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Beyond the Book Articles
Medicine, Science and Tech

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Parapsychology vs. Skepticism (03/10)
While the Washburn Library is a purely fictional invention, it does have an analog in the real world: the Rhine Research Center, once known as the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, and home to the Institute for Parapsychology until 2002. Formerly affiliated with Duke University, the Rhine now operates independently a short ...
Eating Disorders (03/10)
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 ...
Non-Traditional Cancer Therapies (03/10)
Cancer is the term used to describe any malignant growth or tumor caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division.  A cancer is described as Stage 4 when it has spread from the original site to other parts of the body. When we first meet Nicola, she has already undergone surgery and chemotherapy. Below are some of the ...
Acromegaly (02/10)
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 ...
The Hippocratic Oath (02/10)
The title, Cutting for Stone, refers to a line in the Hippocratic Oath, and to the last name of the three main characters, all of them surgeons. As Abraham Verghese quotes it, the line from the Oath reads 'I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest. I will leave this operation to be performed by ...
A Short History of Archeology (01/10)
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 ...
Selective Mutism - a childhood anxiety disorder (08/09)
Isabelle is not diagnosed in December but were she to be, she would probably be diagnosed with Selective Mutism, a childhood anxiety disorder. Some therapists might even diagnose her with Traumatic Mutism because of the immediate onset and her total silence. Most children with SM are not completely silent all the time. They are silent...
Biogas Digesters (07/09)
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 ...
Capgras Syndrome (05/09)
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 ...
Eating Disorders and Body Self-Image (04/09)
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...
Alzheimer's Disease (04/09)
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. ...
Quack Medicine (01/09)
In the nineteenth century, when even mainstream medical therapies included painful bloodletting and leeching, quack* medicine didn't seem quite so quacky.

If you wanted your hair to grow, you could don a Thermocap to send just the right amount of heat to your follicles. If your eyes were weak, you could apply the Neu-Vita ...
Ichthyology (08/08)
Ichthyology is the branch of zoology that studies fish. This includes skeletal fish, cartilaginous fish and jawless fish.

There are at least 25,000 fish species in existence. Each year, about 250 new species are discovered and described.

The largest species of fish known is theWhale Shark, which can grow to up to 50 feet in length and can ...
Poliomyelitis (07/08)
Poliomyelitis, more commonly known as Polio, is a viral disease that has plagued humans since ancient times. It is transmitted primarily through direct fecal-oral contact. However, it can also be transmitted by indirect contact with infectious saliva or feces or by contaminated sewage or water.

In over 90% of cases there are no symptoms ...
Uranium and Nuclear Power (05/08)
According to theUranium Information Center:
  • Over half of the world's production of uranium is from mines in Australia and Canada.
  • 8 mining companies account for almost 80% of production.
  • Nuclear energy supplies over 16% of the world's electricity.
  • 31 countries use nuclear energy to generate electricity.
  • 80% of France's electricity is from ...
All About Water (03/07)
Did you know?

  • The earth contains about 1.1 quadrillion acre-feet of water, but 97% is seawater.
  • Of the remaining 28 trillion acre-feet of freshwater on or near the surface, two-thirds is locked up as ice.
  • Only the remaining 9.7 trillion acre-feet is in liquid form, mostly in underground aquifers.
  • However, what is ...

Multiple Personality Disorder (02/07)
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, the primary characteristic of Disassociate Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is the existence of more than one distinct identity or personality within the same individual. The identities will ‘take...
The Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) (01/07)
Dr. Nathaniel (Nate) McCormick, the hero of Isolation Ward , describes himself as 'an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...part of the Special Pathogens Branch, which is in the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases'.

Does such an organization exist? Absolutely!

The ...
Medical Prescriptions in USA (01/07)
  • The average number of prescriptions per person per year soared from 7 in 1993, to 12 in 2004.
  • According to the American Society of Clinical Pharmacologists, in 2000 27% of elderly patients received 9+ medications (compared to 17% in 1997).
  • The amount spent to advertise prescription drugs directly to consumers in 2004 was $4.45 billion (up ...
The Higgs Boson (06/05)
The Higgs particle was first hypothesized by the Scottish scientist Peter Higgs in 1964.  After taking a weekend walk in the Cairngorm Mountains he returned  to his laboratory in Edinburgh on Monday and declared to his colleagues that he had just experienced his 'one big idea' and now had an answer to the mystery of ...
Elisabeth Kubler Ross and the Five Stages of Grief (04/05)
Elisabeth Kubler Ross was born in 1926 in Zurich, Switzerland and died of natural causes in 2004 in Arizona. Her ground breaking and bestselling book, On Death and Dying, (1969) did much to change the treatment of terminally ill patients.  She was compelled to write it while working as a doctor in hospitals in New York, Colorado and ...
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