Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Plutonium Pacemaker

So, today's lecture is cardiac elcetrophysiology... I thought this might have some relevance...
Various elements have been used to power pacemakers, which, externally, overdrive suppress ectopic or insufficiently fast automaticity foci, or kick in when there are no impulses whatsoever.

Plutonium has a pretty long half-life and radiates well, so some scientists figured "why not?!"
some are still in people!

The Arsenic DNA Paper

In class we discussed the troubles that Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon is currently under with her paper about finding a bacteria that uses arsenic and not phosphorous as its DNA backbone. Most of the responses have been a backlash at her paper, but if her paper is in fact true it may be a new way of finding new extraterrestrial planets. I have links to the paper, and the timeline of responses to her paper.

Arsenic Paper

Timeline of Responses

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cell phones and your health

"Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." (Jurassic Park)

In the light of a recent study that found that cell phones increase the local metabolism of glucose in the brain, it's difficult to rest easy as to whether or not these findings should pose some concern. In our world of wireless networking, cell phone communication, and instant chicken pot pie, we're subjected to some form of radiation every day. While most fears are over-exaggerated and bordering on paranoia mostly because of a lack of knowledge, all fear can't entirely be ruled out. As Adrienne posted, magnetic fields can be used to treat depression, so controlled electromagnetic fields do have some impact on us. Attached is an IEEE review of a few books that attack this issue, which clearly shows that this discussion is completely open for debate still. Do you think electromagnetic radiation is a legitimate health concern, or are international standards protecting us entirely?

IEEE Spectrum: Murderous Microwaves

Thursday, March 10, 2011

EEG Waves

This seems to explain the differences between the EEG waves when we are awake, in REM sleep, deep sleep, ect.

Also a good resource for Problem 4 of homework 6!

Magnets as a Treatment for Depression

Using magnetic fields as a legitimate treatment for medical conditions makes me a little skeptical.  It doesnt help that Professor Chatterjee in class today basically said that he thought there was no way that magnets could cure illnesses.  During the lecture today by Dr. Sajda he mentioned TMS and he described it as a coil over the head which has a very high gradient magnetic field.  It basically perturbs an area in the brain for a couple hundred milliseconds. Apparently he has done this to himself several times and has not experienced any difference in his mental state at all.

I would be really interested in hearing what everyone else thinkings about this!

The differences between neurons and transistors...

If you haven't read this yet it basically covers topics which have been covered in my artificial intelligence class, circuits class, and bioelectricity class.  This is an interesting development because it is a machine built to behave like a person.  It is based off of the human model.  One of the topics covered in my class was the question of whether we can/should base computers/AI's off of humans because computers are so fundamentally different from machines.  Is there a line that computers cannot cross which would prevent them from behaving like people?

And of course this AI project with memristors is funded by the military.