Updates from January, 2015 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • helen 12:35 on January 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    What is the difference between an internet cable and an axon? 

    I realise that this sounds like the start of a bad joke but it’s a serious thought, here’s what I’ve got:

    • they both carry information, they are just made of different things
    • they are both constrained by physical variables – diameter or degree of insulation for example
    • both can easily be disrupted by scissors
    • axons however, can install themselves.

    Is the crucial difference that wires only exist because axons do?

    I thought of this question as I was sitting in Fabiana’s office. We were trying to load photos of axons from an external location but we couldn’t because the computer’s own axon was not wide enough.

    Perhaps the axon and internet cable are mechanistically similar but it’s the content of their information that makes them different. Show me a cable that can transmit warmth, fear and guilt and then maybe I’ll be convinced.

    Just as I finish typing this, the internet disconnects for a minute and I get scared that my work hasn’t saved. That’s my Ethernet cable politely reminding me that it can in fact transmit fear.

  • helen 21:30 on January 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    some thoughts from the week: 

    For how precise and reliable our neural pathways are, I’m surprised at how messy neurogenesis is.

    Let’s just say that if whoever is responsible for organising the hind brains I’ve seen so far offered to plan my birthday party I would probably say no.

    (That would be a completely different story if they offered to be on decorations though)

    Perhaps I’m just frustrated with not being able to figure out the logic behind the pathways of these dam axons and so scold them for being messy but honestly, you really have to have faith in some of these axons.

    The more I study them, the more I realise just how many of them have no clue what they are doing (that feeling is starting to sound awfully familiar).

    Call me crazy but I have started to characterise/stereotype some of the different axons I see.

    There are the axons that just cling to others for a free ride, or do so because the path seems too daunting on their own, others staunchly travel in their own direction but seem to quickly change their mind and turn back to safer waters.

    I get the feeling that this early, the axons are still so impressionable; they haven’t developed a sense of identity yet, don’t know who they will be serving (the ear? the facial muscles? the chewing muscles? tongue sensation? (If I was ever an axon I would want to be one responsible for taste just personally)

    They all just seem to be on this very tumultuous journey to self discovery and target selection. I wonder if axons that lose their way are the strong, individual ones with their own sense of determination or whether they lose their way because are they aren’t very good at detecting signals from their peers around them.

    Do you think axons ever get nerve envy and wish they were part of another nerve where the target is in a better location, or sends kinder signals?

    And its funny that I am here satirising these cholesterol bound packages, when I really quite literally couldn’t do this without them.

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