Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ebola -- Containing and Preventing Ebola Infection

My comments on the Ebola virus.

It seems that the Ebola virus can be disabled by ultraviolet light.  
I would install ultraviolet lights above the doorways to all isolation rooms in hospitals, as well as all of the entrances to homes where Ebola might have some access.  You can now purchase vacuum cleaners and floor mops that have UV lighting built into them, to aid in ensuring a virus-clean room.  If someone is suspected to be infected, I would advise them to use a tanning bed that has UV lighting installed, or use a bank of lights used for treating SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Particularly if there is evidence of the virus accumulating under the skin, with the Ebola rash.  UV light can penetrate the skin more safely than puncturing it with needles, and these pucture holes could then cause more bleeding.

Hospitals are a major source of new infections of Ebola.
All hospitals should have UV lights installed inside their air-handling systems.  All hospitals should have separate buildings where highly contagious persons can be brought through a separate entrance from the rest of the hospital and where there is outdoor space open to the sun, between the buildings.  The air handling systems should be completely separate.  The staff should not be shared between the two buildings.  Each of these buildings should have its own, separate staff, for each and every hospital function.
A fan should be placed in the window to evacuate air from each room through a filter to the outside so that air flows away from the doorway to the room.

One Ebola researcher avoided contracting the disease after working with Ebola-infected people and cutting his hand, by drinking a half of a bottle of hard liquor.  It is very possible that alcohol can dissolve some of the factors that are produced by the virus to maintain its virulence, perhaps giving the immune system some precious time to work.

Quarrantine of people who are moving between Ebola-affected areas and non-Ebola affected areas is essential.

Wearing a mask, washing hands before and after using gloves, and wearing goggles is essential if you are trying to help someone who is affected. One person who removed their mask and worked with Ebola patients decided she was probably infected and proceeded to do a lot of clean-up of hospital rooms where patients had died.  Doing the cleanup might have killed off much of the virus that was in contact with her skin and face and might have even penetrated her skin enough to kill off any Ebola that had not had time to get deeper into her system.  So doing cleanup with virus-killing chemicals might be a good activity to do if you feel you have been infected. 

Because Ebola seems to be protected in caves long term, putting people into a cavelike setting to recover probably isn't such a great idea.  Open sunlight might be helpful in killing off at least surface viruses. Being indoors with Ebola is not a good thing.  Ebola likes caves.

One Ebola outbreak near Washington, was begun in a building with no functioning air-handling system.  Every living thing inside ( about 500 monkeys) seemed to become infected, while school children playing nearby outside the building did not become infected.  So fresh air and sunshine might be recommended.  However, direct contact with an infected person would be very bad.  The airborne particles seem to not be able to get further than 10 feet or so, unless, perhaps the wind is blowing it toward you, so staying 10 feet away from an infected person in open air should be enough to be relatively safe if you have to pass nearby someone who is infected.

Ebola can form crystals that can last indoors away from UV light.  So don't touch anything rock-like or crystal-like in a cave in an area that has had Ebola in the past.  Anyone doing any kind of archeological dig should be careful of areas where living mammals share a cave with what you are studying.

If you do pick up any rocks or crystals, handle them with gloves and wash the rocks right away, and leave them in the sun to dry.

When anyone dies of Ebola, I am not sure that burying them is such a good idea.  Ebola likes dark places.  I think that cremation is probably best.  Also burning of bedding, clothes and hospital supplies that have body fluids on them is probably better than burying them in our landfills.

If there is an epidemic going on nearby, I would try to have on hand at least 21 days of food and medicine, for everyone in a household so that going out of the house is very minimal.  Staying away from other people, like a self-quarantine, would be good, if possible.  I would also buy a good supply of bleach, drinkable strong alcohol, masks, gloves, gowns, rehydrating fluids to drink, plastic bed coverings, anti-viral drugs, UV lights, blood pressure cuffs, and an electric blanket to create an artificial fever.  Buy curtains like those used in hospitals to surround a bed, and the tracks they run on in the ceiling.  If someone becomes infected they can be helped at home in an emergency.  I would buy a window fan to create negative air pressure from the room if the weather permits, so that air travels away from the doorway into the room.

I would also consider air-conditioning or using cold to treat the ill person.  Ebola seems to be concentrated at the equator, and probably some stages of the illness require a certain degree of heat. 

