Index of Posts

(newest to oldest)

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44. Sure, put tuberculin in everyone’s eyes. The PPD skin test for tuberculosis exposure wasn’t always ubiquitous. What are the pros and cons of using the eye instead? (1200 words)

43. Viruses can be RE-activated by light? Just because a concept isn’t mentioned much anymore, it doesn’t mean it’s been debunked. Activated milk is a real thing. So is photo-reactivation. (1200 words)

41. Can nose-picking give you lupus? Lupus is an infectious disease of the skin, so yes. (1000 words)

40. Confusing movie science: S+H+E (1980). “A simple amoeba-type microbe found in tide pools. She fed and refined the algae with special nutrients. Now it’s a virulent strain that devours petroleum.” (1300 words)

39. Yellow fever stops at the Miami airport. Since the dawn of passenger air travel, we’ve been worried about the airplane as a vector for viruses. Also, why did yellow fever never conquer India? (1600 words)

38: Taiwau Bozu: The bald geisha plague of 1901. The most elegant ladies of Japan are losing their hair! Should everyone panic? Is Taiwan to blame? (1200 words)

37: Medical photography, Dorothea Lange style. Four stoic people, Hartford, Connecticut, 1906.

36: A 1711 treatise on venereal disease

35: So you want to be an industrial glassblower. Glassblowing is a difficult and strenuous occupation, but here in the 1910s it’s a more popular career than ever. Before embarking on that career, you should be aware of the risks: broken teeth, cataracts, jowls, dilated salivary ducts, luxation, proptosis, syphilis… (2100 words)

34. Pubmedwhack: Immuno-DTO. It’s the 1960s. We use electron microscopy. We’re use labeled antibodies for fluorescent microscopy. How we label the antibodies for electron microscopy? Immuno-mercury? Immuno-uranium? Immuno-diazothioether-osmium tetroxide? (600 words)

33. Gallery: Early immunofluorescence. The very first photograph of fluorescent antibody-stained tissue, and plenty of other early ones. Glomerular tufts are attractive. (1000 words)

32. Pit pony work dust factor. We know coal dust is safe, but what about the stone dust that miners use to ward off explosions? How much does that damage the lungs? Ask the ponies. (500 words)

31. Vermicious macrogametocytes. They may be avian protozoan parasites, but these leucocytozoons are whimsical. (700 words)

30. What’s the deal with inverted typhoid? A paper containing the curious phrase “inverted typhoid” leads to an investigation of what “typhoid” means. A type of bacterium… but also a type of fever. (2300 words)

29. Gnezda, Pittaluga, Zipfel, Goré, and Berschaffelt back me up on this. Citation by namedropping makes papers look so cosmopolitan. Especially since all those unexplained earlier works are in foreign languages. (500 words)

28. Data Update: Look at the polio fly. Does the common housefly transmit polio? Only one way to find out… feed them the polio virus, grind up their abdomens, put the resulting extracts into mouse brains, and see if they die. With a digression on ether. (1400 words)

27. What’s a “full-sized drop” in nanoliters? Before micropipettors, it was hard to describe a protocol in a way that could be replicated. What is a “drop”? What’s the smallest volume you could measure under the apothecary system? (1400 words)

26. More folksy metaphors, please. In the 1937 Journal of Infectious Diseases, a pleasing analogy explaining the mechanism of bacterial clearance by phagocytes.

25. The care and feeding of typhoid carriers. Dr. Ralph McBurney’s investigations of how heat and humidity affect typhoid carriers — including both real weather, and special laboratory housing. (1400 words)

24. We have no fear of the coffee. In December 1899, New York City was menaced by a plague-ship from Brazil. (700 words)

23. The hygiene hypothesis, in fable form. Wisdom from the mouths of babes, in Life magazine of 1904. Also, a great deal of ill-health is caused by the lack of beer.

22. Winter pandemic at the Winter Palace. What do we find when we search the old journals for “Christmas” + “epidemic”, in our quest for seasonal content? Fish cholera. (5oo words)

21. Data Update: Pox in rabbits, pox in mice. A classic paper by poxvirus legend Frank Fenner gets the “incomprehensible table turned into overly busy graphs” treatment. Plus, pictures of egg pocks! (1200 words)

20. Retro-Infographic: Typhoid in Cleveland, 1916. Who knew that R.G. Perkins of the Cleveland Department of Health’s Bureau of Laboratories was at the forefront of data visualization techniques? (200 words)

19. Asheville: Paradise of Pestilence. Is there a downside to having thousands of tuberculosis patients wandering around an idyllic locale? (2100 words)

18. Gallery: Cockroach feeding contraptions. What’s the most quantitative way to feed a cockroach and keep it happy? Ask the roach. Or look at these various examples. (600 words)

17. Mosquitoes? Malaria? I don’t buy it. Like any scientific advance, the “mosquitoes spread malaria” hypothesis was not immediately convincing and certainly not obvious to everyone. (200 words)

16. No, don’t do that either. Uncomfortable itching and redness “down there”? Why not try yeast? (300 words)

15. Yeast vs. Typhoid: Requiem. The short-lived campaign to cure typhoid with brewers’ yeast, brought to you by the Australian brewing industry. (1100 words)

14. Dew-Fer-Ol: A don’t for all. A particularly useless medication advertised in 1914. (200 words)

13. What’s the trajectory of a bullet-shaped virus? There are so many rhabdoviruses. Rabies virus. Vesicular stomatitis virus. Duvenhage virus. Farmington virus. Spring viremia of carp virus. Humpty Doo virus. Do they all form at the cell surface, or at membranes inside the cell? (1400 words)

12. Pubmedwhack: Coproagglutinins. Yes, in all the titles and abstracts indexed by Pubmed, that word has only been used once. What does it mean? (400 words)

11. Data Update: Typhoid ice cream. It’s 1926. With milk now pasteurized in most places, and ice cream makers ramping up mass production, is ice cream now more likely than milk to make you sick? Here’s the data. (1900 words)

10. Heh…snicker. Nominative determinism in early urology.

9. Those wacky women and the etiology of their silly poisoning symptoms. In 1864, a doctor writes up two interesting case reports, and lets chauvinism get the best of him. (900 words)

8. So, that would be a one-star review, then. The lack of funds for food inspectors during the Depression is apparent in the pestilence unleashed by Alabama’s worst cream puff bakery.

7. Data Update: Bacterial growth on tellurite. A 1926 table is edited to see what we can learn from new nomenclature. (600 words)

6. The Clinical Research Laboratory: where ophthalmology meets urine. An investigation of where that 1928 paper came from. Dealing with ophthalmology, fecal bacteria, hobo legends, the Childs restaurant chain, schizophrenia, and the importance of pH in body fluids. (2200 words)

5. Eek. This simple, elegant illustration will make a great motif for my nightmares.

4. Rabbit mosaic virus? An elegant and important paper in the history of plant virology and serology. Also, tobacco mosaic virus does not infect rabbits. (1000 words)

3. Two Octaves down. The story of Bordet and Gengou, the discoverers of complement fixation. (1200 words)

2. Yeouch! An offhand 1928 footnote warns the reader to be careful.

1. What is an amboceptor? What was an amboceptor? Why was the word abandoned? (2300 words)