In and unlikely tie-up, astronomers and cancer researchers have joined forces to study breast tumors using image analysis software originally developed to explore the distant stars.
The automated system offers a speedy way to test if tumors are aggressive and may mean pathologists one day no longer have to peer down a microscope to spot subtle differences in tissue samples.
The bottom tow black spots on the sun, known as sunspots, appeared quickly over the course of Feb. 19-20, 2013. These two sunspots are part of the same system and are over six Earths across. This image combines images from two instruments on NASA’s SOlar Dynamics Observatory (SDO): the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), which takes pictures in visible light that show sunspots and the Advanced Imaging Assembly (AIA), which took an image in the 304 Angstrom wavelength showing the lower atmosphere of the sun, which is colorized in red.
Photo credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/HMI/Goddard Space Flight Center
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” - Carl Sagan on Books
It is a nightmare situation. A person diagnosed as being in a vegetative state has an operation without anaesthetic because they cannot feel pain. Except, maybe they can.
Alexandra Markl at the Schön clinic in Bad Aibling, Germany, and colleagues studied people with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) – also known as vegetative state – and identified activity in brain areas involved in the emotional aspects of pain. People with UWS can make reflex movements but can’t show subjective awareness.
There are two distinct neural networks that work together to create the sensation of pain. The more basic of the two – the sensory-discriminative network – identifies the presence of an unpleasant stimulus. It is the affective network that attaches emotions and subjective feelings to the experience. Crucially, without the activity of the emotional network, your brain detects pain but won’t interpret it as unpleasant.
Using PET scans, previous studies have detected activation in the sensory-discriminative network in people with UWS but their findings were consistent with a lack of subjective awareness, the hallmark of the condition.
Now Markl and her colleagues have found evidence of activation in the affective or emotional network too (Brain and Behavior).
Her team gave moderately painful electric shocks to 30 people with UWS, while scanning their brains using fMRI. Sixteen people had some kind of brain activation – seven only in the sensory network but nine in the affective network as well.
These results question whether some diagnoses should change from UWS to minimally conscious, which is characterised by some level of awareness.
“I don’t think this paper alone will change the clinical approach to people with diagnoses such as UWS,” says Donald Weaver at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, who was not involved in the work. But it will encourage future study, he says.
Changing a diagnosis depends on whether neurologists are ready to accept alternative ways of diagnosing disorders of consciousness, says Boris Kotchoubey at the Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioural Neurobiology in Tübingen, Germany, who worked on the study.
Nonetheless, Kotchoubey is confident that the way people with UWS are cared for will change, even if their diagnoses remain the same. “I know that many doctors working with such patients have been instructed to treat their patients as if they can understand them and perceive at least something in the environment, perhaps pain, pleasure, or emotion,” he says.
But not all people are treated this way. Prior to the study, one of the people in Markl’s study was given no anaesthesia before a tracheotomy, which involves an incision in the neck to allow breathing without using the nose or mouth. As people with UWS are clinically considered unable to understand pain, doctors do not have to give an anaesthetic.
The actual distance between the Earth and the Moon.
thats like 6 inches
For the first time an operation has been conducted, at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, where electrodes have been permanently implanted in nerves and muscles of an amputee to directly control an arm prosthesis. The result allows natural control of an advanced robotic prosthesis, similarly to the motions of a natural limb.
A surgical team led by Dr Rickard Brånemark, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, has carried out the first operation of its kind, where neuromuscular electrodes have been permanently implanted in an amputee. The operation was possible thanks to new advanced technology developed by Max Ortiz Catalan, supervised by Rickard Brånemark at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Bo Håkansson at Chalmers University of Technology.
“The new technology is a major breakthrough that has many advantages over current technology, which provides very limited functionality to patients with missing limbs,” says Rickard Brånemark.
There have been two major issues on the advancement of robotic prostheses: 1) how to firmly attach an artificial limb to the human body; 2) how to intuitively and efficiently control the prosthesis in order to be truly useful and regain lost functionality.
“This technology solves both these problems by combining a bone anchored prosthesis with implanted electrodes,” said Rickard Brånemark, who along with his team has developed a pioneering implant system called Opra, Osseointegrated Prostheses for the Rehabilitation of Amputees.
A titanium screw, so-called osseointegrated implant, is used to anchor the prosthesis directly to the stump, which provides many advantages over a traditionally used socket prosthesis.
“It allows complete degree of motion for the patient, fewer skin related problems and a more natural feeling that the prosthesis is part of the body. Overall, it brings better quality of life to people who are amputees,” says Rickard Brånemark.
How it works
Presently, robotic prostheses rely on electrodes over the skin to pick up the muscles electrical activity to drive few actions by the prosthesis. The problem with this approach is that normally only two functions are regained out of the tens of different movements an able-body is capable of. By using implanted electrodes, more signals can be retrieved, and therefore control of more movements is possible. Furthermore, it is also possible to provide the patient with natural perception, or “feeling”, through neural stimulation.
“We believe that implanted electrodes, together with a long-term stable human-machine interface provided by the osseointegrated implant, is a breakthrough that will pave the way for a new era in limb replacement,” says Rickard Brånemark.
The first patient has recently been treated with this technology, and the first tests gave excellent results. The patient, a previous user of a robotic hand, reported major difficulties in operating that device in cold and hot environments and interference from shoulder muscles. These issues have now disappeared, thanks to the new system, and the patient has now reported that almost no effort is required to generate control signals. Moreover, tests have shown that more movements may be performed in a coordinated way, and that several movements can be performed simultaneously.
“The next step will be to test electrical stimulation of nerves to see if the patient can sense environmental stimuli, that is, get an artificial sensation. The ultimate goal is to make a more natural way to replace a lost limb, to improve the quality of life for people with amputations,” says Rickard Brånemark.
Bumblebees sense electric fields in flowers
As they zero in on their sugary reward, foraging bumblebees follow an invisible clue: electric fields. Although some animals, including sharks, are known to have an electric sense, this is the first time the ability has been documented in insects.
Pollinating insects take in a large number of sensory cues, from colours and fragrances to petal textures and air humidity. Being able to judge which flowers will provide the most nectar, and which have already been plundered by other pollinators, helps them to use their energy more efficiently.
It has long been known that bumblebees build up a positive electrical charge as they rapidly flap their wings; when they land on flowers, this charge helps pollen to stick to their hairs. Daniel Robert, a biologist at the University of Bristol, UK, knew that such electrical interactions would temporarily change the electrical status of the flowers — but he did not know whether bumblebees were picking up on this.
confinement of electrons to quantum corrals on a metal surface
It both shows the existence of the atoms AND the duality of electrons in one image. That’s fantastic.