neuronal connections

20 Out Of This World Facts About The Universe That Will Sweep You Off Your Feet

We’ve compiled a list of the 20 most incredible facts about the universe you will ever come across. The infinite expanse of stars and galaxies are riddled with mysteries which leading scientists and experts are yet to explore. In their quest to unearth the hidden secret of the universe, startling facts and information have emerged - 20 of which we’ve featured below.

1. When you look into the night sky, you are looking back in time.

Originally posted by apparently-artless

 When we gaze at stars in the night sky, we are actually looking into the past. This happens because light emitted from a star has to travels many light years ahead to actually become visible to our eyes. For  example, Orion is 640 light-years away, so the light left the star around 1370 is what we are seeing now.


2. The Hubble telescope allows us to look back billions of years into the past

Originally posted by dreamofthedragon

NASA releases some incredible images of space, from time to time, and it’s made possible with The Hubble Telescope. Here’s an image which is a collection of 10,000 images captured by The Hubble. 


3. You can watch the Big Bang on your television

Cosmic background radiation is an after effect of the Big Bang, the event that allegedly gave birth to the universe. This can actually be seen on television where the old fuzzy noise we saw contains 1% of the same radiation. 


4. There’s a giant cloud of alcohol in Sagittarius B

Sagittarius B, is a huge cloud of vinyl alcohol whizzing in space near the Milky Way. It’s important as it leaves crucial information for scientists about how early life forms originated in space.


5. There’s a planet-sized diamond in Centaurus named after a Beatles song

Originally posted by iclalove

A planet , made completely of diamond, which has been called Lucy by scientists after the Beatles song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,”  can be found 50 light years away in Centaurus and weighs in a mind boggling 10 billion-trillion-trillion carats. 


6. It takes 225 million years for our Sun to travel around the galaxy

Originally posted by toomanythoughtanddreams

While our planets in the solar system circumnavigate the Sun, the star itself it on a orbit around the Milky Way. And if we’re counting in humans years, it takes 225 million years to complete the journey. 


7. Our solar system’s biggest mountain is on Mars

The tallest mountain in our solar system is Olympus Mons, located on Mars. It’s calculated  to be three times taller than Everest, spanning 600 kilometers across and 26 kilometers in height. 


8. Uranus spins on its side, with some rather strange results

Originally posted by spaceplasma

Uranus is not just unique because of its strange spinning, but the consequences of that effect results in 42 consecutive years of summer sunlight followed by another 42 consecutive winter darkness.


9. A year on Venus is shorter than its day

Originally posted by spaceplasma


Venus is the slowest rotating planet in our solar system - it takes longer to finish a rotation on its axis than orbit the entire Sun!


10. Neutron stars are the fastest spinning objects known in the universe

The fastest spinning known pulsar, a neutron star which emits a radiation beam as light, cycles on a whopping 70,000 km per hour speed.


11. A spoonful of a neutron star weighs about a billion ton

Neutron stars are unimaginably dense, in fact one spoonful of one such star would weigh around a billion tons!


12. The Voyager 1 spacecraft is the most distant human-made object from Earth

In 1977, the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were released into space as an ambitious project and are still cruising the outskirts of our galaxy and maybe beyond to help us explore space even further.


13. Voyager 1 captured the most distant photograph of Earth

The same spacecraft, Voyager 1, took the most distant photograph of Earth: Voyager 1 took a shot of the Earth from the far reaches of space in 1990, and the small speck at the end of the image that is the world we’re living on right now became known as the Pale Blue Dot. Astronomer Carl Sagan noted,“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”


14. Scientists are looking for evidence of extraterrestrial life on Earth

Originally posted by ajshostak

One of the most exciting mysteries of the universe is a quest to find aliens, or as termed by scientists a project called The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), where they are pulling n all data about extraterrestrial life on other planets through evidence they have at their hands.


15. It is estimated there are 400 billion stars in our galaxy

Originally posted by thelucidnation

Our own Sun is one of 400 billion others, some astoundingly larger, some smaller, in the Milky Way alone. 


16. There could be 500 million planets capable of supporting life in our galaxy

“Goldilocks Planets” are  habitable planets which fall into a specific zone around the star to make life sustainable on it. Many factors come into play to get this perfect distance such as temperature, atmospheric content, water, chemical compounds on the surface etc. 


17. There are probably more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe

Based on extensive calculations, using data from the Hubble Telescope and as far as it can see into space, there’s a probable 170 billion galaxies besides our own Milky Way.


18. There could be an infinite number of universes

Originally posted by sci-universe

Speculative theories in advanced branches of science such as mathematics, quantum mechanics and astrophysics have summed up that we could be living in a “multiverse”- a convergence of an infinite number of universes. 


19. The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe

Originally posted by teapotsandroses

Our brain is a blueprint for the most complex network in the universe, with over a hundred billion neurons and quadrillion connections- this system isn’t even the tip of the iceberg which we know about what our brains have the potential to achieve.


20. We are all made of stardust

Originally posted by drugsruleeverythingaroundme

Carl Sagan beautifully summarises this fact, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” In fact, every element on Earth transpired from a burning heart of a star.

Neurons - Anatomy Overview

Going to be covering nerves and synapses this week so here’s a recap!

