Backlit TabletlightAre late-night TV and backlight videogames a cure for insomnia, or the cause?

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The FDA is considering whether to recognize a game aimed at schizophrenics as a “therapeutic drug.” Does that mean you can overdose on GTA? In any case, it’s interesting finally to see a convergence between the two industries that refer to their audience as “users.”

“In what’s believed to be an industry first, a developer has begun talks with the American Food and Drug Administration to get its game recognized as a therapeutic drug. ‘Brain Plasticity has been fine-tuning a game to help people with schizophrenia improve the deficits in attention and memory that are often associated with the disorder. Early next year, they will conduct a study with 150 participants at 15 sites across the country. Participants will play the game for one hour, five times a week over a period of six months. If participants’ quality of life improves at that “dosage,” Brain Plasticity will push ahead with the FDA approval process.’”

http://games.slashdot.org/story/11/09/27/060223/Developer-Seeks-FDA-Approval-For-Therapeutic-Game

Meanwhile, in other virtual health news:

“Rite Aid today announced it is offering virtual face-to-face physician consultations through an in-store kiosk. The virtual consultation services are currently being tested in the Detroit area, but the company expects they will do well and the virtual consults will expand to other regions. The service costs $45 for a 10-minute physician consultation. Consultations with nurses are free.”

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/09/27/0541231/Rite-Aid-Drug-Stores-Offer-Virtual-Doc-Visits

But wait, there’s more:

They are the two big tech buzzwords of the moment. Now a combination of 3D printing and augmented reality can help researchers design more effective drugs.

At Arthur Olsen’s Molecular Graphics Lab at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, research teams model biological viruses – including HIV – and attempt to work out what kind of proteins and ligand molecules can latch onto them, to see which might inhibit or disable them.

As Olsen shows in this video, 3D printing allows them to create accurate plastic models of virus segments and the potential drug molecules. With smart use of magnets they can be made to self-assemble, too.

But for calculating which drug will likely connect with a receptor area using the least energy, augmented reality comes into play: using small webcam targets on the model virus, they can map it to a computerised model of itself so the researcher can see it move on screen.

(Via Bruce Sterling)

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2011/10/3d-printed-viruses-meet-their.html

And then there’s Deepak Chopra.

Leela, Deepak Chopra’s debut game for Xbox 360 Kinect and Wii, is part relaxation mechanism, part new age stoner candy.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/vu3zE2BRepc/

Not be outdone, AT&T wants to wire health care into diapers for the young and old. (Shades of Mike Scott’s wearable computing Friend Finder…)

a growing list of people could benefit from connected clothing, says AT&T, which claims ‘the stars have aligned’ for this technology. Prices of clothing sensors have come down; Wi-Fi and wireless networks have become ubiquitous; and mobile apps have become easier to design and simpler to use. ‘For example, parents of babies could cover them in connected clothing to check on their children when they were out of the house … And relatives of elderly people who are “aging in place” in their homes could check on their vital signs and make sure their loved ones haven’t fallen. This could help the elderly stay out of assisted living facilities, as most prefer to do.’”

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/11/04/2119205/att-pushes-connected-clothing-for-healthcare

What could possibly go wrong?

Scientists Sequence Genome of Ancient Plague Bacterium

Researchers who have reconstructed the full genome of the ancient plague microbe now hope to bring it back to life to study what made it so deadly.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=132e74ce0ce1c1c50deab89c314939ca

if you are interested in any of these jobs, contact these folks directly or via New Media Department chair Larry Latour or Jon Ippolito.

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Recent research reveals that the bacteria that help us digest food also influence what’s on our minds. The discovery that these microbial partners are our collaborators in cogitation as well as digestion unfortunately coincides with a separate study suggesting antibiotics can kill off gut bacteria permanently.

The good news:

“Hundreds of species of bacteria call the human gut their home. This gut ‘microbiome’ influences our physiology and health in ways that scientists are only beginning to understand. Now, a new study suggests that gut bacteria can even mess with the mind, altering brain chemistry and changing mood and behavior (abstract).”

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/08/29/2026226/Gut-Bacteria-Exert-Mind-Control

The bad news:

Helpful bacteria in our intestines take a pounding during an antibiotics treatment, but normally recover. Or so we thought. A new study suggests the drugs may permanently alter collections of healthy microbes in pregnant women and young children — for worse.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/KSqAxKXEVQg/

Wind deadline is 18 May, requires “strong social media skills” and a laptop (sounds like an NMD student to me). Also two internships in the health sector.

