Stephen Hawking takes a breakth and visits the Vatican

Stephen Hawking’s visit to the Vatican last month with Oxygen provided by our team. As stated online from the Catholic News Agency, Hawking is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences – which includes 80 of the most brilliant scientists in the world – and he was in Vatican City for the group’s annual meeting. Hawking himself gave a talk on “The Origin of the Universe,” the topic that has earned him world renown.
His many publications include The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime with G F R Ellis, General Relativity: An Einstein Centenary Survey, with W Israel, and 300 Years of Gravity, with W Israel. Among the popular books Stephen Hawking has published are his best seller A Brief History of Time, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, The Universe in a Nutshell, The Grand Design and My Brief History.
Professor Hawking has twelve honorary degrees. He was awarded the CBE in 1982, and was made a Companion of Honour in 1989. He is the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes, is a Fellow of The Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neurone Disease, shortly after his 21st birthday. In spite of being wheelchair bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication Stephen Hawking continues to combine family life (he has three children and three grandchildren), and his research into theoretical physics together with an extensive programme of travel and public lectures.

During his conference at Casina Pio IV, Stephen Hawking paid homage to Msgr. George Lemaitre, president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences from 1960 to 1966. Hawking said that Msgr. Lemaitre was the real father of the “Big Bang Theory,” thus dismissing the common belief that the father of the theory was the U.S. naturalized physicist George Gamow.

Stem cells and nanoparticles could be the future treatment for lung disease

Malaysian scientists are joining forces with Harvard University experts to help in seeking a safe, more effective way of tackling lung problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the progressive, irreversible obstruction of airways causing almost 1 in 10 deaths today and to revolutionize the treatment of lung diseases through the delivery of ‘nanomedicine.’
Treatment of COPD and lung cancer commonly involves chemotherapeutics and corticosteroids which are misted into a fine spray and inhaled, enabling direct delivery to the lungs and a quick and effective medicinal effect. However, because the particles produced by today’s inhalers are large, most of the medicine is deposited in the upper respiratory tract and does not reach down to lower parts of the airways and lungs.
The Harvard team is working on “smart” nanoparticles, which are tiny particles that deliver the appropriate levels of a medication to the deepest, tiniest sacs of the lung and ensures an even distribution, through the use of magnetic fields.
Malaysia’s role is to help ensure the safety and improve the effectiveness of nanomedicine and in assessing how nanomedicine particles behave in the body, what attaches to them to form a coating, where the drug accumulates and how it interacts with different cells.
Inhaled nanomedicine holds the promise of helping doctors prevent and treat such problems in future, reaching the target area more swiftly than if administered orally or even intravenously. This is particularly true for COPD and lung cancer, says Dr. Brain. “Experiments have demonstrated that a drug dose administered directly to the respiratory tract achieves much higher local drug concentrations at the target site.”
“Nanotechnology is making a significant impact on health care by delivering improvements in disease diagnosis and monitoring, as well as enabling new approaches to regenerative medicine and drug delivery,” says Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Lung regeneration is another key focal point as scientists have found that regardless of their stage in life, lung cells are able to regenerate themselves in order to repair missing or damaged tissue. The team behind the discovery hopes that they will one day be able to replicate this natural behavior in order to help repair tissue damage in patients with conditions such as COPD.
There are two main types of lung cells: type 1 cells, where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged during breathing and type 2, which secrete surfactants, a type of lubricant essential to the breathing process. Type 2 cells have been previously observed to regenerate into type 1 cells in the presence of cell damage, but a team of scientists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Duke University have shown that the opposite also occurs.
“We saw new cells growing back into these new areas of the lung. It’s as if the lung knows it has to grow back and can call into action some type 1 cells to help in that process,” explained cardiologist Rajan Jain and the observation suggests that there is much more flexibility in the pulmonary system than previously thought.
Understanding how and why these mature cells are regenerating into different types of lung tissue may be the key to treating certain types of lung damage caused by conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Although patients may somewhat control the condition, there is currently no cure. The ability to regrow damaged lung tissue on demand, then, could completely change treatment options and possibly offer a cure for COPD patients.
References: and www.medicaldaily

7 surprising headache triggers

It’s easy to blame headaches on the usual suspects, such as workload and skipping your morning coffee. But did you know that there are other lesser known set-offs, which, if not identified, could cause frequent headaches? According to Dr Frederick Freitag, former director of headache medicine at Baylor University Medical Centre, us, if you know the root cause of your headache, you can often prevent it from occurring in the first place. As compiled from the Health magazine, and, here’s how to gun down hidden headache triggers.
A theory behind heat causing headache is that the body’s attempt to cool itself by sending more blood to the skin deprives the brain of oxygen. In the February 2012 issue of Head Wise, a publication of the National Headache Foundation, Dr Vincent T Martin mentioned that summer brings with it a unique set of triggers, such as sunlight, dehydration, increased physical activity, allergies and humidity.
Remedy: You can’t change the weather, but you can take steps to keep cool.  Stay in an air-conditioned environment on hot days and keep yourself well-hydrated when outdoors or exercising. If the AC isn’t an option, avoid getting out when the sun is too bright.
Pain medication
Overusing pain medicines can exacerbate headaches. When taken too regularly, prescription narcotics or medicines containing caffeine and antihistamines can interfere with the brain’s pain-regulation system. Over-the-counter pain relievers, too, can cause rebound headaches. They lower your pain threshold and make your headache feel worse, said Dr Brian Grosberg, co-director of the headache centre at the Montefiore Headache Centre in the Bronx, New York.
Remedy: Limit pain medications to two days a week and never take them more than the label allows. If your head still pounds, then stick to chamomile tea and opt for a nap.
Not eating
On busy days, you may think stress is causing your head to ache, but maybe, you just forgot to eat. “Your brain runs on two things: glucose, which comes from the food you eat, and oxygen,” Dr Freitag explained. “When it doesn’t get enough of either, the brain tells you that its needs aren ’t getting met by firing up pain-sensitive neurons.”
Remedy: Make sure you fuel up every four to six hours. To keep blood sugar steady, avoid junky sugary snacks. Instead, choose something with slow-burning protein and complex carbohydrates.
Cheddar cheese
Certain foods may bring on headaches. Fermented or aged products, including cider vinegar, soy sauce, and cheeses such as blue, Swiss and cheddar, contain tyramine, an amino acid that can trigger headaches by constricting and expanding blood vessels. Over-processed meats, such as hot dogs and salami, pack a double blow since they often contain both tyramine and preservatives called nitrates, which can increase blood flow to the brain.
Remedy: Keep track of what you eat and when your headaches strike. If you find that certain foods are triggers, try not consuming them and see if it helps. If you’re craving a sandwich, choose fresh meats instead of processed.
Magnesium deficiency
If you’re not getting enough of this vital element, you may suffer from headaches. Dr Mauskop’s research has found that up to 50% of people who suffer from acute migraine attacks have low levels of magnesium in their blood.
Remedy: Add more magnesium-rich foods to your diet, including green vegetables such as spinach, whole grains, fish, seeds and nuts. If you don’t get enough magnesium in your diet, you may need to take a supplement of anywhere from 200 to 600 mg per day.
Computer usage
Studies show that headaches from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) are common, according to the American Optometric Association. And despite the name, this condition causes problems for more than just the eyes. The continuous flexing of the eye-focusing muscles creates fatigue, eyestrain and headaches.
Remedy: Follow good ergonomics to prevent computer eyestrain and the headaches that erupt as a result. Set your monitor, so the top of the screen is slightly below eye level. Also, sit up straight and make sure your chair supports your neck and back, Dr Freitag said.
Teeth clenching
If you often suffer from morning headaches, then head to the dentist. A lesser-known but common reason for headaches is clenching or grinding your teeth at night. Known as bruxism, this condition can most commonly get triggered by stress. Certain medications or poor tooth alignment could also be a cause. Most people grind their teeth in their sleep at some time in their lives, but many never find out.
Remedy: Ask your dentist to check for signs of tooth-grinding, including cracked or worn-down teeth. You may be fitted with a custom night guard, which keeps your teeth from touching and helps realign your bite while you sleep. If you want to skip the dental visit, try relaxing before bed with a warm bath, meditate or practice deep-breathing exercises.
(ref from The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2014.)
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Fraunhofer develops smartwatch-based assistance and home-health monitoring systems

As our life spans increase, more services and care will be needed for the elderly, especially those who live independently. Technology clearly has an increasing role to play in improving home care and health monitoring. The latest developments from German research group Fraunhofer are a case in point.
wearable monitoring device

Wearable home care assistance system

The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems, in association with the German Ministry for Education and Research, has designed of smart watch-like device that can be programmed according to the needs of the elderly wearer and is accessible to all authorized personnel and carers via a web portal.
The concept system provides support services such as reminding users to take their medication or assisting them in navigating trips to and from the doctor, according to Fraunhofer. It can directly contact support staff and also offers Wi-Fi and phone connectivity, so emergency services can be easily contacted. The large interface (though not quite the largest smartwatch design we’ve seen) contains a few basic symbols for simple operation and is programmed in advance according to the person’s needs.
Fraunhofer will present the system at the Medica medical trade show in Düsseldorf this month.

Home health monitoring platform

The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology has developed a health monitoring system that uses miniature non-invasive sensors, as well as blood sampling equipment to provide on the spot health analysis which can be relayed to a doctor via an internet connection.
Based around a unit where the software and the analytical equipment is housed, Fraunhofer says the system can monitor parameters like blood pressure, glucose, lactate or cholesterol level using wireless sensors that could be, for example, placed a Bluetooth module in the patient’s ear.

A fluorescence sensor using a laser diode captures the concentration of several cardiac ma...

A fluorescence sensor using a laser diode captures the concentration of several cardiac markers

The system can also analyze blood samples taken from a finger prick, determining markers via a fluorescence sensor and passing this information on to a doctor who can view it on a smartphone app.
“Miniaturized sensors in the home unit, which can detect traces of the markers down to the nano level, analyze the blood sample”, says Professor Harald Mathis of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT.
There’s no indication at this point as to whether either system is destined for commercialization.
Sources: Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems, Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology