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Quando l'acqua è protagonista la natura inventa nuovi scenari.

Borgo: Albavilla (Co)
Comune: Erba (Co)
Area geografica: Complesso carsico dell'Alpe Turati - Monte Bollettone
Caratteristiche ambientali: alta parete di calcare visibile tra i boschi di Albavilla ed Erba
Geomorfologia: scorre all'interno della grotta.
Di fatto è il torrente che vi penetra in forma di cascata spumeggiante alla sommità dell'antro.


 
Per raggiungerla basta il sentiero della scala di legno. Altro non è che un sentiero che costeggia il tracciato dell'acquedotto fino allo sbocco del torrente in cima alla valle, attraverso una scala verticale di circa 20-25 metri si raggiunge la cengia soprastante la cascata.

E' una delle più famose grotte della Lombardia e uno dei pochi esempi sul territorio di grotta carsica. Oltre che uno dei siti paleolitici più importanti della nostra Regione.
Probabilmente deve il suo nome al colore grigiastro della roccia, che in diversi punti appare ricoperta da una patina plumbea.

Le sue dimensioni sono impressionanti, specialmente quelle dell'ingresso che risulta quasi maestoso, colossale e scenografico, paragonabile per dimensioni al Duomo di Milano: 45m di altezza, 38 di larghezza, 40 di profondità.
L'interno si caratterizza per una grandissima quantità di cunicoli (diversi dei quali ancora inesplorati) che man mano si restringono sempre di più e che si estendono per oltre 400 metri e oltre. Infatti, l'intero sistema di gallerie non è ancora stato esplorato tutto.

Tali gallerie furono scavate nei millenni dal corso d'acqua che ancor oggi scorre nel suo interno, penetrandovi appunto come cascata. Dentro si possono trovare le consuete stalattiti e stalagmiti, oltre che flora (muschi e piccole piante poste in prossimità dell'ingresso della grotta) e fauna (per lo più insetti o piccoli crostacei) tipici di questi ambienti stabilmente scuri, umidi e con temperatura sempre costante durante tutto l'arco dell'anno.
Per raggiungere l'ingresso della grotta è necessario salire i circa 200 gradini che compongono la scala di accesso, scavata direttamente nella roccia e che un tempo ne rendevano difficoltoso e pericoloso l'accesso. Le mura che si ergono nell'androne sono d'interesse archeologico e pare risalgano al 500: infatti la grotta fortificata serviva da rifugio durante le invasioni e guerre. Insomma, si potrebbe identificarla come un imprendibile e imprevedibile castello sotterraneo, fornito per di più acqua.
La grotta fu meta di visite di studiosi e villeggianti sin dall'800; si ricorda in particolare la regina Margherita di Savoia come assidua frequentatrice.

Dopo anni di abbandono, durante i quali l'accesso alla grotta fu chiuso, a partire dal 1998 un accordo fra i proprietari del Buco del Piombo ed il Comune di Erba ha consentito di riaprire al pubblico questo interessante monumento di storia e natura.

Fonte: Sito Regione Lombardia

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By Admin (from 20/04/2011 @ 11:00:31, in ro - Observator Global, read 1459 times)

 Exista, dupa cum bine stim cu totii, accidente, boli si nenumarate alte cazuri, în urma carora oamenii sunt nevoiti sa apeleze la proteze atunci cand unul dintre membre a suferit o agresiune. E greu sa accepti aceasta noua situatie, dar e si mai greu sa procuri asemenea proteze. Lumea stiintifica, prin cercetari deloc simple, încearca sa usureze viata celor ce ajung la chirurgia ortopedica.

Romania iese in lume

Unul dintre proiectele ce urmaresc cresterea competentelor romanesti în domeniul chirurgiei ortopedice este si cel ce se refera la alungirea si reconstructia osoasa în hemicondrodiastazis, pseudoartroza si maladia Lobstein. Pentru a se face cunoscuti si pe plan international, este nevoie, sustine directorul proiectului, prof. univ. dr. Gheorghe Burnei, de promovarea programelor de cercetare romanesti, de participarea la sesiuni de comunicari stiintifice nationale si internationale si de organizarea unor manifestari stiintifice cu participare internationala.

