High-tech retainers let paralyzed patients control wheelchairs and computers

From: Medical Design - 04/19/2012 - page 54
By: Stephen Mraz

The Tongue Drive System being developed at the Georgia Institute of
Technology lets incapacitated people, those with high-level spinal chord
injuries, operate a computer or maneuver an electric wheelchair, all by
moving their tongues. The device consists of upper and lower dental
"retainers" a person wears and an Apple iPod or iPhone.

Read the entire article at:

Tongue Drive System Goes Inside the Mouth to Improve Performance and User

Maysam Ghovanloo

Tongue-Drive System

From Seurat’s dots to ‘seeing’ inside brain

Philip Low, 32, orders lunch at Tapenade, in French. He explains how, when he was 10, his father, an oil and telecom executive, had an adverse reaction to a common tranquilizer of the time, packed a gun in a briefcase and threatened a banker in Switzerland, whom he suspected was cheating him. His father went to prison. Low and his mother were evicted from a seven-story grand maison purchased from the Rothschilds in the center of Paris and abruptly lost their summer residence as well, “a castle” built by Napoleon III in the south of France, to land in a studio apartment.

Months later, the FDA investigated the psychological side effects of the drug, which included “acting out” and violent mood swings, and the Swiss Parliament voted to pardon his father. This made an indelible impression on the young Low.

Low, who has a Ph.D. in computational neurobiology, is the founder and owner of NeuroVigil, an innovative La Jolla wireless diagnostics company whose principal product, the i-Brain, is being used in tests of patients’ brainwaves to tell if they have epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other neurological ailments. It also measures sleep states.

Low recently used i-Brain to image the thoughts of Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist crippled by Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hawking gave the mental order to scrunch his right hand, in hopes that the brain waves so generated could be turned into a line of communication on a computer or, much later, perhaps, a command to a robotic arm.

I-Brain works on a single channel and is almost as small as an iPod or the Tic-Tac breath mints box. Anybody — not just a patient — can fit it on their head like an electronic hat, at home, while asleep, or watching TV, and the results can be radioed to a smartphone or doctor. No need to spend an expensive night in the hospital running an EEG with electrodes plastered to one’s scalp.
Implications are major. The news that a soldier in Afghanistan has seemingly gone berserk and killed a dozen civilians is all over the news the week of our lunch. Since the alleged shooter had suffered concussions in Iraq, he could have been tested before being sent on to Afghanistan, Low explains.
A major bread-and-butter use of the i-Brain by pharma companies is to test psychiatric drugs to “see” what is going on in a patient’s brain while the compound is active at low doses in the body — a noninvasive approach.

After an animated discussion with Tapenade’s owner and chef, Jean Michel Diot, on how to redo the restaurant’s great room, Low strolls outside and down a courtyard to the startup’s light-filled offices.
“To think that it all started because of tweety birds!” laughs Low. “I just applied the algorithm to humans.”

He explains how he developed the essential algorithm from his pioneering work on the brains of zebra finches, when he was a grad student flying back and forth between La Jolla and the University of Chicago. For a break or when stumped, he would stroll over to the Art Institute of Chicago and stare at the paintings.

He was especially drawn to Georges Seurat, and by the magical mosaic of receding brush stroke dots that compose Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”

“My ‘aha moment’? I realized, looking at Seurat’s dots one day, that neuroscientists were trying to do the wrong thing. They thought that in order to better understand the brain, you had to take the smallest details into consideration, like a Chuck Close-type painting, and all of a sudden I understood Seurat was able to give us a very powerful message because he showed that we could abstract some of these details — the statistical distribution of those dots — and provide objects that we could recognize from far away. So I thought, if instead of agonizing about each millisecond, I developed a new way of visualizing the data and I replaced chunks of time with single dots, then the statistical distribution of those dots would give me a representation of each brain state, and that’s exactly what happened.”

Low’s algorithm, presented at UC San Diego in 2007, became one of the shortest Ph.D.’s on record — one-page, including graph. The graph looks like a very abstracted Seurat painting, sans Parisians. (His thesis was titled “A New Way To Look At Sleep: Separation And Convergence.”)
Low ushers me into his own space at NeuroVigil, complete with long couch, since he often stays until 2 in the morning. Not so startup casual is a plexiglass-covered green blackboard with elaborate chalked calculations preserved underneath. This is Francis Crick’s blackboard from his office at the Salk Institute. Crick, of course, discovered the double-helix shape of DNA with James Watson (and Rosalind Franklin).

When he was 20, Low wrote Crick a letter and was invited out to La Jolla to the Salk.
NeuroVigil’s scientific board has been a rather strong one, including two local Nobel Prize winners (Roger Guillemin, president emeritus of Salk; and Sydney Brenner, former wunderkind in the Crick/Watson lab who developed the implications of messenger RNA), Fred Gage, and Andrew Viterbi, a principal co-founder of Qualcomm, as well as Stephen Wolfram, Sonia Ankoli-Israel, Ron Graham, and Hawking.

Low says that six billionaires are “on standby” to invest for his next round of funding. “Sometimes I have to pinch myself,” he says. “I’ve made it difficult for them to invest, but rewarding to invest.”
Low can be infectiously unhumble.

But there is sometimes an aware sadness in his young eyes, too.

He tells me a story of going to an important round of meetings with European pharma companies. He’s up early, jogging in the countryside near the corporate offices. Off in the distance, he sees a white, castle-like residence. It hits him. That was his own family’s summer residence, when he was 10, when his father took the wrong prescription drug, and the world first changed, for Low.

“It was an ironic and satisfying moment,” he says.

Free-enterprise zone

Low believes a free-enterprise zone should be created in La Jolla that would allow startup companies to thrive in San Diego and not be tempted to move to Silicon Valley or Boston. He has launched a petition

(neurovigil.com/petition/) and met with or contacted San Diego’s four mayoral candidates. His principal proposal is to remove payroll taxes from bona fide startups, as has been done in San Francisco to entice companies out of Silicon Valley. As for NeuroVigil, Low has solicited a letter from Mayor Jerry Sanders that reads in part, “The City of San Diego is committed to ensuring that
NeuroVigil continues on its path to great prosperity from its home base here in Southern California.”

Steve Chapple’s Intellectual Capital covers game-changing people, ideas and perspectives. He can be reached at intellectual capitalchapple@gmail.com

Lou Gehrig’s disease stills man’s voice, but not his spirit, will to live

This article mentions my friend and colleague, Lisa Bruening.  Lisa coordinates the assistive technology program for the Northern Ohio Chapter and is extremely knowledgeable about communication devices and assistive technology for people with ALS.


April 30, 2012, 2:13 a.m. EDT
The Blade
OAK HARBOR, Ohio — Tim Brooks was a boy when his father died young.
That was only the start.

Years later, the Oak Harbor resident lost two brothers within six months; one of electric shock while working, the other, like their father, in an auto accident. More recently, his mother and another brother died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, which causes progressive muscle weakness, paralysis, and ultimately death. It is more formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
Now Mr. Brooks is living with ALS, which in his case has hindered his speech and swallowing to the point that most nourishment comes through a feeding tube.

Still, he and his wife of nearly 34 years, Andrea, are enjoying life and are trying to help researchers find the abnormal gene causing ALS among relatives that could be present in more — including their two daughters and 2-year-old granddaughter.

