The Mountain and The Viper: Could that Exploding Head Thing Really Happen?

This post contains spoilers for the episode of Game of Thrones “The Mountain and the Viper,” which aired June 1, 2014. So last week’s episode of Game of Thrones was once again both epic and horrifyingly shocking. Yeah, you probably know what I’m referring to. The David and Goliath battle between the Mountain and the Viper had everything we love in a medieval duel. Speed vs size. Wit and cunning vs pure testosterone pumped muscles. Light spear vs massive broadsword. Righteous vengeance vs maniacal sadism. But of course, the geek in me had to wonder … is something this gruesome even humanly possible?   So first, let’s break down these two fighters. Pedro Pascal, the actor who plays the Viper is 5’11 and of slight build. He’s got wiry strength and unreal quickness and finesse, but you’ve got to be a little concerned with his deficit in bone mass and density when compared to the sheer strength of the Mountain. Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson is the Icelandic giant that plays the Mountain. He’s 6’9, weighs 420 pounds, and is the world’s second strongest man. Take a look. Here’s a little list of his lifting accomplishments: Squat – 350 kg (770 lbs.) raw Bench press – 230 kg (507 lbs.) raw Strongman Deadlift – 420 kg (924 lbs.) raw with wrist straps Loglift – 192.5 kg (424 lbs.)   Now here’s the interesting part. An article from Slate last year looked into a similar situation from Star Trek Into Darkness. Using research reported...

The Real Issue with the Match

Imagine for a second that you really want to be a doctor. Like really, really want to be a doctor (and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you probably don’t really need to imagine). But anyways, imagine that you take the general path to becoming a doctor. You go to college, pick a major, complete medical school pre-requisites, get clinical experience, volunteer, go through the difficult medical school admissions process (all while building up debt from tuition and living expenses), and luckily you are one of the 42% of medical school applicants each year that gets accepted (as of 2013). You think that you’ve just surpassed the largest hurdle toward becoming a doctor and while the coursework and clinical experience that lies in your future will be challenging, as long as you excel, the next opportunity will be available for you. Then you actually go to medical school. You make it through with good enough grades, USMLE score, and recommendations to be competitive for your choice of specialty (again while building up debt – this time up to hundreds of thousands of dollars). In your fourth year, you apply to residency, the next step in your journey to becoming a physician. You spend money on application fees. You take time away from your fourth year clinical rotations while spending money to travel the country and interview. You eagerly wait...

How Can Oxygen Be Delivered Without the Lungs?

We hear about amazing innovations in medicine all the time: miracle drugs, the artificial heart, bionic contact lens. These ideas don’t pop up out of nowhere; many of them come from pressing need, accidents, and in certain cases, a situation of huge emotional impact. John Kheir, MD, discusses his journey to find a way to oxygenate blood without the use of lungs. Using microparticles injected with oxygen, Kheir and his team were able to keep rabbits with blocked windpipes alive for up to 15 minutes without a single breath. The technique has the potential to prevent cardiac arrest and brain injuries induced by oxygen deprivation.   Featured image is screenshot from video...

20 Ways to Make Graduation Ceremonies Better

1. Cut the valedictorian speech in half and give the remaining time to the student with the lowest GPA who still managed to graduate. These two probably have equally important life lessons to impart. 2. Sure, you can walk the stage and accept your diploma — if you don’t get abducted by the Temple Guards! 3. Instead of only recognizing the awards, scholarships, and honors bestowed upon graduates by professors, let’s include some student-voted awards, like “Most Undistinguished Track Record of Questionable Hookups” and “Outstanding Achievement in the field of Day Drinking.” 4. While graduation gowns are part of one of my favorite fashion groups (“Clothes You May be Unexpectedly Naked Under”), they fall well behind trench coats and robes. Trench coats may attract sex offenders, so let’s switch to robes. Graduates can feel free to make selections from the Hugh Hefner or Ric Flair collections. 5. But let’s scrap the weird academic robes professors wear that make them look like extras from a Hogwarts faculty meeting. 6. My best friend growing up had a dusty VHS titled “Monster Truck Bloopers.” Anytime we got bored I begged him, “Come on man, let’s watch that tape of monster truck bloopers!” But he always brushed it off, saying that the video wasn’t as cool as it sounded. I mean, how could “Monster Truck Bloopers” possibly not be extraordinarily entertaining? At the...

9 Thoughts You Have When You Graduate From Medical School

1. Did 4 years just go by that quickly? It may be that med school is usually split up into pre-clinical and clinical years, but the time just flew by! When did you get grey hair? When did you gain 25 pounds? Did you really hook up with 25% if the females in your class? It’s like you lived a lifetime in just 4 years. The upside: if you did it right, you probably learned a lot, met lifelong friends, and were introduced to some really inspiring professors and scientists.   2. I’m gonna need a solid 2 year vacation now. You mean I only get a month? I call bulls*it!   3. Crap, that “debt” stuff they talked about really wasn’t a joke. Congrats!! You got your top residency choice in ______ (insert one of the most expensive cities to live in in the United States). They funny thing about top-ranked residency programs is that they are usually located in areas with heavy and diverse populations – metropolitan cities. Funny things about metropolitan locations? Lots of demand for living space and, thus, lots of rent.   4. I’m going to die alone. So, you pretty much blew every relationship that had potential in both undergrad and medical school because you were “so dedicated to your studies.” Now you’re about to start your residency where the time you aren’t in the hospital will...

4 Most Common Myths About Autism

Raun Kaufman, CEO & Founder, Autism Treatment Center of America, describes the 4 most common misconceptions about autism: Myth #1: Autism is a behavioral disorder Reality: Autism is a social relational disorder Myth #2: Treatment should focus on changing behavior Reality: Treatment should focus on creating a relationship Myth #3: Social limitations should be compensated for by teaching an autistic child different skills Reality: Helping an autistic child relate to other people is crucial Myth #4: Parents get in the way of treatment Reality: Parents should be at the center of treatment for their autistic...

‘Medicine’s Top Earners Are Not the M.D.s’…Yeah, And?

​I recently took a new position in the healthcare system where I work–a big change that would place me right at the heart of a nationwide initiative toward patient-centered care. My first day at the new, larger, sparklier hospital, all the new hires were taken down the long hallway of the administrative building and encouraged to gaze upon the Wall of CEOs, pictures stretching back, down the hall, to the beginning of the hospital’s history. All men. All middle-aged. All white. I made the decision a few years ago to switch medical tracks and head toward a degree in hospital administration, hopefully getting a master’s in public health and, eventually, a PhD. When I first started working in healthcare in ernest, I realized right away that the medical professionals themselves had a frustratingly small effect on change when it came to hospital system politics. Each year it seemed they spent more times with their hands tied than on patients they were treating. I want, perhaps naively, to be an agent of change, a force in healthcare reform, and I realized that I couldn’t do that and practice as a physician – if I really wanted to devote myself to reform, I had to be an administrator. The trouble is up at the top and trickling down, negatively affecting the way physicians and nurses practice, the health of patients and...

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