Spending your stay in the sickbed dialing friends and family? Might want to relocate before you end up prolonging your stay. In an article published today in Critical Care, Dutch researchers write that, at short distances, electromagnetic interference from cellphones can cause disruption of critical care equipment.
The damage ranged from the mild (disturbing the display on a monitor), to the dangerous—switching off a ventilator, in one instance. And while interference occurred at a median distance of about an inch, problems happened even when the phones were over three feet away from their electronic victim.
Before you freak out and chuck your phone in the nearest bedpan, though, it's worth noting that the two types of signals the scientists tested, General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), aren't used by most American phones. Still, whatever your feelings about the metric system, it can't hurt to adhere to their recommended "one meter rule."—Abby Seiff
It ain't just for fetus-watching anymore. Engineers from the University of Washington have devised a way to use ultrasound to seal lung punctures. Typically, wounded lungs can be healed when enough pressure is applied to staunch the bleeding. Occasionally doctors have to suction out blood and air from the surrounding area. But in about one-tenth of the cases, extremely invasive operations are needed: ribs have to be separated, long incisions are necessary, the damaged portion is either sewn up or removed. With ultrasound, however, doctors can direct a high-intensity beam at the wound to seal up the fissure [using the hand held device at left]. The heat bonds blood cells even while tissue separating the wound and device stay cool.
Thus far, the treatment has been tested only on pigs' lungs where no more than a couple of minutes were needed to stabilize the "patient." But previously, it's been successful in closing human blood vessels and stemming bleeding spleens. Doctors hope the treatment could have a range of applications in the future, possibly revolutionizing internal medicine altogether. Sounds promising. Till then, presumably, be prepared to don a curly tail if you want the treatment.—Abby Seiff
Apparently 14,800 nail-gun accidents occur each year. Who knew? We can't seem to tear our eyes from the ponderable X-rays posted on thisoldhouse.com. Check it out while we mull over the question: just how did that nail get into this part of the head?—Abby Seiff
Want to experience all the travails of being an astronaut with none of the glory? Now's your chance! The European Space Agency is seeking healthy, psychologically-stable test subjects to make a mock trip to Mars.
Sure, virtual reality is pretty cool to begin with, but when it's paired with police investigations and is used to take down the criminal underbelly? Ah, the possibilities.
Using computers, cameras and a $25,000 virtual-reality helmet (the type with big, blocky glasses and everything), Stanford University scientists have created an improved police-lineup system. With the new system, victims view suspects up close, with different clothing and features (with facial hair, for instance, or without scars) and in an environment similar to where the crime took place (like a dark alley or used-car lot). Instead of looking at potentially outdated, two-dimensional mug shots, a victim could see suspects out of the corner of his eye, or towering over him, mimicking the circumstances in which the criminal was originally seen and reducing the possibility of wrongful conviction.
Although the system is only in the early stages of testing, given the advances being made in digital imaging [see here for a particularly jarring example], it may be just a matter of time before it becomes standard criminal-collaring equipment.—Abby Seiff