Friday, January 25, 2008

Game Of Life

Your Lightning Round editor-in-chief admits he's old school and proud of it when it comes to his video game habits. That's because I grew up in the age of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, before Mortal Combat clones multiplied in the arcades. When I'm behind a joystick, I don't want to be having a philosophical conversation with myself about the dehumanization of life via microchips and its parasitic influence on reality. You can safely deduce I never played Grand Theft Auto. Still, we have exceptions to the trend.

AND ALL AFTER PUSHING A FEW BUTTONS. Paxton Galvanek is not a doctor, but the 28-year-old knew enough medical skills to save an accident victim's life after playing America's Army, a free online computer game developed by the military as a recruiting tool. Medical training is part of the virtual drill.

From WRAL-TV's LocalTechWire:
Assuming the role of first responder, he quickly assessed the situation and found two victims in the smoking vehicle. Needing to extract them quickly, he helped the passenger out of the truck and noticed he had minor cuts and injuries. He told the man to stay clear of the smoking car and quickly went to the driver's side where he located a wounded man. He pulled the driver to safety on the side of the road.

Galvanek immediately noticed the man had lost two fingers in the accident and was bleeding profusely. The victim had also suffered head trauma. Galvanek located a towel, put pressure on the man’s hand, and instructed him to sit down and elevate his hand above his head while pressing the towel against his lost fingers. Galvanek then attended to his head cut and determined that injury was not as serious as his hand.
A real soldier who stopped to help determined Galvanek had done an excellent job.

This isn't an isolated example of computer games improving real-life performance. We at your Lightning Round found civil engineers have used SimCity as a learning tool. We also know of a doctor in Phoenix who's using Wii games to teach surgical skills.

Next up, using "Crazy Taxi" to teach defensive driving.

DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY. An Australian teenager took on a donated liver. Then she took on her donor's blood type and immune system, according to the Daily Telegraph:
On closer inspection, specialists found that stem cells from the donor liver had penetrated her bone marrow, effectively resulting in a naturally-occurring bone marrow transplant.

Her treating doctor Michael Stormon said she was able to come off the immunosuppressant drugs that most transplant patients needed to take life-long to ensure they don't reject the donated organ.

"We were stunned, absolutely stunned, and also very puzzled,'' said Dr Stormon, who reported the novel case in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In a related story, your Lightning Round has learned of a man with an artificial heart who mysteriously started beeping like R2-D2.

BUT WAIT, I THOUGHT THE PROBLEM WAS GLOBAL WARMING! The coldest place in the universe is not Leona Helmsley's casket [rim shot]. It's a specially-designed box at MIT where a team of researchers lowered the thermometer to -455°F.

From Smithsonian:
Ultimately, [Wolfgang] Ketterle, like many physicists, hopes to discover new forms of matter that could act as superconductors at room temperature, which would revolutionize how humans use energy. For most Nobel Prize winners, the honor caps a long career. But for Ketterle, who was 44 years old when he was awarded his, the creation of [a new form of matter] opened a new field that he and his colleagues will be exploring for decades.
If they don't freeze themselves to death first, we hope.

ALL THAT HE LEAVES BEHIND. Bono confessed some inconvenient truths to Al Gore: he's less than green in his ways, according to AFP:
"It's like being with an Irish priest. You start to confess your sins," he said. "Father Al, I am not just a noise polluter, I am a noise-polluting, diesel-soaking, gulfstream-flying rock star.

"I'm going to kick the habit. I'm trying father Al, but oil has been very good for me -- those convoys of articulated lorries, petrochemical products, hair gel."
So Father Al, what penance does he get? Putting U2's next album out on a CD-RW?

IT'S LIKE WINDEX, BUT CUTER. Is your computer screen dirty? Do the kids insist on touching that new LCD with the same hands that just touched PB&J? Your Lightning Round has the answer, and even if it doesn't work, it's fun to watch: Click here for a cleaning.

No comments: