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MIT student blogger Bryan O. '07

Attack of the Giant Squid by Bryan

Attack of the Giant Squid!

A couple weeks ago, Mitra commented on her CI-M (Communications Intensive) class, 14.33. Sam has also commented on one of his as well.

My turn!

So this semester, I took Quantitative Physiology I: Cells and Tissues aka BE.370 aka 2.791J aka 2.794J aka 6.021J aka 6.521J aka BE.470J aka HST.541J.

One of the major topics in the class is the Hodgkin and Huxley model for the propagation of action potentials. The model is fairly complex to say the least: non-linear differential equations, hyperbolic sine functions, and my personal favorite, error functions.

Instead of making us have to do problem sets that tested our prowess at using Maple, they tested our ability to give presentations by asking us to design our own project where we would test a feature of the Hodgkin and Huxley model. My friend Evelyn and me decided that we would test how the external concentration of potassium affected the conduction velocity of the action potential. Thankful enough, everything was on Matlab so everything was simulated instead of real life. Bryan !like dissection. Needless to say, the project was still a lot of work. We had to collect a lot of data, plot the data in a million different ways until we had our “AHA” moment the day before it was due at about 6 pm. We managed to finish our presentation at midnight for our 9 am presentation the next day.

It was pretty successful (we haven’t received our grades yet, though). It was a valuable experience to go through the project proposal process, devise a concept to test our hypothesis, and then have to explain against biological framework why are hypothesis was wrong.

You can look at our presentation here.

One response to “Attack of the Giant Squid”

  1. Brooke says:

    I associate action potential with neurotransmitters because of our recent psych class discussion on the chapter concerning the biology of the brain. Looking through the link to the H&H, I saw that it IS related to cell membranes but other than that..

    I was lost.

    But SQUID! Bwah? What’s the next big project?