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唤醒植物人的新方法

A New Way to Bring People Back from a 'Vegetative State'

尽管现代医学已经取得很大进展
Even though modern medicine has come a long way,
但仍然有一些我们不擅长的东西
there are still a number of things we’re not very good at.
其中最主要的是:修复脑损伤
Chief among them: fixing brain injuries.
但是本周发表在《当代生物学》杂志上的一个案例
But a case study published this week in the journal
可能会改变这种状况
Current Biology might start to change that.
因为一组法国研究人员将一名
Because a group of French researchers took a patient
无反应觉醒综合征病人(植物人)纳入实验
suffering from unresponsive wakefulness syndrome — what’s sometimes called a vegetative state —
并找出了如何使他再次做出反应的方法
and figured out how to make him responsive again.
无反应觉醒和昏迷是不完全一样的
Unresponsive wakefulness isn’t quite the same as a coma.
这时病人不是睡着和无反应
Instead of being asleep and unresponsive,
而是清醒却无反应
the patient is awake and unresponsive.
所以他们的身体运转良好
So their body is working fine,
却未显示出对任何事物有意识的迹象
but they’re not showing signs that they’re aware of anything.
他们大脑中的神经元没有本应如此的那种交流
The neurons in their brain just aren’t communicating with each other the way they should be.
有时意识会回来
Sometimes awareness can come back,
因为大脑很擅长自我修复
because the brain is pretty good at fixing itself.
但有时候意识不会回来
But sometimes it doesn’t.
科学家们仍然不能确切地知道
Scientists still aren’t sure exactly how
这种状况为什么只对有些人行之有效
and why that works for some people and not for others.
但大多数人都同意 经过一年左右的无反应觉醒
But most will agree that after about a year of unresponsive wakefulness,
病人恢复的机会就非常渺茫
the chances of recovery are very, very slim.
所以这些研究人员试图找到唤醒植物人的方法
So these researchers were trying to find a way to bring people back.
早期的研究表明
Earlier research has shown that
当某种神经受到刺激时
patients with minimal levels of consciousness improved a bit
低意识水平的病人会出现好转
when a certain nerve was stimulated,
所以研究小组想知道
so the team wondered if the same thing could
这种刺激是否适用于意识水平更低的病人
work for someone with even less awareness.
研究中的病人是一名35岁的男子
The patient in the study was a 35-year-old man
他因车祸已15年没有反应了
who’d been unresponsive for 15 years because of a car accident.
研究人员决定试着刺激他的迷走神经
The researchers decided to try stimulating his vagus nerve,
迷走神经是人体最重要的神经之一
one of the most important nerves in the body.
它从大脑向几乎所有器官发送信号
It sends signals from your brain to pretty much every other organ,
并负责维持血压 调节情绪
and is responsible for things like maintaining blood pressure, regulating mood,
甚至能让你饱腹后昏昏欲睡
and even making you feel drowsy after you eat too much.
它也是让你保持警觉和清醒的重要因素
It’s also very involved in keeping you alert and awake,
所以团队想看看
so the team wanted to see if stimulating it
是否刺激迷走神经能帮助病人再次做出反应
electrically could help get the patient responsive again.
结果是……真的有用
And … it worked.
经过大约1个月的治疗
After about a month of treatment,
这名男子确实开始对外界事物作出反应
the man actually started reacting to things.
有人要求他转过头来时 他会照做
He turned his head when someone asked him to.
他的眼球会随其他人的动作而转动
He could follow movements with his eyes.
当一名研究人员突然做出动作时
He even reacted with a sort of fear when one of
他甚至表现出了害怕
the researchers moved suddenly.
这次治疗的结果完全让人难以置信
The results of this treatment are nothing short of incredible.
毕竟这哥们儿已经15年没反应了
This guy was unresponsive for 15 years.
不过 这只是个例
That said, this was only one case.
要得出科学结论需要做的还有很多
And most scientific conclusions need to be made with a few more than that.
研究人员表示
The researchers say that
他们希望测试更多处于相似状态的患者
they want to test this on more patients in a similar state and
然后判断刺激迷走神经是否能帮助患者更快恢复
see if it helps them recover faster.
如果这个方法行之有效
And if it does, doctors might someday have more options
医生们在治疗植物人病患时就会有更多选择
when it comes to treating people stuck in unresponsive wakefulness.
与此同时 其他研究人员
In the meantime, other researchers have been
正在为另一个完全不同的问题寻找一个全新的解决方案:
looking for new solutions to a totally different problem:
如何用一种不会让气候恶化一百亿倍的方法
how to power our excessive electrical needs in a way that won’t make
解决过量的用电需求
climate change ten thousand million times worse.
来自哥伦比亚大学的研究人员
Researchers from Columbia University have been
正在研究一种新的方法
working on a new way to harness energy
即从你周围正在发生的事情中获得能量
from a process that’s happening somewhere around you right now.
在本周发表在《自然通讯》杂志上的一篇论文中
And in a paper published this week in the journal Nature Communications,
他们表示这也许比他们想象的更强大
they’ve shown that it might be way more powerful than they thought.
因为每年有超过500,000立方公里的水
Every year, more than 500,000 cubic kilometers of water evaporates
从世界各地的海洋 湖泊 河流 小溪中蒸发出来
from the oceans, lakes, rivers, and creeks all over the world.
当大量的水从液体变成气体时
And when that much water changes from a liquid to a gas,
会消耗大量的能量
it uses an enormous amount of energy.
几年前 研究人员想知道
A few years ago, the researchers wondered if that energy could be
这种能量是否能够变成一种可再生能源——
turned into a renewable source of power
他们称之为“蒸发引擎”
— what they called an evaporation engine.
2015年 他们开发了一些产品原型
And in 2015, they developed some working prototypes.
奇怪的是 所有原型都由细菌芽孢驱动
Strangely, it’s all powered by a property of bacterial spores —
细菌芽孢是细菌在一定条件下形成的坚硬外壳
a kind of tough outer shell that bacteria form when conditions get rough.
在严寒环境下细菌会处于休眠状态
The bacteria will sort of go to sleep and just chill there,
它一直等待着自己的春天到来
waiting for their environment to get better.
研究人员发现这些芽孢在水合时会膨胀
The researchers discovered that these spores will expand when you hydrate them
而水分流失时会浓缩
but then contract again when the water goes away.
当他们把细菌芽孢滴到胶带上并晾干
When they put drops of the bacterial spores onto tape and dried them out,
胶带就卷曲起来
the tape curled itself up,
当暴露于含有芽孢的潮湿的环境中
and when they exposed the spores to humidity or moisture,
胶带就会再次伸展开来
the tape expanded again.
换句话说:
In other words:
细菌芽孢从蒸发到能量运动的过程中会消耗能量
the spores were using the energy from evaporation to power movement.
有几个版本的蒸发引擎
There are a few versions of the evaporation engine.
一种是安在水池上方
One sits on top of a pool of water and uses natural
利用自然蒸发来回移动引擎的百叶窗
evaporation to move shutters back and forth.
另一种是利用湿度的不同来旋转涡轮
Another uses differences in humidity to spin a turbine
并驱动小型乐高汽车
and power a tiny lego car.
这两种都超级可爱!
They’re super cute!
但是这项技术是全新的
But the technology is seriously new
并没有足够的时间发展成可以实际使用的东西
and hasn’t really had enough time to develop into something that can actually be used.
因此在本周的论文中
So in this week’s paper,
研究小组仅用数学说明了该引擎的潜力
the team demonstrated the engine’s potential using math.
通过开发的新计算机模型可以看到可用水量
By developing new computer models that looked at how much water is available,
还能看到表面积信息和气象数据
along with surface area information and meteorological data,
研究人员计算出该技术能产生325千兆瓦的功率
the researchers calculated that the technology could generate up to 325 gigawatts of power.
这是2015年美国使用的总功率的69%
That’s 69% of the total power used in the United States in 2015,
这个数字可不小啊
which is huge.
他们还计算出
They also calculated that from one reservoir in Texas,
德克萨斯的一个水库每年可发电178兆瓦
they could get 178 megawatts of electricity a year.
这足以为130,000多户人家提供电力
That would be enough to power more than 130,000 homes.
不过 这是好的一面
That’s the best case scenario, though.
用蒸发引擎覆盖整个水库或湖面也有它的缺点
Covering an entire reservoir or lake with an evaporation engine has its drawbacks,
因为覆盖水源会极大地改变生态系统的化学成分
because covering water sources can dramatically change the chemistry of an ecosystem.
另外 许多水体对社区来说非常重要
Plus, lots of bodies of water are really important for communities.
有谁不想在水边野餐 乘船出游呢
Who doesn’t want to picnic by the water and go out on the boat
这时候你就能体会到蒸发引擎的负面作用了
and then you’re just in the shade of your weird evaporation engine.
但蒸发引擎是利大于弊的
But the evaporation engine could be useful
因为它比其它可再生能源更有优势
because it has an advantage over other forms of renewable energy.
风能和太阳能依赖特定的天气
Both wind and solar power rely on some sort of weather,
但水循环是生生不息的
but the water cycle is always going on in the background.
所以请拭目以待 细菌芽孢能利用湿度为你点灯
So, give it some time and your lights could be powered by bacterial spores getting a little moist.
感谢观看本期的科学秀
Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow News,
感谢Patreon的支持者使科学秀的播出成为可能
and thank you especially to all of our patrons on Patreon who make this show possible.
若你有意赞助我们 请登录patreon.com/scishow
If you want to help us keep making videos like this, please check out patreon.com/scishow­.
感谢你们一直以来的支持
It is the whole reason that this channel exists.
感谢观看
Thank you guys!

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视频概述

本视频为你介绍唤醒植物人的新方法“刺激迷走神经”,以及让蒸发变成动力的“蒸发引擎”……

听录译者

收集自网络

翻译译者

ccz

审核员

T

视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0gOGomhK60

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