22 July 2008

Bad Breath, Musical Dissonance and Human Health

The Freshmaker!

Israeli biotech firm Exalenz has just received FDA approval for phase III testing of its "BreathID System." This device diagnoses liver and GI disease by testing-- you guessed it-- breath.

It tests the ratio of C-13 to C-12. I don't know how that works but apparently it does. And 4 out of 5 dentists agree that sitting in a chair and breathing for an hour is better than having a piece of your liver taken out. The fifth dentist is an Arab.

Molto Mutations

This guy (also a Jew but I swear it's just coincidence) was in real danger of the "too much free time" label but then it worked out:

Using data collected from a study of protein expression in colon cancer, Alterovitz analyzed more than three thousand related proteins involved in the disease. He whittled down the thousands of proteins to four key networks, using various genetic databases that catalog relationships between genes and proteins. He then assigned a note to each network, and together, these notes formed a harmonic chord. He compared the "music" of normal, healthy human data sets to that of the colon-cancer samples and found that, according to his model, colon cancer sounded "inharmonious."


Wes said...

I would be interested to see how he decided which notes to assign to which network. Also, "harmonic" and "inharmonious" are not musical terms in the sense that this fellow is using them. (He's arguably looking for "consonant" and "dissonant.")

Finally, "consonant" and "dissonant" have evolved over time as well. If you play middle C and the F three white keys above it simultaneously, that sounds consonant. However, that interval (the perfect fourth, or P4) was considered dissonant as a simultaneity until about 1700. It was only after the major/minor system fully evolved that it was acceptable as a consonance (and even then, only in certain circumstances).


WestEnder said...

I understand music about as well as I understand women and even I figured this had problems. It's hard to imagine this being used as a serious diagnostic tool. No oncologist is going to base a diagnosis on music.

But it's still interesting and it shows that the protein spectrum can be used as a diagnostic indicator for colon cancer. The notes just have to be replaced with mathematical variables which aren't subjective, like dissonance.