A Dying Young Woman’s Hope in Cryonics and a Future

A young woman’s last request before dying of cancer: Have her brain cryonically preserved so that neuroscience might one day reviver her mind.

Author: Amy Harmon
Published: Sep 12, 2015
Length: 29 minutes (7,427 words)

Longreads Best of 2014: Science Stories

We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in science writing.

Source: Longreads
Published: Dec 18, 2014

Navigating Love and Autism

From the beginning, their physical relationship was governed by the peculiar ways their respective brains processed sensory messages. Like many people with autism, each had uncomfortable sensitivities to types of touch or texture, and they came in different combinations.

Jack recoiled when Kirsten tried to give him a back massage, pushing deeply with her palms.

“Pet me,” he said, showing her, his fingers grazing her skin. But Kirsten, who had always hated the feeling of light touch, shrank from his caress.

“Only deep pressure,” she showed him, hugging herself.

He tried to kiss her, but it was hard for her to enjoy it, so obvious was his aversion. To him, kissing felt like what it was, he told her: mashing your face against someone else’s. Neither did he like the sweaty feeling of hand-holding, a sensation that seemed to dominate all others whenever they tried it.

Author: Amy Harmon
Published: Dec 26, 2011
Length: 21 minutes (5,446 words)

Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World

Justin is among the first generation of autistic youths who have benefited throughout childhood from more effective therapies and hard-won educational opportunities. And Ms. Stanton-Paule’s program here is based on the somewhat radical premise that with intensive coaching in the workplace and community — and some stretching by others to include them — students like Justin can achieve a level of lifelong independence that has eluded their predecessors. “There’s a prevailing philosophy that certain people can never function in the community,” Ms. Stanton-Paule told skeptics. “I just don’t think that’s true.”

Author: Amy Harmon
Published: Sep 18, 2011
Length: 30 minutes (7,524 words)

A Son of the Bayou, Torn Over the Shrimping Life

A few months later, Buddy traded $800 and bartered time and equipment for a 51-foot boat that needed, among other things, a new layer of fiberglass. When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded 41 miles offshore last April, they were almost done with the seemingly endless repairs. Their goal had been to finish before the young brown shrimp, at their sweetest and most succulent, began to move in May from the marshes to spawn in the salty gulf. And when the oil company’s efforts to cap its leaking well fell short, Aaron recorded it on his Facebook wall. “BP fails…. AGAIN!!!” he posted on May 29. Then, on June 15: “Sleepless night, lots of thinkin goin on.”

Author: Amy Harmon
Published: Jan 7, 2011
Length: 11 minutes (2,941 words)

New Drugs Stir Debate on Rules of Clinical Trials

When two cousins each learned that a lethal skin cancer called melanoma was spreading rapidly through his body, the young men found themselves with the shared chance of benefiting from a recent medical breakthrough.

Author: Amy Harmon
Published: Sep 18, 2010
Length: 16 minutes (4,173 words)

After Long Fight, Drug Gives Sudden Reprieve

The trial of a melanoma drug offers a glimpse at a new kind of therapy tailored to the genetic profile of a cancer.

Author: Amy Harmon
Published: Feb 23, 2010
Length: 15 minutes (3,846 words)

A Drug Trial Cycle: Recovery, Relapse, Reinvention

Even if some combination of targeted drugs could put melanoma into a long hibernation — and that was still not clear, he knew — it might take a cocktail of five or more such drugs to treat any given case. And it can take 10 years for even one drug to reach the market.

Author: Amy Harmon
Published: Feb 23, 2010
Length: 10 minutes (2,565 words)

A Roller Coaster Chase for a Cure

At what may be a watershed moment in understanding genetic changes that cause cancer, a small band of doctors is doggedly testing a drug known as PLX4032.

Author: Amy Harmon
Published: Feb 21, 2010
Length: 17 minutes (4,485 words)