BREAKING: Local lecture becomes too high-yield, detonates


MELBOURNE – Pre-exam season is a turbulent time for all med students, doubly so in the current COVID climate. The preclinical students have been hit especially hard – their days are now occupied by sitting at home and staring at their computers intently, when only months ago they were sitting at home and staring at their computers absent-mindedly.

This high-octane environment has been the cause of many a mishap in the past, but the latest one dwarfs its predecessors. The Auricle understands that Joshua Leung, a first-year student from the Clayton campus, was watching a biochemistry lecture to revise when yield levels became supercritical, resulting in a chain reaction much like nuclear fission. Through an unofficial arrangement with a member of St. John’s Ambulance, the Auricle managed to contact Joshua for an exclusive interview as he was being raced to hospital.

The teen explained that he hadn’t realised how dangerous of a situation he was creating. “Well I used to watch lectures at 2x speed, but now everyone’s doing that. So I figured that I had to reach at least 4x to be competitive. And after that, hacking Moodle’s webserver to reach 6x felt like a natural step.”

“I realised something was wrong when I started seeing less and less “Do Not Memorise” tags, but it all happened so quickly that I had no time to react. One moment the slides were flashing across the screen as usual, the next there was this loud bang and I passed out. When I came to, my computer was smoking. I was in the middle of calculating its pack-year history when I passed out again.” [UPDATE – The Auricle has heard that Joshua is in a stable condition at Monash Medical Center. While he sustained no major injuries in the explosion, he is being treated for an unrelated case of egomegaly.]

With more and more high-yield content appearing over the years, supercritical yield had been theorised by numerous researchers but never achieved in practice. Previous experiments had focused on PSP revision lectures for their unusually high concentration of relevant content. Researchers believe the high speed of Joshua’s lecture may have been the key, with a table of useful information providing the critical moment that caused the detonation. After one of them spent two hours unsuccessfully trying to explain the concept of nuclear fission to The Auricle’s editorial staff, Chris Wright, who had not been contacted for comment, barged in and declared it further proof that Physics should be a prerequisite for Medicine.

The incident has raised safety concerns for other lectures as SWOTVAC fast approaches. The Medicine faculty has considered introducing speed limits for video content, and has proactively issued yield advisories for most courses. HEP lectures were noted to have dangerous yield spikes when one of the four relevant statistics were mentioned. Population Health and Med Law lectures are currently considered low risk.

The Auricle will continue to update you as the situation develops.

2020’s Obituary

By Anonymous

Hailed an auspicious year at first, who knew

Extended gloom and heartache would befall,

Reducing all things as the days swept through,

Enshrouding thousands in their deadly shawl?

This world, by human lives, is linked, bound tight,

Whose varied threads criss-cross the sapphire sphere,

Enabling talk and trade, but also blight

New-found to spark and spread this fateful year.

The plague ignored our man-made boundaries,

Yet triggered bubbling fault-lines deep as seas

The poor sank low, and age-old wounds dehisced,

Whilst leaders floundered round in childish games,

Evading such a length’ning problem list,

Not least our globe that groans in fumes and flames.

This year, like glass, has magnified our ills,

Yet clouded and upheld our stubborn wills.

Let’s fix our vision with hope and goodwill;

In true repentance, let’s our faults dispose,

Else this year’s ghost shall trail and haunt us still,

Shadowing us beyond December’s close.

Back In My Day


The year is 2085 and in a nursing home in the suburbs of Melbourne a youthful, energetic, uniform clad student is gruelling through their 15 hours of school-mandated community service. Across a room of walking frames, white hair (nursing homes of course remain stagnant, unperturbed by the passing of time), the student hears a croak and watches as an arthritic finger lifts to gesture in their direction.

“Back in my day, we had the pandemic you know,” a voice cuts through the confused cacophony of teatime and craft. The student struggles not to groan.

That’s me. The one with the finger, the walker and the white hair. The one hell-bent on sharing a story no doubt heard many times by this poor, innocent local school student. A story retold by parents, family friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents. A story read about in history class, narrated with comments of “Look how they lived!”, “I can’t believe how many people died!”  and “Why did America elect him?!”. A story well worth sharing with all people in this new generation because for one year, our whole world was turned upside down.

Topsy, turvy, wrong-way round, inside out and back-to-front.

Living through a pandemic has brought out the best, worst and weirdest sides of humanity. In some ways, people split into Harry Potter-esque groups. Those who bravely name the virus! Conquer the virus! Face this challenge head on with fortitude and strength! They were the Dumbledore’s of this era, offering encouragement and wisdom.  The Hermione’s lead our social media productivity competitions of banana bread baking and at home workouts, whilst providing salient updates and reminders to wash our hands. Meanwhile, the Fred and Georges gave it nicknames. Highlights include Ms Rona, the Panny-D, Pandemic at the Disco, The-Virus-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, the “current climate” and Company Policy. At one point the Dolores Umbridge’s of the group started suggesting it was a 5G conspiracy or ‘just a cold’. The WHO (a.k.a the Minerva McGonagall of medicine) put them all back in their boxes when they launched a global inquiry into Covid-19. 

More seriously, there were those who couldn’t discuss details of deaths and infection rates. Who hid slightly from the news to protect their emotional and mental health. Who used this time as a much needed break from their everyday lives. Finally, there were those who had more important concerns – whose lives had been thrust into personal, financial, mental and physical danger as a result of our “new normal”.

Of course, life is more like a box of chocolates than a magical wizarding school. We all flitted between many categories, almost at random. Some days I was Hermione, other days I was 11-year-old Neville Longbottom, struggling not to embody his own unfortunate surname.

This poor young person in the year 2085 may not have read Harry Potter, but hopefully in my old age I am able to pass on some nuggets of insight.  Living through a global pandemic has taught me that before anything else, human beings are social creatures. The primal need to connect with someone face-to-face is overwhelming. Society compensated with video-calls, social media, Netflix Parties, online Pub Quizzes, live workout classes and much, much more. My own home felt like a family-friendly Big Brother revival. Suddenly, I found my days revolving around two things. Firstly, “seeing” and speaking to those I don’t immediately live with and secondly, going on my government mandated exercise outside. OH! Fresh air! For the first time in my life I understood why my cat insists on going inside and outside all day every day at unrelenting 10-minute intervals. It is because she can, and the outside world is glorious. I craved spending time outdoors so much I became a runner. Trust me, nobody is more shocked than I. 

I would also impart to this youngster of the future (who is no doubt very bored by this point), that coronavirus brought out a level of fear in Australian society that nobody had seen for a very long time. What began as a desperate quest for toilet paper, morphed into people crossing roads to avoid oncoming walkers and turning their heads away from passing strangers. Racial slurs were thrown at those supposedly ‘to blame’ for an uncontrollable virus. I once coughed in a Coles and a fellow shopper looked at me as if I had summoned the anti-Christ. 

We were presented with this cruel paradox: Australia had never been more desperate for connection, yet more fearful of those around us.

I felt torn. As a medical student I wanted to learn about this virus, this pandemic, this marvellous global dance of public health messaging, medical ethics and culture. I understood I had to do my bit to ensure Australia’s health system survived. But equally, I so desperately wished to return to a normal routine of ward rounds, clinic, surgery and tutorials. How dare this pandemic ruin my first clinical year! My year of twenty firsts! My planned holiday!

After the initial anger and frustration at what was taken away, I was left with guilt. How could I be so selfish? But it was the wise words of Albus Dumbledore, stored somewhere at the back of my Gen-Z brain, that came to mind: “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live”. Accepting this ‘new normal’ took time, but after an initial adjustment I settled into my new day to day. After all, this pandemic would likely occupy a year of my life, and I was not about to write it off completely. One thing I had learnt from my first 6 weeks of third year placement, was that life is incredibly short.

Perhaps I would end my somewhat-delirious story to this Year 10 student, now most assuredly regretting their choice of community service, with arguably the most moving lesson from the Panny-D. That no matter the odds, humanity will always find a way to come together, to celebrate achievements, to cherish each other and to love. I hope that when my generation writes history books on this topic that we include photos not just of hospital beds and ventilators, but of people holding newborns up to windows to meet grandparents, of hospital wards applauding recovered patients, of students Zoom-ing one another wearing funny hats and of dogs being so, so, so happy that their humans are home for twice daily walks.

Back in my day we lived through a pandemic. It was weird, scary and confronting. It was also a timely reminder for a generation glued to their phones, that nothing will ever replace being able to spend time with those you love.