Category Archives: History of science or medicine

Spanish lessons please

WITH hopes high that the northern hemisphere flu season is about to recede, it seems a good time to point out that, unlike annual outbreaks that fade as spring arrives, flu pandemics don’t respect seasons. A hundred years ago, the worst such pandemic on record was just starting – the first case was recorded on 4 March 1918 – and north of the equator it wouldn’t peak until the autumn…

Credit: Andrzej Krause/New Scientist

This article first appeared in New Scientist on 3 March 2018. To continue reading, click here.

Amelia Earhart redux

JULY 2nd of last year marked the 80th anniversary of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, a pioneering aviatrix, and her navigator Fred Noonan over the Pacific Ocean, as they attempted a circumnavigation of the globe in a twin-engined Lockheed Electra monoplane. The many theories about the pair’s demise, aired once more on that occasion, fall into two broad groups: they crashed into the sea and drowned, or they crashed onto Nikumaroro, a remote island, where they perished from hunger. An American forensic anthropologist has new evidence that greatly increases the likelihood of their having suffered the second fate…

This article appeared in The Economist print edition of 10 February 2018. To continue reading, click here.

Naming diseases

TUNE into a discussion of how diseases get their names on BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth, hosted by Michael Rosen with linguist Laura Wright, and guests me and Prof Peter Piot, who co-discovered Ebola, was a pioneer in the science of AIDS, and now heads up the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine…

This programme first aired on 6 February 2018. To listen, click here.

How the 1918 flu pandemic revolutionised public health

NEARLY 100 years ago, in 1918, the world experienced the greatest tidal wave of death since the Black Death, possibly in the whole of human history. We call that tidal wave the Spanish flu, and many things changed in the wake of it. One of the most profound revolutions took place in the domain of public health….

Vladimir Lenin pioneered socialised healthcare in Russia, in the wake of the Spanish flu

This article first appeared in Zócalo Public Square on 26 September 2017 and was reproduced the next day in the Smithsonian magazine. To continue reading, click here.