“It is hard to correct something if you don’t know what caused it,” Mr. Brooks said through an iPad, a device he uses to communicate.

Such helpfulness, one Northwestern University neurologist who has studied ALS for roughly a quarter century said, is vital to advancing research to find the cause and ultimately a cure for the neurodegenerative disease. The Chicago-area university’s research team recently discovered details about the underlying disease process for all types of ALS patients, including those with familial ALS, said Dr. Teepu Siddique, a neurology professor with the university’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“We’re very hopeful,” Dr. Siddique said. “For the first time, we’re very hopeful.”

He added: “I’m thankful, very thankful, to Tim’s family for helping us out.”

Commonly named for former New York Yankees baseball player Lou Gehrig, who died of ALS in 1941, the disease stops signals sent by motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord from reaching muscles.

As a result, weakened muscles atrophy and eventually become paralyzed, and most patients die of respiratory failure within three years or so of symptoms showing up.

ALS in Lucas County

Six to eight people per 100,000 live with ALS, according to the ALS Association northern Ohio chapter, which provides support groups, equipment, and other services to northwest Ohio residents.
That means an estimated 30 Lucas County residents are living with ALS, part of roughly 60 people in a nine-county area of northwest Ohio, according to the association.

In about 90 percent of ALS cases, the disease is sporadic and not inherited. The other roughly 10 percent of cases involve familial ALS, caused by a gene abnormality.

A number of gene mutations causing familial ALS have been identified, but the correct one has not been found in Mr. Brooks and his family.

Typically, mental abilities are not affected by ALS, although there are some familial cases linked to dementia. Mr. Brooks’ aunt, his late mother’s twin, 81-year-old Joan Nesteroff of the Chicago area, was diagnosed with ALS more than 20 years ago, and she started showing signs of dementia at about 70, said her daughter, Kathi Boothe, who cares for her mother.

Some patients describe ALS as like being buried in sand because they are unable to move their bodies. The typical case resembles the centuries-old beliefs of French philosopher Rene Descartes, who thought a person’s mind and body were separate, Dr. Siddique noted.

“This is a terrible disease,” he said. “It separates out mind from body. The mind is there, but the body’s not there.”

He added: “It’s sort of like living in a dream world.”

Northwestern researchers discovered that the protein recycling system in the neurons of the spinal cord and brain is broken in ALS patients. As a result, cells cannot repair or maintain themselves.
A lack of funding, however, is delaying work on finding an effective treatment by testing for medications that would regulate the protein pathway, Dr. Siddique said. Northwestern researchers have less than $1 million a year to work with, and they need $10 million to $15 million over the next two to three years to come up with treatment answers, he said.

“Now we’re at a point where we need an infusion of funding and resources,” Dr. Siddique said.
Donating DNA

Relatives of Mr. Brooks have donated DNA to research efforts both at Northwestern and the National Institutes of Health, which is studying ALS genetics.

Research to identify abnormal genes has opened up in just the last few years, said Dr. Erik Pioro, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Section of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Related Disorders.
At Cleveland Clinic, research includes comparing neurological tissue from patients before and after their deaths to identify changes on MRIs, Dr. Pioro said. “It’s just really so important that families are willing to donate blood and are willing to participate in these types of research projects.”

Mr. Brooks, who is treated by Dr. Pioro, has agreed to donate his brain and spinal cord to Cleveland Clinic after his death.

His late brother, Gary Brooks of Genoa, made an anatomical donation after succumbing to ALS last year, the Brookses said.

Providing information and genetic material to researchers including Dr. Siddique and helping raise money are the family’s legacy, they said.

“We realize we have a genetic gold mine, not only for our family, but for other families who suffer from ALS,” Mrs. Brooks said.

In tracing Mr. Brooks’ family tree, it looks as if his maternal grandfather, Ben Wunderley, died of ALS at 47.

Mrs. Nesteroff, Mr. Brooks’ aunt, is the first of current generations to be diagnosed with ALS, and a cousin, Toledo native Bob Textor of Iowa, is living with the disease.

All of Mrs. Nesteroff’s siblings donated blood to Dr. Siddique’s research efforts a decade or so ago, said Mrs. Boothe, her daughter.

Whether any more relatives in that branch of the family, including Mrs. Boothe’s four children, has ALS not been determined, Mrs. Boothe said. They know ALS is a possibility, and it makes them appreciate what they have, said the grandmother, who called her mother’s longevity and positive outlook inspiring.

“Of course, we all hope we don’t have it,” Mrs. Boothe said. “I wish my mom had her health.”
She added: “We’re all going to die of something someday.”
Life with ALS

Brooks family members also are continuing to live their lives.

“Our children may have inherited this,” Mrs. Brooks said. “If this befalls them later in life, we want them to look back at us and say, ‘Mom and Dad handled this the best they could.’

Although finding a cure for ALS is the ultimate goal, the Brookses hope research advances enough in coming years so their offspring and other relatives can be tested if they want, they said. At least their daughters knew while in their 20s that ALS was a possibility, about two decades earlier than they did, they said.

In October, family members raised nearly $30,000 for the ALS Association northern Ohio chapter during a Toledo walk, and they plan to continue fund-raising efforts annually. FirstEnergy Corp., from which Mr. Brooks retired, provided half that sum by matching donations the family raised, the Brookses said.

Besides offering a monthly support group in Toledo, the chapter lends patients walkers and other equipment, helps with technology to aid communications, and assists with government advocacy, among other services, said Lisa Bruening, patient services coordinator.

For example, Ms. Bruening recommended Mr. Brooks get an iPad, the couple said.
“I will be 55 in July, and I’ve had a good time over the years,” Mr. Brooks said with the device’s help. “Fifty-five is not bad for a Brooks.”

Every patient has a different experience with ALS. Some start to show symptoms at a young age and die quickly. Others live for years.

The type of ALS Mr. Brooks has initially affected his tongue rather than his limbs, interfering with swallowing and speech.

He is able to use a walker to get around, and ALS symptoms overall have progressed slowly but steadily since he was given the diagnosis in September, 2009.

Symptoms can hit a plateau at any time, a grinning Mr. Brooks said through his iPad.

Despite his condition, the couple are able to spend time in Florida. Mr. Brooks continues to fish and do other activities, but he admits struggling with being unable to do yard work and other chores.
The latest blow for the couple is that their older daughter, Lindsey Borjas, is moving to Japan for three years because her Marine husband, Curt Borjas, is being transferred there from Chicago. Still, it’s a good opportunity for the young family, including 2-year-old Juliana Borjas, and they will use Skype and other technology to communicate, Mrs. Brooks said.

Several years ago, the young couple were stationed in Japan, and the Brookses’ younger daughter, Ashley Brooks, who lives in Florida, was able to do student teaching there. The sisters also traveled, one of many ways they have made the best of life despite the threat of ALS, Mrs. Brooks said.
“You only get one chance sometimes,” Mr. Brooks said with the help if his iPad.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: jmckinnon@theblade.com, or 419-724-6087.

New American species of bee

Buzzing yes, Stinging no

John Ascher is an entomologist in New York.  He's one of the leading experts on bees, but the blue-green buzzer he collected in Brooklyn's Prospect Park in 2010 puzzled him.  It took until 2012 to nail it down and get a formal description ready of the newest domestic species of bee - one of the "sweat bees" that "uses humans as a salt lick." Sounds a little gross, but these are basically harmless critters, and a new discovery within a major urban areas is always intriguing. 

