All posts by Heather D. Marshall

Growing up in the dark

Wikipedia.com
Fruit fly (Drosophila) via Wikipedia.com

No, I’m not talking about unearthing some hidden family secret (you can exhale a sigh of relief, mom).  Here I refer to fruit flies growing up in the dark as participants in a 62-year long experiment at Kyoto University in Japan.  More than 1,500 generations of flies have been reared in total darkness ever since Syuiti Mori shut the blinds on his flies in 1954 starting one of the longest laboratory experiment on evolution.   Continue reading Growing up in the dark

Waves

If you’ve been following CMB from the beginning or have scrolled back to early posts, you’ll recall the MY Age of Anxiety (and a bit of Scott Stossel’s too) piece.  May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is personally ironic as awareness of my own anxiety tends to exacerbate my inner angst.  Although I do agree that societal awareness is no doubt beneficial.  Go #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth!

Since publishing that piece, I’ve had a few panic attacks.  I’ve weaned off an SSRI, which was a slow and sometimes painful drag, but was important for other health reasons.  And I’ve started yoga and mindful meditation, which centers me in a way I didn’t know possible.  I don’t “struggle” with anxiety, it is part of who I am.  But my anxiety is not me, it’s mine.

For me, anxiety exists like waves in the sea–always there, mostly unnoticeable, occasionally lapping at my feet, infrequently stormy.

mental health month

Protecting kids who can’t be vaccinated

unvax kidw PIDD

It’s no secret that I’m an unabashed and staunch supporter of vaccines.  Man’s most influential medical accomplishments: vaccines, antibiotics, and water purification have all contributed to lengthening human life by reducing infectious disease.  The public health implications of vaccination aren’t questioned–epidemiological data clearly show that vaccines work. Continue reading Protecting kids who can’t be vaccinated

The Magic Bubble

When I was a kid, I wrote a story called The Magic Bubble.  It was a short tale of a kid named Al who ate Cocoa Krispies for weeks on end so he could mail away for a promotional prize: the titular magic bubble.  This bubble, costing 5 Cocoa Krispies proof of purchases, would take the owner anywhere in the world–as long as it wasn’t too hot for the bubble to handle.

Al pumped up his magic bubble and then chose his destination: Egypt, because he didn’t know anything about Egypt (and also likely because I was interested in pyramids and mummies at the time).

Unfortunately for Al, Egypt was a bit hotter than he expected and his bubble popped shortly after arriving, leaving him lost in the desert.  He met a “South Egyptian” who spoke with Yoda-like backwards grammar, a cloud-like figure Mr. Cairo, the capital man of Egypt, and a young Egyptian boy who helped him get on a Navy ship that would take him home.

Now let’s just say that I wanted to expand on this story in the form of a feature film.  I’m going to add a political spin, bring in a big conspiracy, and top it off with real-life emotional intrigue–the failing health of poor young Al.  And I’m not just going to write, produce, and act in the film, but I’m going to pitch it as a true story.

Much like this:

You might not believe in Al and my story, and that’s ok, you have every right to question it.  But bad things happen when people believe in his.  This is not about having a discussion or even free speech, it’s about harming children.  Andrew Wakefield should be personally accountable for every child he has harmed because of his lies.  He’s already  been held professionally accountable, but that doesn’t seem to slow him or his supporters.   In fact, he’s apparently used it to turn himself into some sort of martyr in this “documentary”.

Good for you Robert de Niro and Tribeca for not allowing this libelous garbage to cloud your film festival.  Now if we could just find some way to use Wakefield’s own hot air to burst the bubbles that have befuddled all his supporters, we’d really be on to something.

What’s with all the mumps?

Mumps_virusChances are you’ve been hearing a lot about mumps lately.  If you live in the greater Boston area, The Boston Globe reports that Harvard has been hit the hardest with 13 confirmed cases.  The grand total for Massachusetts so far in 2016 stands at 26 cases (and all of the U.S. at 250 cases).  As we barrel towards peak season for mumps, these numbers are alarming.  So what’s with all the mumps? Continue reading What’s with all the mumps?

The Truth Squad with Cloudy Media Blog

Logo_X-Files_2_-_I_want_to_believe14 years after we’ve last been fascinated by Mulder and Scully’s investigations of paranormal activities on prime time, the duo went back to work at the FBI’s X-Files in a 6-episode mini-season.  This season was just enough to whet fans’ appetites with fond memories of their favorite stories (Eve, anyone?) and infuriate us with a cliffhanger ending.  But it was the bookended storyline linking episodes 1 and 6, that made my scientist blood boil (FYI–just a saying, tissues would be incinerated long before blood could boil).

Continue reading The Truth Squad with Cloudy Media Blog

It takes two to make a thing go right, or wrong

women powerAt the same time we have Hillary, 4 female astronauts graduating from the NASA space program, Samantha Bee on late night tv,  and actual dialogue about gender gaps in salary and management,  it’s still been a rough start to 2016 for women.   Continue reading It takes two to make a thing go right, or wrong

Attack of the killer mosquitoes! Part 1: Zika virus

Photo credit: John Tann
Photo credit: John Tann

Somewhat unbelievably given the preponderance of violence today, humans are not responsible for the most human deaths worldwide.  This distinction instead belongs to that annoying buzzy insect, the mosquito.  Mosquitoes are like an Uber for infectious pathogens hitching a ride to and from nice cozy destinations such as humans.  There are numerous viruses, bacteria, and even fly larvae (I dare you to watch this video) taking mosquito Ubers, but the one I want to talk about today is called Zika.

Continue reading Attack of the killer mosquitoes! Part 1: Zika virus