Helping the patient early on with creating a fever might help at certain stages of the illness.  So using an electric blanket, or a sauna, (privately, of course) or other such place for creating a high-heat on the surface of the skin (not enough to damage the skin, of course) and not so long as to cause heat prostration, would be something to try.  And then alternating that with a very cold period, but not so long as to cause too much stress. Viruses have an optimal temperature that they work in, and going above and below that for just long enough of a time might be helpful.  Temperature is easier to adjust than by using drugs (which the patient might throw up) and if the blood is clotting, the drugs can't get everywhere the virus is. 
Later on in the progression of the disease, putting the person into hypothermia might help them to slow down their metabolism which might slow down the cellular production of the virus.

This is all just my personal opinion after reading and studying viruses and Ebola for a period of time.  I hope that these ideas can help someone.  Since there is no treatment for Ebola, no quick test for Ebola (yet), and no vaccine for it, and not much is known about how it erupts into an epidemic, and considering that there is not much time from the beginning of someone being infected to their death, if it were me being infected, I would want to at least try all these things, because first, we could learn something from it, and second, what would I have to loose?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A New Support Groups For Adults On The Autism Spectrum In The Milwaukee, WI Area

Due to a shortage of support and services for adults on the Autism Spectrum in our area, I have been involved in starting a support group for adults on the Autism Spectrum, specifically for those who have been known as having Asperger's Syndrome, although we are not sure what to call it since the diagnostic manual has nixed this syndrome in favor of lumping Asperger's into the Autism category. 

For now, it is called "Aspie United."  It is on Facebook and there is also a blog with the same title on Blogspot.  Its goal is Aspies supporting Aspies, and this will include meet-ups, Advocacy and outings.  There is some talk of starting a 501C3 and forming a way to fundraise so we can have more meeting space, and even have some kind of living arrangements for those needing to transition out of their parent's homes without going into a generalized setting that does not understand Autism that well. 

This group is an offshoot of a group for people with Asperger's Syndrome that meets at Independence First once a month on the second Thursday of the month at 6pm, in Downtown Milwaukee, WI.  The focus of this group is Independence and Employment.

One of the founders of that group is part of this new group.  The idea was to meet more often than once a month.

One of the older members took the Mentoring class at Independence First and began to mentor a younger member for a year.  This person is now mentoring another young adult for the next year.  Mentoring is encouraged to help teach what the older Aspies have learned to younger ones, hopefully so that they can avoid common problems and be more successful and less stressed-out because of having a mentor to go to.

Two additional groups have been formed, both meeting at member's houses.  The first is a planning group that is called Aspie Adventure Association.  This group will meet to plan outings and social get-togethers for the month.

This group meets the Second Thursday of the Month at 6pm.

Then there is
Biological Treatments For Autism Spectrum Disorders Support Group

Information and Support for those following a Biological Treatment Plan for Autism Symptoms.
Topics for discussion will revolve around evidence-based treatments with observable outcomes, which are cost-effective and practical for the individual to do.
Resources and referrals to experienced professionals will be available.

Specific areas to be discussed are:
Autism Research Institute's DAN protocol
Special Diets for Autism, including:
GF/CF diet
Feast Without Yeast Diet and Treatment Plan
Body Ecology Diet
Blood Type Diet
Feingold Diet
Vitamins and Supplements Recommended for Autism Spectrum and ADD
Lab Testing, and prescriptions
Other tests such as Sleep Studies, EEG's, PET scans

Removal of exposure to allergens and toxins which trigger or worsen symptoms in Autism

Shopping, Meal Planning, and Cooking
Making and keeping appointments
Questions to ask
Record keeping

An extensive Library of books, scientific articles and resources on the latest research findings with regard to the treatment of Autism spectrum disorders from a biological standpoint will be available.

Meet and talk with people who have improved following the use of biological treatments.

Third Thursday of the Month at 6pm

This group is focused on Biological Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders only. It will not be addressing the large topic of rehabilitation therapies, such as ABA, and other educational approaches, such as Rapid Prompting Method, Floor Time, Relationship Development Intervention, Auditory Integration, Hippo Therapy, Companion Animals, and the Association Method.
However, if there is enough interest, this can be the subject of another group.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Autism Treatments Update
May 2013

My son is now 19 and still doing very well.  We are looking into getting an "official" DAN Doctor so that we can get certain kinds of labwork and try other treatments that need a prescription.  However, doing things the low-tech, inexpensive way has taught me a lot.  I do a lot of research on everything I do for my son and that saves me from having to pay a specialist to figure things out.  However, many families might prefer just paying some professional to do all the research and planning and making all the decisions on what to do next.

David is starting to date, and has been on several dates with several people.  These dates are mostly invites to birthday parties, group dates to movies and the mall, dances, a trip to a roller coaster park, and most recently, a wedding. Oh, and lots of texting and Skyping and such. 

He graduated High School at 18, with a regular diploma, having completed all the necessary coursework.  He is working at 2 volunteer jobs, practicing independence skills at an apartment (not living there) going to the YMCA twice a week, attending a Bible study group for young adults on the spectrum every Sunday, and hanging out with friends.  He is studying Geometry and English at the High School to make up for missing so much regular classwork because he used to be in Special Ed.  He recently learned soldering and took apart a Game Boy system and added a lighted screen to it.

Learning to Ride A Bike

I haven't written an update for a while, so the biggest thing we worked on since my last update was learning to ride a bike three years ago, which took an entire summer but was well worth it.  Over the years, since he was small, I was buying all different kinds of bicycles to see what he would like best, including a nearly adult-sized tricycle, but nothing really worked well.  All our ABA therapists gave it a try teaching him, but to no avail.  He would panic and jump off the bike almost immediately. 

Finally, I heard about a specialized bicycle training program for teaching children with special needs to ride, called "Loose the Training Wheels."
"Dr. Richard E. Klein., an experienced engineer from Illinois, is the creator of Lose the Training Wheels, a training program that teaches disabled children and adults how to ride a conventional bike. Richard and his wife Marjorie travel extensively every summer to conduct camps across the nation.   With a proper environment and training with adapted bikes, children who are disabled are taught how to ride and transition to a conventional bike within a 5-day period." 
Loose The Training Wheels is Now called "I Can Shine"

 The program, (as with most things we need for David) was too expensive for us, so I called them and asked them some advice about what kind of bike to try.

They said to prepare for the program, they had these recommendations:

Buy a good helmet that fits well, and some
elbow pads and knee pads,

And find a bike that has
  • balloon tires, 
  • upright handlebars
  • no hand brakes (back-pedal brakes), 
  • no gears at all, 
  • a "girl's" type bike that has no straight bar from the seat to the handlebars (it doesn't have to look girlish, of course)
  • no basket, mirror, or anything to obstruct forward vision or distract

Remove the pedals from the bike to begin so he would just push with his feet on the ground.  Make sure the bike is short enough that he can sit on the seat with his feet on the ground.  You can lower the seat at first, and then raise it later on when he's riding.

We found a low traffic spot with a very slight incline for him to practice on.  Then when he could just barely ride, we put the pedals back on, and we went to a nearby cemetery where there was no traffic to practice more.  (He didn't take offense at the cemetery at all.)

So we did this and got an inexpensive bike from Sears in Red and White that he liked that looks very retro.

I decided that instead of arguing about going out each day to try to ride, we would simply have a ten minute bike riding practice every single day.  We even set a timer so he would know it would be just 10 minutes.  He seemed to like the consistency.  He got a prize from the "Prize Box" each time just for trying.

I keep at box at home with all kinds of stuff I am certain he will like.  (Certain is the important word, here.)

It took all summer, but with lots of help and encouragement, and often two people, running along on each side, he finally learned.

He loves his bike now.  He rode it to and from school on good weather days for the last two years.  We've finally been able to go trail bike riding as a family. This is important because bike riding is my favorite sport.

We kept the bike simple at first, but as soon as he was riding comfortably he got a bell, a mirror, lights for riding at night, padded bike gloves, a lock, and some other accessories.  He knows how to inflate the tires and lubricate the chain, and takes very good care of it. 

Bike riding is a whole new freedom for him.  Its good exercise, free fun, practical because you can get places you need to get to, more social than being inside a car, and good for the environment.  Its social in that so many people have bikes, and its something he now has in common with just about everyone.

He also learned important rules of the road for any moving vehicle.  This has prepared him for learning to drive a car, which he is now working on.  He has his temps and has been driving for about 9 months now. 

