27 February 2006

Diffusion Tensor Imaging

I'm doing a paper on Diffusion Tensor Imaging and the pathology of auditory hallucination in Schizophrenia (as well as a paper on the evolution of cognitive enhancement atypical anti-psychotics for Schizophrenic treatment, but that's something else altogether). I thought you might enjoy some of these excerpts from the research I'm combing through. (Recall the recent definition of screed...)

"...These connections can be catagorized in three principal classes -namely, associational, commissural, and projectional. Intrahemispheric associational corticocortical connectivity in particular is accomplished in general by short U fibers that constitute the local circuitry within a gyrus..."

"... This dephasing produces signal attenuation, which is related to the magnitude of diffusivity of the water along the direction and magnitude of the applied gradient in an exponential fashion. For anisotropic guassian diffusion, the SA is proportionate to e^ [-(H gyromagnetic ratio)^2(gradient duration)^2(gradient spacing - duration/3)(gradient amplitude)(diffusion coefficient)]...."

"...In contrast to more widespread echo planar method, this technique is less sensitive to suceptibility-related distortions and, as with single-shot echo planar imaging, it is fairly motion insensitive...in particular, after an eddy-current correction of the DTIs, which is based on cross-correlation with T2 weighted images. In the in line scan technique, patient motion does not lead to ringing artifacts in phase direction..."

Too bad babelfish doesn't translate for this kind of stuff :) Bonus points for any of you smarty-pants out there who recognised that the second excerpt was related to a mathmatical model for extrapolating diffusion gradients using matrix algebra and eigenvectors (thank god I took diff eq).

And with that, I think I'll leave the library. Word.

Dissection II

Another successful day of dissection - this time we cut open earthworms, squid, and crayfish. The crayfish and squid were preserved (read: smelled awful!) but the earthworms were fresh (read: alive). Yes, you are reading that correctly, we did NOT kill our worms before cutting them open so we could watch their (five) hearts beat. We did, however, anesthetize them in a beaker of 40% ethanaol (don't do this at home, by anesthetize I really mean kill slowly while it thrashes around).

It was actually really interesting and I can't wait for the sharks (our first vertebrates) we do this Saturday. If you're a curious and strong stomached type, you can follow along with the dissections on a special Flickr group Audra and I set up. We tag the anatomical structures on the photos as well (good practice for the lab practical exam in April) so you'll have some clue as to what you're looking at.

Something I've learned: A screed is a long, monotonous speech or piece of writing. I've also learned a lot lately on cognitive enhancement and preventing memory deterioration but that's a whole other post (or screed perhaps?).

25 February 2006

Authentic web geek

I just bought my very own domain name! I'm so proud of myself :)

My digital camera will get it's first true test run tomorrow as I photograph our squid, crayfish, and earthworm dissections. I'm so excited about tomorrow's lab, it's unreal.

20 February 2006

Joey T

This one goes out to Joey... the Beatles and juggling, can you think of a better 4min 25sec?


A great little ode to how hard it is to find those jeans you live in; by a fellow TWM alumnus.

Jon Stewert will host the Oscars and in a recent NYT article he was the only one who seemed to have any real perspective on the matter. Or rather, appropriate lack thereof. As he says "This is a reward. If I made my living hosting awards shows, then this would be a perilous track, I guess."

The new Mendelian genetics: ww = wizard.

Not just naming stars, now you can have your very own slime mould beetle species.

"I think right now we’re in an anti-intellectual period in the United States, but I think the pendulum will swing back in the other direction again." An interview with Alan Lightman, scientist and author of Einstein's Dreams.

19 February 2006

The First Dissection

Ecology lab may have been a complete waste of time but invertebrate lab was brilliant. We did our first dissections and observations of sponges (Phylum Prorifera), Hydra (Cnideria), flatworms and tapeworms (Platyhelminthes), and sea anenomes (Cnideria). We watched some of them feed (carniverous) and as a result, here's what I learned (other than preservation fluid is about as sweet smelling as smoke in your hair):
- Planeria (flatworms) eat via an extrusable pharynx which is located in the middle of the body so it looks, well, it looks a tad phallic. Anyway, the worm grabs onto it's prey, pulls it close, and gets its digest on.
- Sea cucumbers eat by vomiting up their guts, which encase the prey, and then "eating" it all back in.
- Medusas (the jellyfish-looking stage of a Hydra) capture their prey with stinging nemotocysts (which ejacualte from the ends of the tenticles and look like sperm when stained on a slide) and then stuff it into their oral cavity. We fed our Hydra some little guys called Daphnia and when they are being consumed you can still see the little red Daphia eyes through the milky coloured Hydra.
It should be noted we were doing all this through microscopes (except for the sea anenome) as most of these animals are just milimeters in length. Seriously cool. Next week we're scheduled to do either squid or comparative embyology, I'm not sure. Either way, seriously cool.

Had a good night out last night, the first real one since... since the one with the pictures. A huge group of us converged on the Continental and had really yummy food after waiting 2.5 hours for a table (crab pad thai and lobster mac and cheese). The wait wasn't too bad - cocktails in the rooftop penthouse (glass enclosed) area... they had Pimms! Which was deliciously mixed with champagne and orange juice and oh, yum! We hit up Fado later in the night and I got to dance a bit, which I love to do. I think the hangover means pancakes for breakfast though.. yum.

17 February 2006

Cheney II et al.

Granted, Cheney can't be charged because of hunting laws and it *might* have been an accident, but did Whittington really have to be hauled out of bed to express his sorrow for what the VP is going through? Excuse Me?! What the VP is going through? And why are people (Bush included) giving him kudos for calling it his fault and expressing regret? Duh, it was his fault (how many politicans does it take to pull a trigger?). And expressing reget is called taking responsibility and should be expected of all people over the age of 12, the VP included.

Cheney's is not the only baffling behavior of late though... yesterday I was in the ladies washroom and found a Frnech girl pacing around talking on her cell phone. Can she honestly not find a better place to hold her conversation than the bathroom? Whoever she was talking to doesn't mind the continual peeing/flushing noise?

You've got to love the subtelty with which we are parenting the Palestinians now... yes, go and democratically elect whomever you want, but... if it's Hamas we won't give you any aid. Because if we take all the money out and thereby increase the unemployment and destabilise (the already precarious) region, the forces of Democracy will surely coming shining though! Yeah, that's it!

I just finished an ecology lab and can honestly say that I learned exactly nothing, so I'll have to post again later.

15 February 2006

Cheney, V-day, et al.

There's no way we can ignore this one... the VICE PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES SHOT a 78 year old attourney IN THE FACE, mistaking him FOR A QUAIL. And this WAS NOT HIS FIRST hunting accident. Yeah, and he's the one that takes over when the President, who chokes on snack food and waves to Stevie Wonder (the BLIND singer), needs another vacation. If you didn't see it, google it on the internet - the Daily Show segment that made fun of this (oh, it's too easy). Have a clean pair of unmentionables nearby because you will piss yourself.

And what was the outcome? Whittaker, the victim, has a heart attack, and Cheney is asked to update his hunting lisence; no charges are being filed. Hmm... unless the guy dies... so the lesson is: if you want to punish someone, take them hunting, shoot them, and say you thought it was a domesticated quail.

I'm sorry, but I can't let V-day slide. I would have, if this had been like all the others, but this is the first v-day I'm not single. so yeah, this time, for me, it was a thing. And he did good. I did come across this funny little ditty though: Roses are red and violets are blue. Sugar is sweet and so are you. But the Roses are wilting and the violets are dead. The sugar bowl's empty and so is your head. C'mon, it's a little bit funny.

Two quick shout outs, and then what I learned in school today...
To Mike O who was in town - it's always great seeing you.
To Audra K - we should have our names engraved on a table in Van Pelt.

What I learned... well, I learned that tenors make their money in their high and middle ranges (think opera), that free energy equilibrium constants are dimensionless (no points off for the wrong units!), and that snails have their anus directly over their head (blame embryonic torsion). Top notch.

Fingers: crossed.

09 February 2006

Happy Birthday

I apologise for the belated best wishes...

Feb 1 - To the best brother a girl could ask for. A moderating influence, a kind soul who always has exactly the right words, a funnyman who always has wit up his sleeve. I am so proud of you and so grateful that we're such close friends.

Feb 8 - To one of the best teachers a girl could ask for. He taught me the superiority of all things Apple, the cultural importance of Say Anthing, and he tried, bless him, to convince me of the benefits of being succinct. I hope that one day I will inspire the same passion in my students as you do in yours (for those of you unfamiliar with TWM, just count the number of blogs wishing him happy birthday and you'll understand).

Why do this? & Rotifera reproduction

The sudden time off from posting should testify to my recent work ethic - I've had a chem exam, a BIBB paper, 3 labs, and a bio exam to get through. Actually, the bio exam is this Saturday (so wish me luck). Yes, that was a shameless plug for sympathy (when is the last time you memorised all the prokaryotic, protistan, and invertebrate phyla?).

Anyway, I had an interesting email recently from someone asking about post-bac programs and my decision to undertake this whole new direction considering the current state of the medical community (which was refered to as "rotten"). Good questions all, and they forced me to crystallise what was really just gut feeling when I applied here.

On post-bac programs in general
They are an interesting marriage of undergraduate and graduate school. The atmosphere is more schoolish than graduate work, but the competative atmosphere is a notch undergrad. There is plenty of social interaction, but you will never forget that everyone is here for one reason only: to get into medical school. Studying is the only priority.

You need to know what you're getting into
It's hard to get into a post-bac program without demonstrating that you know what you're in for. I imagine it's even harder to get into medical school without a clear idea of what you expect, what you want, and what you can contribute. Spend some time in hosptials, talk to doctors, read the research - if medicene is what you love, it's incredibly interesting.

The state of the US medical system
Yeah, it's not perfect. Yeah, you have to deal with insurance companies, but what job doesn't have paperwork people would rather not do? There is no perfect healthcare system out there, but if that's what's stopping you, then you're focusing on the wrong things. Look at the amazing things happening in medicene: face tansplants in France, artifical hearts, leukemia as a "livable" cancer... people's lives are really getting better. Or think about all the ways it helps you and the people you love. It saved my dad from cancer, it saved my grandmother after a stroke, it saved a family friend from breast cancer, it reinflated my mother's lung... it saves premature babies, it's the reason you don't have polio... talk about miracles every day.

On sacrificing my life for my career/patients
Anyone who knows me knows that this is not a problem. I probably wouldn't be happy unless I was in a job like that. I am my job, and what better profession to define yourself with than doctor?

Something I've learned...
In honour of the biology test, I feel like this one should come from biology... Rotifers (phylum Rotifera) reproduce through parthenogenesis, which comes in two forms. The most common form involves a female producing more females from unfertilized eggs. In the other form, males and females are produced, but the males are degenerate (can't even feed themselves) and live only long enough to produce sperm to fertilze some of the eggs, which form resistant (capable of dormancy in unfavourable conditions) zygotes.