rain on window wallpaper, skin is wired for touch, equal outcomes my aunt fanny

How Skin is Wired for Touch

Compared to our other senses, scientists don’t know much about how our skin is wired for the sensation of touch. Now, research reported in the December 23rd issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, provides the first picture of how specialized neurons feel light touches, like a brush of movement or a vibration, are organized in hairy skin.

Looking at these neurons in the hairy skin of mice, the researchers observed remarkably orderly patterns, suggesting that each type of hair follicle works like a distinct sensory organ, each tuned to register different types of touches. Each hair follicle sends out one wire-like projection that joins with others in the spinal cord, where the information they carry can be integrated into impulses sent to the brain. This network of neurons in our own skin allows us to perceive important differences in our surroundings: a raindrop versus a mosquito, a soft fingertip versus a hard stick.

“We can now begin to appreciate how these hair follicles and associated neurons are organized relative to one another and that organization enables us to think about how mechanosensory information is integrated and processed for the perception of touch,” says David Ginty of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The neurons involved in this physiological network were difficult to study. The air receptors travel from the hair to the spinal cord, so the signal from the airs on your calves travel about a meter. Each hair follicle type in turn has its  distinct array of mechanosensory endings. While we do not have hairs over every square inch of our bodies there might be nerves like the ones activated by hairs near the skin surface. The original journal article is here – The Functional Organization of Cutaneous Low-Threshold Mechanosensory Neurons


rain, water drops

rain on window wallpaper


I like or used to like when I played with them Legos, but I ‘m not a Legos geek. That said this is pretty amazing – The Large Hadron Collider ATLAS Detector has been recreated in Lego. The pictures at the link are better. I used this one just because I liked the little figure inside. In case anyone misses it, you’re looking at about $2,600 worth of Lego bricks.


Why Mitt Romney’s Opportunity Tack Won’t Work

So Mitt Romney, writes Thomas Edsall in The New York Times, wants to make the election about entitlements vs. opportunity.  He warns darkly against a government that “provides every citizen the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to innovate, pioneer or take risk.”

Romney, and other conservatives have been making this utterly bogus assertion for years.  President Obama and Democrats have never advocated equal outcomes for everyone. The notion is a absurd. Even the most progressive liberal would find such a society tyrannical. Conservatives will not and cannot argue with the reality of Democrats on public policy and the concept of equal opportunity. When Romney or the daily yodels of right-wing pundits insist that Democrats want to legislate equal outcomes they are being cowards.  Democrats want everyone to have a CHANCE to prove themselves and to achieve. Because most Americans believe the same thing – it is a challenge that most Americans are personally familiar with through their own life experience – so the integrity challenged conservatives twist that to mean wanting everyone to have equal outcomes by force of law. We love those Horatio Alger type legends of the shoe shine boy who becomes the CEO and multimillionaire, but real instances of that are miniscule. Those are the top tend to leave the vacancies at the top to be filled by others of similar education and economic status. Trying to get everyone that wants a college education or a couple of years of specialized training is a very modest attempt to level the opportunity playing field, not to predetermine the final score. Romney and other conservatives may want loosen the tin foil and listen to some real working people and their experiences working with lazy moronic overpaid bosses.


Science geek eye candy, Fractals – Kleinian groups Page 5