Category Archives: Medical

85 Percent Longer Battery Life


This story astounds me. An eighth grade student was given the U.S. Naval Science award for discovering how to extend the life of hearing aid batteries by 85%. I’m not kidding. How you can do this will shock you.

Ethan Manuell studied hearing aid batteries. He found that waiting five minutes to install them after removing the protective tape, increased the battery life by 85 percent.  How can you get the improvement? After you take the strip off the battery, wait five minutes before you install it in your hearing aid. That’s it!

So for those of you without hearing aids, here are some facts about their batteries. These tiny batteries are made with zinc. To start them you take off a tape or strip that keeps the air out. The battery then works on the oxidation of the zinc when it is exposed to the oxygen in the air.

Just tearing the strip off starts the battery, but it takes some time to get up to it full voltage. That may be behind the benefit of waiting five minutes before installing it.

The batteries come in several sizes, the smallest is size 10 and the largest is size 675. The smaller the hearing aid, the smaller the battery. Now for the shocker. Here are the life expectancies for these batteries.

Size 10: 3-5 days
Size 312: 7-10 days
Size 13: 10-14 days
Size 675: 14-17 days.

That translates into a cost as follows:

Size 10: an average of $150/year
Size 312: an average of $80/year
Size 13: an average of $50/year
Size 675: an average of $30/year.

Manuell wears a hearing aid himself, so he knew these facts. He knew that any increase in battery life could shave this cost down considerably.

Officially known as ‘The Effect of Wait Time on the Lifespan of Hearing Aid Batteries,’ the study was reviewed by the Olmsted Medical Center. Spread the word. This will help the roughly seven million people who wear hearing aids in the United States.

To see some of my short stories go to


Walk or Die


“Psst buddy,” the voice said, “Start walking or die.” That voice might not come from a street punk but from your family doctor.

In the United States, Veterans Affairs studied more than fifteen thousand men to see if there was a link between cardio capacity and death. In a nutshell there was. The better the cardio capacity, the lower the chance of death.

The leader of the study, Professor Kokkinos and his associates tested more than six thousand African-American men and almost nine thousand Caucasian men for a period between May 1983 and December 2006. The subjects were put on a treadmill and encouraged to walk until tired or showing symptoms of distress. The subjects were followed for the next 7.5 years and death rates were tracked.

The study grouped subjects into four categories from “low fit” to “very highly fit” depending on their cardiac capacity. Men in the “very highly fit” category were seventy percent less likely to die.

Why does walking/jogging/cycling help? Regular cardio exercise will lower your weight, improve your blood pressure, reduce your stress, and more. The heart is like any other muscle. Training it will improve its capacity do to work, to pump blood around your body. One of the places that the blood goes is back to the heart.

As you train the heart, it adapts. Within your heart are coronary collaterals, tiny blood vessels that are no thicker than a fine hair. Normally they carry little or no blood. However, if the coronary arteries start to narrow the collaterals respond by gradually increasing in size and number. This process is called collateralization. In effect the heart grows new coronary artery branches to move blood around a narrowed segment. It’s a natural bypass, one without the zipper scar down the front of your chest.

Animal studies have shown that regular exercise is a great stimulus to collateralization. Furthermore, this collateralization has been shown to improve survival after an experimentally induced heart attack (in animals). (If they start human induce heart attacks, I have a long list of people I would like to volunteer.)

What Exercises help?

Anything that gets you up and moving will help the heart. This includes walking, jogging, bike riding. Given the human form, exercise that uses the legs or the entire body will tend to improve cardiac health faster than those that put a premium on the upper body, such as swimming, or rowing.

Bored with walking? Try dancing, golf (without the cart) or tennis. If you have never tried square dancing, you’ll find it works for both the mind and the body as you try to remember all those calls while moving at a brisk pace.

How much?

They used to suggest five days at 50 minutes per day. However, the latest research suggests that the sweet spot is less effort than that.

Longer, less frequent sessions of aerobic exercise have no clear advantage over shorter, more frequent sessions of activity. Any type of aerobic activity contributes to cardiovascular fitness. In fact, even divided “doses” of activity — such as three 10-minute walks spread throughout the day — offer aerobic benefits. What’s most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.

In the Copenhagen City Heart study, researchers identified and tracked 1,098 healthy joggers and 413 healthy (but sedentary) non-joggers over a span of 12 years. Logged hours of jogging, frequency, and the participant’s perception of pace were all record.

