RIP Ernest McCulloch, Stem Cell Pioneer

Ernest McCulloch, who was part of the scientific duo that first identified a stem cell, died Jan. 20 at the age of 84. The New York Times‘s obit was full of amusing personal details (his nickname was Bun) while The Washington Post’s obit (whose link is m.i.a.) did a nice job conveying the eureka moment […]

Breaking Through is Hard To Do

I happened to be in Manhattan earlier this week and caught the last day of the New-York Historical Society exhibit “Breakthrough: The Dramatic Story of the Discovery of Insulin.” My favorite part was the black-and-white silent movie showing the early insulin-manufacturing process, in which refrigerator carloads of fetal calf pancreases are ground up, pressed, filtered, and […]

Star Trek Quote Check

“Stop thinking with your glands!” —Captain James T. Kirk Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #3, Episode #6, “The Man Trap” Stardate: 1513.1 Airdate: September 8, 1966 Pulling quotes from the original Star Trek episodes is like eating pistachios — once you start, you just can’t stop. Did the script writers realize how hilarious these lines […]

Bee All You Can Bee

Here’s a great grassroots solution to an ecological problem: urban beekeepers.  In an encouraging story, the New York Times reports that several municipalities have recently made it legal to keep bee hives within city limits. When I toured the White House garden a couple months ago, I was delighted to see that Michelle Obama has a […]

‘An Elegant Example of Evolution in Action’

While leprosy has long been regarded as a rural disease, the reasons why have been little understood. But scientists now think the answer may have to do with the way cities  serve as a factor in natural selection: The gene variant that protects against certain diseases like tuberculosis and leprosy—which have been around for thousands […]