Book Review: Monsters of the Gévaudan

Monsters of the Gévaudan The Making of a Beast
Jay M. Smith, Harvard, 2011.
A popular intellectual pursuit of cyptozoologists is wondering what the beast was that was responsible for as many as a hundred deaths in rural France from 1764 on.  Jay Smith, a historian of high repute, has turned his formidable powers on this topic. He has succeeded admirably in explaining the cultural forces which made this mystery a huge national story that demanded the attention of the King and his best soldiers and huntsmen.  I am not quite sure he has nailed the Best, though.  Smith opens by saying that he will not ascribe the Beast "myth" to the backwardness of the peasants living under its spell, but he ends by doing pretty much exactly that.  He shows that killings of humans by wolves certainly happened in that region, then proceeds to the conclusion that the press (just freed from royal shakles, it was a beast all its own) and peasant tall tales and panic shaped ordinary events into an extraordinary affair.  In other words, peasants whose lives were at stake became convinced their tormentor was some kind of monster rather than a series of ordinary wolves.  Despite the enormous research displayed here, the monster still needs a better explanation to me. The locals grew up knowing wolves and the dangers they posed: very few people. farmers or officials, thought this was what they were dealing with.  A theory that it was either a really exceptional wolf or wolf-dog hybrid is possible, as is the possibility of an exotic escaped/released animal, a hyena.  There are museum hyena specimens of this period, their origins lost in poor record-keeping over the centuries.  In the end, I think Smith is too dismissive of the possibility of the extraordinary here.  Occam's razor cuts both ways: a hyena loose in France seems unlikely, but so does a farming region becoming panicked over a routine threat.  It may be we will never nail this particular hide to a barn. 

Karl Shuker interview on cryptozoology

What it really is and why it matters

Dr. Karl Shuker is one of the few prominent cryptozoologists with formal scientific credentials, and he shows no fear in being the public face of a controversial science.  In this wide-ranging interview, he explains a point I've often made, than cryptozoology and "regular" zoology use the same methods in pursuing the same type of discoveries.  He picks the orang-pendek and thylacine as the most likely large animals to be discovered or rediscovered. Shuker includes one tidbit I didn't know: I was aware the recently discovered Laotian rock rat was from a line of rodents thought extinct, but I didn't realize its family had disappeared from the fossil record 11 million years ago.  Shuker's new book is The Encyclopedia of New and Rediscovered Animals;  I'll post a separate review of that soon.

Paleontologists ask, "What the )(^%?"

Strange fossil find from the Devonian

Is this some giant of giant algae? If not, what? Over 2m long, this fossil dug out by dedicated amateurs in Kentucky has the paleontological community buzzing.  It really doesn't look like anything we know about.  Discoverer Ron Fine compared it to a flattened saguaro cactus.  This one is going to take a while to classify.

COMMENT: This is worth mentioning all by itself, but the word that stands out for me is "amateur" (which means "love of," BTW).  Science still relies on people who do often-arduous work out of sheer dedication.  Fine job, Mr. Fine!

Space launch to ISS now next week

Major milestone in private space

One of the success stories of the last few years in space industry is SpaceX, which persevered through early failures to fly their small Falcon 1 and medium-lift Falcon 9.  Their Dragon reusable capsule is slated to become the first private vehicle to dock with the International Space Station. The firm founded by Internet zillionare Elon Musk has slipped that launch date several times. Now it looks like May 7.  Their press release: "After reviewing our recent progress, it was clear that we needed more time to finish hardware-in-the-loop testing and properly review and follow up on all data. While it is still possible that we could launch on May 3rd, it would be wise to add a few more days of margin in case things take longer than expected. As a result, our launch is likely to be pushed back by one week, pending coordination with NASA."

Fingers crossed for May 7!

Big dino eggs - or rocks?

Would be biggest dino eggs ever

Actually, the eggs claimed discovered in Chechnya would dwarf all other dino eggs.  The biggest ever found are sauropod eggs about 30cm in diameter.  These eggs, it is claimed, are a meter across.  Mt geometry is too poor to figure out the relative volume, but the disparity is so great that palentologists in other nations are skeptical that these are dinosaur eggs and not some kind of rock nodules or concretions.  There appears to be a lot of nationalism here, mixed up with some uncertain paleontology.  These eggs, it is claimed, were in a pile or nest, while the biggest sauropods we know of laid their eggs in a line - simply dropped them while walking along.
COMMENT: This would be really cool if it's real, but I'll bet that it isn't.

Assistive Technology Addressed at 15th Biennial ISAAC Conference


April 25th, 2012

The 15th biennial ISAAC Conference is being held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Saturday, July 28 through Saturday, August 4, 2012, and, in addition to alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) topics, it will feature a wide variety of workshops and sessions addressing what’s new in assistive technology from development to usage.
A pre-conference highlight is the Apple workshop addressing new and innovative solutions for individuals withDavid L Lawrence Center - Day disabilities that provide access to the Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod and Apple TV. Apple presenters will discuss the many ways the company and its developers have implemented accessibility features into its hardware and software. In addition, the workshop will explore a range of apps that were designed specifically for AAC, and attendees will hear about real-world solutions for iPads in the special needs classroom.

“At ISAAC 2012, we wanted to put the focus on AAC intervention from iPads to Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs),” says Dr. Katya Hill, Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and Executive Director of the AAC Institute, “We believe that the Apple workshop will be a pre-conference highlight that introduces attendees to the integration of research, clinical, educational and personal evidence so important for improving quality of life for individuals across the lifespan. Technology plays such an important role in AAC, and we’ve added many great sessions and a large exhibition to shine a light on this important area.”

Monday features the worldwide perceptive on the state of AAC science, clinical practice and user/family issues while Tuesday highlights AAC intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and literacy. On Wednesday, August 1, the conference will feature sessions on idevices and apps starting with an App Developers Forum where AAC Stakeholders and app developers will come together to discuss issues related to research and development of communication, language and educational apps to devices and tablets. Finally, Thursday offers sessions on adults with acquired disorders, e.g. ALS, strokes, PPA, etc., who use AAC with a special BCI State of the Science plenary.

A variety of concurrent sessions will also be offered by outstanding presenters including Linda Burkhart, Janet Sturm, Karen Kangas, Karen Erickson and Carolyn Musselwhite. Gregg Vanderheiden, PhD, will conduct a plenary on the current and future technology developers where he will discuss a new paradigm for assistive technology.
ISAAC 2012 will also feature a cadre of firsts that include:
  • an AAC camp that will celebrate The Artist Within for up to 25 children who use AAC from around the world. AAC camp will kick-off all that ISAAC 2012 has to offer.
  • specially designed pre-conference instructional courses that involve notable presenters: Sarah Blackstone, Richard Hurtig, John Costello and many others.
  • a full conference program for people who use AAC and families with a Technology Service Center to help trouble shoot minor problems experienced by AAC users.
  • Learning Labs as part of the exhibit hall for small, private product demonstrations and training by vendors/exhibitors.
  • an AAC Research Symposium on August 3-4 at the University of Pittsburgh being organized by Dr. Lyle Lloyd and others.
To learn more about ISAAC 2012 and to register, make hotel arrangements and learn more about Pittsburgh, please visit the conference web site at www.isaac2012.org. Keep abreast of ongoing conference developments on Facebook, www.facebook.org/ISAAC2012Pittsburgh. Opt-in to receiving the AAC Institute e-newsletters featuring announcement updates on ISAAC 2012 up to the conference at http://www.aacinstitute.org/listmap.html. Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania offer many tourist attractions to enhance attending ISAAC 2012.

