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Medicine

French Team Implants First Long-Term Artificial Heart 106

Posted by timothy
from the bunch-of-greedy-capitalist-heart-makers dept.
TrueSatan writes "Physicians at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris have inserted a heart made by the French Carmat company. The heart features bovine tissue components used to reduce the clot forming tendencies of fully artificial units and is intended to allow greater freedom of movement to the patient than previous, short-term use, units permitted. It is powered by external, wearable, lithium-ion batteries and is approximately three times heavier than a typical (European) human heart, though the manufacturer intends to reduce the weight and size of the unit so as to allow use by smaller recipients — in particular most women and men from areas of the world where average body size is less than white/Caucasian averages."

Comment: Interesting process (Score 1) 172

by regular_guy (#45666197) Attached to: Open Source Beehives Designed To Help Save Honeybee Colonies
At first I was thinking about the design, and while I'm no expert I was immediately concerned about the "bee space" along some of the angled portions inside the hive, though it being a top bar design I'm not certain that's so much an issue. I do wonder about the sensor apparatus, as a key issue would be the ability to monitor sections of the hive much like the work done by Meitalovs et. al ("Automatic microclimate controlled beehive observation system.") It's been a bugger for me just to put any kind of sensor in a hive without it being covered in propolis, so I'd be interested to see what they plan on doing with the Arduino-based Smart Citizen Kit. But it seems like good intentions on these guys' parts, so kudos to them!

Comment: Near-future revolutions aside.. (Score 1) 162

by regular_guy (#45597783) Attached to: Andy Rubin Is Heading a Secret Robotics Project At Google
I hope that the automation systems they'll also consider is waste management and disposal. Sure everything can go into an incinerator if you'd like, but disassembling old electronics en-masse would be more suitable than mechanical/chemical separations if we'll still need the eight 9's of purity we want in the next generation of electronics. The ethics of robots harvesting old robots may need to be considered though when robots' rights start coming into play....

Comment: Re:wonder if this can be used for sorting recyclin (Score 2) 22

by regular_guy (#43512001) Attached to: Perceiving Robotic Industrial Arm Inches Toward Autonomy
Zen Robotics is doing this now with C&D (Construction and Demolition) Debris. http://www.zenrobotics.com/ , http://singularityhub.com/2011/05/16/robots-take-over-recycling-video/

There is work being done by a bunch of people in the EU, mainly due to the great legislation regarding waste reduction. There's a great little book I picked up a bit ago outlining some of the processes in automated waste recovery (Comprehensive Information Chain for Automated Disassembly of Obsolete Technical Appliances ) . I had gone into grad school to work on this area, and it turns out it's been going on for the past 30 years or more.

The biggest issue is cost, where it's still cheaper for manual labor than to automate the system. If you're interested in some papers I have a whole boatload regarding automation in electronic waste.

Comment: Re:Specializations (Score 3, Informative) 47

by regular_guy (#43496079) Attached to: Tracking Whole Colonies Shows Ants Make Career Moves
Not always the case. A study had shown that foragers can switch back to nurses due to switching gene sets (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22273-worker-bees-reboot-brain-genes-to-suit-the-task.html) . So while the nursing bees often keep the role for 2-3 weeks, there is a possibility of seeing older nursing bees due to this switch-back in roles.

Comment: Hot oil won't last long (Score 2) 144

by regular_guy (#42086787) Attached to: HydroICE Project Developing a Solar-Powered Combustion Engine
While the engine may ideally just vaporize the water with hot oil, the reactions involved would eventually degrade the oil. Additionally, the separations processes are often 50% of the whole system's energy requirements, I just wouldn't see the viability of such a system. Now a heat exchanger for hot oil/water vaporization would wake a lot more sense, but it seems they want to generate a funding buzz with an internal engine spin.
Displays

Google Glass Could Be the Virtual Dieting Pill of the Future 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-you-see-is-not-what-you-get dept.
MrSeb writes "In a year or two, augmented reality (AR) headsets such as Google Glass may double up as a virtual dieting pill. New research from the University of Tokyo shows that a very simple AR trick can reduce the amount that you eat by 10% — and yes, the same trick, used in the inverse, can be used to increase food consumption by 15%, too. The AR trick is very simple: By donning the glasses, the University of Tokyo's special software 'seamlessly' scales up the size of your food. You pick up an Oreo cookie, and then the software automatically scales it up to 1.5 times its natural size. Using a deformation algorithm, the person's hand is manipulated so that the giant Oreo appears (somewhat) natural. In testing, this simple trick was enough to reduce the amount of food eaten by 10%. The inverse is also true: shrinking the Oreo down to two-thirds its natural size increased food consumption by 15%. This new research dovetails neatly with an area of nutritional science that has received a lot of attention in the United States of Obesity recently: That the size of the serving/plate/cup/receptacle directly affects your intake. The fact is, there's a lot more to dieting than simply reducing your calorific intake and exercising regularly. Your state of mind as you sit down to eat, and your perception of what you're eating, are just as important — which is exciting news, because both of those factors can be hacked."
Medicine