Se cunoaste faptul ca unul dintre domeniile vitale ale medicinii îl reprezinta chirurgia ortopedica reconstructiva aplicata în tratamentul diferitelor maladii osoase, cu rasunet functional si estetic, respectiv cele localizate la nivelul oaselor si, in general, al membrelor (humerus, radius, tibie sau femur). Formele sub care pot sa apara aceste malformatii sunt multiple: congenitale sau ca rezultat al unor complicatii post-traumatice, post-infectioase sau paralitice. Tratamentul acestor afectiuni comporta aspecte de ordin functional, social si psihologic.

Tinem pasul cu prezentul

Medicina bazata pe principii moderne, sustin specialistii, are ca obiectiv principal al tratamentului redarea functionalitatii maxime posibile a membrului respectiv în vederea castigarii independentei individului si a integrarii sociale a acestuia. Latura estetica este si ea o mare problema. Poate constitui un punct determinant al perceptiei propriei integritati de catre pacient. Complexitatea din ce în ce mai mare a tehnicilor moderne de recuperare a pacientilor care sufera traumatisme, competitia cu timpul, toate acestea sunt elemente ce caracterizeaza medicina moderna. Scopul principal este realizarea unui maximum de eficienta pentru pacient, cat mai repede posibil, pe bazele cunoasterii aspectelor fizice, mentale si familiale ale pacientilor.

În acest sens, proiectul propus de echipa de cercetatori formata din personalitati de marca de la Universitatea de Medicina si Farmacie „Carol Davila” din Bucuresti, Universitatea de Medicina si Farmacie „Iuliu Hatieganu” din Cluj-Napoca si Institutul de Cercetare Dezvoltare pentru Mecanica Fina promoveaza rezultatele cercetarii romanesti si cuprinde studiile si terapiile inovative în acest domeniu.

Un proiect pentru mileniul trei

Se preconizeaza o mai stransa colaborare stiintifica si tehnica pe termen lung, privind studiile terapeutice si interventiile inovative, urmarind dezvoltarea ulterioara a proceselor esentiale pentru succesul terapiilor noi cu aplicare potentiala în tratarea unor boli si tulburari medicale, utilizarea adecvata a noilor terapii si tehnologii medicale vizand monitorizarea pe termen lung a aspectelor de securitate privind utilizarea noilor tehnologii medicale în domeniul chirurgiei ortopedice, si anume reconstructia osoasa în cazuri de malformatii congenitale, pseudoartroza, osteoporoza, prin utilizarea sistemelor de fixare externe modulare.

Cercetatorii romani initiatori ai acestui proiect doresc punerea în valoare a competentelor si a potentialului de cercetare medicala romaneasca în domeniul chirurgiei ortopedice reconstructive, prin utilizarea fixatoarelor externe modulare în cazuri speciale; a terapiilor inovative, în deviatiile axiale ale membrelor, în alungirea si reconstructia osoasa la bolnavii cu maladia Lobstein, precum si la corectarea unor diformitati complexe osteoarticulare asociate scurtarii membrelor.

*

Studiile de cercetare si de experimentare clinica si de laborator au dus la aplicarea în conceptie proprie a unor terapii inovative si la realizarea unor echipamente specializate care se ridica la nivelul cerintelor internationale din punct de vedere al performantelor. Elasticitatea ansamblului fixator, combinata cu stabilitatea pe care o are, accelereaza procesul de osteogeneza locala si, în consecinta, mareste fixarea solida a osului în timpul corectiilor tratamentului.

Punerea în practica a acestui fixator va duce, cu siguranta, la evitarea amputatiilor urmate de protezare si va elimina astfel dependenta pacientului de dispozitivele de protezare externa pentru tot restul vietii. Va mai trece ceva timp pana ce aceste fixatoare vor putea fi folosite în chirurgia ortopedica. Lumea stiintei avanseaza, iar noi nu trebuie sa ramanem în urma.

