Category Archives: Science

Former Athlete Creates Sensor, Prevents Brain Injuries

Photo Credit: www.kickstarter.com

A former collegiate athlete has created a new form of preventative healthcare.

According to Fox News, founder and CEO of Jolt Sensor, Benjamin Harvatine has created the small sensor to assist in the prevention of concussions and other forms of brain injuries.

Harvatine wrestled for Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he sustained a number of concussions.

Harvatine explained that although he was hit in the head, he continued to practice even though he was experience dizziness, resulting in a longer recovery. The sensor, aims at detecting these injuries sooner, and preventing these long recoveries.

The clip-on sensor can be attached to a helmet, glasses, headband or other protective headgear. The goal is for the small device to track head impacts both based on level of impact as well as repetition.  When a potentially damaging situation occurs, the sensor will vibrate on the athlete’s head while also sending a notification to the cell phone of a parent or coach.

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‘Moving’ Towards the Future

A man paralyzed from the waist down wiggling his toes.A man paralyzed from the waist down is wiggling his toes.

Movement is one thing that the majority of people seem to take for granted every day. Sure there is a plentiful amount of reasons for one to be grateful, such as being happy, receiving that promotion, or scoring a date with your crush. But what about your ability to move your arms, adjust your legs, snap your fingers, or wiggle your toes? These things are so common place to most of us that we rarely give these gifts a second-thought. Sadly, there are individuals in the world who do not have the ability to move their limbs due to unfortunate circumstances. These are the people that never take what they have for granted and these are the people who may be fortunate enough to gain movement through advancements in modern technology.

Three years ago, Claudia Angeli from the Kentucky Spinal Cord Research Center and her team were able help a man paralyzed from the neck down experience movement through sending electricity through the man’s spinal cord (by having a device surgically implanted into the lower back). The man was able to wiggle his toes and stand. Now in the present, this team’s study has proven to be far from a fluke. Angeli and her colleagues have implemented the same electrical technique to three other paralyzed men and they all were able to demonstrate a certain amount of movement. Besides from providing movement to four different cases of paralyzed individuals, the true benchmark for this study is that electricity has been able to allow these patients to move parts of their limbs that experts theorized would never be able to move.

While this study has received praise, experts have warned that this treatment should not be considered a cure, since the movement is only temporary. But the mere possibility that a paralyzed individual could actually have a chance to move is certainly a notion to behold. While this may be the first baby-step in the right direction of research, the joy that Angeli and her team provide is astounding. One of the handicapped individuals, Dustin Shillcox, experienced a horrific car crash in 2010 that left him paralyzed. But the hope that he felt when the electrical device implanted in him allowed him to move made him experience a great deal of emotion, giving him the chance to believe that moving again would be a very plausible future. Even though this not an immediate cure, let’s keep our fingers crossed that we may live to see the handicapped receive the gift of movement.

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Wireless Electricity

Ever wondered what the future looked like? It has been speculated upon in movies and television shows for years. Well in all the wild images of the future, few could have dreamed up something like this. Its known as wireless electricity, and it could be making its way to your house sooner than you think.

According to CNN, an experiment done by Katie Hall, produced an image of a house, that could be the model for homes in the future. A light bulb was able to glow without any wires at all, instead according to Dr. Hall, a magnetic field is used to transfer power. “When you bring a device into that magnetic field, it induces a current in the device, and by that you’re able to transfer power,” explains Dr Hall.

A company called WiTricity, would build these devices, and already has experience in producing other electronic items which are powered in much the same way. If these items were to be brought into our house, it would revolutionize the way we use power. In an era when efficiency is crucial, WiTricity could be close to a cutting-edge breakthrough.

Thawing Out Danger

A 30,000 year old discovery could really affect our future. This is an ancient amoeba infected with the Pithovirus.

The thought of transitioning from the bitter cold of winter to the warm, welcoming temperature of spring, is a very comforting thought. When the weather is able to melt the away the snow, we will be able to hear the birds chirping, smell the aroma of daffodils blossoming, see the sun shine through the budding branches of trees, and taste the crisp light air that alleviates any dark mood. Unfortunately, the life that comes with warmth could potentially lead us to danger, specifically the warmth that comes from global warming.

Very recently in Siberia, scientist were able to discover a new/prehistoric virus which they have classified as a Pithovirus. This old virus has been considered abnormal due to its immense size (equaling to the size of common bacteria). What is stranger about this large pathogen is that it lacks the biological functions that other microorganism of that size possess. Despite the fact that human beings are not equipped with natural defenses to combat such an ancient pathogen, information surrounding the Pithovirus indicates that it does not present any immediate harm to humans. According to experimentation, this virus does not attack multicellular organisms and only targets unicellular beings like amoebas.

This recent discovery is fascinating in a historical context, but the repercussion of such a discovery can lead to a very hazardous future. While this new discovery can be considered harmless, it can also be seen as a bullet dodged for humanity. The fact that such organisms can survive frozen can open up the possibility that an unknown pathogen is awaiting in the snow that could bypass the human immune system and be lethal. With the threat of global warming increasing over the years, the melting of frigid environments (such as the permafrost ground in Siberia) can release potential problems for the future.

So while we might be happy with the fact that the wintertime ice will be dissolving soon, we must tread the future with caution in regards to global warming in general. It is always good to discover things that may have been around before the existence of humanity, but what good are these discoveries if it could put us in jeopardy?

 

The Power of Spider Silk

Spider-Man has the right idea.

Spiders are extraordinary creatures that provide many benefits for the environment around us. These benefits can range from catching annoying insects that plague our homes to entertaining boyfriends by scaring their girlfriends. Despite having these bonuses, people do not tend to associate medicine and clothing as one of the wall-crawler’s many perks.

Though spider silk (the material found in their webbing) is nothing new to the scientific community, current research on the subject has shed light on new properties that can be used publicly rather than merely being research. The specific strain of spider silk that scientist have focused on is the silk that belongs to the golden orb spider, whose silk has high doses of vitamin K (fantastic for bone growth)  and is a natural disinfectant. Many health related organizations have begun utilizing these properties to aid in joint pain caused by osteoarthritis or other afflictions.

While the healing wonders of spider silk is being focused on the knee, according to Dr. Nick Skaer, the potential for the silk of golden orb spiders is unlimited. He suggests that not only could it aid in the healing of joint pain in the hip, shoulder, or ankle, but one day can even help repair nerve damage (For his interview from CNN, Click Here).

Medicine is not the only frontier that spider silk commands. Many health orientated clothing companies have started to manufacture athletic clothing with spider silk fiber weaved into the fabric. This new trend is definitely worth the investment for these companies because the organic component of the weaved-in spider silk provides a very durable comfort (the silk from golden orb spiders is VERY strong) and the antiseptic properties provide constant skin care. For example, if you wished to exercise with some sort of cut, the spider fabric acts as a band-aid supplying constant relief and constantly cleaning the cut.

The formation of spider silk products being introduced into the marketplace is definitely going to make an impact on the future and it would be wise to monitor the further benefits that can come from using this material. So, if you start  to feel sudden joint pain or are seeking a better workout outfit, just go look for that web in the back of your kitchen cabinet.

 

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