Thursday, 7 May 2009

Seeing Science in Action

An incredible article was published in The Telegraph

A new Brain Computer Interface (BCI) has been created for people who are unable to type manually on a keyboard allowing them to enter their thoughts into twitter.

The system works by monitoring electroencephalography – or EEG – which is the electrical activity produced on the scalp by the movement of neurons within the brain.
The user of a BCI wears a cap, which is studded with electrodes and connected to a computer. The electrodes detect the electrical signals caused by thoughts.

Adam Wilson is the first user and co-creator of the invention and is a biomedical engineering student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The article finishes with a quote from one of the creators: "Someone could simply tell family and friends how they're feeling today ... People at the other end can be following their thread and never know that the person is disabled. That would really be an enabling type of communication means for those people, and I think it would make them feel, in the online world, that they're not that much different from everybody else. That's why we did these things."

It is inventions like these that children need to be able to see, understand and relate to. Associating science and engineering to something that children use in everyday life will hopefully enable them visualise what a difference they can make to the world with a scientific or engineering input.

Children need to understand how science relates to everyday life not just using examples of medicine created many hundreds of years ago but with inventions that they use everyday. The stereotype of the mad man in a white coat with crazy hair and corduroy needs to be rebutted with the cool, funky, contemporary and scientists of today who work at cutting edge companies such as Air Products.

How empowering would it be to know that you had been able to create that?

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