Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Alma Mater

I just received the alumni magazine from Northwestern University, where I did my undergraduate degree, as well as my ophthalmology training. I miss it. I miss the vibrant nature of a center of higher learning. I miss the opportunity to hear people that are on the cutting edge of their fields. I miss learning about new ideas. Well, maybe. I just remembered that a few months ago I went to a presentation by the Humanities Council by an academic archaeologist about the clay pots of the Mariana Islands. After about five minutes, I realized I had learned all I really needed to know about clay pots. The rest of the lecture was painful. The speaker was great, mind you. But the topic wasn't, shall we say, "captivating" to me. I suppose if I were at the University setting, I'd choose my lectures more carefully, (just as I now do with the Humanities Council lectures).

When I started my undergraduate career, I had visions of becoming a biomedical engineer, and I started out in the college of engineering. After the first year, I decided there was more to life than circuits and molecules, so I took a hard swing, transfered to the College of Arts and Sciences, and double majored in comparative religion and biology. The current issue of Northwestern magazine has a fascinating article about one of the folks who didn't transfer out of biomedical engineering, but who has gone on to develop what is now, the world's first artificial limb that is controlled by the brain. Nerves from the brain send signals to electrodes in the artificial arm, so when you think, "I'm going to bend my arm", the artificial arm bends. How cool is that! The full article is here. Check it out. It's a fascinating read.

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