Neurodome

Filmmaker turns to Kickstarter for a journey into the brain

Many of us can remember our first trip to a science museum and being awed and absorbed by the planetarium movie.

A group of brain buffs also wants to create that same kind of experience for you—only instead of outer space, they want to do it with inner space.

The group called Neurodome led by director Jonathan Fisher have launched a Kickstarter project to raise $25,000 by May 14 to produce a dome-format movie made with real 3D images of the brain that will search for the biological reasons we need to go where no one has gone before.

"Humans are inherently curious," the group explains at Kickstarter. " We have journeyed into space, and have traveled to the bottom of our deepest oceans.  But no one has ever explained why man or woman 'must explore.'"

"What is it that sparks our curiosity?" it continues. "Are we hard-wired for exploration?  Somewhere in the brain’s complex architecture lie the answers."

In a video on Neurodome's Kickstarter page, a narrator explains: "Somewhere in the brain vast networks of neurons make us see the world the way we do and send us out to explore the unknown. That's where we'll go."

Real astrophysical data will be incorporated into the show, Kelle Cruz, a professor at Hunter College in New York City, says in the video.

"We're going to venture from the vast universe all the way down to the small scales of the brain," she adds.

Planetarium a well-suited venue

Exploring the brain in a planetarium show is a fantastic idea, according to Douglas Harsch, a digital effects artist who has worked on three dome projects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City—Cosmic Collisions, Journey to the Stars, and The Big Bang.

"It lends itself to the type of exploration in a planetarium-immersive environment similar to flying around in space," he says in the video.

Rockefeller University's Aaron Steiner explains that the film will enable a general audience to see the brain in way that up to now has been limited to scientists.

"It will allow people to understand how the brain works and how the different parts of the brain are connected in a way that previously hasn't been possible," he says in the video.

By combining outer and inner space, the film makers hope to give their audience a better understanding of themselves.

"So what we're doing here is combining this almost infinite scale of the universe and the untold depths of the brain into one presentation to give people what is going to be an awesome experience into who they are," Kelley Remole, director of neuroscience outreach at Columbia University, says in the video.

The team's first goal is to use the $25,000 from Kickstarter to create a five-minute animated planetarium sequence that merges images of the brain and space.

Later, it hopes to create two ten-minute animations in dome-o-rama. One would follow light from a distant star to Earth and through the brain's visual pathway. The second would visit some of man's latest space achievements and the regions of the brain involved with exploratory behavior.

It also plans to produce flat-screen versions of the animations for viewing on a plethora of devices.

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