Thursday, October 16, 2008

Science it's that cool thing the humans are doing

Science never cease to amaze me, and for my 700th post I got some new science stuff that is really impressive. Science as found a way to bypass severed nerve and restore control to limbs. It's really great stuff, meaning we understand more and more about our body and how it works. Also, thing about the number of people that could be helped with that kind of technology has long as you have the part of the brain that control mouvement we could technically give you back that capability. Not to mention that with a clearer understing of how our mind control our limbs we will be able to create better more precise prosthetic limbs. We do live in intersting time no?


anyflower said...

Very interesting link, especially that I had not heard about it, being disconnected from the world (and the net) on vacation for 2 weeks (by the way, happy birthday, Asaathi!).

I have 2 questions:
1) If the device is the size of a mobile phone, can it "rout" the impulses of many nerves or only one at the time? (the research that was cited implied only arm flexion from what I understood) so how feasible can we expect it to work in a context where several nerves and muscles will be required to perform a movement (like for walking where legs and core muscles are required to move while keeping balance). Won't the person then be buried under all the "cell phone router" required? Yes Asaathi, I know that at the start computer required large room to perform basic operations: I truly hope that in 20 years, this experimental device will do as much progress!

2) Also on practical stuff: as cool that device is and as great the impact is expected to be on spinal injury victims, I am concerned about the issue caused by the "one way" transmission that involves locomotion without sensation. How easy will these people get injured if they can't feel their limbs? I know there is a condition where people live without feeling pain. Dangerous but probably better than being stuck on a chair.

Also, I can imagine the feeling of independance/control that would be re-aquired through the device: that is priceless! On the other hand that question hits my human side: how great can a hug be if you can't feel it...

asaathi said...

Well I can't really answer your question not being in anyway connected with the project however I can try a few educated guesses.

1) Well since electronic component are very small these days and that routing electricity is very simple I'm guessing the problem is not in electronic level but in the separation of each impulse. I'm guessing that since we can now build cell phone sized device with the processing power of previous generation game console (which themself where previous generation computer level) we can already make such a device to control more then one movement.

2) Well I'm not sure the one way communication problem can't be solve easilly. Electricity can flow both way and since we know that both end of the never system are working sending signal back and forth isn't that big of a problem once you can get signal going.

One last thing, a hug that can't be felt by one of the participant is still better then no hug at all I'm guessing. Beside even if you do not fell your arm giving the hug you will fell the other person's closeness, and you will see them being hug by your. Sure that probably not as good as the real thing but it's probably better then nothing.