The Pentagon Has a Laser that Can Identify People from a Distance—by Their Heartbeat

David Hambling wrote . . . . . . . . .

Everyone’s heart is different. Like the iris or fingerprint, our unique cardiac signature can be used as a way to tell us apart. Crucially, it can be done from a distance.

It’s that last point that has intrigued US Special Forces. Other long-range biometric techniques include gait analysis, which identifies someone by the way he or she walks. This method was supposedly used to identify an infamous ISIS terrorist before a drone strike. But gaits, like faces, are not necessarily distinctive. An individual’s cardiac signature is unique, though, and unlike faces or gait, it remains constant and cannot be altered or disguised.

Long-range detection

A new device, developed for the Pentagon after US Special Forces requested it, can identify people without seeing their face: instead it detects their unique cardiac signature with an infrared laser. While it works at 200 meters (219 yards), longer distances could be possible with a better laser. “I don’t want to say you could do it from space,” says Steward Remaly, of the Pentagon’s Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office, “but longer ranges should be possible.”

Contact infrared sensors are often used to automatically record a patient’s pulse. They work by detecting the changes in reflection of infrared light caused by blood flow. By contrast, the new device, called Jetson, uses a technique known as laser vibrometry to detect the surface movement caused by the heartbeat. This works though typical clothing like a shirt and a jacket (though not thicker clothing such as a winter coat).

The most common way of carrying out remote biometric identification is by face recognition. But this needs good, frontal view of the face, which can be hard to obtain, especially from a drone. Face recognition may also be confused by beards, sunglasses, or headscarves.

Cardiac signatures are already used for security identification. The Canadian company Nymi has developed a wrist-worn pulse sensor as an alternative to fingerprint identification. The technology has been trialed by the Halifax building society in the UK.

Jetson extends this approach by adapting an off-the shelf device that is usually used to check vibration from a distance in structures such as wind turbines. For Jetson, a special gimbal was added so that an invisible, quarter-size laser spot could be kept on a target. It takes about 30 seconds to get a good return, so at present the device is only effective where the subject is sitting or standing.

Better than face recognition

Remaly’s team then developed algorithms capable of extracting a cardiac signature from the laser signals. He claims that Jetson can achieve over 95% accuracy under good conditions, and this might be further improved. In practice, it’s likely that Jetson would be used alongside facial recognition or other identification methods.

Wenyao Xu of the State University of New York at Buffalo has also developed a remote cardiac sensor, although it works only up to 20 meters away and uses radar. He believes the cardiac approach is far more robust than facial recognition. “Compared with face, cardiac biometrics are more stable and can reach more than 98% accuracy,” he says.

One glaring limitation is the need for a database of cardiac signatures, but even without this the system has its uses. For example, an insurgent seen in a group planting an IED could later be positively identified from a cardiac signature, even if the person’s name and face are unknown. Biometric data is also routinely collected by US armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, so cardiac data could be added to that library.

In the longer run, this technology could find many more uses, its developers believe. For example, a doctor could scan for arrythmias and other conditions remotely, or hospitals could monitor the condition of patients without having to wire them up to machines.

Source : MIT Technology Review

Chinese Hakka-style Steamed Egg with Shallot Flavored Lard

Ingredients

3 eggs
10g dried shrimp
4 shallots
10 g fatty pork
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp light soy sauce
some chopped spring onion

Method

  1. Peel and cut each shallot into 4 pieces, squash lightly.
  2. Cut fatty pork into small pieces and pan fry into lard. Discard the pork crisps. Add shallot pieces to the lard and brown slightly to make shallot flavored lard.
  3. Wash dried shrimps and boil in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Filter using a wire strainer, discard shrimps and save water for later use.
  4. Beat eggs and filter out air bubbles through a wire strainer.
  5. Add 2 parts of water saved from boiling dried shrimps to 1 part of filtered egg, add salt and stir gently, and seal tightly with microwave wrap.
  6. Steam for 12 to 15 minutes under medium high heat. Shake plate gently and take out if the center of the egg batter is firmed.
  7. Add soy sauce and shallot flavored lard. Sprinkle chopped spring onion on top.

