Monday, April 14, 2014


Deciding if a sick, elderly patient should have surgery should be a team effort, with input from the patient, family members, the surgeon, primary care physician, nurses, and non-clinicians, such as social workers or advocates.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How Much Does Your Doctor Really Make?

The U.S. government released payment data for 880,000 physicians this week—to widespread misinterpretation. What the numbers can actually tell us.

These approaches to looking at the new payment records suffer three major flaws.


The purpose of Lunar Tabs is to give a person who is blind the ability to more easily access electronic guitar tablature (tabs) by converting electronic tabs to a format that a screen reader can process.

Saturday, April 12, 2014



Friday, April 11, 2014

Breakthrough in Quest to Grow Body Parts

Lab-Made Vaginas Transplanted Into Patients Whose Own Were Absent Due to Rare Disease

Scientists have successfully transplanted laboratory-made vaginas into four teenage girls whose own were absent because of a rare disease, marking a milestone in the quest to grow structurally complex body parts.
The experiment was published Thursday in the journal Lancet along with another study, in which a separate group of researchers transplanted lab-made nostrils into patients whose noses were damaged by cancer.
The vaginas were created from the patients' own cells and implanted between 2005 and 2008. Today, the women report normal sexual function.
Dr. Atala began the effort to make a lab-grown vagina in the late 1990s to address disorders that cause some girls to be born without normal vaginas. Cancer and trauma can also lead to vaginal damage or loss. Currently, doctors reconstruct the vagina using a patient's own skin or part of the intestine, but both cause other physical problems.
The effort immediately hit a roadblock: "We couldn't even get the vaginal mucosal cells to grow outside the body," Dr. Atala recalled. After solving that problem, the team needed to find something to serve as a scaffold—or skeleton—on which the cells would sit. They rejected various options, including the material used to make surgical sutures, before settling on one they liked: tissue from a pig's intestine.
The pig tissue was first bathed in detergent, which removed the original cells and left behind a scaffold-like structure made from collagen. This was coated on one side with epithelial cells, which line the body's cavities, and which had been obtained via a biopsy of the patient's external genitals. The other side was coated with smooth muscle cells, also from the patient. When the scaffold was placed in an incubator and nourished with chemicals and oxygen, the cells began to grow.
The scaffold was hand-sewn into a vagina-like shape and tailored to fit the patient. Surgeons created a cavity in the patient's pelvis and sutured the cell-populated scaffold to reproductive structures, including the uterus.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Play It Again And Again, Sam

A couple of years ago, music psychologist Elizabeth Margulis decided to make some alterations to the music of Luciano Berio. Berio was one of the most famous classical composers of the 20th century, a man internationally recognized for the dramatic power of his compositions. But Margulis didn't worry much about disrupting Berio's finely crafted music. After loading his most famous piece into a computer editing program, she just randomly started cutting.
"I just went in and whenever there was a little pause on either side of something, I grabbed that out and then I'd stick it back in — truly without regard to aesthetic intent," she says. "I wasn't trying to craft anything compelling."
The idea behind this vandalism was simple: Margulis wanted to see if she could make people like Berio's music more by making it more repetitive.

They reported enjoying the excerpts that had repetition more," Margulis says. "They reported finding them more interesting, and — most surprising to me — they reported them as more likely to have been crafted by a human artist, rather than randomly generated by a computer."
What's So Seductive About Repeats?
We are drawn to repetition. It surrounds us, not just in modern American pop music, Margulis says, but everywhere.
So mere exposure is one of the reasons we respond so well to repetition — both of music and in music — but Margulis clearly doesn't think it's the whole story. She says repetition also allows us to shift our attention around, from the surface aspects of the music to other aspects.
And in that way, she says, it allows us to shift our experience of the reality around us

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Samsung Releasing Smartphone-Paired Technologies for Blind People

Today’s smartphones have a surprising amount of technology built into them to help people do all sorts of things that were otherwise impossible not so long ago. Their brilliant screens are one of their greatest draws, but somewhat surprisingly at first, the technology within can be harnessed and expanded to help blind people navigate, “see” their environment in a new way, andcommunicate with others. Now Samsung is pushing the boundaries of what smartphones can do for blind people by releasing three new assistive devices that work with their Galaxy Core Advance phones.
The most exciting is perhaps the Ultrasonic Cover that works like a virtual white cane to spot objects ahead of the user. It will vibrate or use text-to-speech (TTS) to notify the user when something is within a couple meters of the cover. 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Science More: Happiness Happify Psychology Success Five Quick Ways To Make Yourself Happier Read more:

Happiness isn't about winning the lottery according to Happify, a website and app that uses games and tasks based in positive psychology to make you happier.
Happiness is a combination of three things: your circumstances (10%), your genetics (about 50%), and your thoughts and actions (40%).
Happify works on the latter. The app trains your brain to think and act in ways that will make you happier. For example, reaching out to old friends, being thankful for the good things in life, and being nice to others.
Here are five specific things you can do you make yourself happier.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Advice for a Happy Life by Charles Murray

Consider marrying young. Be wary of grand passions. Watch 'Groundhog Day' (again). Advice on how to live to the fullest

The transition from college to adult life is treacherous, and this is nowhere more visible than among new college graduates in their first real jobs. A few years ago, I took it upon myself to start writing tips for the young staff where I work about how to avoid doing things that would make their supervisors write them off. It began as a lark as I wrote tips with titles such as, "Excise the word 'like' from your spoken English."
But eventually, I found myself getting into the deeper waters of how to go about living a good life. At that point, I had to deal with a reality: When it comes to a life filled with deep and lasting satisfactions, most of the clich├ęs are true. How could I make them sound fresh to a new generation? Here's how I tried.

    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    Skin Tight Jeans and Syncopation

    Explaining the genius of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”—using music theory.

    Very cool piece

     I've been challenged by friends on Facebook to write a “not boring” piece that explains a successful pop song using music theory. My bet is that it’ll be boring, but I'm going to do my best not to bore you!
    I have picked Katy Perry's “Teenage Dream.” Because: this song's success seems to mystify all the Katy Perry haters in the world. Why did it go to No. 1? Let’s start by talking about the ingenuity of the harmonic content. This song is all about suspension—not in the voice-leading 4–3 sense, but in the emotional sense, which listeners often associate with “exhilaration,” being on the road, being on a roller coaster, travel. This sense of suspension is created simply, by denying the listener any I chords. There is not a single I chord in the song.
    The second key to this song's Enormous Chart Success has to do with the weighting of the melody lines. Perfect balance of tension and release. Each line of the verses begin straight, on the beat, but end with a syncopation: [straight:] “you think I'm pretty without any” [syncopated:] “makeup on.

    Risk score system accurate in predicting macular degeneration risk

    1. 8 predictors (age, sex, education level, race, smoking status, presence of pigment abnormality, soft drusen, and maximum drusen size) were utilized to create a macular risk scoring system (MRSS).
    2. Area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was excellent (internally validated c-index = 0.88; externally validated c-index = 0.91). Sensitivity and specificity at cutoff of 0 were 87.6% and 73.6% respectively.
    Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

    Spark Therapeutics and Genable Technologies Announce Collaboration to Advance a Gene Therapy Treatment for a Rare Form of Retinitis Pigmentosa

    PHILADELPHIA, March 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spark Therapeutics andGenable Technologies announced today that they have entered into a collaboration agreement for Genable's lead therapeutic to treat rhodopsin-linked autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (RHO adRP), GT038. Under the terms of the collaboration, Genable will license certain adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector manufacturing patents from Spark.

    Water, Tai Chi, and Mood

    "You can't control the waves but you can learn how to surf"
    John Kabbat-Zinn

    Three Links Follow

    What does it mean to learn how to surf?  When we experience emotions, they tend to multiply on themselves.  For example, let’s say you’re driving in your car and you just miss the green light and get stuck at a red.  This annoys you.  Then you think to yourself ‘This is stupid, why am I getting angry about something so small?’  Now you’re angry at yourself for being angry.
    When you surf, you can’t resist the flow of the waves.  If you try to resist, you’ll end up underwater.  The same is true with emotions.  If you resist your emotions and try to fight them, they will consume you.  If instead you accept your emotions, then they lose their grip over you, and you can glide along their surface.

    Soft Overcomes Hard: Control Your Emotions with Tai Chi

    “In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.”
    Bruce Li
    After spending many hours meditating and practicing, I gave up and went sailing alone in a junk. On the sea I thought of all my past training and got mad at myself and punched the water! Right then — at that moment — a thought suddenly struck me; was not this water the very essence of gung fu? Hadn’t this water just now illustrated to me the principle of gung fu? I struck it but it did not suffer hurt. Again I struck it with all of my might — yet it was not wounded! I then tried to grasp a handful of it but this proved impossible. This water, the softest substance in the world, which could be contained in the smallest jar, only seemed weak. In reality, it could penetrate the hardest substance in the world. That was it! I wanted to be like the nature of water.
    (from BrainPickings.Org)

    Monday, March 24, 2014


    Facial expressions—such as wide-eyed fear or narrow-eyed disgust—are the result of how our eyes have evolved to perceive, not to communicate.
    Our eyes widen in fear, boosting sensitivity and expanding our field of vision to locate surrounding danger. When repulsed, our eyes narrow, blocking light to sharpen focus and pinpoint the source of our disgust.

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