Archive for the ‘ medical care ’ Category

We only use 10 percent of our brains – FALSE

It’s the old myth heard time and again about how people use only ten percent of their brains. While for the people who repeat that myth, it’s probably true, the rest of us happily use all of our brains. That tired Ten-Percent claim pops up all the time. In 1998, national magazine ads for U.S. Satellite Broadcasting showed a drawing of a brain. Under it was the caption, “You only use 11 percent of its potential.” Well, they’re a little closer than the ten-percent figure, but still off by about 89 percent. In the beginning even I looked at that concept and thought of it as a plausible explanation for  a lot of things including magic, psychic abilities etc.

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During the past few years and after various rounds of debates with friends, doctors and with engineers alike, I started to doubt it. One reason this myth has endured is that it has been adopted by psychics and other paranormal pushers to explain psychic powers. The biggest of these would be main stream media, there have been a few hundred movies showing psychics who have been seen saying “We only use ten percent of our minds. If scientists don’t know what we do with the other ninety percent, it must be used for psychic powers!” There have been even scores of books to those who are not exposed movies that time and again mention this tidbit saying that the rest is for the subconscious mind. Bollywood is not left far behind as well, Karthik calling Karthik was another movie which used this point.

The argument that psychic powers come from the unused majority of the brain is based on the argument from ignorance. In this Argument, lack of proof for a position (or simply lack of information) is used to try to support a particular claim. For example: Two people see a strange light in the sky. The first, a UFO believer, says, “See there! Can you explain that?” The skeptic replies that no, he can’t. The UFO believer is gleeful. “Ha! You don’t know what it is, so it must be aliens!” he says, arguing from ignorance. I am not a person who would say that UFO’s dont exist, neither do I say that they do. But I think there is not enough information to make a judgement on the same.

Getting back to the point, technology is working in my favor when it comes to proving this myth wrong.

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  1. Brain imaging research techniques such as PET scans (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) clearly show that the vast majority of the brain does not lie fallow. Indeed, although certain minor functions may use only a small part of the brain at one time, any sufficiently complex set of activities or thought patterns will indeed use many parts of the brain. Just as people don’t use all of their muscle groups at one time, they also don’t use all of their brain at once. For any given activity, such as eating, watching television, making love, or reading, you may use a few specific parts of your brain. Over the course of a whole day, however, just about all of the brain is used at one time or another.
  2. The myth presupposes an extreme localization of functions in the brain. If the “used” or “necessary” parts of the brain were scattered all around the organ, that would imply that much of the brain is in fact necessary. But the myth implies that the “used” part of the brain is a discrete area, and the “unused” part is like an appendix or tonsil, taking up space but essentially unnecessary. But if all those parts of the brain are unused, removal or damage to the “unused” part of the brain should be minor or unnoticed. Yet people who have suffered head trauma, a stroke, or other brain injury are frequently severely impaired. Have you ever heard a doctor say, “. . . But luckily when that bullet entered his skull, it only damaged the 90 percent of his brain he didn’t use”? Of course not.

I guess I am at this time convinced that the myth needs to be busted for all, and the fable of sort needs to end.

A lot more can be read on this topic with references here.

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Innovation to help the Blind read novels

Everyone knows that the best way or the only way that the Blind read is through their hands using the very innovative and universal standard Braille. There is however a big problem considering the fact that all books need to be specifically made for the blind to read. And doing a quick search on the interwebs will let you know that the choice for reading for these fellow men and women is not that great. I guess if you can single out the one quality of a person that makes them human, its Choice. So in a way the fact that technology is not available for people to get this choice is a failure of technology, right. Guess some people did think about it and well here are few concept gadgets to help break that shackles.

The technology’s already here, we just need a venture capital firm and a determined entrepreneur to make it happen. A foursome of designers — Seon-Keun Park, Byung-Min Woo, Sun-Hye Woo and Jin-Sun Park — have banded together to create the above pictured concept, an e-reader for those with limited or no vision. Their Braille E-Book concept theoretically relies on electroactive polymers in order to change the surface’s shape as pages are turned, and while we fully expect the battery life to suffer due to all the necessary commotion, it’s definitely a start that needs to happen.

Simple in design, the device uses electroactive polymers, which change shape when voltage is run through them, forming the raised braille letters. Since the traditional paper braille books for the blind are roughly double the size of normal books, this could be a muscle-saver for those of us who are unseeing or partially sighted.

Apart from the Design from Yanko Studio there is the Haptic Reader another similar device which has more illustrations like how to use the devise as well. Check out he pics below.

Via Yanko Via Engadget

Pacemakers powered by the heart

[tweetmeme] Back in 1899 we realized that by infusion of electrical pulse to the Heart in asystole caused a ventricular contraction and that a heart rhythm of 60-70 beats per minute could be evoked by impulses applied at spacings equal to 60-70/minute. What did we do with this information we created the Pacemaker, the pacemaker for the heart actually helps the heart in its normal function with a gentle helping hand for those who have week hearts. According to World Health Organisation data, 16.7 million people die each year owing to heart attacks, and pacemakers can help a lot of these patients.

It was only by the 1950’s that we were able to produce an implantable pacemaker. The problem of batteries and their charging and discharging is something that the patients that use them have to deal with. This has been an issue for which there have been only temporary solutions. Longer battery life, modulation in the working based on how much assistance is required etc is something that people are still experimenting with to get a long lasting pacemaker.

British scientists have successfully experimented to develop a heart-powered pacemaker. Until now, a pacemaker used the electrical impulses delivered by the electrodes from the heart’s contracting muscles to regulate the heartbeat, but the pacemakers and defibrillators of tomorrow could generate power from the heart itself.

At first glance, this idea seems somewhat impossible, like using the movement of an engine’s pistons to power a car and was made possible by British scientists who used a microgenrator in their experiment to successfully produce enough electricity from the heart to run the pacemaker. The microgenerator used is made of two individual liquid-filled balloons, which are placed at different locations within the heart, but remain connected to a silicone tube consisting of a moving magnet. The heartbeats press the balloons alternatively, forcing the fluid in it to move the magnet past the coil in the silicone tube, producing electricity in the process.

The team of scientists believes that the introduction of the heart-powered technology could enhance the utility of the pacemaker’s of today, as the usage of generated energy could be made to recharge the batteries of the pacemaker. The pacemakers could also generate energy through the flow and movement of the blood, heat differentials or physiological pressures, apart from the tested induction version. Using this energy to recharge pacemakers or defibrillator batteries a will make them last longer, and so increase the intervals between the invasive surgical procedures needed to replace them. Heart implants typically communicate details about their performance to other medical equipment via a wireless link, so the new generator could also allow them to transmit more data.

Source

Reality from fiction : Fabric that deflects bullets (Indian again)

[tweetmeme] Remember The Matrix? When Neo asks Morpheus if he was trying to tell him that he could dodge bullets and Morpheus replies “No Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.”


If engineers at the Centre for Advanced Materials Technology, University of Sydney, have their way, then soon the cops of the world could all be attempting a Matrix scene. If not stop the bullets in mid-air, they can surely bounce them off their bodies.

Till today, bulletproof gear that cops across the world use is made up of multiple layers of Kevlar, Twaron, Spectra (Thanks Guybrush) or Dyneema fibers which offer blunt resistance to the brutal force of a bullet. They tried to stop bullets from penetrating by spreading the bullet’s force. But the people who use them can still be left with severe bruising or, worse, damage to critical organs.

The new material, however, not only stops bullets but deflects them, rather than absorbing their force. The study by engineers at the Centre for Advanced Materials Technology, University of Sydney, is published in the Institute of Physics’ journal Nanotechnology. The elasticity of carbon nanotubes means that this so called “blunt force trauma” may be avoided, say Prof Liangchi Zhang and Dr Kausala Mylvaganam. The Indian and Chinese duo who have help fortify the argument that Innovation does not happen only in the west.

The teams’ testing was done on Carbon nanotubes in the dimensions of 0.7 nanometers in thickness & 7.5 nanometers in length. Bullets made out of Diamond were fired at 1000 to 3500 meters per second at the target material and the fabric successfully bounced the bullets off of its surface. Now if diamond bullets could not make it through, then I doubt if anything else will. Engineers claim that 6 layers of such yarn, which would be about 600 nanometers thick, would be sufficient to design a fabric for practical purposes.

To say that this technology is amazing would be a gross understatement. It could prove invaluable in fighting terror across the planet.Just hope the Bad guys are not wearing the same.

Source

Whats so tech about a Window ?

[tweetmeme] Well for starters, it’s no ordinary window. Phillips in their quest for simplicity and providing innovation for the “end Users” as they call all their customers have come up with various demos of what they want to be implementing. I did write about one of this technology earlier, i.e. movable skin tattoos; but getting back to the windows.

