Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Though may not be an alvin tofflers article or Nostradamus predictions, worth a read...
Shock No. 1: Triumph of the cloud
My main prediction is that the high cost of power and space is going to force the IT world to look at cloud services, with a shift to computing as a cloud resource occurring in the next five years. So like the old mainframe model where we didn't care how the machine is configured, we just dump requests to the machine and get results. In fact, cloud computing services
will resemble mainframe service bureaus. We're already starting to see cloud service bureaus, such as Amazon's EC2. Ultimately, the emergence of cloud computing will reduce the need for computing at the enterprise level. -- Brian Chee
Shock No. 2: Cyborg chic
By 2018, geek chic will look a lot like what today we'd call a cyborg. The human/machine interface will be ubiquitous, with people walking around giving voice/whisper commands and using earbud audio and an eyeglass display that superimposes a machine-enhanced view of the world on ordinary vision. Nobody will notice that half the population is cyborg, because we'll get there one small step at a time, as iPhone belt-clip holders give way to the iBeltBuckle, iGlasses (hey, that's catchy!), and iEarRings. A new generation of computer viruses will take over the new display technology. Sometimes they're fatal, as when the computer display shows an empty street, when in Actual Reality (AR) the street is filled with high-speed traffic. Other times they're just funny, as when the display insists on showing mustaches on every face in view. -- Bob Lewis
Shock No. 3: Everything works
You come home to do a little work on the computer, and when you turn it on, it boots up in just a few seconds with no issues. You open e-mail and it comes up without your having to wait. In fact, this new OS doesn't even have an hourglass icon! For the rest of the night, your computer does everything you ask it to do, without any waiting, hiccups, or errors. The interface is intuitive and sleek. It even changes based off what you're currently doing so that you can access features of the OS that you need while you're, say, working with e-mail or editing pics. We'll call this OS "Windows Sci-Fi" because we're all dreaming if we think that'll ever happen. -- Sean McCown
Shock No. 4: Nothing escapes you
In 1945, Vannevar Bush conceived of a device called a Memex that would store and retrieve all information accumulated throughout one's life. In the next 30 years, advances in speech and video recognition, the power of cloud-based computing, and real-time, continuous, wearable content capture will bring the Memex vision to life. Just think: You'll be able to leave a meeting without worrying about manually capturing your to-dos. You won't have to remember that interesting thing your friend mentioned over coffee. You won't have to write down the thought that sprung to mind when you saw an advertisement on TV or a billboard on the way home.
Vannevar's Memex vision will come to fruition through your next-next-next-generation PDA. The device will continuously capture all audio and video from your daily experiences and upload that content to the cloud, where it will be parsed to succinctly recognize your tasks, interesting information, and reminders -- all searchable, of course. A summary of important content from your day will be available through your PDA automatically. And yes, like Google Chrome, a "p0rn mode" option will ensure that the things you don't want remembered won't be. -- Savio Rodrigues
Shock No. 5: Smartphones take center stage
I see the smartphone evolving into the preferred instrument for constant connectivity, with voice interaction, facial recognition, location awareness, constant video and sound input, and multitouch screens. The keyboard won't go away completely, but it might be virtual: Think about typing in the air on an image projected from your "smart glasses." Business desktops would evolve into docking stations for your smartphone, with large screens and input devices, Gigabit or better connectivity, and local resources comparable to one of today's big servers (technical desktops would be similar, but with way more onboard CPU and GPU power, as well as massive memory and storage, all connected to massive servers and cloud resources). In this vision, the laptop nearly goes away. -- Martin Heller
Shock No. 6: Human-free manufacturing
We're already close to the perfect factory. (It employs one human and one dog; the human is there to feed the dog, and the dog is there to keep the human from touching anything.) Right now, manufacturing in the U.S. is up, while manufacturing employment is down. By 2018, automation will have hit enough labor sectors that while the GDP will continue to grow, fewer and fewer people will receive that growth in the form of wages. This will drive either social collapse or the establishment of a no-apologies welfare state. -- Bob Lewis
