Monday, October 4, 2010

Link Love

I would like to share a number of interesting things going on at the moment that I have been made aware of thanks to some of my friends and family.

In architectural news, there is the invention of an escalator which can form a variety of shapes, and which has no redundant steps, and therefor probably uses less energy than a pair of escalators normally would. It looks like it has a number of beautiful and useful possibilities.

Also in architecture news, Hillside House, one of the first LEED Platinum for Houses projects. This house is very unusual in its use of outdoor living space and in it's arrangement of bedrooms on the main entry floor with public areas on the top floor of the house. I am also not sure how a house with an elevator can manage to qualify for LEED Platinum.

Next, I would like to share a beautiful design blog about the use of type. I wish I could harness some of that expertise to create my new business cards.

Finally, I just read about human trial suspended animation going on at Massachusetts General Hospital. This is very similar to the cryogenic freezing found in a lot of science-fiction. The idea is that they will be able to successfully operate on trauma victims who would otherwise die.

We don't seem to be at a point of long-term cryogenics here. Probably just long enough to complete the necessary surgeries that previously would have taken too long. I imagine that prolonged freezing would lead to extensive cell death throughout the body, which would be irreversible.

Still, the are are definitely some interesting ramifications, especially when you compare this to people in a coma, etc. Even in science-fiction, a cryogenically frozen person has some function, just at an extremely low rate, whereas according to the doctor leading the research, "The body is essentially in real life suspended animation with no pulse, no blood pressure, no electrical waves in the brain."

As some comments to the article mentioned, there are possible religious implications here. Is physical death defined by the loss of all bodily function? If so, does the spirit then pass on? What happens if that person is brought back? To my mind, these people's apparent return to normal further emphasizes a disconnect between the death of the body and the death of the spirit/person. Regardless of what you believe about the existence of a soul, and what may happen to it after death, it must be acknowledged that as a population, we are probably not ready for the moral ramifications of this technology. We have been dealing with this disconnect in cases like Terri Schiavo. On the other hand, short periods of "technical" death are nothing new to medicine. I have only to think of a couple of family friends who suffered severe pneumonia and heart attacks to come up with examples of people who were in this situation for ten minutes or so. There are many stories in our culture about the tunnel and the bright light, etc. Where does the slippery slope of extreme measures lead us? Where do we draw the line?


  1. I knew of medical procedures which involved chilling the body to slow down metabolism. But this is fascinating! Imagine ambulances with 'cold tanks' in them. Or military hospitals using this so patients could be transferred to larger facilities for better care, while reducing the risk of death during transport.

  2. I don't know how big the required technology is now, but any way you slice it these are some great ideas for future applications of this technology. Also, did you know that some of the robotic surgery machines are now set up to do remote operations in the theatre of war?