Strange Science

The act of creation is what drives a scientist. A simple thought, an idea snatched from the mental ether and forced into reality is how the light bulb, telephone, and automobile were introduced into our world. The ingenuity of these intrepid adventurers shape the face of our society, but what happens to their duds? We are very aware of the great successes that have propelled our society forward, but how many strange inventions were meant to be forgotten by the ever-thundering march of time?

Phone of The Dead: A brainchild of Thomas Edison and certainly one of his strangest offerings to date. A mind from which brilliant ideas were brought into this world, Edison’s “Spirit Phone” is rarely numbered among them. This early invention predates the Graham Bell’s telephone, though it’s intended audience surely would have been late.

The Rat Pack: Oddly enough, a study was held regarding rats and their preference of music. In 2011, a study conducted at Albany Medical College to see which types of tunes the tiny rodents would prefer to listen too. Oddly enough, when given the option, rats prefer no music to anything. If forced to listen to music, rats prefer Beethoven. The study takes a strange turn, though, when the rats are given cocaine. Apparently their musical tastes shift to Jazz and Miles Davis when given the drug, but only while under the influence.

Hanging Around: Nicolae Minovici is one of the chosen few scientists willing to put themselves at risk for science. The first to volunteer for his own experiment, Nicolae, the preeminent forensic scientist of the time, wanted to learn more about a particular process of capital punishment. Fascinated by hanging, Nicolae built a system of pulleys to test various knots, rope elasticity, and neck strength. Curiously enough, Nicolae died several years later due to neck-related trauma.

Beautiful and strange, if science has taught us anything, it’s that you can only expect the unexpected. Who knows what mad geniuses are cooking up right now in labs around the world. Powerful computers strongDerrick Alger enough to be worn like sunglasses and hoverboards make up our reality, where just thirty years prior it was fiction.

Medical Code Mania

The world of medicine is as wild and varied as the world it’s meant to treat. With hospitals needing to be prepared for any eventuality, certain codes had to be developed for the little incidents in life that occur, no matter how strange. Here is a brief look at some actual medical codes that, for one reason or another, exist because some poor person exhibited a need for treatment.

So you’re out on the lake, enjoying the sun and water with your family. The day has been perfect, and would have remained as such if those flaming skis hadn’t struck you out of the blue. When you’re finally able to reach a hospital after your stressful and somewhat insane ordeal, you’ll heart your friendly doctor call for a V91.07XA.

Have you recently returned from an Outer Space-journey and are suffering the ills of your former weightlessness? Luckily, a quick call for an X52 over the intercom will keep everyone in the loop. Whether you’re being attacked by squirrels, sucked into a jet engine or crushed by a vending machine, there is medical code to suit your problem. The real question is why? What’s changed to allow so many crazy codes into our medical system?

Derek ALgerThe update to our medical codes comes as a result of recent changes to the U.S. healthcare system. Though the patient should be left largely unaffected; hospitals, insurance companies, and nursing homes have all needed to modernize their coding procedures to evolve with the system. In order to get paid, medical providers must present an accurate depiction of what the patient experienced. Because of this change, 14,000 medical codes ballooned to an unprecedented 68,000.

With hopes of reducing fraud, improving the health care system and accurately documenting patient procedures, this plan has some very clear benefits. While there are several who would claim this insane level of accuracy is more of a hindrance than a helping hand, the man who was recently attacked by squirrels will surely be thankful for the specific attention.

Human Science

Knowledge is power. The proliferation of the internet has shown that people naturally want to educate themselves in subjects they care about. Never before has so much knowledge been this readily available before. As the phenomenon known as crowdsourced knowledge continue to grow, aided by Wikipedia and its complex network of contributors, another form of science was born. Dubbed “citizen science,” this new type of learning emerged from the data maelstrom of the internet with one goal: to teach as many as possible through shared experiences.

Like tapping into a mental collective, citizen science asks only that its practitioners observe and document the world around them. By taking in nature, culture, experience and information, you add a perspective to a vast ocean of input. Millions of ideas coalesce to form a comprehensive view of our world, filtered through the perception of hundreds.

Organizations across the globe have begun utilizing citizen science as a means to gather data. The U.S. Geological Survey reached out to hundreds of bird watchers, nature aficionados, and observant citizens to document their local findings. Whether measuring the blooming cycles of flowers or migratory patterns of our nation’s birds, the undeniable advantage of utilizing one of the most abundant resources on the planet, humans, is as brilliant as it is time-saving.

Other industries of repute have joined the citizen science mission alongside the U.S.G.S. NASA, the FCC (Federal Communication Commission), and the National Archives have begun using the public to better catalog data. In a country where there are 6 million registered scientists compared to a staggering 300 million “citizen scientists,” it’s shocking to think of not using such an abundant resource.

Derek ALgerHowever, citizen science is not without its difficulties. The process of scientific discovery is free from bias, belief or manipulation. If you expand the realm of contributors to one piece of data, you naturally increase the opportunity for “incorrect” observations to be made. The managing of citizen science has become a science unto itself. A necessary process when thousands of perspectives are colliding. Can so many varying opinions, viewpoints, and perspectives remove the bias in research by making one scientist into many, or can too much data dilute the information?

Patient Advocacy

In a perfect world it would be possible for every patient to focus on getting well and not utilize their energy on figuring out a complex health care system.

Patient advocates or Patient Advocacy is one of the newest sectors of the healthcare system, working for hospitals, healthcare organizations, or private clients. These advocates have backgrounds  in nursing, social work, case management, or law. Have no fear, this role is not limited. Friends or loved ones can serve as advocates too.  “Imagine if every patient had someone with them to ask questions and track information—or just remind providers to wash their hands when they come into your room,” he says.

[See Medical Errors Harm Huge Number of Patients]

A savvy helper. Many large hospitals, assigns a advocate for the patients to their more complex or critical cases and to assist those from low-income communities. Although these advocates who are employed by hospitals play a very valuable role, they also have a  built in conflict of interest. Private-hire advicates play a specialize role in research, and finding reliable doctors, managing paper work and helping patients understand their conditions. Meanwhile others  focus on one area such as insurance disputes or legal matters.

Derrick Alger

Compensation ranges from Hourly fees of $60 to over $250. As yet, the emerging field has no official licensing and credentialing requirements, but the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants is developing professional standards and best practices. A directory is available at