Ebola: The Road to Zero
The Ebola epidemic is nearly over but life in Sierra Leone - as in other Ebola-affected countries in West Africa - cannot return to normal until transmission of the virus ceases and cases fall to zero. Unfortunately, 'getting to zero' is easier said than done.
The Brave New World of Digital Medicine
Do we really want to live in a brave new digital world where patients are their own doctors and there is no longer a need for us to submit to an interview in a clinical setting? What do we give up – and what do we lose – when health becomes nothing more than a stream of physiological outputs to be parsed by faceless medical providers?
Advocates of this $300 headset say it could transform the lives of 'locked-in' patients. But can the Epoc headset really 'read' thoughts and intentions from EEG traces, or does it give sufferers false hope?
The meaning of tears
Tears have long baffled biologists. Are they nature's way of keeping the eye moist and free of bacteria, or are tears a child's way of signalling that it is in distress without attracting the attention of predators? Or do tears, as Darwin thought, signify nothing in particular?From tears of joy to crocodile tears and the pious tears shed by monks, I argue that tears are a product of mind as much as body.
Empathy and the president
Empathy is increasingly seen as the key to all our problems - hence Obama's claim that the 'empathy deficit' is a more pressing problem than the federal deficit. But what if empathy is merely a product of changing scientific fashions and the latest social technologies?
Takng the hype out of hypertension
Hypertension is known as the 'silent killer', hence the medical warnings urging us to cut out fat and salt and take regular exercise. But not all hypertension is equal: some high blood pressure may be due to genetics or the price we pay for our stressful urban lifestyles. Here, with the help of a hyperactive goldendoodle, I attempt to disentangle the emotional and other risk factors, while taking the measure of my own blood pressure.
Bertolt Meyer used to be ashamed of his disability. Then his insurance company bought him a cool looking bionic hand, turning him into a poster boy for post-humanism. As he explains, it's been something of a mixed blessing. But one day we may all envy his bionic hand. Indeed, it could be argued that may of us are already well on the way to becoming transhuman.
Comment: the greatest bioterrorist is nature
Just because scientists are getting better at resurrecting viruses like bird flu in the laboratory, doesn't mean we should suppress their research. On the contrary, their experiments are essential to getting a head-start on the next pandemic killer.
7/7: my part in the conspiracy that refused to die
When I found myself at Edgware Road station shortly after the 7/7 blasts on the London underground, I little thought that I would set in train a host of conspiracy theories about the 'real' perpetrators of the bombings. It just goes to show that in today's world where information and misinformation circulate endlessly on the internet, journalists can never be too careful.
The pandemic that never was
When shortly after the emergence of a new strain of swine flu in Mexico in 2009, the World Health Organisation declared a worldwide alert, some observers accused it of conspiring with drug companies to spread needless hysteria. But was swine flu a 'fake pandemic' or a warning of things to come?
In the winter of 2002, my wife and I decided to take a wild gamble. Rather than endure another dull winter in London, we packed four rucksacks, removed our children from school and flew to Vilcabamba, a remote village in southern Ecuador famed for its centenarians and its year-round spring climate. They call it the 'Valley of Eternal Youth'.