Tag Archives: Electricity

“The Land of Giants” – Power Line Design

January 25th, 2013 | Robot, Space

The Land of Giants 1

I recommend you listen to Sigur Rós while reading this post.  Ok, please continue.

“The Land of Giants” is a concept from architecture & design firm Choi+Shine. It was proposed back in 2008 to grace the pristine Icelandic countryside, but unfortunately, the structures were never built.  Iceland is on the top of my list for future eco-travel destinations.  It’s an untouched land of hot springs, spurting geysers, glaciers and waterfalls, and these giant structures would be the perfect complement to the ghostly landscape which has been featured in movies such as Prometheus.

From the architects:

“Like the statues of Easter Island, it is envisioned that these one hundred and fifty foot tall, modern caryatids will take on a quiet authority, belonging to their landscape yet serving the people, silently transporting electricity across all terrain, day and night, sunshine or snow.”

I was amazed to find out that this design didn’t even win the competition… My only guess is that the judges were not ready for such a bold concept.  But the time is now!

The Land of Giants 2

Power Line Design

Power Line Design

The Land of Giants 5

The Land of Giants 6

Please write your local politician and request we replace all power lines with these Giant Alien Robot Sculptures.  Thank you.

-RSB

[via inthralld]

Electroconvulsive Therapy

August 5th, 2012 | Brain

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), commonly known as Electroshock Therapy, has certainly gotten a bad rap.  When most people imagine this treatment, they conjure up images of some sadistic psychiatrist laughing as he tortures his helpless patients.  There are many misconceived notions about ECT, so I thought I would let you all know a bit about its history and why, in reality, it’s a good thing (despite the harrowing photo above).

The Origin of Electroconvulsive Therapy

ECT dates back pretty much to the dawn of recorded history.  Before we found biological reasons for mental illness, humans believed that patients who suffered from schizophrenia and other illnesses were possessed by evil spirits.  Hippocrates and his colleagues even spent time searching for plants that could induce seizures in hopes of “shaking the evil spirits from the body.”  Doctors attempted many different methods to induce seizures such as fever, insulin, and camphor, before finally settling on electricity.

Vintage Electroconvulsive Device

In the 1930′s, Italian scientists, Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini noticed that if their patients who suffered from epilepsy had a series of seizures, then subsequently, their depression would be temporarily cured.  After testing electric shock on pigs, they moved on to human subjects with excellent results.  ECT gained tremendous popularity throughout the 1940′s and 1950′s before suffering from negative publicity.

So why so much negativity? Throughout the 60′s and 70′s, ECT was certainly overused.  We didn’t have all of the pharmacological treatments that we do today, so we depended entirely too much on ECT as a treatment for all types of mental illness.  Many physicians were accused of using ECT as punishment for poor behavior.  Furthermore, physicians didn’t really use the muscle relaxants that we have today.  During the seizures, patients would convulse their bodies violently, often resulting in bodily harm, especially in the older patients.

Back to the Basics

So What Exactly is ECT?  A psychiatric treatment in which a generalized central nervous system seizure is induced by means of electric current.

Indications: It works for ALL types of Major Depressive DisorderIt is also used for psychotic depression, depression refractory to pharmacotherapy (for some patients who are acutely suicidal), mania, and bipolar disorder.

Administration: Treatments are usually given 3x a week — on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for about a month.  Electroconvulsive shock is applied to one or both cerebral hemispheres to induce a seizure. Variables include stimulus pattern, amplitude, and duration. The goal is to produce a therapeutic generalized seizure 30–60 s in duration. Electrical stimuli are usually administered until a therapeutic seizure is induced. A good therapeutic effect is generally not achieved until a total of 400–700 seizure seconds have been induced.

Anesthesia: General anesthesia – usually Propofol (+ Lidocaine for the burn of the injection).  And a Neuromuscular blocking agent – succinylcholine, which helps relax all of the muscles from convulsion for safety.

