MLA Platinum Award Press Release

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Beyond the Book Articles
Medical, Science and Tech

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10 Important Inventions of Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor. He held at least 1,093 patents and constantly invented new things at his famous laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Of the hundreds of ideas that sprung from his mind, here are 10 of his most important inventions:
  • Electrical vote recorder: This device was Edison's ...
A Short History of Archeology
The fictional John Somerville's interest in archeology was typical for his time. Most so-called archeologists of the period were, like him, self-taught because there were virtually no academic courses offered. Additionally, his desire to secure a rich benefactor to fund his excavations was standard operating procedure in the field; for ...
Truly Plaice, the protagonist of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, is referred to as a 'giant' even as a child. It is not until mid-way through the book that a physician provides the name of the disease that afflicts her: Acromegaly.

Acromegaly comes from the Latin acron, for extremity, and megas, meaning large. It was ...
Alchemy Across the Ages
Since the start of recorded history, as Jake Wolff's debut novel The History of Living Forever makes clear, humans have sought the elixir of life that would confer immortality. The ancient Greeks fantasized about finding ambrosia, the mythical nectar of the gods, said to be sweeter than honey; while the Chinese have eaten Lingzhi, the '...
Alzheimer's Disease
First described by German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer in 1906, Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive brain disorder in which the nerve cells in the brain gradually die off. It afflicts an estimated 26 million people world-wide, and of those, approximately 4.5 million live in the United States. ...
An Incurable Disease Affects Identity
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is not shameful and shouldn't be something that is kept secret. However, an MS diagnosis plays with the mind – and that is before the hallucinations and trembling and tremors begin – and patients can feel like they did something wrong. The Inward Empire: Mapping Out the Wilds of Fatherhood and Mortality...
In Julia Alvarez's novel Afterlife, Antonia's husband Sam dies suddenly of an aneurysm. An aneurysm is an enlargement or bulge in an artery from a weakening of the arterial wall that can cause internal bleeding if it ruptures. Most aneurysms don't rupture, and most people who have them don't experience any symptoms at all. However, when ...
Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an idea that extends to ancient times, when Hephaestus—a character in Greek mythology, son of Zeus and Hera—used his skills as a blacksmith to create mechanical servants. Despite this longstanding fascination, it was not until the 1950s that AI became a feasible technology with the invention of ...
Asperger Syndrome
The star of Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Effect, Don Tillman, is a unique character to say the least. His awkwardness in social settings, his overly logical and mathematical mind, his knack for offending people with blunt truths, and his tendency to obsess over the details of Rosie's pregnancy all combine to create a charming and ...
Becoming a Bone Marrow Donor
In Happiness: The Crooked Road to Semi Ever After, the author's newborn has a rare blood disease and requires a bone marrow transplant to survive.

Bones have soft tissue at their core called marrow; marrow contains immature or undifferentiated cells known as stem cells. There are two main types of stem cell: one produces bone, ...
In Edgar and Lucy, author Victor Lodato often uses the symbolism of stars, especially Betelgeuse.

Betelgeuse is a star in the Orion constellation, one of the most easily recognized groups of stars in the night sky. Orion's Belt consists of of three stars (also known as the Three Kings or the Three Sisters). Betelgeuse, officially ...
Biogas Digesters
In The Big Necessity Rose George introduces readers to biogas digesters in rural China. Biogas digesters (often shortened to biodigesters) are permanent structures, usually constructed of cement, in which waste (human, animal and agricultural leftovers) decompose in the lower section causing the micro-organisms to release methane that is ...
Biosphere 2
In Oracle, Arizona, sits one of the more intriguing experiments in 'closed-system' science ever devised: Biosphere 2, which forms the backdrop for the novel, The Terranauts. Originally built to demonstrate that humans could construct and live sustainably for long periods in an artificially created world, the huge glass domes that make up ...
Birth Control and Childbirth in the 19th Century
Dorothea Gibson’s daughter-in-law says, 'They (fathers) do not become dissolved into parenthood the way we [women] do.' Truer words may never have been spoken – at least as far as the 19th Century was concerned.

Dissolved? Dorothea (Dodo) Gibson floundered under the toll of eight closely spaced children plus several ...
Blind Runners
'I don't need a saint to run with, just someone willing and able and most of all, fast.' When Parker, the main character in Eric Lindstrom's debut novel Not If I See You First, begins to contemplate making the switch from running on her own in an empty field at the crack of dawn to joining the track team, she knows she'll need ...
Borderline Personality Disorder
In her debut novel, The Blind, A.F. Brady, a licensed psychotherapist, has created a memorable narrator, Sam James, who suffers from borderline personality disorder.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the handbook used to describe and diagnose mental disorders, lists ten forms of personality disorder ...
Brain Cancer in Childhood
In Luke Allnutt's novel, We Own the Sky, five-year-old Jack Coates is diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor.

According to the American Cancer Society, brain tumors are 'masses of abnormal cells in the brain or spinal cord that have grown out of control.' The American Brain Tumor Association estimates that 4,600 children and ...
Can Organ Transplants Change Who You Are?
A staggering number: over 34,000 organ transplants were performed in the U.S. in 2017 alone. Another staggering number: 115,000 people are currently waiting for life-saving organ transplants in the U.S. As the medical techniques and success rates continue to improve, organ transplants are quickly becoming a tremendous lifeline for some of...
Capgras Syndrome
The idea of simulacrum, or impostors, has long been a subject of fascination in fiction, and Capgras syndrome, or variations on its symptoms, often crop up in short stories and novels. Most recently, The Echo Maker by Richard Powers revolves around a character who suffers from Capgras syndrome after he suffers a head injury in a ...
Child Abandonment Syndrome
Throughout the novel, Lila, the protagonist suffers a deep ongoing shame resulting from early childhood abuse and neglect. Although it is never articulated in the story, there is a name for this response: Child Abandonment Syndrome.

In a 2010 article published in a blog, 'The Many Faces of Addiction,' for Psychology Today, Claudia ...
Chronic Lyme Disease
Porochista Khakpour's Sick is a memoir of living with chronic Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection, specifically a bite from a tick bearing the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. B. burgdorferi is one of just a few spirochetes, or 'spiral-shaped' bacteria, to be identified to date. (The pathogen that causes ...
Cleveland "Old Probs" Abbe
One of the many people profiled briefly in Rain: A Natural And Cultural History, is Cleveland Abbe, a pioneer in American meteorology. Born in New York City in 1838, the eldest of seven siblings, Abbe would go on to earn professional degrees in astronomy. But as he advanced his studies, he increasingly came to realize the intersection ...
The central character in Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney is a woman in a coma.

A coma is defined as a prolonged state of unconsciousness during which a patient is completely unresponsive to stimuli such as light, sound or even pain. The person appears to be asleep but cannot be awakened.

The condition is generally caused by ...
Controversial Psychiatric Practices
The fictional Wargnier Institute in Bernard Minier's The Frozen Dead is, put simply, 'a place where they lock up murderers who've been judged insane.' When psychologist Diane Berg learns about the 'treatment' programs offered, her fears and concerns escalate. The experience of observing a patient being 'evaluated' makes Commander Servaz ...
Conversion Disorder
Jamie Henry, the narrator of Complicit is given many diagnoses and explanations for the physiological symptoms he fights on a daily basis. At one point he is told that he has Conversion Disorder which seems to explain many of his troubles, including the paralysis of his hands when facing a stressful situation.

Conversion Disorder is a ...
Deadly Viruses
Ebola, the viral disease at the core of Steven Hatch's medical memoir, Inferno, is among the most deadly diseases in the world. It is not alone, however, in its lethality; other viruses are at least as likely to be fatal.

There's some debate as to the 'most fatal' virus in the world since it depends on what criteria you use (e.g., ...
Did You Know? Eight Alzheimer's Facts
Joseph Jebelli's In Pursuit of Memory is full of fascinating facts about Alzheimer's disease. We've picked out a handful you might not know already.

  1. The specific mutation associated with Alzheimer's disease was discovered on chromosome 21 in 1991. Because Down's syndrome also involves chromosome 21 (specifically, an extra copy of it ...

DNA Testing and Law Enforcement
In The Lost Family, Libby Copeland examines some of the complex issues surrounding commercial DNA testing, including concerns about privacy and consent. To what extent should we be comfortable entrusting our DNA to powerful corporations that can take our most intimate information—our genetic data—and put it to uses we aren't ...
Early-onset Alzheimer's
'Dementia in its varied forms is not like cancer, [which is] an invader. But Alzheimer's is me, unwinding, losing trust in myself, a butt of my own jokes and on bad days capable of playing hunt the slipper by myself and losing. You can't battle it, you can't be a plucky 'survivor'. It steals you from yourself.'

This is ...
Earworms: Why Do We Get Songs Stuck in Our Heads?
In one of The Wrong Heaven's most memorable stories, the narrator feels she is gradually losing her mind when she cannot get the song 'Hand in My Pocket' by Alanis Morissette out of her head. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as an 'earworm.' The word has a multi-strand history: Apparently, in ancient times, dried and ground earwigs...
Eating Disorders
Lia's anorexia and Cassie's bulimia represent two of the three most common eating disorders identified by the National Mental Health Information Center. Ninety percent of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25, but they can also manifest in teenage boys, and adult men and women of all ages. It's estimated ...
Eating Disorders and Body Self-Image
Eating Disorders

Does Kirsten eat too much and for all the wrong reasons? According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout western countries. According to US estimates from the National Institute of...
Emerging Infectious Diseases
In Rory Powers' debut novel Wilder Girls, the students at the Raxter School for Girls are suffering from a mysterious illness called 'the Tox,' but other than knowing what the effects are and that some people from the outside world are working on trying to help them, they have no idea what is causing it, or what it even is.

How real ...
Emotional Support Animals
In Spill Simmer Falter Wither, One Eye provides a lot of emotional support to Ray.

