Xbox Surgery

THE surgeon enters the operating room, covered in sterile blue scrubs. Machines beep and hiss. Nurses wait, tools at the ready: scalpel, forceps, bandage, Xbox… Xbox?

A surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London began trials of a new device that uses an Xbox Kinect camera to sense body position. Just by waving his arms the surgeon can consult and sift through medical images, such as CT scans or real-time X-rays, while in the middle of an operation.

Maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room is paramount, but scrubbing in and out to scroll through scan images mid-operation can be time-consuming and break a surgeon’s concentration.

Depending on the type of surgery, a surgeon will stop and consult medical images anywhere from once an hour to every few minutes. To avoid leaving the table, many surgeons rely on assistants to manipulate the computer for them, a distracting and sometimes frustrating process.

“Up until now, I’d been calling out across the room to one of our technical assistants, asking them to manipulate the image, rotate one way, rotate the other, pan up, pan down, zoom in, zoom out,” says Tom Carrell, a consultant vascular surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’, who led the operation on May 8th to repair an aneurism in a patient’s aorta. With the Kinect, he says, “I had very intuitive control”.

Carrell used the system to look at a 3D model of a section of the abdominal aorta, captured on a CT scan. This was projected on to a 2D live image-feed of the operation site, taken with a fluoroscopic X-ray camera. So Carrell could see what was happening inside the patient, as well as using the 3D model to help navigate the twists, turns and branches of the aorta. He says he consulted the system four or five times during the 90-minute operation.

Being able to check the images easily also helps surgeons maintain their concentration throughout the procedure. “You’re just doing all of this stuff non-verbally and it just happens much more quickly. You’re maintaining the flow of what’s going on,” says Carrell.

But manipulating a “touchless” medical image-viewer in a room filled with surgeons, nurses, machines, trays, cables and lights poses challenges of its own.

“You usually think of Kinect in a game-like scenario where you can jump around and move your hands as wide as possible, but surgeons are not allowed to reach such a large area,” says Gerardo Gonzalez of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, who helped develop the system in conjunction with surgeons from Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London.

So Gonzalez and colleagues developed a set of gestures that a surgeon can perform in a constrained space, while standing at the operating table. For the most common actions – rotating the 3D model or placing a marker on the image – the team designed one-handed gestures that combine with voice commands, leaving the other hand free for operating. To position a marker, for example, the surgeon simply points at the image to activate a cursor and says, “place marker”. Other functions, such as panning or zooming, require two hands.

Despite initial misgivings, Carrell is eager to continue working with the system. “I thought this was going to be a lot more awkward to start off with, but I was very pleased with the way it went today.”

Attribution: New Scientist

Birds of a Feather

by: the Common Constitutionalist

We all know the saying: “You can’t choose your family, but you do choose your friends.”

The other saying that comes to mind is, “Birds of a feather, flock together.”

One must agree that both are absolutely true statements.

After a recent discussion on the topic of whether our President is a Marxist, anti-colonialist, like his dear old mom and dad, I decided to put together a short list of friends, acquaintances, mentors and those who influenced Barack Hussein Obama over the years.

While you scan this list, ask yourself; Is there even a single person within my sphere of influence that is a crook, a felon, a radical, a Marxist, a communist, a Maoist, a terrorist, an anarchist, a radical Muslim or even a socialist?

I hope, for most of us, the answer is no, but if you were Barack Obama, you would have to say Yes.

The List:

Barack Obama, Sr. (Marxist, anti-colonialist, polygamist)

Ann Dunham [ (Obama’s mother) marxist, socialist]

Anita Dunn (socialist, Maoist)

Tony Rezko (crook, felon)

Bill Ayers (radical, terrorist, anarchist)

Bernadine Dorhn (radical, terrorist, anarchist)

Louis Farrakhan (radical Muslim, murderer (or at least accessory for the killing of Malcolm X)

Saul Alinsky (radical, anarchist, Marxist)

Khalid Al-Mansour (radical Muslim, black separatist)

Susan L. Rosenberg (radical, terrorist, anarchist)

Reverend Wright (radical black separatist)

Father Pfleger (radical, socialist)

Rashid Khalidi (radical Muslim)

Valerie Jarrett (socialist, Marxist)

Vernon Jarrett (communist)

Frank Marshall Davis (communist)

Van Jones (communist, radical)

  There are many, many more I could name, but this list should suffice in demonstrating just how “out of the mainstream” our dear President is.

I, myself, have a few friends that are liberal, but I believe that to be from ignorance. To remain friends, we don’t speak of politics. I know one person in my life that has spent time in prison. That’s about it. All the rest are basically of like mind, as are yours.

One cannot go through life surrounded by as many ne’er do wells as Obama has without becoming one himself. In my opinion, it’s impossible. Those who think it is possible are delusional.

So, look around at your friends, and then tell me I’m wrong.

Who Makes the Bed Anymore?

Hate making your bed in the morning? Now you don’t have to, thanks to an automated bed that does the job for you.

Spanish furniture maker OHEA says its new bed can make itself in just 50 seconds. The duvet is attached at the base of the bed, allowing robot arms to grab either side and straighten it out. Meanwhile, the pillows are stretched by internal cords and then lifted over the top of the duvet.

