Category — Science/Technology
Pablo Caviedes and Elizabeth Hartowicz observe Caviedes’ flying machine.
Flight of Fancy:
The “Rescue UFO” Project
“Things are never as they are, but, as they are remembered!”
– Ramón María del Valle-Inclán, The Sonata of Spring, 1904
by Dr. José Rodeiro
Christie Devereaux, researcher
Photos by Charles Hayes & Elizabeth Hartowicz
On any given day, Enrique Morones and his ‘Border Angels’ can be found scouring the U.S.-Mexican border areas of the Imperial Valley south of San Diego, California. Morones and his volunteers, in off-road vehicles and ultra-light aircraft, search for people lost, astray or immobilized on the Mexican-side of San Diego’s border-fence, commonly known as “The Wall.” A former executive with the San Diego Padres baseball team, Morones asserts, “Everyday, San Diego’s border-fence kills two Latinos!” which prompts the question: Who is watching out for those trapped between the desert heat and what some call America’s Iron Curtain — an $80 billion dollar, 20-foot-high, barbed-wire-topped fence that one day could run from San Diego to Galveston.
The answer may lie 2,758.4 miles away near the tip of Manhattan, north of Washington Heights, where Ecuadorian-American artist, Pablo Caviedes, is diligently at work devising a magnetically driven flying machine designed to airlift “the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” to the nearest emergency room.
Caviedes in his studio, 2013
The fact that each day a dozen “American Dreamers” succumb to the elements within miles of the U.S. border is unacceptable to Caviedes, who views this not only as preventable, but also a violation of what the USA symbolizes: “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” “Freedom. Openness and The American Dream!” Caviedes says. “If the ‘American Dream’ is not for everyone, then we might as well close-up shop, join the Tea Party and disengage from the world.”
How It Works
Caviedes’ low-cost flying machine runs by placing two powerful electromagnets in close proximity, in opposition
to one another, inserting them in a smooth, lubricated, tubular circular track. The repelling forces of the energized magnets causes them to spin around the circumference of the disc turning a prop that enables it to liftoff and land almost anywhere. Caviedes foresees a time when hundreds of these lightweight, maneuverable craft are placed at intervals along the Mexican side of the border, freely available to assist travelers in need of aid. With increasing demand, Caviedes’ Leonardoesque invention could generate thousands of jobs, providing yet another proof of the value of immigrants to America’s strength and economy.
On Saturday, October 26, 2013, this writer, accompanied by Robert Rosado, and photographer Charles Hayes visited Caviedes at his Inwood Hill Park studio where we were greeted by his upstairs neighbor, Elizabeth Hartowicz. Hartowicz led us to Caviedes, who was at work on the flying machine, which astonished us as it flew around the studio.
At a meal in Hartowicz’s apartment, the moment was further amplified with a sparkling cava rosada. The topic of the Leonardo da Vinci arose, and Rosado described how da Vinci designed the first tank in 1487, while under the employ of Ludovico Sforza “Il Moro,” (the Duke of Milan). Da Vinci’s tank was the shape of a disc so the vehicle could maneuver in multiple directions. Hayes noted that da Vinci’s basic disc-shape design alludes directly to Caviedes’s flying machine; similarly, Leonardo’s 1483 use of the Archimedean screwpump in an aerial roto-craft (helicopter) references Caviedes’s emerging design for the small prototype of his humanitarian air rescue vehicle, aka: flying saucer.
“Isn’t it interesting,” Hartowicz went on as she poured everyone more cava, “how often it is that immigrants come
up with needed ideas that revolutionize and rejuvenate society?” One by one examples were cited: “Einstein!” “George Santayana!” “Marcel Duchamp!” “Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa!” “Praveen Chaudhary!” “John von Neumann!” “Wernher von Braun!” “Enrico Fermi!” “Venkatesh Narayanamurti!” “C.N. Yang!” “The parents of J. Robert Oppenheimer!” “Basil Fedun!” “Elias Zerhouni!” “Edward Teller!” “Mark Rothko!” A while later, after sampling a wonderful array of delicious desserts, the visitors and Caviedes absconded to the Lincoln Center studio of Belarusian-American artist Nikolai Buglaj, where the conversation, wild speculation, verbal jousting and “Big Apple” art-banter continued.
