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CBSNews.Com
In work inspired partly by the movie “Avatar,” one monkey could control the body of another monkey using thought alone by connecting the brain of the puppet-master monkey to the spine of the other through a prosthesis, researchers say.

These findings could help lead to implants that help patients overcome paralysis, scientists added.

Paralysis due to nerve or spinal cord damage remains a challenge for current surgical techniques. Scientists are now attempting to restore movement to such patients with brain-machine interfaces that allow people to operate computers or control robotic limbs. [Monkey Avatars: Primates Move Virtual Arms with Mind (Video)]

In work inspired partly by the movie “Avatar,” one monkey could control the body of another monkey using thought alone by connecting the brain of the puppet-master monkey to the spine of the other through a prosthesis, researchers say.

These findings could help lead to implants that help patients overcome paralysis, scientists added.

Paralysis due to nerve or spinal cord damage remains a challenge for current surgical techniques. Scientists are now attempting to restore movement to such patients with brain-machine interfaces that allow people to operate computers or control robotic limbs. [Monkey Avatars: Primates Move Virtual Arms with Mind (Video)]

“I was inspired a little by the movie ‘Avatar,'” Williams said. The main character in the 2009 sci-fi film is a paraplegic, and connects his brain to a computer that helps him control an artificial body.

The monkey that served as the master had electrodes wired into his brain, while the monkey that served as the avatar had electrodes wired into his spine. The avatar’s hand was placed onto a joystick that controlled a cursor displayed on the master’s screen.

The avatar monkey was sedated so that he had no control over his own body. Computers decoded the brain activity of the master monkey and relayed those signals to the spinal cord and muscles of the avatar monkey. This allowed the master to control the cursor by moving the hand of the avatar. The master received a reward of juice if he successfully moved the cursor onto a target.

“Probably the biggest challenge we had was having this happen in real-time,” Williams said. “In theory, you can record neuronal activity any time, analyze it offline, and use those signals to stimulate the spinal cord or muscles. The trick is being able to figure out what the monkey is intending in real-time and then stimulating the spinal cord or muscles to create the desired movements.”

Controlling every single muscle in a limb to carry out a desired motion would be very complex. The researchers simplified this problem “by focusing on the target of the movement as opposed to which muscles and joints are used for the movement,” Williams said.

The scientists emphasize the goal of this research is not for one person to control the body of another. Rather, when it comes to treating patients with spinal cord injuries, such as quadriplegics, “we envision putting a microchip into the brain to record the activity behind the intent for movement and putting another microchip in the spinal cord below the site of injury to stimulate limb movements, and then connecting the microchips,” Williams said.

“This is just a proof-of-concept,” Williams said. “We only had the monkeys aim for a few targets at a time — to be clinically useful, we’d have to be able to cause many different movements in space for fine motor control. Still, we think in principle that is possible.”

Williams and his colleagues Maryam Shanechi and Rollin Hu detailed their findings online today (Feb. 18) in the journal Nature Communications.

Follow us @livescienceFacebookGoogle+. Original article on Live Science.

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MyModernMet.Com

In the eastern Sahara desert bordering the Red Sea stands Desert Breath, a stunning land-art project comprised of perfectly-formed cones and a glistening pool of water. Nestled between the hills on the Egyptian desert floor, this site-specific installation was the work of D.A.ST. Arteam, made up of Danae Stratou (installation artist), Alexandra Stratou (industrial designer and architect), and Stella Constantindies (architect). They spent from 1995 to 1997 working on Desert Breath, relocating 8,000 square meters of sand to create what we see here. The curves of the two interlocking spirals are dotted with cones that create both positive and negative shapes, as some point up towards the sky while others extend below the surface. Everything radiates from its center, a vessel of water filled rim to rim. All told, this massive and impressive project covers 100,000 square meters (about 1 million square feet).

The terrain was the the driving force behind Desert Breath, and the three women formed D.A.ST. Arteam just for the execution of this project. Danae Stratou explains, “In our mind’s eye the desert was a place where one experiences infinity. We were addressing the desert as a state of mind, a landscape of the mind.” You can view the installation in more than one way. From above, it forms a complete visual image where we can marvel at its design an execution. Or, if we’re lucky enough to experience it from the ground, it is a physical experience as you walk the pathway and come face to face with the larger-than-life cones.

Although it’s been 17 years since the project’s completion, Desert Breath still remains. Just like the conical sands that form when you turn over an hourglass, it too illustrates the passage of time, as wind and other elements reintroduce it to the surrounding landscape.










Desert Breath project page
via [Visual News]

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WeAreChange Published on Feb 19, 2014

In this video Luke Rudkowski talks with Jeremy Scahill about the NSA’s ability to penetrate all of our communications. The two discuss encryption techniques to ward off government surveillance and the importance of protecting sources. WRC asks Jeremy Scahill about The Intercept, his new exciting media venture with Glenn Greenwald.

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Bridgetgidget72 Uploaded on Jan 30, 2011
45 min interview ~july 16th, 2008~ take a piece and pass it on ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
-DISCLAIMER- Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

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The pilot projects, which are tied to universities, will focus on different possibilities for hemp.

USAToday.ComAP Farm Bill Hemp
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s first legal hemp production in at least 50 years will include five projects in conjunction with state universities to test whether the crop can help clean soil on former industrial sites, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said Monday.

Each of the projects will be paid for through private contributions and will focus on different possibilities for hemp, which has long been illegal in the United States along with marijuana — its more potent cousin. A provision in the new farm bill allows for the pilot projects.

