Robotic aid will start in hospitals of Singapore

Patients being cared for at home could, in future, have robots help to care for them.

Such robotic aid will start in hospitals, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Tuesday (May 30).

The ministry is developing prototypes “of smart wards integrated with smart logistics for what we hope will be hospitals of the future”, he told the audience at the National Health IT Summit held at the Singapore Expo. Some 600 people attended the conference.

He added: “In line with the shift beyond hospitals to the community, we will also look into robotics-assisted home care.”

Singapore embarked on its Health IT Master Plan in 2014, and much has already been put in place, such as the National Electronic Health Records (NEHR) of patients that is currently accessible at all public institutions, and will eventually be rolled out to include data from the private sector.

Other IT innovations include automated pharmacy systems that pack medicines with fewer errors than if done by humans, and telerehab where patients are monitored remotely.

Mr Gan wants to use IT to change the landscape of the healthcare sector by harnessing technology in innovative and effective ways.

He said: “Disruption can sometimes be painful. The workforce will have to adapt to new ways to carrying out their jobs.

“But if the disruptions have the potential to bring about meaningful benefits to patients and their families, and to our healthcare system, we must not be afraid to allow them to take place.”

Later this year, the Vital Signs Monitoring (VSM) platform will be launched to bring care beyond the healthcare institution to the community and the home.

He said the system will enable the remote monitoring of vital signs such as the blood pressure, blood glucose, or weight of patients with conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart or pulmonary diseases.

“Patients can in turn receive more timely advice and intervention to manage their conditions without having to schedule an appointment to visit the hospital,” he explained.

He expects the system to “enable more regular monitoring, improve patient management and reduce hospital visits and readmissions”.

Another advantage of IT is the large amount of data available, allowing doctors to identify better or more cost effective treatments.

The National University Health System did just that. It identified cost-effective clinical practices, reduced unnecessary variations and improved both cost and clinical outcomes.


New chemical reaction could eventually yield new fuels and medications

When scientists develop the chemical formulas for new products such as fuels and medications, they often must first create molecules that haven’t previously existed.

A basic step toward creating new molecules is selectively breaking and re-forming the chemical bonds that connect the atoms that make them up. One of the chief challenges is that the bond between carbon and hydrogen atoms — the building blocks of many molecules — is exceptionally strong, so chemists often have to resort to using rare and expensive chemicals like iridium to convert it into other, more useful types of chemical bonds. Scientists refer to this process as “functionalizing” the bonds.

Now, a team of UCLA chemists has developed a new technique for breaking carbon-hydrogen bonds and making carbon-carbon bonds. The approach uses catalysts made of two abundant and inexpensive elements, silicon and boron. Their research was published in Science.

Hosea Nelson, a UCLA assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry and senior author of the study, said the energy industry has been interested in taking very simple hydrocarbon molecules like methane and turning them into new fuels.

“This new method will enable scientists to incorporate methane into bigger molecules,” he said.

Another potential application would be converting methane, one of the primary components of natural gas, into something that’s denser and easier to contain after it has been drilled from Earth. The current process is complicated because methane, a light gas, tends to escape into the atmosphere.

Nelson collaborated on the study with UCLA graduate students Brian Shao, Alex Bagdasarian and Stasik Popov.

The researchers used their new technique to create a compound similar to a phenyl cation, a chemical substance that has been studied theoretically but rarely investigated in actual laboratory experiments. They then used the compound to slice through carbon-hydrogen bonds in methane and benzene, which allowed them to insert other atoms and form carbon-carbon bonds, which are the basic building blocks of molecules that make up living organisms, as well as fuels and pharmaceuticals.

Besides demonstrating that phenyl cation-like compounds exist, the new technique allows complex molecules to be assembled in far fewer reaction steps than was previously possible, which could save chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers time and money. Another advantage of the method is that, unlike previous approaches, it can be performed at temperatures and gas pressures that are easily attainable in a laboratory.

The process could also be used to alter the molecules in existing pharmaceuticals to make them more effective, safer or less addictive.

The chemists have tested their technique using very small samples of reactants — far less than a gram. But Nelson is hopeful that the methodology can be scaled up to be useful for a broad range of real-world chemical reactions.

Australia plans to ban convicted pedophiles from traveling overseas.

