Sunday, December 05, 2010

This is what happens when you aren't a physics major.

As you may recall, in a previous post to this blog the strong preparation for medical school that a physics degree offers was pointed out. Let me see if I can add a little fuel to this fire.

In the journal in Diabetes Care we find the following article:

A mathematical model for the determination of total area under glucose tolerance and other metabolic curves. M M Tai 

Diabetes Care February 1994vol. 17 no. 2 152-154
From the title it sounds suspicious  already. Check out this excerpt from the abstract:
OBJECTIVE--To develop a mathematical model for the determination of total areas under curves from various metabolic studies. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS--In Tai's Model, the total area under a curve is computed by dividing the area under the curve between two designated values on the X-axis (abscissas) into small segments (rectangles and triangles) whose areas can be accurately calculated from their respective geometrical formulas. The total sum of these individual areas thus represents the total area under the curve. 
It seems the M. M. Tai has re-invented that process all physics (and math) majors learn in their second semester of calculus...we call it integration. Sort of sounds like the trapezoidal rule, eh? Clever that the author names the "model" after himself, isn't it?

While it is true that a physics major who becomes an MD would never try to publish this since it is old hat and we all know this, just think of all the new things you could publish: the energy required to lift a patient is proportional to the patient's mass and the change in height, the rate of flow through a hypodermic is proportional to the pressure applied to the piston, the time rate of change of a disease can be determine by the an examination of the change between two successive measurements. The list is endless. Why, you could publish your way into tenure at any hospital, no sweat. Just think of the wondrous new effects you could name for yourself!

Did I mention that this paper has 75 citations?