Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for the ‘Biology’ Category

3D Printing in the Future of Healthcare

Posted by Plish on December 2, 2014

RSNA 3D Printing Presentations

Some  RSNA attendees listen to presentations by Radiologists, Researchers and other Physicians who are using 3d Printing in their practices and research


Today was my 3D Printing day at RSNA.  Spent the morning listening to some amazing work being done (Chaired by  Dr. Frank Rybicki), and the afternoon taking in the rest of the show.


First were presentations covering how flows of blood and other substances through blood vessels, could be confirmed using models.

Dr. Tam shared how 3d printing could be used to plan for, and create parts for, medical procedures.  He uses printed models in approximately 5% of his cases right now.  He also did an enlightening study that showed that when presented with 3d models, the majority of physicians in the study changed their surgical approach.  A model is indeed worth a 1000 pictures (or more!)

Dr’s Green and Mahani shared how 3d printing was used to save the life of a child whose bronchus would collapse and block airflow.  The video about this is below:

There is some amazing work at the Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. They are pushing the envelope printing living tissue. You can check out a Reuters Tech Video here.

Future directions for 3d printing in healthcare were summarized nicely by this slide:


Number one is very provocative, and I agree with it.  While Radiologists treated the creation of 3d models as a natural extension of reading 2d images, the work required to create 3d models can be done in conjunction with intermediary scientists and engineers, so that each discipline can play to its strengths.  In the future I can see a role for “Post Processing Technicians.” These folks would be integral members of the Radiologic team whose purpose is to crunch imaging data into 3d and beyond.

I would include material science advances as an influencer in the future of 3d printing adoption.

Also, while indirectly included in the above list, cost reimbursement and FDA regulations are major players as the field matures and the technology gets adopted.

After the presentations, I visited with 3dSystems, Stratasys and Materialise ,  These companies have made, and are making, significant investments in medical uses of their technologies.   This can only accelerate the adoption of 3d printing.

WP_20141202_10_49_01_Pro (Copy) WP_20141202_10_48_41_Pro (Copy)

I left today excited and inspired by the work of these doctors and scientists.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the subject!


Posted in 3D Printing, Biology, Disruptive Innovation, Healthcare, innovation, Medical Devices, Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Many Dimensions of Beauty

Posted by Plish on May 11, 2013

Sustainable innovation occurs when the mind dwells in the many dimensions of beauty,

where like breeds like…

A friend shared the following video on Facebook.

It’s simple and profound.

One could say:

It’s beautiful.

Posted in Arts, Biology, Design, innovation, nature, Science, Sustainability, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Amazing Innovations – The Lung-on-a-Chip

Posted by Plish on March 10, 2013

I was turned on to this video from a friend and wanted to share it with you.  An amazing step in the direction of creating a means to test drugs and treatments, without animals, and perhaps some day, with the patient’s own cells.  What I find particularly cool is the prospect of linking multiple versions of these together and modelling more complex systems.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Posted in Biology, Healthcare, innovation, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Animals, Architecture and Design – Are We Losing the Connection?

Posted by Plish on September 22, 2011

There’s something about animals.  They can evoke fear, joy and myriads of other emotions.   Once upon a time, gargoyles and various other creatures were regularly incorporated into the design of buildings.  But now?

With the exception of clothes, how often do you see them in modern architecture and products?

Other than the Milwaukee Art Museum’s , Quadracci Pavilion,  which evokes a bird with its flapping wings and soaring demeanor, I can’t think of any other buildings.

Marketing campaigns have not been shy about using animals.  And for good reason.  It’s probably the same reason that older/ancient architecture utilized animals in both serious and whimsical fashions (and why people are attracted to furry, animal patterned garments).

Human brains are hardwired to respond to animals.

The above study shows that animals evoke pretty strong reactions in our amygdala’s – that older part of our brains that is largely responsible for emotional responses.

Which brings me back to my original question:

Why aren’t animals used more prominently in modern architecture and innovative products?  Sure, we use the mechanisms of animals to improve our products and ventilation systems, but we still insist on soaring glass and steel, monoliths with gold accents.  In a world that is trying to recapture a respect for nature, shouldn’t there be less techiness in our structures, and more ‘down-to-earthinesss’? Shouldn’t we celebrate our connection to animals in ways that doesn’t cheapen them or make them solely articles of (literal) consumption?

