Alexey Pavlov, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences,

Alexey Pavlov, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences,

But is it?

WHERE IS YOUR NAME?From amines to proteinsLeenson I.A."Pepti" in the term peptides comes from the Greek. peptos – nutritious as well as boiled, overcooked. The same origin is the name of the enzyme of gastric juice pepsin (Greek pepsis – digestion), as well as the popular drink Pepsi-Cola. This name for the syrup was invented in 1898 by the pharmacist and pharmacy owner Caleb Bradem, who received a patent for his drink in 1902.

NANOFANTASTICIntelligent lifeArenev V.- Here. – The captain brought up an enlarged picture on the screen: in the middle of the thick skin of the forest – a brand, glades, folding into eight. – And so. – Stylized sphere in section. – And further. – The drawing is the proof of the Pythagorean theorem.“It’s strange,” said Maurizio. – The drawing is almost overgrown, the sphere is depicted a little better, but it seems that it has long been forgotten. But the eight …- Infinity sign? – suggested Mark. – Yes, it was thinned out quite recently. Let’s start with her?

QUESTIONS – ANSWERSHow to quickly clear a darkened silver chain?Viktorova L.Silver chain darkens, perhaps faster than other products made from this metal. The dark bloom is not only silver but also copper oxides and sulfides. The chain is difficult to clean as it contains many small parts. However, there are several different cleaning methods that you can apply at home.

QUESTIONS – ANSWERSWhat does whiskey smell like?Viktorova L.What determines the taste and smell of whiskey, which are inseparable? There are many factors. First of all, raw materials. Whiskey is made from barley and rye (Scotland, Ireland), wheat and corn (USA, Canada), millet and corn (Japan), buckwheat (Brittany). It is important where this raw material grew and what substances the grain accumulated. Secondly, technology. The smell of the drink depends on how the raw materials were dried, what equipment was used for distillation, and into which barrels they were poured. That is why each whiskey has its own special smell, always rich and intense.

QUESTIONS – ANSWERSWhy is ink disappearing on ATM checks?Viktorova L.The ink doesn’t disappear anywhere, it just becomes colorless. And it is not entirely correct to call them ink, since they are not applied to paper. The fact is that in ATMs, payment terminals, electronic cash registers, automatic scales, faxes and diagnostic medical equipment, special thermal paper is used for printing, on which the image appears during local heating.

TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETYRobot car at the crossroadsAnofeles S.Very soon, cars will be able to receive and send messages, they will talk to traffic lights, the road and each other. Traffic lights will inform not only about switching the light, but also about the need to pass special vehicles, for example, an ambulance.

WHY NOT?On the farm of the futurePotapov R.I.In the early morning, birds are chirping over a green field of wheat, a little in the distance, by the road – a dome about twenty meters in diameter. The buzzing of propellers can be heard from the canopy – these four reconnaissance drones are self-testing before operation. The scouts are requesting permission to conduct flights. The central control unit analyzes the data from the weather station. According to the information transmitted from the climatic block, no precipitation is expected, the wind speed is 1–2 m / s – flights are allowed. After receiving confirmation, the quadcopters fly out of the dome and fly in different directions.

TECHNOLOGIES AND NATURERobots in the fieldsAnofeles S.According to experts from the international consulting company Marketsandmarkets, the precision farming market will grow at a rate of 12% per year over the next six years and will reach $ 4.5 billion by 2020.

SCIENTIFIC COMMENTATORPoisonous seaReznik N.L.If a plant actively defends itself against those who want to eat it, then it can be called a victim, and a harmless, from our point of view, herbivore plays the role of a predator. It is these terms that are used by oceanologists who study the relationship between unicellular algae and zooplankton, which feeds on these algae.

DIARY OF OBSERVATIONSThese eyes are oppositeAnina N.Many animals, including caterpillars, decorate their bodies with large colored spots – false eyes, seeing which, the bird should be terrified and fly away. Recently, researchers have shown that the effectiveness of eye spots depends on the caterpillar’s body size and lifestyle.

WHAT WE EATElderberry blackRuchkina N.Black elderberry is a medicinal plant. Back in the Middle Ages, there was a Latin manuscript in which the medicinal properties of all parts of the black elderberry were described in detail on 230 pages.

FANTASYCalculating probabilitiesVinogradova Tatiana- Well? – asked the captain of the approaching technician.“No use, sir. I’m not a geek. With your permission, sir. It’s something in the main processor. I can’t even run a scan of the engines.- And second?- Same. We cannot take off.- So, there is no connection either?- No, sir. I can not do anything.

UNKNOWN LEMAnti-predictive umbrella. Involuntary prognosisStanislav LemPredictions, foreshadowing unheard of innovations and even revolutions in so many areas of our lives, have become so massive and even ubiquitous at the present time that you cannot open any magazine without stumbling upon a myriad of them. It is not only clear, but also obvious that we should resist them, especially when the authors of the forecasts are trying to muddle our brains for their own benefit.



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Alexey Pavlov, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences,Alexander Khramov, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences"Chemistry and Life" No. 12, 2019

“Remember what he called his race,” the psychologist said quietly.Tagobar blinked his eyes very slowly. When he spoke, his voice was a hoarse whisper- Beings with great power of thought.“Exactly,” Zendoplit confirmed.

John Gordon, "Honesty is the Best Policy"

In many science fiction novels, there are scenes when the hero controls a complex technical device, for example, in Stephen King’s novel Tomminokers, an alien spaceship is controlled by a person’s mental intentions. The question arises: when will we be able to read a person’s thoughts and create devices (or interfaces, in computer terms) that translate our mental intentions into certain commands? At least, the name for them already exists: neural interfaces or, for simplicity, interfaces.

Neuro – nerve, inter – between, face – face

Artist V. Kamaev

Neurophysiologists and engineers are still so far from reading thoughts that it is not clear how long. However, the task of creating brain-computer interfaces is gradually being solved. Neural interfaces are devices and programs that use these devices, that is, they register activity in various areas of the brain and translate these signals into commands to control an external device, for example, a computer. The "activity" of the brain can manifest itself in different ways, and we will discuss this below.

The very development of brain-computer interfaces is in great demand and therefore is developing rapidly. The areas of application can be roughly divided into several groups. The first is science, that is, the study of how the brain works. The second group of applications is medicine: diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation. The third is the control of the "power of thought" of everything in the world – an excavator on Earth, a research robot on the Moon, an exoskeleton to increase the capabilities of a healthy person, a wheelchair for a disabled person and a car for both of them. And in general, help partially or completely paralyzed in interaction with external devices, for example, technology, which allows people with disabilities to communicate. Right there, by the way, is the gaming industry – it’s cool to kill monsters with the power of thought! The fourth, not obvious area is the subtle interaction of the brain and external devices, including feedback, when not only a person controls an external device, but the outside world also communicates something to a person, somehow influences him. This includes training a person’s resistance to stress factors, improving the mastery of their psychophysiological state, developing the ability to evaluate and transmit human emotions to devices.

Progress in all these directions depends on understanding how our brain works, how its work is reflected in what we can observe. Modern interfaces record the macroactivity of the brain in the form of electroencephalogram (EEG), magnetoencephalogram (MEG) signals, and near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS, Near Infrared Spectroscopy).

The brain processes incoming sensory stimuli, such as sound, smell, color, taste, received through peripheral nerves, and sends impulses to actuators, such as muscles and glands. In addition, he is responsible for thinking, learning, visual processing, speech, memory, emotions, and the like. All these actions of the brain are reflected in the recorded activity of the brain, for example, the movement of a limb is reflected in a quite definite way on the EEG of a person. Moreover, if the movement is not real, but only imaginary, then this is also reflected on the EEG.

At the same time, the program in the computer can process the signal as difficult as you like, it can be trained, adapting both to the task and to a specific person. For such training, feedback is needed – the program must receive information about whether it interpreted the received signals correctly, whether it correctly "understood" the particular brain with which it works. At the same time, the program can partially control the patient, orienting him to work with those situations that it recognizes less successfully. It could even be said that the brain-computer interface uses artificial intelligence to recognize the types of brain activity.

