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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

Remains of ancient “mini planets” in Mars’s orbit

The planet Mars shares its orbit with a few small asteroids called “Trojans”. Recently, an international team of astronomers have found that most of these objects share a common composition and are likely the remains of a mini-planet that was destroyed by a collision long ago. Trojan asteroids move in orbits with the same average distance from the Sun as a planet, trapped within gravitational “safe havens” 60 degrees in front of and behind the planet.

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The face of today’s elder caregiver

A recent AARP billboard reminds us that the duty to care for an aging or ill parent begins with remembering the care provided to us when we were children. How does this caregiving expectation, grounded in reciprocity, apply to the approximately 76 million Baby Boomers in the United States whose aging will dominate the next few decades?

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In search of a “good” Anthropocene? Physiology can help

While much of the rhetoric surrounding the Anthropocene has been markedly negative, there has recently been a push by many scientists for a more positive narrative. Specifically, researchers are posing the question: can the Anthropocene be good? A good Anthropocene would balance the preservation of the natural world with realistic societal needs and consumption.

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Let me tell you a story

Every year, I teach Medical Neurobiology to a new class of medical students. I introduce myself and immediately tell the class, “I am not a physician. I do not have a MD. I have a PhD. But, I am a patient, just as you are, and just like the people you will serve when you are physicians.”

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Preventing misdiagnosis of intracranial pressure disorders on diagnostic imaging

Imaging can build a stronger case for a specific diagnosis when several findings associated with that condition are present, making it important for those interpreting the images to be aware of the full scope of imaging findings in each ICP disorder. Finally, open and constructive communication between radiologists and clinical specialists is key to correct diagnosis, starting with appropriate clinical information

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Marvellous murmurations

Shortly before sunset, especially in winter from October to February, flocks of tens of thousands of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) fly in aerobatic displays called murmurations. The flocks swirl and morph, transforming from, for example, a teardrop shape into a vortex, and then into a long rope. The spontaneous synchronised flock turns as if of one mind.

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Understanding stress and anxiety

Almost everybody experiences some stress and associated anxiety on a regular basis. While not particularly comfortable, these reactions can be valuable in alerting us to pay extra attention when we perform important tasks or find ourselves in high-risk situations. Sometimes, however, the stress response is triggered too easily or too intensely, causing unnecessary discomfort. In these cases, it helps to learn techniques to regulate the stress response.

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Wearable health trackers: a revolution in cancer care

Activity trackers, wearable electronics that collect data passively and can be worn on the body, infiltrated the world’s fitness market in the last decade. Those devices allowed consumers to track steps and heart rate. Next, wearable devices overtook the chronic illness market, giving patients the power to track health behavior and adherence to medication, which could be easily reported back to doctors.

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What has happened to environmental protection?

Fast forward to 2017: with a few possible exceptions, Congress hasn’t addressed any significant environmental problems for over a quarter century and has blocked important environmental legislation; President Trump has promised to gut the EPA; and its new administrator, Scott Pruitt, as Attorney General of Oklahoma, sued the Agency over and over again to kill major environmental regulations.

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Bugs don’t recognize nationality

Microbes have not yet met an ocean, wall, or national border they could not permeate. Zika once again has demonstrated that large and small countries, relatively wealthy and relatively poorer countries all are dependent on a larger infrastructure for their national health security – even the United States cannot rely solely on itself to fight an outbreak or protect itself and Americans from the next outbreak.

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Global future challenges, twists, and surprises

From time immemorial, humans have yearned to know what lies ahead. Setting the context is a three-thousand-year romp through the ‘history of the future’ illustrating how our forebears tried to influence, foretell or predict it. Examples extend from the prophets and sibyls to Plato and Cicero, from the Renaissance to the European Enlightenment.

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The unintended effect of calling out “fake news”

CNN’s Don Lemon recently pushed back when Paris Dennard, a conservative pundit, insisted on calling a story they were covering (the cost to the taxpayer of President Trump’s frequent visits to Florida) “fake news.” As Lemon said, “Fake news is when you put out a story to intentionally deceive someone and you know that it is wrong.” Lemon provided an excellent definition for fake news, but it’s also a great definition for “propaganda”.

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On the physicality of racism

When you talk about how the young boys that I grew up around walked through the world, when you talk about the fact that my brother had made a decision at 13 that he was going to carry a handgun, when you talk about the fact that that wasn’t even unusual, you are talking about the physical safety, the danger, the very health of the body. Conversations about race are filled with words and euphemisms to describe the impact of racism on people and communities.

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State of the union for Social Work Month 2017

We face a host of intertwined issues of social justice today, most of which are not new but deeply embedded historically. Poverty is ubiquitous, and economic inequality has increased both nationally and globally. Children continue to bear the brunt of poverty, especially children of color. Struggles for women’s rights continue around the world in the face of persistent gender inequality, oppression, and violence.

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Supporting and managing global health

Around the world, health is among the most important issue facing individuals, communities, governments, and countries as a whole. While there are increases in policy debates and developments in medical research, there are still many actions that can be taken to improve the picture of health at a global level. Following an event at Columbia University, we sat down with Chelsea Clinton and Devi Sridhar, authors of Governing Global Health

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Birds’ eye views – a question of reality

A finger on a touch pad can glide us across the globe; we can casually sweep from the view that an albatross apparently gets as it flies to its nest site in South Georgia, to what a vulture apparently sees when looking for carrion in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater. The notion that these really are bird’s eye views is deeply engrained. When we use the term “bird’s eye view”, we actually think that this is how the world looks to a bird.

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