Beautiful Noise

Screenshot of myNoise.net

I enjoy experimenting with audio especially if the sounds I am tinkering with lend themselves to relaxation. Being able to construct a soundscape that evokes multiple moods is a pleasure that could, if I had the time, provide me enormous delight for all of my days. That’s why I was so pleased to come across a website maintained by a genial signal processing engineer, Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon. Although Dr. Pigeon’s alluring auditory work, myNoise.net, is designed primarily for sound therapists and hearing professionals, exploring the noises portion of the site is an exhilarating experience. Imagine expertly-crafted sounds wafting into your welcoming ears, systematically exciting your neurons, and refreshing your mind and you have a pretty good idea of how wonderful Dr. Pigeon’s site is. Find a sound set, put some headphones on, close your ideas and drift away into a soothing sonic universe. I like highly recommend Wind Noise.

Reaching Out: World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Why should you care? Stop and think about the following information: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 88 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Even more alarming is that this represents a 78% increase in rates of ASD since the CDC conducted its first report on the disorder in 2007. If communication is the essence of being human, we have a responsibility to help those who struggle with ASD.

According to the AutismSpeaks.org, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, ASD disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by:

  • difficulties in social interaction
  • verbal and nonverbal communication and
  • repetitive behaviors.

In addition, autism is much more complex than most people realize. As Dr. Nancy J. Minshew of the Center for Excellence in Autism Research (CeFAR) at the University of Pittsburgh points out, what we think of as autism actually encompasses a number of intricate disorders of brain development. Even more challenging is the need to understand what, at the genetic level, contributes to ASD. Doing so requires an enormous amount of first-hand information from those who struggle with ASD.  Fortunately, the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) and other participating organizations (such as NIMH, NICHD, NINDS, NIEHS, and CIT/NIH ) are safely collecting and sharing information to better understand what causes and how to treat ASD.

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A Band-Aid Approach to Fighting Cancer That Just Might Work

I’ve just finished reading Alex Goldmark‘s uplifting article for GOODThe Next Time You Cut Your Finger, Save a Life. Go read Alex’s work! What makes this story so compelling is how wonderfully simple and powerful an idea be. You’ll also get to know Graham Douglas. Graham has a brother who, despite daunting odds, was fortunate to find a donor match for bone marrow. The treatment helped Graham’s brother survive leukemia. The experience inspired Graham. He focused on how to find even more potential donors. His approach was both unorthodox and brilliant.

Help adhesive bandages

Making Virtual Reality More Realistic

Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab is developing a number of impressive virtual reality environments. From the looks of the lab’s work, some pretty realistic experiences are being created. I wish this kind of technology could be used to develop immersive learning experiences for students outside of the university setting. Imagine elementary, middle, and high school age learners experiencing a virtual visit to ancient Çatalhöyük, Egypt, Greece, and Rome or making a microscopic journey through the circulatory system.

A side note: As host Sumi Das toured the lab in the SmartPlanet video shown below, I noticed that an Xbox 360 Kinect sensor was part of the equipment that Prof. Bailenson and his crew are using. This makes wonder of if, after a number of iterations, this kind of technology can be made more accessible to others by way of off-the-shelf components.

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Please State the Nature of the Medical Emergency: Symcat

 

The Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager

Symcat is not a doctor. It is, however, quite an impressive “disease calculator” that uses information from patient records to estimate what might be afflicting you. Now, if Symcat’s makers can just give their creation a holographic interface like Star Trek Voyager‘s photonic physician, The Doctor

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