The Pulse – January 24, 2014

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    A now-famous map made in 1855 used simple data to trace a cholera outbreak back to a single communal water pump, proving the effectiveness of maps in battling disease and making health outcomes better. So why aren’t maps more widely employed in modern medicine?

    The next time an anethesiologist is about to put you under, try not to remember this little factoid: no one actually knows the science behind why anethesia is so effective. We sit down with a researcher on a quest to understand the intricacies of what he calls a medical “miracle.”

    Sixty percent of all cancer patients need radiation therapy, and nearly all of them leave the experience with three tiny radiation tattoos. These barely visible marks serve as guides for treatment and permanent reminders of the struggle against the disease. 

    Politicians looking to score points with their base make the relationship between the government and the healthcare sector seem black and white, but we sit down with a health policy professor who argues that the complicated relationship between government and private industry is more like a thousand shades of gray.

    “Goldilocks planets” are what astronomers like John Bochanski call distant planets with the same “just right” conditions that make life on Earth possible. According to him, finding that needle in the haystack of the universe is just a matter of time.

    Prominent Philadelphia psychologist Cynthia Baum-Baicker tells us about how a combination of reading Freud and her love for music sparked her desire to create better mental health treatment.

    Paleontologist Ted Daeschler takes us to the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences to check out a fossil of an ancient half fish-half crocodile whose hind legs offer clues on how millions of years ago, life made the transition from water to land.

    For those stories and more, click on the audio icon above.

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