Massachusetts May Soon Change How the Nation Dies 439

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-bet-it-involves-the-red-sox dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Lewis M. Cohen reports that this Election Day, Massachusetts is poised to approve the Death With Dignity Act, a modernized, sanitized, politically palatable term that replaces the now-antiquated expression 'physician-assisted suicide.' Oregon's Death With Dignity Act has been in effect for the past 14 years, and the state of Washington followed suit with a similar law in 2008. But the Massachusetts ballot question has the potential to turn death with dignity from a legislative experiment into the new national norm, because the state is the home of America's leading medical publication (the New England Journal of Medicine), hospital (Massachusetts General), and four medical schools (Harvard, Boston University, University of Massachusetts, and Tufts). If the act passes in Massachusetts, other states that have previously had unsuccessful campaigns will certainly be emboldened to revisit this subject. The initiative would allow terminally ill patients with six months or less to live to request from their doctor a prescription for a lethal dose of a drug. Doctors do not have to offer the option at all, and patients must make three requests, two verbal and one written. They must self-administer the drug, which would be ingested. The patients must be deemed capable of making an informed decision. 'It's all about choice,' says George Eighmey, a key player in instituting the Oregon law, defending it against repeal and shepherding it into reality. 'You decide. No one else can decide for you. No can can force you into it, coerce you into it or even suggest it to you unless you make a statement: "I don't want to live like this any more" or "I'm interested in that law out there, doctor, can you give me something to alleviate this pain and suffering."'"

Comment: Re:NBC / weather channel / comcast has deep pocket (Score 2) 193

by regular_guy (#41798163) Attached to: Our Weather Satellites Are Dying

As AC pointed out below, this cost likely includes the design, build, launch and maintenance for the satellite. Before Space-x The launch alone could have been a tenth or more of that total $13B, as most weather satellites are around 3000 kg (http://noaasis.noaa.gov/NOAASIS/ml/genlsatl.html), but with Space-X's projected costs per payload ($850/lb from Delta Heavy's $8600/lb) (http://www.nss.org/articles/falconheavy.html) this cost likely can now be in the single $M range.

While economies of scale would likely get those drones into the range of cost you suggested, it certainly wouldn't take into account the cost to maintain and monitor such a system. The congressional research service (CRS) (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RS21698.pdf) identified that for operation (facilities, maintenance) it can be at least 100% or more of the cost of the drone, So that would have to drop the number of drones available to 140,000. Secondly, all drones, by FAA mandate, are required to be a operated by a licensed pilot. I would imagine the training and licensing involved for this would not be cheap, as last estimated the number of pilots was ~598K in 2009, with only ~320K certified with instrument ratings http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilot_certification_in_the_United_States), and It's likely commercial air pilots would have to have a pretty big incentive to go (http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Commercial_Pilot/Salary) but keeping it on the low scale, that would have to be $50K per pilot per drone, making even a yearly cost of operation at $7B (140,000 drones * $50K/pilot). That doesn't go into operation times either, as drones are listed to operate from 10-48 hrs (CRS reference). So turn-around times for getting those drones back up would end up having even less drones available at any time for weather surveillance.

However, looking at a combination of mini-satellites might be the best option, as redundancy and low cost could take this project down by a large amount (~300K per satellite) (http://www.hawaii.edu/offices/op/innovation/taylor.pdf) . While it might end up with similar issues as stated above, there would be significantly less satellites needed based on the larger surface area covered from their height (50 km for possible best drone (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/02/24/high-altitude-surveillance-drones-coming-to-a-sky-near-you/)) and 870 km for satellite (http://noaasis.noaa.gov/NOAASIS/ml/genlsatl.html). But this might not be available just yet for our weather measurement needs.

In Summary, it may seem like a huge amount of money, but you need to consider all aspects of the project, not just the non-recurring costs.

Input Devices

Is It Time To End Our Love Affair With the QWERTY Keyboard? 557

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-need-a-little-spacebar dept.
Master Moose writes "Brisbane-based entrepreneur John Lambie currently has in beta an alternative to what he calls the 'dysfunctional' QWERTY keyboard. Given the way the world is abandoning their keyboards for smartphones he sees now as the perfect time to introduce a new layout. He calls his new keyboard Dextr and believes it is the natural progression from using a number pad to enter text — This is especially so in developing countries where users have not grown up with QWERTYs on thier phones. While he is not the first to ever propose an alternate or alphabetical keyboard — Are we locked into QWERTY for familiarity's sake, or as we shift to smaller, more mobile and new devices, is Mr. Lambie's project coming at the right time?"

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.

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