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Links 1 through 10 of 136 by Chad Orzel tagged medicine

A look at the top causes of death over the last 100 years, and how they have changed. The paper's pretty dry, but the interactive bar graph is awesome.

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Should scientific journals publish high-risk scientific research that could in the wrong hands be disastrous for us all? Although it might be sensible to keep certain results secret for a while, I argue that eventually it does not make sense to withhold results in the long-term.

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How did this captain know – from fifty feet away – what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew knows what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.

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I actually know Batman. His parents are dear friends of my wife’s family, and I see him at holiday dinners where my 4-year-old son believes he is the real-life Bruce Wayne. “Daddy, he’s Batman, too,” my son will whisper to me. Though Batman has long been aware that I’m a journalist, he has never suggested I write about him. He does not crave publicity. Like his comic book namesake, he doesn’t seek credit for what he does.

“I’m just doing it for the kids,” he says.

But in light of him going viral — “Gotham City is on the verge of chaos,” Anderson Cooper informed CNN viewers — I asked him whether I could unveil the man behind the mask. He acquiesced but suggested I do so by accompanying him to the cancer ward at Children’s National Medical Center in Northwest Washington for a superhero party thrown by the Hope for Henry organization.

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at the time that Elixir Sulfanilamide came to be, produced by the S.E. Massengill Company of Bristol, Tennessee, that wasn’t well understood.  There was actually no legal requirement that companies understand their products, much less safety test them.

The company chemist who designed the cough syrup by mixing a sulfa drug into the poisonous sweetener claimed to have no such knowledge. And as the company president, Samuel Massengill responded: “We have been supplying a legitimate professional demand and not once could have foreseen the unlooked-for results. I do not feel that there was any responsibility on our part.”

The resulting  Elixir Sulfanilamide scandal – and it was, indeed, an incendiary, nation-rocking scandal at the time -  is mostly forgotten today. But it shouldn’t be.

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She and her colleagues read reviews of third and fourth year medical students in their clinical clerkships, written by supervising physicians. They noted words that suggested humane behavior, such as “caring” and “warm.” They then looked to see if there was any connection between positive descriptors and coursework taken prior to medical school.

Surprisingly, there was. Medical students viewed as more humane took on more coursework in college – but not just in the humanities. The more classes students took, period – in the humanities or in the sciences – the nicer they were described.

But why? What does taking a lot of classes have to do with being compassionate?

According to Dr. Fitzgerald, there is a single trait underlying both the desire to learn in the classroom and to be empathetic on the wards.

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A quick search of several neighborhoods of the UnitedStates revealed that while pseudoephedrine is difficult toobtain,
 N -methylamphetamine can be procured at almost anytime on short notice and in quantities sufficient for synthesisof useful amounts of the desired material. Moreover,according to government maintained statistics, N -methylmphetamine is becoming an increasingly attractive starting material for pseudoephedrine, as the availability of  N -methylmphetamine has remained high while prices have dropped and purity has increased [2]. We present here ac onvenient series of transformations using reagents which can be found in most well stocked organic chemistry laboratories to produce psuedoephedrine from N -methylamphetamine.

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For "Science" read "Medical Science" throughout, but other than that, it's a good discussion of the problem of biological complexity.

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It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.

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"What bothers me most about Freedman’s argument is that he comes so close to being right. I actually agree that the success of alternative medicine is the result of mainstream medicine’s failure. But it’s not that alternative medicine is preventative but mainstream medicine is not. It’s that mainstream medicine, especially with health insurance and care models that restrict the amount of time patients spend with doctors, has abandoned the power of ritual in making people feel better."

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