in this way. Humans feel pain through nociceptors. Cockroaches don't have these.

Besides that Humans can feel horror and misery that a brain as simple as a cockroaches almost certainly cannot. They do not have higher emotions and higher functions. They don't even have memory. Whatever it is like to be a cockroach, it is almost certainly nothing like what it is like to be a human.

Re:That's not funny (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40167027)

Since you will doubtless be a cockroach in your next life, you'll get to find out if you're right!

Re:That's not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40167121)

There'll be no next life, he'll cease to function and have his remains disposed of, that's all. Just like you and me (and that cockroach).

Re:That's not funny (4, Funny)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167689)

Whatever it is like to be a cockroach, it is almost certainly nothing like what it is like to be a human.

Excuse me, but a Mr. Franz Kafka says he would like to have a word with you.

Re:That's not funny (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40167825)

Whatever it is like to be a cockroach, it is almost certainly nothing like what it is like to be a human.

Gosh that sounds familiar. Wait, that's what the SS said [holocaustr...roject.org] about the Jews. It produced a booklet titled Der Untermensch (The Subhuman):

The subhuman is a biological creature, crafted by nature, which has hands, legs, eyes and mouth, even the semblance of a brain.

Although it has features similar to a human, the subhuman is lower on the spiritual and psychological scale than any animal.

Like beasts among beasts, never knowing peace or calm. The subhuman thrives in chaos and darkness, he is frightened by the light. These subhuman creatures dwell in the cesspools, and swamps, preferring a hell on earth, to the light of the sun.

Re:That's not funny (1, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40168085)

So your claim is that cockroaches are as human as Jews?

Re:That's not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40168537)

you're right, we've got to stop the cockroach genocide!

Re:That's not funny (2)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167541)

it's also OK to spray chemicals around to kill off the child infestation of your house too. Or to turn on the kitchen light and jump on the child before it runs under the fridge.

Re:That's not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40167563)

There is an excluded muddle there.

It's possible to believe that "it's just a cockroach" or "we're taking steps to reduce the trauma" alone are not sufficient justification for the harm done to the subject but "It's just a cockroach, and we're taking steps to reduce the trauma to the subject" is.

Re:That's not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40168503)

But they are not children, they are cockroaches. They're designed to lose limbs, have a no real form of self awareness, and are a pest. They do not feel human emotions, they are not sad, they don't even know what is going on. In fact, they are a blight, a pest, and are exterminated all the time. Your claims of cruelty are anthromorphizing insect pests.

Re:That's not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40167739)

Hmmm, so with a bluetooth interface to your phone, a download, and a few electrodes, white folk can dance The Cucaracha??

The perfect addition to text and speech translation software.

Re:That's not funny (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165881)

I have to agree. Cockroach or not.

Re:That's not funny (1)

meilinara (1758958) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165929)

Agreed.

Re:That's not funny (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40165959)

Do you not squash bugs, or use a fly swatter, or use spray to kill wasps/hornets, or use ant traps?

Re:That's not funny (2)

lxs (131946) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165987)

I'm OK with the killing. It's the dismembering for fun and profit that doesn't sit well with me.

Re:That's not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40165993)

Quickly killing an insect is a little different than cutting off its legs for our own amusement.

Re:That's not funny (2)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166035)

Do you not squash bugs, or use a fly swatter, or use spray to kill wasps/hornets, or use ant traps?

I draw a distinction between killing and torturing.

Re:That's not funny (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167709)

So you're okay with torturing something as long as your end goal is to kill it? Because all those things are closer to torture than what they did in this experiment.

Re:That's not funny (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40168385)

So you're okay with torturing something as long as your end goal is to kill it? Because all those things are closer to torture than what they did in this experiment.

No. I'm not OK with torturing anything for any reason. I don't consider swatting flies torture because it's a quick death.

Re:That's not funny (3, Funny)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 2 years ago | (#40168425)

So you're okay with torturing something as long as your end goal is to kill it? Because all those things are closer to torture than what they did in this experiment.

If I find a cockroach in the kitchen I make sure to set up my tiny crucifixion of him in the middle of the kitchen floor. Sure it may be months before he dies, but it serves as a warning to the rest of the bastards in hiding.

Re:That's not funny (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166003)

Sticking an electrode into a creature and have it twitching to music is not funny, it's cruel.

Cruel and very, very gross. Yuck. Cockroaches.

Re:That's not funny (1)

bura (2605547) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166307)

I agree, this is very sick and gross, and very different from killing a cockroach. This is torture and playing with limbs of a living being.

Re:That's not funny (5, Interesting)

codewarren (927270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166075)

If you stuck a venus fly trap for the same purpose, or you stabbed a maple tree for the purpose of making it bleed, is that also cruel? Practically everyone can see that it is cruel to do this to a human, while practically everyone can see it is not cruel to do this to do it to a plant. Somewhere between these, we went from cruel to not cruel. Is there a line, on one side of which is cruel, and on the other is not cruel, or is there a spectrum of cruelty here? And what property of these "creatures" makes it crueler to do so to some, than to others?

Re:That's not funny (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166169)

The line is: Plant vs Animal. It's really not that hard. Animals have this central processing unit that allows the feeling of pain. We call it a brain. Plants, to the best of our knowledge, feel no pain.

Re:That's not funny (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166287)

No, it is not that simple, not all members of the animal kingdom have enough neurons to "feel" anything. You would not conceder reflexive movement in someone who has lost most of their brain to indicate real sensation. You need a *lot* more complexity than even complex reflexes to consider anything capable of feeling (and flys have only a little more than a millionth of our complexity). Vertebrates would make a good first start, along with creatures with similar or higher complexity levels to the simple vertebrates, but the actual layout of the brain architecture probably also should be taken into account. Obviously if we actually knew about how to derive this knowledge form brain measurements a lot of ethical questions would be a lot simpler.

Re:That's not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166333)

Actually cockroaches, like many insects, don't have a centralized nervous system. It's part of the reason they are so hard to kill. They can live without their head for weeks before starving to death.

Re:That's not funny (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166419)

That's actually not true at all. Pain is carried by nociceptors, which are found in higher orders. Insects have not been demonstrated to have nociceptors. They "feel" noxious stimuli. But they don't process noxious stimuli as "pain". They process it as a feeling, and something they want to get away from. But their nervous system doesn't process it as an "unpleasant" stimulus. Just a stimulus that might possibly kill them, so they should flee the stimulus.

Re:That's not funny (1)

codewarren (927270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166579)

Your line is arbitrary and not well thought out. It is incorrect to assume that because both humans and cockroaches have brains and humans can suffer pain that cockroaches therefore can suffer pain in any comparable way. The difference between a human brain and a cockroach brain is clearly much more immense than you seem to notice.

Brains vary considerably in complexity between the most simple clumps of neurons to the most complicated mess of emotions and cognition in humans. To assert that all of these are equally able to experience pain and suffering would obviously be ludicrous.

Re:That's not funny (3, Interesting)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167823)

Cockroaches are not humans.

By your argument a neural network running on my computer also feels "pain" and our collective computer systems are the worst set of torturers to have ever existed.

Re:That's not funny (2)

satuon (1822492) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166217)

Well, a plant doesn't have a nervous system so it can't feel pain. Insects have a nervous system so they probably feel pain, but then, their nervous system is so simple I doubt their pain has any meaning.

Re:That's not funny (2)

codewarren (927270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166981)

My point is that more is required to feel pain than "has neurons", or even "has a nervous system". A crucial part of the human experience of pain involves nociceptors which cockroaches do not have, for example. My point from the beginning is that revulsion from perceived cruelty in prodding cockroaches in this way is due to anthropomorphizing cockroaches and not any actual cruelty.

Based on the modding, here, it looks like actual scientific data still takes a back seat to intuition.

Re:That's not funny (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167645)

The line is based on intent. If you are ripping cockroach legs off just to watch it suffer, or if you are punching holes in a tree just to watch it die then it's cruel. If you are doing honest research and experimentation then it may not be cruel. It still may not be the right thing to do though.

Re:That's not funny (3, Insightful)

codewarren (927270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40168465)

By this logic, mowing one's lawn is a virtual holocaust of cruelty.

Re:That's not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166099)

I think there is a circle in hell where this is done in return.

Re:That's not funny (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166111)

Give me a break.

1) Killing it first and then taking its leg, that would be better, I suppose, than taking one from an individual capable of regrowing it?
2) Far worse has been done to cockroaches, flies, ameobas in the name of research, let alone mice, birds, and monkeys.

and 3) It's a fing cockroach.

Re:That's not funny (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167377)

Far worse has been done to HUMANS in the name of science! A cockroach is a cockroach. They're better dead, but if someone can learn from this, good on em'. I'd rather them pulling off cockroach legs and learning about neurons than just burning ants with a magnifying glass.

Re:That's not funny (3, Funny)

seven of five (578993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166659)

Don't be too surprised if, after you die, there's a roomful of oversized roaches waiting for you with jumper cables and a car battery.

Re:That's not funny (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167171)

Have you ever touched the terminals of a car battery? Quite the jolt I tell you.

Not.

Now, as for the pinching pain from the jump leads, yeah that would hurt like fuck. Car battery not required.

Re:That's not funny (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166985)

The two are not exclusive. Besides, cockroaches don't really have a central conscious brain or something, you can cut their head off and they will continue to live happily.

Re:That's not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40168079)

Sticking an electrode into a creature and have it twitching to music is not funny, it's cruel.

But is it less traumatic than teaching people to dance by dodging coat-hangers before they're born?

But avoiding wires is a good thing, efficient like an electric butt-plug!
Hmmm, with bluetooth, just might work as a phone too.
Still gotta perfect that methane power thing.

Re:That's not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40168621)

A cockroach..
As I look around the world at all the problems and horror, I see your post and think "so that is what happens when you roll a 1 while trying to pick your battles".

Good luck on setting up your "No Kill" cockroach shelter, the people of Darfur salute you!

I wonder (2)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165863)

Didn't Dexter get started with stuff like this? In 20 years there will be some kid suing /. because he read this article and turned into a serial killer.

Cockroaches (5, Informative)

scubamage (727538) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165869)

At first the animal lover in me was wondering about the ethics of randomly cutting apart cockroaches without any clear scientific benefit outside of learning (at least dissections tend to teach more than one person - disclaimer, I was on a human subject review board for scientific studies at my college). However it looks like they go out of their way to actually keep everything humane. And, its also important to note that the cockroaches are anesthetized, and their legs do in fact grow back. They get a thumbs up!

Re:Cockroaches (4, Funny)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166005)

I'm pretty sure that insects are not covered by any animal cruelty laws and regulations, building a cockroach-sized medieval torture chamber is as such entirely legal although perhaps somewhat eccentric.

Re:Cockroaches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166149)

U men i can haz Wasp Factory?

Re:Cockroaches (2)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166561)

Since insects don't feel pain, I think the anesthesia is more about the convenience of having the bug hold still while its leg is amputated. And maybe to make people feel better. Judging by your response, It worked.

Re:Cockroaches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40167059)

Yeah, they would have to have nerves to feel pain. Oh, wait...

Re:Cockroaches (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167417)

No, they have nerves to transmit electrical pulses to their muscles to move their body parts. They lack pain receptors, which is how animals feel pain.

Re:Cockroaches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166773)

FWIW, it's also a reason why Stone Crabs Claws are a more "friendly and sustainable" catch for seafood. It's not perfect but the animal has a good chance of surviving even after being harvested. The crabs are caught, the claws are removed (which they will grow back) and then they are released. "Good" crabbers will only take the largest claw because the mortality rates are 47% for double amputation but only 28% for single amputation although it is legal to take both claws.

Adblock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40165893)

How do i block these kind of stories in adblock?

Where are all the tree huggers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40165899)

I did a quick search and I can't find any of the usual groups complaining about this. Apparently they are all fine with pulling legs off cockroaches and zapping them, damn hippocrits. I bet if I did the same to the neighbor's cat I could make its leg twitch too....

Re:Where are all the tree huggers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166757)

Meh, this is nothing, some guys half a century ago just used whatever minorities they had at hand.

That's right, I went there and it was god damn slow for a Godwin.

Slashvertisement (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40165943)

Did you know that nerds have such large deficiencies in their brains that you can post Slashdot articles almost at random so you can stimulate that advertising revenue with advertisements disguised as badly edited articles and watch them squirm? And that you can easily order the editors to do this at home or at work? You can. And supplies to perform many other psychology experiments, too. Amaze your investors! Learn how marketing works! Alienate your readers! All that (and more) is what Slashvertisement is about.

Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166157)

Turned off adBlock and only saw two adds on this page. The part that's sad is they are more interesting then the submission :/

We've seen this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40165949)

Imperio!

WUBWUBWUBWUB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40165983)

Just you wait, someone will use this to film and upload a dubstep roach video.

A face fit for radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166045)

This is really cool, but OMG these guys should never be on video doing a sales pitch! There are hot nerd girls in the world who would be 1000 times better at doing this. Yes, the science is cool, but the marketing sucks.

oh jesus fucking christ on a pogo stick (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166083)

you're not actually going to tell me that the two highest rated posts right now are two morons wringing their hands about cruelty to cockroaches

if we're going to talk about proportionality, scale, and context in your "morality", do your brains undergo nuclear fission when viewing the youtube video of the kids massacred in houla?

now, of course, a reply to my post will be a lecture about how horrible homo sapiens is, so little kids deserve to be massacred, it doesn't matter, but cockroaches are beautiful creatures full of love and feeling

fuck it, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em:

can we repeat this experiment with the leg of a PETA member?

Re:oh jesus fucking christ on a pogo stick (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166219)

can we repeat this experiment with the leg of a PETA member?

No, unlike roaches, PETA members lack the functional nervous system required for this to work.

Re:oh jesus fucking christ on a pogo stick (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166901)

Also unlike roaches, PETA members do not regrow lost legs. However I do not view this as a problem and in fact this serves as a useful inhibitor to help keep them from showing up places.

Re:oh jesus fucking christ on a pogo stick (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167257)

You want a real sense of proportion and context? Here, sit in this room...

*Gets out the fairy cake*

Timmy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166105)

I'm sure those electrodes will work just the same on little timmy as well.

Submission Tip #23: (2)

Saroful (1364377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166275)

Put at least SOME effort into making the submission not appear to be an advertisement (even if it is one).

Fundamental Disconnect (1)

lerxstz (692089) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166317)

This is why the human species is ultimately doomed. There is a basic disconnect at some basic level for too many people such that there is no respect for life. Sure, I understand the research and educational aspect, blah blah blah. Fine. Yes it's "only" a cockroach. Fine. Yes there are bigger atrocities everyday. Fine. I'm not saying we should never use a cockroach for research. But to see recreational "fun" in the discomfort of another creature (however small) shows that homo sapiens are mentally deficient. Yes, learning is necessary, research is required, but there should be no amusement aspect in it if we're wired correctly. Ultimately, and we already do, we shit on our own life support system. If we don't understand this, and it's apparent that by and large we don't as a species, we're ultimately doomed because we don't respect the systems that allow us to continue. If there's no respect, we will not do what is necessary to sustain those systems.

No I will not waste time debating this.

Re:Fundamental Disconnect (1)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166563)

Go live in a cave and eat sand then.

Just about any other human endeavour has been built on the exploitation of other living creatures. The big differentiator is doing it humanely.

Re:Fundamental Disconnect (1)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167209)

It is not just that, you need a clear purpose too. If you just do this kind of things as a hobby interest, you are doing harm for free. Nothing is gained. Respectfully, I think that you saying "go live in a cave and eat sand" is an extreme reaction to the parent's post. He has a good point.

Re:Fundamental Disconnect (1)

wolfsdaughter (1081205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166625)

I wish I could mod you up.

Re:Fundamental Disconnect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40166951)

'we shit on our own life support system'? is that a thinly veiled comment on climate change? my what a socially conscious new age citizen you are! I'm going to bring my child, cooper, over to your house to sample some of your organic rain forest alliance certified zuchinni muffin.

Re:Fundamental Disconnect (1)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167137)

Exactly right. Thank you. I cannot believe some some of the people on this thread. Doing mindless "experiments" with anything living is fundamentally wrong - there is nothing a common person will gain from purchasing that product and using it for electrocuting insects. This is not different than a 5 year old stabbing a dog to see what happens.

