A new school year has started, crispness is returning to the night air, the maple leaves are reddening, and everything is pumpkin spiced. This can only mean… flu season is coming.
The influenza (flu) virus is associated with thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations each year, and flu season has become synonymous with the winter months. The best way to combat flu infections is the vaccine offered each fall. The seasonal flu vaccine has its limitations, however, due to its extensive development process.
What would it take to make a vaccine that doesn’t need to be revamped every year? Scientists are getting close to an answer, but it’s easier said than done.
Although we have to wait until December 18 for the next Star Wars movie, some characters have already made an appearance in our lives as toys. Eager fans lined up for the release of the new toys at midnight on Force Friday, September 4, giving retailers a taste of the Black Friday crowds to come. So how should stores prepare for the upcoming sea of shoppers craving Star Wars swag?
What if you could play a game to improve your memory or rehabilitate after a stroke? And I don’t mean Sudoku or crossword puzzles either. I’m talking video games!
It’s no secret that gaming systems that involve whole body movement like Wii and Microsoft Kinect could be used as a tool to battle obesity in children in the United States. But many people have legitimate fears that video games could lead to addiction, social isolation, or excessive violence. Despite these concerns, research has shown that video games may be beneficial for reasons other than weight loss or hand-eye coordination. This research has suggested that there are neurological benefits of video games that could vastly outweigh the cons!
A month or so ago, I casually mentioned to my labmates that I can’t get enough of the smell of gasoline, and that I had stolen a whiteboard marker from our lab to sniff when I was particularly frustrated with research. This had two results: my labmates now tease me mercilessly, and I realize that not everybody is as enamored by these smells as I am.
The latter was quite an epiphany: I had imagined that everyone finds the smell of gasoline ambrosial. So why isn’t it true? Being a geneticist, of course my first thought was that it must be all in the genes.
“The great enemy of communication…is the illusion of it.” –William H. Whyte
What if 9 out of every 10 Americans had trouble understanding and responding to ordinary traffic signs? It would be a national emergency, of course. Imagine the chaos, the crashes, and the loss of life that would occur if people didn’t know how to interpret stop signs, one way signs, do not enter signs, speed limits, and sharp curve ahead warnings. The public’s health and safety would be in grave danger and immediate action would be required.
Last year, I decided to add a new member to my family, which at the time consisted of simply yours truly (well, other members of the family do exist but live hundreds of miles from Ann Arbor). After some searching, I brought an orange tabby cat back to my apartment and named her Samantha (pictured at the top). Samantha is a domestic shorthair, with faint mackerel markings along the sides of her body. Her forehead bears the classic “M” pattern characterizing a tabby cat. She also has four stripy legs, pink paw pads, and an orange stripy tail. When I introduced her to my family back home, she wasted no time in conquering everyone with that fuzzy face!