Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'medical science'

Money Equals Life

April 4th, 2013 · 1 Comment

The Papuan taipan is arguably the deadliest snake in the world, but not only because of the intensity of its venom. The creature kills humans at such an alarming rate primarily because the antidote to its bite is too expensive for most Papuan medical facilities to afford. That unfortunate fact could soon change, though, thanks […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

Skin in the Game

June 9th, 2011 · No Comments

Given all we know about the wonders of the placebo effect, I’m always deeply skeptical about alternative medical practices that have never been the subject of peer-reviewed scrutiny. Yet I’m also deeply fascinated by the techniques employed by legendary boxing cutmen, many of whom had the ability to stanch geysers of blood—without sutures—in less than […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Death and Honesty

March 1st, 2011 · 2 Comments

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in favor of the admissibility of deathbed hearsay has attracted a fair bit of attention, primarily because the two dissenters were an unlikely pair: Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Both justices objected to the fact that police officers were permitted to testify about a murder victim’s last words, since doing […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

A Disease of Special Knowledge

January 10th, 2011 · 7 Comments

My line of work has brought me in contact with more than a few schizophrenics over the years, both as story subjects and as correspondents. I’ve become quite familiar with the seemingly impenetrable logic by which such people try to make sense of the world, and how their off-tangent worldviews occasionally lead to the commission […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Near-Death Nation

November 8th, 2010 · 7 Comments

Readers who’ve been checking this space for a while may remember that I have a longstanding fascination with near-death experiences and the ways in which they can alter lives. And so I was struck by this line from a recent Wall Street Journal piece about researchers’ continuing attempts to determine why, exactly, folks on the […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

“War Has Been a Very Efficient Schoolmaster”

October 4th, 2010 · 4 Comments

One of Microkhan’s top Alaskan correspondents recently alerted me to the existence of Project Facade, one of the eeriest and coolest art projects to be found on The Tubes. The endeavor is tough to describe in a pithy sentence or two, so please bear with me as I try: Project Facade is one artist’s attempt […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Needle in the Haystack?

August 24th, 2010 · No Comments

It’s been ages since I last checked in with Hugh Rienhoff, the Bay Area biotech entrepreneur who I profiled in the February 2009 issue of Wired. For those unfortunates among you who haven’t read the piece, Rienhoff has spent much of the past six years analyzing his young daughter’s DNA, in the hopes of discovering […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

The Yank Who Helped Save the South

July 26th, 2010 · 6 Comments

Amputations accounted for roughly three-quarters of all battlefield surgeries during the Civil War, which meant that artificial limbs were much in demand after the bitter conflict’s end. Captain Ahab-style wooden stumps were an easy fix, but they tended to severely curtail a man’s productivity. Fortunately for the shattered nation, then, a Massachusetts linguistics professor named […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

From the AA Mailbag

July 1st, 2010 · 2 Comments

As noted in the post below, I’ve been absolutely deluged with e-mail responses to the Alcoholics Anonymous piece. I’ve been doing my best to read each and every one, and to respond when appropriate. Apologies to those who don’t receive replies—I’ve only got one brain and two hands. Though the vast majority of the feedback […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Not-So-Deadly Nightshade

June 25th, 2010 · 11 Comments

One of the most controversial aspects of AA’s history is the role that psychedelics may have played in Bill Wilson’s creative process. As I discuss in the Wired piece, when Wilson experienced his spiritual epiphany in December 1934, he did so at a New York City drying-out facility. Part of his treatment there consisted of […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

The Organ Trade Equation

May 20th, 2010 · 6 Comments

As we jam on our monthly Wired column deadline, we thought we’d give y’all something to chew over—a interesting snippet pulled from this excellent Discover piece about the kidney black market in India. Given our philosophical leanings, we generally find ourselves arguing for the legalization and regulation of kidney sales. But then we come across […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

Farewell, Dynamite

December 21st, 2009 · No Comments

Sad news out of Moscow, as word comes that Vladimir “Dynamite” Turchinsky has passed on. For those unfamiliar with the realm of Russian bodybuilding and/or action films, Turchinsky could legitimately lay claim to the title of “The Schwarzenegger of the East,” having transitioned from a successful athletic career to cinematic stardom. He also had an […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

The Stickiness of Folkways

December 21st, 2009 · 4 Comments

A Jamaican doctor has found that an alarmingly large number of her nation’s mothers aren’t breastfeeding like they should—not because they’ve been swayed by formula ads, but rather due to the persistence of several toxic myths of indeterminate origin. Chief among these? The belief that “infants needs bush tea to clear their stomach in the […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Are You Having a Laugh?

