What prepared us? Ten years of war have brought details of attacks like these to our towns through news, images, and the soldiers who saw and encountered them. Almost every hospital has a surgeon or nurse or medic with battlefield experience, sometimes several. Many also had trauma personnel who deployed to Haiti after the earthquake, Banda Aceh after the tsunami, and elsewhere. Disaster response has become an area of wide interest and study. Cities and towns have conducted disaster drills, including one in Boston I was involved in that played out the scenario of a dirty-bomb explosion at Logan Airport on an airliner from France. The Massachusetts General Hospital brought in Israeli physicians to help revamp their disaster-response planning. Richard Wolfe at the Beth Israel Deaconess recalled an emergency physician’s presentation of the medical response required after the Aurora, Colorado, movie-theatre shooting of seventy people last summer. From 9/11 to Newtown, we’ve all watched with not only horror but also grave attention the myriad ways in which the sociopathy of killers has combined with the technology of inflicting mass casualty.

We’ve learned, and we’ve absorbed. This is not cause for either celebration or satisfaction. That we have come to this state of existence is a great sadness. But it is our great fortune.

Why Boston’s Hospitals Were Ready : The New Yorker


Beyond the Gene

we start by shifting focus from the abstract concept of the gene to that very concrete molecule with which we have become so familiar, the DNA. But we do not invoke the DNA of old—not DNA as the master molecule that embodies the secret of life, that encodes and orchestrates the dance of life, but rather the far more interesting molecule that we have come to know as DNA today. True, this DNA is no longer the only important actor in development, in heredity, or in evolution—indeed, given the passivity of the role it plays in all its interactions, it may not even be appropriate to call it an actor at all. As Elizabeth Pennini puts it, we have learned that “this molecule can’t dance without a team of choreographers”, that “it comes alive only when numerous proteins pull its ‘strings’” [10].

Beyond the Gene