How the brain controls sleep

Neuroscientists have discovered a brain circuit that can trigger small regions of the brain to fall asleep or become less alert, while the rest of the brain remains awake. The researchers believe this may help the brain consolidate new memories by coordinating slow waves between different parts of the brain, allowing them to share information more easily. —> Read More

These Beautiful Images are Created by Drawing Circles


The circle is the most important closed curve in the world. Also, it is the most symmetrical shape in the plane. In addition to these facts, it is interesting that we can create an unlimited number of beautiful images by drawing circles. In order to create a beautiful symmetrical shape by this method, I draw a family of circles which are defined by some mathematical formulas. So, it is very similar to the method I mentioned in my

6,000 Circles (I)

6,000 Circles (II)

6,000 Circles (III)

6,000 Circles (IV)

6,000 Circles (V)

8,000 Circles (I)

8,000 Circles (II)

10,000 Circles

20,000 Circles (I)

20,000 Circles (II)

4,000 Circles
This image shows 4,000 circles. For each k=1,2,3,…,4000 the center of the k-th circle is:

((2/3)(sin(6πk/4000))^3+(1/3)sin(26πk/4000), (2/3)(cos(6πk/4000))^3+(1/3)cos(26πk/4000))

and the radius of the k-th circle is:


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—> Read More

We Wish These Knitted Dissection Models Could Be Used Instead Of Real Animals

For some reason, the dissected fetal pig made out of yarn isn’t such a hit.

People love the disemboweled knitted frog. They can’t get enough of the woolen rat, splayed up the middle, hand-crafted organs on display.

But the pink yarn pig — as cute, creepy, weird and wonderful as it is — just doesn’t get a lot of takers.

“It might be because it is less familiar,” Emily Stoneking, the artist who came up with these brilliant, hand-made dissection models, said. “Or maybe because the word ‘fetal’ makes some people a little uncomfortable.”

Stoneking came up with the idea for knitting approximations of dissected animals about eight years ago.

The Vermont-based artist has always been taken with vintage medical drawings, but “but I am terrible — and I mean terrible — at drawing. So instead, I thought I could do something similar, but in wool,” she says.

She’s gotten a load of attention since.

The models — sold in Stoneking’s aKNITomy Etsy store — have been featured on basically every website that caters to the whimsically and/or nerdily inclined.

Stoneking’s gotten so much attention over the last years, in fact, she claims her mother’s started wondering just what in the world is going on here.

“She is very supportive, but cannot fathom why someone would want to purchase something like this,” Stoneking told HLN.

We can: they’re fantastic.

But, alas, they aren’t a substitute for the flesh and blood and guts animals on which they’re based.

The models aren’t straight replicas. Rather, they are suggestive of their organic counterpoints, with features — like the brightly colored organs — designed to be pleasing to the eye, instead of teaching, say, exactly what an actual eye looks like when it’s been —> Read More

I Had My Whole Genome Sequenced — And so Should you

Have you ever wondered about the genetic material that makes you, well, you? Have you wished to see a full blueprint of your DNA?

I have. On Monday, October 5 in Baltimore, I had the unusual opportunity to see it for the first time. My wife and I, along with 38 other attendees at the “Understand your Genome” symposium, had our genome, or complete set of DNA, sequenced. For $2,900, one blood draw and a two-month waiting period, it was done. All 3 billion base pairs became accessible. It is hard to believe that just over two decades ago, it took 10 years and $2.7 billion to sequence the first genome!

My wife and I are both scientists by training. During my doctoral graduate studies, a central part of my research relied on genomics technologies as my colleagues and I tried to identify whether a specific gene was implicated in schizophrenia. We focused on a protein involved in neuronal plasticity, and looked at a small handful of single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. These small variations are part of what make us unique. Each of our genomes has 3-4 millions of them, and many have been characterized. They can be associated with anything from eye color to cancer risk; this is important knowledge and when given the chance, we wanted to know ours.

Sifting through the genome app on an iPad, I was disappointed to realize that my genome is fairly boring. Surely, I thought going into it, I will learn something critical, something that will affect my behavior. But that was not the case. Of course, I did learn a few interesting nuggets about myself, like my ability to metabolize various drugs, my lack of ApoE4 variants that would put —> Read More

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