Sexy Robots Help Cure Erectile DysfunctionApple, Samsung Join FDA’s Digital Health Software Program When we cover medical and health stuff here on Geek.com, we’ve always got an eye towards the future. That’s where we’re going to spend the rest of our lives, after all. But to truly understand where we’re going, you have to look at the past as well. And ancient history has some pretty surprising stuff in it. Case in point: I ate way too much meat lover’s pizza a few weeks ago because I am a true lover of meat, and it gave me heartburn.Like millions of Americans, I reached for an antacid to handle it. Whether you’re enjoying the chalky fruit flavor of a Tums or the classic plop plop fizz fizz of an Alka-Seltzer, Americans spend over $10 billion on antacids every year. So they must work, right?They do, but how humanity discovered that fact is a pretty fascinating journey. Let’s hop into the Wayback Machine and take a deep dive through history to explore how we made bubblegut a thing of the past.via geonice.comThe Cradle Of CivilizationWhat we know about ancient medicine is patchy at best, but oddly enough we have a pretty clear picture of the invention of antacids thanks to some clay tablets from ancient Sumer that have managed to weather 3,500 years of history. They were found on the Tablet of Nippur, which is also the earliest description of the biblical Great Flood known to man. On the tablet, there is a description of a curative given to those suffering from stomach pains consisting of a mixture of milk, peppermint and sodium carbonate.That last ingredient is the magic one here. Sodium carbonate is a salt that was extracted from the ash of certain plants. When diluted in water, it dissolves into carbonic acid, a weak acid, and sodium hydroxide, a strong alkaline. The Sumerians experimented with that ash and found that it provided relief for tummy pains. But why?Most digestive pain can be traced back to a single cause: too much acid in your stomach. Obviously, you need that potent hydrochloric acid to break down your foodstuffs into energy, but the body isn’t awesome at regulating it. All sorts of things can cause you to make too much stomach acid, from greasy food to stress and bacterial infections. That acid is then expelled upwards to the esophagus, causing the painful chest sensation of heartburn, or down through the system. Either way, it’s not good.So the alkaline in sodium hydroxide neutralizes the acid in the stomach, creating water and a little salt residue. The Sumerians had no idea as to the chemical basis of their antacid treatment. They just knew that it worked, and carbonate salts would continue to be used for centuries. In fact, the active ingredient in Alka-Seltzer is bicarbonate of soda.via glassbottlemarks.comAmerican InnovationThat wasn’t the only milestone in the history of stomach pain, though. Carbonate antacids were used for centuries, but doctors monkeyed around with other substances in the meantime. One of the most promising was magnesium hydroxide, a compound that originates as the mineral brucite and offers a similar low pH value, allowing it to neutralize stomach acids in a gentler way than calcium carbonate. Pioneering Irish physician James Murray used a solution of it in 1829 to cure the digestive ails of the Marquis of Anglesey, a feat for which he was knighted.The word of that accomplishment spread around the world, and it kickstarted a new era in antacid experimentation. In 1872, an English pharmacist named John Henry Phillips patented Milk of Magnesia, a stable solution of magnesium hydroxide in water that he sold at retail. It quickly became a massive success, offering a growing America a way to handle the ailments caused by the New World’s food.via istockphoto.comHitting The SourceThe common quality of both of those antacid methods is that they handle excess stomach acid after it happens and you’re already feeling the burn. This isn’t ideal, so in the 20th century the pharmaceutical industry decided to reverse-engineer the problem and see if they could stop excess stomach acid before it happened.There were other reasons for this research, too – the discovery of “milk-alkali syndrome,” a medical condition that started to show up in the 1920s as people treated peptic ulcers with calcium carbonate. The intake of too much calcium caused excess alkalinity and could lead to death, so it wasn’t something that could just go ignored.Scientists at the Smith, Kline and French Laboratories used the knowledge that histamines spurred acid secretion to develop an antagonist for the histamine receptors in the stomach, blocking them from receiving the signals to make more fluid. After a few false