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GE Silent Scan turns down the volume on MRI scanners
GE Healthcare has introduced a new data acquisition technology designed to improve patient comfort by largely eliminating the horrible noise generated during an MRI scan. Conventional MRI scanners can generate noise levels in excess of 110 dBA (creating a din that sounds like a cross between a vehicle’s reverse warning horn and a Star Trek phaser) but GE says its new Silent Scan MRI technology can reduce this to just above background noise levels in the exam room.
The noise that MRI scanners produce is related to changes in the magnetic field that allow the slice by slice body scan to be carried out. In recent years, industry efforts to speed up the scanning process have also resulted in louder and louder scans. The designers have attempted to dampen these noises with mufflers and baffles, achieving only limited success.
Silent Scan is achieved through two new developments. First, acoustic noise is essentially eliminated by using a new 3D scanning and reconstruction technique called Silenz. When the Silenz protocol is used in combination with GE’s new high-fidelity MRI gradient and RF system electronics, the MRI scanning noise is largely eliminated at its source.
At the 2012 meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, an MRI system compatible with the Silent Scan technology was linked into a soundproof room. When the MRI system used conventional scanning methods, a staccato, stuttering racket with noise peaks up to 110 dBA was heard. However, when Silent Scan was switched on, the noise level dropped to 76 dBA, just above the background noise of the MRI electronics. This is accomplished without substantial trade-offs in scanning time or image quality, according to Richard Hausmann, president and CEO, GE Healthcare MR. The comparison is shown in this video.
Silent Scan technology has not yet obtained 510k Premarketing Notification clearance from the FDA, so it’s not yet available for sale. GE is presumably hoping for a decision that Silent Scan is “substantially equivalent” to existing MRI scanners, a result that would greatly simplify the new technology’s entry into the diagnostic market.


Doug Perrine captured these stunning photographs in the Maldives. The particular location (Vaadhoo Island) has a concentrated population of bioluminescent phytoplankton. Bioluminescence is a natural chemical reaction which occurs when a micro-organism in the water reacts with oxygen. When washed ashore by the tides, the phytoplankton’s chemical energy is turned into light energy, illuminating the waves.

(Source: mydarkenedeyes)


How do we know that there are 100 billion neurons in the brain?
The brain is a tangled web of cells, most of which are frustratingly transparent, whose axons are interwoven like a oblong pile of snakes the size of several thousand Olympic swimming pools. Counting them is clearly a significant challenge. Where did that “100 billion” number come from?
It’s a little bit of guesstimation combined with a healthy dose of educated extrapolation. That number, which is now thought to be closer to 86 billion, is complicated by the fact that the brain contains lots of cells that aren’t neurons (like glia). The brain also isn’t uniformly packed with nerve cells, with some areas containing many times more than others. 
Old methods relied on staining a slice of brain with a dye that randomly colors nerve cells (like the Golgi method illustrated above by Santiago Ramón y Cajal). You calculate the number in the whole slice, then count slices from different areas of the brain, do some mathematical gymnastics, carry the 2 and get a number like 100 billion.  
The newest method, which counted the number of nerve nuclei in a chunk of brain, is much more accurate, but still involves lots of guesswork. But in the end, the number of neurons isn’t nearly as important as how they are organized. An elephant brain weighs more than four times our own, but it’s the map that makes us man.  
(via EyeWire)

It’s cool, Ari … I’ve got this one under control.
So, How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Um … so, what is a woodchuck, exactly? You might know it by its more common name: a groundhog. That’s right, a woodchuck, or Marmota monax, is a solitary rodent of the marmot family also known by the flattering names “land-beaver” and “whistle-pig”. “What’s a marmot?” you may be asking … well, I can’t do everything for you. May the Google be with you.
Woodchucks/groundhogs live in underground burrows, and when they aren’t busy determining the patterns of wintertime meteorology via shadow analysis, they do a lot of digging. It’s the digging that’s important in this question. 
See, “chucking” is, for some reason, often confused in people’s minds with “chewing”. The actual meaning of “chuck” is to throw something carelessly or casually. What we really want to know is how much wood could a whistle-pig carelessly throw if a land-beaver could carelessly throw wood?
Luckily, we can come up with a number for that. New York wildlife expert Richard Thomas reported that a woodchuck could tossingly excavate up to 700 pounds of dirt while digging out a burrow. If we assume that’s the most intense chucking that the groundhog undertakes, then we merely need to replace dirt with wood.
So the answer is 700 pounds.
On another note, if you’d like to impress your friends, ask them this question in Latin: Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?

"…our society has become so technologically based that you really can’t be a fully operating citizen unless you understand basic science. How are you supposed to make judgements about the health of your children if you don’t believe in science? How are you supposed to make a judgement about a generation of fuel and power if you don’t believe in science? You can’t operate as a sensible voting member of a democratic society these days unless you understand fundamental scientific principles to a degree."

- Brian Cox and Robin Ince interview the legend himself, David Attenborough: A life measured in heartbeats (via jtotheizzoe)

The collision between the Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy.

Actual duration may vary.

O Chemistree! From the Avans University of Applied Sciences, via Neatorama.



If you find yourself some place really cold this holiday season, may I suggest stepping outside and having some fun freezing soap bubbles? The crystal growth is quite lovely, as seen in this photograph. If you live in warmer climes, fear not, you can always experiment in your freezer. It would be particularly fun, I think, to see how a half-bubble sitting on a cold plate freezes in comparison to a droplet like this one. (Video credit: Mount Washington Observatory)


  Universe Grows Like a Giant Brain
  The universe may grow like a giant brain, according to a new computer simulation.
  Image: A fundamental law of nature may govern the growth of brain networks, social networks, and the expansion of the Universe, a new computer simulation suggests Credit: WGBH Educational Foundation
  The results, published Nov.16 in the journal Nature’s Scientific Reports, suggest that some undiscovered, fundamental laws may govern the growth of systems large and small, from the electrical firing between brain cells and growth of social networks to the expansion of galaxies.
  “Natural growth dynamics are the same for different real networks, like the Internet or the brain or social networks,” said study co-author Dmitri Krioukov, a physicist at the University of California San Diego.
  The new study suggests a single fundamental law of nature may govern these networks, said physicist Kevin Bassler of the University of Houston, who was not involved in the study.
  “At first blush they seem to be quite different systems, the question is, is there some kind of controlling laws can describe them?”.
  By raising this question, “their work really makes a pretty important contribution,” he said.
  Similar Networks
  Past studies showed brain circuits and the Internet look a lot alike. But despite finding this functional similarity, nobody had developed equations to perfectly predict how computer networks, brain circuits or social networks grow over time, Krioukov said.
  Using Einstein’s equations of relativity, which explain how matter warps the fabric of space-time, physicists can retrace the universe’s explosive birth in the Big Bang roughly 14 billion years ago and how it has expanded outward in the eons since.
  So Krioukov’s team wondered whether the universe’s accelerating growth could provide insight into the ways social networks or brain circuits expand.
  Brain cells and galaxies
  The team created a computer simulation that broke the early universe into the tiniest possible units — quanta of space-time more miniscule than subatomic particles. The simulation linked any quanta, or nodes in a massive celestial network, that were causally related. (Nothing travels faster than light, so if a person hits a baseball on Earth, the ripple effects of that event could never reach an alien in a distant galaxy in a reasonable amount of time, meaning those two regions of space-time aren’t causally related.)
  As the simulation progressed, it added more and more space-time to the history of the universe, and so its “network” connections between matter in galaxies, grew as well, Krioukov said.
  When the team compared the universe’s history with growth of social networks and brain circuits, they found all the networks expanded in similar ways: They balanced links between similar nodes with ones that already had many connections. For instance, a cat lover surfing the Internet may visit mega-sites such as Google or Yahoo, but will also browse cat fancier websites or YouTube kitten videos. In the same way, neighboring brain cells like to connect, but neurons also link to such “Google brain cells” that are hooked up to loads of other brain cells.
  The eerie similarity between networks large and small is unlikely to be a coincidence, Krioukov said.
  “For a physicist it’s an immediate signal that there is some missing understanding of how nature works,” Krioukov said.
  It’s more likely that some unknown law governs the way networks grow and change, from the smallest brain cells to the growth of mega-galaxies, Krioukov said.
  “This result suggests that maybe we should start looking for it,” Krioukov told LiveScience.

Self-filling water bottle draws water from the air.
The water bottle draws inspiration from the Namib Desert beetle, which is able to draw in 12 percent of its weight in water from the air using hydrophilic areas on its back which cause water to condense.

“We use nanotechnology to mimic this beetle’s back so that we too can pull water from the air,” Sorenson told PRI. “We see this being applicable to anything from marathon runners to people in third-world countries, because we realize that water is such a large issue in the world today, and we want to try to alleviate those problems with a cost-efficient solution. We are looking to incorporate this in greenhouses or green roofs in the immediate future, and then later on, we’re looking to see how far we can really scale this up to supply maybe farms or larger agricultural goals.”
Arguably the most remarkable part might be that fact that Sorenson insists the technology does not require much energy; he said the company’s showed how solar cells and a rechargeable battery can be enough. This means the device could potentially be attached to vehicles, buildings, or even a running human, and still be able to grab all the power it needs supply to move the air over the specially-coated surface.

Holy shit what?!


Data Visualization

“Data”, that’s a scary word. All we can picture are mountains of numbers that are indiscernible from one another. But this is also a fact, entire genomes are getting sequenced, the universe is being mapped out… we’re entering an era of big data, even bigger mountains. So… what do we do with it ? We manipulate it, we design it, so that big data can be digested, dare I say enjoyed.

Sometimes it’s even fun to browse this mountain of information. At least that’s what I thought when I found the We Feel Fine project. This emotional search engine crawls blogs and networking sites, picking up sentences which include “I feel” or “I am feeling”, as well as the gender, age and location of the people posting those sentences. The result is a database of several million human feelings, sorted out, displayed, in the hopes of creating a piece of art for everyone, by everyone, sprouting from our deepest feelings.

Check out the java applet here.

- Agathe of Frontal Cortex


These are examples of drawings done by each hand of a split brain patient.  You can see that the right hand (left hemisphere) is clearly lacking in spatial reasoning and the ability to get the depth of the original images, while the left hand (right hemisphere) is clearly better at this type of task.  For more information about split brain patients, see this post.
[Image Source, Fig 13.8]





You think it’s like this, but it’s really like this.

The Sun and Inner Planets Moving Through Space

this changes everything

Fucking awesome.

The moon orbits the earth which orbits the sun which orbits the black hole at the centre of the milky way which orbits ?????? The sun orbits around that black hole once every 225–250 million years, so while the line that it travels is not strictly straight, it’s curve is imperceptibly small on the scale of a few years.