When I’m’ feeling down, something usually happens to make me feel a little better. Today was one of those days. About 15 years ago, I had one of my many brainstorms and came-up with an Idea.

Using silk in neurobiology could be a solution to the bulky copper electrode problem hampering development of truly portable brain electrical monitoring. This was one of the major drawbacks of automating assistance to people whose bodies no longer worked due to neurological damage (brain-computer interfaces, brain-wheelchair interfaces, etc). Yes, my brainstorms are a little unusual.

I unearth a dog-eared file, piled-high with other scribbled ideas. Targeted adrenaline in coma patients; window screen retrofits for concrete homes; rapid-prototyping for plastic-surgery (which I think is now happening), something involving Fourier transform and digital-to-analog audio conversions which I can no longer read; I stuff-in this latest one and squish the folder closed. Considering this one of my wackier ideas, and soon forgot about it.

Today, I find this article on Slashdot detailing use of silk electrodes that form to brain contours and provide better signal transmission. A vague memory surfaces. I go digging through my old notes, and find…

Research Hypotheses: 1996

Find electrical conductivity of silk and other natural fibrous secretions of insects and test for biocompatibility in humans

APPLICATION: possible use in neurosurgery for neural repairs, or neuro-mechanical interface in artificial limb-control. Possibly more biocompatible then true synthetics.

If only I were a patent lawyer, I’d be rich by now. Unfortunately, you have to be rich to make a patent. Chicken & Egg problem, again? But, I no longer think this way. After years of struggle,  I accepted long ago that I would never benefit from any of my ideas. I’m OK with that.

It’s easy to begin wondering if the crap in my head is, in fact, just crap after all. Admittedly, a lot of it is.  I can wait years to see my ideas come to life, and begin to doubt.

Days like this make-up for the wait.

For full article, see “Nature,” Materials Edition, April 18 issue.
Photo courtesy of Wired.com