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Spikes on a Plane!

Flying back from a successful trip from California, Tim and Greg of Backyard had decided there was time for one more experiment…

Thanks to the kind TSA folks at the San Francisco International Airport and Delta airlines, we were able to record spikes in flight. Quite possibly the first neurons ever recorded on a commercial airline!

With the exception of one dissenting voice, the passengers on board were a great audience. By coincidence, the person sitting in the seat next to Tim and Greg was a neuroscientistfromBritain! He helped design our working hypothesis for the experiment: spikes will fire less with decreased O2 pressure in the cabin. Here are some of the photos from the historic flight.

The stow-aways take in thescenery of Californiafrom 37,000 feet.

Remember when doing surgery, to keep the operating room well lit.

Our flight attendant was gracious enough to loan us anaesthesia in the form of a cup of ice and a Coke Zero (and a bag a peanuts).

Fellow passengers were given a science lesson while roaming thefuselageor waiting for the restrooms

While we failed to determine if decreased air pressure changed the spiking rate of insects, we determined that the overall experiment was a big success!


Working Prototype of Ganglionizer unveiled

You’ve heard us say we were working on it. An idea, a dream, a fully portable electrophysiology rig with built-in amplifier, dissection scope, and manipulator for sophisticated experiments on the central nervous system. Impossible. But wait…maybe not? Ladies and Gentleman….the Ganglionizer.


ByB visits MAKE magazine, Exploratorium

Backyard Brains just returned from a packed trip to the Bay Area, where, among other things, the highlights included meeting the folks at MAKE Magazine. The night before our morning meeting, we were up late in the hotel making sure everything worked.

Thankfully, everything was fully operational battle station, and we spent a good two and a half hours at the editorial offices, doing demos for the staff. Dale Dougherty, the editor and publisher, got to hear his first neuron!

We also browsed their workshop and saw some of the gear that may be familiar to readers of MAKE.

During the weekend, Tim went to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park and finally saw some Giant Cockroaches. Oddly, they look simply like giant versions of the Discoid Cockroaches that Backyard Brains uses.

On the last day of the trip, ByB also visited the Exploratorium and had a great chat with Charlie Carlson, senior Biologist. He told us the Exploratorium used to do neurophysiology in the 70′s, but phased it out for new exhibits. Tim and Greg were disheartened, but Charlie explained that he’d love to bring it back, and the introduction of inexpensive, easy-to-use neuroscience (they were using $1000 rigs even in the 70′s) is right in line with the Exploratorium’s mission. To the beginning of a beautiful friendship…