Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 19 September 2014

Tiny Implants Could Give Humans Self-Healing Powers... -

Tiny Implants Could Give Humans Self-Healing Powers... - 

Wolverine, Ghost Rider, the Incredible Hulk — all of these characters have at least one awesome trait in common: the ability to heal themselves. And now, the Pentagon wants to give ordinary people this superhuman capability.

A new military-sponsored program aims to develop a tiny device that can be implanted in the body, where it will use electrical impulses to monitor the body's organs, healing these crucial parts when they become infected or injured.

Known as Electrical Prescriptions, or ElectRx, the program could reduce dependence on pharmaceutical drugs and offer a new way to treat illnesses, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the branch of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for developing the program.

"The technology DARPA plans to develop through the ElectRx program could fundamentally change the manner in which doctors diagnose, monitor and treat injury and illness," Doug Weber, program manager for DARPA's biological technologies office, said in a statement.

The implant that DARPA hopes to develop is something akin to a tiny, intelligent pacemaker, Weber said. The device would be implanted into the body, where it would continually assess a person's condition and provide any necessary stimulus to the nerves to help maintain healthy organ function, he added.

The idea for the technology is based on a biological process known as neuromodulation, in which the peripheral nervous system (the nerves that connect every other part of the body to the brain and spinal cord) monitors the status of internal organs and regulate the body's responses to infection and disease. When a person is sick or injured, this natural process can sometimes be thrown off, according to DARPA. Instead of making a person feel better, neuromodulation can actually exacerbate a condition, causing pain, inflammation and a weakened immune system.

But with the help of an electrically charged implant, DARPA says it can keep neuromodulation under control. Electric impulses from the device will stimulate the nerve patterns that help the body heal itself and keep the out-of-whack nerve stimulus patterns that cause a sick person even greater harm from doing damage.

DARPA hopes to develop a device so tinythat it can be implanted using only a needle. Such a small implant would be a huge improvement over similar neuromodulation devices already in use today, most of which are about the size of a deck of cards and require invasive surgery to implant, according to DARPA.

And the miniature size of the device has another advantage: It can be placed exactly where it is needed at nerve endings. An implant as small as a nerve fiber could minimize the side effects caused by implants whose electric impulses aren't sent directly into nerve channels, DARPA officials said.

The device could help treat a host of painful, inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (a condition that causes inflammation throughout the body) and inflammatory bowel disease. And if the ElectRx program is a success, it could also lead to the development of implants that help treat brain and mental-health disorders, such as epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, according to DARPA.


Super-rich rush to buy 'Italian Job' style gold bars - up 243% so far this year -

Super-rich rush to buy 'Italian Job' style gold bars - up 243% so far this year - 

The super-rich are looking to protect their wealth through buying record numbers of "Italian job" style gold bars, according to bullion experts.
The number of 12.5kg gold bars being bought by wealthy customers has increased 243pc so far this year, when compared to the same period last year, said Rob Halliday-Stein founder of BullionByPost.
"These gold bars are usually stored in the vaults of central banks and are the same ones you see in the film 'The Italian Job'," added David Cousins, bullion executive from London based ATS Bullion.

The bars which are made from pure gold and are worth more than £300,000 each at today's prices of $1,223 (£760) an ounce.

The sales of 1kg gold bars, worth about £25,000 each, has doubled during the three months ended August, when compared to the same period last year, according to ATS Bullion sales figures.
Sales of the more popular gold coins such as the quarter ounce sovereign and one ounce Krugerrand have also doubled this year, according to figures from BullionByPost.
Mr Halliday-Stein said that while most customers arrange for secure storage of the larger bars in secret vaults operated by Brinks, some customers have taken physical delivery of the 12.5kg bars. The small coins can also be sent in the post.

As the independence vote takes place, Scottish investment in physical gold has surged by 42pc in the past fortnight – on top of the traditional rise in gold demand at this time of the year.
The figure, which comes from Bullionvault.com, the world's biggest online platform for private investors who want to trade physical gold and silver, suggests that anxious Scotland-based investors are turning to gold as a means of insuring against the uncertainties posed by a Yes vote in Thursday's referendum.

Bullionvault analysed customer data over the year, stripping out those of 50,000 customers who lived in the UK and then dividing this group further into postcodes north and south of the border.
It then averaged the proportion of transactions typically undertaken by Scotland-based traders out of the whole of the UK over the past year. That figure was then compared to the proportion of Scottish transactions undertaken in the first half of September.


Prince Harry sweeps a 5-year-old off her feet -

Prince Harry sweeps a 5-year-old off her feet - 

It's not always easy being five. You have to hold someone's hand before you cross the street, you can't reach the cookie jar on the counter and if you're in a crowd you certainly can't see over the heads of adults.

Five-year-old Isabelle Nixon was suffering from a serious case of being too small when her view of the stage was blocked by grown-ups at the Invictus Games.

Lucky for her a certain royal was nearby to lend a helping hand. None other than Prince Harry scooped up a crying Isabelle and put her on his shoulders to get a better view. His Royal Highness proceeded to hang out and dance to the Foo Fighters who were performing -- with Isabelle hoisted up.

Regarding the incident, Kensington Palace released a statement saying:

'Prince Harry was keen to enjoy the closing concert and celebrate the Games with the competitors. The little girl's father was the captain of the wheelchair basketball team, who Prince Harry met on several occasions throughout the course of the Games.'

'He recognized her from earlier in the day and saw she was getting upset because she couldn't see the band,' Isabelle's father Adam Nixon told The Daily Mail. 'He approached us and smiled at me and just literally picked her up and just started to dance so she could see the stage.'

Isabelle doesn't seem to be intimidated by her brush with royalty. Her mom Taryn says her daughter is telling people she's now a princess and got to dance with her Uncle Harry.


SNAP: Bat-wielding woman in her underwear storms an elementary school... -

SNAP: Bat-wielding woman in her underwear storms an elementary school... - 

Parents of Westside Elementary School in Memphis are demanding answers after a scantily clad woman wielding a baseball bat made her way into the school cafeteria.

“For one thing, how did she even get into the building without being noticed?” one parent asked WMC Action News 5.

A Shelby County Schools spokeswoman told the news site “all exterior doors are designed to lock automatically when pulled shut, however, it appears someone who used the door accidentally failed to shut it completely.”

Clesie Lawton, 23, was charged with criminal trespass and jailed on a $100 bond after she entered the school in her bra and underwear with a baseball bat in hand and began screaming and acting frantically. Others in the neighborhood, who recorded the woman’s frantic behavior, told police Lawton broke out the window of a nearby house before heading to the school, according to media reports.

“I’ve been seeing her around here, you know, but didn’t think she’d do something like that,” neighbor Monprel Franklin said.

School officials managed to remove the woman and from the cafeteria shortly before more than 100 students filed in for lunch, then trapped her in an office until police arrived, Fox reports. 

 “According to the incident report, ‘officers opened the door and the female tried to get away. The female was yelling and acting out. She was nervous and squirming all over the place,’” Action News 5 reports.

Lawton allegedly told police she had issues with diabetes. She was also wanted on a warrant from nearby Millington. Parents of students at the elementary school said they were unimpressed with how the school handled the situation, according to media reports.

“The school didn’t notify any parents,” Toni Fink said. “No way, form or fashion.”

“I understand they had it all under control,” she said. “But I still wanted to know.”

Several commenters online expressed dismay that Lawton’s bond was set so low, and criticized the school’s lax security.

“$100 bond??? She’s running around in her underwear with a BASEBALL BAT and enters a school in a threatening manner, and the bond is $100???” Sheila Clifton posted to Facebook.

“That was my first thought as well,” Amanda Acosta chimed in.

Karen Baldwin asked “Why didn’t the school go on lockdown and keep the kids in class instead of bringing them into the cafeteria where the junkie was?”

“And why was a door unlocked to the school for anyone to gain access?” she continued.

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