Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fiat Lux: Let there be light

Fiat Lux, Latin for “Let there be light,” is the motto of the University of California. It is also an ancient biblical reference that announces the coming of light into the world and, with it, knowledge, the power of perception and the hope for wisdom.

Early Judo-Christian belief was there was a bone somewhere in the human body which held spiritual importance and was the means of resurrection. God was thought to look after it and made the bone indestructible.Emperor Hadrian (AD 76 -138) was aware of the common belief but was sceptical until he was shown proof.

It took until the writings of Rabbi Uschania (AD circa 210) to affirm the bone could not be destroyed by fire, water or other element. The bone was thought to be completely unbreakable, nor would it bruise even under force. Many historians believe the holy bone existed somewhere in the spinal column and was called Lus (or lux - Aramaic). However, not all agree which part of the column the bone came from (i.e. top or bottom) and some believe Lux may have referred to the talus (in the foot).

The talus is rather unique in the body as it is the only bone which has no muscles originate from it nor attached to it. The bone sits beneath the tibia and on top of the calcaneum e.g. between the leg and foot. It has a very important function which allows the foot to adjust to the ground and helps the upper skeleton compensate.

The talo-calcaneal, or subtalar joint allows three dimensional motion to occur i.e. supination and pronation.

In antiquity dice were made from the talus of hoofed animals, like oxen. They were referred to as ‘c” and had a tetrahedral shape. The Dice (often called bones) were used for games and throwing dice for money was the cause of many special laws.

At the Crusification, the centurions diced at the feet of Christ,(Matthew 27:35-40). Despite the association with gambling the talus, was known as the good bone and the Centurions using it as a dice, might be taken to represent reserection. Good men never die.

Friday, May 19, 2017

It’s All About Shoes: Suzanne Middlemass

Suzanne Middlemass spends her days capturing fashion’s most memorable off-the-runway moments. A self-described shoe lover, London-based Middlemass, has curated a collection of her most striking shots of fanciful footwear from around the world for “It’s All About Shoes”(teNeues). Showcased are 300 showstopping styles, spotted on the streets of major fashion capitals including New York, Paris, London, Milan, Berlin and Copenhagen.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Shoe Allergies

Shoe allergies are a form of dermatitis caused skin contacting allergens (irritants) in shoes and socks. Symptoms include inflammation, burning sensation, blisters, itching, fissuring (cracks in the skin) and sometimes secondary infection. Long term exposure to an allergen may result in the skin becoming thick, red and scaly. The allergic reaction is usually confined to the tops of the foot and toes but can also be found on the sole of the foot, the legs, and the sides of the feet and heels. There are many chemical substances in shoes and socks which cause allergies. Glues (para-tertiary butylphenol formaldehyde resin (PTBP-FR), and colophony); leather chemicals (potassium dichromate); rubber chemicals/accelerators (2-mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT) and thiuram mix chemicals); dyes (particularly PPD) ; and metal components/decorations on shoes (nickel sulphate and cobalt chloride) are all potential sources. There is no mechanism for de-sensitising to rosin. Once the dermatitis appears on the skin, treatment is as for any acute dermatitis/eczema, i.e. topical corticosteroids, emollients, treatment of any secondary bacterial infection.

The best way to avoid allergy is by being aware of products that contain the product. Look for the list of ingredients on the product labels or packaging of all substances you come into contact with, not just the ones you think you might be sensitive to. When this information is not often available on labels you may need to contact the manufacturer of the product or cosmetic for advice. However sensible and practical this advice is, it is often complicated because many of the products go under different names and there is a general lack of product information at the point of purchase. This is more difficult with footwear as the relevant information is rarely displayed.

Most countries now have a system called Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) system catalogues information on chemicals, chemical compounds, and chemical mixtures. MSDS information may include instructions for the safe use and potential hazards associated with a particular material or product. There is a duty to properly label substances on the basis of physico-chemical, health and/or environmental risk but the MSDS is not primarily intended for use by the general consumer. The focus is primarily on the hazards of working with the material in an occupational setting. When no information available and direct inquiry to the product manufacturer is required.

Colophony (rosin) is the yellow/black sticky sap which comes from pine & spruce tree trunks. When it is distilled it is used to produce turpentine and gum, the latter is widely used in every-day products from personal care and beauty products, topical medications, cosmetics, adhesives and sealants, chewing gum to shoe glue and boot polish. Rosin is also used for its friction-increasing capacity including ballet and flamenco dancers rubbing their shoes in powdered rosin to reduce slippage on stage. Violin and banjo players use it to prevent the bridge from moving during a performance. You will often see clouds of it used by gymnasts and competition weight lifters to improve their grip. The list is almost endless but despite its usefulness Colophony also causes Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) and Occupational asthma. Skin contact in some people causes a dermatitis with the typical symptoms of redness, swelling, itching and fluid-filled blisters. Because of the ubiquitous nature of rosin in our every day lives people with allergies have major challenges trying to avoid contact which often means reading labels very carefully and looking for products which contain the irritant or related chemicals. Rosin is also known by several other names, including: Resin terebinthinae, Tall oil, Abietic acid , Methyl abietate alcohol, Abietic alcohol and Abietyl alcohol.

Footnote If you have any of these symptoms then please consult your physician for assistance.

Interesting sites
Shoe allergies: A resource for those who have allergies to their shoes

Itchy Feet: Shoe allergens

The manufacture of modern shoes is complex and most consumers remain unaware of the chemicals used in their preparation. Shoes are constructed with various materials glued together with different adhesives, all these steps involve chemicals that can cause sensitization and footwear allergy. The common rubber allergens are phenolic resins, thioureas, carbamates and additives.

Diagnosis is frequently hampered because presenting symptoms can be obscured as shoe allergy can mimic other dermatoses of the feet e.g. atopic dermatitis, or chronic itchy inflammation of the skin which is common in people who have hay fever or asthma.

Contact dermatitis may appear in acute, subacute, intermittent or chronic forms and many of the constituents of shoes, such as rubber, adhesives, chemicals used in tanning leather, dyes, biocides and trim, can all be the source of skin irritation. The hot humid environment within the shoes also gives an ideal environment for contact dermatitis.

Sometimes metal buckles or shoelace grommets made from nickel may also cause contact allergy. Research has shown rubber chemicals are the most common culprit in shoe-related allergies and subsequent skin irritations usually are confined to a specific area with clearly defined boundaries. The allergy can cause red and swollen skin that may blister. There are two types of contact dermatitis.

In the irritant type, exposure to substances such as soaps, detergents or metals may irritate the skin.

In the allergic type, exposure to a substance is the cause, but the initial exposure or even numerous subsequent exposures will not cause an allergic reaction. Allergic contact dermatitis of the foot develops over time, as the skin of the foot is repeatedly exposed to an allergen (the substance that causes allergic reaction). In some cases this may take years. The pattern of shoe dermatitis usually corresponds to the location of the offending substance in the shoe. Shoe dermatitis is usually symmetrical (same pattern on both feet) but may also be patchy and or unilateral (one foot).

Allergies on the top of the foot may be caused by allergens in glues or chromates and vegetable tannins in leather, or synthetic materials like polyurethane or neoprene foam. Leather traditionally is chrome-tanned, exposing the wearer to potassium dichromate. Tanning is followed by oiling, dyeing and finishing which give an attractive but tough outer coat to the leather. Shoe counters and toe boxes which give shape and support to shoe contain a number of allergens like adhesives and biocides.

Dermatitis on the sole of the foot may be due to rubber or other materials in the insole, lining or glue which holds these two layers in place. Adhesives like hot melts, urethane, neoprene and natural rubber (latex) all cause allergies and various substances like p-tert-butylphenol-formaldehyde resin (PTBP-FR), colophony and epoxy resins impart allergenicity to these adhesives. Sport shoes are frequently implicated in shoe allergy as are work shoes and footwear that keep the feet warm.

In the US reports of eczema caused by contact with insoles in Nike shoes have been on the increase. Wearing socks may temporarily reduce the risk but often it is necessary to patch testing for allergens. This involves cutting up the shoes into small pieces and testing them against the person’s skin for 24 hours. The tape strips are removed and the skin inspected for reaction, such as a small red spot that appears at the patch site. Once identified the cure often involves a complete change of footwear. Depending on the cause, will determined whether all leather shoes or synthetic or hemp or vegetable–tanned leather footwear is recommended. In cases where dermatitis was confined to the soles of the feet, replacing the insoles with felt or cork might suffice.

Sandals are less often associated with shoe allergy. Their open design allows feet to "breathe," and with no foot cover there is little material to irritate the feet.

If you have any of these symptoms then please consult your physician for assistance.

Interesting site
Shoe allergies: A resource for those who have allergies to their shoes

Friday, May 12, 2017

WiTrack system :Measuring walking speed

According to scientists walking speed can be an indicator of health issues such as cognitive decline, cardiac disease, pulmonary disease or future falls. Up until now measuring walking speed (i.e. gait velocity) has not been trouble free. Timing subjects with a stopwatch often has them walk faster or slower than they would normally do. Devices such as fitness trackers or GPS-enabled smartphones are not always accurate and of limited use indoors. Other invasive methods include using a depth-sensing camera in the patient's home with footage to be analysed later.

A team from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a no-contact system that measures a person's true walking speed wirelessly. The WiTrack system was designed by a team led by Prof. Dina Katabi. Without having to wear any tracking devices other than a marker, the system tracks subjects and feedbacks the data for analysis. It is able to determine walking speed (and any changes in it) with a claimed accuracy of 95 to 99 percent. It's also 85 to 99 percent accurate at measuring their stride length, which is known to decrease due to conditions such as Parkinson's disease. Additionally, the system is able to distinguish walking from other activities, such as cleaning.

Tuco's Cousins' Salamanca skull lucchese boots

Tuco's Cousins' Salamanca skull lucchese boots from the Breaking Bad TV show.

Improving Diabetes Care

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hochdorf Chieftain’s Grave

Discovered in 1968 by an amateur archaeologist near Hochdorf an der Enz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, and excavated in 1978/79, the Hochdorf Chieftain’s Grave is a richly furnished Celtic burial chamber dating from 530 BC. These thin embossed gold plaques were on the deceased's now-disintegrated shoes. Among the many artefacts found in the grave was a nail clipper.