Mobility RERC State of the Science Conference: Wheeled Mobility in Everyday Life

Save the Date: State of the Science Conference, July 1-2, 2012

Save the Date

Sunday and Monday, July 1-2, 2012 Marriott Waterfront Hotel Baltimore, MD

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheeled Mobility (mRERC) will conduct its State of the Science Conference (SOSC) in conjunction with the 2012 RESNA Annual Conference (http://web.resna.org/conference/index.dot). The SOSC will bring together experts in the fields of research, rehabilitation engineering, service delivery and policy to explore important topics related to the mRERC theme: Mobility in Everyday Life.

As part of the event, the mRERC is sponsoring the Sunday morning RESNA plenary session titled: How science influences public policy in seating and mobility. The plenary will consist of a presentation and discussion on how science influences public policy in seating and mobility and will address barriers that need to be overcome to allow policy makers to access and utilize research results.

This year’s Plenary Session: How science influences public policy in seating and mobility.
Rita S. Hostak
Vice President, Government Relations
Sunrise Medical

Doran Edwards, MD
Advanced Healthcare Consulting, LLC.
Speakers will address important topics such as:
  • How to tailor messages to policy-makers, just as one tailors messages to other stakeholders in the research and clinical community
  • How studies promoting evidence based medicine differ from those that target comparative effectiveness
  • What the functional outcomes are that interest policy makers with respect to comparative effectiveness research
  • How science and research can be used to allow companies to innovate more freely under current reimbursement policies

In addition to the plenary session, these sessions will take place Sunday, July 1st and Monday, July 2nd.
  1. Delivering wheeled mobility and seating services
    Laura Cohen, PhD, Rehabilitation Technology Consultants
    Nancy Greer, PhD, Minneapolis VA Health Care System

  2. Individualizing pressure ulcer risk and prevention strategies
    David Brienza, PhD, University of Pittsburgh
    Sharon Sonenblum, PhD, Georgia Tech

  3. Mobility trajectories and transitions: from walking to wheeling and vice versa.
    Louise Demers, PhD, OT(C), Université de Montréal
    Fran Harris, PhD, Georgia Tech
    Helen Hoenig, MD, MPH, Duke VAMC
    Lisa Iezzoni, MD, Harvard Medical School
    Jim Lenker, PhD, University at Buffalo

If you would like more information on this conference, please contact Stephen Sprigle at stephen.sprigle@coa.gatech.edu.

30th Annual Closing the Gap Conference

Hailed as the most practical and best educational AT conference in North America, Closing The Gap is excited to share with you the 21 just-announced preconference workshops for October 15-16, 2012!

This year's workshop offerings include a two-day PODD workshop by Linda Burkhart, an autism workshop by Pat Mirenda, a Cortical Visual Impairment workshop by Christine Roman Lantzy, a Rett Syndrome workshop, UDL workshops and numerous iPad workshops, to name a few.

In addition, the conference itself (October 17-19) will boast over 200 presentation hours (to be announced in July), labs (including an iPad lab!) and an expansive exhibit hall.

There are many registration options and discounts available:

• $30 RETURN discount (by June 30th)
• BUNDLED WORKSHOP pricing (a $60 savings!)

CEUs and academic credit are available as well.

We encourage you to learn more about the conference by visiting our Web site now:

• View the 21 preconference workshop descriptions and titles.
• View the 2012 Closing The Gap Conference FAQ.

SHARE your knowledge and your skills . . .

We would further like to invite you to consider submitting a one- or multiple-hour presentation proposal for the conference, Wednesday - Friday, October 17-19. Click here for more information. Submission deadline is Thursday, May 3, 2012, 2:00 pm Central Daylight Time.

The learning opportunities are great, the networking nothing less than exceptional!

Jan Latzke
Conference Registration Manager

Toileting Ideas

Good ideas from a colleague of mine, Antoinette Verdone...visit her blog at  http://improveability.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/toilet-access-basics/

Toilet Access Basics
I visit people with disabilities every week, and whether I am there to look at their home for accessibility, or some high tech need, we inevitably end up talking about using the toilet. I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss some basic toilet assess issues and solutions.

Getting on/off the Toilet
For many people, getting on/off the toilet is difficult. Sometimes the issue is the height of the seat. To address this issue there are a number of solutions that could be helpful.

I see a lot of people choose a toilet seat extender with arms built in, like this:
Picture of toilet seat extender with arms buit in with large red X over the picture
Toilet Seat Extender with Arms Built In

I strongly discourage this option because it can be a safety hazard. The only point that the seat is secured to the toilet is the clip at the front. If a user does not put even pressure on the handles, it can cause a fall.

Here are some better alternatives:
Picture of toilet seat extender - no arms.
Simple Toilet Seat Extender

This item simply makes the seating surface for the toilet higher. It is easy to install, but can be difficult to keep clean.

3-in-1 used as toilet seat extender
3-in-1 Commode Over Toilet

Most insurance policies will provide a 3-in-1 commode. This product, in addition to being used as a bedside commode, can be placed over the toilet. The height of the legs is adjustable and the armrests give additional support. This is a great solution for many people.

Another way to raise the toilet seat if from the bottom with a Toilevator.

picture of toilet raised up by a toilevator between the floor and the toilet itself

This product will raise the toilet 3.5". Since the toilevator is installed between the toilet and the floor, you sit on the regular toilet seat, and do not have some of the cleaning issues with other alternatives.

If you need arm rests to help you get on/off the toilet, here are some products for that:
Toilet seat extender with handles that attaches between the toilet and the toilet seat
Toilet Seat Handles

This option is only slightly safer than the toilet seat extender with arms built in. It would be a little more difficult to fall with this set up, but keeping the toilet clean can still be problematic.

For some, just having handles to help get on/off the toilet is all that is needed. In that case, here are some solutions:

Picture of toilet seat safety frame installed on toilet
Toilet Seat Safety Frame

This is an inexpensive way to add armrests to your toilet. For some just having something to push off of is all they need to get on/off the toilet. And, since the arms are supported by the floor, it is a sturdy solution.

Picture of Super Pole installed in bathroom
Super Pole

The Super Pole (pictured above with Super Bar addition) is a great solution for many access problems, including toilet access. For some, having something to grab onto and pull up is a better assist for getting on/off the toilet. This product is held in place by tension between the floor and the ceiling. It is very sturdy, and as you can see from the picture above can be placed to help with toilet and tub transfers in some bathrooms. Also, because it is not structurally attached to the house, it can be placed in the exact spot that is helpful to the user.

This has been a look at a small sample of the products that are available for toilet access. I did an article on Tub Access a number of months ago, to read that article, click here. I also did a previous article on the "No-Touch Bathroom" click here to go that article.

For help with your toilet access or any other assistive technology needs, please click here to contact me.

Share Your Ideas
I would love to hear your ideas on this topic, please go to my blog - http://improveability.wordpress.com/ to leave your comments and/or suggestions about this topic.

