Imagine a world in which damaged parts of the body – an arm, an eye, or a region of the brain – can be replaced by artificial implants capable of restoring or even enhancing human performance. The associated improvements in the quality of life would revolutionize the medical world and produce sweeping changes across society. At this Science on Tap, Dr. Richard Taylor, Professor of Physics, Psychology, and Art at the University of Oregon, will focus on electronic implants designed to replace photoreceptors damaged by retinal diseases. Today’s implants are based on the conventional electronics developed for computers. In contrast, our bio-inspired implants adopt the fractal shape of the nerves they communicate with. The advantages predicted for fractal-based implants include an increase in visual acuity by over an order of magnitude, potentially allowing the victims of retinal diseases to read text and facial expressions – essential capabilities for performing every day tasks.
Richard Taylor is a Professor of Physics, Psychology and Art. Since gaining his Physics Ph.D. in 1988 (Nottingham University, UK), he has published over 290 research papers and has worked in the USA, UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden. In addition, he trained as a painter at the Manchester School of Art (U.K., 1995), and has a Masters Degree in Art Theory (The University of New South Wales, Australia, 2000). His research has been the subject of television documentaries, including The Art of Science (ABC, 1998), Hunting the Hidden Dimension (PBS, 2008) and The Code (BBC TV, 2011). His work has also been the subject of popular press articles (for example, in The New York Times and The London Times), magazine articles (for example, in Scientific American, Time, The New Yorker, New Scientist and Discover) and ten popular science books. He regularly gives lectures around the world, commissioned by organizations as diverse as the Nobel Foundation, the Royal Society, the White House, and national art galleries such as the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum in Venice.
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