03 May

A few years ago, media pundits speculated whether every prospective journalist would need to learn how to code -- writing specific lines of gobbledygook that tell web pages and their many features, such as slide shows and video displays, how to look and perform. Some believed that learning the vast intricacies of coding, where one errant space, punctuation mark, or character can cause an entire site to malfunction, needed to be mastered if one was to succeed as a journalist, better known today as a multimedia specialist; others maintained that journalists should seek to do what journalists always did and leave the technical stuff to, well, techies.

Those who subscribe to the former opinion about coding can now get their offspring started as early as possible, since the coding world is always expanding and adding features. For anyone who's worried that the little ones will indulge in too much screen time, there's a method for teaching kids about coding that doesn't involve screens.

01 May

Technology can do many things, but it has not yet been able to read human thought. But a team of scientists in Japan has found a way to use artificial intelligence to decode a person’s brain. This goes beyond previously uses of A.I. to turn brain scans into visualizations of what a person was thinking while looking at various images.

With the new technique, scientists can go deeper in analyzing those scans, differentiating a person’s thoughts when looking at more complex images. Using A.I. the team has been working on recreating a person’s thoughts, which is helping them learn more about the way people process images. They found that the brain takes in an image in a hierarchy, gathering data in levels. The new process also lets computers detect objects rather than only pixels.

29 Apr

“Bleeding out” is a serious risk with gun and knife wounds, since stopping that blood flow can be a challenge for first responders. But a new syringe can reduce that risk, since it contains small cellulose sponges capable of expanding to as much as 15 times their normal size once exposed to blood.

Using the syringe at a scene, a medical professional can prevent blood from exiting a wound, instigating clotting when it wouldn’t normally happen. Once inside a wound, the sponge can be easily spotted by x-ray, making it easy to remove during surgery. The company that manufactures the device also got approval for a smaller version, which could be used in treating less serious cases.

27 Apr

As more U.S. state governments consider legalizing marijuana for recreational use -- USA Today recently predicted the next 15 that might take up the issue in one form or another -- concerns continue to be raised about the potential health effects of using the drug.

Advocates have for decades sworn by the drug's benefits, while naysayers point to research underscoring their contentions that marijuana remains harmful to human health.

Now, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provides what the organization terms "a rigorous review of scientific research published since 1999 about what is known about the health impacts of cannabis and cannabis-derived products."

In arriving at their list of almost 100 conclusions, committee participants who conducted the study and composed the report considered more than 10,000 scientific abstracts. A few highlights from the committee's findings:

25 Apr

In 2017, an inexpensive printer that could print Braille was introduced to the world, and a digital typeface that's intended for visually impaired people also hit the market. Soon, a tactile reading system will boot up a Kickstarter campaign.

But the biggest advance of all in this regard may be a universal typeface that mixes Braille with Japanese and English characters, thereby appealing to both visually impaired and sighted people at the same time. Called Braille Neue and designed by Kosuke Takahashi, the typeface could be a boon to signage makers, since their products would have to adjust only a bit in order to incorporate it.

That's especially helpful, since Braille isn't often used in public areas, likely since conventional wisdom dictates that the Braille characters would take up extra space.

Braille Neue features raised dots placed directly over the letterforms, not beside them; some spacing adjustments between letters is needed, but that's reportedly not such a big deal.

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