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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Retro Posters Promote an Ancient Battle: Humans vs. Disease

By Phil Plait

Regular readers know I’m no fan of infectious diseases. Well, no one is, I suppose, but there are those who court them, thinking our body’s natural defenses are enough to prevent infection.

Sometimes that’s true. But tragically, many times it’s not. That’s why we need vaccines.

We also need to study these diseases, figure out how they behave, how they’re structured, and what we can do to prevent them from getting out of hand. One group at the forefront of this is the Center for Infectious Disease Research, a nonprofit organization that focuses on diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, and more. They have a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a group I have a great deal of respect for.

To increase visibility and public outreach, CIDR put out a series of very cool retro posters promoting their fight. I really like this style of art, and they’ve used it to great effect. The one at the top of this post is my favorite of the lot, with a superhero feel to it (and make no mistake, scientists researching these bugs are indeed heroes).

Here’s another one I really like:

I have to think the artist has seen the 1979 movie Meteor; there’s a scene where the Soviets and the Americans launch missiles at the incoming asteroid and it looks a whole lot like this artwork.

On the CIDR website, scientific director John Aitchison explains why the center is making these posters:

Our aim is to highlight the creativity, imagination, and passion that infectious disease scientists bring to this battle each day—and the optimism we see right at the epicenter of the struggle.
It is an interesting time to work in the field of infectious diseases. Zika and Ebola captured the world’s attention and concern like nothing we’ve seen since the dawn of the AIDS pandemic.
With the eyes of the world on these diseases, mountains were moved. Research dollars flowed in, red tape was cut, and the resulting forward progress over the ensuing months and years—researching and understanding the viruses, developing a pipeline of potential cures—amounts to more than has occurred in the previous decades for these diseases.
What this plainly demonstrated to me was the importance of public attention. When our will is there, when we are focused, when we have the imagination to see that life can fundamentally improve, we achieve great results for our collective health and safety.

Well said. But then he also says this:”

Improving our world’s health starts with science. Period.

Hot damn! Yes, I couldn’t agree more. This is not why we humans invented science, but it may be one of the most important results of it. When we understand our world better, when we see reality for what it is, we can make all our lives better.

Not-so-incidentally, the CIDR takes donations.

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