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Could the MEN IN BLACK “Neuralize” You?

This Sunday the sci-fi classic (yes classic) Men in Black turns 20 years old. Originally released July 2, 1997, the film follows agents J and K on a mission to stop an intergalactic cockroach wearing Vincent D’Onofrio’s skin from destroying the Milky Way. The movie has a number of awesome scenes that we could science — a car could actually drive on a tunnel ceiling — but the scenes you’ve been asking me to tackle for years involve a device called the “neuralizer.” Is there a way to delete memories with light?

In my latest Because Science, I’m looking into the latest research in an incredibly promising field of science called optogenetics. From the name, you can probably tell that it has something to do with light and genetics, and you’d be right. Optogenetics is the process of genetically engineering cells, typically neurons, to fire in response to certain wavelengths of radiation. Optogenetics is currently one of the hottest techniques in all of neuroscience — we recently deleted memories in mice with it.

The scientific foundation of the neuralizer seems to be there, but we can’t go around inserting fiber optic cables into everyone’s head like we do with mice. Is there a pathway that leads to Men in Black-style memory wiping?

MIB

You’ll have to watch my latest episode above to find…find…I forgot what I was going to say.

Check out my last video on how the biology in every ALIEN movie fits together (probably); subscribe to this playlist to stay current with the show; buy a Because Science shirt, mug, hat, or collectible pin (the SURPRISE LIGHTSABER! shirts are in!); and follow me on Twitter to give me a suggestion for the next episode or on Instagram where I’m now posting extra mini-episodes!

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