Archives for October, 2007

The 100 colours of the Brainbow

Researchers from Harvard University have developed a remarkable genetic technique that enabled them to visualize complete neuronal circuits in unprecedented detail, by using multiple distinct colours to label individual neurons. The technique, called Brainbow, works in much the same way as a television uses the three primary colours to generate all the colour hues. With…

The neurobiology of fear

Fear, that most primitive of emotions, is good, at least when it is kept under control. It is essential for survival, allowing an organism to detect a potential threat to its life. Too much fear, however, can lead to pathological conditions such as anxiety, phobia, paranoia, or post-traumatic stress disorder. The neural circuitry which processes…

Pounding a rhythm to the brain

An article about Oliver Sacks, from the current issue of Seed magazine, has just just been made available online. Author Jonah Lehrer, who met with Sacks to research the article, provides interesting biographical details about the neurologist, including how he started out as a science writer. In the late 1960s, Sacks carried out a clinical…

It’s all Greek to me

My post on the ethnobiology of voodoo zombification has just been translated into Greek. As far as I know, this is the second time something I’ve written has been translated into another language. (There’s also an Italian translation of my post on Phineas Gage.)

European reseasrchers, led by David Penny of the University of Manchester, have used a medical imaging technique called Very High Resolution X-Ray Computed Tomography to digitally dissect and reconstruct a 1mm-long 53 million-year-old spider that is preserved in a piece of amber. The pictures, and some links, are below.

The Virtual Lab Series

Bertalan has found the Virtual Labs Series, a fantastic educational resource produced for science teachers and students by researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The series includes the Transgenic Fly Virtual Lab, the Bacterial Identification Lab, the Cardiology Lab, the Immunology Lab and – my favourite – the virtual Neurophysiology Lab. Each of the…

Internet intelligentsia

I’m very flattered to have been given two Intellectual Blogger Awards (first by Eric and then by Kate; thank you both). Now, after hard deliberation, I can name five other intellectuals upon which the same honour should be bestowed. All of the bloggers named below have given me inspiration in one way or another, and,…

Experimenting with a four-headed penis

A new paper about the reproductive behaviour of the spiny anteater, to be published in the December issue of American Naturalist, makes for fascinating – if slightly disturbing – reading. The spiny anteater (Tachyglossuss aculeatus) is a primitive mammal with an unusual four-headed penis. The animal is difficult to observe in the wild, and does…

American theocracy

The New York Times Magazine contains a long article about the close ties between evangelical Christians and the Republican party.

Weekend photo