Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Obligatory navel-gazing

...or gazing at whatever counts as a blog's navel. I don't think blogs are placental mammals, after all.

Figure 1: Also not a placental mammal.


When I signed up for the Iron Blogger challenge (blog >=once a week or contribute $5 to a communal beverage pool), I could have started an entirely new blog, as many participants did, even if they had old fossilized never-updated blogs. I was really tempted to do so, because I named this blog The Dendritic Arbor back when I thought I was going to study neuroscience or cognitive science. Dendritic arbors are cool, but they really don't have much to do with synthetic biology.

Figure 2: Santiago Ramón y Cajal's drawing of this blog under a microscope using Golgi's silver nitrate stain.

But then I got lazy and I realized that if I attempted to set up an entirely new blog, I would be trapped in the same yak shaving that was trapping my friends. Yak shaving, while fun, is not very productive. I already shaved yaks to produce this blog. Besides, what would you call a synthetic biology blog? Genetic Memory? On The Scaffold?

Of course, that means I have to come up with a retroactive justification for naming my blog after a Neuroscience Thing. Dendritic arbors are some of the most gorgeous, elaborate cellular structures anyone has ever seen. More abstractly, they allow a single neuron to take thousands of individual inputs from dozens or hundreds of other neurons, and they integrate the total incoming signal to allow the cell to make its perpetual decision: fire, or don't fire?

I like to think that I can source interesting information from all over the place and integrate it all together here for your viewing pleasure.

(ScienceBlogs fans will note that I'm imitating the picture usage style of the fabulous Dr. Isis, which always makes me laugh, but I'm not sure how well it works for other people. It's an experiment; I'm sure I can never live up to the science goddess' hilariosity and fabulosity.)

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