Using Big Data to Stop Heart Problems
By using digital medical sensors, physicians can collect a wide range of data from healthy people, creating a control group against which irregularities can be measured—and illness predicted.
What's the Latest Development?
To better protect people's health, Dr. Leslie Saxon wants to collect the heartbeat rhythm of every person in the world, and she is creating a website to do it. Called everyheartbeat, the site will allow anyone to upload their heart rate data, perhaps taken from the iPhone light, the AliveCor iPhone case, or any other sensor. "The site—intended to be a place for people to continuously monitor their health—will record and analyze all heartbeat data that comes in to find global patterns and even warn people of potential heart issues."
What's the Big Idea?
In the past, medicine has been limited in its ability to collect data by the immobility of medical sensors. Physicians have taken reliable health measurements only when patients are ill enough to enter the hospital, making our view of disease rather one-sided. By collecting heartbeat data from a large sample of healthy people, doctors can better establish a control population against which they will analyze heart rhythm irregularities. "I think we’re going to be able to make unbelievably predictive analytics across populations," says Saxon, who hopes to begin collecting data by 2013.
Photo credit: shutterstock.com
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.