(Reuters) – Scientists have mapped out the entire genetic map of the Black Death, a 14th century bubonic plague that killed 50 million Europeans in one of the most devastating epidemics in history.
The work, which involved extracting and purifying DNA from the remains of Black death victims buried in London’s “plague pits,” is the first time scientists have been able to draft a reconstructed genome of any ancient pathogen.
Their result — a full draft of the entire Black Death genome — should allow researchers to track changes in the disease’s evolution and virulence, and lead to better understanding of modern-day infectious diseases.
Building on previous research which showed that a specific variant of the Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis) bacterium was responsible for the plague that ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351, a team of German, Canadian and American scientists went on to “capture” and sequence the entire genome of the disease.
“The genomic data show that this bacterial strain, or variant, is the ancestor of all modern plagues we have today worldwide. Every outbreak across the globe today stems from a descendant of the medieval plague,” said Hendrik Poinar, of Canada’s McMaster University, who worked with the team.
“With a better understanding of the evolution of this deadly pathogen, we are entering a new era of research into infectious disease.”
Major technical advances in DNA recovery and sequencing have dramatically expanded the scope of genetic analysis of ancient specimens, opening up new ways of trying to understand emerging and re-emerging infections.
Experts say the direct descendants of the same bubonic plague still exist today, killing around 2,000 people a year.
A virulent strain of E. coli bacteria which caused a deadly outbreak of infections in Germany and France earlier this year was also found to contain DNA sequences from plague bacteria.
For this study Poinar’s team analysed skeletal remains from Black Death victims buried in London’s East Smithfield “plague pits,” which are located under what is now the Royal Mint.
By focusing on promising specimens from the dental pulp of five bodies, which had already been pre-screened for the presence of Y. pestis, they were able to extract, purify and enrich the disease’s DNA and at the same time reduce the amount of background non-plague DNA which might interfere.
Read more HERE.
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“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” – Dale Carnegie
With a finish time of eight hours and 25 minutes, 100-year-old Indian-born Brit Fauja Singh completed yesterday’s Toronto Waterfront marathon to become the oldest person ever to run a full marathon.
Singh was nearly forced to quit at the 35 kilometer mark, but pushed through the pain, and eventually bested his own personal goal.
More remarkable still, Singh took up running only 20 years ago, and has been running some 16 kilometers every day since.
This is hilarious! Maybe just what you want to do today?
Occupy George: Using money to make a statement about wealth.
By Simone Meyer
MANCHING — The plane comes down out of the sky and lands with little noise. The enthusiastic sounds emanating from the people watching the landing at Manching air strip in Bavaria are almost louder than the landing of the 15 ton “bird.” Bird is what staffers at the technical aircraft defense service here almost affectionately call their new hero, the Euro Hawk.
This reconnaissance drone signals a new era for Germany’s Federal Armed Forces — the debut of the largest unmanned flying object in German airspace.
“It’s a milestone for us,” says Rüdiger Knöpfel, a project manager at the Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement, for which this represents nearly 10 years of planning. At 15 meters long, and a wingspan of 40 meters the Euro Hawk by far outstrips other systems of this type.
The 52-year-old boxer, who was released two years ago from Sing Sing after spending 26 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit, defeated Larry Hopkins (no relation to Bernard) — a man 22 years his junior — in his first professional fight.
“I used to lay in my cell and dream about this happening,” said Bozella. “It was all worth it. It was my dream come true.”
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner was convicted in 1983 of killing 92-year-old Emma Crapser and sentenced to serve 20 years to life. He maintained his innocence through four parole board hearings and a 1990 plea-bargain offer that required an admission of guilt.
Bozella was finally exonerated in October 2009 after it came to light that proof of his innocence was purposely buried by the local DA.
While being honored at this year’s ESPY Awards, the man who was Sing Sing’s light-heavyweight champion told an ESPN reporter that he dreamed of one day boxing in a professional fight. Touched by his story, Golden Boy Promotions attached Bozella to last night’s card, and the rest is the stuff of Hollywood.
“I’m going to concentrate on the Dewey Bozella Foundation, which really means opening a gym in my town,” said Bozella, whose first professional fight was also his last. “Because there are no gyms, and I’d like to see kids who are on the street have something productive to do. No more fighting for me.”
In eight months, the sale of foie gras will be banned in California. But for seven hours on Friday night, at a restaurant appropriately known as Animal, three chefs presented an eight-course meal that was nothing short of a glorification of this soon-to-be outlawed delicacy. There was smoked foie gras, roasted foie gras, steamed foie gras and liquefied foie gras, injected into agnolotti. It was served with veal tongue, yogurt, prosciutto, mustard ice cream and truffles. There was even a foie gras dessert: a brownie sundae with foie gras Chantilly.
With all its gluttonous excess, and with the backdrop of the animal rights protesters, the sold-out dinner became the fattiest of food as political protest, offering a clash of competing passions in a battle that has reverberated across the nation but finally settled here, the first state in the nation to criminalize the sale of foie gras, the fattened liver of a goose or a duck.
