Gaming technology may improve Xray precision

dualshock_3Using proprietary software developed for the Microsoft Kinect system, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have adapted hands-free technology used for the popular Xbox system to aid radiographers when taking X-rays.

The software coupled with the Kinect system can measure thickness of body parts and check for motion, positioning and the X-ray field of view immediately before imaging, said Steven Don, MD, associate professor of radiology at the university’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology. Real-time monitoring alerts technologists to factors that could compromise image quality. For example, “movement during an X-ray requires retakes, thereby increasing radiation exposure,” Don said.

A feasibility study will be presented Dec. 2, at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting in Chicago.

“The goal is to produce high-quality X-ray images at a low radiation dose without repeating images,” Don said. “It sounds surprising to say that the Xbox gaming system could help us to improve medical imaging, but our study suggests that this is possible.”

The technology could benefit all patients but particularly children because of their sensitivity to radiation and greater variation in body sizes, which can

You Are an Expert Tweeter

twitter_tweet_this_256Do you tweet formally for a wide audience (and use abbrevs 4 ur peeps)? You may not realize you’re doing it. But a study of  hundreds of thousands of tweets showed that Twitter users subtly tailor their language based on who’s reading.

Twitter “is a single platform that serves a huge range of communicative functions,” says Jacob Eisenstein, who leads a computational linguistics lab at Georgia Tech. With the same 140-character messages, a user can participate in a mass social movement or gossip with close friends. This makes Twitter different from other forms of written communication.

Yet while you can’t control how far your tweets fly, there are ways to narrow or widen your potential audience. If you begin a tweet with another user’s @handle, for instance, only people who follow both of you will see it. You’ve shrunken your readership (at least until people start retweeting your brilliant remark). On the other hand, using #hashtags broadens a tweet’s potential audience. Anyone following or searching for a hashtag on their favorite topic will see your tweet.

Eisenstein wanted to know whether we tweet differently depending on the size of our audience. He and graduate student Umashanthi Pavalanathan combed through

Can Hologram Concerts Take Off

michael-jackson_2921321bThere’s little doubt that if Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin or Jim Morrison headlined a concert today, it would be the hottest ticket in town.

It could happen tomorrow.

Entertainment companies are spending big bucks to fit venues with holographic technology capable of resurrecting beloved musicians, comedians and even Jesus Christ. For all the futuristic glitz holograms exude, today’s notable holographic performances are still based on a 19th century parlor trick. However, there are researchers around the world working to bring holographic technology into the 21st century.

Pepper’s Ghost

John Henry Pepper was a British scientist and inventor who’s best known for making a “ghost” appear on stage during an 1862 demonstration at the Polytechnic Institute in London. Pepper fitted an angled pane of glass on stage to reflect a brightly lit actor hiding beneath the stage. The actor’s reflection was refracted through the angled glass and directed onto the stage. As a result, it looked as if a ghost was floating on stage.

It was fitting, then, that 150 years after Pepper’s demonstration, Tupac Shakur appeared on stage at Coachella in much the same way. A Mylar film

Electricity Prices and Texas Power

I was reading the news recently, and it looks like the price of oil crude hit a low over the past few years. I don’t see it reflected locally yet though, because the price of gasoline has gone up 50 or 60 cents in the last week. I am not sure how closely the two mirror each other though. I am wondering how the oil prices effect electric providers around the country, and in particular, in the state of Texas, which is where I live after all. I know that the price of electricity fluctuates a bit around here, but part of that is just the fact that there are a lot of different energy companies that are all trying to compete with each other for more customers. In such an environment, it is impossible for the prices to stay static, or you would not be able to compete very effectively.

I have been thinking about moving to a new house recently, but I need to try to save up money for a few months, at the least, before I will be able to do that. We do not have enough money in the

Computer assisted cognitive behavioral therapy provides little or no benefits for depression

Current NICE guidelines recommend cCBT as a treatment for depression. But in light of the new findings, the authors say “the routine promotion and commissioning of cCBT be reconsidered” because it is “likely to be an ineffective form of low-intensity treatment for depression and an inefficient use of finite healthcare resources.”

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is considered an effective “talking treatment” for depression, but is not always immediately available in the NHS. Computerised CBT (cCBT) has recently been developed and to increase access to this form of treatment.

However, it is unknown how effective cCBT is for patients with depression in a primary care setting, where most depression is managed, and the two most widely used computer programmes have not been compared.

So a team of researchers from the University of York carried out a randomised control trial to assess the effectiveness of cCBT when added to usual GP care, and compare two commonly used CBT packages to see if these have additional benefits.

In total, 691 patients with depression from 83 general practices across several locations in England were enrolled in the REEACT study. Each patient was randomly assigned to one of three groups: to receive usual GP care, or to receive

New advanced computing systems under investigation

The goal of the RePhrase project is to work on improving the development of software for parallel heterogeneous architectures. “Parallel heterogeneous architectures are those that are used in machines that combine different computing devices, such as the familiar multi-core processors and graphics cards used to make computations,” explained the main researcher from the UC3M team, José Daniel García, from the ARCOS research group (Arquitectura de Computadores, Comunicaciones y Sistemas — Computer Architecture, Communications and Systems) in the university Computer Science and Engineering Department.

The participation of UC3M in this new project is focused on solving specific problems when creating applications in parallel computers, paying special attention to the use of the C++ programming language, which has been identified by the participants as an excellent alternative for this kind of devices.

According to Professor García, the next generations of computers will have an ever greater number of processors with diverging features, which gives rise to the need for new software development methods. “The goal is to achieve faster applications which at the same time consume less energy,” he said.

Biomedical Applications

The results from this research might have applications in different fields, such as in the improvement of industrial manufacturing processes, the monitoring of railway

Estimating poverty wealth from cell phone metadata

In developing or war-ravaged countries where government censuses are few and far between, gathering data for public services or policymaking can be difficult, dangerous or near-impossible. Big data is, after all, mainly a First World opportunity.

But cell towers are easier to install than telephone land lines, even in such challenged areas, and mobile or cellular phones are widely used among the poor and wealthy alike.

Now, researchers with the University of Washington Information School and Computer Science and Engineering Department have devised a way to estimate the distribution of wealth and poverty in an area by studying metadata from calls and texts made on cell phones. Such metadata contains information about the time, location and nature of the “mobile phone events” but not their content. Their paper was published Nov. 27 in the journal Science.

“Quantitative, rigorous measurements are key to making important decisions about social welfare allocation and the distribution of humanitarian aid,” said lead author Joshua Blumenstock, assistant professor in the UW Information School, who is also an adjunct professor in computer science and engineering. “But in a lot of developing countries high-quality data doesn’t exist.

“What we show in this paper, and I think fairly clearly, is