Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Sikh Temple Where All May Eat, and Pitch In

Anyone making a trip to Northern India, should try to get to Amritsar, to visit the stunning Golden Temple.

Sikhism, which emerged in the Punjab region of India in the 15th century, strongly rejects the notion of caste, which lies at the core of Hinduism.
The Golden Temple, a giant complex of marble and glittering gold that sits at the heart of this sprawling, hectic city near the border with Pakistan, seeks to embody this principle. Nowhere is it more evident than in the community kitchen, where everyone, no matter his religion, wealth or social status, is considered equal.
Guru Amar Das created the community kitchen during his time as the third Sikh guru in the 16th century. Its purpose, he said, was to place all of humanity on the same plane. At the temple’s museum, one painting shows the wife of one of the gurus serving common people, “working day and night in the kitchen like an ordinary worker,” the caption says.
Volunteerism and community support are other central tenets of Sikhism expressed in the langar. When the Mughal emperor Akbar tried to give Guru Amar Das a platter of gold coins to support the kitchen, he refused to accept them, saying the kitchen “is always run with the blessings of the Almighty.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why Fish in the Arctic Don’t Freeze

Scientists studying why fish in the Arctic ocean don’t freeze have discovered how a natural antifreeze that keeps blood flowing at sub-zero temperatures works.
The temperature of the water in the Arctic is a fairly constant 28.6 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, close to the freezing point of seawater. The freezing point of fish blood, however, is about 30.4 degrees Fahrenheit. You’d expect fish traveling beyond a certain latitude to ice up.
Instead, fish are able to keep moving thanks to a frost-protection protein in their blood. It was discovered about 50 years ago, but only now are scientists discovering how the protein works.

Scientists studying why fish in the Arctic ocean don’t freeze have discovered how a natural antifreeze that keeps blood flowing at sub-zero temperatures works.
The temperature of the water in the Arctic is a fairly constant 28.6 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, close to the freezing point of seawater. The freezing point of fish blood, however, is about 30.4 degrees Fahrenheit. You’d expect fish traveling beyond a certain latitude to ice up.
Instead, fish are able to keep moving thanks to a frost-protection protein in their blood. It was discovered about 50 years ago, but only now are scientists discovering how the protein works.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Study Restores Damaged Corneas

Scientists have created a new kind of artificial cornea, inserting a sliver of collagen into the eye, coaxing the eye's own natural corneal cells to regrow and restore vision.
Vision depends on a healthy cornea, the film-like covering of the eye's surface that helps it focus light. Corneas are easily harmed by injury or infection, and about 42,000 people in the U.S. receive transplanted corneas every year. But for many of the estimated 10 million people world-wide with corneal blindness, donated corneas aren't available. And transplants bring risk of rejection.
The new bio-artificial cornea attempts to induce healing by using the same natural substances in a real cornea. "I characterize this work as a major advance in the direction that we need to go," said Alan Carlson, cornea transplant chief at Duke University's eye center, who wasn't involved in the research.
A cornea's structure is made up of tissue called collagen. The researchers took human collagen grown in yeast and molded it into a contact lens-like shape—the scaffolding for a cornea. Dr. Griffith, working with Linkoping University eye surgeon Per Fagerholm, studied the bio-artificial cornea in 10 patients with severe vision loss from corneal damage.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An Implantable Antenna

A prototype silk biosensor could someday alert doctors to signs of disease.

Silk and gold, usually a pairing for the runways of Milan, are now the main ingredients for a new kind of implantable biosensor. Researchers at Tufts University have crafted a small antenna from liquid silk and micropatterned gold. The antenna is designed to spot specific proteins and chemicals in the body, and alert doctors wirelessly to signs of disease. Scientists say the implant could someday help patients with diabetes track their glucose levels without having to test themselves daily.

Omenetto and his colleague Richard Averitt, associate professor of physics at Boston University, used similar principles to create a metamaterial that's responsive not to visible light, but rather to frequencies further down the electromagnetic spectrum, within the terahertz range. Not coincidentally, proteins, enzymes, and chemicals in the body are naturally resonant at terahertz frequencies, and, according to Averitt, each biological agent has its own terahertz "signature."
Terahertz science is a new and growing field, and several research groups are investigating specific protein "T-ray" signatures. A silk metamaterial antenna could someday pick up these specific signals and then send a wireless signal to a computer, to report on chemical levels and monitor disease.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Girly Jobs Don’t Pay Well

A really good kindergarten teacher is worth $320,000 annually, according to one recent estimate, well publicized in this newspaper. That would reflect the present value of the additional money that students in a really good kindergarten class can expect to earn over their careers.
But average pay for kindergarten teachers is only about $50,380. And even at that level, kindergarten teachers, many employed by public school systems, fare relatively well compared with those in similar jobs.
As one online discussion of girly jobs explains, some women may just like these jobs despite the low pay.
Some empirical research supports this claim. In a careful analysis oflongitudinal data on earnings that includes survey questions regarding attitudes related to work preferences, Nicole Fortin, at economist at the University of British Columbia, finds that women tend to place less importance on money and more importance on people and family than men do.
Caring often entails commitments to dependents such as young children, adults with disabilities or the frail elderly who can’t afford to pay directly for the services provided. It doesn’t fit easily into the impersonal logic of fee for service or supply and demand.
Further, caring often creates “outputs” that are not easily captured in market transactions, such as the increases in lifetime capabilities created by excellent kindergarten and preschool teachers.
It’s hard to imagine an explicit contract that could enable a care worker to “capture” the value-added – which extends well beyond increases in lifetime earnings to many less tangible benefits.
Good care helps create – and maintain – good people.
I agree. And I argue that child care, elder care, education and many social services resemble health care in this respect. They are not commodities that can be efficiently produced by a purely market-based economic system.
What’s striking is the high cost of femininity. Many traits that contribute to women’s success in finding a male partner don’t pay off in the labor market – and vice versa. As one economic analysis of a speed-dating experiment puts it, “Men do not value women’s intelligence or ambition when it exceeds their own.” By contrast, intelligence and ambition contribute to men’s success in both the “dating market” and the labor market.
But men’s attitudes toward women (which are changing, albeit slowly) don’t tell the whole story. Another factor is women’s affinity for services that aren’t rewarded by a market-based economy.

Eye Words Quilt

Ribates has this fantastic quilt up for sale!! (link)

Looking This Way and That, and Learning to Adapt to the World

The findings provided by these eye-trackers so far (the first light enough for children to wear) suggest that infants may be more capable of understanding and acting on what they see than had been thought. “Quick gazes at obstacles in front of them or at their mothers’ faces may be all they need to get the information they want. They seem to be surprisingly efficient,” said John Franchak, a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at New York University.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

We Pay Them to Be Rude to Us

A nice editorial from Peggy Noonan at the WSJ


In the service economy, all of us want to take the chute.

Why has the JetBlue flight attendant story captured everyone's imagination? Because the whole country wants to take the emergency chute.

But it doesn't strike me as a political story. I think it's a cultural story. American culture is, one way or another, business culture, and our business is service. Once we were a great industrial nation. Now we are a service economy. Which means we are forced to interact with each other, every day, in person and by phone and email. And it's making us all a little mad.
I'm not sure we've fully noted the social implications of the shift from industry to service. We used to make machines! And steel! But now we're always in touch, in negotiation. We interact so much, we wear each other down. We wear away the superego and get straight to the id, and what we see isn't pretty.
Here's why. At the same time we were shifting, in the past 30 years, to the more personal economy of service, we were witnessing and took part in a revolution in manners. We tore them down as too fancy, or sexist, or ageist, or revealing of class biases. Just when we needed more than ever the formality and agreed-upon rules of manners to act as guard rails, we threw them aside. And now no one knows how to act anymore.
The result is that everyone is getting on everyone's nerves. We're all snapping the bins shut on each other's heads. Everyone wants to tell the boss to take this job and shove it. Everyone wants to take a good, hard, last look at the customer and take the chute. (link)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Temperature Drops Put the Squeeze on Heart Attack Risk

A slight daily mean temperature decline can increase the number of heart attacks for up to a month, new research shows

Temperature extremes have been known to have an ill effect on populations' health and mortality rates. Heat stroke can cause organ failure, and cold weather has been linked to increased hospitalization and death rates. Little firm data exists, however, to draw exacting predictions about how a change in the weather can influence the risk of cardiovascular problems. A new study reveals that even seemingly tiny daily temperature drops have a sizable impact on the number of heart attacks in a large geographic area.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Congregations Gone Wild

With consumerism now causing disaffection in the clergy, as well as education and health care, who is going to take care of all of the "consumers"?? Everyone seems to be burning out!

THE American clergy is suffering from burnout, several new studies show. And part of the problem, as researchers have observed, is that pastors work too much. Many of them need vacations, it’s true. But there’s a more fundamental problem that no amount of rest and relaxation can help solve: congregational pressure to forsake one’s highest calling.
The pastoral vocation is to help people grow spiritually, resist their lowest impulses and adopt higher, more compassionate ways. But churchgoers increasingly want pastors to soothe and entertain them. It’s apparent in the theater-style seating and giant projection screens in churches and in mission trips that involve more sightseeing than listening to the local people.
As a result, pastors are constantly forced to choose, as they work through congregants’ daily wish lists in their e-mail and voice mail, between paths of personal integrity and those that portend greater job security.
As religion becomes a consumer experience, the clergy become more unhappy and unhealthy.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Breast Milk Sugars Give Infants a Protective Coat

A large part of human milk cannot be digested by babies and seems to have a purpose quite different from infant nutrition — that of influencing the composition of the bacteria in the infant’s gut.

For American Students, Life Lessons in the Mideast

I am a complete proponent of these study-abroad years. The earlier one can see for oneself what the rest of the world is like, the better for all of mankind.

AT first glance, they seem like typical American college students on their junior year abroad, swapping stories of language mishaps and cultural clashes, sharing sightseeing tips and travel deals. But these students are not studying at Oxford, the Sorbonne or an art institute in Florence.
Instead, they are attending the American University in Cairo, studying Arabic, not French, and dealing with cultural, social and religious matters far more complex than those in Spain or Italy. And while their European counterparts might head to Heidelberg, Germany, for a weekend of beer drinking, these students visit places most Americans know only through news reports — the West Bank, Ethiopia and even northern Iraq. No “Sex and the City” jaunts to Abu Dhabi for this group.

In what educators are calling the fastest growing study-abroad program, American college students are increasingly choosing to spend their traditional junior year abroad in places like Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, wanting to experience the Arab world beyond America’s borders and viewpoints.

The Weirdest Eyelashes Ever: The Fly-Lash

First there were Christian Dior branded contacts. Then came Lady Gaga’s anime lenses. And we thought there was no way for eye-related products to be any more bizarre. But then we saw these.

We’re all for eyelash enhancement. Fake lashes, lash extensions, lash tinting — why not? But this is not only creepy — it’s flat out disturbing. One young British artist, Jessica Harrison, designed her very own set of fake lashes made entirely out of fly’s legs.

Grossed out yet? Just wait till you see the video.

(via Guy Kawasaki)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Rebuilding Chrissy's Face

This is an incredibly well done media documentary of a team of volunteer health care professionals in Oregon who painstakingly over a period of time rebuild a girl's face (including her eyes), destroyed from a shotgun blast, via prosthetics.
This should win some kind of media award.Go to the link at Oregonlive here.

Hat tip to Suture for a Living

There is more information in the AMA news article by Carolyn Krupa here.

How the iPad Can Change Emergency Medicine

A few of you might be reading this on your new iPads. The rest of you are probably sick of the speculation and hype that Apple’s new tablet will transform the publishing world, just as the iPhone changed mobile phones and the iPod revolutionized the music industry.
But a more relevant question for us is: “Can the iPad change the way we work in the emergency department?”

Steve Wynn Takes On Washington (and Healthcare)

Steve Wynn, a casino resort/real-estate developer who has been credited with spearheading the dramatic resurgence and expansion of the Las Vegas Strip, talks about the Fall of America.

Lady Gaga’s claim: Can you actually be an “occasional” cocaine user?

An excellent post on addiction by Doc Gurley...
The last two days’ news have made it feel like cocaine week: President Obama finally signed a long-overdue law equalizing mandatory sentencing between powder cocaine and crack cocaine users. On a truly tragic note, a 21 year old UC student is reported to be brain damaged and living on life support after lying for three hours unresponsive in a UC Berkeley cooperative house, after suffering an irreversible heart attack, with cocaine and marijuana in his blood. Cocaine is a well-documented cause of heart attacks, even in the very young and healthy. And Lady Gaga apparently told Vanity Fair that she still uses cocaine “occasionally,” adding that she really doesn’t want her fans to follow her example. She also told Rolling Stone about struggling with a drug habit in her past, including a time when she bottomed out in New York “laying in my apartment with bug bites from bedbugs and roaches on the floor and mirrors with cocaine everywhere and no will or interest in doing anything but making music and getting high.”
With cocaine so much in the news, is Lady Gaga right? Can a person – or most people – use cocaine “once or twice a year”? And be fine?

Why The U.S. Will Never Have A Balanced Budget Again

There are some sobering statistics, concisely presented here..

The United States government will never have another balanced budget again.  Yes, you read that correctly.  U.S. government finances have now reached a critical "tipping point" and things are going to spin wildly out of control from this time forward.
Why?  Spending on entitlement programs and interest on the national debt are now accelerating.  Some time around 2020 they will eat up every single dollar of federal revenue that is brought in before a penny is spent on anything else.  Of course the solution to all of this would be to radically cut entitlement programs, but no U.S. politician in his or her right mind would do that.

Chimpanzee Solving Problem

Check out this neat video highlighting the cognitive skills of this chimpanzee here.
Related Posts with Thumbnails