Archive for the ‘Philadelphia’ Category

At a hospital in Pittsburgh, surgeons are now allowed to place patients into a state of suspended animation. If a patient arrives with a traumatic injury, and attempts to restart their heart have failed — if they’re on the doorstep of death — they will have their blood replaced with a cold saline solution, which stops almost all cellular activity. At this point, the patient is clinically dead — but if the doctors can fix the injury within a few hours, they can be returned to life from suspended animation by replacing the saline with blood.

Or at least, that’s the theory. The technique of suspended animation (or “emergency preservation and resuscitation” as non-sci-fi doctors prefer to call it) was first trialed on pigs in 2002. Hasan Alam, working with his colleagues at the University of Michigan Hospital, drugged up a pig, created a massive hemorrhage to simulate the effect of a massive gunshot wound, and then replaced its blood with a cold saline solution, cooling the pig’s cells to just 10 Celsius (50F). After the injury was treated, the pig was gradually warmed back up by replacing the saline with blood. Usually the pig’s heart started beating on its own, and despite the pig being dead for a few hours, there was no physical or cognitive impairment. Now, it’s time to try it out on humans. [Research paper: dx.doi.org/10.1067/msy.2002.125787 – “Learning and memory is preserved after induced asanguineous hyperkalemic hypothermic arrest in a swine model of traumatic exsanguination”]

Roughly once a month, UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh receives a patient who has suffered a cardiac arrest after some kind of traumatic injury (gunshot, stabbing, etc.), and hasn’t responded to normal methods of restarting their heart. Because there’s currently no other kind of treatment, and because these kinds of wounds are nearly always fatal, the surgeons don’t need consent to carry out the suspended animation. The technique will be used on 10 patients, with the outcome compared against 10 people who didn’t. Samuel Tisherman, the surgeon who is leading the trial, told New Scientist that they’ll then refine their technique and try it out on 10 more patients — at which point, there should be enough data to work out whether suspended animation is worth rolling out to other hospitals.

The process is much the same for humans as it was for pigs. The first step is to replace all of the blood in the heart and brain — the two areas most sensitive to hypoxia — with with cold saline. Then, the saline is pumped around the rest of the body. After 15 minutes, the patient’s temperature reaches 10C — they have no blood, no brain activity, and they’re not breathing. Technically they’re dead — but because the metabolism of your cells slow down at low temperatures, they can survive for a few hours using anaerobic respiration (usually it’s just a few minutes). ”We’ve always assumed that you can’t bring back the dead. But it’s a matter of when you pickle the cells,” said Peter Rhee, who helped developed the suspended animation technique.

For now, this process is only being used for cardiac arrests following traumatic injuries, but in the future Tisherman says he hopes to use the technique for other conditions as well. The other big question, of course, is whether this technique can be used to suspend animation for more than just a couple of hours. If I have my blood replaced with saline, and then use cryonics to cool my body down yet further, could I be “dead” for a few months or weeks or years before being warmed up again? If sci-fi has taught us anything, it’s that suspended animation (or stasis as it’s sometimes called) is one of the most potentially exciting technologies — not only for rich people trying to extend their lives, but for the possibly centuries-long journeys that our first interstellar explorers will embark upon.

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/179296-humans-will-be-kept-between-life-and-death-in-the-first-suspended-animation-trials

A 14-year-old Indian origin boy is making headlines across the nation for his incredibly simple economic proposal that could save the US government hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

Suvir Mirchandani, a middle schooler from Pittsburgh, discovered that simply by switching the font used on printouts, his school district could reduce its consumption of ink by 24%, thus saving themselves as much as $21,000 each year without having to buy as many ink cartridges. The font Mirchandani says is the most cost-effective? Garamond.

Ever since sixth grade, Mirchandani noticed that he was constantly getting handouts for tests, assignments, lessons, and so on. Knowing that using up so much paper was wasteful – if just one student is getting so many sheets, extrapolate it for an entire class, school, or school district – he became determined to find a way to cut back on all the printing.

He discovered that the school district had already thought of such things, but the best they could come up with was to do double-sided printing as much as possible, and to implement a strict recycling policy. But those measures would only go so far – the purchasing of ink on a nearly constant basis was still an incredible financial hurdle.

In fact, according to an interview Mirchandani gave to CNN, French perfume costs only half as much as ink when compared by volume. A specific bottle of Chanel No. 5 costs less than $40, while a cartridge of ink the exact same size can cost upwards of $75.

Mirchandani began analyzing the words printed on these handouts, and found the most commonly used letters: e, t, a, o, r. He then took each of these and printed them with four different, commonly used fonts: Times New Roman, Century Gothic, Comic Sans MS, and Garamond. Then, using a software called APFill ® Ink Coverage, he could find out how much ink was used to create each letter on a piece of paper.

By enlarging each letter, in each font, on a piece of paper, it became clear to Mirchandani that the thinner Garamond font was obviously using the least amount of ink. The fact that it’s so much thinner means it uses significantly less ink, which ultimately saves money in the long run.

Saving $21,000 for a school district is one thing, however. Taking the same principle and applying it to an entire nation, Mirchandani realized that the US could save as much as $234 million annually by switching to this practice, a sizeable chunk out of the nation’s $1.8 billion yearly printing expenditure. The federal government alone would save about $136 million off of the $467 million it spends on Ink every year, according to the General Services Administration.

So far, the government has not said whether or not they’ll definitively implement Mirchandani’s proposal, but they are apparently looking into it. Gary Somerset, the media and public relations manager for the Government Printing Office, has been quoted as saying that the boy’s work was “remarkable,” but could not say if it would actually be put to use.

http://www.americanbazaaronline.com/2014/03/31/switch-garamond-save-hundreds-millions-dollars-per-year-ink-claims-pittsburgh-teenager/

UtahReducesHomelessness011814

Earlier this month, Hawaii State representative Tom Bower (D) began walking the streets of his Waikiki district with a sledgehammer, and smashing shopping carts used by homeless people. “Disgusted” by the city’s chronic homelessness problem, Bower decided to take matters into his own hands — literally. He also took to rousing homeless people if he saw them sleeping at bus stops during the day.

Bower’s tactics were over the top, and so unpopular that he quickly declared “Mission accomplished,” and retired his sledgehammer. But Bower’s frustration with his city’s homelessness problem is just an extreme example of the frustration that has led cities to pass measures that effective deal with the homeless by criminalizing homelessness.

•City council members in Columbia, South Carolina, concerned that the city was becoming a “magnet for homeless people,” passed an ordinance giving the homeless the option to either relocate or get arrested. The council later rescinded the ordinance, after backlash from police officers, city workers, and advocates.

•Last year, Tampa, Florida — which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city — passed an ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.” The city followed up with a ban on panhandling downtown, and other locations around the city.

•Philadelphia took a somewhat different approach, with a law banning the feeding of homeless people on city parkland. Religious groups objected to the ban, and announced that they would not obey it.

•Raleigh, North Carolina took the step of asking religious groups to stop their longstanding practice of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends. Religious leaders announced that they would risk arrest rather than stop.

This trend makes Utah’s accomplishment even more noteworthy. In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but they keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah’s.

It sounds like Utah borrowed a page from Homes Not Handcuffs, the 2009 report by The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and The National Coalition for the Homeless. Using a 2004 survey and anecdotal evidence from activists, the report concluded that permanent housing for the homeless is cheaper than criminalization. Housing is not only more human, it’s economical.

http://www.nationofchange.org/utah-ending-homelessness-giving-people-homes-1390056183

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.