Serious things are starting

Soooo this week, lab “science” stuff really started. Firstly I presented an article during the lab meeting on Wednesday. I had to compare two papers, one having been published by a former Ph.D. student from our lab. Beside the fact that someone told me that I explained it more clearly that the author, I also found out a mistake in it so I guess it was not a too bad first presentation.

Then I got to practice for two types of experiments. The first one is made only with the fish retina so you have to dissect it. In terms of size and solidity, it’s like trying to remove the skin of a pea once it has been cooked. I will need a bit more practice for this one! The fish retina cuted in pieces at the end.
The second experiment consists in implanting electrode in a fish brain to record its activity. So you have to open its skull and try to find neurones that respond to stimulations.

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The fish under “artificial respiration”, prepared for the surgery

On Wednesday, I went to Rehovot to see Alexandra who was on business trip for DuPont. I checked ten times to see whether it was better to take the bus or the train to go there and decided to come back by bus because the last train was leaving too early. Since the bus schedule is always approximate, I was fifteen minutes in advance at the bus stop. But when it had still not arrived 45 minutes later, Alex made me accept the idea that I was not going to sleep at my place this night. Fortunately she had a big bed and the hotel didn’t mind. I just had to wake up at 6 to catch the train and be able to be at the lab early enough to practice the two surgeries.

After seven hours of surgery under a microscope, the day was far from being over. Indeed I invited my Israeli friends over for a fondue, without even knowing if we could get decent cheese. We went to Teev Tam, which I have been explained by Shir to be the Russian oligarchs’ supermarket. It’s a kind of premium shop where you can buy a glass for 240 shekels when you have 6 of those glasses for 40 skl in a regular supermarket. Anyway they are supposed to have everything from everywhere. And indeed they had Gruyère. But I couldn’t find Vacherin, so I used french Comté instead. I don’t know if the Comté had too much taste or the Gruyère wasn’t salty enough, but I couldn’t taste the latest. But as my friends said: they don’t even know what a fondue is supposed to taste like so it doesn’t matter! I also wanted to buy mayonnaise since I only found really white, suspicious ones in the supermarket. Unfortunately they didn’t have any better ones so I just got the most popular one. Big mistake. It’s the worst thing I have ever eaten in my life! It tastes like petrol, even after trying to hide it with mustard, herbs and paprika, I still had the after-taste after a few minutes. HORRIBLE!

Except that at some point the heating system caught fire and that Israelis are full of cheese after five bites, the dinner was a succes. Next trial: tartiflette and home made mayonnaise!

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No Noam, you have to use bread, you can’t eat it like that…

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Reut and Shir

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There’s not much left, you did a great job!

Yom HaShoah and the fish

Today was the remembrance day of the Shoah and Heroism. Yom HaZikaron LaShoah VeLaGvurah. Because we do not only remember those who died but also those who fought.

The sirens resounded in the whole country at 10AM and every thing stopped. People stood were they were, whether they were walking in the university, on the road or in their office. Totally frozen for two minutes.

On a lighter topic, a few words about my life in the lab. In brief, we are doing neuroscience, trying to understand how the information is coded in the brain and to do so we analyse how the visual data are processed in specific fish. So far I have been mainly reading articles about brain, vision and those fish, and observing the others in the lab while they were doing their experiments. But serious things have started this week and I carried out my first surgery yesterday! I am not sure whether it can be called it this way since I had to kill the fish before the operation, thus it’s not like I’m a surgeon who might save someone’s life. But who knows, maybe there is a market for rich fish’s owner who would make me rich to cure their pet from a brain tumour or cataract…

Anyway, so to understand how it works we use a specific type of fish, the archerfish, who has the unique faculty to spit. Those fish aim at insects standing on leaves at the surface of the water to make them fall and catch them. The beauty of this model is that on top of that, we can train the fish to spit on different targets (like one moving in a different direction, or with a different color etc…).

A video being more eloquent than a lengthy description, here is one of our fish, spitting at food pellets that Mor is putting on his cage:

Otherwise I think I fit in this city a little bit more every day, meeting more people, finding my way more easily, at least in the university. One thing that drives me crazy is the public transportation system. I have probably been spoiled by Switzerland but here, it’s simply impossible to find even a map with all the bus lines so you could have an idea of which one goes where. As a result I walk a lot and it’s nice most of the time, except when I had a long day at work and I am lost in the middle of an industrial zone where I can’t even find the shop I came for and then have to walk for more than half an hour.

Oh and something you don’t want to do abroad: call Orange CH customer service to ask them to unlock your iPhone for example. Firstly they won’t do it before the initial deadline even if it’s in more than 3 months and you’ve left Switzerland for good. Secondly, it will cost you twenty-eight Swiss francs for seven minutes. SEVEN minutes!! It’s what you would pay here for a full month of unlimited calls, SMS and internet…

I will try to do a fondue this week for my friends, who knows what type of cheese I will find…