I’m working on my scientific fiction book. I’ll be back in a while…
A topic that should be on all scientists’ minds. What do we do about rare diseases?
Originally posted on Rebecca Bradley:
It’s to raise awareness to everyone, because we all come into contact with people who may not even look as though they have an illness, but actually be living with a pretty disabling rare disease.
I am one of those people living with a rare disease. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
I have found first hand how difficult it is to navigate the NHS system with such a diagnosis. It’s either not understood and discarded or maybe even believed to be more than I’m displaying to them at that time, so I’m dismissed. This shows a real lack of understanding.
The mascot within the Ehlers Danlos Community is that of the Zebra, because trainee Doctors are taught, that if they hear…
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It’s one little step after another, and finally, we end up as a culture, a civilization, an economy that has problems. The nature of a community is everyone compromises. The strength of this group of people is how they take those mitigating steps so more are satisfied than not.
We can all learn from the Philippines.
THE ELECTION season finds many Filipinos thinking not only of who should be the next president, but also of why the country – a nation of rich natural resources and talented people – can’t seem to get its act together, why it has fallen back.
To understand why the country is where it is today, we have to look back, even beyond our lands. After all, our country’s problems were created not just in the past decades. Neither was the country isolated from the rest of the world.
For starters, when our nation was born in the 19th century, it was already among the poor nations of the world, compared with European civilization which at that time made up the richest section of humanity. (more)
Scientists have struggled for over thirty years to market a DNA computer to the masses. It can play tic-tac-toe and solve the Traveling Salesman Problem (best way for a national sales guy to visit twenty-thirty cities–quite relevant to everyday people). Now the experts are considering using DNA computer apps to fight disease. But, for us middle Americans, we are far from benefiting from the power, affordability and tiny size of DNA computers.
Here’s a clever idea I stumbled across on MIT’s blog. We all know that the reason the brain can do so much is it relies on the folds that cover its surface. Technically, they’re not ‘folds'; they’re Gyri or Gyrus (singular) and the ‘valleys’ between the Gyri are called Sulci or Sulcus. Anyway, Mother Nature added these to give that umph to our brains in power, storage capacity and speed that no computer comes close to matching. Why not add them to DNA computers? Here’s a discussion:
Using DNA structures, researchers may be able to construct tinier, cheaper chips
Artificial, self-assembling DNA structures may help make smaller and cheaper microchips, according to research presented in the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology. Tinier microchips would allow faster computers and other electronics.
Researchers from IBM and the California Institute of Technology used a technique known as DNA origami, where a long strand of DNA is folded into a shape with many shorter strands dubbed staples, creating a three-dimensional shape. In the paper, the researchers demonstrated using DNA origami-shapes as a scaffold for carbon nanotubes–a trick that could eventually be used to create nanoscale microchips.
The DNA structures are tiny enough to have features measuring six nanometers–the current industry standard for microchips is 45 nanometers. The process could replace the expensive tools manufacturers currently use to make tiny chips, although IBM suggests that it could take up to 10 years to test and refine the process for manufacturing.
Plants are left or right-handed. Look at them. They grow toward one direction, not
necessarily due to the sun. You’re probably most familiar with plants that have tendrils, or twine their way up a post or fence. If you look more closely, you’ll notice that they form consistent right- or left-handed helices as they climb.
Non-human primates are balanced as far as handedness goes–some left, some right–as were Australopithecines. But when our genus Homo arrived, we became more likely right-handed.
Why? Take a guess before you read the article below. Defense? Hunting? Some requirement of balance with our upright position? Maybe a relationship between the right hand and left brain?
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Scientists use electro-magnetic signatures to image an underground area up to 100 meters down. How? Every structure has a different magnetization from the surrounding natural ground. A magnetometer can distinguish the signature of the buried item from other underground objects like stones. Think of the striping discovered in the ocean floor which proved to scientists that the poles have switched: Iron in the molten crust extruded to create new ocean floor orients toward ‘north’ before solidifying. Surprisingly (not anymore, but back then), sometimes ‘north’ was ‘south’.
This technology transfers to urban traffic control. Magnetic sensors, buried under streets, sense the movement of vehicles and control traffic lights.
The military has used magnetic signatures for years, not only to identify submarines and ships, but to track the
movement of trucks and caravans–anything with iron in it.
What are ‘magnetic signatures’? Any vehicle or vessel traveling on the Earth’s surface or under water disturbs the magnetic field. These disturbances are collected and analyzed by systems such as MAGSAV (The Magnetic Signature Analysis and Validation System). The Military has a database of these signatures as they relate to military vehicles–subs, cruisers, carriers, etc. It’s what allows our soldiers to identify who they’re dealing with in the field–friend or foe.
My concern is with Otto, my AI. By tying his computational powers into a MAD (magnetic anomaly detector) device, he can read these fluctuations. Because his detection algorithms are so sensitive, he can pick up even the magnetic signature of a human (created by the presence of iron in our blood). He can’t differentiate between people, but he can tell that a human is present.
I’m not sure where he’s going with this. He looked at metamaterials (with potential uses for cloaking devices–see my post here), and now he seems to be focused on submarines. Yes–I see the tie-in; millions of dollars are spent yearly minimizing the magnetic signature of subs so they can’t be located. When the magnetic level reaches a critical level, the sub returns to a port (such as Kings Bay) and it goes through the Magnetic Silencing Facility to minimize the signature and the possibility of detection (If you’re interested in how the Bad Guys use magnetic signatures to track our submarines, read this on anti-submarine warfare from Globalsecurity.org)
Cloaking devices, magnetic signatures… Let’s see where this goes.
So many questions about our past are debated because of the lack of written records. Before man put proverbial pen to paper, we had only bones and teeth, soil contents, paleo-geology and -geography and -climate, to intuit what might have been.
This, despite the fact that we know for a fact that written records are always from the writer’s perspective. They are only trustworthy to the point we trust the writer–like a Leakey, Donald Johansson, Chris Beard, Jane Goodall. These interpretations–albeit highly trained–of primary sources (Earth’s record) are given more credibility than the primary source itself (an action I’m sure discouraged by Leakey’s and Johnasson’s and Beard’s and Goodall’s teachers as they pursued their research). Why? The reason is simple: It takes a PhD to interpret Earth’s story. Continue reading ‘The How and Why of Early Man’