I’ve always wanted to understand how the body works. The more I understand my body the easier my life gets. That’s what I’ve found. I’ve always wanted to share this knowledge but I’ve found it really difficult because the tools to do so just aren’t there.
For example I always like to show how a little activity each day helps your body. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just take some one to a virtual body on the web. Start the body exercising and then dive in and explorer in 3d what is actually happening. You also get a body dashboard that shows insulin sensitivity returning to normal preventing diabetes, calcium being added to bones preventing osteoporosis, arterial walls strengthening and becoming more elastic.
Wouldn’t this be a really interesting and clear way of showing important health benefits. Wouldn’t it help everyone who experienced it understand exactly how to make their bodies work a little better?
Why build a virtual body?
It might surprise you to know that there is a common relatively easy to provide treatment for 3 of the top medical conditions of our time. They are heart disease, diabetes mellitus(type 2) and osteoporosis. The treatment is activity, both mental and physical. The last century has relieved us from most physical burdens but our bodies and minds depend on it to stay healthy so we need to build it back into our lives. The problem is that our bodies have evolved over millennia where physical and mental activity was part of life and so many of our basic routines expect it. Without it they just don’t function as they should.
The problem isn’t in actually finding research and evidence to back this up. The problem is in getting anyone to listen. My aim is not to prove I’m right. Maybe I’m wrong. I just want better tools to find the truth. Good tools will either prove or disprove my theory. They’ll make it easier to implement the scientific method. Things like sharing data, helping me carry out experiments and share my findings with other people. I then share my experimental method so others can check for themselves.
The barriers I face are many. No one will listen because
- it’s not my profession (Medicine, research) I’m a web developer
- I have no resource (research and related tools cost a lot and take a long time to learn)
- I have little spare time (I need to pay for my mortgage and lifestyle first through my day job)
- it’s not a mainstream well researched and funded area of science (Government data for nutrition goes back pre WW2. Activity to just before 2000. This reflects the attitude of science and research to activity)
These are just the main barriers. A bit frustrating. All I want is to join the debate but no one seems to be removing these barriers.
What I want is a virtual laboratory. Something that runs in the browser with a subscription model I can afford. I want to compare two subjects and watch them over time. Make one active. the other inactive. Then be able to monitor their cell activity over time and see the impact that has on their body as a whole. See the 3 health problems develop but be able to show this using the laboratory tools. The advantage is that in real life once a cell is taken out of it’s normal environment it stops working as it normally would, this happens to organs too. Yet in a virtual laboratory this can be minimised or even prevented.
I want to see a human body exercising, zoom in to see the heart pumping, zoom further to see the blood platelets rushing through, zoom further to see a blood cell. Then zoom inside to see the cell contents, then further to the oxygen and carbon dioxide. So I could zoom in and out of cells, organs and even people to see what’s happening at every layer.
I could also save the experiment and share the configuration with anyone else using the software. They could replicate my experiment. Check the methodology, ask questions and see exactly what I see. We could be on the same research page. I generally find that when I walk in some one elses shoes I share their opinions and vice versa. So this way they’d be able to see all the data I see. They can check anything they want to check, try to find holes in my theory from any angle.
This tool would enable me to punch well above my weight and basically get straight to the truth and share it. Be simplifying this process I can contribute. I may learn that ultimately my theory doesn’t pan out but that in itself is what I’m after. Truth and the ability to contribute to its discovery.
The tech behind google maps could surely provide this. Body browser uses it. Could we partner with google to deliver a map of the human body, are other partners better placed to help us with this. A research tool that everyone can use.
Point being. We can help these guys grow. Reach an audience they can’t currently reach or in a way that they don’t currently offer. Through symbiosis we both grow. Through new relationships the ou begins to open possibilities for all.
I’ve been working towards this for a long time so now I have challenged myself to start delivering. The tasks I’ve achieved so far are:
- Summarise the idea. I’ve done that in this post
- Find partners. It’s too much to do alone. The BODYexplorer project is similar and open to partnerships
- Find related examples. Good references and working examples demonstrate both the need and how much has been achieved. Googles bodybrowser is an excellent example