Anyone who has owned a pet knows how much they can contribute to emotional well-being — studies at University of Missouri's College of Veterinary Medicine's Research Center for Human and Animal Interaction show that interacting with ...
Evolutionary Ideas Before Darwin
The theory of evolution states that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor; complex creatures evolve over a long period of time from simpler organisms. Evolution is not concerned with the origin of Earth or of the Universe, but attempts to explain why different living things have developed and diversified since life ...
Eye-Gaze Computers
Ruth Fitzmaurice's husband Simon, who had Motor Neurone Disease, communicated using a type of adaptive technology known as an eye-gaze computer. The author mentions its use as a critical part of their lives throughout her memoir, I Found My Tribe.

Adaptive technology is a subset of assistive technology and while the two terms are often...
Fake Science
In The Great Pretender, former New York Post investigative reporter Susannah Cahalan uncovers evidence that Stanford University psychologist David Rosenhan fabricated at least some of the details in his famous 1973 paper 'On Being Sane in Insane Places.'

If true, this certainly wouldn't have been the only time a high profile researcher...
False Memory
One of the primary plot drivers for What Lies Between Us is the concept of false memory.

As the term implies, false memory is when a person recalls an event or a detail that has not happened or is untrue in some particular way. While research into why false memory takes root is still being conducted, a number of factors have been ...
Forensic Psychology
A forensic psychologist for the FBI, Dr. Abby Walker, is one of the two narrators of Emma in the Night. Her understanding of the thought process of the missing girls' narcissistic mother allows her to fill in the gaps in Cass's story.

The American Board of Forensic Psychology identifies forensic psychology to be 'the application of the...
Forgetting the Past?
In Adam Silvera's YA debut, More Happy Than Not, Aaron Soto, a poor Hispanic teenager, goes through a lot of difficult situations. His dad committed suicide when Aaron was younger. He doesn't really love the girl he thought he once loved. His best friend, Thomas, is his complicated love interest. Yeah, life is tough for our ...
From Herodotus to Vietnam: A Brief History of PTSD and Combat
Post-traumatic stress disorder was first officially recognized in 1980 in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) by the American Psychiatric Association.

However, the history of conflict-related PTSD is long and varied and can be traced back to the ancient world. One of the first-known...
Funding Research in STEM
In The Age of Living Machines, Susan Hockfield tells readers about the work of Angela Belcher, a chemist and bioengineer who found a way to make affordable, clean and natural renewable energy. Belcher and her colleagues did this by harnessing the power of viruses to make electric circuits that were then turned into high-powered batteries....
Who would have thought that one frog could have such a huge impact on science?

As bizarre as it sounds, that was exactly the case. In the late eighteenth century, a scientist named Luigi Galvani performed an experiment on a frog, making a slight cut just beneath the frog's skin to expose nerve cells. When the scalpel came into contact ...
Genetic Testing
Mercies in Disguise discusses the impact of a rare genetic disease on a South Carolina family.

Genetic testing's history dates back to the discovery of chromosomes – the part of the cell that contains the genes which control how a living thing grows – in the late 1800s. It was early in the 1900s that inherited diseases were...
Grief and Intergenerational Trauma
As the narrative of How It Feels to Float unfolds, it becomes apparent that Biz's father suffered from some mental health problems and that there is a connection between how he and Biz process the world. The hereditary effects of trauma are only just becoming understood but, in essence, intergenerational trauma describes the transfer of ...
HBOT: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy), the medical treatment at the center of Miracle Creek, is a real treatment used for a variety of conditions. While undergoing HBOT, you breathe pure oxygen in an environment where the air pressure is much higher than normal. The higher pressure allows you to take in more oxygen, which can help your body ...
Educated author Tara Westover's Idaho family runs Butterfly Express, a successful business selling essential oils and other herbal remedies. Her mother, LaRee Westover, trains herbalists and is the author of a book on herbalism, Butterfly Miracles with Essential Oils. Throughout her childhood, Westover was treated with foraged herbs ...
Homo Neanderthalensis
Claire Cameron's The Last Neanderthal stirs interest in our closest evolutionary relative, Homo neanderthalensis.

Evidence from both fossil and genetic research suggests that Neanderthals and modern humans evolved from a common ancestor between 500,000 and 200,000 years ago. Neanderthals lived in Europe and southwestern and central ...
Horology, the art of time
Protagonist George Crosby's love for repairing clocks is a prominent theme in Tinkers, which includes references to a fictional 1783 book called The Reasonable Horologist.

Horology encompasses both the science of measuring time and the art of making time pieces.  Thus, horologists include watchmakers, clockmakers, scholars, ...
How Is Mental Illness Passed through Families?
In Imagine Me Gone, John and his son Michael, both struggle with mental illness.

Significant research has been conducted to search for the genetic basis for mental disorders. Family linkage and twin studies are particularly revealing. At present, there is no simple answer as to how mental illness might pass through families; ...
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