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Basic concepts

On our backchannel discussion forum, we ScienceBloggers have been discussing a rather interesting idea that we could use to provide extra value to our readers. The idea is to do short articles about basic concepts in science. It’s an intriguing idea, and, while I could try my hand at posts about a number of basic concepts in science, I think that, given my background, my strongest contribution would be basic concepts in my areas of expertise. These could include questions such as:

What is cancer?

What is a randomized clinical trial?

How does chemotherapy work? (Certainly The Cheerful Oncologist could also answer this one and do it perhaps better than I.)

How does radiation therapy work?

Both Chad and Jake are asking their readers for suggestions, and Mark has already started by posting an explanation of means, medians, and modes, as well as normal distributions; so I thought I’d ask you: What sorts of basic concepts about science or medicine would you like me to try to explain in a brief, hopefully pithy post. At this point I’m just looking for ideas. I’m not sure how well I could do this, given the my tendency towards long-windedness, and I tend to like to pontificate about things more than explain basic concepts, but I’m game to give it a try and see how it goes.

All I need are examples of basic concepts that our readers are interested in having explained.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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