Bio · Science · Technology

Seeing In The Pitch-Dark Is All In Your Head

A few years ago, cognitive scientist Duje Tadin and his colleague Randolph Blake decided to test blindfolds for an experiment they were cooking up.

They wanted an industrial-strength blindfold to make sure volunteers for their work wouldn’t be able to see a thing. “We basically got the best blindfold you can get.” Tadin tells Shots. “It’s made of black plastic, and it should block all light.”
Tadin and Blake pulled one on just to be sure and waved their hands in front of their eyes. They didn’t expect to be able to see, yet both of them felt as if they could make out the shadowy outlines of their arms moving.
Being scientists, they wondered what was behind the spooky phenomenon. “We knew there wasn’t any visual input there,” Tadin says. They figured their minds were instinctively filling in images where there weren’t any.

After conducting several experiments involving computerized eye trackers, they proved themselves right. Between 50 and 75 percent of the participants in their studies showed an eerie ability to “see” their own bodies moving in total darkness. The research, put together by scientists at the University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University, is published in the journal Psychological Science.

How were they so sure? “The only way you can produce smooth eye movements is if you’re following a target,” Tadin tells Shots. When our eyes aren’t tracking something very specific, they tend to jerk around randomly. “If you just try to make your eyes move smoothly, you can’t do it.” The researchers used this knowledge to test whether people could really distinguish their hand movements in the dark.

Text and Image via Neuromorphogenesis

Science · Technology · Vital-Edible-Health

The Future of Medicine Is Present: A look at six medical innovations that are poised to transform the way we fight disease

In our era of instant gratification, the world of medicine seems like an outlier. The path from a promising discovery to an effective treatment often takes a decade or more.

But from that process—of fits and starts, progress and setbacks and finally more progress—grow the insights and advances that change the course of medicine.

A decade ago, the completion of the Human Genome Project sparked optimism that cures for debilitating diseases were just around the corner. Cures still generally elude us, but now the ability to map human DNA cheaply and quickly is yielding a torrent of data about the genetic drivers of disease—and a steady stream of patients who are benefiting from the knowledge. On other fronts, technology is putting more power in the hands of patients, and researchers are learning to combat disorders by harnessing the body’s own ability to heal and grow.

Excerpt from an article by Ron Winslow at the Wall Street Journal. Continue HERE

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Philosophy · Science

Divine Machines: Leibniz and the Sciences of Life

“It is widely recognized that Leibniz’s philosophical thought is deeply influenced by the mathematics, physics and philosophical theology of his era. Justin E. H. Smith’s Divine Machines argues that many of Leibniz’s most central philosophical doctrines are similarly bound up with the life sciences of his time, where the “life sciences” are understood very broadly to include fields as diverse as alchemy, medicine, taxonomy, and paleontology. Smith’s groundbreaking exploration represents an important contribution to our understanding of both Leibniz’s philosophy and the study of life in the early modern era. It is to be recommended to historians, philosophers, and historians of philosophy alike. Below I highlight four central topics in Smith’s book, raising some reservations along the way.”

A review of Justin E. H. Smith’s Divine Machines: Leibniz and the Sciences of Life by Jeffrey K. McDonough. Read it HERE

Bio · Digital Media · Motion Graphics · Science

AS&K Visual Science

A selection of Medical Illustrations by AS&K Visual Science.
Via Behance

Art/Aesthetics · Human-ities · Performativity · Science · Technology · Videos · Vital-Edible-Health



Will people equipped with prosthetic technologies soon outperform “natural” abilities? How are we blurring the boundaries between human enhancement and body augmentation? How does the realm of prosthetics merge aesthetics and technology, in transforming the form and capabilities of the human body? How are artists, designers and scientists joining forces to push the boundaries of prosthetic technologies?

Join us for a panel discussion where we hope to address many issues raised in Science Gallery’s HUMAN+ exhibition with legendary Australian performance artist Stelarc (who has had a lab-grown “third ear” implanted in his left arm), medic and TED fellow Rachel Armstrong and SmartLab Founder Lizbeth Goodman, hosted by Science Gallery director Michael John Gorman

Also joining the panel will be Dr. Bertolt Meyer of Universität Zürich, equipped with a state-of-the-art i-Limb Pulse bionic hand.


Image above: Prosthetic aesthetics arm by spiraltwist on flickr.jpg