Australia is first country who take the step to protect vulnerable children in the Southeast Asia from exploitation. Now Australia plans to ban convicted pedophiles from traveling overseas.

Why Country Ban the Pedophiles?

Australian pedophiles are notorious for taking inexpensive vacations to nearby Southeast Asian and Pacific island countries to abuse children there.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she would cancel the passports of around 20,000 pedophiles on the national child sex offender register under legislation that will be introduced to Parliament soon.

“There has been increasing community concern about sexual exploitation of vulnerable children and community concern is justified,” she told reporters.

Almost 800 registered child sex offenders travelled overseas from Australia last year and about half went to Southeast Asian destinations, she said.

“There will be new legislation which will make Australia a world leader in protecting vulnerable children in our region from child sex tourism,” Bishop said.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said no country has such a travel ban. He said 2,500 new convicted pedophiles would be added to the sex offender register each year and would also lose their passports.

The register contains 3,200 serious offenders who will be banned from travel for life. Less serious offenders drop off the register after several years of complying with reporting conditions and would become eligible to have their passports renewed.

Hinch said he had not known that convicted pedophiles were allowed to travel before he received a letter from Australian actress and children’s rights campaigner Rachel Griffiths soon after he was elected to the Senate last year.

“If we can take a passport from a bankrupt, why can’t we stop our pedophiles from traveling to Myanmar?” Griffiths wrote. Under Australian law, a bankrupt person cannot travel overseas without a trustee’s permission.

Hinch, who was involved in drafting the legislation, said temporary passports could be provided to pedophiles who need to travel for legitimate business or family reasons, and for pedophiles living overseas who need to return to Australia as their visas expire.

“This will not apply to a teenager who has been caught sexting to his 15-year-old girlfriend,” said Hinch, referring to sexual phone communications.

“I know sometimes, I think unfairly, they go on registers, but we’re trying to work it out so they don’t,” he added.

Bishop said governments in the Asia-Pacific region wanted Australia to do more to stem child sex tourists.

“There’s most certainly deep concern among countries in our region about the number of registered child sex offenders in Australia engaging in the child sex tourism industry,” she said.

Australia has attempted to crack down on Australian child sex tourists by adding a new criminal offense punishable by up to 25 years in prison for Australian citizens or residents who molest children overseas.


Shatner’s ‘Spirit Of The Horse’ Is An Ode To Four-Legged Friends

I think there are two things that unite horse people above all else: love of a complex animal, and a deep appreciation for story. Literature and history are littered with stories of horses, from the great Bucephalus to Black Beauty to Secretariat. And even closer to home, on ranches and in stables, on breeding farms and hobby farms, smaller, more intimate stories spread and linger — an old gelding who liked things just so, a hot-blooded young mare who could only be ridden by children, a first pony, the one that got away, the one that broke your heart. Horse people tell stories. We can’t help ourselves. Our admiration and wonder pours out of us, and inspires even the reserved old cowboy to wax poetic.

William Shatner is no different. From the first words of Spirit of the Horse, it’s clear that this is a man who is wonderfully, hopelessly in love with the creatures. He weaves his own anecdotes and memories with fables, excerpts from old training manuals, and other legacies to create something that is part memoir, part question: Why do horses have such a hold on humans? What about them captures us so intently?

The writing itself meanders, chasing tangents and thoughts in a way that could easily be annoying, but with Shatner’s gentle charm and curiosity, it finds a balance. There is a sense that you’re sitting on a porch with an old horseman, listening to him muse about the horses he’s known, the falls he’s taken, and the memories he’s made. From Star Trek sets to charity horse shows, it’s a sweet walk through a pretty interesting life. As someone who grew up alongside horses and continues to train them to this day, the evident fondness is a beautiful, familiar thing to me.

Like most meandering tales, there are places in Spirit of the Horse where the research is old, or the beliefs are incorrect. This is unlikely to trouble the casual reader or horse fan, but people who work with horses on a more regular basis may find some frustration with Shatner’s outdated takes on social structure and fear response. (The image of the domineering wild stallion may capture your imagination, for example — but increasingly, we’re discovering that it’s nothing more than fiction.

All that meandering can be a little off-putting at first — Shatner could certainly have benefitted from stronger editorial oversight. At times his narrative jumps the rails, never wrapping up a first thought until it he’s traveled through many more, and there are moments where he’ll simply abandon an interesting direction in favor of something new.

But one story in particular struck home, a memory of Shatner visiting Christopher Reeve in the hospital after he’d been paralyzed in a fall from a horse. They spoke — naturally — of horses, and Shatner marvels at the joy that was in Reeve’s eyes. Reeve’s sport, three day eventing, was my sport for many years, and I have often wondered what would happen if I took a jump wrong, if I hadn’t cleared a falling horse once — if I had lost everything the way Reeve did. Yet the story illustrates another common failing: We never seem to lose our love, once we’ve been bitten.

If you have not had the pleasure (and trauma) of having horses in your life, and have not read extensively about them, but you love their legacy and presence, this book will likely delight you. And if you know horses well — but have a fondness for Star Trek and memories of an interesting life — it’s still worth picking up.

Many of us grew up watching Star Trek, and countless dreams and careers grew out of the show’s curiosity and passion for learning — qualities which imbue The Spirit of the Horse from start to finish.

Storing a memory involves distant parts of the brain

New research from scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus shows that distant parts of the brain are called into action to store a single memory. The brain’s cortex which is the outer layer of tissue thought to be responsible for generating most thoughts and actions relies on connections with a small region in the center of the brain called the thalamus.

The thalamus is best known as a relay center that passes incoming sensory information to other parts of the brain for processing. But clinical discoveries indicate that certain areas of the thalamus may also play a vital part in consciousness and cognitive function. When a memory is formed in the brain, activity in the cells that store the information changes for the duration of the memory. Since individual neurons cannot remain active for more than a few milliseconds on their own, groups of cells work together to store the information. Neurons signaling back and forth can sustain one another’s activity for the seconds that it takes to store a short-term memory.


Svoboda and his colleagues wanted to understand if ALM stores these memories by itself, or if other parts of the brain work in concert with the ALM to store memories. ALM connects to several other brain regions via long-range connections. Zengcai Guo and Hidehiko Inagaki, postdoctoral researchers in Svoboda’s lab, tested those connections one by one, evaluating whether switching off neurons in various brain regions interfered with memory-associated activity in the ALM and impacted animals’ ability to remember their cues.

In further experiments, the team discovered that information flows both ways between the thalamus and the ALM portion of the cortex. The back and forth movement maintains these activity patterns that correspond to the memory. The finding highlights the functional importance of connections between distant parts of the brain, which are often neglected as neuroscientists focus their attention on activity within specific areas.


Heroic pizza guy delivers to stalled Amtrak train

The only thing worse than being stranded on a broken-down train? Being hungry with no access to food on a broken-down train. For some Amtrak passengers, that nightmare quickly became a reality on Sunday evening as their train from New York to Washington stalled on the tracks for more than three hours.

But luckily, they were rescued — not by train workers, but by a heroic pizza delivery guy who cut through a backyard, navigated a steep embankment and jumped over a water-filled ditch all while balancing two pizzas in his hands, according to the Associated Press.

Jim Leary delivers pizzas for Dom’s NY Style Pizzeria in Newport, Del., and said getting to the train was the trickiest part.

“I was going through people’s yards, going through the muddy embankment,” he told TODAY Food. “I was scared of dropping the pizza. I didn’t know people were filming me. I’m just glad I didn’t fall.”

When he finally reached the train, he said he was greeted with cheers for the “pizza guy.”

“I was like, ‘I got y’all,'” he said. Not only did Leary (or “Jimbo” as he’s called) deliver the cheese and pepperoni pizzas to the passengers — he also gave them paper plates.

“They were saying, ‘You are the man! We appreciate you for getting these pizza down here,'” he recalled. The customers gave him a $32 tip for the challenging delivery.

Leary said the thing that kept him going during the journey to the train was knowing that these people were hungry: “I said I’m gonna hook these people up — people got to eat.”

And while he doesn’t consider himself a hero, he said he just wants to do anything possible to help others.

“There’s so much negativity in the world,” he said. “The thing about pizza is it brings people together. People don’t give pizza that much credit. When I go into a house [with a delivery] everyone’s faces light up.”

