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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Cancer Signs We Are Likely to Ignore

Men: Cancer Symptoms You're Most Likely to Ignore

Annual checkups and tests such as colonoscopies and PSA assays are important, but it's not a good idea to rely on tests alone to protect you from cancer. It's just as important to listen to your body and notice anything that's different, odd, or unexplainable. (You should also listen to those close to you, such as a wife or partner, because others sometimes notice things we're unaware of—or don't want to admit.) You don't want to join the ranks of cancer patients who realize too late that symptoms they'd noticed for a long time could have sounded the alarm earlier, when cancer was easier to cure.

1. Upset stomach or stomachache

One of the first signs colon cancer patients remember experiencing when they look back is unexplained stomach aches. Those with pancreatic cancer describe a dull ache that feels like it's pressing inward. Many liver cancer patients say they went in complaining of stomach cramps and upset stomachs so frequently that their doctors thought they had ulcers. Liver cancer patients and those with leukemia can experience abdominal pain resulting from an enlarged spleen, which may feel like an ache on the lower left side.

If you have a stomachache that you can't attribute to a digestive problem or that doesn't go away, ask your doctor to order an ultrasound. Finding a liver or pancreatic tumor early can make all the difference in treatment.

2. Chronic "acid stomach" or feeling full after a small meal

The most common early sign of stomach cancer is pain in the upper or middle abdomen that feels like gas or heartburn. It may be aggravated by eating, so that you feel full when you haven't actually eaten much. What's particularly confusing is that the pain can be relieved by antacids, confirming your conclusion that it was caused by acid in the stomach, when it's more than that. An unexplained pain or ache in lower right side can be the first sign of liver cancer, known as one of the "silent killers." Feeling full after a small meal is a common sign of liver cancer as well.

If you have frequent bouts of acid stomach, an unexplained abdominal ache, or a full feeling after meals even when you're eating less than normal, call your doctor.

3. Unexplained weight loss

If you notice the pounds coming off and you haven't made changes to your diet or exercise regime, it's important to find out why. Unexplained weight loss can be an early sign of colon and other digestive cancers; it can also be a sign of cancer that's spread to the liver, affecting your appetite and the ability of your body to rid itself of waste.

4. Jaundice

Pancreatic cancer, another one of the "silent killers," is often discovered when someone notices jaundice and asks the doctor to do a battery of tests. Jaundice is most commonly thought of as a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, but darker-than-normal urine that's not the result of dehydration is also a sign. Clay-colored stools are another little-known sign of jaundice. Oddly, jaundice can also cause itching, because the bile salts in the bloodstream cause the skin to itch. Some people with pancreatic cancer say they noticed the itching before they noticed the jaundice itself.

5. Wheezing or shortness of breath

One of the first signs lung cancer patients remember noticing when they look back is the inability to catch their breath. "I couldn't even walk to my car without wheezing; I thought I had asthma, but how come I didn't have it before?" is how one man described it. Shortness of breath, chest pain, or spitting blood are also signs of testicular cancer that's spread to the lungs.

6. Chronic cough or chest pain

Several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung tumors, can cause symptoms that mimic a bad cough or bronchitis. One way to tell the difference: The problems persist, or go away and come back again in a repeating cycle. Some lung cancer patients report chest pain that extends up into the shoulder or down the arm.

7. Frequent fevers or infections

These can be signs of leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells that starts in the bone marrow. Leukemia causes the marrow to produce abnormal white blood cells, which crowd out healthy white cells, sapping the body's infection-fighting capabilities. Doctors sometimes catch leukemia in older adults only after the patient has been in a number of times complaining of fever, achiness, and flu-like symptoms over an extended period of time.

8. Difficulty swallowing

Most commonly associated with esophageal or throat cancer, having trouble swallowing is sometimes one of the first signs of lung cancer, too. Men diagnosed with esophageal cancer look back and remember a feeling of pressure and soreness when swallowing that didn't go away the way a cold or flu would have. Consult your doctor also if you have a frequent feeling of needing to clear your throat or that food is stuck in your chest; either of these can signal a narrowing of the esophagus that could mean the presence of a tumor.