Shock No. 5: Smartphones take center stageI see the smartphone evolving into the preferred instrument for constant connectivity, with voice interaction, facial recognition, location awareness, constant video and sound input, and multitouch screens. The keyboard won't go away completely, but it might be virtual: Think about typing in the air on an image projected from your "smart glasses." Business desktops would evolve into docking stations for your smartphone, with large screens and input devices, Gigabit or better connectivity, and local resources comparable to one of today's big servers (technical desktops would be similar, but with way more onboard CPU and GPU power, as well as massive memory and storage, all connected to massive servers and cloud resources). In this vision, the laptop nearly goes away. -- Martin Heller
Shock No. 6: Human-free manufacturing
Shock No. 10: Relationship enhancement
In his novel ‘Prey’, Michael Crichton created the fictional world of nanotechnology running amok in human life. Some believe that the tiny particles have the capability of reversing the aging process in humans. Is it possible for nanotechnology or the ‘power of the small’ to make man immortal? The current trend in technology does not point to that direction but some over enthusiasts feel that some time in the distant future nanotechnologists could decode the mystery of life and death. Currently the smallest human-made particle is 20 nanometers in diameter. A human red blood cell is 10,000 nanometers in diameter. By building an autonomous robot 1/10,000th time that of a red blood cell, it would be possible to program it in such a way that the tiny robot could reverse the aging process in humans when once inserted in the body cells. The interior of the human body would then replicate an ocean of floating nanobots commanding human metabolism.
While the concept of nanobots is in the theoretical stage but nanotechnology has been expanded to anti-aging treatments by direct infusion of electrons in the skin via nano current that is equivalent to over one-billionth of an ampere. Nanotechnology is currently used widely in dermatology and in regenerative medicine research. However, nanobots have not been tested yet but some nano devices have been found to work on a number of animal specimens. It has been possible to cure type-1 diabetes in rats with a blood cell-sized device. Scientists at MIT have been able to develop microscopic devices that can remove cancer cells from the blood stream and destroy them. Given the current rate of acceleration in technology, in the next two or three decades these devices are expected to become powerful enough to work inside human cells.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Motors without moving parts
In the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October (based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same name), Sean Connery plays the captain of a Russian submarine. This much I remembered from having seen the film many years ago. I did not recall that the submarine in question—the eponymous “Red October”—used a special high-tech propulsion system that, having no moving parts, was silent. I’m sure my science fiction filter was on, and I just assumed at the time that the top-secret engine was the sort of almost-plausible futuristic contrivance any modern spy movie will have—and not worth taking very seriously. Just a few years later, though, Mitsubishi demonstrated a boat using a propulsion system of roughly the design Clancy described in his novel. And now variations on this technique are being used in electrical generators, nuclear reactors, and even spacecraft design.
Gimme an “M”
The scientific principle in question is known as magnetohydrodynamics, which is a fairly straightforward combination of magneto (as in magnet), hydro (as in water), and dynamics (as in motion). Those in the biz call it MHD for short. And yes: it uses magnetism to cause motion in water (or another fluid). MHD is not by any means a new discovery—academic researchers have been working on this since at least the 1960s, and the Journal Magnetohydrodynamics has been published since 1965 by the University of Latvia. But in recent years, MHD designs have begun to appear more frequently in everything from large-scale commercial operations to high school science fair projects.
The basic concept is simple, even though it relies on some complex math and physics. When a conductive fluid (such as saltwater, liquid metal, or even plasma) is exposed to a magnetic field and an electric current at right angles to each other, their interaction propels the fluid in a direction perpendicular to the other two axes. In other words, the fluid itself functions more or less as the moving part of an electric motor.
