When Janelia opened in 2006, HHMI wanted a way to help the local community and others understand the science that would be done on campus. As a result, the Institute’s Communications staff created The Mind of Janelia — a 40-page primer explaining basic concepts in genetics, neuroscience, imaging, and computational biology in an entertaining and easy-to-understand manner.
Written by Jennifer Michalowski and illustrated by Peter Arkle, the 5×8-inch book uses engaging prose, fun facts, and simple yet playful drawings to help readers grasp complex scientific concepts. For example, one section explains that a single cubic millimeter of human brain tissue contains about 20,000 neurons, and drives the point home with a drawing showing the actual size of a cubic millimeter. The book also features cameos from several of the first scientists to join Janelia, including Gerry Rubin, Julie Simpson, Eric Betzig, and Eugene Myers, complete with sketches of the researchers by Arkle.
The Mind of Janelia was distributed to the more than 3,000 people attending Janelia’s open house on October 7, 2006. HHMI continued to receive requests for the book – and distribute copies at Janelia’s regular public lectures – over the next several years.
A section on neurobiology explains that, placed end to end, the nerve cells in the human brain would stretch 1 million miles — enough to wrap 40 times around the earth.
This illustration describes the basic structure of a cell and how genes are used to make proteins.
The final page of the book shows Janelia Executive Director Gerry Rubin explaining why computers are essential for neurobiology.
A fly image composed of single-letter abbreviations for nucleotides (ATCG) surrounded by binary code emphasizes the important role computers play in deciphering the information in DNA.
This illustration gives readers an idea of the relative sizes of several biological organisms, from humans down to atoms, along with the resolution limits of light and electron microscopes.