Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mechanical Turk

For our studies in color naming we have used two kind of experiments to elicit color terms: traditional tightly controlled psychophysics experiments in our laboratory, and crowdsourcing. There is a third kind of experiments, which does not rely neither on our acquaintances nor on our fans on the Internet: paid subjects.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where did they end up?

Sometimes people are in the news so relentlessly, that we almost think of them as close acquaintances. The American media system is so hyperactive, that except for people who are famous for being famous, these people disappear from the media's radar screen and go back to their normal lives after a short while. However, sometimes they make a career change and end up in unexpected places. I am always surprised by high tech people ending up in epicurean posts.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Need an extra eye?

A natural bioelectrical current jumpstarts normal eye development in frogs, researchers have discovered—suggesting a new route toward repairing damaged or diseased eyes.

Almost all cell membranes have "ion channels" that let charged particles move in and out—the essence of an electrical current. But the first clue that bioelectricity might be critical to eyes came a decade ago when Michael Levin at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and his colleagues altered the number of ion channels in cells in different parts of a frog embryo and found that lens and retinal tissue formed outside the head. Later work by others showed that cells destined to become eyes had an excessive negative charge.

Levin's team has now verified that these pre-eye cells were hyperpolarized, produced DNA regulatory proteins important for eye formation, and did become a lens and retina. Modifying the function of ion channels in four-cell frog embryos led to eyes in the tail and on the gut, but only where cells experienced a particular voltage range, the researchers reported this week in Development. "Bioelectrical information is both necessary and sufficient for inducing development of the vertebrate eye," comments James Coffman, a developmental biologist at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine.

Read the full article My, Your Eyes Are So Electric.