Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It’s not surprising that Southeast Asia is home to countless ancient Buddha statues, but when one of those statues contains a mummified monk, that iscertainly a surprise.

A mummified monk is exactly what researchers at Norway’s Meander Medical Center found when they placed a 1,000-year-old Chinese Buddha statue inside a CT scanner. Researchers believe the statue contains the body of a Buddhist master named Liuquan, who may have practiced the tradition of “self-mummification” to reach his final resting place.
One of a Kind
Researchers weren’t completely surprised by what the scans revealed. They knew there was a mummified body within the statue, but they didn’t know much else about it.
Buddha statues containing mummified monks are quite rare and this was the first time this particular statue was released beyond the borders of China. The statue had been displayed in a mummy exhibit last year at the Drents Museum in Netherlands, which yielded the perfect opportunity to examine it in more detail.
Scientists and medical staff performed the CT scan that revealed Liuquan’s mediating body in full detail. They also used an endoscope to examine the abdominal cavity of the mummy inside, and they discovered that the organs had been removed and replaced with paper scraps that were printed with ancient Chinese characters. It isn’t clear what specifically was written on those paper scraps.
Mummy Metamorphosis
If you were a monk that wanted to achieve enlightenment and be revered as a “living Buddha,”self-mummification was your brutal option. Monks on this spiritual path would starve themselves for almost a decade, subsisting on water, seeds and nuts. Then, they’d be sealed inside the statue and ingest roots, pine bark and a toxic, tree sap-based tea for another 1,000 days — eating and breathing through a small tube. Eventually death would come, and monks mummified in this manner were said to have reached enlightenment.
According to the Drents Museum, this Buddha sarcophagus is an example of self-mummification. However, the fact that his organs were removed and replaced with paper suggests that may not be true.
Regardless, let’s hope sealing yourself inside a statue while surviving on toxic tea isn’t the only path to true enlightenment.

X-Rays of Buddhist Statue Reveal Mummified Monk

A new nonprofit called UAViators is promising to offer experienced drone pilots a place to sign up for humanitarian missions where their aircraft can do some good. Pretty soon you might be showing the world how drones can save lives, not just take them!
All you have to do is go their website, create a profile, pick a team, and wait for orders. Easy enough, right?
In a sense, UAViators is creating a social network for experienced, well meaning drone pilots. (The organisation is using Ning, a platform for creating social networks on the fly, as well as Google Docs to coordinate rosters and documentation.) Given that they're just getting off the ground, there aren't really any missions quite yet, but over the past few years, there have been plenty of calls-to-action and aid groups using drones in crisis areas. There's no doubt a more organised network of pilots and technicians will make it easier for more people to get involved.
The launch of UAViators comes right after the FAAproposed a set of thankfully lenient rules to govern the use of commercial drones. While the rules make some enterprises more difficult, it certainly clears up a few questions about drone use in the United States. And that clarity will certainly encourage more people to learn how to be a pilot. Sure, it's fun to fly your quadcopter around the beach and make pretty videos. But it's downright heroic to use technology to help people in need. Sign up here. [UAViators viaSpringwise]

Sign Up Now to Save Lives With Your Drone Piloting Skills

Microsoft today announced a major update for Microsoft Band with support for biking, Wordflow virtual keyboard, voice dictation replies and more. Read more about it here. Apart from this, Microsoft also made some big announcements regarding their health platform.
First, they are releasing Microsoft Band SDK for iOS, Windows and Android developers. Developers can download design guidelines for developing apps for Band here.Second, they are releasing Microsoft Health web dashboard. The new web dashboard will act as a central hub for all your activities using Microsoft Health platform. For now, you can now enjoy all the data from Microsoft Band on the web to get new insights and more. The best part is the Observations tab where Microsoft will present some interesting facts about your data. Take a look at the example from my sleep data.Their, Microsoft Health data can be now connected with Microsoft Healthvault platform. Microsoft HealthVault is a trusted place for people to gather, store, use, and share health information online.If you connect your other accounts to your Microsoft account, Microsoft will exchange fitness data (e.g. activity duration, calories burned, heart rate, run distance) with the connected applications. This may include activity and fitness data from all current and future Microsoft fitness services you use such as Microsoft Health and Xbox Fitness.
I think Microsoft is progressing well with their Health platform. What do you think?

Microsoft Launches The Much Awaited Health Dashboard On The Web

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