What Caused the Author of Moby Dick to Shrink an Inch and a Half?

John J. Ross, MD, instructor at Harvard Medical School, author of Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough: Medical Lives of Famous Writers, discusses the medical history of Herman Melville and his diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. Read more about Melville’s ailments. Learn more about John J. Ross, MD and his latest work, Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough: Medical Lives of Famous...

What in the world is ASMR?

I recently came across a really interesting, but also relatively bizarre concept, ASMR. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response – allow me to explain. Autonomous: refers to the subjective nature of the phenomenon Sensory: refers to the sensory input that trigger the phenomenon Meridian: is apparently a euphemism for orgasm Response: yeah, just as it sounds It’s a physical sensation experience in response to external stimuli, usually soft noises of whispering or mundane sounds of objects. But what exactly is the physical sensation? It’s a tingling, warm, relaxing feeling that often starts in the back of the head and can travel down your spine, arms, and legs. It can also just consist of a feeling of overall relaxation, putting the person almost in a trance state. Many people use ASMR simply to relax. The videos consist of people completing mundane tasks such as doing their makeup or drawing an intricate picture. Usually, the videographer is also whispering, further stimulating their audience. In this video, the girl literally talks about her makeup collection for half an hour. No one expects you to watch the whole thing (unless you are an ASMR-er) but just to give you an idea…(I personally just got frustrated by how long it was taking her to complete thoughts – so much for that whole relaxing thing.) While doing my ASMR research I also came across...

Virtual Reality Behavioral Therapy

Jeremy Bailenson, the director for the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University, talks about the power of virtual reality technology to create behavioral change, especially in the challenging area of lifestyle modification. Filmed at FutureMed, in February, 2012, at Singularity...

Inspirational Quotes For Living In Your 20s

“I can’t dislike you, but I will say this to you: you haven’t got long before you are all going to kill yourselves, because you are all crazy. And you can project it back at me, but I am only what lives inside each and every one of you.” – Charles Manson “Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage.” – Ronald Reagan “You’ve had your whole fucking life to think things over. What good’s a few minutes more gonna do you now?” – Excerpt from The Shining, as delivered by a crazed Jack Nicholson “The cadaver’s pubes have a cowlick.” – Excerpt from Elvis Presley’s autopsy “There are lesions on the legions…” – Walt Disney “My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you’re ugly too.” – Rodney Dangerfield “They all feel the need for something. What we sense after the film is that the natural sources of pleasure have been replaced with higher-octane substitutes, which have burnt out the ability to feel joy. Going through the motions of what once gave them escape, they feel curiously trapped.” – Excerpt from Roger Ebert’s review of The Ice Storm “Did I do that?” – Urkel, overheard while watching footage of Tiananmen Square “If one commits the act of sodomy with a cow,...

Sir William Osler Was “Most Worthless” Student on the Wards

MONTREAL, CANADA – He may be the exalted father of modern medical education and the hallowed champion of medical reason, but devastating new evidence shows that Sir William Osler’s early beginnings in medicine were lackluster at best. Recently uncovered academic reviews of his performance by upper level trainees at the McGill University’s Medical College in Montreal, show he was highly unpopular on the hospital wards. Unearthed from the vaults of the McGill registrar’s office, these scathing clerkship reviews show a remarkably different side of Western medicine’s greatest hero. Upper level trainees criticized both his work ethic and his professionalism. It appears he was plagued by inefficiency and hampered by frivolous medical curiosity. “Yea, had I a sixpence for ev’ry hour that this cursed Osler spent poking some hepatic trolle’s stomach instead of getting his work done, I wouldn’t be toiling in this armpit of a hospital!” “…Nigh, we caught him loafing in the latrine with a useless tome of physiology whilst the rest of the medical team were busy leeching the pneumonia patients.” “I asked him to go and bleed a patient afflicted by female hysteria…and he looks he at me with his imbecilic mustached stare and says he has surpassed his work hours limit and needs to go home. He then proceeded to question my discernment about bleeding the patient at all!!!” Others pointed to a distracted lack...

Top 5 Coolest Med Tech of the Week

With all the new iphones, tablets, and smartwatches coming out these days, it’s easy to forget that technology is revolutionizing how we do medicine. Here are the top 5 coolest medical devices and innovations of the week!   5. Apica Access, Stabilization, and Closure (ASC) Device for Beating Heart Valve Replacement The ASC system will allow surgeons to implant prosthetic aortic and mitral valves, all while the heart is beating. Once the implantation is complete, the device quickly stabilizes and seals the tissue obviating the need for sutures, minimizing blood loss, and decreasing risk of air embolism.   4. A Flushable Bedside Toilet Coming soon, to a bedside near you, is a new toilet that overcomes a conventional toilet’s need for wide, flexible tubing on a gradient. Instead, this toilet employs a processor that macerates the waste and disposes it through pressure pumped tubes that are 20mm wide. These pipes will go where no pipes have gone before.   3. Firefly Fluorescence Imaging Vision System Intuitive Surgical’s Firefly System has just received FDA approval. Indocyanine green (ICG) dye is injected into the bloodstream and naturally attaches to albumin. A 803 nm wavelength laser illuminates the dye revealing blood vasculature as well as providing real-time imaging of bile ducts. Glow-in-the-Dark stuff just never gets old…   2. VenaSeal Sapheon Vein Closure System Venous Reflux disease, a weakening of the valves...

The Big Reveal…

After weeks of anticipation, my results have arrived! When I logged on to 23andme.com today, I was greeted with this message: Which kind of made me feel like this: And with that, I began. At first, it’s overwhelming. There’s literally a page of results, hundreds to sift through, and it’s hard to know where to begin. Do I want to dive in to the nitty-gritty and see if I have the BRCA1 gene or do I want to look at my traits and judge whether or not my genes were able to properly recreate me in a petri dish somewhere? I opted to start with the traits. With somewhat eerie accuracy, the results included “an increased prevalence of having a prominent ring of pigmentation around the iris”– which is a physical trait I am most known for and, to be honest, wasn’t expecting 23andme to pick up on. Of course, eye color is pretty much the focus of every high school biology Punnet Square, so I shouldn’t have been that surprised. I have to admit, at first, I felt a little odd. Did 23andme really know me?  So, I pressed forward, taking everything with a grain of salt, of course. When reviewing results like this, it’s important to keep in mind that only a portion of your genetic make-up can be analyzed in this manner; science has come a...

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