We're a little crazy, about science!

Archive for June, 2020

Day 316: Internships in the pandemic

Distance learning

For those of you not in academia, summertime means we get interns in the lab to learn about how research works in a real-life setting. We typically have them help with things that require basic skills, but lets them see how research really happens. This year, we are doing everything virtually thanks to COVID-19. This is a great thing because it really means we’re doing what we can to stop the spread while still giving students a chance to experience research.

(more…)


Day 315: Neural Engineering in a pandemic

pandemic PPE

For the past week or so my PI has been away, so I’ve had the chance to work on other projects from home. Unfortunately he returns this week so I’ve got to switch gears from protests, working from home, and undergrad mentoring back to experiments and experimental setup. As the senior student in the lab, I’ve got a lot of responsibilities.

(more…)


Day 314: It’s all part of the act…

Ringleader

Step right up boys and girls! Hurry, hurry to the greatest performance you’ll ever see… Who doesn’t love a good show, right? I mean you get to escape reality for a moment, forget your troubles, and see a whole different world. Unfortunately, once the show is over, it’s business as usual and that can’t happen, not this time. So why are the people in charge doing the same song and dance?

(more…)


Day 313: Solid Modeling – Week 3

 

Sketchup planes

This course will all be taught using free software so have no fear, you can do it too! For those just joining us you can find all the posts in this series in the handy Solid modeling for beginners category. For the past two weeks I’ve been going over best practices. The reason is the tools are straightforward to learn, but how we use them is what separates someone who is learning from someone who is a pro. I have had some thoughts about what I wanted to cover this week for that reason, but this week we’re making something and by me we, I mean you! First, let’s do a quick recap of what we’ve learned and we can get started.

(more…)


Day 312: Yes, the protests are still going…

George floyd

It still appears there is a media blackout on the protests (first mentioned in my other post). That doesn’t mean we’ve stopped though! It also unfortunately doesn’t mean the police have stopped. In fact we’re seeing some really… umm scary tactics being used by the police to * checks notes * beat us until we stop protesting police violence.

(more…)


Day 311: When voting isn’t enough

Gerrymander

Rawr! Beware, the Gerry-mander!

I’ve been debating about writing this post and it’s just been rattling around in my head for the past month or so. Voting can change the course of history, frankly we saw that in the 2016 elections, but we also saw something else. Your vote doesn’t matter and that isn’t by accident. But wait, I just said voting can change the course of history, so how does it not matter? Well for that we need to go back, way back.

(more…)


Day 310: Review – Interfacing with alpha motor neurons in spinal cord injury patients

Figure 1 from the paper showing EMG recordings and the transformation using deconvolution to motor neuron spike trains
Figure 1 from the paper showing EMG recordings and the transformation using deconvolution to motor neuron spike trains

Spatiotemporal spinal maps of ipsilateral a-MNs. (A) Experimental set-up for ankle plantar flexion. (B) HD-EMG is decomposed into a-MN spike trains using a convolutive blind-source separation technique. (C) The spinal output to generate the neural drive to muscles is estimated from the a-MN spike trains.

The world is on fire, we’re protesting for a future, but today I have my review paper due so instead of writing about my frustrations I’m going to share my review. Today we’re looking at the effects of trans-spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) on alpha motor neurons and how we can determine that effect using electromyography. It’s actually a very cool paper, the work is well done, and it’s open source so you can read it if you’re interested.

(more…)


Day 309: No tests, no worries

head in sand

If I ignore my bills, I would have very few, if any. If that logic seems, well wrong, then I’m not surprised. Ignoring something doesn’t make it magically go away. Yet, Trump has touted, yet again, that if we slowed or stopped testing, we would have very few, if any cases of COVID19. I mean, with that kind of logic, you could have no more bills with this one weird trick!

(more…)


Day 308: Don’t be ableist

trump water

Believe it or not, there are some people who can’t even lift a hand, much less hold a glass of water.

For those of you just tuning into my corner of the internet, I’m a disabled vet. If you looked at me most days you wouldn’t know it, but not all disabilities are visible and my TBI, back issues, shoulder issues, knee issues, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, memory problems, PTSD, aphasia … I could keep going, but you get the idea. My disabilities are (mostly) not visible. So today I have a very simple request, don’t be ableist.

(more…)


Day 307: COVID19 and BLM or why you should wear a mask

statue

Despite the media blackout the Black lives matter protests are still going strong. To say I’m proud would be an understatement. Unfortunately with all the protests going on people are claiming that COVID19 isn’t as bad as people said it was, or that the protesters should stop because of the pandemic. The critiques all miss the point, this one simple trick will slow the transmission and it really works.

(more…)


Day 306: Solid Modeling – Week 2

part 18

We’re back again with week 2 of solid modeling for beginners! For those of you just joining in, you can read the introduction (pre-week 1) in this post. You can also find all the posts in this series (including week 1) in the Solid modeling for beginners category. Solid modeling isn’t too difficult, but it does take time and it does mean you need to learn to think about objects in different ways. Week 1 did a great job of introducing this type of thought process and today we’re going to continue from where that left off. Let’s just dive right in!

(more…)


Day 305: Trump, Godwin’s law, and history

Screenshot of Mike Godwin's tweet saying, "By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis. Again and again. I'm with you."
Screenshot of Mike Godwin's tweet saying, "By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis. Again and again. I'm with you."

Straight from the man himself, this is a very real tweet by Mike Godwin (Here).

Godwin’s law states simply “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” Coined by Mike Godwin, Godwin’s law is often invoked when talking about Trump or the horrid state the so-called US democracy is in. Here’s the catch, the law was suspended by Godwin himself when talking about Trump and company, for very good reasons.

