What You Need to Know About Your Thyroid Health


Story at-a-glance

  • The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found inside your neck, right under your larynx or voice box.
  • Your thyroid is responsible for producing the master metabolism hormones that control every function in your body.
  • Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone, a condition that is often linked to iodine deficiency.

Your thyroid, one of the largest endocrine glands, greatly influences almost every cell in your body. Aside from regulating your metabolism and weight by controlling the fat-burning process, thyroid hormones are also required for the growth and development in children and in nearly every physiological process in your body.

When your thyroid levels are out of balance, so are you. Too much or too little hormone secretion in this gland can spell trouble for your overall health and well-being.

Mounting research shows that 10 to 40 percent of people living in the United States have suboptimal thyroid function.1 Poor thyroid function has been linked to serious health conditions like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, acne, eczema, gum disease, infertility, and autoimmune diseases, which is why it’s imperative that you to learn how your thyroid works and what can cause it to go off kilter.

The Thyroid Gland: Understanding How It Works

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found inside your neck, right under your larynx or voice box. A two-inch long, brownish red, highly vascular gland, it has two lobes located on each side of the windpipe that are both connected by a tissue called the isthmus. A normal thyroid gland weighs somewhere between 20 and 60 grams.

Your thyroid is responsible for producing the master metabolism hormones that control every function in your body. It produces three types of hormones:

  • Triiodothyronine (T3)
  • Thyroxine (T4)
  • Diiodothyronine (T2)

Hormones secreted by your thyroid interact with all your other hormones, including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The fact that these hormones are all tied together and are in constant communication explains why a less-than-optimal thyroid status is associated with so many widespread symptoms and diseases.

Almost 90 percent of the hormone produced by your thyroid is in the form of T4, the inactive form. Your liver then converts the T4 into T3, the active form, with the help of an enzyme. T2, however, is currently the least-understood component of thyroid function and the subject of a number of ongoing studies.

If everything is working properly, you will make what you need and have the correct amounts of T3 and T4, which control the metabolism of every cell in your body. If your T3 is inadequate, either by scarce production or not converting properly from T4, your whole system suffers. T3 is critically important because it tells the nucleus of your cells to send messages to your DNA to rev up your metabolism by burning fat. This is how T3 lowers cholesterol levels, regrows hair, and helps keep you lean.

Your T3 levels can be disrupted by nutritional imbalances, toxins, allergens, infections, and stress, and this lead to a series of complications, including thyroid cancer, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism, which today are three of the most prevalent thyroid-related diseases.

Now, let’s discuss and delve deeper into these thyroid problems.

Hypothyroidism: The Sluggish Thyroid Syndrome

Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone, a condition that is often linked to iodine deficiency.

Dr. David Brownstein, a board-certified holistic practitioner who has been working with iodine for the last two decades, claims that over 95 percent of the patients in his clinic are iodine-deficient.

In addition, 10 percent of the general population in the United States, and 20 percent of women over age 60, have subclinical hypothyroidism,2 a condition where you have no obvious symptoms and only slightly abnormal lab tests.

However, only a marginal percentage of these people are being treated. The reason behind this is the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of lab tests, particularly TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Most physicians believe that if your TSH value is within the “normal” range, your thyroid is fine. But as I always say, the devil is in the details. More and more physicians are now discovering that the TSH value is grossly unreliable for diagnosing hypothyroidism.

How to Know If You Are Hypothyroid

Identifying hypothyroidism and its cause is tricky business. Many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are vague and overlap with other disorders. Physicians often miss a thyroid problem since they rely on just a few traditional tests, leaving other clues undetected.

The most sensitive way to find out is to listen to your body. People with a sluggish thyroid usually experience:

Lethargy – Fatigue and lack of energy are typical signs of thyroid dysfunction. Depression has also been linked to the condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, make it a point that your physician checks your thyroid levels.

It’s essential to note that not all tiredness or lack of energy can be blamed on a dysfunctional thyroid gland. Thyroid-related fatigue begins to appear when you cannot sustain energy long enough, especially when compared to a past level of fitness or ability. If your thyroid foundation is weak, sustaining energy output is going to be a challenge. You will notice you just don’t seem to have the energy to do the things like you used to.

Some of the obvious signs of thyroid fatigue include:

Feeling like you don’t have the energy to exercise, and typically not exercising on a consistent basis

A heavy or tired head, especially in the afternoon; your head is a very sensitive indicator of thyroid hormone status

Falling asleep as soon as you sit down when you don’t have anything to do

Weight gain – Easy weight gain or difficulty losing weight, despite an aggressive exercise program and watchful eating, is another indicator.

Rough and scaly skin and/or dry, coarse, and tangled hair – If you have perpetually dry skin that doesn’t respond well to moisturizing lotions or creams, consider hypothyroidism as a factor.

Hair loss – Women especially would want to pay attention to their thyroid when unexplained hair loss occurs. Fortunately, if your hair loss is due to low thyroid function, your hair will come back quickly with proper thyroid treatment.

Sensitivity to cold – Feeling cold all the time is also a sign of low thyroid function. Hypothyroid people are slow to warm up, even in a sauna, and don’t sweat with mild exercise.

Low basal temperature – Another telltale sign of hypothyroidism is a low basal body temperature (BBT), less than 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit averaged over a minimum of three days. It is best to get a BBT thermometer to assess this.

