Breath test for a heart attack?

Heart Failure: Is There a Breath Test?
http://www.medpagetoday.com/CriticalCare/CHF/38076

It seems I haven’t talked about this before, but there is a lot of very interesting science that is under development that allows for the potential of some rather incredible medical information simply from a few deep breaths. Sort of the same concept as the alcohol breathalyzer, anything that is volatile at body temps will move from your blood stream to your lungs and from thence to you breath. It turns out that lots of medical conditions are presaged by these volatile compounds and an accurate and sensitive method of detecting these things can go a very long way toward early (and accurate) diagnosis of a whole host of diseases. Maybe the Star Trek tricorder is a hand-held breathalyzer?

Alternatives, if they could be made to work

Aluminum-Air Battery to Power EVs for 1000 Miles
http://news.discovery.com/autos/fuel-and-alternative-fuel-technologies/aluminum-air-battery-1000-miles-130325.htm

The first time I saw an article like this (over a decade ago) I probably spent a week reading up on alternative energy storage mechanisms, there are dozens that are realistic and dozens more that seem quite plausible. Why can’t they compete? Well, it boils down to the mainstream products being cheaper, what with their installed infrastructure and substitution costs. Some of these ideas might very well have become the mainstream in some alternative universe if they were invented first (it costs _billions_ of dollars to build a deep sea oil rig, with ZERO guarantee that you will ever get your money back! what is the chance of that happening if an alternative history had not seen value in crude oil?). The aluminum battery makes a great deal of sense, but it too is nothing more than an energy storage device (so is crude oil, but the energy was stored over millions of years, millions of years ago (crude oil is still being created, just at a fraction of the rate we are using it)). Only nuclear is really an energy creation device, though one could make a philosophical argument that it is energy left over from the big bang. Anyway, my point is any alternative today has to compete with the massive (likely, in aggregate, greater than several hundred trillion dollars) infrastructure in place for dealing with crude oil, coal, natural gas, etc. This is one of the primary reasons I have focused my attention on alternatives that neatly mesh with existing infrastructure, the conversion cost is many orders of magnitude lower (indeed, in the case of oil from duckweed/algae, there is almost no conversion cost, though there is the wee little issue of no one has made it economical (yet?)). The upside for aluminum ‘batteries’ is there is an aluminum refining industry already in place. The down side is ‘gas’ stations would all need to be changed at a cost of trillions just here in the US. You can get that sort of investment (Wall Street moves trillions around every day) if everyone involved stands to make a buck, but that means there must be high margins to make it worth while.

Once crude oil gets over a few thousand dollars a barrel some of these alternatives will finally start to have the profit in them to get people to switch. Which one ‘wins’ is probably hard to predict. I think crude oil won out in its day because initially it was basically free since the stuff just oozed out of the ground.

Solar cells

Nanowires increase limit of solar cell efficiency, say researchers
The researchers contend that their findings increase the so-called “Shockley-Queisser Limit,” which is the typical efficiency limit for solar cells.
http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/nanowires-increase-limit-of-solar-cell-efficiency-say-researchers/

Not quite ready for prime time, but this is the first major change to the solar cell industry I can recall for several decades. I expect that the math of ‘really cheap with low efficiency’ vs ‘really expensive with high efficiency’ really isn’t going to change with this, but figured my reader(s) might find this interesting.

THIS is what we should be focused on

Overfished and under-protected: Oceans on the brink of catastrophic collapse
http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/22/world/oceans-overfishing-climate-change/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

I think the reason that people like to harp on global warming is because it is a huge, yet remote problem that involves everyone all over the globe all at once, thus can safely be ignored for now. Overfishing the ocean, on the other hand, is something people could do something about by a simple change in their behavior, yet no one wants to make those changes. I bet that if the US ‘breadbasket’ in the Midwest were to have lost 90% of its yields over the last 100 years (instead of steadily increasing, so much so that farmland is reverting to forest!) people would set up and take notice, but since it is in the ocean and thus out of sight, no one seems to give a damn. This is a big deal, yet articles to discuss it like the one above are rare, almost never trigger discussion and are generally forgotten in minutes. It is articles like this that I started down the road to developing my interest in aquaponics; I am very convinced that at some point in the not-to-distant future (a couple of decades at the most), the cost of sea food is going to explode because the supply will simply cease. If you want fish protein you will have to get it from cultured sources. If I can get off my lazy ass I should be exceptionally well positioned to take advantage of this.

Too bad I am such a lazy worthless bastard!

Salt: the deadly killer

Salt responsible for 2.3 million deaths worldwide, study suggests
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/03/22/salt-responsible-for-23-million-deaths-worldwide-study-suggests/

Personally I am far from convinced that the supposed association between high dietary salt and the manifold health concerns is causative (verses correlative). Certainly there are some medical conditions where high sodium (the component that is actually troublesome) can be dangerous, but salt is constantly lost via sweating, urinating, etc. and our body does a rather poor job (in comparisons to most other ‘savanna’ organisms) of retaining salt. Of course, as a species, our activity level has dropped so much (as we have porked up, causality or correlation?) that we sweat so much less that maybe, just maybe, this is an issue. However, it is critical to understand that for active people who sweat a lot curtailing salt intake can very quickly lead to death, not decades from now by some rather diffuse range of medical conditions but today, this very afternoon, when you drop dead from an electrolyte imbalance. Because of our infatuation with air conditioning most people who work out are not used to the heat and thus sweat more than they would had they been adapted. More sweat means you need more salt intake (among many other electrolytes! don’t focus only on sodium!), not less.

Now if you are an old fat white guy and sit around watching the tube in a conditioned house, you might want to cut back on the massive sodium intake. Since that is probably a significant portion of the population, perhaps these rather hysterical headlines have some validity after all, but if you are young and exercise regularly following these recommendations could put you in the hospital or even in the ground.

More Autism

Since I blogged on autism recently I figured I would toss this one out to my reader(s):

Grandparents ‘may relay autism risk to grandchildren’
The risk of developing autism may be passed on through – and not just to – future generations, researchers say.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21857403

There has been increasing evidence that epigenetic (see here Wiki page) changes can be passed down through the generations. It is plausible that some portion of what triggers autism is from epigenetic changes that our parents, grandparents and even great grandparents received and passed down through the generations. What might be making tracing the genetic component (if any) in autism so challenging is that it might not be due to mutations at all, it might be due to epigenetic changes. Right now getting epigenetic data is quite challenging (something I hope will change with my DNA sequencing invention) so it is hard to do the sort of population studies to winkle out the associations.

Will you be next?

Will I be next? Our police state is working diligently to eliminate any sort of questioning of its actions. This is a critical issue to regaining our freedom as a representative democracy (if you think we live in one now you are living in a fantasy land (but so many are!)). I really encourage my reader(s) to follow the link below and read the entire article. Any regular reader(s) here know we are well down the path, perhaps irreversibly so, but perhaps reading the article will motivate you to forward it (or my post) and get a wider audience. Challenge your complacent friends/family/etc. to read the article and debate it. Perhaps our society really does want a police state (in which case I need to get outta here), but more likely our fellow men and women are instead guilty of willful ignorance (or butt ugly stupidity) and have so far refused to know. The main stream media goes out of its way to downplay or even totally ignore these sorts of things, without the Internet I doubt anyone would know.

The persecution of Barrett Brown – and how to fight it
The journalist and Anonymous activist is targeted as part of a broad effort to deter and punish internet freedom activism
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/21/barrett-brown-persecution-anonymous