Friday, April 28, 2006

Neuro WM 2006: Soccer Fans and Neurons

Nice passage on neural coherence and oscillations, stolen from the Pascal Fries' labpage at the FC Donders Centre Nijmegen, NL:

"Imagine ten thousand soccer fans in a stadium. Before the game begins, neighboring fans might talk to each other. They might all have the same names of the players and trainers in their mouths. But as long as they all talk independently, their voices blend into a uniform, smooth noise. Then the game starts and the fans of the two teams start chanting the names of their team's hero. Now, suddenly, one can understand them from a distance. And at the same time, one can tell them into groups and it is clear who belongs to which team.
Neurons in our brain might behave just like soccer fans: Groups of neurons that work together, might “chant” together to state their grouping relationships and to make their voices heard by other neurons. Indeed, it turns out that when studying the activity of multiple neurons simultaneously, one finds that most neurons oscillate in synchrony with others: They send out action potentials together, then pause together for a while and repeat this cycle again and again..."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Just Two Nerdy Links...

...I stole from a London-based research lab's website: There are not too many pages on the web that I consider funny, but this is one of them. Especially if you are familiar with brains -- and amazon.

The Phrasebook for Overseas Travel: Become familiar with important English, French, Spanish, and German phrases that are useful in everyday life (that's, of course, the funny part)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bob Ross Painting, Trash?

I didn't have a TV in the past five years. However, every now and then, I did have access to one. In my new flat, I have got no fast internet connection, a quickly approaching deadline -- and my own telly.

I never consciously remembered him, but a couple of days ago he re-appeared to me: Bob Ross, the painter. Over the years when I had the chance to access a TV, mainly at night, I enjoyed watching his extremely relaxing show The Joy of Painting, his kitschy way of painting landscapes and his soothing voice telling the viewer that now he is painting "pretty little trees" and "happy little clouds". Unfortunately, he died in 1995, but he left hundreds of episodes of his TV show.

Three observations:
1) For some reason, on the English Wikipedia entry on Bob Ross many of the links refer to German websites, even a German discussion board for Bob Ross fans. Maybe Bob Ross exhibits the David Hasselhoff effect, that is, being a famous star (actor and singer) in Germany, thus coining the picture of the USA, without being known in America. Confer to the English Wikipedia entry on David Hasselhoff and its German version.
2) The name of the German TV station currently airing Bob Ross (BR) is Bayern alpha, bearing the same acronym (BR)
3) Wikipedia has it! BR Inc. is planning a Bob Ross video game for Nintendo's next generation video game console.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Piled Higher and Deeper (a link by Raymundo)

Jorge G. Cham, a mechanical engineer who is now a Robotics Instructor (?) at Caltech after having finished his PhD at Stanford University, which, by the way, for some reason bears the lofty German sentence "Die Luft der Freiheit weht" ("the wind of freedom blows") in its official seal.

During his time at Stanford Jorge started drawing a regular "comic strip about life (or the lack thereof) in grad school", which he called "Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD)". It quickly became and is still popular not only among grad students.

Here you can read the most recent comic strip.

Analytics Google Empire

I know, I know... I haven't been updating. Unfortunately, I moved to a new apartment with (imagine!) dial-up internet (good ol' 56K). Furthermore, I have to submit my thesis by the end of the month. Nevertheless, I will keep on using this mediocre webblog as my tiny digital mouthpiece.

To come to the point, I managed to get a google analytics account and to embed a counter on this site. Leaving all discussions about privacy (especially with regard to google) aside, the statistics for my blog speak for themselves: the site has approximately one hit per day; the percentage of returning visitors is almost zero; hence I can conclude that all users visit this page accidentally. Furthermore, these lost souls come from illustrious cities such as Stuhr, Luft, Sindelfingen, and Ostfildern, Germany.
Highlight of the month is one visitor from... (drum roll) ... Brooklyn, NYC, USA.

Welcome, fancy visitor.
You won't come back anyway...