Feb 18, 2010

The Discovery Files:Stop Lights on the Neural Highway (Learning English with Science)

Audio Transcript:

Stop Lights on the Neural Highway. (SOUND EFFECT: traffic -- tires screech)

I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

Certain conditions such as Parkinson's[1], epilepsy[2], chronic pain and brain injuries are associated with abnormal brain activity. Up to now most treatments have dealt with stimulating that activity.

Researchers at MIT are looking at what may be a better way -- by selectively silencing certain brain activity -- and they've come up with an 'enlightened' method of doing it -- turning off specific brain circuits using light. (SOUND EFFECT: light switch)

The team found a type of protein that, when inserted into neurons (brain cells), allows the cells to be turned off by rays of yellow-green light.

When the scientists bathe the entire brain in the light (through the use of optical fibers), areas that don't have the light-sensitive proteins continue as normal -- but the light causes cells that are packing the proteins to pump protons out of them -- lowering the cells' voltage, and safely and effectively preventing them from firing.

This 'optogenetic[3]' technique has been used since 2005 to stimulate activity, but this is the first time it's ever been used to stop it.

The method shows promise for the treatment of some of our most serious brain disorders. So far it's only been demonstrated with mice -- the team will turn its attention to monkeys next.

Hey, I can use light to switch off parts of my brain -- it's called "TV."

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.

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1 Parkinson's
►A serious illness in which your muscles become very weak and your arms and legs shake

2 epilepsy/ˋɛpəlɛpsɪ/
►A medical condition affecting your brain, that can make you suddenly become unconscious or unable to control your movements for a short time.

3 optogenetic/ˏɑptəˏdʒəˋnɛtɪk/
►An emerging set of methods enables an experimental dialogue with biological systems composed of many interacting cell types--in particular, with neural circuits in the brain. These methods are sometimes called optogenetic because they use light-responsive proteins (opto-) encoded in DNA (-genetic). [Science, 326(5951):395-9]

Feb 12, 2010

January/February Reading: Talk Smart at the Holiday Office Party

Stay clear of conversation faux pas that can derail your career.

By Don Gabor

As a Toastmaster, you know that all speaking is public speaking – whether you are giving a Table Topics presentation at your local club or making small talk with colleagues and clients at the holiday office party. Of course, if an “ah” or “um” slips into one of your speeches, probably no one (except perhaps another Toastmaster) will ever know.

Find the full text at:



faux pas /ˏfoˋpɑ /plural faux pas /-ˋpɑz/ [countable noun]
►an embarrassing mistake in a social situation
For more information, please visit at:
--She is renowned around the world for her sense of style, but yesterday she made an fashion faux pas of the worst kind.

letting your hair down
►Behave in a free or uninhibited manner.
For more information, please visit at:
--Now that he's passed his exams and got his qualifications he's decided to let his hair down (=behave informally).

passé /pæˋse/adjective
►no longer modern or fashionable
--A lot of people are down on Windows Forms as something passe.
--Neon colors are already passé.

Feb 6, 2010

Resume (Word of the Day, 2010/2/3)

►to start doing something again after stopping or being interrupted.
–-She hopes to resume work after the baby is born.
–-Not only is there an urgent requirement to resume economic growth, but we have to re-think where that growth takes place and whom it benefits.

Resume doing something
–-He will resume training as soon as the injury is better.

►if an activity or process resumes, it starts again after a pause.
–-Pumping operations would resume this morning.
–-Peace talks will resume tomorrow.
–-Economic growth resumed only in the late 1990s, but even today GDP (Gross Domestic Product) remains below that of 1990 in many of the countries.

Resume your seat/place/position
►to go back to the seat, place, or position where you were before.
–-Will the delegates please resume their seats?
–-Senator Arbib, resume your seat. When there is silence we will proceed.

resumption/rɪˋzʌmpʃən/[singular, uncountable noun]
►the act of starting an activity again after stopping or being interrupted.
–-Both countries are now hoping for a quick resumption of diplomatic relations.
–-Economic resumption is extremely important as it affects the entire community’s recovery efforts and is a major indication of how long it takes the community to redevelop.

►a short account of something such as an article or speech which gives the main points but no details [= summary]
–-He gave a resume of the year's work and wished the Society another successful year.
►[American English] a short written account of your education and your previous jobs that you send to an employer when you are looking for a new job. [=CV, curriculum vitae British English]
–-You're required to submit a resume.

e-resume/ˋiˏrɛzjume /
electronic resume
►an electronic written record of your education and previous jobs that you send to an employer over the Internet when you are looking for a new job.
–-Having an e-resume is a must for today's job search because the Internet has become a mainstream recruiting tool.

Innovation (Word of the Day, 2010,1/20)

Innovation [countable]
►A new idea, method, or invention
--What are the recent innovations in Information Technology sector?

Innovation [uncountable]
►The introduction of new ideas or methods.
–-We must encourage innovation if the company is to remain competitive.
–-We need to encourage innovation in industry.

Innovate [intransitive]
►To start to use new ideas, methods, or inventions.
–-Their ability to innovate has allowed them to compete in world markets.

Innovate [transitive]
►To introduce (something new) for or as if for the first time.
–-Our core business is to innovate a computer into a fully automated computer whereby the PC does not require additional administrator to look after the operation.

Innovative / also innovatory [adjective]
►An innovative idea or way of doing something is new, different, and better than those that existed before.
–-The city has introduced an innovative system of traffic control.
►Using clever new ideas and method
–-20 years experience in graphic arts coupled with an innovative design team we can make you look good either online or in print.

Innovator [countable]
►Someone who introduces changes and new ideas
–-However, after examining the evidence, I’ve determined that Microsoft is not a substantial innovator.

Yearn (Word of the Day, 2010/1/6)

►to have an earnest or strong desire; long:
--She yearned to visit the village where she was born.
--He yearned after letters from home.
--The slaves yearned for freedom.

►to feel tenderness; be moved or attracted:
--They yearned over their delicate child.

√ Verb Infinitive: to yearn
√ Third person singular: yearns
√ Simple past: yearned
√ Past participle: yearned
√ Present participle: yearning

Related forms (noun): yearner

√ desire
√ crave
√ long for
√ wish for
√ hope for
√ pine for