Thursday, February 24, 2005

You Have Some Nerve.



Scientists at the Schepens Eye Research Institute have discovered a way to regenerate a damaged optical nerve. If you read the press release, they cite politicians and claim the technique will help injured soldiers. The results are promising, but the technique is far from being ready for implementation in human subjects. I'm sure mentioning soldiers and restoring their sight will ensure that their research funding remains plentiful. I'm all for their research and I think that it will eventually help anyone with optical nerve damage. I do think the soldier angle was interesting, though. The image above is of a nerve bundle obtained by using three dimensional optical coherence tomography.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now they just need to get the retina to heal to help all of us after our laser accidents.

7:57 PM  
Blogger mindful said...

The work does sound promising, but wouldn't it behoove them to at least mention their estimated time to market? From the press release, I might think that people were being cured today, wheras human cures are probably many, many years down the line.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

anonymous: Maybe they can use such technology to fabricate saftey goggles?
mindful: It's becoming more and more common for scientists to hype their work using such methods. Can't they just let the merit of their work speak for itself?

8:49 PM  
Blogger thc said...

This is a great example of why scientists need good communications skills. Those who are most convincing get the dough!

9:56 PM  
Blogger mindful said...

vavoom: Don't I know it! But science is big business now, just like the environment. Ultimately though, the things that don't work will just fade away. So all this hype does is, as thc notes, increase funding over what might otherwise have been supported by a well-informed public. What would the support level be from a well-informed public? Is there a bubble? Will the bubble burst? If it does, will it have been worth it? I don't know. I guess that's too many questions.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

thc, mindful: Salesmanship is a critical component to any field. I'm concerned that selling your work inappropriately and fraudulently will ultimately harm scientific research. True, funding might be increased but as mindful pointed out, the bubble might burst. Take cold fusion for example. Scientists sold the technology as if it were practically "off the shelf." Ultimately, physicists couldn't deliver and the public was angered. As result, such scientific endeavors were severely damaged. Look at nanotechnology -- it is being sold almost as a cure-all that will revolutionize the world. Money is pouring into that field, but will it deliver? I suppose time will tell. It is a beautiful field and I'd hate to see it go the way of cold fusion. I'm concerned that all the hype and salesmanship may lead to its downfall. The problem is that the people that are educating the public (scientists) can benefit from misleading the public. Sounds like quite a quandary, if you ask me.

2:42 AM  
Blogger thc said...

Scientists who intentionally deceive won't continue to get funding. And, I believe it's easy to see through blatant pandering. Good salesmanship and educating are synonymous.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

thc: Re: Education and Salesmanship -- I beg to differ on their similitude. Education is the process of imparting knowledge. Sales is the process of convincing. I think science would be better served with a little less salesmanship. Just a little...

2:05 AM  

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