The Fragmented Orchestra

This is one of the weirdest/coolest sounding events I’ve seen in a while:

The Fragmented Orchestra, winners of the PRS Foundation’s New Music Award 2008, presents 24 hours of music, neuroscience and performance at 24 sites across the UK. The London events include: 10am, at the Institute of Psychiatry, in Camberwell, a prerecorded debate on Music and the Mind is transmitted to the soundbox between (10 am-midday); Then, at the National Portrait Gallery (midday-1.30pm) the violinist Rolf Wilson plays excerpts from Bach’s Partita in E and Prokofiev’s unaccompanied Violin Sonata. Plus, the playwright/neurologist Paul Broks and actors present ‘The Fragmented Self’, exploring the human brain. The Stephen Lawrence Centre (Brookmill Rd, SE8, 1pm-2pm) hosts Howard Monk of The Local in an acoustic session featuring David Thomas Broughton and others. Followed (3pm-5pm) with an exmination of having a stroke, at the Rochelle School (Arnold Circus, E2). Including, Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ one of the paradigmatic pieces of contemporary classical music, and presented by South London Arts collective What They Could Do, They Did. St Andrew’s, Fulham Fields, the Stations of the Cross are walked liturgically between 6pm and 7pm with newly commissioned music and words of reflection. (See website for full details.)

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Monkeys brain controls robot arm

One step closer to monkey robot domination:

With the probes inserted into the monkeys motor cortices, computer software was used to interpret the brains electrical impulses and translate them into movement through the robotic arm.

This arm was jointed like a human arm and possessed a “gripper” that mimics a hand.

After some training, two monkeys – who had had their own arms restrained – were able to use the prosthetic limbs to feed themselves with marshmallows and chunks of fruit.

For some reason, the BBC is reporting on a 3-year-old story, but it’s still cool and there’s a video, so I’ll post it anyway.

Humans making human brains

blue brain

It sounds like a pretty monumental task:

In a laboratory in Switzerland, a group of neuroscientists is developing a mammalian brain – in silicon. The researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in collaboration with IBM, have just completed the first phase of an ambitious project to reproduce a fully functioning brain on a supercomputer. By strange coincidence, their lab happens to lie on the same shores of Lake Geneva where Mary Shelley dreamt up her creation, Dr Frankenstein.

But it has really cool implications:

The model is there to unify the data and test that it works. A neurobiologist who wants to test a certain theory of how a specific brain function, such as memory retention and retrieval, works can use Blue Brain to do so. The model will be open to the entire world’s research community.