Ventricular fibrillation kills thousands of Americans each week by inducing abnormal electrical signals that turn their hearts into quivering "bags of worms" no longer able to pump blood. Victims die within minutes, unless the erratic heart rhythms can be halted with massive jolts of electricity from a defibrillator. Medical researchers have moved one step closer to understanding the causes of ventricular fibrillation through a series of high-resolution movies that show how the condition disrupts the electrical signals that normally govern the heart. The high-speed imaging system produced for the research also revealed that ventricular fibrillation may develop in two distinct phases. The movies pinpointed a series of unusual spiral waves that originate with "rotors" near the surface of the heart. The waves rapidly expand, flow across the heart muscle, merge, and even interfere with each other, causing heart cells to contract in an uncoordinated way. The imaging system used by the research team produces detailed information from as many as 16,000 points on a portion of the exterior surface of the heart. Operating at 838 frames per sec, it allowed the team, consisting of researchers and physicists from the U.S. and Canada, to capture the rapid and disorganized waveforms for analysis. The system relies on fluorescent dyes that respond to electrical changes in the cells of the heart muscle. The researchers expose the beating heart to high-intensity lights, then image and intensify specific wavelengths of light returned by the dyes. Knowing how these unique waves form and behave could provide the information needed to design and test control techniques that may provide an alternative to existing defibrillators--which deliver the electrical equivalent of "a bowling ball dropped onto your chest from a two-story building," according to William L. Ditto, professor of physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, one of the study's co-authors. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.