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New bionic hand can sense shape, texture

2019年6月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

An amputee with a bionic hand has for the first time been able to feel the texture and shape of objects in his grasp, European researchers say.

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The success of the month-long trial in Italy has energised researchers in the hunt to solve one of the most difficult challenges in prosthetics.

Until now, moveable prosthetic hands have returned no sensation to the wearer and have been difficult to control, meaning the user could crush an object while trying to grasp it.

“For the first time we were able to restore real time sensory feeling in an amputee while he was controlling this sensorised hand,” lead author Silvestro Micera said on Wednesday.

The study was led by Micera and Stanisa Raspopovic and colleagues at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and the BioRobotics Institute in Pisa, Italy.

Their findings appear in the US peer-reviewed journal Science Translational Medicine.

“When I held an object, I could feel if it was soft or hard, round or square,” said Dennis Aabo Sorensen, a 36-year-old man from Denmark who lost his left hand in a fireworks accident.

“I could feel things that I hadn’t been able to feel in over nine years,” he added, describing the sensation as “incredible”.

Sorensen was fitted with a bulky mechanical hand that had several advanced sensors in each of the fingertips.

Those sensors delivered electrical signals through wires to several electrodes that were surgically implanted into his upper arm.

Although Sorensen’s nerves had not been used in nearly a decade, scientists were able to reactivate his sense of touch.

Wearing a blindfold and earplugs for the trial, which took place last year in Rome at Gemelli Hospital, Sorensen found he could tell the difference between a mandarin and a baseball.

He could also feel whether he was holding soft tissue, a hard piece of wood, or a flimsy plastic cup.

Sorensen joked that his children called him “The Cable Guy” when they saw all the wires coming out of his arm, hooking him up to the stationary hand, which was posed on a table.

Sorensen’s implant was removed after 30 days because of safety restrictions, but experts believe the electrodes could stay in for years without problem.

More tests are happening. Researchers are working to refine the sensory abilities of the prosthetic hand and make it portable by miniaturising the electronics.

In the meantime, Sorensen has returned to using his old prosthetic hand, which opens and closes when he squeezes or relaxes a muscle in his arm, but does not allow him to feel what he touches.

Researchers who were not involved with the study say the work is promising but add a mass-market sensory bionic hand is years away.

“This new advance seems to represent another step forward in creating a more precise man-machine interface,” said Richard Frieden, assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York.

David Gow, director of rehabilitation engineering services and bioengineering at NHS Lothian in Scotland, said that although the work involved a single case study, the method appears “practical”.

“This opens up exciting possibilities for artificial limb users,” he added.

Beckham wants Miami to be ‘global’

2019年6月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

David Beckham has pledged that his new Major League Soccer team in Miami will be a “global team” like the huge European clubs where he became a superstar.

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The former England and Manchester United star says he already has big-name players phoning him up.

“I wanted to create a team where we can start from scratch,” Beckham told a packed press conference at a downtown Miami art museum on Wednesday, explaining his decision to bring the expanding league’s 22nd soccer club to the city.

“I know there was a team here 10 years ago that unfortunately folded, but I know that Miami is ready for football again,” he said.

“We’re planning to bring a team that will be a global team,” he said, arguing that soccer had made huge progress in the US as both a sport and a business.

The former England midfielder said one of his partners would be British pop music and television impresario Simon Fuller, who managed Beckham’s wife, Victoria, when she sang with the Spice Girls.

Beckham, who reportedly paid a cut-price $US25 million ($A28.14 million) for the franchise, said his wife and family would join him in Miami.

He also hopes LeBron James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player who stars for the champion Miami Heat, will join him in the ambitious venture.

“If LeBron comes on, that’d be amazing because people love him in the city and people love him in sports,” Beckham said.

James, already a minority investor in English Premier League giants Liverpool, has made no secret of his interest in Beckham’s project, telling reporters in November he was in talks with Beckham.

While Beckham did not disclose when the yet-to-be-named team would be ready for action, reports suggest it will be in 2016 or 2017.

“This is going to be a people’s team,” he told a throng of media, as a helicopter buzzed overhead and a small plane whizzed past dragging a banner that read “Beckham, don’t trust Gimenez”, referring to Miami Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez.

The former United and Real Madrid star said he had high hopes for the MLS, where he featured for LA Galaxy before retiring last year following a stint with Paris Saint-Germain.

“I’ve seen the change over the last 10 years. I’ve seen the change in this league, the interest in this league,” the 38-year-old said.

“We want to bring some of the best football players in the world, great players, to this team. Players are already interested in coming to Miami.”

