Tag Archives: Research

Wikipedia

I know Wikipedia has its detractors, but in my not-so-humble opinion, it’s one of the few, truly good things in our digital world. It’s an attempt to promote the caring, unselfish, generous parts of human nature, by ensuring that information is available to everyone, everywhere.

That’s why I just donated $10 AUD out of my fortnightly pension:

I use Wikipedia a lot in my research, not as my sole source of information, but often as the jumping off point when investigating a new area of knowledge. Why? Because any new area of knowledge is bound to have its own terminology, it’s own ‘language’, and until I get a feel for how that language works, it’s hard to dig down to the bits I’m really interested in. Wiki gives me a way to untangle the thread, to make a start.

If you use Wikipedia in your research, or if you ever look things up just for fun, think about how much harder things would be if Wiki no longer existed. It does not pester us with ads. It does not sell space to special interests. It just asks for donations.

In a way, Wikipedia is the single, biggest crowd funding experiment in the whole wide world. It’s us, taking control away from the vested interests that seek to manipulate us at every turn. It’s freedom…for us.

If you have some loose change, please donate to keep Wiki free:

https://donate.wikimedia.org/wiki/Ways_to_Give

cheers,
Meeks


post-Covid cognitive impairment

Just read a thought-provoking article in New Atlas about the cognitive deficits experienced by people who have had severe Covid:

‘A new study has presented the most rigorous investigation to date into the long-term cognitive impacts of severe COVID-19. The research, led by scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, found persistent cognitive deficits in hospitalized patients equivalent to declines consistent with 20 years of brain aging.’

https://newatlas.com/health-wellbeing/cognitive-impact-severe-covid-equal-20-years-brain-aging/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=1643987275-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_05_05_12_42&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-1643987275-92416841

The study followed the post-Covid recovery of 46 people who had all had severe Covid, including 16 who had been ventilated. Their cognitive functions were compared to that of ‘age and demographically matched healthy control subjects.’ It was found that the more severe the disease, the greater the cognitive impairment:

‘These COVID patients were slower to respond to tasks and less accurate in their responses, compared to their matched controls. More specifically, the COVID patients performed poorly on “verbal analogical reasoning” tasks which are designed to test particular word-based reasoning cognitive domains.’

And as if that were not enough, there is some evidence to suggest that:

A study published earlier this year from researchers at the University of Oxford found minor cognitive deficits in subjects experiencing mild COVID-19 up to six months after an acute infection.

You can find the complete article here.

I know everyone wants to believe that the worst of Covid is over, but with Omicron morphing into BA.4 and BA.5 already, it’s not done with us yet. Please treat this disease with the caution it deserves. Even if you’re fully vaccinated. Even if you’ve had it before. Because there may be outcomes worse than death. 😦

Meeks


A potential leap forward in the treatment of tumours

As someone who has had a brush with cancer myself, I know at first hand how invasive and unpleasant the current treatments are. That’s why the fireworks went off in my head when I read about the ‘Drug factory” beads implanted in mice’ that eliminated tumours within a week. And without causing damage to the surrounding healthy tissues!

https://newatlas.com/medical/drug-factory-beads-tumors-cancer-week/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=3f49431b45-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_03_03_11_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-3f49431b45-92416841

Interleukin-2, a drug already approved by the FDA in the US, is made on-site by the drug factories [beads]. And the results were nothing short of miraculous:

“Once we determined the correct dose – how many factories we needed – we were able to eradicate tumors in 100 percent of animals with ovarian cancer and in seven of eight animals with colorectal cancer.”

https://newatlas.com/medical/drug-factory-beads-tumors-cancer-week/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=3f49431b45-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_03_03_11_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-3f49431b45-92416841

Mice are not the same as humans so clinical trials will need to be carried out to see if this novel delivery system works as well in us as it does in lab animals, but we could be looking at a major revolution in the treatment of at least some cancers.

I strongly recommend reading the whole article on the New Atlas website.

cheers,
Meeks


Wetware

https://www.reddit.com/r/MortalKombat/comments/f3q3zf/nrs_we_need_a_half_robot_face_terminator_skin_in/

In the Terminator movies, the robot played by Arnold Schwarzeneger looks like a human on the outside thanks to artificial flesh – i.e. skin and muscle. Well now the researchers at Freiburg University have made an all-protein muscle:

‘For the new study, researchers at the University of Freiburg created artificial muscles that are entirely “bio-based.” They’re made of elastin, a natural protein that gives tissues like skin and blood vessels their elasticity.’

https://newatlas.com/robotics/artificial-muscles-human-proteins/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=c5257d2ee4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_02_01_11_50&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-c5257d2ee4-92416841

But wait…there’s more. The new, artificial muscle can respond to certain kinds of stimuli which means it can react to the outside world. This is huge, not just for robotics but for all sorts of prosthetics and implants.

And then there’s the development of artificial nerves.

‘Sensory nerves carry information from the outside world to our spinal cord and brain. In particular, our ability to perceive touch sensation is achieved by a type of sensory nerve ending called mechanoreceptors which are located in our skin. When pressure is applied to the skin, the mechanoreceptors respond by changing their electric voltage (i.e., a measure of electrical energy). The voltages from multiple mechanoreceptors are combined and transmitted to a single neuron, or nerve cell. At a certain voltage threshold, the neuron generates repetitive electrical pulses that are forwarded to other neurons via junctions called synapses, eventually reaching the neurons in the brain to register the touch sensation. The frequency at which the electric pulses are generated (measured in hertz, i.e., number per second) is determined by the applied pressure. Higher pressures produce electrical pulses at higher frequencies, while lower pressures produce lower frequency pulses (Figure 1). These electrical pulses are eventually transmitted to and processed by the brain to feel the pressure of the external stimulus, according to the pulse frequencies.’

https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/artificial-nerves/

If we could make artificial skin and muscle, and then give that skin artificial nerve endings, we could create robots capable of ‘feeling’.

‘Artificial sensory nerves are at a very early stage in their development… To mimic its biological counterpart, the artificial sensory nerve is constructed using three components: resistive pressure sensors, ring oscillators, and a synaptic transistor, corresponding to the biological mechanoreceptors, neurons, and synapses, respectively (Figure 2).’

https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/artificial-nerves/

Why am I so interested in these developments? Because there are all sorts of stories in the world of Innerscape, including that of Jaimie and Ari. Jaimie is on the ‘inside’. Ari is on the ‘outside’. They can never really be together unless Ari gets very sick and is inducted into Innerscape, not a fate either of them would wish for.

But what if Jaimie could somehow project himself outside? If he could invent a robot capable of ‘feeling’, he could ride the robot in the outside world but ‘feel’ what the robot feels via the Innerscape AI. It would be like the reverse of the gaming suits and biofluid that outsiders use to temporarily project themselves inside Innerscape.

I’ve been thinking about the possibilities for some time, but couldn’t see how I could make it happen, not without making it all up. Now I won’t have to. 🙂

I know you guys aren’t really interested in my tech posts but…I don’t write them for you. I actually write them for myself so I can find important information months or even years after I originally discover it.

Thanks for putting up with my idiosyncrasies. 😉

Meeks


Not birds…bats!

Just found this amazing illustration of bat musculature:

https://www.anatomynote.com/animal-anatomy/mammals/bat/bat-muscle-anatomy/

Unlike bats though, Vokh and iVokh have an extra pair of arms whose sole function is to extend the surface area of the wing and, coincidentally, allow the legs to be longer. Of course that second pair of arms [hidden inside the wings], will require a shoulder joint that simply does not exist in our world. -sigh-

cheers
Meeks


Research, research, research…

https://youtu.be/UzrZ_s3_jRQ

That incredible musculature belongs to a gymnast by the name of Yuri van Gelder. His nickname is ‘Lord of the Rings’ because of this:

Not the best picture, but it shows van Gelder doing the ‘Iron Cross’ on the rings. If you watch the video these still images came from, you’ll see that the rings just hang there so the resistance they provide is minimal. And that means that holding that pose, or any of the poses in that family, is down to pure will, training and strength.

To me, the most interesting thing was that the pectoral muscles are not that big. Not like this guy:

I admit the guy in that pic has a better body than most extreme body builders, but what I needed to see were muscles that actually work hard. That’s why I gave up on the body builder pics and went looking for gymnasts.

Oh, you want to know why I’m perving on, I mean researching, muscles? For the Vokh, of course. They’re flyers so the muscles across their chests have to be insanely strong, but I didn’t want them to look like birds:

So now, I have to create flight muscles that are kind of in-between the muscles of a gymnast and those of a bird. I love research. 😀

cheers
Meeks


Yes! Natural ‘soap’ from the Yucca plant

Huge thanks to Carol from Carol Cooks 2 for her wonderful post on all things ‘soap’. One of the fascinating titbits in her post was this video about soap in the desert:

Why am I so chuffed to discover the Yucca root soap?

