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Archive for May, 2014

Nearly two years ago I wrote about suntan lotion pills that would do a better job of protecting us from the sun’s harmful radiation than traditional methods of applying sun screen.  Here’s what I had to say about it at the time:

“Just take the pill one hour prior to going out in the sun and your whole body will be protected for a set amount of time.  Sounds like a great idea in theory and hey if it’s possible to design a pill that allows someone who is lactose intolerant to eat dairy products then why shouldn’t it be possible to make a pill that can block the sun’s radiation?

Well it turns out that not only is it possible but it’s also already in the works:  http://www.fyiliving.com/health-news/sunscreen-pill-a-possibility-so-long-suntan-lotion/.  According to the article it may take several years before this product hits the market but it will eventually do so thanks to coral found in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as the coral, “possesses UV blockers that help protect your skin from the sun’s harms.”  However, “since the coral is endangered, scientists will have to make artificial replicas of the coral and test its effectiveness on human skin.”

If doing this is actually possible just think about all of the amazing ramifications this would have.  You wouldn’t have to worry about getting a painful sunburn if you miss a spot applying lotion.  And you wouldn’t have to worry about suffering from the effects of sun poisoning if you happen to miss a lot of spots as my roommate did not too long ago.  Any and all sun related worries would be alleviated with one pill.  Come on scientists, don’t fail me now!”

Flash forward two years and there is now another approach in the works, one that involves drinking your suntan lotion instead of taking a pill.  This new method was created by Osmosis Skincare and is called Harmonized H20.

As Springwise reports, ” just 2ml of the drink can be mixed with around 60ml of water, offering a protection equivalent to factor 30 sunblock. The liquid is emitted by the skin, and its molecules vibrate to reflect up to 97 percent of UVA and UVB rays…”

In other words it just one mouthful we can quickly and easily provide ourselves with the same level of protection that lathering our entire bodies in lotion for the better part of ten minutes affords us.

Which begs the question: where do I sign up?

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Is drinkable suntan lotion the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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#491 – No More Pain

Every day I suffer silently, living with extreme pain that I would describe on a scale of 1-10 as being a 75, the result of a car accident nearly seven years ago that left the muscles in my back tangled up like a spoonful of angel hair pasta wrapped around a fork.  Over the years I’ve tried every possible treatment known to man from acupuncture to chiropractic adjustments with little to no relief to show for it.  Since my injuries were muscular and not structural I was told that surgery wouldn’t help.  Eventually, I just accepted my fate and tried to do my best to ignore the fact that it feels as though someone is pinching me every second of my life.

Since I love solving problems and coming up with ideas it should come as no surprise that I’ve thought long and hard about ways to eradicate my pain.  Non-traditional ways that perhaps modern science hadn’t thought about yet.  The one idea that I came up with that seemed to me to be the most practical was the idea of turning off my body’s pain receptors.  I would still be injured but I just wouldn’t be aware of it anymore.  Problem solved.   There was just one issue with this great plan of mine: I had no idea if this was even possible.  Now thanks to researchers at Duke University I have my answer.

As Geek magazine details, “The pharmaceuticals used to treat pain haven’t changed substantially in many years, and they all come with a range of possible side effects. In the case of strong opioids, the potential for dependence or overdose sometimes outweighs the benefits. A team of researchers from Duke University may have discovered an alternative to the drugs traditionally used to treat pain. They have developed a highly specialized antibody that can dull the pain response by acting directly on neurons.”

What exactly is an antibody you ask?  Well as Geek explains, “An antibody is a type of protein produced by the immune system of all vertebrates. They are part of the so-called adaptive response that attaches to pathogens and marks them for removal from the body. When you get vaccinated against a disease, it is the antibodies produced by the immune system in response that give you the protection. Researchers have long known they can generate antibodies in the lab that target a certain molecule or structure (called an antigen), and that’s what the Duke researchers did in this case.”

Essentially, this means that our bodies will no longer be able to send signals to our brains that we’re in pain.  Not only that but it will also work towards blocking the feeling of itchiness!  And the best part about this new method of treating pain is that so far there are no known side effects or issues with dependency.  Of course, removing our ability to feel pain might not necessarily be the best course of action in all circumstances since it will mask the fact that there is a real issue that needs to be treated.  But for someone like me who is a chronic pain sufferer this is surely great news.  Hopefully it won’t be too long before this new treatment reaches the market.

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to feel pain anymore?

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As someone who has had a root canal and a wisdom tooth removed in the last few months here’s a topic that I know a little something about: tooth decay.  So imagine how excited I was to hear about a potential new method that could one day regrow our teeth using lasers!!!!  Yea, that’s right.  I said lasers!!!!!

