Because the skills you learn as a scientist are valuable in every area of your life...

I was browsing my Facebook this morning when I came across an article from a friend/vendor. I'll save the whole hearted endorsement for the vendor bit later - the fact that I also consider her a friend should speak volumes, and if it doesn't, the fact that I'm currently citing her here should say something as well.

There are lots of smaller (read, not mass-marketed) brands of cosmetics and many pinterest recipes for do-it-yourself soaps, lotions, scrubs, or cosmetics. Hayley Croom, of Paintbox Soapworks, is not like many of them. She actually pays attention to the science and what she can and cannot claim about her product. For instance, when pinterest recipes for DIY sunscreen using coconut oil popped up, Croom quickly pointed out the dangers of this particular project - namely, that without proper regulation, there's no certainty in how protected you are, for how long, and the risks of not being protected include skin cancer. That's a big one, folks, and a known risk that's not to be casually ignored.

Today's article is a great lesson on how to read media in general. For those of you who are going into science, you absolutely must cultivate this skill. For the rest of the world? You really need to cultivate this skill. You have to learn to read past the clickbait title, dig for the actual sources, determine their validity (for instance, an article that says that crude oil does no harm to wildlife might be a little suspect if it's published by a petroleum company, especially if said company is under investigation for a recent spill, but an article that suggests that perhaps we've misunderstood the impact that crude oil has on the environment due to a previously understudied bacterial population may be less suspect if it comes from an environmental group or a university microbiologist), and then interpret what the actual study means - especially for you and the people with whom you interact.

Go read. See what it looks like when someone actually does what I'm talking about. And then, if you so choose, buy something. Because, no, really, Hayley makes some awesome soap. (Or, you know, don't. This article was not sponsored by Paintbox Soapworks or Hayley Croom. I just think she's the bees knees).


One of the things you learn in school, and in the sciences if no where else, is that citing your sources is essential. I haven't been as careful to do that as I could have been, so this is a link fest, with lots of links out to information on antibiotic resistance - how it develops, how you can avoid it, and what you can do to help fight the problem.

The first set is from the CDC, or the Center for Disease Control & Prevention. This is a great site in general, one I like to reference frequently. There's information here geared for patients as well as for medical professionals, and much of it can be found in multiple languages (most frequently English and Spanish), ensuring that the essential information for your health is available to you in whatever form is easiest/most useful.

Included in these links is a PDF from 2013 that summarizes the problem, with lots of illustrations and plain speech. It's 114 pages, so don't print it if you don't have to, but it's well worth the read, and I'm pretty sure everyone will be able to understand it.

The CDC materials have broken it down much the way I did, and even further. Do you want the material I covered in "Disappearing Miracle" or "No, the Z-Pack won't treat the Flu"? What about the concern of antibiotics in the food supply, or "SuperChickens?", or are you looking for more?

Another site I'm using is the National Resources Defense Council, or the NRDC. This is a charity that "works to safeguard the earth - its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends." This focus includes clean water, sustainable farming, clean energy, and ensuring that the planet we leave our children and grandchildren is one they can live on.

I'm also including a link from ScienceBlog here, specifically discussing the issue of antibiotics in farming. I tend to read lots of blogs, magazine & journal articles, and to hunt through books when I do these sorts of things. Sometimes, the journal articles are hard to read (yes, even for me, yes, even for the professors who taught me how to wade through them), but I honestly believe that science is all about the pursuit of knowledge, and I want to make it available to the people. That way you can make informed decisions and live a fuller life.

Other sites I use (perhaps not for this series, but as I go through life and answer questions in general) include pubchem and pubmed. These are great places to find journal articles (Students, pay attention) and chemical structures. If I've ever told you something about a chemical structure, I probably checked it out here. You want to see the structure of a virus? There are tools for that, too - here's an image of a rhinovirus, one of the 200 types of viruses that can cause a cold.

Maybe you dropped your pills this morning and mixed up which ones you're supposed to take this morning compared to the ones you take tonight. You can call up your pharmacy, but they'll tell you to bring the pills in. Or you can start with the Pill Identification Wizard at Drugs.Com, which also has an interactions checker.

Hopefully this source dump has been useful. I'll continue to do this from time to time, and remember, I'll keep linking things when I find them. SuperChickens? is coming soon, and then I have an exciting series in mind (right after I finish my next grad school application, and probably after Christmas). If you have a suggestion or question, feel free to comment below. Thanks!