Any of these symptoms can be suggestive of an underactive thyroid. The more of these symptoms you have, the higher the likelihood that you have hypothyroidism. Furthermore, if you have someone in your family with any of these conditions, your risks of thyroid problems become higher:

Goiter Diabetes Multiple sclerosis (MS

)

Prematurely gray hair Autoimmune diseases, (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis, lupussarcoidosis, Sjogren’s) Elevated cholesterol levels
Left-handedness Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis High or low thyroid function

The more vigilant you are in assessing your own symptoms and risk factors and presenting the complete picture to your physician, the easier it will be for you to get the proper treatment.

How About If You Have a Hyperactive Thyroid?

hyperactive thyroid

Thyroxine or T4 is a hormone made by the thyroid gland carried throughout your body in your bloodstream. Many of your cells and tissues depend on thyroxine to work properly.

An overactive thyroid secretes too much T4, causing some of your body functions to accelerate. Physicians may use the term “thyrotoxicosis” instead of “hyperthyroidism.” This condition is more common in women – about eight in 100 women and one 1 in 100 men develop hyperthyroidism at some point in their lives. It can occur at any age.3

Patient.co.uk lists several symptoms of hyperthyroidism:

  • Feeling restless, nervous, emotional, irritable, sleeping poorly, and as if you’re always on the go
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Irregular menstrual periods in women
  • Weight loss (or weight gain, in rare cases)
  • Rapid, forceful, or irregular heartbeat
  • Lack of menstrual periods in women
  • Protruding eyes or exophthalmos

Some of these symptoms may be unnoticeable at first and then become worse as your thyroxine levels start to shoot up even higher.

Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to heart problems like atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, angina, and heart failure. Hyperthyroid women can potentially have difficulty giving birth.

Your thyroid, one of the largest endocrine glands, greatly influences almost every cell in your body. Aside from regulating your metabolism and weight by controlling the fat-burning process, thyroid hormones are also required for the growth and development in children and in nearly every physiological process in your body.

When your thyroid levels are out of balance, so are you. Too much or too little hormone secretion in this gland can spell trouble for your overall health and well-being.

Mounting research shows that 10 to 40 percent of people living in the United States have suboptimal thyroid function.1 Poor thyroid function has been linked to serious health conditions like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, acne, eczema, gum disease, infertility, and autoimmune diseases, which is why it’s imperative that you to learn how your thyroid works and what can cause it to go off kilter.

The Thyroid Gland: Understanding How It Works

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found inside your neck, right under your larynx or voice box. A two-inch long, brownish red, highly vascular gland, it has two lobes located on each side of the windpipe that are both connected by a tissue called the isthmus. A normal thyroid gland weighs somewhere between 20 and 60 grams.

Your thyroid is responsible for producing the master metabolism hormones that control every function in your body. It produces three types of hormones:

  • Triiodothyronine (T3)
  • Thyroxine (T4)
  • Diiodothyronine (T2)

Hormones secreted by your thyroid interact with all your other hormones, including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The fact that these hormones are all tied together and are in constant communication explains why a less-than-optimal thyroid status is associated with so many widespread symptoms and diseases.

Almost 90 percent of the hormone produced by your thyroid is in the form of T4, the inactive form. Your liver then converts the T4 into T3, the active form, with the help of an enzyme. T2, however, is currently the least-understood component of thyroid function and the subject of a number of ongoing studies.

If everything is working properly, you will make what you need and have the correct amounts of T3 and T4, which control the metabolism of every cell in your body. If your T3 is inadequate, either by scarce production or not converting properly from T4, your whole system suffers. T3 is critically important because it tells the nucleus of your cells to send messages to your DNA to rev up your metabolism by burning fat. This is how T3 lowers cholesterol levels, regrows hair, and helps keep you lean.

Your T3 levels can be disrupted by nutritional imbalances, toxins, allergens, infections, and stress, and this lead to a series of complications, including thyroid cancer, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism, which today are three of the most prevalent thyroid-related diseases.

Now, let’s discuss and delve deeper into these thyroid problems.

Hypothyroidism: The Sluggish Thyroid Syndrome

Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone, a condition that is often linked to iodine deficiency.

Dr. David Brownstein, a board-certified holistic practitioner who has been working with iodine for the last two decades, claims that over 95 percent of the patients in his clinic are iodine-deficient.

In addition, 10 percent of the general population in the United States, and 20 percent of women over age 60, have subclinical hypothyroidism,2 a condition where you have no obvious symptoms and only slightly abnormal lab tests.

However, only a marginal percentage of these people are being treated. The reason behind this is the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of lab tests, particularly TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Most physicians believe that if your TSH value is within the “normal” range, your thyroid is fine. But as I always say, the devil is in the details. More and more physicians are now discovering that the TSH value is grossly unreliable for diagnosing hypothyroidism.

How to Know If You Are Hypothyroid

Identifying hypothyroidism and its cause is tricky business. Many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are vague and overlap with other disorders. Physicians often miss a thyroid problem since they rely on just a few traditional tests, leaving other clues undetected.

The most sensitive way to find out is to listen to your body. People with a sluggish thyroid usually experience:

Lethargy – Fatigue and lack of energy are typical signs of thyroid dysfunction. Depression has also been linked to the condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, make it a point that your physician checks your thyroid levels.

