the mouse-deer submersion strategy, flow, nearly nano-nerve cells

I think about aquatic deer a lot. Probably something I should talk to someone about. That’s a lie. I’ve never thought about small Bambis and the amazing adaptation to submerge themselves as a survival strategy until I read this, Aquatic deer and ancient whales.

There are around 10 species of mouse-deer, which are also called ‘chevrotains’.

All belong to the ancient ruminant family Tragulidae, which split some 50 million years ago from other ruminants, the group that went on to evolve into cattle, goats, sheep, deer and antelope.

[   ]…Three observers saw a mountain mouse-deer ( Moschiola spp) run into a pond and start to swim, hotly pursued by a brown mongoose. The mouse-deer submerged itself, and eventually the mongoose retreated. The deer left the water only to be chased straight back into it by the mongoose.

mouse deer
mouse deer

Until this , largely based on Rudyard Kipling’s story Rikki-tikki-tavi from The Jungle Books, Volume two I actually did have a generally favorable opinion of mongooses or is it mongeese.

This is the story of the great war that Rikki-tikki-tavi fought single-handed, through the bath-rooms of the big bungalow in Segowlee cantonment. Darzee, the tailor-bird, helped him, and Chuchundra, the musk-rat, who never comes out into the middle of the floor, but always creeps round by the wall, gave him advice; but Rikki-tikki did the real fighting.

He was a mongoose, rather like a little cat in his fur and his tail, but quite like a weasel in his head and his habits. His eyes and the end of his restless nose were pink; he could scratch himself anywhere he pleased, with any leg, front or back, that he chose to use; he could fluff up his tail till it looked like a bottle-brush, and his war-cry, as he scuttled through the long grass, was: “Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchk!”

flow

One step closer to an artificial nerve cell

The methods that are currently used to stimulate nerve signals in the nervous system are based on electrical stimulation. Examples of this are cochlear implants, which are surgically inserted into the cochlea in the inner ear, and electrodes that are used directly in the brain. One problem with this method is that all cell types in the vicinity of the electrode are activated, which gives undesired effects.

Scientists have now used an electrically conducting plastic to create a new type of “delivery electrode” that instead releases the neurotransmitters that brain cells use to communicate naturally. The advantage of this is that only neighbouring cells that have receptors for the specific neurotransmitter, and that are thus sensitive to this substance, will be activated.

This counts as the nanotech post for this week. Nerve cells or neurons have diameters in the 4 to 100 micrometer range so this plastic tubing would have to approximate that size. The devious plan is to implant a programmable device that will deliver neurotransmitters to cells whose signaling systems is on the fritz, such as those suffering from Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy, and release on an as needed basis. Difficult to tell from the news release, but I wonder if their isn’t some kind of electro-chemical tendency designed into the plastic to place itself in close proximity to a receptor on a nerve cell.

beach steps

One intriguing aspect of design challenges for which, other then glasses, I had not thought that much about is where good design can help with disabilities, How art can help science augment the body, from hearing aids to prosthetic limbs

The book Design Meets Disability is “about how the worlds of design and disability could inspire each other,” Graham Pullin writes in the introduction. As a medical engineer, Pullin worked with engineers and health care professionals to develop technology to assist disabled people. Later, as a design consultant, he led designers in creating consumer products. “I am struck,” he writes, “by how distant those two worlds still are, yet how much more each could be influenced by the other.”

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