The 2009 flu pandemic or swine flu was an influenza pandemic that lasted from January 2009 to August 2010, and the second of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus (the first being the 1918–1920 Spanish flu pandemic), albeit a new strain. First described in April 2009, the virus appeared to be a new strain of H1N1, which resulted from a previous triple reassortment of bird, swine, and human flu viruses further combined with a Eurasian pig flu virus, leading to the term "swine flu". According to WHO, the laboratory confirmed death toll is more than 18,036. Meanwhile, some studies estimated that 11 to 21 percent of the global population at the time – or around 700 million to 1.4 billion people (out of a total of 6.8 billion) – contracted the illness. This was more than the number of people infected by the Spanish flu pandemic, but only resulted in about 150,000 to 575,000 fatalities for the 2009 pandemic. A follow-up study done in September 2010 showed that the risk of serious illness resulting from the 2009 H1N1 flu was no higher than that of the yearly seasonal flu. For comparison, the WHO estimates that 250,000 to 500,000 people die of seasonal flu annually.
Unlike most strains of influenza, the Pandemic H1N1/09 virus does not disproportionately infect adults older than 60 years; this was an unusual and characteristic feature of the H1N1 pandemic. Even in the case of previously very healthy people, a small percentage develop pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This manifests itself as increased breathing difficulty and typically occurs three to six days after initial onset of flu symptoms. The pneumonia caused by flu can be either direct viral pneumonia or a secondary bacterial pneumonia. A November 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article recommended that flu patients whose chest X-ray indicates pneumonia receive both antivirals and antibiotics. In particular, it is a warning sign if a child (and presumably an adult) seems to be getting better and then relapses with high fever, as this relapse may be bacterial pneumonia.
- "Wikipedia: The 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak" | 2009-04-25 | 57 Upvotes 42 Comments
Atomic gardening is a form of mutation breeding where plants are exposed to radioactive sources, typically cobalt-60, in order to generate mutations, some of which have turned out to be useful.
The practice of plant irradiation has resulted in the development of over 2000 new varieties of plants, most of which are now used in agricultural production. One example is the resistance to verticillium wilt of the "Todd's Mitcham" cultivar of peppermint which was produced from a breeding and test program at Brookhaven National Laboratory from the mid-1950s. Additionally, the Rio Star Grapefruit, developed at the Texas A&M Citrus Center in the 1970s, now accounts for over three quarters of the grapefruit produced in Texas.
Crown shyness (also canopy disengagement, canopy shyness, or intercrown spacing) is a phenomenon observed in some tree species, in which the crowns of fully stocked trees do not touch each other, forming a canopy with channel-like gaps. The phenomenon is most prevalent among trees of the same species, but also occurs between trees of different species. There exist many hypotheses as to why crown shyness is an adaptive behavior, and research suggests that it might inhibit spread of leaf-eating insect larvae.
- "Crown shyness" | 2017-08-12 | 307 Upvotes 35 Comments
Kostroma Moose Farm (Russian: Костромска́я лосефе́рма) is an experimental farm in Kostroma Oblast, Russia, where a herd of moose is kept, primarily for milk production; the farm supplies moose's milk to a nearby sanitorium. It is located near the village of Sumarokovo in Krasnoselsky District of Kostroma Oblast, some 25 km east of the city of Kostroma.
- "Kostroma Moose Farm" | 2019-08-18 | 30 Upvotes 11 Comments
This is a list of common misconceptions. Each entry is formatted as a correction; the misconceptions themselves are implied rather than stated. These entries are meant to be concise, but more detail can be found in the main subject articles.
A mellified man, or a human mummy confection, was a legendary medicinal substance created by steeping a human cadaver in honey. The concoction is detailed in Chinese medical sources, most significantly the Bencao Gangmu of the 16th-century Chinese medical doctor and pharmacologist Li Shizhen. Relying on a second-hand account, Li reports a story that some elderly men in Arabia, nearing the end of their lives, would submit themselves to a process of mummification in honey to create a healing confection.
This process differed from a simple body donation because of the aspect of self-sacrifice; the mellification process would ideally start before death. The donor would stop eating any food other than honey, going as far as to bathe in the substance. Shortly, his feces (and even his sweat, according to legend) would consist of honey. When this diet finally proved fatal, the donor's body would be placed in a stone coffin filled with honey.
After a century or so, the contents would have turned into a sort of confection reputedly capable of healing broken limbs and other ailments. This confection would then be sold in street markets as a hard to find item with a hefty price.
- "Mellified man" | 2017-02-14 | 35 Upvotes 5 Comments
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norwegian: Svalbard globale frøhvelv) is a secure seed bank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago. Conservationist Cary Fowler, in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), started the vault to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples, or "spare" copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide. The seed vault is an attempt to ensure against the loss of seeds in other genebanks during large-scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement among the Norwegian government, the Crop Trust, and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen).
The Norwegian government entirely funded the vault's approximately 45 million kr (US$8.8 million in 2008) construction. Storing seeds in the vault is free to end users; Norway and the Crop Trust pay for operational costs. Primary funding for the Trust comes from organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and from various governments worldwide.
The great grain robbery was the July 1972 purchase of 10 million tons of grain (mainly wheat and corn) from the United States by the Soviet Union at subsidized prices, which caused global grain prices to soar. Crop shortfalls in 1971 and 1972 forced the Soviet Union to look abroad for grain, hoping to prevent famine or crisis. Soviet negotiators worked out a deal to buy grain on credit, but quickly exceeded their credit limit. The American negotiators did not realize that both the Soviets and the world grain market had suffered shortfalls, and thus chose to subsidize the purchase. The strategy backfired and intensified the crisis with global food prices rose at least 30%, and grain stockpiles were decimated.
- "Great Grain Robbery (1972)" | 2020-04-25 | 47 Upvotes 26 Comments
In 1989, a sudden invasion of Mediterranean fruit flies (Ceratitis capitata, "medflies") appeared in California and began devastating crops. Scientists were puzzled and said that the sudden appearance of the insects "defies logic", and some speculated "biological terrorists" were responsible. Analysis suggested that an outside hand played a role in the dense infestation.
A person or group calling itself "The Breeders" took responsibility for the bioterrorist attack, as financial retaliation for the environmental damage caused by the state's Malathion aerial spraying; the group's members were never identified. Subsequently, three months after "The Breeders" announced the medfly release, the state ended its decade-long Malathion program and sought alternate ways to handle destructive insects.
- "1989 California Medfly Attack" | 2020-05-29 | 213 Upvotes 99 Comments
A Malthusian catastrophe (also known as Malthusian check, Malthusian crisis, Malthusian spectre or Malthusian crunch) occurs when population growth outpaces agricultural production.
- "Malthusian Catastrophe" | 2020-06-20 | 10 Upvotes 3 Comments