It’s essential to note that not all tiredness or lack of energy can be blamed on a dysfunctional thyroid gland. Thyroid-related fatigue begins to appear when you cannot sustain energy long enough, especially when compared to a past level of fitness or ability. If your thyroid foundation is weak, sustaining energy output is going to be a challenge. You will notice you just don’t seem to have the energy to do the things like you used to.

Some of the obvious signs of thyroid fatigue include:

Feeling like you don’t have the energy to exercise, and typically not exercising on a consistent basis

A heavy or tired head, especially in the afternoon; your head is a very sensitive indicator of thyroid hormone status

Falling asleep as soon as you sit down when you don’t have anything to do

Weight gain – Easy weight gain or difficulty losing weight, despite an aggressive exercise program and watchful eating, is another indicator.

Rough and scaly skin and/or dry, coarse, and tangled hair – If you have perpetually dry skin that doesn’t respond well to moisturizing lotions or creams, consider hypothyroidism as a factor.

Hair loss – Women especially would want to pay attention to their thyroid when unexplained hair loss occurs. Fortunately, if your hair loss is due to low thyroid function, your hair will come back quickly with proper thyroid treatment.

Sensitivity to cold – Feeling cold all the time is also a sign of low thyroid function. Hypothyroid people are slow to warm up, even in a sauna, and don’t sweat with mild exercise.

Low basal temperature – Another telltale sign of hypothyroidism is a low basal body temperature (BBT), less than 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit averaged over a minimum of three days. It is best to get a BBT thermometer to assess this.

Any of these symptoms can be suggestive of an underactive thyroid. The more of these symptoms you have, the higher the likelihood that you have hypothyroidism. Furthermore, if you have someone in your family with any of these conditions, your risks of thyroid problems become higher:

Goiter Diabetes Multiple sclerosis (MS

)

Prematurely gray hair Autoimmune diseases, (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis, lupussarcoidosis, Sjogren’s) Elevated cholesterol levels
Left-handedness Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis High or low thyroid function

The more vigilant you are in assessing your own symptoms and risk factors and presenting the complete picture to your physician, the easier it will be for you to get the proper treatment.

How About If You Have a Hyperactive Thyroid?

hyperactive thyroid

Thyroxine or T4 is a hormone made by the thyroid gland carried throughout your body in your bloodstream. Many of your cells and tissues depend on thyroxine to work properly.

An overactive thyroid secretes too much T4, causing some of your body functions to accelerate. Physicians may use the term “thyrotoxicosis” instead of “hyperthyroidism.” This condition is more common in women – about eight in 100 women and one 1 in 100 men develop hyperthyroidism at some point in their lives. It can occur at any age.3

Patient.co.uk lists several symptoms of hyperthyroidism:

  • Feeling restless, nervous, emotional, irritable, sleeping poorly, and as if you’re always on the go
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Irregular menstrual periods in women
  • Weight loss (or weight gain, in rare cases)
  • Rapid, forceful, or irregular heartbeat
  • Lack of menstrual periods in women
  • Protruding eyes or exophthalmos

Some of these symptoms may be unnoticeable at first and then become worse as your thyroxine levels start to shoot up even higher.

Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to heart problems like atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, angina, and heart failure. Hyperthyroid women can potentially have difficulty giving birth.

Watch the video discussion.URL:https://youtu.be/KjFjrPcNB5o

Inception ending: Christopher Nolan finally discusses the meaning behind that spinning top


 

inception.jpg

Christopher Nolan has discussed the controversial and ambiguous ending to his film Inception, which saw a spinning top rotating and wobbling a little before cutting to black.

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t just say “it was all a dream” and then drop the mic, but gave a more nuanced explanation of what it was intended to symbolise, during a speech made to a graduating Princeton University class.

He started off with a pre-amble about pragmatism:

“In the great tradition of these speeches, generally someone says something along the lines of ‘Chase your dreams,’ but I don’t want to tell you that because I don’t believe that. I want you to chase your reality.

“I feel that over time, we started to view reality as the poor cousin to our dreams, in a sense….I want to make the case to you that our dreams, our virtual realities, these abstractions that we enjoy and surround ourselves with – they are subsets of reality.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, he then went on to link this idea to the conclusion of Inception:

“The way the end of that film worked, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Cobb — he was off with his kids, he was in his own subjective reality. He didn’t really care anymore, and that makes a statement: perhaps, all levels of reality are valid. The camera moves over the spinning top just before it appears to be wobbling, it was cut to black.

“I skip out of the back of the theater before people catch me, and there’s a very, very strong reaction from the audience: usually a bit of a groan. The point is, objectively, it matters to the audience in absolute terms: even though when I’m watching, it’s fiction, a sort of virtual reality. But the question of whether that’s a  dream or whether it’s real is the question I’ve been asked most about any of the films I’ve made. It matters to people because that’s the point about reality. Reality matters.”

It’s an elegant and thought-provoking explanation, though perhaps not as clear cut as some would like.

Then again, they never are. Sopranos creator David Chase has been asked to explain his big cut-to-black ending repeatedly for a decade now, and rightly insists that its beauty lies in its ambiguity and lack of closure.

Nanogenerator Harvests Swipes To Power LCD Screens


There’s a whole lot of energy out there that’s just kind of hanging around. The brakes on cars and trains turn momentum into heat, for example, which we now have systems for recapturing and recycling. But there are many more examples of wasted “ambient” energy that we don’t recapture. Even regular old walking around as bipedal animals is an inefficient process; the energy we expend in a single stride is greater than it would be given a perfectly efficient process.