What do you think?



Posted in Architectural Design, Biology, Design, Evolution, innovation, nature, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Want to Increase Creativity and Innovation? Touch and be Touched

Posted by Plish on August 5, 2010

We’ve all experienced the gentle pat on the back, or touch on the hand when things aren’t going well.  Well, it seems that these touches are helpful in more ways than we typically think.

Research has shown that touching is helpful in  a myriad of ways.

 According to the article:

A warm touch seems to set off the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust, and to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

In the brain, prefrontal areas, which help regulate emotion, can relax, freeing them for another of their primary purposes: problem solving. In effect, the body interprets a supportive touch as “I’ll share the load.”

“We think that humans build relationships precisely for this reason, to distribute problem solving across brains,” said James A. Coan, a a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.”

Some of my thoughts on applying this?

  1. Team building events can accomplish a lot more than just bring people together, but…
  2. Building teams needs to be done all the time.  There needs to be an active, ongoing building of esprit de corps, but…
  3. Perspectives regarding the touching of coworkers might need to be reassessed.  It’s interesting to think that current  ‘hands off’ practices might actually be hurting innovation.
  4. It seems obvious to say, but personal lives, the relationships people have outside of work, do make a difference in the workplace.
  5. People who are more tactile, more ‘touchy-feely’ might be a good addition to a team.
  6. Although it’s not directly mentioned in the article, the touching phenomenon might help explain the benefits of why having pets is a good thing.  Pets in the workplace, anyone?
  7. Customer service (think healthcare) should be open to allowing and fostering touching in the proper contexts so as to better treat people as whole beings.  This could also give customer service people more credence and build better bonds between customer and company.
  8. Massage therapy shouldn’t be seen as a luxury, but as a necessity in the workplace.
  9. I’d be interested to know if things like brushing hair, or touches like those experienced at beauty parlors or hair dressers, has positive effect.   It does in senior care facilities, why not use it in other places?
  10. How might technology be used to foster human interaction and touch?

What are your thoughts on this?

Posted in Authenticity, Biology, creativity, culture of innovation, Evolution, innovation, love, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Research, Society, stress, Team-Building, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Creative Problem Solving, Forgiveness and Our Brains

Posted by Plish on February 19, 2010

Courtesy of Harvard University

In my recent reading I stumbled across a reference to the fact that forgiveness occurs in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) of our brains. 

Why does that matter?

It turns out that, “emotional self-control, focused problem solving, error recognition, and adaptive response to changing conditions, are juxtaposed with the emotions” in the ACC.  It’s the place where empathy seems to reside.

So, since there is only limited bandwidth in the brain to deal with issues, emotional “baggage” tied up with lack of forgiveness in our brains, as well as our emotional control of that baggage, eat up bandwidth that could be used for solving problems and empathic response (which helps realize creative solutions).

This whole area is still very much in its infancy, and only future research will confirm whether the hypothesized relationships exist, but I don’t think it would hurt if we went into our designing endeavors free of emotional burdens.

What do you think?

Posted in Authenticity, Biology, cognitive studies, creativity, Design, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Research, The Human Person | 4 Comments »

Increasing Creativity and Memory in 30 Seconds?

Posted by Plish on February 5, 2010

There is a folk tradition that someone with shifty eyes is considered untrustworthy – as being devious or sneaky.

The truth is,  purposely shifting one’s eyes back and forth for 30 second intervals was found to increase creative output as well as memory recall.

The theory is that it boosts communication between the two halves of the brain and the increase in communication results in an increase in ideas and recall. (Or perhaps the recall of memories helps create relationships that get expressed as creative new ideas??)

To me it’s interesting that during REM sleep our eyes move from side to side.  Perhaps there is a connection between the subconscious of our dream worlds and the movement of our eyes, and perhaps this connection can be made while awake?

Interesting stuff.

