Category Archives: Medical

Hitachi’s Brain Machine Interface


Hitachi’s “brain machine interface,” which it showed an AP reporter in June, might soon allow a user to don a hat and turn an appliance on or off by merely thinking about doing so. Until now, such thought-controlled instructions could only be done by people with devices implanted.

It operates by monitoring slight changes in the brain’s blood flow and translates brain motion into electrical signals. Since 2005, Hitachi has sold a device that lets paralyzed patients communicate “yes” or “no” but now they’re anxiously trying to identify the many commercial applications for such as device.

Here’s an idea: Think ‘TV remote controls’! 🙂

Get more coverage on Sci-Tech Today including the description of how the AP reporter controlled a train with her thoughts.

Vancouver Doctors perform Surgery on .. a Vulcan?


It was the middle of the night when surgeons were preparing to perform emergency surgery in Vancouver, Canada. The man they were going to operate on had developed compartment syndrome in his legs after he fell asleep while kneeling. Compartment syndrome is a dangerous medical condition where pressure builds up in the deep muscle tissues and can cause permanent nerve damage.

However, when the surgical team established an arterial line in the man’s wrist, they were surprised to discover that his blood was dark green instead of bright red. Even though the man is not a Vulcan, it was like something out of Star Trek.

Read the rest of the article from GrrlScientist

Lip Read Me Now, Hear Me Better Later

Have you ever thought that you could understand someone a little better if you could see their lips while they’re talking even if you couldn’t hear them clearly?

Research by a Univ of California psychology professor and his graduate students have proven just that. is reporting on their study and their paper “Lip-Read Me Now, Hear Me Better Later: Crossmodal Transfer of Talker Familiarity Effects” along with a few of the scenarios they ran by their subjects.

In the study, students watched a silent videotape of a talker’s face, after an hour the students were broken up into two groups. One group heard the audio tape only that came from that video, the other group heard sentences from a different talker, in both cases the audio was difficult to discern due to a lot of background noise. Both groups were then asked to identify as many words as possible.

The undergraduates who lip-read and heard speech from the same talker were better at picking out coherent sentences from the noise. Which leads to this analysis:

These findings suggest that when we watch a person speak, we become familiar with characteristics of their speaking style which also are present in the sound of their speech. This allows talker familiarity to be transferred from lip reading to listening, thereby making a talker easier to hear. These results have implications for individuals with hearing impairments as well as for brain lesion patients, Rosenblum said.

Link to Eurekalert, the site has details to find the published paper or to obtain a copy.

Found via Omniglot

Paralyzed Mice Walk Again

GrrlScientist at is reporting on test results in the field of regenerative medicine.  If it’s accurate then the future for victims of severed spines looks a tad more hopeful than before if treatment can start asap after the accident.


A group of lab mice were intentionally paralyzed by cutting their spinal cords. As a result, they ended up dragging their hind legs behind them instead of scurrying around as mice do. But a group of these mice have partially recovered movement in their hind legs without the aid of surgery or drugs, thanks to a new field of medical research known as regenerative medicine.

Link to the article.

Inner Life Of A Cell

I actually caught this a few weeks ago, and lost track of it until last night.  This is a fantastic and educational view to the internal workings of a single cell.  Running at about eight minutes, the animation will be sure to spur your imagination and keep you mesmerized, as it did me when I first watched it.  Even my 12yr old son sat fixed on this (and he’s a perpetual busybody).  If only there were more interesting movies like this available back when I was in school, I just might have gotten better grades in biology 😉

Cell Stuff

Created by XVIVO, a scientific animation company near Hartford, CT, the animation illustrates unseen molecular mechanisms and the ones they trigger, specifically how white blood cells sense and respond to their surroundings and external stimuli.   Now there’s a mouthful!

EDIT:  Haha!  Even writers have brainfarts.  I forgot to add the link to the animation after writing about it 🙂  It just goes to show that we’re human here at Geeknews!  Stab here for the animation.