Such is life, but nowadays we’re surrounded by devices that don’t require all that much power to operate. A couple of volts goes a long way. A newly developed nanogenerator, described this week in the journal Nano Energy, puts that into perspective, offering a means of converting the energy expended in a standard touchscreen swipe into sufficient power to light up a touchscreen.

The nanogenerator in question is what’s known as a biocompatible ferroelectret nanogenerator, or FENG—a paper-thin sheet of layered materials including silver, polyimide, and a sort of giant charged molecule known as polypropylene ferroelectret. The layers of the FENG are loaded up with charged ions, which results in a construction that, when compressed, produces electrical energy.

The high-level picture is that the FENG winds up with really huge dipoles—magnetic poles of opposite charge—existing on its different layers, which then change in relation to each other as the material is deformed under pressure. This change results in differences in electrical potential, which is what gives us useful electrical energy.

So, we hear about self-powered devices kind of a lot. What makes this one interesting is that it’s a new kind of device. That is, a FENG is not piezoelectric (electricity via squishing crystals) or triboelectric (electricity via certain kinds of friction).

The paper describes some advantages: “their simple fabrication allows for encapsulated low-cost devices. In view of the environment, health, and safety, the fabrication of encapsulated FENG avoids the use of harmful elements (e.g. lead) or toxic materials (e.g. carbon nanotubes), making it more attractive for biocompatible and perhaps even implantable applications.”

The device also has the neat property of becoming more powerful when folded. In a statement, lead investigator Nelson Sepulveda explains: “Each time you fold it you are increasing exponentially the amount of voltage you are creating. You can start with a large device, but when you fold it once, and again, and again, it’s now much smaller and has more energy. Now it may be small enough to put in a specially made heel of your shoe so it creates power each time your heel strikes the ground.”

Sepulveda and co.’s current task is in developing technology that would allow for the transmission of energy generated by said heel strike into devices like headsets.

The Story of the Bose Wave, the Stereo System Built for the Infomercial Era


A version of this post originally appeared on Tedium, a twice-weekly newsletter that hunts for the end of the long tail.

Odds are that sometime in the last couple of decades or so, someone in your group of friends or family has received a snazzy countertop radio from a loved one.But it wasn’t their first experience with this device. Its echoes reverberated in living rooms around the country, promising to envelop even tiny rooms in the sounds of larger ones.

As likely as it is that you’re seen a Bose Wave radio or music system in someone’s house, the odds are much better that you’ve seen the commercials or magazine ads sometime over the past 25 years or so, rolled your eyes at how over-the-top the language was, and continued living your tinny-speaker life. But what if we were missing out on something good?

Today, we ponder the Bose Wave, the infomercial’s favorite speaker—a speaker, that, as it turns out, was a Christmas gift of sorts.


“At this moment, I must say that I have never heard a speaker system in my own home which could surpass, or even equal, the Bose 901 for overall ‘realism’ of sound.”

— Julian Hirsch, a reviewer for the audiophile magazine Stereo Review, offering a notably breathtaking September 1968 review of the Bose 901 speakers, the company’s first popular product. The Hirsch quote (along with “you’ll be reluctant to turn it off and go to bed,” a quip from High Fidelity magazine’s Norman Eisenberg) helped solidify both Bose as a company—this quote was frequently used in the company’s ads even decades after the 901 speakers were released—and Hirsch himself (he was to stereos what Lester Bangs was to the music that played on them). The quote is a good reminder that breathless language is not unheard of in the audiophile space—nor in the history of Bose.


Bose was built on engineering, not aggressive advertising

OK, so we’ve set the stage a little bit: Bose is a giant company that has gained a lot of mileage from oohs and ahhs.

But as a company, Bose gained a heck of a lot more from its purely academic approach. Whether or not you feel the company’s Wave speakers are any good, there’s one thing that can’t be debated: The man whose company still sells those speakers was a brilliant guy whose innovative spirit can’t be defined by a single product, nor his marketing team.

Dr. Amar Bose, a Bengali-American whose father was an Indian freedom fighter, came to his success though his curious mind. As a 2005 Popular Science profile notes, he was ably taking apart all sorts of devices as a young teenager. He even built his own television. And his smarts proved an effective ticket to a career in academia.

But there was a problem he felt needed to be solved. As a Massachusetts Institute of Technology doctoral student in the late 1950s, he grew frustrated with the poor audio quality of the high-end stereo system he bought himself as a reward.

“I studied the literature and bought the best system based on the specifications. But when I brought it home and plugged it in, it sounded terrible,” he explained to the magazine. “I was disappointed and confused. Why did so much of what I had been taught say it should be good, when my ears said it wasn’t?”

Cutaway illustration of the Bose Air Wave system.

That led Bose, who became an MIT professor of engineering, to dive into audio research on how to maximize the sound that could come out of a pair of speakers. Eventually, his research led him to make speakers that worked much the same way as actual music being played in a concert hall did—with the sound waves reverberating off the walls.

This thought process, as immortalized in this 1967 patent, led to the 901 speakers, the devices that helped drive the company’s long-term success and which are still sold today. That success allowed Dr. Bose, who remained an MIT professor in the midst of his company’s success, to further experiment on all sorts of different projects at Bose, including (most famously) noise-cancelling headphones and (most ambitiously) a car suspension system built for smooth rides.