The findings were surprising, if not a little worrisome. Fast-paced runners and people who jog strenuously and frequently were just as likely to die as those who didn’t jog at all. The optimal frequency of jogging was no more than three times (about 150 minutes) per week.

So aim for about 150 minutes a week. Ten minutes after ever meal will get you there with ease, and let you take the weekend off.

Optimum Training range

For best results you want to walk fast enough to get your heart’s attention and slowly enough that you don’t run out of breath. Walk fast enough to break out a sweat, but not so fast that you can’t talk.

To see some of my short stories go to


A Taste of Honey

honeyDo you remember the taste of honey? Do you remember bread and butter, with honey sandwiches? The combination of the rich butter and the sweet taste of honey remains in my memory after all the decades since I last tasted one.

When I was young, honey was a treat, while sugar was a staple. The honey would come in a wooden box, with a honeycomb in it. I could skim the covers off the combs and drain the honey on the sandwich, or hack out honey and comb and spread the mixture on the bread.

Sometime I’d eat the honeycomb by itself. That would eventually result in a wad of wax that I could chew like gum.

The historical writer can relax on the subject of honey. Cavemen in Ancient Spain collected honey at least eight thousand years ago. The ancient Egyptians used it to sweeten cakes. Honey collecting began before records in both China, and the New World.

Wherever bees made honey, men would steal it and eat it.

Some interesting facts about honey. It never goes bad. I’m willing to bet you keep your honey in the refrigerator, although that isn’t necessary.

Because of its high fructose content, honey has more sweet flavor than other sweeteners. No two honeys taste exactly the same. Honey is a natural humectant and acts as an anti-irritant. Honey wine is called mead. Honey is a natural moisturizer.

A Sumerian tablet writing, dating back to 2100-2000 BC, mentions honey’s use as a drug and an ointment. Today honey can be used for hard-to-heal wounds, such as diabetic leg ulcers, even wounds with gangrene.

How? If poured on a wound, honey will seal it from outside contaminants. It has a low water content and acidic nature which both combat bacteria. More than that, when honey is diluted with wine or body fluids, enzymes in the honey create a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. Furthermore, honey on a wound reduces pain, and promotes healing.

So, maybe you should include honey in your first aid kit. And I might suggest some bread and butter as well.


To see some of my short stories go to

What Star Trek TNG got right and wrong – 2

We have created some of the Star Trek technology in the last twenty-five-years. In other places we still have to a ways to go. Now TNG showed us the dream. What has been done to make the vision real?


What’s happened with the hypospray? That was a medical device to inject liquids into the body. It used compressed air to deposit the injectant into the subdermal layer below the skin of the body, or artery, without the use of a needle. It turns out that this wasn’t 24th century technology, even when TNG was in production. High pressure air injectors have been used by the military as a common initial entry vaccination method since at least the mid 1980’s. There are several models on the market today, principally used by the U.S. military. These devices used compressed air or co2 gas.


The latest entrant into the field is a device from MIT. This device uses a Lorentz-force actuator – a small, powerful magnet surrounded by a coil of wire that’s attached to a piston inside the drug ampule. No compressed air required.


However these devices do not inject into an artery and are not as safe as first thought. The jet injector breaks the barrier of the skin, so potential biological material can be transferred from one user to the next. One study tested the fluid remaining in the injector for blood after an injection, and found enough to pass on a virus. Blowback from the injection is still a problem. The World Health Organization no longer recommends jet injectors for vaccination due to risks of disease transmission. That’s why you haven’t seen a hypospray in your doctor’s office.


What happened to the medical tricorder? There’s actually an X-prize for creating one. The ten finalists have been chosen, and they must demonstrate their devices on humans in 2015 with three winners to be announced in 2016. Top prize is seven million dollars (U.S.). Part of the problem is definition. The medical tricorder of TNG acted could X-ray bones, scan organs like an MRI, test blood and analyze pathogens. That’s a lot in a hand-held device.


Specialized devices such as blood sugar monitors have made great strides in the last twenty years. Ask any diabetic. Another specialized testing device uses an app, a smart phone and the smartphone’s camera to deliver screening without the need for laboratories and highly trained staff.


For much of the world even this technology is out of reach. Cost is a consideration. Recently, in an attempt to do a mass test for cervical cancer, India resorted to less expensive solution. The test involves swabbing the cervix with vinegar, which turns the precancerous tumors white. The results can be seen in minutes. Using this test and some liquid nitrogen reduced cancer deaths by 31 percent in the testing area. This could save over 72,000 lives if used worldwide. It’s not sexy technology but it gets the job done.











To see some of my short stories go to