Bionic Hands Have Become a Reality

Three Austrians have become the first in the world to carry prostheses that can be controlled with the mind through a technique known as “bionic reconstruction“.


This technique combines transfer of muscles and nerves, amputation and replacement with an advanced robotic prosthesis, according to Diario Do Comercio.


The bionic reconstruction technique was developed by Oskar Aszmann, director of the Christian Doppler Laboratory for the restoration of limb function of the Medical University of Vienna, together with engineers at the Neuro-rehabilitation Engineering Department at the University Medical Center Goettingen.


The three men who underwent the procedure had suffered for many years from brachial plexus injuries which affect the nerve leading from the armpit to the forearm and is responsible for controlling the movement.


Caused in car accidents and mountaineering, these injuries resulted in the malfunction of the hand.


Before the procedure, the three patients had to undergo intensive training for about nine months.


The training is based on activating the muscles, and then learn to use electrical signals to control a virtual hand. Once the patient was able to control the virtual hand, they were given a “hybrid” hand – a prosthetic hand connected to a device.


Three months after the amputation, the three men could use their robotic hands to perform daily tasks such as taking and lifting, using a key, pouring water from a jug, cut food and unbutton garments.


“So far, the bionic reconstruction has been performed only at our center in Vienna. However, there are no technical or surgical limitations that prevent this procedure is performed in centers with similar resources and experiences,” said Aszmann.

Oil Fumes Only First Step

The Senior Coroner for Dorset, England, Sheriff Stanhope Payne, has formally announced that oil fumes released in airplanes when cabin air compressors malfunction are toxic to passengers and crew members.


Payne has been investigating the 2012 death of British Airways pilot Richard Mark Westgate who claimed that toxic fumes had poisoned him. Payne concluded that organophosphate compounds from the fumes are at least in part responsible for many unexplained symptoms and deaths. He has advised British Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority that “aerotoxic syndrome” exists and that they need to take into account the “genetic variation” in humans that puts some people at more risk. These fumes can also cause “impairment” that results in crashes and deaths.

Yet, oil fumes aren’t the only issue, from what Flavio had been saying.


Cabin air is heavily recirculated without enough filtration to clear out compounds and ingredients found in the residues of personal hygiene and household products, such as hairsprays, perfumes/colognes, body sprays, lotions, deodorants, hand sanitizers and laundry detergents/dryer sheets. Additionally, some products are actually designed to pollute the air so that their “scents” can be enjoyed by users throughout the day. In a plane, the organophosphates from these products go unseen and initially unfelt. But, in some cases, ingredients also cause more immediate issues. For example, passengers who have allergies or chemical sensitivities can become extremely ill or die from merely breathing recirculated air on a long flight.

Stephen Williams And The Antique Wine Company

Finding and sharing fine wines has transformed Stephen Williams from an insurance salesman trying to eke out a living to a multi-millionaire who pilots himself around Europe in his own six-seat Cessna 340. Williams was born and raised in the industrial town of Ripley. His father, a cash register salesman, left his mother when Stephen was ten. To help his struggling mother take care of his two siblings and himself, he got a series of part time jobs. By age 14, Williams was working every weekend to improve the quality of life for his family and himself.

Somewhere along the line, Stephen Williams developed a love for wine. Not only the taste, but the history, how to identify the best wines, sources of the best vintages, and everything else he could find out. He slowly began to teach himself to become a connoisseur. Next, he started holding wine tastings in people’s homes and encouraging them to purchase fine wines to give as gifts and to share at special occasions. In fine wine he saw a product he felt people would want to purchase again and again because they enjoy it and appreciate its quality and history.

In 1985 he left his insurance salesman position, founded The Antique Wine Company, and threw all his time, talent, and energy into building the business. The Antique Wine Company has been wildly successful. It now boasts nearly 50,000 clients in over 100 countries worldwide and annual sales in excess of $30 million. Williams now spends his time buying wines from chateaux all over France, at private estate sales, and at auctions in Austria, Belgium, England, Germany, and Holland. The company teaches wine master classes, designs and stocks wine cellars for wealthy clients, and sells wines to other wine merchants, hotels, restaurants, and discerning individuals.