Beckham spoke to reporters alongside MLS commissioner Don Garber, who said Beckham and the league would work with Miami Dade county to build a world-class downtown stadium for the new club.

Beckham said he would not seek public funding for the team’s stadium, having raised money from private partners.

‘Bionic hand’ adds sense of touch

2019年6月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

To feel what you touch – that’s the holy grail for artificial limbs.

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In a step toward that goal, European researchers created a robotic hand that let an amputee feel differences between a bottle, a baseball and a mandarin.

The patient only got to experiment with the bulky prototype for a week, and it’s far from the bionics of science-fiction movies. But the research released on Wednesday is part of an effort to create more lifelike, and usable, prosthetics.

“It was just amazing,” says Dennis Aabo Sorensen of Aalborg, Denmark, who lost his left hand in a fireworks accident a decade ago and volunteered to pilot-test the new prosthetic. “It was the closest I have had to feeling like a normal hand.”

This isn’t the first time scientists have tried to give some sense of touch to artificial hands; a few other pilot projects have been reported in the United States and Europe. But this newest experiment, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, shows Sorensen not only could tell differences in the shape and hardness of objects, he also could quickly react and adjust his grasp.

“It was interesting to see how fast he was able to master this,” says neuroengineer Silvestro Micera of Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, who led the Swiss and Italian research team. “He was able to use this information immediately in a quite sophisticated way.”

Scientists have made great strides in recent years in improving the dexterity of prosthetics. But the sense of touch has been a much more difficult challenge, and is one reason that many patients don’t use their prosthetic hands as much as they’d like.

Consider: grab something and your own hand naturally grasps with just enough force to hang on. Users of prosthetic hands have to carefully watch every motion, judging by eye instead of touch how tightly to squeeze. The results can be clumsy, with dropped dishes or crushed objects.

“You always have to look and see what’s going on, so that’s what is so much different from this new hand that I tried,” says Sorensen, 36, in a telephone interview.

First, doctors at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital implanted tiny electrodes inside two nerves – the ulnar and median nerves – in the stump of Sorensen’s arm.

Those nerves normally would allow for certain sensations in a hand. Sorensen says that when researchers zapped them with a weak electrical signal, it felt like his missing fingers were moving, showing the nerves still could relay information.

Meanwhile, Micera’s team put sensors on two fingers of a robotic hand, to detect information about what the artificial fingers touched.

For one week, cords snaked from a bandage on Sorensen’s arm to the artificial hand, and the electrodes zapped the nerves in proportion to what the sensors detected.

They essentially created a loop that let the robotic hand rapidly communicate with Sorensen’s brain.

“It is really putting the brain back in control of the system,” says biomedical engineer Dustin Tyler of Case Western Reserve University, who wasn’t involved with the European work but leads a team in Ohio that recently created and tested a similar touch-enabled hand. “That’s an important step.”

Neurobiologist Andrew Schwartz, of the University of Pittsburgh, says: “It shows with a few sensors and some pretty elementary technology, that they can recover a fair amount of functionality.”

To be sure Sorensen used touch, and didn’t cheat by looking or hearing telltale sounds, he wore a blindfold and headphones as Micera’s team handed him different objects.

“Suddenly I could tell if it was a hard object,” Sorensen recalls, describing sensations that changed along with his grip. “The response, the feedback from the arm to my nerves and to my brain, they came very strong.”

Micera cautions it will take several years of additional research to create a first-generation artificial hand that can feel, and looks more like a traditional prosthetic. First, they have to prove these nerve implants can last; for safety reasons, Sorensen’s were surgically removed after the experiment.

But a lot of work is under way.

In Ohio, Tyler’s team recently issued video showing a blindfolded man gently pulling stems from cherries without crushing them, thanks to similar implanted nerve stimulators and a sensor-equipped prosthetic hand.

The main difference, says Switzerland’s Micera, is in how the nerve electrodes are implanted. The European approach puts them inside the nerve rather than around it for better control, but that’s more invasive and some researchers worry it could damage the nerve over time.

In Pittsburgh, Schwartz’s team is about to test another approach – a brain-controlled robotic hand for the paralysed that would “feel” through electrodes implanted in a brain region known as the sensory cortex.

Whatever the approach, touch is a complex sense and these are all basic first steps involving how someone grasps, not more sophisticated sensations such as texture or temperature.

“There is definitely tremendous value to having a sense of touch, a sense of feeling from the hand,” Tyler says. “What that feeling is, how we use it – that’s yet to come.”

Aussie support groups back UN report blasting Vatican on sex abuse

2019年6月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child says tens of thousands of children worldwide had been abused systemically for years within the Catholic Church, and little has been done to redress the wrong doings.

