Mark Zuckerberg Acquires Oculus VR

As every science fiction fan knows, if you want to escape to different worlds or satisfy your inner action junkie, you do not have to hop into a space ship. Instead, you simply put on a pair of virtual reality goggles, sit back, and enjoy. So where can we get ours?

Well, you can’t pick up a pair at your nearby Best Buy just yet, but virtual reality goggles are getting closer to becoming a reality. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg acquired the gaming company, Oculus VR on March 25, 2014 for a whopping two billion dollars, in a combination of cash and stocks.

That’s quite a bit of money to shell out for video games, but that wasn’t Zuckerberg’s objective. Rather, he’s interested in a piece of technology the company produces, its Oculus Rift goggles, which allow gamers to feel like they’re not just watching objects on the screen, but like they’re in the game with the fictional characters.

And just how is this achieved? The Oculus Rift goggles, which look much like something you’d wear for a welding project, hooks into your computer or device as part what’s being called an “Oculus Rift Development Kit.” Inside the goggles are a series of lenses, positioned to create a stereoscopic, 3-D effect. The goggles also include motion sensors, so the overall effect is that you, the player, are moving around within what you’re seeing on the game screen!

Awesome! And how much is this development kit going to set you back, and how can you get yours like yesterday?  You may not want to get in line just yet.

The “Oculus Rift Development Kit” is still in development, and not available to the public yet. Ordering has been put on hold for now, as developers are fine tuning a second version of the kit, eliminating the current bulky control box and cables, and that version is expected to be released in late 2014 or 2015.

Zuckerberg says his interest in the technology centers around shopping and social media. The military is showing some interest as well, as a possible therapy for soldiers with brain injury. As of right now, the first things you’ll be seeing are some games, including an updated version of the classic Doom.

A New Way to Recycle Plastic Grocery Bags

In the recent years, we have experienced major increases in awareness of the damage done to the planet and the consequences of our actions. Unfortunately, old habits and convenience makes the struggle to take care of the Earth more difficult. A prime example is the use of plastic grocery bags, many using them simply for their handiness. The downside, however, outweighs any benefits gained through convenience, particularly when these plastic bags not only litter the land and oceans but endanger animals. There is a safe alternative, a new form of recycling offering a perfect way to put good use to old trash.

The Dangers
Few people see plastic bags for the serious danger they represent to the environment. However, the truth is plastic grocery bags endanger thousands of animals, including turtles, whales, seals and birds. In some cases, animals become trapped and helpless. In others, the animals mistake plastic bags as food and eat them, leading to the animal’s tragic death. Worse yet, long after the animal is gone the bag remains, plastic taking as long as 1,000 years to disintegrate. Simply put, plastic bags dumped today will be around long after the people who used them.

A New Recycling Process
Plastic bags don’t seem to have much purpose beyond carrying groceries, most ending up in landfills, littering roadsides or floating in oceans. Ironically, plastic bags not only serve another purpose but help battle rising energy problems. In fact, there is a process that allows plastic bags to be turned into diesel fuel as well as gasoline, lubricating oils, natural gas and even waxes. Although still very new, turning plastic bags into fuels and other products, this is far better alternative to 100 billion plastic shopping bags a year littering the land and oceans across the world.

The Process Benefits
There is no denying the process needs some fine tuning and no one can be sure how much this will impact the problems plastic grocery bags create. However, the benefits speak for themselves. Consider this, though. The diesel fuel created from plastic bags can be added to regular diesel without any further process or compatibility issues. More to the point, this recycled form of diesel meets the national standards set for such fuels as biodiesel and ultra-low-sulfur diesel. In short, plastic grocery bags can become a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.

The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health

Climate and weather have a great deal to do with human health, and the patterns of climate change now being observed on a global scale have the potential to affect health in significant ways. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has outlined four major areas in which climate change is having an impact on human health.

Warming Trend
One of the key features of climate change is an overall warming trend. As the planet gets hotter, regions will experience an increase in the length and intensity of heat waves. Urban areas will be especially affected by these trends. Excessive heat can lead to heat-related illness and death, with the elderly, children, those with medical conditions, and the poor being most susceptible. With a greater demand for electricity for cooling, heat waves also lead to increases in air pollution caused by greater power plant output.

Extreme Weather
Another key feature of climate change is extreme weather. Increases in the incidence and severity of hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, and other weather events can have profound effects on human health. In addition to direct injury, these extreme events cause flooding and disruptions in power and transportation services which in turn can reduce the availability of food and water, delay health services, contribute to carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators, create conditions for stomach and intestinal illnesses, and affect mental health.

Warmer Temperatures
Warmer temperatures also have an impact on the production of ground-level ozone, which is a major component of smog. Increases in ozone can damage lung tissue and inflame airways, effects that exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions. Higher ozone levels are also associated with greater susceptibility to respiratory infections. The U.S. Global Change Research Program estimates that with the increase in warming, Red Ozone Alert days could increase by 68% in the 50 largest eastern U.S. cities. Another important factor in air quality is allergens, and warmer temperatures are known to lengthen the pollen season and promote the expansion of ragweed, an especially potent allergen.

Climate Sensitive Disease
Finally, climate change can affect human health by increasing climate-sensitive disease. Higher temperatures can allow for the easier spread of salmonella and other bacteria involved in food poisoning. The heavy rainfall and flooding associated with extreme weather events can cause overflows in sewage treatment plants that allow waterborne parasites to enter the water supply. Storm runoff can also contaminate lakes and other recreational water areas. Certain animal diseases, most notably Lyme tick disease, are extending their range because of warmer temperatures.

