Optogenetics is a new, emerging technology that enables light to be used to control proteins in living organisms, such as in the firing of neurons. It continues to rise in popularity, since it allows precise control of specific events in biological systems, even as complex as freely moving mammals. Optogenetics uses light and genetically modified proteins to control certain processes in living organisms. In mono-neuronal behavious, millisecond precision is necessary: the effects of neuronic depolarisation vary greatly with the time of depolarisation. This is difficult to achieve; traditional methods of modifying cellular metabolism, like drugs, have a timescale of hours to months. Optogenetics, which is harnesses the time-precision of light, is a significant recent breakthrough. It has been chosen as ‘Nature Methods’ Method of the Year’, in 2010 and was named ‘Scientific Breakthrough of the Decade’. The applications of the technology are many; it has the potential for medical applications, like easing Parkinsonian tremor, and the study of various phenomena, including learning and waking.
This year saw the second annual Young Scientists Journal Photography Competition. We invited students aged 18 and under to take photos using any camera, phone, or other device to compete for prizes according to their age group, related to a scientific theme. These included: the general theme of ‘Medicine in Culture’ open to anyone under […]