UCLA Mathematician Works To Make Virtual Surgery A Reality

“A surgeon accidently kills a patient, undoes the error and starts over again. Can mathematics make such science fiction a reality? The day is rapidly approaching when your surgeon can practice on your “digital double” – a virtual you – before performing an actual surgery, according to UCLA mathematician Joseph Teran, who is helping to make virtual surgery a viable technology. The advantages will save lives, he believes.

“You can fail spectacularly with no consequences when you use a simulator and then learn from your mistakes,” said Teran, 30, who joined UCLA’s mathematics department in July. “If you make errors, you can undo them – just as if you’re typing in a Word document and you make a mistake, you undo it. Starting over is a big benefit of the simulation. “Surgical simulation is coming, there is no question about it,” he said. It’s a cheaper alternative to cadavers and a safer alternative to patients.”

(via UCLA Newsroom)

‘Electromagnetic Wormhole’ Possible with Invisibility Technology

The team of mathematicians that first created the mathematics behind the “invisibility cloak” announced by physicists last October has now shown that the same technology could be used to generate an “electromagnetic wormhole.”

In the study, which is to appear in the Oct. 19 issue of Physical Review Letters, Allan Greenleaf, professor of mathematics at the University of Rochester, and his coauthors lay out a variation on the theme of cloaking. Their results open the possibility of building a sort of invisible tunnel between two points in space.


Current technology can create objects invisible only to microwave radiation, but the mathematical theory allows for the wormhole effect for electromagnetic waves of all frequencies. With this in mind, Greenleaf and his coauthors propose several possible applications. Endoscopic surgeries where the surgeon is guided by MRI imaging are problematical because the intense magnetic fields generated by the MRI scanner affect the surgeon’s tools, and the tools can distort the MRI images. Greenleaf says, however, that passing the tools through an EM wormhole could effectively hide them from the fields, allowing only their tips to be “visible” at work.

Full Story: University of Rochester News.

(Thanks James!)

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