Friday, February 1, 2013

Mind Meld: Science Fiction and Science Fact


Screen shot from the 2002 Sy-Fi miniseries Taken


"Turns out two heads really are better than one. Two people have successfully steered a virtual spacecraft by combining the power of their thoughts - and their efforts were far more accurate than one person acting alone. One day groups of people hooked up to brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) might work together to control complex robotic and telepresence systems, maybe even in space."

- Excerpt from a New Scientist article, Mind-meld brain power is best for steering spaceships by Paul Marks, February 1, 2013



From the life-imitates-art file: I was taking my daily stroll through Graham Hancock's news page today, when I came across the link to the (above) New Scientist article about brain-computer interfacing. I'd heard of instances where brain signals can now be used to control computer operated devices - such as prosthetic limbs - but the idea of more than one brain controlling complex systems "in space" immediately rang a bell.

And then I remembered why. If you ever saw that Sy-Fi miniseries Taken (from way back when in 2002) - directed by Stephen Spielberg, and one of my personal favorites - you probably have this scene embedded in your head: a pair of middle-aged psychic twins who unwittingly become (doomed) participants in a secret government experiment to test-fly a captured alien spacecraft using human "mind power". It was ultimately pretty horrifying... the twins suffering cerebral hemorrhages as they sat, completely unprotected - in the strange alien cockpit. (see screen-shot above).

The film's premise for the alien craft was that it was powered by the alien brains... although instead of two in a virtual spacecraft, as in the article, it took 5 brains for intergalactic space travel.

Below is a clip from Taken - the first 4 minutes describing the craft's power source. As for the fate of the psychic twins - that can be found 7 minutes into this clip.