Oh, and if it does boost creative thinking and memory, it also means there might be some truth to trusting someone with shifty eyes. 😉

Posted in Biology, Brain Stimulation Tools, Case Studies, cognitive studies, creativity, idea generation, imagination, problem solving, Research, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Walking Backwards to a Solution

Posted by Plish on August 14, 2009

Dutch researchers found walking backwards may help with problem solving.

Posted in Biology, cognitive studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, Creativity Videos, Evolution, idea generation, innovation, nature, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Research, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Concentration Key to Creative Problem Solving

Posted by Plish on May 5, 2009

Your Brain has Limited Bandwidth (michael plishka 2009)

Your Brain has Limited Bandwidth (michael plishka 2009)


“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

-Alexander Graham Bell

Read an article that said that the Internet was reaching its limits.  Bandwidth is not infinite after all.

It makes sense – there are only so many connections, only so much information can flow through those channels.

Yet, when it comes to our magnificent brains we think we’re immune to bandwidth constraints.  

We’re not.  (By the way, thinking about bandwidth constraints uses up bandwidth!)

Typical scenario:

You’re working on a problem.  Two minutes into it the phone rings.  You glance at the Caller-ID, don’t recognize it and go back to your problem…Email comes in…quick check…good news…okay back to the problem….

10 minutes pass but during that time you thought also about dinner tonight, the other project, and the hang nail on your left pinky….

SHOOT!  You forgot to call the supplier…back on the horn…

And so it goes… on…

and on….

Technology enabled free-flow of information, demands of friends and family, physical ailments, things I want to do for fun-  all compete for bandwidth in our brains.  To make matters worse, when we don’t get the solutions we want, stress is the end result – which has the effect of minimizing your already finite and overused mental bandwidth.

What is the solution?

There’s much you can do, but the most important is to stop multi-tasking.  Multi-tasking isn’t efficient. If you don’t believe me call your friend to discuss Relativity while driving in a snow storm on icy roads and your windshield wipers out.  Better yet, call from the ditch – it’s safer there.

According to this great article on concentration, research has shown it takes up to 20 minutes for the brain to “reboot” after an interruption.  In other words, in the scenario mentioned earlier, with the exception of the first couple of minutes, you never recovered after the first phone call and you spent no, really fruitful, thinking time on your problem.

I once read about a Nobel Prize winner  who, when asked his secret to solving mind-bending problems said something like, “I can concentrate on a problem for 10 minutes.” (By the way, if you know who said this, I’d love to re-find the reference)

That’s all it took – 10 minutes(!) at a pop to solve problems that most of us wouldn’t even try to solve.  The difference is that he truly, deeply, committed ALL his mental and physical bandwidth to his problem for 10 uninterrupted minutes.

His mind became the intense lens of focus and concentration that Alexander Graham Bell spoke of. 

What else can we do to become disciplined in concentration and focus?

Some suggestions:

  • Take the phone off the hook
  • Make a rule to only answer emails at designated times
  • Meditate
  • Plan breaks at specific intervals (90 minute chunks of time are good)
  • Eat healthy
  • Stay hydrated
  • ??

What else would you suggest?

Posted in Biology, cognitive studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, innovation, meditation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, stress, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Cotton Candy Capillaries

Posted by Plish on February 13, 2009

courtesy of cottoncandy-machines.come

courtesy of cottoncandy-machines.come

Often the solutions to our problems come from the most bizarre places. This article showcases this phenomenon perfectly.

Making artificial organs has largely been limited by our ability to create networks of capillaries- the fine, tangled vessels that permeate our tissues and bring nourishment and carry away waste products.

Researchers Leon Bellan of Cornell University and Jason Spector of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital thought there might be a similarity in the structures of cotton candy and capillaries.  So they made a mold of some cotton candy, checked it with a microscope and found it had a very similar structure to capillary beds.

They are now working on using this structure to provide artificial blood supplies for implants and ultimately for artificial organs.  


Keep your eyes open! 

When you’re struggling with a problem and have your senses open, you will make connections where connections seemingly don’t exist! 

That’s creativity!

That’s innovation!

And the final lesson??

Don’t ever look down at a cotton candy vendor!



Posted in Biology, Case Studies, idea generation, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: