Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The future's comin', and there's no place to hide!

Note:  The title is from Firesign Theatre's 1972 album, I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus.  It's sad news that founding member Peter Bergman died March 9, 2012.  I love the description of Firesign as "four friends talking."

I really, really don't want to live with a flail arm, in addition to existing with lecherous legs.  Oh, okay, so "lecherous legs" makes no sense, at least not in this context.  Would you like to pass some time imagining the context for which "lecherous legs" would be the mots justes?

Sister Slobodan, a plump and saintly nun, whose family, friends, and colleagues all deem destined for beatification, is too ashamed to acknowledge to good Father McConaughey-Coughlin ("Irish"), her confessor, the sin of her lecherous legs.  Never completely sure whether the sins of her legs constituted mortal sins or just venial ones, she put her faith in the chapter chapbook, The Big Book of Rites, which required only the confession of mortal sin -- those thoughts, words, and actions performed with the consent of the will, and after reflection.  "Kind of like what makes the difference between first-degree murder and manslaughter," thought Sister Slobodan, somewhat soothed.

Sorry.  I guess that came to mind after several evenings of poker that included the perpetually overwrought Abbott Truffatore, who requires debriefing after his monthly stint as confessor to the Gypsy Rose Convent of the Assumption.  The Abbott contends that "girls are worse than boys, much worse." 

As I was saying, I don't want to end up with a useless arm, despite having been the sole author of the decision to do so.  At the same time, there is something shameful about receiving a notice from PCIP, the health insurance for those with pre-existing conditions put in place by President Obama's Affordable Care Act, saying that I had satisfied the "catastrophic limit" for the year.  It's only April.

I had high hopes of being designated the Poster Child for PCIP, but now that probably won't happen.

So shoot me if I still look around for solutions to this biofilm infection situation thingy.  Disparage me for wanting to crush the heck out of osteomyelitis and keep a functioning arm!  Could I BE any more pitiful?The following article popped up, as articles will do, during a search for "stuff that'll decimate biofilm infections."  

The only actual dilemma I have is how and when to bring my various findings to the attention of MDVIP Go-To-Guy, ShoulderMan, and InfectiousDiseaseDood.  MDVIP Go-To-Guy has perfected the deflective response, always answering now:  "Interesting.  Very important that this be brought -- immediately -- to ShoulderMan and InfectiousDiseaseDood's attentions." ShoulderMan, who has been known to Officially and Officiously Admonish Moi for failing to bring such-and-such to his attention, is unreachable by phone or email, and is awe-inspiringly busy and distracted when seen in the flesh. Orthopedic surgery clinic time is not the moment for discussions of theory, or for much of anything beyond scheduling procedures, getting x-rayed, or having one's casts and dressings changed.  As for InfectiousDiseaseDood?  Reaching him is impossible.  Reaching his PA is nigh unto impossible, and reaching her medical assistant is possible, but pointless.  Calling the asssistant means voice mail, and a promise that my call, if made before 12:30, will be returned that same day, but actually means she will begin the message process of notifying the PA that I called, a process which requires at least 5 business days to complete.

Well, even I can see that my objections are silly and that the parameters of these medicos' resistance to patient contact are hardly impervious, nor are they meant to be.  It just feels that way.  Speaking with them during the high achieved by hoping something very unlikely might be true and attainable is rarely possible.  That means speaking to them about ideas and likelihoods when the ideas and likelihoods are clearly flawed and impractical, when their actual use obviously requires influence and financing beyond my means.  And that, dear Reader, is how I convince myself to shut up before I ever open my mouth.  [Performance art!]

Here is an article about killing a 17-layer "biofilm" using a handheld plasma flashlight, published in Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence.

Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence is a spinoff of Kurzweil Technologies, brainchild of Ray Kurzweil, futurist and author (The Age of Spiritual Machines), who believes that massive amounts of supplements will enable him to live until such time as science will be able to cure or prevent his ills.  He posits the advent of singularity, often misrepresented as a discrete "event" -- "an era, roughly in 2045, when machine intelligence will meet, then transcend human intelligence. Such future intelligent systems will then design even more powerful technology, resulting in a dizzying advance that we can only dimly foresee at the present time. Kurzweil outlines this vision in his recent book The Singularity Is Near."

Actually, I guess he does see "singularity" as a discrete event.  I find that inordinately disturbing, that one detail.  I'd die to know the particulars of that sequence -- the just-before, the moment-itself, and the next... what?  Thought?  What will transcendant machine intelligence look like, what nouns and verbs will we ascribe to the phenomenon [beyond "singularity"]?

It's one of those situations prompting the cautionary "consider the source," but it's also one of the few times when that warning might ultimately be a recommendation.

If ShoulderMan and InfectiousDiseaseDood want me to believe in biofilm infections, don't I have the right to counter with the stuff of accelerating intelligence, however dizzying or dimly foreseen?

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Handheld plasma flashlight rids skin of pathogens

April 6, 2012
Portable plasma flashlight (credit: X. Pei et al./IoP)
Imagine a handheld, battery-powered plasma-producing device that can rid skin of bacteria in an instant — no soap and water required.
It could be used in ambulance emergency calls, natural disaster sites, military combat operations, and wherever treatment is required in remote locations.
It’s called a “plasma flashlight.”
In an experiment, the plasma flashlight effectively inactivated a thick biofilm with 17 different layers of one of the most antibiotic- and heat-resistant bacteria, Enterococcus faecalis — which often infects root canals during dental treatments.
The plasma penetrated deep into the very bottom of the layers to kill the bacteria in five minutes. For individual bacteria, the inactivation time could be just tens of seconds.
How it works
Although the exact mechanism behind the anti-bacterial effect of plasma is largely unknown, it is thought that reactions between the plasma and the air surrounding it create a cocktail of compounds that are similar to the ones found in our own immune system.

Plasma jet circuit, powered by a 12 V DC battery at 60 mW. It generates ~20 kHz pulses with ~100 ns duration. (Credit: X. Pei et al./IOP Publishing)
It can be easily made and costs less than $100 to produce. No external power or gas feed is required. It operates at close to room temperature and prevents damage to the skin.
The researchers ran an analysis to see what species were present in the plasma and found that highly-reactive nitrogen- and oxygen-related species dominated the results. Ultraviolet radiation has also been theorized as a reason behind plasma’s success; however, this was shown to be low in the jet created by the plasma flashlight, adding to the safety aspect of the device.
The device was created by researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, The University of Sydney, and the City University of Hong Kong.
Ref.: X. Pei et al., Room-temperature, battery-operated, handheld air plasma jet inactivates 25.5 μm Enterococcus faecalis biofilm, Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 2012 (open access)

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