Subvocal Tendencies

I have a hard time talking and often wish that I could could connect a computer to my brain so I can communicate more… easily. The information from my brain bottlenecks at my mouth and vocabulary becomes a desert. I just can’t say something sometimes, so I don’t. Most of all, I am extremely terrified of the telephone and calling a stranger gives me so much anxiety I want to vomit out of sheer terror. I can scale 700 feet up a mountain and be hesitant, but public speaking and speaking to strangers elicit a deep dread that I could never shake and renders me frozen. There’s so much more I can express in media but, vocally? Nope. Not a chance.

Which is why the technology below gives me hope that micro expressions can be used to communicate. I’m not sure if this would erase that fear, but if I can use it to “write” my thoughts or command a computer (to put together a piece of digital art, or music), or create visual representatios of ideas, the possibilities are endless.

The technology involves a system of sensors that detect the minuscule neuromuscular signals sent by the brain to the vocal cords and muscles of the throat and tongue. These signals are sent out whenever we speak to ourselves silently, even if we make no sounds. The device feeds the signals through an A.I., which “reads” them and turns them into words. The user hears the A.I.’s responses through a microphone that conducts sound through the bones of the skull and ear, making them silent to others.

“A lot of people with all sorts of speech pathologies are deprived of the ability to communicate with other people,” says Kapur, a PhD candidate at MIT. “This could restore the ability to speak for people who can’t.”

This Device Can Hear You Talking to Yourself

How to Write a Research Paper

In high school, I took something called “Experimental Biology” where all we did was to do experiments and write papers. The culmination of this class was a giant “research” paper based on citations we looked up, old-style via microfiche, on the bacteria we grew in the lab. It took forEVER to find 3 articles on the bacteria I was working with. I will never forget the final, which was a set-up question for a paper written on the fly, in research paper style, during the 3 hours’ final exam time we were given. I was lucky. I had many classes that taught me how to write, two of which were in high school (I took creative writing as well). My old alma mater forced all freshmen to take a “How to Write a Paper” class and you had to pass it or else you spent the rest of eternity taking that class until you did. Thank god I passed the first time ’round.

For the people who aren’t so lucky, I found one (of many) helpful sources: Writing a scientific article: A step-by-step guide for beginners. And for those who want more sources, this paper has some citations to check out.

Spacetime from Entanglement

I thought this was cool.

Physicists have been suggesting for over a decade that gravity — and even space-time itself — may emerge from a strange quantum connection called entanglement.

By engineering highly entangled quantum systems in a tabletop experiment, Schleier-Smith hopes to produce something that looks and acts like the warped space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

One Lab’s Quest to Build Space-Time Out of Quantum Particles
Adam Becker

Dyamxion House

I’m always thinking about my next house. Ideally, I’d have enough money to build one that is efficient and robust, but still spacious enough for me to avoid claustrophobia. One idea I came across is Buckminster Fuller’s Dyamxion House.

Bucky designed a home that was heated and cooled by natural means, that made its own power, was earthquake and storm-proof, and made of permanent, engineered materials that required no periodic painting, reroofing, or other maintenance. You could easily change the floor plan as required – squeezing the bedrooms to make the living room bigger for a party, for instance.

Downdraft ventilation drew dust to the baseboards and through filters, greatly reducing the need to vacuum and dust. O-Volving Shelves required no bending; rotating closets brought the clothes to you. The Dymaxion House was to be leased, or priced like an automobile, to be paid off in five years. 

Buckminster Fuller Institute, Dyamxion House

I don’t need a rotating closet, though, as I’m totally fine with walking into my closet (as long as it’s a reasonable space). What would be cool is to start off with manual controls for various needs that can be adapted later on. A design that’s open to design. However, I’m not sure about the cost of this right now. It may be too prohibitive.