starts, including some that were successful but too toxic for human use, they came upon cimetidine.First sold under the brand name Tagamet, Cimetidine was first sold to the public in 1977 and inspired numerous other drugs along the same principles. Not only do they last significantly longer than previous chemical antacids, but they can also be taken in advance of a meal to prevent any reflux from happening. This clearer picture of the stomach’s operation gave doctors new leverage in treating heartburn and gastric distress.via baltgames.lvThe Future Of Your StomachThe basic principles of antacids haven’t changed much in the last few thousand years, but that doesn’t mean doctors aren’t always trying to find new ways of making our lives more comfortable. Interestingly enough, scientists are now finding that some of these antacids could have a new life as cancer-fighting drugs. Cimetidine not only blocks histamine receptors in the stomach, but might actually do the same for cancer cells, preventing them from replicating.That’s the funny thing about medical science. You start out working on one problem and end up solving others by accident. The ancient Sumerians probably stumbled across calcium carbonate in plant ash by accident, but were on the ball enough to recognize that it helped them out. Call it a “gut feeling,” if you will.So what’s next for the health of your stomach? Probiotics and diet have been undergoing a pretty big upswing in American culture, with more people aware that the complex ecosystem of gut bacteria has deep effects on just about every part of our daily life. Cultivating a healthier environment down there can do more than just about anything else to stem the tide of painful acid, but are people really willing to change the way they eat? We’d bet on seeing a procedure that measures and stabilizes the population artificially, but we’re sort of in the weeds with this one. Whatever happens, make sure to drop a bicarb and soothe away the stomach pain. We’ve been doing it for long enough.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target
I’m so happy about the deluge of ports the Switch is getting. Yes, they’re games that came out before. Yes, I already played many of them. But putting them on the Switch means I can play them at home or on the subway, and that’s really convenient. If the ports have new content, that’s a bonus! While I wait with ‘bated breath for Bayo 1/2 (and eventually Bayo 3), I’ve been revisiting a fantastic run-and-gun shooter/hunting game that largely passed under the radar when it was released for PC. Mercenary Kings Reloaded is the new enhanced edition of Tribute Games’ Mercenary Kings, and Tribute Games sent me a code to try it out (and, since I enjoyed it so much on Steam a few years ago, I did).Mercenary Kings is about a group of mercenaries who set up camp at a mysterious island to thwart the biological experimentation plans of Evil group C.L.A.W. It’s a paper-thin and incredibly self-aware premise that exists to give you reasons to go into different parts of the island and kill tons of enemies. You choose one of four characters: action guy King, action woman Empress, hunter/resistance-styled action woman Frigg, or C-ZAR the robot. Frigg and C-ZAR are new to Mercenary Kings Reloaded. There aren’t any mechanical differences between the characters, and you can unlock lots of palette swaps for them as you play. You’re then assisted by old eyepatch guy Colonel Tasker, handler Miss Zero, pilot Bobby (and his sentient helicopter Choppy), blacksmith Ironside, gunsmith Fearless, and a half dozen other fun and helpful NPCs who provide services at the camp.AdChoices广告Visually, this is one Metal Slug-ass game. The sprites are a bit more 8-bit than 16-bit in their structure and palettes, but the bouncy, personality-filled characters with lots of expressions and copious amounts of blood feel like they could be straight out of a Megal Slug game. That’s thanks to animator Paul Lawrence Robinson, who you might know as the creator of Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006, a short film made with sprite art that depicts an increasingly insane arcade brawler playthrough. He also worked on Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Gravity Falls.Every character and enemy looks active and interesting, with loads of animation frames. Tanks and mechs look massive and cartoonish, like G.I. Joe vehicles. Enemy soldiers wear constant grimaces and smirks. Cute little animals run away from gunfire (and drop items if you murder them). Explosions are big and bright, and blood splatters are hilariously massive as enemies crumble into piles of gore. Paul Robinson is one of the most talented pixel artists out there, and Mercenary Kings drips with his style.At first glance Mercenary Kings looks like a Contra or Metal Slug game, mechanically. That isn’t exactly the case. It’s a run-and-gun game, but there’s a lot of mechanical depth underneath the flying bullets and bleeding sprites. You have a Mega Man-like health bar and have access to a variety of items that let you heal, destroy obstacles, and even capture enemies. You can also make a lot of guns. I mean hundreds, if not thousands.The big mechanic in Mercenary Kings is gun customization. Fearless can craft gun parts from the items you collect and money you make completing missions. You can build guns from different receivers, barrels, stocks, magazines, sights, and ammo types, and each component affects how the gun behaves. Handguns are light and reload quickly, but aren’t very powerful and can’t hold many bullets. Shotguns can hold even fewer shells and are slow to reload, but can fire spread shots with the right ammo. Submachine guns can spray small, weak bullets quickly. Machine guns can spray big, powerful bullets quickly, but are so heavy they limit your speed and jumping ability and take a long time to reload. Consider all of those factors, then consider how you can mix and match different parts to make your ideal gun.Most gun parts add to an ammo type percentage. You can build any gun with any combination of parts as long as it includes a receiver, but you’ll only fire regular, small bullets unless you bring an ammo type stat to 100% or higher. The stat is usually dictated by the receiver, but you can mix and match different parts to bring any ammo type to 100% even if the receiver doesn’t seem like it would work. We’re talking sniper rifles that can fire shotgun shells, machine guns that fire magnum bullets, and even pistols that can fire missiles. Finding the right balance means making compromises like firing speed, weight, and ammo capacity, but it offers lots of options. Oh, and you can also use elemental ammo that can freeze, electrocute, or burn your targets (I like caustic ammo, since it eats through shields).Your weapon choices trickle steadily out as you play through the game and rank up by completing missions. You’re also limited by your budget and the materials at hand, because you need to go out and collect those materials on each mission, earning money in the process. Missions can include reaching a certain part of the level, killing a certain number of enemies, capturing an enemy with a shock bomb, rescuing hostages, or destroying equipment. Or, in terms that might be more familiar, quests to kill bosses, kill a certain number of smaller enemies, or collect a certain number of raw materials. So you can get new weapons (and upgrade your armor, which increases your life bar).Yes, underneath the Metal Slug exterior and gameplay, Mercenary Kings is actually a hunting game. This is 2D, sprite-based, military-themed Monster Hunter. And that’s pretty great. It’s a reason to keep coming back to different missions to unlock as many different weapon parts as you can and try out new things. It adds an addictive sense of progression to a genre that is usually just about running through levels and completing objectives. There’s more to do because there’s so much to collect, including rare materials and extra money by completing extra objectives in each mission, along with finding secret objectives and beating the fastest clear time to get even more rare materials.Add excellent controls that feel responsive, with a dodge roll and melee attacks (and you can craft different knives) and active reloading that makes your bullets more powerful if you press the R button when the meter is over a green area. It might feel strange if you just build the biggest gun you can and then find yourself with a short, floaty jump, but that’s the point. You actually move differently depending on how heavy your gun is. With a fairly generous amount of mercy invincibility when you get hit and the tendency of enemy fire to take Dark Souls amounts of life bar chunks and you get a very satisfying 2D gameplay experience that provides just enough challenge to feel worthwhile.I’ve been having fun playing through Mercenary Kings Reloaded on my Switch, and considering how much content and variety it offers in a genre that is usually reserved for short, direct playthroughs and speedruns, its $20 price tag is pretty reasonable.It’s real good you guys. Stay on target Real There You Guys: Ready Player One and Nostalgia as Generational PoisonReal Good You Guys: ThinkGeek’s Bags of Holding (Fast Travel and M… Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.