Apple’s Patent for a Solar Powered Laptop

Apple was granted a patent on March 25, 2014, for a solar-powered MacBook that also features an external screen in addition to secondary means of touch inputs on the rear. The U.S. Patent is No. 8,638,549 and is labeled as being for an “Electronic Device Display Module” and allows Apple to manufacture these devices with a variety of materials to establish its solar-powered energy. Although a dual-screen laptop isn’t new, since there are a few currently on the market already, Apple would be the first to release a dual-screened laptop that can be powered with solar energy.

The patent has even stated that the Apple logo for MacBook will be screened with a patterned ink layer and feature electro chromic glass on the rear of the display which will allow light to pass through. Apple has also proposed a photovoltaic system that could be placed between the rear panel of the laptop and the front-facing LCD screen. Because the laptop will have a glass backing and an electro chromic layer while in transparent mode, light will be able to hit photovoltaic cells which then turns energy into actual power which can be stored for later use or immediate use. Also explained in the patent are LED lighting techniques which have been described in detail, construction of the solar-powered laptop, and a variety of build options Apple could go with when choosing on display housing.

Because the rear panel will be made out of electro chromic glass, often called electrically switchable glass, the glass can change from translucent to transparent; meaning the rear-facing display will remain hidden until it’s activated by the user. Each section of the glass will also be able to activated individually which will allow for specified control and allowing the light to hit certain areas, for example, that would display the logo, or a small LCD display.

However, while Apple may have gotten the patent for a dual-sided laptop display that can be solar-powered, which they filed for back in 2010, it doesn’t mean Apple will actually use that technology on new products in the near future or if even at all. Many companies get patents for ideas all the time but never actually end up seeing them through. While it remains to be seen whether Apple will implement their new patent, but if they do, they’ll be set to release product reveals that’s sure to shock and excite consumers.

Are Doctors Over Prescribing ADHD Medications?

Children have been told to be seen and not heard. Unfortunately if a child has a higher amount of energy then other children his age he may be medically labeled with Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). If another child has more difficulty then her classmates academically and seems to be day dreaming instead of paying attention in class she may be medically labeled with ADHD due to poor academic performance and lack of attention.

Today medical labels are placed on children more than ever in schools. Schools are able to receive additional funding for these children from government programs to benefit students. Unfortunately when a child is misdiagnosed with ADHD due to poor attention in class or high activity levels that label will remain with them for life.

Boys are more often than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD. Approximately 1 in 5 teenage boys diagnosed with ADHD are taking ADHD medication. Most of the medications are highly addictive and continued to be prescribed through adolescence and adulthood. Scientists believe behavior skills need to be taught to help adolescents and young adults minimize ADHD symptoms without the need of addictive ADHD medicine.

Another problem today with over diagnosis of ADHD is teens and young adults in school are misusing ADHD medicine as a study aid. ADHD medicine is used as a study aid due to its intense ability to allow the user to concentrate. If a teen complains about poor attention or inability to control impulses, this makes them a candidate for ADHD medication.

Unfortunately these medications are over prescribed for symptoms that are not abnormal behavior for youths. With this new way to study, teens and young adults are buying ADHD medicine from individuals who legitimately need the medicine or are acquiring prescriptions without truly showing symptoms of ADHD. This is leading to over prescribing a psychotic and addictive medicine that can alter brain function and lead to dependence.

If doctors continue to over prescribe ADHD medication, an epidemic will occur as massive amounts of adolescents and young adults will be diagnosed with ADHD simply due to over active behavior or poor attention span in the classroom. As the years go by the children become adolescents and young adults that are still being prescribed medicine that is highly addictive. This leads to the continuation of use of an over prescribed medicine during adulthood that may lead to unexpected health issues later in life.

Knit to Delay the On-set of Dementia

Over 35 million people worldwide live with dementia and by 2050 this number is expected to triple. Dementia is a serious progressive loss of brain function. Memory, attention, language and problem solving are all affected by the syndrome. Dementia takes many different forms including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. While most dementia occurs around or after the age of 65 some patents experience what is known as “early onset dementia” which occurs before the age of 65. In later stages of the syndrome subjects may become disoriented and confused by their surroundings.

According to a collection of studies conducted throughout the years, it has been discovered that knitting could help delay the onset of dementia. Knitting is a private mental process also known as a cognitive activity. Cognitive activities include crossword puzzles, painting, sewing, cooking, recreational activities, crafting and any other activity that requires a patient to focus inward to accomplish a task. Neurologists have found that these creative activities are beneficial to one’s health and being able to work with their hands gives dementia patients a natural surge of dopamine. This natural surge of dopamine has been called the “natural anti-depressant”.

Knitting stimulates a number of different areas in the brain. This includes memory and attention span. These are two functions that are especially affected by dementia. Knitting puts these functions back in action and like a muscle keeps them strong even through the gradual loss of cognitive ability. Knitting and other similar projects can slow down the loss of cognitive ability as much as 50 percent and help stabilize a patents progression of the syndrome. A study done at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota showed that people between 50 and 65 years of age who began knitting at an earlier age and continued knitting later in life had a decreased risk of dementia.

There are many different levels of difficulty to knitting which makes the activity great for patients at any stage of the syndrome. Patients with onset dementia can start with simple patterns and patients who are just beginning to show signs of the syndrome can work with more challenging patterns. As a subject learns how to knit they are able to progressively move on to more difficult knitting patterns. This allows a patient the opportunity to continue to strengthen their cognitive ability and fight off the symptoms of dementia.