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mnemotronic writes "Hot on the heals of MIT's announcement of shutting down brain cells via light pulses (Slashdot thread), scientists at Italy's Universita Di Ferrara Neurolab (UNIFE), in concert with researchers in New Mexico have announced the ability to more directly control thought patterns using the LED lights built into cell phone keypads. Dr. Emilio Santiago, from UNIFE, and Lou F. Lirpa, a graduate student at the New Mexico State University neuroscience lab have developed light modulation patterns that induce certain types of thought. Using remote access capabilities built into most cell phones since 2004, they can (without the knowledge of the phone user) cause the keypad lights to flicker in a precise, controlled fashion. Given the right conditions, some of this light will filter throught the ear canal and land on the cochleal auditory nerves, which are sensitive excitation by yellowish/green light (about 550 nm, or 5500 Angstroms). This nerve bundle is a direct link to parts of the brain which are most susceptible to "suggestion induction", a term coined by Dr. Santiago. While the auditory nerves and related brain "hardware" have evolved the ability to filter out certain noises, they are more easily "fooled" by light.
So far, the only behaviors or thoughts the researchers have been able to impress on student volunteers are hunger, lust, and fatigue. But Dr. Avril Imbeseal, also of Neurolab, believes that with the right patterns, more complex thoughts may be impressed. "Just think of the possibilities for advertising" he said. And while noting the potential for military, national security, and government abuse, he was quick to provide reassurances that multi-variant thoughts, such as "I will vote for candidate X" are beyond the capabilities of their science.
Obviously, for the process to work, the cell phone keypad LEDs must be of the right color, or close, and the user must have the phone to their ear.
I think I'm going to stick with a Bluetooth headset for now...."
mnemotronic writes | more than 10 years ago
After reading the NY Times article (linked from here), I decided to try some story ideas.
Assume it's possible (economically, politically, scientifically) to send a limited number of volunteers on a "one-way" scientific & exploration mission to another planet, like Mars.
What would a "one-way" crew look like? All male? All female? A mixture? A mixed crew would certainly allow the story to get interesting.
What is the composition of the "sending agency"? A single country? A consortium? A business or group of businesses? It might be more interesting if there was some capitalistic reason to make the trip, for example "We, the XYZ Corporation, claim Mars as our own", or perhaps the discovery (by an automated probe sent to Mars) of some extremely valuable substance. This, of course, would require a working probe (ahem), which seems to be beyond the reach of the best JPL scientists. And the existance of this Martian substance doesn't do the people of Earth any good unless the substance can be returned to Earth, which implies a way to return, which invalidates the entire "one-way" concept of the story. And the whole "rare substance" thing probably sounds too much like "Dune"...
What sacrifices have been made by the "sending agency" to make this trip possible? Any resentments there? Did they go with lowest bidder (guaranteed to build almost working components - use & enjoy!).
What would be the motivation of the members? Greed? Scientific curiosity? Altruism? What if their families back on Earth were guaranteed a comfortable (or even opulent) existance for, let's say, 100 years?
Are the crew members comfortable with the possibility that this may be a suicide mission? Anyone in denial about that?
What would happen on the voyage there? Boredom? Danger? Sickness? Sex?
What if, during the voyage, one of the crew has a spiritual or religious experience/awakening, and decides that suicide, or even the possibility of suicide, is not compatable with their new belief system? The person would demand to be rescued, and the sending agency would counter with "you signed this contract, bucko". This would obviously lead to anger and depression. Anything else? Revolt? Sabotage? Threatening the mission or other crew members ? Would their family back on Earth play a part, perhaps as hostages? This person would eventually be forced to settle down and accept their fate, because their anger is what's going to fuel their survival once on Mars.
On Mars, what are the difficulties with the necessities (food, water, shelter)? Can any of these be provided by the planet? Do we want any mysteries, like the discovery of some object which is obviously artifically created? How about life-saving conditions like
sub-surface water? Would the person who finds it share it with the others?
Is this sounding a bit too much like "Contact" or "Robinson Crusoe on Mars"?? Damn. I hate it when that happens.