On Photographing Thought
I expect to photograph thought…. In 1893, while engaged in certain investigations, I became convinced that a definite image formed in thought…. [and] produced a corresponding image on the retina, which might be read by a suitable apparatus….
Nikola Tesla, 1933
While driving in to work this morning, I caught NPR’s morning edition on U.C. Berkeley scientists downloading pictures from your brain. This is freaky stuff reminiscent of sci-fi films like the underrated Brainstorm (1983) and a plot device used in Horror Express (1972). Check out this video showing movie trailers versus clip reconstructed from brain activity. This is fascinating research that conjures up fantastic claims by inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla on a device for photographing thought. In 1933, at the spry age of 77, Tesla commented on exercising, eating properly (water, milk, fresh vegetable, fish and rarely red meat), and capturing thoughts with an “artificial retina” designed for conveying images without interference into the earth. See Article by Carol Bird, from the Desert News, September 9, 1993.
It’s unlikely that Tesla’s device every came to fruition (no patent or device of similar claims was ever developed by the maestro), and no prototypes were referenced by Tesla or his contemporaries. The concept is indeed thought-provoking and it blows my mind away that Tesla was referring to brain-scanning technologies 50 years before the successful implant of the Jarvik 7 artificial heart, and possibly 90 years prior, if Tesla’s 1883 claim can be substantiated. This even predates Reed Richards development of a Thought Projector Helmet in FF#27. Actually, the concept of brain windows and thought projection was explored much earlier as discussed in Direct to Brain Windows and Remote Neuron Reading and Writing TIMELINE by Ted Huntington.
U.C. Berkeley News Article