Magazine article Science News

Letters

Magazine article Science News

Letters

Article excerpt

Keep plant names rooted

As a newcomer to the study of plant families, a byproduct of my interest in herbal medicine, I see the great need for reclassifying plants based more on their evolutionary relationships and chemical components ("Botanists uproot their old tree of life," SN: 8/7/99, p. 85). But rather than turning the whole system upside-down, why not consider a simple solution? Add a prefix or suffix to the plant names, thus leaving them in their current order for identification purposes but allowing them also to be grouped by their emerging properties. With today's computer technology, searching either way would be a matter of a few simple keystrokes.

Eleanor K. Sommer Gainesville, Fla.

Computers on the brain

You might be interested to know that the first brain-to-computer communication actually took place in the mid-to-late 1960s ("Mind over matter," SN: 8/28/99, p. 142). Edmond Dewan, then at the Data Sciences Laboratory of the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories in Bedford, Mass., described the research in NATURE. A subject remained motionless while voltages from electrodes placed on the scalp were amplified and filtered, then sent to a computer. The subject attempted to control his alpha waves while listening to computer feedback of both alphawave content and the computer's interpretation in Morse code. The first communication transmitted by this method, direct from brain to computer, was the word cybernetics. …

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