October 3, 2005
Crazy enough it just might win a prize
I was happy to hear that Drs. Barry Marshall and J. Robin Warren of Australia won this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. I never really knew them by name, but simply as the Australian doctors with a kooky idea that turned out to be right. These are the fellows who had the bizarre notion that peptic ulcers might be an infectious disease caused by the spiral-shaped bacteria, Helicobacter pylori.
This is a great example of scientists who didn't take medical convention as absolute truth, but saw evidence with enough impartiality to search for answers wherever the evidence led them.
I came across a quote by Marcel Proust not too long ago, one which I think captures the spirit of Marshall and Warren's discovery:
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."
July 29, 2005
Hot idea for chilli peppers
Just came across this story on a great agricultural innovation:
Key to elephant conservation is 'in the sauce'
Dr. Loki Osborn has been researching ways of preventing crop destruction by elephants and other animals in the Zambezi Valley. It turns out that chilli peppers are an excellent deterrent and they can be harvested for creating sauces and jellies. Thus, the Elephant Pepper Development Trust was born.
Category "Cool web stuff"
June 14, 2005
Using Wikipedia for public health preparedness
One of the foundations of a good public health system is dissemination of information -- getting the knowledge about diseases and risks out to the public whom you are serving. There's lots of room for improvement and innovation in this area. That's why I was intrigued by an article on a outbreak reporting site -- Preparing for Influenza Pandemic at Wikipedia.
It turns out that people were using Wikipedia in the wake of the tsunami to get information. This has sparked an idea in the minds of the scientists who lay awake at night worrying about another flu pandemic (it's a fairly large club). Why not preemptively post information on the web about avian flu preparedness and prevention? The editors of ProMED-mail have started to bulk up the avian influenza entry and are encouraging other scientists to lend their expertise to the site.
Granted, the Web doesn't reach all the people, but I love the idea of using Wikipedia's strengths -- free, collaborative, fairly well known -- to help educate people around the world. That's cool!