  • Soma (cell body) contains the nucleus which produces RNA to support cell functions, + organelles surrounding the nucleus which are mostly made of up endoplasmic reticulum. Supports and maintains the functioning of the neuron.
  • Dendrites - cellular extensions with many branches ‘dendritic tree’. majority of input occurs via the dendritic spine. The sum of all excitatory (neuron fires) or inhibitory (prevents firing) signals determines whether the neuron fires or not. If firing the action potential is transmitted down the axon.
  • Axon - fine, cable-like projection that can extend thousands of times the diameter of the soma in length. The axon carries nerve signals away from the soma (and also carries some types of information back to it). Can undergo branching - communication with target cells. 
  • Axon hillock - where the axon emerges from the soma. the part of the neuron that has the greatest density of voltage-dependent sodium channels - therefore the most easily excited part of the neuron and the spike initiation zone for the axon - most negative action potential threshold. Can also receive input from other neurons.
  • Axon terminal where neurotransmitters are released into the synaptic cleft to signal the next neuron

Myelin sheath

Myelin is a fatty material that wraps around axons and increases the speed of electrical transmission between neurons. It is broken up by nodes of Ranvier, between which electrical impulses jump. Myelin is produced by schwann cells in the PNS and oligodendrocytes in the CNS.

Classes of neurons

Sensory neurons bring information into the CNS so it can be processed.

Motor neurons get information from other neurons and convey commands to  muscles, organs and glands.

Interneurons,found only in the CNS, connect one neuron to another. 

Types of neuron

Multipolar neurons have one axon and many dendritic branches. These carry signals from the central nervous system to other parts of the body eg muscles and glands.

Unipolar neurons are also known as sensory neurons. They have one axon and one dendrite with branches. Pass signals from the outside of the body, such as touch, along to the central nervous system.

Bipolar neurons have one axon and one dendrite branch. They pass signals from one neuron to the next inside the central nervous system.

Pyramidal neurons have one axon and two main dendrite branches. These cells pass signals inside the brain and tell the muscles to move.

Purkinje neurons are found in the cerebellum, controlling balance, coordination, and timing of actions. They have one axon and a dense and complicated dendrite arrangement.

“Autistic brain as the extreme Homo sapiens brain” hypothesis by me, an autistic biology undergrad
(oh boy will this get long and controversial)

To help you understand this hypothesis, first let me break down some evolutionary concepts. Let’s talk about speciation.

New species appears when two things happen: there is a new trait that gives a population better chances of passing on their genes through procreation in a certain environment (apomorphy: a new, derived trait), and there is reproductive isolation from individuals without that trait. New traits appear through random mutations and most of them are harmful. Useful traits get more and more common with every generation until a population separates and can no longer create fertile offspring with those most closely related to them. Wham, speciation.

This is hard to understand if you aren’t into biology so example. There’s a fish which has more muscle in its fins than all other fishes. That trait is new, it’s extreme and rare. However it allows the fish to move better in shallow water, where it has less competition and more food. It produces a lot of offspring, some of which has the same trait. They continue to live in shallow water and they meet other fish that also live in shallow water. Repeat that many many times and you get a new species of Sarcopterigii (muscle fins! technically that’s us). Apomorohy: more muscle in fins; new environment: shallow water; reproductive isolation: geographical.

Now back to humans. Apomorphies of the genus Homo were things like bipedal locomotion, use of tools, language, and so on, and our new territory was the savanna (as opposed to forests). However we still aren’t a sure what defines our species, Homo sapiens, and where to draw the line between hominids and us. My anthropology professor always laughs when talking about Homo species like habilis or erectus because he doesn’t know whether he should call them “males and females” or “men and women”. We just don’t know what is our defining trait(s).

But we do know that there was something about sapiens that allowed us to outlive all other Homo species, including Neanderthals and Denisovans, and it is obvious that we have a difference. Well I am here to present a thrilling new hypothesis: we will realize what that trait is if we study autistic people, because the autistic brain is the extreme Homo sapiens brain. Just like the fins of fish continued to develop to help it navigate land, human brain continued to develop to adapt to our lifestyle, and that adaptation is autism.

Looking at some common autism traits we notice that a lot of them are neurotypical behaviors taken to extreme. Stimming is extreme fidgeting, special interests are extreme hobbies/interests, routines are extreme schedules/planning habits, sensory processing disorder is extreme sensory perception. Hence the intense world hypothesis.

Looking further, we notice that there are other characteristically human traits that autism takes to extreme: like noticing patterns, memory and imagination. Even further, if we look at developing baby brains, we see that if a child’s prefrontal cortex is growing faster and is bigger than typical, that child is more likely to be later diagnosed as autistic. And prefrontal cortex is the most characteristically human part of our brain!

So what I see is that a lot of autistic traits are Homo sapiens traits taken to the next level, and it might come from increased prefrontal cortex growth as well as more local connections between neurons. So arguably a lot of things that were Homo sapiens apomorphies just went further to better suit our new society with all the tool making, hunting, gathering, agriculture, art, science and religion.

Now I hear you saying “but Mattie, humans are very social and autism is a social disability!”. Well yeah, you’re right: social interaction problems are major autism criteria. However I’d like to talk about why that is the case. Autistics struggle with social protocol, which is supposedly a set of unspoken rules of existing in human society that relies on ability to read certain cues like facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and so on. And yes the majority of autistics suck at that.

But you know what? So do allistics! I know it sounds counterintuitive but social protocol is shit. It is constantly changing, imprecise, highly dependent on time and culture and impossible to define. It’s just sloppy. Allistics think they are masters of reading social cues but in reality they are making a ton of guesses. Research shows that cognitive empathy (subconscious guesses based on all that body language and stuff) is worse than conscious analyses, meaning that I, an autistic person who has to use conscious analyses to understand others, is technically better at it than an allistic person who uses cognitive empathy.

Allistics get away with this because they are the majority. When everyone’s bad at something together, there’s no way of telling you’re bad at it. They are flexible and go with the flow and they don’t see how illogical and sloppy social protocol is. But still, miscommunication is the most common comedy trope and there’s always so much misunderstanding in society, which means it is not perfect.

Autistics however seek structure, predictability and order. Sloppy and illogical isn’t good enough for us. Our brains just can’t find patterns in that mess of social cues. So if we were the majority, we would not get away with hints and subsequent miscommunication. I think we would develop a much more structured and well-defined social protocol which would leave much less room for misinterpretation and ensure better communication. Maybe we would have a system of gestures and hand signs to communicate different things, maybe we would use technology, maybe our language would change to accommodate it. Either way, if we were the majority, there would be no social disability.

Now you may ask, well if autistics are extreme humans, why haven’t we replaced allistics as a phenotype more suited for life in our environment? Well, civilization happened and natural selection went to hell. Now we don’t change to fit the environment, we change the environment to fit us. And because the autistic neurotype was still that extreme, rare, “weird fish with muscly fins” population, we got screwed over. Allistics - the majority - built a world which was great for them and incredibly bad for us. It became especially prominent from the rise of industrial revolution, and even more prominent in the last hundred years, which is when it was described for the first time and is now diagnosed in like 1-2% of the population.

I don’t think autism has a chance to become more common now, because due to ableism and other reasons we are less likely to procreate. Autistics aren’t gonna create a new species either because we have no reproductive isolation now. The only thing we can do is to change the environment through education and accommodation to make it better for us, and maybe autism will stop being a disability some day.

However I think it is important to study autism, and not with a purpose of preventing us from being born, but because it may reveal the truth about the nature of humanity and show us what might have happened to our species if it wasn’t for civilization. In my opinion it is just fascinating and it might finally prove why we need accommodation for autism and how to do it the best. Until then, these are just random thoughts of a nerd obsessed with biology.

If you have any thoughts about this, please let me know.

Hey so I’m thinking about Kara and M’gann again and I wrote some stuff because goddamn it I am gonna build this city from the ground up if it’s the last thing I do.


strange girls in a strange land

It’s never a secret. For the first time in Kara’s thirteen years on Earth, there’s no great revelation. There isn’t anything to reveal.

This weight that she’s carried with her into every relationship outside the Danvers that she’s ever tried to build since she landed—it suddenly becomes inconsequential, when they’re together. The fact that Kara is Kryptonian, that she is Supergirl. The distinction between Kara Danvers and Kara Zor-El and National City’s resident hero. The deception; the disguise.

There’s no pretense between them, no pretending, no parts to play. They meet in the ring as Supergirl and Miss Martian, and then a few days later Kara Danvers shows up at the alien bar—and M’gann knows. It’s not something she needs to deduce or figure out after they’ve known each other a while. She just looks at Kara and she knows—it’s just a simple unconscious observation, as clear to see as the gold of Kara’s hair or the blue of her eyes.

M’gann slides Kara an Aldebaran rum and Kara doesn’t even realize that she’s still wearing her glasses.

Keep reading

Winter Shadow - chapter 1

I’m kinda scared to post this (even though I’ve turned off anon), I’m sorry if it’s crap or you don’t want me to post stuff.

I’m at work today but it’s a slow day so I started writing someting. Sorry. This is from a prompt that @pixierox101 sent me ages ago. I hope I haven’t screwed up your nice idea, thank you for sending it to me. x


It was like a ballet, watching them together. They moved in perfect synchrony, every move complementing the other in a dance to the death. They didn’t speak, they didn’t need to. Decades of training, of suffering, had left them connected in a way that no one could break. They circled each other, back-to-back but aware of the other’s every move, ready to defend, to attack, to win.

They had their roles, each knowing their place on this mission. He was there to break, to destroy, to kill, to create mayhem and fear. She was there to infiltrate, to penetrate the unbreakable, to leave slow devastation in her wake, chaos that would insinuate itself into computer systems, into people’s minds. Each knew their role, and supported the other.

Keep reading

nytimes.com
The Purpose of Sleep: To forget, Scientists say  sleep may help the brain prune back unneeded synapses.
By Carl Zimmer

A PET scan of a brain during normal sleep.

by Carl Zimmer

Over the years, scientists have come up with a lot of ideas about why we sleep.

Some have argued that it’s a way to save energy. Others have suggested that slumber provides an opportunity to clear away the brain’s cellular waste. Still others have proposed that sleep simply forces animals to lie still, letting them hide from predators.

A pair of papers published on Thursday in the journal Science offer evidence for another notion: We sleep to forget some of the things we learn each day.

In order to learn, we have to grow connections, or synapses, between the neurons in our brains. These connections enable neurons to send signals to one another quickly and efficiently. We store new memories in these networks.

In 2003, Giulio Tononi and Chiara Cirelli, biologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, proposed that synapses grew so exuberantly during the day that our brain circuits got “noisy.” When we sleep, the scientists argued, our brains pare back the connections to lift the signal over the noise.

In the years since, Dr. Tononi and Dr. Cirelli, along with other researchers, have found a great deal of indirect evidence to support the so-called synaptic homeostasis hypothesis.

(excerpt - click the link for the complete article) 

Scientists Discover Clues to Altered Brain Wiring in Autism

Autism is an agonizing puzzle, a complex mixture of genetic and environmental factors. One piece of this puzzle that has emerged in recent years is a biochemical cascade called the mTOR pathway that regulates growth in the developing brain. A mutation in one of the genes that controls this pathway, PTEN (also known as phosphatase and tensin homolog), can cause a particular form of autism called macrocephaly/autism syndrome.

Using an animal model of this syndrome, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered that mutations in PTEN affect the assembly of connections between two brain areas important for the processing of social cues: the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with complex cognitive processes such as moderating social behavior, and the amygdala, which plays a role in emotional processing.

“When PTEN is mutated, we find that neurons that project from the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala are overgrown and make more synapses,” said TSRI Associate Professor Damon Page. “In this case, more synapses are not necessary a good thing because this contributes to abnormal activity in the amygdala and deficits in social behavior.”

