A new tooth-mounted sensor will soon help you lose weight
Although there are many advantages, it could be problematic for one particular group of people.
One of the toughest parts of dieting is examining not only what you've eaten, but how much. It's hard to determine sometimes whether or not you've exercising good portion control. Not to worry. Though this is a concern for the near-term, according to scientists at Tufts University, it won't be for long. They've developed a tooth-mounted sensor that in oncoming years, will tell you exactly what you've eating and how much.
Researchers at Tufts School of Engineering say the sensor can monitor how much sugar, salt, and alcohol a person has consumed, and transmit that information wirelessly to a mobile app. It could for instance, tell someone who's anemic if they're getting enough iron. In fact, it'll monitor for a wide range of nutrients to make sure you're getting your daily requirements. But it goes beyond that. It can even monitor your stress level and psychological state by picking up certain biochemicals, an influx of cortisol say—the stress hormone.
This isn't the first mouth-mounted sensor to be tested. But it is the smallest, just 2mm x 2mm. The tiny, thin square is also flexible and able to stick to irregular surfaces, such as tooth enamel. Previous models included a mouth guard, which researchers say was obtrusive, sensors that had to be replaced often, and prototypes that came with bulky wiring. This model is sturdy and so thin, you'd hardly know it was there.
Many people know what they should be eating. But portion control is important too, and hard to evaluate, especially in a society that tends to overfeed us. Credit: Getty Images.
The “bioresponsive" layer scans for certain chemicals. This is sandwiched between two square-shaped gold rings. Together, these form an antenna. Researchers say it works sort of like a toll booth. When the sensor encounters something with a certain chemical makeup, vis-à-vis whatever you've put in your mouth, the electrical properties of the sensor change, causing it to transmit a different spectrum of radiofrequency waves. So far, the prototype was tested successfully with water, apple juice, a salt-laden soup, mouthwash, and alcohol.
Biomedical engineering professor Fiorenzo Omenetto, Ph.D. was a co-author on this study. He said in a press release, “In theory we can modify the bioresponsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals – we are really limited only by our creativity." He added, “We have extended common RFID [radiofrequency ID] technology to a sensor package that can dynamically read and transmit information on its environment, whether it is affixed to a tooth, to skin, or any other surface." Not only is it small, thin, unobtrusive, and versatile, it'll be inexpensive to produce.
Going vegan can be really healthy, if done properly. Such a sensor could ensure that they and others are receiving all the nutrients they require. Credit: Getty Images.
A Fitbit for the diet might help users keep track of what they've eaten and how much, which would be helpful for those trying to lose weight. It could also aid someone making a big dietary change, say to veganism, to be sure they are getting enough protein, iron, and other nutrients. One downside though, while it may not outright cause an eating disorder, such a sensor could theoretically exacerbate the symptoms of one. We may need certain regulations to limit access for those who could be damaged by such a device.
On the plus side, besides all the other advantages mentioned, it might help us better understand human diet and nutrition, allowing researchers to make “conclusive links between dietary intake and health." Currently, the sensor can detect what you've eaten. But, it still has a ways to go before it can say how much of any one substance you've consumed. Still, scientists see a clear path forward and in years to come, are confident such a device will become a reality.
To learn about another biosensor poised to dramatically disrupt healthcare, click here.
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The idea of 'absolute time' is an illusion. Physics and subjective experience reveal why.
- Since Einstein posited his theory of general relativity, we've understood that gravity has the power to warp space and time.
- This "time dilation" effect occurs even at small levels.
- Outside of physics, we experience distortions in how we perceive time — sometimes to a startling extent.
