Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Different Kind of Syllabus . . .

that I wish I could do, but I can't because my best drawing involves stick figures.

Lynda Barry, author of 100! Demons is teaching a course called the "Unthinkable Mind" at the University of Wisconsin during the Spring 2013 semester. Keep in mind this is not a graphic novel, comic, or "how to" art class, it is a class about how the different parts of our brain function. According to Open Culture Barry wants to appeal to both Humanities and Science majors by creating
A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.
You can audit this course from home as Barry will be posting assignments to her Tumblr page.

Look at the first page of Barry's syllabus posted above, and other than drawings, how does it compare to the normal ten-page, single spaced, typewritten syllabus your professor usually hands out? Do you think pictures help students better understand what is expected of them? Would you like to get a syllabus like this?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Killer Ts

Here's a video that looks like it came right out of a science fiction movie, but it's not the blob or some other exterrestrial body snatcher. This fight takes place in our body every day--it's the microscopic battlefield of the Killer T Cells.



It's not just doctors and mad scientists who help solve the diseases that afflict us. This video was created by Alex Ritter, a student at the University of Cambridge to show what Killer Ts can do and was recently posted on Open Culture. "The process is shown at 92 times the actual speed. And for a sense of scale, a cytotoxic T cell is only 10 microns in length, or about one-tenth the width of a human hair."

Important? You bet! If we can figure out how these little killers work we can use them to fight disease.
Cytotoxic T cells are very precise and efficient killers. They are able to destroy infected or cancerous cells, without destroying healthy cells surrounding them….By understanding how this works, we can develop ways to control killer cells. This will allow us to find ways to improve cancer therapies, and ameliorate autoimmune diseases caused when killer cells run amok and attack healthy cells in our bodies.
What's your major?