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All posts by Dr Mark Hom

Dr Mark Hom
Dr. Mark Hom is a Johns Hopkins University trained biologist, an award-winning medical illustrator, an interventional radiologist applying high technology to the diagnosis and treatment of his patients, an educator of young doctors, and an avid fitness cyclist. Dr. Hom's work explains how the human body, various organ systems, and individual cells function in the biologic process of exercise. He is currently a member of the Department of Radiology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.
  • 10 reasons why now is the right time to upgrade to SSD

    Your computer has a new choke point that can be easily remedied with a single hardware upgrade. At one time computers were slowed by weak processors or dial-up Internet connections. Now that multi-core CPU’s and broadband access are ubiquitous, the rate-limiting step is your spinning mechanical hard drive. Booting up your computer is a normal expected inconvenience…two to three minutes of idle time wasted as you stare at the hour glass icon while your computer diligently reloads the operating system and programs from the hard drive to system memory. Hard drive maintenance (defragging, error checking, and virus scans)...

  • Out of Africa: retracing human evolution and migration with DNA

    The fossil record is compelling evidence that points to the dawn of man in eastern Africa. Now that we have advanced DNA sequencing capabilities, what else can technology tell us about evolution and human migration? In July of 1959, a remarkable discovery was made in the Olduvai Gorge of northern Tanzania, along the fertile Great Rift Valley of East Africa. Drs. Louis and Mary Leakey (the husband and wife paleoanthropology team) were excavating this area because earlier work by geologist Hans Reck indicated possible hominid fossils. The Olduvai Gorge is the site of an ancient lake that once teemed...

  • The value of Oxygen-oriented technology? At least $467m

    Pulse oximetry uses non-invasive photon technology to measure the redness of human blood. Oxygen saturation is essential when monitoring hospitalized patients and is now being used by extreme athletes to maximize physical performance. The reactivity of oxygen drives the main energy generation system of the human body. The inventors of this technology (Masimo Corporation) recently won a landmark US $467 million dollar patent infringement lawsuit. Mitochondria are masters of oxygen. In the presence of oxygen, they generate the adenosine triphosphate energy (ATP) that powers our muscles and vital organs. Mitochondria are the oxygen-consuming high-efficiency furnaces (inside each of your...

  • Can a real fighting lightsaber be built with current technology?

    The Star Wars saga borrowed (some say outright stole) its mythological theme from Budo (the art of the warrior) which was the societal philosophy behind the ancient Japanese culture of bravery, loyalty, and technical mastery of weaponry. The influence of Budo is especially evident in the preferred weapon of the Jedi and Sith lead characters… the lightsaber. The outward appearance and functionality of this fictional weapon is clearly an homage to the ultimate personal weapon of Japanese antiquity, the Samurai sword (katana). With a length of approximately one meter, deadly slicing efficiency, and prerequisite dexterity and training, it is...

  • 4 fascinating uses of Microsoft Excel: artistic, uber-geeky, life-saving, and paranoid

    What if you could only have one productivity software program? It might surprise you that your most versatile electronic tool is already loaded on your computer. Yes, it’s Excel, the spreadsheet program you probably think of as mind-numbingly unexciting. The software engineers at Microsoft loaded Excel with so many features and gizmos, that imaginative end users have found very interesting ways to express themselves, going far beyond long lists of data and number crunching. Vector Graphics Included in Excel are layered graphics, an autoshape function, and the full spectrum of colors that allow talented and inventive artists to create artwork...

  • How ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ inspired Apple’s mobile device line-up

    The Apple iPod, iPhone, and iPad are products that were far advanced at their time of introduction and revolutionized each of their respective market segments. Together, they epitomize state of the art consumer electronics and the current digital/communication age. So it might surprise some Apple fanatics that their beloved devices were inspired by an old movie filmed in 1965, before most of these purchasers were even born. 2001: A Space Odyssey (released in 1968 by MGM Studios) was a Sci-Fi movie set in the near future, showcasing predicted futuristic technologies. For a detailed analysis of the science of 2001, please...

