Saturday, 29 November 2014

Birthday treats

Just a selection ... for boys of a certain age.

Seeing glucose through the skin

"Scientists in Germany have developed a spectroscopy method to measure diabetics' glucose levels through their skin.

When a sample is irradiated with IR light, it produces a temperature increase and when this heat diffuses to a material in contact with the sample, a temperature gradient is created, causing a thermal lens – just like the mirage effect you see in the air on the surface of a hot road. By examining the deflection of a probe beam across this lens, you can study the thermal and optical properties of the sample."

Pleitez MA, Hertzberg O, Bauer A, Seeger M, Lieblein T, Lilienfeld-Toal H v, Mäntele W. Photothermal deflectometry enhanced by total internal reflection enables non-invasive glucose monitoring in human epidermis. Analyst 2014 Nov; Available from:

The palaeolithic diet and the unprovable links to our past

Good account in "The Conversation" of our current understanding (or lack of it) of our ancestor's diets and how human genes did not simply stop adapting at some point in the past.

"We still hear and read a lot about how a diet based on what our Stone Age ancestors ate may be a cure-all for modern ills. But can we really run the clock backwards and find the optimal way to eat? It’s a largely impossible dream based on a set of fallacies about our ancestors."

The Paleolithic Nutrition debate was kicked off in the 1980s with a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine (1). A recent review questioned the restricted focus on a single era of our evolutionary past(2).

1) Eaton SB, Konner M. Paleolithic Nutrition. New England Journal of Medicine 1985 Jan;312(5):283–289. Available from:

2. Turner BL, Thompson AL. Beyond the paleolithic prescription: incorporating diversity and flexibility in the study of human diet evolution.. Nutr Rev 2013 Aug;71(8):501–510. Available from:

Birthday cycle - blue skies in Cornwall.

Great birthday cycle with the 'Grampound Go-ers' to Mevagissey. Here is the 29.1 km route on Strava.

Cake and coffee

Mevagissey harbour

Honorary Grampound-go-er member.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

'Semipermeable' nature of graphene could revolutionise fuel cells

"Researchers have discovered that graphene allows positively charged hydrogen atoms or protons to pass through it despite being completely impermeable to all other gases, including hydrogen itself.


The breakthrough raises the prospect of extracting hydrogen fuel from air and burning it as a carbon-free source of energy in a fuel cell to produce electricity and water with no damaging waste products."

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Classic NHS style dictaphone - gift for a blind friend.

Remember these? My friend says the newer ones just don't have the same easy-to-feel mechanism. Must say I agree.

Geriatrics in NZ: Like the UK 20 years ago - but way ahead in other areas.

Geriatric medicine in New Zealand: the doctors - a blog by Vicky Henstridge on the British Geriatrics Society website.

"[I]s Geriatrics in New Zealand like that in the UK 20 years ago? In terms of starting from a blank sheet and developing more acute services, then definitely Yes, there is huge scope and these are exciting times. In terms of looking at healthy aging across society, health and social care then I would humbly suggest that New Zealand is years ahead of the UK."

How processed baby food became king

The Atlantic has a story "How Canned Baby Food Became King" which as an interview with author Amy Bentley.

"Food consumption is a significant and complex social activity—and what a society chooses to feed its children reveals much about its tastes and ideas regarding health. In this groundbreaking historical work, Amy Bentley explores how the invention of commercial baby food shaped American notions of infancy and influenced the evolution of parental and pediatric care.

Until the late nineteenth century, infants were almost exclusively fed breast milk. But over the course of a few short decades, Americans began feeding their babies formula and solid foods, frequently as early as a few weeks after birth."

“Baby-food manufacturers are doing what they should be doing which is trying to increase their sales, right?” asks food historian Amy Bentley, an associate professor of food studies at New York University. “They're writing recipes that use baby food as an ingredient and sending them to women's page editors all over the country. It's seen as a novelty and an interesting convenience.”

Dialysis protocol for patients with Ebola

"Dialysis can be successfully and safely performed in a patient with Ebola virus disease, physicians at Emory University School of Medicine report.

A patient with Ebola virus disease who required renal replacement therapy and respiratory support was recently treated at Emory University Hospital and later recovered and was discharged. Providing hemodialysis was previously thought to be too risky because it involves large needles or catheters and potential contact with infectious blood."

The full paper is published online in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Connor MJ, Kraft C, Mehta AK, Varkey JB, Lyon GM, Crozier I, Ströher U, Ribner BS, Franch HA. Successful Delivery of RRT in Ebola Virus Disease. JASN 2014 Nov;ASN.2014111057. Available from:

The US Is Stockpiling Ebola Survivors’ Plasma to Treat Future Patients

The US Is Stockpiling Ebola Survivors’ Plasma to Treat Future Patients.

"Emory University Hospital will begin stockpiling blood plasma from Ebola survivors, treated with a pathogen inactivation system that’s never been used before in the United States, the company that developed the technology announced on Friday. So far, the US has had some amazing success in curing Ebola, possibly thanks to experimental plasma treatments. Drawn from survivors, the stuff comes enriched in antibodies that could help to fight off the disease—but it also has the potential to carry other diseases, like malaria, that are common in west Africa where Ebola is raging. The new system will kill off any extra contaminants that may be lurking in this potentially live-saving serum."

Modeling pain in vitro using nociceptor neurons reprogrammed from fibroblasts

'Pain in a dish': Scientists create living model of human nerve cells.

"Harvard University researchers said they have generated the human nerve cells that normally send painful stimuli to the brain by reprogramming ordinary skin cells experimentally so that they develop into fully mature, adult pain neurons.

The result is “pain in a dish”, which they believe could be used to discover new kinds of analgesics and other forms of pain relief, as well as helping to find out why some people are more prone to feeling chronic pain than others."

Wainger BJ, Buttermore ED, Oliveira JT, Mellin C, Lee S, Saber WA, Wang AJ, Ichida JK, Chiu IM, Barrett L, Huebner EA, Bilgin C, Tsujimoto N, Brenneis C, Kapur K, Rubin LL, Eggan K, Woolf CJ. Modeling pain in vitro using nociceptor neurons reprogrammed from fibroblasts. Nat Neurosci 2014 Nov;advance online publication Available from:

The quantum moment: how Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and Heisenberg taught us to love uncertainty

Book review by RSC.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

OECD's multinational comparisons of health systems data 2014 chartpack.

Published on November 19th this chartpack has slides comparing health system data on spending, quality and other measures across the developed world.

"International comparisons of health care systems offer valuable tools to health ministers, policymakers, and academics wishing to evaluate the performance of their country's system. In this chartbook, we use data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to compare health care systems and performance on a range of topics, including spending, hospitals, physicians, pharmaceuticals, prevention, mortality, quality and safety, and prices. We present data across several industrialized countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Whenever possible, we also present the median value of all 34 members of the OECD."

It comes as a PDF or a PowerPoint slide set.

Chemistry World talks about the protein called insulin.

Insulin has had a number of 'firsts' in biotechnology. Now it is big business.

"In the 90 years since Leonard Thompson’s astounding recovery, insulin has time and time again found itself in the vanguard of wider scientific advances. And with the diabetic population expected to balloon to over 550 million by 2030, there won’t be any shortage of people reaping the benefits of research into this remarkable protein."

However, "Lack of reasonably priced insulin threatens lives for the poor" (source

Paper with title "Get me off your **** mailing list" accepted by journal.

Profanity-Laced Academic Paper Exposes Scam Journal

The authors are kind enough to make a copy of their paper available to view.

Figure 1 from the paper is particularly clear.

New battery made of many nano-batteries.

Researchers have managed to restructure the materials in a nano-battery, then bundle lots of these individual batteries into a larger device.

Britain's beer revolution

Roger Protz's new book picked up at the Celtic Beer Festival yesterday and signed by the man himself. He was very up-beat about the brewing industry in the UK.

Calling on diabetologists to be advocates for diabetes

Partha Kar calling on colleagues to step up or step down. Diabetes teams in secondary care need to explain what they do yo their trusts.

3D printed contact lenses with built in video

Who needs Glass when you've got contact lenses that can display video and even detect health problems? What's more, lenses with these capabilities could one day be created using a 3D printer.

"The lens is a transparent polymer with several components embedded inside: nanoscale quantum dot light-emitting diodes, wiring made from silver nanoparticles, and organic polymers that could act as parts of electrical circuits."

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Russia, Indonesia, Latvia and the Philippines lead on equality in the boardroom

Russia, Indonesia, Latvia and the Philippines have more than 40% of senior executive positions in companies filled by women.

"The United States ranked towards the bottom of the list with just 22 percent of women in senior management, which also falls below the dismal global average of 24 percent."

Russian website lists open webcams ... yawn - must make boring viewing

This is making UK news because some devices have default settings allowing remote access and require users to set a password.

"Is someone watching you" ... asks the Information Commissioner.

I'm not sure what to make of this. The Information Commissioner is clearly taking the opportunity to remind everyone to use passwords and consider the internet settings of devices. There's also a bit of 'Russia bashing' going on too.

Ideally the devices themselves should not have remote access set by default and should have a tricky password that is printed on the device itself. They should be well behaved ... but there are plenty of manufacturers who are going to chuck together low-cost equipment. These cheap devices are going to be sought by customers and they will have unpredictable firmware and settings within them. Too much security is going to get in the way of people using the devices as they expect them to perform.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Mechanical CPR No Better Than Manual CPR in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

"Over 400 U.K. emergency vehicles were randomized to deliver CPR either manually or with the LUCAS-2 chest compression device. Nearly 4500 patients were enrolled over 3 years. The primary outcome, 30-day survival, did not differ significantly between the groups. There were no serious adverse events."

LUCAS-2 electronic CPR device

The authors concluded, "We noted no evidence of improvement in 30 day survival with LUCAS-2 compared with manual compressions. On the basis of ours and other recent randomised trials, widespread adoption of mechanical CPR devices for routine use does not improve survival."

Lancet study (1) reported in Journal Watch.

1) Gavin D Perkins, Ranjit Lall, Tom Quinn, Charles D Deakin, Matthew W Cooke, Jessica Horton, Sarah E Lamb, Anne-Marie Slowther, Malcolm Woollard, Andy Carson, Mike Smyth, Richard Whitfield, Amanda Williams, Helen Pocock, John J M Black, John Wright, Kyee Han, Simon Gates. Mechanical versus manual chest compression for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (PARAMEDIC): a pragmatic, cluster randomised controlled trial. The Lancet  16 November 2014(Article in Press DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61886-9)

Telemedicine for diabetic retinopathy in urban areas.

"A telemedicine screening program in urban clinics can help identify diabetic retinopathy in its earliest, most treatable stages, a study in JAMA Ophthalmology finds.Some 1900 adults with type 1 or 2 diabetes who presented to three urban primary care clinics or an urban pharmacy underwent voluntary ocular imaging with a nonmydriatic camera (nearly 90% of participants were racial/ethnic minorities, often with little or no health insurance). Readers at a designated reading center reviewed the images, sent the results to the participant and his or her clinic, and offered recommendations for follow-up care."

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Sonar watch for the blind

Researchers Develop $60 Sonar Watch To Aid the Visually Impaired. It uses vibration feedback (from mobile phone parts) based on echolocation.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Blood bikers: how volunteer motorcyclists are saving lives

Blood bikers: how volunteer motorcyclists are saving lives.
"With its roots going back over half a century, the concept of a rapid response motorcycle based charity, run by unpaid volunteers has an impressive track record. More than one of the current NABB member groups can proudly demonstrate in excess of three decades of continual service to the NHS and the wider community."

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Fundraising video from @Littlefoxcomms for drug addiction

Watching a nice fundraising video for drug club by Little Fox Communications.

Skills project to crowdsource and map all human skills

... including the one required to fill in online skills surveys.

"Humanity has been learning, individually and collectively, since the dawn of time. Over millenia, we have mastered an incredible number of skills. Yet, we still lack a comprehensive and organized database of all human skills.

In this age of ambitious big data endeavours and advanced social tools, we firmly believe that it’s possible to map out all human skills. But the only smart way of doing so, is by leveraging collective knowledge and making as many people a part of the project as possible."

NHS releases an electronic antenatal care app and plans to validate other health apps

An NHS "kitemark" for health-related smartphone apps is one of a number of new technological initiatives being backed by NHS chiefs in England which also includes an electronic version of the red book for antenatal care.

Tim Kelsey of NHS England said: "New mothers will now be able to carry their red book around with them on their smart phone and tablet as the NHS moves towards offering digital personal child health records.

The eRedbook website gives details on how to enrol in the evaluation study of the electronic version of the antenatal care 'redbook'..

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Geologists have manslaughter ruling overturned.

Manslaughter Conviction Overturned For Italian Scientists Who Didn't Predict Earthquake.

"Geologists who didn't warn a town about an impending earthquake are not murderers, an Italian appeals court ruled today."

About time too.

Non-Newtonian body fluids and the flapping of medical microbots.

Tiny Robots Mimic Scallops to Swim Through Bodily Fluids (VIDEO)

"Microrobots that can independently swim within the body may one day help diagnose conditions and to treat diseases by traveling to areas that conventional technology simply can’t reach. There’s already considerable research toward this goal, including how to encapsulate drugs, trigger different actions by the microrobots, and identifying materials that are safe and practical at very small scales."

National Audit Office says Government plan to keep elderly out of hospital is over-optimistic.

Plan to reduce unnecessary hospital visits overoptimistic, say auditors, reports The Guardian.

Where clinicians, IT and collaboration count: value-based reimbursement.

Report of a survey investigating trends in value-based reimbursement in healthcare in the US.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

WHO guidelines for opiate overdose in the community: friends and family to give naloxone and manage airway.

Community guidelines by WHO for the management of opiate overdose summarized by NEJM's Journal Watch.

Scientific method of the week: the robot baby penguin.

"Scientists who study wild animals want to get as close as possible to their subjects without stressing them out or disrupting their natural behaviors. One possible solution: remote-controlled rovers."

How can Google better predict flu trends? With a little fudging.

"Scientists combined historic flu levels as reported by the CDC with Google Flu Trends data using an algorithmic framework which is able to adapt to changes in human search behaviour. Their results show that Google Flu Trends data sets significantly add information to the forecasts of current flu levels."

Monday, 3 November 2014

Stories of crashes

Interesting blog by careflightcollective on the telling of stories from real world experiences of accidents in the field.

photo from
"Medicine is a discipline built for the campfire. Or a theatre. Or for the gossip of the tearoom. We build knowledge and teams quicker with the stories we share than the papers we read.

This is particularly the case for prehospital and retrieval medicine. This is an area of medicine bordering different lands to hospital practice. Borderlands tend to be inhabited by strange beasts (and let’s be honest, a few strange people). Some of the situations we find ourselves in are unlikely to repeat themselves quickly and if we don’t hear the stories of those who have been there before, it’s a lot harder to be ready for some of those more colourful days at work."

This use of clinical stories would be very good for training purposes for emergency response teams. How best to learn what you might expect when you turn up?

However, unless it is comprehensive it risks being biased towards the perceptions of the authors. Perhaps not so useful in planning of services and syllabus of trainees but certainly good for representative examples for discussion.

Compiling Fireworks displays in Cornwall

Hard work but someone had to do it.

Looking forward to live webcams next year. ;-)

Cornwall Tourism Awards #lovecornwall

Good luck to all those finalists in the Cornwall Tourism Awards on 6th November.

Especially our friends at ...

Newquay Zoo, Newquay
Lower Barns B&B, St Ewe
Bosinver Farm Cottages, St Austell
St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre, St Austell
St Michael’s Hotel & Spa, Falmouth
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Rock

Cornwall - a coastal journey

Lovely video by Aerial Cornwall.

A Cornish gunpowder plot / virtual firework game?

Just in case anyone is planning a Cornish style gunpowder plot on November 5th ...

Don't. It's not cool.

Wouldn't it be good though if you could have some sort of video game overlay of the Cornwall Council budget debate live webcast where you can click buttons for virtual fireworks during episodes of boredom / annoyance / celebration / etc.

myCornwall's photography competition

Found this link for all those budding Cornish photographers.

"Are you a budding photographer? Think you have an eye for catching beautiful images? Then enter your work into myCornwall's photography competition for a chance to have your photos published in the February/March edition of the magazine and online with your credit/byline! The theme is 'A Cornish Winter'"

Spaced Practice

Nice blog, as always, from Donald Clark on practical ways of implementing spaced practice into your teaching. Defeat that forgetting curve!

Here's the list ... to emphasise the learning repetition.

Start and end