Archive for the ‘Week4_HumanBodyandMedicine’ Category

josh bohbot- Im a cyborg now

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009


Personally I have had laser surgery on my back and legs. While in surgery, for my back, they simultaneously cut a part of my achiliis tendon to loosen the muscles in my foot. Prior to Laser technology, this surgery was much more dangerous. Infection could have occurred, recovery time was doubled and the time in surgery was cut in half. Technology has mad a huge impact on medicine as a whole and more specifically on the human body. the Advances in robotics old medicine its not completely out of the question spinal fusion becombined with robotics . just like a certain comic book vilain (hint hint)

weve seen in class examples of robotic arms being created, who knows whats in the future

I cannot imagine living in modern day society without the aid of technology. They only way I am able to type on the computer are by using my typing pad. Most technological computer advancements in word processing are created for the sheer reason of convinces and for just plain lazy college students, but in fact these little lazy advancements make the world of difference to individuals with motor disabilities. Some modern technology is truly used for people that need it.  example the google dropdown word prediction.

Evolution or Counter Evolution? Piero Vallarino Gancia

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009


As the human race has evolved so has the medicine that it produced. Today, the field of medicine is so specialized that you end up knowing everything about nothing. By this I mean that scientists and researchers spend their lives in deciphering what happens in one particular reaction. This accumulated bank of knowledge in chemistry and biology however, has permitted us to reach unprecedented goals such as eradicating the plague or producing medicine that permits AIDS patients to live their lives fully.


The bubonic plague also known as the Black Death that affected Europe throughout most of the 14th century was one of the deadliest epidemics in human history. About 75 million people died. There is no way these guys imagined someone would come up with a cure for this disease in the future.


It is estimated that by the end of the century we will be able to cure all forms all cancer and will have eradicated malaria and other epidemics that continue today. But what will happen in the prolonged future is what I want to know.


As medicine evolves, our human organisms have to evolve less as everything is provided to them from an external input. Imagine how a caveman’s liver 5000 years ago must have been developed to crank up all that raw food he eated. We are the evolution of this caveman so we should have a more developed liver than his. But we are certainly not the last step in the evolution of our species. When we take all these medicines that make us stronger and more resistant we are preventing our bodies to evolve as we do not depend anymore on our genes for survival but on our medicine.


I am not saying that medicine is wrong and by no means am I against the development of cures for monstrous epidemics that occur in Africa and that kill 1000 of children every year.


But where are we headed? Do we face extinction? Will we become infertile like in Children of Men?


There is no definite answer to that, as there is still no definite answer with the field of Genetically Modified foods and their effect on the human beings.


What is intriguing is that we do not consider these future consequences but live continuously stuck in the present. What if we are causing our dis – evolution by not allowing  our genes to evolve? All this is scary but never taken in consideration. The risk though — and many doctors themselves have already affirmed this — exists.


Are the doctors who take the Hippocratic oath still protecting their patients by doing this?


Perhaps, our evolutionary path has changed for good and the parameters for the continuation of our species lie beyond our physical characteristics. It is possible that our intellect will be the next deciding factor as tall height was in some tribes in Africa.


We have reached new heights in our medicine surely, challenging evolution and sometimes death. Where this will lead us only the future will tell.


Perhaps this is our collective path to mass extinction, I hope for the opposite. 


Promises of an Engineer by Brandon Aust

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

For my writing this week, I have decided to write oaths that I intend to follow once I am employed as an engineer. I am currently a Mechanical Engineering major and I believe that it is important to make sure that I follow an ethical career path. Even before I can receive my degree, I must take an engineering ethics course, so the university also believes that it is an important aspect of the job.

As an engineer I hereby promise to stick to the following oaths in order to have a successful and meaningful career:
I will try my hardest to create new technologies that will change the world and either aid or entertain my audience.

I will lead an honest career, and make sure that I understand the ethics of my career. By this I mean I shall not steal ideas. I shall not create devices that will harm the earth or humanity. If I am employed by a government agency, I will not be a traitor to my country.

