The Plastic Brain

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“Facebook Is The New Suburbia” by Hugh MacLeod (aka GapingVoid)

Via prostheticknowledge

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Buckyballs for Christmas.

Best nerd-out haul ever.

Also scored a Pi mug, a periodic table t-shirt, and a book of surrealist art by Desmond Morris, author of the Naked Ape.

Guess my family has a pretty good handle on my geeky tastes.

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That’s all kinds of square…which is why I like it so much

The Brain Cube

Via gaksdesigns

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Visualizing video at the speed of light — one trillion frames per second

By now, most of you have probably seen mention of this video, where MIT scientists have created a camera that visualizes light at a trillion frames per second. In my moments of “wow face”, I realized I was remiss in not offering up an explainer of this bad-ass technology.

The MIT group does a pretty good job of detailing what’s going on in the video above, but if you need more:

The special camera in their setup is called a “streak camera”. Picture a camera that takes an image on one “slit” plane at a time, sort of like a stack of lines eventually becoming a rectangle. Then, there are 500 individual sensors in the camera timed to go off a trillionth of a second apart., each sort of corresponding to what we would think of as a “frame” of a video.

In that video, every “frame” of the Coke bottle with light moving through it was one-trillionth of a second. They had to repeat the scan hundreds of times to assemble a full “rectangular” image like we are used to, changing the position of the slit in the camera over time.

The result is a series of images over time that show how actual light particles move through and over a solid object. It’s slow, but the possibilities are many, from medical imaging to future YouTube video awesomeness.

(by MITNewsOffice)

Via jtotheizzoe

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Children’s perceptions of scientists, before and after actually meeting them.

Via this article, via MindShift.

Particularly relevant after this came out today:

Huge drop in year 12 students studying science‎ 

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Another example of how gaming is helping to move technology forward. Plus – Can I have for Christmas?


Title: Flying Machine Arena

Category:  #physicalinteraction #kinect

Author: Armin Ambühl, ETH Zurich 

Year: 2011


Description: They are looking for ways to make interaction with our vehicles natural and intuitive. They implemented a demo about dynamic interaction with a quadrotor vehicle using the Kinect in the Flying Machine Arena.

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Mmmm, neural circuitry.


Cognitive consilience

More than a century ago, a Spanish pathologist named Santiago Ramon y Cajal produced a series of highly detailed drawings of the microscopic structures of the human brain. It marked the beginning of modern neuroanatomy and ultimately helped earn Cajal a share of the 1906 Nobel Prize for medicine (with Italian anatomist Camillo Golgi.

Cajal’s drawings remain a marvel and are still widely used, but advances in neuroscience demand new ways to look at – and understand – how the human brain is structured and how it functions.

A recent PhD graduate and a post-doc at the University of California San Diego – Soren Solari in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Rich Stoner in the Department of Neurosciences – have created a modern take on Cajal’s pioneering work.

Publishing in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, Solari and Stoner have created a detailed review of cortical circuitry, along with a first-of-a-kind interactive website and an iPhone/iPad application that allows scientists to navigate aspects of the human brain.

“We wanted to create an interactive Figure 1,” said Stoner, who currently conducts research at the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence. “Readers of the review are able to click on a circuit and quickly find an accompanying reference.”

To build the tool, Solari and Stoner synthesized seven hypothetical circuits of the brain from scores of published neuroanatomy papers into a single interactive map that depicts consolidated long-term declarative memory, short-term declarative memory, working memory/information processing, behavioral memory selection, behavioral memory output, cognitive control and cortical information flow regulation. The map is built on data derived from multiple mammalian models.

“It’s the first coherent view of cortical circuits across different scales from different sources,” said Stoner. “We use the term ‘cognitive consilience’ because it’s about bringing together a lot of different information to form a coherent picture. It’s the unity of knowledge.”

By clicking on different links within each depicted circuit, users can read brief descriptions of the visualized cells and structures. The information is not definitive, of course.  Solari and Stoner say they have erected this first iteration as a model for future researchers to add new information. “We’d like to see this become a viable tool for scientists to describe their work,” said Stoner.

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And They’re OFF!

As part of the World Cell Race at the American Society for Cell Biology meeting last week, teams from around the world raced cells in a petri dish to claim the title of “fastest cells in the world”.

I’m sure there’s some wonderful insights into cell motility here, but you probably just want to know who won … it was a bone marrow cell from Singapore, and it clocked in at 0.000000312 kilometers per hour.

Sperm cells were obviously disqualified.

(via Nature)

Via jtotheizzoe