Archive by category | Random Thoughts

A year of neuroscience in Nature

TItle and abstract words for neuroscience papers published in Nature in 2011

Something light for the weekend: deconstruction of a year of neuroscience in Nature. This text cloud was created from the titles and abstracts of 83 neuroscience papers published in Nature in 2011. Click on the image to see a larger version. Frequency is represented by font size and common words such as “the” and “and” are excluded. Not too surprisingly, “neurons” came out on top (149 occurrences).  Read more

Vote for “Method of the Year”

Last year, the editors of Nature Methods chose a “Method of the Year” (MOY) and the winner was next generation sequencing. This feature included an editorial, commentaries, news features and other types of content discussing the winning technique.  Read more

Getting into and out of character

A great discussion over at Nature Network inspired me to initiate a similar conversation here at Action Potential. Corie Lok asked the question “What is fair play in the blogo/commentosphere?” A fair question indeed. The responses have produced some interesting discussion fodder, but got me thinking about my own experiences on several science blogs. Although this conversation is equally applicable to any type of blog, let’s stick with those dedicated to or mainly engaged in conversations about science.  Read more

Big Pharma and academia becoming more and more cozy

I recently attended the Alzheimer’s Disease Keystone meeting in Keystone, CO and became more acutely aware of something than ever before: academia and drug companies really like one another. Sure, the latter always loved the former, since collaborating with university-based scientists often made the publications arising from the private sector look a little more legit. On the contrary, the reciprocity in this relationship has not always been there. There is without a doubt some sub-disciplinary differences in this complex relationship, but in the basic science departments that I lurked around, if you were associated with a company (or worse, left academia for a position there, succumbing to the power of the Dark Side), there was always talk of whether or not you could be trusted.  Read more

What to do with your unfunded proposals – place them in a centralized repository?

I would say no. Grant proposals are a precious commodity, especially in this day and age of reduced funding and evaporating money. However, in a recent Nature correspondence, Dr. Noam Harel describes his vision for a centralized grant repository, ideally open to the public, where researchers could place their best ideas, allowing various funding agencies to discover the plans most-suited to their respective agendas. Dr. Harel likens this potential web manifestation to something like eBay, Facebook or Google, but for scientists and funding agencies. A more apt analogy might be, with both sides searching for their ideal match, and a long-term relationship (perhaps I am now making it sound more like…).  Read more

Haihong Ye: Amazing changes in Chinese neuroscience over the past decade

[This is the inaugural post for a new feature at Action Potential. Periodically, we will provide insights from a regional correspondent on the interesting news, changes, or issues particularly affecting neuroscience in a particular location. Today’s post is from one of our Asian correspondents, Haihong Ye of the Institute for Biophysics in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She reflects on the dramatic changes that have occurred within Chinese neuroscience during her decade-long absence from this now-flourishing community. We examined these issues in our March editorial, but now invite you to provide your opinion. – N.G.]  … Read more

Neuroscience and Web 2.0: Participation may vary

In the last couple of years, after the recent explosion in the number of resources where scientific discussions can take place rapidly and without boundaries (i.e., using the internet), one could easily have predicted that we were on the cusp of a revolution; the way in which scientists communicated with each other regarding data was about to change forever. Although poster session chatter at your favorite scientific meeting was never going to be replaced, now researchers could interact, trade ideas and get feedback from anyone, anywhere, at any time. Sounds pretty good, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like neuroscientists are taking advantage of these cool new offerings. I could extrapolate to biology in general, but for more simplicity (and other obvious reasons), let’s stick to what we know best.  Read more

Pet sematary

A woman in the US has decided that she loved her pit bull (named Booger) so much, that having him all over again is definitely worth the $150,000 price tag. I saw this story in the BBC, reporting how a Korean company, RNL Bio, has taken its initial order for pet dog cloning, the first such venture of commercial scientific canine cloning (a pet cat was first cloned in 2004). The lead scientist at RNL Bio, Dr Lee Byeong-chun, had previously worked with disgraced stem cell scientist Dr Hwang Woo-suk, whose fraudulent publications created quite a stir (we referred to that scandal on Action potential here.)  … Read more

What are you doing for Darwin Day?

The Darwin Day celebration was initiated by Dr. Robert Stephens and was held at Stanford University on April 22, 1995 to celebrate the scientific accomplishments of Charles Darwin. In subsequent years, the event was changed to be on or around the birthday of Darwin (February 12, 1809) and has had many illustrious speakers take part, including Richard Dawkins and Donald Johanson. The celebration has become a global one, with museums, academic institutes, private foundations, and others sponsoring some form of a tribute to this famous scientist.  Read more

Easing back into it

Well, now, it has been a nice long break since the last post, but time to get this blog rolling again here in 2008. Let’s start light, while I finish cooking up the stuff I want to discuss. Let’s return to a request I buried in a previous post that received no response:  … Read more