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Archive for June, 2012

Aside

Unit 44 – A Short Poem About Leaving

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 1 minute 30 seconds

Below is a short poem by Irish poet, John Montague

 

No Music

I’ll tell you a sore truth, little understood
It’s harder to leave, than to be left:
To stay, to leave, both sting wrong.

You will always have me to blame,
Can dream we might have sailed on;
From absence’s rib, a warm fiction.

To tear up old love by the roots,
To trample on past affections:
There is no music for so harsh a song.
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Aside

Unit 44 – The Neurologist’s Concerto

Difficulty: medium/hard

Time: 6 minutes

The passage below has been adapted from an article by Ronan McGreevy, published in The Irish Times, entitled ‘What Makes a Musical Genius?’

Is musical talent down to nature or nurture? Prof Steven Frucht is determined to find out what makes a true musician. What is the ineffable thing that marries the notes in a musician’s head with the ability to translate that into great music flawlessly and in a way that others can only admire?
The relationship between the brain and music has fascinated Steven Frucht, professor of neurology at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York and an accomplished violinist himself. Most music lovers are aware that musical talent seems to run in families, but many attribute that to the environment in which a musician is raised and the incentive to practise.
He came to the subject through his work helping musicians with the potentially career-threatening disorder called focal dystonia, also known as musicians’ dystonia. It afflicts musicians who use their hands repetitively in very complicated arrangements and is a neurological condition which can be crippling. He helps them with treatments which include, unusually, botox.
Frucht says great musicians operate at the “outer limits of what human motor control can do with speed and dexterity”. Such musicians have motor controllability which is well beyond the 99 per cent percentile of what most people are capable of doing.
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Aside

Unit 43 – The Doctor’s Wife Extract

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

 

The passage below is an extract from The Doctor’s Wife by Brian Moore.

Her flight had been called twice now and it was definitely the last call. There as no delaying it any longer, there was nothing to do but say goodbye, turn her back on him, and walk through the security check and onto the aircraft. An anxiety, the unreasoning anxiety of departure, came into her voice as she said, ‘Well, I must go this time.’
He stared, his dark eyes all question, as though he waited for her to give him some sign.
‘Goodbye, then,’ she said.
He did not speak.
‘If you ever come back to Ireland you must look us up.’
He moved toward her. She was sure he was going to kiss her, but, instead, he stopped and awkwardly held out his hand. For a moment she thought of kissing him on both cheeks in the French manner and making a joke of it, but her courage left her, and instead she shook his hand, then went up to the security people. A man and his wife were ahead of her in the check line, loaded down with cartons of gifts. She turned to look back. He was still standing there. She waved, he smiled and waved back. And then she entered the security checkpoint and, once through it, could no longer see the departure lounge. When she entered the aircraft, the seat-belt sign was already on, and as she sat down in her allotted seat, a stewardess offered her a choice of magazines. She took the first magazine off the pile, hurriedly, because she wanted the stewardess to move so that she could look across the aisle at the window facing the terminal. But saw only the terminal wall. No sign of him. The aircraft door shut and the plane taxied out for takeoff. She sat, staring numbly at the magazine cover.
As the plane moved forward in the takeoff queue, the quotation from the front of the magazine repeated itself in her head: L’avenir n’est interdit a personne – the future is forbidden to no one. The engines increased their thrust, the plane rushed down the runway and lifted into the air. Outside the window, great canyons of cloud opened and closed like the corridors of heaven as the plane climbed up into a bright-blue void. The seat-belt sign went off. On the intercom, a female voice announced that drinks would be offered and that luncheon would be served. She remembered the fuss she had made in the British Airways office in Belfast, two months ago, when the clerk told her this luncheon flight was fully booked, but that there was space on the later flight at three o’clock. She had wait-listed herself on this flight because she didn’t want to miss lunch. And if I hadn’t done that, at this moment I would be having lunch with Tom Lowry in Paris. Why didn’t I change my reservations this morning, why did I worry about the stupid old hotel? How did I get so bogged down in ordinariness that even this once I couldn’t do the spontaneous thing, the thing I really wanted to do.
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Aside

Unit 42 – Researching Treatments for Bone Marrow Oedema

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

The passage below is an extract from ‘Short-term outcome of painful bone marrow oedema of the knee following oral treatment with iloprost or tramadol: results of an exploratory phase II study of 41 patients’, by M.E. Mayerhoefer et al. originally published in Rheumatology (2007) 46 (9).

It was the goal of this study to compare the effect of oral treatment with the vasoactive iloprost to the effect of symptomatic treatment with tramadol, with regard to the outcome of painful isolated BME of the knee. While we were able to exclude all causes for reactive BME, and also a history of trauma suggesting mechanical BME, we were not able to reliably exclude minor to moderate axis deviations compatible with mechanical BME, because only standard antero-posterior and lateral radiographs of the knee joint, but no long radiographs of the entire lower limb, were available. Therefore, the BME observed in our patient population was regarded as either ischaemic or mechanical.
In recent studies, iloprost, which is currently registered for the intravenous therapy of peripheral arterial occlusive disease, thrombangiitis obliterans and Raynaud’s phenomenon, has been presented as an effective novel approach for the management of BME. Iloprost inhibits platelet and leucocyte activation, induces vasodilatation, counteracts vasospasm, protects the endothelium and reduces vessel wall permeability. Because it is believed that the main factors responsible for the development of BME are thrombo-, fat- and air-embolization, obstruction of venous and pre-capillary drainage or elevated venous pressure and decreased arterial perfusion, vessel wall injuries and decreased fibrinolysis, iloprost may represent a truly causative treatment option.
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Aside

Unit 41 – Sex Ed Stats

Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Time: 3 minutes

The passage below has been adapted from an article published on guardian.co.uk, written by Rachel Williams. 

 

A survey carried out as part of the 2001 census in the UK showed that fewer than half of teenage mothers were going to school when they got pregnant. About a quarter of boys and a third of girls who left school at 16 with no qualifications did not use contraception when they first had sex, compared to only 6% of boys and 8% girls who stayed on till 17 or over and got qualifications.

A 2008 study of 38 mostly poor, developing countries found that 15- to 17-year-old girls who were enrolled in school were less likely to have had sex than girls who weren’t in education. Nearly 13 million adolescent girls give birth each year in developing countries; a girl growing up in Chad is more likely to die in childbirth than she is to attend secondary school, according to the IPPF. But if a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, on average she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
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