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So we know from NMDnet that cell phones are privacy disasters–but what are they good at? How about detecting cancer, getting drivers out of speeding tickets, and blowing up terrorists, for starters?

http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/11/03/11/1847248/Smartphone-Device-Detects-Cancer-In-an-Hour?from=rss via Byline

“Scientists at the Center for Systems Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital have integrated a microNMR device that accurately detects cancer cells and integrates with a smartphone (abstract). Though just a prototype, this device enables a clinician to extract small amounts of cells from a mass inside of a patient, analyze the sample on the spot, acquire the results in an hour, and pass the results to other clinicians and into medical records rapidly. How much does the device cost to make? $200. Seriously, smartphones just got their own Samuel L. Jackson-esque wallet.” Reader Stoobalou points out other cancer-related news that Norwegian researchers have found a group of genes that increase a person’s risk to develop lung cancer.

Of course, cell phones have also been accused of causing cancer. Well, how about getting out of a speeding ticket?

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/02/26/021218/Smart-Phone-Gets-Driver-Out-of-a-Speeding-Ticket?from=rss

“Sahas Katta writes in Skattertech that a traffic cop pulled him over while driving home and gave him a speeding ticket but thanks to his Android, he ended up walking out of traffic court without having to pay a fine or adding a single point to his record. “I fortunately happened to have Google Tracks running when an officer cited me for speeding while heading back home from a friend’s place,” writes Katta. “The speed limit in the area was a mere 25 miles per hour and the cop’s radar gun shockingly clocked me driving over 40 miles per hour.” Once in court Katta asked the officer the last time he attended radar gun training, when the device was last calibrated, or the unit’s model number — none of which the officer could answer. “I then presented my time stamped GPS data with details about my average moving speed and maximum speed during my short drive home. Both numbers were well within the posted speed limits,” says Katta. “The judge took a moment and declared that I was not guilty, but he had an unusual statement that followed. To avoid any misinterpretations about his ruling, he chose to clarify his decision by citing the lack of evidence on the officer’s part. He mentioned that he was not familiar enough with GPS technology to make a decision based on my evidence, but I can’t help but imagine that it was an important factor.”"

Not impressed? How about the ability to blow up suicide bombers before they get to you ?

http://idle.slashdot.org/story/11/01/28/1228241/Spam-Text-Prematurely-Blows-Up-Suicide-Bomber?from=rss via Byline

“A suicide bomber’s plan to detonate explosives in Central Moscow on New Year’s Eve was foiled when she received an unexpected spam text message that caused her deadly payload to blow up too early. A message wishing her a happy new year came hours before the unnamed woman was to set off her suicide belt near Red Square, an act of terrorism that could have killed hundreds of people. Islamist terrorists in Russia often use mobile phones as detonators. The bomber’s handler, who is usually watching his charge, sends the bomber a text message to set off the explosive belt at the moment when it is thought they can inflict maximum casualties.”

How to keep these apps from wasting your phone battery? Throw one of these in your backpack.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/6k03KlR8C0w/ via Byline

Put this tubular object in your backpack, and you can generate juice for your cellphone — just by walking around.

Wong Baker Pain Scale FacesI’m all for designing with simplicity in mind. But when I was shown this sign by a Bangor ER triage nurse after breaking a crown off my molar, I couldn’t help noticing that the picture had a couple of names in the “credits.”

Which left me with two questions: 1) Did both scientists get tenure as a result of creating this innovative “pain scale”? And 2) did this clever pair go on to create the US government’s color-coded Terror Threat Levels?

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At least if your surgeon is using this new augmented reality viewer.

I’m afraid the soothing music doesn’t make up for the creepy video.

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/08/augmented-reality-osirix-surgery/ via Byline

“We applied mixed reality (MR) consist of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology, in which electronically-generated dynamic 3D images are superimposed on the actual space in front of the surgeon, on the patient’s operative field or the surface of the abdomen, and evaluated such a system as a reference for surgical navigation and education.

“First we performed MDCT and generated anatomical VR imaging using DICOM viewer OsiriX and previewed on the patient body surface of the operative field from the projector as MR navigation. (((”Previewed on the patient body surface” A-OK remark for 2010)))

“Our image overlay surgical navigation system OsiriX provided accurate image guided navigation for minimally invasive surgery.”

via @kurakura

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=28670d984d82bb4f003ffa1d73de829c via Byline Some doctors in Massachusetts are handing out coupons for use at farmers’ markets in an effort to promote healthy eating and combat childhood obesity.

18 Cigarreteconcept 6 smaDiscouraging smoking by creating an irritating package is a great idea, but the problem is that good designers just can’t bring themselves to make something look uncool.

