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Heart disease found in ancient mummies

Heart disease is commonly thought to be a modern ailment, but evidence from ancient mummies suggests humans have had heart problems for thousands of years.

Randall Thompson at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and colleagues analyzed CAT scans of 137 mummies from ancient Egypt, Peru, Utah and the Aleutian Islands in the north Pacific Ocean. The mummies represent human populations dating from 3,000 B.C. to the 20th century.

A significant cross-section of mummies, from all cultures and time frames, had calcified plaque in artery walls – most frequently the aorta but also in the neck’s carotid artery – hinting at atherosclerosis, a major cause of heart attacks.

New endoscope is thin as a human hair

As thin as a human hair and with a resolution four times that of similar devices, the world’s slimmest endoscope could soon visualize the parts other scopes cannot reach.

Endoscopes are used to look inside the body, and usually consist of a bundle of fibers that transmit light and images. Joseph Kahn at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif., and colleagues have created one out of just a single optical fiber. Usually, single fibers scramble the light signal, so the team developed an algorithm to reconstruct images.

Currently, the prototype can show objects 2.5 micrometers in size – a third of the diameter of a red blood cell – but the team believes it will be able to improve the resolution to 0.3 micrometers.

The endoscope could be used to observe brain activity in minute detail or to detect cancer cells, according to Optics Express.

“Just as the telecoms industry has devised ways to squeeze more information content through optical fibers, this team has done the same for medical endoscopy,” said Stephen Boppart of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Center offers retreat for autistic, families

In today’s busy world, it can be difficult for many families to find time to relax and reconnect with one another. Having a child with autism can make that even more difficult, yet in many ways even more essential.

The “One Piece at a Time Retreat,” Aug. 23-25, at Dunkirk Camp & Conference Center, is designed to bring such families closer.

The weekend retreat is for children up to age 12 who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families. Parents will have the opportunity to learn some strategies and activities that will help them better understand their child and work with them when they return home. Staff will take care of the cooking and activities. Cost is $100 for adults and $50 for children; to register, visit dunkirkcc.com.

– News staff and wire services