by Sophia Park '13.5
Any visitor to Luke Jerram’s glass microbiology exhibition would be pleasantly surprised to see lethal pathogens sculpted in delicate glassworks that are unsettlingly fragile and transparent. His work is the first attempt to provide a detailed three-dimensional representation of microbiology in glass, and the Scientific American boasts, “You’ve never really seen a virus until you see this.” (1)
First developed in 2004, Jerram’s glass viruses have traveled to critical acclaim and commercial success in more than 10 cities including New York, London, Madrid, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo and Tel Aviv.
Jerram aimed to represent viruses in their natural colorless states. “Early on in my research I discovered that viruses have no color as they are smaller than the wavelength of light,” said Jerram. “Because I’m colorblind, I’m interested in how we see the world and in exploring the edges of perception.” (1)
So You Wanna Be a Scientist
A Review of Advice For A Young Investigator by Santiago Ramón y Cajal (Translated by Neely Swanson & Larry W. Swanson)
by Matthew Lee '15
Find this book in the Sci Li!
Or read the full text online!
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Bradford Books, The MIT Press (1999)
In 1906, two rival neuroscientists shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine: Camillo Golgi and Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Golgi firmly believed in the reticular theory, that the brain consisted of a single network. In contrast, Cajal contended that the brain actually consisted of discrete cells. As it turns out, Cajal was right.
Cajal (1852-1934), who hailed from Spain, spent years at a microscope and painstakingly drew neurons. After all, it would be quite some time before we would be able to take pictures of cells. His descriptions and depictions of the nervous system are so detailed that they serve as a foundation for modern neuroanatomy.
Well into his career but a decade before winning the Nobel Prize, Cajal wrote Advice for a Young Investigator, a short guide rife with humor, anecdotes, and timeless wisdom for students aspiring to become great scientists. The book was so popular three more editions were published over the next twenty years. In 1999, Neely Swanson and Dr. Larry W. Swanson released a translation that preserves Cajal’s straightforward, yet eloquent, prose.
by Sadhana Bala '17
In the United States, the biomedical significance of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) is recognized by Democrats and Republicans alike. Every passing month brings reports of the newest successful application of embryonic stem cells to a specific medical cause. hESC therapy has been used to further research on a wide variety of ailments – including spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, infertility and even hearing loss (1) – and it has generated largely promising results.
The controversy with hESC research does not center on the results but the methods – a moral dilemma that has been greatly debated in the media for years. Embryonic stem cells are derived from four- to five-day-old blastocysts, hollow balls of cells that represent the beginning stage of human embryo development. The extraction procedure often results in the destruction of a human embryo, usually one that has been voluntarily donated in a fertility clinic. But the huge potential of these cells has caused scientists, politicians, and the general public (2) to come to terms with this fact.
Over the last two to three years, embryonic stem cells have, more or less, crawled off the agenda of the general media. Government-sponsored research for embryonic stem cells is currently at a pinnacle, yet it remains hindered due to one small piece of decade-old legislation
Who Owns Life?
by Gordon Wade '15
The answer to this seems obvious – no one owns life. It just is. Or in the case of livestock, plants, and pets, maybe one can own it. But can you claim ownership over an entire species or strain? Should individuals and companies be allowed to patent particular genes? What about genetically modified organisms? Or entirely synthetic organisms?
These questions are relevant in the current scientific landscape of genetic engineering and synthetic biology. The topic of intellectual property and genetics has only recently gained traction in United States courts and popular awareness.
by Sophia Park '13.5
Pain is perhaps our most important sense for survival – it warns us with a piercing signal that our body has sustained damage. However, it is unpleasant by nature.
The search to relieve pain dates back to at least 3400 BC, when ancient Sumerians used opium (1). In modern times, with advances in science and technology, we have a much more diverse and refined list of chemical agents for various medical purposes.
The advent of inhalant anesthesia contributed immensely to the development of modern general anesthesia. Currently, the most commonly used inhalational anesthetic agents are isoflurane, desflurane, sevoflurane, and nitrous oxide. When the idea of inhalational anesthesia first began to emerge, scientists focused on nitrous oxide and ether gas, largely due to their familiarity to people. Both gases were well known for their hypnotic effect. Nitrous oxide is also known as “laughing gas,” and was used recreationally to induce euphoria often accompanied by giggling, primarily at parties and in traveling shows (2, 3).