In Search Of… Mind Control
Zachary Quinto explores the world of Mind Control Tech, including our own!
Several months ago, we were visited by a film crew and a notable celebrity to film Neuroscience experiments for a History Channel show. We’re excited to finally share our spot with you on “In Search Of,” a documentary style show hosted by Zachary Quinto, which investigates pop-sci phenomena, including… Mind Control! Check out our feature below.
We filmed several experiments with Zach, but unfortunately only our Human-Human-Interface was featured on the show, with the rest of that footage likely filed away and lost forever… Alas, thus is showbiz.
Behind the Scenes
Zach can’t hide from College Students
It’s no secret that College Students watch a lot of Netflix… so for Zachary Quinto, who has classic roles on the TV shows Heroes and American Horror Story, and who plays young Spock in the new Star Trek Movies, a college campus is the last place he should expect to fly under the radar.
Shortly after filming at our office, tweets and a local news article popped up, outing Zach for his attempt at using a fake name at the Starbucks right down the street from our office.
To his credit, he didn’t realize our downtown Ann Arbor office is so near the central campus of University of Michigan, and I don’t think anyone can blame a celebrity for wanting to blend in. See a bashful Quinto explain himself in these clips below from James Corden’s Late Show!
Regardless, it made for an interesting day as students explored campus trying to land celebrity selfies with himself and Steve Carrell, who was ALSO in Ann Arbor that day.
One last tabloidy fact, then onto your regularly scheduled neuroscience content: Zachary Quinto is not a fan of cockroaches, citing previous filming experiences with cockroaches that went awry… but he was excited about our approach to neuroscience education, invertebrate and human physiology, and of course human-machine-interfacing technology!
Celebrity Tested, Neuroscience Approved
Zachary Quinto joins the likes of celebrities, such as Bill Nye, the White Rabbit Project team, Kevin Hart, The Rock, Norman Reedus, and more who have experienced hands-on Neuroscience with the Human-Human-Interface. This is phenomena-anchored science at its best – check it out in our store below!
One of the core tenets of Backyard Brains is our slogan, neuroscience for everyone! We constantly work to drive the world around us into the neurorevolution, and when we hear about projects like Peter Buczkowski’s master’s thesis, we know we’re doing something right.
Peter Buczkowski graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts and in 2017 with a Master of Arts in the Digital Media from the University of the Arts in Bremen. His idea for his masters thesis was born out of a TENS unit, after seeing our Human-Human Interface TED Talk. “I especially liked the receiving part of possessed hand experiment and the idea to use the human as an interface. This inspired me to do my own experiments in that field,” Peter told us. “I chose three topics and build three projects to cover a wide spectrum so one can see the possibilities of this technology in different areas.”
Peter started out with the most basic of scientific endeavors: solving a problem. Doing any sort of human neuroscience or biofeedback research is made a little more difficult the fact that most types of patch electrodes are sticky and a hassle to use, not to mention not very aesthetically pleasing. So he set out to fix that, and now, his projects center around the idea of “stationary” electrodes: not necessarily something attached to the body, but something that a person can just hop onto and start learning. His three projects deal with photography, video game skill, and muscle memory, using the paradigms apparent in our Human-Human Interface experiments to create his designs.
The Prosthetic Photographer
His first project is called the Prosthetic Photographer. “The Prosthetic Photographer is a modular camera attachment that forces you with electric impulses to take beautiful pictures,” Peter wrote. Typical advice for a budding photographer is just to go out and take thousands of photos, and you will learn the difference between and okay shot and a beautiful one. The Prosthetic Photographer aims to shorten that process through machine learning. Using machine learning to distinguish between high and low quality photos and neural networking to connect the computer, the camera, and the user, the ProstheticPhotographer is an example of machine learning and human learning coming together.
The device is a modular one that can be added to any compatible camera, utilizing a TENS unit to render the user as a conduit for its learning, controlling the photographs being taken and teaching its concept of aesthetics to the user. Electrodes on the camera’s handle transmits a shock signal to the user causing an involuntary press of a button, and a subsequent shutter click. A camera with its own eye for beauty! Photography will never be the same.
Prosthetic Photographer from Peter Buczkowski on Vimeo.
Building upon the machine learning aspect of his work, Peter moved on to his second project, utilizing Twitch to condition people to play video games perfectly. Twitch.tv is an online streaming platform that lets gamers both showcase their play and observe others in order to beat a particularly hard section of a game. This unconventional style of video game play gave Peter an idea: what if a computer were to tell you what your next move is?
In a version of the classic computer game “Snake,” a computer calculates whether the next move should be left, right, up, or down, dividing the buttons between two electrode arrays (one for each hand). The computer then transmits its decision to the corresponding button and stimulates the finger to press that button, and the snake moves in the decided-upon direction. Sure, it takes the human guesswork out of the game, but without a human, it would not be possible!
Twitch from Peter Buczkowski on Vimeo.
The Medium Machine
Finally, Peter built the Medium Machine, the most speculative of his projects. According to his website, “The Medium Machine enables [a computer] to transfer data and information in the form of muscle contractions into the unconscious mind of a human.” The inspiration for this project arose from a short story called “Johnny Mnemonic” by William Gibson, in which a man’s brain is turned into a sort of repository for information that he transports from client to recipient. With the Medium Machine, Peter hoped to effect a similar repository–albeit without removing the user’s memory to make room for it. Again, the muscles are connected to stimulation, this time encoded by the computer in a certain pattern or message. The contractions force the finger to push a button in a cadence that could mean anything–until it is decoded by the right person.
“The human becomes a medium and a messenger between systems,” Peter wrote. Just like in the story! The possibilities for discovery and the applications of the science are endless.
Medium Machine from Peter Buczkowski on Vimeo.
We are very intrigued to follow along with Peter as he pursues these projects and starts more. He is currently working with other innovators to create business plans for their projects. Learn more about Peter’s work on his website, http://peterbuczkowski.com
Do you have an application of our products, or a story to share about your own work? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org!
November is always a busy month at Backyard Brains, and this year was no exception! We expanded our conference tour to four conferences across two continents, from California, USA to Belgrade, Serbia.We did thousands of demos for new customers and promoted nearly 10 new products coming to BYB in 2019. Here are some tidbits about our domestic endeavors.
SFN: Society for Neuroscience Conference
The Society for Neuroscience Conference is our annual Big Event. We’ve been going for years and always have BYB members from all over the world converge to give demos and sell our wares. We like to brag that we have the most interactive exhibit at SFN, and we think our attendees would agree!
As we continue our work to make neuroscience accessible, we are finding that there is a surprising lack of opportunity for many undergraduate students to do hands-on neuroscience labs. SFN is a great opportunity to meet with Professors and undergraduate instructors are looking for affordable ways for their undergrads to begin performing meaningful labs and research. For fractions of the cost of a single “research grade” rack, professors can outfit their labs with electrophysiology gear for every student! Not only that, but many undergrad and graduate students are similarly looking for tools which can empower their neuroscience outreach efforts, and are excited to discover us as they wander the exhibit hall at SFN.
Perhaps the quickest Demo to Classroom conversion ever – On the 4th, we demoed the Human-Human to the NW Noggin team. They bought one on the spot, and then on the 5th, they demoed it to hundreds of elementary schoolers! They came back on the 6th to ask for more electrodes. We eagerly stuffed their bags! Welcome to the Neurorevolution, NW Noggin!
NABT: National Association of Biology Teachers Conference
This year, we did a week-long conference binge! As soon as we put a wrap on SFN, we packed our bags, moved to a different San Diego hotel, and set up for our second weekend conference! We had the opportunity to meet up with Biology teachers from all across the country at the National Association of Biology Teachers conference (What a mouthful, we’re thankful for acronyms) or NABT.
Biology teachers are our people. There is a great deal of neuroscience in the General/Honors track biology curriculum, as students learn about the nervous systems of vertebrates and invertebrates. Biology teachers are also some of the most hands-on teachers we know. No other required classes have such an emphasis on hands-on learning, making BYB and Bio a natural fit.
CSTA: California Science Teachers Association Conference
One last break from winter in the midwest for Will — the California Science Teachers’ Association recently hosted their annual conference in sunny Pasadena. Will made the trip solo to introduce science educators from all across the great state of California to the exciting world of hands-on neuroscience. His message was Backyard Brain’s message: Neuroscience is the perfect blend of STEM and the Life Sciences, showing students the fascinating intersection of all the different disciplines they are studying.
We’re pushing onwards and finishing 2018 with a bang! We look forward to where our conference tour will take us next year. Have somewhere you think we should visit? Give us a shout on Twitter or email us at email@example.com!