Category: News Posts

What We Know About E-Cigarettes

E-cigarettes are officially known as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). They are more commonly called e-cigarettes, e-cigs, e-hookah, or vapes.

You may have seen ads or stories on the internet that say e-cigarettes are a safe way to help smokers quit smoking. There isn’t enough scientific evidence to say if this is true or not.

Here’s what doctors and researchers do know right now.

E-cigs work by heating a liquid that has nicotine and other chemicals in it. Heating the liquid turns it into a vapor. That’s what the user inhales and exhales.

Some research shows that this vapor includes chemicals that are known to be harmful. Scientists are studying the health effects of using e-cigarettes. New information is coming in, but they don’t have the answers yet.

Although FDA is working to regulate e-cigarettes, currently they are not regulated. That means the makers of e-cigs don’t have to say what is in them.

There is no way to know exactly what chemicals or how much are in these products.We do know that e-cigs contain nicotine. Nicotine is what makes tobacco addictive.

Nicotine can also affect how the brain develops. Because childhood and teen years are times of important brain development, the nicotine in tobacco and E-cigs is believed to be especially bad for children and teens.

It’s also not clear if e-cigs help people quit smoking or get in the way of people quitting.

Researchers are working hard to find the answers to these important questions. For now, we do not know if using e-cigs is a safe and helpful way to quit smoking, so using e-cigs is not recommended.

There are other proven, safe, and effective methods for quitting smoking. Explore the options to find a quit method that’s right for you.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

According To A New Study, Pollution Kills 9 Million People Each Year

Dirty air in India and China. Tainted water in sub-Saharan Africa.

Toxic mining and smelter operations in South America. Pollution around the globe now contributes to an estimated 9 million deaths  annually or roughly one in six according to an in-depth new study published in the Lancet.

If accurate, that means pollution kills three times more people each year than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, with most of those deaths  in poor and developing countries.

Going into this, my colleagues and I knew that pollution killed a lot of people. But we certainly did not have any idea of the total magnitude of the problem,” said Philip Landrigan, dean of global health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and co-chair of the commission behind the report.

I think all of us were really surprised when we saw this.

The two-year project, which relied on data from researchers in more than 130 countries documenting the causes of disease and premature deaths in recent decades, found that poor air quality was the most significant pollution-related killer.

That includes both outdoor pollution tainted by mercury, arsenic and other harmful particulates, and household air dirtied by the burning of wood, dung and other organic materials.

The result: An estimated 6.5 million deaths in 2015 from heart disease, strokes, lung cancer and other respiratory problems.

Water pollution, which includes everything from unsafe sanitation to contaminated drinking water, accounted for an additional 1.8 million annual deaths from gastrointestinal diseases and other infections, researchers found.

Pollution in the workplace also took a heavy toll on some of the world’s poorest workers.

From bladder cancer in dye workers to the lung disease pneumoconiosis in coal miners, researchers found that occupational exposure to various carcinogens and toxins was linked to about 800,000 deaths annually.

In 2015, the largest number of deaths attributable to pollution occurred in India and China, with an estimated 2.5 million and 1.8 million deaths respectively. Other severely affected countries include Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kenya.

Beyond the massive human toll, the authors of Thursday’s report also focused on the financial toll caused by pollution-related health problems.

Until now, people haven’t recognized what an incredible hit pollution makes on the economy of a country,” Landrigan said.

“Pollution control can stimulate the economy because it reduces death and disease.”

They estimated the hit to national budgets at about 1.3 percent of gross domestic product in low-income countries, compared to about 0.5 percent in developed, high-income countries.

In addition, nations facing crippling pollution tend to spend much more on health care to treat diseases related to the problem.

And the warming of the Earth’s climate is likely to fuel more deaths in the absence of international action, she said.

Climate change is going to exacerbate the very problems that are identified in this article. There will be more contagious and infectious diseases.

There will be more lives lost, more injuries, if we don’t identify a path that gets us out of the hole that we’re in,” McCarthy said.

