The Turbid Plaque

Life is complicated

When I was a graduate student at Columbia University, I had the extraordinary privilege of working in the same building as one of the world's greatest medical research libraries. When I saw a reference to a paper I wanted to read, I could usually lay my hands on a copy of it within minutes, no mat...

Since at least 1918, when the "Spanish Flu" swept across the world, leaving a trail of corpses in its wake, Americans have blamed influenza outbreaks on other countries. These days we like to point fingers eastward, invoking images of ancient agricultural practices and chaotic live animal markets...

In the November 1943 issue of the journal Genetics, Salvador Luria and Max Delbrück settled a long-running but arcane debate among bacteriologists. The original paper is freely downloadable, and is an amazing document to read today.

There's a delightful innocence in the simplicity of the exper...

Most people have by now seen the news about a mysterious "polio-like" illness paralyzing children across the US. To date, the CDC has confirmed 62 cases of the condition, called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), in 22 states since August. Another 65 people are suspected to have it, but haven't had the...

Which contains more information: a five-minute video or a five-page document?

As anyone who's had to pay for excess cellular bandwidth knows, the video contains far more raw data than the text file. That doesn't mean it has more information, though.

What if the video shows someone reading a Dr....

Autumn has begun here in Massachusetts. The maple leaves are just starting to turn, days are getting shorter, and the house is full of wonderful aromas as we process the 50 pounds of apples we picked last weekend. It was a good year for apples.

Unfortunately, 2018 was also a good year for influenz...