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Virtual Orthopedics

Got bad joints? So do most computer models of the human body, because they neglect nuances of anatomy and physics. That can make animated characters look fake – or worse, make virtual surgeries and digital crash-test dummies inaccurate. Now computer scientists have developed software that more realistically simulates the complex movements of human joints. Victor Ng-Thow-Hing at Honda Research Institute USA in Mountain View, CA, and New York University’s Wei Shao model the human shoulder, for instance, as four separate joints instead of just one. Specify the geometry of the upper arm, collarbone, scapula, and rib cage, and the computer does the math to figure out how they all interact when, say, a virtual athlete throws a ball. A graphical interface lets animators and other users add layers of complexity to each joint to produce more detailed behaviors, such as bones slipping with respect to each other. Video game developers have expressed interest, says Ng-Thow-Hing, but biomedical applications are still a few years away.

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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