All entries by this author

Why Are American Doctors So Damn Expensive?

Sep 15th, 2009 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Medicine

The salaries of American doctors are huge, terrifying, for anyone trying to bring down health care costs in the United States. Why are American doctors so damn expensive? Medical school is a big part of the answer.

Turfed in the American Health Care Market.

Aug 13th, 2009 | By | Category: Medicine

The only good insurance customer is the healthy and irresponsible consumer–the prototypical healthy 30 year old who refuses to get a flu shot or annual checkup. Everyone else gets turfed. Ah, turfed. Allow me to introduce you to one of the cherished terms of medical care in the United States. You turf difficult, or undesirable, […]

Air Conditioning

Aug 1st, 2009 | By | Category: How it Works

Air conditioners aren’t cold machines; they’re pumps.

Extraterrestrial Saltwater Ocean on Saturn Moon

Jun 25th, 2009 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Space

Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, probably has a saltwater ocean under it’s surface, at least per an analysis of data from the Cassini probe. Take it away NASA and JPL: For the first time, scientists working on NASA’s Cassini mission have detected sodium salts in ice grains of Saturn’s outermost ring. Detecting salty ice indicates […]

The Case for a Public Health Plan

Jun 25th, 2009 | By | Category: Medicine

… isn’t about the uninsured. Paul Begala put it concisely on Real Time with Bill Maher last week: (Most relevant part starts at 3:35.) My transcript: What we’ve really spent our money on, in this system, is trying to figure out to not cover people who have paid for their premiums. There was a hearing […]

It’s Difficult to Say Nice Things About NDs

May 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Dear Science Column, Response to Critique

A recent column of mine responded to a question/rant about naturopathic medicine: A dear friend of mine is about to enter a prestigious program of naturopathic medicine. There—in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars and five years of his life—he will study homeopathy, osteopathy, water therapy, etc. Apparently, after gaining his ND credential, he […]


May 4th, 2009 | By | Category: Medicine

As a pathogen, influenza is the cat’s pajamas; influenza puts the ortho in orthomyxovirus, the segments in its RNA genome and the misery in sneeze droplets everywhere. Let’s unpack H1N1 and H5N1. The ‘N’ in both stands for neuraminidase, a fancy way for saying “snot eating enzyme.” The virus needs to get to the juicy […]

Good Work Dendreon

Apr 15th, 2009 | By | Category: Economics, Featured Articles, Lead Article, Medicine

Dendreon, a Seattle-based biotech startup, just completed a successful phase III trial on an entirely new kind of cancer treatment.

Yet Another Reason to Dislike CFLs: Horrible Power Factors

Apr 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Dear Science Column, Environmental

Many of you already know of my skepticism of compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Now utilities are joining in the hate: CFLs use about twice as much energy than previously claimed. Lightbulbs, TVs, ovens, baseboard heaters–whatever–draw energy from alternating current with varying degrees of efficiency, due to the funkiness of alternating current. Allow me to explain, by […]

The Mammalian Cell Fate Map

Mar 18th, 2009 | By | Category: Embryonic Stem Cell Research

As a part of writing up my PhD thesis, I adapted this figure from Gilbert’s Developmental Biology, Fourth Edition: (This figure is my own. Click for a much larger version–suitable for printing on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper.) When I write about embryonic stem cells, I’m often saying something like this: Making a new mammal […]