You can demonstrate this effect on a small scale if you have a free afternoon, a few tools, and a bathtub. Take a small plastic tube and glue a pair of nice, strong magnets onto the top and bottom (opposite poles facing inward). Then glue strips of metal to the insides of the tube on the left and right; these will be the electrodes. Affix this assembly to the bottom of a small toy boat. Wire the electrodes to a fairly high-power battery (being careful, of course, to keep the battery dry), and float the entire contraption in a saturated solution of salt and water. If the battery is strong enough and the boat is small enough, it will start moving through the water.
The Solid-State Paddlewheel
Of course, if you want to power a boat large enough to hold passengers, the engines will have to be pretty large. You’re going to need some very strong magnets—think helium-cooled superconducting electromagnets—plus an awful lot of electricity to provide current to the electrodes. Even then, you may find (as Mitsubishi did) that the thrust produced is a bit underwhelming. The prototype boats were expected to reach speeds of 200 kilometers per hour, but only got up to 15 km/h. Even though MHD drives have virtually no drag (unlike propellers), the energy conversion efficiency is currently pretty low. (Had they used the same amount of electricity to power conventional motors, the boats would have gone much faster.) Further technological advances are needed to make this a practical propulsion system for marine vessels.
As far as I know, there are no submarines using such drives now, but a Red October is at least more plausible than I’d previously have suspected. However, I should point out that MHD drives are only sort of quiet. By this I mean there’s no noise from an engine or propeller, but the electrodes do produce huge numbers of bubbles—after all, this design amounts to magnetically enhanced electrolysis, and electrolysis separates water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. So a submarine with an MHD drive would not be quite as stealthy as you might imagine.
Much more promising are designs that use other kinds of fluids that conduct electricity better. For example, plasma-based propulsion systems being studied for long-distance space travel use a variation on MHD. It remains to be seen whether technological innovations will make MHD an efficient and practical means of propulsion (terrestrial or otherwise), but the mere fact that you can induce motion in a fluid without either moving parts or combustion seems incredibly cool to me. As with so many scientific discoveries, truth is much more exciting than fiction. —Joe Kissell
Did you know that the matter in your body is billions of years old?
According to most astrophysicists, all the matter found in the universe today -- including the matter in people, plants, animals, the earth, stars, and galaxies -- was created at the very first moment of time, thought to be about 13 billion years ago.
The universe began, scientists believe, with every speck of its energy jammed into a very tiny point. This extremely dense point exploded with unimaginable force, creating matter and propelling it outward to make the billions of galaxies of our vast universe. Astrophysicists dubbed this titanic explosion the Big Bang.
The Big Bang was like no explosion you might witness on earth today. For instance, a hydrogen bomb explosion, whose center registers approximately 100 million degrees Celsius, moves through the air at about 300 meters per second. In contrast, cosmologists believe the Big Bang flung energy in all directions at the speed of light (300,000,000 meters per second, a hundred thousand times faster than the H-bomb) and estimate that the temperature of the entire universe
was 1000 trillion degrees Celsius at just a tiny fraction of a second after the explosion. Even the cores of the hottest stars in today's universe are much cooler than that.
There's another important quality of the Big Bang that makes it unique. While an explosion of a man-made bomb expands through air, the Big Bang did not expand through anything. That's because there was no space to expand through at the beginning of time. Rather, physicists believe the Big Bang created and stretched space itself, expanding the universe.
A Cooling, Expanding Universe
For a brief moment after the Big Bang, the immense heat created conditions unlike any conditions astrophysicists see in the universe today. While planets and stars today are composed of atoms of elements like hydrogen and silicon, scientists believe the universe back then was too hot for anything other than the most fundamental particles -- such as quarks and photons.
But as the universe quickly expanded, the energy of the Big Bang became more and more "diluted" in space, causing the universe to cool. Popping open a beer bottle results in a roughly similar cooling, expanding effect: gas, once confined in the bottle, spreads into the air, and the temperature of the beer drops.
Rapid cooling allowed for matter as we know it to form in the universe, although physicists are still trying to figure out exactly how this happened. About one ten-thousandth of a second after the Big Bang, protons and neutrons formed, and within a few minutes these particles stuck together to form atomic nuclei, mostly hydrogen and helium. Hundreds of thousands of years later, electrons stuck to the nuclei to make complete atoms.
About a billion years after the Big Bang, gravity caused these atoms to gather in huge clouds of gas, forming collections of stars known as galaxies. Gravity is the force that pulls any objects with mass towards one another -- the same force, for example, that causes a ball thrown in the air to fall to the earth.
Where do planets like earth come from? Over billions of years, stars "cook" hydrogen and helium atoms in their hot cores to make heavier elements like carbon and oxygen. Large stars explode over time, blasting these elements into space. This matter then condenses into the stars, planets, and satellites that make up solar systems like our own.
How do we know the Big Bang happened?
Astrophysicists have uncovered a great deal of compelling evidence over the past hundred years to support the Big Bang theory. Among this evidence is the observation that the universe is expanding. By looking at light emitted by distant galaxies, scientists have found that these galaxies are rapidly moving away from our galaxy, the Milky Way. An explosion like the Big Bang, which sent matter flying outward from a point, explains this observation.
Another critical discovery was the observation of low levels of microwaves throughout space. Astronomers believe these microwaves, whose temperature is about -270 degrees Celsius, are the remnants of the extremely high-temperature radiation produced by the Big Bang.
Interestingly, astronomers can get an idea of how hot the universe used to be by looking at very distant clouds of gas through high-power telescopes. Because light from these clouds can take billions of years to reach our telescopes, we see such bodies as they appeared eons ago. Lo and behold, these ancient clouds of gas seem to be hotter than younger clouds.
Scientists have also been able to uphold the Big Bang theory by measuring the relative amounts of different elements in the universe. They've found that the universe contains about 74 percent hydrogen and 26 percent helium by mass, the two lightest elements. All the other heavier elements -- including elements common on earth, such as carbon and oxygen -- make up just a tiny trace of all matter.
So how does this prove anything about the Big Bang? Scientists have shown, using theoretical calculations, that these abundances could only have been made in a universe that began in a very hot, dense state, and then quickly cooled and expanded. This is exactly the kind of universe that the Big Bang theory predicts.
CERN and the Big Bang
In the first few minutes after the Big Bang, the universe was far hotter -- billions of billions of billions of degrees hotter -- than anywhere in the universe today. This heat gave particles of matter in the early universe an extraordinary amount of energy, causing them to behave in a much different way from particles in the universe today. For example, particles moved much faster back then and collided into one another with much greater energy.
If these conditions do not exist anymore, how do scientists study the behavior of matter in the early universe? One of the most powerful tools for such analysis is the particle accelerator. This device allows physicists to recreate conditions just after the Big Bang by making a beam of fast-moving particles and bringing them together in very high-energy collisions.
Researchers at CERN are using an accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to accelerate subatomic particles called protons to close to the speed of light. This is how fast scientists believed these particles moved in the instants after the Big Bang. By looking at the behavior of these protons, CERN physicists hope to better understand how the Big Bang created the universe.
When completed in 2005, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN will provide new insight into the past, present and future of our universe.
What is the fate of the universe?
The Big Bang theory raises some important questions about the fundamental nature of the universe: Will the expansion of the universe, set in action by the Big Bang, continue forever? Or will gravity stop the expansion and eventually cause all the matter in the universe to contract in a Big Crunch?
Scientists don't yet know the answers to these questions for certain. But particle physics experiments like the accelerator studies at CERN may offer some clues down the road. By probing into what matter is made of and how it behaves, such experiments can help us explore what the matter in our universe--the planets, stars, and galaxies--might be doing billions of years from now.
