T helper cells and interleukin molecules

Cytokine Storms: The Cruel Irony of an Immune Response

In John M. Barry’s book on the 1918 flu pandemic, The Great Influenza, one of the most striking passages concerns what actually killed many of the young, healthy victims of...
A series of torn up academic papers against a blue background

Preprints, Science, and the News Cycle

In 1991, a preprint server went online at Los Alamos Laboratory, famous home of the Manhattan Project. ArXiv was an electronic repository where physicists could share papers with their colleagues...
Kate Moennig in The L Word

What’s Behind the Very Real Butch Quarantine Hair Crisis?

A specter is haunting the mirrors of the world—the specter of rapidly growing hair. With COVID-19 closing barber shops and salons, the short-haired people of the world have been brought...
An image representing mutating virus

Viral Mutation for the Perplexed

Imagine a game of Telephone, where a phrase or sentence or short story is passed, one person to another, until the last person is reached. They then say what they’ve...
Quaran, the official quarantine mascot of Japan

There’s a Mascot for That? Cute COVID-19 Education

In Japan, there are many mascots for many things. They are yuru-kyara (or yuru-chara), “loose” or “wobbly characters,” rooted in and evolved from traditional religious deities, and now ubiquitous in...
A golden retriever on the beach

Dogs and Cancer

Cancer, at its simplest, begins with DNA mutations that cause uncontrolled replication of abnormal cells, resulting in tumors and illness. There is no single “cancer”: each is dependent on the...
A depiction of cholera by Robert Seymour

Disease Theory in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man

Mary Shelley’s third novel, The Last Man (1826), is about the sole survivor of a global plague at the end of the twenty-first century. Um…should we all be reading it...
Coronavirus

A Science Reader for COVID-19

What pandemics often do, in addition to causing debilitating illness and profound loss, is expose: the gaps in our scientific knowledge, the limitations on our abilities to respond, and the...
The North Ronaldsay or Orkney sheep is a breed from North Ronaldsay, the northernmost island of Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland.

Sheep Snarf Seaweed at the Scottish Seashore

When many non-Scots think of Scotland, they envision it as once populated by angry blue-painted men in kilts who fought off the Romans and warred with the English to their...
Many cassiopea xamachana, upside down jellyfish

Upside-Down Jellyfish and the Mucus of Death

Jellyfish are a bane to ocean swimmers—the sight of a single small gelatinous mass can make them think the water is filled with stinging crowds of non-sentient Jell-O, and that...