Gordon's blog

Biomedical Projects

The human body is a cool piece of equipment and it's wonderful when we're blessed with one which works well. As a die-hard DIY'er I've always been fascinated by the signals that the body and brain generate in the course of our daily existence. Electrical signals are produced by the brain along with others generated by our muscles, the heart for example. Modern electrical components have made it possible for the hobbiest to construct his own equipment to tap into these signals and record them as digital information or translate them into sounds or graphics. Biofeedback and stress monitoring instruments can be home built at relativly low cost and even a modest computer can process EEG signals and use them to control game objects and cursors. You've probably read articles on this site describing the IBVA, a commercially available device for recording and utilizing brain signals. Here at the studio we use this along with DIY gear to tap into the electrical world of people, plants, and minerals. There are a few things to be aware of before you run out and grab the neighbor's skater kid for your experiments. It is not difficult to incinerate a volunteer when making the marriage of the body and electricity. Volunteers are hard enough to find without carbonizing them with ill designed electrical equipment and they may have family members who will dislike you for days and days thereafter. Be absolutely sure of what you are doing and read everything you can get your hands on concerning the body and electricity. If in doubt, DON'T! I 've been shocked by radio transmitting and receiving gear and it really, really, sucks. That said, here are a couple of sites to check out on this very subject. Enjoy.

This one has some open source stuff for EEG construction projects. I'm not sure how often it is updated though.

Catholic University of America offers this site with biomedical engineering projects.

V*i*d*a Lab Projects

    This site (in Spanish) describes some second semester lab projects from 2007.  These kids are doing a lot of the same things that interest us here in Rhode Island and their well done site bears a look.  As a matter of fact, spend a little time browsing the entire popshop site. 

Thunderbolts of the Gods

    I've always been comforted by the thought that gravity would someday cause the cosmos to fall in upon itself as our expanding universe loses it's energy and begins a death spiral of compression and collision propelling us into some pinpoint singularity.  Indeed, gravity has always been my friend and the pain of the occasional bike accident or slip and fall event has always been far outweighed by the fact that I've never fallen off the planet.  Gravity has always been useful in that regard and I've never been inclined to search for a substitute but just when I thought that all was well with my universe along came these two fellows, David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill whose theories strive to upset the cosmic apple cart.  Their investigation points the finger at electricity claiming it to be the glue holding everything together.... or more accurately, pushing it all apart.  Their team has produced a one hour video which describes life in the "electric universe".  "Thunderbolts of the Gods" will make you re-think everything you've been taught about astronomy, cosmology, and Star Trek.  Enjoy! 


The Century of the Self

The good folks at BBC4 have produced a series of programs, four in all, which describe in detail how we are influenced by external forces  in the conduct of our everyday lives.  Learn how governments and especially marketers cater to our vanity and sexuality as they jockey for control of our preferences and behavior.  Discover the true meaning of "the ad and the id".  Sit back and enjoy these four 50 minute videos as Sigmund Freud and company prove to us what sick puppies we really are.  I highly recommend these well done programs produced as only BBC can. 

Comet Strangeness, 17P/Holmes Flyby

Here is a celestial event for all to see... You don't need a telescope or any astronomical equipment for that matter... Just look up and there it is. 17P/Holmes is without a doubt a bizarre comet whose behavior is baffling astronomers around the world. It pass us by as a dim glob of ice and suddenly on October 22, exploded into a btight yellowish ball of fuzz easily visible to the naked eye. Holmes was discovered a little over a century ago and oddly enough was in the process of another flareup at that time as well. Stranger yet is the fact that it has no visible tail and thus does not resemble anything like the comets we've seen in the past. The folks at Space.com have information on the comet which you'll find here . Spaceweather.com also has some info on it along with a sky map to aid in your search for it. So here is the bottom line..... I stepped out into the backyard and using the directions from Spaceweather.com easily found the comet despite the fact that it was fairly low in the sky and directly over the city of Newport and it's bright lights. It hangs in the northeast sky in the constellation Perseus and looks like a tiny ball of smoke. Low power binoculars will make it easier to get a good look at it's head. This comet should be visible for the next few weeks and I'll be checking on it often. Now it's your turn.... enjoy the show.