Update on GF/CF Products we really like:
In a previous post I listed our favorite pantry and refrigerator additions.
I have been really enjoying the Shaar bread products.  They are packaged so that they keep on the shelf until you need them.  I like the French Baguettes for making garlic bread with olive oil and garlic.

David has learned to make GF/CF pizza with
Organicville pizza sauce,
Applegate nitrate-free pepperoni,
Daya vegan mozzerella,
organic diced sweet red peppers, (very high in vitamin C) 
Italian Seasoning from Penzy's Spices from where he works 
and we are using plain "Against The Grain" Pizza crust.

Ener G makes gluten-free communion wafers for Church, and

San-J makes organic gluten-free single serving Tamari (soy sauce) packets I can take with us to restaurants.  I requested these from our local co-op and they finally started carrying them a year ago.

He started buying soda on his way home from school, so since he's an adult now, I eased up on our restriction against soda (because of the high fructose corn syrup which has traces of mercury in 30% of it and the food colorings and artificial flavors.)  I found an organic soda made by Blue Sky which he can have no more than one per day.  It used to be an occasional treat, but now is one of the few things I have relaxed on because he's an adult.  

The biggest change with his diet is that he finally began eating some animal products.  I decided I didn't know anybody that doesn't like bacon, so we began with nitrate-free bacon.  It took about a year to get him used to it.  Now he eats very well-cooked bacon (no fat on it) and the nitrate-free pepperoni I mentioned above on pizza.  I think he is more flexible about a lot of things now that he has been feeling better on this diet.

I don't think anybody needs to eat a lot of meat, since the Seventh Day Adventists actually on average live longer than the rest of us and they don't eat meat.  But David doesn't get enough protein yet from just a few nuts and seeds, and he still doesn't eat beans yet.  I do supplement him with sub-lingual vitamin B12.

I read a book on Enzymes for use with Autism treatment and was inspired to try them as a next step.  Both of us now take Gluten Ease digestive enzymes every time we go out to eat even if the server insists its gluten-free, because it takes care of any possible contamination concerns I have had.  I notice it most with myself, since even a tiny crumb can make me sick for hours to three days of feeling lousy.   Now I won't go anywhere without them.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Concerns About Tapioca as a Gluten-Free Ingredient

Tapoica as a Gluten-Free Ingredient

Tapioca and exposure to Cyanide

I have a concern about the large amounts of tapioca being used in making gluten-free products. Usually, the main ingredient is rice flour, and potato flour/starch, and then tapioca plus a lesser amount of variety of other ingredients.

Lately, I have been getting a reaction from eating certain GF pre-prepared foods. It could be cross-contamination if it is in a restaurant. But my home is gluten-free. It could be that I am reacting to one of the ingredients. It could be that the flours are processed in facilities that process other white flours, and they could easily become mixed up in the packaging process, or during storage or transportation.

People with Autism are suspected of having an inherited or pre-disposed lowered or impaired ability to detoxify toxins from food and exposure in the environment. This could be from liver damage, also. This makes them more suseptible than the average person to poisoning from heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, and cyanide.

The tapioca plant contains a substance that converts into cyanide in the body unless it is processed carefully to remove this substance. I am asking myself many questions:
How carefully is this process being done in America, and if the tapioca is imported, how carefully are we monitoring the tapioca for remaining amounts of this substance?
And, if tapioca has the potential to cause cyanide poisoning at all, is it safe to be used in products that are being given to people who have Autism, not to mention Celiac disease?

Here is some research I did:
Tapioca is made from the root of the cassava plant.
The cassava plant has either red or green branches with blue spindles on them. The root of the green-branched variant requires treatment to remove linamarin a cyanogenic glycoside occurring naturally in the plant, otherwise it may be converted into cyanide. Konzo (also called mantakassa) is a paralytic disease associated with several weeks of almost exclusive consumption of insufficiently processed bitter cassava. The toxin found in the root of the red-branched variant is less harmful to humans than the green-branched variety. Therefore, the root of the red/purple-branched variant can be consumed directly.
So the question is, which kind of tapioca is in a given product? I wish there was a requirement for labeling a product as to which kind of tapioca the flour is made from.
Tapioca is almost completely protein-free, and contains practically no vitamins. Tapioca is used as a thickener because it never discolors and contains no discernible taste or smell. Moreover, it never coagulates or separates when refrigerated or frozen, and it leaves baked goods (especially bread) with a white color.
Despite being a convenient and functional thickener, however, tapioca flour’s nutritional value leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, from a nutritional standpoint, it is almost worthless.
Aside from being very high in carbohydrates and therefore calories (100g of the flour contains a whopping 340 calories), tapioca flour contains hardly any fiber, fat, or protein (indeed, protein deficiency is a common characteristic amongst people living in regions in which tapioca is a staple food), and practically no vitamins save for trace amounts of niacin, a B vitamin that helps the nervous system to function properly.
Tapioca flour does contains some minerals. 100g of the flour provides us with 1mg of magnesium and iron, 7mg of phosphorous, 20mg of calcium, and 10mg of potassium. However, these are unimpressive figures. To put things in perspective, enriched white flour (widely considered to be unhealthy) exceeds tapioca flour’s mineral content in every regard, often considerably. For example, 100g of white flour contains over 100mg of phosphorous and potassium.
So tapioca flour is a poor substitute nutritionally, even for replacing processed white flour.

The cobalt in artificial vitamin B12 contains a cyanide ligand as an artifact of the purification process; this must be removed by the body before the vitamin molecule can be activated for biochemical use.

Cyanide poisoning occurs when a living organism is exposed to a compound that produces cyanide ions (CN) when dissolved in water. Common poisonous cyanide compounds include hydrogen cyanide gas and the crystalline solids potassium cyanide and sodium cyanide. The cyanide ion halts cellular respiration by inhibiting an enzyme in the mitochondria called cytochrome c oxidase.

The cyanide anion is an inhibitor of the enzyme cytochrome c oxidase (also known as aa3) in the fourth complex of the electron transport chain (found in the membrane of the mitochondria of eukaryotic cells). It attaches to the iron within this protein. The binding of cyanide to this cytochrome prevents transport of electrons from cytochrome c oxidase to oxygen. As a result, the electron transport chain is disrupted, meaning that the cell can no longer aerobically produce ATP for energy. Tissues that depend highly on aerobic respiration, such as the central nervous system and the heart, are particularly affected. This is an example of histotoxic hypoxia.

Cyanide poisoning is a form of histotoxic hypoxia because the cells of an organism are unable to use oxygen, primarily through the inhibition of cytochrome c oxidase. If cyanide is inhaled it causes a coma with seizures, apnea, and cardiac arrest, with death following in a matter of minutes. At lower doses, loss of consciousness may be preceded by general weakness, giddiness, headaches, vertigo, confusion, and perceived difficulty in breathing. At the first stages of unconsciousness, breathing is often sufficient or even rapid, although the state of the victim progresses towards a deep coma, sometimes accompanied by pulmonary edema, and finally cardiac arrest. Skin color goes pink from cyanide-hemoglobin complexes. A fatal dose for humans can be as low as 1.5 mg/kg body weight.[1]
Blood cyanide concentrations may be measured as a means of confirming the diagnosis in hospitalized patients or to assist in the forensic investigation of a criminal poisoning. Cyanide toxicity can occur following the ingestion of large doses of amygdalin (found in almonds and apricot kernels and marketed as an alternative cancer cure), prolonged administration of sodium nitroprusside, and after exposure to gases produced by the combustion of synthetic materials.
In addition to pesticide and insecticide, cyanide is contained in tobacco smoke, smoke from building fires and some foods, like almonds, apricot kernel, cassava, yucca, manioc, and apple seeds. Vitamin B12 in the form of hydroxycobalamin, or hydroxocobalamin, may reduce the negative effects of chronic exposure, and a deficiency can lead to negative health effects following exposure.
Exposure to lower levels of cyanide over a long period (e.g., after use of cassava roots as a primary food source in tropical Africa) results in increased blood cyanide levels, which can result in weakness and a variety of symptoms, including permanent paralysis, nervous lesions, hypothyroidism, and miscarriages. Other effects include mild liver and kidney damage.

Most significantly, hydrogen cyanide released from pellets of Zyklon-B was used extensively in the systematic mass murders of the Holocaust, especially in extermination camps. Poisoning by hydrogen cyanide gas within a gas chamber (as a salt of hydrocyanic acid is dropped into a strong acid, usually sulfuric acid) is one method of executing a condemned prisoner as the condemned prisoner eventually breathes the lethal fumes.

Cyanide poisoning is sometimes treated with Oxygen, which may explain why hyperbaric oxygen works for some children with Autism.
It can also be treated with a form of vitamin B12:

Hydroxocobalamin Hydroxocobalamin, a form (or vitamer) of vitamin B12 made by bacteria, and sometimes denoted vitamin B12a, is used to bind cyanide to form the harmless cyanocobalamin form of vitamin B12. Hydroxocobalamin is newly approved in the US and is available in Cyanokit antidote kits.

And an antidote can be from the use of glucose and nitrites, which might explain why people in our country prefer sugary foods and foods preserved with nitrites.

Food additive

Due to the high stability of their complexation with iron, ferrocyanides (Sodium ferrocyanide E535, Potassium ferrocyanide E536, and Calcium ferrocyanide E538) do not decompose to lethal levels in the human body and are used in the food industry as, e.g., an anticaking agent in table salt.

This could be why iron supplementation can benefit persons with Autism.

I am concerned that anti-caking agents are not listed as an ingredient on food labels except as a number. For people who have trouble detoxifying cyanide these agents could be very harmful to them, adding to their total toxic burden.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Love Poem

I no longer see the person this was written for.
I keep a journal sometimes.  Going through it, I decided to post this poem I wrote.
My writing reminds me what was lost but was created when two agreed to try to love another.  
This poem is a testimony that not all was wasted, and there is a new resonance in my heart that nothing else could teach.

What It Feels Like To Love

I live to see the love in your eyes,
I love having you to give my love to,
It makes it all worthwhile, to share, to be shared,
to be used up in
The fire of loving and being loved.
The air is sweeter breathed by two,
The earth feels so solid and true walked on by two,
The water flows like music feels,
The sun shines iridescent sparkles in the reflections seen together,
Only the heart sees what is important.
The senses are service to the soul through the heart.
In your arms, nothing moves but that we move.
Time depends on touching you.
As we kiss, unaware, objects swirl into being and disappear.

Contemplation on Dark Energy

Notes and Contemplations.

What if:
Dark energy is what creates the illusion of time.
It is the evidence of alternate universes.
Which if they exist, do so in a way inaccessible to our senses, and so are “dark” to us, from one universe's perspective.
Because, if we imagine the premise that;
if we have choices, and no time (if time doesn't exist), then all the choices must exist at once. So a choice can be selected from this list. If there are six dimensions, then six choices exist at most at any given turning point in a string of events.
It seems to me that time is an effect created by the appearance of movement between choices which all exist like a solid, through which we move.
Imagine a movie on a DVD. Stack six movies on top of each other and you have a single one you are experiencing, with six others you are not, available at certain event connections.
A lifetime is a direction, not a length of time.
It is the direction that counts, the intention - the will, developed with experience.

We create the illusion of time to dip into experience at selected points and interact with it in ways we couldn't if we were aware of all of existence at once, which would include all choices, and then not allow us to develop a method of making meaningful choices.

Why make a universe so that awareness can develop in such a way as to be able to make choices? Probably so that we can see our reflection in the choices we make and in experiencing the effects of the choices others make. This would create another level/type of awareness previously impossible to achieve. It might be how a God would see His movement in the universe—by reflection in the creation. If the creation were inanimate and choiceless, there would be no way to see the effect of choices on matter and events.

Train Engine Device

A Device To Be Designed For Use On The Front Of a Train Engine To Prevent Injury And Death Due To Collision

by Laurie J. Goetz
October 9, 2012

A relatively long projection protruding from the front of an engine in the direction of travel, which serves mainly the function as a warning of an impending collision. This would be a function similar to the old “Cow Catcher” attached to the front of an engine, which simply keeps the cow from going under the train and pushes it to one side or the other, while the cow can still be severely injured or killed by the impact. But this device is lighter and smaller and may not entirely push something heavy away, like a car. Rather, it is intended to serve the function of the train horn/whistle, or the gate that comes down at an intersection to warn traffic and pedestrians from being on the tracks in the next minute or so. As an early warning, giving time for the traffic to move off the tracks.

The projection would be designed to be relatively easily collapsable upon impact, and made to fly away from the wheels of the train if it hit something, (rather than go under the wheels, unless, of course, it was designed to do this to help stop or slow down the train.) It would also be something that at a high speed would not be likely to pierce right through a person or animal, so the leading edge would be rather wide and soft. It could be like a flag, or collapsable sign.

