Friday, November 16, 2018

Objectively Measuring Pain

Researchers have developed a new test to objectively measure pain and test medications. The old test involves looking at how fast an animal withdraws its paw when it's poked. This electroencephalography-based test shows that at low doses animals would behave as if the pain was less when it actually wasn't. This means that it would appear that the medication was actually working at the low dose when, in fact, it wasn't. The new test could improve patient pain assessments and reduce the over-prescription of opioids, the researchers say.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Five-minute neck scan can spot dementia

Imagine determining the risk of dementia with a simple ultrasound scan to the neck. It can detect how will the carotid artery is cushioning the pulses from the heart. When cushioning is lost, the pulse begin to damage the brain's vascular system.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Graphene takes a step towards renewable fuel

Researchers are working to develop a method to convert water and carbon dioxide to the renewable energy of the future, using the energy from the sun and graphene applied to the surface of cubic silicon carbide. They have now taken an important step towards this goal, and developed a method that makes it possible to produce graphene with several layers in a tightly controlled process.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

New parts of the brain become active after students learn physics

An fMRI study of brain activity before and  after physics instruction finds that unexpected areas of the brain light up as students learn. This probably is true of other disciplines but I think physics was a good test case because of the way it formalizes the study of force and motion into mathematical expressions not encountered in everyday life.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Woman survives metastatic breast cancer thanks to new treatment

A woman with advanced breast cancer has made a dramatic recovery after receiving a personalised therapy using her own immune cells. It’s the first time this type of therapy has worked in breast cancer, suggesting that it may be able to help many more people with common types of cancer, even after they’ve spread to other parts of the body.
The future is coming.

The U.S. Has Lost the Nuclear Race

We are no longer the leaders in nuclear technology. Instead, Russia, China, France and South Korea are in the driver's seat. We can still hope to lead in the small modular reactor category.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Researchers developing renewable energy approach for producing ammonia

If ammonia could be produced on a small scale with catalysts, renewable energy can be the more easily utilized for this process that is essential to so much of our agriculture.

Human Cost of Fossil Fuels

In case you aren't aware, part of the price for our fossil fuel energy economy is human lives. Natural gas death rate was 4,000 per trillion deaths over the last 40 years. Nuclear power had 90 per trillion worldwide with 0.1 deaths per trillion in the U.S.

New, climate-friendly use for local basalt

In the Northwest, there's lot's of both basalt and low-CO2 energy available to crush it. And there are lots of fields on which it could be spread.

Vaccination apathy fueled by decades of misinformation

In short, vaccines work and are safe.  If we fail to avail ourselves of them, the consequences could be serious.

Mysterious sunstones in medieval Viking texts could really have worked

Calcite crystals polarize light. Using these crystals, the Vikings could determine the position of the sun with precision even in cloudy weather. These would make latitude navigation quite possible. Even in the last days of wooden ships in the 19th century, bad weather made the use of sextants for latitude positioning iffy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Republican Sadism

There can only be one explanation for why Republicans are so intent on tearing up the safety net. It can be nothing but cruelty and the desire to hurt the unfortunate. If I were a Republican, I would be so ashamed. But then, I would be a Republican and basic morality would be an alien concept to me.

Negative Power Prices

Sometimes you can get paid for using power. This has happened in Germany because high wind generation combined with low demand produces power that has no where to go. So power users are paid for the power they use rather than the other way around. Fossil and nuclear generators can not be ramped down fast enough to reduce the surplus.

Bogus Patents

Sometimes our patent system is a real mess. The three main causes have been identified, bad incentives, abusive filers, and excessive workloads.
  • The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is funded by fees—and the agency gets more fees if it approves an application.
  • Unlimited opportunities to refile rejected applications means sometimes granting a patent is the only way to get rid of a persistent applicant.
  • Patent examiners are given less time to review patent applications as they gain seniority, leading to less thorough reviews.
It doesn't help true innovation when there's so much wrong with the system that's supposed to help it.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Body's Own Bathroom Scales

I've always been blessed with a fairly stable body weight despite sub-optimal eating habits. It turns out the body has own a mechanism for that. This could lead to better understanding and treatments for obesity.

It Isn't Just the Heat

Human-induced global warming may have its most destructive impact by raising humidity in certain areas.

Long-theorized new form of matter, excitonium, finally discovered

Excitonium, Is that like Unobtainium from 'Avatar'?

CRISPR Breakthrough

A recent improvement in the CRISPR technique bypasses some risky problems with the earlier method. The prior method can introduce unanticipated mutations. The new method is much safer. It doesn't change the DNA itself. It changes how the genes express. This area is known as epigenetics. As such it holds much greater promise to treat diseases. It has proven itself for diabetes and muscular dystrophy in mouse models.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Gerrymandering Solution

In addition to the Efficiency Gap measuring system, this looks like it could be a equitable way to establish districts even in those states that don't have bipartisan commissions.

It's a new spin on the old candy-splitting trick we used as kids. Basically, you divide, I choose. The idea is that Party A draws up a an initial districting. Party B gets to "freeze" the boundaries of one of the districts. Then Party B redraws a plan for the remaining geography. Then Party A gets to freeze a district and redraw the remaining space, and so forth.

An End to the Baby Light Box

My own kids and many grand-kids and their parents had to endure the hassle of early baby days in a loaner baby light box. This looks to be pretty cool. But I hope they are easy to clean because...babies happen.

3-D Ultrasound on the cheap

Gaming technology leads to medical advances.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What Is Russia Up To?

Dark Side of Genetically Engineered Crops

The problem with any sort of natural engineering is that evolution will eventually find a way around it. This is an arms race that must be approached thoughtfully. How can we sufficiently control pests without applying so much pressure that it becomes advantageous to circumvent the controls?

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Anti-Abortion Laws Don't Work

In policy debates, it's always useful to have actual cases to which one can refer and possibly learn. Mexico is a poster-child of what happens under strict abortion laws.
Mexico and Latin America have some of the world's strictest laws and consequently have some of the world's highest abortion rates. If one genuinely wants to limit the number of abortions, making them illegal not only fails but makes the numbers higher than they would be otherwise.

Cause for Permian Extinction Found

Another of those geologic mysteries bites the dust. During the time of the eruptions, sedimentary deposits in the area that would eventually become West Texas and New Mexico were laid down. These would eventually be transformed into one of the most productive set of oil fields in the nation.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Goldman Sachs is in the White House

The guy who created the 2008 financial crisis is now the top White House financial advisor. What does that tell you?

It's time to change the name of the White House to Camp Swampy.

Alzheimer's News

It might eventually be possible to prevent the disease altogether.

Quantum Gravity?

Could this be a start in unifying quantum mechanics with general relativity?

One Immigration Model

Those who are genuinely serious about effective and just immigration reform can start by looking at what other countries are doing.

Hope in Multiple Sclerosis Research

Someday we are going to be able to cure this thing.

SSTO is Coming

Single stage to orbit. It's going to be a new age for orbital access.

Friday, September 15, 2017

More Emoluments

The gift that keeps on giving.

Alzheimer's Screening

Detecting Alzheimer's from a  simple MRI scan. Interesting.

Detecting Alzheimer's

With a new type of sensor, Alzheimer's can be diagnosed before symptoms are apparent from a blood sample.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Barnyard Mud

This is why Republicans have a long way to go to convince me that they have a clue of what it means to be decent human beings.

Satanists To The Rescue

Credit Missouri Satanists for using the religious freedom argument to protect access to abortion. This could be a template for the protection of abortion rights in other states.

As a Satanist, Mary said, she believes her body is “inviolable”—thus, a mandatory waiting period with no medical justification that hampers her bodily autonomy inflicts a “substantial burden” on her “sincerely held religious beliefs,” as does the law that requires she be informed that “abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”

History of Zero

Lest Western civilization get all high and mighty with its perceived accomplishments, India had the zero first.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Chilling water with "solar" panels

At the proper frequency, heat energy can be shot directly into space.

Steele Dossier

A large part of it predicted things that actually happened. Most of the things that have yet to be proven are completely consistent with how Russia operates. Despite the opportunity to discredit it by being more fully transparent, the administration has chosen to behave as if the allegations are indeed true and that coverup is the mission of highest priority.

D&P Steel

A new form of steel has been discovered that is both more ductile and stronger than any current steel. Look for it in all kinds of products in a few years.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Target Criminals, not Repulsive Ideologues

From a law enforcement viewpoint, the whole concept of radicalization is slippery to monitor and not that helpful in identifying possible offenders. What the research shows is that folks who eventually carry out terrorist acts tend to have other violent acts in their history. Time and treasure spent on watching ideologues could be more productively used by watching previous offenders. It seems they typically latch on to the ideology as a motivation to do what they already want to do and that's to just hurt people.

Primer on Voting Efficiency

This is a good primer on the mathematics used to evaluate the level of gerrymandering in a given set of district boundaries.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Abstinence-only-until-marriage Programs and Policies Are Failures

Yet another study shows that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and policies fail miserably.
Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and policies in the United States are ineffective as they do not delay sexual initiation or reduce sexual risk behaviors, two scientific review papers show. They also violate adolescent human rights, withhold medically accurate information, stigmatize or exclude many youth, reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, and undermine public health programs. Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs have been widely rejected by health professionals who care for young people.

So now, can we just get on with having real science-based sex education programs?

Medicaid for All

Here's a path to the public option that didn't get into the ACA.

There's More Than One Way To Get Nuclear Power

The TVA is increasing nuclear power in 3 ways, adding an SMR, completing a partially-built power station, and uprating an existing reactor.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hospitals in Trump Country Suffer

A friend of mine has pointed out that we could make great progress towards reducing our health care costs by making it easier for qualified doctors from foreign countries to work in the United States. Unfortunately, the Trump immigration policies tends to drive them away. And it's our rural citizens who suffer. 

Self-healing Rubber Developed

What's cool about watching research is that occasionally you see things that could someday change the world as we know it. Rubber is one of those materials has been so important that the ability to produce it has strongly contributed to the winning of wars and thereby the course of history. Imagine how our future might change if rubber could be self-healing. Rubber bands would last forever. New possibilities would open up for all kinds of devices and materials for medical, industrial, and consumer use.

Increase Minimum Wage, Reduce Child Neglect

Lindsey Rose Bullinger of Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs says,

Money matters, When caregivers have more disposable income, they're better able to provide a child's basic needs such as clothing, food, medical care and a safe home. Policies that increase the income of the working poor can improve children's welfare, especially younger children, quite substantially.
Those professing to truly care about the welfare of children should look at raising the minimum wage.

Renewable Subsidies Pay for Themselves

A paper in Nature Energy examines the health benefits from moving away from fossil fuels and it finds that the benefits of wind and solar offset all the subsidies.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

This Could Be Huge

This reprograms skin cells with as simple touch of a button.

Rich are Hoarding the Growth

Economic growth thrives on demand. When workers don't have sufficient disposable income, demand dries up. This article explains where all that money is.