Why pathogens target babies.
Babies. Some picture a cute little thing with fat little toes and fingers, an innocent smile and huge eyes. Others picture a tiny little devil that cries at the most inconvenient of places. Such as during flights. And then there are those that picture babies as perfect hosts; large objects with loads of resources with weak defence systems. Pathogens. I am talking about pathogens. All microbes...
How a little known virus can cause asthma in kids.
If I were a virus, I think I’d like to be Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). What is that, you ask? Exactly my point. Our lungs are the only organ in our body that is exposed to the filth of our environment. Because of this, our lungs have to fight off bacteria, viruses and pollutants, and yet try to function normally to help us breathe. Asked to name a respiratory virus, our mind...
Of bats, flight, and immunity to viruses
Bats are the stealth bombers of the animal kingdom. Equipped with radar-like echolocation, the dark form of the bat allows this creature to stay in the shadows before launching into attack on its unsuspecting prey. Scientists are now increasingly interested in bats for the biological payloads they carry: these include highly pathogenic viruses such as Ebola, rabies, and SARS. After rodents,...
Where's this vaccine hate coming from?
So is this anti-vaccine drivel targeted towards the vaccines themselves? Or distrust to the companies that make these vaccines? There’s a saying allegedly attributed to Stalin that “the death of one man is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic”. Nearly all of the anti-vaccine arguments I’ve seen online include parents talking about the one kid of theirs that...
Understanding the anti-vaccine movement
The leading killer of humanity, and indeed of most species on earth has not been war or famine. Rather, the cause of death has been infectious disease. Infectious diseases have altered the nature of species, controlled the success or failure of organisms in a given environment, and indeed, been crucial to the evolution of a myriad of organisms itself. The bubonic plague, which ravaged medieval...
Study finds adolescent marijuana use reduces IQ:...
And this is a previously written one as well. In many ways, smoking your first joint is an integral part of growing up. Whether peer pressure sucked you in, or you just wanted to try something new, marijuana use is skyrocketing among the youth, with 4% of students in grade 10 and 6.6% of students in grade 12 using marijuana daily in 2011. Marijuana, venerated in movies and by rappers, is the...
ENCODE: Translating the human instruction manual
So this one is a little old, but I want to keep all my work in one place. This is another piece I wrote for the McGill Tribune. Also the first time I interviewed someone! Humans are a complicated bunch. We all have different hopes and aspirations, likes and dislikes, dreams and realities. We like to think of ourselves as the most complicated and advanced species on this earth. Given this...
Science policy conference
http://mcgilltribune.com/?p=15641 Here’s an article I wrote for the McGill tribune on a science policy conference held at McGill.
So I want to be a science writer. Probably just like everyone else doing a Ph.D. I could go into the usual “I’ve always liked science” and “I’ve always wanted to be a science writer, but I dislike such rhetoric. There’s a reason I want to be a science writer. I just don’t know what that reason is. Recently, I m finding it harder to pen thoughts into...
Remember when science was fun?
All of us in science have a story of why we got here. Some started off as drug addicts. The others as geeks. And some just fell in. The #iamscience and related tumblr have all their stories. Many of these stories have one thing in common. An early interest in science. Indeed, a number of people state that they “loved (certain field), love it now and always will”. Good for you! For...
When we become nature's mice.
Primary Immune Deficiencies (PIDs) can be defined as defects in the immune system. No, that can’t be enough. PIDs are defined as inherent defects in the immune system? Nope. Still not good enough. PIDs are defined as the susceptibility to rare pathogens? Not quite. Recurrent infections? Nope. We’ve known about PIDs atleast since the 1950s. We shed a tear at the John Travolta...
On simplicity in science and other matters
Sometimes, I think that as scientists, we enjoy portraying an aura of complexity. Be it in describing what we do, what we say, or how we think. We like to present science as this complex phenomenon that could only be appreciated by the few who are worthy enough. Or have jumped through all the educational hoops. Try asking a graduate student to explain their research in layman’s terms and...
A tale of generations
Generation 1. He could see it happening before his eyes. The story of his birth. And that of his siblings. They surrounded him, his brethren. He could see them. Being assembled. Just like in a factory. He saw as bits were formed from The Eight, and were added onto himself and his siblings. He knew that he was born to serve a purpose. One purpose. He served The Eight. It was his job, nay, his duty...
Biology: Where the Red Queen rules
“It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” The Red Queen, Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll. How did sexual reproduction evolve? How do parasites and their hosts survive together? Why do predators manage to catch their prey only some of the time? To answer these questions, we journey into the Kingdom of the Red Queen. A realm in the universe of biology...
So. I’ve wanted to try my hand at this science writing business. Lets see how this goes. Nerdy stuff. I m trying to submit my blog to scienceseeker.org. sciseekclaimtoken-4f67d1d27d510