IOANA FLORIA - magazin.ro

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By Admin (from 20/04/2011 @ 14:00:48, in en - Science and Society, read 1804 times)

Although modern prosthetic devices are more lifelike and easier for amputees to control than ever before, they still lack a sense of touch. Patients depend on visual feedback to operate their prostheses – they know that they’ve touched an object when they see their prosthetic hand hitting it. Without sensation, patients cannot accurately judge the force of their grip or perceive temperature and texture.

Todd Kuiken, a professor at Northwestern University and director of the Neural Engineering Center for Artificial Limbs at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, has led the development of a new technique known as targeted reinnervation, which can help amputees control motorized prosthetic arms. He and his team now hope to extend the applications of targeted reinnervation to help patients regain sensory capabilities.

In targeted reinnervation, the motor nerves of a nearby target muscle (usually the chest) are deactivated. Then the residual motor nerves at the end of an amputated arm are transplanted from the stump to the chest. The nerves rewire themselves and grow into the chest muscle. Since amputation of a limb does not prevent the nerves left in the residual limb from signaling, the reinnervation procedure simply gives the signals a new destination.

After the procedure, when a person thinks about moving a muscle in the missing arm or hand, the chest muscle twitches. Electrodes pick up these signals and pass them on to a motorized prosthetic arm, allowing patients to control multiple motor functions like the simultaneous movement of both the elbow and hand to throw a ball.

The regrowth of sensory nerves after this procedure was discovered by accident. The first patient to undergo targeted reinnervation told Kuiken and his other doctors about an interesting sensation he experienced: when someone touched the area of his chest where his nerves had regrown, he felt as if someone was touching his missing hand. The sensory nerves from his arm stump had reinnervated the skin above his chest muscle. He was experiencing touch to the reinnervated skin as being applied to his missing limb. It turned out that sensory reinnervation such as this was common following the procedure.

Kuiken and his colleagues are currently exploring how to take advantage of sensory reinnervation to build prosthetic arms with sensors on the fingers that can transfer touch information from the prosthetic to the chest, allowing patients to “feel” what they are touching with their prostheses.

The next step is to figure out the mechanisms that guide reinnervation, with the hope of someday being able to direct the regrowth of nerves for more refined results. To better understand how sensory reinnervation affects brain reorganization, Kuiken and his colleague Paul Marasco examined the brains of rats after amputation and targeted reinnervation. In this experiment, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, Marasco and Kuiken looked at how the somatosensory cortex, the brain area that receives and processes input from sensory organs, changed in rats following forelimb amputation with and without the targeted reinnervation procedure.

One group of rats underwent forelimb amputation and then targeted reinnervation, while another group of rats underwent only the amputation. The rats that did not undergo targeted reinnervation effectively had the input between the cortex and the forepaw silenced. After thirteen weeks of recovery, the experimenters recorded brain activity in the primary somatosensory cortex of all the animals. Marasco and Kuiken were especially interested in the region known as the forelimb barrel subfield, which would normally process touch input from the amputated forepaw.

As expected, the rats that underwent amputation without targeted reinnervation showed an almost complete silencing of brain activity in the forelimb barrel subfield. The receptive fields for the few active areas in this region were located on the residual shoulder.

In contrast, the rats that underwent targeted reinnervation showed extensive activity in the forelimb barrel subfield. The receptive fields for the active sites in these rats were small and densely clustered on the far end of the stump, and differed in proportion from the large and diffuse receptive fields observed on the residual limb of the amputation-only rats. It appeared that the sensory input from the reinnervated skin was processed within the cortical representation of the missing forepaw.

This helps explain why Kuiken’s earlier human patient reported feeling a touch on his chest as occurring on his missing hand. His somatosensory cortex, in particular the area devoted to the missing limb, had reorganized to accommodate the new sensory input. Sensations from the skin on his chest were being processed within the hand representation area of his somatosensory cortex.

