Life is the most exquisite natural outcome on our planet and has arisen as an evolutionary experiment that has persisted for the 4.5 billion years since the formation of this planet. The enormous biodiversity we see today represents only a small fraction of life that has existed on earth.
Today’s data scientist must know how to write good code. Regardless of whether they are working with a commercial off-the-shelf statistical software package, R, Python, or Perl, all require the use of good coding practices. Large and complex datasets need lots of manipulation to wrangle them into shape for analytics, statistical estimation often is complex, and presentation of complicated results sometimes requires writing lots of code.
When we think of ethical issues in bio-medical research (if we think of them at all), what usually comes to mind are either egregious breaches, such as the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study, in which treatment was kept from rural black men in order to investigate the natural history of this treatable disease, or questions such as whether it is proper to use prisoners as subjects in early drug testing trials.
Teen dating violence is a major public health concern, with about 1 in 10 teens experiencing physical violence or sexual coercion, and even higher rates of psychological abuse. Some progress toward awareness, prevention, and intervention with these youth has been made.
February 2nd marks Groundhog Day, an annual tradition in which we rouse a sleepy, burrowing rodent to give us winter-weary humans the forecast for spring. Many know little about the true life of a wild groundhog beyond its penchant for vegetable gardens and large burrow entrances.
Fluorescent proteins are changing the world. Page through any modern scientific journal and it’s impossible to miss the vibrant images of fluorescent proteins. Bright, colorful photographs not only liven-up scholarly journals, but they also serve as invaluable tools to track HIV, to design chickens that are resistant to bird flu and to confirm the existence of cancerous stem cells.
I recall a dinner conversation at a symposium in Paris that I organized in 2010, at which a number of eminent evolutionary biologists, economists and philosophers were present. Whenever the topic of “group selection” was brought up, a ferocious argument always seemed to ensue.
Galileo and some of his contemporaries left careful records of their telescopic observations of sunspots – dark patches on the surface of the sun, the largest of which can be larger than the whole earth. Then in 1844 a German apothecary reported the unexpected discovery that the number of sunspots seen on the sun waxes and wanes with a period of about 11 years. Initially nobody considered sunspots as anything more than an odd curiosity.
With the Ebola virus outbreak, great debate surrounding electronic cigarettes, and other public health topics in the media headlines, 2014 was a very eventful year for public health. The year also brought many great research articles, blogs, and publications addressing these and other important issues.
Is it better to be positive or negative? Many of the most vivid public health appeals have been negative – “Smoking Kills” or “Drive, Drive, and Die” – but do these negative messages work when it comes to changing eating behavior?
In 1971, William Irvin Thompson, a professor at York University in Toronto, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled, “We Become What We Hate,” describing the way in which “thoughts can become inverted when they are reflected in actions.” He cited several scientific, sociocultural, economic, and political situations where the maxim appeared to be true. The physician who believed he was inventing a pill to help women become pregnant had actually invented the oral contraceptive.
When patients are discharged from the intensive care unit it’s great news for everyone. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the road to recovery is straight. As breakthroughs and new technology increase the survival rate for highly critical patients, the number of possible further complications rises, meaning life after the ICU can be complex.
The field of anaesthesia is a subtle discipline, when properly applied the patient falls gently asleep, miraculously waking-up with one less kidney or even a whole new nose. Today, anaesthesiologists have perfected measuring the depth and risk of anaesthesia, but these breakthroughs were hard-won.
Meet Utricularia. It’s a bladderwort, an aquatic carnivorous plant, and one of the fastest things on the planet. It can catch its prey in a millisecond, accelerating it up to 600g.
From the comfort of a desk, looking at a computer screen or the printed page of a newspaper, it is very easy to ignore the fact that thousands of tons of insecticide are sprayed annually. Consider the problem of the fall armyworm in Mexico. As scientists and crop advisors, we’ve worked for the past two decades trying to curb its impact on corn yield.
When we think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD for short, lots of examples spring to mind. For example, someone who won’t shake your hand, touch a door handle, or borrow your pen without being compelled to wash their hands, all because of a fear of germs.