While I was at the planetarium

I don’t know what makes me notice things. Every day some little detail catches my eye and I have to go exploring. So I went to the planetarium last month because the telescopes were open to the public to view Jupiter and Saturn. I’ve never seen any planets through a telescope, because I didn’t know anyone with a great telescope, so all the telescopes I’ve peered through have been $5 second-hand ones that didn’t work or weren’t operated correctly. I have seen a solar eclipse though. My high school let everyone outside, mid-day, to see the solar eclipse in the 90s. Anyway. The planetarium had two telescopes, and they were a lot more than $5. They were with the wait, and not only that, a giant falling star shot directly between the two planets (they looked like stars in the sky) while we (about 100 people) waited for our turns. Everyone went “Oooo” like a Gary Larsen cartoon. What brings people together: planets and meteors.

Afterwards, in the parking lot, I caught a glimpse of these weird, weird things on the parking lot ground. They looked like baseball-sized brains. If you stepped on them, they squished in a splotchy, uncomfortable way. One post to Reddit (although I could have just Googled but what the hell) later, I found out it’s the fruit of the Osage orange tree.

Biologists believe that the large fruits evolved to be eaten and dispersed by the large herbivores, such as mastodons, which lived on our continent only 20,000–30,000 years ago.

Missouri Department of Conservation

Although I’m not in Missouri.

Stuff I looked up in August & September

Lots of things these past 2 months! When I was in high school, someone (probably one of my high school teachers) told me that to earn your PhD you have to contribute to some field’s research with a new idea. At that time I thought, wow, that sounds really hard. I couldn’t imagine any new ideas. Then I got older and learned more. One thing I keep realizing is that the more you look things up and learn, the more you realize what you, or we as humans, don’t know. The hunt for answers only brings up more questions. Can we ever really know everything?

Moyamoya disease

Hyperproliferative lymphocytosis

Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia

Todd’s paralysis – Todd’s paralysis is a neurological condition experienced by individuals with epilepsy, in which a seizure is followed by a brief period of temporary paralysis. The paralysis may be partial or complete but usually occurs on just one side of the body. The paralysis can last from half an hour to 36 hours, with an average of 15 hours, at which point it resolves completely. Todd’s paralysis may also affect speech and vision. Scientists don’t know what causes Todd’s paralysis.

Li-Fraumeni Syndrome – Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) is an inherited familial predisposition to a wide range of certain, often rare, cancers. This is due to a change (mutation) in a tumor suppressor gene known as TP53. The resulting p53 protein produced by the gene is damaged (or otherwise rendered malfunctioning) and is unable to help prevent malignant tumors from developing. Children and young adults are susceptible to developing several multiple cancers, most notably soft-tissue and bone sarcomas, breast cancer, brain tumors, adrenocortical carcinoma and acute leukemia.

Sclerosing mesenteritis – Sclerosing mesenteritis, also called mesenteric panniculitis, occurs when the tissue (mesentery) that holds the small intestines in place becomes inflamed and forms scar tissue. Sclerosing mesenteritis is rare, and it’s not clear what causes it.

PMS2-related Lynch syndrome – In humans, the importance of MMR is underscored by the discovery that a single mutation in any one of four genes within the MMR pathway (MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2) results in Lynch syndrome (LS). LS is an autosomal dominant condition that predisposes individuals to a higher incidence of many malignancies including colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, and gastric cancers.

Mevalonate kinase deficiency – Mevalonate kinase deficiency (MKD) is a rare genetic autoinflammatory disorder. Autoinflammatory syndromes are a group of disorders characterized by seemingly random or unprovoked episodes of inflammation generally due to an abnormality of the innate immune system. They are not the same as autoimmune disorders, in which the adaptive immune system malfunctions and mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.

Muckle Wells syndrome – Muckle-Wells syndrome (MWS) is one of the cryopyrin associated periodic syndromes (CAPS) caused by mutations in the CIAS1/NLRP3 gene. These syndromes are characterized by fever, rash and joint pain.

