The Pulse – April 17, 2015

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    This week, The Pulse kicks off a new series looking at the role technology is playing in our well being…”Bit By Bit: How data is shaping our health.” Our inaugural story looks at how health insurance companies have begun plugging the massive amounts of data they collect about us into algorithms in an attempt to predict who is most at risk for ending up in the hospital again and again because of chronic conditions. We sent Todd Bookman to check out how exactly big brother is watching us.

    On April 19, 1965, chemist Gordon Moore made the astute observation that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year, then he predicted that the trend would continue. He was right, and his prediction turned into the driving force behind the success of Silicon Valley. It became known as “Moore’s Law.” But as the law turns 50, it’s future is threatened. Moore biographer Arnold Thackray joins us to discuss why.

    Med students tend to describe getting an MD as a grueling journey, with endless studying, tough exams, and sleepless nights. MBA students in business school say much the same about their degree, noting the “super competitive” environment for good measure. What’s motivating a new generation of docs who want both of these degrees? Taunya English dives into the world of the over-achiever.

    Only about half of people with depression respond to antidepressant medications. Yes, you read that right. But researchers are trying to improve those numbers by better understanding the mechanisms that cause this illness, and they may have found a link between inflammation and depression that could help explain the problem. Yvette Sheline heads the Center for Neuromodulation in Depression and Stress at Penn, and she joins us to take a look at this new finding.

    It’s that time of year when transitional weather and countless tons of pollen wreak havoc on our immune systems. This week, in fact, at least half The Pulse staff came down with one thing or another. So we started talking about the foods we crave when we’re under the weather and the science behind those cravings. Then we sent sniffler-in-chief Carolyn Beeler out onto the mean streets of Philadelphia to look for some answers.

    Imagine you have one all-consuming passion in life. Something you can’t live without. And suddenly, an illness threatens to take this very thing away from you. In our series patient files, your stories of illness, coping and healing, we hear from Mike Hopes of Lancaster, Pennsylvania…also known as pro wrestler Tim Donst. At 27 he’s already held several wrestling titles, but at present, his future is a little uncertain. I caught up with him three days before a very serious cancer surgery to get his take on life and risk.

    When we discuss the impact of obesity, we’re usually talking about health issues or economic concerns. But a researcher Maurice Schweitzer joins us this week to examine how obesity changes people’s careers and chances for advancing in their jobs.

    Do you crack your knuckles. Do you know what causes the “crack”? No one did for certain until a recent paper was published in a scientific journal. Elana Gordon tells us the researchers finally got the bottom of this annoying phenomenon with the help of an MRI machine.

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