Chances 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?
14 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).
At 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
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.
#1 The word concussion is derived from the latin term concutere, meaning to shake violently. It is a type of traumatic brain injury with short-term neurologic impairment caused by biomechanical force (ie. the violent shaking).
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.
Whether you’re decorating a tree, lighting a kinara, spinning a dreidel, or just doing festivus like the rest of us, your end of the year festivities are full of science!
Continue reading Is your Santa a Chinese physicist?
In a blitz of media frenzy, Charlie Sheen recently announced he is HIV positive. So, should we care?
Before saying anything else, absolutely and unequivocally: YES! Raising awareness for disease is always a good thing. Remember that ALS ice bucket challenge? Even a disease like HIV, which for the general public is a has-been, benefits from media attention. To the medical and scientific community, HIV is so much more. HIV remains the number 1 infectious disease killer and top-funded research area. Despite not yet having an effective vaccine (the Holy Grail of infectious disease if there ever was one), we’ve made enormous progress in understanding this unwieldy virus.
In a strange collision of infectious disease and oncology, The New England Journal of Medicine (@NEJM) yesterday published a case report of a man who succumbed to cancer, which was surprisingly not his own, but his parasite’s.
I finally got around to reading Michael Crichton’s posthumous novel Micro, finished after Crichton’s death by another popular sci-fi author Richard Preston. Since I first tore through Jurassic Park in 7th grade (more 20 years ago…yikes!), I have been a huge fan of Crichton’s imaginative worlds of science fiction. Not to mention that I was so inspired by Preston’s The Hot Zone that I entered the fields of infectious diseases and immunology for my career. So imagine my disappointment to discover that Micro is little more than a science-themed knock-off of the wacky Rick Moranis comedy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.