* * *
December 31, 2013 Comments Off on Pablo Caviedes/Rescue UFO
Trade Show Reveals
Ins and Outs
of Endoscopic Surgery
By M. Sedlof
Under the surface of the swirling health care debate are the doctors, nurses, clinicians, bio-med technicians and engineers who not only bring health care to you when you need it, but who also are on the front lines in operating rooms and laboratories constantly on the lookout for new and better ways of doing what’s been done myriad ways since an Australopithecan mother in a dry cave nursed her feverish first child back to good health. From the days of simply keeping a body warm, to techniques and remedies handed down by Hippocrates of Kos in ancient Greece, to 21st Century techniques of restoring lost limbs with thought-driven robotic replacements for fingers, arms and legs, we humans are on an extraordinary evolutionary track to manufacture sentient beings.
For those of you whose proximity to an operating room is most likely to be as a patient who doesn’t remember a thing after being wheeled in naked under a thin cotton dressing gown, a visit to a medical conference is in order. And, there are many, primarily distinguished by the specialty of the sponsoring organization. Thus, there are, for example, RSNA, the Radiological Society of North America; AORN, the Association of Perioperative Nurses; AAMI, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation; AUA, the American Urological Association, and SAGES, the Society of Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. The price of admission varies from as little as $200.00 to $1500.00 or more, and many conferences do not admit anyone at any price who doesn’t have a good (professional) reason to be there.
So it was with curiosity and delight that I attended the 2013 conference and exhibition in Baltimore of SAGES, a fine place to get to see a little of what it takes to be a medical professional – surgeon or nurse. Hands-on courses in bariatric (study of cause, treatment and prevention of obesity); component separation (abdominal wall reconstruction, as in hernia repair); POEM (peroral endoscopic myotomy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat esophageal disorders), and intraluminal endoscopic techniques and colorectal, are not coursework for the faint of heart. It is, however, basic information for professionals who enable the morbidly obese to finally lose weight; who help those with esophageal issues to speak and swallow; who restore normal function to diseased or damaged internal organs; and, who provide care that prevents or cures tens of thousands of colon cancer cases every year.
The costs are enormous and timelines longer than perhaps any of us alive today will survive to see through to fruition. But if you’d like to know what’s going on now that provides a link to that future, attend a medical trade show or two where the products offered enable and anticipate the best practices of tomorrow. From ordinary tools of the surgical trade — bone saws, scalpels, sponges and clamps — to endoscopic devices that allow surgeons to work through ‘tubes’ simultaneously viewing, rinsing, cutting, cauterizing, stapling, and evacuating smoke and residue from the burn of a laser or cut of a blade, you will be in awe of what can be done, and how quickly patients recover from what just a few years ago would be a death sentence. What’s more, as if realizing the fears of a world run by robots gone awry, these complex, life-saving operations can be performed by electromechanical devices, such as da Vinci (tm), remotely controlled by surgeons at workstations in rooms as much as a continent away.
Adding to the goal of continuing improvement, PennHaptics at the University of Pennsylvania is developing a system to add tactile and audio feedback of tool vibrations to simulate the sound and feel of “what one hears when using a laparoscopic tool.” Sensors that pick up on touch and movement of manipulated instruments provide audio and physical feedback through custom integrated circuits incorporating complicated algorithms, to simulate sensations to help surgeons improve performance.
In addition to manufacturers demonstrating new surgical equipment and techniques were companies dedicated to research and development of chemicals and pharmaceuticals that ensure sterile environments and safe, comfortable (i.e., comatose) patients. Nothing goes overlooked, including, for example, ways to prevent an unconcious 450-pound naked patient from sliding off an operating table when it’s tilted to a thirty-degree angle to facilitate the surgeon’s access to an entry site.
What the surgeon sees during a procedure is an integral element of the surgical process. Video monitors used in medical environments are generally much more robust than the TV you watch at home. Medical monitors must handle a wide variety of inputs and outputs from or to cameras, endoscopes, laparoscopes, recorders, fluoro and X-ray devices, etc. They must be low-leakage devices to prevent electrical and radiated interference with other equipment in an operating room, such as vital function monitors. They must resist spatter from blood and other bodily fluids, maintain accurate color rendition including hue and brightness, have wide viewing angles, consistent image quality from one monitor to another, and other qualifying features for surgical, clinical or diagnostic applications.
It would be easy to go on about various products and procedures that are the focus of the SAGES show. Suffice it to say that medicine, surgery in particular, like virtually every other profession, is becoming more and more techno-centric every day. The challenge is to stay abreast of what’s happening, what’s new, what’s coming in both technology and technique. Conferences and exhibitions such as SAGES allow physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and other medical professionals the opportunity to exchange information about the latest products and procedures in a world where education is unending.
About the author:
M. Sedlof attended the SAGES conference in Baltimore in May on behalf of Ragazine.CC. She is an occasional contributor of articles about medical technology.
June 29, 2013 Comments Off on SAGES: Medical World Apart