Science-y stuff

White Coat Underground

Category archives for Science-y stuff

Why I am not a primatologist

One of the things I love about the blogosphere is the give and take, the ability of people to comment on each others’ work, and the diversity of topics. The conversations that take place in the blogosphere have real value (a value which is so far under-recognized and under-utilized). Without the blogosphere, I would never…

Transposition of the Great Arteries

OK, it’s time for another science-y post. Usually, I take on something very relevant to my specialty—it’s a helluva lot easier to write about stuff I already know. But some basics are just really cool, and worth exploring, even though I’ll have to step a bit outside my comfort zone. In this case, it’s the…

Cancer 202—Radiation therapy

(NB: as is usual with my more “science-y” posts, oversimplification is the rule. –PalMD) It’s been a very long while since I’ve updated my series on cancer. I keep meaning to, but you know how things go. Lately, though, I’ve been curious about radiation oncology, the use of ionizing radiation to treat cancers. What set…

One of the concepts we often discuss around here is “what is disease?” As we’ve seen in the discussion of Lyme disease and so-called Morgellons syndrome, this is not always an easy question to answer. Knowing what states are disease states does not always yield a black-or-white answer. The first step is usually to define…

Syphilis—the king of spirochetes

All this talk of Lyme disease is getting me all excited about spirochetes. Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, is a spirochetal bacterium, and so is Treponema pallidum, the spirochete that causes syphilis. Now, if you’re thinking syphilis is all about sores on the naughty bits, you’re missing the best parts of the…

What we have here…

Science is hard. It often requires us to put aside our beliefs and preconceptions to more accurately understand how the world works. But it is not in any way unimaginative. To paraphrase a wildly brilliant guy, every time a scientist formulates a hypothesis, she must imagine a different world. It can be a very creative…

The news reports are cryptic. One news report about Farah Fawcett’s cancer went on for five paragraphs before they told us what type of cancer. Cancer is a tough enough diagnosis—there is still a fear and stigma associated with the “C” word which may lead to people putting off diagnosis and treatment. This effect may…

A simple bump on the head can kill you

How can a seemingly trivial head injury kill you? To answer this, you need a little anatomy. Your brain is a pretty important organ, and is well protected. It sits inside a thick armor (the skull) and floats cushioned in a bath of cerebral-spinal fluid. It’s surrounded by several layers of tissue, and its blood…

Experiment–woo woo journal club

This is just for kicks, and requires a little work. I recently became aware of a dreadful article that I’d love to share with you, but then I thought, “my readers are pretty damned smart; let’s see what they have to say first.” The article in question, “External Qi of Yan Xin Qigong differentially regulates…

Salmonella–a little background

You’ve probably read about the current Salmonella outbreak. It’s a fine example of what can happen when food is produced and distributed on an industrial scale—even one small contamination event can spread widely in the food supply, and there isn’t much of a system in place to follow the trail of contaminants. Others have covered…