“Good for them,” John L. Burton, the former state legislator who sponsored the bill, said when told about the dinner-as-political-protest. “If you give me the address of the restaurant, I’ll be outside selling Lipitor so they don’t all get heart attacks. This is like what they did before Prohibition: Everyone was giving away the booze. Whatever makes them happy.”
I love how the moronic bill sponsor likens his own stupid bill to prohibition. -bfh
Animal rights activists dismissed the event as an exercise in futility.
“This is a rather embarrassing temper tantrum on the part of these chefs; the bill will take effect whether they like it or not,” said Lindsay Rajt, an associate director with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “The idea of paying upwards of $100 to eat pieces of a diseased organ would be laughably funny to most people if it didn’t involve cramming pipes down birds’ throats and painfully force-feeding them.”
That is total BS, the type of lies PETA engages in.
Violators of the law will face fines of up to $1,000 a day. But Mr. Lefebvre said he was already cooking up ways to work around this latest prohibition. “Maybe I’m going to change the name,” he said. “Call it duck liver. Call it pâté. But I’ll find a way. People like foie gras.”
Why do men and women talk differently?
A new book argues that guys argue and girls overshare for a reason: Evolution. The author explains
Over the past few decades, linguists have shown that, when it comes to speech, many gender stereotypes hold remarkably true: Men tend to speak loudly, while women whisper; men talk over each other, while women conspire behind each other’s backs; men hold back their feelings, while women lay them out to strangers they meet on the subway. According to some critics, these differences are merely a reflection of our cultural presuppositions about gender. But, according to a new book, there’s a far simpler reason for these linguistic differences: biology.
In “Duels and Duets,” John L. Locke, a professor of linguistics at Lehman College and the author of “Eavesdropping: An Intimate History,” argues that men and women have radically different ways of speaking not because of their upbringing, but because they have radically different evolutionary needs. Men, he argues, use antagonistic speech, or “duels,” to show off their strength and prove themselves to women. Women, meanwhile, use quieter speech patterns to bond with each other — and help protect themselves against aggressive men. And, according to Locke, this is a pattern that has been going on for thousands and thousands of years.
The First British Open Is Held in Scotland (1860)
The Open Championship of the British Isles, or the Open, is the oldest and one of the most prestigious golf championship tournaments in the world. It began in 1860 at Scotland’s Prestwick course and is now rotated among select courses in England and Scotland. The first tournament was won by Willie Park, who also recorded the tournament’s highest single-hole stroke total—21. Though today the Open has a multimillion-dollar prize fund, there was no prize money initially. Instead, Park won what? More…
The Man Who Sailed His House
Two days after the Japanese tsunami, after the waves had left their destruction, as rescue workers searched the ruins, news came of an almost surreal survival: Miles out at sea, a man was found, alone, riding on nothing but the roof of his house. Michael Paterniti tells his astonishing tale
Later, lost far at sea, when you’re trying to forget all you’ve left behind, the memory will bubble up unbidden: a village that once lay by the ocean.
Here are the neatly packed homes with gray-tiled roofs over which the mountains rise in rounded beneficence, towering over lush rice fields that feed a nation. Here are the boats that fish the sea, in all of its blue serenity, and the grass in all of its green. There is such peace in this picture of abundance: lumber from the mountain, rice from the field, fish from the deep ocean. People want for nothing here.
This village woven together by contentment is yours, Hiromitsu, and it is here, in the memory of it whole, that you know yourself best, the fourth-generation son of rice farmers. Here among a hundred wooden houses is the concrete one your family built. The house is made with metal pilings, which by your calculations will stand any high tide or errant wave. On your verdant plot a mile from the sea, a garden bursts with peonies, outbuildings sag, a koi pond teems. Here you live with your wife, Yuko, to whom you daily profess your love, and your parents, whom you still honor with the obedience of a child. In the barn are the pigeons you adore, for there’s no more beautiful sight in the world than a flock mystically circling deep in the sky, then suddenly one breaking for home, wings aflutter, straining, as if to say, I’m here.
In this cage lie the chuckling pigeons, and in this barn of theirs, your happiness. Against the wall are full bags of rice seed—and from outside you can hear your wife’s voice calling your name. Hiromitsu. Night falls—and in the bedroom you lie beside her. You will remember this later when trying to keep yourself alive: falling asleep one last time by the body of your wife in your house, beneath its roof of white tin, in the shadow of the sea.
Reality TV has certainly dabbled in ancient embalming practices before — Paula Abdul immediately springs to mind — but never, to my knowledge, has it been taken quite to these extremes. A terminally ill man with a longheld fascination for Egyptian burial rites donated his body to a documentary series about mummification on Britain’s Channel 4.
The result, Mummifying Alan, is set to air on October 24, and will chronicle the handiwork of a team of scientists familiar with the techniques of the ancient embalmers who worked on King Tutankhamun.
The Sterile Insect Technique
The sterile insect technique is a method of biological control in which millions of sterile insects are released into the wild to reduce the population of future generations through mating that does not produce offspring. It is often used to control the populations of insects that spread disease to humans or livestock. Repeated release of sterile insects can eventually eliminate a population. The technique has been successfully used to eradicate what insect in areas of North America? More…
Originally posted 2011-10-17 11:50:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter