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Ouch. PROKris Fricke/Flickr

America’s most lethal animal

Animal attacks have been in the news a lot. Late last year, a 22-year-old student in New Jersey was killed by a black bear he had been photographing. This summer, swimmers off the coast of North Carolina…
Greek"No" supporters celebrate referendum results. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

What now for Greece and the euro?

The media predictions are dire, but the reality of the Greek monetary crisis may be less sensational.
The dispute between Philipp Lenard and Albert Einstein sheds considerable light on the power of nonscientific concerns to sway scientists. NASA via Wikimedia Commons

When science gets ugly – the story of Philipp Lenard and Albert Einstein

Scientists are not always as scientific as many suppose. Recent well-publicized cases of scientific fraud prove that scientists can be as susceptible to the allures of wealth, power and fame as politicians…
In four out of five churches in the US, membership has plateaued or is declining. Church via www.shutterstock.com.

When ministry doesn’t pay

Mindy Mayes is a 29-year-old African-American woman with a second job many might find undesirable. Some might even call her crazy for sticking with it. She thinks about it almost constantly, and those…
If education is to improve the underlying causes of poor teacher morale must be addressed. Students via www.shutterstock.com.

Something is rotten in the state of US education

A report released last year estimates that nearly half of the nation’s new teachers quit within five years, a rate of attrition that costs the United States over US$2 billion annually. Each year, in fact…
World Food Programme (WFP) staff members load bags of split yellow peas into a truck in a WFP warehouse based in El Fasher, North Darfur, for delivery and distribution in camps for displaced persons (IDPs) in Shangil Tobaya, North Darfur. UN Photo/Albert González Farran

Good intentions and poor results – John Steinbeck’s lessons on humanitarian aid

Steinbeck highlights an insight all too often lost on many contemporary poverty fighters around the world: efforts to help sometimes turn out to harm.
A droid can treat a Lightsaber wound, but can it feel your pain? JD Hancock

Calling Dr Droid? Why aren’t there any human doctors in Star Wars?

Though set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” it isn’t hard to see in the Star Wars films a vision of our own not so distant future. But Anthony Jones, a physician with a long background in health…
Before patients can state their preferences about dying, they need to talk about them first. Doctor and patient via michaeljung/Shutterstock

Last wishes and clear choices – learning how to talk about end-of-life care

Conversations around end-of-life medical care can be challenging. Consider someone I’ll call Mrs. Jones, an elderly patient with advanced heart disease. When her doctor asked her to discuss the kind of…
To Tolkien, the machine represents a means to attain power over others. His orcs – deformed and ugly creatures, whose hands are sometimes replaced with weapons – embody this lust for power. LOTR Wikia

Tolkien and the machine

My grandfather was a carpenter, and I don’t think he ever developed much of a sense of trust in machines. I remember him laboring away at our home one summer, transforming our screened-in porch into a…
Drawn directly from the flesh. Public Domain Review/Flickr

The man who revolutionized our knowledge of the human body

December 31, 2014 marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of one of the most important figures in the history of medicine. He authored one of the most elegant and influential books in scientific history…
Alexander von Humboldt selfportrait.

The most influential scientist you may never have heard of

Gaze at Alexander Von Humboldt’s 1814 self-portrait and you peer into the eyes of a man who sought to see and understand everything. By this point in his life, at age 45, Humboldt had tutored himself in…
Young doctors are being judged based in their age, not their ability. Stock image of doctors from www.shutterstock.com

Young doctors at risk of generational prejudice

A medical colleague was shaking his head in disgust. “What is wrong with these medical students today?” he asked. “They just don’t have the same work ethic they used to. In our day, we didn’t have to be…
People are becoming more likely to believe that high-tech visualising techniques might allow us to see psychopathy in the actual physiology of the brain. JE Theriot/Flickr (resized)

Looking for psychopaths in all the wrong places: fMRI in court

In the latest instalment of our series Biology and Blame Micol Seigel poses some important questions about the assumptions behind the legal use of fMRI. Of the current uses of psychiatry in legal settings…

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