What people don’t realize is the instability that results from poverty, the instability that results from migration as a result of climate change.

The startling conclusion that pollution accounts for 16 percent of deaths worldwide is, of course, an estimate.

But the findings build on previous studies, including a 2016 report from the World Health Organization, detailing the extent to which pollution represents a public health crisis.

If countries do not take actions to make environments where people live and work healthy, millions will continue to become ill and die too young,” then-WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said last year.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

This Smart Doll That Runs On A AI Chip Can Read Your Child’s Emotion


AI Doll

BOFFINS have created a creepy doll fitted with an AI chip that scans kids’ faces to read their emotions and become their best pal. The lifelike doll can recognize eight emotions including surprise and happiness, and adjusts how it behaves accordingly.

It runs on an AI chip and carries out emotion recognition through facial-recognition technology, via a camera hidden in the doll’s mouth, rather than the internet.

Project leader Oscar Deniz at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Ciudad Real, Spain, said: “In the near future, we will see a myriad of eyes everywhere that will not just be watching us, but trying to help us.”

The doll has been designed to address privacy concerns raised after it emerged similar smart dolls were transmitting information online.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

The Age Of Immortality Is Coming, And It’s Going To Suck

When people write about our future as immortals, you see a lot of the word “we.” But make no mistake, there will be no “we.”

No one will be granted access to immortality, whether it be achieved through medical or technological means.

Immortality-granting technology would certainly be the most valuable commercial product in all of human history. There is absolutely no way that it’s going to be given out for free.

Sure, it might eventually be made available to the middle class as something like a subscription-based service once the technology is advanced enough that it can be scaled on that level in an economicall feasible way.

But in the early days of immortality, it’s likely to be insanely expensive, both because it’ll be extremely advanced technology and because people will be willing to pay it.

So while perhaps someone like Jack Ma can look forward to immortality if he simply lives another 30 years, you and I are going to have to wait a lot longer.

In fact, there’s a fair chance that immortality technology will widen the gap between rich and poor.

Most people would pay any sum to prevent their own death or the death of a loved one, even if it meant going into tremendous debt and essentially becoming a debt slave.

And if people will pay the money, what incentive do you think immortality companies will have to lower prices?

Until the technology is cheap enough to be truly universal, prices will stay high, shareholders will stay happy, and the rest of us will scrimp and struggle to keep ourselves and our families alive.

Medical immortality sucks

Medical immortality – the idea that we’ll be able to reverse the biological ageing process and eliminate the diseases that kill us – seems attractive at first.

But there are a litany of reasons why long-term medical immortality would actually be kind of a nightmare.

First and foremost: our brain capacity is limited. This is why the older you get, the harder it gets to remember details of things that happened when you were young.

There are only so many memories you can store and recall efficiently, and the higher they pile up, the harder and slower they are to recall at a moment’s notice.

That’s a problem, because we recall on quick memory recall for virtually every part of our everyday lives.

The end result is that even if you stay biologically twenty years old for 200 years, you’re still going to have the slow, embarrassing brain of a very old person: misremembering names and dates, calling up random or incorrect memories, and telling the same jokes over and over.


Your perception of time would likely also become extremely warped, as the older you get, the more quickly time seems to pass.

Also: being medically immortal also doesn’t mean being actually immortal. It just means you won’t die or old age or (possibly) disease.

Instead, you’ll die in an accident, or a homicide, or a war, or meet some other violent end.

And even if you’re OK with that, think about the absolutely brutal effect that will have on your friends and family in a world where people no longer have to die.

Now, death sucks but at least it’s fair – we all die.

In the world of medical immortality, that is much less true, and every death is a sudden, unexpected shock that seems all the more unfair because had you not been hit by that truck, you could have lived another 500 years.

Then of course there are all of the social problems: overcrowding, limited resources, the total pointlessness of the prison system, the elimination of retirement, and the stagnation of social, economic, and political systems as the old never die off to be replaced by the younger.

