Interesting ideas interspersed with nonsense - RSS - by nikhil bhatla, -

Category: Science

Some news about my worm research
Sep 23, 2015, 7:57p - Science
I recently published my second first-author paper, rounding out the work of my time in grad school. MIT News wrote about it, and I was also interviewed by Lab Equipment about the research. Enjoy!
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Medicine as Evolutionary Expansion
Jan 23, 2014, 12:46p - Science
We've all heard about "survival of the fittest." This saying explains why certain species thrive and others go extinct, and it captures the core of Darwin's idea of evolution by natural selection. People also use it colloquially to explain why certain individuals are successful and rich and others are weak and poor - some people are more "fit" than others. ... more »

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"Representation" in neuroscience
Aug 5, 2013, 12:19p - Science
The word "representation" is used pervasively in neuroscience. Here's an example:

"The neural activity in visual cortex represents the visual input received by the eyes."

I've found this word troubling since the very day I started grad school, and I had hoped that my troubles would abate as I learned more in the last 6 years. Alas, they have not, ... more »

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Lab pics on MIT CAST
Jul 29, 2013, 3:35p - Science
The MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST) is doing a series on the similarity between lab workspaces and artist studios. They put up some photos of my lab workspace, so if you're interested, check it out.
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Gap-free neural circuits
Dec 8, 2012, 11:38a - Science
As I mentioned in a previous post, Tots and I are teaching a class on neural circuits this January during IAP at MIT. IAP is a time where anyone can teach anything they want - I think it's a cool testing ground for classes, and we didn't have anything like it that I remember at Stanford.

I'm excited about ... more »

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Neural circuits
Nov 21, 2012, 11:33a - Science
Neuroscience, the study of the brain, is absolutely fascinating.

But why choose neuroscience over any other pursuit?

We can try to understand an infinite set of things in our world, from the economic effects of rape to the forces that keep atoms together. But only biology takes a stab at trying to understand the very first thing, *us*. Without us ... more »

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Making DNA look simple (again)
Apr 10, 2012, 6:30p - Science
I recently got sick of doing science. After observing my own productivity and passion for science ebb and flow over the past few years, I've found that I live a roughly 6-month cycle: 6 months of scientific experiments, 6 months of something else (usually programming, often blogging, sometimes installing hardware floors and doing experiments on myself). It seems that when ... more »

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On connectomes and cell lineages
Jun 10, 2011, 6:59p - Science
(If I blog rarely and if my rare posts are only about my worms, then I must simply be obsessed with them. And that's just the way it goes I guess.)

The organism, the biological being, is the most amazing object in all the world. I find it more intriguing than basic physics (which in its own right is pretty ... more »

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A simple web-app for counting events over time
Nov 16, 2010, 11:01a - Science
I've been trying to count the number of times my little worms (aka C. elegans) chew, so a couple weeks ago I wrote a web-app to help me quantify this a bit more accurately. They chew very fast (3-4 times per second), so I needed something that could keep track of that over time. I also needed something that ... more »

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Video of real bacterial chemotaxis
Jul 4, 2010, 7:02p - Science
(This is the 4th in a 3-part series on the biology of bacterial chemotaxis. Consider it a video bonus. Parts 1, 2, and 3 are also available.)

I finally found a video of bacteria chemotaxing, and I wanted to share it with you (so I could finally shut up about bacteria by reaching some sort of closure on ... more »

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Here's hoping the bacteria don't crawl off the screen
Apr 12, 2010, 5:13p - Science
(This is the third in a 3-part series on the biology of bacterial chemotaxis. The first post described some basic ideas about biological analysis, and the second post introduced bacteria and their chemotactic behavior. And don't forget the bonus video post.)

Alright, now that the context has been set, I can finally dive into my bacterial chemotaxis simulator, which ... more »

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Bacteria don't have to be icky
Feb 7, 2010, 10:30a - Science
(This is the second in a 3-post series on biology. The first post gave background on the various levels at which biologists analyze organisms. This post discusses bacteria and an interesting behavior that they have called chemotaxis. The last post will present a web app that's an interactive simulator of this behavior. And don't forget the bonus video post. ... more »

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A Note about Biology
Dec 25, 2009, 3:11a - Science
(This is the first in a 3-post series on biology. I begin with some background, mostly to provide context for the second post, which is about a behavior in bacteria called chemotaxis. The third post will introduce a web app that simulates bacterial chemotaxis, and will be explained in gratuitous detail. I made it over a year ago, and ... more »

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Visualizing a Worm's Neural Network
Apr 21, 2009, 11:17p - Science
For almost a year and a half, I've been working in Bob Horvitz' lab at MIT studying the nematode C. elegans. A microscopic worm of diminutive proportions (weighing in at only 1 millimeter in length), a single creature is just smaller than the size of an eyelash. These worms have been studied since the 1970s and much is known ... more »

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A Reflection
Sep 28, 2008, 3:23p - Science
"I sometimes ask myself, how did it come that I was the one to develop the Theory of Relativity? The reason, I think, is that a normal adult never stops to think abour problems of space and time. These are things which he has thought of as a child. But my intellectual development was retarded, as a result of which ... more »

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Why Study the Brain
Jun 1, 2007, 6:08p - Science
To apply to grad school, I had to write a personal statement that explained why I wanted to study neuroscience and why I would be successful at it. Here's the essay I wrote for my MIT application, way back in December '06.

Reading it again, it seems a bit corny. But I guess these things always do. Especially when you're ... more »

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Water Crystals
Jan 27, 2007, 1:17a - Science
Science is the most arrogant and the most humble of suitors. Endowed with the audacity to seek Truth yet the humility to prove only falsity, it seeks knowledge as its ultimate goal. Its right has been handcuffed by its left, and together the pair lurch through the world, disposing of the old and selecting of the new. The trail behind ... more »

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