SciTech Briefs

Execution by lethal injection: painless?

Researchers from Florida and Virginia have discovered that execution by lethal injection may not be painless, as it is supposed to be. The process entails the injection of three substances: sodium thiopental to induce anesthesia, pancuronium bromide to relax the muscles, and potassium chloride to stop the heart. While the process seems structured, the technicians executing the process are typically unskilled, and the procedure itself is performed without medical supervision.
According to the study, 43 of the 49 subjects were likely to have been sentient of the process. Due to the injection of the muscle relaxant, they were unable to communicate their pain. The researchers collected this data by measuring post-mortem levels of anesthesia in the executed inmates. Although the same execution protocol and blood sampling processes were used, the levels of sodium thiopental in the blood varied from 8.2 to 370 milligrams per liter.


MIT lab develops dog-collar computer

MIT?s Physical Language Workshop has developed a wearable computer for dogs, facilitating networking amongst our canine friends. The SNIF (Social Networking In Fur) collar is equipped with a leash and wall-mounting leash-docking station and connects to a web-based community providing information on pets and their owners.
Each dog is given an ID that allows owners to keep track of other dogs that their pets interact with, the time spans of interactions, and corresponding activity levels. ?Positive? and ?negative? buttons on the leash help
owners record their dog?s reactions to other dogs in the network.
The device enables pet owners to play an active role in their pets? social networking by setting up dog walks and play dates, and avoiding harmful confrontations between incompatible dogs.


New study questions asthma treatments

A new study proposes that
people with mild cases of asthma may not need to take medication on a daily basis. The study shows that patients taking medication only when asthma attacks strike are as well off as those taking medication daily. If the study?s results are verified, health care costs in the U.S. are estimated to decrease by $2 billion a year.
Previous studies indicated that daily treatment of asthma prevented asthma attacks and potentially limited the gradual loss of lung function.
Researchers warn that the findings do not apply to individuals with severe asthma. Furthermore, until government scientific advisors review the study, asthmatic patients should not stop taking medication without consulting their doctors.

Source: The Associated Press

Museum digitizes CT scans of mummies

Images of ancient mummies will be computerized once CT scans are performed on their remains. The public will be able to view these detailed images at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif., beginning on Sunday,
April 17. This is the first time that the mummies, which are a part of an Egyptian antiquities collection from the British Museum, have been examined using modern
X-ray scanning techniques. One of the main benefits of this method is that it allows experts to perform ?virtual? autopsies on the corpses without touching or damaging the mummy. Computerized scans have helped teams of experts solve mysteries surrounding the death of King Tut. CT scans can also reveal the age at death of the mummified individuals.

Source: NBC News

Compiled by
Mercy Chang