Month: August, 2018

Too Much Big Data May Not Be Enough

In the quest to mine and analyze meaningful, reliable, and useful data from the burgeoning plethora of electronic and online sources, healthcare organizations can allow the big picture to overshadow many underlying and valuable components contributing to patient care improvement.

The clinical data and diagnostic images in radiology information systems (RIS) and picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) remain two examples.

For clinical imaging and radiology executives, these visual clues and cues are necessary for effective, efficient decision support.

Certainly a growing number of manufacturers and information technology companies recognize this – even if many healthcare providers have not yet reached the point where they can tackle the necessary underlying infrastructure beyond the planning and strategic stages.

As a result, they’re offering providers a light at the end of the tunnel.




The latest generation of reporting capabilities can help improve the utilization of imaging data for diagnostic decision making,” says Cristine Kao, Global Marketing Director for Healthcare Information Solutions, Carestream.

An NIH study concluded that oncologists and radiologists prefer quantitative reports that include measurements as well as hyperlinks to annotated images with tumor measurements, for example.

A report by Emory and ACR shows eight out of 10 physicians will send more referrals to facilities that can offer interactive multimedia reporting – citing the ability to better collaborate with radiologists.

Connecting all of the technology and tools remains important, too, for a visually rich information view, according to Todd Winey, Senior Advisor, Strategic Markets, InterSystems.

For the clinical and diagnostic data to play a more valuable role in patient care improvement, these trends need to be accelerated, Winey insists, which isn’t without challenges.

VNAs remain only marginally deployed,” he laments. “Many of the advances in radiology information systems and PACS have been focused on productivity improvements for radiologists and are not yet fully supporting advanced interoperability.

Kao agrees with the foundational importance of a VNA but adds that it shouldn’t stop there.

Depending on an organization’s capabilities, imaging data must be accessible to more than just one clinical segment to be included as part of the decision support process, according to Winey.

Kao says she fully anticipates future reporting functions may include “more intuitive searching capabilities that will link pertinent patient information for a specific condition or disease, even if previous reports did not include the specific word involved in the search command.”

“The goal for enhancing the entire diagnostic process is to provide clinically relevant information when and where it’s needed.”

“New advanced reporting techniques provide information that can lead to improved decision support and diagnostic outcomes.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Google Tracks You Even If Location History’s Off. Here’s How To Stop It

Google knows a lot about you. A large part of the search giant’s business model is based around advertising – and for this to be successful it needs to know who you are.

But with the right know-how it’s possible to track down what Google knows about you and control what it uses for advertising purposes.

Google doesn’t make a huge song and dance about its in-depth knowledge of its users, but at the same time it doesn’t keep it a secret either. Here’s how to find out what Google knows and take control of your data.

Google saves all your searches

Probably the least surprising of the lot, but Google has all of your search history stored up.

How to delete it

If you’d rather not have a list of ridiculous search queries stored up, then head to Google’s history page, click Menu (the three vertical dots) and then hit Advanced -> All Time -> Delete.

If you want to stop Google tracking your searches for good, head to the activity controls page and toggle tracking off.




Google tracks and records your location

Google’s location history, or timeline page, serves up a Google Map and allows you to select specific dates and times and see where you were.

Its accuracy depends on whether you were signed into your Google account and carrying a phone or tablet at the time.

How to delete it

When you visit the timeline page you can hit the settings cog in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and select delete all from there.

There’s also the option to pause location history by hitting the big button in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.

But this one is a little trickier to completely get rid of, because to stop it happening in future you’ll need to opt out of both location tracking and location reporting with your device — whether you’re running Android or iOS.

Delete all your online accounts

If you’ve ever wanted to remove yourself (almost) entirely from the internet, Swedish website Deseat.me uses your Google account to help.

Using Google’s OAuth protocol, which allows third-party users to access your other accounts without finding out your password details, Deseat.me brings up all your online and social media accounts and allows you to delete yourself from them.

How to delete it

Visit Deseat.me and input your Gmail address. It will bring up all the online accounts linked to that email address and allow you to get rid of them.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Atomic Iron And Titanium In The Atmosphere Of The Exoplanet KELT-9b

To constrain the formation history of an exoplanet, we need to know its chemical composition.

With an equilibrium temperature of about 4,050 kelvin, the exoplanet KELT-9b (also known as HD 195689b) is an archetype of the class of ultrahot Jupiters that straddle the transition between stars and gas-giant exoplanets and are therefore useful for studying atmospheric chemistry.

At these high temperatures, iron and several other transition metals are not sequestered in molecules or cloud particles and exist solely in their atomic forms




However, despite being the most abundant transition metal in nature, iron has not hitherto been detected directly in an exoplanet because it is highly refractory.

The high temperatures of KELT-9b imply that its atmosphere is a tightly constrained chemical system that is expected to be nearly in chemical equilibrium and cloud-free, and it has been predicted that spectral lines of iron should be detectable in the visible range of wavelengths.

Here we report observations of neutral and singly ionized atomic iron (Fe and Fe+) and singly ionized atomic titanium (Ti+) in the atmosphere of KELT-9b.

We identify these species using cross-correlation analysis of high-resolution spectra obtained as the exoplanet passed in front of its host star.

Similar detections of metals in other ultrahot Jupiters will provide constraints for planetary formation theories.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Research Finds That Climate Change Making Food Crops Less Nutritious

wheat

Rising carbon dioxide emissions are set to make the world’s staple food crops less nutritious, according to new scientific research, worsening the serious ill health already suffered by billions of malnourished people.

The surprise consequence of fossil fuel burning is linked directly to the rise in CO2 levels which, unlike some of the predicted impacts of climate change, are undisputed.




The field trials of wheat, rice, maize and soybeans showed that higher CO2 levels significantly reduced the levels of the essential nutrients iron and zinc, as well as cutting protein levels.

“We found rising levels of CO2 are affecting human nutrition by reducing levels of very important nutrients in very important food crops.

From a health viewpoint, iron and zinc are hugely important,” said Prof Samuel Myers, an environmental health expert at Harvard University, Boston, and lead author of the study.

crop

Myers said 2 billion people already suffer iron and zinc deficiencies around the world. This causes serious harm, in particular to developing babies and pregnant women, and currently causes the loss of 63m years of life annually.

Fundamentally the concern is that there is already an enormous public health problem and rising CO2 in the atmosphere will exacerbate that problem further.

While wheat, rice, maize and soybeans are relatively low in iron and zinc, in poorer societies where meat is rarely eaten they are a major source of the nutrients.

About 2.4bn people currently get at least 60% of their zinc and iron from these staples and it is over 75% in Bangladesh, Iraq and Algeria.

crop

Wheat grown in high CO2 levels had 9% less zinc and 5% less iron, as well as 6% less protein, while rice had 3% less iron, 5% less iron and 8% less protein.

Maize saw similar falls while soybeans lost similar levels of zinc and iron but, being a legume not a grass, did not see lower protein.

The precise biological mechanism that causes nutrient levels to fall is not well understood as yet.

But Professor Brian Thomas, a plant develoment expert at the University of Warwick and not involved in the research said: “The work is convincing and consistent with what we do know about the plant physiology.

crop

The impact on human health resulting from the drop in the level of protein is less clear than for the zinc and iron loss.

Myers said the resulting increase in carbohydrate in the crops could increase the rate of metabolic syndrome, the diabetes, heart disease and stroke that currently afflicts many in developed countries due to high levels of obesity.

But Myers said obesity is not necessary for the risk of metabolic syndrome to rise. “It is something to do with the switch of foods itself.

crop

Myers said simply eating more staple foods to meet zinc and iron requirements was not realistic when food production already must double by 2050 to meet the demand of rising populations.

Some of the varieties used in the research performed better than others, raising the prospect of breeding strains that are less vulnerable to rising CO2.