Does it Really Work?  Yes!  Not only does it work, but it is actually the MOST EFFECTIVE treatment of severe depression with an efficacy of ~ 70-85%.  Comparative controlled studies of ECT and pharmacotherapy show that it is more effective.  This means that it works more often then Prozac, Zoloft etc… This is only a short term treatment, however, and maintenance treatments must be used to continue the beneficial effects.

Contraindications: There are no absolute contraindications to the use of ECT.  It can even be used in pregnancy! – 2 reviews found a risk of about 5-10% for complications in pregnancy => should only be used when depression is recalcitrant to intensive pharmacotherapy.

Side Effects: The most common are memory disturbance and headache.  Unilateral ECT is associated with less memory loss.  Most memory faculties return to full capacity within several weeks.  Confusion often lasting from minutes to hours is common, but reversible.

Other Options for Treatment: Vagus Nerve Stimulation, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Psychotherapy, Pharmacotherapy.  But none of those are as efficacious as ECT!

And if you would like to see a great TED talk on ECT, watch below, it’s quite moving:

Surgeon and author Sherwin Nuland discusses the development of electroshock therapy as a cure for severe, life-threatening depression — including his own. It’s a moving and heartfelt talk about relief, redemption and second chances.

Well, hopefully you enjoyed this information a bit.  Electroshock for the win.

-RSB

References:

CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry > Section II. Psychiatric Disorders in Adults >
Chapter 18. Mood Disorders.  Peter T. Loosen, MD, PhD, Richard C. Shelton, MD

Behavioral Medicine: A Guide for Clinical Practice > Section IV. Mental & Behavioral Disorders >
Chapter 22. Depression.  Steven A. Cole, MD, John F. Christensen, PhD, Mary Raju Cole, RN, MS, APRN, BC, Henry Cohen, MS, Pharm D, FCCM, & Mitchell D. Feldman, MD, MPhil

Clinical Anesthesiology > Section IV. Physiology, Pathophysiology, & Anesthetic Management >Chapter 27. Anesthesia for Patients with Neurologic & Psychiatric Diseases.  Steven A. Cole, MD, John F. Christensen, PhD, Mary Raju Cole, RN, MS, APRN, BC, Henry Cohen, MS, Pharm D, FCCM, & Mitchell D. Feldman, MD, MPhil

 

Electric Anatomy

July 4th, 2012 | Brain

Wow!  Here’s some 4th of July Fireworks for you!  This painting comes from artist Alex Grey — a renowned spiritual/psychedelic artist & practitioner of Tantric Buddhism.  Alex actually spent five years at Harvard Medical School working in the Anatomy department, studying the human body and preparing cadavers for dissection.  His mastery of anatomy is clearly displayed in his painting.

The New York Times described his work:

“Mr. Grey’s paintings present man as an archetypal being struggling toward cosmic unity. Grey’s vision of a flawed but perfectible mankind stands as an antidote to the cynicism and spiritual malaise prevalent in much contemporary art.”

And while his works may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it would be hard to argue against the pure energy flowing off the canvas.  One can only wonder what the bottom half of this painting would look like…

Alex and his wife are holding a Visionary Art Intensive at the Omega Institute in New York from July 29th to  August 3rd, 2012 if you are interested.

Find more of Alex’s work here.

-RSB

Tesla Coils Play “Sweet Home Alabama”

March 21st, 2012 | Robot

While I can only really listen to about 30 seconds of the sound quality, watching these Tesla coils play Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama is pretty cool.  I don’t believe Nikola Tesla could have imagined his great invention would be used in such a way…

Apparently you can create music pretty easily with Tesla coils.  All you need to do is modulate their break rate with MIDI data and a control unit, which basically means running the Tesla coils through a MIDI keyboard.

It’s also not every day that you see such an interesting mix of technology and country music.  And I really like how this is just set up in some guy’s driveway — a helluva home project.

I’m sure all the fans will be calling for “Free Bird” next.

-RSB

[via NPR]