Norman Ernest Borlaug (; March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009) was an American agronomist who led initiatives worldwide that contributed to the extensive increases in agricultural production termed the Green Revolution. Borlaug was awarded multiple honors for his work, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Borlaug received his B.S. in forestry in 1937 and Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1942. He took up an agricultural research position in Mexico, where he developed semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties. During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations.
Borlaug was often called "the father of the Green Revolution", and is credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation. According to Jan Douglas, executive assistant to the president of the World Food Prize Foundation, the source of this number is Gregg Easterbrook's 1997 article "Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity." The article states that the "form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths." He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.
Later in his life, he helped apply these methods of increasing food production in Asia and Africa.
- "Norman Borlaug" | 2013-09-08 | 95 Upvotes 85 Comments
- "Norman Borlaug: the greatest person to ever live?" | 2007-08-28 | 13 Upvotes 14 Comments
B. Traven (German: [ˈbeː ˈtʁaːvn̩]; Bruno Traven in some accounts) was the pen name of a presumably German novelist, whose real name, nationality, date and place of birth and details of biography are all subject to dispute. One of the few certainties about Traven's life is that he lived for years in Mexico, where the majority of his fiction is also set—including The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927). The film adaptation of the same name won three Academy Awards in 1948.
Virtually every detail of Traven's life has been disputed and hotly debated. There were many hypotheses on the true identity of B. Traven, some of them wildly fantastic. The person most commonly identified as Traven is Ret Marut, a German stage actor and anarchist who supposedly left Europe for Mexico around 1924 and who had edited an anarchist newspaper in Germany called Der Ziegelbrenner (The Brick Burner). Marut is thought to have operated under the "B. Traven" pseudonym, although no details are known about Marut's life before 1912, and many hold that "Ret Marut" was in fact also a pseudonym.
Some researchers further argue that Marut/Traven's original name was Otto Feige and that he was born in Schwiebus in Brandenburg, modern-day Świebodzin in Poland. This theory is not universally accepted. B. Traven in Mexico is also connected with the names of Berick Traven Torsvan and Hal Croves, both of whom appeared and acted in different periods of the writer's life. Both, however, denied being Traven and claimed that they were his literary agents only, representing him in contacts with his publishers.
B. Traven is the author of twelve novels, one book of reportage and several short stories, in which the sensational and adventure subjects combine with a critical attitude towards capitalism. B. Traven's best known works include the novels The Death Ship from 1926, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre from 1927 (filmed in 1948 by John Huston), and the so-called "Jungle Novels", also known as the Caoba cyclus (from the Spanish word caoba, meaning mahogany). The Jungle Novels are a group of six novels (including The Carreta and Government), published in the years 1930–1939 and set among Mexican Indians just before and during the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. B. Traven's novels and short stories became very popular as early as the interwar period and retained this popularity after the Second World War; they were also translated into many languages. Most of B. Traven's books were published in German first, with their English editions appearing later; nevertheless, the author always claimed that the English versions were the original ones and that the German versions were only their translations. This claim is mostly treated by Traven scholars as a diversion or a joke, although there are those who accept it.
- "B. Traven" | 2021-04-17 | 107 Upvotes 36 Comments
The Island of California refers to a long-held European misconception, dating from the 16th century, that the Baja California Peninsula was not part of mainland North America but rather a large island (spelled on early maps as Cali Fornia) separated from the continent by a strait now known as the Gulf of California.
One of the most famous cartographic errors in history, it was propagated on many maps during the 17th and 18th centuries, despite contradictory evidence from various explorers. The legend was initially infused with the idea that California was a terrestrial paradise, like the Garden of Eden or Atlantis.
- "Island of California" | 2014-06-11 | 99 Upvotes 40 Comments
The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuatl for "made-by-hand mountain"), is a complex located in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico. It is the largest archaeological site of a pyramid (temple) in the New World, as well as the largest pyramid by volume known to exist in the world today. The adobe brick pyramid stands 25 metres (82 ft) above the surrounding plain, which is significantly shorter than the Great Pyramid of Giza's height of 146.6 metres (481 ft), but much wider, measuring 300 by 315 metres (984 by 1,033 ft) in its final form, compared to the Great Pyramid's base dimensions of 230.3 by 230.3 metres (756 by 756 ft). The pyramid is a temple that traditionally has been viewed as having been dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl. The architectural style of the building was linked closely to that of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico, although influence from the Gulf Coast is evident as well, especially from El Tajín.
- "Great Pyramid of Cholula" | 2023-10-04 | 87 Upvotes 50 Comments
Ixtoc I was an exploratory oil well being drilled by the semi-submersible drilling rig Sedco 135 in the Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico, about 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche in waters 50 m (160 ft) deep. On 3 June 1979, the well suffered a blowout resulting in one of the largest oil spills in history.
- "In 1979, a Gulf of Mexico oil spill went on for 10 months at about the BP rate." | 2010-05-28 | 88 Upvotes 41 Comments
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
A folk legend holds that in October 1593 a soldier of the Spanish Empire (named Gil Pérez in a 1908 version) was mysteriously transported from Manila in the Philippines to the Plaza Mayor (now the Zócalo) in Mexico City. The soldier's claim to have come from the Philippines was disbelieved by the Mexicans until his account of the assassination of Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas was corroborated months later by the passengers of a ship which had crossed the Pacific Ocean with the news. Folklorist Thomas Allibone Janvier in 1908 described the legend as "current among all classes of the population of the City of Mexico". Twentieth-century paranormal investigators giving credence to the story have offered teleportation and alien abduction as explanations.
- "1593 Transported Soldier Legend" | 2020-10-27 | 67 Upvotes 8 Comments
Al pastor (from Spanish, "shepherd style"), tacos al pastor, or tacos de trompo is a preparation of spit-grilled slices of pork originating in the Central Mexican region of Puebla and Mexico City, although today it is a common menu item found in taquerías throughout Mexico. The method of preparing and cooking al pastor is based on the lamb shawarma brought by Lebanese immigrants to the region. Al pastor features a flavor palate that uses traditional Mexican adobada (marinade). It is a popular street food that has spread to the United States. In some places of northern Mexico and coastal Mexico, such as in Baja California, taco al pastor is known as taco de trompo or taco de adobada. A similar dish also from Puebla that uses a combination of middle eastern spices and indigenous central Mexican ingredients is called tacos árabes.
- "Al Pastor" | 2023-04-16 | 12 Upvotes 3 Comments
The cocoliztli epidemic or the great pestilence is a term given to millions of deaths in the territory of New Spain in present-day Mexico in the 16th century attributed to one or more illnesses collectively called cocoliztli, a mysterious illness characterized by high fevers and bleeding. It ravaged the Mexican highlands in epidemic proportions. The disease became known as Cocoliztli by the native Aztecs, and had devastating effects on the area’s demography, particularly for the indigenous people. Based on the death toll, this outbreak is often referred to as the worst disease epidemic in the history of Mexico. Subsequent outbreaks continued to baffle both Spanish and native doctors, with little consensus among modern researchers on the pathogenesis. However, recent bacterial genomic studies have suggested that Salmonella, specifically a serotype of Salmonella enterica known as Paratyphi C, was at least partially responsible for this initial outbreak. It might have also been an indigenous viral hemorrhagic fever, perhaps exacerbated by the worst droughts to affect that region in 500 years, as well as living conditions for indigenous peoples of Mexico in the wake of the Spanish conquest (c. 1519).