All posts by Stuart Farrimond

Doctor Stu is editor of Guru Magazine. He originally trained as a medical doctor before deciding to branch out into lecturing, writing, editing and science communication. He drinks far too much coffee, eats lots of ice cream and has a bizarre love of keeping fit.
You can check out Doctor Stu’s blog at realdoctorstu.com or his poncy personal website stuartfarrimond.com. Here's his .

Why are so many celebrities dying?

2016 hasn’t been a good year to be a celebrity so far. British and international superstars left, right and centre have been shuffling off this mortal coil in quick succession. David Bowie, Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, Ronny Corbett, Paul Daniels, Andy Newman, Victoria Wood, Craig Strickland, Glenn Frey, Rob Ford, The Prince and others, have all passed away in the last four months. We are left wondering: why are so many of our favourite personalities dying so suddenly? It’s a question that has had many of us scratching our heads, wondering whether there something sinister is going on.

Alan RickmanOf course, it may be that we have been imagining this glut of celebrity sadness. Bad news sometimes comes in threes (or fours or fives) for no good reason. For example, JFK and C.S. Lewis both died on the same day, while Princess Diana and Mother Teresa passed away within a week of each other. A look at the numbers, however, reveals that we probably aren’t imagining this sudden increase: in the first four months of 2016 the BBC published twice as many obituaries for famous people as they did last year. And compared to 2012, the number of celebrity deaths looks to have increased four-fold.

Something in the weather, or the drinking water perhaps? Thankfully, we need not panic about a new deadly disease in the UK just yet, because a look to the Office for National Statistics reassures us that the number Britons who have passed away since Big Ben chimed twelve on December 31st is a perfectly normal amount. USA stats for the year so far are not yet available.

The reason for the recent celebrity deaths may be that their carefree lifestyle is starting to catch up on them. Addiction and over-indulgence often go hand-in-hand with fame, a fact that psychiatrists say can be explained by a celebrity’s yearning to recreate the buzz felt from being in the limelight. And statistics confirm that fame can take a heavy toll: metal rock stars have a 20 times high risk of suicide than normal, while pop musicians have a life-expectancy of just 59.

The real answer to this macabre mystery may not be due to celebs’ risky living, however. The true reason is probably a result of our TV viewing habits. Before the ‘idiot box’ made it into our living rooms in the late 1950s, the only megastars we knew were the ones we saw at the cinema. In the 1960s and 1970s, dozens of bright-eyed presenters and actors entered our homes – and we fell in love with them. Now as these stars are entering their 70s, many are starting to pass away. And as we welcome ever-more of celebrities into our lives, it’s a sad trend that looks set to continue.

So while time and tide waits for no man, we can learn from these stats that chasing after fame can be bad for your health. Wannabe rock stars should take note: think very seriously about your health before you next pick up your guitar. To enjoy a long and prosperous life, you might want to consider a safer alternative career as a gospel singer.

Photo credits: Marc Wathleu via Flickr CC, Marie-Lan Nguyen via Flickr CC.

Article by Stuart Farrimond

May 7, 2016

Doctor Stu is editor of Guru Magazine. He originally trained as a medical doctor before deciding to branch out into lecturing, writing, editing and science communication. He drinks far too much coffee, eats lots of ice cream and has a bizarre love of keeping fit.
You can check out Doctor Stu’s blog at realdoctorstu.com or his poncy personal website stuartfarrimond.com. Here's his .


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Arrivals Lounge: All aboard for issue 19…

All is not as it seems in this issue of Guru Magazine. The world in which we live in is one of murky politics, invisible parasites and mysterious illusions. Issue 19 lifts the veil on hidden worlds that few of us ever knew existed – journeying from the waters of the Ganges in North India to the American fields of professional athletics. Turning our attention to ourselves, we then zoom in on the bugs that live inside our bodies and we consider how sleep – and a lack of it – can distort our view of reality.

Kate Timms wonders whether there has been a conspiracy at play in the world of American Football, as she investigates the scandal of sports-related head injuries. For many years, professional sports bodies have denied that knocks to the head can cause unseen and potentially fatal brain damage – and only now is the truth starting to emerge. Jack Williams then reviews Rob Brotherton’s debut book, Suspicious Minds, and discovers that all of us – no matter how sceptical – have a tendency to be duped by crazy conspiracy theories. Winners of our Suspicious Minds competition are revealed, with accolades going to the most inventive new conspiracy theories that you concocted.

On a more savoury – or should we say ‘sweet’ – note, guest writer Cameron Hyde chews over how his skinny friends manage to have their cake and eat it, while he seems to pile on the pounds just by looking at an apple pie. It’s all down to our DNA, he says, and small changes to our lifestyle can reprogram our biological instruction manuals – ultimately letting us fit into that abandoned pair of skinny jeans.

Also in this issue, microbe expert Dr Bjorn Herpers offers a surprising solution to the problem of superbugs. We review the latest book by Comma Press, Spindles: Short Stories from the Science of Sleep: a compelling collection of popular science short stories from a variety of authors accompanied with commentaries by real scientists.

