Jun 04 2015

Avengers Age of Ultron Science Fact?

There’s a bit in Avengers Age of Ultron that involves a machine that prints skin. (I’m simplifying.) This technology even leads to the creation of a really cool character. (I won’t say which one in case you haven’t seen the movie yet. Although if not, what exactly have you been doing with your time? I mean, sheesh.) It would appear that what I thought was mere science-fiction is becoming science fact.

(The photo below has nothing to do with this post. But it could one day! 3-D Eyeball Printers!)

Deutsch: Zentrale Heterochromie: Grüne Iris, u...

Deutsch: Zentrale Heterochromie: Grüne Iris, um die Pupille herum jedoch ein braun-gelber Ring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

L’Oreal is working on a 3-D printer that can print human skin.

“Print” should probably be in quotes. Basically they’re using a machine to create skin cells to replace human skin that’s burned or otherwise damaged. Read the Wired article for more.

Eventually, of course, this same technology could be used to create an entire body. For now that’s science-fiction instead of science fact. But who knows what the future holds.

h/t Top Tech Blog (via Scott Adams. Yes, the Dilbert guy. He blogs about interesting stuff and has other folks blogging about interesting stuff on his behalf.)

Source: Inside L’Oreal’s Plan to 3-D Print Human Skin | WIRED

Mar 13 2015

Robert Downey Jr. Brings Georgia Boy Bionic Arm (DaddyTube)

The line between Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man is growing slimmer every day. Here is a video of the actor bringing a Georgia boy named Alex Pring a real bionic arm.

DaddyTips Featured Video

It’s OK if you get a little misty-eyed. We’ll wait.

The important bit here is that a group called The Collective Project made a bionic arm for a child, Alex, who was “born with a partially developed right arm,” according to the video. The arm was made by Albert Manero, “a college student who builds and donates low-cost, 3D-printed bionic limbs to kids around the world,” according to the YouTube video. Here’s a quote from the Fox 5 DC story where we found this:

“The arm doesn’t have a lot of supernatural powers, but it makes life easier on Alex both physically and mentally.”

The two then compare arms, with Downey pulling his out of a case with the Stark Industries logo.

Which brings us to what we were talking about when we said the line between Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man is getting slimmer every day.

Remember in 2012 when we posted that Robert Downey Jr surprised kids at Comic Con? (Heck, remember 2012? I’m not sure I do.) Here’s what we had to say back then:

Marvel could easily drop this footage into ‘Iron Man 3‘ if they want to. … Have the kids shouting out “IRON MAN!”, people cheering when Downey Tony Stark shows up… Free idea from me to you, ‘Iron Man 3? filmmakers. I’ll take a special thanks and perhaps a repulsor ray if you’ve got an extra one lying around.

(They didn’t take my idea. Maybe for Iron Man 4, or a future Avengers movie.)

The second best thing about this new video (the first, of course, is the kid getting the arm, because that’s actually real-life awesome) is the moment when someone off-camera asks Alex, “Do you know who that is?” “Iron Man,” Alex replies, to the delight of everyone in the room (and us home viewers). But then comes the follow-up:

“What’s his name?”


Downey does nothing to correct Alex, nor does anyone else. In Alex’s 7-year-old mind, Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. To Downey’s credit, he’s a good enough actor that playing the super-rich Avenger has not hampered his film career; he can play other roles just as convincingly as he always has. But if he keeps this up, he might have to change his name to Tony Stark. Or maybe Marvel will just change Iron Man’s name to Robert Downey Jr. Both are about as likely to happen as me turning into Thor. But this particular blurring of fact and fiction is fun to watch.

On a more serious note, huge, massive, supremely large shout-outs to Albert Manero, who is apparently making bionic arms for kids who need them (it’s OK if that makes your head explode a little bit), and to Mr. Downey Jr., whom we like both on and off screen. And best of luck to Alex, a young man growing up in very interesting times.

‘Iron Man’ surprises boy in Georgia – DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG.

Mar 02 2015

Vaccination Nation Continues

File this under “things that shouldn’t be a debate but are.” With no medical or scientific evidence to support a link between vaccines and certain undesirable medical conditions such as autism, many parents insist that they know better. Or at least that someone else knows better. (Usually it’s someone on the Internet.)

The making of a DNA vaccine.

The making of a DNA vaccine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many parents are asking doctors to “spread out” the vaccines that their children receive, according to the L.A. Times.

Personally I don’t know if spreading out the vaccines is such a terrible thing, but according to the L.A. Times, citing an article in the journal Pediatrics, “87% of the doctors [surveyed] agreed that when parents delay some or all of these vaccines, they are putting their children at risk of being sickened by a preventable disease.”

In spite of their concerns, many doctors are doing it anyway.

So. To sum up. Most doctors (in a particular survey, at least) think that spreading out vaccines is dangerous. But if a parent is noodgy enough, they’ll do it anyway.

This is not good medicine. I’m not saying that doctors are always right. Far from it. (Oy, the stories I could tell you.) But if a doctor truly believes, based on all of the information available to them, that their patients, who in this case are children under 2 years old and therefore can’t decide for themselves, should be vaccinated in a particular way, they should not be swayed by a parent who complains loudly enough.

Other doctors are taking a hard line on the issue, refusing to treat children who have not been vaccinated.

Considering that measles is making a comeback (see the Related articles links below), and that Rand Paul and other politicians have made anti-vaccination a political issue as well as a medical one, I think it’s safe to say that this issue won’t be going away anytime soon. Which is annoying because, to the best of my knowledge, the entire anti-vaccine campaign (such as it is) dates to the Lancet study which was shown to be COMPLETELY WRONG in 2010. (More on that here if you’re interested.) And yet, five years later, we’re still talking about it.


Small Pox

As I said before — zero deaths. That’s the goal. And it’s an achievable one. How? Science! Cue music.

Doctors often delay vaccines for children to appease parents – LA Times.

Aug 13 2013

Antibiotic Free Meat Is Free Of Antibiotics Unless It Isn’t

This story makes my head hurt.

From ABC/AP, an item about Chipotle Mexican Grill and how they are “considering tweaking its ‘responsibly raised’ meat standards to allow meat from animals that have been given antibiotics to treat illnesses.”

Apparently this was to clarify an earlier story. I don’t know exactly. Read it here if you want to.

This is the part that made me go “hmm.”

Quoting from ABC/AP:

The use of antibiotics to treat sick animals is considered acceptable by some health advocates, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is based in Washington, D.C. Sarah Klein, a senior attorney with the group, said the problem is when animals are fed antibiotics with food on a constant basis to promote growth or prevent disease, which could in turn lead to the growth of antibiotic resistant germs.

But Klein said the “Organic Meat” and “No Antibiotics Administered: USDA Verified” labels found in supermarkets mean the meat wasn’t treated with antibiotics, even if the animal was sick. She noted that there are other labels that aren’t verified by the government, such as “raised without antibiotics.”

“It may be true, but it’s not verified,” she said.

Let’s try that again. “It may be true, but it’s not verified.” Does that mean it’s true or untrue? I guess the answer is “perhaps.” Which doesn’t seem good enough.

If I could, I’d live on a farm. Until then I suppose we’ll take our chances.

via Chipotle Considering Change to Allow Antibiotics – ABC News.

Jul 10 2013

Gizmodo Writer Tries Bionic Leg (Video)

Gizmodo writer Brent Rose wins the Internet for the day. He tried out a bionic leg.

Really. He did. There’s even video.

Cool, right? I didn’t read the entire article, but here are a few nifty bionic tidbits: Read more »

Jun 15 2010

Men Bragging About Having More Kids

From the New York Times, here are some men bragging about having more kids:

“One of them said proudly, ‘I have three children,'” Dr. Fischer recalled. “The other one replied, ‘Well, I have four children.’
“Some men might talk about their Porsches,” she added. “These men were boasting about their number of children.”

These particular men are scientists. Apparently they behave very much like male Barbary macaques, primates who will bring a child to see another male when they need something, because babies have “the downy black fur and wrinkly pinkish face that adult male macaques find impossible to resist.” It doesn’t even matter if it’s their own baby.

Also of interest:

“Scientists have learned…that the male pipefish — which, like his seahorse relatives, famously becomes pregnant and gives birth to live young — is both more generous and more calculatedly harsh toward his offspring than previously believed, able to fine-tune the flow of nutrients to his gestating babies depending on how he feels about their mother.”

OK, pregnant guys? Yes. It is real. And feeding the kids based on how he feels about mom? I know a few guys like that.

Paternal Bonds, Special and Strange (New York Times)

Apr 22 2009

Science News Has Headline That Sounds Cool

This, from Discovery.com, sounds so sci-fi nifty that I posted the link. I don’t really understand it, but doesn’t it sound neat?

Nanocluster Acts as Hydrogen Super Sponge: Discovery News