Sunday, 26 August 2012

Fat acceptance

On the subject of ethics, here's an interesting topic. There is a movement, now largely online, to end discrimination and prejudice against fat people, and whose proponents say that you can be healthy regardless of how big your waist is. According to the group, the health issues associated with obesity are exaggerated because of society's bias against fat people.

Gillon's 4 principles of medical ethics

Doctors are often asked to make decisions which have no immediately obvious "right" or "wrong" outcome. Of course, as a doctor, you sign up to do this, and you won't always need help; occasionally though, there are situations that really give one pause for thought, and when a systematic approach is necessary to ensure you have covered all bases.

The most common of these approaches (to my knowledge) is Gillon's 4 principles. The way to use this framework is to work through all of the effects of a decision relating to 4 given principles, and use that as a basis to decide what is the best thing to do. The areas to consider are: beneficence (what good can come of it), non maleficence (what harm could be avoided), autonomy (does it give everyone a choice), and justice (does it do good for the greater community). If it is impossible to decide having done this because all sides of the argument seem to be equal, then more weight is given to autonomy, because there is truly no moral difference between deciding one thing or another, so taking choice away would make any decision unnecessarily immoral.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Androgenic effects of steroids and why they can be less than great

Yesterday I wrote a brief explanation of the anabolic effects of certain types of steroids, and mentioned the fact that they make you "more manly". The post was also almost an advertisement for the drugs, which was unintentional; I just haven't got on to why you probably shouldn't take them yet.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Anabolic steroids

So I've recently started going to the gym, and looking around, there's a fairly standard range of body shapes. Clearly, there's some selection bias, given that people who go to the gym are generally fitter than the average person on the street, but you get the idea.
Then you see people who look like this, who are so far outside the normal range that they can't possibly be achieving those results naturally.
I'm sure that some of them really are doing it through nothing but hard work and a good diet, but steroid abuse exists in a big way, particularly in professional bodybuilding.

AS results

I suppose I'm a day late with this, but yesterday was a big day for 16-18 year olds across the country - AS and A2 results day!

Interestingly, this year was the first year since 1991 that the proportion of A* and A grades has decreased. The culprit for this huge rise in top grades is disputed, but generally blamed on one of two things: either we (as children in the UK) are genuinely getting clever, or it's getting easier to As and A*s. The latter of the two (so called "grade inflation") can come across as a bit old-man-ish, almost reminiscent of the three Yorkshiremen sketch, but it does have a point. Is it really possible that teaching standards across the whole country have risen so much that the percentage of people getting the top two grades has increased fourfold in as many decades?

Earlier in the year, schools across England were called out for choosing exam boards for subjects based on how easy it was to get top grades. Because the boards are all NGOs, they are motivated by profits, and so they want to make themselves more attractive to schools. The danger was that the exams were being dumbed down in order to gain more money for the boards.

One solution to this is to nationalise all the boards. It's a bit drastic, obviously, and would lead to copious new problems, as all nationalisation does, but if there was no competition between them, then there would be no incentive to making the exams easier. At the same time, if there was only one super-board, there would be no choice about the syllabus, so it would put a lot of power in the government's hands - educating children in a way that benefits a particular party is not unheard of in politics.

In light of that, I wonder if we're seeing this decrease because the system is under more scrutiny now. Is this the end of grade inflation? A*s have already been added as a "new currency", and Ofqual, the regulator, has issued a warning that the increase in grades does need to be shown to be because of an actual increase in quality of work. At the same time, it's a marginal decrease and it is only one year. This is by no means an established trend.

Anyway I got AAAA. Woooooo! And at least an A in maths A2, but I might retake some modules to try and push that up to an A* next year.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Medlink pathology project results

I've just seen the results for the paper I wrote on in vitro meat production and I got a distinction! Woooooo!

For people who actually want to read the paper, I'll put it after the break.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Explanation of simple harmonic motion as an example of problem based learning

After exams were over this term, students doing further maths in Abingdon have the opportunity of doing a maths project. Given two weeks, we are asked to find a topic related to maths that interests us, and that we can give a presentation on afterwards. I decided to choose a simple example of a dynamical system, because they are often used to model biological phenomenon. As it happens, the topic I chose wasn't as simple as I thought, but here's how it works, from basic maths upwards:
(warning: huge post)