Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Archives for October, 2007

In comparison to other science shows, Brainiac is quite effective at appealing to the visceral compulsion to play with fire. In this case, they pitted scorching hot thermite against molten metal. What could be better than a battle between two of the most enjoyable science demonstration tools of all time? Thermite is a mixture of…

Five Ways Your Mind Plays Tricks on You

The October issue of Popular Science has several excellent articles about the mind. My favorite is a collection of five explanations of unusual or creepy sensations that are caused by neurological glitches. Reporter Veronique Greenwood included short summaries of academic research about each of the mental malfunctions. I was pleased to see that she included…

Experiences with a Cochlear Implant

Since losing his hearing, Michael Chorost has volunteered himself as a guinea-pig for a number of experiments with the software that controls his cochlear implant. He has written extensively about those experiences. This week, I stumbled upon one of his stories in The Best American Science Writing 2006 and thoroughly enjoyed it. My Bionic Quest…

Are Your Drugs Right-Handed?

In recent years, pharmacutical companies have re-released several of their blockbuster drugs with a new twist. By carefully controlling the spatial arrangement of each atom in the active ingredient, chemists can increase the effectiveness of medications and sometimes prevent unwanted or horrible side effects. Modafinil (provigil) is a treatment for narcolepsy. It also allows healthy…

This past Saturday, dozens of computer programmers descended upon a mansion in Cupertino, California to enjoy massive troughs of Indian food, camaraderie, and 12 hours of working on a diverse array of projects alongside one another. I visited the event, called SuperHappyDevHouse 20, as an observer. It made me wonder: What if all scientists worked…

In but a few hours I’ll be on a jet plane to Amsterdam, to give an academic talk at a meeting. Today has been a mix of stress (blogging scholarship, practice talks) and exhilaration (my friend’s thesis defense is today and I’m gonna be in Europe soon!) exacerbated by more caffeine and less sleep than…

As I mentioned in a previous thread, I’m responsible for inviting three speakers to the 2008 Neuroscience Spring Symposium. Its an incredible opportunity to meet scientists from around the US, and I’ve already had the pleasure of being turned down by both Daniel Dennett and Steven Pinker. However, one person whom I’m most excited to…

There’s a new viral film breezing through the internet, demonstrating what appears to be a way to make ordinary soda glow. Only one problem, its a big fake. The video claims that just adding baking soda and some hydrogen peroxide to Mountain Dew will result in the over-caffinated beverage achieving an eerie glow. However, closely…

Rings of Phenomenal Nertitude

Some say nothing quite says “I love you” like a diamond ring, but *I* say nothing quite says “I’m a huge geek” like these rings. You know, there’s so many times I’ve wished I’d been able to generate random numbers between 1 and 20. Wait! Now I can with this cool D20 ring, *and* look…

The Fibonacci numbers form a sequence defined by this relation (don’t be scared!): What this means, in English, is that it is a sequence of numbers whose relationship is this: after the first two numbers, each proceeding number is the sum of the previous two numbers. For example 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,…