(more…)


Day 304: It’s still just the first wave

COVID-19

♫ One of these things is not like the other… ♫

COVID-19 is making headlines again and news reports are claiming the second wave is here. Well, that’s not quite right, we never actually stopped the first. We literally cannot have a second wave of outbreaks if the first wave is still going strong, it’s just a continuation.

(more…)


Day 303: Police food fight

steakshack

Well here’s something I never thought I would have to write about, the food is all right. Contrary to reports by police, no one is poisoning their food. In fact, every time a new story comes up regarding tapered food and the police it turns out the officers involved were (surprise!) lying outright. There are strangely so many of these incidents that it’s hard to keep up with, what is it about police that makes them think it’s okay to keep lying?

(more…)


Day 302: The supreme court weighs in and LGBTQ+ lives matter!

trans lives matter

Well as if we didn’t already have an overabundance of apocalyptic events occurring all at the same time, now we have trump rolling back protections for the LGBTQ+ community while the supreme court ruled in favor of protections for LGBTQ+ people. It’s all very confusing, but while we’re trying to burn down the system, need to build in protections for the LGBTQ+ community too.

(more…)


Day 301: We mourn the loss of a beloved… wendy’s

Wendy’s burns

Rayshard Brooks was murdered by police. Murdered isn’t quite a strong enough word for what the police did, but we’ll go with it. He was murdered. I don’t know the man, but I can tell you he had three daughters and a step son. I can also tell you he was murdered for being responsible. He was murdered for celebrating his daughters 8th birthday. He was murdered for doing the right thing. But today we mourn the wendy’s that was burned down.

(more…)


Day 300: Protest media blackout

Protests

The protests are still going strong and that makes my heart happy. You knew the protests were still going on though… right? I don’t blame you if you thought they had died down, turns out when protesters aren’t burning down buildings the media doesn’t seem to care, even when police decide to use excessive force and LITERALLY run people over.

(more…)


Day 299: Solid Modeling – Week 1

Full render

Welcome to solid modeling for beginners! Each week I’ll post some new and exciting things so you can try your hand at solid modeling. It’s easier than it looks to get started and once you do, you’ll be able to create amazing things that you can 3D print, plans to build something really cool, or maybe you just want to create some art! You can do anything you want with solid modeling, that’s the beauty of it! Let’s get started.

(more…)


Day 298: A slight delay

Delay

Well today I was planning on posting a quick tutorial for everyone who wanted to learn solid modeling. Have no fear! We’re still going to do it, but that will have to wait to tomorrow. I’ve got a lot going on at the moment and creating a good tutorial from scratch will take a bit of time. What am I doing now? Well, I’m glad you asked. 

(more…)


Day 297: Solid modeling classes, free for all!

Teaching online

Luckily teaching my course online makes it easier, not harder!

Today marks the start of my summer class. It’s a small group and while it doesn’t directly have anything to do with brain-machine interfaces (frankly none of my research in the lab does) in the age of commercialized 3D printing knowing how to solid model is an important skill that can be applied to basically anything, yes even brain-machine interfaces! Best of all, you can learn with us for free (software included)!

(more…)


Day 296: Review – Spinal Rhythm Generation by Step-Induced Feedback and Transcutaneous Posterior Root Stimulation in Complete Spinal Cord–Injured Individuals

Black and white diagram showing the front and back of a human with the the placement of electrodes over the lower abdominal area and separate electrodes over T11-T12 of the spinal cord a third image to the right shows the side of the spinal column with spinal cord to depict the location of the back electrodes with relation to the spinal cord
Black and white diagram showing the front and back of a human with the the placement of electrodes over the lower abdominal area and  separate electrodes over T11-T12 of the spinal cord a third image to the right shows the side of the spinal column with spinal cord to depict the location of the back electrodes with relation to the spinal cord

Transcutaneous posterior root stimulation: Paravertebral and abdominal skin electrode placement (this is just a portion of figure 1 of this paper.

Normally I’m somewhat excited to post these, but with everything going on you’ll have to pardon my lack of joy. However, it’s been two weeks so I need to review another paper so I’m sharing it here as well as sending my PI a copy. The study is a few years old, but it’s open access so you can read it if you’re interested. Transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (TSS) is one part of my research in case you couldn’t tell from all the spinal cord and TSS studies and posts. I find it interesting and it gives me hope that we can help a whole lot of people living with spinal cord injury. Anyway give it a read and get out there and protest for a better world.

(more…)


Day 295: Back in the lab

whole brain and spinal cord dissected
whole brain and spinal cord dissected

“What do you mean, I look nervous!?”

Well it finally happened. We’re doing experiments again. It’s kind of scary to be honest to be working in a hospital again when the pandemic is going on and we have protests still happening. While I could do without the pandemic, I hope with all my heart that the protests don’t end until the corrupt system that caused them ends first.

(more…)


Day 294: We can’t stop now.

abolish

Yet another day for protesting and another day for police brutality. Every day I check to see what’s been happening and what is currently happening with the protest and I hold my breath every time I wait for the current update. I’m nervous the protests will slow down, I’m nervous we are going to get tired and stop.

(more…)


Day 293: TERF is NOT a slur

TERF

The I’d march with you… if I weren’t so busy discriminating against you defense.

Sex, gender, depending on who you ask it’s very simple or infinitely complex. I’ll give you a hint the science is settled and it isn’t as simple as people who shout, “but biology!” would want you to think. Sex and gender are most definitely a spectrum, it’s literally what the biology tells us and if you disagree, well then quit trying to use science as a defence for your shitty opinions.

(more…)