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From zero to vasectomy in 6.7 seconds

There’s an old saying that you’ve probably heard: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It’s meant to encourage optimism in the face of adversity. Then there’s the new saying we just made up: When life gives you a power outage, plug your surgical instruments into an electric pickup.

Rivian

That’s what Dr. Christopher Yang did, and now we’re making the urologist from Austin, Tex., famous by sharing his surgical/electrical adventure with all 17 of LOTME’s regular readers. That’s some serious lemonade.

Dr. Yang’s tale begins when the electricity went out at his clinic, seemingly forcing him to cancel or reschedule several surgical procedures. Not so fast. Dr. Yang happens to own a Rivian R1T, an electric pickup truck that has four power outlets. A staff member suggested plugging the surgical instruments into the truck and, surprisingly, one of the day’s patients agreed to go ahead with his vasectomy.

“We were fortunate that my normal parking spot is close enough to a patient room to run an extension cord,” Dr. Yang said on TheDrive.com. That extension cord was attached to an electrocautery device, with a handheld device available as backup, and “after we were done, I told his family. We all had a good laugh together too,” Dr. Yang told radio station WGLT in Normal, Ill.

To us, anyway, this opens up all sorts of alternative energy possibilities. Can a windmill power a liposuction? Is a gerbil running in a wheel enough to do a colonoscopy? How many potatoes do you need to keep an EHR going?

Learning through random acts of not-exactly noisiness

First things first. Transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) is not really noise in the auditory sense of the word. For some people with learning disabilities, though, it can actually be very helpful. The technology, which uses electrodes attached to the head so a weak current can pass through specific parts of the brain, may help those with learning disabilities, perhaps even those with brain injuries and visual deficits, learn, said Dr. Onno van der Groen of Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia.

Young woman listening to music from headphones, lying on sofa, using laptop, and drinking coffee. littlehenrabi/Getty Images

“When you add this type of stimulation during learning, you get better performance, faster learning and better attention afterwards as well,” he said in a statement from the university.

The researchers say that tRNS can allow the brain to form new connections and pathways, which in turn help a person learn more effectively. “If you do 10 sessions of a visual perception task with the tRNS and then come back and do it again without it, you’ll find you perform better than the control group who hasn’t used it,” Dr. van der Groen noted.

Can this also work for the average person? It’s possible, but tRNS didn’t seem to improve the math skills of a top-level mathematician who underwent the process, according to a case study that Dr. van der Groen mentioned.

This line of work is still pretty new, though, so researchers don’t have all the answers yet. As always, we’re rooting for you, science!

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