Noah’s portion: A neurodevelopmental fantasy

ImageJ=1.39c unit=micron min=50.0 max=4095.0  Image 1: cerebral cortex of a brainbow mouse. Credit: Jean Livet et al  1] Neuroscience: The brain in glorious Technicolor (pp 55-62) With a combination of genetic tricks and fancy proteins, researchers have colourfully labelled hundreds of individual neurons with distinctive hues to create a ?Brainbow?. The research, published in Nature this week, takes mapping to a new level, and results in the labelling of neurons with approximately 90 different colour combinations. Over a hundred years ago, Ramon Y Cajal?s use of Golgi staining on nerve cells opened the gates to modern neuroscience, but until now it has been tough to map out individual cells in each neuronal circuit. Jeff Lichtman and colleagues have developed the Technicolor version of Golgi staining, Brainbow, allowing more detailed reconstructions of brain circuits. This provides a key step towards modelling how the nervous system works normally and in diseased brains. (Photo credit should read /AFP via Getty Images)
Party of the Subplate Neurons

Human beings from beneath the subplate poured undifferentiated over the surface of planet Earth. Soon they produced a hierarchy, a structure, rungs on a ladder, tiers of a chandelier. And though it was good, the first batch of humans proved themselves redundant. The bright sword of apoptosis sliced their numbers down to size. They all washed away in the apoptotic flood until what remained was a bare scaffolding.

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And that would prove sufficient. The next batch of humans wandered up the towers left behind by the previous civilization. They all looked and spoke alike. They scrambled to the top of the scaffolding and spread uniformly across the firmament. It was cool for a minute, but there was way too much chatter and it was going nowhere.

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Another blast of the apoptotic death ray and they mostly died back to a small number that disguised themselves, learned new languages, and segregated into monoculture colonies, each doing its own thing. And that was pretty good. As one monoculture bumped up against its neighbor the little apoptotic swords snapped into action once again, carving out boundaries and borders by leaving a stubble of corpses as a wall between adjacent fields.

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Worked out okay. The corpses were dismembered, parts reused, nothing gone to waste. Eventually each neighborhood found its purpose and broadcast it to its most distant relatives via the major thoroughfares of communication that spanned the globe. International trade was born. And the Israelitish people settled at the Eastern corner of the Mediterranean Fissure, the seat of understanding for all ancient languages. History began then.

About the Author
Michael Diamond is a writer based in the Washington, DC area. He practices psychiatry there and is a doctor of medical qigong. He has published occasional verse, fiction and translation in Andrei Codrescu’s journal, The Exquisite Corpse; in the journal Shirim courtesy of Dryad Press; in the online journal for Akashic Press; and in The Journal of the American Medical Association. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, an artist and illuminator of Hebrew manuscripts, their dog, two cats, a cockatiel named Peaches and a tank of hyperactive fish. He has had a strong interest in Torah since first exposed to traditional stories as a child. Over the course of his life he has run the gamut of spiritual exploration of many world traditions of meditation and mythology. For the last several decades he has landed squarely in the traditional Jewish world. His writing is informed by all of this experience, by his curiosity about today's world and by his desire to mine the Jewish experience for its hidden and revealed wisdom. Torah Obscura, as in camera obscura, from Latin, meaning "dark room", also referred to as a pinhole camera, exploiting the optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene outside of a chamber projects itself through a small hole and can be seen on the inner surface of the chamber. A glimpse of an otherwise invisible world afforded by a small aperture for light. All materials herein copyright © 2018 Michael S. Diamond. All rights reserved.
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