It could be as long as a block ahead of the train, with its own support on wheels, kind of like a little cabboose but in the front.

It could even be like a small car with a driver, and cameras placed so that it can deploy any safety measures very quickly. The front would be made entirely of something that would catch and hold or carry a person. Imagine a stunt man preparing to jump off of a building, what he puts at the bottom, would be like what is at the front of this car, and it would also have a leading edge that carried deployable air-bags or foam. This would protect the Engineer, as well. And the whole thing would be attached to a very long connector that would slide under the front of the rest of the train, while providing resistance to slow the car down.

Our community has had several train collisions over the last few years, and the last killed an eleven-year-old boy who was walking to school in the morning, inattentively walking across the tracks at a gated intersection which had lights, bells, and signs. The gate went down, preventing cars from crossing, but did not go down over the sidewalk. The boy was probably using some music device and wearing a hood over his head. The community has placed signs on the sidewalk and next to the sidewalk, but no gate goes down preventing someone from walking across the sidewalk.

The neighborhood doesn't like the train horns because there is housing right up to the tracks and so often trains have been told to be silent, and signs have been posted saying so, but now they use their horns again. However, the horn was not enough to prevent a woman from becoming stopped on the tracks while waiting for the street light to change, since there is a main street running right along the tracks on one side. She jumped out and a stranger helped to rescue two children from the back who were strapped into car seats, but he became injured himself.

It seems as though the problem is that many people are unaware that a train cannot stop in any comparable distance to a car or truck, yet a train uses a similar-sounding horn to a truck, but which is simply louder than other vehicles. However, the loudness appears the same from farther away, and so it can sound just like a horn on a truck, from a distance that is still dangerous and the train cannot always stop within this distance. (The distance from when a train horn sounds as loud as the average truck horn.)

Education that trains cannot stop easily would help. Perhaps this could be part of the regular television programming that discusses seasonal risks, like checking your dryer vents for clogging, having a working smoke detector, and slowing down around schools when school starts. Often, television shows discuss how to prepare for driving in bad weather as seasons change and this could be part of that kind of discussion.

However, with Ipods and the common use of earbuds, texting while driving, texting while walking and other distractions have made a train horn much less noticeable.
So, we have the gate and bells and signs, we have the train horn, and we have the train driver who can apply brakes. We could add to this, education of pedestrians and drivers about the stopping (or lack of) distance of a train. And yet there are still accidents. We have a busy downtown area, and a park, a bike trail, and a major street all adjacent to our train track, which comes right from the major city next to our neighborhood, which comes from the harbor just east of here, and often the trains are really loaded down with double-stacked crates of goods and materials. I live close enough to hear any accidents that occur on the intersection where the child died. It is across the street from a busy shopping center, and on several bus lines with people waiting at bus stops on both sides. So there are many additional distractions from lots of traffic and people.

There could be a gate that sweeps across the intersection just before the train arrives, strong enough to push a person or animal off the tracks, but only where the sidewalks are. It could be collapsable if it was hit by the train, so the train would not derail. This could save a life, but a person might be injured by the gate itself, yet avoid getting entirely run over by the train.

I think an engineer could design an extended “bumper” for a train, that would slide under the bottom of the train and provide just enough resistance to an object the size of the average person so as to prevent them from dying from the impact of a moving train. This bumper could also help to engage the brakes in the case of the driver also being inattentive at the moment a person were to run onto the tracks. The bumper would be rounded to tend to push things away from getting under the wheels, but also would move under the train itself as it hit something, to slow the impact with the train. This would have its limitations, since if the train was travelling extremely fast, it would have to be very long for it to prevent a death, and it would only work for certain situations. It might only be an advance warning of the train as it is already trying to slow down.

You could also put this “bumper” under the train track, and it would go up as the train approaches, and then fold down between the tracks as it approaches the intersection. It would move along ahead of the train, slow enough not to hurt someone too badly, but just fast enough to help prevent a collision with the train itself going a certain speed. If it was designed to scoop the person and move them in the same direction as the train, it could help to match the speed of the train somewhat so that the eventual impact would be lessened by the speed of the bumper with the person on it.