Now, if you only had a Microsoft design team take over…

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As if Mainers needed another reason to spend time outdoors in July.

http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/XoxV0sZZO-I/Forest-Bathing-Considered-Healthful via Byline

Hugh Pickens writes “The NY Times reports that although allergies and the promise of air-conditioning tend to drive people indoors at this time of year, when people spend time in more natural surroundings — forests, parks, and other places with plenty of trees — they experience increased immune function. A study of 280 healthy people in Japan, where visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect has become a popular practice called ‘Shinrin-yoku,’ or ‘forest bathing,’ found that being among plants produced ‘lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,’ among other things. Another study in 2007 showed that men who took two-hour walks in a forest over two days had a 50-percent spike in levels of natural killer cells, and a third study found an increase in white blood cells that lasted for a week in women exposed to phytoncides in forest air.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

As if Mainers needed another reason to spend time outdoors in July.

http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/XoxV0sZZO-I/Forest-Bathing-Considered-Healthful via Byline

Hugh Pickens writes “The NY Times reports that although allergies and the promise of air-conditioning tend to drive people indoors at this time of year, when people spend time in more natural surroundings — forests, parks, and other places with plenty of trees — they experience increased immune function. A study of 280 healthy people in Japan, where visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect has become a popular practice called ‘Shinrin-yoku,’ or ‘forest bathing,’ found that being among plants produced ‘lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,’ among other things. Another study in 2007 showed that men who took two-hour walks in a forest over two days had a 50-percent spike in levels of natural killer cells, and a third study found an increase in white blood cells that lasted for a week in women exposed to phytoncides in forest air.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The debate over cell phone radiation and cancer is still raging, thanks to a report that one in four of studies paid for by the phone industry showed harmful effects, while three in four of independently funded studies showed bioeffects. This review isn’t proof of the influence of mobile phones on cancer, but it does make a pretty scary case for the influence of economics on science.

Geeks may protest that the energy of phone photons is too low to fold proteins in carcinogenic ways, but meanwhile many of them (er, us) are exposing ourselves to much greater hazards through technologies we take for granted.

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Too bad they didn’t mention the best solution of all, which is switching to the Dvorak keyboard.

From Wired:

Make fun of computer geeks all you want, but there is one constant threat to our health and safety that we all face daily. That would be RSI, or repetitive strain injury. It’s also known as cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) or occupational overuse syndrome.

Actually, RSI can encompass any number of specific injuries resulting from performing the same task for extended periods of time, like tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

The best way to cure it is to stop working. But you can prevent RSI with a few common-sense tips.

I’m not making that title up–it’s a book about how the stuff we buy ends up under our skin, quite literally:

Over a four-day period, our intrepid (and perhaps foolhardy) authors ingest and inhale a host of things that surround us all every day, all of which are suspected of being toxic and posing long term health risks to humans. By revealing the pollution load in their bodies before and after the experiment – and the results in most cases are downright frightening – they tell the inside story of seven common substances.

I’m not making that title up–it’s a book about how the stuff we buy ends up under our skin, quite literally:

Over a four-day period, our intrepid (and perhaps foolhardy) authors ingest and inhale a host of things that surround us all every day, all of which are suspected of being toxic and posing long term health risks to humans. By revealing the pollution load in their bodies before and after the experiment – and the results in most cases are downright frightening – they tell the inside story of seven common substances.

Bookmark this category

I’m not making that title up–it’s a book about how the stuff we buy ends up under our skin, quite literally:

Over a four-day period, our intrepid (and perhaps foolhardy) authors ingest and inhale a host of things that surround us all every day, all of which are suspected of being toxic and posing long term health risks to humans. By revealing the pollution load in their bodies before and after the experiment – and the results in most cases are downright frightening – they tell the inside story of seven common substances.

http://slowdeathbyrubberduck.com/ (via Vanessa Vobis)

http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/w6XHfCE-6l0/Microbes-That-Keep-Us-Healthy-Starting-To-Die-Off

Scientific American: “The human body has some 10 trillion human cells—but 10 times that number of microbial cells. So what happens when such an important part of our bodies goes missing? With rapid changes in sanitation, medicine and lifestyle in the past century, some of these indigenous species are facing decline, displacement and possibly even extinction. In many of the world’s larger ecosystems, scientists can predict what might happen when one of the central species is lost, but in the human microbial environment—which is still largely uncharacterized—most of these rapid changes are not yet understood.

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Here’s more fuel to vaccine skeptics who claim that bugs introduced intravenously don’t engage the immune system in the deeper way of bugs introduced via the skin.

The Slashdot comments touch on another revelation of recent research: that autoimmune disorders such as Lupus tend to appear in societies that have artificially blocked their citizens’ natural exposure to germs.

From Slashdot:

Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child’s skin too clean impaired the skin’s ability to heal itself. From the article: “‘These germs are actually good for us,’ said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are ‘good bacteria’ when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation.”

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