Another step closer to the $6 million man

(via Engadget)

We may not actually be to the point of super-vision via bionic eyes, but work continues to advance the field.  The subject of this article, Cheri Robertson, calls herself robo-chick.

More than a million people in the United States are legally blind. Many of them once had vision but tragically lost it. Now a breakthrough device could give them back some of their sight.

. . .

Robertson is blind, but this device allows her to see, not with her eyes but with her brain! Fifteen years ago, she lost both of her eyes in a car accident. She was just 19 years old.

. . .

A camera on the tip of Robertson’s glasses sends signals to a computer that’s strapped around her waist. The computer then stimulates electrodes in the brain through a cord that attaches to the head. Patients see flashes of light and outlines of objects.

As computers get more powerful, patients are expected to see less light flashes and more views of the world.  The surgery is currently done in Portugal, but hopefully will be available in the US in the next few years.  Be sure to read the full article for more information – it really sounds pretty cool.

[tags]Restoring vision[/tags]

Loneliness kills?

I find the results of this study hard to believe:

It’s true—you might die of loneliness, but not until you’re older.

In a new University of Chicago study of men and women 50 to 68 years old, those who scored highest on measures of loneliness also had higher blood pressure. And high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, the number one killer in many industrialized nations and number two the United States.

Lonely people have blood pressure readings as much as 30 points higher than non-lonely people, said the study leaders Louise Hawkley and Christopher Masi. Blood pressure differences between lonely and non-lonely people were smallest at age 50 and greatest among the oldest people tested.

Loneliness raises blood pressure? Personally, I find myself far less stressed when I am alone than when I am with other people. But then, I typically find other people very annoying. If you ever spend time with me, you’ll get to hear me gripe about it.


Scientists lose some neutrinos, delight in right

Livescience has an article on a recent test shot of a beam of neutrinos from Fermi-lab (in Batavia, IL) to a particle detector in Soudan, MN. As a result of some of the neutrinos not making it, the scientists have apparently verified a theory which indicates neutrinos have mass. This sets up further studies into the nature of neutrinos.

There are three types of neutrinos, each associated with a different charged particle: the electron neutrino, the muon and the tau. The Fermi scientists think the vanishing act they witnessed was a result of the neutrinos changing from one form to another, a phenomenon called “neutrino oscillation.”

The test results provide further evidence that neutrinos must have mass, the scientists say. If the masses of all three types were zero, neutrino oscillation would not occur.

[tags]Fermi-lab, neutrinos[/tags]

Good freeware firewall

(via Freewarewiki)

I have not personally used this, but it comes recommended from the folks at Freewarewiki and Fran Bott, webmistress of GammawGeek.  The firewall is free for personal use, from Fileseclab.  You can also buy source code and 6 months support for personal use $480 or commercial use for $3800.  From what little I’ve read about this, it appears to be a decent alternative to ZoneAlarm.

[tags]PC security, Free firewall[/tags]