scribbler_tom

45 Added | 1 Magazine | 2 Followers | @scribbler_tom | I’m a Boston-area microbiologist-turned-science writer. I’ve been writing in one capacity or another since 2000, when I finished my master’s degree in microbiology and immunology and realized that I was much better at writing about science than actually doing it.

Try to keep your eyes open when you sneeze

(antony_mayfield/Flickr)<p>“If you don’t close you’re eyes when you sneeze, you’ll pop out an eyeball!” It’s what the kids on the playground always …

A little trim for your genes

(arriabelli/Flickr)<p>A couple of weeks ago, the news hit that a group of MIT and Harvard researchers were launching a new startup company called Editas …

Feel the burn: Why alcohol and hydrogen peroxide make cuts sting

<i>[Today’s post comes at the request of reader Linda W. Thanks for asking, Linda!]</i><p>You’re slicing some vegetables for dinner, and the knife slips. …

Putt-putt go vroom-vroom: A look at torque and horsepower

I’m an unabashed fan of Top Gear UK. Watching those guys whip huge cars around the track in a cloud of tire smoke spouting British witticisms (or …

Haiku of science

(BruceBlaus/Wikimedia Commons<p>Sitting around the dinner table the other night, my older son, Owen, who is in 4th grade, announced that he wanted to …

The booze on your breath, or how a breathalyzer works

(Alan Turkus/Flickr)<p>I had to make a quick trip to the drug store one night last week. Climbing back into my car after my shopping was done, I …

Infection: It’s all a matter of perspective

(N i c o l a/Flickr)<p>As George Carlin once said, “These are the things I think about when I’m sitting home alone and the power goes out.”<p>We have a …

Rose-colored glasses

(derekGavey/Flickr)<p>Dear readers, I’m taking a detour from my usual kind of post because of a couple of things that happened in the science writing …

MERS-CoV: for the next few weeks, the most important virus in the world [Updated]

An electron microscope image of MERS-CoV. That’s one bad virus. (NIAID/Flickr)<p>This week marks the high season for the <i>hajj</i> — the holy pilgrimage to …

Whence come warts?

(SteFou!/Flickr)<p><i>[Today’s post comes at the request of reader Sarah M. Thanks for asking, Sarah!]</i><p>Halloween is approaching, and what self-respecting …

What is this fiber we’re all supposed to eat more of?

(Eric Hunt/Wikimedia Commons)<p>When I was a kid and I would hear an adult talk about eating more fiber, I would get this mental image of someone …

The Science of Killing Fruit Flies

(André Karwath/Wikimedia Commons)<p><i>[Ed. note: Today’s post comes to you courtesy of cell biologist, science writer and foodie Christina Szalinski. Her</i> …

Death on the wind

(muffinn/Flickr)<p>Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that the Syrian government allegedly released sarin gas on its population on August 21, …

The Dance of Wound Healing

A few weeks ago, I wiped out on my scooter. (Yes, I ride a scooter.) Luckily, the worst of it, apart from the severe bruise to my pride, was scrapes …

Managing the modern world: The science of compassion meditation

(Moyan Brenn/Flickr)<p><i>[Ed. note: YGSSOY is back from vacation, and kicking things off with a guest post from friend and neuroscientist Wendy Hasenkamp.</i> …

I wanna be repellent. To mosquitoes, that is.

(Spokenhope/Flickr)<p>I took a little detour last week away from summer science into the dark lands of antibiotic resistance. But having talked about …

Resist the resistance: A primer on antibiotics & antibiotic resistance

MRSA (CDC/Wikimedia Commons)<p>I was going to write this week about how DEET works, as a follow-up to last week’s post about “mosquito magnets.” But I …

The Love Culicidae, or Why mosquitoes find you more attractive than your friends [UPDATED]

(USDA/Wikimedia Commons)<p>Me and mosquitoes, we have history. When I was a kid, mosquitoes loved me. Before going out in the woods during the summer, …

Look into my (dilated) eye

Actually, this is my undilated eye. My dilated eye looked too freaky.<p>Probably my second-to-least favorite part of going to the optometrist (after the …

Vitamin D versus sunburn: A tale of skin tones

(Patrick Hoesly/Flickr)<p>As an addendum to my recent sunburn and sunscreen posts, I thought I’d make brief mention of something that came up in my …

Sunscreen: Keeping the old UVBs out

(comedy_nose/Flickr)<p>Last week we talked about sunburn, how a form of ultraviolet light called UVB damages DNA, which causes inflammation in the skin, …

Feel the burn. The sunburn, that is. [Updated]

(kellysue/Flickr)<p>When my wife (not the unfortunate lass above) and I came home from the beach a couple of days ago, we realized that we were both …

Independence Day edition [Updated]

Happy 4th! (By me, under the name pappatom/Flickr)<p>I like Independence Day as much as the next guy. And believe it or not, there’s a lot of science …

Got water in your ear? Blame cohesion

(Travis Isaacs/Flickr)<p>Summer’s here, pools are open, and it’s time for a swim. Which means it’s also time for that annoying clogged feeling in your …

I hear your borborygmi, or why your stomach growls

(Jhayne/Flickr)<p>You’re at work, in a meeting. Or maybe you’re at school. Or hanging out with friends. It’s near midday, or early evening. Suddenly you …

Why do we yawn?

(twob/Flickr)<p>I get up a little after 5:00 in the morning to write this blog. And I have two kids. So as you might imagine, I tend to yawn a lot. So …

High-density unsaturated trans-omega what? A glossary of fats and such

(Skarg/Wikimedia Commons)<p>Seems every day there’s another bit of news about what what fats are good and what fats are bad and what they’re doing to …

Now for something a little different: a TED Ed video collection on genes

Peas aren’t just tasty; they’re how the scientific study of genetics got started. (Biscarotte/Flickr)<p>Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, …

Let’s talk about mucus

Mucus cells doing their thing. (Underwood J (2006) The Path to Digestion Is Paved with Repair. PLoS Biol 4(9): e307. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040307)<p>…

The stuff that bones are made of

(From <i>De humani corporis fabrica</i> by Andreas Vesalius/Wikimedia Commons)<p>On cursory inspection, your bones don’t look like they do all that much. Let’s …