I will ensure that I am a great coworker. Seeing how engineering is increasing its work as a team, it will be important that I not only have the knowledge required to do my job, but I will also have to be sociable, willing to change my opinion, and able to work with a variety of personalities in order to create the best product.

I will have to know how to take criticism. I will have to know that the criticism is to only better me and the product that I am working on. By taking criticism in stride, I will only become a better person and engineer. I will also have to know how and when to give criticism appropriately to my peers, so that they too can become better people and workers.

I will stay informed about new technologies that will help aid me in my projects. It is not only important for me to focus on my own work, but the work that is going on around me.

I will stay informed about new science discoveries that change the way we view the world and my field of study. By doing this I will possess all the necessary tools to do my job correctly, effectively, and efficiently.

I will give back to my school that trained me in order to help keep my field alive with new, eager minds that will help expand the depth of my field, just as I intend to do now.

I will give back to my community which helped shape me into the worker and person that I have become. Without a solid sense of community, the work I do would be pointless.

By following these oaths, I believe that I can be an ethical worker and make the world a safer, better, and more entertaining world to live in.

-Brandon Aust

A Lime in the Coconut… Nicole Carnarius

Monday, February 2nd, 2009


No one would describe going to the doctor as a pleasant experience. Medicine models its techniques based on biology, chemistry, and physics. Doctors, in a way, are like glorified mechanics who repair broken parts in the human machine. Going to a hospital, patients are hooked up to machines and given medicine to make them better. Though the experience is life saving, many people look at it negatively. Because of this, many people are drawn to alternative forms of medicine. Tired of being treated like a machine, people want to believe that they possess a holistic life force and can be treated as such.


Much of the distrust that people have for doctors is that doctors can’t actually make them feel better. Doctors can give them medicine for a specific ailment that they might have, and if it’s some bacteria infection, well they’re really good at that. But doctors have no special power, and as I becoming increasingly aware of are only human.


This summer I visited the notoriously apathetic Arthur Ashe Center because of my growing concern over tonsils that had become swollen after a bought of strep throat and never went back down again. After waiting a decent amount of time I was brought to a room in the clinic where I was confronted with my doctor who, to my horror, had no teeth!! After describing my affliction, all while politely averting my eyes, he mumbled past his useless gums the infamous words: “Some people have big noses, you just have big tonsils.” Daunted, I scurried out, ashamed that I even wasted the Doctor’s time. Four months later, two cases of strep throat later, visiting another doctor, I’m told my tonsils are almost touching in the back and I should have surgery.


Not only are doctors people, but they can also be ass holes. 



In the meantime, looking for other options, I stumbled across a man who I will refer to as the Reiki Man. Reiki is a technique where practitioners believe they are moving “healing energy” through the palms to the place where it is directed on the patient. The Reiki Man performed reiki on me for about an hour, not in any specific spot but more like moving all over my body. Afterwards I felt completely recharged and a little high, though no specific ailments were healed. Later using what I learned from the Reiki Man, I tried performing reiki on myself to heal my tonsils and other parts of my body. I can never be sure if the reiki had done anything physically although I do feel like it has helped me become a more creative person.


Researching about reiki on the internet, I run into one of two alternatives, either the pro-reiki holistic site that expounds upon the endless benefits of the practice or the anti-anything new age site that can’t even believe that these sort of energy-based therapeutic touch practices made it past 19th century. 


What the anti- new age sites can’t ignore, however, is that there is a need for humanity in medicine that doctors do not address because they have to be “scientific.” These types of healing methods never measure up to scientific scrutiny, but there are people who swear by them. Therapeutic touch is now widely practiced by nurses despite the lack of credibility it is given by the medical community. The body is still mostly a mystery even to people who study it all their lives. So far neither doctors nor reiki have made my tonsils go down. In the end it is the body that is most equipped to heal itself. 


