Technical Writing Project - Scientific Articles

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A project I completed for a Technical Writing course. Purpose of the assignment was to read an article which used medical or scientific terminology and interpret the language into a press release that would sum up the article for the common reader.

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Technical Writing Project - Scientific Articles

  1. 1. Rayne Johnson Page 1 1/25/2011 CO 310 Medical / Science Track: Project #2
  2. 2. Rayne Johnson Page 2 1/25/2011Rayne JohnsonRussell RayTechnical Writing04/13/2010 Table of ContentsPRESS RELEASE 1....................................................................................................................................3PRESS RELEASE 2....................................................................................................................................4PRESS RELEASE 3....................................................................................................................................5PRESS RELEASE 4....................................................................................................................................7PRESS RELEASE 5....................................................................................................................................9PRESS RELEASE 6..................................................................................................................................10PRESS RELEASE 7..................................................................................................................................12PRESS RELEASE 8..................................................................................................................................14PRESS RELEASE 9..................................................................................................................................15PRESS RELEASE 10................................................................................................................................17
  3. 3. Rayne Johnson Page 3 1/25/2011 Press Release 1 Healing Effects of Prayer? Don’t Bet Your Life on It. Medical phenomenons are some of the most fascinating for humans, and for goodreason. We all want to believe the body is ultimately unknowable and if we only haveenough faith any illness or injury can be overcome. The healing effects of prayer havegiven a sanctuary of hope to those who are facing imminent mortality or have had a brushwith death. In an article published in this week’s eSkeptic Michael Shermer, Americanscience writer, discusses a recent study of the power of prayer on health and recovery.Cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson began his study almost ten years ago observing a total of1,802 patients who had undergone coronary bypass surgery. With participants from sixdifferent hospitals, Benson divided them into three groups: those who were informed theywould be prayed for, those who were informed they may or not be prayed for and thethird group of individuals who were not prayed for at all (the control group). Prayers were performed the night before patients went into surgery and continuedfor two weeks afterwards. The results showed no significant differences between theprayed-for and non-prayed for groups. The minor differences that were observed showedthose individuals who were informed they were being prayed for actually had a higherrate of complications after surgery. Other studies have been conducted on the topic but the majority have been foundto lack the controls, objectivity and thorough review. At a cost of 2.4 million dollars,most of which was provided by the John Temple Foundation, Dr. Benson’s study might
  4. 4. Rayne Johnson Page 4 1/25/2011be considered one of the most rigorous and comprehensive studies on the effects ofprayer and healing ever conducted. eSkeptic, the online publication of The Skeptics Society and Skeptic Magazine, isa scientific and educational organization of scholars, scientists, historians, magicians,professors and teachers, and anyone curious about controversial ideas, extraordinaryclaims, revolutionary ideas, and the promotion of science. Skeptic has a mission ofserving as an educational tool for those seeking clarification and viewpoints on thosecontroversial ideas and claims.Source:http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/06-04-05/ Press Release 2 A Reflection on Autism For anyone whose life has been touched by autism, the passion involved in thesearch for understanding and treatment cannot be understated. Autism, a disorderinvolving brain development, affects one to two people per thousand resulting inimpaired social and communication skills. Though currently there is no cure, there arescientists endeavoring to better understand the condition. The article, written by Dan Ferber, recounts a study by Ilan Dinstein and DavidHeeger of New York University. Their research shows autism could be the result of thedisruption of unique connections in the brain. This disruption affects an individual’sability to relate to others as well as their ability to learn actions through the imitation ofothers.
  5. 5. Rayne Johnson Page 5 1/25/2011 For the study Dinstein and Heeger scanned the brains of subjects with and withoutAutism while showing them images of hand gestures such as “rock”, “paper” and“scissors”. In both groups the same area of the brain showed activity but after repeatedtesting the areas in the brain of the Autistic patients began to show signs of strain andeventually faded. Though it’s too early to draw conclusions, understanding this fadingaffect and how it relates to Autism is an important step; with additional studies andresearch this information could possibly lead to future treatment options. Founded in 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science is aninternational non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world byserving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition toorganizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as manyscientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar ofunderstanding for science worldwide.Source:http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/05/a-crack-in-the-mirror-neuron-hyp.html Press Release 3 Found: Long-lost Relative of a Global Super-Predator Who wasn’t fascinated with dinosaurs as a child? We imagined the exotic landsthey wandered, how they lived and if they really were as scary as movies made them outto be. What we didn’t know was just like modern animals dinosaurs had home ranges orwere only found in particular areas; such was the case with the Tyrannosaurs-Rex whocalled the northern hemisphere home, or so paleontologists thought.