Source: Hakka Cuisine

Soy’s Heart Benefits Hold Steady Over Time, Review Finds

E.J. Mundell wrote . . . . . . . . .

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration might soon revoke soy’s longstanding claim to boost cardiovascular health.

But now comes long-term research that appears to bolster the notion that soy does indeed do a heart good.

Canadian researchers pored over the results of 46 separate trials. Their conclusion: “These data strongly support the rationale behind the original FDA heart health claim for soy,” said study lead author David Jenkins, a professor of nutritional sciences and of medicine at the University of Toronto.

Co-author John Sievenpiper, also a professor of nutritional sciences at the university, stressed that the overall benefit of soy for heart health wasn’t major — just an average 5% reduction in cholesterol levels.

However, “if you put that together with other plant-based foods in a portfolio you get a much stronger effect,” he said in a university news release.

The team’s findings come as the FDA mulls possibly removing the right to a labeling claim that soy “may reduce the risk of heart disease,” first approved by the agency in 1999.

In an announcement issued in October 2017, the agency said it was considering revoking the claim, “based on our review of the totality of publicly available scientific evidence currently available.”

The FDA said that evidence “does not support our previous determination that there is significant scientific agreement among qualified experts for a health claim regarding the relationship between soy protein and reduced risk of coronary heart disease.”

It’s thought that the FDA will make a decision on the issue this summer.

But the Toronto researchers say their review shows a consistent and long-term cardiovascular benefit.

They looked at the same 46 trials the FDA cited in its 2017 announcement, and found reductions in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol among people who ate lots of soy. The benefit appeared steady across all 46 trials, they added.

That consistency is important, Sievenpiper said.

In some data reviews, “analyses with small studies produce big effects that diminish over time as sample sizes increase and results get more precise. We saw that with fish oil, for example,” he said. “But in this case, nothing has changed.”

In Jenkins’ view, “these data strongly support the rationale behind the original [supportive] FDA heart health claim for soy.”

The new analysis received no direct funding from the soy industry. However, a university news release states that “Jenkins and Sievenpiper have received support from government, nonprofit and industry funding sources, some of which include companies and industry groups that produce or promote soy and other plant-based foods.”

Two nutrition experts had varying views on the new data.

Michelle Milgrim is a registered dietitian who directs employee wellness at Northwell Health in Lake Success, N.Y. Reading over the findings, she said soy probably has a “modest” benefit to heart health.

“The bottom line: soy protein can still be enjoyed as part of an overall healthy diet, but you may want to consider additional actions to help reduce your risk for heart disease — exercise, smoking cessation, stress reduction, maintaining a healthy weight, and routine visits with your doctor,” Milgrim said.

Nutritionist Katrina Hartog said the new review has some flaws, however.

In fact, the “limitations of this study would be similar to limitations associated with the proposed FDA soy health claim reversal,” she said. These limitations include “the fact that some studies included in the analysis compared soy with a variety of alternative foods, and other studies used soy flour, added to high-temperature foods, which can possible damage the soy protein structure and thus reduce the effectiveness of soy protein.”

In Hartog’s opinion, “with or without the health claim, soy foods are generally good for the heart and blood vessels if they replace less healthful choices such as red meat or high-fat protein foods.”

Jenkins agreed with that notion.

“We’re moving into an age of plant-based protein, and it would be a shame to see that shift undermined” by the FDA rescinding soy’s heart-healthy label, he said.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Source: HealthDay

Eating Lab Grown Dairy May Be Closer Than You Think

Lab-grown meat is all the rage these days, with multiple companies working on developing a type of meat that is sustainable, ethical and better for the planet. But what about lab-grown dairy, since it seems to be lagging behind? There’s good news on that front.

And yes, that means all dairy products, from lab-made milk to processed items like yogurt and cheese. The good news is coming from Perfect Day Inc., a startup based in California which has managed to recreate the proteins found in good old cow’s milk, without using any animals to do so. What they did was develop a form of genetically modified microflora. It produces whey and casein through fermentation.

Lab-grown dairy – how similar is it?

According to the company, the product bears a striking resemblance to the protein found in cow milk. In cold hard numbers: classic milk is 3.3 percent protein – 82 percent casein and 18 percent whey. The rest of milk is made of water, fat, and carbs. The company says that the dairy protein in the product is vegan and lactose-free. The latter element might be a relief for my lactose-intolerant friends who cannot have all the ice cream they desire.

The problem with lab-grown dairy (so far) comes with the difficulty in making full-fat milk that has a similar texture and taste to cow’s milk. The fat content of milk is the biggest challenge on this front. But at the rate technology is developing and pushing boundaries, this challenge may be conquered in the near future.

Making watery milk is one thing, but then using this for all types of cheese and yogurt – now that’s something that complicates things. Not to mention that the mouthfeel of butter will be extremely hard to replicate.

How soon is lab-grown dairy coming?

Perfect Day is moving towards full-scale production, just with its milk products. Because they are still working on all of the dairy products that we’ve grown to love. And the products could end up in our local grocery stores in the next few years.

And as the kicker, Perfect Day’s CEO Ryan Pandya says that the company plans to tackle malnutrition in developing countries. “We began to look into how we can use our protein to prevent stunted growth and malnutrition in the developing world.”

Source: FoodBeast

The Real Science Behind Fascia Ailments

Dr. Melina Jampolis wrote . . . . . . . . .

Most of you have probably never heard of fascia, or if you have, it may be in the context of “blasting” it to treat cellulite. But talking about fascia has become trendy recently, and not only in the context of looking better in your swimsuit.

A Google search returns more than 79 million hits for the term, and there is even a conference, now in its fifth year, that is entirely devoted to fascia research.

What is fascia?

According to Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, fascia is “a sheet of fibrous tissue that envelops the body beneath the skin; it also encloses muscles and groups of muscles and separates their several layers or groups.”

But this definition is incomplete. Fascia can actually be classified into four types, each with different properties, functions and characteristics. The superficial fascia surrounds the body and includes subcutaneous fat; the deep fascia surrounds the musculoskeletal system; the meningeal fascia surrounds the nervous system; the visceral fascia surrounds body cavities and organs.

In mainstream medicine, fascia is rarely considered in isolation as the cause of chronic pain disorders. One exception is plantar fasciitis, a painful and relatively common condition in which the fascia that is responsible for maintaining the arch in your foot is inflamed. The inflammation is directly attributed to a stiffening and a decrease in the flexibility of the fascia, according to orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician Dr. Shabi Khan.

The Mayo Clinic references fascia when describing myofascial pain syndrome (“myo” is short for muscle), but according to Khan, there is “little sophisticated knowledge in terms of the functionality or treatment of problems with the fascia,” and “when compared with the muscle and tendon structure, fascia has a much less dynamic role.” He does note that fascia, like most connective tissue in the body, stiffens with age, overuse and injury. The direct role of fascial changes in causing pain and structural changes in conditions such as chronic lower back pain, headaches and cellulite is less clear.

Some body work practitioners including massage therapists, osteopaths, Rolfers, craniosacral therapists and physical therapists claim that fascial restrictions (essentially tightening) — caused by injury, inflammation, trauma, disuse, overuse, misuse or abuse — play an important role in contributing to the pain associated with a wide array of conditions including migraines, fibromyalgia, headaches, lower back pain and women’s health issues.

Fascia specialists claim that treating these fascial restrictions with a variety of methods, including proprietary bodywork methods and/or specialized tools, is an important aspect of overcoming these chronic and painful conditions.

But what does the science say? Is fascia really that important, and if it is, is there anything we can do to “fix” the fascia and get rid of the pain?

Is fascia real science?

Despite the growing interest, the science of fascia, its clinical relevance and how best to treat it (assuming it is clinically relevant) remains controversial, and there is very limited high-quality research to evaluate and support it.

After interviewing nearly a dozen experts including medical doctors specializing in anatomy, pathology and orthopedic surgery, and bodywork experts including massage therapists and a physical therapist, I have come to the conclusion that there are two major challenges to fascia research and scientific validation.

First, there are major issues with the definition of fascia. Many in traditional medicine consider fascia as simply the tough, fibrous connective tissue surrounding muscle tissue and separating soft tissue areas (including fat) throughout the body. But those who focus on treating it have a broader definition that includes a more dynamic component of fascia (not just the less flexible fibrous tissue), called the extracellular matrix, which is made up of fluid, proteins and carbohydrates.

Lending support to this broader definition, pathologist Dr. Neil Theise published a study this year in which he described newly discovered features of the interstitium: fluid-filled spaces within and between all tissues in your body. Thiese believes that interstitium is a component of fascia, and since it is fluid, it can be manipulated.

“Traditional medicine was wrong to dismiss that idea” that fascia is more than merely connective tissue, Theise said. “Nomenclature is an issue: If you focus on the connective tissue, you call it ‘fascia’; if you focus on the fluid, it’s ‘interstitium.’ We have a lot of talking and work to do across disciplines to sort this out.”

Though many fascia manipulation advocates claim that lengthening the restricted fascia is the key to successful treatment, Tom Myers, a prolific author, practitioner and educator of fascial and myofascial anatomy and treatment for more than 40 years, has changed his position over the past decade and now admits that the fibrous component of fascia is actually very difficult to lengthen through manual therapy. He still believes in the clinical relevance and treatment of fascia, but he admits that skin, nerves and muscle are also involved.

Are fascia treatments proven?

Myers’ approach to treating fascial restrictions evolved from the work of Ida Rolf, a pioneering female scientist in the 1920s who developed a method of treating fascia called Structural Integration (commonly referred to today as Rolfing.) According to the official Rolfing website, the method works “to release, realign and balance the whole body, thus potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain.” Myers claims that this type of treatment, performed over a number of sessions, improves the movement between layers of fascia surrounding structures including tendons, nerves, muscle and ligaments.

Physical therapist Valerie McGraw, who has worked closely for 28 years with John Barnes, the creator of the Myofascial Release Approach (MFR), supports the concept of modifying the fluid component of fascia. According to the official MFR website, “Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.”

McGraw describes improvements in the fascial fluid as one of the benefits of their manual technique that differs from others, she says, in that it reaches deeper into the tissue and manually engages it for three to five minutes or more before moving on, rather than sliding on the surface like other forms of bodywork. In a way, it is similar to yoga in that the pressure in a specific region is held for longer, just like yoga poses can be held for longer periods instead of the rapid movement of weight lifting or running.

McGraw also explained that myofascial release practitioners incorporate numerous treatment methods including elongation stretching, a form of cupping (using a sustained pull for three to five minutes or more), and self-treatment utilizing simple pressure tools such as a small air-filled ball and a foam roller into their treatment plans.

Though manual therapies like Myofascial Release and Rolfing are probably not modifying the length of the fibrous component of the fascia, they might be affecting the flexibility of fascia, which could provide the purported beneficial effects. In fact, a very small 2017 study in healthy men using dynamic ultrasound imaging found that myofascial release decreased the stiffness of the fascia in the lower back, and another study found 20% greater stiffness of the lower back fascia in subjects with chronic lower back pain. Another study evaluated two sessions of fascial manipulation added to standard care after hip surgery and found a modest improvement in the flexibility in the hip joint. There are other case reports of the benefits of various fascial treatment methods, but overall evidence of the effectiveness of treatment is limited.

Another major issue with putting so much emphasis on fascia and how to treat it effectively is that it is highly unlikely that fascia ever works or can be treated in isolation from other tissues. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves play an essential and more clearly established role in many chronic pain conditions. The complex interaction and interconnection of all the tissues involved presents a significant challenge to defining and isolating the relevance of fascia.

What’s the bottom line? If a bodywork practitioner or specialized tool claims to be treating your fascia to relieve your chronic pain (or help you get rid of cellulite), you may indeed get the hoped-for results, but it’s a lot more complicated than just fixing the fascia.

Source: CNN


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