What It’s Like to See Again with an Artificial Retina
Elias Konstantopoulos gets spotty glimpses of the world each day for about four hours, or for however long he leaves his Argus II retina prosthesis turned on. The 74-year-old Maryland resident lost his sight from a progressive retinal disease over 30 years ago, but is able to perceive some things when he turns on the bionic vision system.
“I can see if you are in front of me, and if you try to go away,” he says. “Or, if I look at a big tree with the system on I can maybe see some darkness and if it’s bright outside and I move my head to the left or right I can see different shadows that tell me there is something there. There’s no way to tell what it is,” says Konstantopoulos.
A spectacle-mounted camera captures image data for Konstantopoulos; that data is then processed by a mini-computer carried on a strap and sent to a 60-pixel neuron-stimulating chip that was implanted in one of his retinas in 2009.
Nearly 70 people around the world have undergone the three-hour surgery for the retinal implant, which was developed by California’s Second Sight and approved for use in Europe in 2011 and in the U.S. earlier this year (see “Bionic Eye Implant Approved for U.S. Patients”). It is the first vision-restoring implant sold to patients.
Currently, the system is only approved for patients with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition that strikes around one in 5,000 people worldwide, but it’s possible the Argus II and other artificial retinas in development could work for those with age-related macular degeneration, which affects one in 2,000 people in developed countries. In these conditions, the photoreceptor cells of the eye (commonly called rods and cones) are lost, but the rest of the neuronal pathway that communicates visual information to the brain is often still viable. Artificial retinas depend on this remaining circuitry, so cannot work for all forms of blindness.
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Parks and Recreation - Swing Vote
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So So Def and #ChrisKelly’s mother issue an official statement. Read now on Vibe.com. #RIPChrisKelly
İstanbul is under police siege today, Public transport banned, roads blocked, pepper spray used extensively, police attacks demonstrators.
Teargas enveloped Istanbul as demonstrators defiantly merged onto the city’s symbolic Taksim Square, where they hold May Day protests every year. The government banned all events there this year, because the square is under construction. As protesters and police clashed they turned the 15 million strong metropolis into a war zone, leaving behind destroyed property and reportedly dozens of injured people. To get a grip on the increasing number of protesters, Turkey’s police fortified their ranks with four planes full of officers transfered from other cities. Among the injured were four journalists and a teenage high school student who suffered head injuries. and is in critical condition at the hospital. Opposition politicians affected from gas and police brutality were also hospitalized.
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George Clooney’s response when asked why he will not seek political office.
A shocking indictment of 13 Baltimore prison guards last week is an extreme example of what happens when people on the “lowest rung” of the criminal justice career ladder succumb to corruption.
The Baltimore case is the most disturbing case of prison guard corruption in recent memory. Guards allegedly snuck cellphones and other contraband to Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison gangsters and gave them free rein over their own prison. BGF leader Tavon White also allegedly managed to impregnate four guards, two of whom got tattoos with his name. (Anne Arundel County Police Department)
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The difference between legal and illegal drugs is about history and business, but not science.
The current distinction between drugs classes as legal and illegal has little to do with their substance per se and everything to do with a confluence of court rulings, prison expansion, and business interests. It developed side-by-side with the pharmaceutical industry and the federal drug policing apparatus, then known as the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, in the early part of the twentieth century. Each used the other to fortify its own positions of power. But the useful il/legal distinction was nearly destroyed during the Second World War, due to the urgent necessity of opium stockpiling for use by the Army, only to emerge stronger and more politically potent than ever.
In a time of war, the FBN began the first in a long series of collaborations with pharmaceutical conglomerates and drug cartels, which continued in some form throughout the twentieth century. To achieve national security objectives, the drug enforcement agencies that divided cartels from corporations by legal fiat collaborated to produce drugs for which they otherwise threw people in prison. These alliances strengthened the power of these agencies to determine the public understanding of what was legal and what wasn’t. They also allowed the feds to work with drug companies and cartels alike during the Cold War to develop various chemical military technologies and leverage on-the-ground power. But this double-dealing led to schizophrenic outcomes. Most spectacularly, during the Second World War, the U.S. Treasury Department gold vaults held 3,000,000 pounds of raw Macedonian opium, while the military was court-martialing G.I.s for marijuana use.
At the turn of the century, the U.S. had no federal drug-policing agency. Pharmaceutical manufacturers were dispersed into small independent businesses that produced and prescribed as they saw fit. But as a public drug reform movement denouncing the widespread sale and use of opiates gained steam, drug manufacturers were forced to define and defend the realm of “legitimate” production and sale of pharmaceuticals. Scandalous paper headlines related the horrors of drug addiction and adamant reformers began condemning the medical profession as a whole. Previously dispersed drug manufacturers, pharmacists, and medical practitioners were forced to come together and defend their legitimacy in the public eye to ensure continued profits and to preempt undesirable legal or government intervention. This collusion proved good for some and fatal for others — “quacks” were weeded out and, when the dust cleared, a handful of self-proclaimed professional drug producers controlled the market.
(Source: New Shelton)
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