  6. 6. Rayne Johnson Page 6 1/25/2011 The signs of an early and smaller relative of the Tyrannosaurus were discoveredin Australia in the form of a hipbone, whose shape is unique to the most infamousprehistoric predator according to lead study author Roger Benson. The size indicates thisearly Tyrannosaur was about the size of a human, not unusual as dinosaurs from the EarlyCretaceous (146 million to 100 million years ago) didn’t reach their legendary sizes foranother 34 million to 46 million years. In this instance it was location, not size, thatmade this find so exciting. Tyrannosaurs were common in the northern hemisphere in areas like Coloradoand China so the unique fossilized discovery gives hope of possible remains yet to beuncovered in Australia, Africa, South America and Antarctica, which were all connectedat the time. The discovery also indicates what we all feared as children; no place wassafe from the tyrannosaurs, they were everywhere. This discovery has left many open questions for researchers. Why were southerntyrannosaurs so small in the south? Why did their northern relations grow to be soenormous? With new evidence of where to search for clues to these questions, scientistsare hoping to have a better understanding of how the tyrant lizard king, better known ast.rex, eventually evolved into the creature that still lurks in the wild spaces of ourimagination. Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., hasbeen bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technologyfor more than 160 years. More than 140 Nobel laureates have written for ScientificAmerican, most of whom wrote about their prize-winning works years before beingrecognized by the Nobel Committee. In addition to the likes of Albert Einstein, Francis
  7. 7. Rayne Johnson Page 7 1/25/2011Crick, Jonas Salk and Linus Pauling, Scientific American continues to attract esteemedauthors from many fields.Source:http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=new-australian-dinosaur-fossil-show-2010-03-25 Press Release 4 Bee Business Some of us love them; some of us hate them; some of us are allergic to them.What we can all agree upon is the fact that bees are absolutely necessary for thereproduce of most plants through pollination and essential for life-giving crops aroundthe world to yield a harvest. Today the once prolific and hard-working European honey bee is being lost to aphenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD) which causes the individual bees toabandon their hive. Requiring this community effort, these bees eventually die and leavea gaping hole in pollinators for growers of commercial crops in the United States to fill.In an article written by Anna Lena Phillips, she reports that scientists are hoping nativebees have stepped up to the plate therefore they’ve started a citizen science project tounderstand how colony collapse disorder affects these helpful little insects. Conservation Biologist Gretchen Lebuhn launched the Great Sunflower Project tomonitor and map bee populations. This enormous undertaking needed thousands ofwatchful eyes and found them in ordinary citizens. Participants in the study wererequired to grow a sunflower and then observe how long it took for five bees to visit it.