That may seem like a lot, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Death is a powerful force that has been motivating human behavior forever.

Taking it out of the equation will change everything about human life, and only a fool would assume that all of those changes would be for the better.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

This Is A Bio Inspired 3D Printed Spider Octopod Robot

T8 robot

The T8 octopod robot is modeled after a real tarantula, and the way it moves is startlingly realistic an effect that’s amplified by its high-resolution 3D-printed shell, which conceals the robotics inside

Each T8 moves with the help of 26 Hitec HS-35HD servo motors. Three in each leg and two to move the body and is pre-programmed using Robugtix’s Bigfoot Inverse Kinematics Engine, which handles the calculations for factors like trajectory planning and gait and motor control.

All the operator has to do is press buttons on the controller, which communicates with the robot via an XBee radio module.

It’s an impressively spooky little critter, though. Check it out in the video below.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

A Migraine May Change Your Brain

About 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, those incredibly painful and often debilitating headaches.

Though they’ve been known to knock a person out, migraines weren’t thought to permanently affect the brain, until now.

A study published in the journal Neurology suggests that migraines may indeed leave a mark.

Our review and meta-analysis study suggests that the disorder may permanently alter brain structure in multiple ways,” said study author Dr. Messoud Ashina, a neurologist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

A migraine is a common type of headache in which throbbing pain is typically felt on just one side of the head.

Sufferers experience sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting. Women are three times more likely to be affected by migraines than men.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraines cost the United States more than $20 billion a year, both in direct medical expenses like doctor visits and medication and indirectly, when employees miss work resulting in lost productivity.

About 20% of migraine sufferers experience an aura, a warning symptom 20 minutes to an hour before a migraine begins.

It’s usually in the form of visual disturbances like wavy lines, dots or flashing lights, tingling in the face or arms, even difficulty speaking.

The study focused on three types of abnormalities that were detected by magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. MRI tests use a magnetic field and radio wave energy to take pictures of organs inside the body.

They can detect problems that often cannot be seen with an X-ray or ultrasound imaging.

Researchers reviewed six population-based studies and 13 clinic-based studies to see whether migraine sufferers had an increased risk of brain lesions, white matter abnormalities, infarct-like lesions or brain volume changes in both the gray and white matter regions of the brain.

Infarct-like lesions, also called silent strokes, are changes neurologists usually see on MRI scans that look like minor strokes.

According to the study, the risk of white matter brain lesions increased 68% for those suffering migraines with aura, compared with non-migraine sufferers.

Those who suffered from migraines without aura saw that increased risk cut in half (34%), but they too could get lesions in the part of the brain that is made up of nerve fibers.

Researchers found that white matter abnormalities are not limited to migraines; they also occur in non-migraine headaches.

And people with migraines and migraines with aura were also more likely to have brain volume changes than those who don’t suffer from migraines. But what these white matter abnormalities lead to is still unclear.

That’s why Ashina says more long-term studies are needed.

Migraine affects about 10% to 15% of the general population and can cause a substantial personal, occupational and social burden,” Ashina said.

We hope that through more study, we can clarify the association of brain structure changes to attack frequency and length of the disease. We also want to find out how these lesions may influence brain function.

Though migraines might be associated with structural changes in the brain, there’s no cause for concern, Ashina determined.

“Studies of white matter changes showed no relationship to migraine frequency or cognitive status of patients.”

Dr. MaryAnn Mays, a staff neurologist at the Center for Headache & Pain at the Cleveland Clinic, who was not involved in the research, agreed.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

In The Future, Your Sweat Could Power Your Gadgets

Sweat is often an annoyance, or even an embarrassment. We spend tons on antiperspirants, fans, air conditioners, ice cream, and anything else that will keep our body temperatures down to keep sweating at bay.

With a new wearable innovation that turns sweat into energy, that all might change.

From tattoos that can monitor health conditions to golf shirts that measure their wearer’s swings, wearable technology is one of the fastest-growing tech advancements of the 21st century.

Recently, researchers at University of California, San Diego unveiled their own latest wearable: A flexible square patch that can be applied to the skin, where enzymes in the device could feed on human sweat to produce power.

Although it measured just a few centimeters in size, a single square, or biofuel cell, was able to generate enough power to run a radio for an entire two days.

Later versions proved capable of generating up to ten times more energy as their predecessors, meaning that in the future, if you forget to charge your smartphone before a hard workout, no worries!

Just plant your biocell on your skin, and your sweat might make enough juice to let you to stream your gym playlists during an hour of cardio, and for days to come.

A Sweat-Powered Radio is Cool, but That’s Just the Start

Biofuel cells have come a long way over the years. While the possibility of sweat-powered radios and other electronics is pretty fantastic, scientists have much bolder applications for the technology in store for the future.

Those cells could be used as health monitors, checking glucose levels in diabetic patients or to measuring the lactic acid produced in muscles during exercise.

The power generated could fuel a Bluetooth connection that could deliver the information right to a smartphone so that wearers could get real-time reports on their physical health.

The future of wearable biocells has plenty of advantages, but one of the best is that they are non-invasive. This means faster application and less pain.

Eventually, they’ll become less expensive, making them a great alternative to devices like conventional blood glucose monitors that require patients to prick their fingers multiple times per day, or permanent surgical implants like pacemakers.

With the University of California team’s take on wearables, future medical monitors may be self-powering, too.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

This Are The Top 10 Most Intelligent Animals On The Earth

In case you hadn’t heard, humans aren’t the only intelligent beings on planet Earth. In fact, we have plenty of company, and you may be surprised to learn who else is on the list.

1. Chimpanzees

Chimpanzees and humans are remarkably similar, sharing about 99 percent of our DNA. Chimps are our closest living relatives, and like humans, live in social communities and can adapt to different environments.

They can also learn sign language.

Chimpanzees can walk upright on two legs if they choose, and while they are primarily vegetarians they consume meat on occasion.

Chimps make and use tools, such as stones to open nuts and leaves to soak up drinking water. They reach reproductive age at around the same time humans do – 13 for females and 16 for males.

2. Bottlenose Dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins are one of just a handful of species in the animal kingdom that are able to use vocal learning to develop their own vocal signature.

Early in life, each dolphin creates its own unique vocal whistle that gives it an individual identity.

Because each whistle is unique, dolphins are able to call to each other by mimicking the whistle of a dolphin they want to communicate with. It’s the equivalent of calling each other by name.

Many dolphins establish strong social attachments and will stay with injured or ill members of the group, helping them to the surface of the water so they can breathe if necessary.

There are also reports of dolphins protecting human swimmers from sharks by swimming in circles around them, or rushing the sharks to shoo them away.

3. Elephants

Elephants’ brains are bigger than the brains of any other land animal, and the cortex has as many neurons as a human brain.

The ability of elephants to learn is impressive, and they are also self-aware – they can actually recognize themselves in mirrors!

In the wild, these highly social animals demonstrate helpfulness, compassion, and empathy. Their trunks and feet generate seismic activity that allows them to communicate with one another on a wide variety of subjects.

Elephants are likely the only large land-dwelling mammals that communicate using seismic signals.

4. African Grey Parrots

Known as the Einsteins of the parrot world, African Greys are highly intelligent. Studies have shown that the birds possess abstract, inferential reasoning abilities.

They appear to have some understanding of causality and use it to reason about the world.African Greys also show their smarts with their counting abilities and vocalization skills.

5. Rats

The ability to think about thinking is called metacognition, and a few years ago scientists discovered that rats, like humans, can make decisions based on what they do or do not know.

Studies also show that rats are surprisingly self-aware, they’re ticklish, and they dream just as we do. Pet rats are extremely social and form strong bonds with their owners.