Because in Vokhtah [book 2], I mention something called ‘soapweed’. It’s a root that’s used for washing when water and sand are not enough. Discovering that there really is such a root is fantastic. -dance-

And as an added extra, the yucca grows in a dry, arid environment, which is almost exactly like Vokhtah. Simply could not get better. 🙂

cheers,
Meeks


mRNA vaccines and Myopericarditis

Some time ago, I posted about the need to aspirate the needle before injecting with AstraZeneca vaccine. When I finally had my first jab of AZ, I asked the nurse to aspirate the needle, and that simple change helped my nerves a lot.

Now, there’s proof that not aspirating the needle before injecting mRNA vaccines can cause myopericarditis, which is a rare but known side-effect of mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna.

Rather than trying to explain the research myself, please watch this video in which Dr John Campbell explains the terms, the research and the results:

I know a lot of you have already had both doses of whichever vaccine was available. But…it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to need booster shots fairly soon. That means you will once again be at the whim of fate.

The number of people unfortunate enough to develop myopericarditis is small, but it is real so, when it’s your turn for a booster…go to your GP and ASK for the needle to be aspirated. For your health and peace of mind.

cheers,
Meeks


When a fudge comes back to haunt you, or how to rappelle using the Dulfersitz

Not so long ago, I complained about the timeline in Vokhtah being out by three days. After a LOT of time and effort, which included combing through book 1 to see exactly what I happened when, I discovered that the timeline was actually out by 17 days. -pulls hair and screams-

The problem with the timeline goes all the way back to the very start of the book in which I guestimated that the journey to and from Deepwater gather would take about 50 days. As guestimates go, that fudge would not have been catastrophic had I gone back at the end of the book and worked out exact times spent. But I didn’t. 😦

I solved my timeline problem, but it’s left me very wary of any and all fudges, so when I went back to book 2 and came across a scene that involved a bad iVokh rappelling down into a ravine to chase a good iVokh, my fudge-alarm went off straight away.

Why? Because everything I know about mountaineering comes from a couple of old Hollywood movies. I think one of them starred Sylvestre Stallone:

Clearly, I could not allow the fudge to stand, so I’ve spent most of today doing research on mountaineering. To my utter surprise, the scene I wrote is actually possible using a method invented way back at the start of the 20th century by a climber called Hans Dulfer.

To use the Dulfersitz, [I think that translates as Dulfer-sit] you secure one end of the rope at the top of the cliff or wherever you happen to be, wrap it around your body a certain way, and then ‘walk down’ the near vertical face of the cliff suspended only by the friction of the rope against your body:

You can see exactly how to do the wrapping in the short video from which the still shot was taken: https://youtu.be/CLQ0IltdYd0 While revolutionary for its time, the Dulfersitz was not exactly painfree:

‘For quite a long time the Dülfersitz was the most common way of abseiling and it’s still remembered today, mainly with nostalgic memories of those gorgeous burns on the right side of your neck and shoulder along with some far less pleasant ones right next to your genitalia.’

http://stara.emontana.cz/dulfersitz-emergency-rappel/

As I don’t particularly care if the bad iVokh gets highly painful rope burn, I’m more than happy to use the Dulfersitz method. One fudge down, yay! 🙂

cheers
Meeks


“You are NOT a visual learner”

The take home message from this video is that there is no…noNO research that backs up the claims made for ‘learning styles’. Most people learn best when they are provided with a kind of multi-media presentation – visual, auditory, and reading. And, of course, in some subjects, kinetic [doing] is vital.

I’ve long been critical of education theories in general because they’re airy fairy at best and actually harmful at worst. Pigeon holing students as this type of learner or that, denies them the full range of information which might make something ‘click’.

As teachers, we are performers whose task it is to engage the audience. And students are that audience. Yes, it’s exhausting, but without that engagement there will be no learning.

I qualified as a secondary school teacher back in the 70’s so I have no idea what teacher training is like now, but if I had my way, I’d recruit teachers from amongst the acting community. From that base, I’d then teach them the other skills teachers need. And I’d recognize their unique skills and dedication by paying them what they’re worth. Only then will the best and brightest teach the movers and shakers of the future.

Not-so-humble
Meeks


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