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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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

The Evolution of Speech, and v.v.

The brain just got more complex – that is, the part that helps us speak.  “Complex brain landscape controls speech,” reported PhysOrg, discussing findings by German researchers that show Broca’s region, implicated in speech disorders when damaged, appears to be “a much more complexly structured centre of language than was previously believed.”  Not just a […]

China Suffers 30 Years of Misguided Malthusian Idea

China has had a “one-child policy” for 30 years this week.  This policy has caused untold grief for many families desiring children, and has resulted in unexpected demographic problems – such as aging of the population, not enough brides for young men, and enormous numbers of abortions.  Two articles in Science this week explored the […]

Nerve Traffic Cop Identified

What makes signals go in one direction in neurons?  It’s important, because a reflex signal from a bump on your knee needs to go in the direction of the controlling muscle and on to the brain, not any which way.  Is there some kind of traffic cop that directs the placement of “one way” signs […]

Electricity Forms Your Heart

Did you know your heart is an electrical appliance?  That’s right.  Currents of electrical ions are vital to its function as a contractile organ.  Now, researchers at the University of California have found another thing electricity does for your heart: it guides the developing heart into the proper shape.  This is a key study showing […]

Exorcising Nazi Ghosts Continues

With so many books and documentaries on the Nazi era and World War II, one would think the subject has been worked over to death by historians, and nothing else needs to be said.  Surprisingly, new documents keep coming to light.  Some new ones reported by Science magazine are especially disturbing: they show a willing […]

Productive Science Imitates Nature

Examples continue to accumulate that some of the most interesting and fruitful science projects involve copying design principles found in nature.  This “biomimetics” approach not only pleases the consumers who can look forward to greener, cheaper, better products, but leads to deeper understandings of nature’s workings. Gecko adhesives:  PhysOrg published a story on the ongoing […]

Heal the Blind with Stem Cells

Have you heard that some cases of corneal blindness can be cured by stem cells #– from the person’s own eyes?  New Scientist recounted some recent successes for victims blinded in one eye by burns or acid.  Stem cells taken from the limbus, a disk surrounding the iris, and transplanted onto the damaged cornea, were […]

Evolution Tries to Figure Out Dads

Why did evolution produce fathers?  After male adult humans deliver their genetic component of the zygote, what are they good for?  This is a subject in which the Darwinian and the Judeo-Christian concepts of fatherhood begin at opposite poles.  But they have to converge on the practical observations of what fathers do best when they […]
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