It’s pretty safe to say that 2016 sucked a big one. Adding insult to injury, the worst day of the year for me (and likely many of you) just happened to fall on my birthday–November 9th. But, before we slam the door on this year (and look forward to next? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), let’s reflect on some memorable science in the media in 2016. Continue reading Year-in-review
In his new book, Thing explainer:
complicated stuff in simple words, Randall Munroe uses the top ten hundred words in the language spoken most in the world and lots of pictures to explain how some things work. In a world with too many big words, this book is great. However, some of the top words, simple enough alone, are still changed for others and one of the big words that tell you what the book is (marked above) isn’t even in the top words! Despite several wrong word choices, Thing explainer hits the mark for interestingly explaining things.
Mary Roach, author of the weird sciency books Stiff, Gulp, and Bonk, should go on a comedy tour. Her research about human physiology is not simply regurgitated on the page. It is craftily masticated, suspensefully digested, and hilariously delivered for her readership to chew on. Outside of this blog, I write about evidence-based medicine. I do PubMed searches on things like “mycobacteria, prevalence, United States” and “typhoid fever, pathogenesis”. For her work, Mary Roach searches for things like “cadaveric, penis” and “kegeling, urine dribble”. Here are some fascinating curiosities of Mary Roach. Continue reading Chew on this: the curiosities of Mary Roach
Recently, a letter written in 1988 by beloved British children’s lit author Roald Dahl resurfaced. The letter was written on behalf of his deceased daughter Olivia, who caught measles and died in 1962 at the all-too young age of 7. Prior to the development of the measles vaccine, this was a horrifyingly common occurrence. In his letter, Dahl recounts the last day of Olivia’s life and pleads parents to vaccinate their children.
“In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk.”
-Roald Dahl’s 1988 letter
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that starts somewhat innocuously as a flu-like disease before exploding into an itchy rash that can spread all over the body. Measles is particularly dangerous when the virus infects the lungs and progresses to pneumonia or infects the brain and causes inflammation leading to seizures and brain damage. This brain infection is what ended poor Olivia Dahl’s life all those years ago. And although Roald Dahl recognized that the vaccine was not available in time to save his eldest daughter, he was conscious of the well-being of his other children and all the kids all over the world that are captivated by his fantasy worlds in books.
“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
“I feel all sleepy,” she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
-Roald Dahl’s 1988 letter