The idea in both these cases is to make the speed of the two objects less different, so the impact would be lessened. It could not promise to save every life, but only to provide an additional warning of a fast-moving vehicle that cannot stop at the intersection. It might help some people from going under the train wheels, which would lead to much more severe injuries, such as amputation, and cause more problems than if the person were swept aside, however abruptly. And of course, the person might also encounter a vehicle at the road as well, but most likely those vehicles will be stopped at the gate and waiting for the train to pass.

The material used to make this device could be a collapsable metal like aluminum, built like a highway bumper, with lots of honeycombs that would easily squish, or bendable plastic filled with some other collabsable material like foam, sawdust or springs. It could also take the shape of a parachute or canvass that would fold easily and only open up when a sensor indicated an oncoming object. A parachute could also deploy at the end of the train if it was traveling fast enough at the moment braking is required. There could be more elaborate devices that would deploy like foam used on airplane runways, or an air-bag, and these would be installed both on the front of the train, and at the intersections.

The other place a buffer could be put is between the engines, if there are several pulling the train, and between at least several of the first train cars. If there were collision compressing compartments between each of these, any impact would be lessened, for the safety of the train and any passengers in the case of a derailment, or oncoming train, or other unforeseen event leading to an impact. This might not help a pedestrian but may help reduce the total collision force in the case of a large truck or van or other large object being on the tracks. Reducing the collision force would help to protect the cargo, and this would be very important if the cargo were flammable materials. The collision compressing compartments would need to be activated by a sensor, like an air-bag, since the normal connection between the cars would have to be considered, and allowed to compensate, by having the coupling slide under the car for a short distance instead of holding stiff. These functions would all make the train longer, but safer. If the space between each car, and the space in front of and in back of the train were all considered to be safety zones, and designed to collapse and to employ a safety device like foam, then any train wreck would be less costly, cause less damage, and be more repairable.

An additional benefit of any safety measure is that it makes the train company look better in an accident, since that is when a lot of public attention is drawn to the train, how it functions and how things can go wrong, and a lot of news media are filming the train, and discussing these issues. Being proactive about safety, rather than reactive, can be good publicity and can help to reduce insurance costs. Also, any lives saved helps the engineers deal better with the fact that many times accidents cannot be prevented totally, and the engineers require counseling to deal with the trauma of watching helplessly as someone is killed. If the train itself is adapted to at least do something to minimize a potentially devastating accident, this can help with that, and possibly reduce the cost of having an Engineer need extended time off or other medical care.

As a society, we have put so much money into the science of the military to cause injury, and prevent injury to soldiers and police, yet we have done little with our money to fund research to prevent injury of other kinds that occur during peace time. Injury of all kinds puts stress on families, communities and society, and this pressure can add to all the other pressures that lead to the angry forces of war. Why not study these kinds of things and make them be part of re-deploying military science and capability that has so much organization and ability? Then whether it is war-time, or peace-time, the jobs are more secure and help to stabilize the military families, and forces, and there won't be any incentive to continually look for conflict in order to deploy capable people to doing patriotic things for our country.

In addition, any knowledge of how to prevent injury in peace-time can also help prevent injury in war-time. War requires supplies by train and preventing losses due to train accidents helps at this time too.

To offset the cost of the research into the fesability of such a thing, I recommend that plans be sent to The MythBusters, and give them support with train employees and designers, and also old trains and parts so they could really do a great show on it. Then the data could help further any promising findings later on.

Or a contest could be made with a substantial prize, (like a grant or science scholarship to the winner's children, or for themselves). This has worked for other science-based initiatives, because many scientists are hobbyists and will work on problems just for the fun of it, but need an incentive to get started on a project. Offer the prize, an award and some kind of recognition, and also some materials and a place to work, such as unused tracks, and disabled train engines.

A good competition could be a military group of scientists competing against a peace-time group, or some other group that might be like a special-interest group that runs model trains (their contribution could be small-scale workups of the ideas.) Perhaps a group that designs roller-coasters and amusement rides would also be interested, for example.

An additional goal could be ways to help a train to stop more quickly at certain critical intersections. This might be something like truck tires attached to the sides of the train tracks that would automatically engage about a block from the intersection using sensors at the interesction to decide when to deploy. The tires would have their own disc brakes and would press against the train equally on both sides to slow the train down. The train cars might have to be designed to have some kind of continuous surface on which the tires could press. This might not prevent an accident, but just reduce its level of damage/harm.