Physics without time<p>In his book "The Order of Time," Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli suggests that our perception of time — our sense that time is forever flowing forward — could be a highly subjective projection. After all, when you look at reality on the smallest scale (using equations of quantum gravity, at least), time vanishes.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If I observe the microscopic state of things," writes Rovelli, "then the difference between past and future vanishes … in the elementary grammar of things, there is no distinction between 'cause' and 'effect.'"</p><p>So, why do we perceive time as flowing <em>forward</em>? Rovelli notes that, although time disappears on extremely small scales, we still obviously perceive events occur sequentially in reality. In other words, we observe entropy: Order changing into disorder; an egg cracking and getting scrambled.</p><p>Rovelli says key aspects of time are described by the second law of thermodynamics, which states that heat always passes from hot to cold. This is a one-way street. For example, an ice cube melts into a hot cup of tea, never the reverse. Rovelli suggests a similar phenomenon might explain why we're only able to perceive the past and not the future.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Any time the future is definitely distinguishable from the past, there is something like heat involved," Rovelli wrote for the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/ce6ef7b8-429a-11e8-93cf-67ac3a6482fd" target="_blank"><em>Financial Times</em></a>. "Thermodynamics traces the direction of time to something called the 'low entropy of the past', a still mysterious phenomenon on which discussions rage."</p>
The strange subjectivity of time<p>Time moves differently atop a mountain than it does on a beach. But you don't need to travel any distance at all to experience strange distortions in your perception of time. In moments of life-or-death fear, for example, your brain would release large amounts of adrenaline, which would speed up your internal clock, causing you to perceive the outside world as moving slowly.<br></p><p>Another common distortion occurs when we focus our attention in particular ways.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If you're thinking about how time is <em>currently</em> passing by, the biggest factor influencing your time perception is attention," Aaron Sackett, associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, told <em><a href="https://gizmodo.com/why-does-time-slow-down-and-speed-up-1840133782" target="_blank">Gizmodo</a></em>.<em> "</em>The more attention you give to the passage of time, the slower it tends to go. As you become distracted from time's passing—perhaps by something interesting happening nearby, or a good daydreaming session—you're more likely to lose track of time, giving you the feeling that it's slipping by more quickly than before. "Time flies when you're having fun," they say, but really, it's more like "time flies when you're thinking about other things." That's why time will also often fly by when you're definitely <em>not</em> having fun—like when you're having a heated argument or are terrified about an upcoming presentation."</p><p>One of the most mysterious ways people experience time-perception distortions is through psychedelic drugs. In an interview with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/14/carlo-rovelli-exploding-commonsense-notions-order-of-time-interview" target="_blank"><em>The Guardian</em></a>, Rovelli described a time he experimented with LSD.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It was an extraordinarily strong experience that touched me also intellectually," he said. "Among the strange phenomena was the sense of time stopping. Things were happening in my mind but the clock was not going ahead; the flow of time was not passing any more. It was a total subversion of the structure of reality."<br></p><p>It seems few scientists or philosophers believe time is completely an illusion.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"What we call <em>time</em> is a rich, stratified concept; it has many layers," Rovelli told <em><a href="https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.4.20190219a/full/" target="_blank">Physics Today</a>.</em> "Some of time's layers apply only at limited scales within limited domains. This does not make them illusions."</p>What <em>is</em> an illusion is the idea that time flows at an absolute rate. The river of time might be flowing forever forward, but it moves at different speeds, between people, and even within your own mind.
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Controversial physics theory says reality around us behaves like a computer neural network.
- Physicist proposes that the universe behaves like an artificial neural network.
- The scientist's new paper seeks to reconcile classical physics and quantum mechanics.
- The theory claims that natural selection produces both atoms and "observers".
Vanchurin interview:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="539759cbfd8fcd5b6ebf14a3b597b3f9"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bmyRy2-UhEE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Vanchurin on “Hidden Phenomena”:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="18886ffd5e5840bb19d4494212f88d82"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2NDVdNwsHCo?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>Vitaly Vanchurin speaking at the 6th International FQXi Conference, "Mind Matters: Intelligence and Agency in the Physical World." The Foundational Questions...
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Quarantine rule breakers in 17th-century Italy partied all night – and some clergy condemned the feasting
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