Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Brazilian Testicle Mascot 'Mr. Balls' Promotes Cancer Awareness

Brazilian Testicle Mascot 'Mr. Balls' Promotes Cancer Awareness

As long as I'm talking about health this morning, here's a newsy item about testicles (betcha never thought you'd ever read that sentence). The article claims that both children and adults just love to have their pictures taken aside Senhor Testiculo as he promotes cancer awareness.

"BRAZIL -- In order to raise awareness about testicular cancer, a Brazilian non profit organization has created a mascot named "Senhor Testiculo," which translated into English means "Mr. Balls."

Read the full story:

Lifespan-extending drug given late in life reverses age-related heart disease in mice

Lifespan-extending drug given late in life reverses age-related heart disease in mice

The longer you stay alive... the longer you may be able to stay alive. Advances and breakthroughs in medicine occur on a daily basis. The drug rapamycin may help to reverse heart disease.

The encouraging thing about this article is that the author explains that they are not just trying to extend life, but they are also shooting to improve its quality at the same time. A longer life won't be much fun without better functioning.

Lab Mice
"Elderly mice suffering from age-related heart disease saw a significant improvement in cardiac function after being treated with the FDA-approved drug rapamycin for just three months.

The research, led by a team of scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, shows how rapamycin impacts mammalian tissues, providing functional insights and possible benefits for a drug that has been shown to extend the lifespan of mice as much as 14 percent.

There are implications for human health in the research appearing in Aging Cell. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming nearly 600,000 lives per year."

Read the full story here:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Scientists map the wiring of the biological clock

Scientists map the wiring of the biological clock

I loved working night shift, and did so for many years. Oops, could be a cancer causer. Wow, couple that with my drinking alcohol to excess and smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years. Too late now. It's great for younger folk that we now have a wiring diagram of our biological clock.

Biological Clock
"The connections make the clock precise but also let it adjust to changes in day/night cycles.

The World Health Organization lists shift work as a potential carcinogen, says Erik Herzog, PhD, Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

And that’s just one example among many of the troubles we cause ourselves when we override the biological clocks in our brains and pay attention instead to the mechanical clocks on our wrists.
Researchers have reported the discovery of a crucial part of the biological clock in the brain: wiring that sets its accuracy to within a few minutes out of the 1440 minutes per day. This wiring uses the GABA (γ-amino-butyric acid) neurotransmitter to connect the individual cells of the biological clock in a fast network that changes strength with time of day.

Here's the full article:

Edward Snowden: Republicans call for NSA whistleblower to be extradited

Edward Snowden: Republicans call for NSA whistleblower to be extradited

While I am always a champion of privacy rights, and very concerned about how much privacy we have lost because of the internet, I'm also concerned about the leaking of information that reveals our knowledge and being revealed to our enemies. Civil libertarians will defend Edward Snowden for whistleblowing. Others will want him to be extradited to face charges here in the US.

Edward Snowden
"The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was condemned by US politicians and threatened with prosecution by the country's intelligence chief on Sunday after revealing himself as the Guardian's source for a series of explosive leaks on the NSA and cyber surveillance.

A spokesman for the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said Snowden's case had been referred to the justice department and US intelligence was assessing the damage caused by the disclosures.

"Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law," the spokesman, Shawn Turner, said.
Snowden had top-secret clearance to help run the National Security Agency's computer systems but he was a contractor, hired by the giant US defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. The company issued a statement describing the disclosures as "shocking" and pledging to co-operate with any investigation."

Full story here:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The internet is good for the planet, and let’s keep it that way

The hardware the drives the internet includes a plethora of data centers filled with computing gear, networks that connect continents, and a growing amount of battery-powered devices.  Does the energy required to operate these things consume more resources than we can afford?

Is the internet good for the planet? A group of very bright people are working to determine how the internet effects our environment.

Internet Hardware
"Is the net effect of the internet on the Earth’s environment positive or negative?
That’s the million dollar question that a group of about 100 people, including Vice President Al Gore and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, tackled at a Google event this week. It’s also the question that I’ve spent about six years thinking about as I’ve written about the evolution of cleantech innovation and how digital technologies can drive efficiency.

The rub of the internet is that it is a collection of data centers filled with computing gear, networks that weave across continents, and a growing amount of battery-powered devices; all of these things need energy to operate. The disturbing part is that the energy consumption of the internet will only grow as the population hits 9 billion in 2050, and all of these people get connected to the internet.

But on the flip side of that energy suck is the idea that the internet can make processes and systems significantly more energy efficient, from transportation to shopping to the electricity network itself. Sustainability wonks call that dematerialization, or replacing atoms with bits. A study called Climate 2020 found that information and communications technology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from other sectors of the economy, below business-as-usual growth, by 15 percent."

