We have forgotten the sheer misery and suffering that diseases that can be prevented through vaccination have inflicted upon the human race. A case in point is smallpox. The smallpox virus produced fever, skin rashes, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe infections would lead to internal hemorrhaging, hypotension, multiorgan failure, and death. The disease had a mortality that approached 30%, and it has been estimated that smallpox killed hundreds of millions of people throughout the ages. Those who survived would be left scarred and sometimes blind for the rest of their lives.
The video below has a simple and pretty straightforward description of smallpox and the development of a vaccine against the disease.
In the second video, the campaign by the World Health Organization to eradicate smallpox is described.
The last death from smallpox occurred 42 years ago and the virus has been eliminated from the face of the Earth, with the notable exception of its presence in two research laboratories (one in the US and another in Russia). Today in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, let’s remember what we have achieved in the past, let's be hopeful about what we can achieve in the future, and let us never belittle the critical role vaccines have played and will continue to play in these achievements.
Kevin and the rest of the folks from the TheBackyardScientist decided to ask what happens when you put 20,000 Joules of Energy into a watermelon and other things. Why? Why not? Is it science? Is it art? Who cares (except the neighbors who threatened to call the cops on them)? It’s cool, Dude! Watch their video and also learn about capacitors.
I have been recently diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. The condition is named after the Scottish scientist, Charles Bell, who first described it in 1821. This is an ailment that affects about 200,000 Americans every year and is produced when the facial nerve (a.k.a. seventh cranial nerve) which controls the movement of the muscles on one side of the face becomes inflamed and is unable to function. As you can see in the video below, I have lost the capacity to move the left side of my face.
Most people take movement for granted. We go about our daily activities without giving it much thought. But as I describe in the video, Bell’s Palsy highlights an important principle of physiology. This is that, with a few exceptions (such as in the case of pacemaker cells), the movement of most muscles requires electrical stimulation by signals sent from the brain and conducted by nerves. If there is a problem with the brain centers involved in controlling muscle movement or with the nerves that carry the signals, we become incapable of moving our muscles.
The dream of those opposed to vaccination (antivaxxers) is a world with no vaccines, which they consider harmful, unnecessary, and ineffective. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, where everyone can witness with their own eyes what the world looks like without ONE vaccine, the folly of the antivaxxer’s position will have been made crystal clear to all but the most irrational skeptics. Vaccination is necessary to make us immune to diseases, but this is only part of the story. In the video below, professor Adam Finn explains how vaccines also prevent the transmission of disease to others (herd immunity) using the example of vaccination against whooping cough (pertussis) in Great Britain.