My Dominant Hemisphere

The Official Weblog of 'The Basilic Insula'


Visualization of a DTI measurement of a human brain

Fibers in a section of the human brain. Courtesy Thomas Schultz (CC BY-SA license)

And when I read Feynman’s description of a rose — in which he explained how he could experience the fragrance and beauty of the flower as fully as anyone, but how his knowledge of physics enriched the experience enormously because he could also take in the wonder and magnificence of the underlying molecular, atomic, and subatomic processes — I was hooked for good. I wanted what Feynman described: to assess life and to experience the universe on all possible levels, not just those that happened to be accessible to our frail human senses. The search for the deepest understanding of the cosmos became my lifeblood […] Progress can be slow. Promising ideas, more often than not, lead nowhere. That’s the nature of scientific research. Yet, even during periods of minimal progress, I’ve found that the effort spent puzzling and calculating has only made me feel a closer connection to the cosmos. I’ve found that you can come to know the universe not only by resolving its mysteries, but also by immersing yourself within them. Answers are great. Answers confirmed by experiment are greater still. But even answers that are ultimately proven wrong represent the result of a deep engagement with the cosmos — an engagement that sheds intense illumination on the questions, and hence on the universe itself. Even when the rock associated with a particular scientific exploration happens to roll back to square one, we nevertheless learn something and our experience of the cosmos is enriched.

Brian Greene, in The Fabric of The Cosmos

Hello! I’m Firas MR. And welcome to my blog, My Dominant Hemisphere. This endeavor began initially as an offshoot of my personal website called The Basilic Insula that had lived out on its own in the interwebs. I began to realize that a static website has its limits when it comes to chronicling stuff and soon jumped ship to a CMS based solution thinking that this would give me more freedom. Pending more time and resources, I shall be migrating The Basilic Insula to . It is my intent to put content there that would otherwise not be appropriate at a blog/journal.

Who Are You?

In the words of Carl Sagan, I am but a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam. A speck in the cosmos, that contemplates and is deeply conscious of its negligible being.

I’m a medic by profession, but in essence I’m a life-long student and explorer — of science, technology, photography, culture, man’s predicament and everything in between. I love books, am easily enchanted by new things and find pleasure in diving deep into the subject at hand.

Anything Special About The Names?

The blog and the website have taken numerous names before, but for now they’re staying put. Both reflect my fascination with the human brain.

The blog takes its name from the idea that blogging, just like writing, is a linguistic exercise. One that’s under the control of the ‘dominant’ of the two cerebral hemispheres. Although, you’d be surprised at how remarkably humans with one of the hemispheres missing can maintain function under the right conditions owing to neuroplasticity.

The website‘s name is a mash-up of Greco-Latin phrases that describe parts of human anatomy – The Basilic Vein of the arm and the Insular Cortex of the brain – deriving not just from their etymological meanings but from some of the functions that these structures carry out.

What Do You Write Here?

In these pages you’ll find views and news on a wide range of some of the issues that fascinate me. I try to appeal to a broad audience, from juniors and colleagues within my field to just about everybody else who shares my interests. Some of my articles and essays have found wider popularity while others, not so much. I’m surprised as well as humbled to have received feedback by well-known people on occasion. In any case, a good place to begin is the Hall Of Fame on your right and the category titled My Best Posts.

I have a little housekeeping pending over stuff that was written a long time ago when this blog began in July, 2006. Looking back over the years, I see myself and my writing continuously evolving. I hope you find it as amusing as I do!

Oh and by the way, it took me a while but I eventually decided to pursue a separate and additional blog anonymously. More on that here.

How To Comment

While you’re free to comment on the posts in the manner you like please stay on-topic, and refrain from using uncivilized language. All comments are moderated and trolling and flame-wars will be quickly discarded.

Oh, So You’re On FriendFeed Too?

Yes (check sidebar)! I figured that it’s a good way for readers to get updates that are so short in length that they wouldn’t gel with the main blog. Please feel free to follow along! I’ve also recently made a presence on Twitter. Although FriendFeed is and will remain the primary microblogging platform.

A Word Or Two About Disclaimers

In no instance can any of the matter here concerning medicine be treated as a substitute for a doctor’s personal advice.

While the blog has helped friends and colleagues learn interesting things, it has served as a learning tool for me as well. So expect to find stuff that is a mix of fact based ruminations and incorrect deliberations. Nothing is set in stone and I would welcome readers to send in their corrections and feedback that would help me advance as a student of knowledge!

A Note On Copyright

I’m a big fan of the free-culture, open-source and open-access movements. There are a number of free-culture licensing models that I’m still exploring for my writing. But until I decide on one or the other, all my content is subject to standard copyright and all rights are reserved with me. In using content produced by others I make sure to either take permission, use permissively licensed content or stick to the Fair Use doctrine. Copyright and intellectual property on the internet is something that is in continuous flux these days and if there’s an outside chance that I might have missed something or put something inappropriate, please do not hesitate to write in using the form below.


Bouquets and brickbats welcome here:-


Written by Firas MR

July 12, 2006 at 1:19 pm

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