Re:Fundamental Disconnect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40168357)

Your assertion that there is no difference between dogs and cockroaches in an insult to dogs and dog owners everywhere. Are you even reading what you're typing?

Re:Fundamental Disconnect (1)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40168481)

Yes, I read what I type. And no, it is not an insult. I love dogs. Do not be so angry and self-entitled to speak for all dog owners, because you are certainly not speaking for me. The commonality is that cockroaches and dogs are both alive. And that in both cases, there is nothing for the person to win in doing these things.

So, how's monetizing Slashdot working out? (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166573)

Shameless articles about torturing animals (even insects are beneath this) and astroturfing posts cheering them on. Wag of the finger, site I used to love...

Re:So, how's monetizing Slashdot working out? (2)

codewarren (927270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167177)

The difference between a cockroach nervous system and a human nervous system, especially with regards to pain pathways, is immense. Your intuition is just wrong. Cockroaches can't suffer like humans can because they have no higher order functions. They don't think, they don't remember, they don't have desires, or higher emotions because they lack the circuitry for it.

It is an insult to human torture victims to compare a cockroach's experience to that of a human's. You've inflicted more torture on this world by forcing us to read your drivel than any human has by poking a disembodied cockroach leg.

Re:So, how's monetizing Slashdot working out? (1)

gibbsjoh (186795) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167719)

Asshat. This isn't for medical science or anything as noble - it's "hey look what happens when we do this" and fundamentally no different to shooting things for fun. It's irrelevant that the roaches "feel no pain" - it's unethical, full stop.

Re:So, how's monetizing Slashdot working out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40168157)

We live in a world where people are routinely and legally hired to kill not only cockroaches but mice and rats by the hundreds, and you want to tell people that they can't do this experiment? Besides, it doesn't need to have the explicit goal of curing orphans of cancer in order to be justified. Cockroaches really just don't feel pain in any way that you or I understand the word.

Re:So, how's monetizing Slashdot working out? (1)

codewarren (927270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40168545)

If one shoots a tree, is that also unethical, full stop? No, because what matters is what it is like to be the one being experimented on. Since trees don't care if you shoot them, shooting them is not unethical. Cockroaches lack the circuitry require to "care", this wouldn't be torture any more than making computers do what we want would be slave labor. Incidentally they also lack the pain pathways humans have.

You could just think this through instead of assuming that everyone who doesn't conform to your intuitions is an asshat.

Re:So, how's monetizing Slashdot working out? (1)

gatesstillborg (2633899) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167331)

i'm guessing corporo-dot is taking a cut of each brain-zapper sold.

Transcript (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#40166597)

Title: Backyard Brains Makes Educational (and Fun) Bioengineering Lab Kits
Description: Their motto is "Neuroscience for Everyone," and they mean it!

00:00) TITLE
A shot of Rob Rozeboom sitting at a small table appears with the SlasdotTV logo bar reading "Slashdot Editor Rob Rozeboom".

00:00) Rob
If you're a fan of Frankenstein but have worries about villagers chasing you with pitchforks and torches, the folks at Backyard Brains have science kits for you.

00:08) TITLE
The SlashdotTV title sequence appears with the title Backyard Brains and two small photos of electronics mounted to insects.

00:12) TITLE
A view of a guy at a group desk with various computer screens and tools appears.

00:12) Guy
To all those out there on the interwebs listening to me and thinking "When is this guy gonna show us the inventions already?",

00:17) TITLE
The SlashdotTV logo bar fades in and out of view identifying this guy as "Backyard Brains Co-Founder Timothy Marzullo".

00:17) Timothy
The reason I can talk fast and hopefully talk about interesting things or boring things is because I have neurons.
Neurons are electrochemical devices - cells - and it's hard to monitor the chemical secretions - the neurotransmitters - because they happen in very small spaces, you need powerful microscopes and fluorescently tagged molecules, but the electricity that a neuron generates is easy to... well, easier to monitor due to this magical invention which is allowing all the listeners to watch me and it's called the transistor.
We all know due to the magic of the PN- and NP-junctions and creative uses of capacitors and resistors, we can make amplifiers and even computers.

00:58) Timothy
So what we have here are cockroaches and these are [...]