Week 4 – “Human Body and Medicine” by Derek Spitters

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

I am a biochemistry major and plan on going to medical school. Therefore, I will hopefully end up taking The Oath of Hippocrates in some form at some point in my life. However, I am certain that I could not take this oath in its original form. The Oath of Hippocrates was written in the 4th century BCE and is no longer completely applicable to our modern society. There are many aspects of the oath that I do not agree with. For example, one must swear to a set of gods which are no longer relevant and which may be offensive to certain cultures. Additionally, the oath states that one must split patient fees with his or her teacher. Medical students should not have to financially support their teachers indefinitely. Furthermore, the oath stipulates that the sons of physicians be given preferential treatment regarding consideration for medical school, which is grossly unfair and unethical. Perhaps one of the biggest problems with the Oath of Hippocrates is that it forbids general physicians from performing surgery. At the time when this was written, surgery was thought to be beneath doctors and was performed by barbers. In modern times, it is necessary for all physicians to have at least some basic knowledge of surgery. Something else that should be removed from the oath is its restriction on abortions and euthanasia. I do not mean to take a position on either of these issues, but until our society has come up with a definitive conclusion, I do not believe that either of these things should appear in an oath taken by all physicians.

Despite its many shortcomings, the Hippocratic Oath also has many positive aspects. Most importantly to give good advice, keep the patient from harm, have only good intentions, and maintain doctor-patient confidentiality. The modern version of the oath embodies and expands upon these ideals. Written by Louis Lasagna, this version does not include any of the statements from the Hippocratic Oath that I found problematic. One of the most significant improvements of this version is that it emphasizes the human element of medicine. It reminds physicians that they are treating actual people, not just a list of symptoms. Another vial improvement is that it mentions the importance of prevention, which is preferable to a cure. In my opinion, the original Hippocratic Oath should not be followed explicitly. On the other hand, this does not mean that it is useless. The spirit of the oath is important, and its overall message, that physicians have certain moral obligations, has not changed. Conversely, Lasagna’s revised oath is much more appropriate for modern times, and should be followed as closely as possible. There are other updated versions of the oath, which are also commonly used, such as The Prayer of Maimonides and The Declaration of Geneva (

It is interesting to note that both the original oath and Lasagna’s version refer to practicing medicine as an art. It is clear that medicine is one of many points where art and science meet. People have interpreted this statement in different ways. Some would argue that there is an art to maintaining the heath of a fellow human being or saving a life. Others focus more on physical beauty. Cosmetic surgery has become an art form in some peoples’ minds. This is an idea that artist Orlan took to heart (, as seen in the video we watched during lecture.

Oath of Hippocrates:

–Derek Spitters

Week4_HumanBodyandMedicine by Dennis Yeh

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

After reading both versions of the Hippocratic Oath, I have come to the realization that many doctors may face challenges or situations where the Oath may conflict with a doctor’s well-meaning intentions.  Like Captain Barbarossa in Pirates of the Carribean said: “the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”

As an example of this, consider common and well-advertised cholestorol-lowering drugs such as Lipitor. There have been many tests that show a correlation between high LDL cholesterol levels and fatal heart conditions. LDL’s role in the body is to rebuild artery and tissue walls by building up cholesterol, while HDL’s role is to remove cholesterol from the artery walls.  A diet rich in high LDL content foods has been correlated with higher risk of stroke or heart attack, but these studies are CORRELATIONAL and DO NOT prove causation.  Despite this fact, a majority of the world refers to HDL cholesterol as “good” cholesterol and LDL cholesterol as “bad” cholesterol.  Two years ago, Pfeizer unveiled a new “miracle drug” that was in the final stage of clinical trials after 15 years of testing.  The revolutionary drug, Torcetrapib, which was proven to boost HDL levels while lowering LDL levels.  However, the body depends on an equal balance of both HDL and LDL in order to survive.  By causing such an imbalance between the two types of cholesterol, many test subjects suffered holes in their arteries, supposedly due to high levels of HDL eating away at tissues and arteries.  In 2006, the drug was abandoned completely, due to a 60% increase in deaths observed among patients taking Torcetrapib and Atorvastatin versus taking Atorvastatin alone.  However, it wasn’t until independent safety monitors discovered the unexpectedly high number of deaths with its use that Pfizer decided to drop the clinical trials.  In fact, just three days before they announced the discontinuation of the drug, Pfizer’s chief executive Jeff Kindler was quoted saying “This will be one of the most important compounds of our generation.” Why did Pfizer take so long to discontinue studies on Torcetrapib?  Were they trying to protect the $800 million they had invested in the drug?  My question is, how is this event governed by the Hippocratic Oath?  Pharmacists are not doctors, they never deal with patients face-to-face, but are simply responsible for experimenting with different concoctions until they find something marketable and profitable.  However, the pharmaceuticals they create have very serious and real consequences.  Should pharmacists and their companies  be forced to take the Oath and consider the potential for their creations seriously injure or kill patients?