The bed works in both manual and automatic modes, with the latter switching on after the bed has been unoccupied for 3 seconds. There is also no need to worry about being permanently tucked in by while you sleep, as the bed is fitted with pressure sensors and will not begin to make itself if someone is on top.

He Was the Man

by: Nile Gardiner

June 12th marked the 25th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s famous “tear down this wall” speech delivered before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 1987. It is a reminder not only of President Reagan’s oratorical brilliance but also of his steadfast leadership on the world stage. For the Gipper was a president who, together with Margaret Thatcher, brought down the might of the Soviet Empire, liberated hundreds of millions from Communist tyranny and restored US leadership after the decline of the Carter years and the Vietnam era. Reagan was uncompromising in his opposition to the Soviet Union and his defense of freedom, driven by his belief in American exceptionalism and the unique role the United States must play in standing up to tyranny and advancing the cause of liberty.

For Ronald Reagan in 1987, West Berlin was the frontline in the war against Communism, a city the Russians had tried to strangle in 1948. He was determined to see the wall that divided Berlin’s three million inhabitants brought down, and the biggest symbol of Communist tyranny smashed to the ground. In his speech in Berlin, Reagan memorably declared:

“In the 1950’s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind-too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.”
…. “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Two decades later, for Barack Obama in 2008, Berlin was little more than a hubristic campaign stop where he could bask in the worship of adoring German youth en route to the White House, introducing himself as “a fellow citizen of the world.” A year into his presidency, he could not even be bothered to attend the city’s celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of the downfall of the Berlin Wall in 2009, which National Review Editor Rich Lowry appropriately described at the time as “the most telling nonevent of his presidency.”

In so many respects Reagan’s firm leadership in the 1980s towers over that of Barack Obama today. It would be hard to imagine President Obama delivering an address with the power and moral conviction of President Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech. While Obama has apologized for his nation, Reagan stood tall for American greatness. While Obama has sought accommodation with some of America’s key adversaries, Reagan vowed to defeat them. While Obama is cutting US defense spending, closing several US bases in Europe, and scaling back American global power, Reagan believed in peace through strength, and rebuilding America’s military might.

The people of Berlin and millions will always remember Ronald Reagan more across eastern and central Europe, as the steadfast leader who fought for their freedom and refused to back down in the face of a brutal enemy that had oppressed a continent for nearly half a century. It is thanks to his vision and determination that the Soviet Empire was brought to its knees. As his closest friend and ally Margaret Thatcher put it in her eulogy to Reagan at the Washington National Cathedral in 2004:

“Others prophesied the decline of the West. He inspired America and its allies with renewed faith in their mission of freedom… With the lever of American patriotism, he lifted up the world. And so today, the world – in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw and Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev, and in Moscow itself, the world mourns the passing of the great liberator and echoes his prayer: God bless America.”

Have a Brewski & Get Healthy

If you were planning on having a beer tonight, then this will be welcome news.

Beer may contain a vitamin which can fight obesity and improve muscle strength, scientists claim.

The ‘miracle molecule’, which has been found in milk and may also be present in beer and some foods, has no side effects and could even lengthen lifespan, they say.

The snag is that the molecule, called nicotinamide riboside (NR), is extremely small, difficult to find and expensive to synthesise.

Johnan Auwerx, head of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne, Switzerland, said experiments using mice revealed the molecule’s potential.

In an article in the specialist journal Cell Metabolism journal, Mr Auwerx called the results ‘impressive’.

“NR appears to play a role in preventing obesity,” said Mr Auwerx.

Working with Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, his team found mice on a high-fat diet that were fed NR gained significantly less weight – 60% – than mice eating the same diet without NR supplements.

And none of the NR-treated mice had indications that they were developing diabetes, unlike the untreated mice.

Mice which were fed NR supplements over a ten-week period had better endurance performance than those who were not.

They were also in better shape – and this was confirmed by observations of their muscle fibers under the microscope.

The molecule works by becoming trapped in cells where it boosts the metabolism, much like resveratrol, which is found in wine.

No side effects were discovered during the experiments.

“It really appears that cells use what they need when they need it, and the rest is set aside without being transformed into any kind of deleterious form,” said study author Carles Canto in a statement.

Mice who had been fed the molecule also performed better in endurance tests, as well as in tests measuring heat loss.

The researchers believe an increase in the molecule reflects an improvement in mitochondrial function, the part of the cell that supplies energy.

Mitochondria are thought to play a part in the aging process. It is hoped that by stimulating mitochondrial function with the NR molecule, scientists may see increases in longevity as well as other health improvements.

But the molecule is difficult to reproduce and extremely small. “At the moment, we can’t even measure its concentration in milk, so it’s impossible to know how much you would have to drink to be able to observe its effects,” Mr Auwerx added.

Research will continue with human testing at some point in the future.

Attribution: Mail Online

Joke of the Day

Tina asks her husband Bill, “Will you love me when I’m old and graying?”

Bill replies, “Just love you? I shall admire you.

I shall worship the very ground that you walk on.

 I shall…”, then asks hesitantly, “you’re not going to look like your mother, are you?”