I Know How He Does It: Parenting From A Wheelchair


"Honey, I just took a pregnancy test and it came out positive."

My husband's response to this news was typical of his reaction to most things. He was calm, collected, thoughtful. He smiled at me, took a deep breath and said, "OK." We both stared at the pregnancy test stick, put it under a brighter light just to be sure, and then... honestly, I don't remember. The surprise was so great that it still blurs my memory to this day. Sure, it's always a bit of a shock when that second line or plus sign appears, but we weren't just your average couple trying to have a baby. In fact, many people (including some doctors) thought it might never happen.

I've already used a few adjectives to describe my husband, but one I haven't mentioned yet is disabled. A spinal cord injury in his early 20s left him paralyzed from the mid-chest down. By the time we met, he was already past the ten year mark in his wheelchair. The idea of being in a relationship, let alone fathering a child, was, at that time, more of a distant wish than anything. But yes, sometimes wishes do come true, and there we were staring at a positive pregnancy stick to prove it.

And then our healthy, beautiful son was born. What's the expression? Careful what you wish for? The early days of parenthood were rough for all the typical reasons: lack of sleep, lots of crying (baby's and mine), figuring out a schedule -- all the usual suspects. But the truth is, we weren't your typical family and there were challenges my husband faced that most new parents do not.
Due to the level of his injury, the ability to perform two-handed tasks is limited. With virtually no use of the muscles in his mid-section, maintaining trunk balance can be very challenging when both hands are occupied. He often needs to have one hand grounded to help keep him upright. Ever try diapering, feeding, holding, soothing a newborn with one hand? Let me know how you do. Add to that the fact that we were first-time parents (read: nervous wrecks) and the end result was lots of mommy-baby bonding time with dad left on the sidelines providing mommy support when needed.
Being on the sidelines was difficult for my husband at first, especially as he watched his own father dive right in and help. We're fortunate to have all the grandparents live nearby and they were a big part of those early years. Both grandfathers were our primary babysitters and there was no task they would not or could not do. My husband made the conscious decision to be grateful for the help and reassured himself that his time for father-son bonding would come.

It happened slowly, but it did happen. Our newborn became a toddler who would ride on his dad's lap. A bit older and still on his lap, they would zoom down the hills together in Riverside Park. When swords became an obsession, the two of them would battle it out while I operated the video camera, happy to take my turn on the sidelines.

He grew to be an empathic, sensitive boy who one day said, "Dad, I'm sorry you can't walk. I wish you could." He was reassured that it was nothing to be sorry for and encouraged to keep talking about it if he wanted to. And he does, but not that often. Having a father in a wheelchair is something he's always known, so maybe for him, there's really not that much to discuss.

He's 13 now and while our journey didn't start off too similar to that of other parents, most of the experiences and challenges are the same. We found him the right schools and were lucky that they were also wheelchair accessible. (Though there exist many schools which have either limited wheelchair accessibility or none at all -- an unfortunate barrier to full parental involvement.) We ride bicycles in the park -- two standard and one hand-cycle. We go on vacation to places everyone else goes to, only we make sure to find the ramped entrances, wide doorways and working elevators.
We're a family just like any other family, even though the roles we play don't always fit into the standard family paradigm. Take recently, when instead of father and son pretending they're warriors fighting to the death, it was me indulging my son's latest obsession. We bowed to each other and then playfully engaged in battle. When it was over (and I was soundly defeated) my son turned to his father and said, "Dad, I wish you could walk so I could beat you to a pulp!"

OK, so not exactly what we pictured when we imagined father-son bonding. But then again, is parenthood ever what we thought it would be? Able-bodied or not, isn't it always so much more?

Free Bookshare App For Android

Bookshare recently released Go Read for Android devices. Go Read is the Android version of Bookshare's app for iOS call Read2Go.  The app is free and compatible with a number of Android 2.2 or higher phones and tablets. Features include direct access to Bookshare's library of accessible books, text-to-speech with synced sentence by sentence highlighting and the ability to read ePub books. To learn more about how to become a Bookshare member click here. To download Go Read click here. Click read more below to view screen shoots of Go Read in action.

Have Wheelchair, Will Travel. If you are able bodied, think of this as a head's up

Have Wheelchair, Will Travel
If you are able-bodied, think of this as a friendly head’s up.
I take things for granted. I go to Stop & Shop and expect to buy fresh fruit and milk. I flinch when I pull into full serve but I assume the gas will be there to fill up my car. When I turn on my faucet, for the most part, I assume clean, clear water will be there for me to use.
You know another thing I take for granted? Walking.

When I wake up in the morning, I stand on both feet and shuffle my way around the house. I walk to my car. I walk my dog. I walk around the market. Sometimes, when I’m feeling good, I even run. Slow and steady wins the race.

After spending a week on vacation with a family member who is almost exclusively wheelchair bound, I will never take walking and movement for granted again. I will never dismiss the need for all those handicapped spaces at Target. And I promise, never again, to use the special bathroom stalls so I have room to move.

The inability to walk makes even the simplest tasks more difficult. Everything needs to be thought out in advance: moving around restaurants, finding companion bathrooms at public facilities and navigating uneven walkways and raised entries. Very few things are made with complete accessibility in mind.

Then, factor in the looks from those rushing to get past you. Using a wheelchair or a scooter or even a walker, tends to make everyone hurrying around grouse with impatience. I experienced this more than once on vacation. I watched people with arms folded or hands on hips, staring irritatingly at my little family while they waited for the bus to lower and then waited for us to load and strap in.
Maybe I’ve done that. Shame on me.

I never knew. Never lived it everyday. When I was about 10, my grandmother lost one leg to diabetes. I used to watch her dress her stump and rub lotion on it to keep her aging skin from rubbing in the artificial leg. Until she learned to walk with her cane, she'd use a wheelchair to get around her apartment. One day, I got in it and started wheeling myself around the bedroom. To a kid, wheelchairs look like great fun. When my mom caught me, she was not pleased.

"Wheelchairs are not a toy. You'd better hope you never have to use one."

Maybe being in a chair was like crossing your eyes, I didn't want to be stuck that way.
But sometimes, things stop working. Age happens. Injuries happens. Disabilities happen. Being immobile is no reason to stop enjoying all the things that life has to offer and being able bodied doesn't entitle us to a better quality of life than those who need our help.

But for the grace of God...

One thing I know for sure, is that the look I saw on my stepdad's face when he watched the parade and looked out the window of the plane, was irreplaceable. The travelling, while arduous at times, was worth it. Life has so much to offer that it would be a shame if we didn’t make things as easy as possible for anyone who wants to explore them, wheelchair bound or free standing. And if someday, that person is me, I hope the opportunities to travel are not limited by my inability to get to them standing up.
About this column: There are some things I really love about Milford that you should know about. On those weeks, I’ll rave. Then there are things that leave “little to be desired," as my grandmother would say. Those would be the rants. It won’t be difficult to tell the difference. I’ll write it like I see it.

Cameron and Google want to mine asteroids

Space Mining Venture

Well, I have to hand it to James Cameron.  The guy thinks BIG.  His latest venture, with some Google execs and Ross Perot Jr., and other people with serious economic and space-related credentials, is to mine near-Earth objects (NEOs), specifically asteroids rich in platinum-group metals. 
COMMENT: Well, this is breathtaking in its ambition.  "Go big or stay on Earth." I have to wonder about the transportation aspects. I wouldn't try to do this with only today's chemical propulsion.  I'd want an in-space nuclear thermal propulsion system so I could shuttle back and forth, or drag small asteroids, without having to burn umpteen tons of hydrogen or kerosene that has to be hauled into space at major expense.  I wish these folks luck.  There would need to be a billion-plus investment to get the NTR propulsion, but otherwise I'm not sure the economics will work at all.  I hope they succeed, though. 

ALS Patients Differ on Treatment Choices in Later Phases of Disease, Penn Medicine Study Shows

April 23, 2012
Two new studies analyzing treatment decisions in late-stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients shed light onto treatments aimed to extend the duration and quality of life in this progressively debilitating neuromuscular disorder. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that waiting until the last minute to receive one treatment resulted in not living long enough to experience the benefits. In a separate study, Penn researchers uncovered polarized preferences among patients regarding the value of an expensive, marginally effective disease-modifying drug. The research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is rare, affecting approximately 30,000 Americans. In later stages of the disease, it paralyzes ALS patients' bodies, while minds often stay sharp. Along with other treatments and supportive therapies used in later stages of the disease, many patients receive a feeding tube to ensure nourishment can be obtained when muscles are impaired.

One Penn Medicine study demonstrates that ALS patients who have feeding tubes placed before an emergency situation strikes fare better. Those having surgeries in non-emergent settings were much less likely to die within one month after surgery, compared to ALS patients receiving their feeding tubes under duress. Median survival after the feeding tube surgery was 6 months overall and longer for patients undergoing non-emergent versus emergent placement (7 months vs. 4 months). In addition, mortality rates were worse for patients having procedures done at hospitals that did not regularly perform feeding tubes placement in ALS patients.

"Timing is crucial for placement of feeding tubes in ALS patients," said the lead author of both studies, Amy Tsou, MD, MSc, a fellow in Neurology and a Robert Wood Johnson VA Clinical Scholar. "We've shown that waiting too long can be detrimental and happens too often. In general, it is important for clinicians and patients to proactively prepare and reevaluate treatment decisions as ALS patients enter into different phases of the disease."

In a second study, researchers found polarized treatment preferences regarding Riluzole, the first FDA approved treatment to slow ALS. Patients had sharply polarized preferences about this expensive treatment, which modestly prolongs length of life of ALS patients. In a survey of 98 patients with ALS or Motor Neuron Disease, nearly two-thirds of the patients ranked Riluzole as either the most important (30 percent) or least important (33 percent) treatment option.

Click here to view the full release.

Snap&Read by Don Johnston

Don Johnston recently introduced a new product named Snap&Read. Don Johnston describes Snap&Read as follows,
"The simple one on-button toolbar that reads any text on-screen as it floats over any application."
 To use Snap&Read just press the selection button and drag to select the text you want to be read aloud with high quality text-to-speech. Snap&Read can read text in Flash, PDF and images files along with plain text. You can purchases Snap&Read on a USB flash drive and use the program on any computer. Snap&Read works the same on Macs and PCs. To watch a video about Snap&Read click here. To learn more about Snap&Read and its features click here. 

Print From an iOS Device to Any Printer with the xPrintServer

iPads, iPhones and iPod Touch are great for many tasks. One downside is that it is difficult to print documents, pictures, spreadsheets, emails and notes. One solution is the xPrintServer from Lantonix. The xPrintServer allows you to print to up to ten network printers. Just plug in the xPrintServer and you are ready to go. It allows you to print directly from apps to non-AirPrint compatible printers. The xPrintServer is perfect for schools and bussnisses that need to print from iPads or iPhones. The xPrintServer cost $149.99. Click here to learn more.

A mess in Loch Ness?

Sonar image puzzles some

A cellphone camera, held by a boat captain in Loch Ness, captured the vessel's sonar screen as it showed what looks like an elongated shape trailing the boat about 23m down. 
This evidence won the captain, Mr. Atkinson, the prize for Best Nessie Sighting of the Year (a bookmaker sponsors the prize).  Atkinson said, "There is nothing that big in the Loch. I was in shock as it looked like a big serpent, it’s amazing. You can’t fake a sonar image."   An oceanographer shrugged it off, though: "'The image shows a bloom of algae and zooplankton that would exist on what would be a thermocline."

COMMENT: I used to be a firm believer there was something big an unknown in the Loch, but I'm skeptical these days.  The loch is very poor, biologically speaking: no population of large predators could live in it, and the ocean access (the River Ness) is shallow, and there should be many sightings of big creatures commuting to and from the ocean, not just one or two.  I can't quite close the file: I don't think anyone has given a definitive explanation of the 1960 Dinsdale film.  But I'll be very surprised if anything solid turns up. 

We all like fish stories....

...and Great Bear Lake has some good ones

Alberta's cold, clear Great Bear Lake has a record of producing lake trout 20kg and up, with a 37.5kg monster the official record and some unofficial records bigger than that.  A biologist is studying just why this particular lake is so prolific.  Not only are the fish big and plentiful, but they are evolving at an unusually rapid rate.  The post-glacial lake is home to 4, maybe 5, distinct types of lake trout (not separate species yet). Canada's largest lake, up to 450m deep, may have some bigger fish in its depths, and may become an  important laboratory for the study of fish evolution and possibly on how fish respond to climate change, which has barely touched this lake so far.

Last flight of Discovery

Space Shuttle heads for museum

The shuttle Discovery is headed for its final home.  At Kennedy Space Center, the orbiter was mated to the modified 747 called the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.  It is headed for the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, where it will replace the test shuttle Enterprise as a permanent display.  Discovery flew 39 missions in space, totaling, strangely enough, exactly one year.  Her most famous mission: the launching of the Hubble Space Telescope. 

Fair skies, Discovery.  I'll be visiting you in DC. 

Improving Wheelchair Ergonomics

From: Medical Design Briefs - 04/2012 - page 15

Engineers at Empa, a Swiss interdisciplinary research and services
institution are working together with the firm <<r going>> to develop an
ergonomic seta for electric chairs that encourages the user to move around
frequently. The aim is to enhance the freedom of movement of wheelchair users
with a range of disabilities.

Read the entire article:

Read the story in EmpaNews: (page 13)

Bernhard Weisse

<<r going>>

Smart eBook Interface Makes Navigation a Breeze

A new concept eBook reader app improves navigation of eBooks on tablets. The app makes eBook navigation more like the navigation of a printed book. This concept is best for sighted users and may not work as well for  the blind and people with physical disabilities. The concept app allows the user to flip  through multiple pages quickly, find pages more quickly and more. Currently this is only a concept but may soon be coming to the App Store. While iBooks has an easy to use interface, this new concept seems to take it a step further. Click here to learn more about Smart E-Book Interface. Click "read more below" to see more images of the app in action.

One strange cat: "Strawberry leopard"

Cat likely has a genetic condition

All species are subject to the occasional genetic quirk, which can result in an all-black jaguar or an albino human or whatever.  This case is uniqure: no one has ever seen a pink-coated leopard before.   It may have a condition called erythrism that can result in an excess of red pigments.  Otherwise, the leopard seems fine, and the odd coat hasn't kept him from hunting successfully.  Just a reminder that Nature's card deck occasionally deals a really strange hand. 

North Korea shoots large, short-lived firework

NBC report on failure

Well, this time NK didn't even get to the stage separation problem that doomed their last satellite effort. The first stage failed in what must have been a spectacular display of ineptitude.  I don't know what they will do to the engineers. ( "Comrade, you are sentenced to worst punishment imaginable: to type our the wisdom of the late Dear Leader onto Twitter every day for the rest of your life!")  NK admitted the failure, at least to the outside world. Not clear what they told their own citizens, who still believe the first two satellites made orbit.  While my friend Jim Oberg, on the scene, was skeptical of the rocket's chances of success, I thought it would probably make it given the draconian penalties for failure and the determination of the engineers to get everything right for once.
What effect does this have? Brazil, the last nation to try joining the satellite launching club and endure three failures, gave up.  NK is not a rational nation, but it's a major setback, both for satellite ambitions and for their closely-related long range missiles.  The rest of the world is probably breathing a little easier. 

Titanic anniversary note: the Carpathia's sea serpent

Captain reported in detail

The hero of the Titanic affair was Captain Arthur Henry Rostron of the Carpathia, the first ship on the scene of the disaster.  A little-known fact about Roston (I'd never come across it until now) is that his memoirs include a detailed sighting of a "sea serpent."  There are quite a few puzzling incidents like this in ship's logs, although they definitely tail off in the past half-century.
COMMENT: I think there is still some mystery behind the sea serpent stories.  We might well find some kind of enormous eel or eellike fish has escaped the nets of science. (For a fictional treatment, see Arthur C. Clarke's The Deep Range). 

Google Self-Driving Car For the Blind

Google has been developing a self-driving car for a two years. Over the two years of testing the cars they have logged over 200,000 miles. The car has numerous sensors and an on board computer that can drive the car to a destination with out human intervention. In the above video the Google Self-Driving Car drives a legally blind man around town. Click here to watch the audio described version. The car can recognize stop signs, red lights, hazards and pretty much anything else. If the car makes a mistake the driver can hit the break or turn the wheel to control the car. In many states self-driving cars are not street legal. The Google Self-Driving Car is not available for purchase but offers a look into the future. Click read more below to learn more about the self-driving car.

Diploid Cell

Many times biology students have difficulty understanding the concept of a diploid cell. If you too have the same problems then you have come to the right place. When you find it tough to ask your class teacher about your doubts, you can consider hiring a private biology tutor who can clarify your doubts and explain the concepts with real life illustrations. In this article, we will discuss about diploid cell and its various functions.

The diploid cell is composed of two entire set of chromosomes, among which one is of paternal origin, while the other is of maternal origin. The term 'Ploidy' is used to point to the number of essential chromosomes that are present in a cell. The fundamental set of the chromosomes present in an organism is known as the monoploid number. This number is actually indicated by a 'x'. In any organism, the number of ploidy cells may vary.

The human beings as well as the mammals comprise of diploid cells. The sex cell or gametes are known as the haploid cells. As per the definition of the diploid cell, it is an organism that comprises of the double set of chromosomes, one that is genetically inherited from the father and the other inherited by the mother. The somatic tissues of the higher plants and animals enclose the diploid chromosome content.

Most of the animals contain the diploid number of cells; and those organisms that produce in a sexual manner, have two copies of the chromosomes having different origins - paternal and maternal. This aids in the mixing of genes which gives rise to a better offspring. There are some species that contain the haplodiploid cells. In this case, one sex comprises of the haploid cells, while the other sex contains the diploid cells.

The male usually develop from unfertilized eggs, whereas the females grow from the fertilized eggs. Therefore, they have a total set of chromosome. In such cases, the example of the diploid cell insects includes the ants, bees and wasps. Another illustration can be considered in the case of the human race. Human beings contain two sets of chromosomes in their cells.

The somatic cells or the non-sex cells each comprise of 46 chromosomes. This includes 22 sets of the autosomal chromosomes and one set of the sex chromosome. If you wish to learn more about the science of genetics, then consider hiring a private home tutor.

Are you having problems in Biology? You can now seek help from a private biology tutor with the help of the Internet. Search for a private biology tutor in Chicago, now.

Combine Photography And Science To Become A Biological Photographer

There are several scopes of photography. When we think about the variety of photographers, our minds typically gravitate to high fashion photographers, creative landscape photographers, or modern still-life photographers, but there are still other types of photographers like that of the biological photographer whose photos are very important to the scientific world. Unlike the glamorous photographers of the high fashion world, careers opportunities for biological photographers are available and growing.

Using photographic and digital technology, biological photographers produce photographs, prints, slides, video, etc of medical and biological events and subjects to illustrate books and magazines as well as for use in teaching and diagnosis in the biological, medical, and health science fields.

Biological photographers of old used to take photos of what they saw using a microscope. Today, these professionals use much more advanced techniques and are skilled to use state-of-the art photography equipment including electron microscopes, high-speed cinematography, and slow-motion/stop-motion photography to capture life images.

Duties are not just regulated to producing photomicrographs. Biological photographers also photograph operating room procedures and are involved in television production. They assist doctors in determining cause of death by filming surgical or autopsy procedures. These recorded images are oftentimes instrumental in helping to solve a crime. Other captured images can be used to help diagnose ailments of individual patients.

Shooting medical and biological images require the biological photographer to be skilled in two areas: science and photography. One must have a basic understanding and interest in the biological and medical sciences as well as a thorough knowledge of photography. This profession gives an individual a unique opportunity to professionally contribute to creative world of photography while benefiting the medical and science fields.

Because of the complexities of today's technology, biological photographers must have skills to work with photographic equipment as well as medical and scientific instruments such as microscopes and computers They must also have a general background in the sciences and a healthy understanding of medical practices and surgical procedures. In addition, they must have knowledge of human, animal, and plant anatomy and physiology.

The field of bio photography has grown from a supporting field to an integral part of the medical and science profession. Career opportunities are available in hospitals as well as throughout the academic field, including medical, dental, eye, and veterinary schools. Biological photographers are also needed in the government sector and business industry, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and pharmaceutical companies and publishing houses. The demand for them is high because there are so few in the field. The average annual salary such a job is between $30,000 and $40,000.

Most universities, community colleges, and vocational technical schools offer individual courses in general photography; however, there are a few institutions that offer two-year degree programs in bio photography and undergraduate degrees in this field. You could always earn a science degree and take online classes in photography. If you would like to merge your love of science and art, do some research and see if you can find an education program that suits your specific needs.

Parasitology Works To Find Treatments To Combat Parasitic Disease

Parasites affect the world in so many different ways, which is why there are diverse career options in the field of parasitology. Rewarding careers await future scientists who have a keen interest in parasites and their relation to human health, domestic animals, food, wildlife, and ecology to name a few. The options are as diverse as any science discipline can get. As you contemplate which area of study to pursue, be sure to get a good understanding of the different categories of specialization.

Scientists who have an interest in parasites and human disease might consider the medical parasitology field. Medical parasitologists study parasites like mosquitoes and ticks and the harmful, and oftentimes detrimental, diseases they transmit into the human body. The medical experts utilize many approaches to combat parasites, including research efforts in the field of molecular and cellular biology, genetics, and physiology. From this, they discover important vaccines that reduce parasitic disease.

Parasites that cause diseases in domesticated animals that are used for food, work, or as companions are studied by veterinary parasitologists. Because these animals are directly linked to the health and well being of humans, veterinary parasitologists play an indirect role in human health, as they control parasites in animals that could be transmitted to man. They generally work with pharmaceutical companies, developing drugs to eradicate parasites from animals.

Wildlife parasitologists contribute towards the development of programs designed to protect animals in their natural habitat. This parasitologist typically works for government agencies, industries, and universities, surveying wild animals for parasite and disease infestation and developing strategies to reduce the negative impact parasites have on wildlife. They are especially interested in parasitic diseases of endangered species and plans that keep them protected.

The study of the evolution of parasites and their interactions with the environment falls under the field of ecological parasitology. These parasitologists explore the affect parasites have on living things and the environment. Because parasite species outnumber the species of free-living plants and animals, experts in this arena conduct experiments to quantify and analyze the dynamics of parasite populations. Examining the relationships between host and parasite has often led to breakthroughs that directly or indirectly benefit man.

Educators of the field are successful in an academic setting since they are among the most broadly-trained of all biologists. Parasites are found in every area of the plant and animal kingdoms, thereby equipping parasitologists with a good-working knowledge of biological diversity. As a parasitology educator, instructors have a number of research opportunities available to them, and teaching provides the chance to expose students to new and foundational information that can be applied to their own scientific curiosity.

Students contemplating a career as a parasitologist should strive to attain a broad-based education in biology and chemistry. Attention in one narrow field of the biological sciences will not lead to the range of knowledge necessary to become successful in this profession. Education courses should also include a wealthy foundation of statistics, math, computer science, writing and speaking skills. A Bachelor of Science will get you in the door, but a Master's degree and/or PhD greatly enhances opportunities to conduct research and select from job opportunities that utilize this unique study.

Because parasitology is such a broad and diverse field, a variety of career options are available, and this science continues to be in high demand. Aside from studying science, medical field degrees also may be beneficial in this field. Also, if you plan on entering the workforce right out of college, you might want to consider earning an online Masters later down the road. Jobs for these experts are expected to increase 21% from the decade beginning in 2008. This article only touched upon a few areas of concentration. With a little research, you can discover all the areas of specialization in this fascinating field.

Science Of Trees And Similar Plants

As you step outside your door, you hear a chainsaw. You look up to the sky and see a man lifted high on a crane wearing a hard hat and goggles and delicately slicing away limbs from the tree. Who is that man, and why is he near deadly electrical wires cutting limbs from a tree? He's an arborist - one who treats trees and shrubs to improve their appearance and health.

An arborist is part of the arboriculture profession. This science discipline deals with the cultivation, management, and the study of trees mainly, but shrubs, vines, and other permanent woody plants are included. This professional study trees and other related plants, learning about how they grow and respond to cultural practices and their environment. Arborists use several cultural techniques, such as planting, fertilizing, pest control, pruning, and removal.

For example, in an attempt to maintain the healthy stature of a tree, an arborist may try to prevent deterioration by scraping decayed matter from the holes in trees and then filling them with concrete so that the decaying matter will not return. Or, they may use the fertilizing technique, using a hand or machine sprayer, to keep plants thriving and productive.

The practice of arboriculture is primarily focused on individual wood plants and trees that are maintained as permanent fixtures of a landscape and amenity purposes. This refers to settings that are typically created for the enjoyment, protection, and benefit of human beings, including gardens, parks, wooded sanctuaries, and other populated settings. Consequently, it is related to but very distinct from agriculture, horticulture, and forestry sciences.

Education and training for this field of science typically requires completion of a two-year arboriculture technician program. Courses involve a variety of subjects that provide broad education and training on how to care for and maintain trees and similar plants.

The program covers subjects such as diseases of trees and shrubs. Students learn about the various fungal and bacterial diseases of woody plants and how to identify symptoms and render management techniques for reducing disorders. Another essential skill for the arborist to learn is rope technique. Some conduct work that requires climbing a tree, and some do not; however, it is typically part of the curricula.

Some universities and organizations offer arboriculture technician internship programs. In this capacity, the student intern has hands-on experience in every area of the practice, including tree-planting, tree health assessment and inventory, lightning strike prevention, cabling, and tree-climbing, to name a few. Internships are far and few between, so you must be diligent in research to find one suitable for you.

One must be willing to work odd hours and in all kinds of weather, and the work is physically demanding. This is nothing if you have a genuine interest in the profession. If you are one who loves trimling your home bushes and keeping your trees shaped and healthy, this is a good profession for you to pursue! Do some research and find if a program in this field is offered at one of your local colleges or universities. An Associate degree may prove to be sufficient enough. Some may choose to complete online certificate programs.

Custom Label iOS Buttons to Work Better With VoiceOver

If an app has buttons that are not labeled well for use with VoiceOver, you can easily edit them to work better. If you are not familiar with VoiceOver click here. For example if an app has a button that is not labeled VoiceOver will just say "button" when you select it. If you custom label the button you can make VoiceOver describe the action that the button preforms. This makes it possible for people using VoiceOver to know what button they have selected. To change the label of a button simply select the button with the VoiceOver curser and double tap and hold with two fingers. This tip will work with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.This will bring up a box where you can then enter in a name for the button. Watch the video above for more information.

Countdown to North Korean launch

Rare foreign access permitted

Interesting doings in North Korea, as the world's most secretive government permits foreign news organizations to look over its rocket and satellite as the country prepares for its third launch attempt.  (If it works, it will be one technical area where North Korea actually scores a point against the far more advanced and prosperous South).  NK is allowing the access even though foreigners will gain their best look yet at its missile technology.  In most of the world, ICBMs and satellite launchers were originally variants of the same vehicle, although designs diverge over time as the launch vehicle engineers trade readiness for payload.   The US says this launch ciolates a proise not to test new missiles, and NK is no doubt allowing this openness so it can argue this is strictly peaceful and they are not breaking any treaties. 
Counting down.....

Supply run to the International Space Station

Robot-truck delivery

The International Space Station is dependent on regular supply runs from Earth.  With the Space Shuttle gone, that task falls entirely to robotic vehicles.  This beautiful image shows the Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 (ATV-3), built under a European Space Agency (ESA) program, approaching the ISS.  'Aboard is some seven metric tons of materiel, mostly propellant for the ISS's thrusters, which maintain the orbit (for a vehicle the size of the ISS, even the rare atmopsheric atoms and molecules hundreds of km above the Earth will slow it down and lower the orbit).  Also aboard is 300kg of water, one of the limiting factors of any human space endeavor.  (Onboard water recycling systems are an advancing art, receiving their most extensive testing yet on the ISS, but still a long way from recovering 100% of the water used for drinking, hygiene, lab experiments, hydroponics, etc.)    
COMMENT: This kind of upkeep is horrendously expensive, and the ISS even more so, but I think history will look back on the ISS as worthwhile.  For all our simulations and computer-aided design, the only way to perfect the building and maintaining of large space structures is to DO IT.  The knowledge gained will be vital... unless  of course we decide to say on our own planet forever..  In the long run, that is not wise.  (Ask the ivory-billed woodpecker, if you can find one, how smart it is to specialize in one kind of habitat.)