Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Neurophilosophy and Nanospheres

On Monday, October 19 2009, DJ Prefect dropped some science on the Brood of the Mau Mau, starting with 10 minutes of glibly reported science news followed by the expert commentary of Mo Costandi, noted writer of the Neurophilosophy blog on

Pick up the neatly edited podcast here. (1 hour, 50MB)

On the Subversive Science show about Muralizer this past Friday, we briefly reported on the recent research demonstrating a method of encoding a bad memory in fly brains.

Mo Costandi, "neuroscientist by training, writer by inclination", was generous enough to give us an hour of his evening over in London to chat with us. First we talked more on the subject of the fly brain experiment [link to Mo's blog post on the topic], explaining the use of tiny light-sensitive molecular cages (we refer to them as "nanospheres") containing ATP burst open by lasers at the right time to encode a "avoid" notion attached to whatever sensory event the scientists felt like making the flies have a bad memory of.

(Ok, so how soon before we can laser-encode bad memories of human smells "in the field"? Peaceful coexistence with mosquitoes and bedbugs through implantation of human smell aversions? Come on, science, make yourself useful!)

After a quick music break (highly abbreviated in the above non-Pirate Cat podcast -- you can pick up the original 2-hour PCR version of this show here), conversation flowed over synthaesthesia, neuroplasticity, voluntary amputation, post-traumatic neuroplastic events, and lots of recent research on how circumstances affect perception in individuals in fascinating ways.

We also heard Mo might have a book in the works! Given his precise, well-considered, and engaging writing style, a voice desperately needed in communicating neuroscience, we'll definitely be rooting for that one. (Keep us updated, Mo!)

You can and should follow Mo Costandi on Twitter (@mocost) and check out his ever-fascinating Neurophilosophy blog on

The Science News from Science Daily
(with background music by Stereolab)

Exercise Prevents Decline in Memory after Whole-Brain Radiation Therapy
Implanting Bad Memories in Bugs
Chili Peppers (capsaicin) May Reduce Pain
How the Moon's Surface Generates Water

Special thanks to new Pirate Cat intern, Heidi. Go say hello to her on Twitter (I made her sign up): @LadyAmalthia

Super extra thanks to DJ VoodooIdol for letting Subversive Science do some time-slot-sitting for Brood of the Mau Mau! We kept Monday at 2-4pm warm and cozy and played some Babyland. Mmm, LA junk punk.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'll Muralize Ya!

On Friday, October 16 2009, 10pm to midnight, DJ Prefect entertained a radio audience of self-professed geeknerds by having Josh Myer in the studio to talk about his wonderful Muralizer project, newly revitalized due to recent sloughing off of cumbersome day job.

Listen to it as a Pirate Cat Radio podcast. (2 hours, ~90 MB)

Muralizer is "a robot that prints on walls".

Currently in a phase of highly functional prototyping, Josh is looking for community funding to drive further development of this promising Open Source, free-as-in-speech nexus of art, mathematics, and science.

Josh plans to use to drive this community funding, much like our September guest on Common Threads, Jerry Paffendorf (inch-vest! $1 per inch in Detroit!) Donation levels may result in rewards such as being the first to receive a kit; getting the poster of your choice printed out by the first public release of Muralizer; and forcing Josh to get a tattoo of a nine-gon (or nonagon) on his forearm, forever branding him as the Euclidian math nerd he truly is.

He intends to produce kits for DIYers everywhere and possibly a few higher-priced neatly-assembled versions for the well-to-do artist-on-the-go.

We talk about all this and more in the podcast!

But first, as always, a bit of science news (with background music by Stereolab):

Scientists Give Flies False Memories [ScienceDaily] (see also the following Monday's show with neuroscientist Mo Costandi where we explore this experiment in much greater detail)

Human Epigenome Mapped [ScienceAlert] (see also "Definition of Epigenetics Clarified"... which may help elucidate the confusion we had in our discussion in this podcast)

Time-Travelling Higgs-Boson Particle Sabotages the LHC (No, really) [New Scientist]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Email Apnea and Technical Hilarities

Yesterday afternoon, DJ Prefect (yours truly) took on the Brood of the Mau Mau time slot from 2pm to 4pm and battled multifarious Pirate Cat Radio Cafe demons to bring you an interview with Linda Stone embedded in 2 hours of truly eclectic radio.

Download the Interview with Linda Stone from Podomatic.

Linda Stone, technologist at Apple through the 80s and 90s, first got online in 1993, and began writing about kinds of attention we pay to these technological devices clearly paving the way ahead. Her ideas stood askew of the popular notion that we were "multitasking". She instead termed it "continuous partial attention" and cautioned us to be aware that time divided not only didn't all add up to equivalent productivity among multiple tasks; it may also have mental and physical health effects.

Check out Linda Stone's keynote speech on "Continuous Partial Attention" at IdeaConference 2006 (and thanks to Dorian Taylor for pointing this out to me originally).

Her more recent research into what she calls Email Apnea -- manifested in her Huffington Post article -- reveals that time spent obsessing at screens, hunched over in poor posture and states of non-relaxation for long periods of time, results in a sustained fight-or-flight reaction which causes some very real physiological changes in our bodies, such as preventing us from reaching a state of satiety. The consequences could be many: irrational overeating, information addiction, and so on.

This interview is packed full of interesting information about the enculturated ways we spend our time physically and the surprising "commutative" effects of breathing on our mental state: our mental state can produce physiological effects, but effecting these physiological states like quick shallow breathing can also instate the mental condition we would normally cite as the "cause".

[Side note: I announced Linda's domain name wrong after the interview -- she's on rather than dot-com.]

The normal running length of this program would be 2 hours, but technical difficulties (preventable power outages and strange mixing board settings, mainly) caused the official Pirate Cat Radio podcast for Monday, Oct 12, 2009 2-4pm to cut off at 21 minutes in due to the mp3 stream dying at about 20 minutes in. But it's worth a listen for a bit of science news and to find out what I've been up to for the past 2.5 weeks.

Fortunately, 10 minutes of music bought me time to hack a quick fix by setting up a new Pirate Cat streaming mp3 relay and recruiting excellent friend Chris in Toronto to stream-rip the show in progress.

Conclusion: Having a network of truly awesome friends is teh awesome.


Related: this show's music playlist.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Playlist for Brood of the Mau Mau sub Oct 12, 2009

Brood of the Mau Mau playlist for October 12, 2009

The Ran-Dells / Martian Hop / Brain in a Box: The Science Fiction Collection
Drew Neumann / The Dictator's Office / Eye Spy
Juno Reactor / Magnetic / Samurai
Dethklok / Go Into The Water / Dethalbum
Chris Murray Combo / I Need Water / Why So Rude
Gorillaz / Ghost Train / G-Sides
The Gossip / Listen Up! / Standing In The Way Of Control
Drew Neumann / Underwater Suite / Eye Spy
Hotel / In the Shadows / Enjoy Your Stay
Judas Priest / Night crawler / The Essential Judas Priest
Yohihito Yano, Saki Kabata / LONELY ROLLING STAR / Katamari Damacy Soundtrack "Katamari Fortissimo Damacy"
MC Paul Barman / Learn 101 / none
freezepop / that boy is all about fun! / fancy ultra-fresh
Ladytron / Oops (Oh My) / Evil
Juno Reactor / Mars / Beyond the Infinite
Avantasia / The Scarecrow / The Scarecrow


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