The first interfaces mentioned in the scientific literature were developed in 1973–77 by a research group at the University of California with support from the US National Science Foundation and the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense. The experiments involved volunteers, on whose heads five electrodes were placed in the occipital and parietal regions, and then the received signals were processed. In those works, the authors analyzed the features of the structure of EEG signals that arise during presentation of different images to a person, the so-called visual evoked potentials. But these were the very first attempts.

Classification of interfaces

Many neural interfaces can be divided into three groups: active, reactive and passive interfaces. The active interface uses changes in brain activity that are directly and consciously controlled by the person. For example, a person imagines that he is moving his right leg and right arm. This mental effort leads to changes in the electrical activity of the brain, on the basis of which the program forms control commands sent to an external device, as in the Hex-o-Spell interface for typing texts. The reactive interface generates control commands by studying the brain’s response to an external signal, such as light or sound. An example of a reactive interface is an on-screen keyboard with symbols blinking in turn: the brain responds when the symbol that the person intended is blinking. The passive interface analyzes the current activity of the brain, which arises by itself, in the process of human activity. Such interfaces can be useful for creating monitoring systems that monitor emotional states, detect decreased concentration, or loss of control over the system.

Active and reactive interfaces are primarily of interest in working with people with disabilities. Passive ones assessing the state of a person can find application in the entertainment industry, computer games, neuromarketing, as well as monitoring certain emotional and functional states of an operator in human-machine systems. They can monitor the operator – whether he is distracted, not overexcited, finally, simply – whether he has fallen asleep.

But how do you see what’s going on in the brain? Investigation of the work of neurons is needed far from just creating interfaces. Monitoring their work allows you to detect damage in the brain tissue, helps in the diagnosis of brain injuries, neurodegenerative changes in the brain associated with the patient’s age, metabolic disorders and brain lesions on a smaller scale, in identifying epileptic foci.

The interface is based on the analysis of information coming from the patient through four channels. These are electrical impulses of neurons, their magnetic activity, the rate of blood flow inside the vessels and changes in metabolism. Let’s consider them in turn.


Probably all readers of "Chemistry and Life" know what electroencephalography is. And yet, recall that this is a recording of the electrical activity of the brain using electrodes located on the surface of the head (non-invasive, or scalp EEG) or superimposed directly on the cerebral cortex (invasive EEG, or electrocorticogram). The signal amplitude is in the first case about 100 μV, in the second – ten times more. Electrodes placed directly on the cortex provide more information. They even allow recording the activity of individual neurons. But this method is limitedly applicable only in medical interfaces, when, say, it is necessary to monitor brain activity during an operation. Only a non-invasive EEG is suitable for widespread use. However, in medicine, with its help, various brain diseases are detected, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, sleep disorders, attention, as well as the response of the brain to neurosurgical interventions.

Signals of the electrical activity of the brain are recorded using several electrodes that are placed on the head. This also has its own subtleties. If you use wet electrodes lubricated with conductive paste, the resistance will be lower and the signal is better, but it is easier to work with dry electrodes. The same problem with the number: the more electrodes, the more information, but it is easier to work with fewer. And then there are scalp subcutaneous electrodes – everything is clear from the name.

After the signal is removed and cleared of noise and interference (the voltage in the network jumped, something was turned on in the next room, a tram passed under the windows), the most interesting thing begins – signal processing. The thing is complex and varied, and in the popular article you can give examples of only the simplest and most traditional processing. One of the options is that the signal is separated by filters into frequency bands and changes in the amplitude of oscillations in different bands are monitored. This method relies on the traditional division of signals supplied by the brain into "rhythms" – alpha rhythm, beta rhythm and others. You can analyze the so-called evoked potentials, that is, characteristic signals that arise when a person is presented with some kind of stimulus (flash of light, unfamiliar sound). At the same time, experts associate different elements of the brain response with different stages of stimulus processing (noticed, compared with known ones, classified, made a decision, remembered …).