Shedding a New Light on Neural Activity
The purpose of this project is to build and interactive display to promote community learning. A sculpture will be developed to facilitate interactive learning about the brain and the neural pathways involved in every-day tasks. The goal is to develop a presentation to benefit people of all ages in the community and communicate the exciting research being done in the field of neuroscience. The pre-established team of Frontier Fellows, from the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, will collaborate in order to create this new interactive learning experience for the community. In collaboration with the Advanced Fabrication Lab in the Morgridge Institute for Research, the team will engineer the sculpture to simulate brain activity during every day tasks, such as recognizing a familiar face. Main brain areas and flow of neural signal during various tasks will be highlighted in the sculpture to provide a more comprehensible depiction of how the brain works. The team will be working closely with the WID and Town Center in order to participate in Outreach events as well as other events held in the Madison community. With funding from the Ira and Wisconsin Idea Fellowship, our team will construct the interactive sculpture to present to the community to enhance interest and learning in the field of neuroscience.
This project is currently being supported by the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) through the Frontier Fellowship for the year 2015. The project has two main parts: developing the sculpture and using the sculpture in different educational outreach opportunities in the community (mainly through the WID). We want garage physics to make part of the developing the sculpture part. We have submitted a couple applications for funding, so if you want to learn more about the project go to: Project Description for WIF Fellowship. Project Started January 2015.
We are currently looking for one more person to become a Frontier Fellow! Anyone can help us in any stage of the project but if you become a Frontier Fellow you will be commiting to be part of it for the whole project (both development and outreach). We have just started this project so we are all still familiarizing ourselves with the techniologies we will use to develop the display and figuring a lot of stuff out, so it is still a good point to get involved. If you take a look at the What's going on section down below, you can get a good idea of what we plan to do through the semester and in the next couple weeks.
People Involved / Contact:
Felipe Gutierrez - Frontier Fellow. Please contact me if you are interested in helping us in this project. AMEP and Computer Sciences Undergrad
- Sammy Dunn - Frontier Fellow - Neurobiology Undergrad, Pre-med track
- Nick Kjorlie - Frontier Fellow???? - Computer Sciences Undergrad
- Meg Mitchell, Mentor - Discovery Fellow and Professor in the Art Dept.
What is currently going on in this project ???????!!!!!!!!!!!
Right now we are in the first stages of the project. We are currently: applying for funding, planning and most importantly prototyping. The prototyping stages are what we plan to work on in the garage. We are currently exploring 3 different approaches for the 3D display:
1. Physical Sculpture:This approach involves cast polymer and 3D printed molds to create a transparent brain sculpture with embedded lighting installations, such as LED’s, fiber optics, neon, etc. We will test various material combinations with the lighting. We envision the sculpture to have a similar look to the following image but in the form of a brain and with sequenced lighting. The following image is called whizz pops, just a quick google search will give you more images
2. LED Display: This approach involves the construction of a large scale LED cube, like the one made by qubeLED 2. A display of a brain will be created by a 3D grid of LED lights and the brain activity will be simulated with sequenced lighting as seen in the qubeLED video. We plan to prototype a small scale LED cube to immerse ourselves in the technology and see how feasible this approach is.
3. "Holographic" Display: There are two possible "hologram" (I say "hologram" because it isn't really a hologram but an illusion) approaches that we have researched. Both of them rely on variations of the Pepper’s ghost technique. The first one is described by PBS Studios in this video. The second one, would the same approach given to the Calderan project, which is basically a plexiglass pyramid with four screens (with the same image) pointed from above to each face. This second approach is actually developed by a company calledreal fiction, and here is a cool video of it . We envision our brain display to be big so if we were to choose this approach we would make our own personalized plexiglass pyramid and not buy it.
We have just started our prototyping phase and are planning on getting together to do some tutorials on how to make a small LED cube and a small pyramid for the hologram. We want to do these small scale prototypes not only because they will give us a better idea of how our display could look like but also to familiarize ourselves with the technology. For example, we might have coding experience but very little arduino experience.