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Comment: Sounds like a left ventricular assist device. (Score 5, Informative) 241

by Felgerkarb (#33787854) Attached to: 15-Year-Old Boy Fitted With Robotic Heart
I think the media is playing up the 'robotic' and cyborg angle a bit.

I have only read the linked articles, but the description sounds like a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD. This is a pump that helps the heart push blood, rather than replacing the heart, which is what I generally think of when people talk about artificial hearts. It sounds like the innovation here is the size, its use in a child, and the length of time they plan to use it, since it is generally used as a bridge to transplant.

I think they are optimistic in thinking they can get 25 years, since we really haven't evolved the material science to have implantable devices for that long without provoking clot formation or scarring, but it sounds like they didn't have a lot of options here.

Comment: Re:Hard to believe (Score 5, Interesting) 149

by Felgerkarb (#33482094) Attached to: The Last of the Punch Card Programmers
Manufactured lace and embroidery was my family's business, for many many years. These machines were run by large spools of punched paper tape. My father and my uncle designed and created an early CAD system, and built machines that would create punch tape from the computerized design.

Modern machines are now being built that are run directly from computers, but I'd say, given that these are huge expensive machines that are often resold and moved to new locations rather than bought new, the majority still run on paper tape.

The issue of quality isn't directly related to the machines being computer-driven. The quality depends on the care of the designer, the 'stitch count' or density, and quality of thread, etc. As with many manufactured goods, you can get lace for less money if you accept lower quality. No surprise there.

I assume the computer-driven machines would let an operator change the stitch count. These days, there are few people (in the West anyway) who know how to create a 'punching' as it is called, and fewer who are interested in learning. Strangely, the remnant of my father's business is just starting to get orders from Asia, so maybe 'Free Trade' is finally coming around to the point where manufacturing costs in the US are competitive with Asia in this regard, but there really is no one ready or willing to meet the manufacturing demand if it ever really comes back. You can probably ditto this sentiment for US shoe manufacturing, furniture, etc.

Comment: Re:Dear aunt, (Score 1) 221

by Felgerkarb (#33061740) Attached to: Open Source Transcription Software?

Go ahead, try talking to Dragon about Doxycycline or dextromethorphan, see how well that works out for you. THAT is what these transcriptions are made of, long medical terms describing the proceedures.

I guess I should have been clearer... I use a Dragon based dictation software every day in a medical setting, to dictate medical reports, letters, notes, consultations, etc.

Comment: Re:Dear aunt, (Score 1) 221

by Felgerkarb (#32993342) Attached to: Open Source Transcription Software?
I think people bashing voice commercial voice recognition software either don't use it or are trolling.

As someone who uses dictation software at work every day, all day, and has used several different packages (all I believe use Dragon), I can tell you it works. Perfectly? No. Very well? Yes. Well enough. Definitely.

If I were so inclined, I would have no problem using it at home personally, but I don't really have a pressing need. A good friend who has some repetitive stress disorder issues does use it at home, and, again, it works well enough.

As an aside, I would add given the years of time Dragon has been developing and perfecting technology, I would be pleasantly surprised, but very surprised, if there was an effective non-commercial solution out there.

Comment: ALOT more to this case that is disturbing... (Score 2, Informative) 490

by Felgerkarb (#31495002) Attached to: 11th Circuit Eliminates 4th Amend. In E-mail
For reference, here is the text of the appellate court judgment.

IANAL but, wow! I had no idea how bad this could be! The story from the judgment is that some guy sent faxes to a hospital complaining and mocking the management. As a favor, some local prosecutors investigated and set up false prosecution INCLUDING FALSE TESTIMONY to a grand jury. They subpoenaed everything including emails and phone calls.

The long and the short of it is that, because they are prosecutors, they are given absolute immunity from prosecution for their grand jury testimony, even if it is knowingly false! They are given immunity from the conspiracy to provide false testimony, since the only evidence of false testimony would be the grand jury testimony itself, which is protected!

The 4th amendment issues seem also weird to me. They say that you cannot expect a phone number to be private, since by dialing it you have given the number to the phone company, which is a third party. Really?! What is the point of a phone number, what value does it have, except with regard to the third party, in this case the phone company? I can't shout someones phone number in the street expecting that they will respond, and in any case, that also makes it public and not protected by the 4th. Again, IANAL but under what conditions would an email ever be considered private? What about letters and packages that aren't sent through the postal system? Are they private? I just don't understand this.

