New Approach to Possibly Eredicate Malaria altogether

Malaria is a well-known, deadly disease that has been torturing humanity for ages. The combat against this disease is an ongoing fight, but a Dutch research group decided to approach the problem from a totally different angle, and developed an innovative and promising approach. 

Instead of focussing on treating and curing patients or attacking the mosquitos (who, after getting the parasite from a patient infect other people), they focus on fighting the parasite and so preventing the infection of mosquitos; thereby targeting the spreading of the disease. As the mosquitos themselves only live for about 3 weeks, this means that (once trials are successful and the resources are there to work this out on a global scale) we might be able to combat malaria for once and for all within a considerable timeframe.

The idea is great, a typical example of thinking out-of-the-box — being creative with the knowledge you have and taking a different perspective. Research and trials are well on their way, and the funding that epidemiologist Teun Bousema recently received through the Gates award gives him the opportunity to develop this concept in what may become a groundbreaking project writing history. 

Life is Unfair – I Hate to Say It, but Luck is a sure thing

Life is unfair. It totally is. And there is not much we can do about it, which is kind of a depressing fact. 298 people just died. For nothing. Literally shot out of the air for no particular reason. At least not a reason they had anything to do with. People are dying of cancer and a whole lot of other shit of stupidities. Some because they chose an unhealthy life style, but most of them simply because they just happen to be a side-effect of evolution, as John Green once put it. So plainly put, there are the lucky ones and the unlucky ones. I guess you often don’t really know which category you belong to until it’s too late to be aware of. As for now, I can count myself among the lucky ones. That is not to say that everything I have and did in my life is determined by luck, as it may appear to some – I sure as hell worked very hard to get and achieve certain things which make me who I am today. Nevertheless, I am healthy, I have a great family that supports me both in what I do and financially, I was born in a great country, I guess I’m sort of, although probably not the most beautiful around, lucky with my looks. I was not on that plane three days ago.

Though I do think about this stuff every once in a while, the plane tragedy and a book I just read made me utterly aware of this fact of life again. Almost making me feel ashamed with my lucky position in life (so far, I guess I have to add to not invite fate to turn against me). Life is unfair. It totally is. Therefore, I embrace it as much as I can, and will continue to do so. I will make as much out of it as I can, both for myself and the people around me. We owe that to all those unlucky ones, who didn’t get the chance to do so.

 

Continue reading Life is Unfair – I Hate to Say It, but Luck is a sure thing

Google: Isolation, Transparency, Overload, or Selective Encyclopedia?

This month the European Union Court of Justice ruled that Google has to remove their search results if demanded, and hereby granted the ‘right to be forgotten online.’

Google responded that, “This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general.”

While Google is the nr. 1 resource for major parts of the world, it has had – rightly so – quite some questioning over the past years because of its ‘search personalization.’ Your search results are tailored by previous searches you have performed. Many people, still, don’t know this. While in many cases effective and relevant for both searcher and content out there, this search personalization also resulted in a certain degree of ‘bubbliness’ in searching. People who are, for example, very interested in Christianity will mostly find information from sources related in someway to their earlier (Christian) searches, and thus only get more entangled in related believes, opinions, and information, both restraining them from different perspectives and giving them a crooked world-view — resulting in a degree of isolation.

Yet, if you search through a different google account or from a different computer, you could still easily access the other information out there.

However, with this new development in Google’s rights this selectivity is taken to a whole other level. In a way this would mean the end of the Internet as we know it. Just as news-agencies now a days (greatly) determine how we see the world (e.g. we only know and see the conflicts in the Middle East through the images and texts the media present us with — news agencies are the lenses through which we view the world ‘out there’), this next step will close our access to the ‘real world’ even further down.

Although I strongly believe that the internet and technology are very powerful tools that we should treat and use with care, I am also convinced that transparency to a certain extent, despite the overload of information it’s currently resulting in, is crucial.

Have you ever given your search results a second thought? What do you think about this development?

 

Continue reading Google: Isolation, Transparency, Overload, or Selective Encyclopedia?