But the researchers noted: “Such breeding programmes will not be a panacea for many reasons including the affordability of improved seeds and the numerous criteria used by farmers in making planting decisions that include taste, tradition, marketability, growing requirements and yield.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Exoplanet Shines With Glowing Water Atmosphere

space

An international team of researchers, led by the University of Exeter with contributions from the University of Maryland, made the new discovery by observing glowing water molecules in WASP-121b’s atmosphere using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Previous research spanning the past decade has indicated possible evidence for stratospheres on other exoplanets, but this is the first time that glowing water molecules have been detected – the clearest signal yet to indicate an exoplanet stratosphere.




To study the gas giant’s stratosphere, scientists used spectroscopy to analyze how the planet’s brightness changed at different wavelengths of light.

Water vapor in the planet’s atmosphere, for example, behaves in predictable ways in response to certain wavelengths of light, depending on the temperature of the water.

At cooler temperatures, water vapor blocks light from beneath it. But at higher temperatures, the water molecules glow.

space

The phenomenon is similar to what happens with fireworks, which get their colors when metallic substances are heated and vaporized, moving their electrons into higher energy states.

Depending on the material, these electrons will emit light at specific wavelengths as they lose energy. For example, sodium produces orange-yellow light and strontium produces red light.

The water molecules in the atmosphere of WASP-121b similarly give off radiation as they lose energy, but it is in the form of infrared light, which the human eye is unable to detect.

The exoplanet orbits its host star every 1.3 days, and the two bodies are about as close as they can be to each other without the star’s gravity ripping the planet apart.

space

This close proximity also means that the top of the atmosphere is heated to a blazing hot 2,500 degrees Celsius — the temperature at which iron exists in gas rather than solid form.

In Earth’s stratosphere, ozone traps ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which raises the temperature of this layer of atmosphere.

Other solar system bodies have stratospheres, too – methane is responsible for heating in the stratospheres of Jupiter and Saturn’s moon Titan, for example.

space

In solar system planets, the change in temperature within a stratosphere is typically less than 100 degrees Celsius. However, on WASP-121b, the temperature in the stratosphere rises by 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Vanadium oxide and titanium oxide gases are candidate heat sources, as they strongly absorb starlight at visible wavelengths, much like ozone absorbs UV radiation.

These compounds are expected to be present in only the hottest of hot Jupiter, such as WASP-121b, as high temperatures are required to keep them in the gaseous state.

space

Indeed, vanadium oxide and titanium oxide are commonly seen in brown dwarfs, ‘failed stars’ that have some commonalities with exoplanets.

NASA’s forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope will be able to follow up on the atmospheres of planets like WASP-121b with higher sensitivity than any telescope currently in space.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Green Flash: Sunset Phenomenon

green-flash

A green flash, which occurs more commonly at sunset but can also occur at sunrise is a phenomenon in which part of the sun can be observed suddenly and briefly changing color.

It usually lasts only a second or two which is why it is referred a flash as the sun changes from red or orange at sunset, for example.

The green flash is viewable because refraction bends the light of the sun. The atmosphere acts as a weak prism, which separates light into various colors.




When the sun’s disk is fully visible above the horizon, the different colors of light rays overlap to an extent where each individual color can’t be seen by the naked eye.

As the sun sinks into the Pacific, its last light seems to glow green. This “green flash,” caused by light refracting in the atmosphere, is rarely seen.

But Nigella Hillgarth, the director of the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, got lucky one night.

green-flash

I often work late and have developed the habit of taking photos of the incredible sunsets over the Pacific from the Aquarium,” Hillgarth said.

One evening, I was snapping away and caught the green flash as it appeared. I was hoping for a green flash, but was very excited when one actually happened and I caught it!

When the sun starts to dip below the horizon the colors of the spectrum disappear one at a time, starting with those with the longest wavelengths to those with the shortest. At sunrise, the process is reversed, and a green flash may occur as the top of the sun peeks above the horizon.

green-flash

It is a primarily a green flash because more green light gets through and therefore is more clearly seen.

Sometimes, when the air is especially clear, enough of the blue or violet light rays make it through the atmosphere, causing a blue flash to be visible. However, green is the most common hue reported and captured in photos.

