We, Beasties Sporulates

A little over 4 years ago, I joined up with three friends from grad school and launched a brand new science blog, “We, Beasties!” The name was meant to be a play on a phrase from Paul de Kruif’s somewhat tongue-in-cheak translation of the first-ever microbiologist Antonie von Leeuwenhoek‘s term “Animacules.” von Leeuwenhoek was the first…

Can you be skeptical about GM but believe in climate change? So asks Alice Bell in The Guardian. The answer is of course, “Yes,” but you can also be a fundamentalist Christian while believing in evolution and being a great scientist, so being able to hold two things in your brain at the same time is not…

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a talk for Tonight, I’m presenting at the Science In The News (SITN) Spring lecture series. If you’re in the vicinity of Boston, you can come watch at 7pm in Pfizer Auditorium, located in the Mallinckrodt Chemistry Lab, 12 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138. If you can’t show up…

On Thursday, I had a post published on Scientific American’s guest Blog about claims that genetically modified food crops could contain allergens. In it, I am critical of the Union of Concerned Scientists (a science advocacy and policy organization), for what I read as misplaced opposition to genetic engineering: The UCS’s concern about the dire state of…

Two weeks ago, the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think-tank) released a position paper based largely on the academic research of one Jason Richwine. The conclusion (roughly paraphrased): Hispanic people have lower IQ’s than white people, so an overly permissive immigration policy will drag down the US economy. Ethically, this conclusion is a deep affront to…

Every time I see an ad for some remedy that “Helps BOOST the Immune System!”  I die a little inside. It’s not just that these products are often homeopathic bull*, but (as I’ve mentioned before), boosting the immune system can actually be a terrible idea. The immune system is a finely tuned instrument, and too much can…

Ok, this is a little different, but it’s annoying, so I’m going to talk about it. Let me begin by saying I love the Union of Concerned Scientists. They’ve been wonderful advocates on climate change for decades; they are media savvy, they train scientists to be media savvy, and they push the media and policy makers alike to…

Not going to report, since the facts will probably change before I hit publish, but these links should remain useful: Google people finder – for folks that can’t get in touch with friends/relatives Boston Globe-run form for people looking for or offering places in the city Lots of folks offering help on twitter via #BostonHelp Mayor’s…

Ever wondered if we could identify someone by their breath? How fast you can propel a rocket using fusion power? If you can shoot at a plane with lasers and cause the pilot to burst into flame? Watch AskScience Live! Despite some technical hurdles with the G+ event, I’d say it went well last night.…

I’m trying something new. For several years now, I’ve been contributing to an online community called r/askscience. It’s a place where curious people can ask questions, and have them answered – often with great, yet understandable detail – by expert scientists that have a passion for explaining their work. It’s an amazing forum, and I’m…