'Brain Breathalyzer' For Astronauts

A tiny scanner nicknamed a "brain breathalyzer" may be sent aloft with astronauts to make sure that they are safe to drive (and perform their many mission tasks) in space. The head scanner is being developed by a team lead by Gary Strangman, a psychiatrist at Mass General in Boston.

The device uses near-infrared optical spectroscopy; the scanner sends weak pulses of near-infrared light into the brain, then reads back the reflected wavelengths. That reveals how much oxygen is in the blood, which is a good indicator of brain activity.


(Brain 'breathalzyer' scans for depression)

The concern is that astronauts often experience depression and fatigue in space; if a good way existed to determin when an astronaut is having a bad day, mistakes could be avoided.

"People do change in space," says Nick Kanas, a psychiatrist at the University of California in San Francisco, US, who conducted the study of space station crew members. "If you can demonstrate their cognition changes, as well as gets slowed down in some way, then it would be very useful to have a tool to assess this."

The scanner could also be used to look for early signs of brain damage caused by environmental problems, like low oxygen or carbon monoxide poisoning.

How will astronauts react to a little black box that tells them whether or not they will be allowed to do the jobs for which they have trained over a period of years?

"Having a little black box telling them they may not to be able to do what they've been training for may not go over well, as you could imagine," Strangman says.

I think that most of us are not too happy with the idea of being brainscanned and evaluated without a medical reason. Astronauts might want to consider finding a probe hood, like Philip K. Dick describes in his 1955 short story The Hood Maker.

...Should he wear it? He had never done anything. He had nothing to hide - nothing disloyal to the Union. But the thought fascinated him. If he wore the hood his mind would be his own. Nobody could look into it. His mind would be long to him again, private, secret, to think as he wished, endless thoughts for no one else's consumption but his own...
(Read more about PKD's probe screen hood)

On the other hand, you might try tricking astronauts into using it; just tell them it is a consumer device used for fun and games (like PKD's cephalochromoscope).

From Tiny scanner may monitor astronauts' mental health via our friends at Frolix_8.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/5/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Surveillance ")

Ionocraft Drone Powered By Electrohydrodynamic Thrust
'He saw one hiss by him as he rounded the corner, trailing a short whip antenna...' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.

UK Police AI To Stop Criminals Before They Strike
'... the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.' - Philip K. Dick, 1956.

Chinese Face Recognition Mistakes Bus Ad For Jaywalker
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.' - Schachner and Zagat, 1931.

China's Social Credit System - A Facebook-1984 Mashup
'Prestige, face, mana, repute, glory: the Sirenese word is strakh.' - Jack Vance, 1976.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

North Focals Smart Glasses Provide Augmented Reality In Style
'The world ... is drenched in unfamiliar information all the way to the horizon.'

Tesla Driver Caught Napping Behind The Wheel
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

Hayabusa 2 To Begin Asteroid Mining
'We must dig down, and then doubtless we shall find the metal.'

Ionocraft Drone Powered By Electrohydrodynamic Thrust
'He saw one hiss by him as he rounded the corner, trailing a short whip antenna...'

Purdue Pharma Ready To Profit From OxyContin Use Or Addiction Recovery
'It may be organic damage. It may be permanent. Time'll tell, and only after you are off Substance D for a long while.'

BloxVox Mutes Cellphone Convos
It's the polite thing to do, and has been the polite thing to do for about four generations.

Superfast Replicator: Volumetric Additive Manufacturing
I can't wait. Bring it on.

DNA May Contain Malware
'You were told to embed the logical pathogen.'

I Can't Resist Worm Robots
'Seen close it was not completely flexible...'

Rplate Digital License Plates Now Legal In Michigan
'Gragg's digital ink license plates ...'

Can Musk Starship Astronauts Use Magnetic Boots?
'Walking awkwardly in the magnetic boots that held him to the black mass of meteoric iron...'

Giant Dolphin Spotted On Jupiter!
'Now at last he could appreciate its real size and complexity...'

Musk's Starship An SF Fan's Dream Come True
Perfect for testing, perfect for fans!

TinyMobileRobots Are Sewer Sentinels
Every movie monster gets its start someplace.

Fishy Facial Recognition Now Possible
'Palenkis can identify random line patterns better than any other species in the universe.'

Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.