This incredible new technique was discovered by researchers at Harvard University who realized that they could use lasers to stimulate the stem cells in the mouth after conducting tests on rats.  As it turns out it’s a breakthrough that’s been in the works for a while.

As Business Insider writes, “Using lasers to make stem cells do their work is particularly appealing, since it’s a minimally invasive technique, only requiring light once the damaged area is exposed. Scientists have theorized in the past that this was possible, since lasers have been shown to stimulate growth for unknown reasons, but this is the first time that the process has been demonstrated and observed.”

But the best part about this breakthrough is what else it could be used for.

According to USA Today, “the approach might also work for regrowing heart tissue, fighting inflammation and repairing bone and wounds.”

Of course it’s going to be a while before we find out for sure as it’s going to be at least a year before this can be tested on humans but for now it sure is exciting just to think about what the future of medicine may look like.

 

 

Don’t fret Mr. Tooth.  There soon may be a way to regrow you using lasers!

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Life is full of minor inconveniences from having to do laundry to having to clean up after yourself to having to put up with the Kardashians but there is nothing more inconvenient than having to take a pill day after day when you are suffering from a chronic injury or illness.

This inconvenience becomes even more concerning when you consider that some people have difficulty swallowing pills of a certain size and that others even forget to take their pills from time to time which leads to all kinds of problems costing the healthcare industry millions of dollars in the long run.  Wouldn’t it be great then if we didn’t have to take pills anymore?

Well we may soon be luck thanks to researchers at Stanford University who claim to have found a new way to wirelessly charge implanted electronic devices paving the way for a future without pills.

As Dvice explains:

“Electrical implants like pacemakers have been around for decades, but delivering power to them can be a major problem. Most devices rely on bulky batteries that need to be changed every few years, but unlike the battery in your flashlight, changing an implanted medical device battery requires surgery. Wireless charging works well for cellphones, so why not go wireless for medical devices?

One problem is that while wireless charging can work if the device is directly under the surface of the skin, trying to reach deeper into the body can affect the body’s tissue structures. Dr. Ada Poon and her team at Stanford University in California have delved deeper into this problem, and they claim to have discovered a sweet spot deeper under the skin, where charging is still effective but body tissues are not damaged. This means that the devices can be attached right at the affected nerve bundles, stimulating them directly without the need for drugs.”

As someone who avoids taking pills as much as possible, even when it’s too my own detriment, that is certainly great news.  Hopefully, I won’t have to wait too long for this new approach to catch on.

Wouldn’t it be great if you never had to take a pill ever again?

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Earlier today I wrote about a problem that science has long grappled with: using suspended animation to put death on hold.  So for the night cap I thought I would write about a relatively new problem: how to interact with the digital world.

You may not think this is a real problem worthy of your attention but as augmented reality becomes prevalent in our everyday lives we are going to need an intuitive and socially acceptable way of interacting with this new content.  Thankfully a company called Metaio has created just the thing: thermal touch.

What exactly is that you ask?  Well it’s basically a way to turn any object into a touch screen simply by tracking the heat signature that your finger leaves behind after it interacts with a surface.

Tech Crunch does a great job of summing up this new age problem and Metaio’s novel solution:

“There is a known UI problem with which many software and hardware makers have grappled: What is the best way to interact with the HUD (heads up display) and to control it, for example, if you are looking at a real table with a virtual chessboard on it?

There are several motifs in use today for these kinds of situations. Touching physical buttons or controllers connected to the HUD (like on Oculus Rift or Google Glass), voice command (like on Google Glass), Depth-aware gestures (like on Meta SpaceGlasses), and others.

However, many of these are problematic in that they are either bulky, noisy, unnatural, or that you look like a doofus to the world around you while doing it (e.g. swiping virtual menus in thin air).

The Metaio engineers have a novel concept that attempts to solve this first-world conundrum. It works like this:

Hook up a thermal camera to the device you are wearing and track the heat signature your finger leaves behind on real-world objects you touch. That lingering heat signature can be used to trigger actions in the digital content you see in your HUD, just like a mouse click or a touch.”

To find out more check out this video featuring a guy that sounds eerily like Arnold Schwarzenegger or at least like a guy trying to do an impersonation of him:

Now that you know what thermal touch is all about you may be asking yourself why you should care?  The answer is obvious: because this opens up a whole new range of awesome possibilities for doing things that will make our lives better.

As Venture Beat writes, “The potential applications are enormous: Tap your door to enter a key code without the keypad; tap your table to play a game of chess without the board; tap a print ad to hit ‘buy’ without a smartphone.”

