A Crisis of Infection

It’s amazing what humankind can achieve with the right amount of political will and resources. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Roosevelt oversaw the rebuilding of the Pacific fleet in only 6-months. Driven by rivalry with the Soviet Union, Kennedy announced in May 1961, “…we choose to go to the moon …”Continue reading “A Crisis of Infection”

What has opioid addiction got to do with cats?

Cat lovers will know the effect of catnip on their beloved pets only too well. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a member of the mint family and along with a similar plant called silver vine (Actinidia polygamy) it elicits a feline euphoria followed by a period of placid tranquillity, lasting perhaps 15-30 minutes. The effects wereContinue reading “What has opioid addiction got to do with cats?”

Maradona and a Biochemist

I start this blog post with, “I don’t want to sound bitter but…” and then I’ll go on to probably do just that. The media is full of tributes to Diego Maradona; some call him a genius, some a deeply flawed legend. For me personally, he was a cocaine addict connected to the Mafia whoContinue reading “Maradona and a Biochemist”

Pfizer-BioNTech are making a mRNA vaccine, but what is that?

Covid-19 blog for the non-expert The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19 is all over the media. What hasn’t been in the headlines so much, is that this is a mRNA vaccine and if successful, it’ll be the first of its type. Some say they will not take it because it’s “rushed” but this misses the pointContinue reading “Pfizer-BioNTech are making a mRNA vaccine, but what is that?”

90% effective Covid-19 vaccine

The headlines are jubilant with “Covid-19” vaccine 90% effective. As one of those skeptical scientists, I’m in a difficult position because I don’t want to dampen any hope, but at the same time it’s worth questioning the headline to see what’s really behind it. The announcement was from Pfizer and BioNTech, and the media areContinue reading “90% effective Covid-19 vaccine”

New Covid-19 tests

A Covid-19 blog post for the non-expert We’ve been hearing how the UK government wants to return to normal life under its £100bn Operation Moonshot Covid-19 testing programme. Headlines such as those in the Daily Mail have proclaimed “Prospect’ of 10-minute ‘rapid turnaround’ Covid tests” but others including the BMJ are not so sure. I thought,Continue reading “New Covid-19 tests”

Atomic Butterflies

When I first moved to my current house some 20-years ago, my next-door neighbour had a buddleia growing in their garden which overhung part of my driveway. In the summer, the shrub was a resting spot for a multitude of red admiral butterflies, which exploded into a swarm if I got too close. Sadly, thatContinue reading “Atomic Butterflies”

Death by Liquorice

A blog post for the non-expert The media is reporting a 54-year-old construction worker from Massachusetts has died of liquorice poisoning. Not for the first time when dealing with such issues, the press reports are so similar that they were likely all cloned from the original source, a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine.Continue reading “Death by Liquorice”

Serial killers are no joke

For those of you reading this in the UK, you may have seen the three-part drama on ITV called Des, which followed the serial killing career of Dennis Nilsen. An horrific and macabre story and yet somehow frighteningly captivating. As scary as serial killers are, they represent a minuscule proportion of the population and soContinue reading “Serial killers are no joke”