2011's 10 Biggest Moments in Science


Mind-reading Tech Reconstructs Videos From Brain Images

Comic book telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) gets all up in your mind with his psychic powers. Is this no longer fantasy?
Comic book telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) gets all up in your mind with his psychic powers. Is this no longer fantasy?
Murray Close/Getty Images

What if someone could peek inside your mind and see what you're thinking? We've all thought about it before: the wonders of telepathic communication and the horrors of watching the last bastion of human privacy being eroded. Neuroscientists have forecast the realization of this dream/nightmare for decades, and now we're closer than ever to breaching the fortress of the human mind.

On Sept. 22, 2011, the journal "Current Biology" published a University of California, Berkeley, study in which scientists analyzed brain activity to gain a blurry but accurate insight into the human visual experience. They showed test subjects YouTube clips as they scanned the subjects' brains with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. These devices measure the flow of blood in the brain, which corresponds with neural activity. The scientists were able to take the resulting fMRI data, decode it in a computer model and assemble a visual interpretation of the random movies the subjects next watched.

The researchers hope to use this development to improve our understanding of how the brain works, as well as the link between reality and the mind.

Explore the links below to learn even more about what happened in 2011.

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  • Boyle, Alan. "NASA revises its spaceship plans." MSNBC. Dec. 15, 2011. (Dec. 16, 2011) http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/15/9471717-nasa-revises-its-spaceship-plans
  • Boyle, Rebecca. "Researchers Succeed in Quantum Teleportation of Light Waves." Popular Science. April 15, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-04/quantum-teleportation-breakthrough-could-lead-instantanous-computing
  • Cyranoski, David. "Cloned human embryo makes working stem cells." Nature. Oct. 5, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111005/full/news.2011.578.html
  • Danigelis, Alyssa. "Now Showing: Movie Clips From Your Mind." Discovery News. Sept 22, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://news.discovery.com/tech/mind-reading-movie-clips-110922.html
  • Darma, Stanley. "World's First Artificial Trachea Transplant Patient Gets Successor." MedGadget. Nov. 30, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://medgadget.com/2011/11/world%E2%80%99s-first-artificial-trachea-transplant-patient-gets-successor.html
  • European Space Agency (ESA). "Mars 500." (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars500/
  • Gallagher, James."Human 'cloning' makes embryonic stem cells." BBC News. Oct. 5, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15181015
  • Halverson, Nic. "Petri Dish Brain Has 'Short-term Memory.'" Discovery News. Jun. 2, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://news.discovery.com/tech/petri-dish-brain-has-short-term-memory-110602.html
  • Holm, Karl. "Scientists Teleport Light." Discovery News. April 18, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://news.discovery.com/tech/teleport-light-experiment-110418.html
  • "Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking." Discovery Channel. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/stephen-hawking/
  • Johnson, Michele and Trent J. Perrotto. "NASA's Kepler Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-like Star." NASA. Dec. 5, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2011/11-99AR.html
  • Knox, Richard. "Cancer Patient Gets First Totally Artificial Windpipe." NPR. July 20, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/07/20/137701848/cancer-patient-gets-first-totally-artificial-windpipe
  • Markoff, John. "Computer Wins on 'Jeopardy!': Trivial, It's Not." The New York Times. Feb 16, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/science/17jeopardy-watson.html?pagewanted=all
  • Mulroy, James. "Mars500 Crew 'Lands' After 520-Day Simulated Mission To Mars." PC World. Nov. 4, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.pcworld.com/article/243244/mars500_crew_lands_after_520day_simulated_mission_to_mars.html
  • Palmer, Jason. "Faster-than-light neutrino result queried." BBC News. Nov. 21, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15830844
  • Polo, Susan. "Your Prescribed Dose of Neil DeGrasse Tyson." May 1, 2010. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.geekosystem.com/neil-degrasse-tyson-hostile-aliens/
  • Reuters. "Particles recorded moving faster than light - CERN." Sept. 22, 2011. (Dec. 15, 2011) http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/22/science-light-idUSL5E7KM3UU20110922


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