Scientific methods and techniques

“Freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds”[1]: Topic modeling Darwin’s reading at Indiana University.

In our December 27th post  “On On the Origin of Species: An ode to science writers”, Clara Boothby explored how clear, compelling science writing can increase circulation of scientists’ ideas among the general public. While our previous post saw the Origin of Species as a model for scientific writing, here we explore how researchers at IU… Read more »

Teaching an old dog new tricks: Neuroscience research at IU combines centuries-old methods with modern technology

A photograph of a neuron (left panel) is shown next to an illustration of the same neuron (right panel). Left panel: The image background is brown. A single neuron is shown. The cell body is black and ovular, and dendritic branches look like sinuous lines extending from the cell body. A single dendrite extends from the top of the cell body, and multiple dendrites extend from the base. Right panel: A multicolor illustration of the neuron pictured in the left panel. The image background is black. The cell body and each dendritic tree is shown in a different color (dark blue, light blue, pink, green, and yellow). Parts of the dendritic tree that were out of focus in the left panel are clearly reconstructed in the right panel; the size and shape of each dendrite is otherwise identical between the two panels.

This post is the second installment in a two part series. Check out last week’s post here. Thanks to modern technology, the field of cellular neuroscience has become illuminated with brightly colored images – tissue samples, cells, and individual molecules have been stained, photographed, colorized, and even reconstructed in three dimensions. A Google Image search… Read more »

On On the Origin of Species: An ode to scientist-writers

Sometimes, when we read about science in textbooks or newspaper articles, it can be easy to slip into thinking that after the scientists make their discovery, the writing is someone else’s job. Not so! In addition to being researchers and experimenters, scientists must also be writers if they wish to share their findings with the… Read more »

Branching Out with Interdisciplinary Science

A theoretical chemist and a biochemist walk into a bar.  They both speak the same language, yet it’s difficult for them to have a conversation about each other’s research.  They’re both intelligent, educated scientists who have at least a basic understanding of the other’s field, so what’s the problem? The first post from the ScIU… Read more »

Hands, tools, and words, oh my!

It is relatively easy to list things that make our species, Homo sapiens, unique. From modest biological traits like hairless bodies and walking on two feet, to amazing things like culture, technology, and language, it is quite clear that we became some pretty quirky animals over the course of our evolution. Exactly how and why… Read more »

Math on a Clock: Exploration in Mathematics

I want to give you a sense of what it’s like doing math “in the wild”. Doing mathematics is not just about learning what other people have already done: it’s about exploring and playing around with a system to figure out what’s going on. Let’s give it a go! We are all familiar with the… Read more »

Catching Brainwaves

If your family is anything like mine, you have that one crazy uncle with his tin foil hat, purportedly to prevent the aliens from electromagnetically manipulating his brain or to prevent his precious brain waves from being read by the government. While few take such fears seriously, significant confusion persists regarding ‘brain waves.’ What are… Read more »

Protein Machines: the Molecules of Your Body in Motion

Proteins move.  Most people are likely familiar with proteins in the context of their own nutrition – you get protein from meat, unless you’re a vegetarian, in which case you might get protein from soy or milk.  But proteins are not just a part of your diet.  The extremely broad category of molecules contained under… Read more »