There are other gems buried in Guru for you to discover but we’ll hand over to new mother Autumn Sartain to awaken your senses. Read on as she recounts an ill-fated night when the foundations of her world started to wobble. But don’t worry, this is one story with a happy ending…

 

Article by Stuart Farrimond

April 1, 2016

Doctor Stu is editor of Guru Magazine. He originally trained as a medical doctor before deciding to branch out into lecturing, writing, editing and science communication. He drinks far too much coffee, eats lots of ice cream and has a bizarre love of keeping fit.
You can check out Doctor Stu’s blog at realdoctorstu.com or his poncy personal website stuartfarrimond.com. Here's his .


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There’s a Storm Coming, I Feel it in My Bones – or do you?

Thank goodness the nights are finally getting shorter (for those of us in the Northern hemisphere). Unless you’re a duck, the wet and gloomy weather is pretty miserable. The imminent spring sunshine is especially good news for those of us who suffer with aching joints. Speak to anyone who has arthritis and there’s a good chance they will say their joints ache more when a storm is looming. Many experts think that changes in air pressure affect the way we feel pain; yet despite this being a widely held belief, there’s no real proof that it’s actually real. One researcher, however, is using smartphone technology to discover whether your aunt really is right when she says, “There’s a storm coming – I feel it in my bones”.  And what’s more, if you own a mobile phone and experience long-standing pain then you too can be a medical science detective.

PainDr Will Dixon, a UK professor who specialises in medical statistics, recently launched a smartphone app called ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Pain’. It is available free of charge to anyone aged over 17 in the UK who has suffered with pain for at least three months. Every day for six months you are tasked with inputting your symptoms – including pain, fatigue and general wellbeing – on a five-point scale. Your location and the local weather conditions are automatically recorded, and you can even submit your own ideas about what might be triggering a flare in pain. Each user is also sent a personalised report to help them learn more about their symptoms and health.

The project has been running for a few weeks and the anonymised data is being crunched right now. By analysing the results from thousands of people’s suffering, Dr Dixon hopes to find the truth behind a belief that has existed for at least 2,500 years. He follows in the footsteps of other scientists who have explored similar ancient beliefs, such as that of ‘lunacy’: surveys have shown that about half of us believe crime and mental illness peak during a full moon – and Accident and Emergency staff are particularly likely to say their work gets busier on werewolf nights. But the actual science shows that it isn’t real: workers merely forget all the full moon evenings when not much happens.

So given that two thirds of arthritis sufferers believe weather affects their symptoms (and even the Arthritis Foundation have an online ‘joint pain weather forecast’), it seems likely that many people will stick to their convictions regardless of what Dr Dixon discovers. That said, it’s going to take some time before he gets his final conclusions – and seeing how unreliable some weather Office forecasts have been of late, I’d be inclined to take a chance and ask my aunt when the next storm is on the way…

Photo credit: Steven Depolo and azarius via Flickr Creative Commons

Article by Stuart Farrimond

February 8, 2016

Doctor Stu is editor of Guru Magazine. He originally trained as a medical doctor before deciding to branch out into lecturing, writing, editing and science communication. He drinks far too much coffee, eats lots of ice cream and has a bizarre love of keeping fit.
You can check out Doctor Stu’s blog at realdoctorstu.com or his poncy personal website stuartfarrimond.com. Here's his .


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Departures Lounge: all good things…

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All good things must come to an end and, alas, our time together is almost over. As you collect your suitcases from the baggage reclaim belt, you’re hopefully taking plenty of good memories with you: in this issue, you travelled in the Everglades, journeyed under the floorboards, met Old MacDonald fifty years from now, and explored the deepest recesses of the brain. But wipe that tear from your eye for this is not ‘goodbye’ but ‘au revoir’. We are already working on the next instalment of your Guru Magazine and so we should be back before you’ve even had time to unpack.

Of course, Guru is not just about the mag and we are continually adding fresh content to the website and answering all your ‘Ask a Guru’ questions (which you can send us whenever you get one of those ‘I always wondered why…’ moments). For example, did you know that the hoverboards seen in the Back to the Future movies now actually exist? No? Well click here to watch them in action in our special Back to the Future Day feature.

We’re truly proud to bring you the world’s first and only science-lifestyle periodical, dedicated to publishing thought-provoking and life-relevant content. Guru is a crowd-sourced enterprise that is shaped by its readers and writers – so we need your feedback and suggestionsyour feedback and suggestions to help Guru Magazine to continue to evolve and improve. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the latest Guru goings-on, subscribe via email to be the first to know when the next full issue comes online, and if you’re a writer, artist, designer (or would just like to get involved!) then don’t hesitate to drop us an email.

We’re truly proud to bring you the world’s first and only science-lifestyle periodical, dedicated to publishing thought-provoking and life-relevant content. Guru is a crowd-sourced enterprise that is shaped by its readers and writers – so we need your feedback and suggestionsyour feedback and suggestions to help Guru Magazine to continue to evolve and improve. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the latest Guru goings-on, subscribe via email to be the first to know when the next full issue comes online, and if you’re a writer, artist, designer (or would just like to get involved!) then don’t hesitate to drop us an email.

Thanks again for checking in and have a safe onward journey…

Article by Stuart Farrimond

November 2, 2015

Doctor Stu is editor of Guru Magazine. He originally trained as a medical doctor before deciding to branch out into lecturing, writing, editing and science communication. He drinks far too much coffee, eats lots of ice cream and has a bizarre love of keeping fit.
You can check out Doctor Stu’s blog at realdoctorstu.com or his poncy personal website stuartfarrimond.com. Here's his .


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