Alain K Gunn - Official Website

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February 25, 2014

Mars One, the Dutch nonprofit that hopes to send humans to Mars by 2025, claims to have screened over 202,000 applicants for a one-way trip to Mars. They have settled on 100 finalists for this honor. Will it happen? Who knows? It depends more on money than technology. Humans have proven that they can safely pilot from Earth to Mars and land rockets intact on the red planet. Several mobile, unmanned probes have survived landings and functioned for many months on the Martian surface. The two Viking landers, Phoenix, Sojourner and Pathfinder, Curiosity and Opportunity have all exceeded our expectations. Only one of seven landings has been unsuccessful.

I’ve written two novels about going to Mars, and I’ve tried to make them as realistic as I can. The first draft of one of these novels, A Tale of Two Planets, was completed in the 1980’s but wasn’t published until 2013. The novel had to be extensively revised to reflect the amazing changes in technology in the intervening thirty years. I’ve been gratified that much of what was just a prediction in that early version has since come to fruition.

     How do you stop a bully? There are only two ways to do it:

  1. Convince the bully of the error of his ways
  2. Find a Bigger, Better Bully

Most non-bullies prefer the first way, at least to start. They hope that kindness will win the bully over to their side. It’s a big win for everyone when this tactic works. Abraham Lincoln famously said, “If I make my enemy my friend, have I not destroyed my enemy?” This method worked very well for him.

But the method depends on the bully having some ability to reason and empathize. Unfortunately, true bullies tend to be intransigent and obtuse. They don’t respond well to kindness, since they think of it as a sign of weakness. So a modification of the first method is sometimes necessary. This modification has three phases:

September 15, 2014

As an academic surgeon living in Hawaii, it’s appropriate for me to write a blog about the status of medical care in my state.

            Hawaii has been progressive in terms of providing care to every person in the state. Many years before Massachusetts enacted “Romneycare,” Hawaii mandated that all employees must be covered by insurance. As a result, the number of uncovered individuals within Hawaii was  - and probably still is - the lowest in the nation. The care of those without care then could be easily assimilated into state budgets and everyone within Hawaii had almost the same standard of care, with very few being treated in charity clinics.

October 22, 2014

When the AIDS epidemic was just beginning and we knew very little about its transmission, I was called upon to do spinal surgery on an HIV positive patient with a spinal fracture. I was not the first surgeon asked. Several had declined before me, not willing to risk catching the disease themselves. During the surgery, my inner and outer gloves were torn and my finger was awash with the patient’s blood. In the post-operative period, despite my best efforts, I had further exposure. If HIV had been as infectious as Ebola, I’m sure I would have been infected. I therefore have great sympathy for the two nurses who found themselves infected in Houston.


August 16, 2014

          Here’s a true story. It happened to me today, and I think it’s worth sharing.

I have a nice ocean kayak, but I don’t use it as often as I’d like. It’s great exercise, though, and catching waves with it is always fun, even if I get dumped (turned over) every once in a while.

Usually, I’ll catch small waves near to shore, where Moanalua Bay is quite shallow. It’s fun, with very little risk. I wear reef shoes, so I can hop back on without tearing up my feet if I get dumped.