ultranos: XKCD: stand back, i'm going to try science (science warning)
I've been meaning to make this post for awhile, but I was waiting until I had the links for it.

Many times in the past year, I've had to try to explain exactly what it is I do. The simplest answer is that I'm a lab tech. (My actual job title is "Technical Assistant".) I work in the Synthetic Neurobiology Group in the MIT Media Lab.

This is roughly the point where I start getting blank looks.

Think of the brain as a computer. A computer processor is made up of millions of tiny transistor circuits that are electrically driven and are used to process all the data we input into it via keyboard, mouse, and all other devices. So, over a decade ago, Dr. Ed Boyden asked a very simple question: if we already use the metaphor of a computer for the brain, why don't we treat the brain like a series of very complex circuits? And if we do that, can we use something less damaging to the structure of the brain, like light, instead of electricity and chemicals?

Actually, Dr. Boyden is the head of my lab, and thus my boss, and was invited to speak at TED this past spring. The following talk explained the field of optogenetics, which is genetically modifying cells to be receptive to light, and what we're doing in the lab, from overcoming fear conditioning to possibly cure PTSD, to restoring visual behavior in blind mice, to possibly stopping epileptic seizures.

My main job in the lab, by the way, is to make a lot of these prototypes needed in these experiments, such as those tiny fiber arrays seen in the video (that thing's about the width of your thumbnail, by the way). They're absolutely fascinating manufacturing and design problems, from weight to material choice to size. It's all pretty exciting stuff, really.
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ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)

Memoranda from the Usual Suspects

Media List:

Currently Watching:
-- Supergirl(hiatus)
--Pitch (hiatus)

Currently Playing:
--[null] (PS3)
--[null] (PS2)
--Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
--[null] (PSP)
--[null] (XBox360)
--Endless Legend (PC)
--Fallout: New Vegas (PC)

Currently Reading:


-The Rook, Daniel O'Malley
-Fortune's Rising, Sara King

-Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, David Daley


"So she's good cop, he's bad cop, you're morally-questionable cop, and I'm set-things-on-fire cop."

"Sounds about right."


"WARNING: When attempting to be clever, make sure you not actually just being stupid."


"Did you remember to sacrifice the goat before burning the ISO to the DVD-R?"

"Crap! Um, I've got a charred piece of meat here."

"That's called a steak. That's dinner. What about the sacrifices?"


"I escape through quantum-tunneling. What do I need to roll for that?"


"Why is it called a 'Monkeylord'?"

"Because it looks like a spider."


"I have a moral objection to this problem. It implies microwaving a steak."


"Did you eat the crazy cookies this morning?"


"The GPU goes 4 by 4, hurrah, hurrah."

April 2017

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