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The report accuses the Catholic Church of covering up the crimes by transferring abusers to different parishes, which it says facilitated the continuation of abuse.

It criticises the Church for dealing with accusations behind closed doors, allowing the vast majority of abusers to escape judicial proceedings.

Victims of clergy abuse advocate, Wayne Chamley of Broken Rites, says the church still doesn’t realise that the era of policing itself has finished.

“They don’t seem to realise that those days are over and what’s been going on around the world in things like the royal commision in Ireland, and the royal commission in Australia the Victorian inquiry etc, they’re being required to come to a process of scrutiny that they can’t control and they still don’t have the mindset that the days of self examination are over. It’s just not acceptable to the public and it’s not acceptable to the government.”

Listen: Aussie support groups back UN report blasting Vatican on sex abuse, Abby DInham reports

But Mr Chamley says immediate changes to the way the church handles matters is unlikely as the current group of Archbishops is extremely conservative.

And he says the process of making amendments to canon law is long and difficult.

Mr Chamley says state and federal governments should impose sanctions on the church as service providers – in the hospital, school, and welfare sectors – to force it to take real action on the issue of child abuse.

“There’s an opportunity I think for sovereign governments to step in and say if you don’t make changes as the UN expects you to make changes we will start to make some changes in the way we deal with you as a service provider so we will maybe not be prepared to accept you to run any businesses and services on our behalf.”

Call for global action

Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) has called for action to be taken globally, like Australia’s own Royal Commission, to ensure institutional transparency and accountability when it comes to dealing with child sexual abuse.

“It is time for action, accountability, justice and compensation for people whose lives have been decimated,” said Dr Cathy Kezelman, President of ASCA.

“The Vatican’s priority must be with ensuring the safety of children and upholding the lives of survivors and their families. Enough complication, cover-ups and moving perpetrators around so more children are harmed. The lack of hierarchical accountability is and has been substantial; no one should be above the law.

“It is indeed a question of facts and evidence as Tomasi has stated but they have been not distorted. It is the ongoing attempts to minimise, dismiss, deny and perpetuate secrecy and internal processes that has created a global scourge. The time for real change is now.”

Vatican slammed over ‘code of silence’

The Vatican has been told to immediately stand down all clergy within the Catholic church who have been suspected of involvement in child sexual abuse.

The chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Kirsten Sandberg, says the Vatican has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed by Catholic clergy, and has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children.

“Another matter was the code of silence that was imposed by the church on children and the fact that reporting to national law enforcement authorities has never been made compulsor,” Kirsten Sandberg says.

“We think that it’s a horrible thing that’s been kept silent both by the Holy See itself and also in the different local parishes.”

Ms Sandberg says the so-called “code of silence” imposed on clergy under threat of excommunication, meant that cases were hardly ever reported to national law enforcement authorities.

And that those in the Church who dared to speak out were ostracised, demoted or fired, while some victims were gagged with confidentiality clauses linked to compensation deals.

“They strongly said that their attitudes have changed over the last few years. Let us hope that this is a new beginning for a more open attitude and more co-operation and removing this condition of silence.”

The report followed a landmark hearing last month during which members of the committee – made up of 18 independent human rights experts from around the globe – grilled senior churchmen and repeatedly questioned the Vatican’s resolve.

Like other signatories of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Vatican agreed to be scrutinised by the panel.

Sochi 2014: Who to follow on Twitter

2019年6月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Australian Olympic team @AUSOlympicTeam

Official Olympics twitter @Olympics

Sochi 2014 @Sochi2014

[PICS] So excited to be wearing these Australian #Olympic Team uniforms! #GoAUS: 南宁桑拿网,t.

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co/2elDKjOyj2 pic.twitter广西桑拿,/RbqicAleLd

— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) February 6, 2014

Team Australia

Alpine Skiing

Emily Bamford @ebamford

Lavinia Chrystal @LaviniaChrystal

Ross Peraudo @PeraudoRoss

Biathlon

Alex Almoukev, biathalon @Almoukov

Freestyle Skiing

Dale Begg-Smith @DaleBeggSmith85

Britt Cox @BrittyCox

Katya Crema @KatyaCrema

Anton Grimus @antongrimus

Sami Kennedy-Sim @samikennedysim

Russ Henshaw @RussHenshaw

Scott Kneller @scottkneller

Jenny Owens @JennyOwensski

Danielle Scott @Daniellescott7

Anna Segal @AnnaSegal

Davina Williams @davinarwilliams

David Morris @Aerialskier

Lydia Lassila @LydiaLassila

Nicole Parks @Nicolejadeparks 

The views in Russia are amazing! pic.twitter广西桑拿,/6Jl4XarX99

— Russ Henshaw (@RussHenshaw) February 4, 2014

Cross-country skiing

Esther Bottomley @estherbott

Phillip Bellingham @PBellinghamXC

Callum Watson @callumwxc

Short track skating

Pierre Boda @pierreboda

Snowboarding 

Torah Bright @torahbright

Scotty James @scottyjames31 

Belle Brockhoff  @bellebrockhoff

Alex Chumpy Pullin @chumpypullin

Cam Bolton @cameron_bolton

Kent Callister @kentcallister

Jarryd Hughes @JarrydHughes

Nate Johnstone @Nate_Johnstone

Stephanie Magiros @stephmagiros

Welcoming these legends to our Team! @bellebrockhoff @chumpypullin & our awesome #Snowboard crew! #GoAUS pic.twitter广西桑拿,/Z95lQTYMPd

— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) February 5, 2014

Skeleton

Michelle Steele @skeletonsteele 

Lucy Chaffer @lucychaffer

John Farrow @JohnFarrowAUS 

First training session done here in Sochi. Great to get back on the ice.

— Lucy chaffer (@lucychaffer) February 5, 2014

Luge

Alex Ferlazzo @Ferlazzzo

Speed skating

Daniel Greig @greigdaniel

Figure skating

Brendan Kerry @Br3ndan_ 

Brooklee Han @brookleeh95

Greg Merriman and Danielle O’Brien @OBrienMerriman

Bobsleigh

Gareth Nichols @GarethChevNicho 

Lucas Mata @mata_lucas 

Jana Pittman @JanaPittman

Astrid Radjenovic @AstridBobsleigh

Heath Spence @aussiebobsleigh

First two runs down in 2 man Bob and @aussiebobsleigh Is ‘Very happy’ #ASPIREtoGreatness pic.twitter广西桑拿,/7nN1Vo5kag

— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) February 5, 2014Other athletes worth following

Mikaela Shiffrin – USA – skier to watch @mikaelashiffrin

Apolo Anton Ohno – USA – speedskating champ @ApoloOhno

Kaillie Humphries – Canada’s Bobsleigh gold medallist @BobsledKaillie

Patrick Chan – Canada’s skating superstar @Pchiddy

 Arielle Gold – USA – 17 year old snowboarder @arielletgold

Well that’s encouraging… #teamUSA pic.twitter广西桑拿,/zyzP0jFxHk

— Arielle Gold (@arielletgold) February 4, 2014

 

 

 

 

Syria’s Assad making gains, Kerry admits

2019年6月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

US Secretary of State John Kerry admits Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is making gains on the ground, but denies US policy in Syria was failing.

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“It’s fair to say that Assad has improved his position a little bit, yes. But he’s still not winning. This is a stalemate,” Kerry told CNN television in an interview.

He was adamant, however, that America’s policy had not failed in the war-torn country, despite a mounting death toll in the three-year conflict.

“The policy in Syria is just very challenging and very difficult,” Kerry added.

Earlier this week, the State Department denied reports Kerry told US lawmakers in a private meeting that it was time to change strategy in Syria, where some 136,000 people have died and millions have fled their homes.

“I don’t want to make any excuse whatsoever. We want this to move faster. We want it to do better,” Kerry said.

“But the point I’m making is that diplomacy is tough, slogging, slow work and hard work.”

January marked the deadliest month so far in the conflict with some 6,000 dead, and Kerry said the United States was “always in the process of re-evaluating whether there’s more we can do, should do.”

US President Barack Obama has so far refused to provide heavy weaponry to the moderate rebels battling to topple Assad, amid fears it could fall into the hands of militant groups flooding into the country.

Kerry pledged the administration would work with Congress as well as internally to come up with ways to push the Russians to use their influence on Assad in order to improve conditions on the ground.

And the top US diplomat, who has in the past advocated a more robust US policy on Syria, warned that “we don’t have years” to find a way to end the war.

The United States is providing non-lethal support to the rebels, such as body armour, communications equipment and night-vision goggles.

“I don’t want to go into details, I’m not free to go into all the details, but I will say to you that the president has taken an aggressive position,” Kerry said.

He also pointed to a deal hammered out with Russia on eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons stock as “a significant milestone” in getting rid of the “grotesque tool” the Assad regime had used against its own people.

Trade balance returns to surplus

2019年6月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

Australia’s trade balance returned to surplus in the final two months of 2013, helped by a strong rise in mining and agriculture exports.

