VIEW HEADLINES ONLY

Brain Synapse Machinery Is Finely Tuned

The New York Times published a brief article on brain facts that is astonishing, when you think about all that goes on in thinking.  Nicholas Wade reported on a new inventory of the proteins involved in the synapses, the key junctions between neurons.  The research team, led by Seth Grant of the Sanger Institute near […]

Are You Too Clean?

You shower, you put on clean clothes, you wash your hands with antibacterial soap, you keep the house spic and span, you work in a clean office – and you set yourself up for disease and depression.  That’s what some scientists are proposing with the “hygiene hypothesis.”  By depriving yourself of access to your bacterial […]

News on the Mind

Here are a dozen recent stories dealing with brains, the mind, perception, motivation and other aspects of psychology and neuroscience. Nature and nurture:  PhysOrg claims that scientists at SMU have resolved the nature vs nurture debate with a hybrid approach.  Whether it satisfies critics remains to be seen.  Perhaps they are still thinking inside the […]

Thank God or Science?

Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving today, a long-standing tradition going back to the earliest European settlers in North America, the Pilgrims.  Up until recently, the tradition included giving thanks to God.  Now, the trend is to thank one another.  The NASA Director put out a thanksgiving message Wednesday basically thanking all the NASA employees for their […]

Boggle Your Brain

A new animation of a trip through a brain shows mind-boggling complexity in more detail than ever before.  The animation, posted by freelance journalist Elizabeth A. Moore on CNET News, represents years of work by Stanford University School of Medicine.  Using green fluorescent protein in a mouse brain to light up synapses, and photographing the […]

Stem Cells of the Adult Kind Steal the Headlines

Stories about stem cell research need to be divided into two sections: those about adult stem cells (AS), which have no ethical ramifications, and stories about embryonic stem cells (ES), which raise many issues about the sanctity of human life.  As usual, most of the actual clinical progress is being made with adult stem cells […]

Cells Can Be Transformed

An astonishing feat has been performed in a Canadian lab: scientists turned human skin cells into blood cells.  Bypassing the need for stem cells, the technique provides hope for a supply of blood from a person’s own skin. Live Science calls it a “modern miracle.”  The technique avoids “the ethical concerns concerning embryonic stem cells […]

Windows into the Mind

What would it be like to see things for the first time?  You can watch the reaction on Live Science #1 and Live Science #2.  Blind patients were implanted with a microchip that allowed them, for the first time, to roughly sense the visual input of objects in front of them.  Amazing as it was, […]

Automatic Turnstiles Found in the Cell

One of the things students learn about in high school biology classes is active transport: the ability to control flow through a semi-permeable membrane.  Contrary to osmosis, in which the flow goes naturally from high concentration to low concentration, cell membranes employ active mechanisms to push or pull the molecules through their membranes according to […]

Mind Matters

The conundrum of how reasoning could have emerged by an undirected evolutionary process persists.  Atheists and materialists are convinced that natural selection is up to the task, while theists strongly disagree and use human rationality as evidence for creation by an intelligent source (usually God).  Perhaps a few recent findings can illuminate on the options. […]

SETI: To the Unknown, Full Speed Ahead

This year marks the 50th year of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).  Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and one of its most outspoken spokesmen, made the cover of Sky and Telescope’s November 2010 issue.  He stands proudly over his Allen Telescope Array in his feature story, “Closing in on E.T.” celebrating […]

Hairy Bacteria Walk and Talk

Little hair-like projections on some bacteria, nearly invisible with light microscopes, are not just for decoration.  They do amazing things – as a pair of recent discoveries brought to light.  They help bacteria walk and talk. But can they dance?  Bacteria swim, but they also land on surfaces – and when they do, they put […]

Brain Rewires for Lost Senses

Born without vision or hearing?  The brain can apparently rewire itself to accommodate the loss, reported the BBC News.  Dr Stephen Lomber, who led research published in Nature Neuroscience, said: The brain is very efficient, and doesn’t let unused space go to waste.     The brain wants to compensate for the lost sense with […]

More DNA Repair Wonders Found

One of the most phenomenal discoveries since the structure of DNA was revealed must surely be the discovery of multitudes of protein machines that repair DNA (01/04/2002).  The repair machines are themselves coded by DNA, but DNA would quickly decay into nonsense without them.  Another “fundamentally new” repair mechanism was discovered by researchers at Vanderbilt […]

Big Gains for Adult Stem Cells Announced

Ever since Shinya Yamanaka figured out how to coax skin cells to become pluripotent stem cells in 2007 (something for which he is being considered for a Nobel Prize, see PhysOrg), other researchers have been improving on his idea.  Three big gains were announced recently.     PhysOrg and New Scientist reported work by Derrick […]
All Posts by Date