The study was published on November 15 by the journal Nature Communications. The study also showed that targeting the activity of the mTOR pathway shortly after birth, a time when neurons are forming connections between these brain areas, can block the emergence of abnormal amygdala activity and social behavioral deficits. Likewise, reducing activity neurons that project between these areas in adulthood can also reverse these symptoms.

“Given that the functional connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and amygdala is largely conserved between mice and humans,” said TSRI Graduate Student Wen-Chin Huang, the first author of the study, “we anticipate the therapeutic strategies suggested here may be relevant for individuals on the autism spectrum.”

Although caution is warranted in extrapolating findings from animal models to humans, these findings have implications for individualized approaches to treating autism. “Even within individuals exposed to the same risk factor, different strategies may be appropriate to treat the symptoms of autism in early development versus maturity,” said Page.

Winter Shadow, chapter 6

There’s a lot of Bucky’s POV (italics) in this one, which is kinda dumb because if you’ve seen Civil War, you’ll know this stuff.  Sorry x

She was taken in. Not too roughly, but not too gently either. Handcuffed, thrust into the back of a windowless van, the Widow climbing in after her, and banging on the driver’s partition.  The van started, and she felt it moving off into traffic, not too fast, trying not to attract attention.  She shifted slightly, trying to ease her shoulders and get more comfortable.  Time to assess first, before acting, before trying to escape.

And then it hit her. Why escape? Why leave one captivity, to return to another? For years, she had returned to Hydra because of James, drawn to him, programmed, compelled, to be there with him. Then he left, and she reverted to acting solely on command. Go out, complete mission, return.  But now, the electroshocks had agitated her brain, resetting her neuronal connections, shaken loose the commands. Perhaps not all of them, she still felt the urge to fight, to run, but now she felt that she could choose whether to act on those orders. Now she could think about who and why she might fight, where she might run.  The choice was too great, after decades under control, the idea of free will was tantalising and terrifying.  For now though, she would choose to wait.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

there is no difference between the brains of men and women. try harder, misogynist.

Female brains have a higher percentage of grey matter.

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/19/10/4065

“While measuring brain activity with magnetic resonance imaging during blood pressure trials, UCLA researchers found that men and women had opposite responses in the right front of the insular cortex.”

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/more-evidence-that-male-and-female-brains-are-wired-differently

“The female brain appears to have increased connection between neurons in the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and males seem to have increased neural communication within hemispheres from frontal to rear portions of the organ.”

http://mobile.the-scientist.com/article/38539/male-and-female-brains-wired-differently

Here are some other links with information on the differences between male and female brains:

http://www.livescience.com/41619-male-female-brains-wired-differently.html

https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2016/06/brain-activity-during-cooperation-differs-by-sex.html

But I guess science is just misogynistic.

What do schools of fish and clusters of neurons have in common?

The answer lies in a concept called ‘emergence’, or the spontaneous creation of sophisticated behaviors and functions from large groups of simple elements.

Like many animals, fish stick together in groups, but that’s not just because they enjoy each other’s company. It’s a matter of survival. Schools of fish exhibit complex swarming behaviors that help them evade hungry predators, while a lone fish is quickly singled out as easy prey. So which brilliant fish leader is the one in charge? Actually, no one is, and everyone is. So what does that mean? While the school of fish is elegantly twisting, turning, and dodging sharks in what looks like deliberate coordination, each individual fish is actually just following two basic rules that have nothing to do with the shark: one, stay close, but not too close to your neighbor, and two, keep swimming. 

As individuals, the fish are focused on the minutiae of these local interactions, but if enough fish join the group, something remarkable happens. The movement of individual fish is eclipsed by an entirely new entity: the school, which has its own unique set of behaviors. The school isn’t controlled by any single fish. It simply emerges if you have enough fish following the right set of local rules. It’s like an accident that happens over and over again, allowing fish all across the ocean to reliably avoid predation.

What makes emergence so complex is that you can’t understand it by simply taking it apart, like the engine of a car. Taking things apart is a good first step to understanding a complex system. But if you reduce a school of fish to individuals, it loses the ability to evade predators, and there’s nothing left to study. And if you reduce the brain to individual neurons, you’re left with something that is notoriously unreliable, and nothing like how we think and behave, at least most of the time.

Regardless, whatever you’re thinking about right now isn’t reliant on a single neuron lodged in the corner of your brain. Rather, the mind emerges from the collective activities of many, many neurons. There are billions of neurons in the human brain, and trillions of connections between all those neurons.3:28When you turn such a complicated system like that on, it could behave in all sorts of weird ways, but it doesn’t. The neurons in our brain follow simple rules, just like the fish, so that as a group, their activity self-organizes into reliable patterns that let you do things like recognize faces, successfully repeat the same task over and over again, and keep all those silly little habits that everyone likes about you.

As more and more neurons are connected, increasingly complex patterns of activity emerge from the network. Soon, so many neurons are interacting in so many different ways at once that the system becomes chaotic. The trajectory of the network’s activity cannot be easily explained by the simple local circuits described earlier. And yet, from this chaos, patterns can emerge, and then emerge again and again in a reproducible manner. At some point, these emergent patterns of activity become sufficiently complex, and curious to begin studying their own biological origins…not to mention the concept of emergence itself!

And what we found in emergent phenomena at vastly different scales is that same remarkable characteristic as the fish displayed: That emergence doesn’t require someone or something to be in charge. If the right rules are in place, and some basic conditions are met, a complex system will fall into the same habits over and over again, turning chaos into order. That’s true in the molecular pandemonium that lets your cells function, the tangled thicket of neurons that produces your thoughts and identity, your network of friends and family, all the way up to the structures and economies of our cities across the planet.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How do schools of fish swim in harmony? - Nathan S. Jacobs

Animation by TED-Ed

Would You Trust Me? CiscoXReader (P.1)

Prompt: You accidentally hurt Cisco when your powers get out of control.

