Reflecting self

Self-portrait of Rosetta during Mars flybySelfies. Definitely notorious in the digital world. Who hasn’t wrinkled up their nose in disgust at a friend’s shameless self-promotion or puckered up a duck face for the camera?

Or maybe selfies power your voyage of exploration for personal acceptance, understanding and confidence.

Universally reviled, or defended as an act of self-expression. A moment of attention-grabbing vanity or an opportunity for reflection—what exactly is the deal?

Selfie history

The earliest selfie was recorded in days when point-and-click was more like click-run-stand very still. Today, due to digital cameras in general and the omnipresent smartphone in particular, more than one million self-portraits are taken and uploaded to social media every day.

Selfie fails

Analysts suggest that selfie-taking is narcissistic, that men posting selfies display signs of psychopathy and that all it really shows is that we haven’t moved on from self-obsessed toddlerhood.

Described as a marker of the YOLO generation, selfies provoke outrage and despair. It’s catchy to point the finger at

Death of the stethoscope?

By Font Awesome by Dave Gandy - http://fortawesome.github.com/Font-Awesome, CC BY-SA 3.0, LinkIt’s not just zombies that rise from the dead—science news stories can also come back to haunt the reader.

Take “Death of the stethoscope,” which surfaced in my RSS feed in the middle of 2015. As a former stethoscope user, the clickbait headline immediately intrigued me.

No stethoscope? How would clinicians survive?

Historical

First off: a little history. According to his Wikipedia summary, a French doctor called René Laennec invented a hollow hearing tube in 1816 to assist doctors in listening to a patient’s heart and lungs. Around 1852, the single tube morphed into the standard model that you see plugged into physicians’ ears from Grey’s Anatomy to House to ER. Apart from making them look hot professional, a stethoscope also helps with auscultation, the examination procedure whereby a doctor eavesdrops on your internal whooshes, pings and lub-dups. Noises from heart rhythms, gut movements

Fear of brave new worlds, or uninspired headline writing?

capek_rurSummer 2016 marked the 85th anniversary of novelist Aldous Huxley completing his manuscript for Brave New World. The widely read novel, a dystopia of happiness-led oppression (in contrast to the fear-controlled populace in Orwell’s 1984), anticipates global adoption of advances in science and technology such as subliminal learning and reproductive medicine. Published in 1932, the book is still a popular read, ranking fifth in Modern Library’s list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.  Unsurprisingly its title, along with Orwell’s, has also become a stock phrase in headlines, used to signal a new direction for advances in science and technology.

“Test-Tube Babies: The ‘Brave New World’ of Human Pregnancy Is Coming!” The Evening Independent, July 22, 1978 Designer babies, grow a baby in a bottle and more.

“Brave New World: Will gene editing rewrite the future of medicine?” Genome, n.d. Engineering disease (and other things) out of humans with CRISPR.

“The Brave New World of Three-Parent I.V.F.” The New

Around town: Operation Med School

Medical students learning from professor.This one’s for you if you have a high school student around the house who is thinking that med school could be a good option for post-secondary.

A group of enterprising Grade 11 and 12 students is putting on a one-day pre-medical conference for high school peers. Run as an annual event, Operation Med School exposes attendees to many aspects of working in health care by giving them a chance to meet medics, biomedical researchers and other professionals in the field of medicine. The Vancouver event takes place on Saturday, February 18, at the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre of the University of British Columbia. (The team also runs similar events in Toronto and Calgary.) Admission includes a lunch card as well as networking opportunities with people who can help guide a future medical career.

Dear reader, I’m sure if you cast your mind waaay back (or even waaaay-er back for some), to those intense days of career planning for high school graduation, you will no doubt remember the heady mix of giddy excitement at the prospect of adulthood mixed with a good dose of

In case you were wondering: HeroRATs

APOPO rat holds a snack in its pawsWe first squealed with delight over the APOPO HeroRATs in a cool science gifts post waaaaaay back in November 2014. Always on the lookout for science treasures, we couldn’t help but introduce the amazing impact the rats’ olfactory abilities were making in mine detection and tuberculosis screening in Africa.

Oh, and the cute! Valentine’s Day is coming soon…

We adopted a couple of the rodents (Hans and Gertie), added APOPO Hero Gifts to our browser bookmarks and sent some virtual baskets of bananas to our nearests and dearests. With regular updates from our adoptees, APOPO is never far from our hearts and minds.

So, what have the giant pouched rodents-of-unusual-size been up to since then? We thought you’d like to share in the awesomeness (and of course the cuteness—squee!) of this amazing organization.

Demining

APOPO mine-detecting rats from the training program in Tanzania are currently deployed in Angola and Cambodia, with logistical aid supplied in Laos and Vietnam—all recognizable to history buffs as some