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Fun with Brains

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The editorial team at Scientific American, the leading popular science magazine, teamed up with the Baltimore-based digital firm R2integrated to develop a site that is an informative and entertaining resource for exploring the human brain.

Called Brain Power: The Quest for Understanding, the experience opens with a rotating, transparent brain model ringed with a gold hoop displaying some essential facts. The animation is a combination of HTML5's highly flexible Canvas element, the fast and accurate graphics language SVG, and plain old text, all which look best in a hardware-accelerated, standards-compliant browser such as Internet Explorer 9. Click on the menu items up top to being exploring the site's rich content: "famous brains," "cerebral chase," "optical illusions," and "the parts."

The most entertaining section is "optical illusions," which lets you explore a series of classic and novel optical illusions, showing the ways that our senses and our brains sometimes conspire to produce unreliable perceptions and feelings. "Famous brains" is a mashup, but not a literal one. You select between two and six of the most famous brains in history, from Aristotle to Stephen Hawking, and combine them to get a large montage of images relating to each of your geniuses. "Cerebral chase" is a version of the electronic game Simon. You have to memorize the sequence in which various colors light up the different brain hemispheres.

Lastly, "the parts" presents more hardcore scientific data about the brain's structure, letting you explore all the major sections of the brain. It's an interactive, layered diagram built using sharp and fast SVG graphics instructions. In this section, you are asked to choose between "lateral" and "midsagittal" views of the brain; for us non-scientists, the latter means "midsection." But for the most part, the information is presented in layman's terms and is very accessible.

This story, "Fun with Brains" was originally published by BrandPost.