Read here for the full story:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Flying Quadrotors with Your Mind

Flying Quadrotors with Your Mind

A biomedical engineering professor at the University of Minnesota is developing tools to help people with disabilities. He and his team have developed a skull cap with 64 EEG sensors that is able to translate human thoughts into commands that can be acted upon to fly Quadrotors using your thoughts. This technology is intended to help people with disabilities do things like control wheelchairs, robotic arms, etc.

Quadrotors Mind Control
"Bin He, a biomedical engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, is developing tools to help people with disabilities. But part of that research involves some studies that look like pure fun. He and his students have developed a way to control the flight of a quadrotor using your mind.

“Our study shows that or the fist time, humans are able to control the flight of flying robots using just there thoughts sensed from a noninvasive skull cap,” says He.

Subjects wore a skull cap studded with 64 EEG sensors. Using special algorithms, data from the sensors were translated into commands for the robot. When a wearer thought about making a fist with one his left hand—but did not actually do it—the robot would flight left. Thinking about the right fist tilted sent the robot to the right. Both fists meant rise and then fall."

The full article is here:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

‘Lights out’ for turtles

‘Lights out’ for turtles

Millions of years of evolution have taught newly-hatched sea turtles to follow the brightest light to the ocean. That used to be moonlight reflecting on the water. Today it is a variety of lights put there by humans. Saving the turtles requires that we have a "lights out" ban near our beaches during nesting season.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles
"The first nests found on North Redington Beach and at Fort De Soto Park mark the start of sea turtle season. The residents and owners of beachfront properties are reminded of the “lights out” ban. Most of the Pinellas County beach communities have ordinances in place prohibiting lighting that casts glare onto the beach during turtle nesting season, from May 1 to Oct. 31.

Florida’s beaches are essential for nesting loggerheads. The Pinellas County beachfront area averages about 120 nests per season and each nest can contain, on average, 100 to 110 eggs. The last nest is expected to hatch by the end of October.

Each May and July, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium conducts a beach lighting survey to identify problem lighting that may not be in compliance with turtle protection ordinances. Properties with lights shining on the beach at night are reported to Pinellas County Coastal Management and the local code enforcement agency."

Read more:

Grow your own glowing plant

Grow your own glowing plant

The glowing plant Kickstarter campaign ends tomorrow with almost half a million dollars in crowdfunded donation. They asked for only $65,000 and received that within the first 2 days. For a donation of $40 they will send you over 50 seeds to grow your own glowing plants.

Glowing Plant
"The Glowing Plants Kickstarter, the first-ever crowdfunded synthetic biology campaign, is winding down into the final hours. Launched on April 23, 2013, the campaign aimed to create a glow-in-the-dark plant while showcasing the technology of synthetic biology.  It also served as a vehicle to introduce two startups in the sector: Genome Compiler Corporation and Cambrian Genomics.

The campaign has been wildly popular, attracting widespread media attention that saw the initial funding target of $65,000 be surpassed in just two days. Had that breakneck pace continued, the campaign would have pulled in about $1 million, but it now looks to finish with about $465,000 — still a remarkable achievement for a bioscience project."

Read the complete story here:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Push for US Internet 'wiretap' law faces tough road

Push for US Internet 'wiretap' law faces tough road

The FBI is becoming more aggressive to get expanded authority to wiretap our Internet communications such as Gmail, Dropbox, Google Voice, etc.

"The FBI is stepping up its effort to get broader authority to put "wiretaps" on the Internet to catch criminals and terrorists.

But the move is drawing fire from civil liberties groups, technology firms and others who claim the effort could be counterproductive, by harming online security and imposing hefty costs on makers of hardware and software.

US law enforcement has for years complained about the problem of "going dark," or being unable to monitor Internet communications in the same manner as wiretaps, for which officials get a court order to tap into a local phone company.

President Barack Obama said in a May 23 speech his administration is "reviewing the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication."

Read more:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Google says it won’t approve any Glass apps with facial recognition until it has protections in place

Google says it won’t approve any Glass apps with facial recognition until it has protections in place

While Google is not going to permit facial recognition with Google Glass as of yet, it seems to me that it's only a matter of time until this feature will be available.

"Today, Google posted a notice to its Google Glass channel on G+ that lays out its plan to prevent abuse of facial recognition on the head-mounted computer. Its solution? Reject any Glassware that uses it until they have proper protections in place.

Since Glass began hitting people’s faces, the questions about how a wearable camera with a computer attached would affect privacy have been ramping up. Specifically, facial recognition technology jumped out as a concern. If Google Glass can take HD video of you, why couldn’t it match your face up with a G+ profile or other data set and allow the user access to more information at a ‘glance’ than you’d care to give them?"

Google has promised not to add facial recognition to any of their products without having privacy protections in place. Consider the line in the sand still drawn.

Read the complete article at: