The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019, and was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March. As of 28 March 2020, more than 663,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in over 190 countries and territories, resulting in approximately 30,800 deaths. More than 141,000 people have since recovered.
The virus is mainly spread during close contact and via respiratory droplets produced when people cough or sneeze. Respiratory droplets may be produced during breathing but the virus is not considered airborne. People may also catch COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface and then their face. It is most contagious when people are symptomatic, although spread may be possible before symptoms appear. The time between exposure and symptom onset is typically around five days, but may range from 2 to 14 days. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. There is no known vaccine or specific antiviral treatment. Primary treatment is symptomatic and supportive therapy. Recommended preventive measures include hand washing, covering one's mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people, and monitoring and self-isolation for people who suspect they are infected.
Efforts to prevent the virus spreading include travel restrictions, quarantines, curfews, workplace hazard controls, event postponements and cancellations, and facility closures. These include the quarantine of Hubei, national or regional quarantines elsewhere in the world, curfew measures in China and South Korea, various border closures or incoming passenger restrictions, screening at airports and train stations, and outgoing passenger travel bans. Schools and universities have closed either on a nationwide or local basis in more than 160 countries, affecting more than 1.5 billion students.
The pandemic has led to severe global socioeconomic disruption, the postponement or cancellation of sporting, religious, and cultural events, and widespread fears of supply shortages which have spurred panic buying. Misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus have spread online, and there have been incidents of xenophobia and racism against Chinese and other East and Southeast Asian people.
The Vigenère cipher (French pronunciation: [viʒnɛːʁ]) is a method of encrypting alphabetic text by using a series of interwoven Caesar ciphers, based on the letters of a keyword. It employs a form of polyalphabetic substitution.
First described by Giovan Battista Bellaso in 1553, the cipher is easy to understand and implement, but it resisted all attempts to break it until 1863, three centuries later. This earned it the description le chiffre indéchiffrable (French for 'the indecipherable cipher'). Many people have tried to implement encryption schemes that are essentially Vigenère ciphers. In 1863, Friedrich Kasiski was the first to publish a general method of deciphering Vigenère ciphers.
In the 19th century the scheme was misattributed to Blaise de Vigenère (1523–1596), and so acquired its present name.
- "Vigenère Cipher" | 2019-07-03 | 55 Upvotes 20 Comments
Intonarumori are experimental musical instruments invented and built by the Italian futurist Luigi Russolo between roughly 1910 and 1930. There were 27 varieties of intonarumori in total with different names.
- "Intonarumori" | 2020-10-24 | 54 Upvotes 4 Comments
Radiatori are small, squat pasta shapes that are said to resemble radiators. Although it is rumored that they were created in the 1960s by an industrial designer, their invention was actually between the First and Second World War. They are often used in similar dishes as rotelle or fusilli, because their shape works well with thicker sauces. They are also used in casseroles, salads, and soups. The form is sometimes called pagoda pasta..
- "Radiatori – pasta shaped like a radiator to maximize heat exchange" | 2020-11-11 | 14 Upvotes 6 Comments
Casu martzu (Sardinian pronunciation: [ˈkazu ˈmaɾtsu]; literally 'rotten/putrid cheese'), sometimes spelled casu marzu, and also called casu modde, casu cundídu and casu fràzigu in Sardinian language, is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese that contains live insect larvae (maggots). A variation of the cheese, casgiu merzu, is also produced in some Southern Corsican villages like Sartene.
Derived from pecorino, casu martzu goes beyond typical fermentation to a stage of decomposition, brought about by the digestive action of the larvae of the cheese fly of the Piophilidae family. These larvae are deliberately introduced to the cheese, promoting an advanced level of fermentation and breaking down of the cheese's fats. The texture of the cheese becomes very soft, with some liquid (called làgrima, Sardinian for "teardrop") seeping out. The larvae themselves appear as translucent white worms, roughly 8 mm (0.3 in) long.
- "Casu Martzu" | 2021-06-19 | 209 Upvotes 175 Comments
Bruno Pontecorvo (Italian: [ponteˈkɔrvo]; Russian: Бру́но Макси́мович Понтеко́рво, Bruno Maksimovich Pontecorvo; 22 August 1913 – 24 September 1993) was an Italian and Soviet nuclear physicist, an early assistant of Enrico Fermi and the author of numerous studies in high energy physics, especially on neutrinos. A convinced communist, he defected to the Soviet Union in 1950, where he continued his research on the decay of the muon and on neutrinos. The prestigious Pontecorvo Prize was instituted in his memory in 1995.
The fourth of eight children of a wealthy Jewish-Italian family, Pontecorvo studied physics at the University of Rome La Sapienza, under Fermi, becoming the youngest of his Via Panisperna boys. In 1934 he participated in Fermi's famous experiment showing the properties of slow neutrons that led the way to the discovery of nuclear fission. He moved to Paris in 1934, where he conducted research under Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie. Influenced by his cousin, Emilio Sereni, he joined the French Communist Party, as did his sisters Giuliana and Laura and brother Gillo. The Italian Fascist regime's 1938 racial laws against Jews caused his family members to leave Italy for Britain, France and the United States.
When the German Army closed in on Paris during the Second World War, Pontecorvo, his brother Gillo, cousin Emilio Sereni and Salvador Luria fled the city on bicycles. He eventually made his way to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he applied his knowledge of nuclear physics to prospecting for oil and minerals. In 1943, he joined the British Tube Alloys team at the Montreal Laboratory in Canada. This became part of the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs. At Chalk River Laboratories, he worked on the design of the nuclear reactor ZEEP, the first reactor outside of the United States that went critical in 1945, followed by the NRX reactor in 1947. He also looked into cosmic rays, the decay of muons, and what would become his obsession, neutrinos. He moved to Britain in 1949, where he worked for the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell.
After his defection to the Soviet Union in 1950, he worked at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna. He had proposed using chlorine to detect neutrinos. In a 1959 paper, he argued that the electron neutrino (
e) and the muon neutrino (
μ) were different particles. Solar neutrinos were detected by the Homestake Experiment, but only between one third and one half of the predicted number were found. In response to this solar neutrino problem, he proposed a phenomenon known as neutrino oscillation, whereby electron neutrinos became muon neutrinos. The existence of the oscillations was finally established by the Super-Kamiokande experiment in 1998. He also predicted in 1958 that supernovae would produce intense bursts of neutrinos, which was confirmed in 1987 when Supernova SN1987A was detected by neutrino detectors.
- "Bruno Pontecorvo" | 2021-10-27 | 13 Upvotes 4 Comments
Umarell (Italian pronunciation: [umaˈrɛl]; modern revisitation of the Bolognese dialect word umarèl [umaˈrɛːl]) is a term in the Italo-Romance variety of Bologna referring specifically to men of retirement age who spend their time watching construction sites, especially roadworks – stereotypically with hands clasped behind their back and offering unwanted advice. Its literal meaning is "little man" (also umarèin). The term is employed as lighthearted mockery or self-deprecation.
The modern term was popularised in 2005 by local writer Danilo Masotti through two books and an associated blog. In December 2020, the word was included in the Zingarelli dictionary.
- "Umarell, men of retirement age who spend their time watching construction sites" | 2021-11-25 | 161 Upvotes 37 Comments
- "Umarell" | 2021-11-24 | 51 Upvotes 4 Comments
The Aosta Valley (Italian: Valle d'Aosta [ˈvalle daˈɔsta] (official) or Val d'Aosta (usual); French: Vallée d'Aoste; Arpitan: Val d'Outa; Walser: Augschtalann or Ougstalland; Piedmontese: Val d'Osta) is a mountainous autonomous region in northwestern Italy. It is bordered by Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France, to the west, Valais, Switzerland, to the north, and by Piedmont, Italy, to the south and east. The regional capital is Aosta.
Covering an area of 3,263 km2 (1,260 sq mi) and with a population of about 128,000 it is the smallest, least populous, and least densely populated region of Italy. The province of Aosta having been dissolved in 1945, the Aosta Valley region was the first region of Italy to abolish provincial subdivisions. Provincial administrative functions are provided by the regional government. The region is divided into 74 comuni (French: communes).
Italian and French are the official languages, though the native population also speak Valdôtain, a dialect of Franco-Provençal. Italian is spoken as a mother tongue by 77.29% of population, Valdôtain by 17.91%, and French by 1.25%. In 2009, reportedly 50.53% of the population could speak all three languages.
