Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nanogel Regenerates Cartilage in Joints

The body is a resilient biological structure, but there's one thing medical science, an increasing number of Baby Boomers, and the majority of professional athletes will all tell you: Take care of your joints, because once you burn up the cartilage you started with, you're not getting any more. But a breakthrough by Northwestern University scientists will now allow adult joints to naturally grow new cartilage for the very first time.

The process has undergone successful animal testing, but it's likely got a few more years of testing ahead of it before it could become commonplace. But the timing couldn't be better; an aging population means an increase in achy old joints. A fresh round of cartilage production could keep many of the more senior members of society in the workforce, on the golf course and out of orthopedic surgeon's office.

Read more at Stem Cell Nano-gel Regenerates Cartilage

Personal note: I hope this procedure is approved soon. I have severe arthritis in one of my thumbs caused by a teenage injury and over 45 years of computer keyboard and mouse use. It causes me mild discomfort and pain and makes me appreciate the problems and pain of people with a wider range of arthritic joints.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The passing of an unsung artist and intellectual

Charles Frank "Devo" Ragsdale died of cancer on February 12, 2010. He was an aspiring artist and intellectual whose life can best be summed up in Henry David Thoreau's quotation "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." Devo was a teacher who taught in New England, California and Texas; an avowed Zionist who had an excellent knowledge of Middle Eastern history and current events; and a football fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of college and pro football statistics. After retirement he became a reclusive artist who was convinced that his next painting would bring him fame.

Devo was one of my best friends for over 50 years. I am the proud owner of three of his more realistic paintings. The painting of birds above was done for me when my wife died in November 2006. His paintings tended toward Impressionism and Cubism to such an extent that they were incomprehensible to most people. Over the years we had many good natured arguments about his style of painting. I kept telling him he could be a successful commercial artist if he would switch his painting style to Realism. And he would tell me I did not recognize good art when I saw it and that he refused to prostitute himself to the commercial art world just to be successful.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dallas Blooms

Dallas Blooms at the Dallas Arboretum is the largest floral festival in the south, showcasing over 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs. The 90 Japanese cherry blossom trees were also in bloom when I visited yesterday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

No more bar codes?

Lines at the grocery store might become as obsolete as milkmen, if a new tag that seeks to replace bar codes becomes commonplace.

Researchers from Sunchon National University in Suncheon, South Korea, and Rice University in Houston have built a radio frequency identification tag that can be printed directly onto cereal boxes and potato chip bags. The tag uses ink laced with carbon nanotubes to print electronics on paper or plastic that could instantly transmit information about a cart full of groceries.

"You could run your cart by a detector and it tells you instantly what's in the cart," says James M. Tour of Rice University, whose research group invented the ink. "No more lines, you just walk out with your stuff."

For more information read New RFID Tag Could Mean the End of Bar Codes

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cloud computing

Have you heard the term cloud computing? If you haven't, you will soon. Simply put, cloud computing means using the Internet to provide your programs and store your data. The cloud is a metaphor for "the Internet." This started because in drawing networks, the Internet was usually represented by a drawing of a cloud.

For example, instead of spending $300 on a new copy of Microsoft Office, you might find that Google's free online suite, Google Docs, will do just fine. Needless to say, many companies are investigating cloud computing.

For more information read the Wikipedia entry on Cloud Computing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Turn Your Body Into Your I/O with Skinput

Electronic devices are getting smaller, and so are their interfaces. If you've ever had problems typing on your mobile, or changing a song on your iPod while jogging, Chris Harrison has the answer. His Skinput prototype is a system that monitors acoustic signals on your arm to translate gestures and taps into input commands. Just by touching different points on your limb you can tell your portable device to change volume, answer a call, or turn itself off. Even better, Harrison can couple Skinput with a pico projector so that you can see a graphic interface on your arm and use the acoustic signals to control it.

Incorporating your body into your mobile systems could be the next big theme in human computer interfaces.

Read more at Turn Your Body Into Your I/O