From Smog to Clean Air and Diamonds

The Smog Project —  a project that creates 75% cleaner air and diamonds.
Air pollution is a phenomenon we all know.  Most of us are aware that, probably, we should be doing something about it, but the real treat of global warming seems to be too distant for many to actually take considerable action. Still, we all know how refreshing it can be when you escape from the city for while to enjoy the ‘fresh’ air in rural places or at the beach.

Daan Roosegaarde, also involved in the glowing-plant project I blogged about earlier (yes, it seems like he is on his way to master innovative thinking), decided to address this urban pollution problem in an ambitious project to create smog-free parks in Beijing.

Not only will this result in ‘clean’ recreation areas for residents, an integral part of the project also includes the creation of diamonds from the residues of charcoal, which is a major component of the black dust.

By buying a designer smog-ring,

“you are buying a cubic kilometer of clean Beijing air” (Roosegaarde)

According to Roosegaarde, the rings are the “aware makers.”

Lasers installed on top of the centre-tower in the park(s) visualize the clean air (laser beams cutting through air only show for the human eye when they ‘hit’ particles).

The first pilot version of the park should be up and running by the beginning of next summer, and the first rings should be available by the end of 2014.

Another piece of innovative thinking with high potential for the community.

What do you think, will this project be as promising in practice as it appears to be in theory?

Check the full article here.

Creative Routines

Creative Routines

Are you having trouble to tap into your own creativity or genius insights? Perhaps a different day rhythm will help you to find your creative flow. Check out this great info-graphic, which shows the day-cycles of a bunch of pretty great historical figures, such as Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig van Beethoven, Immanuel Kant, Charles Dickens, and more.

Check the source-article here: http://infowetrust.com/2014/03/26/creative-routines/

Do you already have an efficient routine? Share your thoughts on what works for you.

Connections: the core of ‘thinking’ – Deep Brain Stimulation

Connections are not only the key in creative and innovative thinking (see Welcome), but also form the core of thinking itself. Brain activity (‘thinking’) is, simply put, a pathway(s) or connection(s) that is active. The so-called firing of action-potentials in neurons (=activity) allows us to think, perform the tasks we do, and function altogether.

Many psychiatric disorders as well as neurological disorders (in my opinion these disorders lie on one big grey continuous spectrum, but for some clarification/discussion I would like to refer you here) result from an imbalance in these connections. Over the past three decades scientists have been busy developing a treatment called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), with which they can interfere with these connections and alter their connectivity – ideally of course reversing the imbalance. Although there is still a lot to discover — even the exact effect DBS has is still under debate — it is a very exciting and possibly promising approach.

This entertaining but above all informative TED-talk by neurosurgeon Andres Lozano gives you a bit of an idea of what DBS entails and the remarkable results trials have shown.

Besides a possible novel treatment option, DBS also allows for a possibly better understanding of how connectivity in the brain works. Especially in combination with imaging techniques such as DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) DBS research may be able to give us valuable insights into one of the core fundamentals of our brain — the way we are wired: connectivity.

Altogether, exciting stuff on the key idea of this blog: connections.

However, in this case it is not about making connections when creatively thinking about things but about the act of thinking itself: connectivity in the brain.

Future of Technology

For the gadget lovers among us, the Google Glass project (launched about 2 years ago) is an exciting step forward we’ve all been waiting for. With the accelerating developments in technology, it was only matter of time until we would invent a way to superimpose our digital world, quite literally, upon our own ‘reality.’

Fun fact: about half a year before the Google Glass project was launched, me and a fellow student designed a futuristic tool in our critical design class that has quite a lot in common with Google glass. Perhaps our critical design is not so far from feasible at all. Check it out here: http://youtu.be/qM9vqDdvw6o?t=35s (don’t pay attention to the shakiness, rendering was not my best skill).

Update
Chris Kluwe explores the possibilities of Google Glass beyond empathy and user-comfort — what is the potential when Google Glass tools get combined with smart data and used to enhance performance and experience in divergent situations in his TED-talk.