9. Chronic heartburn

If you just ate half a pizza, heartburn is expected. But if you have frequent episodes of heartburn or a constant low-level feeling of pain in the chest after eating, call your doctor and ask to be screened for esophageal cancer. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—a condition in which stomach acid rises into the esophagus, causing heartburn and an acidic taste in the throat—can trigger a condition called Barrett's esophagus, which can be a precursor of esophageal cancer.

10. Swelling of facial features

Some patients with lung cancer report that they noticed puffiness, swelling, or redness in the face. The explanation for this is that small cell lung tumors commonly block blood vessels in the chest, preventing blood from flowing freely from the head and face.

FAQ: Does Sugar Feed Cancer Cells?

11. Swollen lymph nodes or lumps on the neck, underarm, or groin

Enlarged lymph nodes indicate changes in the lymphatic system, which can be a sign of cancer. For example, a lump or an enlarged lymph in the neck or underarm is sometimes a sign of thyroid, head, or throat cancer. A painless lump on the neck, underarm, or groin can be an early sign of leukemia.

12. Excessive bruising or bleeding that doesn't stop

This symptom usually suggests something abnormal happening with the platelets and red blood cells, which can be a sign of leukemia. One man with leukemia noticed that his gums bled when he brushed his teeth; another described bruising in strange places, such as on his fingers and hands. The explanation: Over time, leukemia cells crowd out red blood cells and platelets, impairing the blood's ability to carry oxygen and clot.

13. Weakness and fatigue

"I had to stop halfway across the yard and sit down when I was mowing the lawn," said one man when describing the fatigue that led to his discovery of pancreatic cancer. Generalized fatigue and weakness is a symptom of so many different kinds of cancer (and other ills) that you'll need to look at it in combination with other symptoms. But any time you feel exhausted without explanation and it doesn't respond to getting more sleep, talk to your doctor.

14. Rectal bleeding or blood in stool

"I thought it was hemorrhoids" is one of the most common statements doctors hear when diagnosing colorectal cancer. Blood in the toilet alone is reason to call your doctor and schedule a colonoscopy. Another sign of blood in the stool many people miss is stools that are darker in color.

15. Bowel problems

Constipation, diarrhea, and changes in stools can all be signs of cancer. As with many other cancer symptoms, the way to tell if this is cause for concern is if it goes on for more than a few days without a clear cause, such as flu or food poisoning. People diagnosed with colon cancer say they noticed more frequent stools, as well as a feeling that their bowels weren't emptying completely. One of the early signs of pancreatic cancer is fatty stools, which can be recognized as frequent, large stools that are paler than normal and smelly. This is a sign that your body's not absorbing your food normally, and it should be brought to your doctor's attention.

16. Difficulty urinating or changes in flow

Hands-down, the most common early sign of prostate cancer is a feeling of not being able to start peeing once you're set to go. Many men also report having a hard time stopping the flow of urine, a flow that starts and stops, or a stream that's weaker than normal. Any of these symptoms is reason to call your doctor for an exam and a screening test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA).

17. Pain or burning during urination

This symptom can also indicate a urinary tract infection or sexually transmitted disease, of course, but in any case it warrants an immediate trip to the doctor. This symptom is often combined with the feeling that you need to go more often, particularly at night. These same symptoms can also indicate inflammation or infection in the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia, the name for what happens when the prostate grows bigger and blocks the flow of urine. However, you need to get checked out to tell the difference.

18. Blood in urine or semen

Men are often warned about blood in the urine, but they may not realize that blood in semen is also a danger sign for prostate cancer. Blood in the urine or semen isn't always visible as blood; urine may just be a pink, dark red, or smoky brown color, while blood in the semen may just look like a pinkish streak.

19. Erection problems

As prostate cancer progresses, another very common sign is difficulty getting or sustaining an erection. This can be a difficult subject to talk about, but it's important to bring it to your doctor's attention. It could be a sign of sexual dysfunction with another cause, of course, but it's a reason to have an exam and a PSA test.