These days, it seems like doctors and pharmaceutical companies are more interested in profits than ethics and morals. In this day and age, it seems like more and more cases of doping in sports with HGH and anabolic steroids appear in the news every year, despite common knowledge of the dangerous side effects, such as testicular atrophy and ” ‘roid rage.”

Harrison attacking Francisco during Superbowl XLIII, 2/1/09.
A case of unfriendly competition, or ‘roid rage?

In addition to these examples, one must also consider where medical science will be in the future.  Some modern innovations such as stem-cell research seems to be in a grey area with regards to the Hippocratic Oath.  Stem-cells seem to have many legitimate applications, and may be able to prevent many fatal diseases.  In this regard, it falls under “I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.” in the modern Hippocratic Oath.  However, with the idea of synthesizing organs and cloning tissue, stem-cells also fall under “Above all, I must not play at God.” With contradictions such as these, it is obvious that the Hippocratic Oath is outdated in some respects, and needs updating.  Just as how the founding fathers of America never anticipated several facets of the American Government (such as the creation of political parties, which some of the founding fathers opposed because they felt it would divide the country), it is impossible to account for all of the other possibilities and scientific achievements in the future.  Rather, I feel that we should treat the Hippocratic Oath as a limited set of guidelines with a domain over the “classical” practice of medicine, until it can be revised or “amended” like the Constitution.

-Dennis Yeh

Bad News for ‘Good’ Cholesterol Drug
World’s Largest Drug Maker Halts Trial Because of Unexpectedly High Death Rate

The Truth About Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs (Statins), Cholesterol and Health

Cholesterol is NOT the Cause of Heart Disease
By Ron Rosedale, MD

Week 4, The Hippocratic Oath, By Matthew Robertson

Monday, February 2nd, 2009


   In Canada, there is an equivalent of the Hippocratic oath for engineers. The Iron Ring ( is given as part of a ritual known as The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer (which has an American equivalent, the “Order of the Engineer” which is somewhat less popular).
The purpose of the ring is to remind the engineer of his obligation to professionalism and humility. The ceremony in which the engineer receives the ring often involves bolts or other artifacts from the Quebec Bridge, which collapsed and killed 75 people. While the medical professions are centered around health care, which naturally introduces a large pressure not to make mistakes (as someone might die), the structure the engineer designs is often more removed and less immediate. An engineer might feel that others will notice any mistakes that he or she makes if more than one person is working on the project. This naturally reflects the difference between taking an oath (which is a one time thing) and wearing a ring (which is a constant reminder). The ring also serves to give engineers a means of easily identifying other engineers. Here is the American equivalent’s version of the oath:
I am an Engineer, in my profession I take deep pride. To it I owe solemn obligations.Since the Stone Age, human progress has been spurred by the engineering genius. Engineers have made usable Nature’s vast resources of material and energy for Humanity’s benefit. Engineers have vitalized and turned to practical use the principles of science and the means of technology. Were it not for this heritage of accumulated experience, my efforts would be feeble.

As an Engineer, I pledge to practice integrity and fair dealing, tolerance and respect, and to uphold devotion to the standards and the dignity of my profession, conscious always that my skill carries with it the obligation to serve humanity by making the best use of Earth’s precious wealth.

As an Engineer I shall participate in none but honest enterprises. When needed, my skill and knowledge shall be given without reservation for the public good. In the performance of duty and in fidelity to my profession, I shall give the utmost.