Monday, September 08, 2008
London (PTI): Astronomers have found an object in the icy Kuiper belt, which they claim is actually orbiting the Sun backwards compared to the planets in the Solar System. An international team, led by University of British Columbia, spotted the new object, called 2008 KV42, which lies in the Kuiper belt that is a ring of icy bodies beyond outer planet Neptune. According to the astronomers, the object's orbit is inclined 103.5 to the plane of the Earth's orbit, which means that as it orbits the Sun, it actually travels in the opposite direction as the planets. Observations have revealed that the object is about 50 kilometres across and travels on a path that takes it from the distance of Uranus to more than twice that of Neptune, the 'New Scientist' reported. According to lead astronomer Brett Gladman, the object was probably born in the same place as Halley-type comets that also travel on retrograde or highly tilted orbits -- lasting between 20 and 200 years, but they come closer to the Sun.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
22.After a long wait for bus no.20, two 20 number buses will always pull in together and the bus which you get in will be crowded than the other.
23.If your exam is tomorrow, there will be a power cut tonight.
MUMBAI: It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that you have a professional hiker by your side.
But when the gentleman you walk with - along the unending stretches at IIT Bombay, Powai - tells you that he arrives at the best solutions to complex mathematical theories while hiking, it makes you pause and wonder.
At 33, Manjul Bhargava is a whiz at maths, music and hiking. And he’s the youngest professor at Princeton University, US. When most people are still learning to navigate the rough and tumble of the workplace, Bhargava had hotfooted it to where he is now.
He did his PhD in number theory at Princeton - he cracked a 200-year-old problem - under his mentor, Andrew Viles. And was named professor at the tender age of 28. “It was weird. I started teaching when I was an undergraduate. And when I went into it full time, I was suddenly flooded with offers from different colleges for various posts.”
Why Princeton? “They had the best offer,” he grins.
But - er - math? A subject that intimidates so many of us mere mortals? To become a reasearcher in that subject, teach it, win prizes and be in love with it is, well, no less than a feat. “Maths is fun. It is a creative process. I always knew I had an inclination for maths. So going into research in the subject was natural for me.”
He believes in the huge potential for the subject in India, and will be teaching at IIT Powai and TIFR in Mumbai for about a month each year.
Bhargava is in India in connection with a string theory conference at TIFR. He also gave a lecture at IIT-B and is working on starting a music programme here. He is an adjunct professor at Princeton and IIT-B, and tries to visit once or twice a year.
“Maths is all about creativity. It’s an art... There is something about Indians that makes them good at maths. It’s either cultural or genetic.” Genetic, maybe. But cultural? “For generations, we have produced great mathematicians. Maybe it’s because of that,” he believes. And, of course, the obsessive importance attached to engineering in the country. “When you’re good at maths, you are immediately pushed towards engineering for economic reasons. Because for a long time, engineers were the ones who grabbed the good jobs.”
However, he feels, things are changing now in favour of pure sciences. “There are a lot more research jobs available. With so many institutes starting up, all the new IITs, they are going to need a lot more faculty.”
But most students dread the M word. That is one exam they will gladly pass up the chance to write. “That is true,” he says. “Sadly, in India, we tend to teach maths according to a structure. Students learn formulae by rote. Teachers should teach maths just like other subjects. Explain a theory, ask students to try and find answers and then guide them in the right direction,” he says.
Another problem, he points out, is that if you are good at any of the sciences, you are expected to choose engineering. “But that’s not the way it works. Someone who excels in maths need not be that good at chemistry or physics. Everyone has a knack for some subject. He or she should be encouraged to concentrate on that subject.”
The levels of teaching the subject here are way ahead of those in the US, he says. “As a child, I used to come down to India for months together. I used to look at textbooks here and wonder. Because the level of maths taught here is way above what their American contemporaries learn at that age.”
Bhargava counts number theory and tabla sessions among his passions. Just like the problems he solves on hikes. He seems pretty much at home walking these roads and talking about his life. Does he do it often? “Oh yes, I do. There are times when I am stuck on a theory and all I need is a long walk in the woods to arrive at a solution. I even take my students on hikes sometimes to explain or work out a theory.”
Maths is, of course, in his blood. His mother too is a mathematics professor. But his horizons have always been broader. “I always knew I was inclined towards maths. At graduation, I took a lot of classes. Even though my core subject was maths, I took credits in Sanksrit, paleontology and economics. Then I started taking classes during my undergrad years and things just kind of fell into place,” he says.
Would he consider moving to India, to share his love for maths? And where would he pitch tent? The answer’s simple. “Mumbai, definitely. It’s where maths and music come together for me,” he says.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Type-A training tweakers, metrics maniacs, peripatetic two-wheeled geo-cachers and the geographically challenged now have something to collectively rally around: the Garmin Edge 705. This latest fitness offering from the GPS giant has more than a little somethin' somethin' for the can't stay put, always get lost, urban treasure hunting, serious bike training, and it's-the-journey-until-you-can't-find-the-destination types. The Edge 705 combines (take a deep breath) GPS maps and navigation, heart rate, cadence and power output into a palm of your hand wireless unit. It can display up to 16 separate metrics during the ride and combined with the included software and web-based apps it becomes an incredible tool for social networking, exploration and serious training analysis.
From a gander at the spec sheet, it seems setup and orientation would take awhile, but it turned out to be a breeze straight out of the box. You don't even have to calculate your wheel dimensions; it figures that out for you. Despite having to decipher some thick cyclist jargon, I was rolling in less than an hour -- map telling me my location and plotting a course to the trailhead while spitting out vitals all along the way.
That was just the appetizer because data readout, collection and save-your-ass navigation are just part of the equation. Connected to your Mac or PC back at the lodge, the Edge 705 offers a myriad of ways to breakdown cycling actions that you've done. The included software (called Garmin Training Center) is very serviceable and helps you track courses, training regimes, and the mass of recorded data. And if you want to know what others around the globe are up to, Garmin's recent acquisition, Motion Based, is definitely for you.
Hatched back in 2003 by outdoor data junkies Clark Weber and Aaron Roller, Motion Based
is a two-tiered site that combines the number crunching capabilities of
Garmin Training Center with a global community of GPS aficionados who
want to share their adventurous exploits. Users can easily upload their data to the Motion Based site and share activities. So let's say you're heading for France and want to get your Lance Armstrong on at the fabled L'Alpe d'Huez. No problem, just pick one of the many L'Alpe d'Huez rides uploaded by users on the site, click on "download to device" and you’ve got the whole course on your unit with turn-by-turn directions. The opportunities for fun and exploration are endless.
Think of a destination, search the more than 3 million activities in the database, download your choices to the Edge 705 and off you go on a magical tour sans mystery. Presently a separate web
application, Motion Based will be folded into the Garmin Connect site by September with a more robust and feature-laden platform.
For the power-hounds out there, Garmin has embraced the open source ANT+Sport wireless standard. This 2.4 GHz frequency is a low power, totally locked-in to your device protocol that like Bluetooth, seems to be taking some time to get traction. It makes sense that the powermeter
providers -- SRM, PowerTap, Ergomo, iBike and Quarq among them -- are taking their time since the Garmin co-opts their proprietary hardware, but it seems sensible and inevitable because the Edge 705 is a unifying device, and from our experience, is best of its breed. If you want the whole shootin' match right now, SRM is the best choice and the most expensive. Quarq's Cinq-O crank-based bolt-on should be on the market by the time you're reading this, although with limited crank compatibility. I wasn’t able to test the Edge with a powermeter, but
that’s coming, so keep an eye out on wired.com for a power update.
Over the course of a couple weeks I've put in more than 40 hours on the road and trail with the 705 and I found it to be incredibly accurate, even in close quarters with other bike-borne wireless electronics. It's righted my course a few times and has become an invaluable training
tool, enabling me to analyze ride and race data over a couple months and realize marked improvements. At the end of the ride, the Garmin Edge 705 seems to be the Holy Grail for cycling enthusiasts. It tells you where you are, points the way to a destination, gets you home and provides every bit of data you need to become a fitter cyclists -- if that's your thing. And in 20 years of reviewing god knows how many gadgets, this is one of the dozen or so for which I'd gladly plunk down my own dough. So if you see me tooling through the trees or on some deserted twisty with it aboard my Specialized, you'll know I put my money where my gob-smacked mouth was. —Jackson Lynch
WIRED Detailed maps and directions are spot-on. GPS reception is excellent even in heavily wooded areas. Software and web app integration are a boon to digit crunchers.
