Alright, moving along to dopamine (DA), which is probably my favorite neurotransmitter (and likely yours too- even though you don’t realize it!). Dopamine is the neurotransmitter involved in addiction (shown above for cocaine- since cocaine blocks the dopamine transporter, it causes dopamine to stay in the synapse longer), and basically anything rewarding. When you get a surprise or win some money, dopamine is what causes that feel-good rush! It’s the transmitter involved in reward, but it also has other functions as well- it helps with prefrontal concentration, accurate movements, control of thoughts (too much can cause hallucinations), etc. It’s really an incredible molecule!
Dopamine is produced in the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) and Substantia Nigra (SN) in the midbrain and has widespread effects throughout the brain- in the basal ganglia circuitry and throughout cortex. I’ll be talking more about this one in coming posts since it’s quite fascinating to me!
A thousand fuck yeahs for science.
How do animals change color?
the science of chromatophores
Animals like cuttlefish and chameleons are able to quickly change color in-order to blend in with their surroundings. They can do this due to a special type of cell called a chromatophore. Chromatophores work by moving vesicles that contain different color pigments into different forms by contracting and expanding them, so a different color comes to the “surface” when moved, giving the animal a different color. This can either be controlled by the animals nerves or happen hormonally.
A fairy ring is a naturally occurring ring of mushrooms. They are also known as pixie’s rings, faerie circles, or elf circles. The English believed that fairy rings were where fairies came to dance and celebrate, the mushrooms of the rings were used as stools for the fairies to recuperate during the evenings festivities.
When I was young I spent a lot of time in Ireland because my parents would always want to go back to their homes often. My mum used to tell me about faerie circles and she said that if you disturbed the ring by touching it, all the magic creatures would come and get you. I actually saw one of these rings for myself and was terrified the elves would come for me.
HANK HAS TO SCIENCE ON THIS
When the spore of some kinds of mushroom hits the ground to begin its life cycle, it will radiate out from the point of genesis with tiny little threads called mycelium which are actually the physical body of the fungus. The mycelium stretches throughout the soil, feeding by decomposing matter and, if there’s good food and consistent soil structure in every direction, it will radiate out in a nearly perfect circle. Eventually, when the center of the ring runs out of nutrients, the fungus goes into it’s spore production phase, and sends up “mushrooms” or the fruiting bodies of the fungus. These are all produced at the same time around the edge of the mycelium, taking all of the nutrients from the mycelium to produce these reproductive spore factories.
So each mushroom is not an individual organism, but rather the fruit of a sort of sub-surface fungal tree.
To me, this is even cooler than elves and fairies.
well let’s just keep them faerie circles because I’d like children to keep their fantasies and childhood memories
Agree to disagree…I would rather children revel in the excitement, beauty, wonder, and power of the real.
see I always think it’s more fun to combine them. like explain to your child “see that circle, those mushrooms are all part of one huge organism, like the roots of the tree, and those mushrooms are like fruit with spores instead of seeds. And some people think fairies gather in these circles when no one is looking ooooohh” and tell them the whole ‘fairy circle’ tale.
why not combine folklore with science? everyone likes a good story and fantasy, whimsy and magic are good for the soul and the imagination. but the story is more thrilling and amazing the more you know factually about it.
“some historians think that michelangelo was drawing god in a human brain. very few people knew what one looked like at the time; but michelangelo had dissected cadavers and would have known. it even has the hint of a brain stem. if true this would have been a great “fuck you” to the pope whom he was not friendly with but also would have meant god was in a human brain, or created by man.”
I love that there are so many possible meanings to this.
-The Scientific: God within the brain, as a creation of the powerful human mind.
-The Spiritual: God giving life to mankind as we know it, bestowing the gift of the complex human brain. setting us “apart” from other animals etc etc
-The Political: cleverly slipping the human brain into the painting where God is meant to be. Science, reason and nature are the true tribute of the painting, on par with or superior to religion and the Pope.
The silica shell of a marine diatom, seen with an electron microscope. Each pillar is about 1 micrometer tall.
Is it just me, or does this get faster and faster the longer I look at it?
it DEFINITELY gets faster.
Cool story: your brain takes so much longer to process this the first time you watch it, but as you continue watching it, your memory retains more and more of the scene. Thus, your brain can process it quicker and knows what to expect.
I’m reblogging this because that comment made me think
now look at the comments and notice how fast it looks out of the corner of your eye
- fetuses do not think
- they do not “scream out” when they are aborted
- they have no brain function and no nerve endings until long after the deadline for a legal abortion
- they aren’t “sad” when you abort them
- they do not “realize what is happening”
And these aren’t my beliefs, they’re scientific facts
Spreading lies in favor of abortion is just as bad as spreading lies against abortion. Let’s do this.
As you can see the majority of abortions in the US (in 2004) were less than 6 weeks old (1-2 months) or between weeks 10-12 (this is about 3.5 months). A small proportion were up to 20 weeks, or 5 months old. As you can see a very small fraction of abortions did occur after this time.
From what I’ve been able to find, aborting a fetus at any age during the 9 months is legal, however states may have specific restrictions the fetal age limit for abortion is often about 20 to 24 weeks old. Generally the cut-off age occurs when the fetus would be viable outside of the womb.
The 6 week old fetuses are not conscious. They have a simple neural tube that controls basic survival.
The 3.5 week old fetuses have developed sensory and motor neurons to react to light and sound, and have some reflexes. The article does not specify if these fetuses can feel pain, but they do not seem to be conscious at a level we would consider human. However the notion that they do no have “brain function” is simply bullshit.
Some abortions were up to 5 months old. They are able to control facial expressions, flip and stretch. Although the fetus appears to have the sensory-motor functioning to experience pain, I have no way of knowing if they have “thoughts” and feelings as we know it. Thoughts and emotions would be controlled by the limbic system and frontal lobe, which are separate from motor control.
At 6th months, memory develops and reactions appear even more conscious. By the 7th month the brain has the mature grooved look and neurons are insulated and quick-firing.
The idea of consciousnesses, thought and emotion are already so vague that claiming that fetuses between 12 and 24 weeks are must be devoid of thought, emotion and brainpower is, in my mind, a cop-out.
I’m in favor of legal abortion but don’t make shit up because it sounds better.
Bioluminescent Phytoplankton in the Maldives
“Since her death in 1979, the woman who discovered what the universe is made of has not so much as received a memorial plaque. Her newspaper obituaries do not mention her greatest discovery. […] Every high school student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity, that Charles Darwin discovered evolution, and that Albert Einstein discovered the relativity of time. But when it comes to the composition of our universe, the textbooks simply say that the most abundant atom in the universe is hydrogen. And no one ever wonders how we know.”
~ Jeremy Knowles
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, a truly extraordinary woman.