In the 1700s, smallpox seemed unbeatable. People tried all sorts of things to protect themselves, from taking herbal remedies to tossing back 12 bottles of beer a day. Nothing worked.
Then Edward Jenner, an English doctor, heard a rumor about a possible solution. It wasn’t a cure, but Jenner thought he might be able to stop smallpox infections, before its dreaded symptoms began. One spring day, with the help of a milkmaid, an eight-year-old boy, and a cow named Blossom, he decided to run an experiment.
In this segment,Science Dictionhost Johanna Mayer tells the story of that ethically questionable, but ultimately world-altering experiment, and how it gave us the word “vaccine.”
New Year, New Birds
This year’sAudubo…is anything but usual: Since gatherings are unsafe, it’s up to individuals to count what they can, where they are. But eager birders are still out there counting crows, chickadees, and grosbeaks in the name of community science.
Ira joins a flock of bird nerds—Audubon’s Geoff LeBaron and Joanna Wu, and author and nature photographer Dudley Edmondson—to talk about the wonders of winter birding, and what decades of data show abouthow birds are shifting in a warming, changing world. Plus, how to make the most of birding while sheltering in place.
Birds Of A Feather: Making Science More Inclusive
It’s been six months since Black birderstook over Twitterin solidarity with New York City birder and science writer Christian Cooper,who posted a video of a white woman threaten…the very same day that George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis. In response, Black naturalists and birders celebrated their communities and told stories about similar harassment in the outdoors for#BlackBirdersWeek. Other Black scientists have held their own visibility campaigns with#BlackInNeuro,#BlackInAstro, and dozens of other disciplines.
SciFriproducer Christie Taylor talks to herpetologistChelsea Connor, a co-founder of Black Birders Week, about her relationship with the outdoors, and what comes next for creating, and maintaining, spaces where Black scientists can thrive.