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Monday 26 July |
Saint of the Day: Sts Joachim and Anne

Hot Links: Computer interface with the human brain, magic scrolls, and Albrecht Dürer

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The Daily Catch - published on 08/12/16

When the internet gets overwhelming and you can’t find anything worth reading, there’s only one place to come for the hottest links of the day!

Brain-Computer Interface Therapy Triggers Some Recovery From Spinal Cord Injury – (spectrum.ieee.org)

It started out so simply. Scientists and engineers wanted to create an exo-suit that would connect to the brain through a virtual reality interface, with users moving the exo-suit with their minds, allowing them to walk again. However, after a year of testing, researchers found that the interface was doing more; it is actually starting to redevelop nerves:

In a conference call with reporters, Nicolelis said that reversing paralysis had not been the goal of the research. “Our goal was simply to create a new prosthetic device for lower limb locomotion.” He added: “But it turned out that six months into the training of these patients, and after the World Cup in 2014, we started realizing that the patients were experiencing an improvement in their neurological information.” “One previous study has shown that a large percentage of patients who are diagnosed as having complete paraplegia may still have some spinal nerves left intact,” Nicolelis said in a press release. “These nerves may go quiet for many years because there is no signal from the cortex to the muscles. Over time, training with the brain-machine interface could have rekindled these nerves. It may be a small number of fibers that remain, but this may be enough to convey signals from the motor cortical area of the brain to the spinal cord.”

Mysterious magic spells unearthed by archaeologists in Serbia – (theguardian.com)

Archaeologists in Serbia have discovered ancient remains of small gold and silver scrolls that contain tiny writing believed to be spells to assist the dead in the next life:

“The alphabet is Greek, that much we know. The language is Aramaic – it’s a Middle Eastern mystery to us,” said Miomir Korać, the chief archaeologist at the site. The skeletons were discovered at the foot of a massive coal-fired power station in Kostolac, north-eastern Serbia, where searches are being carried out before another unit of the electricity plant is built on the site of an ancient Roman city, Viminacium. Last week, after carefully brushing away soil from the bones, Korać’s team found two amulets made of lead that, when opened, were each found to contain rolls of precious metal – silver and gold – covered in symbols and writing. They believe the inscriptions are magic spells, taken to the grave to invoke divine powers to perform good or evil. “We read the names of a few demons that are connected to the territory of modern-day Syria,” the archaeologist Ilija Danković said at the dig, as more skeletons from the 4th century were being uncovered.

500-year-old Albrecht Dürer engraving found in French flea market – (theguardian.com)

Found at a flea market in France, the 500-year-old piece of art was being sold for a few euros. It was saved and anonymously donated to a museum:

A retired French archaeologist noticed the work on a bric-a-brac stall in Sarrebourg, eastern France, after the seller cleared it out of a house in the town. He bought the piece and, after noticing the Staatsgalerie’s stamp on the back, he decided to donate it anonymously. The engraving had been missing since the end of the second world war and had probably been wrapped in paper for some of the intervening decades to preserve it, Frankenberger said. It was owned by a former deputy mayor of Sarrebourg before ending up at the market, she added. The museum has not decided how to display the engraving. “We have to find the right setting to present it in,” Frankenberger said.
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