An affectionate teardown of 'Peppa Pig' by a doctor who's seen way too many episodes.

This British doctor's 100% serious, completely scientific, not tongue-in-cheek-at-all analysis of "Peppa Pig's" Dr. Brown Bear is hilarious and completely relatable for anyone who has (or has even been near) small children, who don't annoy their parents at all when they watch the same episode about George's woolly hat six times in a row.

"Peppa Pig" is a British children's program about a small, anthropomorphic pig named Peppa, her family, and the community she lives in, including one Dr. Brown Bear. Who is a bear. Obviously.


Obviously. Image from RR and J/Wordpress.

In the 100%-real, scientific paper, titled "Does Peppa Pig encourage inappropriate use of primary care resources?" and published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, Dr. Catherine Bell highlights tough issues like:

  • Is it appropriate for a medically-trained bear professional to make so many house calls?
  • Should small singing pigs be allowed into surgery?
  • And how is Dr. Bear's mental health holding up?

Meanwhile, peppered (must resist puns...) throughout are wonderful little flourishes, like:

"Peppa Pig conveys many positive public health messages... However, from (repeated, mostly involuntary) review of the subject..."

or

"Conflicts of interest: None declared. It may look like my child is sponsored by 'Peppa Pig,' but any claims to this effect are false."

The paper's only about two pages long and is a very easy read, even for a nonscientific person.

As to how it got published, the paper is part of the British Medical Journal's annual Christmas issue. While each paper and article must still be held to scientific standards, the journal embraces the holiday spirit once a year and opens itself up to more, let's call them "original" topics, like how nice hospital gardens are or whether the BONG-BONG-BONG of London's Big Ben is interrupting a good night's rest.

Bell's paper is a delightful, cheeky, and affectionate dig at children's programming that anyone who's ever been near a television or a toddler can relate to and enjoy.

And, if nothing else, it's a reminder that maybe someone should check in on poor Dr. Brown Bear.

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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