Story kept in the voice of Chris Kelly, as told to Patrick Orenstein. Pictures by Chris Kelly.
Brown Graduate Student Chris Kelly spent the summer of 2015 on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi as part of an international team of researchers using lake sediment cores to study the region's climate history. Led by Brown Professor James Russell, the Lake Towuti Drilling Project sampled ancient sediments from the lakebed, the analysis of which will give researchers new information on the long-term climate dynamics of the tropical western Pacific.
by Kyu Bin Kwon ’18
Just imagine: small brains. More specifically, small cell cultures of a three-dimensional spheroid central nervous system (CNS), made in Petri dishes, about a third of a millimeter in diameter. Feeling excited yet? Neuroscientists sure are, and researchers at Brown have found ways to make these supplies of mini-brains even cheaper and faster in a new study.
These tiny brain models provide so much potential for the studies of CNS function, disease and therapeutics. Barry Connors, chair of the Department of Neuroscience, attributes the novelty of mini-brains to their depth and shape. 2D cell cultures that are widely used in present works are limited in that there are only lateral intercellular connections; alternatively, 3D models successfully mimic the complexity of microenvironmental cues in the brain and are “more relevant to the in vivo [living] scenario,” according to graduate student and co-author of the study, Molly Boutin.
by Rahul Jayaraman '19
The New York Times headline blared “Sorry, Einstein. Quantum Study Suggests ‘Spooky Action’ Is Real.” Numerous other news outlets picked up on this and heralded this experiment as the verification of quantum physics (1). What’s it all about, and does it really change our understanding of the world? In fact, what the heck did the scientists even do?
by Patrick Orenstein '18
Most geological processes happen very, very slowly. Tectonic plates move on the order of inches per year, rivers take tens of millions of years to carve formations like the Grand Canyon, and a molecule of water can take 500 years to circle the globe through a system of deepwater currents known as the Ocean Conveyor Belt. However, occasionally things can happen a lot quicker, as is the case for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Both phenomena represent the culmination of long periods of inactivity during which tension is continuously building until it overcomes the material holding it in place.
by Blanca Garcia '16
“Trans-human” literally means “beyond human,” exactly what the movement pushes towards. As an international cultural and intellectual movement, trans-humanism is working towards transforming the human experience through biotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and radical science. The imaginative applications of the current technologies and future advancements are limitless, and both scientists and intellectuals are already envisioning a different society.
One such intellectual is philosopher Rebecca Roache. Roache leads a team of scholars at Oxford University in revolutionizing the future of punishment through science. In line with the trans-human movement, Roache and her fellow scientists are planning to utilize trans-human advancements in the allocation of punishment. In her work, Dr. Roache cites Dr. Aubrey de Grey, cofounder of the anti-ageing SENS research foundation. Dr. Grey believes that soon we will be able to slow down, if not halt the ageing process all together, enabling humans to remain healthy and live out thousands of years.
by Daniel Golden ‘18
Everyone wonders now and then what it would be like to never grow old, to live forever just watching and rewatching entire TV series on Netflix, day in and day out. For us mere mortals, this is just a pipe dream, but, for your average, everyday lobster, it’s more attainable than you might think. Aging is, at least in part, caused by the gradual degradation of segments of DNA at the ends of our genomes. These segments, called telomeres, get chipped away in tiny increments every time our cells divide, and they can only be repaired by telomerase, a special enzyme that human cells produce less and less of as we enter our less-than-golden years.
Lobsters are biologically immortal... at least until they become lobster rolls. [image via]
by Rahul Jayaraman '19
Protests have been occurring throughout the world about the genetic makeup of our food. Many of these protests have created extreme backlash against companies (such as Monsanto) that sell genetically modified crops (1). Misconceptions about genetic modification have been widespread. However, what if there were an alternative that would leave people feeling satisfied that their food has not been tampered with? (2)
By Misbah Noorani '17
Here at Brown, “consciousness” is an oft-touted concept. It's ontologized by philosophers, attempted by artificial intelligence researchers, black-boxed by cognitive scientists, and reduced to its neural correlates by neuroscientists. Step into the physics department, though, and you won’t hear a whisper of the Hard Problem; at least, not in the bubble of academia. Now try typing “consciousness” into your Google or YouTube search bar, and it’s a different story entirely.
by Dahee Seo '17
It's not too late ! There will be additional clinic on Thursday, November 19th at the Chancellor's Dining Room at the Ratti from 10am - 3pm. The vaccine is also available at Health Services anytime - you can either walk in or schedule an appointment.
It is that time of the year again! I am not talking about midterms or Halloween, but something as important as these two. Brown Health Services will be holding free Flu Shot Clinics from 10am - 4pm, downstairs of Blue Room Wednesdays - Fridays, starting from October 14th. This information may not excite those of you who never get the free flu shots. Honestly, why would you want to go get your arm poked by a needle when you have never gotten flu? Because getting a flu shot not only protects you but also protects those around you against the flu. It may indeed save someone’s life. If you are planning to go home for Thanksgiving and give a hug to your grandparents or baby nieces, nephews and cousins, please read short questions and answers about flu shot below.
by Typher Yom '19
The silicon age: it represents the triumph of today in the field of electronics, and the advancement of human innovation. Will this age ever end? Moore’s law seems to say so. According to this law, the size of our transistors, which are made of silicon, will get two times smaller approximately every two years. But silicon chips can only be so small: after a certain size, we can’t make functioning transistors and further improve our electronics.
Silicon is the pinnacle of today’s electronics; from silicon chips in computers to silicon transistors in our radios, there are hardly any types of electronics that do not use silicon. Its semiconducting properties allow it to switch on and off at room temperature. Without this “switch” ability, our computer chips, would not be able to hold the abundance of memory and information at our fingertips. Silicon is not the ideal electronic material, but this disadvantage is balanced by its abundance, as silicon is the 8th most abundant element on Earth. Other semiconductors, like gallium arsenide, are much less accessible, especially now, since we are so dependent on the use of electronics that semiconductors are in high demand.