Saturday, July 31, 2010

Eye Words Quilt

Check out the very cool  ophthalmology themed quilt being made by Dr. Bates over at Suture for a Living!


Another great post  here from the South African surgical blog :Other Things Amanzi
via Suture for a Living blog

The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers

How much do your kindergarten teacher and classmates affect the rest of your life?
Economists have generally thought that the answer was not much. Great teachers and early childhood programs can have a big short-term effect. But the impact tends to fade. By junior high and high school, children who had excellent early schooling do little better on tests than similar children who did not — which raises the demoralizing question of how much of a difference schools and teachers can make.
There has always been one major caveat, however, to the research on the fade-out effect. It was based mainly on test scores, not on a broader set of measures, like a child’s health or eventual earnings. As Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist, says: “We don’t really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes.”
Early this year, Mr. Chetty and five other researchers set out to fill this void. They examined the life paths of almost 12,000 children who had been part of a well-known education experiment in Tennessee in the 1980s. The children are now about 30, well started on their adult lives.
On Tuesday, Mr. Chetty presented the findings — not yet peer-reviewed — at an academic conference in Cambridge, Mass.
They’re fairly explosive.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Breathing Earth Simulation

Welcome to Breathing Earth This real-time simulation displays the CO2 emissions of every country in the world, as well as their birth and death rates.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Amazing Voice: 7-Year-Old Gospel Singer Belts Whitney And Celine Songs

YouTube videos of Rhema performing "Amazing Grace," "O Holy Night," Celine Dion's "The Prayer" with Terry White, and Whitney Houston's "I Love The Lord" have generated more than a million streams.
Rhema began singing when she learned to speak. Her mother, Wendi Marvanne, who was a local gospel singer, died of ovarian cancer in 2008. She often sang with Rhema and rehearsed plays.
As a tribute to her mother, Rhema will focus on gospel music. "Out of my love for [my wife] and out of respect for her wishes I thought Rhema has incredible singing skills and talent, I wanted to do something she would be happy with and follow in her footsteps," Voaritskul said.

What Do You Lack? Probably Vitamin D

Vitamin D promises to be the most talked-about and written-about supplement of the decade. While studies continue to refine optimal blood levels and recommended dietary amounts, the fact remains that a huge part of the population — from robust newborns to the frail elderly, and many others in between — are deficient in this essential nutrient. 
If the findings of existing clinical trials hold up in future research, the potential consequences of this deficiency are likely to go far beyond inadequate bone development and excessive bone loss that can result in falls and fractures. Every tissue in the body, including the brain, heart, muscles and immune system, has receptors for vitamin D, meaning that this nutrient is needed at proper levels for these tissues to function well.
Studies indicate that the effects of a vitamin D deficiency include an elevated risk of developing (and dying from) cancers of the colon, breast and prostate; high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease; osteoarthritis; and immune-system abnormalities that can result in infections and autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

U.S. goes from leading to lagging in young college graduates

This can't be good...especially given the fact that we don't have well-defined apprenticeship programs (as is present in many European countries for example) for those who do not get a higher education..

The United States has fallen from first to 12th in the share of adults ages 25 to 34 with postsecondary degrees, according to a new report from the College Board.
Canada is now the global leader in higher education among young adults, with 55.8 percent of that population holding an associate degree or better as of 2007, the year of the latest international ranking. The United States sits 11 places back, with 40.4 percent of young adults holding postsecondary credentials.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stimulation prevents stroke by a whisker

Strokes are the No. 3 cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer, striking about 795,000 Americans each year—more than 137,000 fatally, according to the American Heart Association.
So should we be tickling our own whiskers? And what about women, who are less likely to have facial hair?
While it’s too soon to tell if the findings will translate to humans, researchers say it’s possible, and stubble is not required.
People have sensitive body parts wired to the same area of the brain as rodents’ fine-tuned whiskers.
“Stimulating the fingers, lips or face in general could all have a similar effect,” says Melissa Davis, University of California at Irvine graduate student and co-author of the study, which appears in the June issue of PLoS One.

Bruce Lee Playing Ping Pong With Nunchaku

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Are Designer Sunglasses Worth the Price?

Maybe not, writes Brett Arends. For starters, most shades are made by the same company. Here's what you need to know before buying.

How Microbes Defend and Define Us

This is a fascinating description of a bacterial "transplant."
Here is a quote from the article: We continue to be colonized every day of our lives. “Surrounding us and infusing us is this cloud of microbes,” said Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University.

In 2008, Dr. Khoruts, a gastroenterologist at the University of Minnesota, took on a patient suffering from a vicious gut infection of Clostridium difficile. She was crippled by constant diarrhea, which had left her in a wheelchair wearing diapers. Dr. Khoruts treated her with an assortment of antibiotics, but nothing could stop the bacteria. His patient was wasting away, losing 60 pounds over the course of eight months. “She was just dwindling down the drain, and she probably would have died,” Dr. Khoruts said.

Dr. Khoruts decided his patient needed a transplant. But he didn’t give her a piece of someone else’s intestines, or a stomach, or any other organ. Instead, he gave her some of her husband’s bacteria.
Dr. Khoruts mixed a small sample of her husband’s stool with saline solution and delivered it into her colon. Writing in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology last month, Dr. Khoruts and his colleagues reported that her diarrhea vanished in a day. Her Clostridium difficile infection disappeared as well and has not returned since.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Phys Ed: Your Brain on Exercise

What goes on inside your brain when you exercise? That question has preoccupied a growing number of scientists in recent years, as well as many of us who exercise.

 In the late 1990s, Dr. Fred Gage and his colleagues at the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute in San Diego elegantly proved that human and animal brains produce new brain cells (a process called neurogenesis) and that exercise increases neurogenesis. The brains of mice and rats that were allowed to run on wheels pulsed with vigorous, newly born neurons, and those animals then breezed through mazes and other tests of rodent I.Q., showing that neurogenesis improves thinking.
Phys Ed
But how, exactly, exercise affects the staggeringly intricate workings of the brain at a cellular level has remained largely mysterious. A number of new studies, though, including work published this month by Mr. Gage and his colleagues, have begun to tease out the specific mechanisms...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Advance in Quest for HIV Vaccine

HIV research is undergoing a renaissance that could lead to new ways to develop vaccines against the AIDS virus and other viral diseases.
In the latest development, U.S. government scientists say they have discovered three powerful antibodies, the strongest of which neutralizes 91% of HIV strains, more than any AIDS antibody yet discovered. They are now deploying the technique used to find those antibodies to identify antibodies to influenza viruses.
The HIV antibodies were discovered in the cells of a 60-year-old African-American gay man, known in the scientific literature as Donor 45, whose body made the antibodies naturally. The trick for scientists now is to develop a vaccine or other methods to make anyone's body produce them as well.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

FDA Approves VisionCare's Implantable Miniature Telescope

Saratoga, CA based VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies, Inc. has announced FDA approval of company's Implantable Miniature Telescope, which we have been following since 2005. The device is designed to treat end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as part of the CentraSight treatment program, in which one of a patient's eyes is implanted with the telescope. The implant will then enlarge images, causing them to be projected onto more healthy areas of the patient's retina. This reduces the negative effect of the AMD blind spot in the patient's vision.

Scientists to present car for blind drivers next year

US Scientists and the National Federation of the Blind are developing a car for the blind and will present a prototype next year.

The vehicle will be fitted with technology that allows a blind person to drive independently, the NFB and Virginia Tech University said.
Non-visual aids include sensors indicating turns in the road via vibrating gloves.
Puffs of compressed air on the face will alert the driver to obstacles.
Other aids to be fitted include a vibrating vest to give feedback on speed and a steering wheel with audio cues and spoken commands indicating the car's direction.

America's Deadliest Sweetener Betrays Millions, Then Hoodwinks You With Name Change

Aspartame is the most controversial food additive in history, and its approval for use in food was the most contested in FDA history. In the end, the artificial sweetener was approved, not on scientific grounds, but rather because of strong political and financial pressure.
After all, aspartame was previously listed by the Pentagon as a biochemical warfare agent!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Pay attention, kids: Unplug to tune in

IOWA STATE (US)—Parents looking to get their kid’s attention—or keep them focused at home and in the classroom—should try to limit their television viewing and video game play.
Elementary school-age and college-age participants who exceed two hours per day of screen time are as much as twice as likely to be above average in attention problems.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

A Cold Man's Warm Words

The tenderest words in American political history were cut from the document they were to have graced.
It was July 1, 2 ,3 and 4, 1776, in the State House in Philadelphia. America was being born. The Continental Congress was reviewing and editing the language of the proposed Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson, its primary author, was suffering the death of a thousand cuts.
The tensions over slavery had been wrenching, terrible, and were resolved by brute calculation: to damn or outlaw it now would break fragile consensus, halt all momentum, and stop the creation of the United States. References to the slave trade were omitted, but the founders were not stupid men, and surely they knew their young nation would have its date with destiny; surely they heard in their silence the guns of Fort Sumter.
Still, in the end, the Congress would not produce only an act of the most enormous human and political significance, the creation of America, it would provide history with one of the few instances in which a work of true literary genius was produced, in essence, by committee. (The writing of the King James Bible is another.)
Barbara Kelley

Steven Jobs2005 Stanford Commencement address

This is a repost that in my opinion is worth viewing again and again...

The best vacation ever

I agree that frequent, short vacation are best for me and that often the anticipation is greater than the time--off itself; unless  I am doing mission work. When I am doing mission work with like-minded people, the feeling is ecstatically intense. This especially applies to my work with Orbis.

(..)They found that in all three cases, the respondents were least happy about the vacation while they were taking it. Beforehand, they looked forward to it with eager anticipation, and within a few days of returning, they remembered it fondly. But while on it, they found themselves bogged down by the disappointments and logistical headaches of actually going somewhere and doing something, and the pressure they felt to be enjoying themselves.
A recent Dutch study had a more striking finding. Looking not at vacation memories, but measuring general happiness level through a simple three-question questionnaire, the researchers found that going on vacation gave a notable boost to pre-vacation mood but had hardly any effect on post-vacation feelings. Anticipation, it seems, can be a more powerful force than memory.

Genes that regulate the beginning and end of life

Beginning of life:

Gene Regulating Human Brain Development Identified

 End of life:

Scientists Discover Keys to Long Life


Liberterian Descriptions from The Big Picture Blog

Fat or Carbs: Which Is Worse?

(..)But the Grill's essential, in-your-face concept is that the saturated fat in beef clogs arteries, and hamburger meat is consequently among the most heart-damaging foods a human being can consume. As the Grill literature puts it, "The menu names imply coronary bypass surgery, and refer to the danger of developing atherosclerosis from the food's high proportion of saturated fat..." Aimed at a certain crowd, this is clever, edgy marketing. Some people enjoy flirting with death.
The problem? It's not true. The saturated fat lauded in this menu won't kill you. It may even be the safest element of the meal.

A Very Scary Light Show: Exploding H-Bombs In Space

This is an incredible story..If the video does not show up when you click on the NPR player link below, you should view it here

Since we're coming up on the Fourth of July, and towns everywhere are preparing their better-than-ever fireworks spectaculars, we would like to offer this humbling bit of history. Back in the summer of 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb in outer space, some 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It was a weapons test, but one that created a man-made light show that has never been equaled — and hopefully never will. Here it is:

Today these radiation belts are called Van Allen belts. Now comes the surprise: While looking through the Van Allen papers at the University of Iowa to prepare a Van Allen biography, Fleming discovered "that [the] very same day after the press conference, [Van Allen] agreed with the military to get involved with a project to set off atomic bombs in the magnetosphere to see if they could disrupt it."
Discover It, Then Blow It Up
The plan was to send rockets hundreds of miles up, higher than the Earth's atmosphere, and then detonate nuclear weapons to see: a) If a bomb's radiation would make it harder to see what was up there (like incoming Russian missiles!); b) If an explosion would do any damage to objects nearby; c) If the Van Allen belts would move a blast down the bands to an earthly target (Moscow! for example); and — most peculiar — d) if a man-made explosion might "alter" the natural shape of the belts.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Baby Boomers Less Likely to Have AMD Than Previous Generations

May 6, 2010 (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) — Today's aging baby boomers might be less likely to have age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than their forebears, according to a new study presented here at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology 2010 Annual Meeting.

"This rapid decline in age-related macular degeneration, which was 68% lower for each generation, suggests that modifiable factors play important roles in the etiology of AMD," said Karen J. Cruickshanks, MD, professor of epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison. "Childhood exposure to environment contaminants — for instance, growing up in houses that used wood, coal, or kerosene for cooking — may contribute to the risk of AMD."

Phys Ed: What Exercise Science Doesn’t Know About Women

(..)Scientists know, of course, that women are not men. But they often rely on male subjects exclusively, particularly in the exercise-science realm, where, numerically, fewer female athletes exist to be studied. But when sports scientists recreate classic men-only experiments with distaff subjects, the women often react quite differently. In a famous series of studies of carbo-loading (the practice of eating a high-carbohydrate diet before a race), researchers found that women did not pack carbohydrates into their muscles as men did. Even when the women upped their total calories as well as the percentage of their diet devoted to carbohydrates, they loaded only about half as much extra fuel into their muscles as the men did.
Why women respond differently seems obvious. Women are, after all, awash in the hormone estrogen, which, some new science suggests, has greater effects on metabolism and muscle health than was once imagined. Some studies have found that postmenopausal women who take estrogen replacement have healthier muscles than postmenopausal women who do not. Even more striking, in several experiments, researchers from McMaster University in Canada gave estrogen to male athletes and then had them complete strenuous bicycling sessions. The men seemed to have developed entirely new metabolisms. They burned more fat and a smaller percentage of protein or carbohydrates to fuel their exertions, just as women do.

Scientists Discover Keys to Long Life

By analyzing the DNA of the world's oldest people, Boston University scientists said Thursday they have discovered a genetic signature of longevity. They expect soon to offer a test that could let people learn whether they have the constitution to live to a very old age.

The researchers, who studied more than 1,000 people over the age of 100, identified a set of 150 unique genetic markers that, taken together, are linked to extreme longevity. They acknowledged they didn't know all the genes involved, nor their exact function in extending old age.
"This is an extremely complex trait that involves many processes," said lead researcher Paola Sebastiani, a biostatistician at BU's School of Public Health. Even so, "we can compute your specific predisposition to exceptional longevity."
The researchers said they had no plans to patent the technique nor profit from it. Instead, they expect to make a free test kit available on the Internet later this month to foster longevity research.
No one knows the complete prescription for a healthy long life. But genes that help control cellular responses to famine, drought and other survival stresses may play a key role in staving off the diseases and chronic ailments of aging, research suggests.
While a healthy lifestyle is paramount, such genetic factors appear to become more important the longer we live. Indeed, a variation in a single key gene called FOX03A can triple the chances a person may live past 100, researchers at the Pacific Health Research Institute in Hawaii recently reported.

NIH-Supported ACCORD Eye Study Finds Two Therapies Slow Diabetic Eye Disease Progression

Intensive blood sugar control reduced the progression of diabetic retinopathy compared with standard blood sugar control, and combination lipid therapy with a fibrate and statin also reduced disease progression compared with statin therapy alone. However, intensive blood pressure control provided no additional benefit to patients compared with standard blood pressure control.
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