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Showing posts from December, 2011

Magnetoreception - a gift from Mars?

I've been finding lately that if you look deeply into just about any aspect of life it quickly becomes fascinating. Like migration, for instance...

The story starts with something called 'magnetotactic bacteria' - bacteria that have DNA that creates tiny magnetite (Fe[sub]3[/sub]O[sub]4[/sub]) particles that can act as tiny compasses...


From Magnetotactic bacteria
Magnetites from magnetotactic bacteria MV-1 are elongated. The elongation adds to the magnetic pull of these tiny compasses and thus helps the bacteria locate sources of food and energy. This team of authors found that the elongation was accomplished by the addition of six faces, shown in red in the figure [above]. "The process of evolution on Earth has driven magnetotactic bacteria to make perfect little bar magnets, which differ strikingly from anything found outside biology," says coauthor Joe Kirschvink

And it turns out that birds, sea turtles and salmon also have these tiny magnetite crystals... F…

Diffusion Imaging - Mapping the Connectome

From The Human Connectome Project Is a First-of-its-Kind Map of the Brain's Circuitry:
Working with $30 million and just half a decade, the Human Connectome Project aims to create a first-of-its-kind map of the brain’s complex circuitry, detailing every connection linking thousands of different regions of the brain. ...
The project aims to tap state-of-the-art brain scanning technologies, including diffusion imaging, various MRI methods, and magnetoencephalography to map not just how messages move through the brain, but how various regions work together via networks and networks of networks to achieve the complexity that is the human mind. With map resolutions down to the voxel – small swaths of grey matter containing about one million neurons each – researchers estimate the HCP will generate about one petabyte of data, which will require its own supercomputer to process.


All that scanning, data gathering, and analysis should pay off though, HCP researchers say. The end result will …