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Spencer Kellis

Mind-Controlled Robotic Arm Helps Paralyzed Man Drink Beer, Make Smoothies

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Spencer Kellis

After more than a decade, Erik Sorto can finally sit back, relax, and have a cold one—by using mind control. A bullet wound severed 32-year-old Sorto’s spinal cord 12 years ago, and he has been paralyzed from the neck down ever since. Recently, scientists at the California Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California, and the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, California fitted Sorto with a robotic arm. Sorto successfully controlled that arm with his mind, picking up a beer bottle with it and drinking from a straw at his own pace—no caregiver required. 

In 2013, a USC surgical team implanted penny-sized grids of electrodes in Sorto’s brain to record the signals from his posterior parietal cortex, a part of the brain that helps plan actions. Researchers mapped the electric signals that fired when Sorto watched a robotic arm moving and imagined he was controlling it, allowing them to create an algorithm that would be able to decipher his intentions. For two years, Sorto worked at controlling the robotic arm with his mind, spending multiple hours a day at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. The research is described in this week’s issue of the journal Science

The process isn’t perfect. "Some days we ended up with neurons that were better at enabling him to control things, and other days we would end up with neurons that were less good,” Tyson Aflalo, one of the lead engineers on the project, told the Los Angeles Times. But Sorto can now use his mind to point the arm in different directions, use it to make art, pick up beer bottles and other items, and make smoothies. 

And what is science for if not to enable us to drink delicious beverages at will? 

[h/t: Los Angeles Times]

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New Pop Chart Lab Poster Is a Boozy Blueprint For Making Classic Cocktails
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Pop Chart Lab

Pop Chart Lab's posters combine design with data, and their latest offering—a full breakdown of the ingredients in 60 classic cocktails—is no exception. From the exact ratio of gin and tonic that should go into a G & T (2 ounces and 4 ounces, respectively) to the garnishes you'll need to make a proper Tom Collins (a maraschino cherry and a lemon twist), the 3-foot-by-2-foot "Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" artwork teaches mixology basics you'd typically learn in bartending school, sans tuition fee.

In addition to mainstays like the Negroni and the Whiskey Sour, the poster also includes relatively obscure drinks (ever heard of the Golden Dawn, or the Journalist?), which you can attempt after drinking your way through your favorite concoctions. Before you know it, you'll be explaining to your friends the intricacies of why you should stir martinis instead of shaking them (sorry, James Bond), or the difference between a highball and a Collins glass. Bottoms up!

"Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" costs $37, and is currently available for pre-order. Shipping begins on Friday, October 20, 2017. (To see the poster's details up close, visit Pop Chart Lab's website and click on the diagram.)

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Attention Beer Lovers: A London Brewery Is Hiring a Professional Taste-Tester
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Beer lovers aren’t given many chances to discuss their passion for imbibing at job interviews. But a new open position at London's Meantime Brewing Company lists that expertise as one of the top qualifications. As Fortune reports, the brewery is seeking a professional beer taster to help improve its products.

The brewery’s part-time employee will “join the panel brewers as they taste, discuss, and pass opinion on a range of different beers,” according to the job listing on LinkedIn. On top of steady access to free booze three hours a week, the taster will receive a competitive salary “with beer benefits.” As the description reads: “Yes, this could just be the best job in the world.”

Meantime isn’t just considering any casual beer drinker for the role. Their ideal candidate will have a precise palate that can distinguish “chocolate malt from dark malt” and “Fuggles from Cascade hops.” They will also have an understanding of global consumer markets, a functioning knowledge of English, and an extensive beer vocabulary. The brewery is located in the London borough of Greenwich, so applicants who aren’t local should be willing to relocate.

Founded in 1999, the Meantime Brewing Company made its name on the beer scene with signature beverages like their London Lager, London Pale Ale, and Yakima Red. If you’re interested in joining the team, post 30 words on your LinkedIn profile explaining why you deserve the gig, along with any photos or videos that may help your case, with the hashtag #pickmemeantime. The company will narrow down the pool to three candidates for an in-person beer tasting before deciding their top pick. Meanwhile, you can prepare for the job by brushing up on your beer facts.

[h/t Fortune]

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