20. Pain, aching, or heaviness in the groin, hips, thighs, or abdomen

One sign of prostate cancer is frequent pain in the hips, upper thighs, or the lowest part of the back. Men with testicular cancer report noticing a heavy, aching feeling low in the belly or abdomen, or in the scrotum or testicles themselves. They sometimes describe it as a feeling of downward pulling or as a generalized ache throughout the groin area. Prostate cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes often makes itself known as discomfort in the pelvis or swelling in the legs.

21. Testicular swelling or lump

The lumps that indicate testicular cancer are nearly always painless. It's also common for a testicle to be enlarged or swollen, but lacking any specific lump that you can see or feel. Some men report feeling discomfort from the enlargement, but not an outright pain.

22. Unexplained back pain

Back pain can mean all sorts of things, of course—most often pulled muscles or disc problems. But unexplained, persistent back pain can be an early sign of cancer as well, so get it checked out. Pain in the lower back and hips can be a sign of prostate cancer, while pain in the upper back can signal lung cancer. A pain in the upper abdomen and back is one of the few early signs of pancreatic cancer.

23. Scaly or painful nipple or chest, nipple discharge

Men do get breast cancer; they also get a condition called gynecomastia, which is a benign lump in the breast area. Breast cancer is usually detected as a lump, but if it's spreading inward it can also cause chest pain. Other signs of breast cancer include patches of red, scaly, or dimpled skin or changes to the nipple such as turning inward or leaking fluid. Bring any lump, swelling, or skin or nipple problem, or any chest pain, to your doctor's attention.

24. A sore or skin lump that doesn't heal, becomes crusty, or bleeds easily

Most of us know to watch moles for changes that might indicate skin cancer. But other signs, such as small waxy lumps or dry scaly patches, are easier to miss. Familiarize yourself with the different types of skin cancer—melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma—and be vigilant about checking skin all over the body for odd-looking growths or spots.

25. Changes in nails

Unexplained changes to the fingernails can be a sign of several types of cancer. A brown or black streak or dot under the nail can indicate skin cancer, while newly discovered "clubbing," which means enlargement of the ends of the fingers, with nails that curve down over the tips, can be a sign of lung cancer. Pale or white nails can be an indication that your liver is not functioning properly, sometimes a sign of liver cancer.

Quoted from MSN

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 2:51 PM

IBM Reveals the Biggest Artificial Brain of All Time

Nearly 150,000 Processors need to match the Cat Brain

IBM has revealed the biggest artificial brain of all time, a simulation run by a 147,456-processor supercomputer that requires millions of watts of electricity and over 150,000 gigabytes of memory. The brain simulation is a feat for neuroscience and computer processing—but it's still one-eighty-third the speed of a human brain and is only as large as a cat's. Will we ever get to truly capable artificial intelligence? PM reports from IBM's Almaden research center to find out.

San Jose, Calif.--Scientists at IBM's Almaden research center have built the biggest artificial brain ever--a cell-by-cell simulation of the human visual cortex: 1.6 billion virtual neurons connected by 9 trillion synapses. This computer simulation, as large as a cat's brain, blows away the previous record--a simulated rat's brain with 55 million neurons--built by the same team two years ago. 

"This is a Hubble Telescope of the mind, a linear accelerator of the brain," says Dharmendra Modha, the Almaden computer scientist who will announce the feat at the Supercomputing 2009 conference in Portland, Ore. In other words, in the realm of computer science, the team's undertaking is grand. 

The cortex, the wrinkly outer layer of the brain, performs most of the higher functions that make humans human, from recognizing faces and speech to choreographing the dozens of muscle contractions involved in a perfect tennis serve. It does this using a universal neural circuit called a microcolumn, repeated over and over. Modha hopes the simulation, assembled using neuroscience data from rats, cats, monkeys and humans, will help scientists better understand how the brain works--and, in particular, how the cortical microcolumn manages to perform such a wide range of tasks. 

But deciphering the microcolumn can also help build better computers, Mars rovers and robots that are truly intelligent. By reverse engineering this cortical structure, Modha says, researchers could give machines the ability to interpret biological senses such as sight, hearing and touch. And artificial machine brains could process, intelligently, senses that don't currently exist in the natural world, such as radar and laser range-finding. 

"Imagine peppering the entire surface of the ocean with pressure, temperature, humidity, wave height and turbidity sensors," Modha says. "Imagine streaming this data to a reverse-engineered cortex." In short, he envisions wiring the entire planet--transforming it into a virtual organism with the capacity to understand its own evolving patterns of weather, climate and ocean currents. 

The simulation that Modha will unveil today is just a starting point. It lacks the neural patterning that develops as real brains mature. Neuroscientists believe that this complexity can only evolve through "embodied learning"--stumbling around in a physical body, in which every action has instant consequences that are experienced through senses such as touch and sight. As Anil Seth, a neuroscientist at the University of Sussex in Britain, puts it, "The brain wires itself." 

Seth demonstrated this principle while at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego using a brain simulation called Darwin. He embodied Darwin's 50,000 virtual neurons (about equal to the brain of a pond snail, or one-quarter of a fruit fly) in a wheeled robot. As Darwin wandered around, its virtual neurons rewired their connections to produce so-called hippocampal "place cells"--similar to neurons found in mammals--which helped it navigate. Scientists don't know how to program these place cells, but with embodied learning the cells emerge on their own. 

Paul Maglio, a cognitive scientist at Almaden, has similar plans for Modha's cortical simulation. He's building a virtual world for it to inhabit using software from the video shootout game "Unreal Tournament" and data from Mars. Besides topographic maps and aerial photos, Maglio plans to use rover-level imagery to create terrain with lifelike boulders and craters. 

The video-game software provides a pallet of several dozen robotic bodies for Modha's virtual cortex. Initially, it will use a simple wheeled robot to explore its world, driven by fundamental desires such as sustenance and survival. "It's got to like some things and not like other things," Maglio says. "Ultimately, it's going to want not to roll off the edges of cliffs." 

Modha's billion-neuron virtual cortex is so massive that running it required one of the fastest supercomputers in the world--Dawn, a Blue Gene/P supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California. 

Dawn hums and breathes inside an acre-size room on the second floor of the lab's Terascale Simulation Facility. Its 147,456 processors and 147,000 gigabytes of memory fill 10 rows of computer racks, woven together by miles of cable. Dawn devours a million watts of electricity through power cords as thick as a bouncer's wrists--racking up an annual power bill of $1 million. The roar of refrigeration fans fills the air: 6675 tons of air-conditioning hardware labor to dissipate Dawn's body heat, blowing 2.7 million cubic feet of chilled air through the room every minute. 

Dawn was installed earlier this year by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which conducts massive computer simulations to ensure the readiness of the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal. Modha's team worked with Dawn for a week before it was transitioned to NNSA's classified nuclear work. For all of its legendary computing power, Dawn still ran Modha's 1.6 billion neurons at only one-six-hundredth the speed of a living brain. A second simulation, with 1 billion neurons, ran a little faster--but still only at one-eighty-third of normal brain speed. 

These massive simulations are merely steps toward Modha's ultimate goal: simulating the entire human cortex, about 25 billion neurons, at full speed. To do that, he'll need to find 1000 times more computing power. At the rate that supercomputers have expanded over the last 20 years, that super-super computer could exist by 2019. "This is not just possible, it's inevitable," Modha says. "This will happen." 

But it won't be easy. "Business as usual won't get us there," says Mike McCoy, head of advanced simulation and computing at LLNL. Development of supercomputers in recent decades has ridden the wave of Moore's law: transistors shrank and the computing power of processor chips doubled every 18 months. But that wild ride is coming to an end. Transistors are now packed so densely on chips that the heat they generate can no longer be dissipated. To reduce heat, Dawn uses older, larger, 180-nanometer transistors that were developed 10 years ago--rather than the 45-nanometer transistors that are used in desktop computers today. And for the same reason, Dawn runs these transistors at a sluggish 850 megahertz--three times slower than today's desktop computers. 

