Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Very First Post

Well, everything has a beginning, and so it is with this blog. Today, appropriately enough on Harvard's commencement day, I begin my foray into blogging. It's been some time coming, and I've wrestled with whether I should even get into this in the first place, and if I did take the plunge, what I hoped to accomplish.

Having no particularly clear answers to those questions, I just decided to take the plunge, and let the blog evolve towards whatever state the forces involved dictate. Consider it a beta version if you wish.

Of course I do have things I want to talk about, thoughts to share, and conversations I hope to start. Many of them will likely involve neuroscience, my academic field, which at least in terms of cellular neurophysiology seems poorly represented in blogspace (I couldn't use the term blogosphere here; to me that connotes some cloud of more politically interested blogs, carrying on discussions between themselves. I have no interest in becoming a part of that). I think it's clear that blogs will emerge as an important medium to enhance communication among scientists, and that's something of which I want to be a part. As a place for less formal communication about science, blogs appear ideally suited; I just wish there were more researchers doing it.

Beyond that, I've always taken a keen interest in "Science" and the big issues that surround it: the ethics of science, the practice of science, and how we can organize science to produce the best ultimate outcome, which in my view is the production of information that informs and improves humanity. I don't claim to be anything more than an interested layperson in these areas, but I can bring a "view from the trenches."

Lastly, why "The Junction Potential" for a blog title? There are a couple of reasons. First, it's an electrophysiology thing. As every young electrophysiologist learns, there is a junction potential between your pipette solution and the external solution, arising from the different ion mobilities. This affects the actual voltage you're applying to the cell membrane, and needs to be correctly measured or calculated, and then offset. In terms of electrophysiology, the junction potential isn't always paid a lot of attention, nor it is usually a big deal if you don't account for it initially (you can always correct it after the fact). That's a perfect analogy for this blog I'd wager.

The second reason is perhaps more profound. I have become convinced recently that many aspects of Web2.0, be they social networking/bookmarking tools, folksonomies, wikis, and blogs, will profoundly change the practice of science (this is by no means an original conclusion of course). They have the potential to drastically increase the junctions scientists make with their subjects and with their colleagues (yes, I know, groan). Besides, I needed to call it something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?