Items filtered by date: April 2013

The Gift of Being Crystal Clear

Do we understand crystal clear thinking? Perhaps, when someone is expressing clear thoughts we understand the concept, but in reality, we really do not understand what happens inside the brain when one is thinking clearly. But now in a Nature paper, scientists at Stanford University have unveiled CLARITY, which is an acronym for a technique to render a post-mortem brain completely clear, that is, optically transparent and permeable to macromolecules. One day CLARITY may help us understand clear thinking and much more. Importantly, it could give us a handle to better understand the extremely complex neuronal circuitry in the brain, with its 1014-1015 synapses. It could help us better understand the abnormal circuit wiring that occurs in humans affected by developmental pathologies, such as many psychiatric disorders. What an exciting moment for us to be witnessing this discovery!


A Night at the Federal Budgetary Opera

We have not seen a "normal" federal budget process in Washington in years. Instead we have substituted what could be the perfect libretto for a grand opera featuring tenors, baritones and sopranos, singing arias of high drama that soar through crisis after crisis with last second rescues, magic “continuing” resolutions that last forever, and a “curse” in which the federal government is doomed to wander from one near shutdown to the next. One element in this libretto that had not changed until this year was the timing of the President’s budget, which even in these normal/abnormal times was presented to Congress the first week of February.  The presidential budget is considered the statement of the Executive Branch about where it will put emphasis in the upcoming year. The President’s budget is known inside the Beltway as dead on arrival, since Congress is quick to remind the President of the United States that the Legislative Branch, not the President, holds the purse strings. Members of Congress have started orchestrating their own budget, returned to their own priorities, and featuring an entertaining legislative minuet.

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