- "Aosta Valley Autonomus Region" | 2021-12-19 | 64 Upvotes 35 Comments
A Stolperstein (pronounced [ˈʃtɔlpɐˌʃtaɪn] (listen); plural Stolpersteine; literally "stumbling stone", metaphorically a "stumbling block") is a sett-size, ten-centimetre (3.9 in) concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution.
The Stolpersteine project, initiated by the German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, aims to commemorate individuals at exactly the last place of residency—or, sometimes, work—which was freely chosen by the person before he or she fell victim to Nazi terror, euthanasia, eugenics, deportation to a concentration or extermination camp, or escaped persecution by emigration or suicide. As of December 2019, 75,000 Stolpersteine have been laid, making the Stolpersteine project the world's largest decentralized memorial.
The majority of Stolpersteine commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Others have been placed for Sinti and Romani people (then also called "gypsies"), homosexuals, the physically or mentally disabled, Jehovah's Witnesses, black people, members of the Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the anti-Nazi Resistance, the Christian opposition (both Protestants and Catholics), and Freemasons, along with International Brigade soldiers in the Spanish Civil War, military deserters, conscientious objectors, escape helpers, capitulators, "habitual criminals", looters, and others charged with treason, military disobedience, or undermining the Nazi military, as well as Allied soldiers.
- "Stolperstein" | 2022-06-18 | 445 Upvotes 170 Comments
Operation Gladio is the codename for clandestine "stay-behind" operations of armed resistance that were organized by the Western Union (WU), and subsequently by NATO and the CIA, in collaboration with several European intelligence agencies. The operation was designed for a potential Warsaw Pact invasion and conquest of Europe. Although Gladio specifically refers to the Italian branch of the NATO stay-behind organizations, "Operation Gladio" is used as an informal name for all of them. Stay-behind operations were prepared in many NATO member countries, and some neutral countries.
During the Cold War, some anti-communist armed groups engaged in the harassment of left-wing parties, torture, terrorist attacks, and massacres in countries such as Italy. The role of the CIA and other intelligence organisations in Gladio—the extent of its activities during the Cold War era and any responsibility for terrorist attacks perpetrated in Italy during the "Years of Lead" (late 1960s–early 1980s)—is the subject of debate.
In 1990, the European Parliament adopted a resolution alleging that military secret services in certain member states were involved in serious terrorism and crime, whether or not their superiors were aware. The resolution also urged investigations by the judiciaries of the countries in which those armies operated, so that their modus operandi and actual extension would be revealed. To date, only Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have had parliamentary inquiries into the matter.
The three inquiries reached differing conclusions as regarded different countries. Guido Salvini, a judge who worked in the Italian Massacres Commission, concluded that some right-wing terrorist organizations of the Years of Lead (La Fenice, National Vanguard and Ordine Nuovo) were the trench troops of a secret army, remotely controlled by exponents of the Italian state apparatus and linked to the CIA. Salvini said that the CIA encouraged them to commit atrocities. The Swiss inquiry found that British intelligence secretly cooperated with their army in an operation named P-26 and provided training in combat, communications, and sabotage. It also discovered that P-26 not only would organize resistance in case of a Soviet invasion, but would also become active should the left succeed in achieving a parliamentary majority. The Belgian inquiry could find no conclusive information on their army. No links between them and terrorist attacks were found, and the inquiry noted that the Belgian secret services refused to provide the identity of agents, which could have eliminated all doubts. A 2000 Italian parliamentary report from the left wing coalition Gruppo Democratici di Sinistra l'Ulivo reported that terrorist massacres and bombings had been organised or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state institutions who were linked to American intelligence. The report also said the United States was guilty of promoting the strategy of tension. Operation Gladio is also suspected to have been activated to counter existing left-wing parliamentary majorities in Europe.
The US State Department published a communiqué in January 2006 that stated claims the United States ordered, supported, or authorized terrorism by stay-behind units, and US-sponsored "false flag" operations are rehashed former Soviet disinformation based on documents that the Soviets forged.
The word gladio is the Italian form of gladius, a type of Roman shortsword.
- "Operation Gladio" | 2022-10-03 | 123 Upvotes 55 Comments