Witchery, madness, folklore, and fiction are just a few words one may think of when it comes to telepathy. However, the researchers at PLOS ONE would like to differ. PLOS ONE scientists recently held a two person experiment that sent a one worded email with common tools such as the human brain, electroencephalograph (EEG), and the Internet. This may not be telepathy exactly, but like the article states, it’s probably the closest science has ever come (Locke, 2014).
So, how does it work? The sender is hooked up to an EEG, a machine also used to measure brain activity for seizures, comas, or general brain malfunctions (Vrocher III, 2014). Meanwhile, the receiver experiences transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is typically used to treat depression by stimulating nerve cells as stated in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (2014). Researchers then create a binary code for the words “hola” and “ciao” that works much like the Morse code, but utilize combinations of “0” and “1” to represent each letter.
Once the code is established, the sender transmits the message as he thinks about moving his feet to code “0” and moving his hands to code “1.” The binary code traveled through the Internet and created flashes through the magnetic stimulation that was translated by the receiver.
Overall, the experiment was a success and takes the first step that combines technological advances with telepathy – a concept most people regard as imaginary. However, is all this effort really worth working toward for a form of communication that only has the possibility of succeeding? For a form of communication that only has a potential to become practical, if at all? I believe it is.
In an article written in 1945, Vannevar Bush discusses the future of technology and what it may yield to consumers. Bush questions typewriters and other machines that transcribe. He proposes that one day an author may be able to speak directly to a device, and in return it will compose the words that were spoken just moments before (uh, Siri).
As a man ahead of his time claims, “Some of them [machines] will be sufficiently bizarre to suite the most fastidious connoisseur of the present artifacts of civilization“ (Bush, 1945). The telepathic email may very well be “bizarre” for even the most tech savvy human being, but Bush also believes the root of this issue is a cause of the basic supply and demand marketing principle. In order for these innovations to thrive and improve people must grow a need and create a market for it.
With cars that can start at the push of a button, rooftops that convert light to energy, and phones that can access the World Wide Web, maybe telepathic emails aren’t too far fetched.
Bush, V. (1945, July 1). As We May Think. Retrieved September 9, 2014, from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/3/
Locke, S. (2014, September 7). Brain-to-Brain Communication is Finally Possible. It’s Just Very Clunky. Retrieved September 9, 2014, from http://www.vox.com/2014/9/7/6115573/telepathy-brain-communication-EEG-TMS
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. (2014). Retrieved September 9, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation/basics/definition/PRC-20020555
Vrocher III, D. (2014). Electroencephalography, EEG: Definition and Facts on Results. Retrieved September 9, 2014, from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/electroencephalography_eeg/article_em.htm