Protecting Health Through Fidgeting

SittingIn this day and age, we do a lot of sitting. If you are one of the millions of Americans with an office job, you are sitting for several hours throughout the day. However, office jobs are not the only culprit. Those who travel for extended periods of time are forced to remain seated on airplanes. Those who enjoy watching television may find themselves starting a Netflix show then, hours later, being riveted in the same position. A couple years back, evidence was uncovered concerning the harmful effects of sitting. Remaining seated was found to increase risk of heart disease and diabetes. This new information brought on a standing desk craze, however, it has been found that overusing standing desks is also not good for health. So, what is good for your health? A recently published study found that fidgeting while seated may be your best bet.

One of the immediate dangers of sitting for extended periods of time concern the arteries in the leg. Sitting restricts the amount of blood flowing to the legs, which heightens risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the University of Missouri wanted to know if there was a way to offset those negative effects when standing is not an option. Their reasoning was that fidgeting would encourage increased blood flow in the leg. They did not expect it to completely solve the arterial problem, but they hoped it would at least help.

The researchers tested the leg vascular function of 11 men and women. The subjects were made to sit for three hours. Each participant kept one leg still throughout the entire study, and tapped the other one at specified intervals. The subjects averaged about 250 foot movements per minute. At the conclusion of three hours, researchers measured the amount of blood flow in each leg of each subject.

Sure enough, this fidgeting increased blood flow in the legs significantly, to a point where it could help stave off cardiovascular disease. Toe tapping was indeed enough to increase vascular health. This is groundbreaking information in a society in which, a lot of the time, people do not have the option to take breaks to stand up continuously during a long period of sitting.

The researchers want to make it clear, however, that fidgeting should not be used as a substitute for standing and walking around when breaks can be taken. Walking or standing has more overall cardiovascular benefits, and is therefore better for you in the long run. However, fidgeting is a good alternative in situations in which standing is not permitted. As they say, any sort of movement is better than none at all.  

Unnecessary Antibiotics

Antibiotics Antibiotics have developed the reputation of being a ‘cure-all’ in today’s society. Whenever a patient is feeling ill for more than a couple of days, his or her first request is to be put on antibiotics. This makes sense, of course. In today’s fast-paced world, people do not have the time to be sick for more than one or two days at a time. Feeling ill for a period any longer than that could result in missing work for more time than allowed, or simply not being able to complete daily responsibilities. Unfortunately, putting antibiotics up on a pedestal has had consequences. A new federal study was recently released that stated nearly 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessarily given to patients.

Antibiotics, since they have reached such an unreasonably high status, are being prescribed for many conditions that do not require any medication at all. These conditions mostly consist of respiratory issues that only last a short amount of time. For example, a patient with the common cold can request antibiotics if he or she is still experiencing symptoms a few days after its onset. Also, bronchitis is being treated more and more with antibiotics, as are ear and sinus infections.

This overuse of antibiotics can have detrimental effects on patients in the long run. It allows bacteria resistant to antibiotics to grow and flourish. Such bacteria is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year.

Those who investigated the misuse of antibiotics in the newly released study found that, out of their sample size, hundreds of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions were administered for every 1,000 people when respiratory conditions were present. With all other conditions, the number of unnecessary prescriptions was even higher.

Why is it that doctors are giving out antibiotics to those who do not need them? It is speculated that this is because the patients are asking for them. If a patient enters a doctor’s office and asks for antibiotics to feel better, doctors will prescribe them in order to satisfy the patient’s desires. However, doctors must take everything patient’s say with a grain of salt. Usually, when a patient is asking for antibiotics, he or she just wants something to alleviate the symptoms. There are ways to accomplish this besides antibiotics. More communication is necessary between doctors and patients to determine what is actually necessary.

Therefore, it is useful for doctors and patients alike to know what conditions require antibiotics, and which ones will get better without. For example, antibiotics are not useful in the treatment of the common cold, bronchitis, and viral infections.

Cancer Screening Controversy

Anyone who is keeping up with the medical world has heard of the newly arisen doubt surrounding cancer screenings. More specifically, their effectiveness at preventing cancer has come into question. Of course, there are several moving parts involved in cancer screenings that must be separately examined to come to any real conclusion.

There is a difference between disease-specific mortality and overall mortality, as The BMJ described in their study about why cancer screenings need to change. Disease-specific mortality is looking at a person’s living in terms of one specific disease, such as cancer. Overall mortality, however, refers to a broader picture. The evidence claiming that cancer screenings lower mortality rates are only valid for people with tumors. Apparently, overall mortality can be affected by situations that stem from getting screened for cancer.

Cancer screenings are not perfect. There is a fairly large percentage of cancer screenings that result in a false positive. There has also been a rise in the the misdiagnosis of cancers that are not harmful. These blips in the system lead to cancer treatment for individuals who may not need it. For example, treatment for prostate cancer involves hormonal therapy. This hormonal therapy significantly raises the risk of heart attacks in men.

Basically, the screenings cannot distinguish between lesions that need to be removed and those that do not, and can lead to unnecessary procedures for people who may not need them.

So, what can be done about these screenings? Cancer experts agree that the entire way we go about screening for cancer needs to change. The real issue here is that there is not enough evidence to prove that screening for cancer is beneficial to an individual’s overall mortality. Therefore, the medical industry must increase the number of people that get screened on a yearly basis, and run a number of trials. This would, however, cost billions of dollars.

Until that money is available for such screenings and tests, cancer experts must be more truthful about both the benefits and risks of cancer screenings. Currently, the medical industry admits only the upside of cancer screenings to the public, but this much change in order to allow individuals to make informed decisions about whether or not to get screened.

As a medical professional, I am dedicated to the health and quality of life of patients. I believe that everything having to do with an individual’s health should be explained in its entirety, without bias or the hiding of information. Honesty leads to informed health decisions by patients. I would suggest cancer experts adopt this mentality as well, in order to prevent cancer screenings from becoming a thing of the past.

Hologram Victory

Holograms have been a popular culture phenomenon since they started appearing in Science Fiction films. However, not even Star Wars could have predicted this – Japanese scientists have found a way to make holograms touchable.

Before you get too excited, let me clarify. Japanese scientists have found a way to make holograms able to be sensed by a human hand. We will not find ourselves playing a successful game of touch football with hologram players anytime soon, but this is still a major find. These scientists have been the only ones able to successfully use lasers to simulate a feeling – other failed experiments ended up burning skin.

One scientist working on this new technology, Dr. Yoichi Ochiai from Tsukuba University,

calls the new discovery a ‘Fairy Lights’ system, which creates fast-traveling laser pulses that react to human touch. Three-dimensional images are projected, and the lasers are used in such a way that those touching it have the sensation that something is there. So, humans are able to have a three-dimensional holographic image in front of them, reach out, and feel it. The hologram’s pixels will move in response to where they are touched.

So, touchable holograms have been discovered. This is truly a scientific revelation, but does it have any practical uses?

As a matter of fact, touchable holograms, depending on how they progress, can have large implications for the medical sphere, as well as for the construction and technology industries.

People have many ideas of how such technology, when developed, can be used. I can only imagine how holograms will be used in the future in the medical field, such as by revolutionizing certain physical therapy programs, or by comforting patients. The possibilities are truly endless. I have listed some of the more popular usages of our future touchable hologram technology below.

Computer Keyboards

Haven’t we all always wanted a virtual computer keyboard that we can project onto any surface? Well, with this technology, we would have that resource. It would give us a computer keyboard to type on, no matter where we are.

Video Chatting

Have you ever been video chatting with someone and wanted to reach out and touch them? With this technology, that may just be in your future. The person you are chatting with could be made into a hologram that responds to your touch. If anything, this technology will entirely change long-distance relationships.

Construction Sites

Projecting images to simulate where things should be when building. That could bring ‘blueprints’ to a new level.

Virtual Gaming

Virtual reality games can now be filled with holograms that you can move. That in and of itself is pretty cool.

For more information on ‘Fairy Lights,’ check out this article from Tech Times.


Astronauts Wanted

When polling your average kindergarten class for their most ideal jobs, you would get three answers across the board: Cowboy, Pirate, and Astronaut. For the longest time, those three dreams were little more than fluff between young ears, waiting for the rigors of everyday life to remind them that not everyone can be a cowboy, and the qualifications for becoming a pirate require more than a little schooling. However, NASA’s recent announcement just opened a door that millions of up-and-coming astronauts would be happy to float through.

Derrick AlgerWith our space program reinvigorated by the latest development on Mars, NASA has begun the arduous process of preparing for our next, most dramatic reach into the inky black surrounding our planet. Development is underway for more than just a manned Martian exploration, though. Plans outlining a manned orbital space station, commercial space flight, and deep-space exploration are all on the table, each with their own bevy of positions to be filled.

Starting December 14th and ending sometime in February, NASA’s open application period is a welcome invitation for any of those daring enough to explore the great unknown. While the window is small and some prerequisites are surely required to fill the roll, never in the history of NASA has there been an open call for astronauts.

From being barely used to branching out tremendously, NASA is working on multiple projects that would elevate our space program to the cultural height it was during the first moon landing. Everyone remembers the first time feet landed on the moon and those immortal words echoed into the airless atmosphere, but will we soon see the first to step foot on Mars? Maybe this new class of NASA hopefuls will contain the first woman or man to make our next leap into the future. For more information, click here.


Print Your Palate

When was the last time you’ve watched Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory? The bright colors and wacky mechanisms churning out delectable insanity in all manner of sizes and shapes. Well, an enterprising German candy maker is taking serious inspiration from this zany source material, and turning the world of sweets on its head.

When looking for this innovative world of candy, you needn’t follow a trail of small orange men. A small German company, Katjes is one of the first to produce food from 3D printers. Nervous foodies have yet to climb on board with the modern trend of printing your food, finding it difficult to believe that anything worthwhile can come from a cartridge, but Katjes feels like they have a solution.

Who in their right mind turns down candy? Sweet, delicious, and fun for all ages, candy seemed to be the best way to bring curious consumers over to Katjes’ side. Customers can choose from any assortment of flavors and patterns to have their foods designed in. Fruit gummies can come in any shape or size, from letter to animal.

Blending chemistry and magic, Katjes encourages onlookers to press their faces to the Derek Algerglass and watch their treats being made. Eager children come for miles to watch their chosen treats come to life before their eyes. Layer after layer of fruit-flavored confection is placed on top of each other from automated nozzles, and line by line, the pattern comes to life.

Snover, the owner of Katjes, has been in the candy business for years. Hand making their products using the classic candy methods of old, the inclusion of this 3D printer is an attempt to not only modernize their culinary game, but Snover hopes that by getting more people on board with this method of food preparation it’ll be brought into the mainstream. Though only available in Berlin at the moment, Katjes hopes to spread their delicious message across the world using the brilliant emergent technology of 3D printing.


Strange Science

The act of creation is what drives a scientist. A simple thought, an idea snatched from the mental ether and forced into reality is how the light bulb, telephone, and automobile were introduced into our world. The ingenuity of these intrepid adventurers shape the face of our society, but what happens to their duds? We are very aware of the great successes that have propelled our society forward, but how many strange inventions were meant to be forgotten by the ever-thundering march of time?

Phone of The Dead: A brainchild of Thomas Edison and certainly one of his strangest offerings to date. A mind from which brilliant ideas were brought into this world, Edison’s “Spirit Phone” is rarely numbered among them. This early invention predates the Graham Bell’s telephone, though it’s intended audience surely would have been late.

The Rat Pack: Oddly enough, a study was held regarding rats and their preference of music. In 2011, a study conducted at Albany Medical College to see which types of tunes the tiny rodents would prefer to listen too. Oddly enough, when given the option, rats prefer no music to anything. If forced to listen to music, rats prefer Beethoven. The study takes a strange turn, though, when the rats are given cocaine. Apparently their musical tastes shift to Jazz and Miles Davis when given the drug, but only while under the influence.

Hanging Around: Nicolae Minovici is one of the chosen few scientists willing to put themselves at risk for science. The first to volunteer for his own experiment, Nicolae, the preeminent forensic scientist of the time, wanted to learn more about a particular process of capital punishment. Fascinated by hanging, Nicolae built a system of pulleys to test various knots, rope elasticity, and neck strength. Curiously enough, Nicolae died several years later due to neck-related trauma.

Beautiful and strange, if science has taught us anything, it’s that you can only expect the unexpected. Who knows what mad geniuses are cooking up right now in labs around the world. Powerful computers strongDerrick Alger enough to be worn like sunglasses and hoverboards make up our reality, where just thirty years prior it was fiction.

Medical Code Mania

The world of medicine is as wild and varied as the world it’s meant to treat. With hospitals needing to be prepared for any eventuality, certain codes had to be developed for the little incidents in life that occur, no matter how strange. Here is a brief look at some actual medical codes that, for one reason or another, exist because some poor person exhibited a need for treatment.

So you’re out on the lake, enjoying the sun and water with your family. The day has been perfect, and would have remained as such if those flaming skis hadn’t struck you out of the blue. When you’re finally able to reach a hospital after your stressful and somewhat insane ordeal, you’ll heart your friendly doctor call for a V91.07XA.

Have you recently returned from an Outer Space-journey and are suffering the ills of your former weightlessness? Luckily, a quick call for an X52 over the intercom will keep everyone in the loop. Whether you’re being attacked by squirrels, sucked into a jet engine or crushed by a vending machine, there is medical code to suit your problem. The real question is why? What’s changed to allow so many crazy codes into our medical system?

Derek ALgerThe update to our medical codes comes as a result of recent changes to the U.S. healthcare system. Though the patient should be left largely unaffected; hospitals, insurance companies, and nursing homes have all needed to modernize their coding procedures to evolve with the system. In order to get paid, medical providers must present an accurate depiction of what the patient experienced. Because of this change, 14,000 medical codes ballooned to an unprecedented 68,000.

With hopes of reducing fraud, improving the health care system and accurately documenting patient procedures, this plan has some very clear benefits. While there are several who would claim this insane level of accuracy is more of a hindrance than a helping hand, the man who was recently attacked by squirrels will surely be thankful for the specific attention.

Human Science

Knowledge is power. The proliferation of the internet has shown that people naturally want to educate themselves in subjects they care about. Never before has so much knowledge been this readily available before. As the phenomenon known as crowdsourced knowledge continue to grow, aided by Wikipedia and its complex network of contributors, another form of science was born. Dubbed “citizen science,” this new type of learning emerged from the data maelstrom of the internet with one goal: to teach as many as possible through shared experiences.

Like tapping into a mental collective, citizen science asks only that its practitioners observe and document the world around them. By taking in nature, culture, experience and information, you add a perspective to a vast ocean of input. Millions of ideas coalesce to form a comprehensive view of our world, filtered through the perception of hundreds.

Organizations across the globe have begun utilizing citizen science as a means to gather data. The U.S. Geological Survey reached out to hundreds of bird watchers, nature aficionados, and observant citizens to document their local findings. Whether measuring the blooming cycles of flowers or migratory patterns of our nation’s birds, the undeniable advantage of utilizing one of the most abundant resources on the planet, humans, is as brilliant as it is time-saving.

Other industries of repute have joined the citizen science mission alongside the U.S.G.S. NASA, the FCC (Federal Communication Commission), and the National Archives have begun using the public to better catalog data. In a country where there are 6 million registered scientists compared to a staggering 300 million “citizen scientists,” it’s shocking to think of not using such an abundant resource.

Derek ALgerHowever, citizen science is not without its difficulties. The process of scientific discovery is free from bias, belief or manipulation. If you expand the realm of contributors to one piece of data, you naturally increase the opportunity for “incorrect” observations to be made. The managing of citizen science has become a science unto itself. A necessary process when thousands of perspectives are colliding. Can so many varying opinions, viewpoints, and perspectives remove the bias in research by making one scientist into many, or can too much data dilute the information?