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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Thursday, December 09, 2004 - 02:54 pm:   

Rat brain flies jet.

"Florida scientists have grown a brain in a petri dish and taught it to fly a fighter plane.

"Scientists at the university of Florida taught the 'brain', which was grown from 25,000 neural cells extracted from a rat embryo, to pilot an F-22 jet simulator. It was taught to control the flight path, even in mock hurricane-strength winds.

"When we first hooked them up, the plane 'crashed' all the time," Dr Thomas DeMarse, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Florida, said. "But over time, the neural network slowly adapts as the brain learns to control the pitch and roll of the aircraft. After a while, it produces a nice straight and level trajectory..."

"One potential application is to install living computers in unmanned aircraft for missions too dangerous for humans..."
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, December 09, 2004 - 05:15 pm:   

Robert: Thanks so much for alerting me to this development. That's a hoot. Also kind of scary.
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Cornelis Alderlieste
Posted on Friday, December 10, 2004 - 01:21 am:   

Well, that's it! From now on TOP GUN will consist of grey matter in a bowl of fluid...
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, December 10, 2004 - 05:49 am:   

Now our fighter pilots can be put to better use, like searching through junk heaps to find scrap metal to armor vehicles.
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mike bishop
Posted on Friday, December 10, 2004 - 06:13 am:   

Or turning their off hours into an unending Tailhook convention . . .
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Cornelis Alderlieste
Posted on Friday, December 10, 2004 - 07:24 am:   

Or trying to hunt Harry Mulisch from under yer couch, Jeff...
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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Friday, December 10, 2004 - 02:36 pm:   

So does this mean rats can fly planes if they really want to? What about spaceships? There may be a story there -- possibly called "Kert Rats."
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, December 11, 2004 - 09:32 pm:   

Michael, Cornelis, Robert:
How about a story with pilot rats taking part in a tailhook type scandal where the illicit proceedings lead to the discovery of heaven.
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Cornelis Alderlieste
Posted on Sunday, December 12, 2004 - 03:13 am:   

Go for it Jeff!
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2004 - 09:56 pm:   

This is exactly how they pilot the subs in Peter Watts' STARFISH. The brain cells are in a container that resembles a pizza box.
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, December 20, 2004 - 10:18 pm:   

Marc: I think I remember reading that about that book. Wasn't there also a novel where Octopi piloted the spacecraft? A Baxter novel, perhaps?

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Jonathan
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 01:12 am:   

Jeff: There are a bunch of Baxter stories like that. Try "Sheena 5", for example. - Jonathan
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 04:48 am:   

Jonathan: Did you like them? Worth reading? I don't know anything about his fiction.
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Jonathan
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 03:16 pm:   

Well, they're less immediately impressive than say Charlie Stross's stories of uplifted lobsters, but some of the stories are good, if you like hi-tech space opera-ish stuff. The novels can be a bit much, though. I'd try "Sheena 5", which is in one of Gardner's year's bests (17 I think). I might even have an e-copy if you'd like to see it. Did I like the stories? Yeah, I did. Baxter's work tends to be exuberant and perhaps a bit undisciplined, but it's always interesting.
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minz
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 07:28 pm:   

I also highly recommend STARFISH. I think Candas Jane Dorsey (whose PARADIGM OF EARTH and BLACK WINE are also recommended) put it best--and this is from memory so may be slightly off:
I loved STARFISH. It made me want to open up my wrists and crawl into a hot tub.
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 07:45 pm:   

Jonathan: Thanks for the info. If you happen to see the story in a file, send it on when you get the chance. Your description of Baxter's stories is interesting, because when I met him, he seemed like a very quiet guy.

Minz: That's the way Syracuse is making me feel right about now. Starfish is one I remember a ton of good sentiment about when it came out. Thanks.

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