Book & movie reviews

Category archives for Book & movie reviews

Yellow fever: the American plague

The fever hit suddenly in the form of a piercing headache and painful sensitivity to light, like looking into a white sun. At that point, the patient could still hope that it was not yellow fever, maybe just a headache from the heat. But the pain worsened, crippling movement and burning the skin. The fever…

I asked yesterday what readers considered the most important diseases in history. This was prompted by a new ASM Press book, Twelve Diseases that Changed Our World, written by Irwin Sherman. As I mentioned, Sherman included many diseases readers expected–plague, cholera, tuberculosis, smallpox, syphilis, malaria, influenza, yellow fever, and AIDS. He didn’t include a few…

Vaccine by Arthur Allen

Regular readers may have seen me mention on occasion my father’s rather large family. My dad is the youngest of a family of 13 children–12 of whom survived to adulthood. Before my dad was born, he lost a brother to complications from infection with chicken pox; he had a severe infection and developed a fatal…

It’s not a rosy picture for girls in math. As Barbie infamously framed it, girls should think that “math is hard.” While Mattel (rightly) received a lot of flack for that comment, the sad fact is that Barbie was reflecting the attitude many girls tend to take toward mathematics education: it’s difficult, it’s boring, and…

One of the most famous stories in all of epidemiology revolves around the very birth of the science, in the midst of a London cholera outbreak in 1854. At the time, the scientific community was divided over the cause of cholera and other diseases. The majority of them accepted the miasma theory, the idea that…

Did Hitler have syphilis?

Syphilis is a disease frequently shrouded in many levels of mystery. It appeared suddenly in Europe in the late 1400s as a highly virulent and often fatal disease, a disease that could give Ebola a run for its money when it comes to sheer grotesque-ness. Victims may be covered with pustules from head to toe,…

The seventh chapter of Wells’ book could be summed up in a single sentence: “biology doesn’t need no steeekin’ evolution!” Wells argues that, because medicine and agriculture were already doing just fine prior to Darwin’s publication of Origin, clearly then, these fields (and others) haven’t benefited from an application of evolutionary principles in the time…

100 science words

Just in time for college graduations comes a new book, “100 Science words every college graduate should know.” It’s an interesting browse. Others have mentioned it (and Chad even did a pretty nice breakdown of words by discipline); I just thought I’d add my two cents.

Viruses vs. Superbugs

On a recent episode of the drama House, the medical team finds that a patient improves from his illness when he’s infected with a particular species of bacteria, Legionella pneumophila. Though mysterious at the time because the cause of the patient’s illness was unknown, it was later determined that the patient was infected with naegleria,…

Tom Bethell on AIDS–the breakdown

Chris has been excoriating Tom Bethell (author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science”) over on The Intersection and elsewhere (see, for example, here, here, and several posts here). However, since he’s not yet done a takedown on Bethell’s chaper on AIDS (titled “African AIDS: a Political Epidemic”), he suggested I have a go at…