So as you can see this new technology is about to usher in a whole new way for us to interact with the world.  It’s a problem not many of us were concerned with but it’s a problem we were going to run into nonetheless.  Thankfully Metaio has already developed the solution.

With ‘Thermal Touch’ tech, the world is your touchscreen

Is Thermal Touch the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Here’s a riddle for you:  What’s not quite alive but not quite dead either?  No, I’m not talking about a ghost or a zombie.  I’m taking about you.  At least, I might be in a few years if you happen to find yourself in the unfortunate position of having sustained a life threatening injury.  That’s because mankind is on the verge of doing the impossible: cheating death.

As Yahoo News reports, “In a first for modern medicine, the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will suspend life in some patients with potentially fatal wounds in order to buy precious time for surgeons to be able to fix the problems.”

That’s right.  We are finally on the verge of doing something that has long been a staple of science fiction.  Of doing something that we never thought we’d be able to do.  Welcome to the age of suspended animation where the life of a patient will be put on hold for a few hours until we can fix what’s wrong with them.

How does it work?  Well, according to Fox News, “The procedure involves replacing a patient’s entire blood supply with cold saline solution, which essentially induces hypothermia and slows down all cellular activity.  This gives the surgeons more time to operate on individuals who have extreme life-threatening injuries.  Then, once the wounds are repaired, surgeons will gradually warm the patients back up by slowly replacing the saline with blood.”

As exciting as this news is it’s also frustrating at the same time as CNET reports that, “the technique was developed by Doctor Peter Rhee, who successfully managed to test it on pigs in the year 2000” before publishing the results in 2006.  If that’s the case then why did it take another eight years before we got around to testing it on humans?!?!?!?! How many lives could have been saved in that time?

As Rhee states in the Yahoo News article, “Every day at work I declare people dead. They have no signs of life, no heartbeat, no brain activity. I sign a piece of paper knowing in my heart that they are not actually dead. I could, right then and there, suspend them. But I have to put them in a body bag.  It’s frustrating to know there’s a solution.”

Thankfully, that solution is now on the verge of becoming a mainstream practice so hopefully there won’t be anymore lives lost unnecessarily.  And while we’re on the subject of hope let’s also hope that this technology continues to improve and that we can figure out a way to suspend life for longer than just a few hours.  Because if we can then that opens up a whole new range of possibilities for mankind including the prospect of using suspended animation for long range space travel!

Of course we’d still need to figure out a way to travel across vast distances in space but that’s an issue for another day.  Today we’re just going to focus on celebrating suspended animation and our new found ability to cheat death!!! It doesn’t get any better than that.

Is suspended animation the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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#486 – Face Spanx

The other day I wrote about 3-D printed makeup and now here I am about to talk about Spanx for your face.  What is the world coming too?  I guess it’s not that surprising though if you think about it.  I like to write about cool, game-changing technologies and few things come closer to capturing the imagination like novel new ways to cure aging.

So what is all the fuss about this time?  I’ll let Fortune explain:

“There’s something confusing about Rosemary Moran.  Well, more accurately, there’s something confusing about the 63-year-old’s eyes. Viewed separately, each side of Moran’s face tells a very different story. The skin under her left eye appropriately sags, hammocking into a bag befitting of any elderly woman. But the right side? It’s taut — with the healthy puff of a woman 20 years younger.”

That tale of two sags is courtesy of something called Strateris which was developed by the cosmetics company Living Proof, a company that is backed by actress Jennifer Aniston who hasn’t been involved in something this successful since her days on Friends.

So how does it work?

“A wearable polymer film that mimics young skin’s strength and elasticity, Strateris sits atop loose skin and reshapes it — think of it as the facial equivalent of Spanx’s tummy-shrinking undergarments.  Its effects last for 16 hours, peaking three hours after application.”

Traditionally, I’ve never been a fan of makeup.  Too much lipstick is an eye-sore and I’d much rather be with someone who is naturally beautiful than with someone who feels the need to cover their warts.  But even I have to admit that a Spanx like cream that makes you look nearly twenty years younger is pretty awesome.

But that’s not all.  As MIT scientist Robert Langer states in Fortune there are plenty of other potential applications for this technology:

“”I’m no expert on what’s going to happen next, but I can say what could happen next.” The platform may be used to solve cellulite, help skin problems like psoriasis and xerosis, or house a long-lasting perfume.  “There’s a whole range of medical and non-medical implications where you can put different agents in this kind of Spanx-like cream…”

Now I’m not fashion or beauty expert but all that sounds very promising to me.  Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to find out what they can come up with next.

Is Face Spanx the Greatest Idea Ever?

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