Unraveling the secrets of life
Wednesday 22nd May 2019
Doors Open 18:30 | Event 19:00 - 22:30
Tolsteegburg 1, 3511 ZN Utrecht
What is LIFE?
A dog is a life-form, a brick is not. We all know how to distinguish living creatures from non-living things, but do we really know WHAT LIFE IS? What is it made of? How did it originate? How many different kinds of life could exist? Is it only for biological organisms or can a robot be alive as well?
In this talk, we will discuss these and more questions that have puzzled scientists and philosophers for centuries. We will make a journey into the history of the topic and examine the key theories and experiments that have shone a light on the NATURE OF LIFE.
What worms can teach us about our brain
Understanding the brain is arguably the greatest challenge of modern science. The human brain consists of billions of cells called neurons that communicate with each other, forming a gigantic network to collect and processes information. Not surprisingly, many human brain disorders are caused by defective neuron formation, functioning or survival. However, due to the incredible complexity of the mammalian nervous system, it is very hard to study such processes. Therefore, I use a 1 mm small worm as a relatively simple model to study how neurons develop and function in a living animal. I will present how I use this worm to address important question, which will help us better understand our own brain.
A history of great minds studying neurons
Ever since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, we humans have dreamed of pushing the limits of brain stimulation. The idea to make yourself smarter, more creative, or even undead with electric pulses is very tempting. Still, like in the novel, not everything went according to plan. This talk will take you from the renaissance, where Galvani discovered that electricity makes a dead frog twitch, to today, where we make frogs twitch with really expensive equipment. You will learn a bit about how brain cells work, why they react to electricity, and why squids are the favorite animals of neuroscientists.