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Pest Control
Photograph by George Steinmetz

Neuroscientist John Chapin of SUNY Downstate Medical Center comes face-to-face with his laboratory's current project, a rat that follows commands sent by radio. The rodent's backpack receives directional instructions and electrically stimulates the rat's brain to feel a phantom tickle on its right or left whiskers, and then triggers the brain's pleasure center when the rat turns as ordered. Lab members hope the "rat-bots," which have a one-mile range, will eventually be used for search-and-rescue missions in collapsed buildings. "It seems to me no different from a shepherd whistling to a sheepdog," says Chapin's colleague Sanjiv Talwar. "Except that we send signals directly to its brain."

Photo Fast Facts

Camera: Nikon 8008
Film Type: Fujichrome Velvia
Lens: 85mm
Speed and F-Stop: One second @ f/4
Weather Conditions: Indoors
Time of Day: 4 p.m.
Lighting Techniques: A flash is aimed on the rat and another on Dr. Chapin
Special Comments: Hillary the rat is on top of an overturned lab beaker so that she wouldn't run away.


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