Adult onset Still’s disease – Adult-onset Still’s disease (AOSD) is a rare inflammatory disorder that can affect the entire body (systemic disease). The cause of the disorder is unknown (idiopathic). Affected individuals may develop episodes of high, spiking fevers, a pink or salmon colored rash, joint pain, muscle pain, a sore throat and other symptoms associated with systemic inflammatory disease.

Things I looked up in June

Sorry this is so late! Also, I didn’t have to look up anything rare during July.

Hurler syndrome – Hurler syndrome is the most severe form of mucopolysaccharidosis type 1, a rare lysosomal storage disease, characterized by skeletal abnormalities, cognitive impairment, heart disease, respiratory problems, enlarged liver and spleen, characteristic facies and reduced life expectancy.

Methylmalonic acidemia – Methylmalonic acidemia refers to a group of inherited conditions in which the body can’t breakdown certain parts of proteins and fats.

Dandy-Walker syndrome – Dandy-Walker syndrome is hydrocephalus associated with a posterior fossa cyst and abnormal development of the cerebellum, a portion of the brain located near the base of the skull and important to voluntary muscle movement, balance and posture.

NASA is a busy place

I’m reading NASA’s launch schedules and it is fascinating!

Artemis I will be the first integrated test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight test that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.

… the DART spacecraft will slam into the asteroid Dimorphos at roughly 4 miles per second, attempting to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes. The world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards…

The first flight of NASA’s X-57, a small, experimental airplane powered by electricity…

All of these can be found on the Upcoming Mission Events page.

Research articles on protein supplement or wine effects on health

Note: these are only a handful of studies compared to the multitudes of results I found on each topic. Please read widely to form a balanced perspective.

Effect of whey protein on blood pressure in pre‐ and mildly hypertensive adults: A randomized controlled study.

Moderate red wine consumption and cardiovascular disease risk: beyond the “French paradox”.

Effects of Whey and Pea Protein Supplementation on Post-Eccentric Exercise Muscle Damage: A Randomized Trial.

Effects of Whey Protein Supplementation Pre- or Post-Resistance Training on Muscle Mass, Muscular Strength, and Functional Capacity in Pre-Conditioned Older Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

Protein Intake and Exercise-Induced Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy: An Update.

The history, science, and art of wine and the case for health benefits: perspectives of an oenophilic cardiovascular pathologist. (There is a lot about wine itself in parts 1 – 10, and the parts about wine’s effects on health starts at part 11).

Blueberries and cream cookies

I used Christina Tosi’s recipe.

It calls for dried blueberries. I had fresh blueberries because it’s summer and they’re in season. My mom has a dehydrator. Little did I know, it took the dehydrator 18 hours to dry a pint and a half blueberries HALFWAY. 18 HOURS. So I said, F*** that, and put them in the toaster oven at 225°F for 5 hours and I got my cup of dried blueberries. The rest of the recipe was at least easy to get.

Since I had a bad start to cookies by baking them flat, touching, and burnt a couple of times, I shaved off 25°F from the official temp. I baked mine at 325°F for 15 minutes and they turned out golden tan with a chewy middle. And they did NOT flatten out to the extent that they touched each other! I also hand mixed in the milk crumb and blueberries instead of using the mixer.

Speaking of milk crumb, it is delicious on its own. I’m attempting to make vanilla protein milk crumbs with rolled oats (original recipe plus vanilla protein powder, rolled oats, and a tsp of milk), so I don’t have as much of a guilt trip, but we’ll see.

What was there before the big bang?

The James Webb Space Telescope came out with images lately. One image of, mind-blowingly, the past – 13 billion years ago.

Light from these galaxies took billions of years to reach us. We are looking back in time to within a billion years after the big bang when viewing the youngest galaxies in this field. The light was stretched by the expansion of the universe to infrared wavelengths that Webb was designed to observe. Researchers will soon begin to learn more about the galaxies’ masses, ages, histories, and compositions.


I got into a conversation about time, then about the start of the universe, and the Big Bang. Some people have a more conspiracy oriented view on the Big Bang and how life began, but neither could imagine what was around before the Big Bang. So I looked it up. It was an interesting trip.

The fading of that last star will only be the beginning of an infinitely long, dark epoch. All matter will eventually be consumed by monstrous black holes, which in their turn will evaporate away into the dimmest glimmers of light. Space will expand ever outwards until even that dim light becomes too spread out to interact. Activity will cease.

Or will it? Strangely enough, some cosmologists believe a previous, cold dark empty universe like the one which lies in our far future could have been the source of our very own Big Bang.


Currently, our experiments can simulate conditions that happened when the universe was roughly one trillionth of a second old. That seems like a ridiculously small number for us, but for a photon — a particle of light — it’s a long time, allowing it to travel the diameter of a proton a trillion times. When talking about the early universe, we must let go of our human standards and intuitions of time.

What happened before the Big Bang?

Even if we’re not going to be alive, why does the death of the universe and how it dies disturb people?

Things I looked up in May

Heller Myotomy (via UCSF Department of Surgery): The Heller myotomy is essentially an esophagomyotomy, the cutting the esophageal sphincter muscle, performed laparoscopically.

Achalasia – Achalasia is a rare disorder of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.

Ludwig’s angina – Ludwig’s angina is a form of severe diffuse cellulitis that presents an acute onset and spreads rapidly, bilaterally affecting the submandibular, sublingual and submental spaces resulting in a state of emergency.

odynophagia – Pain on swallowing; painful swallowing

Nutcracker Syndrome

Stevens Johnson syndrome – Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) is a rare, serious disorder of the skin and mucous membranes. It’s usually a reaction to medication that starts with flu-like symptoms, followed by a painful rash that spreads and blisters. 

The workout videos I use

I workout based on my heart rate. That is, I watch my heart rate so that it doesn’t go beyond approximately 145-155 bpm, and when it’s close to that, I rest until it slows down. This way, I prevent asthma attacks yet still get sweaty. Some days, I feel like I can do more, and some days, less… some days, I just feel tired or sore or burnt out, so I go easier. In any case, I have to do mostly low impact movements (no jumping) to prevent asthma attacks. Just so you know, low impact doesn’t mean easy! If there’s jumping in a workout, I just take the jumps out. Here are a selection of workout videos I use on my full body days.

Rejuvenation of naturally aged tissues

The expression of the pluripotency factors OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and MYC (OSKM) can convert somatic differentiated cells into pluripotent stem cells in a process known as reprogramming. Notably, partial and reversible reprogramming does not change cell identity but can reverse markers of aging in cells, improve the capacity of aged mice to repair tissue injuries, and extend longevity in progeroid mice. However, little is known about the mechanisms involved. Here, we have studied changes in the DNA methylome, transcriptome, and metabolome in naturally aged mice subject to a single period of transient OSKM expression. We found that this is sufficient to reverse DNA methylation changes that occur upon aging in the pancreas, liver, spleen, and blood. Similarly, we observed reversion of transcriptional changes, especially regarding biological processes known to change during aging. Finally, some serum metabolites and biomarkers altered with aging were also restored to young levels upon transient reprogramming. These observations indicate that a single period of OSKM expression can drive epigenetic, transcriptomic, and metabolomic changes toward a younger configuration in multiple tissues and in the serum.

Multi‐omic rejuvenation of naturally aged tissues by a single cycle of transient reprogramming

Faster Growth, Fairer Growth

The Niskanen Center is an interesting place to read articles supporting a unique viewpoint that rejects the dichotomy of leftist or rightist. So far, their Faster Growth, Fairer Growth Agenda is an interesting read, showing how our past affect our present and how today is not yesterday. Be aware, it’s long.

Over the past several decades, the American Dream has been caught in a pincer movement. On the one hand, deep-seated social forces have combined to slow down growth and accelerate inequality. At the same time, sustained and dramatic changes in public policy have worked not to counteract those forces, but to exacerbate them.

Brink Lindsey and Samuel Hammond from the Niskanen Center