December 15th, 2009 · 3 Comments

The abundance of museums dedicated to the history of anesthesia is really something to behold. While we certainly can’t deny the landmark nature of this medical wonder, we were a bit bowled over to discover so many institutions dedicated to exalting its virtues and warehousing its antique equipment. But therein lies Microkhan gold, particularly the […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Plywood Savior

December 14th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Upon re-watching the infamous Arthur Digby Sellers scene in The Big Lebowski, we were recently motivated to check into the history of iron lungs. To our amazement, the archaic contraption recently received a shout-out in a Central Illinois newspaper, which recalled the invention of a more eco-friendly alternative: the wooden lung: The six-foot-long wooden lung […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

The Vaccine Dream Deferred

November 10th, 2009 · 3 Comments

An MIT economist argues that botched incentives, rather than scientific hurdles, are frustrating the quest for an HIV vaccine. The point that jumped out at us the most: It has become increasingly apparent that an HIV vaccine may need to be administered in combination with antiretroviral drugs, even if a stand-alone vaccine remains the ultimate […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Olfactory Attack

September 2nd, 2009 · 4 Comments

We’re currently prepping for a work-related trip to East Africa, which means we now get to spend lots of time being freaked out by ominous Centers for Disease Control warnings. (According to the CDC’s literature, setting foot in half the countries on the planet appears to be a recipe for gory death.) It also means […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

Let the Right One In

August 28th, 2009 · 3 Comments

For all of mankind’s scientific advances in recent centuries, many elemental mysteries still persist. Among the most puzzling is the reason that right-handers far outnumber their southpaw peers. There’s a bevy of theories as to why this is the case, but no single one seems ironclad. So in the absence of a definitive explanation for […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:··

Winged AA

August 26th, 2009 · No Comments

Is it possible to ever tire of zootherapy research? We reckon not, and this study (PDF) from the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine supports our thesis rather strongly. The paper looks at the use of animals as medicine in a rural corner of Northeast Brazil. Our favorite listed remedy involves the Gray-breasted martin, known to […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

“What More Do I Need?”

August 20th, 2009 · 10 Comments

The first big magazine feature we ever wrote was about near-death experiences (NDEs). We have vivid memories of taking a prop plane from Washington D.C. to Charlottesville, Virginia, in order to interview a pair of psychologists who specialize in studying the effects of NDEs. What struck us most about their research was how the whole […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

Carbonated Vicodin in a Can

August 20th, 2009 · No Comments

We generally shy away from Red Bull, due to a bad experience we had after consuming four cans of the stuff one night. (Suffice to say our earthly vessel did not appreciate the deluge of taurine.) But perhaps we should reconsider our aversion in light of this Winona State study. Because Red Bull may have […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

Scared Sober?

August 18th, 2009 · 1 Comment

We don’t have too many hobby horses here at Microkhan, but one of them is a steadfast belief that many long-accepted practices are far less effective than advertised. This is typically because our species is easily seduced by logical facades, and thus pays too little attention to actual evidence. You can understand, then, why the […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

White With Fright

July 10th, 2009 · 3 Comments

There’s an anecdote in Now the Hell Will Start regarding an Assamese tea planter whose arm was chomped off by a Bengal tiger. According to the primary source—a diary kept by an American officer—the trauma of the incident caused the poor planter’s hair to turn white virtually overnight. (The specific time span isn’t mentioned, but […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

NIMBYism and Marauding Monkeys

July 7th, 2009 · No Comments

At first glance, it seems odd that residents of Guayama, Puerto Rico, would object so strenuously to the construction of a new monkey-breeding facility—especially since, as opponents make clear, they don’t have a moral problem with vivisection. They’re instead spooked by the prospect of escapees. “What’s the big deal?” you might ask. After all, it’s […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

The Technetium-99 Crisis

June 12th, 2009 · 5 Comments

There are already so many reasons to love our Canadian brothers: poutine, Rush, Alex Trebek. But let’s add another to the lengthy list: The nation to our north makes PET scans possible, by producing the bulk of the world’s supply of medical isotopes. Chief among these isotopes is Technetium-99, which is key to safe pediatric […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

The Fallibility of Folk Medicine

May 4th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Since folk-medicine techniques ostensibly develop over many centuries, one would think its practitioners would slowly come to realize that some practices are actually harmful rather than helpful. But, alas, it turns out our species isn’t always aces at connecting cause to effect. And so we keep using treatments that are several degrees worse than doing […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

The Novelty of Schizophrenia

May 1st, 2009 · 3 Comments

An intriguing debate (PDF) over whether schizophrenia is a uniquely modern disease. Given the ailment’s genetic origins, Microkhan has long assumed that it’s been with our species since time immemorial. But based on their examination from 15th-century Islamic medical textbooks, a pair of South Carolina doctors disagree: Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu (1385-1470) was a general physician who […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Pushing the Hunger Envelope

April 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

The hunger strike is the most universal form of human protest, employed by kings and commoners alike, for reasons ranging from the noble to the mundane. Today brings news of actress Mia Farrow preparing to try her hand at hunger, in the admirable name of bringing attention to Darfur. According to her Farrow’s publicist, she’ll […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:······

The Pinnacle of Science

April 22nd, 2009 · 3 Comments

A Viennese chemist solves a riddle that’s vexed mankind since time immemorial: The hypothesis presented herein says that abdominal hair is mainly responsible for the accumulation of navel lint, which, therefore, this is a typically male phenomenon. The abdominal hair collects fibers from cotton shirts and directs them into the navel where they are compacted […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·

Borg Me Up

February 16th, 2009 · No Comments

While hunting about for photos of WWII-era Army prison camps, I stumbled upon the vintage snapshot at right, taken from the archives of the National Museum of Health and Medicine. It’s dated circa 1950, which surprised me a bit—I didn’t realize that prosthetic arms were that Robotech-y over a half-century ago. Turns out, however, that […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags: