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May 17, 2019

Weekend reads: This doctor spent 2 months helping to write a medical drama

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Chocolate is ... "ruby couverture"? Switzerland-based chocolate company Barry Callebaut AG's new "ruby chocolate" is about to make its U.S. debut—but it will appear under a different name, as it awaits FDA approval to market the new product as "chocolate." The chocolatier announced the discovery of the chocolate, derived from a distinct type of cacao bean that imparts a "sour yet sweet" flavor, back in 2017, and it submitted its application to FDA in March 2018. Until FDA grants approval for the product's U.S. description, the confection will be marketed as "ruby couverture," "ruby cacao bars," and "ruby cacao truffle." 

    What one doctor learned in the writer's room for Fox's 'The Resident.' Daniela Lamas has a self-proclaimed "love" of medical dramas, so when the opportunity presented itself, she left her job on the overnight shift at a Boston-based ICU to spend two months in Los Angeles helping write Fox's medical drama, "The Resident." During her stint, she pitched a storyline based on her real-world experience helping determine which of two patients should be given priority for the hospital's only available ECMO machine—a device that supports patients when a ventilator can't. In real life, one of the patients died, while on TV, both patients survived. While Lamas initially worried the televised version was "misleading," she realized the show excelled at highlighting "the authentic core of uncertainty—how we balance risk and benefit" when working with "a limited resource." Plus, the show offered a look at "the world we had hoped for" and "made it come to life," she writes. "Maybe this is the power of the medical dramas I love."

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Why there are so many Democratic presidential contenders. Already, nearly two dozen Democrats have put their hats in the ring for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and people are beginning to wonder why so many politicians are running for president. Kyle Kondik, who helps lead the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, has three theories on why the democratic race is so crowded. First, Kondik said that "there's not really a big favorite for the nomination," so there's no "barrier to entry for candidates." Kondik's second theory is that the high number of bids is actually "enticing even more candidates to enter." He explained that each bid "hypothetically … means that the share of the vote needed to win Iowa or New Hampshire goes down." Lastly, Kondik said he thinks Democrats have a feeling they can win the general election, making this a nomination with a higher chance of leading to the presidency.

    AI can create music. Should artists be worried? In London last month, people attended a concert that showcased classical music composed partly by Bach and partly by AI—and when the audience was invited to guess which parts of the concert were made by man versus machine, they struggled to tell the difference. Marcus du Sautoy, the Oxford mathematician behind the event, said his experiment demonstrates that art is more structured than a lot of people may realize. "People think art is something very mystical," du Sautoy said. "I wanted to reveal that a lot of creative acts do have structure and pattern and algorithms and logic. Especially with music." But should artists be worried that AI will put them out of a job? Du Sautoy says they shouldn't be. "I hope is that maybe we'll be able to push ourselves in interesting ways as the AI becomes a partner or tool to extend our own creativity," he said.

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