All posts by swarmywarmy

Public and Political Perceptions of Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research has been met with a lot of opposition. In 1974, Congress made a ban on all federally-funded projects regarding fetal tissue. By 1975, an ethics advisory board was established to monitor stem cell research and therapies. This board oversaw the actions and tests regarding fetal tissue, especially those that originated from abortions. In 1988 federal funding was re-approved, but only for a short while, because by 1994 federal funding was halted once again and in 1995 the Dickey-Wicker Amendment was passed; it prohibited all federal funding for any creation of human embryos for research purposes or any funding for projects in which human embryos were discarded, destroyed or subject to any risk or injury during research. It wasn’t until August 2012 that the courts officially upheld that federal funding could be used to fund embryonic stem cell research projects and this was after much opposition.

stem cell research

Written by Dr. Joseph Purita, founder of The Institute of Regenerative and Molecular Orthopedics and a pioneer in the use of the laser in orthopedic surgery.

Top Examples Of Thoughtless Design In Modern Technology

Technology developers fulfil an important role and in many ways are responsible for bringing us the future. By manufacturing the smartphones and the tablets that we will use for work and play, they create the technology that will drive our productivity and mould our landscape. As such, you might imagine them to be rather forward thinking and pretty smart – you wouldn’t expect them to make too many major oversights, or to forget core elements of their market. Right?

Well actually this is something that happens all the time. Often hardware has irritating bugs or poor design that prevent you from getting the most out of them, and often it seems as though these devices were just not tested sufficiently to catch these design floors.

But an even worse crime is when the hardware or software makes itself inaccessible to whole groups of people so that they can’t use it at all.

To draw attention to this, let’s take a look at some of the poorest designs in technology – that make the gadgets unnecessarily difficult, and which sometimes even go as far as to rule out whole demographics…

The Surface Pro’s Usability:

I love the Surface Pro, and I think it’s an incredibly well-designed piece of technology overall – in fact it’s my day-to-day computer. But that said, it’s also a little problematic in many ways due to some odd design choices and these are perfect illustrations of a lack of testing.

The first example of poor design in the  Surface Pro would have to be the laptop mode. While it’s great to have a tablet that can work like a laptop when used alongside a keyboard, many reviewers noticed one problem that Microsoft seemingly forgot: you can’t actually use it on your lap. That’s due to the kickstand being at the wrong angle, and the keyboard being too bendy.

But this also created another problem:

the screen angle is also wrong for anyone above a certain height. If you’re 5’8” then you’ll have no problem using the device at a desk – but if you’re any taller than that the angle will be too steep and you’ll be forced to contend with glare and awkward viewing angles. These are issues the Surface 2 looks to address.

But another issue that is less often noted, is the location of the Windows button. This is fine when you’re typing or sitting with the tablet on your lap, but turn the screen portrait to use and that button is right where you want to put your hand meaning you’ll keep exiting back to the start menu. Annoying!

The iPhone 4s:

Apple have been slowly losing their touch with their products since the release of the first iPhones and iPads. The iPhone 4s was the perfect example of this, demonstrating none of their usual attention to detail – in fact the positioning of the antennae was such that when holding the phone most people would inadvertently be blocking their own signal. Not smart! Similarly annoying is the speaker on the Sony Xperia Z – right where your hand goes when watching YouTube videos!

All Those Right Handed Devices:

Too many devices are designed entirely for right handed people, which does nothing for those who are left handed, or who perhaps only have use of one arm. A perfect example of this is the Galaxy Note. While a smart device in many other ways, the Galaxy Note makes the mistake of placing the stylus in a slot located on the right-hand side of the device. This then means that anyone left handed is going to find it much more awkward to get out. Would it hurt Samsung to provide a left-handed version? Or to locate the stylus more centrally?

Another problem with the Note is the size of the screen which makes it hard for users to use with one hand. Tricky when you’re in a hurry, and even trickier if a stroke left you with the use of only one arm…

Keyboards:

Did you know that left handed typists actually have a slight advantage when it comes to typing quickly? That’s because more of the important letters are located on the left-hand side of the keyboard making it easier for them to write a number of longer words.

But a problem comes when anyone with one hand tries to press FN+F1 or other combinations. Unfortunately more and more devices are placing just one FN/Alt key on their keyboards, meaning that one handed operation is very difficult.

Jenny Wadlow, the author of this article, is a freelance blogger, currently writing for, Freedom Lift Systems, leaders in outdoor wheelchair lifts for home. Her hobbies include badminton and dance. You can reach Jenny @JennyWadlow.

Engineering Degrees and the Rise of New Robotic Technology

engineering degrees and roboticsFrom helping us understand the complexities of the Earth’s seismic forces to designing and creating innovative manufacturing methods on a nano-scale, engineers in every field continue to push the limits of what can be achieved with modern technology. Although the engineering industry as a whole took a hit during the recent economic downturn, experts agree that the job outlook for engineering – mechanical, computer, and electrical engineering in particular – is very good.

It is also undeniable that if we want our nation to not only endure but to truly thrive economically, socially, and academically, we will need a strong workforce of engineers applying their creative problem solving to some of our toughest issues. But engineering is a very broad, multidisciplinary field which can make it difficult for aspiring engineering students to know precisely what area they would like to focus on.

A Look at the Types of Engineering Degrees

The possibilities for engineering degrees are many and they include:

  • Electrical Engineering

The work of electrical engineers is concerned with designing, producing, and manipulating electrical systems. This means that electrical engineers may work on electrical wiring in a house, office building, airplane, automotive, or in any number machines.

  • Civil Engineering

Civil engineers focus much of their effort on creating and maintaining essential infrastructure elements such as roadways, tunnels, and sewage systems. For this reason, students who express an inclination towards city planning are well suited for the field of civil engineering.

  • Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers work in a wide variety of different industries ranging from pharmaceutical companies to manufacturers of agricultural products.

  • Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers are the masterminds behind the development of machines. They are absolutely essential to the aerospace, automotive, heating and air conditioning, and robotics industries.

These are just a few examples of some of the most popular engineering degrees but it is certainly not an exhaustive list. There are many other engineering fields that students can choose to pursue including mining, nuclear, computer, and biomedical engineering.

The Changing Face of Manufacturing

Perhaps one of the most exciting things about engineering is that the technology these engineers develop and use in their jobs is always changing and evolving. Engineers, in essence, are visionaries that have the skills to breathe life into what they imagine.

This seems to be especially true of mechanical engineering as it applies to the manufacturing process. New manufacturing technologies, particularly robotics, are changing the whole face of manufacturing.

While robots have a long history of being used in manufacturing, they were previously considered too large, unpredictable, and dangerous to work alongside their human counterparts. Instead, these metal workers were secluded to lonely, dark corners often within a metal cage, which served as a physical barrier between them and the nearby flesh and blood workers. But all of that is changing thanks to the genius of engineering, which has created manufacturing robots that are increasingly compatible with humans. In fact, many of these new robots can work right beside human workers without posing a safety threat.

An excellent example of this is a recent product of Rethink Robotics, a manufacturing robot affectionately referred to as Baxter. Baxter’s unique abilities were reported on by technologyreview.com last year. Their positive assessment was, “Baxter’s talents could, for the first time, bring the benefits of robotics and automation to areas of work where it never made sense before”.

Baxter and similar new robotics technologies demonstrate just how the world of engineering is ever-changing, ever-exciting, and always needed.

Written by Harvinder Singh an expert in quality machines for various industrial use.