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Monkey uses mind control, Ashlee Simpson ends up pregnant!

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Monkey uses mind control, Ashlee Simpson ends up pregnant!

Old 05-29-08, 10:45 AM
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Monkey uses mind control, Ashlee Simpson ends up pregnant!

Welcome to another Thor's Day special edition.

Monkeys control robots with their minds

* Monkeys with sensors in brains control robotic arms in new experiment
* Macaques able to grab fruit and feed themselves using appendages
* Scientists say research could help amputees or those with degenerative disorders

(CNN) -- Scientists have trained a group of monkeys to feed themselves marshmallows using a robot arm controlled by sensors implanted in their brains, a feat that could one day help paralyzed people operate prosthetic limbs on their own, according to a study out Thursday.

A monkey feeds itself using a robotic arm.

Lead researcher Andrew Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh said he believes it won't be long before the technology is tested in humans, although he predicts it will be longer before the devices are used in actual patients with disabilities.

"I think we'll be doing this on an experimental basis in two years," said Schwartz, professor of neurobiology at the university's School of Medicine.

The results were appeared in the journal Nature's online edition on Thursday. The arm is controlled by a network of tiny electrodes called a brain-machine interface, implanted into the motor cortex of the monkeys' brains -- the region that controls movement.

It picks up the signals of brain cells as they generate commands to move and converts those into directional signals for the robotic arm, which the monkeys eventually used as a surrogate for their own.Video Watch monkeys feed themselves with robotic appendage.

The researchers report that one monkey achieved a success rate of 78 percent over 13 days of trials, while a second monkey completed its tasks with the arm in 61 percent of tests conducted over two days. They said the animals also were able to direct the arm around obstacles to ensure safe delivery of the food, which included small items such as grapes and marshmallows.

The ability of the monkeys to interact with the robotic arm and objects in the work space embodies a "multi-degree-of-freedom" that "paves the way towards the development of dexterous prosthetic devices that could ultimately achieve arm and hand function at a near natural level," according to the Nature article.

"I'm most excited by the chance to study many neurons at the same time, so we can see how they work together as a network," Schwartz told CNN. The research provides the opportunity to consider interactions among neurons, he added.

"Understanding the brain at a more fundamental level, I think, will result in all sorts of chances to treat a wide range of brain diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's", according to the professor.

The researchers initially trained two monkeys to use a joystick to manipulate the arm. Then, the monkeys' arms were restrained by placing them in tubes, and the robotic arm was switched over to brain control so the monkeys could translate their wishes into commands.

In a video, a macaque monkey uses the robotic arm to seize pieces of marshmallow off a thin rod positioned at various locations. The arm is designed to move realistically, with a range of shoulder movements -- an elbow that moves in just one direction and a simple claw grip to simulate a hand.

Brain interfaces are not particularly new -- human versions have been around for several years. But this is the first time a brain-machine interface has been used to fulfill a useful function, such as allowing monkeys to feed themselves.

"Up until now, almost all demonstrations (of the technology) have been in a virtual world," Schwartz said. Successfully developing these brain implants for humans will require more resilient, long-lasting electrodes.

"The biggest stumbling lock is that the electrodes are fragile, and also they become embedded in the brain, and scar tissue forms around them."

After resolving these problems, technicians expect to develop brain interfaces that could last for years.

Ashlee Simpson, husband expecting baby

* Pete Wentz announces on blog that he, wife Ashlee Simpson are having a baby
* Couple was engaged in April, married in May

* Representative for Simpson did not immediately return call seeking comment

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Newlyweds Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz say they are expecting a baby.

Weeks after getting married, Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz say they are having a baby.

"While many have speculated about this, we wanted to wait until after the first trimester to officially confirm that we are expecting our first child," read a statement Wednesday on Wentz's blog. "This is truly the most joyous time in our lives and we are excited to share the happy news and start our family."

Simpson, 23, and Fall Out Boy bassist Wentz, 28, exchanged vows earlier this month at Simpson's parents' Los Angeles-area home. Sister Jessica was the maid of honor.

The couple began dating in fall 2006 and announced their engagement April 9.

Ashlee Simpson's latest album, "Bittersweet World," was released last month. It peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in its first week, and tracks have logged more than 19 million plays on her MySpace page.

Congratulations to our mind-control-monkey scientists and once again, to the Wentz family!
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Old 05-29-08, 10:52 AM
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Yeah I read the first one earlier. One of my greatest fears come to light. Cyborg Monkeys! The rise of Monkey & Machine!
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Old 05-29-08, 11:01 AM
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I love Thor's mashed-up headlines.

If only it were true.
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Old 05-29-08, 02:07 PM
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This isn't as good as the previous one. Everyone knows that you need to be a monkey to get AS pregnant.
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Old 05-29-08, 06:40 PM
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Those damn psychic monkeys always get in the way

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