STORY: Kentucky ready to roll on hemp pilot project
STORY: Farm bill would allow hemp cultivation in some states

In Louisville, Ky., the state’s Department of Agriculture will oversee hemp farming on an as-yet-undetermined former industrial site to see whether the the crop can help clean tainted soil.

The project is expected to be in conjunction with the University of Louisville, Comer said, adding that more projects could be authorized. University of Louisville spokesman Mark Hebert said the university hasn’t agreed to its role yet but said officials plan to talk more with Comer and city officials about how the university can help research new ways to reclaim polluted property.

Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said hemp can help pull many contaminants out of the soil of former industrial sites, a valuable step toward potentially redeveloping so-called brownfields.

Poynter confirmed that Comer and Fischer talked in recent weeks and that Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad has consented to the idea of a pilot effort, though no site has been decided.

“The mayor is interested in anything that can help us remediate brownfields, and this could be a pretty innovative, unique way to do it,” Poynter said.

Research first

Comer hopes that the farm bill will allow hemp production for sale, not just research, but he said his staff is researching the question with Attorney General Jack Conway.

“When we get that question answered, that’s going to determine how much hemp’s planted,” Comer said.

But the first year of hemp production probably will focus on research and development, he said.

“You’re not going to see any major industries spring up, I don’t think, because we’ve got a lot of research and development to do, from a basic agriculture production standpoint, before we can really encourage farmers to move (forward) with this,” he said.

Despite the lack of details, Comer said he made the announcement Monday because some of the initial projects involve Eastern Kentucky, and he was in Knott County to announce a new agricultural marketing initiative.

The other projects:

• A study of a “Kentucky heirloom hemp seed” at a plot in Eastern Kentucky. The project will work with what is believed to be old Kentucky hemp seed, in conjunction with Kentucky State University and the department’s Homegrown by Heroes program for military veteran farmers.

• A Western Kentucky effort, in conjunction with Murray State University, to examine how well European seed for hemp grows in Kentucky.

• A Central Kentucky pilot program, with the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University, focused on basic agricultural issues involved in industrial hemp production. Those include production cost and machinery for planting, harvesting and transportation.

• A second project through the University of Kentucky will focus on cultivating hemp in Eastern Kentucky for medical research.

Comer spokeswoman Holly VonLuehrte said farmers will be able to sign up through the Agriculture Department’s website and be linked to one of the university-affiliated pilot programs that will grow the hemp. The department will administer the program, while the universities will conduct the research.

Questions remain

Hemp once was legal and did well in Kentucky, which was the nation’s dominant producer in the mid-19th century, according to a University of Kentucky study last year, before the plant’s fiber lost out to cotton and other imports.

That study questioned the modern potential of hemp in Kentucky, saying it could be profitable for farmers in some areas — but not all — and probably wouldn’t result immediately in the thousands of new jobs that supporters predict.

The study said hemp’s greatest potential is cultivating its seeds as an ingredient in food, fuel, paint and personal-care products.

Questions about the extent of the market for hemp products may not be answered by the pilot projects, Comer said. But he said he hopes that early involvement might result in Kentucky’s being among the first states to increase hemp production, which would encourage processors to locate in the state and lead to more jobs.

“We have farmers that … don’t expect to make a penny on it,” he said of the pilot projects, but will participate “to help with the cause, because they believe in it.”

The pilot projects are made possible by a provision in the new farm bill that President Barack Obama signed into law. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader from Kentucky, worked with a farm bill conference committee to get the pilot project language.

Last year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 50, championed by Comer and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to provide a regulatory framework for hemp production in Kentucky — should the federal government legalize it.

Nine other states allow the cultivation of hemp: California, Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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DrWeil.Comturmeric tea
A spicy dish of Indian biryani and a hot dog purchased at the ball game may seem to have little in common, but both feature a liberal quantity of turmeric (Curcuma longa). In the biryani, the spice is an essential part of the curry mixture that gives the dish its distinctive zing. In the dog, turmeric is what makes the slathering of American mustard bright yellow.

The good news about this cross-cultural spice is that elderly villagers in India, who eat turmeric in their daily curries, have the world’s lowest rate of Alzheimer’s disease. That does not appear to be a coincidence. In a study at the University of California at Los Angeles, scientists fed curcumin, an active compound in turmeric tea, to rats prone to accumulate beta-amyloid plaque in their brains – the abnormality associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Curcumin blocked the plaque’s accumulation. It also appeared to reduce inflammation related to Alzheimer’s disease in neural tissue. The rats fed curcumin also performed better on memory tests than rats on normal diets.

Other studies have suggested turmeric has broad anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects as well. But few Americans eat enough curry to achieve these protective effects. Although Dr. Weil does not recommend daily mustard-laden hot dogs as the ideal turmeric delivery device, he found a potential solution during one of his many trips to Okinawa, the island nation with the world’s longest average life span, 81.2 years.

Okinawans drink copious quantities of turmeric tea. Some brew it fresh, but others simply buy cans or powdered instant versions of unsweetened tea from their local stores.

If you would like to try it, here’s a recipe. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients and flavorings until you find a combination that suits your taste:

  • Bring four cups of water to a boil.
  • Add one teaspoon of ground turmeric and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup, add honey and/or lemon to taste.

Some people like to add a teaspoon of ginger along with the turmeric. While ground versions are more convenient, it’s worthwhile to experiment with freshly grated turmeric for a more vibrant flavor. These distinctive, deep-orange roots are increasingly available in American grocery and natural food stores. Enjoy!

Read other articles by Dr. Weil and explore the power of tea.

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