80,000 Neurons Firing in the Brain of a Zebrafish

July 29th, 2014 | Brain

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A team led by Drs. Jeremy Freeman and Misha Ahrens recently recorded the activity of approximately 80,000 neurons firing in the brain of a zebrafish larvae. The technique they implemented is called light-sheet microscopy. Briefly, the scientists genetically engineer zebrafish neurons to emit a fluorescent signal just after the neuron fires. Laser beams are the shot through the fish so that the activated neurons will glow and an overhead microscope records the whole thing. Of course, this technique only works because the zebrafish are entirely transparent, so don’t expect to have your brain scanned in this manner any time soon.

“At the beginning of the movie, the fish is resting and the forebrain region on the far-right is flashing away. That may represent whatever the fish is thinking about when it’s just hanging out.

Scientists then created the illusion that the fish was drifting backwards by sliding bars in front of its eyes. Its intent to swim to catch up was measured with electrodes on its muscles. When the bars start sliding, a few neurons sitting just behind the eyes light up followed by a huge cascade of activity, including massive pulses initiating swimming.”

“There must be fundamental principles about how large populations of neurons represent information and guide behavior,” says neuroscientist Jeremy Freeman of Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia. “In this system, where we record from the whole brain, we might start to understand what those rules are.”

We know that the processing of sensory input and the generation of behavior involves large networks of neurons, and Dr. Freeman believes that observing networks with this sort of technology will enable us to gain deeper insight to how the brain functions.

It is important to note that the temporal resolution is fast enough to identify which neurons are involved in a given behavior but too slow to count how many times they fire. Thus, there is no way that this technique could ever decipher the neural computations that take place at the millisecond timescale in the human brain.

I think we’ll probably need nanobots to ever fully decode the brain…

Find the full article here… if you have a subscription :/

-RSB

[via Wired]

Future Cars by Beni Bischoff

July 27th, 2014 | Robot, Space

Handicaped Cars 1

Swiss artist Beni Bischoff created these intriguing automobile images by digitally altering photographs of classic cars. The resulting hovercrafts walk a beautiful line between retro and futuristic design… Maybe these concept cars will become the very first models of a new era of hovering transportation.

Handicaped Cars 2

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Handicaped Cars 6

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This vision of the future may not be so terribly far off… Toyota surprisingly announced that they may be planning to build a hovercraft in the near future. Though I doubt it will look as cool as these cars, it’s exciting nonetheless.

The rest of Beni Bischoff’s work is a bit different. It includes sculpture, painting, and other (more disturbing :)) digital manipulations. Check it out here.

-RSB

Kilauea Volcano Selfie

July 23rd, 2014 | Space

Kilauea Volcano Selfie

Photographer and explorer, Andrew Hara, may have taken the coolest “selfie” I’ve ever seen. He was able to gain access to the edge of the Helemaumau crater while volunteering for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. From Andrew:

“I cautiously hiked through a restricted area of the park with a fellow United States Geological Survey geologist with a camera, tripod, and respirator to filter hazardous gasses.”

The rest is history. By adding himself to the landscape, Andrew gave the volcano a truly awe-inspiring perspective.

Do not try to attempt this at home. In fact, the Crater Rim Drive from Jaggar Museum to the Chain of Craters Road junction is currently closed due to elevated levels of sulfur dioxide gas and the subsequent eruption from a new vent in Halema‘uma‘u Crater.

-RSB

Map of Mars by the U.S. Geological Survey

July 16th, 2014 | Space
Map of Mars US Geological Survey 1

via USGS

Geologic map of Mars on the left, elevation map on the right

Geologic map of Mars on the left, elevation map on the right

Over the past 16 years, the United States Geological Survery (USGS) has worked to create a global geographic map of Mars. The data to create the map principally came from 4 spacecraft: the Mars Global SurveyorMars OdysseyMars Express and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

One of the most interesting findings to emerge from this data set is that the oldest geological region of Mars (~4 billion years, brown color region) is 3 times larger than originally suspected. In addition, the data backs up recent research which demonstrates that Mars was a geologically active planet until recently. But what does the word “recently” really mean in terms of planetary science? Well, many scientists believe that Mars was last active approximately 10 million years ago, which was before the common ancestor of the chimpanzee and the human split (~6 million years ago). But that’s still just a small time period for the history of the planet.

The reason we care about geological activity is that active planets are believed to provide richly chaotic environments necessary for life to develop. Gaining a better understanding of Mars will give us a clearer picture of what to expect elsewhere in the Universe.

For a more detailed view at the map above, please visit the USGS site.

-RSB

[via Wired]

Sketchbook Illustrations by Mattias Adolfsson

July 9th, 2014 | Robot, Space

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mattias adolfsson Illustrations 1 Illustrations 2 adolfsson 3 Space Craft Adolfsson 4 Mattias 5 mattias adolfsson 6 mattias adolfsson 7

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Mattias Adolfsson is a Swedish artist who created these incredibly detailed pen & ink sketches of surrealist architecture, machines, animals, and spacecraft.  The illustrations are so intricate that I often find myself staring at them for long periods of time and discovering new details each time I look. I have a feeling each piece probably takes several days of back-breaking concentration to complete.

Most of the drawings are stand-alone pieces of art, but he has completed work for The New York Times, Work style Magazine, Amtrak, and Wired.

Mattias has a LARGE collection of work, just type his name into google, and you’ll see the whole gamut (or just check his website).

Also, you can find a cool book of some of his illustrations which are printed onto Moleskin HERE.

-RSB

“Ivory Coast” by Pure Bathing Culture

July 7th, 2014 | Space

Ivory Coast Song

Sean Pecknold directed this lovely video for the song, “Ivory Coast,” by Pure Bathing Culture. The story features a little blue alien (love child?) being chased by ghostly, holographic sharks. Sound intriguing? :) In the end, it appears, the mother must let her son travel to the stars… where he belongs. Enjoy!

-RSB

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