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Modest Plasma Globe Hack December 12, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Science, Star Trek Technology, Toys, Video.
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Desktop Van De Graaf Generator December 11, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Science, Toys, Video.
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WANT!

Sodom and Gomorrah–Boom Towns December 6, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Science.
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This delicious rumor just in from archaeologist Phillip Silvia of Trinity Southwest University and published in a paper by Silvia and co-author (and archaeologist) Steven Collins called “The Civilization-Ending 3.7KYrBP Event: Archaeological Data, Sample Analyses, and Biblical Implications”: the Twin Sin Cities were wiped out 3700 years ago by a meteor burst.1

The paper has a lot of juicy facts to corroborate Silva and Colins’ version of events: little glassy bits on surfaces that were exposed at the time (too hot to have been made by fires, but not long lasting enough to melt more than the top layers of things); “large-scale absence of tumbled mudbrick that would be typical of earthquake damage. The mudbrick super-structures of buildings at Tall elHammam and its neighbors are totally “missing” as if they were blown entirely off of their foundations.”2; “signature markers of an airburst event include high levels of platinum, typically 600%above normal background levels, and a high platinumpalladium ratio. (Both of these occur in asteroids and meteors, but are not common on Earth.) Signature markers also include a high incidence of scorialike objects (SLOs), frequently in pelletized, spherule forms or agglomerations of melted materials, and a high incidence of magnet-ic spherules.”3

There is also a delicious discussion of the effects of such an airburst on the nearby Dead Sea the shock wave would have deposited a layer of salts onto the top soil, destroying it and making it unable to support agriculture for hundreds of years. It only takes a salt content of 13,000 ppm to prevent wheat from germinating, and a salt content of 18,000 ppm to prevent barley from growing. Those thresholds were easily exceeded (60,000 ppm): enough to wipe out an entire civilization’s food supply.

What I personally find so interesting in this business is the ancient city itself, not the colorful destruction thereof and subsequent taking of credit by Jehovah’s nutbags; this was 3700 years ago, and the city was already 2500 years old.  The city itself was the administrative center of the kingdom of Middle Ghor4, and was protected by a perimeter wall up to 30m (100 ft) thick and up to 15m (50 ft.) high, for a linear distance of over 2.5km. That’s not cheap; must have been quite a sight but I can’t find any population figures for 3700 years ago.

Homework: The CivilizationEnding 3.7KYrBP Event: Archaeological Data, Sample Analyses, Southwest University, 7600 Jefferson NE, Suite 28, Albuquerque, NM 87109

  1. The Tunguska thing is apparently not all that rare.
  2. Boom, baby!
  3. Present in Tunguska, too.
  4. Was there an Inner Ghor and an Outer Ghor?

Wrinkled Vein Grafts Don’t Clot November 30, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Science.
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Usually the veins  in bypass surgery come from the patient’s own leg veins, but sometimes that’s not an option. Synthetic vein grafts can be used but tend to develop clots more than do natural (donor) veins.  University of Pittsburgh researchers have hit upon an interesting strategy for reducing clot formation by wrinkling the vein and then straightening it out again.  Check out the bottom picture, there; it looks like an air-brushed playmate.

Top: A smooth surface after exposure to blood get fouled with platelets. Bottom: A surface that wrinkles while exposed to blood resists fouling.

Not bad. “Our arteries expand and contract naturally, partially driven by normal fluctuations in blood pressure during the cardiac cycle. Our hypothesis is that this drives the transition between smooth and wrinkled luminal surfaces in arteries, and this dynamic topography may be an important anti-thrombotic mechanism in arteries. Our goal is to use this novel concept of a purely mechanical approach to prevent vascular graft fouling by using the heartbeat as a driving mechanism.”

Homework:

Active wrinkles to drive self-cleaning: A strategy for anti-thrombotic surfaces for vascular grafts, LukaPocivavsek, Sang-HoYe,JosephPugar,  EdithTzeng, EnriqueCerda,   SachinVelankar,   William R.Wagner

ISS Timelapse November 30, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Music, Science, Video.
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If you haven’t seen this, I recommend viewing full-sized, with the ambient music provided…or Pink Floyd.

You know you want to.

Wound-healing by Alternating Current November 30, 2018

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Abstract Image

Scientists at University of Wisconsin have made bandages that can cut (see what I did there?) wound-healing time from two weeks to three days. By passing small alternating currents through the wound (see above) the bandage encourages the fibroblasts to line up in scaffold formation, speeding recovery. It is thought that “biochemical substances that promote tissue growth” are also encouraged by the current.

Interestingly, the current in this experiment was supplied by nanogenerators in a belt around the patients which uses breathing motions to generate the current.

Homework:Yin Long et al. Effective Wound Healing Enabled by Discrete Alternative Electric Fields from Wearable Nanogenerators, ACS Nano (2018). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.8b07038 (Am. Chem Soc. journals are paywalled, usually, but this one is available now.  Hurry, hurry, hurry!)

Type II Diabetes Prediction by Skin Autofluorescence November 27, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Science, Star Trek Technology.
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Despite amazing improvements in understanding of diabetes, something like one in ten humans is Type II diabetic.  Take a minute to absorb that; about half a billion people. Very, very obviously better medical tools and interventions are needed, since we as a species seem incapable of eating right (there are other factors, too; I don’t blame anyone for enjoying food). Researchers in the Netherlands and Canada have published a study using skin autofluorescence to detect some markers which accurately predict onset of Type II diabetes in the short term of about four years…unless they die first.

It’s a good study; 72,000 patients. “After a median follow-up of 4 years (range 0.5–10 years), 1056 participants (1.4%) had developed type 2 diabetes, 1258 individuals (1.7%) were diagnosed with CVD, while 928 (1.3%) had died. Baseline skin autofluorescence was elevated in participants with incident type 2 diabetes and/or CVD [(myocardial infarction, coronary interventions, cerebrovascular accident, transient ischemic attack, intermittent claudication or vascular surgery)-ed.] and in those who had died (all p < 0.001), compared with individuals who survived and remained free of the two diseases. Skin autofluorescence predicted the development of type 2 diabetes, CVD and mortality, independent of several traditional risk factors, such as the metabolic syndrome, glucose and HbA1c.”.

In high-tech terms this isn’t tough; a one-inch square is illuminated with 300-420nm UV and the fluorescence at 420-600nm.  They took the ratio of the two.  They did chemical workups on fasting blood samples as well: “On the same day, HbA1c (EDTA-anticoagulated) was analyzed using an NGSP-certified turbidimetric inhibition immunoassay on a Cobas Integra 800 CTS analzser (Roche Diagnostics Nederland, Almere, the Netherlands). Serum creatinine was measured on a Roche Modular P chemistry analyzer (Roche, Basel, Switzerland) and renal function was calculated as estimated (e)GFR with the formula developed by the Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration (CKD-EPI) [31]. Total cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol were measured using an enzymatic colorimetric method, triacylglycerol using a colorimetric UV method, and LDL-cholesterol using an enzymatic method, on a Roche Modular P chemistry analyzer (Roche). Fasting blood glucose was measured using a hexokinase method.”

Without doing the rather more expensive bloodwork, a skin fluorescence gizmo could be made cheaply available.  It’s an excellent first step.

Homework:

Manufactured Human Organs November 20, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Brain, Science, Star Trek Technology.
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Scientists at Tel Aviv University have created human organs (little ones but, hey) from a bit of biopsied tissues.  They separated the cells from the rest, induced pluripotency and built up organs in differentiated cell layers on a gel scaffolding.  They were able to grow cardiac, spinal and cortical cells from the biopsy sample.