I am not sure if words can justify how good this technology might be in hotels and the cool factor for people living there. So check out the video below:

Phillips has this to add:

The hotel industry is dominated by large chains that provided consistent service, but often lack a personal touch. Luckily, the rise of private, theme-oriented hotels is ushering in a new age of hospitality, one in which guests control virtually every aspect of their stay. New applications of technology will empower customers and provide them with better, more comfortable surroundings in which to relax and re-energize after a long journey. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if travel across time zones was stimulating, rather than draining, fun rather than tiresome? Imagine what it would be like if your hotel was not just a temporary roof over your head, but a journey of the senses. Imagine being able to stimulate your senses with sound, light and imagery, day and night. Imagine a room whose very uniqueness leaves you refreshed, energized and ready for the new day.

I can think of something to add to its applications, All of us look for a window with a view, now imagine a scenario where you can have a Niagara falls view or a Burj Khalifa view or a beach sunset view right in your home. Well that would be pretty cool right ? I mean you would not need to invest millions of dollars in getting a perfect view home, but can recreate it within your existing home, by investing in this technology.

Augmented reality ? yes of course it can add-on information from the outdoor world overlay-ed on a layer over the ambient window, providing information like weather latest news etc. In fact it could even replace your TV with some modifications, let your imagination go wild with this one 😉

What if tattoos were changeable … ???

I mentioned how I am finding it difficult to decide on a tattoo, and in my quest to find a great design had led to dead ends so far. However, the quest is still on.

One of the biggest fears is the fact that, we need to know what it looks like, I mean it might look good on paper but in reality it might not really look that good. So well we can turn to technology then, I mean its there to make our lives easier. Fortunately, computer graphics artist Loic Zimmermann has developed a program that will allow users to get a look at what a complex design might look like on a 3D figure. If this technology catches on, the possibilities for pushing the art form are obvious. What if you can check on the tattoo and what it would look like before trying it on ? Well here is the answer to that question.

The biggest fear in getting a tattoo is the it might sound like a good idea at that time, but then later it might not really represent you as a person. Technology is the way to go, Phillips the guys who gave us nearly every consumer electronics device (prototypes at least) have a solution to this as well. A prototype of the Skin : Tattoo from Phillips is here. Check out the video below.

Philips Design examined the growing trend of extreme body adornment like tattoos, piercing, implants and scarring. The Electronics Tattoo film expresses the visual power of sensitive technology applied to the human body. The film subtly leads the viewer through the simultaneous emotional and aesthetic transformations between two lovers. Check out the Phillips Design Webpage here.

Another solution is detailed at New Scientist, here is the article below :

If you are planning to express your undying love for someone with a tattoo, you might want to wait a little while before going under the needle. New inks that are safer to use, and far easier to remove should you have a change of heart, are set to be launched next year.

The US Food and Drug Administration has no standards for the safety of dyes used in body art. Carbon black, metal salts and other compounds more commonly used in printing or car paint are among those used. Heavy metals and other toxic chemicals in these pigments can seep into the lymph system, says Martin Schmieg, president of the company Freedom-2 in Philadelphia, which is planning to introduce a range of dyes that have already been approved by the FDA for use in cosmetics, food, drugs and medical devices.

Such dyes have not been used in tattoos before as they are readily absorbed by the body. To get round this problem, Rox Anderson at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has developed a way to encapsulate the dyes in protective polymer beads just 1 to 3 micrometres in diameter. This is small enough to allow them to be injected into the skin and absorbed by skin cells to form a tattoo.

The pigment can be removed with a single laser treatment. This splits the beads open, dumping the dye into cells where it is absorbed. The tattoo then quickly fades away, in stark contrast to standard tattoo pigments. Applying a series of up to 10 laser treatments can usually bleach them, but only half of tattoos can be completely removed.

Check out the article in New Scientist here.

Glasses to people for cheap

Most people online would have heard about TED and the videos, if you haven’t I strongly suggest TED.com to you guys. The future of the world in sorts is being made there, from Design to technology. As they mention on their site:

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year’s TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.

My first brush with Augmented Reality also was on the TED site. Well this post is not about Augmented Reality, but about providing vision glasses to a lot of people. The idea is by visionary Josh Silver who talks about using oil filled glasses and by adjusting the liquid in the glasses will be able to provide universally usable vision glasses to all. See the talk here below for the actual details.

While watching the video, I noticed how he mentions that there are about 30,000 of these glasses in use today. So I desided to check on what material was available on the usage of these glasses worldwide. The center for vision in the developing world has a map showing where its being used.

How does it work ? Well here is a sketch that was on gizmodo which explained it, here it is.

There is also a video on Vimeo Explaining the actual working and benefits of these glasses, including a small explanation on the “Ugly” looks of the glasses.

Although this is not a technological breakthrough of sorts, but it is a sign that someone is doing some good work. somewhere. AdSpecs might just be what the doctor ordered in developing countries showing how technology is impacting people’s lives world over.