Material for Science Educators



of possible use for


Note: Many of these topics can be searched on-line, starting from Links for Scientists and Laymen on the Main Page.

For Pharmacology Is Murder, by Dirk Wyle

  • Forensic vs basic science

  • Are the attitudes expressed in the CSI TV series useful in a biomedical research laboratory?

  • Pick a title: B.S., Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow, assistant professor, associate professor, full professor, chairman, dean, Nobel laureate, inventor, trail-blazer, biomedical research scientist.

  • Why insulin cannot be taken by mouth. Prion disease. Pharmacokinetics and drug delivery.

  • Research specialties of the 13 scientist-suspects

  • The transforming experience of the Ph.D. program

  • Ph.D. vs M.D.: Separate cultures or completely different animals?

  • Career paths in biomedical research

  • Medical inventions, patenting and commercialization

  • Are today's scientists natural philosophers, as implied by the title Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)?

  • Does the novel identify aspects of academic biomedical science that need to be more carefully examined or perhaps even changed?

For Biotechnology Is Murder, by Dirk Wyle

  • Why new drugs are expensive and hard to bring out: discovery, mechanism, source, purity, FDA guidelines and process, animal testing, side-effects, clinical testing, manufacture. And who is going to come up with $100 M to pay for it all?

  • Drug discovery: big companies vs small scientists

  • Dr. Moon's problems

  • Intermediate-stage financing

  • Defining intellectual property

  • Venture capitalists: Was Dr. Broadmoore typical?

  • Due diligence

  • Biomedical consulting scientist: a serious career or an occasional moonlighting gig?

  • The animal testing described in the novel

  • "GMP according to FDA guidelines"

  • Academia, government agency, big company or small company: Career choices for the freshly minted Ph.D.

  • "People skills" and "social engineering": Where to draw a line that will ensure that it's still science?

For Medical School Is Murder, by Dirk Wyle

  • Patent examiner as a career for a freshly minted Ph.D.

  • Biomedical research in medical schools: hard- and soft-money positions

  • Why the most dangerous time in a heart attack is when blood flow has been reestablished

  • Scientific discoveries overlooked or made. How discovery disfavors an unprepared mind.

  • Gradations in value of scientific work. How are scientific contributions weighed and assigned value?

  • Dr. Thomas Stockmann: Enemy of the People

  • MRI and other minimally invasive diagnostic techniques

  • Medical research as conducted by M.D.s and Ph.D.s.

  • Limitations of statistical analysis in longitudinal studies

  • Waste, fraud and abuse with respect to Federal funding of research

For Amazon Gold, by Dirk Wyle

For Bahamas West End Is Murder, by Dirk Wyle

  • Oceanography of the Florida coast, Staits of Florida and Gulf Stream, Little Bahama Bank

  • Ecology of the Little Bahama Bank

  • Bahamian economy

  • Bahamian political system

  • History of the Bahamas

  • Anti-cancer compounds from marine sponges. A scientific literature on this exists. (Also see Biotechnology Is Murder.)

  • Assuming that the compounds were efficacious, what would be the economic impact on the Bahamas?

  • Hull hydrodynamics: Planing vs displacement hulls

  • Validity of Ben's time-required-to-sink calculation

  • Gulf Stream currents and eddies

  • Validity of Ben's engine-vs-current-vs-wind method for back-calculating the position of the yacht

  • The science behind Rebecca's time-of-death calculation based on measurement of anal temperature. How the accuracy is influenced by activity level at death and environmental factors.

  • Medico-forensic basis of Rebecca's time-of-death estimate on the second body

  • Factors influencing distribution of sponges, coral and fish on marine ecospheres such as the Little Bahama Bank

For Yucatán Is Murder, by Dirk Wyle

  • Research and discuss the geography of the Yucatán Peninsula: mountains, hills and plains; weather; soil, ground cover; flora and fauna.

  • Research and discuss the present-day economy of the Yucatán Peninsula. What is the best prospect for growth? Tourism? Vacation- or retirement living? Agriculture? Technology? Developing human capital? Oil?

  • Yucatán hydrology: Its effect on sustainable population and ecology

  • Yucatán hydrology: As a determinant of Mayan history; cenotes

  • Similarities between Florida springs and Yucatán cenotes

  • Similarities between the Florida and Yucatán coastal environments

  • Research and consider the differences between Egyptian, Chinese and Mayan hieroglyphs.

  • The vulture as a cadaver dog

  • Follow leads in the novel to research carbon dioxide triple-point extraction technology.

  • Follow leads in the novel to research underground conduit drilling technology.

  • Research the use of DNA technology (described in the last chapter) to prove bodily contact with objects that have been collected as evidence.

  • Research the use of light-micoroscopy and histological stains to identify tissues collected as evidence and establish their human vs animal origin.

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