At long last: the return of the Best of Pubmed!

This piece continues the long dormant BEST OF PUBMED series, a regular feature of the early days of this blog. All of the following are actual articles that appear in the NCBI’s database of medical literature. In addition to their unusual titles and topics, the contents of the articles are often worth a look, as seen in some of the below.


The Renaissance or the cuckoo clock. Jonathon Pines, Iain Hagan
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Dec 27; 366(1584): 3625–3634.

This one begins:

‘…in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock’. – Orson Welles as Harry Lime: The Third Man

Orson Welles might have been a little unfair on the Swiss, after all cuckoo clocks were developed in the Schwartzwald, but, more importantly, Swiss democracy gives remarkably stable government with considerable decision-making at the local level. The alternative is the battling city-states of Renaissance Italy: culturally rich but chaotic at a higher level of organization. As our understanding of the cell cycle improves, it appears that the cell is organized more along the lines of Switzerland than Renaissance Italy, and one major challenge is to determine how local decisions are made and coordinated to produce the robust cell cycle mechanisms that we observe in the cell as a whole.


Is extinction forever?. Brenda D. Smith-Patten, Eli S. Bridge, Priscilla H. C. Crawford, Daniel J. Hough, Jeffrey F. Kelly, Michael A. Patten
Public Underst Sci. 2015 May; 24(4): 481–495.


Morbidity in assistants at surgical operations. D. Laerum, K. Skullerud
Can Med Assoc J. 1974 Mar 16; 110(6): 632–passim.

(In other words, watch out when the Doctor passes you a sharp instrument!)


Male Weaponry in a Fighting Cricket. Kevin A. Judge, Vanessa L. Bonanno
PLoS One. 2008; 3(12): e3980.  Published online 2008 Dec 24.


Women’s Preferences for Penis Size: A New Research Method Using Selection among 3D Models. Nicole Prause, Jaymie Park, Shannon Leung, Geoffrey Miller
PLoS One. 2015; 10(9): e0133079.  Published online 2015 Sep 2.

(Wonder what type of models they’re referring to…)


Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review. Justin R. Garcia, Chris Reiber, Sean G. Massey, Ann M. Merriwether
Rev Gen Psychol.

Published in final edited form as: Rev Gen Psychol. 2012 Jun 1; 16(2): 161–176.


Frequencies of injuries and causes of accidents during ski touring on ski slopes – a pilot study. [Article in German]. Ruedl G, Pocecco E, Kopp M, Burtscher M.

Erratum in Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2013 May;27(2):100-4.


Based on the findings of this pilot study we recommend abstaining from alcohol and not listening to music during downhill skiing to reduce the injury risk during slope touring.


How frequent and why are skiers and snowboarders falling? [Article in German]. Philippe MRuedl GFeltus GWoldrich TBurtscher M.

Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2014 Dec;28(4):188-92.


The incidence of falls among skiers and snowboarders was substantially lower when compared to that in 2002… We strongly assume that the lowering in fall incidence may positively affect the injury incidence.


“Spidey Can”: Preliminary Evidence Showing Arachnophobia Symptom Reduction Due to Superhero Movie Exposure. Yaakov S.G. Hoffman, Shani Pitcho-Prelorentzos, Lia Ring, Menachem Ben-Ezra

Front Psychiatry. 2019; 10: 354.


Superhero” boys live to tell the tale—just

BMJ. 2007 May 5; 334(7600): 928.

One UK hospital reported that five boys sustained serious injury while dressed as Spiderman or Superman. At least three of them had tried to fly without a planned landing strategy. Four of the boys sustained fractures and one a minor head injury. Guidance for parents of putative superheroes is available from the American National Association for the Education of Young Children.

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I am a science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, author of fiction and popular science books, an artist, and a professional musician who performs on the viola da gamba and Medieval and Renaissance stringed instruments. I edit manuscripts of all types and teach the full range of scientific communication skills. I am doing theoretical work in this subject - see for example

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