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The digits of the vertebrate limb arise from a multi-step process during which the precursor cells take on one of three different fates. While the process itself is modulated by a network of cascades, Juan M. Hurlé in his 30 years of research, is close to zeroing on the master regulator all the way upstream.

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PhD Manners

The trouble in doing a PhD is (please help! I hope there are many of you voting up for the following points):

1. Building a rapport with your supervisor (but sometimes, you could get so confounded with your work that you have nothing plain and simple to talk about!)
2. Handling too many different things...all at the same time
3. Repeating experiments a dozen times to standardize, another dozen times when for no reason the method fails, yet another dozen times when a part or whole of the experiment could not be completed, another three times to get concordant observations
4. Trusting your observations (they could be out-of-the-world and sometimes make you think that it's been an artifact all the way)
5. Ignoring those colleagues who've been making a steady progress with work (have they never had problems? or do they have less work in all that they can manage stuff? or is it luck that favors them? ignore!!)
6. Anti-depressants (trying humor in between failed experiments! ridiculous??)
7. Wondering if all this would come to a nice end in 3-2-1 year/s (as appropriate)
8. Spiriting a "spirited" attitude (Help!!!)
9. Thinking about future (and papers!!!)
10. Wondering how Einstein/Darwin/Cajal enjoyed it!!


The circadian pacemaker encodes the body’s response to
seasonal change. Johanna Meijer and her group have a twisting
tale of how their work on pacemaker cells revealed exceptions
to the limit cycle oscillator theory. As we arrive at a consensus,
do the results have more profound imports?

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My first moment of Eureka!!!

Food, water and shelter...are these the only indispensables for man? Well not for an eccentric man, I mean a scientist-in-the-making. Years of fidgiting in a doomed lab can mean nothing at the end. But relax, there's one possibility. Charm? Well, I still dont have a clue what I could call it, what I witnessed a while ago. Neurons under the fluorescence microscope. You wouldnt expect a geek to stay past eight at night on a summer Friday evening, would you? But there was this hunch right from the beginning of this momentous day. Even before I finished that final lap of my experiment. Infact, the hunch was subdued in my guts since the very beginning of this week. A week that would end my first complete year as a PhD student. I walked to this field with much enthusiasm, but I saw my energy getting drained down with one failure after another. At first it was a whole different subject, I despised it. Changed my lab after seven valuable months. Changed my project, my supervisor, my city, my living style, my free-time! And then were those guileless days, when I was aware of all that lay front and behind my project and my subject but lacked the skill to perform my experiments. I still remember those challenging times...when nights were long (it was winter too) and dreams were scary. Though I had the contentment of having found my heart (Neuroscience), I had little courage to venture forward in this unbeaten path. Eyes blindfolded, hands unskilled, mind confused...but a heart that bore a little hope that things would be better. This was the feeling that lurked in me until a while ago. So, it's been quite a bit of a journey, one and a half years of PhD life, until I finally discovered my discovery. My moment of Eureka. One after another my slides, as I observed them under the "scope" looked like they were talking to me in a language that I had put forward in my research proposal. The same words, I heard them repeat. And when I called my "usually-err-not-so-nice" boss to look at what I have done, she finally exclaimed, "Madhu, you have golden hands. Yeaaa. You made my day!" And so did I make mine.

The most eventful day of my life (so far;)): May 08, 2009. Worth living!!


Even as I write this post, jazzy beats of Rahman's best are booming into my ears and the acoustics banging on the delicate walls of my tympanum. Friday, end of the week...usually the worst day of my hectic week. As always, I came home from lab late in the evening sighing at the "little" progress I have made in my tough life as a pro-scientist. Phew! And then there was this terrible looking tiny apartment strewn with paper, food, wrappers, clothes and all crap that patiently withstood a week to be swept out into trash. It was way too much on my head to begin a weekend. In a trance, I sat in front of my dummy PC (no, it's got no life!) and aimlessly opened a weird collection of songs (I have no clue how I got them all together)...It was not a head start. A lazy tune in Hindi; people often call it "romantic" but well, on this occasion it had more drab than romance. More damage and more doom. I hadn't had the slightest energy to shut it off, bang it on the head or atleast change the song. It rrrrromanced on. And thankfully, in a few minutes came the next track...

Mom would only scream at us, dad and me, when such songs were being played; songs which can only be enjoyed by people with a certain elite sense of art and songs which are taboo in the opinion of classical musicians (a cadre to which mom belongs). But she never does realize that such music can be invigorating and can pop up your spirit to a better extent than can a high dose of anti-depressant. Well, this is exactly what happened now. In mom's words, a theru koothu with "what-dirty-lyrics?!" actually did revive my mood and prepared me for my weekend. Amazing is the power of beats, I mean it. Be it rock, jazz, hip-hop or ragtime, Music is indeed the best healer of a tensed mind. It can simply put everything at ease. And the moment I stand up and dance to such a "ridiculed" song, my mom cant stop but smile. That's Music!

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