Week4_HumanBody and Medicine/Architecture of life by Nikola Kondov

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Ever since we humans have walked on the Earth have tried to alter our surroundings in order to make them “better”. And we have succeeded in doing so. Except that only we benefit from these changes, or used to. Because due to our actions and ignorance, the world is facing another mass extinction. Despite that, we continue to outwit natural selection and to make the world easier toward  ourselves. We have created ways to obtain food so easily, that no physical motion is needed in order to do so. We have created medicine, that combats disease and prolongs our lives. We have created societies that are completely isolated from the real world. Most of all, we have created machines that are supposed to be a “better creation”, something that is supposed to be a product of an organism that is “better” than nature. I am not going to argue against our inventions, against our lifestyle that is unprecedented in nature. Not because I am as ignorant as 99% of the human population. But because if I was facing planet earth like any other organism, if I was living in the wild, had to hunt in order to eat, had to defend myself against predators and diseases, I wouldn’t have managed to stay alive for 19 years. And neither would have 90 % of the human population. Think about how many times we were sick, especially as children, even though we isolate ourselves from most of the dangers that surround us. We have the opportunity to eliminate most of the microogranisms that threaten our lives and prevent most life-threatening conditions. We are able to create our own microclimate. Whenever it gets too cold, we turn the heater on, or put on a sweater. We are protected from cold wind, sun, animals that would gladly eat us for lunch. Yet again, a lot of people still die from serious illnesses, induced by bacteria, viruses or our lifestyle. We have antibiotics that can kill off bacteria, but evolution finds its way around - antibiotic-resistant bacteria evolve. Viruses are even harder to fight off. We consume food that is full of chemicals and preservatives that are actually harmful to our bodies.  The air we breathe is contaminated. We have made life so simple that we can no longer drink water as it comes from nature. We have to purify it first. Yet again, most of us manage to live at least to twice the age we are supposed to. And I am glad about the last part. I am glad that right now I am able to sit and write this, even though I am pretty sick and would have probably been dead long ago if i was living  in the wild.

People in today’s society continue to invent complicated machines that help us move around, prepare our food, entertain us and so on. Despite that, we still turn to nature. For example, who hasn’t admired a beautiful sunset during a trip in the wild?


Or at beatuful view from a mountain peak?


Or a night sky full of stars?


But why do people feel strong feelings whenever they are at such places? The answer is simple: we are, after all, animals, a product of nature. And this feeling is probably encoded somewhere in our genes. And it is no surprise that one can find the beauty in every single creation of nature- the world’s greatest scientist, architect and artist. It has created the most complex systems in the world. From a whole ecosystem to a single cell, the complexity is enormous. And the efficiency of these systems are remarkable. We humans try to mimick these creations, but fail to do so in most cases. We try to build complex structures to live, but they aren’t that efficient and require a lot of energy and material to build. Whereas everything in nature is conforming to the laws of tensegrity. The molecules and organelles that make up our cells are arranged geodesically - they form a polyhedric structure, which is the most efficient structure known so far. And in science, it’s all about efficiency.


Imagine: our whole body is made up of cells whose cytoskeletons form a similar structure, that allows them to change shape in response to outside stimuli, thus making our existence possible. This structure allows for our movement, for the formations of our organs, and, eventually, for our existence. And it is quite surprising that we people do not use that structure that often. But, most of our creations do not have an example in nature, like the wheel. In W.G. Wells’s novel War of the Worlds the aliens that invade planet Earth do not use the wheel. Instead, their robots have legs and resemble spiders. While  I was reading this novel, I thought that it was the more efficient way of moving around. And it is, because with legs, one can move almost everywhere. And in an age when robots are becoming a greater part of our society, they are still pretty inefficient -  they need some kind of fuel, some source of energy, like every other machine. And we humans are the perfect robots - we can move in a smooth and complicated way and we have the perfect engines that rarely “run out of fuel”. We are basically the perfect robots. And so is the rest of the flora and fauna of earth. That is why we should admire the greatest scientist, architect and artist ever- Nature.

by Nikola Kondov

Week 4- Medical Beauty-allie gates

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

As I shared in class, I am a licensed cosmetologist.  Working a field inherently infused with superfluity and a certain degree of frivolity is a bizarre experience in that some people obviously take their narcissism too far.  Fortunately, the worst I get are the Real Housewives of Orange County type who freak out until their highlights are the perfect shade of ‘cool and buttery.’ Knowing that the self-obsession does not stop with these Prada-ed mannequin moms, I’ve always been fascinated by those–both doctors and recipients– whom are involved in the more extreme forms of body modification. On one end, we have the evermore manicial recapitulations of the socal barbies, people like Anna Nicole Smith… Dolly Parton…Michael Jackson.



One would hope that this depressing charge toward unattainable perfection would end here, or in the relative, skewed vicinity of whatever here is thats embodied by her^.  (Honestly? How did a practice that started as reconstructive and necessary to functioning health become so outrageousyly misused? Let me climb up on my big feminist soapbox and point out the obvious– this is careening out of control. It is unbelievably sad that we have gotten to the point as a society that women are willing to take such drastic measures to attain an aesthetic ideal.) But no, the body mods get more and bizarre in our blitz on normalcy.

Enter: vaginoplasty. the surgical practice of reconstructing the female vagina in order to make it look…more like what a vagina is supposed to look like.

Designer Laser Vaginoplasty is the leading medical group that provides aesthetic surgeries. Per their website, “Laser Reduction Labioplasty can sculpture the elongated or unequal labial minora according to ones aesthetic desire. Most women do not want the small inner lips to project beyond the large outer lips. Labioplasty techniques can also reconstruct conditions that are due to the aging process, childbirth trauma, or injury.” If you call their special hotlines, they have pamphlets that they will send you, exemplifying the perfect vagina you can have. You just have to take out a second mortgage.

So, if this strange side of society is on one end of the scientifically-enabled-body-modification-spectrum, what is on the other?


yeah. those are gauges in his cheeks

yeah. those are gauges in his cheeks


oh and this guy.images

branding; a quaint little form of self expression

branding; a quaint little form of self expression

and this girl too.

yes, its photoshopped to have a zipper. but it really was split!

yes, its photoshopped to have a zipper. but it really was split!

You know, THAT end.

The thing that shocks me the most is the way that each end of the spectrum is enabled by the same technology. Plastic surgery, it seems to me, is in pursuit of an ideal. Extreme body mods are, it seems, a complete and tangible rejection of that ideal. How interesting that we feel it necessary to jump out of the bodies we have in order to reach one end or the other.

Plastic Plastic Plastic.

allie gates

Week 4_The Hippocratic Oath and Medicine_Long Lau

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Referred to as an “Art” by Hippocrates in the Hippocratic Oath, the discipline of medicine is indeed a valuable art to human kind. Traditionally, the aesthetics of this art came not from external beauty, but from the very essence of life itself; a healthy, functional human body was the ultimate art piece. Plastic surgery (surgery conducted to reshape a particular body part) was originally a practice to help injured persons to regain a normal life. However, time has pushed forward and in today’s world, the strife for beauty seems to be of equal weight to the preservation of health. Plastic surgery now encompasses not only the above practice, but also the area of cosmetic surgery (surgery conducted to improve one’s appearance rather than to restore health). In the classic version of  the oath, physicians must swear to “give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel”; the modern version written by Louis Lasagna makes no mention of such rule and it is ethical as long as the doctor gives “warmth, sympathy, and understanding” to the patient. Botox, one of the deadliest poisons extracted from bacteria, are now commonly injected in small doses as a treatment to those who wishes to regain a few years of youth, at least in appearance. It is one thing to perform a risky surgery for the removal a tumor, it is another to perform one for raising self-esteem. Then again, doctors are obligated to respect the decisions of the patients and are to try their best to help within their capabilities. What the oath does not seem to address is that while doctors should have an understanding for the patient, they should also be obligated to provide the patients with an understanding of the treatment; this includes the consequences as well as risks. This way, the patients can make more intelligent decisions about his or her own body.