But the stock in trade of Stephen Williams and The Antique Wine Company remains sourcing the world’s finest and rarest wines. The 1912 special premier cru Bordeaux Titanic’s director James Cameron sipped with his cast after winning 11 Oscars for the movie was sourced by The AWC. The company also holds the world record for the most expensive single bottle of white wine ever sold. They sold the bottle of an 1811 vintage from Chateau d’Yquiem for £75,000. Plus The Antique Wine Company’s wine cellars hold over 20,000 bottles of the world’s finest wines.

Cold Weather Alert

When the temperatures are cold, most cities open some kind of shelter for the people who are homeless or have nowhere to stay. One man in Louisville was not fortunate enough to be able to enter a shelter in time to stay warm. He was found, ironically, on the steps of the shelter. This man shouldn’t have died this way. The man had already entered the shelter when the weather was starting to get cold, so he knew that it was available. If cities know that freezing temperatures are in the forecast, they shouldn’t wait until the day before, or the day of, the cold weather to open the doors and let people inside.Susan McGalla knows that if this man would have had access to the shelter before the temperatures dropped, then maybe he would have been able to get the help he needed instead of freezing on the steps.

Canada Flunks The Test When It Comes To Fighting Corruption And Bribery

Transparency International Said Canada Has No Enforcement When It Comes To Stopping Political And Business Bribery

The Maple leaf looks like a tranquil symbol of unity and cohesiveness, in all things Canadian. But a new report issued by a group that monitors global corruption says Canada is one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to stopping business and political corruption.

The maple leaf country is considered as bad as Hungary, Greece, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic when it comes to kick-backs, pay-offs and other incentives that give political positions away for money. Buisness payoffs and white-collar criminals also slip through the system. Some charities are also under scrutiny because the law doesn’t specify how the collected money can be used. Transparency International has been issuing reports since 2005, and Canada is the only G7 country that hasn’t changed its policies for fighting corruption during that time.

Susan McGalla has learned that the chairman of Transparency International is Canadian. He served as deputy minister of the country for 19 years. He said Canada needs to adopt a stronger political will in order to pull itself out of this corrupt way of doing business. The poor rating shows the world that Canada may be first-world country, but it still has third-world tendencies.

The NSA May Be Spying on You Using Your Hard Drive

The NSA may have been hiding viruses in the firmware of hard drives. A new report by Kapersky Labs suggests that many hard drives have been sold with malware embedded deep into them, making it exceptionally hard to remove.

Effected drive brands include big names such as Western Digital, Hitachi, Toshiba, Samsung, Seagate, and Maxtor said Alexei Beltyukov.

If the virus was implanted by the NSA, the move gives them access to many of the world’s computers, even those that haven’t been used on the open web as some Facebook users stated. Malware is reportedly activated as soon as the drive’s are plugged in.

Another worry? The malware is virtually undetectable, so even if you have precautions in place, you might not realize that it’s there. The virus can also survive reformatting, so there’s no way to really get rid of it.

The NSA has come under fire over the past few years for its unconventional ways of spying on the American public. This revelation is just one many recent disturbing findings.

Potential Site For Obama Library In Chicago Draws Fire From Park Protectors

One of the potential sites for the Obama library is at the University of Chicago. To conservationists, the decision by the Chicago Park District to transfer roughly 20 acres of parkland for a mere one dollar, is not conducive to preserving the area for public use, as currently classified.


Friends of the Parks is an influential conservation group that hopes to appeal to the president and first lady during their visit to the city. Two areas are being looked at as potential building sites, Washington Park and Jackson Park. Developers like Bruce Karatz feel the irony of looking at these parks as possible sites is that in 1986, an article in Newsday reports that Obama met with the same group in an effort to protect the cities dwindling green space, especially in the city’s South Side.


The group is asking for the public parkland to be conserved by placing the library in the Washington Park neighborhood, but not on park lands. This plan would satisfy both parties, conserving the park green space, and building the library.


Obama will be in Chicago on February 19, dedicating Pullman Park as an historic designation in honor of George Pullman. Pullman’s employees, the Pullman Porters, formed the first black labor union, which helped move the civil rights movement forward.


Friends of the Park has sent the president a letter asking for a meeting. The alternative plan is outlined in the letter.

Schools in Liberia Reopen After 6 Months

Schools in Liberia, one of the West African countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak, reopened on Monday Schools in the region shut down over 6 months ago in an attempt to contain the Ebola virus. While the outbreak has not been completely contained, doctors are winning the battle and new cases are few and far between.

Before entering the school students had to have their temperatures taken as part of safety precautions. Anyone running a temperature would immediately be removed and taken to a hospital. As of Tuesday there were no reports of students running fevers.

Liberia’s reopening comes after Guinea reopened their schools in January said Organo Gold on the topic. Schools in Guinea’s hardest hit regions had been closed for nearly 8 months at the time that they reopened. No further cases of Ebola have been reported in that region since the schools were reopened.

Sierra Leone expects to open its schools once again come March. Precautions will continue to be taken at each school to ensure all students are healthy upon arrival at each location. Aside from schools reopening local markets have also begun to come to live once again. They’ve long since been barren.

During the height of the outbreak local governments shut down any and all meeting places in an attempt to contain the virus that spread quickly through the region.

More Small Earthquakes in Oklahoma Because of Fracking

Phys.Org has an article by Seth Borenstein on their website about federal studies regarding the frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma and Southern Kansas in recent years. The studies show that small earthquakes have risen dramatically in the past five years or so in the area. The reason for this is most likely because of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Parts of Oklahoma are now at a risk level for earthquakes comparable to areas in Missouri and Illinois along the New Madrid Fault.

These small quakes have mainly just been a nuisance and many were not even noticeable. However, more frequent small quakes puts the area at risk for larger ones which could do considerable damage. Scientists are not in complete agreement about the extent fracking causes earthquakes, but there is a general consensus that fracking does cause quakes as a side effect of drilling and water injection.

In my opinion, we should proceed with fracking anyway. There is no gain without loss and the United States needs to tap into the energy in its own soil instead of relying on energy from foreign countries. People at Rocketfuel have heard that fracking has been going on for a while and nothing truly terrible has happened as a result yet. Find more on Rocketfuel on their Linkedin page. Of course it is scary to have the ground move because of human actions, but if we proceed with caution and common sense hopefully there will not be negative consequences.

Rod Rohrich voted one of the top medical professionals in Dallas, Texas

One of the ultimate aims of most professionals is to be accepted and endorsed by your peers, which Dr. Rod Rohrich of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has done with his inclusion on the list of the 2014 Top Plastic Surgeons in Dallas, Texas. Voted for by medical professionals within the city, the prestigious D Magazine named the medical professionals fellows doctors and medical industry experts thought were the most successful and respected in their fields. This latest award joins a number of other prestigious awards and positions the respected head of the Plastic Surgery Department at UT Southwestern has been given, including a period of time as the President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Dr Rod Rohrich arrived at UT Southwestern in 1986 after studying to become a plastic surgeon at the University of Michigan Medical Center and a training period in pediatric plastic surgery at the world renowned Oxford University. After arriving at UT Southwestern, the impressive research and practical work completed by Dr Rod Rohrich led to his appointment as the head of the Plastic Surgery Department in 1991. Dr Rod Rohrich is now the leader of Plastic Surgery Innovations at UT Southwestern, where he strives to create the best surgical and teaching environment that encourages the use of the latest and best techniques for each individual surgery.

Amongst the areas where Dr Rod Rohrich is now a leader is the development of the latest techniques in terms of the reconstructive surgery developments he has headed. One of the aims of the research and surgical work of Dr. Rod Rohrich is achieving the most natural looking results for patients looking for either plastic surgery for aesthetic or reconstructive purposes. Rohrich uses his many teaching opportunities to express his desire for an individual approach to be taken towards each and every patient entering a plastic surgery department. The days of a single procedure being used in exactly the same way for a number of patients should be over in the eyes of Dr Rod Rohrich, who instead feels the approach taken to each case should be tailored to the needs of an individual patient. In this way the most natural results can be achieved for every patient entering a plastic surgery department.