  • 10 Reasons why 2001: A Space Odyssey stands as the best Sci-Fi movie ever made

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, MGM) was filmed before man stepped on the moon (1969, Neil Armstrong), before the use of Computer-Generated Imagery (1973, Westworld), and before most Star Wars fans were even born (1977, Episode IV). Despite intervening decades of scientific discovery, film-making advancements, and computer technology, it remains the best science fiction movie in terms of realism, prediction of future technology, mystery, and thought provocation. A good movie extends reality for the purpose of entertainment, but a great movie also suspends the viewer’s disbelief in order to be convincing. If something is depicted on film that makes...

  • Can we shrink the artist’s studio down to the size of a tablet?

    Technology has replaced the artist’s studio with a small, portable, and affordable tablet computer. Not only can digital artists produce high-quality publishable work, they can be more productive than with traditional media. When I landed my book contract with Greg LeMond for The Science of Fitness: Power, Performance, and Endurance, I was tasked with writing the scientific content, researching and referencing (240 citations), passing peer review, corresponding with authors and editors, compiling the index, and marketing the book. In addition, it was my responsibility to simultaneously self-illustrate the book with original art in the form of illustrations, anatomical sketches,...

  • Beyond Einstein’s brain: the anatomy of genius

    When Albert Einstein died in 1955, his brain was removed, weighed and measured, preserved in formalin, photographed, and sectioned for microscopic study. Although we often think of technologic breakthroughs as coming from corporations or industry sectors, ideas come from individual brains. Human brain tissue is the source of the invention, conceptualization, and implementation of new technologies. Einstein was the preeminent genius of his era and one of the greatest scientists of all time, on par with Leonardo Da Vinci and Isaac Newton (whose brains were not preserved). What can we learn from the anatomy of Einstein’s brain that might...

  • The science behind why humans prefer printed books

    Printed book sales are rising and eBook sales are slowing. Recent studies have shown that reading comprehension and retention are better with “old-style” printed books. I believe that there are several reasons why people interact better with paper books. When you hold and read a book, you not only absorb the words and meaning, but you also subconsciously remember the physical location of the words. Whether a paragraph is towards the beginning or end of the book, on the left or right facing page, or at the top or bottom of the page, you remember it. I still recall...

  • The real biology of ‘Star Wars’ Midichlorians

    The George Lucas Star Wars saga spans multiple generations of characters (and fans), seven movies to date, and future sequels that will apparently extend the series into infinity. Star Wars is deeply rooted in the world’s popular culture. But what is the underlying theme of Star Wars? Here are some flawed possibilities: 1. We are not alone: Although there may be other intelligent life in the universe, intergalactic travel is not and will not be feasible. The distances are too great and we cannot travel faster than the speed of light (as per Einstein). 2. Integration of technology and humans Humans...

  • The nanotechnology inside the human body: for future medical breakthroughs, think small

    The first electronic computer was a massive device. The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, 1945) measured 30 meters long, contained 17,468 vacuum tubes, and weighed 27 metric tonnes. The ENIAC’s computational power was put to practical use in a calculation that would decide the fate of the human race. During development of the hydrogen bomb, the ENIAC determined that a thermonuclear fusion device would be 1 000 times more powerful than an atomic fission bomb and also assured physicists that testing such a weapon would NOT incinerate the Earth’s entire atmosphere. Today, the processing power of the ENIAC...

  • Greg Lemond: how an outsider turned cycling onto tech

    The bicycle is a marvelous invention and the most efficient human-powered machine. Bike riding is practical and “green” transportation that can replace automobile driving with beneficial physical activity. Bicycle racing puts athletic power and endurance to the ultimate test in the most grueling physical contests on Earth such as the Tour de France and World Championships. If you want to see high technology on display, all you have to do is drop buy your local bike shop. There you will see the modern time trial bike as a showcase of space age materials, aerodynamic design, and biomechanics. How did...