Again, I have no perspective and experience for this, but as a layperson, I really hope that other courts find this reasoning flawed. It seem very much so just by common sense to me, though I understand common sense doesn't necessarily mean anything here.

Comment: Re:Oh good, (Score 2, Insightful) 385

by Felgerkarb (#28729755) Attached to: Cure For Radiation Sickness Found?
Actually, it is an interesting point.

One of the arguments against the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) was that it actually increased the risk of a nuclear war. I think you can make a similar argument here....if the effects of nuclear weapons are mitigated, doesn't that make people more likely to use them?

Comment: Re:Interesting, but call back in 20 years (Score 1) 83

by Felgerkarb (#27056771) Attached to: Inside the New Science of Neuroengineering
Fair enough, I don't dispute that it is an interesting, valuable and new technology. The article and OP, and MIT(to the extent that they call their lab the NeuroEngineering and NeuroMedia lab) present this as 'neuroengineering' and question the implications of that.

What I am saying is that it is no where close to 'neuroengineering'. Sure we can consider the implications of the day we can directly modify brains and behavior, but that day isn't today, or even anywhere close, and that this technology doesn't really make it significantly closer.

But I don't dispute it is a great research tool,and a very clever application previous research.

Comment: Interesting, but call back in 20 years (Score 4, Interesting) 83

by Felgerkarb (#27051375) Attached to: Inside the New Science of Neuroengineering
As interesting as this article was -- especially as he got into this from studying the neuroscience of bird song, something I was involved with years ago -- I think it's a stretch to call this 'engineering'.

It is an interesting take on an old technique. Instead of using direct electrical stimulation to stimulate the brain, he uses virally-transcoded neurons to respond to different wavelengths of light....then pipes a fiber optic cable into a mouse brain. To do what? To make it run in circles.

It's a proof of technology, but nothing more. Engineering the brain would imply we understand how it works, which, more or less, we still don't. Not really at a cellular level, not really at a systems level, not even really at a gross level either. We know an order of magnitude more than we did even a decade ago, but we are no closer to altering behavior than we were when the lobotomy was invented...the first 'neuroengineering'.

I think it is much more likely that we will first have engineered modules, either synthetic neuronal or otherwise, that will process independently and then 'plug into' our pre-existing sensory input pathways, rather than direct brain modification.

Comment: OP is giving medical advice--BAD medical advice (Score 1) 1064

by Felgerkarb (#27036565) Attached to: Why Doctors Hate Science
To all of those who need a reminder....always consider your sources, and be VERY wary of medical advice given on the internet.

First, you CAN have cancer of the cervix after hysterectomy...not all hysterectomies involve removing the cervix. Second, if you have a hysterectomy for cervical cancer, you still need screening: See this PubMed Article Third, the literature for screening after hysterectomy for benign disease is still evolving. See this PubMed Article

OP is a troll, I would say, and the title is alarmist and misleading. Evidence based medicine has been around for a while, the trouble is it is very expensive and difficult to perform, and just as hard to implement.

Comment: Re:Okay? (Score 2, Interesting) 352

by Felgerkarb (#23752163) Attached to: NASA Plans Probe to the Sun
As mentioned before, the corona is much much hotter than the surface. But still not an issue in this case. From the FTA:

"At closest approach, Solar Probe+ will be 7 million km or 9 solar radii from the sun. There, the spacecraft's carbon-composite heat shield must withstand temperatures greater than 1400o C and survive blasts of radiation at levels not experienced by any previous spacecraft."
Still lots of engineering issues, though.
The Military

The Military Plans To Regrow Body Parts 257

Posted by kdawson
from the anything-salamanders-can-do dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "The Department of Defense has announced the creation of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine to 'harness stem cell research and technology... to reconstruct new skin, muscles and tendons, and even ears, noses and fingers.' The government is budgeting $250 million in public and private money for the project's first five years, and the NIH and three universities will be on the team. The military has been working on regrowing lost body parts using extracellular matrices and scientists in labs have grown blood vessels, livers, bladders, breast implants, and meat and are already growing a new ear for a badly burned Marine using stem cells from his own body. Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker explained that our bodies systematically generate liver cells and bone marrow and that this ability can be redirected through 'the right kind of stimulation.' The general cited animals like salamanders that can regrow lost tails or limbs. 'Why can't a mammal do the same thing?' he asked."

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