Most green flashes fall into two categories: inferior mirage flashes and mock mirage flashes.

green-flash

Inferior mirage flashes, which accounts for about two-thirds of all green flash sightings, are oval and flat and occur close to sea level and when the surface is warmer than the air above.

Mock mirage flashes occur higher up in the sky and when conditions on the surface are colder than the air above. The flashes appear to be thin, pointy strips being sliced from the sun.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Attached To Technology And Paying A Price

When one of the most important e-mail messages of his life landed in his in-box a few years ago, Kord Campbell overlooked it.

Not just for a day or two, but 12 days. He finally saw it while sifting through old messages: a big company wanted to buy his Internet start-up.

I stood up from my desk and said, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,’ ” Mr. Campbell said. “It’s kind of hard to miss an e-mail like that, but I did.

The message had slipped by him amid an electronic flood: two computer screens alive with e-mail, instant messages, online chats, a Web browser and the computer code he was writing.

While he managed to salvage the $1.3 million deal after apologizing to his suitor, Mr. Campbell continues to struggle with the effects of the deluge of data.

Even after he unplugs, he craves the stimulation he gets from his electronic gadgets. He forgets things like dinner plans, and he has trouble focusing on his family.




His wife, Brenda, complains, “It seems like he can no longer be fully in the moment.”

This is your brain on computers.

Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information.

These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.

The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cellphone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks.

And for millions of people like Mr. Campbell, these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life.

While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise.

Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress.

And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. In other words, this is also your brain off computers.

The technology is rewiring our brains,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and one of the world’s leading brain scientists.

She and other researchers compare the lure of digital stimulation less to that of drugs and alcohol than to food and sex, which are essential but counterproductive in excess.

Technology use can benefit the brain in some ways, researchers say. Imaging studies show the brains of Internet users become more efficient at finding information. And players of some video games develop better visual acuity.

More broadly, cellphones and computers have transformed life. They let people escape their cubicles and work anywhere. They shrink distances and handle countless mundane tasks, freeing up time for more exciting pursuits.

For better or worse, the consumption of media, as varied as e-mail and TV, has exploded. In 2008, people consumed three times as much information each day as they did in 1960.

And they are constantly shifting their attention. Computer users at work change windows or check e-mail or other programs nearly 37 times an hour, new research shows.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Trump’s Space Force Logos Are Just As Dumb As Space Force, According Professional Designers

According to astronaut Mark Kelly and plenty of other experts, Donald Trump’s Space Force is, simply put, a pretty dumb idea.

Nonetheless, last night the president’s reelection campaign released a slew of possible Space Force logos–and they’re right in line with the stupefyingly bad design Trump’s team is known for.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence announced the Space Force concept last June, proposing a new branch of the military that will be aimed at space.

We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal,” Trump said at the time. The idea was met with widespread derision from Kelly and others, for several reasons.

The United States already has a Space Command. It’s been around since 1982. Space defense is also one of the U.S.




Air Force’s core missions, which currently involves monitoring space from natural and third-country threats, protecting military satellites, and foiling Mulder and Scully’s efforts to unveil an alien conspiracy to take over Earth.

Before we get to the logos, let’s take a moment to breathe, because these logos aren’t official in any way. They weren’t created by anyone at the Pentagon, NASA, or any other federal agency.

They were created by the Trump-Pence 2020 campaign PAC. And, as Parscale notes, they’re going to be used to “commemorate” the Space Force with a new “line of gear.”

In other words, this is for merch. Still, let’s take a look.

The first logo is a blatant copy of the current NASA logo, aka the “meatball,” which was designed by NASA employee James Modarelli, in 1959.

The Trump knockoff replaces the classic mid-century typeface with an anachronistic 1980s font, which itself bastardizes the beautiful NASA Worm logo, from 1975.

Meanwhile, the swoop is now an inexplicable shade of mustard, and space itself is now a red state. I guess it’ll match the MAGA hats?

