Thursday, February 27, 2014

Information more than power

The network of things will connected medical devices to computers in the "cloud" giving them access to immense computing power but more importantly access to information for comparison. Thermometers, blood pressure bands, stethoscopes, X-rays and other devices will be able to send their measurements to the cloud for comparison with collections of measurements that will be able to suggest what these measurements mean. If the devices are all talking to the same data repository we could suggest what a combination of medical measurements means for a patient.

PhD Generalist

A PhD degree actually makes you a generalist. This is because for the dissertation you are in charge of the total project. It turns out any project is made of multiple components. As the project leader you have to plan, order supplies, schedule, deal with people, plan experiments, execute the experiments, analyze the data, write papers, promote your work. Because as a graduate student you won't have a staff working for you, you get to do a little bit of everything. When I needed access to clinical data I had to work through the administration to get myself permission. When I needed computer hardware I had to set it up. When I needed software I either downloaded and installed it or wrote it myself. I had to collect data, measure the data, analyze the data, write papers, and then promote the work at conferences. I found at earlier levels of education I could focus exclusively on laboratory experiments or on developing computer software tools but then at the highest level of education where you are supposedly focused on just a specific topic I became a generalist.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Same everywhere

We live about the the same everywhere, even though there are so many things to take advantage of locally. In sunny places like Utah and California I sill rarely see solar panels on houses - certainly little more than in rainier places like New England. Then we also grow green lawns in the desert, desert cities look just like rainy weather ones. Places with warm mild sunny weather rarely have more bicycle commuters (or even less) than rainy places like Portland, Oregon or cold snowy places like Madison, Wisconsin. Portland and Madison actually have more bicycle commuters than most places despite their weather to the credit of their cyclists. We eat about the same north, south, east or west. Different vegetables and fruits grow best in different places but we actually vary little in what we eat. Most of our vegetables and fruits are trucked from San Joaquin Valley, CA requiring lots of diesel. This is getting dangerous because San Joaquin is having a drought possible being made worse by the warming caused by the burning of the diesel used to truck the fruits and vegetables trucked from there.  We could take much better advantage of sun, warm weather and local foods by looking at what our environment has to offer.

Air pollution, diabetes, global warming - same problem

Air pollution, diabetes, global warming  and are highly related problems. Much of our air pollution comes from how much we drive everywhere. This air pollution includes CO2 driving global warming. Our traffic clogged streets and towns make it hazardous to walk so we don't walk and we put on weight and develop diabetes. I am a die hard cyclist and walk commuter and live right by a shopping center that I can see from my apartment but even I never cycle or walk there because the entire center is a parking lot and I would probably get ran over. If we rebuilt are towns and cities for walking we would walk more, reduce air pollution, global warming and diabetes all at the same time.

Agile iterative lab and analysis

Laboratory work and computer based analysis need to be done in an agile iterative process. The analysis people should participate in the design of the lab experiment so they can add hooks in the lab experiment that will ease analysis and so that the analysis people realize the constraints faced by the lab. The lab can't make everything we want, the lab faces time, cost, and logistical constraints. Having the analysis people there to help plan the experiment can also make the analysis easier and more powerful but planing the capture and analysis ahead of time.

No one will be able to foresee every possible problem so the best solution is to do the smallest, shortest, cheapest lab experiment first, then analyze the data. Then go back and enlarge the scope and size of the experiment using the lessons learned for the earlier experiment and analysis in larger and large iterations.

Monday, February 17, 2014

There is no housing tech

This post is about housing technology. Basically there isn't any. There is technological and other improvements for housing but in the US basically none of them are put into widespread use. There are heat exchangers that keep warmth in houses while letting fresh air in I have heard they are getting more and more common in northern Europe. There floor heating system using electricity or hot water. Floor heating is one of the most efficient systems around and are standard in South Korea. Housing can have thick walls like strawbale houses, if you don't like these modular houses built in factories have excellent insulation. There are passive heating systems that face most of the windows south and have a long overhanging roof that shades the windows from the high summer sun and lets the low winter sun in. Leaf trees planted on the south side of a house shade the windows with there leaves in summer and their bare branches let the sun in while north side planted trees keep cold breezes off the house all year. Houses close to public transit reduce energy usage and people who live in them get more exercise walking to the train, have less obesity, and less diabetes. The measure of how good a neighborhood is is basically a measure of how much you can walk. Everything is better in walkable neighborhoods: healthier people, less crime, higher property values (because people want walkable but there aren't enough neighborhoods like this). We know how to make walkable neighbors. There are also solar panels, solar water heaters, rainwater purifiers and so on.

We know lots of ways to improve housing using technology or better planning. Now try finding a house that has any of these improvements - you can't, not at any price, not even in most new housing, most is built just like the older housing. You would have to build it yourself but anywhere near public transit or just near where you probably work doesn't have any open space. So the only way to get a house with any of these advancements is to buy a old house, knock it down and build a new one. This is very expensive, time consuming, and difficult for a individual who is not in the construction business. And you probably can't get a permit to do this anyway. What we are doing is restricting replacing existing housing and driving the price of the old inefficient housing up (because people have to live somewhere) to fund the current owners retirement when they finally sell it and move out into the countryside.

The only way we will get any advances in housing is to allow developers to knock down older housing and then encourage them to build something better in it's place in areas where people can get to work, using all we have already learned about building better housing and neighborhoods. The older stile of housing can still exist, it will just be further out from where jobs are if you really want it. Knowledge is useless if we don't act on it and make it available to more than just a sliver of people.

Exercise variation

Varying your exercise is extremely important. Different exercises and sports train different muscle groups and teach different skills. Varying will also help reduce single muscle overuse while allowing you to keep exercising.Variation is important for older people so they don't inflame old injuries and for children to keep from getting the injuries that turn into nagging injuries later in life. Variation of training is really good for children, each sport teaching something different and skills cross over. I coached soccer and taught our soccer team to turn on a dribble with a martial arts turn. There are basics to sports and movement that cut across sports. Also variation keeps children and adults interested and reduces burn out on one thing. For my kids we look for general sports camps and classes instead of just drilling one sport over and over.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Most efficient ways to build fitness

Some of the most efficient ways to exercise are weight lifting about 24 repetitions of each exercise to complete exhaustion and interval training like some kind of sprinting.

Lower weight higher repetition weight lifting (meaning about 24 reps) done to complete muscle exhaustion (lift until you can't lift a single time more) can actually build muscle even faster low repetition with a heavier weight. A study on this is here: N. A. Burd, et al. “Low-Load High Volume Resistance Exercise Stimulates Muscle Protein Synthesis More Than High-Load Low Volume Resistance Exercise in Young Men,” PLoS ONE, vol. 5, no. 8, p. e12033, 2010.

Interval training works so well partly because you move fast turning on more fibers. Each muscle fiber in a skeletal muscle either contracts fully or not at all. You lift heavier weights or move faster by contracting/engaging more muscle fibers. So fast motions in interval training engages as many fibers as heavy lifting but also trains your heart, lungs, circulatory system, and intra-muscular glucose storage. And intervals take less time than long cardio sessions or heavy weight room workouts with lots of long breaks. Exercising efficiently for less time could also reduce injuries, less time exercises means less chance to get injured and less time to cause a repetitive stress injury while still having the positive effects of intense interval training.