Further somatosensory reorganization was evident in the rats. In most of the animals that underwent targeted reinnervation following amputation, there were regions of the forelimb barrel subfield (called dual receptive fields) that were responsive to both the stump and other regions of the body (the whiskers, lower lip, and hindlimb). The presence of dual receptive fields in these rats, but not in the amputation-only rats, suggests that the adjacent brain areas expanded into the denervated regions following the amputation. The sharing of space allowed those sensory nerves to keep transmitting signals, even after amputation.

Marasco and Kuiken’s results provide important insights into the sensory phenomena observed in human targeted reinnervation patients. The reorganization of somatosensory cortex in rats following the procedure supports the hypothesis that the reinnervated skin is able to act as a direct line of communication from a prosthetic device to the regions of the brain that process hand and limb sensations. This is likely the mechanism by which targeted reinnervation provides sensation that is perceived as coming from an amputated limb.

Ultimately, Marasco and Kuiken hope that this experiment will contribute to the building of better prosthetic limbs. Motorized prostheses that also provide sensory feedback have the potential to be more effective, capable of more functions, and easier to manipulate. Most importantly, they would not only function like a real human arm but also feel like one, allowing the prosthetic to be integrated more naturally into the patient’s self image.

Source: Technology Review

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When we physicists look in outer space for alien life
we don't look for little green men.
We look for type 1, type 2 and type 3 civilizations.
A type one civilization has harnessed planetary power.
They control earthquakes, the weather, volcanoes.
They have cities on the ocean.
Anything planetary they control, that's type one.
A type two civilization is stellar.
They've exhausted the power of a planet
and they get their energy directly from their mother star.
They don't just go and get a sun tan on a weekend,
they use solar flares.
They use the power of the sun itself to energize their huge machines.
Eventually they exhaust the power of a star and they go galactic.
They harness the power of billions of stars within a galaxy.
Now, what are we on this scale?
We are type zero.
We don't even rate on this scale.
We get our energy from -- not from stars or galaxies --
we get our energy from dead plants: oil and coal.


Historians will look back and say:
"Holy shit! They were making materials, selling them for corporation profit
over and over and over and over again with absolutely no reference to what the planet had
and recycling protocols and everything else.
They were burning fossil fuels at a million times the rate of their actual renewability."
They're gonna laugh at us, wondering what the hell kind of a primitive dumb-ass species we actually were.
If we even survive to reach that point.


From an extra-terrestial perspective our global civilization is clearly
on the edge of failure in the most important task it faces:
preserving the lives and well-being of its citizens and the future habitability of the planet.


This transition is also the most important because it's not clear if we're gonna make it.
When we look at outer space we see no evidence of type 1, 2 or 3 anywhere.
No evidence whatsoever.
The mathematics say that there should be thousands of type 1, 2 and 3 civilizations in the galaxy.
We see no evidence of any whatsoever. And why is that?
Because the transition from type zero to type one is the most dangerous of all transitions.
We may not make it.


I hope everyone out there will understand that either we change or we die.


War, poverty, corruption, hunger, misery, human suffering will not change in the monetary system.
That is, there'll be very little significant change.
It's going to take the re-design of our culture and our values and it has to be related to the carrying capacity of the Earth.
Not some human opinion or some politicians' notions of the way the world ought to be
or some religious notions of the conduct of human affairs.


So again, the generation now alive and our grandchildren are the most important generations ever to walk the surface of the Earth.
We are the generations that will determine whether we make the transition from type zero to type one
or we destroy ourselves because of our arrogance and our weapons.
Now, every time I read the newspaper I see evidence of this historic transition from type zero to type one
and I am privileged to be alive in the most important era in the history of the human race:
the transition from type zero to type one.


The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism
and to rabid nationalist fervor are beginning not to work.
A new consciousness is developing which sees the Earth as a single organism
and recognizes that an organism at war with itsself is doomed.
We are one planet.