This is critical to success: the cells are the patient’s own cells, with little chance of immune system rejection.  These guys (Tal Dvir, Reuven Edri, NAdav Noor, Idan Gal, Dan Peer and Irit Gat Viks) are currently engaged in regenerating an injured spinal cord and an infarcted heart with spinal cord and cardiac implants. They have also begun to investigate the potential of human dopaminergic implants to treat Parkinson’s disease in animal models.

They have big plans for this technology: “We believe that the technology of engineering fully personalized tissue implants of any type will allow us to regenerate any organ with a minimal risk of immune response,” Prof. Dvir concludes.

Homework: Reuven Edri et al, Personalized Hydrogels for Engineering Diverse Fully Autologous Tissue Implants, Advanced Materials (2018). DOI: 10.1002/adma.201803895

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s with AI November 12, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brain, Science.
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This is pretty good news if you think Alzheimer’s can be slowed or halted in some way (unproven, but a good idea): researchers funded by NIH have developed a (so far) 100% accurate method of diagnosing Alzheimer’s before any clinical symptoms appear.  The study seems pretty bullet-proof, too: Prospective 18F-FDG PET brain images from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) (2109 imaging studies from 2005 to 2017, 1002 patients) and retrospective independent test set (40 imaging studies from 2006 to 2016, 40 patients) were collected. 90% of the images were used as training data and the rest used as test data.  The learning algorithm developed for early prediction of Alzheimer disease achieving 82% specificity at 100% sensitivity, an average of 75.8 months prior to the final diagnosis.

Figure 2:

Example of fluorine 18 fluorodeoxyglucose PET images from Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative set preprocessed with the grid method for patients with Alzheimer disease (AD). One representative zoomed-in section was provided for each of three example patients: A, 76-year-old man with AD, B, 83-year-old woman with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and, C, 80-year-old man with non-AD/MCI. In this example, the patient with AD presented slightly less gray matter than did the patient with non-AD/MCI. The difference between the patient with MCI and the patient with non-AD/MCI appeared minimal to the naked eye.

I do recommend doing your homework (below), since the paper is pretty digestible for the alert layman, and the study itself well structured.

Homework:

  1. Yiming Ding, Jae Ho Sohn, Michael G. Kawczynski, Hari Trivedi, Roy Harnish, Nathaniel W. Jenkins, Dmytro Lituiev, Timothy P. Copeland, Mariam S. Aboian, Carina Mari Aparici, Spencer C. Behr, Robert R. Flavell, Shih-Ying Huang, Kelly A. Zalocusky, Lorenzo Nardo, Youngho Seo, Randall A. Hawkins, Miguel Hernandez Pampaloni, Dexter Hadley, Benjamin L. Franc. A Deep Learning Model to Predict a Diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease by Using 18F-FDG PET of the BrainRadiology, 2018; 180958 DOI: 10.1148/radiol.2018180958

 

Joshua Tree National Park February 8, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Photography, RV and camping, Uncategorizable.
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Warning: foul language

JTNP is a dangerous place for the unwary naturalist or hiker.  Forget about scampering naked through the desert during a full moon; this place is populated by a truly bewildering variety of spiked, barbed,pointed and sharp plants guaranteed to impale an incautious passerby on the briefest hike, or trip to the restroom.

Take, for example, this beautiful specimen of Darwinian selection:

IMG_20180131_152635047

This is known as the Spanish Bayonet, the Pointy Bastard or the Unwary Thighstabber. My wife says this is her least favorite plant, possibly due to unfortunate personal experience.  Spanish Bayonet is very stiff and the point is very hard.  I do not doubt this pointy bastard could be used as a bayonet.

Next a more delicate, elegant stiletto of a plant:

IMG_20180203_123553019

Note the barbed thorns and tips. This herd-culling flora is known as the Lacerating Motherfucker, for good reason. Sometimes called the Wait a Minute, it grabs anything organic which brushes it and drags it towards itself in a series of painful spasms.  One presumes the plant benefits passively from the organic matter of its victims decaying around it, thus enriching the local soil. It is perhaps worth noting that many desert species secrete chemicals which inhibit the germination of other plants.  This helps explain why there are small bare patches surrounding most plants in Joshua Tree National Park.  Worth noting, too, is that the space is just large enough for small critters to pass, but not humans.

