Recently, our very own Tim Marzullo spoke with the Ladan Jiracek, host and creator of the “Neural Implant Podcast.” This podcast describes its purpose as “bringing together the field of neuroprosthetics, brain-machine interfaces, and brain implants through an understandable conversation on the current topics and breakthroughs in the fields.”
The Podcast runs just under an hour, with Tim covering a great range of subject matter. Beginning with the viral sensation that was (and still is…) our “Human-Human-Interface” TED talk, Tim discusses the genesis of that project and then of the company itself.
Tim then goes on to discuss the role he sees Backyard Brains playing in education as we address the lack of accessible neuroscience tools and education, before discussing his perspective on the future of the field and his hopes for Backyard Brains’ future.
The podcast covers all this and more, but we’ll leave you to listen to it yourself! Check it out at Neural Implant Podcast.com , then consider checking out some of the other podcasts on the site! Many of the scientists interviewed are friends of BYB and are up to fascinating work. Hope you enjoy!
Four more years… of Science!
It is an exciting day at the Backyard Brains office! After much revision and consideration, we have secured further NIH grant funding to continue our development of neuroscience education tools and materials!
If you are unfamiliar, the National Institute of Health (NIH) is a federal agency that is responsible for performing and funding research in neuroscience, biology, immunology, and other health sciences.
We, like many other organizations and health sciences companies, could not exist without support from institutes like the NIH, and we are excited to continue working with the NIH to create new neuroscience tools, experiments, and teaching materials. This will make neuroscience more exciting and more accessible to students, parents, and teachers.
Grant funding isn’t just free money… it is all carefully allocated and approved to be invested in specific projects. Our grant had three specific aims:
- Develop new human physiology kits and experiments
- Create kits for human-machine engineering projects
- Develop a comprehensive 6-12 neuroscience curriculum
We are particularly excited because of the interdisciplinary nature of these projects. Working with kids as young as sixth grade, we have the opportunity to teach and excite students to learn more about their brain, about biology, engineering, robotics, electrical engineering, and more! With much of the money targeted specifically towards the development of our human electrophysiology experiments, we have big ideas for new tech and experiments for the EEG, EMG, and Human-Machine Interface (SpikerShield) kits.
Another important driver in our quest is the development of stronger and more cohesive teaching materials and curricula. To this end, we will be updating our existing experiments, revamping our teacher’s guides, and weaving it all together to create a progressive, educational experience for students in grades 6-12. We are creating a classroom experience that integrates physical and web-based media and will get kids answering questions and then asking their own.
We believe that neuroscience and electrophysiology represent invaluable opportunities to get students engaged in STEM. Not every student we reach will become a neuroscientist… but we believe our work broadens the scope of subject matter that students are exposed to. We’ve taught elementary school students about neurons, worked with middle school students on Arduino projects, helped high school students engineer their own brain-machine interfaces, and provided resources to undergraduate universities to enrich their neuroscience programs. We believe this work is essential for inspiring a new generation of passionate scientists and thinkers, because it is more important now than ever that we educate and inspire our students so that they may carry our torch and help it burn even brighter in the future.
When demoing our RoboRoach to the public, people (often parents) ask us, “It’s amazing you can temporarily control the movement of a cockroach, but can you expand this device to control my 5-year old child / husband?”
We listen to our customers and the public, as many of our products come from innocuous suggestions. From these conversations, our development team has compiled a list of product requirements:
After a year of hard work, we hereby announce our newest invention “Society” which, for the humble price of USD $14,999,999,999,999.99 (or roughly the equivalent of the US GDP), Backyard Brains will help you build a system of institutions: courts, universities, politics, police forces, cultural mores, businesses, and religions that will collectively allow the influence of the actions and thoughts of humans.
This invention is a “long view” product; customers should realize “Society” will take approximately 40,000 years to reach fruition; developing the languages, currencies, films, laws, dance, and science fiction literature to have a fully contemporary “Society” is a slow process, though the benefits outweigh the costs.
2012 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Alvin E. Roth of Harvard University, noted: “Though some people may not immediately approve of the Backyard Brains “Society” invention, it is a fundamental principle of economics that when groups of people congregate and influence each other, such as this invention will allow, it improves the standard of living for the world through mysterious forces, of which I honestly do not have the technical training to understand specifically how BYB’s invention works. For those who don’t want to buy into “Society,” they have the alternative to enjoy life in the Antarctic wilderness or on other planets such as Mars, where their mind is free, but the risks to well being are high.”
Noted entrepreneur Elon Musk, upon hearing of this invention, stated publicly:
“I have always considered myself a “big-idea” guy, whether it’s my solar cell company (Solar City), my sexy, fast Electric Cars (Tesla), or my low-cost reusable rocket venture (SpaceX), but Backyard Brains’ “Society” Invention caught me totally by surprise. By collecting groups of humans and institutions together, and using that collective mass to influence human behavior, imagine what we could accomplish! The technology, the art, the future! I called my shareholders at my multiple companies and told them I would be taking a 30-year sabbatical to help the tech support team at Backyard Brains.”
Some people, however, have not been very enthusiastic about this invention. Noted activist and singer-songwriter Eddie Vedder, of Pearl Jam fame, composed a song of protest.
“It’s a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
You think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all you won’t be free
Society, you’re crazy breed
I hope you’re not angry if I disagree”
Backyard Brains welcomes public dialogue regarding the “Society” invention. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org