The second logo returns to dark blue, eliminating the delta wing but retaining the white orbital line and some of the “stars” of the NASA logo.

It features a strangely stylized 1940s novella version of a rocket, its powerful engine fumes symbolized by . . . an inverted “flammable” icon. An oddly kerned, Art Deco-tinged typeface completes this atrocity.

Here we have what looks like a poor misrepresentation of the retired space shuttle trying to escape the deadly embrace of a red space snake. Your guess is as good as mine on this one.

Perhaps the most absurd aspect of this project is the fact that the Trump-Pence 2020 campaign is asking people to choose a logo for a military branch that doesn’t exist, and probably never will.

Even if Space Force–and the further needless spending on the military-aerospace-industrial complex it would enable–is realized, its identity will be developed according to the Pentagon’s standard government-contracting processes.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

From Samurai Swords To Impressive, Handmade Kitchen Knives.

If you do a bit of kitchen knife research, you will soon discover a recurring theme, as well as some odd advice. The recurring theme is that the three key knives everyone must own are a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife.

The odd advice is after those three, what you choose to add to your collection is personal. As someone whose job it is to definitively point people toward the best next thing, this “personal choice” business is disconcerting. Also, it’s true.




The two offerings from Kikuichi Cutlery are a Japanese take on a Western-style chef’s knife known as a gyuto, and a six-inch bunka which resembles a santoku with a more aggressive snout.

First, they’re beautiful. The Shun had an elegant a shimmering blade and a black handle made of resin and hardwood, while the Kikuichis had such a stunning simplicity that they clearly meant business.

 

The latter, made by a team of elderly expert blade smiths known as the “young knife makers” association’ in Japan’s Sakai City, were sure to be special.

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First Study Shows That Cannabis Could Help Treat Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Which Affect Millions

Chemicals in cannabis can mimic the signals the body uses to regulate inflammation in the gut and could help treat serious chronic bowel conditions like Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis, scientists have said.

Research from the University of Bath said the findings could help explain why some patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) report medical marijuana can help their symptoms.

The trials are only in mice at this stage, but could lead to new drug targets for disorders which affect millions of people around the world.

Professor Randy Mrsny, from the University of Bath’s Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, said: “We need to be clear that while this is a plausible explanation for why marijuana users have reported cannabis relieves symptoms of IBD, we have only worked in mice and have not proven this experimentally in humans.

However our results may provide a mechanistic explanation for anecdotal data that cannabinoid exposure benefits some colitis patients.




“For the first time we have identified a counterbalance to the inflammation response in the intestine and we hope that these findings will help us develop new ways to treat bowel diseases.”

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease and affect 300,000 people in the UK, according to Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

They are chronic conditions and over a life-time the repeated damage from inflammation to the cells of the gut and intestine can require surgery for complications.

The researchers from Bath worked with colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to conduct their study, which is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

They found gut inflammation is regulated by two processes, which are constantly in flux to respond to changing conditions in intestines.

Previous research identified the first process – a pathway promoting an aggressive immune response in the gut, which is useful to destroy dangerous pathogens but can damage the lining of the intestine when immune cells attack indiscriminately.

The second process, revealed in the new research, turns off this inflammation response via molecules transported across the cells lining the gut into the intestine cavity.

This response requires a naturally-produced molecule called endocannabinoid, which is very similar to cannabinoid molecules found in cannabis, the researchers say.

If the endocannabinoid is not present, inflammation is not kept in balance and can flare up as the body’s immune system cells attack the intestinal lining.

The researchers believe that, because cannabis use introduces cannabinoids into the body, these molecules could help relieve gut inflammation as the naturally produced endocannabinoids would.

Professor Beth McCormick, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said: “There’s been a lot of anecdotal evidence about the benefits of medical marijuana, but there hasn’t been a lot of science to back it up.

For the first time, we have an understanding of the molecules involved in the process and how endocannabinoids and cannabinoids control inflammation.

“This gives clinical researchers a new drug target to explore to treat patients that suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases, and perhaps other diseases, as well.”

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Pass it on: Popular Science