I caught the two-hour series pilot of Caprica on On-Demand a few weeks ago and I have been meaning to comment on it. It’s definitely not a replacement for Galactica, but it clearly wasn’t intended to be. Galactica took an ancient science fiction idea, the question of what makes us human, folded it into religious belief, and created a literal mythos. But Galactica never really asked the question itself – what makes us human? – it showed us the answer as a given. The skin job cylons were presented as human from the start, both the original Earth/Kobol variant and the Colonial variant. The idea that they were still fundamentally machines was never really broached, except as “toaster!” epithets – with the exception of Model One, John. He was the only one to rage at his creators for making him merely human.
Magnetic resonance imaging of acute “wiiitis” of the upper extremity.
We present the first reported case of acute “wiiitis”, documented clinically and by imaging, of the upper extremity, caused by prolonged participation in a physically interactive virtual video-game. Unenhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrated marked T2-weighted signal abnormality within several muscles of the shoulder and upper arm, without evidence of macroscopic partial- or full-thickness tearing of the muscle or of intramuscular hematoma.
RefScan has been pretty moribund of late, mainly because I have been preparing for a cross country move and tying up loose ends at my postdoc. Please rest assured that there will be new content regularly appearing again in the near future. For a few weeks though, the dry spell will continue.
Also, incidentally, upgrading to WordPress 2.2 kind of hosed our K2 theme install, so we are looking a bit retro until I can fix that.
Physicist Paul C. Lauterbur, who received a 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for giving physicians the ability to look inside the human body without using harmful radiation, died Tuesday at his home in Urbana, Ill.
He was 77 and had been suffering from kidney disease.
Before the ink was dry on the government’s 2007 budget (or even completed for that matter), the Bush administration’s proposal for the 2008 budget was submitted on February 5th, and the news for biomedical researchers was not very good. According to sources the NIH is slated to receive a $500 million budget cut, before inflation is factored in—assuming a bill inflating their budget for 2007 passes through congress.
Making this even more dire for biomed researchers is the fact that over 10,000 NIH extramural grants are up for renewal in 2008. Those contending for extensions or renewals of such grants are now faced with double difficulty: less money to go around and more people vying for the same number of spaces. Constraints such as these have driven the average age of first-time grant recipients to over 40 years old, barely a young researcher anymore.
The simple truth is that the NIH is probably the single greatest investment of public funds apart from NASA in terms of knowledge generation for the benefit of society that the world has ever seen. Less funds mean less research; less Ph.D.s choosing an academic career; less innovation and less risk-taking. That means more orthodoxy, entrenched and defensive peer-review, and ultimately more echo-chambering.
Even with new funding programs aimed at transitioning postdocs to faculty, it’s hard to justify doing a post-doc to people in the field nowadays – if they have the flexibility, they can make more than double the salary working for industry. What does the future of our field, medical physics and MRI in particular, look like?
news flash: emotions sometime trump rational thought! Shocking, I know. Though I was intrigued at how the fMRI paradigm in this case provides a neat empirical example for why prisoner’s dilemma models don’t translate well into real-world practice:
A classic economic example is the “ultimatum game,” in which one participant gets 10 $1 bills (or loonies, in Canada). He chooses how many to offer to a second participant. If she accepts the offer, the money is split the way the first participant suggested; if she rejects the offer, nobody gets anything.
Logically, the first participant can maximize his money by offering a single dollar, because logically the second participant should accept that as being better than nothing. In real life, however, the second participant, if offered only a dollar or two, almost always rejects the offer.
Functional MRI scans of brain activity show that a low offer stimulates an area associated with negative emotions, including anger and disgust. It seems the second participant would rather punish the first participant for making such an insulting offer than make an easy buck. And usually, the person making the offer understands this and offers something close to an even split, averaging about $4.
I don’t really see why the above reasonable decision-making process is inherently non-rational or “emotional” though. Doesn’t it make good rational sense to “punish” someone making a lowball offer, so they are motivated to offer you more up front?
Matt McIntosh, writing at Gene Expression, proposes The Lamp Post rule for discussions of science and science policy. Simply stated, “All arguments conducted in a state of relative ignorance must be algebraic.” Head over to GNXP for details.
The Scientist has released the results of its annual poll and the verdict: MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks highest, followed by the J. David Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco and the Environmental Protection Agency in the Research Triangle Park. Via Ars,
The most important criteria identified in the survey were access to training and experience that will prove useful, followed by access to books and journals, decent medical insurance, equipment, and the quality of the principal investigator. I’m not sure you’d find many postdocs who would disagree with these; if you’re going to spend three years of your life working on a project, then one would hope the skills and techniques learned would stand you in good stead in the future. Access to the scientific literature is vital, and if you’re not getting paid the earth, the ability to see a good doctor if you get sick is nice.
Least important on the list of concerns was the opportunity to advance within the department, followed by administration issues. Again, this is probably due to the way academic careers work, where it’s beneficial to move from one institution to another for different stages of your career, that way maximizing exposure to the broadest range of techniques, methods and approaches to science. Some institutions are also notoriously reticent about promoting their own postdocs into faculty positions.
An editorial in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine (J Nucl Med. 2007 Mar;48(3):331. PMID: 17332606) argues that combination PET/MRI systems are the future and will supplant PET/CT:
In a number of ways, the path to PET/MRI has been reverse of that to PET/CT. The first PET/CT design emerged from industry–academia collaboration and was a prototype for human clinical use that eventually stimulated a commercial response and led to the development of PET/CT for imaging small animals. In contrast, PET/MRI began with the small-animal design and then, over a decade later, the first PET/MRI brain images were acquired on a dedicated prototype system, following an impressive industrial backing that far exceeded that of the early PET/CT developments.
A mere 2 y after the advent of commercial PET/CT, Johannes Czernin from UCLA, at the 2003 annual DGN meeting, commented that “PET/CT is a technical evolution that has led to a medical revolution.” Today, at the dawn of PET/MRI, it may be said that “PET/MRI is a medical evolution based on a technical revolution.” Although PET/CT appears to have replaced stand-alone PET for most oncologic indications, it is reasonable to assume that PET/MRI will be the preferred imaging option for neurologic and central nervous system indications. Without doubt, such dual-modality combinations are here to stay because they incorporate the diagnostic power of PET. Thus, PET/CT and PET/MRI, by virtue of their combined anatometabolic imaging, will lead to a “new-clear” medicine and the demise of “unclear” medicine.