01:03) TITLE
The view zooms in on the box of cockroaches

01:03) Timothy
[...] muy especial cockroaches
  - viven en el bosque de Sudamerica - they live in the rain forests of South America.
One of the reasons cockroaches are so fast is they have very large neurons in their legs. [...]

01:16) TITLE
The view zooms back out

01:16) Timothy
[...] These very large neurons are quite easy to record from.
Now, we want to treat the cockroaches in a humane fashion, so we need to anesthetize them and so, uhm.. did you bring your halothane with you, in addition to your camera?

01:31) Rob
No..

01:32) Timothy
The propathol?

01:33) Rob
No... I

01:34) Timothy
The pentobarbital?

01:35) Rob
I might have a fifth of Jack in the car, but..

01:38) Timothy
Yeah, yeah.. so we could actually use that for the earthworms, but for the cockroaches we're just gonna use.. this is relatively old technology that probably doesn't excite the people at Slashdot that much, but when water goes below a certain temperature it undergoes a phase change in terms from a liquid to a solid, and so what we have here is ice, in water, and so we're gonna put the cockroaches in the ice water [...]

02:03) TITLE
The view zooms in on the cup of ice water

02:03) Timothy
[...] and after a minute or two that will chill them out and anesthetize them.

02:06) Timothy
I'm actually allergic to cockroaches because I've been working on them for about two years.
I used to work in a rat lab, then I got allergic to rats, so I moved to cockroaches, now I'm allergic to cockroaches, so I'll have to move to.. maybe jellyfish and sea anemones next.
It's a constantly.. I'm constantly fighting this battle between creatures.

02:25) TITLE
Timothy grabs a cockroach and puts it into the ice water.

02:25) Timothy
So these are.. they live in the rotting trees of the Amazonian rain forest, and I'm jut gonna dunk 'm into the ice water.
And because these are cold-blooded, he can't mod.. regulate his own body core temperature and after a minute or two, he'll slowly.. he'll begin to move slower and slower and then we can do our experiment.

02:45) TITLE
A view of a bunch of small lockers is shown with one locker open with various electrical components inside.

02:45) Timothy
This is a hacker space with a lot of members who have lockers.
There's a lot of things in these lockers, but one of them is actually our distribution channel.
So in here are units that are going out to customers.
We have about 7 SpikerBoxes in there, a couple of smartphone cables that we've build, and a two-channel SpikerBox.
As the co-owner of the company, I am allowed to actually take a little bit of our inventory for the experiments.

03:12) Timothy
So here's our main invention.
This is called the SpikerBox.

03:17) TITLE
The view zooms in on the SpikerBox.

03:17) Timothy
This is what is sold most.
We've sold about 1,470 of these.
These are nothing more than glorified bio-amplifiers, but we've made them to be very easy to use and build.
We sell 'm as kits so students can build them themselves, they have 3 chips, 7 capacitors and 8 resistors, and it's got 1 switch - [...]

03:37) TITLE
The view zooms back out.

03:37) Timothy
[...] an on switch - an RCA input and a headphone out and a speaker to hear it.

03:43) Timothy
So let's try and do an experiment now.

03:50) TITLE
The view changes to that of a SpikerBox on top of a sheet of paper.

03:50) Timothy
The cockroach is now anesthetized.
It has 6 legs, so unlike you and me it can get around fine with a leg missing, and also since this is a juvenile - the adults have wings, the juveniles don't - the juveniles can actually grow their legs back.
Cockroaches are similar to us in some ways - that they have neurons that they use to sense the world and also interact with the world - but also different from us in a lot of ways.
So what I'm gonna do is now cut off the leg with some scissors.
These are not expensive surgical scissors, these are simple cuticle scissors that we buy at CVS.
As much as we can, we try to use all consumer grade kind of equipment.

04:37) Timothy
So now I'm just gonna cut the leg, right here.
There you go.
Now that is the little cockroach leg.. we'll put him back in the ice.
So then we put 'm on a little operating station, here, on the SpikerBox.
Also because the nerves are so large, you can blindly put electrodes in.
Notice I'm not using a microscope, I'm not using fine manipulative tools, I can just literally put these electrodes in wherever in a certain part of the leg, and 99% of the time I'll be able to pick up [...] responses.

05:15 TITLE
A static sound with random clicks and pops can be heard emenating from the SpikerBox.

05:27) Timothy
Alright.
So the hardwareheads and radioheads listening on Slashdot might think I'm just hearing static, and some component of that is just random noise, but if you listen closely... is there a popping in the background?
Maybe or maybe not, but what we need to see is if we can drive a response.

05:52) TITLE
blowing?

05:55) Timothy
So I'm blowing on the leg of the cockroach, and the leg is covered with tiny hairs and when I touch the hairs - or breathe on it - the hair slightly deflects causing a mechanical deformation in the neuron inside, which then releases spikes or action potentials, which are kind of the coin of the realm.
Let me try to go for a response by touching it.
This is a tool, we make tools - people on Slashdot like making tools and using tools - this is a probe to touch the legs.

06:28) TITLE
Timothy uses the tool, brushing against the leg, causing an increase in the number of clicks and pops heard.

06:43) Timothy
That popping are the spikes or action potentials, and this is happening in your brain right now, right now, right now, and right now until one very, very sad day when it will not happen anymore.

06:56) TITLE
A short shot of the SpikerBox apparently hooked up to an oscilloscope app on a tablet is shown.

06:56) Timothy
That's the leg itself responding to the vibration.

07:03) TITLE
A small music player is shown hooked up to the SpikerBox.

07:03) Timothy
Okay, so we're gonna try to play some music here, and if we're lucky we should get some responses in the leg.
And if we're not lucky, we'll keep trying and the viewer won't know if we try this 10 times or not.

07:14) Rob
That is absolutely correct.

07:21) TITLE
Some music is played and fed into the SpikerBox, causing the cockroach leg to twitch.

07:49) Timothy
There's actually not.. can you see it moving?

07:51) Rob
A little bit, yeah

07:52) Timothy
A little bit.
That's actually not even the best response.

07:56) TITLE
A new shot appears in which a different piece of music is played - possibly in a new set up as well - and the leg twitches, stretches and flexes.

08:08) Timothy
Yeah, so, it still responds to the hip hop.
So that's a cool demo just because people like music.
But you can also do some serious science, so there's a bazillion and one frequency generation programs out there.

08:23) TITLE
The view changes to that of Timothy sitting at the group desk.

08:23) Timothy
we're continually trying to design new experiments every 2 months to grow our library.
One, to make this device and our other devices more useful and two, just because doing experiments is what we do as scientist.

08:35) Timothy
We are funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which allows us to focus full-time on this operation.
The grant we're under is a small business/innovation research grant, and it's for improving neuroscience K12 materials.

08:49) TITLE
A small shot of the cockroach leg moving to music is shown before going back to the view of Timothy at the group desk.

08:52) Timothy
One of the benefits of education is it's just really, really fun - it's really rewarding to invent things that you see used in classrooms.

09:00 TITLE
www.backyardbrains.com is shown over a stylized picture of a brain with 'finger' and 'palm' indicated on parts of the brain.

Hip Hop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40167025)

Forcing cockroaches -- even if it's just their legs -- to listen to Hip Hop "music" is cruel and inhumane.

That is not "cool" (0)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40167063)

If you want to know how neurons work, hit the library, or better, take a class at your local college. Torturing living things just because you can is cruel, mindless, and will not likely give you any serious insight.

This is monstrous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40167211)

I'm sure people will learn from these experiments. It won't be what you intend to teach.

Extra brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40167717)

No thanks. Our one foray into amateur neuroscience has been enough trouble. We've got an honest to goodness human brain sitting in a jar in our living room. I'm not sure why we agreed to take the thing. Took it from a relative who inherited it from her grandfather and dropped it off one day after we said "Hey, you've got a brain? That's cool!" Now we can't get rid of it. It's like some creepy fruitcake, but less festive.

Yeah, I'm posting anonymously. We don't want to attract zombies.

Forcingc hip hop music on anything is just wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40168015)

'nuff said

Are you serious, Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40168521)

Wow, some people here see a cockroach in the context of an experiment and turn their brains off, it seems, when they wouldn't bat an eye about pest control.

Cockroaches don't even have the equipment to feel pain. Your anthropomorphization of all living things is just flat wrong.

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