Category Archives: Medicine

Cool Beans

by James Morris
Illustration by Sara Haidermota

A few summers ago, I was driving my two sons to a trail head for a hike in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. They were going with a group of kids up a mountain called Iroquois.

I advised them to be sure to bring lots of water for the long hike. In turn, they asked me how I was going to spend my day. “Writing about urine,” I replied.

“Urine?” they asked incredulously.

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Packing Puzzle

by Ariana Boltax
Guest Contributor

blocks

This month, guest blogger Ari Boltax shares her thoughts about various kinds of packing and folding problems. Ari is a recent graduate of Brandeis University and is currently a student at Cornell Veterinary School.

After our winter break, my housemate brought home a packing puzzle. It consists of eighteen blocks in three different shapes. The challenge is to fit all eighteen pieces into a cube. Such a seemingly simple task like “make a cube out of this” kept me at the kitchen table at least an hour every day for five days piling blocks into the box, only to be sorely disappointed when I couldn’t make order from the disorder. One night I was trying the puzzle with a friend, and she joked that maybe if we randomly play around with it enough, we’ll just happen upon the solution. “Sounds like a plan,” I joked, “proteins do it all the time when they fold up, so why can’t we?” Continue reading

Nature’s Medicine Cabinet

Last week, scientists reported the discovery of a new antibiotic in the journal Nature. The antibiotic was isolated from bacteria growing in the soil right here in New England. This got me thinking about all of the various medicines that come from nature, which you can read about in WBUR’s Commonhealth blog.

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A Prescription for Teaching

This month’s post is on the relationship between the practice of medicine and the practice of teaching. It was first published on WBUR’s Commonhealth blog.

I went to medical school, but now spend most of my time in the classroom. I often think about what I learned in medical school and how it translates – or doesn’t translate – to teaching.

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Laundry List

by James Morris

I’m a list-maker. I keep all kinds of lists. I have lists of books I want to read, movies I want to see, things I need to do, projects that are unfinished, things I don’t want to forget to tell someone, ideas for classes I am teaching.

I am not alone. Many people keep lists, from shopping lists to bucket lists. Students memorize spelling and vocabulary lists. David Letterman is well known for his Top Ten lists. There are even apps these days to help you manage your lists: keep track of tasks, prioritize them, or be reminded of them.

Charles Darwin too was a list maker. Continue reading