Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for January 13, 2020

in rsslog •  5 months ago 

Artificial intelligence brings improvement to cancer surgeries; The average American body temperature has been dropping since the 1860s; Researchers find the preservation mechanism for Britain's oldest brain; Cancer research in dogs is producing knowledge for dogs and humans; and a Steem post with a video of a shooting star flying through the Northern Lights


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First posted on my Steem blog: SteemIt, SteemPeak*, StemGeeks.

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  1. A.I. Comes to the Operating Room - According to a new report in Nature, an artificial intelligence (AI) system can diagnose brain tumors just as accurately as humans and far more quickly. This technique can be used to analyze a tissue sample while a patient is still on the operating table, which can help guide a surgeon's decisions in real time and also influence subsequent treatment protocols. Traditionally, using a technique known as "a frozen section", this sort of diagnoses required a tissue sample be sent to a lab, in a process that takes up to 20 to 30 times as long, and many neurosurgeons don't order frozen sections because they don't trust the results. Additionally, the new technique can pick up some details that are missed by traditional methods, including the spread of cancer onto nerve fibers. An additional advantage for the new method is that the tissue sample does not need to be destroyed, which means it can undergo multiple tests. As a practical matter, too, this method can fill a gap in the medical system because there is currently a shortage of neuropathologists. The technique was evaluated in comparison to human diagnoses, and the AI system was judged to be correct 94.6% of the time while humans were correct 93.9%. The article also notes that additional efforts are under way to "detect lung cancers on CT scans, diagnose eye disease in people with diabetes and find cancer on microscope slides". -h/t Communications of the ACM: Artificial Intelligence

  2. Americans' Body Temperature Has Been Dropping Since the 19th Century, Study Finds - A new study in the journal, eLife, looked at American medical records during three different time windows: "1860–1940, 1971–1975, and 2007–2017". After accounting for differences like height, age, and weight, the study reports that the average body temperature has been declining by about 1/20 of a degree (F) per decade. This is not the first study to find that the widely known 98.6° metric for average body temperature is wrong, but the new contribution is that it attempted to determine whether it's due to improving measurement tools or whether it reflects an actual change. Based on the records of Civil War veterans who were tracked continuously over several decades, the authors believe the decline is about more than just the improvements in technology. Instead, they say, "One theory is that since we experience fewer infections, thanks to vaccination and sanitation, our bodies have less constant inflammation. We also have reliable heating and cooling in our buildings and homes, lessening the need for the body to work so hard to maintain homeostasis." -h/t RealClear Science

  3. Secrets of an astonishingly well-preserved 2,600-year-old human brain - The brain is Britain's oldest, dating to some time from 482 BC and 673 BC, which was near the start of the Iron Age. It was uncovered in 2008. While clearing the skull, scientists noticed that some brain tissue had been preserved. This is very unusual, and a January 8 study revealed a possible reason. Due to the action of enzymes and the high concentration of water in brain tissue, this tissue is normally very quick to break down, unless steps are taken to preserve it. The researchers found no evidence of intentional preservation, but they believe that some sort of acid may have dripped on the brain in a way that interrupted the usual decomposition and slowed down protein folding. The researchers suggest that the mechanism that protected the brain may be relevant for illnesses like Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia, because those diseases are believed to be caused by a harmful sort of protein folding. -h/t archaeology.org

  4. Good News for Dogs with Cancer - It is estimated that one in three dogs gets cancer, with some pure-breeds being even more susceptible. This frequency combined with the fact that their cancers occur naturally and also that dogs are biologically more like humans than mice or other laboratory animals means that scientists are increasingly conducting trials on our canine companions. Although most of these trials are intended to help humans, they have had a side-effect of also improving the cancer prognosis for the dogs, themselves. Recent treatments that have been developed include a treatment for canine lymphoma and a vaccine against osteosarcoma. Additionally, there are other cancer drugs in the pipeline for man's best friend. This burst of research has also led to new diagnostic tools and treatment techniques, including improved targeting of radiation that avoids harming healthy tissue as well as a liquid biopsy that can be used to diagnose bladder cancer. Finally, genetic research into canine cancer has also had a boost. A flurry of gene sequencing efforts has received funding recently, and researchers expect a continued explosion during the upcoming years. Some research is exceedingly aggressive, and a project is underway to test a vaccine against all forms of cancer. When that project finishes, 800 dogs will have been injected with an experimental vaccine or with a placebo and tracked for a period of 5 years.

  5. STEEM Shooting star adds to beauty of northern lights above Murmansk - This post from @rt-international has an embedded video of the Northern Lights over the city of Murmansk with an added twist. During the filming, the videographer also captured a shooting star flying through the camera's field of view.

    Here is the video, but click through and give @rt-international an upvote:


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