I started this blog with the aim of bringing to your notice some of the most exciting scientific studies being performed around the world today. Science is a public endeavor, meant for the common good, and hence hiding it behind a wall of jargon and esoteric literature makes little sense . Here, at the Scientific Lens, I hope to contribute a little bit towards demystifying the process of doing science, and to share the most interesting scientific breakthroughs of the day. I started writing in Septmeber, 2015, and since then this blog has received nearly 5000 views, much more than anything I had hoped for. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your continuing support, and to wish you a very happy new year.
Here’re the top stories on this blog published in 2015, and I hope you enjoyed reading them –
- Freud, cocaine and the dopamine hypothesis of depression – A recent study, from researchers at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, attempted to test once and for all whether or not dopamine is sufficient for the progression to addiction.
- ‘Sonogenetics’ – using sound waves to activate brain cells – Scientists have discovered a way to control brain cells using ultrasonic sound waves.
- The Story behind this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine – The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015 was divided, one half jointly to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura “for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites” and the other half to Youyou Tu “for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria”.
- The Oldest Stars in our galaxy – Australian astronomers claim to have found some of the oldest stars in the galaxy hiding in the bulge of the Milky Way
- The Secret lives of Bees – Research reveals that honey bees reconsolidate their memories while sleeping and can be tricked into foraging by caffeine. Some bees cultivate a fungus for their larvae, and others use vibrations to tell potential mates apart.
- Demystifying the brain – what the brain does and does not do – Our brain is a marvel of evolutionary complexity that allows us to think, dream and philosophize – here is a look at what functions it performs, and why certain species are content to exist without the benefit of one.
- Demystifying the brain – the brains of our ancestors – Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
–Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975)
- Underwater adhesives, disappearing frogs and electric eels – Mussel-inspired glue design, extinction rates of amphibians, electric eels tracking their prey, molecular oxygen found on comet 67P, and more
- New Horizons, mysterious male neurons and Remote-controlled T-cells – New information about Pluto, Two new neurons were discovered in C. elegans, and CAR-T cells can now be remote controlled to fight cancer
- Why do some birds mimic human speech?
- Nobel Prize, ancient humans and the autism debate – A collection of stories, including the analysis of the bone structure of an ancient human species, the announcement of the 2015 Nobel prizes and a study demonstrating (yet again) that vaccines do not cause autism.
- New planets, 1000 genomes and tricky parasites – Weekly review of science stories around the world, including the discovery of a new Jupiter-like planet, the completion of the 1000 genomes project, and the way the HIV protein outsmarts it host.
If you have time, you can also give the introduction post – ‘Let’s talk about Science‘, a read through. Things were a bit slow in December, but I promise a bunch of interesting posts in the coming month – a study showed how corals use moonlight to decide the time to spawn, another showed how gut microbiota drive behaviour in a bunch of cockroaches, and female elephants were shown to inherit their social status from their mothers. Neuroscientist Russel Poldrack scanned his own brain several times a week over a period of 18 months, providing the most comprehensive data set yet achieved for daily variations in the state of a human brain, and lion populations were observed to be on a steady decline on the African mainland. I hope to bring you these stories and more in the coming year, and hope for your continued support throughout this journey.
Wishing you a scientifically sound 2016, and may it bring you plenty of joy and prosperity!