Carl Sagan was right: a neuroscientist explains connectomes to children and experts
Bobby Kasthuri accepted Wired’s challenge to explain what a connectome is to five individuals. As you know, of course, a connectome is (it says here) ‘a comprehensive diagram of all the neural connections existing in the brain’.
Kasthuri’s mission was that ‘every person here can leave with understanding it at some level’. The people ‘here’ were: a 5-year-old, a 13-year-old, a college student, a neuroscience graduate student and a practising neuroscientist.
“We live in a society absolutely dependent on science and technology,” said Carl Sagan,“and yet have cleverly arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. That’s a clear prescription for disaster.”
Pay attention. Questions later:
As E. O. Wilson noted: ‘The heart of the scientific method is the reduction of perceived phenomena to fundamental, testable principles. The elegance, we can fairly say the beauty, of any particular scientific generalization is measured by its simplicity relative to the number of phenomena it can explain.’
The questions keep on coming.