The company is privately held, giving it the ability to spend much of its time and profits working on major research projects. One of those projects became the basis for the Wave line of speakers, designed by Dr. Bose with the help of Dr. William Short, a fellow former MIT student. The eureka moment, according to a 1985 Popular Science piece, was when Short had built a primitive form of the company’s “waveguide” technology—an enclosed, serpentine-like plastic chamber that’s designed to help amplify a sound wave and bring out some of its best qualities.

He showed Dr. Bose what he had on Christmas Eve, and Dr. Bose immediately realized he had a very memorable gift sitting in his office.

“After Bill demonstrated the first crude model to me on Christmas Eve in 1981, I ran around the plant grabbing anyone who hadn’t left for the holidays,” Dr. Bose told the magazine at the time. “I wanted everyone to hear the incredible sound coming from this new kind of enclosure.”

That waveguide technology became the basis of the Acoustic Wave Music System, released in 1985; the smaller Wave AM/FM radio, released in 1993; and dozens of other varieties since. In one of its user manuals, Bose claimed it took 14 years to research and develop the Wave audio system, and the work on the waveguide technology earned Dr. Bose and Dr. Short numerous awards.

(And, fun fact: The company also produced a massive subwoofer, designed for large group events like movies, that relies on the same technology as the Wave. This article, written by Short, explains how that worked.)

The company priced high out of the gate, predicting a market existed for extremely expensive alarm clock radios—something even its competitors, like Boston Acoustics President Andy Petite, admitted was there.

“There’s been a vacancy in the market for a really high-performance stereo/radio,” Petite told the Christian Science Monitor in 1993.

There was. But Bose had to sell a bit of its marketing soul to find it.


When did the Bose Wave go from engineering miracle to Sharper Image fodder?

Bose’s early success with the 901 speakers and their later variations won them interest from audiophiles, but the company’s decision to later simultaneously target the consumer market and keep their prices high led to continual skepticism from enthusiasts. (If you’ve followed Apple with derision over the last 30 years or so, it’s kind of like that.)

Part of that, admittedly, may be partly due to the way the company sold its innovations. For decades, Bose has willingly put its product in the same category of commercial-based sales as stuff on QVC, as the Slap Chop, as Columbia House, and as the Video Professor. The quality of what Bose was selling was arguably of higher quality than most of what was selling on Comedy Central at 10 AM while Mystery Science Theater 3000 was on the air, but even if it was slumming a little, the strategy was necessary.

The problem is, fancy speakers don’t just market themselves. The public has to be sold on why they’re even worth it.

The Bose Wave, the successor to the Audio Wave, has been heavily optimized to sell in its current channels—with psychology a heavy factor. For example, when the company struggled to sell Wave systems through magazine ads, the company changed its marketing strategy in multiple ways: It changed the headline on the ad to “hear what you’ve been missing,” then doubled down on the testimonials that worked so well for the 901s.

The example is frequently brought up by Arizona State University marketing professor Robert Cialdini, an expert on persuasion, who says that the approach helped downplay the newness of the device on the market.

“With something new, people are uncertain, and when they are uncertain, they want to avoid losses,” he said in a recent interview with PBS Newshour. “So what the Bose marketers did, they put it at the top of the ad: ‘Something you will lose, something you will miss.’ They put them in the mindset of loss, and people decided to buy this equipment, so they wouldn’t lose the benefits.”

It’s clear by the channels being used that Bose has always wanted the Wave to be a device for the people, rather than the audiophiles. That’s OK. Plebs are allowed to be impressed by a sound system, too, even if they know nothing about proper placement or anything like that.

If there’s a quibble to the strategy, however, it’s that the price and positioning might have caught Bose a bit flat-footed as it became more important for music to be portable.

Fortunately, they had those noise-cancelling headphones.


“Do I consider Bose a rival to even a modest, entry-level high end streaming system? Hardly. But what they lack in sonic excellence they more than make up for in knowing how to sell it. And that’s a lesson many high-end companies could learn.”

— Paul Wilson, a columnist for Audiophile Review, offering a critique of the way Bose sells its Wave systems through infomercials. Wilson notes that while the infomercial he watched spent much of its time making the case that the people in the commercial were blown away by the quality of the speakers in the Wave system, some of the time was actually spent on explaining how the speakers worked, including a part where it was explained how sound vibrations going through the Wave system’s waveguide speaker technology by using a candle—an experiment replicated in this YouTube clip.


The weird thing about Bose is that, despite the company’s pedigree, despite these longstanding ties to academia and engineering, the company still has all sorts of haters. One clip that stood out to me when I was digging around featured a middle-aged guy who clearly was not impressed by the engineering that was Amar Bose’s life’s work.

“They want a thousand dollars for a clock radio with a bunch of plastic tubes in it to make the sound deeper,” the guy says at the start of the four-minute clip in which he savages the company’s speakers for their reliance on those plastic tubes.

There are reasons to be critical of Bose as a company, not least of which are the firm’s high prices, but describing 14 years of scientific research as a “scam,” as that guy does, is perhaps a little too far.

But one random YouTuber’s video isn’t going to ruin Dr. Bose’s legacy. That legacy, it should be emphasized again, isn’t with infomercials or breathless quotes repeated to death in magazine ads for the speakers he invented.

It’s with MIT, the university whose rigorous graduate program inspired Dr. Bose to reward himself with a stereo, setting the stage for his career in electronics. The school where he taught for 45 years, most of that time while running a name-brand company. And the school that, thanks to an unprecedented gift from Dr. Bose in 2011, is the majority shareholder in the company that bears his name (though has no say in how the company is run).

And it’s with the company he built. Dr. Bose died in 2013. But its devices are still everywhere, no matter how many pairs of Beats Apple tries to sell.

The long, winding trail to the sound that goes through his most famous set of speakers lives on. It gets louder as it goes.

For the First Time Ever, Scientists Have Grown Mammalian Embryos in Space


In Brief

Scientists sent over 6,000 mouse embryos to space, and they have successfully developed the cells to the blastocyst stage, making them the first mammalian embryos to develop in space.

Making History With Alien Mice

China just disclosed an amazing feat. For the first time ever, scientists have successfully developed early-stage mammalian embryos in space. The satellite upon which the experiment took place is expected to return to Earth next week, and with it, the developing mouse embryos.

The experiment is a collaborative work between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the European Space Agency.

SJ-10, the research probe that contains the will-be baby mice, was launched to space on April 6. It was carrying more than 6,000 mouse embryos in a self-sufficient chamber that is about the size of a microwave oven. Of the thousands of cells, 600 were put under observation.

Using high-resolution cameras that took photos of the embryos every four hours for four days, the scientists were able to record the development of the cells.

Photos from the satellite show the growth of the embryos from the 2-cell stage up to the blastocyst stage. The scientists report that the timing of the cell growth was in line with that of the cells here on Earth.

Mice embryos in the blastocyst stage taken 80 hours after the launch of SJ-10.

Multiple Goals

At 72 hours after the launch, the rest of the embryos on the probe were injected with fixatives to see how the space environment can affect embryonic development.

Reports say that the SJ-10 was only designed to last for 15 days, and is expected to land in Siziwang Banner in Inner Mongolia. Further analyses of the samples, along with comparative studies, will be done as soon as the research probe returns.

And notably, the embryos were not only the setups being observed. The probe is said to be housing a total of 19 experimental setups that include observations on fluid physics, combustion, and biological effects in microgravity.

This Is What It’s Like Living With Two Types of DNA


In a 2004 episode of “Law and Order SVU,” a rapist almost got away with a crime because the DNA from a cheek swab did not match the DNA in the blood at the crime scene. But investigators got their guy when they learned he had a bone marrow transplant, making the DNA in his blood different than in the rest of his body.

These criminals are chimeras, people with two types of DNA. I know about this because I am also a transplant recipient and therefore also a chimera. I got leukemia, got chemotherapy to eradicate it, and got a stem cell transplant (also called a bone marrow transplant). My blood type changed to my donor’s, with the DNA in my blood becoming different from the DNA in my cells.

A Chimera was a creature in Greek mythology usually represented as a composite of a lion, goat, and serpent.

The real-life drama does not concern criminal minds as in TV and film. Rather it is a between “team graft” (the donor) and “team host” (the recipient), inside the patient’s body: graft vs. host disease, or GVHD. Some GVHD is good – a sign that the donor cells are actively seeking and destroying any possible invading cancer cells (graft vs. leukemia effect). But too much can be harmful and even fatal. For me, this means lifelong treatment for GVHD of the skin, liver and digestive system.

A Chimera was a creature in Greek mythology usually represented as a composite of a lion, goat, and serpent.

According to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, “Contemporary use of the term ‘chimerism’ in hematopoietic cell transplant derives from this idea of a ‘mixed’ entity, referring to someone who has received a transplant of genetically different tissue. Also called blood stem cells, hematopoietic cells are immature cells that can develop into white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.”

Ronni Gordon at her daughter’s graduation.

Not too long ago, there was little hope for blood cancer patients.

We chimeras owe our existence to the persistence of a Harvard-trained researcher later called The Father of Bone Marrow Transplantation. In 1957, E. Donnall Thomas published a report of a new approach to blood cancer treatment: radiation and chemotherapy followed by the intravenous infusion of bone marrow.

“That publication represented the beginning of a long series of laboratory and clinical investigations; more than a decade would pass before the procedure achieved its first successes,” Frederick R. Appelbaum, M.D, wrote in an appreciation in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Thomas, who later won a Nobel Prize for his discovery, once said, “In the 1960s in particular and even into the 1970s, there were very responsible physicians who said this would never work. Some suggested it shouldn’t go on as an experimental thing.”

In 2013, The Worldwide Network for Blood and Marrow Transplantation announced a landmark: a total of 1 million stem cell transplants had been performed worldwide.

Approximately 24,000 patients receive a donor’s cells annually. According to Be The Match (formerly The National Marrow Donor Program), of the 50,000 patients transplanted annually, 53 percent are autologous—using the patient’s own stem cells —and 47 percent are allogenic, using someone else’s cells or umbilical cord blood.

At first, unless patients had an identical twin with matching tissue types, their immune system would destroy the transplanted cells as foreign, or the transplanted cells would destroy the patient’s organs. But Thomas figured out how to use immune suppressant drugs to keep this from happening. And he recognized the importance of matching donors’ genetic markers with recipients, helping to inspire the creation of a national bone marrow donor registry, which is how I got my donor.

“Distinguishing the cells of the body that cause graft versus host disease (GVHD) and those that are important to fight leukemia/lymphoma/ tumor (GVL/GVT) has been a major area of research for many years,” said Linda Burns, M.D., Vice President and Medical Director of Health Services Research at Be The Match.

At first, unless patients had an identical twin with matching tissue types, their immune system would destroy the transplanted cells as foreign, or the transplanted cells would destroy the patient’s organs.

“Scientists have a better understanding now of how to prevent GVHD and maintain the graft’s ability to fight any residual cancer cells,” she continued in an email. “Clinical research studies are ongoing in this area, including ones that select the cells from the graft that are critical, as well as ones that incorporate chemotherapy or immunotherapy to reduce GVHD while maintaining the GVL/GVT effect and hence prevent relapse.”

As I wrote in my New York Times Lives essay, I got leukemia in 2003. I had chemotherapy and a transplant that year but relapsed twice, leading to my fourth transplant eight years ago.

Fixing one problem often creates another. I take prednisone to help control my GVHD. But prednisone suppresses the immune system, leading to multiple squamous cell skin cancers, some needing surgery. Prednisone also weakens your muscles; when I was originally on higher doses than the 1 milligram I take now, I could barely stand up and sit down in a chair, and I fell more than once. And GVHD of the skin caused my abdomen to harden like a bowling ball, my hands to puff up and the skin on my thighs to resemble bubble wrap.

I didn’t realize how much my skin had already tightened until I began a treatment called extracorporeal photopheresis, or ECP. This entails lying still for three hours with a big needle in your arm while a machine draws your blood out through a tube. The white cells are separated, exposed to UV light and returned with their DNA altered to calm them down.

When I started a year and half ago, I went twice a week for three months, gradually cutting back to every other week as my skin started to soften. The closest center where I can get this done is 90 miles from me. It is almost a part-time job.

Sometimes the needle, like all the side effects, hits a nerve. But mostly I can’t complain. Back in 2003, I didn’t even know if I would make it to my oldest son’s high school graduation that year. But I did. I also saw my three children graduate from college and welcomed a baby granddaughter into the world. Being a chimera is a small price to pay.

Not Even Bacteria Are Safe from Climate Change


Climate change has started to touch every living thing, and not even bacteria are immune from its effects.

The Earth’s warmer environment is killing off some of the world’s microbiological diversity, some of which acts as warning signals for greater environmental impacts in their ecosystems, according to a study published this week in Nature Communications. Since microbes make up the foundation of any food chain, any major impact to them might trickle down through the food chain and could impact entire ecosystems.

The study looked at bacteria and other microbes in various ecosystems, including harsh ones like high-elevation areas or frozen tundras. It found that microbes in icy environments were similar to ones in mountainous tropical regions. This suggests changes in temperature and other impacts are causing some types of microbes to die off, reducing the Earth’s microbial diversity.

“We’ve historically studied birds, mammals and plants, but we know very little about biotechnology of microbes,” said Janne Soininen, a study author from the University of Helsinki in a statement.

Figuring out how temperature changes and the increase in nutrients in water from climate change can help scientists understand how climate change will affect the very building blocks of certain ecosystems, a release announcing the study stated.

“The typically austere, i.e. nutrient-poor, waters in the north, for example, are extremely susceptible to temperature variations, and as the climate warms up, species that have adapted to the cold will decline.”

The World’s First Cyborg Artist Can Detect Earthquakes With Her Arm


We’ve come a long way since the word “cyborg” was first coined in 1960 by scientists Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline who used it as a short form of “cybernetic organism.” In an article first published in the Astronautics journal, they defined it as a man-machine system that can live in different environments than humans normally could not and with additional senses. But what else?

Women are cyborgs, too, like the Catalan cyborg artist Moon Ribas, who has an online sensor implanted in her left arm. The dancer and choreographer can feel earthquakes in real time, which she calls her “sixth sense.” She had a tiny cybernetic implant grafted into her left elbow in 2013. Whenever she senses an earthquake through an online seismograph, her arm vibrates. Depending on the scale of an earthquake on the Richter scale, she’ll get a weaker or stronger vibration as a way to sense what she calls “the heartbeat of our planet.”

Ribas became a cyborg primarily to take contemporary dance to the next level, like Waiting for Earthquakes, a stage performance where she literally waits until she gets a vibration in her arm then allows it to lead her dance movements. Since her chip can sense earthquakes that are as little as one on the Richter scale, which people cannot feel (they’re called ‘microquakes’ and they are often around volcanoes before they erupt). She typically has an earthquake vibration in her arm every 10 minutes, as there are roughly 50 earthquakes a day. But if not, her dance performance has her standing still on a stage, similar to waiting in a waiting room.

After three years of having her arm sensor, Ribas now wants to add a location sensor on her left arm that enables her to sense how close an earthquake is to her, which intensifies the closer the earthquake is to her. She will also get two vibrating chips implanted in the bottom of her feet. “After awhile I realized it would make more sense to feel earthquakes through my feet because they actually touch the earth,” she said on the phone from Barcelona. “The prototype has already been made, I can wear it permanently.”

Maybe getting a cyborg chip is like getting a tattoo: Once you start, you can’t stop? But it isn’t about becoming more superhuman or machine-like. “I have an interest in sci-fi, but nature is already amazing—some animals can see ultraviolet and infra-red, while some jellyfish never die. If we apply these things to our reality, our understanding of the planet will also change.”

On her feet, Ribas will be able to feel the seismic activity of the moon, also known as moonquakes (it’s just a coincidence her name is Moon). But she’ll still be able to feel the earth. “My arm will vibrate with the earth and my feet will be on the moon,” she said.

