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Issue 18 Understanding Science

Clinical Trials – Part One: Medical Research

There are no such things as incurable, there are only things for which man has not found a cure.”

Bernard Baruch, 30 April 1954

What is medical research?

Medical (biomedical) research, sometimes referred to as experimental medicine, comprises different types of research, from basic, to clinical, applied research. Different scientific fields are usually included and range from biology, medicine, physics, computational science, mathematics, chemistry, and pharmacology. The overarching intention of such research is to improve human health and well-being.

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Issue 18 Understanding Science

Ultrasound, magnetic fields and brain tumors – only fiction or a possible reality?

I believe it is safe to say that those of us who were at some point (or maybe still are) glued to our screens watching Grey’s Anatomy often found yourselves intrigued by some of the innovative treatments used on the patients. One of my personal favorites was a clever use of ultrasound waves to treat a hypothalamic hamartoma in a young boy. After that episode, I rushed to the Internet trying to find anything published about the technique. I was amazed by the idea and was trying to find out more about it. Is it really possible? Can it really be used as a completely non-invasive way of treating brain masses, including tumors? Is it safe? Is it maybe already in use? To my disappointment, I found nothing. I’m not sure whether I did a very bad job at googling those facts back then, or maybe really nothing had been published yet. However, I recently stumbled upon a very interesting article about the use of a head-mounted magnetic device that shrinks tumors. Since it reminded me of the cutting-edge treatment from Grey’s Anatomy, I once again googled it, only this time with greater success. As it turns out, a lot has been done and published upon this subject over the past few years.

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Issue 18 Science (of) Fiction

Dune: how sand takes form

“Dune” is a powerful word, and a fitting title for the Frank Herbert book which has been all the rage recently due to its long-awaited new film adaptation being released. Dune is really an entire franchise set in a politically, socially and scientifically intricate universe thousands of years in the future. The eponymous “Dune” is a planet also known as Arrakis, covered in sand and wildly alien creatures, which plays a key role in the Duniverse. In fact, it happens to be where most of the new movie is set. There is something not quite so alien, though, that is related to Dune (the planet and the book) very intimately, but also happens to be one of its rare phenomena you can witness first hand here on Earth, without much of a stretch of imagination. The thing in question would be Dune‘s other namesakes – sand dunes.