Rodent Mind Meld: Scientists Wire Two Rats’ Brains Together
It’s not exactly a Vulcan mind meld, but it’s not far off. Scientists have wired the brains of two rats together and shown that signals from one rat’s brain can help the second rat solve a problem it would otherwise have no clue how to solve.
The rats were in different cages with no way to communicate other than through the electrodes implanted in their brains. The transfer of information from brain to brain even worked with two rats separated by thousands of kilometers, one in a lab in North Carolina and another in a lab in Brazil.
“We basically created a computational unit out of two brains,” says neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University, who led the study.
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time. The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.
The Washington Post obtained "briefing slides" from an "internal presentation on the Silicon Valley operation, intended for senior analysts in the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate," from a "career intelligence officer" who cited "firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities," as the reason for the disclosure. These materials described PRISM as "the most prolific contributor to the President's Daily Brief" and the NSA's "leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports." The Post, goes on to report that while PRISM allows the NSA to collect "anything it likes" from the available data, it is in practice not utilized as a "dragnet" per se:
Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade key in “selectors,” or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness.” That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by the Post instruct new analysts to submit accidentally collected U.S. content for a quarterly report, “but it’s nothing to worry about.”
The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media, bringing more cases against people suspected of leaking such material than any previous administration, correspondents say.
When India sends out what is being called the world’s last telegram on July 15, the sound of those last few dots and dashes will mark the end of an era.
Before there were phones, e-mails, texts or instant messages, the telegraph was the tool that made it possible for people over long distances to communicate with each other within the shortest time technologically possible.
In 2006, Western Union, which had been transmitting telegrams since 1851, delivered its last message in Morse code. India, the largest country that still uses the telegraph regularly, will send out the last dots and dashes over the wire before it too shuts down its telegraph in what’s being described as the world’s last telegram.