Brainshirt is a wearable “memory map” of 24 individual program participants. Conceptually, brainshirt transmits an instant memory-based emotional snapshot about a group experience using brain waves (EEG) as a biological fingerprint unique to each individual. Each vertical bar is a downward time series of  a particular participant’s EEG activity while recalling their experiences. Red segments indicate periods of intense focus while the blue ones represent deep calm and green represents a mixture. Brainshirt was sponsored by the MIT Summer Research Program for Biology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Data was collected for each participant over 2-3 minutes using a NeuroSky Mindwave EEG headset. Data collection, analysis, and visualization was done in custom python/OpenGL codes. Design was done in open source Inkscape graphics software on Ubuntu linux. Kate Derosier collaborated heavily on the design. Mandana Sassanfar inspired the project. MIT Summer Research Program 2013 participants opened their minds and hearts. Hack Manhattan, a NYC based maker space, provided the EEG headset. Concept, code, data collection, final design by Daniel Packer.

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DIY Binder Clip Puzzles


Binder Clips have been the subject of many many DIY inventions. Even weapons of not so massive destruction. They’ve been a medium for sculpture. Why not then use our bendy metal friends as building blocks for puzzles? As a kid I loved those metal ring tanglement puzzles and I still have my Rubik’s Snake!

My first puzzle is an 8-clip puzzle made by linking clips clip-to-clip to form a ring. Once you have the ring formed, you should be able to achieve at least 5 distinct shapes, and possibly more. My theory is that because each fold involves half the clips, the practical limit on the number of folded shapes is something like log2(N) which would be 3 for our 8-clip puzzle. Further shapes are achieved by manipulating the free clip arms.  If you build your own variation on this puzzle or find additional possible bend shapes, be sure to let me know.

Update: My second puzzle is a kind of helix shape that transforms into a symmetrical square box shape. Unlike the previous puzzle, this one forms a flat-laying double layered box and requires a fair amount of thinking in terms of when to fold the clip arms. It’s surprisingly tricky, though this puzzle appears to have only two possible final shapes (when folded flat).  Maybe someone will be inspired to build and play with these puzzles with their (appropriately aged) children, or by themselves at work on a slow day. Here’s the new puzzle in action:

Here’s a quick video of the first puzzle in action. The box shape as shown in the video can be formed without the “handles” sticking up by folding the arms in first. The background music is a snippet of an old track of mine that seemed to fit nicely. Sorry for the noise/jumpiness in the video — I was using this as an excuse to learn how to edit and shoot a video using an android phone and Ubuntu linux. I used kdenlive for the editing, but I ended up with black bars on either side of the video due to shooting portrait and having to rotate. Next time I’ll know to shoot landscape. The camera was held up by a binder clip during shooting. :)

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Genomic Liberty For All?


Bad news: you don’t own your own DNA because the human genome is nearly entirely patented. These patents present a legal barrier to life-saving biomedical research and diagnosis. The good news is that on April 15th the US Supreme Court will hear arguments in a landmark case focusing on human breast cancer genes. Please take this opportunity to speak up and let the justices know that the public cares about “genomic liberty”.

Visit the website of the US Supreme Court Public Information Office and send a message. Here’s mine:

Dear esteemed justices,

Like many curious children, I grew up wanting to make the world a better place by making a contribution to biomedical science. After years of study in pursuit of this goal, now I am told that my good intentions may amount to an illegal transgression! Please end human gene patents so that the millions of people like me who want to improve human quality of life can do so without fear of patent infringement liability. Such fear can only serve to stunt the advancement of human health sciences.

Humans are born with their DNA, and so it seems right that we should own the information within our own bodies and reserve the right to use it to improve our health, or the health of others.

Thank you for your attention and your service to our country,

Daniel Packer

Student at Hunter College

Get the word out by sharing this post and sending these links to your friends and colleagues.

Excellent coverage of the issue by 60 minutes (thanks Ron)

Supreme Court Public Information Office contact page

Information on the ongoing landmark case and the April 15 hearing

Research paper on humane gene patent coverage (free pdf) and Press Release with a good summary

By the way, I didn’t coin the term “genomic liberty” but I think it’s apt!

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  • The Native Inhabitant:

    Web and IT pro turned novice scientist. Currently studying computer science and bioinformatics at Hunter College.

    Here be: dragons, bio + engineering + medicine + ethics, vegan eats and fashion, music and words, gadgets and software, photography, design, DIY/maker/hacker culture, NYC, running/fitness, cyborg anthropology, et cetera.

    dp at danielpacker dot org