Category Archives: Medicine and Biology

Last Night’s Show, 2/27/2012

Stories from last night’s show (in no particular order):

Tongue Drive uses dental retainer and tongue piercing to control wheelchair :

GPS spoofers– devices that create false GPS signals to fool receivers into thinking they are somewhere they aren’t– could be used for high-frequency financial trading fraud:

Flowers grown from 30,000-year-old fruit :

Skier saved from deadly avalanche by airbag backpack :

NYT sez: Google to sell Android-based heads-up display glasses this year :

Google and Adobe team up to make Flash Player for Linux :

Nightline’s Foxconn report offers revealing look at factory:

Google Fiber just got better– Google asks permission to provide video service to Kansas City :

iPad owners are far more likely to be able to claim they are considerably richer than you :
– survey conducted by US market watcher NPD
– more than 40% of iPad owners have a household income in excess of $100,000 annually
– only 26% of owners of other tablets (Android, BlackBerry, WebOS, Windows) were as well-heeled

Fraunhover’s Full-HD Voice brings high-fidelity VoLTE to Android smartphones :

Court rules that TrueCrypt user cannot be compelled to decrypt hard disk
(fifth amendment upheld) :

New password-snatching Mac trojan is spreading in the wild :

Facebook started out building its own data centers, and then their own servers. Now they’re building their own storage hardware :
– extends philosophy of ‘vanity-free engineering’
– eliminating any ancillary components around the drive itself, to make it more serviceable

iFixit examines alleged iPad 3 display, confirms doubled resolution :
– iPad 2 has 1024×768
– new display has 2048×1536

Apple patents design for ultra-thin keyboard :

Physicists pinpoint W boson, narrow search for the Higgs :

After US v. Jones, FBI turns off 3,000 GPS tracking devices : – FBI sought court orders in some cases to obtain permission to turn the devices on again briefly, in order to locate and retrieve them

Google+ gets unblocked in China; President Obama’s page flooded with comments

Researchers have developed optical memory devices that could find their way into future all-optical routing devices :
– based on optical cavities that can be switched between light-transmitting and light-blocking states to construct digital signals
– new memory cells use just 30 nanowatts of power, 300x less than previous designs, and can retain data for up to one full microsecond, which is long enough to support processing

Android ‘phablets’ like the Galaxy Note are a big thing a MWC 2012 :

Carrier iQ– remember them?– opens up iQCare diagnostics platform to smartphone end users :

AT&T service in the works to let app developers pay for their users’ data use
– why would anyone do this? :

London Sunday Times is reporting that Facebook read SMS text messages of users who downloaded the FB smartphone app for Android :
– FB admitted to reading text messages as part of a trial to launch its own messaging service
– it’s not clear if FB has discontinued this practice

Three of the four DC lobbying firms Facebook had hired abruptly terminated their contracts
– Politico is reporting that the firms are siding with content providers (Hollywood) in their fight against Internet firms in the growing battle on Capitol Hill

East Africa’s high-speed Internet access is severely disrupted after a ship drops anchor into fiber optic cables off Kenya’s coast :

IBM researchers image electrical charge distribution inside a single molecule :

HTC has signed a deal with Dropbox to better compete against iCloud :

Facebook mobile operator billing opens app economy to the credit card-less :

Prosthetics breakthrough might fuse nerves with fake limbs :

Lego International Space Station built aboard the real ISS :


Mike has a poo joke for you

This is possible a great advance in diagnosis and treatment. Quite non invasive, uses a bio-product and is easily delivered & “flushed” from the system.


Columbia One Read on KOPN Tech Radio

Just a friendly reminder about the Columbia One Read program!  KOPN Tech Radio will devote one show in September to discussing the One Read book selection, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, so get to reading!

The book is available widely at both libraries and bookstores in our area.  Daniel Boone Regional Library in Columbia has many copies in print, audiobook, ebook, and downloadable audiobook formats.  Additionally, KOPN will be broadcasting the audiobook recording of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks several times in the month of September.

Many other KOPN programs in September will be dedicating shows to discussing the book in detail, and many community events have been and will be organized to discuss the story.  For a full list of these events and a list of the dates when the audiobook will be broadcast on KOPN, head on over to the Daniel Boone Regional Library website.

We haven’t selected a date for our Tech Radio discussion, but it will be later in the month of September to allow you a chance to catch one of the audiobook broadcasts.  Please note that we will discuss the book in depth, including what may be considered spoilers.  (Are there spoilers when it comes to nonfiction books?)

Oops, we overcooked the food; or, possible invalid results at the mars lander

New Scientist is reporting an interesting the possibilty: the “nothing found” results of checking for organic compounds on the Mars Lander may be due to a flawed technique. Essentially, the lander heats the sample to turn them into a vapor and then attempt to detect the organics in the vapor. However, it is now being speculated that the mars surface may contain perchlorate. These are salts that can act as powerful oxidizers. If present, the very act of heating them could cause them to combust, even in mars oxygen-starved atmosphere. Once burnt, the sample is no longer organic.

They have a new way of checking it they might try out on the 2016 ExoMars lander being designed now.

Video games make old people smart?

Video games make old people smart?

The U of I urbana-champaign did a control-group experiment. One group of “older folks” where given video games to play. The other group wasn’t. Later, when tested, the video game group was smarter for certain challenges; including short term memory and multitasking.

Details: they used a strategy game call “Rise of Nations“. Old meant 60+.

Brilliant! This means I can justify my game playing still…

It’s official–unhappy folks watch more TV.

Lot’s of folks have suspected this, but the hard numbers are now in: unhappy folks watch more TV on average than happy folks. Please note that this is a correlation. It could either mean:

  1. TV makes people unhappy.
  2. People already unhappy are soothed by TV.
  3. Or both 1 and 2.
  4. Or neither because there is a third factor not seen by the study.

The insight is that there is a connection of some kind. Even so, it’s a useful insight into modern life. The study adjusted for available hours that each individual had; in addition to marital status, economics, age, etc. It looked  the individuals choice for non-work time spent. Other events include parties, religious service, volunteering, reading, etc.

IMO, the next step is asking the same about online gaming. Unlike TV, that kind of a gaming is a two-way social experience. Does that make a difference? I have my suspicions.

Want the full PDF of the study: click here.

First cancer genome sequenced

The very first cancer genome (the whole thing) has been sequenced. Step 2: figuring out the difference between the non-cancer version and cancerous version.

That second step is not as straightforward has it sounds. There will be lots of difference that are not cancer related. In fact, this sequence is also of a female and all the known non-cancer sequences are of males. Seriously, wouldn’t this complicate the analysis? In general, you try to reduce the number of variable in a comparitive analysis. But, I’m not a geneticist, so maybe its not big deal.

Anyway, kudos to this. Hope to see results before too long.

Pound for pound, all life on Earth uses the same amount of energy

It turns out there’s a “sweet spot” for energy consumption when it comes to life in general, at least as far as known life on Earth is concerned.

An article on tells of work coming from the University of Minnesota that goes against older models charting metabolic rate against mass. It turns out that nature selects for a metabolic rate between 3 and 90 watts per kilogram.

The old model showed an expected variance of around 20 orders of magnitude when comparing energy consumed by very small and very large creatures. Researchers from UM saw instead a single order of magnitude. “Power scaling” theory just didn’t work out.

So you can tell your doctor that just because you’re overweight doesn’t mean you aren’t using energy efficiently!

You want to be pretty? Allow me to boot up my laptop…

Software program makes people pretty, according to a New York Times article.

Or, to be more specific, a new software program takes an existing picture of a persons face and “alters” it to make it more attractive based on an algorithm. What is intersting about it is that it still looks like the original person (mostly). It simply takes it’s statistical analysis of “beauty” and applies to to proportions and other features of the face.

The software is experimental and not available for download. Rats.