Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cancer detecting micro-chip

Hi guys,

Apparently today I am in a very inspiring mood so here is another post about micro-chips in de medical section.

The purpose of my posts is to make you aware of the wider application area of micro-chips.
With this statement I mean that micro-chips are not only usefull to make your computer go faster, to have a smaller of thinner smartphone,…

No micro-chips can also be used to save peoples lives!

The link below is the article that I am posting about.
http://www.gezondheidsweb.eu/kanker/microchip-kan-kanker-sneller-helpen-determineren

It is about a micro-chip that can determinate cancer and tells in wath stadium the cancer is evolved.
I chose this article because in my family there is someone who is suffering from cancer and I see the misery and problems from the first row. That’s why I find this article especially interesting and I want to share it with you.

Thanks to this micro-chip the doctor can be advised when the cancer becomes active and it shows how much damage it already caused to the body.
This all without the complicated examinations that a cancer patient has to undergo these days. Like I said, I’ve seen in from nearby and it is not nice.
It goes from numerous blood tests, PET-scans, other blood tests,… and it takes forever to get the results of the tests. Especially when you are the patient.
This is one of the advantages.
The biggest advantage though is that the cancer can be determinate without the specific tests and that they can directly aply the right treatment.
I speak again about the example of my family. The cancer there was detected ‘by accident’ when doing a small operation. This was a like we say in Dutch ‘geluk bij een ongeluk’ becaus if the small operation wasn’t done maybe the cancer was never determined or determined to late and the person I am talking about wasn’t here anymore.
I am sure that you may all know someone who hasn’t been this lucky and when the doctors discovered the cancer it was already to late.

I hope that this kind of stories can make you aware of the importance of research of using the technology of today in the medical industrie.

Thanks you for your time.

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Micro-chip medication

Hi everybody,

In my quest of a new topic to blog about I found a very interessting article about the application of micro-chips. The content is again medical related.

The article is about the RFID microchip. Briefly explained: it is a very small micro-chip that is incorporated in medication to control or check the how the patient takes his medication and to supervise on the effect of medication and the patients health.

Here is the link to the article: https://sites.google.com/site/ncfaktueel/fda

Here you can see a picture of the size of the chip:

tiny-microchip1

I find this a very good invention in very different and helpfull ways.

Most of the people don’t like to take medicines and when they have to take the medicines they often take them irregularly of stop taking them before they really begin to help. With this RFID micro-chip this will not be done onobserved anymore. Your doctor will be aware that you aren’t taking you medication the right way and he can show you the risks.

This can be very helpfull for example in the case that you somebody who is close to you is an addict or has a serious problem and he doesn’t want to face it. So you obligate him to go to the doctor. The doctor then prescribes him the medication but after one week the patient stops taking the medication. Now using this RFID micro-chip you can control the patient and help him to carry on taking his medication.

An other example is for the people who forget to take their pills it is a handy way to set a reminder. Like stated in the article you can connect the micro-chip with your smartphone and then your smartphone gives you a reminder. For example the women who take birth control pills. A lot of them get in trouble because they take it irregularly because they simply forget. Thanks to the chip inside the medication they can get a reminder that they have to take it.

An example of the use of the chip is stated in the article below:
http://www.nu.nl/gezondheid/2743019/eerste-medicijn-microchip-succesvol-in-mens-getest.html

It also shows the use. In this example you don’t have to take the medicin yourself but the micro-chip gives it to you.

What do you guys think of this invention and evaluation?

One question that rised up in me is; is this type of medication ethically correct? Because it’s like stated in the article: “Big Brother is watching you”.
You can find a critical article on the link below:
http://www.marcelmessing.nl/content.asp?m=M8&s=P32&l=NL

China, pollutant or innovator?

Hi everybody,

In this posts I would like to take a look at China and see what their opinion is on renewable energy.

China is as we know, seen as most of us have been there, a massive country with lots of extremes and contrasts.  I did some research and found the following results that I would like to share with you.

To begin I have found a graph that shows the amount of energy each an average citizen uses

Schermafbeelding 2013-03-21 om 20.39.08

Note that the graph only shows the average until 2010

As we look at this graph we can see that the average energy use per person is way below what a typical American uses or us Belgians.  Of course it is true that with the rising prosperity the average energy use will continue to rise.  You can see that China is on a rising curve whilst Belgium and the US have a more constant curve.

As we look at the next graph we see the amount of gigawatts China and other country’s produce

Schermafbeelding 2013-03-21 om 20.45.09

Pease note that the graph uses data from 2011 and very important that hydropower is NOT included in this graph.

When we add hydropower to this equation China produces total of  282 GW of renewable energy.

In 2011 China was also the biggest investor in green energy and this for the third year in a row.

Schermafbeelding 2013-03-21 om 20.53.20

This graph shows the amount invested as a percentage of the gross national product.

So when we look at these statistics you should conclude that China is doing a pretty good job right?

However, China is also the largest consumer of coal in the world.  They are generating 68,7% of their electricity from coal ( in comparison the USA generates 49% of it’s electricity from coal).  As we all know coal is a very pollutant energy resource, so China is as well the leader in renewable energy as in polluting energy.

As a conclusion I like to state that I really hope that China continues to invest on renewable energy and keeps on searching for options to eliminate as much as possible the use of coal, but we have to be realistic and look at ourselves too.  You cannot blame them for growing and achieving a higher standard of living. I think it’s time for every country  to take it’s responsibility and to keep on investing in renewable energy for a better future!

World Future Energy Summit

Last week I read an article about a new solar-energy central in Abu Dhabi. I found this interesting, because normally when you think of these places, you think about oil, and oil sheiks etc.

So after searching the web regarding Abu Dhabi and renewable energy, I stumbled upon the website of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES). According to their website: “The WFES Exhibition is an international business platform that connects project owners and solution providers to investors and buyers from the public and private sector.”

Seeing that countrys like Abu Dhabi invest in renewables just shows the importance and the economical factor it can play in the next decades.

–> The Website <–

Another article about WFES shows how they are the world leading country on renewables research. But due to the neglectible prizes of oil their carbon footpint is super high. So where they flourish in research, they fail miserably in actually using it. The article has lots more interesting facts.

The importance of politics and economy in post-MDG-framework

This is a post about the different opinions on the future of the Millennium development goals, which I quoted earlier on this blog.

Currently the different governments are having a debate about the continuation of the international developing framework on account of the ending of the period about the Millennium development goals (MDG’s).

According to Mr. Labille special attention needs to be paid to the quality aspect of the projects, for example education, and one must consider more than ever the real impact in the field.

E.g. one should not build schools in regions where there is lack of teachers. Instead, they should finance the local education department to give them the opportunity to provide better training of the teachers.

Conclusion:

The post-2015-framework should comprise the Millennium goals as well as the goals for sustainable development. The financial, economic, social and ecological policy should be evaluated systematically on the consequences for sustainable development.

Mr. Leroy has the same opinion:
“I speak of a term ‘internationalization’ which incorporates not only development cooperation but also world economy, trading, politics… People often don’t see the bigger picture.”

The influence of politics and the economy is mentioned as well by Mr. Van Wassenhoven:

“The feedback that is necessary for a sustainable society is only possible if there is basis. First you need a local basis but later you need the politics to achieve something national. The local basis is just to give a signal to the politics.
Social, economic, political and hygienic aspects are all important to succeed in good development cooperation, but it is the economy which is the basis of it all. It is very important that the economy is redistributive.”

The use of the economic crisis to focus on efficiency

In the following blogs we make a small recapitulation of our previous blogs and a comparison of opinions of different persons about some topics.

On account of an interview with Bieze Van Wassenhoven, employee of Studio Globo and expert on development cooperation, I read the conversation between MO magazine and Belgian minister of development cooperation Jean-Pascal Labille.

Mr. Van Wassenhoven gives workshops at pupils in secondary schools about climate change, food certainty and development cooperation. He also works with teachers and management about sustainability. In the past, he worked as a volunteer in Cambodia and Senegal.

Mr. Labille gives his take on the vision of the future development policy and the impact of the savings of development cooperation. Check following link!

http://www.mo.be/opinie/een-paternalistische-logica-werkt-niet

The Belgian law indicates that 0.7% of GDP has to be invested in development cooperation. But due to the economic crisis, enormous savings concerning this budget were made by the government, especially in 2012 and 2013. The decline is alarming but Labille thinks we should use this economic crisis to focus on more efficiency and effectiveness of development programs.

Some examples:

  • Mr. Labille refers to the Belgian help in Uganda to develop the health sector by investing money in the support of the government’s own action plan. That way, they make themselves responsible of the execution, while Belgium still invest in policy dialogue and strong agreements about the control of the use of medicines.
  • Nowadays the government prefers that multilateral organizations themselves may decide which project will be supported financially and the Belgian government deliberately chooses to finance nothing but the general functioning.

What do you think about the efforts made by the government?

Computer vision vision (not a typo)

In my original post, I asked how a robot would be able to recognize itself, when presented with its image, covered in spaghetti. In other words: how can a robot robustly and reliably recognize itself, based on images? Simple enough, right?

Well, how would a robot ‘see’ to begin with? What’s the ‘vision’, of computer vision? Gabuglio wondered last time, in this comment whether the PR2 could be like Rosey from the Jetsons. Unfortunatley: no. Or at least, not at this point. Using only computer vision however, it could do some other jobs.

Right now, our robot could stand in a factory, matching label colors against the desired color for a paint job . A factory is a highly controlled environment, so you might get away with just using thresholding. For red paint for instance, if your image is made up of levels of red, green and blue: check to see if there’s a uniform patch in the image that’s more than 90% red, but less than 10% blue or green. He could do something more advanced as a factory worker, and be a bottle level inspector. He would probably use an edge detector for this, like you could in Photoshop or any other image editing program. These are some of the simpler operations. Generally speaking, they’re very easy to understand, and use. Like the circuit laws, or the ideal gas law…

If our robot went to school a little bit longer, it might be working for the TSA, where it would be in high demand right now. As you may know, they use so-called full-body scanners over there. That used to mean someone 30 feet down is supposed to literally, but might be figuratively, looking under your clothes, ‘checking you’. Some people were offended… Our robot could do a more acceptable job, and these days, they do.

Backscatter X-ray released by TSA in 2007

Backscatter X-ray released by TSA, Wikimedia.org

Generic view produced by millimeter wave scanners

Generic view produced by millimeter wave scanners, Chicago Tribune

Obviously there’s a lot more involved here. A lot of it though, would have to do with image segmentation: partitioning the image into more meaningful, analyzable regions. Once that’s taken care of, a computer get rids of the areas that are definitely not of concern. What remains is marked, to be inspected by a human. It could do more meaningful things too, like finding tumors in fMRIs (computer vision right now has a lot of applications in medical imaging).

Multiple steps in a more advanced segmentation algorithm

Multiple steps in a more advanced segmentation algorithm, Chen et al.

Segmentation used to automatically mark tumors on fMRIs

Segmentation used to automatically mark tumors on fMRIs, C. Yu.

How would the PR2’s computer know what to mark, and what not? To make the problem clearer, I’ll give our robot yet another job: to check my fingerprints at the border control (this is the part I hate, but anyhow…). Suppose I was a criminal, how would you compare my fingerprints against the millions of fingerprints of known criminals. This is where you need feature extraction; you need some way to extract a small amount of information from the image, that still represents its content, and can be compared with similar information. Possibly through something like the aforementioned methods, sometimes something more advanced, like in the fingerprints below. Sometimes, the features might not have a clear meaning to us anymore, and sometimes they simply don’t… The measurements in this photo of a fingerprint for instance, make total sense:

Fingerprint core point detection by intersection of ridge normals

feature extraction for fingerprints: Core point detection by intersection of ridge normals, Rajanna et al.

At least when compared to the features found in these faces:

Illustration of Gabor features selected for facial expressions

The bottom row consists of Gabor features, which were searched for around the areas marked by dots (at their center) in the images in the top row, Susskind et al.

These are the kind of tools a computer can use to transform images into something it can make sense of. But, it still doesn’t explain how he’d be able to recognize himself. Or spaghetti for that matter… I’ll explain how it can, in my next post.

Intermezzo

Gabuglio asked an interesting question last year, one people have been dragging me in arguments for. Usually because some people target me now for facilitating the ‘rise of the machines’ (just for a thesis?). I think I gave an interesting answer to it as well, and I’m curious to see what other people might think of our opposing views. So, if anyone would like: (re-)read these two comments, and get into it as well. 😉

To make things more interesting, I’ll add a third vision. One that the military is interested in:

Advantages and disadvantages of biofuels

Biofuel is fuel derived from organic matter in a short period of time, and differs from fossil fuels which need thousands or millions of years to be created.

There are 2 main sorts of biofuel, bio-ethanol and biodiesel. Bio-ethanol is widely used in USA and Brazil and is mostly used as an gasoline additive. Normal cars can use 10-15% of bio-ethanol in their gasoline, without needing an adjustment. Driving on pure bio-ethanol is only possible, when adjustments to the car have been made. Bio-diesel is the most common biofuel in Europe, and can be used as a diesel additive

Their are still debates in what the advantages and disadvantages of these biofuels offer.

The advantages

  • Cost: The potential to cost less than fossil fuels (Will increase in importance as price for fossil fuels will rise when the amount available lowers).
  • Lower carbon emissions: When biofuels are being burned, they produce less carbon output and fewer toxins.
  • Renewability and availability: Unlike fossil fuels, biofuels won’t take long to be able ‘harvest’. And are renewable due to their short time needed to grow.
  • Economic stimulation and security: Where fossil fuels often travel thousands of miles, biofuels can be gathered locally offering jobs for hundreds and thousands of people.

The disadvantages

  • Lower output: Biofuels offer a lower energy output than fossil fuels, therefor need a larger amount for the same energy.
  • Production Carbon Emissions: Where the burning of biofuels create less carbon output and toxins the production is a different thing. Due to nitrate fertilizers and machinery necessary to cultivate the plants several studies have shown that they sometimes create equally or even more greenhouse gasses than the fossil fuels.
  • Food prices and shortages (Mostly for bio-ethanol): Food prices may rise and shortages accur due to the growing demand for biofuels.
  • Water use: Massive quantities of water are used for the cultivation of these plants.

 

Looking at these advantages and disadvantages I’m not yet entirely convinced. It has a promising future and needs a lot of adjusments to create a revolition in the energy sector. In the european union there are a lot of countries that import biomass to create biodiesel, which brings along pollution etc. In low population density it has a lot of potential as there is a lot of land that can be used and can be locally harvested.

As a reaction to jef’s response on a previous article :

After researching these (dis-)advantages I think the USA and brazil certainly have to continue researching biofuels, but I now see why these biofuels aren’t added to the renewable sector in the charts. They are renewable, but not that environmentally friendly. I think it will have a big impact in the future but only if they find better ways to produce them.

 

Sources: http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/ , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofuel

 

RADI-AID: Africa for Norway

Watch this short video please:

http://www.africafornorway.no/
“The video is made by The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (www.saih.no). With the cooperation of Operation Day’s Work (www.od.no). With funding from The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and The Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU). Music by Wathiq Hoosain. Lyrics by Bretton Woods (www.developingcountry.org). Video by Ikind Productions (www.ikindmedia.com) Music Producer”

Summary of the explanation of the video:

Imagine if Africans see this video and this is the only information they ever got about Norway? What would they think about Norway? And what do people think when they hear the word ‘Africa’? Probably hunger, poverty and AIDS? ! No wonder because this is the only thing media talks about.

These images can engage people on short term but probably many people will give up because it seems like nothing is getting better. There is a need to educate ourselves on the complex issues and get more focus on how western countries have a negative impact on Africa’s development. If people want to address the problems the world is facing we need to do it based on knowledge and respect.

Comments:

This video demonstrates perfectly how people see development aid. They see hunger, so they send food, they think the problem is solved and they feel great about it (like music for life is a big party)! But the real problem isn’t hunger but they lack of ability to buy or produce food themselves. People don’t get the bigger picture. Sending some food probably will prevent people of dying the next day but it won’t solve the problem on long term. To solve problems we indeed need to do it based on knowledge and respect! For example we can show them respect by listening to them, and In this way we also will be able the detect the real problem(s)!