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Too much of a good thing? Excess fluoride in water supply causes dental problems

Posted: January 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

For the first time in nearly 50 years, the government is recommending lowering the fluoride in drinking water. Officials say many Americans are getting too much fluoride and it’s causing some kids to have “splotchy” teeth. The AP’s Kelly Daschle reports.

The US health department is recommending that water supplies contain 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, replacing the current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams.

Learn how much fluoride is in your tap water. Call your local water municipality because the level varies from city to city. If it’s above 0.7 milligrams per liter, you could consider filtering your water.

References:
U.S. Wants to Reduce Fluoride in Drinking Water. WebMD.

Posted at Clinical Cases and Images. Stay updated and subscribe, follow us on Twitter and connect on Facebook.


Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Nursing student successfully challenges dissmissal from school because of Facebook photo

Posted: January 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

A Kansas college is facing a legal challenge over its dismissal of a nursing student who posted online a photograph of a human placenta studied in class – the WSJ video is embedded above.
The lawsuit includes a letter that Ms. Byrnes wrote to the college apologizing for what she called a “lapse in judgment” but asking that she not be dismissed.
The school said the four students are allowed to reapply to continue their nursing studies in August 2011.
Most reader comments on the story follow this pattern: “I fail to see why this posting should result in dismissal from school. The student broke no confidentiality, and the posting was certainly not obscene.”

Posted at Clinical Cases and Images. Stay updated and subscribe, follow us on Twitter and connect on Facebook.


Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Why you should start blogging in 2011

Posted: January 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Quotes from an interview with Seth Godin and Tom Peters:

“Blogging is free. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it. What matters is the humility that comes from writing it. What matters is the metacognition of thinking about what you’re going to say.

No single thing in the last 15 years professionally has been more important to my life than blogging. It has changed my life, it has changed my perspective, it has changed my intellectual outlook, it’s changed my emotional outlook.

And it’s free.”

Don’t limit yourself to your blog – use Facebook and Twitter
Blogging can be great for personal growth but there is a lot more interaction on Twitter and Facebook nowadays as compared to blogs. If you have a blog, you must also have a Facebook “like” page (previously called “fan” page) and a Twitter account. These serve the dual purpose of distribution and commenting channels (“two-way street”).
For example, Facebook pages get a lot more interaction than blogs for some medical journals – you can count the comments on the NEJM Facebook updates (the range is 9-180) vs. their blog (0). The blog has comments enabled, of course.
Facebook is the clear “winner” in terms of commenting activity, it is not even close:

NEJM Facebook page vs. NEJM blog

The risks of blogging and social media use in healthcare
One Misguided Post, Photo, or Comment Online Can End Your Healthcare Career, according to this About.com guide. It makes you think: Why would any doctor use social media? Some of the benefits are outlined above.

Twitter comments:

@cmeadvocate (Brian S. McGowan PhD): Look at commenting activity on NEJM’s Facebook page (100’s) vs. NEJM’s blog (

@rsm2800 (Robert S. Miller, MD): Striking difference
@kevinmd (Kevin Pho, M.D.): That’s because the NEJM fb page has 170,000+ fans. Blog doesn’t generate nearly that much traffic.
@DrVes: One of the reasons, yes. However, the commenting activity on many blogs is down. To compensate, a lot of them started embedding Twitter re-tweets as a substitute for comments. I did it too with this post (you are reading the example).
@DrVes: Thanks for re-tweeting this post http://goo.gl/o9rRl – Blogging introduced me to some of the smartest and most generous people in healthcare. Give it a try. It doesn’t matter if anybody reads your blog when you start. If it’s useful to you, somebody somewhere will find it useful too.
References:
Blogging can improve your attention span and focus – unlike social media sites which can be highly distracting http://goo.gl/K4O1V
Is having a blog useful in 2011? Scoble says yes… using Quora http://goo.gl/Gubor

Posted at Clinical Cases and Images. Stay updated and subscribe, follow us on Twitter and connect on Facebook.


Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Tips for managing stress (2-minute BBC video)

Posted: January 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Managing Stress – Brainsmart – BBC video.

– Take a few deep breaths
– Get plenty of exercise
– Socialize – don’t stress alone, talk to someone and have a laugh
– Get out – go to the park

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/brainsmart

Posted at Clinical Cases and Images. Stay updated and subscribe, follow us on Twitter and connect on Facebook.


Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Chemical Information Validation Results from Fall 2010

Posted: January 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

As I mentioned earlier, one of the outcomes from my Fall 2010 Chemical Information Retrieval class involved the collection of chemical property information from different sources in a database format. Now that the course is over, this has resulted in 567 measurements for 24 compounds (including one compound EGCG from the previous term). I have curated the dataset to ensure that the original numbers, conversions to common units, categorizations, etc. are correct. Links to the information source or to a screenshot of the source are available for each entry – so if I missed something, anyone can unambiguously verify it for correction.

The dataset is available from a Google Spreadsheet. Andrew Lang has also created a web based interface: the ChemInfo Validation Explorer. By simply specifying the compound of interest and the property using drop-down menus the list of measurements from the relevant sources is provided with values outside of one standard deviation marked in orange. Links to the information source, or an image in cases where the information source cannot be directly linked, are provided in the results. Here is an example for the boiling point of benzene.

The visualization and analysis of the data was greatly facilitated by the use of Tableau Public. After downloading the free program anyone can easily re-create the queries in this post by first downloading the dataset as an Excel document then importing into Tableau Public. Interactive charts can then be freely hosted on the TP server and embedded as I have done in this post below.

The students were shown how to search both commercial and free information sources and were given complete freedom for which compounds and chemical properties to target. The results can be analyzed from the perspective of a reasonable sampling of the current state of chemical information available to the average chemist. The 5 most frequently obtained properties were melting point, density, boiling point, flash point and refractive index.

Sheet 1
Sheet 1

The information sources were categorized and are reported below by frequency. Chemical vendor sites were by far the most frequently used information source.
Sheet 1
Sheet 1

It is important to note that the information source does not represent the method by which the measurements were found. The source is simply the end of the chain of provenance: the document that provides no specific reference for the reported measurement. For example, even though ChemSpider was frequently used as a search engine, it would not be listed as an information source when it provided links to other sources (mainly MSDS sheets) for properties. ChemSpider was treated as a source for some predicted properties.

Sheet 1
Sheet 1

The chemical vendor Sigma-Aldrich was the most frequently used information source, followed by Alfa Aesar. Wolfram Alpha – categorized as a “free database” was third. Oxford University follows closely behind as fourth and is categorized as an “academic website”, hosting MSDS sheets. Many universities host MSDS sheets but the Oxford web site seems to turn up most frequently from chemical property queries on search engines.

The fifth most frequent information source was Wikipedia, reflecting the fact that specific references are usually not provided there for chemical properties. Like ChemSpider, Wikipedia was categorized as a “crowdsourced database”.

Flagging Outliers

One of the advantages of this type of collection is that it is much easier to identify outliers. In the case of non-aqueous solubility data, we were able to create an outlier bot to automatically flag potentially problematic results. Since different properties may have very different typical variabilities, outliers are most easily discovered by comparisons within the same property.

For example consider the following plot showing the standard deviation to mean ratio for melting point measurements.

Sheet 1
Sheet 1

This reveals that the average melting point for EGCG is suspect. At this point, an easy way to inspect the results is to use the Validation Explorer and look at the individual measurements.

By clicking on the images we can verify that the numbers have been correctly copied from the primary sources. In this case we can also ascertain that the sources – a peer reviewed paper and the Merck Index – are considered by most chemists to be generally reliable. There is no compelling reason at this point to weigh one result over the other and one has to be careful when using the average value for any practical application. (Note that all temperature data is recorded as Kelvin. A zero-based scale is necessary to ensure that the standard deviation to mean ratio is meaningful.)

The next flagging hit in this collection is the melting point of cyclohexanone. In this case 5 results are returned and the Validation Explorer highlights the Alfa Aesar value as being more than one standard deviation from the average.

However, one has to be careful when assessing this and assuming that the Alfa Aesar value is most likely to being the odd value out. Notice that 3 of the values – Sigma-Aldrich, Acros and Wolfram Alpha are identical. The most likely explanation for this is that all three used the same information source and should thus be counted as a single measurement.

We can test this hypothesis by looking for cases where Sigma-Aldrich, Acros and Wolfram Alpha don’t share identical values. As shown below, for melting point measurements, there is no case where the values don’t match.


The same is true for boiling points:

However, in the case of flash points it is clear that the three are not using a common data source.


Using the data we collected – and will continue to collect – we could start to identify which data sources are likely using the same ultimate sources and avoid over-counting measurements. This would save time in searching since one would know which sources to check for a particular property while avoiding duplication. This information is extremely difficult to obtain using other approaches.

The same type of outlier analysis can be performed for all the properties collected in this study.

I believe that there is much more useful analysis to be done on this dataset, especially for chemistry librarians. When this class is run next year, more data will be added. In the meantime, contributions from other sources would be welcome.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Skeleton Animal Wall Decals That Won’t Scare the Kids

Posted: January 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Animal Magic wallpaper by Paperboy

Animal Magic wallpaper by Paperboy

Animal Magic wallpaper by Paperboy

You’d better believe that my child will have this Animal Magic wallpaper in their room.

Animal Magic explores children’s fascination with the macabre in a light-hearted way by presenting a slightly sinister side of the traditional, benign family pet. We’ve printed the pet’s skeleton on top of its silhouette in a varnish of the same color. This means it shouldn’t show at night – so it’s not too scary when the lights are out. But it catches the light during the day when all the spooks are gone. So the children’s interest in the dark and scary can be indulged in an intriguing and still be beautiful way.

Designed by Paperboy and available at Wallpaper Collective for $185 per roll.

[via YoungandBrilliant]

Looking for other anatomically themed products?  Check out the recently opened Street Anatomy gallery store!

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith


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