Showing posts with label Research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Research. Show all posts

September 26, 2019

Beautiful Measurements

This is a beautiful set of nested brass weights from France. 

It dates back to 1852!

The weights range from 1 gram to 500 grams. 

These are weights, but also a form of art. 

It is located at the NIST Museum.


There is something comforting about weights, measures, and standards.

It puts an organized construct unto our universe and creates some objective scientific reality to our world. 

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 19, 2018

Net-Zero Energy House

Today, I had a wonderful opportunity to explore the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Net-Zero Energy House.

As its name implies the residential home makes as much energy as it uses. 

It is run by one of NIST's 7 laboratories, the Engineering Lab's Energy and Environment Division.

The 2,700 square foot home is super-insulated and hyper-energy efficient.

It runs on only 12,000-13,000 Kilowatt per year compared to a typical home that guzzles 40,000 KW. 

You can see the array of solar panels on the roof and there is a two-way exchange of energy to/from the grid as available/needed. 

There is also solar thermal water heater. 


The home simulates a family of 4 living there cooking, bathing, watching TV, etc. 

There are 600 sensors inside the house that monitor everything. 

The garage maintains the computers and controls for the research. 

Overall, I was very proud to see the wonderful scientific research being done here. 

It was truly impressive and good for the nation and the planet.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 21, 2018

Measurement And Standards Are Our Friends

So I learned that Metrology is the science of measurement. 

And measurement is the foundation of scientific research and creating standards. 

Scientific research and measurement are about exploration, discovery, and innovation.

Further, it is about finding the facts; it is objective; it is truth; it is essential to maintaining integrity. 

Standards also help to ensure dependability, because there is a common reference and you know what you are getting. 

A great true story that demonstrates the importance of measurements and standards is the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.

This was the third worst urban inferno in American history. 

It destroyed over 1,500 building across 140 acres. 

Fire engines responded from as far as New York and Virginia. 

But the problem was that they invariably could not help. 

Why?  

Because their fire hose couplings could not fit on the Baltimore fire hydrants--they were not standardized.

Without standards, we don't have interoperability. 

We don't have a reference that everyone can go by. 

It's as if we're all working on our own desert islands. 

This defeats the power in numbers that make us together greater than the sum of our individual parts. 

Science and technology help us advance beyond just ourselves and today. 

Measurement and standardization help us to build a better and stronger society. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 14, 2016

Life After Death

This was a beautiful article in The Sun about life after death. 

British physicists and research scientists are claiming that the soul exists at a sub-atomic quantum particle level. 

Evidence, they say, points to information (our consciousness) "stored in microtubles within human cells."

When a person dies, the quantum particle information is released from the body into the universe. 

If it's a near-death experience, the consciousness leaves only temporarily, but is then brought back to the cells in the host, and the patient revives. 

However, if the person dies, "it's possible that this quantum information, can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul."

This theory is endorsed by researchers at the renown Max-Planck Institute, Germany's most successful research organization with 18 Nobel laureates  and 15,000 scientific publications a year. 

This is certainly one of the most hopeful and uplifting ideas that any of us can maintain--that life is not just finite, but that we are part of something infinitely larger, enduring, meaningful, and G-dly. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 19, 2015

How You Treat Animals

This little bird is singing pretty with his Coronoa.

But this isn't always how we treat animals. 

Some absolutely revere their animals as integral parts of their family or faith--as pets, they may be loved and cared in nice homes, and as source for milk, dung, and tilling, they may even considered sacred as in Hindu India, or for sacrifices on the Temple alter in Judaism. 

I've seen dogs picked up after and wheeled around in baby strollers, while in the Movies like "Meet The Fockers," Jinx the cat is exalted for doing her deed in the toilet, the same one used by the family.

One colleague told me how she had to run after her dog cleaning up all over her house, when it was sick and had a bleed out of its butt--yeah, ick!

And I remember learning about how in Nazi Germany, dogs would walk on the sidewalk, while Jews were forced into the gutters. 