The supercomputer that Modha needs to simulate a whole cortex would also consume prohibitive amounts of power. "If you scale up current technology, this system might require between 100 megawatts and a gigawatt of power," says Horst Simon, a mathematician at nearby Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who collaborated with Modha on the simulation. One gigawatt (a billion watts) is the amount of power that the mad scientist Emmett "Doc" Brown needed to operate his DeLorean time machine in the 1985 movie "Back to the Future." But Simon puts it more bluntly: "It would be a nuclear power plant," he says. The electricity alone would cost $1 billion per year. 

The human brain, by comparison, survives on just 20 watts. Although supercomputer simulations are power-hungry, Modha hopes that the insights they provide will eventually pave the way to more elegant technology. With funding from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), he's working with a far-flung team at five universities and four IBM labs to create a new computer chip that can mimic the cortex using far less power than a computer. "I'll have it ready for you within the next decade," he says.

Quoted from Popular Mechanics
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 1:27 PM

The Best Outstanding Romantic Travel Ideas

These suggestions, ranging from a one-night getaway to a trek halfway around the world, will give you some ideas to create a memorable romantic vacation.

When work, family and other responsibilities take over your life, it's easy to put your relationship on the back burner. Reconnect with your true love by planning a romantic vacation together.
These 10 suggestions, ranging from a one-night getaway to a trek halfway around the world, will give you some ideas to create a memorable romantic vacation. You can let go of stress, have some fun, and remember why you fell in love. 

Hawaii. The minute you arrive in Hawaii, you start to relax. By the time you've taken your first walk on a scenic Hawaiian beach or enjoyed the sunset with a tropical cocktail, you're ready to let go of everyday worries and focus on each other. Each island has its own charm, and offers accommodations to fit every travel budget, but they all share tropical breezes, lush greenery, vibrant flowers, blue skies and that welcoming, peaceful feeling of "Aloha." 

San Francisco. Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but for many lovers San Francisco is where hearts connect. Walk hand-in-hand along Ocean Beach, or take a sunset stroll on the walking path at Crissy Field. Make a toast to your love at Top of the Mark, the Mark Hopkins Hotel bar that offers 360-degree views of the city. Look for the statue of Cupid in the Embarcadero along San Francisco's eastern waterfront, and find a delicious range of fine to casual dining at Embarcadero Center. 

Paris. Considered by many to be the most romantic city in the world, Paris offers many delights for lovers of all ages. Stroll along the Seine, hold hands in a romantic Paris bistro, sail a toy boat on the pond at Luxembourg Garden, or share a kiss on one of Paris's many beautiful bridges. Whatever you choose to do, it's more romantic when you're in Paris, the City of Light.   

An Impromptu Overnight Adventure. Depending on where you live, a spur-of-the-moment getaway with your partner could take you to a luxury hotel, a charming local B&B, or maybe even camping in your own backyard. Where you go is less important than shaking up your routine a bit and spending time alone together.

Italy. Synonymous with romance, Italy offers many wonderful locales to celebrate your love. The cliffside city of Positano on Italy's Amalfi coast offers stunning vistas, delicious seafood and a temperate climate. Lake Como, where George Clooney has a villa, is surrounded by rolling hills and ringed by romantic resorts and towns. And every lover's trip to Italy should include a visit to Venice.  Enjoy a gondola ride through the canals and explore Venice's narrow, winding streets and the open Plaza San Marco. End the day with a delicious plate of pasta and a local wine.   

Prague, Czech Republic. Since the late 1980's, when Prague broke from communism, savvy travelers have made this magical city a popular destination. World-class architecture, cobblestone streets, the Vltava river winding through the city, and charming locals all combine to create a romantic mood. Prague is especially beautiful at night, so after you enjoy the city's fine wines and gourmet restaurants, leave time to stroll through Prague with the one you love. 

