Archive for the 'Medicine & Health' category


Apr 04 2011 Published by under Medicine & Health

The weather has been gorgeous so I've been in agony these past few days. Why? Allergies, of course.

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5 responses so far

It's not just US politicians who don't like academics

Mar 29 2011 Published by under Medicine & Health, Politics, Silliness

Oh dear, the British health minister isn't a fan of The Lancet:

(ht Ben Goldacre, and his summary: "More than anything, I just quite enjoy the childishness of the edit...")

2 responses so far

GrrlScientist and the Icy Path of DOOOM

Dec 22 2010 Published by under Medicine & Health

As I write this, I'm waiting to hear from GrrlScientist or the hospital. Last night she slipped in the ice and snow on a very slick piece of pavement - she fell, I then slipped but stayed upright, and then a man behind us came to help, and slipped too. Now, people who have been following Grrl's travails over the last few years know that she's broken bones before, so she's experienced with these things. This time, she was fairly sure she had fractured her elbow, and also had a large bump on her head, but still insisted we made some buttered rum mix before calling an ambulance.

Icy Patch of DOOOM, as seen from above

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12 responses so far

Shock As Nobel Prize for Molecular Biology Given to Medic

Oct 04 2010 Published by under Education, Medicine & Health, Silliness

This year's Nobel Prize for Molecular Biology has been controversially awarded to Prof Robert Edwards for his pioneering work on in-vitro fertilisation. Prof. Edwards' work in developing "test tube babies" has helped the conception and birth of 4 million people around the world, starting with first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, in 1978. Whilst it is acknowledged that this work was ground-breaking and of major significance, there has been wide-spread criticism that the prize has been awarded for work in medicine and physiology, rather than in molecular biology, for which the prize was originally intended.

"I'm shocked" said Prof. Philip Mickelson of the North Oregon Teaching Hospital Institute of Nuclear Genetics, "the Nobel committee has finally stretched the meaning of the prize beyond breaking point".

Dr. Andrew McDowell of the British Organisation for Molecular Biology agreed, stating "this is ludicrous. What's the point in going into molecular biology if some physiologist is going to nick your big prize?"

Environmentalists were also critical of the prize, pointing out that it was being awarded for work that had increased our over-population problems. Greenpeas and Friends of the Planet both released statements condemning the Karolinska Institute as "irresponsble", and "encouraging behaviour that will speed up the destruction of this planet and all we hold dear". Pope Benedict, in contrast, praised the award, stating in a press release that "this prize can only encourage those who chose to have children to conceive and birth as many as their family can support".

A statement released to the press by the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm acknowledged the controversy, stating "the committee felt that, despite its name, the prize had been too narrowly focussed on molecular advances and some recognition should be made of research in other areas of biology". The spokesman pointed out that the prize has been awarded to research outside its immediate scope of molecular, most noticeably in 1973 when it was awarded for work in animal behaviour.

There is concern that this will mark a trend in this year's prizes. Dr. Edward Molinari of the European Institute of Biochemistry admitted he was worried about Wednesday's award. "Just looking at the bookies' odds, it's clear that everyone is panicked. It's looking more likely that this year's Nobel Prize for Biochemistry will be awarded to someone who doesn't even work on living organisms. Heaven forbid, but they might even be an inorganic chemist".

Odds on President George W. Bush winning the Peace Prize have not shortened, however.

17 responses so far

The Virology of Christ

Aug 10 2010 Published by under Epidemiology, Medicine & Health Now, this is just silly. Last month a case report appeared in the Virology Journal (not, I'll admit, my normal read). It had the following title:

Influenza or not influenza: Analysis of a case of high fever that happened 2000 years ago in Biblical time

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Are Zombie Vultures In Our Future?

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Only thirty years ago, tens of millions of White-rumped Vultures, Gyps bengalensis,
were flying the skies of Asia. They are now classified as Critically Endangered.
Image: Marek Jobda / [larger view]

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for

A zombie is another name for The Walking Dead -- those who are lifeless, apathetic, or totally lacking in independent judgment. But in an ecological sense, a zombie species no longer fulfills its ecological function because it is becoming extinct. This is a topic that I hope to explore further in another blog entry, but for now, today's zombie theme and vultures' delightful dining habits (they eat zombies) and my zombie icon have inspired me to focus on them.

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3 responses so far

TEDTalks: Stephen Palumbi: Following The Mercury Trail

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There's a tight and surprising link between the ocean's health and ours, says marine biologist Stephen Palumbi. He shows how toxins at the bottom of the ocean food chain find their way into our bodies, with a shocking story of toxic contamination from a Japanese fish market. His work points a way forward for saving the oceans' health -- and humanity's.

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Great Microbiologists

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This is yet another Lego animation. This time, instead of recreating highlights of the World Cup 2010 games, this one shows highlights for the history of the field of microbiology. It's actually good enough to show as an intro to a microbiology course.

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TEDTalks: Seth Berkley: HIV and 'Flu -- The Vaccine Strategy

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Seth Berkley explains how smart advances in vaccine design, production and distribution are bringing us closer than ever to eliminating a host of global threats -- from AIDS to malaria to flu pandemics.

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ABC Nightline Twittercast: Should Marijuana Be Legalized?

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Let's kick off Silly Saturday with an interesting ABC twittercast debate about legalization of marijuana. This video is amusing because, as one person observed, it's like watching a scientist argue with a 9-year-old about the existence of Santa Claus. [Despite the moron guest on this twittercast, I find this interesting because it suggests an alternate medium for future news casts to utilize -- twitter -- and these so-called "twittercasts" can become much more interactive with the public]

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6 responses so far

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