Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Episode 93 (December 19, 2011): "Pack of Neurons," by Bob Gramann

Click to listen to episode (2:39).

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.

PLEASE NOTE: No episodes of Virginia Water Radio will be posted for the weeks of 12/26/11 and 1/2/12.  Best wishes for the holidays!


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of December 19, 2011.

This week, we feature a musical selection that reminds us of how a water-based environment is vital not only around us but also inside of us.  Have a listen for about 45 seconds.


You’ve been listening to part of “Pack of Neurons,” by Bob Gramann on his 2008 CD, “Mostly Live.”  The song is a light-hearted look at the fundamental role of neurons, or nerve cells, in transmitting the electrical impulses that control humans’ mental and physical processes.  Those nerve impulses are transmitted between neurons by changes in the concentration of electrically-charged atoms of sodium and potassium.  Water is vital as the solvent for those charged atoms, known as ions.  And not just in neurons, but in all biological cells, a water-based solution is the medium in which biochemical substances exist and react.  In the words of famous chemist Linus Pauling, “One of the most striking properties of water is its ability to dissolve many substances...and solutions are very important kinds of matter—important for industry and for life.”  Thanks to Bob Gramann for permission to use this week’s music.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

Acknowledgments: “Pack of Neurons” and “Mostly Live” are copyright by Bob Gramann, used with permission.  Bob Gramann’s Web site is http://www.bobgramann.com/.  According to Mr. Gramann, the title of “Pack of Neurons” was inspired by the use of this phrase in the opening chapter of The Astonishing Hypothesis, a 1994 book by Francis H.C. Crick on human consciousness.  Dr. Crick shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins for their discoveries of the structure of the DNA molecule and how that structure allows DNA to transfer genetic information (http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/dna_double_helix/readmore.html, 12/20/11).

Sources:  Information on the importance of water as a solvent in living things was taken from General Chemistry by Linus Pauling (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1970), p.447.  A basic, animated introduction to how neurons work is available from the Children’s Hospital Boston Web site at http://www.childrenshospital.org/research/_neuron/index.html, 12/20/11.  A more detailed explanation (but still very readable and also with animations) is available from the University of Bristol (England) Web site, “Brain Basics: The Fundamentals of Neuroscience,” online at http://www.bris.ac.uk/synaptic/basics/basics-0.html, 12/20/11.

Recent Virginia Water News
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Water Meetings and Other Events
            For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and Other Events, online at http://virginiawaterevents.wordpress.com/.  The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.