How Do You Get Crabs From A Gorilla?

Pubic Lice

Carl Zimmer has a very interesting and lengthy article that covers all aspects of the lice and even touches on the the evolutionary tree of pocket gopher species and how it relates to these little pests.

If pubic lice are not the sort of thing you want to be seen reading about, let me give you the opportunity to close your browser window right now. But if you’re at all curious about the secret that pubic lice have been keeping for over three million years, the tale of a mysterious liaison between our ancestors and the ancestors of gorillas–read on.

Many parasites tend to stick close to their hosts. A parasitic wasp may wander through forests and fields to find a caterpillar from a single species of butterfly in which it will lay its eggs. Blood flukes taste the water of their ponds for molecules from human skin. Wolbachia, a species of bacteria, never even has to leave its hosts, because it is passed down from mothers to their offspring. If a parasite sticks to its host for millions of years, their evolution may run on parallel tracks. As the host species splits in two, its parasite splits as well.

Check it out on Scienceblogs.

New Nanofilter, 50 Atoms Thick, Sorts Individual Molecules

The latest issue of Nature announces the details of a membrane developed by the University of Rochester that opens new design possibilities for better dialysis, fuel cells and neuro-stem cell cultivation.

At more than 4,000 times thinner than a human hair, this 15 nanometer membrane is very similar to the slices of silicone seen in every-day microprocessor manufacturing plants.

Read the details here.

Nanofilter array

[Found on]

What is the greatest medical milestone?

BBC News informs us that the British Medical Journal is launching a competition to decide the greatest medical breakthrough. You can vote at the article choosing one of the categories. The categories are:

Anaesthesia, Antibiotics,Chlorpromazine, Computers, DNA, Evidence based medicine, Germ theory, Imaging, Immunology, Oral rehydration therapy, The Pill, The Risks of smoking, Sanitation, Tissue culture, Vaccines

Below is a drawing showing the chloroform inhaler developed by John Snow in the 1850s.
Chloroform Inhaler

CSI:Rome, Solving a 400 Year Old Murder

As rulers, art connoisseurs and financiers of kings, one family, the Medici family, survived for hundreds of cut throught years wheeling and dealing and forming alliances in old Europe, providing four popes and ruling first Florence then Tuscany from about 1430 to 1737.

Its most famous members include Lorenzo de’ Medici, or “Lorenzo the Magnificent”, who supported Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli. At least two Medici women — Catherine and Maria, who was Francesco’s daughter — married kings of France, and the Medicis’ former home, Pitti Palace, now houses an important art gallery.

Francesco de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, ruled from 1574 until his death at age 46 on Oct. 17, 1587, 11 days after he fell ill and a few hours before his wife also died.

Rumors abounded that Francesco’s brother, Ferdinando de’ Medici, poisoned his brother and sister in-law, but the official cause of death was malaria after an autopsy had been performed.
3 scientists have looked into this mysterious death recently, collected evidence from the grave site and have announced their findings. Read the LiveScience article with all the backstory from the 16th century, the scientific studies, the evidence discovered and what the new official cause of death appears to be.

Undark and the Radium Girls

Alan Bellows on has a terrific historical/medical article called ‘Undark and the Radium Girls‘. Here’s the setup below, if intrigued, go check it out!

In 1922, a bank teller named Grace Fryer became concerned when her teeth began to loosen and fall out for no discernible reason. Her troubles were compounded when her jaw became swollen and inflamed, so she sought the assistance of a doctor in diagnosing the inexplicable symptoms. Using a primitive X-ray machine, the physician discovered serious bone decay, the likes of which he had never seen. Her jawbone was honeycombed with small holes, in a random pattern reminiscent of moth-eaten fabric.

As a series of doctors attempted to solve Grace’s mysterious ailment, similar cases began to appear throughout her hometown of New Jersey. One dentist in particular took notice of the unusually high number of deteriorated jawbones among local women, and it took very little investigation to discover a common thread; all of the women had been employed by the same watch-painting factory at one time or another.