Warnings: Angst.

Pairings: Cisco/Reader

Word Count: 1,476

A/N: Okay so there will definitely be a PART 2. And this is my first Fanfic so I do apologize if there’s a fanfic curriculum i did not follow.

~~~~~~


“Y/N! Could you run any slower? My invention can’t wait forever.” Your sweet and handsome boyfriend, Cisco, called you into his lab, for he had been working on a headband to help you control your powers.


Y/N, other wise known as Psychic Heart, are not only able to read and control people’s minds, but you also possess telekinesis. Your psychic powers could even outgrow Grodd’s, the only problem is, you can’t control them… Last time you practiced, you ended up accidentally breaking all the beakers in Caitlin’s lab. And the only time you had a fight with Cisco, you might’ve accidently cracked every mirror in the house.


“Okay! Okay, I’m here. What is it?” You grinned from the enthusiasm your boyfriend showed.


Before you, on display, in the middle of the room, was a metal headband, with ear buds connected to it and decorated with an led light or two. “This, is your ticket to the outside. The ticket to you controlling your powers.” He grinned proudly, “It has an Algorithm which contradicts the unstable wave lengths your brain is constantly producing. And it allows you to choose when, or when not, the appropriate time for that would be. Buuuut… you’re going to need to give it a test run. Make sure it works.”


You frowned, looking up at your boyfriend with uncertainty. “Cisco, I don’t know. I don’t want to accidentally hurt anyone if it doesn’t work.”


“Don’t worry I have it all planned out, you’ll be testing it outside in the field with no one but a can, and car beside you, and me about a mile away from you.” He explained his plans, holding your hands in a comforting manner. “Trust me Y/N, everything will be alright. Okay?”


You huffed, looking up into those cute puppy dog eyes of his, ones you couldn’t possibly resist, then nodded. “Fine, but only because I trust you.”


“Thank you.” He grinned, kissing your forehead sweetly before setting everything up to go.


~~~~~~

About 3 hours later, with a little help of Barry, everything was set up in a field miles away from Central City. You had a headset in your ear, in order to communicate with the crew, which seemed to be at a safe distance away from you for when you unleashed your powers.

“Alright Y/N. Your headband is online and seems to be fully functional. Ready to do this babe?” Cisco’s voice rang through your ear as you took a deep breath.

“I guess so… What do you want me to do? Use the force on the can, or the car first?” You teased to your very nerdy boyfriend at the other end.

He laughed, “Well, is learning, young Jedi. So, with the can, you shall begin.”

“Oh my god. Could you guys be any more geeky?” Caitlin was audibly heard, through the earbuds on the headband.

“Yes, master Yoda.” You giggled at both of your antics, and Caitlin’s comment.

Alright, enough jokes, you have a can to move and some bizarre powers to control.


Taking a deep breath, you gave your full attention to the can, imagining it floating a few feet above the ground. Before you knew it, the headband beeped, and the can was 6 feet in the air and slowly back on the floor at your command.

You couldn’t believe it, the headband worked! “I did it!!! It worked! All to my will, without losing control!” You exclaimed proudly through the earpiece.

“Hell yeah!! Genius me succeeds once again.” Cisco bragged, “Now try the car. We need to make sure it will work with objects of higher mass too.”

“Yes sir.” You grinned, now quite optimistic, walking closer to the car. You concentrated on it, the headband beeped once more and the car rose above the floor a few inches, before your head began to hurt and it was becoming difficult to hold the car steady.


“Cisco… I think something is wrong, I’m gonna need to sto—” You were then cut off by a volt bolt of electricity coming from the head band and zapping your head. Suddenly, your thoughts went blank, and your overwhelming powers had taken control of your body.

“Y/N? What happened! Should I sent Barry to get you?” Cisco called worried through the ear piece, but it went unheard by you…


The one thing in your mind was fear, uncontrollable power, and a feeling of being lost in oblivion. It was a horrible feeling to say the least, much so, that mentally you searched for someone to comfort it… Or to be specific. Cisco.


Oh but that fear wasn’t visible in the physical world outside of your head, for the car had rose a great distance from the ground, and was thrown to the direction of your friends who had lost contact with you.


“WATCH OUT!” Barry ran to his Cisco and Caitlin, moving them out of the way before the car crashed on the spot they had been previously standing on.


“Holy shit!” Cisco breathed out in fear, “Y/N is loosing control… The headband didn’t work. I need  talk to her and calm her down.”


Before he knew it, you were levitating in the air, right in front of the three. Your eyes as bright as crystals and face filled with nothing more than fear. “Cisco?!!!!” You screamed, unknowingly levitating Cisco and throwing him against the now crashed car, causing him to lose consciousness. But all of this was beyond your knowledge, for you were trapped in your own head. “Cisco! Please I’m scared… Talk  me.”


Caitlin and Barry looked at each other, knowing exactly what they had to do… something they knew Cisco would’ve never allowed.


In a Flash, you had lost all consciousness, including in your mind, as if you were drugged or kicked so hard you fainted.


