I Write Letters

plush cold germ from Giant Microbes
Dear Rhinovirus or Coronavirus, as the case may be,

Congratulations. You are a super-genius. They may call you the common cold, but you are surely a germ of uncommon cleverness and dexterity. The way you dunked right through the mucus layer of my nasal epithelium? Brilliant. And you evaded that macrophage back there like a feminist blogger ninja in a Murderphat Denim jumpsuit!

You have left me hoist by the petard of my own cytokine response, percolating in a broth of IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-8.

Computer animation of a macrophage releasing cytokines. No transcript necessary; background music only.

I would write more about the effects of cytokines on cognition (pdf; pdf), but I can’t think right now. I can do nothing more than make peppermint tea, listen to my epithelial cells lyse, and contemplate the peaceful silence of the oncoming post-virapocalyspe:

Computer animation of a pathogen invading cells, reproducing and lysing cells, and the immune system fighting it. At the end a vial of pathogen in a lab falls, breaks, and pathogen drifts out the ventilation system. We see the abandoned city outside. No transcript necessary; background music only.


You win--you are smarter than I am.

Now that we've established that, do stay for some peppermint tea. I have a few friends I’d like you to meet. We are working on a new project and would like your input. You can tell them all about how smart you are. I’m sure they will be very impressed.

Computer animation of an antibody-mediated immune response. No transcript necessary; background music only.

Your host,


Finally, a bonus for immunogeek/gamers:

A compilation of scenes from Twilight Princess, Final Fantasy XII, KHII and Dirge of Cerberus used to explain the immune system. Background music only. Video by GarnetVengeance.

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