  8. 8. Rayne Johnson Page 8 1/25/2011Observations were made twice a month for a maximum of 30 minutes each time. “Peoplecan take their cup of coffee out in the morning and if they see five bees in five minutesthey’re done. If they see none in 30 minutes, they’re still done,” Lebuhn explains.Participants are also required to categorize the bees as honeybees, bumblebees, carpenterbees, green bees and ‘other’. As only 500 of the 4,000 estimated bee species don’t even have scientific namesand research on wild populations is weak, LeBuhn is hoping to not only understandnative populations better but also to track their health and whether they are filling inwhere the European honeybees are gone. American Scientist, published since 1913, is an illustrated bimonthly magazineabout science and technology. In recent years it has been honored with many awards foreditorial, design and illustration quality. Each issue is filled with feature articles writtenby prominent scientists and engineers, reviewing important work in fields that range frommolecular biology to computer engineering. The articles are carefully edited andaccompanied by illustrations that are developed to enhance the readers understandingand enjoyment.Source:http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/2008/5/of-sunflowers-and-citizens
  9. 9. Rayne Johnson Page 9 1/25/2011 Press Release 5 The Fallacy of Facilitated Communication Michael Shermer is naming names in a recent article in Skeptic Magazineaddressing what he entitles the “Coma Man Media Hoax”. The story addresses the storyof a Belgian man, Rom Houben, who purportedly “woke up” from a 23-year long comaand began communicating via a keyboard with the assistance of a ‘facilitator’. “Dr. Sanjay Gupta missed it on CNN, Dr. Nancy Snyderman missed it onMSNBC. And neuroscientists untrained in skepticism and the history of facilitatedcommunication all missed it,” Shermer says of the news coverage given to the subject.He goes on to explain that facilitated communication, FC for short, is no different thanthe use of Ouija boards or dowsing rods; the coma patient isn’t guiding the facilitatorshand, it is the facilitator directing the coma patients movements. Shermer recommends a simple test to prove his claim. Show a picture to thefacilitator and a different picture to the coma patient without revealing the picture theother has seen and ask the coma patient to type what they were shown. This particulartest was used to debunk a claim in the 1990’s when it was publicized that severelyautistic children suddenly awoke from their condition and began talking and acting likenormal children….with the assistance of FC. In that instance the test was applied andwhatever the facilitator saw was typed 100% of the time; not once was the image shownto the children typed. Still the exploitation of these children didn’t end for many years.As Shermer observes, “…emotions almost always trump evidence.” It is in the interest of wasted money, time and broken hearts that Shermer hopesthe Coma Man myth is thoroughly debunked now. Families of coma patients might be
  10. 10. Rayne Johnson Page 10 1/25/2011spurred to buy these plastic keyboards in order to facilitate communication with theirloved ones only to have their hopes crushed when they realize FC doesn’t work. Skeptic Magazine is the publication by the Skeptics Society, a scientific andeducational organization of scholars, scientists, historians, magicians, professors andteachers, and anyone curious about controversial ideas, extraordinary claims,revolutionary ideas, and the promotion of science. Skeptic has a mission of serving as aneducational tool for those seeking clarification and viewpoints on those controversialideas and claims.Source :http://www.skeptic.com/the_magazine/archives/vol15n03.htmlNote: The information came from the hardcopy magazine I subscribe to. It is notavailable for review online. Press Release 6 Aging Stardust Humans are curious creatures that wonder about the source of everything whetherit’s life itself or the Mississippi River; that’s part of how we hypothesize about the future.For cosmologists the search for the source of all things in the cosmos is a complex taskinvolving everything from the use of massive super-powered telescopes to analyzing anddetermining the composition and age of the tiniest fragment of space dust. Jennifer Matzel, a cosmochemist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory isthe subject of an article written by John Matson in Scientific American. Her discoveryoffers important information giving insight into what the conditions were like during the
  11. 11. Rayne Johnson Page 11 1/25/2011earlier, formative years of our solar system. Part of being able to understand and predictcelestial trends involve understanding how and when they were started. Comets are visitors from the distant, frosty regions in our solar system, specific tothis discovery are the comets that originate past Pluto’s orbit, an area filled withfragments known as the Kuiper (kai-per) belt. The samples were collected from thecomet Wild 2 (pronounced ‘vilt’) in 2004 and delivered by NASA’s Stardust mission viaparachuted capsule as the Stardust probe passed Earth on its way to study the cometTempel 1, expected in 2011. The fragment in question was named Coki and was formed in a high-temperatureprocess which seems to indicate formation later in the history of the solar system thanpreviously expected. The problem arises when scientists try to settle the idea of anoutward transfer process that may have been at work for millions of years while resolvingthe question of how this material evaded the enormous gravitational pull of the largerplanets, such as Jupiter and Saturn. The gravitational pull of these planets seemed arather large hurdle for this material to jump in order to end up in the outer rings of thesolar system. Though the evidence discovered is substantial, Matzel confesses the informationgathered so far has told a relatively consistent story and nothing can be ruled out withoutfurther investigation. When scientists talk about understanding how various compoundswere distributed and “seeded” the solar system with the chemical foundations of life, it isunderstandable why a discovery like this is exciting. Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., hasbeen bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technology
