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Immortality Isn't Unethical

Posted: April 16, 2010 at 8:16 am

A general interest article on transhumanist visions of the future and immortality in the sense of the continued repair and reversal of aging through medical technology: “Immortality could be sneaking up faster than we can believe. Barely a month goes by without some new advance in organ replacement, and a recent operation to replace a boy’s windpipe with one generated from his own stem cells was called ’embarrassingly simple’ by the specialist in charge. Further breakthroughs could be made by the SENS Foundation, led by the radical immortalist Aubrey de Grey, with a brutally simple plan to give humans an unbeatable protection against cancer. This involves limiting human cells’ ability to divide at cancerous levels, with regular top-ups from externally grown cells replacing worn-out tissue. If these technologies can hold to their promise, biological immortality, perhaps the most cherished goal of the transhumanists, may be with us in a few decades. A loose grouping of scientists, philosophers and sympathisers, with organisations such as the Oxford Future of Humanity Institute and Humanity+, transhumanists urge human progress through radical technological enhancement. With regards to immortality, I’m certainly a sympathiser: if a dictator was murdering tens of millions of people right across the world, we’d gladly do anything to overthrow him. And yet ageing, as eloquently put by the transhumanist philosopher Nick Bostrom, is a tyrant that kills us by the cartload – and what do we do to stop it?”

View the Article Under Discussion: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/15/transhumanism-biological-immortality

Read More Longevity Meme Commentary: http://www.longevitymeme.org/news/

Recommendation and review posted by Fredricko

Towards an Artificial Pancreas

Posted: April 16, 2010 at 8:16 am

It will be possible to replace the functions of some organs with machines in the near future, this advance accomplished on much the same timescale as the creation of tissue engineered replacement organs: “An artificial pancreas system that closely mimics the body’s blood sugar control mechanism was able to maintain near-normal glucose levels without causing hypoglycemia in a small group of patients. The system, combining a blood glucose monitor and insulin pump technology with software that directs administration of insulin and the blood-sugar-raising hormone glucagon, was developed at Boston University (BU). The first clinical trial of the system was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and confirmed the feasibility of an approach utilizing doses of both hormones … Large doses of glucagon are used as a rescue drug for people with severely low blood sugar. Our system is designed to counteract moderate drops in blood sugar with minute doses of glucagon spread out throughout the day, just as the body does in people without diabetes.” The future for this sort of technology is one of miniaturization, falling cost, and the possibility of incorporation into the body as an implanted device.

View the Article Under Discussion: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-04/mgh-nap041210.php

Read More Longevity Meme Commentary: http://www.longevitymeme.org/news/

Recommendation and review posted by Fredricko

Back Quacks Whacked, Singh Wins

Posted: April 16, 2010 at 8:14 am

The British Chiropractic Association have dropped their legal action against Simon Singh.

Many congratulations to Simon Singh and all those who have supported him.  However, Simon is going to be out of pocket by a considerable amount, even though the BCA are apparently liable for his costs.  Simon has succeeded not because he is right, but because he is both right and rich, and this is why we should still support libel reform.  Until libel claims are judged solely by the weight of evidence and not by the balance of wallets libel will remain a tool used primarily by the wealthy to silence criticism.

The fact that it takes hundreds of thousands of pounds and a particular blend of stubborness and stupidity to show that there is not a jot of evidence for the claims of chiropractic, an obvious quackery, is an obvious reason to sign Libel Reform Campaign Petition, so if you have not done so, do it.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Vitamin D deficiency occurs frequently in COPD and correlates with severity

Posted: April 16, 2010 at 8:14 am

Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) levels were measured in 414 (ex)-smokers older than 50 years and the link between vitamin D status and presence of COPD was assessed. The rs7041 and rs4588 variants in the vitamin D-binding gene (GC) were genotyped and their effects on 25-OHD levels were tested.

In patients with COPD, 25-OHD levels correlated significantly with forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1).

Compared with 31% of the smokers with normal lung function, as many as 60% and 77% of patients with GOLD (Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease) stage 3 and 4 exhibited deficient 25-OHD levels lower than 20 ng/ml.

25-OHD levels were reduced by 25% in homozygous carriers of the rs7041 at-risk allele.

76% and 100% of patients with GOLD stage 3 and 4 homozygous for the rs7041 allele exhibited 25-OHD levels lower than 20 ng/ml.

Vitamin D deficiency occurs frequently in COPD and correlates with severity of COPD. The data warrant vitamin D supplementation in patients with severe COPD, especially in those carrying at-risk rs7041 variants.

References:
Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in COPD and correlates with variants in the vitamin D-binding gene. Thorax 2010;65:215-220 doi:10.1136/thx.2009.120659.
Image source: Lungs, Wikipedia, public domain.

Posted at Clinical Cases and Images. Stay updated and subscribe, follow on Twitter and Buzz, and connect on Facebook.


Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

“Wild Anatomy” by Rachel “Thirsty Fly” Caldwell

Posted: April 16, 2010 at 8:14 am

Wild Anatomy by Rachel Thirsty Fly Caldwell

This shirt is pretty rad, love the colors going on, and it’s up for grabs for 10 bucks on shirt woot! Her site has some sweet line-work on it as well. I love the Roam shirt, buffalo win!

[thanks for the link Aman]

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

"A History of Taxidermy: Art, Science and Bad Taste," An Illustrated Presentation By Dr. Pat Morris, Congress for Curious People, Coney Island Museum

Posted: April 16, 2010 at 8:14 am




Tonight is night four of the Congress for Curious People! To celebrate, come to the Coney Island Museum at 7:00 PM to see Pat Morris–British biologist, collector, and self-publisher of several books on taxidermy–as he parses the world of taxidermy and asks, in a heavily illustrated lecture “is taxidermy art, science, or bad taste?”

Pat Morris is a specialist on taxidermy of all sorts, and has literally written the book on Walter Potter, my favorite Victorian taxidermist, who’s incredible tableaux “The Kitten Tea Party” and “The Death of Cock Robin (top and third down, respectively) you see above. Tonight his lecture will focus on the work and curiosity collection of Mr. Potter; he will also be selling (and signing, if you wish!) his difficult-to-come-by and amazing heavily-illustrated books about Potter’s work, life, and curiosity collection. Also, there will be half-price drinks at the bar till 7!

Do you need further enticing to get you down to Coney Island tonight?

Full details follow; hope to see you there!

A History of Taxidermy: Art, Science and Bad Taste
An Illustrated Presentation By Dr. Pat Morris, Royal Holloway, University of London
Date: Thursday, April 15th
Time: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: The Coney Island Museum
Should taxidermy be viewed as art, science, or bad taste? And why is it so interesting? Dr. Pat Morris’ illustrated lecture “A History of Taxidermy: Art, Science and Bad Taste” will explore these topics and more. His talk will range over the history of stuffed animals, considering how a small-time taxidermist business operated in the 19th century and exploring the many diverse and amusing uses of taxidermy and the taxidermist’s products ranging from major museum exhibits to stuffed pets, hunting trophies, animal furniture, kitten weddings (see above, Walter Potter, circa 1890s), frogs eating spaghetti and squirrels playing cards. He will discuss in detail the work of anthropomorphic taxidermist Walter Potter and his eponymous “Museum of Curiosities,” as detailed in his own lavishly illustrated book on that topic, which will be available for sale at the lecture.

Dr. Pat Morris is a retired staff member of Royal Holloway College (University of London), where he taught biology undergraduates and supervised research on mammal ecology. In that capacity he has published many books and scientific papers and featured regularly in radio and TV broadcasts. The history of taxidermy has been a lifelong hobby interest and he has published academic papers and several books on the subject. With his wife Mary he has travelled widely, including most of Europe and the USA, seeking interesting taxidermy specimens and stories. They live in England where their house is home to the largest collection and archive of historical taxidermy in Britain.

To find out more about this event and the larger Congress of Curious Peoples–including nightly performances and the epic opening night party–click here. For more about the Congress for Curious People, click here. Click on image or click here to download a hi-res copy of the above broadside. For information about the Coney Island Museum–including address and directions–click here.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith


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