The 1918 Flu Pandemic

The influenza pandemic of 1918-19 killed more people than the Great War. Its cause was unknown at the time, but we now know it to be an H1N1 strain of the virus.

Here’s a brief history: The Flu Pandemic.

Y-chromosome sequencing of King Richard III

An unexpected result was obtained from the recently recovered bones of Richard III, the anointed king of England until he was killed by an invading army under Henry Tudor. It seems that his Y chromosome doesn’t match those of his family. This could be a “false paternity” finding or it could be a run-of-the-mill lab error.

DNA analysis and genealogy

Genealogy is getting a boost from DNA analysis, which both sparks interest and helps people to know where to look.

The genes that build America makes some good points, some of them not obvious. One is that black Americans who are descended from slaves depend on white families keeping and allowing them access to records, since their family histories are found in wills and bills of sale.

All about rope

I found an interesting Web site that describes the kinds of rope, its history, and how it is made. Two-strand rope may have been invented more than 17,000 years ago. The Egyptians built tools for making rope. In the Middle Ages, “laid” or twisted rope used to be made in long sheds called “rope walks” up to 300 yards long, thus giving rise to the “cable length” of rope. Three-strand rope is “hawser-laid” or plain rope, while four-strand rope is “cable-laid.”

Ropes can be twisted or braided. A plaited rope is made of braided strands twisted together. Brait rope is a combination of braided and plaited.

A cable is made up of three or more ropes twisted together. A rope made for a special purpose is called a line. Read “Ropes” at Solar Navigator.

Food safety: The struggle to pasteurize milk

Pop quiz: The scientist who discovered that pasteurizing milk prevented it from transmitting diseases was told that if it were important, someone else would have discovered it already. What sex was the scientist?

Alice Catherine Evans proved that unpasteurized milk spread disease, and improved the health of any nation that was listening.

It was an exceptionally stubborn microbiologist named Alice Catherine Evans who was the first scientist in the United States to definitively show that microbes in unpasteurized milk can sicken humans as well as animals. She went on to fight for the heat-treating of milk to protect the public and stands today as the mother of pasteurization in the United States. And the male heroes embodied in De Kruif’s book were hardly supportive. She was mocked, belittled and assured that if she was right, “someone much more outstanding” would have made the discovery long before.

De Kruif included her [in Men against Death] to both acknowledge her contribution and protest her treatment. “Such,” he noted sadly, “is the silliness of scientists.”

Still, by the time his book was published, Evans had won her battle to such an extent that she had already been elected president of the Society of American Bacteriologists—a forerunner of the Society of Microbiologists—in 1928. And she had done that with significant support from male colleagues, willing to “honor one woman whose findings dramatically advanced their field of research and improved public health in this country,” wrote Maryland biologist and former National Science Foundation director Rita Colwell in a much later tribute of her own.

Alan Turing was likely not a suicide

On the occasion of Turing’s would-have-been-100th birthday, researchers don’t think that he committed suicide. Rather, they believe that his death occurred when an electroplating experiment went wrong or chemicals were accidentally transferred to his food.

Turing expert Prof Jack Copeland… believes the evidence would not today be accepted as sufficient to establish a suicide verdict. …a coroner these days would demand evidence of pre-meditation before announcing a verdict of suicide, yet nothing in the accounts of Turing’s last days suggest he was in anything but a cheerful mood.

Turing was a mathematical genius and codebreaker who contributed to Britain’s success in World War II.

Was Stonehenge the United Nations building of its day?

The UN building in New York was made with the finest materials contributed by countries around the world to celebrate their cooperation. Researchers now think that Stonehenge was a symbol of the united tribes of Britain.

Stonehenge Was A Monument To Tribal Unification, Say Researchers (via Planetsave)

  Researchers working at Stonehenge have concluded, after ten years of archaeological investigation at the site, that it was built as a monument to unify the peoples of Britain after a long period of conflict and regional differences.     The researchers theorize that the stones symbolize the ancestors…

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Vaccines and chemicals

Puff the Mutant Dragon has an excellent takedown of Vaccines Have Chemicals alarmism: “Do vaccines contain toxic chemicals?” Puff considers mercury, ammonia, formaldehyde, thimerosol, aluminum, and hydrochloric acid.

In addition, Puff found a cartoon showing Jenner vaccinating people with cowpox. The results look like a humorous jab at vaccination fears.

The original vaccination in the 1800s: The Cow-Pock

But this was a serious editorial effort by the Anti-Vaccine Society, which objected to adding strange cow-derived substances into our precious bodily fluids. (Click on the picture to see a larger version.)

And yet this was a huge step up from previous inoculation procedures, which used a mild strain of smallpox with only 10% mortality to protect against the wild strains with 30% mortality.

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