'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 ")

China's Drone Fleet Flies In Formation
'Programmed to hang... in a hexagonal grid pattern.' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.

RFID Chipped Employees Of Three Square Market
'About a third of the people in Manhattan have replaced their Freedom Card with a radio-frequency chip...' - John Twelve Hawks, 2015.

SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone
'An eye that could not only see, but fly...' - Manly Wade Wellman, 1938.

Cyborg DragonflEye At Your Command
'The dragonfly responded like a toy airplane, taking off and heading east...'

 

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

Biggest HiSeas 'Mars Mission' Problem? No Internet
I think sf writers have this covered!

Clever Electric Truck Generates More Power Than It Uses
Better than a fictional electrotruck!

Eden-ISS, Greenhouse In Antarctica
'With this kind of light we could get the gardens going again."

Make Space Tools On The Spot (Like Moties)
'A moment ago it was squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon...'

Will Robots Be Moral If We Raise Them Like Our Children?
'The birth of Machine, my robot child...'

Foldable Galaxy Phones, I Swear They're Coming (Maybe)
How hard can it be?

Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...'

Brain Connected To Internet - ‘Brainternet'
Fascinating!

Artificial Spider Silk
You can also use it to make a roof - on an asteroid.

MIT Tunes Ions For Frictionless Surface - Superlubricity!
'My telelubricator here neutralizes the interatomic bonds the surface of any solid...'

Seiko Astron Always Knows Your Time Zone
'Harrington glanced at his wrist watch - a bulky affair - and whistled.'

Robot Buddhist Priest Chants, Drums
'He crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'

Koniku Kore, Mouse Brain-Based Chip, Detects Explosives
'As a matter of fact, this mouse is going to keep on thinking forever.'

CNH Industrial Autonomous Tractor Concept Video
'...the tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.'

The Neuroon Open Sleep Tracker For Lucid Dreaming
'Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer on the bedside shelf.'

Siri Now Smoother, Perkier (Thanks, Deep Learning!)
'Good morning, Dr. Chandra. This is Hal.'

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.