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Biotech Input Devices Worms Science

Remote Control Worms With Laser Light, Using FOSS 78

Kramer747 writes "to share a new tool I've developed for neuroscience that uses optogenetics to remotely control the neurons of a worm as it swims or crawls. Its called CoLBeRT, Controlling Locomotion and Behavior in Real Time. With the instrument I can induce the worm to stop, accelerate, lay eggs or experience the illusion of touch. All source code to run the instrument is GPLd and available. Science News and Scientific American both have stories. The project homepage is at colbert.physics.harvard.edu." I hope that name also constitutes a successful bid to get on the actual Colbert show!
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Remote Control Worms With Laser Light, Using FOSS

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  • by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @06:05PM (#34900068)

    The CoLBeRT project is dedicated to its namesake, Stephen Colbert, who manipulates the neurocircuits of millions of Americans daily using only the light from their monitors.

    • Does this new technology on how to control the neuron of a bacteria can is also applicable to the new trending news for today on ATM keypads and public toilets both have bacteria, says British study.It’s well known that public facilities are breeding environments for germs. Toilets are as full of bacteria as expected, but ATM keypads are practically as bad. The research was, not astonishingly, financed by antibacterial makers [personalmoneystore.com]. This doesn't mean that others are worried about it, however. Just think of
    • by casca69 (795069)
      Oddly, when I read the title, I thought "who needs a laser on a worm, and wouldn't that be dangerous to farmers?"
      Then I read the arti, and realized it would only be dangerous to techs.
  • by Insanity Defense (1232008) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @06:06PM (#34900072)
    Herbert was a Prophet?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    For patent infringement.

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @06:14PM (#34900146)
    Maybe you can try for Iron Chef Japan.
  • Minions! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @06:17PM (#34900176)
    I see very little practical use for controlling worms. Now, get me a vertebrate, a good-sized one... can you get it light enough to mount on a bird? That would be useful. Birds have a lot of lift in them.

    I can see why C. Elegans was used. I know of that worm. It's been mapped: Every neuron teased apart, and it's connections to the others documented.
    • Re:Minions! (Score:4, Funny)

      by AchilleTalon (540925) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @06:39PM (#34900338) Homepage
      Obviously, you completely missed the point about the military potentiel of a platoon of tapeworms remotely controlled.
    • by formfeed (703859)

      Tonight on CW:

      1976, Horror
      During a storm, the power lines are broken and touch the ground, calling up millions of earthworms and turning them into vicious man-eaters that are unleashed upon a small, unsuspecting American fishing village in Georgia.

      How timely.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      I can control advanced primates with optical stimulation. I can make them forgo social interaction, practice sleep deprivation and prevent them from reproducing as their brains are redirected to sexually self stimulate instead.. I call the device a video monitor with a porn feed.

    • by PPH (736903)
      I can see lots of uses. But we already have campaign contributions. So this seems redundant.
    • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
      If you could mount it on a bird, the bird could tell worms to crawl into their bellies.
    • by oranGoo (961287)

      I see very little practical use for controlling worms.

      Horatio, here are some [webmd.com] ideas for future.

    • Obviously you haven't played Penumbra Overture.
      Once we have figured out how to make worms the size of semi-trucks then the shit will hit the fan and no bunker will be safe!

  • Old hat (Score:4, Funny)

    by anza (900224) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @06:30PM (#34900268)
    I played this game on my Nokia YEARS ago.
  • With the instrument I can induce the worm to stop, accelerate, lay eggs or experience the illusion of touch

    That's what you think it does. What it actually does is sear the alien intelligence's brain with intense, burning pain.

    At least we now know who to turn over when the screwworm motherships arrive.

  • Whatever you do, don't tell these guys [areyoutargeted.com].
  • Actually, Stirman, not Stewart. Anyway, there is a second independently developed system [nature.com] that does approximately the same thing, just without Harvard's PR department behind it.

    It would be collegial to mention that this other project exists, no? (Especially since their software is also available, and since you know it exists.)

    • by Kramer747 (152065)

      Good point! I'm adding a link to them now. FYI, harvard PR department had nothing to do with this. Just me.

      • by Kramer747 (152065)

        Added to the links page:
        http://colbert.physics.harvard.edu/links.php [harvard.edu]

        I'm still basically writing the website, so there is more stuff coming.

      • by Ichoran (106539)

        Very sporting of you!

        Maybe this will bring in a new era of competitive worm-games: you control your team (or single worm) with your system, and Stirman controls the other side with his. (You just need to put them in a microfluidic device and set up your system on one side and theirs on the other....)

        • by Kramer747 (152065)

          Jeff is actually an expert at microfluidics! He could pull it off. Check out his other papers.

          • by Ichoran (106539)

            If he designs the arena, it might help him make up for your 50% faster response time.

        • by SharpFang (651121)

          you control your team (or single worm) with your system, and Stirman controls the other side with his.

          no, no, no. You control a team of 4 worms. And arm them with all kinds of miniature weapons trying to blast opponent's worms!

  • I think I need new glasses. I first read the headline as "Remote Control Women With Laser Light, using FOSS"

    Read what you will into what that says about my subconscious. I'm making an appointment with my eye doctor this week.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do not look at Remote Control Women With Laser Light, using FOSS with remaining eye.

    • by dohzer (867770)

      That's exactly how I read it too.
      Maybe it's the fact that I went on the first date I've been on in a few years yesterday.

  • Ha ha!!! Now my plans for world domination will be complete! Of course, I will still have to figure out a way to keep them from frying on the sidewalks...
  • by PPH (736903)
    Mod points seem to work pretty well here.
  • Why it's useful (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ichoran (106539) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @09:55PM (#34901412)

    One of the big questions in science is how neurons control behavior. It's a tough thing to answer when you can't control the neurons. (E.g. "tell me what this software program works without using it or altering the source code.")

    So this is a big help in figuring out how neurons control worm behavior. Since we don't know much about how neurons control the behavior of anything, this is a big step forward!

    • "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" -- A. Einstein

  • With the instrument I can induce the worm to stop, accelerate, lay eggs or experience the illusion of touch.

    Can you make'em dance? http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=dancing+worms [google.com]

    • by Kramer747 (152065)

      Sure. It would take awhile to get the choreography down. I believe the Stirman group made videos of a paralyzed worm that wiggles its head and tail, and we have also done the same, although I don't have any videos of that up.

      We actually discussed this in lab and I think "All the single ladies" would have been a good song choice since the worms are also single (albeit hermaphrodites).

      Ultimately we decided not to pursue this, even though it would have been a great visual. Unfortunately, scientists today oper

      • by Zurk (37028)

        do you have a map of the neuron connections mapping which neuron does what and how ?
        I think it would be helpful to have a graphical map which shows the pathways for each function and how the light activates them.
        also is there any good mapping of what an individual worm neuron does ? how does it use chemical and electrical functions to execute commands.

  • It has long been established that you can control cats' movements using nothing but a laser pointer.

  • by mawe (1247174)

    That could take the Worms games series to a whole new level. Fuck Kinect!

  • Great! Spent my life making sure I never had worms, and now the freakin' things are kewler than Elvis and Philip J Fry!!!
  • Can get them to swim with lasers attached to their friggin' heads???

  • Remote Control Worms With Laser Light

    I just want to know how they got the frikkin "lasers" on the worms' heads!

    (Also, what exactly are "remote control worms"?)

  • ... to become a benevolent worm overlord.

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux