CineScience III: Jason Becker and ALS; from basic research to general public

Jason Becker

 

 

 

 

 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating disease considered the most common adult onset motor neuronal disorder. Sadly, this disease affects many patients around the world (1 to 3 patients per 100,000 people). These patients develop muscle weakness due to the progressive death of motor neurons (the cells responsible to connect muscles and central nervous system). In addition to the escalating failure of the neuromuscular system, the disease also may alter cognitive function and personality features. All these symptoms finally lead into the paralysis of several systems in the human body and, eventually, to death.

It is very hard to see how ALS can affect people from young age, typically from 30 or even younger ones. That was exactly the case of Jason Becker, an extraordinary guitarist diagnosed with ALS at the age of 19. He is the main character -or rather the hero- of Jason Becker: not dead yet), the documentary we watched in the III CineScience event held in October 2017 in Sheffield (South Yorkshire) . I use here the word “hero” because he had the proper behaviour of one. To the hard diagnosis, add the lack of information about the disease (in the 90’s). However, despite all the adversities, he found the way to transform his own life as an ALS-patient in a battle to raise awareness about the disease; an absolute triumph. [Read more on the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK website]

By Dr Margarita Segovia Roldán, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Sheffield. SRUK Yorkshire Constituency.

 

Artificial intelligence: hype or revolution?

You have probably heard about Artificial Intelligence (AI). It seems to be everywhere nowadays. Most technological companies seem to use the term frequently in their marketing, giving a sheen of science fiction, as if it was completely different from everything that came before. So what do these companies really mean when they say they use AI? Should we really be concerned that the Matrix or Skynet are just around the corner?

In science, AI is a well-defined field of computer science that has been in use for a very long time. The name is, perhaps, unfortunate, as it implies the creation of intelligent machines. Although that might still come about someday, what most companies mean when they talk about using AI is more prosaic. [Read more on the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom website]

By Dr. Antonio de la Vega de Leon. Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Sheffield. SRUK Yorkshire Constituency.

Brain image link