December 21st, 2007

Memory Formation

Signaling Neurons Make Neighbor Cells "Want In"
Synapses are primed to strengthen (and thus enable learning) if a neighbor has just been stimulated.
A new discovery about the function of neurons could help scientists understand how the brain assembles information during learning and memory formation. 

Scientists have found that when electrical impulses are passed from one neuron to another, they not only strengthen the synapse (connection) between them, but they also give a boost to neighboring synapses, priming them to learn more quickly and easily.
Researchers report in Nature that the extra kick, which lasts from five to 10 minutes, may be key to memory formation.
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The REU Program

SETI Summer Students Seek Science
For 10 weeks in the summer of 2007, 16 students came to the SETI Institute as part of their Research Experience for Undergraduates program.
In an excellent example of cooperation between two government agencies, 11 of the students were funded by the National Science Foundation, and 4 were funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). They also had an international student from England who was funded by a series of British grants to participate in our program.
The other students came from all over the country, from New York to Hawaii, and from big schools like Cornell and MIT and small schools like KingCollege (in Tennessee).
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A Dutch Vision

The New Island
The Netherlands wants to redraw the map of Europe - literally.
Dubai built PalmIsland. Now the world leaders in land reclamation are considering an island in the shape of a tulip to fight overcrowding and shield the coastline from the rising sea.
Supporters of the scheme say it will give Dutch companies a chance to showcase water management skills that are increasingly in demand due to global warming.
While a poll in October by the research company TNS NIPO with the Red Cross showed that the Dutch were more afraid of flooding than a terrorist attack, many have a strong belief in Dutch expertise and technology to protect them from the water.
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Quote of the Day

“Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”
-Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004)-

Image of the Day

Northern Lights

An aurora borealis sends ribbons of yellow-green light through the sky over northern Canada.