They learn their names and come when they’re called, and they beg for time out of their cage to play and interact with their owners.

6. Crows

A crow’s brain is about the size of a human thumb, which is huge relative to its body size. This puts their intelligence on a level with primates, and gives them the ability to solve complex problems.

Scientists have discovered that crows recognize and remember individual human faces. Different areas of a crow’s brain light up when it sees a person it perceives as friendly or threatening.

7. Dogs


When it comes to canine companions, “smart” means different things to different people. Some people feel an obedient dog is smart, while others believe a dog with a mind of her own is more intelligent.

Very agreeable dogs are considered smart by most human standards.

Humans judge the intelligence of dogs based primarily on how quickly they learn to obey our commands, how well they perform, and whether they are able to learn human-type stuff like identifying objects.

8. Pigeons

Studies show that pigeons are able to learn abstract mathematical rules, and in fact are the only non-humans other than rhesus monkeys with the ability.

These much-maligned birds also have the ability to make extremely intelligent choices, and have highly evolved pigeon problem-solving skills.

Pigeons are also able to recognize individual people, most likely by their facial characteristics.

9. Pigs

According to some experts, pigs are among the smartest, cleanest domestic animals around – more so than cats and dogs.

Researchers who have studied pigs have learned they have excellent long-term memories, solve mazes easily, can comprehend a simple symbolic language.

They love to play and play-fight with each other, can learn to operate a joystick to move an on-screen cursor, and use a mirror to find hidden food.

10. Octopuses

Octopuses have the largest brains of any invertebrate. The common octopus has about 130 million neurons in its brain. A human has 100 billion.

However, three-fifths of an octopus’ neurons are not in the brain; they’re in its arms. Each arm has a mind of its own, so to speak, and if cut off, will wander away and even grab at food as it did while still attached.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

How Sidewinder Missiles Work?

The Sidewinder AIM-9 (air intercept missile 9) is classified as a short-range, air-to-air missile. Simply put, its job is to launch from an airborne aircraft and “kill” an enemy aircraft (damage it to the point that it goes down).

Missiles like the Sidewinder are called smart weapons because they have built-in seeking systems that let them home in on a target.

The technology of smart weapons really got going in the decade following World War II. Most early guided weapon prototypes were built around radar technology, which proved to be expensive and problematic.

These missiles had their own radar sensors, but obviously could not carry their own radar transmitters.

For the guidance system to lock on an enemy plane, some remote radar system had to “illuminate” the target by bouncing radar beams off of it.

In most cases, this meant the pilot had to keep the aircraft in a vulnerable position after firing in order to keep a radar lock on the enemy until the missile could find it.

Additionally, the radar equipment in the missile was large and expensive, which made for a high-cost, bulky weapon. Most of these missiles had something around a 90 percent failure rate (nine shots out of 10 missed their targets).

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Pass it on: Popular Science

The Physics Of Hitting A Baseball

Hitting the “sweet spot” is something that baseball players strive for. This is the location of the bat that is generally regarded as the best spot for hitting the ball.

It minimizes vibration of the bat and results in the maximum energy delivered to the ball, meaning it travels the farthest.

The “sweet spot” is a special point on the bat which minimizes stinging of the hands when the ball strikes there. Baseball players say that hitting the ball in this location “feels” the best, and results in the most solid hit.

If the baseball strikes outside of the sweet spot a painful stinging sensation is felt in the hands, due to bat vibration. In addition, this undesirable vibration reduces the energy that is delivered to the ball, so it doesn’t travel as far.

Here we are using physics to confirm what baseball players already know from experience.

It’s not easy to hit the sweet spot. For best results, contact with the ball must be made within 1/8″ of this special point. It is the main “good hit” criterion of players.

But it is one of the biggest challenges in Major League sports, where a round ball traveling at 90 mph has to hit a round bat swinging at 80 mph, at precisely this location.

The result is the ball flying off the bat at 110 mph, enough for a home run.

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Pass it on: Popular Science