This has been a particularly notable year for me. I had a near-death experience and learned the joys of those who spend more time at doctors than they would like. I also had a chance to share some science and opinions with you, our readers. That makes me twice blessed.
In no particular order are articles from the past year with special meaning.
I am a foodie; if you saw me, you would know that was the case. So when the Journal of Physics took time to write about food, how could I, a budding science journalist, resist? I couldn’t. In the first instance, the Journal settled a long-standing argument between my wife and me. I rinse packaged chicken, but she does not. I hate to say this out loud, let alone on the Internet, but she was right - Chicken Splash: When Water Meets Raw Chicken. I am also a lover of all things sweet, especially that icon of cookies, the Oreo. I love to twist them apart and scrap the icing into my mouth before eating those chocolate wafers. Once again, the Journal of Physics put some scientific knowledge into my undertaking, Oreology: A Study Of Oreo's Stuffing
I’ve been following the downfall of Purdue Pharmaceuticals with great interest. It seems that in the court of public opinion, their downfall was quick and sure, as one after another, many public institutions sought to remove the Sackler name from buildings. When Will Smith struck Chris Rock, I thought it was time to muse about why some events have little public response and others echo for years and decades. Thinking Aloud: The Meaning Of The Asterisk
There were many political issues this year that were strongly based upon science. But gun control is a real hot-button issue. I have mixed feelings on the topic but know little of the underlying epidemiology and research on guns and gun violence. Most of my knowledge came from the news. So I decided to take a closer look and report my findings. Stand-Your-Ground Laws: For A Man's House Is His Castle was the result. I have to admit that there was some trepidation about how vicious reader commentary might be. As it turns out, as I hope, comments were diverse and more supportive of conversation than polarization. Thank you.
The other science-based policy I wanted to explore was vaping and menthol. There is no doubt that nicotine is addictive, so its use in vaping products is best framed as “harm reduction.” But, perhaps I was not paying attention in medical school, so my background knowledge about nicotine was sparse. Let's Talk About Nicotine was my exploration and report on nicotine. Would there be a “safe” amount?
Finally, there was my “untoward incident” in mid-October when I “shuffled off” my mortal coil, temporarily, I hasten to add. Like tossing a rock into the pond where there is first a large splash and then a series of ripples, my near-death experience continues to ripple through my life. Early on, I wrote, I Died Last Week to help me begin to process that event. My processing continues; Thanksgiving was more memorable this year, and now, as the year comes to an end, I am more grateful for family and friends, in an emotional way, than previously. I hope I do right by the privilege given to me.