TIRED Needs capability for more than three bikes. CD-ROM user manual needs more detail. Should come with a glare-free screen skin. Must run the battery all the way down before the first charge or you'll only get about three hours of use.
$650 as tested, garmin.com
Researchers have said that for patients with difficult-to-treat clogged arteries, a bypass surgery was better than drug stents. Based on the results of a major clinical study by Dutch researchers presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Munich, experts said patients who had angioplasties were twice as likely to require another procedure within a year. Douglas Weaver, president of the American College of Cardiology, said, "Despite the advent of drug-eluting stents surgery comes out a winner."
Doctors have two options when arteries become blocked as a means of treatment. The first is the increasingly popular, angioplasty, a non-surgical procedure where a balloon is pushed into a blood vessel to flatten the blockage, leaving a stent to prop the artery open, while in a bypass surgery, blood vessels are rerouted to detour around blockages. Introduced in the 1990’s, stenting gained popularity as doctors treated patients by inserting a catheter in the groin, a procedure that resulted in quick recovery time and patients are often walking around three days after the procedure. A bypass surgery is more complex and requires open heart surgery, a five hour long procedure under general anesthesia and patients need at least a month to recover fully.
In the study, paid for by Boston Scientific, makers of the drug-coated stent used in the trial, European doctors compared the effectiveness of open-heart surgery versus angioplasty on more than 3,000 patients in Europe and the United States. Patients who had acute heart attacks were excluded while those who had single and multiple vessel blockages were included in the study.
One third of the patients had medical conditions that required surgery while the remaining patients were randomly assigned to receive either surgery or an angioplasty. An average of nearly five stents was needed by patients who got an angioplasty.
One year later 14 % of the angioplasty patients needed a repeat procedure as compared to the 6 % of the surgery patients. Surgery patients had a lower death rate at 3.5 % while it was 4.3 % in the angioplasty patients. On the stroke risk front the surgery patients had a 2 % risk compared to the nearly zero risk for the angioplasty patients as doctors said surgery had an inherent stroke risk as compared to angioplasty.
Dr. Heinz Drexel, professor of medicine at the University of Innsbruck in Austria and spokesman for the European Society of Cardiology said, "If you don't want to have another heart operation for at least a decade, you should pick the surgery. But that means you have to have your chest cracked open.” Drexel was not connected to the research.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found bypass surgery to be preferable for patients who had more than one clogged artery. "Surgery still comes out as the winner in a head-to-head trial," said Dr Weaver. "This comes down to a conversation with patients and making sure they know that with an angioplasty, there will be a higher rate of revascularization," he said, referring to the need for repeat procedures.
Dr. Tim Gardner, president of the American Heart Association said, "You invest more in terms of recuperation with surgery. But the advantage is durability."
Jonathan Halperin of New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center said, "The results of this study are perhaps going to cause cardiologists to pause for a moment and think before they necessarily assume that these are balanced technologies, where one is the equivalent of the other."
Keith Dawkins, Associate Chief Medical Officer at Boston Scientific, said despite not achieving its main goal, the study was reassuring for stent use. He told Reuters, "The primary endpoint was missed. But it wasn't missed because of safety concerns; it was missed due to revascularization.” Revascularization is the repeated need to clear blocked arteries.
Medical experts feel more data and research is needed and patients to be tracked for a longer period of time before it can be decided which is better surgery or angioplasty. "This only tells us what happens after one year," Drexel said. "We need to wait for at least five years to get a good answer about which therapy is really better."