There was previously a lunar seismograph on the moon but it was stopped in 1977, now it has been replaced by a data-gathering satellite. “I have to connect to the satellite and find a way to get light data in real time,” said Ribas. “I have to contact NASA or I want to find a way to get my own satellite up there.”

Along with her partner, Neil Harbisson, a cyborg who has a Wi-Fi-enabled antenna in his skull to hear light frequencies, they’re working to grow the cyborg art movement. This summer, they launched Cyborg Nest, a cyborg productcompany which sells subdermal implants which is the first step to becoming a cyborg.

They’re also doing an open call for collaborators called Cyborg Futures, which aims to promote cyborg art, and they’re encouraging others to become cyborgs with the Cyborg Foundation, which defends cyborg rights. “It’s about the right and the freedom to choose the senses you want to have,” she said. “I have the right to change my body.”

Despite some backlash from medical ethicists and religious groups, Ribas doesn’t plan to stop her work anytime soon. “We get threats saying we are against humanity,” said Ribas. “We see it as something that creates more empathy to the earth and humanity, it creates more respect.”

A New Theory on the Mysterious Condition Causing Astronauts to Lose Their Vision


But new research presented this week provides a partial answer to what’s causing this condition: pressurized spinal fluid. Noam Alperin, a researcher at the University of Miami’s Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, presented findings from research he and his peers conducted on 16 astronauts, measuring the volume of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in their heads before and after spaceflight. CSF floats around the brain and spine, cushioning it and protecting your brain as you move, such as when you stand up after lying down.

Alperin and his team found that astronauts who had been in space for extended trips (about six months) had much higher build up of CSF in the socket around the eye than astronauts who had only gone on short stints (about two weeks). They also designed a new imaging technique to measure exactly how “flat” the astronauts eyeballs had become after extended periods in space.

The idea is that, without the assistance of gravity, the fluid isn’t pulled down and evenly distributed, allowing it to pool in the eye cavity and build up pressure, which slowly starts to warp the eye and cause the vision damage, called visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome (VIIP). It’s likely some people are more predisposed to this than others, perhaps due to the shape of their skulls, which would explain why some astronauts have not experienced VIIP. But Alperin said his findings suggest anybody could get VIIP if they’re in space for a long enough period of time.

“We saw structural changes in the eye globe only in the long-duration group,” Alperin told me over the phone. “And these changes were associated with increased volumes of the CSF. Our conclusion was that the CSF was playing a major role in the formation of the problem.”

The results have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but Alperin told me the manuscript was recently accepted and will be published shortly. And these reported findings align with what scientists already suspected about the condition, according to Scott M. Smith, the manager of NASA’s Nutritional Biochemistry Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center, who’s been studying the vision loss issue for the last six years.

“I think this fits very well within what others seem to be thinking at the moment,” Smith told me.

Many astronauts—though, importantly, not all—have experienced this unexplained reduction in eyesight after spending months on the International Space Station, some dropping from perfect 20/20 vision to 20/100 in just six months. Researchers have been gravely concerned about this effect. With plans to send humans to Mars by the 2030s, a mission that would require nine months of space flight one way, we don’t really want to risk all of our astronauts going blind in the process.

“NASA ranks human health risks and the two top risks are radiation and vision issues,” Smith said. “Is it number one or two? Some people would say it’s number one, because we don’t really know what the long-term implications are.”

But the better we understand how VIIP occurs, the more likely we are to be able to create a solution. Smith’s team is currently conducting a clinical trial to investigate whether polycystic ovarian syndrome—which, despite its name, may indeed occur in men—could have similar effects on vision. This research could help explain who is more likely to experience VIIP, as research like Alperin’s explores the physical functions of the condition.

What a solution to the condition will look like depends what else we learn: it could be a medication, or a mechanical device to help redistribute fluid, or something else entirely. But each piece to the puzzle helps us get one step closer to sending humans to Mars, and not blinding them in the process.

Meet the Cyborg Beetles, Real Insects That Are Controlled Like Robots


The future is crawling towards us on six legs. Motherboard traveled to Singapore to meet with Dr. Hirotaka Sato, an aerospace engineer at Nanyang Technological University. Sato and his team are turning live beetles into cyborgs by electrically controlling their motor functions.

Having studied the beetles’ muscle configuration, neural networks, and leg control, the researchers wired the insects so that they could be controlled by a switchboard. In doing so, the researchers could manipulate the different walking gaits, speeds, flying direction, and other forms of motion.

Essentially, the beetles became like robots with no control over their own motor functioning. Interestingly, though the researchers control the beetles through wiring, their energy still comes naturally from the food they eat. Hence, the muscles are driven by the insects themselves, but they have no willpower over how their muscles move.

Moreover, turning beetles into cyborgs seems to not be that harmful to them. Their natural lifespan is three to six months, and even with the researchers’ interference, they can survive for several months. According to the researchers, a beetle has never died right after stimulation.

And while this technology may seem crazy, the implications are very practical. Sensors that detect heat, and hence people, can be placed on the beetles, so that they can be manipulated to move toward a person. This can be helpful when searching for someone, such as in a criminal investigation or finding a terrorist.

The researchers are very serious about ensuring that whatever the applications are for this technology, that they go toward peaceful purposes. And who knows how far it could go? With this much progress manipulating the motor functions of creatures as small as beetles, perhaps it can be used for even bigger animal targets.

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/tgLjhT7S15U