Quickies

Quickies: Dropping Ants from the Empire State Building, Lack of Opioid Support for Addicts After Surgery, and Hillary Clinton’s Clothes

  • Carrie Fisher: tell me your story, I’ll tell you mine – Carrie Fisher has a new advice column for The Guardian and it’s delightful. From Pteryxx H.
  • If you drop an ant from the top of the Empire State Building, will it die? – “After coming to a theoretical conclusion through a lot of math and physics that the ants would survive an 820-foot fall, the plan was put into action. But as the hosts summited the top of the skyscraper, they discovered all of the ants had exploded from the atmospheric pressure. That’s right: exploded.” From Alex.
  • I told my doctors my drug history. Yet they gave me opioids without counseling – “That doesn’t mean people in recovery should shun all prescriptions. The scientific literature is full of studies and commentaries highlighting a paradox in treating ex-addicts: Appropriate use of prescribed opioids can put them at a significant risk of relapse, but so too can inadequate pain management. That’s why, throughout the course of my 43-hour stay at MGH at the end of April and into early May, I told everyone I could — from the ER doctor who informed me that I’d need surgery, to the anesthesiologist who prepped me for the procedure — that I was in recovery from a substance use disorder. And while my doctors all said they were aware of the issue, it still felt as if no one was listening.”
  • Orlando shootings spark calls to end limits on gay men donating blood – “Dr. Paul Volberding, director of the AIDS Research Institute at the University of California San Francisco, said the policy requiring gay men to stay celibate for 12 months before donating blood was ‘not really supported by the facts.’ “
  • Yes, There Have Been Aliens – “Does our newfound knowledge of planets bring us any closer to answering that question? A little bit, actually, yes. In a paper published in the May issue of the journal Astrobiology, the astronomer Woodruff Sullivan and I show that while we do not know if any advanced extraterrestrial civilizations currently exist in our galaxy, we now have enough information to conclude that they almost certainly existed at some point in cosmic history.” (This isn’t my field of study so I’d be interested to hear your opinions about this one!)
  • Hillary Clinton is damned no matter what she wears. That’s a problem. – “The recent New York Post article about the $12,000 jacket also chastises Clinton’s past style, describing it as “dowdy” and “matronly,” while simultaneously criticizing her new sense of dress.”

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Mary

Mary

Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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5 Comments

  1. June 13, 2016 at 11:50 am —

    On the aliens thing, one part I’m always unsure if people are accounting for is this:

    It’s difficult to get the complex chemistry you need for life in this universe without heavier elements. Carbon and oxygen, for instance. These are formed by stars. Within stars. So you need stars to complete their lifecycle, explode, and then have their debris form into planets. You also need those planets to cool down enough for stable chemistry.

    That limits the amount of time that’s been available for life to evolve. You don’t have the full fourteen billion years; you might only have five billion.

    But the referenced paper discusses how it achieved its numbers, and you can use similar reasoning to slice the universe however you need.

  2. June 13, 2016 at 5:59 pm —

    Both the doctors and the patient (especially with his history) in the opioid story should have been well aware that abruptly stopping the prescription after two weeks would lead to withdrawal symptoms and that he should have been tapered off slowly. Abruptly cutting off patients’ meds and sending them into withdrawal is precisely what leads them to seek narcotics on the black market in the first place.

  3. June 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm —

    wrt: aliens, it’s actually pretty obvious that given the size of the universe we wouldn’t be the only planet with life, but…you have to imagine a species that has 1) transcended c, and 2) really wants to visit Earth, before UFOs even begin to make sense. (And that’s just the Base UFO Hypothesis. Specific variants, such as ancient civilizations being founded by aliens, or aliens coming to Earth to extract DNA from humans because reasons, are much more complicated.)

  4. June 13, 2016 at 8:19 pm —

    I liked the article about ants, but how could she say that she can’t imagine an injured ant? Just the mention of those two words together evoke bad memories of my dad encouraging me to mercy kill an ant I merely injured.

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