At the turn of the century and the millennium, Science carried a series of essays titled Pathways of Discovery. An extremely readable and characteristically eloquent essay on Infectious History still holds a place, albeit indistinct and receding, in my memory. The author, Joshua Lederberg, was one of the most influential figures of 20th century biology and a writer of rare scholarship. In his essay, Lederberg traces the history of the relationships between men and microbes; a long history of

Doing nothing can be a very successful strategy in tiding over difficult situations. Seasoned administrators have often perfected the art of inaction. Sometimes doing nothing can be costly. Fires must be put out and the critically ill rushed to medical care. Even while pondering on the situations in which inaction seemed to be strategically advantageous, my attention was drawn to an editorial in

Malaria is a disease that has been with us for all of human history. Malarial parasites are known to infect all terrestrial vertebrates. They are notable for their ability to survive and develop in the environment of vectors that transmit them from host to host, spreading disease. (Editorial)

Deconstructing the work of famous scientists, many years after their passing, is a task that has been undertaken by many historians of science and writers of great distinction. A recent editorial in Nature (2011, 474, 419) notes that ‘it is impossible to libel the dead, but equally impossible for them to defend themselves’. There is a certain

The global economy is driven by competitive pressures. A recent editorial in Science, that addresses the issue of ‘Nurturing Young Scientists’ in the United States, proclaims: ‘It is imperative to grow our economy through global leadership in science’.

Bacteria are amongst the most adaptable organisms on Earth. Long evolutionary timescales, extremely short generation times, exposure to the most diverse and often hostile environments, together with the remarkable power of natural selection have made microorganisms the most resilient of life forms on this planet.

Methyl isocyanate (MIC) is a relatively simple chemical; its formula, CH3

Climate change is a term that almost every educated person uses today. Hot days, as summer approaches, are quickly interpreted as tangible signs of global warming. Sudden, unanticipated events like torrential downpours

Ever since the Nobel Peace Prize was conferred on Al Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, there has been widespread acceptance of the fact that we are in the midst of rapidly changing weather patterns. The connection between rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and global warming is

The area of climate change has now grown into an industry; international conferences abound, held most often in exotic locations; treaties and protocols are promoted by some countries, rejected by others; Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded to the most visible campaigners in the battle to control global warming; and the scientific literature is beginning to see the emergence of a new discipline termed