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Australia’s trade surplus was $468 million in December, following a surplus of $83 million in November, the first two surpluses since December 2011.

The November figure was revised from a deficit of $118 million.

During December, exports rose four per cent and imports were up two per cent.

JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said shipments of iron ore and coal picked up during the month, a trend which is likely to continue as more mining production capacity come online after a couple years of record investment.

“Specifically, iron ore lump and fines were particularly robust, while thermal coal shipment volumes more than reversed a disappointing decline in November,” he said.

“By destination, it was the usual suspects behind this surge in demand, with shipment volumes to both China and Japan climbing higher which offset a pull back in exports to India and South Korea.”

The other major export contributor were agricultural exports, with much higher volumes of wheat and grain providing a significant boost.

Mr Kennedy expects the rise in imports to be short lived as the winding back in mining investment boom means there will be fewer imports of mining machinery.

“Import values should stabilise as resource investment falls, pulling back on demand for capital goods, and as the drift lower in the currency generates more import substitution,” he said.

Senior National Australia Bank economist Spiros Papadopoulos also said the result showed signs of strong domestic activity.

“We’ve had a gain in consumption imports and also capital imports, just again indicating that the domestic demand component seems to be running OK after an adequate level of consumer and business demand in the month of December,” he said.

“We also saw very good export performance that’s seen the trade position move back into positive territory.”

Mr Papadopoulos said most of the economic growth in 2014 is going to come from the exports sector.

“So this is a very good sign for the coming year,” he said.

NY suspect had Hoffman’s mobile number

2019年6月17日 | 苏州美甲 | Permalink

At least one of four people arrested during an investigation of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s suspected fatal heroin overdose had the actor’s mobile phone number, two law enforcement officials say.

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Investigators zeroed in on the four after a tipster, responding to publicity about Hoffman’s death, told police he had seen Hoffman at the lower Manhattan apartment building where they were arrested on Tuesday and he believed that’s where Hoffman got the heroin, the officials said.

In searches of two apartments in the building, police found hundreds of packets of heroin in one of them, according to a criminal complaint.

But prosecutors declined to pursue charges against one of the four, saying there was no evidence that he had control of the drugs or the apartment in which they were found, and two of the others were charged only with a misdemeanour charge of possessing cocaine, not heroin.

Only one, jazz musician Robert Vineberg, was facing a felony charge of heroin possession with intent to sell.

Lawyers for the three people charged vigorously denied their clients had any role in Hoffman’s death and suggested they were being swept up in a maelstrom of attention surrounding the actor’s demise.

“This case and the charges against Mr Vineberg have absolutely nothing to do with the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. … We’re hoping the (district attorney) will not use Mr Vineberg as a scapegoat,” said his lawyer, Edward Kratt, who declined to say whether Vineberg knew Hoffman.

The arrests came two days into the high-profile case, reflecting the attention and urgency it has attracted.

All three of the people charged were indicted within a day after their arrests, a fairly unusual step, and were being held without bail.

The two charged with cocaine possession, Juliana Luchkiw and Max Rosenblum, a couple who are neighbours of Vineberg’s, were visibly dismayed when a judge denied them bail, though their lawyers hoped to revisit the issue on Thursday.

Luchkiw and Rosenblum had two bags of cocaine, while investigators found about 300 packets of heroin, a bag of cocaine and about $US1,200 ($A1,350) in cash in Vineberg’s apartment, according to criminal complaints.

Investigators have determined that the Capote star made six ATM transactions for a total of $US1,200 inside a supermarket near his home the day before his death, law enforcement officials have said.

Investigators are examining a computer and two iPads found at the scene for clues and recovered syringes, a charred spoon and various prescription medications, including a blood pressure drug and a muscle relaxant, law enforcement officials have said.

Police learned from phone records that one of the suspects had Hoffman’s number, strengthening the theory that they may have supplied him with drugs, the law enforcement officials said.

The officials, who weren’t authorised to speak about evidence in the ongoing investigation of the death and spoke on the condition of anonymity, didn’t identify which of the suspects had the number.

Police were waiting for a cause of death for the Oscar-winning actor from the medical examiner’s office, which said on Wednesday that more tests were needed.

Hoffman, 46, was found dead on Sunday with a needle in his arm, and tests found heroin in samples from at least 50 packets in his apartment in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, law enforcement officials have said.

Courts have found that under state law drug dealers can’t be held liable for customers’ deaths.

A private funeral for relatives and close friends of Hoffman is set for Friday, and a larger memorial service will be held later this month, his publicist Karen Samfilippo said.