If a tangible interface
doesn't do it for you, then perhaps a living one will be more appealing to your mad scientist tendencies. Recently cooked up by a team of German researchers, this interface enlists the services of a tiny critter called a Daphnia, which gets placed under a microscope that tracks its movement as it reacts to various stimuli. That then gets translated into a farily impressive light show (as seen in the video after the break), with the pint-sized subject also apparently composing an accompanying piece of music in the process. In addition to providing some psychedelic ambiance, the system also apparently has some more practical purposes, including measuring toxicities in water, although it looks like that task comes at the expense of the little critter at the center of it all.
[Via Hack a Day