Ancient Mars impacts created tornado-like winds that scoured surface

Brown University geologist Peter Schultz observed sets of strange bright streaks coming from a few large-impact craters on the planet’s surface. The streaks are strange because they extend much farther from the craters than normal ejecta patterns, and they are only visible in thermal infrared images taken during the Martian night. Using geological observation, laboratory impact experiments and computer modeling, Schultz and Brown graduate student Stephanie Quintana have offered a new explanation for how those streaks were formed. They show that tornado-like wind vortices created by crater-forming impacts and swirling at 500 miles per hour or more, scoured the surface and blasted away dust and small rocks to expose the blockier surfaces beneath.

Schultz states he first saw the streaks during one of his ‘exploration of Mars’. In his downtime between projects, he pulls up random images from NASA’s orbital spacecraft just to see if he might observe anything interesting. In this scenario, he was looking at infrared images which capture contrasts in heat retention on the surface. Brighter regions at night indicate surfaces that retain more heat from the previous day than surrounding surfaces, just as grassy fields cool off at night while buildings in the city remain warmer.

Schultz’s experiments showed that vapor plumes travel outward from an impact point, just above the impact surface, at incredible speeds. Scaling laboratory impacts to the size of those on Mars, a vapor plume’s speed would be supersonic. And it would interact with the Martian atmosphere to generate powerful winds. Schultz and Quintana showed that the streaks are nearly always seen in conjunction with raised surface features. As the plume raced outward from the larger impact, it encountered the small crater rim, leaving bright twin streaks on the downwind side.

The researchers’ experiments show that the presence of volatile compounds, a thick layer of water ice on the surface or subsurface, affect the vapor amount that rushes out from an impact. The streaks now can serve as indicators of whether ice may have been present at the time of an impact, which could lend insight into reconstructions of past climate on Mars. Equally possible, the streaks could be related to the composition of the impactor, such as rare collisions by high-volatile objects, such as comets.


Lab-grown stem cells may carry an increased risk of cancer

If you’ve followed the latest medical research, you know that stem cells are a big deal. They let you repurpose cells so that you can theoretically grow them into whatever you need. However, scientists just got a good reason to be more cautious than they have in the past. A Harvard team has discovered that five of the 140 human embryonic stem cell lines registered for research use in US labs have cells whose mutations can cause cancer. Two of the lines have been used in human trials, too. None of those patients has developed cancer, thankfully, but there’s a “very real risk” it could happen.

This doesn’t mean that the medical community is about to hit the brakes on stem cell research. There’s still some review necessary to decide what happens next. And there are ways to make sure cells are healthy before they’re used. However, this raises the possibility that there are other, less common mutations that haven’t been caught. And these stem cell lines have been in use for nearly 20 years — that’s a lot of time for risks to go unchecked.

If the discovery holds up, researchers may have little choice but to look for mutations through DNA sequencing, which is expensive at about $1,000 for every genome. That screening could soon be government-mandated, in fact. Still, it might be necessary to make sure that stem cell treatments aren’t just substituting one disease for another.

Amazon gives Prime to everyone in Manchester-by-the-Sea

Good news for Amazon Prime Members!!!!

The online giant is offering a year of free membership to every home in Manchester-by-the-sea. The move underscores the advantage Amazon has by controlling virtually the entire pipeline for its movies. If it wants to boost viewership for a movie, it can offer freebies and discounts whenever it wants instead of negotiating with a third-party service. And of course, it has the luxury of using one of the world’s largest online stores as a billboard. Rivals like Netflix and Hulu could try similar promos, but they still wouldn’t have separate stores to use for marketing.

Also, this serves as a not-so-subtle reminder to studios that their titles may play second fiddle to Amazon’s on Prime Video. They won’t necessarily mind too much given that it’s a subscription service — this is usually the last stop for movies after they’ve exhausted downloads and physical sales, so any viewers they get tend to be icing on the cake. However, it might give pause to smaller outfits sincerely hoping for exposure and revenue through a Prime Video deal.


The Use of Ad Blockers Around the World

According to a report published by The Wall Street Journal, Google is devising a method to add an ad blocker to its popular Chrome browser and nevertheless, it is the largest online advertiser across the globe and ad blockers are like kryptonite to the company’s business.

The implementation of ad blockers across the globe is still moderately low. According to the WSJ’s report, the ad-blocking feature would filter only specific online ads types, such as those that are considered to offer a bad experience for users. Through this, Google could keep internet users happy enough not to install third-party ad blockers, therefore slowing down their implementation rate and thus defending its own business.