MICHAEL T. HYSON, Ph. D. - BIOGRAPHY


      Podners                                                              Hyson C.V. 

Born July 5, 1948 in Rockford, Illinois. Michael spent his early life in Winnebago, Illinois on a small farm. He was greatly inspired by his father, Eugene [a microbiologist who helped develop yellow fever vaccine]. His early interests were art, astronomy, space travel and science, especially biology. Pursuits like falconry, keeping pets, rock climbing, and spelunking led to keeping pet bats. Because bats and dolphins both use sonar, he soon found the books of John Lilly. At age 15, he went to Port Aransas, Texas and trained dolphins with his brother Robert. Fascinated with these creatures, he set out to be a marine biologist. In 1964 he studied sharks at Cape Haze Marine Lab, Sarasota, Florida with Eugenie Clark and the next summer, went to Alaska to study arctic biology.

In 1966 Hyson entered the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida to study biology and medicine. Intent on being a field ethologist, Hyson studied rodent behaviour with population biologist David van Vleck, ethology with Art Myrburg [a Konrad Lorenz student], took honors history with John Knoblock, and continued medical studies by working as a medical and x-ray technician. In 1970, he met Thorne Shipley and became fascinated with the study of the brain and visual perception. He learned that computers could draw pictures and created the first random-dot stereograms outside of Bell Labs for Shipley's course. Based on this work, Shipley invited him to enter graduate school in neurophysiology where he also worked with William Evoy, a specialist in crayfish locomotion.

After a thesis on stereoscopic vision earned him a masters degree, he went on to work with Howard Teas, a tropical botanist and remote sensing expert. He created a computer neural net model of the visual system intended to automatically map plant species with the [then] new remote sensing satellites for his Ph. D. While this goal proved ambitious, the model showed the importance of non-linear processes in the brain and the usefulness of neural nets for pattern recognition and robotics. His continued work with Shipley, at the Mailman Center for Child Development included EEG and evoked response experiments indicating dyslexia and other problems in children involve errant processing of signals arriving simultaneously from different senses.

While completing his master's thesis, he met Henry Truby, a linguist and acoustic phonetician once part of John Lilly's Communication Research Institute, where attempts were made to teach dolphins to speak English. Truby and Ric O'Feldman [a trainer for the Flipper TV series] formed the World Dolphin Foundation and kept the dolphins Florida and Liberty in the Mashta Island Lagoon, some 1000 yards from Nixon's Key Biscayne Whitehouse. Hyson joined the group and swam many hours with the dolphins while developing dolphin communication interfaces and other projects.

After completing his Ph.D. in 1976, and the release of Florida and Liberty in the Bahamas, he left Florida to join California Institutue of Technology's BioInformation Systems Lab to research non-linear aspects of brain function with Derek Fender. At the urging of Bela Julesz, [originator of the random dot stereogram and, later, the first recipient of the MacArthur Prize] he made precise records of eye motions during stereoscopic vision and showed the brain was able to fuse stereo images which were up to 8 degrees apart on the retinas, proving the brain uses dynamic "software" more than heretofore appreciated. About this time, he became concerned about nuclear reactor safety and designed walking waldos with Dr. James Grote for use in nuclear reactors. With Cal Tech and Combustion engineering, he jointly proposed to build robot/waldo walkers [based on how crayfish walk] to the NSF, DOE, and EPRI.

Looking to the future, he began to dream of living in space and applying his knowledge of biology and robotics to this goal. After organizing a Cal Tech Space Settlement Conference in 1978 which was attended by major players in the space colony movement, he joined a NASA Summer Study exploring self-reproducing factories on the moon in 1980. That same summer he joined Gary Hudson's GCH Astronautics [developers of the first private rocket in the U.S]. While there he developed telepresence and waldo concepts for space operations and helped develop a robot arm.


In the fall of 1980, he joined Cal Tech's Jet Propulsion Lab in the Physics and Containerless Processing section. He helped develop electrostatic levitators for containerless processing in orbit. The devices were tested on the NASA KC-135 and he experienced some 10 hours of zero-gravity.

He initiated a project that created uniform plastic microspheres [the most uniform spheres ever created in the 150-300 micron size range] and explored their application to AIDS and bone marrow transplants. He also researched free-flying teleoperators and neuromagnetometry - a way to detect the magnetic fields of the brain, consulted with Yamaha on motorcycle safety and robotics, and helped develop some of the first orange "blue blocking" sunglasses with Suntiger Biomedical Optics, as well as other projects. He continued to push for space settlement and low-cost private launchers as a member of the L-5 Society's Citizen's Advisory Council on Space Policy. Council reports to President Reagan resulted in the SDI programs. He helped found the Lunar Society, a group pursuing a private Lunar settlement.

In 1987, after the Challenger disaster, he left NASA to help make reliable private orbital rockets.

In 1988, he joined Gary Hudson's Pacific American Launch Systems as Research Director helping design and build the Liberty 1-A engine for testing at Edward's AFB. His logistics model showed a lunar settlement could be built for under a billion dollars (or less) using Hudson's Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) Phoenix rocket. The project ended before the Liberty engine was fired. Following this, he helped write briefings for the Citizen's Advisory Council that eventually started major SSTO rocket developments. The MacDonald-Douglas' DC-X Delta Clipper rocket that resulted was recently featured on the cover of Popular Science magazine. The DC-X is substantially the same as Gary Hudson's designs for a mini-Phoenix. On June 7, 1996, he attended a test launch of the DC-X from White Sands, NM.

With plans for orbit on hold, he decided to pursue his first love, the dolphins. This was facilitated when he met Paradise Newland, (mother, dolphin researcher, producer, writer etc) and her son Tiger Stanley in January, 1990. In April, whilst attending the K.W.I.C. conference in the Keys, he had the opportunity to reconnect with one of his swimming partners, Dreamer, at Dolphin's Plus in Florida. She healed an old neck injury with her sonar. This event so impressed him he determined to solve the dolphin communication problem, create human/dolphin habitats where dolphin sound healing and dolphin attended underwater births can be experienced, and integrate dolphins into human societies. He created the Song Swimmer musical computer interface that allows dolphins to play musical instruments and control computers using their sounds.

Together the three co-founded the Sirius Institute; he became its research director and the Institute was relocated to Hawai'i to pursue its various projects with free dolphins.

The Song Swimmer interface was demonstrated at the 3rd International Dolphin and Whale Conference in Kona, Hawaii in 1991. John Lilly commented that the work was "excellent and exciting".

A tape "Dolphin Valentine" has been produced. These results open the way for full, objective communications with the dolphins as well as artistic endeavors such as interspecies concerts and other performances where the dolphins compose and perform their own music in conjunction with human musicians.

Dr. Hyson is a topic leader on the network BIX [Sciences/hysons.corner] and he has a mailing list [
hyson-list@zz.com].

A next step for him is to put dolphins on the virtual reality nets so that anyone, anywhere, can have their own real-time dolphin experiences and to validate dolphin assisted healing and restoration and is currently negotiating with the Mirage Hotel dolphin facility in Las Vegas and with Aquathought in Florida on Dolphin Restoration Experiments.


He can be reached through E-Mail:

siriusinstitute@yahoo.com

Sirius Institute
P.O. Box 1979
Pahoa, Hawai'i 96778

Phone: 808-965-5454



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Updated June 6, 2000