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The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities

An Unconventional Compendium of Health Facts and Oddities, from Asthmatic Mice to Plants that Can Kill

Nicholas Bakalar

Times Books

Delightful doses of medical miscellany about wacky doctors and their curious patients, from their smallest bones (the stapes) to their heaviest organs (the liver)

In this addictive collection of trivia, Nicholas Bakalar, the “Vital Signs” columnist for The New York Times, spoons out the things you never realized you really want to know about your body and your health.

Bakalar shares the wonders of medicine, from medical firsts (in 1667, the first survivor of a blood transfusion received sheep’s blood) to medical onlys (rabies is the only infectious disease that is 100 percent curable when treated and 100 percent fatal if not). He takes a tour of diseases that belong in horror movies: liquefying organs, flesh-eating bacteria, mushrooms sprouting in the throat. He notes remarkable remedies, such as dark chocolate, which can stand in for blood-pressure pills. And he dissects the chemistry of the human body (including the 0.0000000000000015259 percent that is radium).

With a specialist’s attention to the funny bone as well as the gray matter, Bakalar tickles the curiosity of both the healthy and the hypochondriac, following Voltaire’s dictum that “the art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”

BOOK EXCERPTS

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MEDICINE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES
CHAPTER 1BY THE NUMBERSDoctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals.--NAPOLEON I (1769-1821)What Little Boys, Little Girls, and All the Rest of Us Are Made OfHYDROGEN, MOSTLY. IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YOU HEARD that we are 65 percent water, or something like that, right? As usual, you didn't get the full story. In reality, your body is 62.91 percent hydrogen, 24.003 percent oxygen, and 11.97 percent carbon--that's a little more than 98.89 percent of you, and we've only accounted for three elements. You're 0.58 percent nitrogen,
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities

“An ideal choice for your next doctor’s appointment, this book will provide entertainment, useful health information and some reassurance while you wait to be called. You'll learn you do not have Ebola haemorrhagic fever, for example, by checking the list of dire symptoms. Bakalar provides many such lists and interesting snippets.”—New Scientist
 
“Quirky… eminently entertaining…. A crisp, witty reference guide for the common person whose TV remote pauses—but doesn’t linger—on any channel broadcasting documentary coverage of medical procedures…. Bakalar’s collection provides many moments of erudite amusement.”—Booklist
“An ideal choice for your next doctor’s appointment, this book will provide entertainment, useful health information and some reassurance while you wait to be called. You'll learn you do not have Ebola haemorrhagic fever, for example, by checking the list of dire symptoms. Bakalar provides many such lists and interesting snippets.”—New Scientist
 
“Quirky… eminently entertaining…. A crisp, witty reference guide for the common person whose TV remote pauses—but doesn’t linger—on any channel broadcasting documentary coverage of medical procedures…. Bakalar’s collection provides many moments of erudite amusement.”—Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Nicholas Bakalar

  • Nicholas Bakalar, a longtime “Vital Signs” columnist for The New York Times, is the author or co-author of twelve books, including Where the Germs Are: A Scientific Safari. He has also reported on health and science news for Discover magazine, Wildlife Conservation, and National Geographic News. He lives in New York City.
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Available Formats and Book Details

The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities

An Unconventional Compendium of Health Facts and Oddities, from Asthmatic Mice to Plants that Can Kill

Nicholas Bakalar

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Times Books

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