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  • The Road to P West
Jan 2011
Jan. 10, 2011 — I may have mentioned a time or two before: I am an inveterate road tripper, an unapologetic bird of passage, an excursionist in the grand arcades and back alleys of mythic America. In my book no motel is too seedy, too riddled with bullet holes. And no roadside attraction is too patently ridiculous.

After the holidays, I found myself – and, importantly, my car – in the wilds of northern New Jersey. The Photonics West meeting, I knew, would be kicking off in San Francisco in a matter of weeks. So I submitted to my less-than-practical instincts, jumped in the ol’ Camry and started driving.

I’ve covered considerable ground already. The Capital Beltway. The lovely, unassuming Blue Ridge Mountains. The suburbs of Atlanta, where every street, boulevard and child is named Peachtree. As I write this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Tupelo, Miss., on a tedious stretch of urban sprawl a stone’s throw from the birthplace of Elvis Aaron Presley.

Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo, Miss., on the road to Photonics West.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll arrive in San Francisco on Friday the 21st, just in time for the BiOS portion of Photonics West. I’m looking forward to the Hot Topics session Saturday evening, with talks on 3-D optoacoustic tomography, intravascular diagnostics with fluorescence lifetime methods and optogenetics, among others. And I’m eager to explore the exhibition. Drop me a line if you’ll be there ( I’d love to see what’s new.

In the meantime, I’ll check in from the road whenever I can. Happy trails, everyone.

A discipline that combines optics and genetics to enable the use of light to stimulate and control cells in living tissue, typically neurons, which have been genetically modified to respond to light. Only the cells that have been modified to include light-sensitive proteins will be under control of the light. The ability to selectively target cells gives researchers precise control. Using light to control the excitation, inhibition and signaling pathways of specific cells or groups of cells...
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