Unknowingly to both you and your boyfriend, you had hurt Cisco, and was thrown into the Pipeline with the other dangerous metahumans.


~~~~~~~


The next day, Cisco had woken up in S.T.A.R Labs, frantic to say the least, on the hospital bed where Cait and Barry sat beside him. “W-what the hell. What happened?” He groaned, trying to sit up, until he felt a sting in his right leg and hissed. Looking down at his leg, he realized he was in a cast.


“Cisco… relax. You just got a little hurt after our tests. “ Cait said softly, “Y/N’s headband malfunctioned.”


The boy’s eyes widened in fear, suddenly more frantic to try and get out of the bed. “What happened to Y/N! Is she okay?!”


Barry nodded, “Y/N Is fine… her headband had snapped the neuron connections in her brain, the ones which connected her mind to her powers, causing her to lose all physical control over herself and give in to full power, out of fear.She couldn’t  control it… “ He took a deep breath before saying anything else. “So we put her in the Pipeline.”


“The Pipeline?! Barry, she doesn’t belong there! Y/N is not a villain.” he snapped, “You need to get her out of there.”


Barry shook his head, “We’re not doing that… She’s much too dangerous.”


“He’s right, Cisco.” Caitlin added, “Y/N hurt you. And it might not have been intentional, but whatever your invention did, it made her powers completely uncontrollable to her. While she had passed out I did brain scans, and her mental and physical capabilities are completely detached from her powers.”


Cisco took a deep breath, taking it all in. He had done this to you… He had been the one to make your worse fears control. He allowed your powers to control you, and he was the one who forced you into a prison other than your home.


“How long until i can get out of this bed and see her?” Cisco finally spoke.


“Two or three days I’d say.” Caitlin specified, “I could get your tablet and speaker set here so you can still talk Barry through missions.”


He nodded lying back down on his bed, but he didn’t care about speaking to Barry through missions, his head was filled with thoughts of you. How scared were you? How disappointed had he you? And most importantly, would you be able to forgive him? Would you trust him?


~~~~~~~


“HEEELP!!!!!”


Unknowingly to Cisco, but certainly not Barry and Caitlin, you were bangin on your cell door from inside the pipeline. Screaming, yelling for anyone to talk to you, fearful on the harm you could’ve possibly caused to get you stuck in here. Only the worst scenarios came to mind…


Terror, death, casualties, destruction, and Cisco, watching or worse, experiencing it. He would never trust you again.


“HELP ME PLEASE!!” You sobbed on your cell floor, knuckles bruised from punching on the door to much. “What did I do…?!” You whimpered, continuing your yells for answers for many more hours….

__________ A/N: Hope you liked it, sorry to leave with so much angst but part 2 and more happy will come soon!

Requested by @happyaoinmylife

You might not think a big, metal bird like Skarmory would be able to fly. But when it comes down to it, weight doesn’t limit flight as much as you’d think: the creature simply needs to produce more lift to fly. Airplanes, for example, also weigh a lot: A Boeing 747 weighs up to 735,000 pounds (333,400 kg) and can still lift off!  Airplanes are obviously different than living birds, but they are no exception. The Argentavis magnificens, for example, is extinct now, but was a type of flying condor that weighed over 120 kg – more than twice of Skarmory’s weight!

Skarmory’s flight isn’t even the most remarkable thing about this pokémon. According to the pokédex, Skarmory completely regrows its wings once a year, restoring them after the wear and tear of battle. 

Most animals are capable of rudimentary regeneration. Humans, for example, can regrow tissues and close wounds without a problem, given enough time. Still, humans can only regenerate our skin tissue and liver. There’s a lot more to our body than that, and some animals clearly excel at regeneration more than others. Deers are perhaps the most common example of this. On a yearly basis, deer will shed and regrow 60 pounds (27 kg) of antlers!

Antler regeneration is on a yearly cycle associated with a deer’s level of the hormone testosterone. They grow the antlers the spring, when mating season is approaching and food is abundant, and they loose their antlers in the winter, when testosterone levels drop due to the harsher conditions of life.

More similar to Skarmory, perhaps, is a bat. Bats have incredible regeneration capabilities in their wings. In fact, their wing tissue has some of the fastest regeneration that we know of, able to completely heal holes or giant tears in their wings in a matter of weeks.

Skarmory, hopefully, isn’t sustaining quite so big of injuries. The annual healing of its wings is more for the long-term effects of the typical wear and tear from battle, which can still be devastating. Fractures and nerve damage can build up over time, which can cause horrible long-term effects including paralysis, dementia, and concussions. This is actually a big problem in professional sports: athletes may think they’re fine, but the repetitive damage builds up.

Luckily, Skarmory’s annual healing has created a way to prevent this. For this explanation, we turn to our last animal for today, one of the most incredible regenerators in the animal kingdom: the axolotl. Axolotls can completely regrow missing parts of their body, including their limbs, tails, their heart, jaw, and even their brains.

Even more incredibly, perhaps, is the axolotl’s ability to regrow parts of its body that aren’t even missing. Namely, it’s nervous system. If an axolotl sustains nerve damage and gets paralyzed, they will actually regenerate the use of that limb by completely regrowing the nervous system inside of it, creating all new neurons with all new connections. 

Let’s see if we can connect this all to Skarmory. We know it’s wing-regeneration happens once a year, so it is likely linked to a hormone cycle, like a deer’s testosterone. The wings not only heal outside, restoring the tissues and healing cuts and tatters, but they also heal inside, regenerating any nerve connections that may have been damaged from repetitive fights. 

Skarmory’s wings heal completely once per year, regenerating tissues and nerve damage to restore them to a pristine state.

Neuro chip records brain cell activity at higher resolution

Brain functions are controlled by millions of brain cells. However, in order to understand how the brain controls functions, such as simple reflexes or learning and memory, we must be able to record the activity of large networks and groups of neurons. Conventional methods have allowed scientists to record the activity of neurons for minutes, but a new technology, developed by University of Calgary researchers, known as a bionic hybrid neuro chip, is able to record activity in animal brain cells for weeks at a much higher resolution. The technological advancement was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“These chips are 15 times more sensitive than conventional neuro chips,” says Naweed Syed, PhD, scientific director of the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine’s Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and senior author on the study. “This allows brain cell signals to be amplified more easily and to see real time recordings of brain cell activity at a resolution that has never been achieved before.”

The development of this technology will allow researchers to investigate and understand in greater depth, in animal models, the origins of neurological diseases and conditions such as epilepsy, as well as other cognitive functions such as learning and memory.

“Recording this activity over a long period of time allows you to see changes that occur over time, in the activity itself,” says Pierre Wijdenes, a PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program and the study’s first author. “This helps to understand why certain neurons form connections with each other and why others won’t.”

The cross-faculty team created the chip to mimic the natural biological contact between brain cells, essentially tricking the brain cells into believing that they are connecting with other brain cells. As a result, the cells immediately connect with the chip, thereby allowing researchers to view and record the two-way communication that would go on between two normal functioning brain cells.

“We simulated what Mother Nature does in nature and provided brain cells with an environment where they feel as if they are at home,” says Syed. “This has allowed us to increase the sensitivity of our readings and help neurons build a long-term relationship with our electronic chip.”

While the chip is currently used to analyze animal brain cells, this increased resolution and the ability to make long-term recordings is bringing the technology one step closer to being effective in the recording of human brain cell activity.

“Human brain cell signals are smaller and therefore require more sensitive electronic tools to be designed to pick up the signals,” says Colin Dalton, adjunct professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering and a co-author on this study. Dalton is also the facility manager of the University of Calgary’s Advanced Micro/nanosystems Integration Facility (AMIF), where the chips were designed and fabricated.

Researchers hope the technology will one day be used as a tool to bring personalized therapeutic options to patients facing neurological disease.

How Stress Affects the Brain

Are you sleeping restlessly, feeling irritable or moody, forgetting little things, and feeling overwhelmed and isolated? Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. You’re probably just stressed out. Stress isn’t always a bad thing. It can be handy for a burst of extra energy and focus, like when you’re playing a competitive sport, or have to speak in public. But when its continuous, the kind most of us face day in and day out, it actually begins to change your brain. Chronic stress, like being overworked or having arguments at home, can affect brain size, its structure, and how it functions, right down to the level of your genes.

Stress begins with something called the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis, series of interactions between endocrine glands in the brain and on the kidney, which controls your body’s reaction to stress. When your brain detects a stressful situation, your HPA axis is instantly activated and releases a hormone called cortisol, which primes your body for instant action. But high levels of cortisol over long periods of time wreak havoc on your brain. For example, chronic stress increases the activity level and number of neural connections in the amygdala, your brain’s fear center. And as levels of cortisol rise, electric signals in your hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with learning, memories, and stress control, deteriorate.

The hippocampus also inhibits the activity of the HPA axis, so when it weakens, so does your ability to control your stress. That’s not all, though. Cortisol can literally cause your brain to shrink in size.

Too much of it results in the loss of synaptic connections between neurons and the shrinking of your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain the regulates behaviors like concentration, decision-making, judgement, and social interaction. It also leads to fewer new brain cells being made in the hippocampus. This means chronic stress might make it harder for you to learn and remember things, and also set the stage for more serious mental problems, like depression and eventually Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s not all bad news, though. There are many ways to reverse what cortisol does to your stressed brain. The most powerful weapons are exercise and meditation, which involves breathing deeply and being aware and focused on your surroundings. Both of these activities decrease your stress and increase the size of the hippocampus, thereby improving your memory.

So don’t feel defeated by the pressures of daily life. Get in control of your stress before it takes control of you.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How stress affects your brain - Madhumita Murgia

Animation by Andrew Zimbelman

they call it healing
processing
coping

but I know
it is a chemical atrocity
a paleolithic mechanism
of alarm and self-defense

the You within my skull
is being murdered
as the hurt
neuron by neuron
sears the connections
and burns that You away.
and like a cigarette on celluloid
the image is forever ruined

the You that I know -
your smile, your laugh,
your smell upon my sheets
your hair found on my shirt
your whisper in my ear
your fingers on my belt
your voice speaking my name

is vanishing
minute by minute
cell by cell

replaced
by a sterile memory
devoid of the Beauty
that I love

I would contain the hurt
deny all its usefulness
and keep You forever safe within
even if it kills me

my body betrays me
my heart will pump
my lungs will spasm
my brain will self-medicate

and You
will disappear

again.

I met Aleya Fasier hunched over sweet potatoes growing stubbornly in hard-packed earth under a sky that held history. There weren’t many words exchanged that day–mostly just weeding–or that fall–just digging, weighting and sighing. What I did pick up on was that Aleya was a person who did everything with intention. Since that day, Aleya has poured her heart into that same soil, left her mark on the historical record under that same sky and the results have been remarkable. And that is where we’ll start.

Prepare yourself and give thanks for the words of black, queer, womanist, futurist, ecologist, artist, educator, farmer Aleya Frasier–co-founder of Black Dirt Farm and a revolutionary warrior for black food security.

GSF: Who are you and what is your superpower? 

AF: I am one of many queer, biologically active, radical molecules of melanin chilling on your amygdala guiding your primal instincts. And our superpower is activating your superpower. This is done through hormonal and vibrational synchronicity with other radical melanated molecules. I was formed under libra skies so by definition my vibration brings balance to different sides of the equation and works to bring organic and inorganic reactions to equilibrium. Our superpowers activate at the intersection of entropy and equilibrium which is pretty much at all times and space continuums, but they are strongest when connected to the land as space and now as the time. When people step foot on the farm the serotonin in the soil mixed with the ancestors in the air and UV ray excitation of my electrons and my subtle vibrations in their cells allows caverns in the mind to open that have been previously filtered and neurons to connect in ways that they haven’t before. Mitochondrial dna is stirred awake and its knowledge from your uterine having ancestors that has been passed down since the beginning of her story is realized. Through black dirt under fingernails, melanated work under the sun and calloused hands peoples superpowers and ancient rhythms are germinated approximately 3 weeks after the last frost. so you see all with melanin possess this ability at varying frequencies. and then we do it again.

