michael krauss

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As Virginia Hughes noted in a recent piece for National Geographic’s Phenomena blog, the most common depiction of a synapse (that communicating junction between two neurons) is pretty simple:

External image

Signal molecules leave one neuron from that bulby thing, float across a gap, and are picked up by receptors on the other neuron. In this way, information is transmitted from cell to cell … and thinking is possible.

But thanks to a bunch of German scientists - we now have a much more complete and accurate picture. They’ve created the first scientifically accurate 3D model of a synaptic bouton (that bulby bit) complete with every protein and cytoskeletal element.

This effort has been made possible only by a collaboration of specialists in electron microscopy, super-resolution light microscopy (STED), mass spectrometry, and quantitative biochemistry.

says the press release. The model reveals a whole world of neuroscience waiting to be explored. Exciting stuff!

You can access the full video of their 3D model here.

Credit: Benjamin G. Wilhelm, Sunit Mandad, Sven Truckenbrodt, Katharina Kröhnert, Christina Schäfer, Burkhard Rammner, Seong Joo Koo, Gala A. Claßen, Michael Krauss, Volker Haucke, Henning Urlaub, Silvio O. Rizzoli

A chart of UNESCO’s (2003) “Nine Factors Influencing Language Vitality” along a degree scale of 0 to 5, five being the highest degree for the respective factor and 0 being the lowest degree. The second factor, Absolute Number of Speakers, is not a scalar calculation, but is based, rather, on population count.

Source: Aikawa, Noriko; Matthias Brenzinger; Arienne M. Dwyer; Tjeerd de Graaf; Colette Grinevald; Dmitri Koundiouba; Michael Krauss; Anahit Minasyan; Osahito Miyaoka; Nicholas Ostler; Osamu Sakiyama; Rieks Smeets; María E. Villalón; Akira Y. Yamamoto; & Ofelia Zepeda. 2003. Language vitality and endangerment. Safeguarding of Endangered Languages (UNESCO International Expert Meeting), 10-12 Mar 2003. Paris: UNESCO.

Atheism Has A Problem

I posted on Black Lives Matter and immediately lost about 30 followers. No debate, no pissing match, no controversial opinion has ever lost me that many followers. The problem here is that this wasn’t a debate, a pissing match, or a controversial opinion. It was a post about a social necessity. I responded to the “all lives matter” crowd. And I was naive to think that the stereotypes about atheists weren’t true. Atheists are cis, white males with neck beards and fedoras they say. This I thought was attempt at insult, a distraction from our challenges to religion. Unfortunately, I found out that the stereotype contains a truth: atheists are predominantly white males. 

Given that, I’m suggesting something controversial, but this doesn’t make it any less true. White atheists are not sympathetic to minority social movements. I am not saying you’re racist. Neither am I saying that you help proliferate prejudice and discrimination of minorities. What I am saying is that you’re disconnected from the reality Black Americans face; you’re disconnected from the realities Latino Americans face. I am a Latino American. I suggested in the post that perhaps that’s why I can identify with BLM. I get it. Police don’t racially profile you. You don’t have glass ceilings. Your name can’t disqualify you from getting a job. But some things atheists should be better than the average religious person at are relating to people, empathy, and a capacity to sympathize with the hardships of other people. Just because you don’t understand BLM doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Or maybe the issue is that you think so called social justice has no place in atheism. Again, you show that you’re disconnected. It’s easier for some of you to break away from your own traditions. It’s much harder for minorities to part ways with the masters. In other words, it’s harder for us to break away from literal centuries of discrimination and oppression stemming from “the white man’s religion.” Our cultures were infiltrated, erased, and reconstructed in accordance to the colonialist’s image. We were given a suitable identity; we were given a system of morals, which stemmed from a religion they handed down to us. This religion was, to their minds, truer than our religions; their god realer than any of ours; their rituals more potent, their book better written, and their way of life more valid. A lot of us risk being disowned by our own family; we risk becoming homeless; we risk being physically threatened. 

So there’s no doubt in my mind that social issues have a place in atheism. Feminism likewise has its place. The notion that atheism has a woman problem is very real, but this mass unfollowing showed me that atheism also has a minority problem. Atheism’s identity, like philosophy’s and like religion’s, is Eurocentric. Its face is a white man’s face; its voice a white man’s voice. One look at the Four Horsemen or any of the prominent atheists that followed them–Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, Sean Carroll, Jerry A. Coyne, A.C. Grayling, Stephen Law–shows this to be true. The Black voice, the Latino voice, the voice of any non-white is secondary or entirely nonexistent. Atheism should not have taken in the dirty laundry of the religions it primarily opposes. We should not have adopted Christianity’s colonialism, Judaism’s group identity, Hinduism’s class hierarchy, or Islam’s patriarchy. Yet here we are!

If any more of you want to unfollow, feel free to do so. I’m a minority; I’m an atheist. I have proven myself as capable, if not, more capable than some of my white male counterparts. I do not need your validation. I don’t need your recognition or seal of approval. In short, if you don’t recognize the social ills adopted by atheists, I don’t need you.

10 Books That Stayed With You

Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you.Tag ten friends, including me, so I’ll see your list. 

(Tagged by wistly & memereve)

  1. Daniel Handler, Why We Broke Up
  2. Sierra DeMulder, The Bones Below
  3. Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
  4. Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
  5. Markus Zusak, The Book Thief 
  6. Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body
  7. Warsan Shire, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth
  8. Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
  9. Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces
  10. Nicole Krauss, The History of Love