FT’s Clive Cookson visits MIT’s Media Lab

From today’s FT, here. There are times I think of the Media Lab as the modern cousin of Bell Labs what with the common focus on communications and the notion of physical proximity breeding fruitful collaborations. In the meantime, we have the challenge of trying to do something similar in the area of basic science…

Robotic in vivo patch clamp–brought to you by MIT

Ed Yong’s long piece from Wired is here.

Money quote for my colleagues:

Boyden, 33, makes tools for brain hackers. From his lab at MIT, he is building technology that will vastly expand the range of experiments that other scientists can pull off. His latest invention is a classic example: a robot that patch-clamps as well as a human scientist, with none of the fatigue or variability. It works all day. It does not need lunch breaks. It has transformed a technique that had only been mastered by an elite few into something that anyone can do, and hundreds of labs are queuing up to buy or make an auto-patcher of their own. 

Sometimes a great seminar

Krasnow celebrated the 400th Monday seminar talk yesterday with one of the best I’ve ever seen: Elly Nedivi from MIT presented some of her terrific chronic in vivo imaging of individual neuron dynamics and showed pretty clearly what modern neuroscience can achieve.

One of her key enabling collaborators, Peter So is the brother of our own Krasnow faculty member, Paul So–small world networks!

Postdocs organize at MIT

This good news from Science Careers Blog, postdocs at MIT are forming a organization not unlike their student counterparts. All of this is important because, as with doctoral students, postdocs are engines of science. We count them, as we do graduate students, to access the vitality of a research university’s science enterprise. They deserve a “share” of shared governance.

Andrew Sullivan on TED

I find myself disagreeing with Andrew on much of what he writes about these days, but I think he and others on to something about the future of higher education in his blog post here. In essence, TED represents the future of higher ed.  Along with MIT’s Open Course Ware. But this can’t be all of it. You can’t acquire a deep knowledge of quantum mechanics from a few “carefully curated” lectures–even if those are given by geniuses.