As a particle physicist, Alan Litke routinely measures tiny signals with equally tiny electronics. Now he’s applying those methods to individual nerve cells, revolutionizing the study of how we see.
We are in an era that the new movements toward large scale neural recroding is evolving in an incredibly fast pace. President has announced the brain initiative project and NIH has started series of meetings to shape the concept. Looking at the past gives us lessons on how technology has transformed the neurobiology and how experimental biologists can learn from physics community. The most interesting is the dogmatims that some hold and how strangley our funding system is a hostage to the eye of the beholder. See the following passage from the section "culture collide":
"…..But when Litke asked about more funding from the National Institutes of Health, he was strongly discouraged. “Basically, the program manager said I wasn’t really doing anything, just building equipment,” Litke says. “They wanted a hypothesis. They didn’t want instrumentation.”
Litke was shocked. In the world of physics, technology development is recognized as vital for new discoveries. But the life sciences are more hesitant about exploring something completely unknown, and thus a well-founded hypothesis is required. “I couldn’t believe it. This technology would take neurophysiology to another realm!” Litke says……"
See on www.symmetrymagazine.org