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Khalil’s Picks (18 January 2013)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Did you know that morphine can physically hurt? This and something about a goat facility, painless vaccines, researchers proposing that you learn medicine (a little bit is fine) and more.

And action.

Charles Ebikeme has a wonderful post about testicular cancer patient who has an adverse reaction to analgesic drug, morphine. Instead of relieving his pain, it amplified it to such an extent that the patient begged to die… multiple times. In Australian Science.

Morphine Hurts
Why does Morphine cause pain? He was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 27. At the age of 39 he was in so much pain he begged his doctors to die. He was in pain because of morphine. In the 12 years he lived since he was diagnosed he had a therapeutic regimen that allowed him to have a good quality of life. His pain was controlled by bursts of sustained-relief morphine twice a day. Up until a family trip in November of 2000 there were no problems. Then the pain got inexplicably worse.

Goats used to grow antibodies, hidden from regulars. This embarrassing news for the scientific community has been making the news this week. Over at Nature, Helen Shen reports.

Discovery of goat facility adds to antibody provider’s woes
A herd of 841 goats has kicked up a stir for one of the world’s largest antibody suppliers after US agricultural officials found the animals — including 12 in poor health — in an unreported antibody production facility owned by California-based Santa Cruz Biotechnology.

Richa Malhotra writes about the possibility of vaccination that do not cause pain and are not as expensive. This may be particularly good news for less developed countries. Oh, all thanks to nanotechnology. At SciDev.net.

Trials planned for pain-free, low-cost vaccine delivery
A novel vaccine delivery device that needs neither refrigeration nor trained practitioners and would cost less than vaccine injections, has been tested in Papua New Guinea, and clinical trials could start next year.

Jo Poole at I, Science writes about a study which indirectly leads to why everyone should know a little bit of medicine. Piece’s gist centres around a study which found that people without formal education are those less likely to comply to treatment.

Germs, spirits and sin: the culture of illness
All belief systems have constructed explanations for illness, its management and those qualified to give opinions on them. UK healthcare is provided on the back of ‘evidence-based’ medicine; a highly educated system that the layperson may struggle to understand, and some individuals refuse to comply with.

Not entirely sure how appropriate it is to highlight one of my own posts here but I’m particularly proud of this one and feedback has been positive. I wrote a blog post this week about an affliction that leads to thousands of babies around of the world to be born with an abnormally large head. The post also looks at hydrocephalus from two point of views: developed and underdeveloped worlds. Khalil A. Cassimally at Scitable’s Labcoat Life.

A Story Of Happy And Sad Endings: On An Affliction That Is Plaguing Infants East And West
It was one of the driest and warmest of Augusts Jennifer had experienced. It had not rained for ages and the thermometer was bumping above the 90 F (~ 32 C) mark ever so often. As she woke up on that particular day in mid-August of 2007 however, the North Carolinian weather did not even cross her mind. As she sat up on the bed, she caressed her hand onto her protruding tummy. A smile quickly creeped its way onto her sleepy face. Today, she had an appointment with the doctor. And she was going to see her 20-week old unborn son. With this happy thought, she got up onto her feet and went about her early-morning chores. What she didn’t know was that in just a few hours, the doctor would inform her that her son was suffering a condition known as hydrocephalus.

Two good posts about science communication from upcoming science writers:

Erin Podolak blogs on her blog, Science Decoded, that science bloggers should not focus on blogging about stuff that’s already been said. She then asks: so what are you going to blog about?

Filling the Empty Page: Reading To Write
[...] I don’t think there is much value to writing about things that others have already covered, and covered well, unless there is some angle or something I feel like I can bring to the conversation. For the record, “I agree” doesn’t add much to the conversation – unless a topic is controversial and someone is getting attacked by the trolls and you want to show solidarity. If I do have something to say, in most of those cases it would probably be more beneficial as a blogger (especially a new bloger) to add a comment to those existing posts and jump into the conversation than sounding off in my own diatribe. There are, of course, exceptions when I do think it is worthwhile to toss in your two cents about a topic. But, in general if you aren’t going to blog about the latest splashy story, then what ARE you going to blog about?

Jessica Morrison gives some good tips on how to get started in the science communication world. Step 1: get on Twitter; Step 2: ask for help! (And thou shall receive it.) For Figure One.

How To Find A Science Writing Mentor
A new year has started, you’re a few years into your Ph.D. and you’ve decided that you want to get serious about becoming a science writer. But if your experience is anything like mine was, you might find local advice hard to come by.

More more more:

Khalil A. Cassimally About the Author: Khalil A. Cassimally is the Community Coordinator of The Conversation UK. He's also a science blogger. He hails from a tropical island and is a happy geek. Subscribe to his updates on Facebook and Google+. Follow on Twitter @notscientific.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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