Got one of those crazy family members who thinks that Rush Limbaugh is an expert on, well, everything, and who firmly believes that climate change is a conspiracy designed to undermine the capitalist economy? Yep, we know the type, and we fully understand that you may already be dreading family time at the holidays. This uncle or cousin or in-law isn’t going to let facts get in the way, so showing him how even scientists once skeptical about global warming are coming around in a big way probably won’t change any minds. And this relative certainly isn’t going to hold back for the sake of a peaceful gathering.
While modern science has a lock on our understanding of most areas of the human body, the human brain continues to stump us. After all, it’s “the most elusive, mysterious and maddeningly complex organ in the body,” and there are a correspondingly large amount of texts written about it. But most of these are unapproachable to anyone not getting their PhD in neuroscience, so Carl Schoonover, who is getting his PhD in that very field, has come out with a book that makes things a bit clearer and bit more colorful. Think of Schoonover’s new release, Portraits of the Mind, as a picture book of sorts, only with pictures of the human brain. These images, heretofore seen only by scientists, range from medieval sketches to photomicrographs that reveal bizarre, often brightly colored landscapes of the brain and its many complexities. The book itself explores the variety of ways scientists study the brain, with essays from today’s leading neuroscientists and corresponding images, of course. “The result is a peek at the mind’s innermost workings, offering clues about what may lie ahead.” You don’t have to be a science genius to understand what’s fascinating about the glowing orange proteins that form the inner scaffolding of axons or the hot pink and neon blue cellular structures of a rat hippocampus; You don’t even have to know what a rat hippocampus is, though if you’re interested, Schoonover’s book answers all your rat hippocampus questions in full.
The World Science Festival has just begun to release some clips from this year’s festival which was held in June 2009. One of the most notable is from “Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus” where Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale, using audience participation. World Science Festival 2009: Bobby…