Srinivasan explains that the chip is sending electric pulses through the needle into the brain slice, which is passing them on to the screen we're watching. "The difference in the waves' modulation reflects the signals sent out by the brain slice," he says. "And they're almost identical in frequency and pattern to the pulses sent by the chip." Put more simply, this iron-gray wafer about a millimeter square is talking to living brain cells as though it were an actual body part.
Remedying Alzheimer's disease would, if Berger's grand vision plays out, be as simple as upgrading a bit of hardware. No more complicated drug regimens with their frustrating side effects. A surgeon simply implants a few computerized brain cells, and the problem is solved.
Can a chunk of silicon really stand in for brain cells? I ask. "I don't need a grand theory of the mind to fix what is essentially a signal-processing problem," he says. "A repairman doesn't need to understand music to fix your broken CD player."
What the chip is saying is anyone's guess -- the content of the conversation is beside the point, Berger continues. It's straight mechanic-talk from the man who has created a prototype of the world's first memory implant, basically a hardware version of the brain cells in your hippocampus that are crucial to the formation of memory.
"Replicating memory is going to happen in our lifetimes, and that puts us on the edge of being able to understand how thought arises from tissue -- in other words, to understand what consciousness really means."
The move to turn the clocks forward by an hour on March 11 rather than the usual early April date was mandated by the U.S. government as an energy-saving effort. But other than forcing millions of drowsy American workers and school children into the dark, wintry weather three weeks early, the move appears to have had little impact on power usage.
"We haven't seen any measurable impact," said Jason Cuevas, spokesman for Southern Co., one of the nation's largest power companies, echoing comments from several large utilities.
That's not why the webcast of Saturday's Bassnectar show isn't there, though: that's because they refused to be webcast. Usually we just don't book events with people who are stupid about such things, but hey, we're fuckin' broke, and I just don't care any more. The webcast is a constant source of grief to me on so many levels, I just don't have the fight in me any more. If you don't want the free promotion, fine. If you don't want us to expose your music to more people than are already in your little clique, fine. I'll take your money anyway.
On the few occasions in the past where we've followed the money and subverted our principles for some prima donna DJ, we've just switched the webcast to whoever is DJing from the upstairs lounge that night, so that we would at least have a webcast that had something to do with the event in question, even if it was only their B-listers. But this time, apparently all they had going on in the lounge was... a puppet show.