Pontiac, an Ottawa Indian, confronts Colonel Henry Bouquet who authorised his officers to spread smallpox amongst native Americans by deliberately infecting blankets after peace talks in 1764

How Commonly Was Smallpox Used as a Biological Weapon?

Once introduced into the Americas, smallpox spread everywhere. Is it possible to know how often that was done intentionally to kill people?
Illustration by Arthur Rackham

Sick Party!

The party as site of contagion in Edgar Allan Poe, Evelyn Waugh, and Ling Ma.
An illustration of digital viruses

Do Viruses Cheat to Win at Evolution?

How one pair of researchers used game theory to predict the sneaky, underhanded behavior of microbial competitors.
Jones Edward Salk

Verbatim: Jonas Salk

Virologist Jonas Salk led the team that developed the breakthrough vaccine for polio. He was also a social critic.
An illustration of a man sneezing

You Don’t Get Colds from Being Cold

On the persistence of a folk belief.
Actress Dorothy Tutin having an anti-flu injection, 1969

How Scientists Tried to Find a Universal Flu Vaccine

The quest to “conquer” influenza with a shot that could be used every year started out with high hopes, and ended up a hot mess.
A graph of the early onset of AIDS from the alleged index case of Gaëtan Dugas aka "Patient Zero".

AIDS, from the Perspective of “Patient Zero”

We now know a great deal about how the man who's often blamed for the AIDS epidemic saw himself and his community. That's important.
Little brown bat

What Bats Can Teach Humans About Coronavirus Immunity

Bats have a unique genetic ability to tolerate many viral infections. Can humans uncover their secrets?
Coronavirus

A Science Reader for COVID-19

Covering concepts from spillover to virus mutation, this collection of free-to-access readings provides scientific context around the COVID-19 pandemic.
An illustration of a Culiseta melanura mosquito.

A Deadly Virus is Lurking in East Coast Mosquitoes

Eastern Equine Encephalitis may be brewing in the bog near you. Should you worry?