In The Field

FENS: a bit of science

Snippets of science: Roland Strauss of the University of Wuerzburg in Germany showed his movies of mutant flies with movement disorders – and some startling six-legged robots programmed with the same movement disorders, and which he uses as a research tool. Henrick Mouritsen from the University of Oldenburg in Germany showed some really cool data on how some migratory birds use light receptors to reset their magnetic compasses to correct for the difference between magnetic north and true north. (He pointed out that molecular biology has not been tuned to the needs of those who work on birds. He would like to create a knock-out bird, but that can’t be done yet even in chickens.)

And William Fifer from Columbia University showed more sobering data on sudden infant death syndrome which is particularly high in North American Indian populations. His idea is that vulnerable babies may have defects in their autonomic nervous systems which help regulate heart rate and blood pressure to adapt to new conditions. Vulnerability is acquired in utero, he told the meeting.

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