GSF: You are a disciple of AfroEcology and gather folks to celebrate and mobilize around Afro-ecological practice. First of all, what is AfroEcology? How is it, as you say “a perfect counter attack to white supremacy capitalism and patriarchy.” ? 

AF: Afroecology is a form of art, movement, practice and process of social and ecological transformation that involves the re-evaluation of our sacred relationships with land, water, air, seeds and food; (re)recognizes humans as co-creators that are an aspect of the planet’s life support systems; values the Afro-Indigenous experience of reality and ways of knowing; cherishes ancestral and communal forms of knowledge, experience and lifeways that began in Africa and continue throughout the Diaspora; and is rooted in the agrarian traditions, legacies and struggles of the Black experience in the Americas.The nature of the Black Experience in America, and in the Americas, has always been and will be, intimately, tied to the land and our agrarian identity. As said by Harry Haywood in Negro Liberation in 1948, “The Negro Question in the United States is Agrarian in Origin.” To draw upon this agrarian legacy, we, at the Black Dirt Farm Collective, felt it was important to introduce the concept of Afroecology – not as a definition but as a place to stimulate discussions on the intimate connection between us as people and the land. Far too often, people of color and Black Folk succumb to using words, theories and concepts that do not directly speak our language nor speak to our experience of reality. All the while, these very concepts, like organic farming, permaculture, etc. come from and stem from our ancestry, and current practices as people of the land and our organizing legacies. As part of the liberation struggle, we recognize the need to create political ideologies, and cultural theories, concepts and practices to help clarify certain aspects of reality, so as to transformation the material and social conditions of reality. We present Afroecology as part of that process. Afroecology is a call back to the land that is awaiting our return. It is a living breathing process of decolonization that is built upon the black experience of the indigenous (africans) becoming indigenized(diasporic africans). Our indigenous reality cannot be recreated but it can also not be forgotten because WE as indigenized peoples have the unique ability to create and determine our reality using our wildest imaginations and ancestral knowledge as fuel. Afroecology is above all else a process of reclaiming our identity as communal beings connected to every aspect of our ecosystem and about reclaiming knowledge from the base!As a practice, afroecology builds from agroecology in its way of teaching how to work in harmony with nature to feed people. On the farm, we try our best to recycle nutrients, biomass and raw materials to achieve a balance in the flow of inputs and outputs. We promote diverse microcosmic and macrocosmic relationships from soil bacteria and fungi to the people who visit the farm and we ultimately treat the farm as an extension of our beings ,nurturing its recovery and decolonization much as we do our own, through natural inputs, spiritual practices, art and balance.


GSF: Describe a mythical seed variety that you would cultivate if you could. 

 
AF: I like to think that every seed variety is mythical in the magical sense and I play out their magical path in my daydreams. If you truly tell the story of a single seed from its origin to your farm, the story would be as colorful as any spiritual text. I will share about a seed variety that to me epitomizes myth and magic and the power of mitochondria. Sorghum is a grain indigenous to Northeastern Africa with earliest known records from the Egypt/Sudan border region from 8000 BC. It is a BEAUTIFUL monocot; its got strappy leaves, a bamboo like shoot and parallel veins; with as many powers as your imagination can handle imagining. Its seed pops sizzles and cracks in your cast iron and its cane can be pressed for sweet juice. Its seed can be threshed pounded and kneaded into nourishment for your baby or boiled and baked into your favorite recipe. It body has the powers to convert sunlight into energy in unique efficient ways and its roots go deep to ensure it survives in drought too. It’s powers allow it to serve as money in the common market place, more valuable than cattle at times for the women selling their beers made with sorghum strains specific to their mitochondrial lineage. Strains that have in a way co evolved with the women and families who cultivate them, the people who bear its callouses, the people who could not part with it when captured and stripped away from their own gardens. Strains that survived in afros across the middle passage that were planted and transplanted and harvested and sowed and reaped and seeded and then again and again until yesterday, today and tomorrow when I harvest our sorghum from seed given to us by friends. 10 seeds now 1000 to share with them. Sounds mythical, right?



GSF: Magical, indeed! So tell me, what’s the dirt on Black Dirt Farm? How can people support? Winter plans?

The dirt is not even black on Black Dirt Farm haha we are frontin! We have this kind of cool light brown sandy loam texture that grows amazing root crops but turns into cement when baked under the hot sun. But on the flip side, a farm is very rarely the effort of solely one or two people. Thus, Black Dirt Farm is collectively cared for by a strong network of farmers, friends and families. A core group manages the day to day operations of the farm, the distribution and marketing as well as coordinating and participating in trainings and events around agroecology, food sovereignty and regenerative economics with black and brown folks from all over the diaspora. We LOVE to gather with folks on the farm and to share black agrarian images and voices and to learn from our elders who are supporting the journey!

People can support by eating their veggies and by supporting our friends like you at Community Farming Alliance and Chris Bradshaw with Dreaming out Loud and Xavier Brown with the Green Scheme and Natasha Bowens author of The Color of Food and the list goes on! We will be hunkering down this winter and hopefully going to some warm places to collectively energize and create our vision for the next few seasons. A wish list of support would be a website designer, a logo designer, a farm truck or station wagon, and a yurt to serve as an agrarian library, but thats all haha. 

Ya’ll heard that? If you’re feeling in a do-gooding mood, do something for a farmer. They’ll make sure you eat good. 

Thanks for reading and stay on top of Aleya’s awesomeness on her instagram or the Black Church Food Security Network’s twitter!