  12. 12. Rayne Johnson Page 12 1/25/2011for more than 160 years. More than 140 Nobel laureates have written for ScientificAmerican, most of whom wrote about their prize-winning works years before beingrecognized by the Nobel Committee. In addition to the likes of Albert Einstein, FrancisCrick, Jonas Salk and Linus Pauling, Scientific American continues to attract esteemedauthors from many fields.Source:http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=wild-2-stardust-coki&print=true Press Release 7 A Decade to Dark Matter Tug of war is a very familiar game focusing on the strength between twoparticipants or groups of participants who pull on opposite ends of a rope. Whenparticipants of one side pull their opponents onto their territory they are deemed thewinner of the game. In a similar struggle, cosmological forces play the same game withdark matter (contracting force, gravity) on one side and dark energy (expanding force) onthe other. They both play a vital role in the nature of everything; too much dark matterand we would be an inconceivably dense speck, too much dark energy and matterwouldn’t hold together at all. It is this study of the cosmological tug of war that initiated Physicist Peter Fisherof the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to address one of the participants, darkmatter, in John Matson’s article in the recent issue of Scientific American. The name“dark matter” was coined when it was observed that celestial bodies moved as if therewas more matter than what was actually visible. The phenomenon was discovered by
  13. 13. Rayne Johnson Page 13 1/25/2011Fritz Zwicky in the 1930’s and ever since that time mystified astronomers andcosmologists have been searching for physical samples of the stuff. According to Fisher’s lecture at the American Museum of Natural History in NewYork, it may be at least another decade before science can identify the particleresponsible for the dark matter affect. The particles discussed, though some are largerthan others, are all so tiny they’re able to pass the space between the atoms that make upknown matter. The problem in detecting them isn’t their minute size but that theirsignatures are faint when compared with the effects of other particles. For detectors suchas the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Europe to pick up the signature of dark matterthey will have to be 10 times larger. Right now it is the cosmological equivalent ofdetecting the sound of a pin drop in a hail storm. Fisher notes that current technology for the detection of dark matter advances by afactor of 10 every six or seven years it might take nearly another decade beforerevelations about the source mysterious dark matter is discovered. He is hopeful for anearlier detection by The DMTPC experiment being conducted underground in NewMexico which will be able to detect the direction of incoming particles. Because theinterfering particles (the hail) comes from the direction of the sun, dark matter (the pin)should travel in a distinctive, predictable direction as the planet rotates and the solarsystem moves through the galaxy. Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., hasbeen bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technologyfor more than 160 years. More than 140 Nobel laureates have written for ScientificAmerican, most of whom wrote about their prize-winning works years before being
  14. 14. Rayne Johnson Page 14 1/25/2011recognized by the Nobel Committee. In addition to the likes of Albert Einstein, FrancisCrick, Jonas Salk and Linus Pauling, Scientific American continues to attract esteemedauthors from many fields.Source:http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=whats-the-dark-matter-physicist-pet-2010-04-17&print=true Press Release 8 A Feathery Evolution The feathers of modern birds showcase the amazing achievements of evolution.Though they come in a variety of colors, shapes and weight they share, for the most part,the same general structure. But as it was discovered, the early evolution of scales intofeathers did was neither a consistent or predictable process resulting in variations in thestructure feathers in dinosaurs. This discovery comes from a finding in the LiaoningProvince of China by Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology andPaleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. In her article forScientific American writer Katherine Harmon discusses the implication of the findings. Early feathers developed in more diverse ways than modern birds; in ways thathave been lost in the evolution of feathers. This complex development is unknown in anymodern bird species and indicates the activation of the genes which caused the growth offeathers was delayed and incomplete resulting in feather types that differed between theyoung and adult specimens of the same animal.
  15. 15. Rayne Johnson Page 15 1/25/2011 This finding gives interesting insight into exactly how scales eventually evolvedinto the plumage we see in modern birds. Just as characteristics of other prehistoricanimals did not survive evolution, feathers in modern birds are a reflection of the mostsuccessful form of feathers. The development of feathers in dinosaurs, however, lends acolorful and diverse aspect to common, modern-day animal characteristics. Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in theU.S., has been bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science andtechnology for more than 160 years. More than 140 Nobel laureates have written forScientific American, most of whom wrote about their prize-winning works years beforebeing recognized by the Nobel Committee. In addition to the likes of Albert Einstein,Francis Crick, Jonas Salk and Linus Pauling, Scientific American continues to attractesteemed authors from many fields.Source:http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=feathers-developed-differently-in-d-2010-04-28&print=true Press Release 9 T Cell Training The amazing complexity of the human immune response has led to a hopefuldiscovery on how to construct future vaccine efforts in the fight against the AIDS virus.The discovery was made by Arup Chakraborty, an immunologist at the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology at Cambridge and the subject of Alla Katsnelson’s article inAmerican Scientist called ‘Well-Trained Immune Cells Keep HIV in Check’.
  16. 16. Rayne Johnson Page 16 1/25/2011 The immune system detects foreign cells by recognizing proteins on the surface offoreign cells called human leukocyte antigents (HLAs for short). This recognition isdone in the thymus organ of the human body on body fragments called self-peptides.Think of it as target practice and the pupils are known T cells. A T cell must be able torecognize at least one combination of HLA and self-peptide but if the T cell in questionreacts too strongly it is rejected. Such T cells would otherwise attack the body’s owncells in a reaction resulting in autoimmune diseases. It is precisely this reaction that is being studied. A small percentage of peopleinfected with HIV never develop AIDS and a commonality being discovered is theexistence of this autoimmune response. These cells have broader activity and likelyrecognize HIV even if it were to mutate, the key to ‘elite controllers’ to keep the infectionunder control. Everyone has a certain number of extra-reactive T cells, though they are in muchsmaller numbers, and this is the key researchers are hoping to take advantage of byarming T-cell armies that are trained to actively select HIV cells. Conventional ways ofdeveloping vaccines have not been successful for HIV, but with this discovery scientistsare hopeful that by taking advantage of the body’s own tricks, control of the infection caneventually provided in the form of an AIDS vaccine. Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., hasbeen bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technologyfor more than 160 years. More than 140 Nobel laureates have written for ScientificAmerican, most of whom wrote about their prize-winning works years before beingrecognized by the Nobel Committee. In addition to the likes of Albert Einstein, Francis
  17. 17. Rayne Johnson Page 17 1/25/2011Crick, Jonas Salk and Linus Pauling, Scientific American continues to attract esteemedauthors from many fields.Source:http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=well-trained-immune-cells-keep&print=true Press Release 10 The Myths of Motivation What incentivizes employees may not be what has been traditionally used toincrease employee happiness and engagement, or so says a book by Daniel H. Pink called“Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us”. It isn’t the tangible rewardsgiven employees but rather an intrinsic meaning in the work they carry out thatencourages superior performance. Writer Kenneth Silber’s review of Pink’s book in Scientific American referencesthe “candle problem” as noted by Pink. Sam Glucksberg, now at Princeton Universityperformed an experiment where participants were given a box of matches, a candle andtacks and asked to affix the candle to a wall. The solution was to using the matchbox as aplatform to the candle, the findings of the experiment showed those participants whowere incentivized with cash took longer presumably because the focus on the reward wasa distraction to problem-solving. In a more recent study, Harvard Business School asked artists and curators to ratepieces of artwork for creativity and technical skill. Though the panel was not informedabout which pieces where commissioned and those that were not, the incentivized pieces
  18. 18. Rayne Johnson Page 18 1/25/2011received lower scores in creativity though they showed the same amount of technical skillas the non-commissioned pieces. Not all incentives are negative, however. According to Pink a dangling carrotmay be useful in incentivizing individuals to work through monotonous, routine work.The elements revealed in Pink’s book show autonomy, mastery and purpose as the topthree characteristics that are necessary for workers to find value in their jobs. With theever changing conditions in 21st-century America, creativity and innovation are muchneeded elements in successful business operations; for today’s workforce it is finding adeeper meaning. It is up to modern businesses to find a way to provide this essentialmotivating factor. Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., hasbeen bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technologyfor more than 160 years. More than 140 Nobel laureates have written for ScientificAmerican, most of whom wrote about their prize-winning works years before beingrecognized by the Nobel Committee. In addition to the likes of Albert Einstein, FrancisCrick, Jonas Salk and Linus Pauling, Scientific American continues to attract esteemedauthors from many fields.Source:http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=mind-reviews-drive-the-surprising-truth&print=true

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