Ouch.

Then there are the more obvious instruments of torture, the standard cacti, some of which are exceptionally well defended1, such as the Malevolent Spiny Fucker:

IMG_20180201_113951535

Closely related in terms of armament and disposition is That Dangerous Spiked Fucker:

IMG_20180201_123045820

Not lastly (because I’m typing this in a very cramped camping chair and I need to go have a beer) is the Psychotic Rapier Clusterfuck.  Do not trip near this plant.

IMG_20180202_125817483

As usual, the wonders of Nature make me sit back and admire her ingenuity from safely inside a locked room with air conditioning, a stereo system playing Vivaldi and powerful adult beverages to celebrate my narrow escapes.2

I would not have you finish reading this little note without understanding that the grandeur of the place is unparalleled in my experience. The Flintstonesesque scenery will make any visitor think they have landed on another planet designed by Irwin Allen, or maybe Ray Harryhausen.3:

IMG_20180201_142954251

IMG_20180131_154020734

IMG_20180201_133920913

IMG_20180201_124211985

1.  The best defense is a good offense.

2.  I haven’t even talked about the night hikes through the Stabby Wastelands following an experienced madman to “my spot”, nor the boulder scrambling urges that demand to be addressed by the Flintstones’ rock formations here. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking.

3.   Seriously. Maybe Luc Besson?

The Best Things in Life January 1, 2018

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Photography, RV and camping.
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The momentous stuff in my life pales in comparison with a good camping trip…like this one. At our favorite local (abandoned) campground:

IMG_20171023_170640308

Within walking distance of here we found, well, this:

IMG_20171028_132801164 IMG_20171028_133158698 IMG_20171028_133848913 IMG_20171028_135144993 IMG_20171028_135315418 IMG_20171028_135645079_HDR IMG_20171028_153354015_HDR IMG_20171028_153505432_HDR IMG_20171028_153610064_HDR

All found within twenty minutes, each cluster was part of a greater whole.

pond

This is the view across the pond…reflected in the water, then rotated and cropped in GIMP, the poor man’s Photoshop.

Absolutely Juvenile July 26, 2017

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Toys, Uncategorizable, Video.
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I enjoyed this immensely, but it is about one in the morning and I have been up since about five cleaning house and preparing for my next Great Adventure.

 

I am probably punchy.

This Just In June 16, 2017

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography.
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IMG_20170616_204405224

 View looking southeastIMG_20170616_204335466 

View looking northwest

Just Two Guys Talking June 7, 2017

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Video.
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Star Trek (in My Imagination, at Least) March 24, 2017

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Beauty and the Beast With a Better Gaston March 24, 2017

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Training Neural Networks to Write Bach in a Day! March 24, 2017

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brain, Geek Stuff, Toys, Video.
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Fascinating bit of video here as Our Hero (not me, in this case) takes Bach (and later Mozart) MIDI files, creates an 88-character ASCII-character alphabet from them and trains a Recurrent Neural Network to output similar sequences.

The results (and a lot of the process) is shown in the video above.  Take your time and watch the whole thing; I wonder how long he would have to train the RNN to start outputting Baroque Muzak continually?

That’s Enough, Sir; I Have to Ask You to Leave February 24, 2017

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from boinGboinG.net

Second-best View on the Block February 22, 2017

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view from scott and barbs

From Scott and Barbara’s house.

Why Trump? February 20, 2017

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff.
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https://medium.com/@DaleBeran/4chan-the-skeleton-key-to-the-rise-of-trump-624e7cb798cb#.jmnimypj1 contains the answer to that puzzle.  Be warned: it is a long, thoughtful piece with some uncomfortable ideas for both left and right alike (but not alt-right).