A week since MoogFest 2017

It’s been a week since MoogFest, and I’ve started to reflect on the experience. I’ve not seen any published numbers, but it certainly seemed much smaller than 2016’s MoogFest.  A report in the local paper said that 2016 was over 10,000 people with 65% or more being from out of town.  This year, in the sessions I was in, I would expect that the number coming in would be less than 7,000 (I guess we will hear some time closer to next year).

The number of technical sessions during the day seemed to be significantly smaller than 2016, but I was able to go to all the ones I wanted to, but one.  The one I couldn’t go to was completely full by the time I registered for sessions, it was a session on VR.  Well, I’ve played with Occulus in the past, so perhaps I didn’t miss anything.

There were three sessions that I really like a lot:

The first was from a professor at Ga. Tech, who teaches a class on musical instrument design. New Instruments, interfaces and Robotic Musicians – Was presented by Dr. Timothy Hsu and a PhD student – Mike Winters.  The talked about various instruments that people designed, and the contest that students compete in – http://guthman.gatech.edu/2017-winners .  The Guthman Musical Instrument Competition, has some really interesting designs by students and others.  I found the Rib-Cage instrument to be very cool.  Go check out the videos – Here.
The second session was from a Professor at Duke University – Brain-Machine Interfaces: From Basic Science to Neurological Rehabilitation – (Miguel A. L. Nicolelis, MD, PhD).  This session was inspirational and amazing!  During the 2014 World Cup, Dr. Nicolelis and a team of 100’s of scientists from around the globe worked together, in 18 months, to build an exoskelleton and train 9 quadriplegics to walk out on the field during the opening ceremonies and have one of them kick a soccer ball.  While this in itself was amazing, the part that was truly inspirational was the results of what happened after the World Cup.  Many people who are defined as permently quadriplegic due to a severed spinal cord, actually have 5-20% of the cord still in tact.  What Dr. Nicolelis and his team discovered was that after the training of the World Cup, many of the subjects actually started feeling below their defined injury.  Not only that, but some are even walking now!  Evidently the brain can be retrained to start controlling the limbs with the very limited spinal cord, after the injury (and without the exoskeleton).  While they are still doing research, this is very promising technology, and by training people with VR and other techniques that used during the World Cup work they can help people regain some control, and live a much more normal life.

The final session was really a set of sessions by a group of scientists who are all working with CERN and the LHC.  Dr. Steve Goldfarb, Dr. Kate Shaw, and Dr. Mark Kruse.  This group of experimental physicists talked about the Large Hadron Collider and physics across a multitude of sessions.  Sunday ended with a pub crawl at FullSteam brewery and an open Q&A session.  Had a great time talking physics with them.  Go follow their work on twitter at ICTP-News