Disney Adult-Exclusive Adventures. Who says Disney is just for kids? If you enjoy hassle-free travel, where the details are taken care of and you can just relax, check out the selection of Adult-Exclusive vacations from Disney. Whether you tour Italy's wine country, canoe in a glacier-fed Canadian lake or zip-line through a Costa Rican rainforest, these Disney vacations are specially designed for adventurous adults. 

Take a Cruise. Ocean breezes, personal service, spectacular scenery and excellent food, plus your own private cabin. Maybe that's why so many romantics choose cruises.  There's a cruise to fit any budget, from a 4-day island trip to a transatlantic ocean adventure. For smaller crowds and more personal service, choose cruise lines with smaller ships or sailing vessels. 

Plan a Weekend Spa Vacation. If you only have a couple of days to get away, don't despair. You can recharge your body, mind and relationship with a weekend spa getaway. Many resort spas offer couples' packages so you can swim and enjoy a sauna or in-room massages together. All that pampering—plus fine food and beautiful surroundings—could be pricey for a whole week, but many resort spas offer affordable weekend packages. With an emphasis on luxury, relaxation and reconnection, a spa weekend could be money well spent. 

Bali. If you saw the movie, "Eat, Pray, Love" you've seen some of the beauty that Bali offers. Lush tropical forests, picturesque rice terraces, pristine white sand beaches and friendly Balinese people all combine to make you feel like you're in another world. Bali offers a range of romantic vacation options, ranging from quiet Nusa Lembongan to the nightlife in Kuta. Check guide books, travel sites and online traveler reviews, then make your plans. 

Quoted from MSN
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:53 PM

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Facebook Boston? Zuckerberg Recruits Harvard, MIT Students

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg returned to his alma mater—Harvard—today on a recruiting swing for the world's most popular social network. He made another trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well. I caught the (very) brief press conference at MIT, where Zuckerberg only had time to answer a few questions.
The first was about what he meant when he recently said he would have kept Facebook in Boston—he re-clarified that Facebook couldn't have become what it became had he not gone off to Silicon Valley, but knowing what he knows now, he thinks he could have kept the company here.

The second question was something along the lines of "What can we do the next time a company like Facebook comes along to make sure it doesn't leave Boston?" Zuck gave a similar answer as the one above, saying Facebook needed to be out in Silicon Valley but that there are a lot of smart people here and, as such, cool companies can be built here.

The third question was about Facebook's efforts to curb cyberbullying. "Facebook is a product where we think a lot of good comes from it," said Zuckerberg, continuing, "And cyber bullying is one unfortunate thing online that we work really hard to prevent." He talked about Facebook's efforts to curb cyberbullying by allowing people to report abusive behavior. "We just think it's a huge problem online and one that needs to be weeded out," said Zuckerberg. "And the solutions, we think, are social."

And with that, he was gone.

Clearly none of us had enough time with Zuckerberg to really get into anything substantial, but the big story here is that he's in Boston specifically on a recruitment tour of Harvard and MIT.

At MIT, Zuckerberg first met with members of the faculty and then was on his way to talk to a group of 500 students. Those particular students were selected via a lottery process that drew from 2,600 applicants and was "sampled most heavily from electrical engineering and computer science students," which is the largest major at MIT according to the school's media relations manager, Kimberly Allen. Zuckerberg is conducting a similar recruitment tour at Harvard today as well.

There's also an invite-only event tonight for a handful of students—60 invites went out, according to Allen—from both MIT and Harvard. "The whole thing is recruiting. That's his point of being here," said Allen. And according to Harvard's press office, today marks Zuckerberg's first visit back to the campus "since leaving in 2004 to launch Facebook."

So the speculation begins as to why Zuckerberg himself would make the trip all the way out to Boston to talk to select groups of students from MIT and Harvard, and then hold an even more exclusive event tonight to talk to a hand-picked group of students. Both today and during Zuckerberg's recently-reported remarks, he mentioned Boston and New York in the same breath—so keep a close eye on both those markets.

Quoted from Time
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 10:34 PM