On the other side of the animal coin...

We have animals sickeningly and inhumanly confined and caged in tiny spaces; starved or fattened; pepped up on antibiotics, and clubbed, electrocuted, given lethal injections, shot and cut up.

Animals are used for food, fur, and even so-called fun from cock fighting to bull runs.

Further, animals are used for research in everything from new medications to abusive studies in mind control and even punishment.

Animals have also been used for horrific torture of POWs where masks were attached to victims faces and a fire would heat the other side and force the rodent locked inside to burrow into the faces of their victims.

Similarly, in Nazi Germany, gruesome studies were conducted on humans by sewing live cats into the stomach of victims.

In more positive ways, animals have been used to locate everything from disease to the implements of war--from dogs being used in identifying human diseases like cancer and tuberculosis to giant rats used to locate land mines

Also, animal products are used in many life-saving medications. 

I found the remorse of an animal experimenter today in the New York Times to be refreshing, and those who choose to become vegan or disavow the use of fur and other animal products to be noble, as long as they accept that others may feel different. 

When the experimenter in his guilt thinks about the tables being turned, he imagines aliens coming to Earth and abducting and conducting experiments on us humans...oh, he seems to go, now I know how it must feel. 

Guess he didn't think to walk in that chicken's shoes before...

While to carnivorous animals, we are just another piece of beef in the food chain, other domesticated animals can be "man's best friend."

Killing an animal for survival is one thing, and where people draw that line can vary quite some--for example, how badly does Kim Kardashian need another fur to keep her warm?

But pure abusive and sick treatment of animals for amusement, profiteering, or psychotic ends is wrong, period. 

Animals are not people, but they are G-d creatures and sentient, and they should not be harmed or pained just because some of us like to act like animals too. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 24, 2013

Cancel Out Those Tremors


This is a wonderful new product available from Lift Labs.

It is a spoon for people that suffer from hand tremors, like those from Parkinson's Disease. 

With tremors, a person has trouble lifting the spoon to their mouth and doing it without spilling.

With Lifeware, the tremors are said to be reduced in trials by 70%!

The spoon is battery operated and it has sensors for the tremors and performs countermeasures to stabilize itself. 

It does this with technology including an accelerometer and microprocessor to actively cancel out the tremor. 

In the future, additional attachments are forecasted, including a folk, keyholder, and more. 

The special device was made possible through a grant under the NIH Small Business Innovation Research Program.

An awesome advance for Parkinson's patients to be more self-sufficient and live with dignity despite such a debilitating illness.

Thank you to the engineers at Life Labs (and to the NIH) for bringing this stabilization technology to those who really can benefit from it.
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September 21, 2013

Restoring Hearing Using Bionics



A mother wrote in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the miracle of Cochlear Implants.

Lydia Denworth described when her 2-year old son, who is deaf, got these implants and how now he is now able to attend 5th grade in a "mainstream school" and is "nearly indistinguishable from the other children."

These implants allow her son, Alex, to have a conversation with another child about the hearing device that "can open up the world of sound and spoken language."

Denworth states at the end of the editorial, "Moments like that make me deeply grateful for the technology."

For me, reading this was an opportunity to go learn about the amazing bionics that has already restored hearing to 320,000 people!

While hearing aids amplify sounds and make them louder, they don't resolve permanent damage to the inner ear. 

A cochlear implant bypasses the damage by receiving sounds in a microphone, digitizing them, and converting them to electrical impulses that are sent directly via implant to the auditory nerves-- bypassing damaged or missing sensory cells in the ear--in a way that the brain can understand.

I am in awe of the inventors--Graeme Clark, Ingeborg Hochmair, and Blake Wilson--who are being recognized for their pioneering research leading to the development of Cochlear Implants.

Hopefully, soon we can do for sight, smell, taste, and touch what we can do for hearing and restore the impaired to fully functioning again.

We are living in a time of great miracles--thank you G-d!

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Bjorn Knetsch)
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