January 31, 2009


Busy, busy, busyish. Among other things, I'm attempting to cobble together some material to update my UCL web pages, so you can probably look forward to a few slightly dry entries in the coming days. The first will be about NMDA receptors; I know, you can barely contain your excitement.

On the other hand, I am just off now for a hair cut, so perhaps there'll be a pic to show for it. Haven't done that in absolutely ages. You'll be able to marvel at how scarily grey I've become.

More anon.

Posted by matt at 1:57 PM | Comments (1)

January 28, 2009

100 Words

A key way the brain processes information is by the exchange of intricate chemical messages. These often depend on the precise localisation of receptors, which is difficult to determine by traditional means. I am attempting to apply a combination of scanning ion conductance microscopy, patch clamp electrophysiology and fluorescence to this problem. The initial target is the mechanism of depolarisation-induced potentiation of inhibition, a form of synaptic plasticity in the cerebellum. This is thought to be mediated by presynaptic NMDA receptors, but their location is disputed. If the approach works, it will also be applicable to many other questions.

Posted by matt at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2009

Flipside Conveyor

The upper surface is pure delight, smiles, electric neon bonbons and impromptu bathing in liquid chocolate. Underneath -- but how can you tell when it's up? -- things are more... vexatious.

Like life, really, but in colour.

Posted by matt at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2009


lasers, dry ice, fluorescein: what could possibly go wrong?

Posted by matt at 11:03 PM | Comments (2)

January 14, 2009


No, the colouring is not significant.

WT3, like its immediate predecessor, is styled on a per-entry basis. I expect there to be a range of looks as we proceed -- though probably not that much change in layout -- and definitely no kind of system. Rest assured, this place will be grey again soon with just as little meaning.

Despite the generally dismal global prospects to which I alluded in the previous post, life locally is not bad at all. 2009 may be a bag of shite for nearly everyone, but by all but the most panderous standards I am sitting pretty. True, some actual results would be nice. And some sexual gratification. And less-white hair and a body of chiselled perfection. But these are trivial complaints in the grand scheme of things, and what sort of churl would I be to carp so?

Of course, whereas conflict builds character and the uniqueness of familial unhappiness drives great literature, contentment and adequacy do not make for a good blog. Should I therefore seek out misery and anguish to have something to write about on these pages?

Um. Possibly.

But in the meantime, let me drop a few breadcrumbs for my future desperate and impassioned self, as reminders of the useless bourgeois existence in which he once temporarily wallowed. Markers of this time and place.

Old beau Matthew is back in town, bravely attempting escape from the inertia of long years of rural recuperation. He seems to be doing OK so far; fingers crossed. I'm statisticking this week, a CoMPLEX course whose start was delayed by fog at Heathrow. Nice to see HF return; now we just need Stairs to scrape an entry in the few remaining days before his "one entry per year" target gets met. At home, gripped by some undiagnosed New Year fever, we have done a purge of the wardrobes and chest of drawers to produce a terrifying quantity of jumble that now waits accusingly for transport to the charity shop. My transfer report is still not finished, but instead of working on its Discussion & Future Work, here I am blogging ephemera, which must in some way mean that WT actually is back -- and now that I am over this post, I still won't do anything in that direction, but instead polish off the last of Ben Goldacre's hugely entertaining and dismally depressing Bad Science.

Don't let the bedbugs bite.

Posted by matt at 10:50 PM | Comments (2)

January 9, 2009

Surrealist Car Alarm

Back to my old neglectful ways so soon? So it would seem. Start as you mean to go on: no sooner is the blog revived than it is left to lie fallow. Partly this is because I'm still bogged down in writing my transfer report, which has somewhat sapped my desire to put words on virtual paper. And, you know, I've been busy and such. But let's try to scratch a few things down in passing, for future reference if nothing else.

It can hardly have escaped your notice that the world has gone completely to hell since I last blogged here on a regular basis. (Coincidence? You decide.) Watching the news these days it's difficult to escape a number of dismal thoughts, not least among them:

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Also, as I may have managed to mention even in my minimal postage since unpulling the plug last week, it is bloody arctic around here. And ridden with sickness. I've long since given up on the word 'flu' as meaningless, but if I still allowed it I'd have to admit that this winter's version has been the worst in living memory, bringing weeks of coughing fit to crack a rib -- or at least tear something intercostal -- with brat-borne sniffly follow-ups just adding insult to injury. I need a fucking holiday. Somewhere warm, like Tierra del Fuego.

Since that's not in the offing, I must instead make do with minor diversions such as Tinselworm -- damn funny all the way through, but the crematorium music was a high point, as was the all-too-convincing forecast of the 2012 opening ceremony and the Kraftwerk medley of Hallelujah and Last Christmas -- and Mario Kart Wii. Might as well enjoy this stuff while we still have electricity...

Posted by matt at 11:03 PM | Comments (1)

January 4, 2009

Poetry 1

How long ago Hector took off his plume,
Not wanting that his little son should cry,
Then kissed his sad Andromache goodbye &ndash
And now we three in Euston waiting-room.

Posted by matt at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 3, 2009


First activity of the year, then -- other than the travesty of NYE itself, which I may relate at some point when I am no longer fuming about it -- has been visiting Ian's sister and her family in Guernsey. The defining characteristics of this event, which continues until tomorrow night, have so far been (i) the yelling and screaming of small children, and (ii) the general fucking freezingness of the wretched place. I'm not, frankly, expecting either thing to change significantly before we go.

I don't understand why the island should seem so much colder than it really is -- the pond in the park is free of ice, for example, so I presume we're above zero -- perhaps it's the humidity and/or the breeze from the sea -- but it really is bitter. Multiple fleeces, a heavy coat, scarf, hat and gloves seem powerless to keep the chill at bay. Guernsey itself is picturesque in a slightly twee way, but the conditions aren't ideal to appreciate it.

As for the screaming, the kids are probably not that badly behaved by objective standards, but the twins are at a difficult age and together with their elder brother constitute quite a handful. As ever, I am reminded what a luxury it is to be able to enjoy brief visits with other people's children and then get the fuck away. Raising one's own and being stuck with the bastards for good is just my idea of hell.

Posted by matt at 6:09 PM | Comments (0)

January 1, 2009


Well, here we are again. After five months of idling in the form of wt2 I'm feeling the urge to get things back on a bloggier footing around here. Perhaps it is just a passing year-turn fancy, but I find I've missed having somewhere to rant and ramble in that familiar way. So let's start with a nice simple:


And then see where we get to from there...

Posted by matt at 5:03 PM | Comments (3)