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By Admin (from 21/04/2011 @ 08:00:45, in it - Osservatorio Globale, read 2385 times)

L'ambiente metropolitano lascia subito il posto a campi coltivati e cascine che si perdono a vista d'occhio. I maggiori centri abitati, tra cui la stessa città capoluogo, Lodi, si snodano lungo la Via Emilia, antica strada romana che attraversa il Lodigiano fino alle porte di Piacenza, e le direttrici dei fiumi che delimitano il territorio: a nord l'Addetta, a est l' Adda, a ovest il Lambro, a sud il Po.

I turisti trovano dunque innanzitutto un oasi verde, con habitat naturalistici incontaminati, riserve ambientali attrezzate per le escursioni e il divertimento, cascine storiche per l'agriturismo, percorsi ciclabili con il noleggio delle biciclette.
Tra i colori della campagna, assai mutevoli, a seconda delle stagioni, risaltano poi le "rosse presenze" di ciò che la storia, sotto profilo architettonico, ha portato fino a noi: i "mille campanili" di cui gode fama il Lodigiano, in particolare alcune antiche abbazie e basiliche con il loro pregevole corredo artistico , e i castelli e le rocche protagoniste nei secoli scorsi di invasioni e dominazioni.

Perché il Lodigiano, prima immensa palude con il nome di Lago Gerundo e poi terra fertile e produttiva, è sempre stato conteso e solo nel 1992 ha visto riconosciuta la sua peculiare identità con l'istituzione della Provincia.

Da oltre un decennio, migliaia di visitatori accorrono per gustare, nei ristoranti e nelle antiche osterie, i piatti tipici della cucina lodigiana esaltati in una rassegna gastronomica autunnale promossa dall'Apt; oppure per assistere alle manifestazioni fieristiche e spettacolari che si articolano nell'anno, dal Palio dei Rioni di Lodi alle mostre mercato artigianali e zootecniche. Tra le produzioni più rinomate quella della ceramica, che vanta secoli di storia con botteghe artistiche dove si può assistere alla creazione di manufatti.

Fonte: Sito Regione Lombardia

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By Admin (from 21/04/2011 @ 11:00:04, in ro - Stiinta si Societate, read 1999 times)

 Daca priviti cu atentie autoportretele lui Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), veti descoperi o figura ascetica, parca decupata din panoplia sfintilor sau a calugarilor dedicati vietii pline de privatiuni – inclusiv juramantului de castitate. Ei bine, chiar asa a si fost existenta de 88 de ani a acestui geniu al Renasterii. Fara sa i se impuna de catre cineva sau de catre convingerile sale religioase, „pietrarul din Caprese” devenit „Divinul” s-a autoizolat întreaga viata, iar din punct de vedere al tentatiilor lumesti a fost un fel de ascet în viata civila sau cenobit.

Poate ca motivele acestei atitudini fata de lume si de divinitate ar trebui cautate în lecturile sale de tinerete, atunci cand a descoperit lucrarile neoplatonice si s-a aflat în compania unui savant de talia lui Picco della Mirandola – autorul celor „900 de teze asupra demnitatii umane”.

Autoizolarea lui Michelangelo s-a reflectat si-n principiile care au stat la baza actului sau artistic. Spre deosebire de marele sau rival, Leonardo da Vinci, el a vazut în natura, în mediul lumesc în general, un soi de „adversar care trebuie depasit prin grandoare”. Asa se explica singuratatea personajelor sale si, mai ales, perfectiunea trupurilor masculine. Si asta pentru ca, pe de alta parte, Michelangelo a fost un homoerotic convins, dar care a avut o legatura platonica foarte puternica si cu o femeie. Este vorba despre marchiza Vittoria Colonna de Pescara, cu cincisprezece ani mai tanara decat el. Cei doi s-au vizitat pe cand ea statea la Roma, iar maestrul i-a dedicat mai multe sonete. Dragostea lor a înflorit pe cand sculptorul avea 61 de ani...

Dar versuri de dragoste a scris pentru mai multi barbati. Dintre acestia, se remarca Cecchino dei Bracci (16 ani), care a murit dupa numai un an de la cunostinta. Cea mai mare afectiune a avut-o fata de Tommaso dei Cavalieri (23 de ani, maestrul avand 57 cand l-a întalnit) si caruia i-a dedicat peste trei sute de sonete si madrigale. Dupa moartea lui Michelangelo, nepotul sau poreclit „Michelangelo cel Tanar” a cautat sa ascunda aspectul de homosexualitate din colectia de versuri.

O atitudine înca neelucidata pe deplin a fost aceea fata de Savonarola, „inventatorul” asa-zisei Republicii crestine a Florentei. Dictatorul ultramoralist era un dusman nemilos fata de homosexuali (cerea condamnarea la moarte), prostituate si jocuri de noroc. Astfel, daca Leonardo a parasit imediat Florenta, cand a venit la putere Savonarola, Michelangelo a mai rezistat aproape un an. Ei bine, se pare ca în acea perioada de dictatura a moralitatii crestine artistul ar fi fost obligat sa-si arda pe rug unele schite considerate „obscene” (acelasi lucru l-ar fi facut si Sandro Botticelli). Dar nu este o certitudine.

Una dintre dovezile incontestabile ale retragerii maestrului într-o lume a perfectiunii estetice a omului este reprezentata de cele douazeci de nuduri masculine care acompaniaza, în colturi, cele cinci scene biblice ale boltei Capelei Sixtine. Aceste „Ignudi” (cum sunt denumite de critica) au fost interpretate în mod diferit: ce cauta acolo acea colectie de masculinitate perfecta, în spiritul antichitatii grecesti? Una din explicatii este ca asa vedea Michelangelo reprezentarea îngerilor (fara aripi, care erau caracteristice cerubinilor si serafimilor). Despre aceste 20 de fresce controversate, papa Hadrian VI spunea ca formeaza „o tocana de nuduri” si ca trebuie eliminate din Capela Sixtina... Dar Michelangelo a învins toate prejudecatile.

PAUL IOAN - magazin.ro

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By Admin (from 21/04/2011 @ 14:00:38, in en - Global Observatory, read 2046 times)

A device that can detect gas being squeezed out of rocks could become the first reliable method for predicting earthquakes, according to its developers, who are about to test the device for the first time.

Scientists suspect that radon gas is released from cavities and cracks in rocks into soil and groundwater before an earthquake strikes. But commercially available detectors are too expensive to test this theory in a wide scale trial.

Now, Mexican and European scientists have developed a prototype of a simple detector cheap enough to use in large tests.

Vladimir Peskov, a member of the design team and a physicist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said they aim to use a network of the cheaper detectors to test the theory that radon is released as layers of rock around a strained fault line deform before a sudden quake-causing slip.

The device is based on a technology that is already used in extreme environments such as the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

It consists of a 20-centimetre long, nine-centimetre wide aluminium tube which contains a number of wires along its length connected at either end to electrodes. When radon gas enters the tube it strips air molecules of electrons, triggering an electric current in the wire. Unlike existing detectors it works in ambient air.

The design was presented at the Vienna Conference on Instrumentation and a related paper is in press in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment.

"This is an impressive breakthrough," said Heikki Sipilä, an industrial engineer who has been developing gas detectors since the 1960s, and was not involved in the research.

"The detectors are simple and production costs low because no filling gas or expensive materials are needed," he told SciDev.Net.

Peskov told SciDev.Net that his team is planning to test several devices in the Bari region of Italy, which experiences frequent "micro earthquakes".

Tom Hockaday, managing director of ISIS Innovation, a UK technology transfer company, said that the devastating 2010 Chile and Haiti earthquakes had highlighted the dearth of technologies across the spectrum — from predicting quakes to helping with aid efforts.

Although this detector sounds promising and relatively straightforward, he said, full implementation would require fitting each detector with a radio transmitter to broadcast a signal, which might complicate its rollout in developing countries.

"There are challenges in deploying highly complex technologies in areas with relatively undeveloped infrastructure," said Hockaday, adding that it could be difficult to convince companies to invest in such early-stage technologies.

However, the inventors are optimistic and are seeking for collaborators from around the world to test the device. The long-term goal is to conduct full-scale testing along a number of fault zones with international backing, they told SciDev.Net.

If the device is proven reliable in upcoming field trials then they may be of particular interest to developing nations where the human impacts of earthquakes and related tsunamis are often at their most devastating.

Source: SciDev

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At TEDSalon in London, Michael Pawlyn describes three habits of nature that could transform architecture and society: radical resource efficiency, closed loops, and drawing energy from the sun.

About Michael Pawlyn

Michael Pawlyn takes cues from nature to make new, sustainable architectural environments.

Michael Pawlyn established the architecture firm Exploration in 2007 to focus on environmentally sustainable projects that take their inspiration from nature.

Prior to setting up the company, Pawlyn worked with the firm Grimshaw for ten years and was central to the team that radically re-invented horticultural architecture for the Eden Project. He was responsible for leading the design of the Warm Temperate and Humid Tropics Biomes and the subsequent phases that included proposals for a third Biome for plants from dry tropical regions. In 1999 he was one of five winners in A Car-free London, an ideas competition for strategic solutions to the capital’s future transport needs and new possibilities for urban spaces. In September 2003 he joined an intensive course in nature-inspired design at Schumacher College, run by Amory Lovins and Janine Benyus. He has lectured widely on the subject of sustainable design in the UK and abroad.

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By Admin (from 22/04/2011 @ 08:00:12, in en - Science and Society, read 1934 times)

Just 13 days after receiving a pioneering larynx transplant, a Californian woman was able to speak her first words in a decade. Her own larynx was permanently damaged by an operation 11 years ago.

The first combined larynx and thyroid transplant was performed in 1998, but in the latest operation Brenda Charett Jensen of Modesto, California, received a section of trachea too. The feat, which took 18 hours, was performed last October at the Medical Center of the University of California, Davis, but announced only yesterday.

The transplant also works far better than the first because more of the donated organs' nerves have been plugged into the 52-year-old woman's own nervous system. This enables her to move muscles that control speaking by moving the vocal cords, and others that will eventually allow her to swallow again, once she relearns how to do it.

"It is a miracle," says Jensen. "I'm talking, talking, talking, which just amazes my family and friends." The sound of her voice is her own, rather than that of the donor.

Her own voice again

Jensen lost her speech 11 years ago through complications during surgery that blocked her airway. The blockage stopped her larynx working, so for years she has communicated with a handheld voice synthesiser. That operation also left her breathing dependent on a tracheotomy – a tube inserted into her windpipe. With the new trachea, the hope is that she should also be able to breathe normally and dispense with the tracheotomy.

One of the reasons that Jensen was chosen was that she was already on immunosuppressive drugs because of a previous kidney-pancreas transplant, reducing the risk of organ rejection.

Led by surgeon Gregory Farwell, the team transplanted the larynx, thyroid and trachea of a woman who died in an accident . The thyroid has to be transplanted too, because it supplies blood to the larynx.

Farwell and his colleagues plumbed numerous blood vessels from the donated organs into Jensen's own, and also reconnected five major nerves to maximise her control over the muscle tissue that came with the transplant.

"The first larynx transplant only reconnected three nerves," says Martin Birchall of University College London, who served as chief scientific adviser to the team, specialising in reconnection of the nerves. "Here, we've done five nerves with the intention of restoring much more laryngeal function than the original, and eventually getting rid of the tracheotomy."

Rapid progress

Birchall said that although the man who received the original larynx transplant at the Cleveland Research Clinic in Ohio in 1998 is doing well and has recovered some speech, he still has a tracheotomy. His vocal cords have never moved, whereas Jensen's were moving in just a fortnight. "We've already seen much quicker progress in speech," says Birchall.

The breakthrough is the latest to exploit rapid improvements in microsurgical techniques since the first face transplant in 2005. The increasingly ambitious use of more complex transplants including muscles, nerves and bones has also highlighted the greater functionality that this allows the recipient.

Birchall believes that recipients will benefit even more if their own stem cells are extracted and used to coat donated organs chemically stripped of all donor cells. Because all that's then left of the donated organ is a "scaffold" of the protein collagen, it can be covered with the recipient's own cells and transplanted into their body with no fear of rejection.

In 2008, Birchall was part of a team that demonstrated this can be done by performing the world's first trachea transplant.

Complex challenge

Birchall told New Scientist that such an approach would be possible with the larynx, but unlike the trachea – which is simply a tube – a recoated larynx would also have to include artificially constructed muscles and blood vessels because of its much more complex function.

"It's much more complex than the trachea, but we do have ways to address these things," says Birchall. "Regenerative medicine using stem cells is now moving at a furious pace, and the airways and plumbing systems are at the forefront," he says.

Hear and see her voice here.

Source: NewScientist

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By Admin (from 22/04/2011 @ 11:00:40, in it - Osservatorio Globale, read 2902 times)

Rasa al suolo nel 1158 da Milano, desiderosa di aprirsi una via lungo l’Adda, e ricostruita nello stesso anno a poca distanza dall’antico insediamento, Lodi conserva il suo aspetto di città medievale, con un nucleo stretto intorno al Duomo e circondato dalle mura il cui percorso è ancora perfettamente riconoscibile nel cerchio delle strade che disegnano una specie di circonvallazione intorno al centro.

Sorta su un’altura da cui si dominava il corso dell’Adda e circondata da pianure che proprio a partire da quell’epoca furono oggetto di un’imponente opera di bonifica, Lodi conobbe un lungo periodo di grande fioritura, legata anche al suo ruolo di importante mercato agrario, che si protrasse fino al Quattrocento. A questi secoli risalgono le più importanti Chiese cittadine, San Francesco, San Lorenzo e Sant’Agnese, sorte tra il XIII e il XIV secolo, e il Castello Visconteo, costruito alla fine del Trecento a sancire la presa di potere da parte dei Visconti.
 
Il Quattrocento è segnato da una serie di aspre guerre tra Milano e Venezia, che finiscono, nel 1454, proprio con la pace firmata a Lodi, che apre un nuovo breve periodo di prosperità e di fioritura artistica per la città. A quest’epoca risale la costruzione di quello che oggi è il nucleo più antico dell’ Ospedale Maggiore, e del Tempio dell’Incoronata, una delle prime costruzioni in Lombardia ad adottare lo schema bramantesco di edificio a pianta centrale. E in questo periodo fiorisce a Lodi anche una notevole scuola pittorica che ha il suo fulcro nella bottega dei Piazza, una famiglia di pittori lodigiani a cui si deve gran parte dell’impianto decorativo del Tempio dell’Incoronata.

Dopo questa straordinaria stagione artistica, il lodigiano conosce un nuovo periodo di prosperità e di parallelo impulso architettonico nel Settecento, con il fiorire del barocchetto. Sorgono allora le grandi chiese, come la Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena o quella dei Santi Bernardino e Francesco a Casalpusterlengo, e i palazzi nobiliari caratterizzati dalla tradizione lodigiane dei ferri battuti, come Palazzo Barni a Lodi, la Villa Litta a Orio Litta o la Villa Pertusati-Durazzo a Comazzo.
Da non perdere, nel lodigiano, una visita a Lodi Vecchio, l’antica Lodi distrutta dai milanesi, e a Sant’Angelo Lodigiano, arroccata intorno al suo castello trecentesco sorto su un’altura.

Fonte: Sito regione Lombardia

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