Killer Diseases Through TimeThe next one is going to be a real doozy. You can trust me on that.
Historic Pandemics Cases Deaths Justinian Plague, 6th Century
China Plague (Bubonic)
*142 million ~100 million "Third Pandemic"
30 million 12 million Spanish Flu Pandemic
1 billion 21 millionSources: WHO, CDC
*Based on estimated historic mortality rate of 70%
Pandemics Today Per Year Per Year Malaria 300-500 million 1 million Tuberculosis 8 million 2 million AIDS 6 million 3 millionSource: The New York Times
Recent Outbreaks Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
in the Republic of Congo,
from 2000 to May 6, 2003
143 128 Meningococcal Disease
in Burkina Faso,
from Jan. to April 20, 2003
7146 1058 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
Worldwide, as of May 20
7919 662Source: WHO
Hmmm, fascinating and ingenious too!
Fun with Numbers
The numbers we all use (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) are known as "arabic" numbers to distinguish them from the "Roman Numerals" (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, etc). Actually the arabs popularized these numbers but they were originally used by the early phonecian traders to count and keep track of their trading accounts.
Have you ever thought why ........ 1 means "one", and 2 means "two"? The roman numerals are easy to understand but what was the logic behind the phonecian numbers?It's all about angles! It's the number of angles. If one writes the numbers down (see below) on a piece of paper in their older forms, one quickly sees why. I have marked the angles with "o"s.
No 1 has one angle.
No 2 has two angles.
No 3 has three angles.
and "O" has no angles
Interesting, isn't it?
An ancient phonecian manuscript explains this and I thought it to be fascinating <g>.
-- from Dr Malka's Orthopaedic Pages
The inclusion of zero or "nothing" as a numeral occurred some time around
600 AD and it transformed the Indian counting system into one that allowed
numbers to expand without end. It could achieve this remarkable feat economically
and without cumbersome
notation or need to invent more and more symbols, a feature that all previous
systems lacked. In computer parlance, the new positional system was reallyscalable.
As a slight diversion it is worth looking at how the Greeks represented numbers at the time. Many of us are familiar with Roman numerals but what system did the Greeks use? All of the famous classical mathematicians were Greeks, right?
It has been argued that the reason why this innovation occurred in India rather than the West was largely because of a peculiarly Indian fascination withastronomically huge numbers.
Greek mathematical notation was not positional; it utilized many symbols and was cumbersome to work with.
The "M" is a myriad, and represents 10,000. The Greek work is murious (uncountable, pl. murioi). The Romans converted to this to myriad.
The traditional Indian cosmology states that the universe undergoes cyclic periods of birth, development and decay, lasting 4.32×109 years, each of these periods is called a Kalpa or ``day of Brahma''. During each Kalpa the universe develops by natural means and processes, and by natural means and processes it decays; the destruction of the universe is as certain as the death of a mouse (and equally important). Each Kalpa is divided into 1000 ``great ages'', and each great age into 4 ages; during each age humankind deteriorates gradually (the present age will terminate in 426,902 years). These is no final purpose towards which the universe moves, there is no progress, only endless repetition. We do not know how the universe began, perhaps Brahma laid it as an egg and hatched it; perhaps it is but an error or a joke of the Maker.The Brahmi script went through a continuous evolution, spawning numerous variants, the most important of which was the Devanagari (or sometimes simply Nagari) script. With Devanagari numerals, the 1 was rotated by 90 degrees and had developed a serif-like loop at the top. The 2 and 3 took on their familiar shapes due to shortcuts taken by scribes, who chose to link the parallel bars rather than lifting their pens.
This description of the universe is remarkable for the enormous numbers it uses. The currently accepted age of the universe is about 1018 seconds and this corresponds to about 7 Kalpas+335 great ages. A unique feature of Indian cosmology is that no other ancient cosmology manipulates such time periods.
In the Surya Siddanta it is stated that the stars revolved around the cosmic mountain Meru at whose summit dwell the gods. The Earth is a sphere divided into four continents. the planets move by the action of a cosmic wind and, in fact, the Vedic conception of nature attributes all motion to such a wind. It was noted that the planets do not move in perfect circles and this was attributed to ``weather forms'' whose hands were tied to the planets by ``cords of wind''
I will omit all discussion of the science of the Indians, ... , of their subtle discoveries in astronomy, discoveries that are more ingenious than those of the Greeks and the Babylonians, and of their valuable methods of calculation which surpass description. I wish only to say that this computation is done by means of nine signs. If those who believe, because they speak Greek, that they have arrived at the limits of science, would read the Indian texts, they would be convinced, even if a little late in the day, that there are others who know something of value.However, it had to wait until the Arab conquests before the Indian numerals began to be adopted widely and even then only very gradually. In the 11th century, the Muslim mathematician and astronomer al-Biruni referring to Indian numerals wrote:
Whilst we use letters for calculation according to their numerical value, the Indians do not use letters at all for arithmetic. And just as the shape of the letters that they use for writing is different in different regions of their country, so the numerical symbols vary.
Sanskrit, in which classical Indian literature was composed, is among the world's oldest recorded languages. But putting works created over the past 3000 years on to the web has not been easy.thanks, Peter
Documents written in Devanagari, the script used for Sanskrit and other South Asian languages, can be scanned as images. But optical character recognition (OCR) software for turning Devanagari texts into digital information that can be searched and reformatted has not been commercially available.
That has not been for lack of effort. Because Devanagari is also used for widely spoken contemporary languages such as Hindi, several research teams based in India are working on OCR technology to capture it.
...Since all human beings have virtually identical DNA, geneticists have to look for slight chemical variations that distinguish one population from another. One technique involves the use of "microsatellites" - short repetitive fragments of DNA whose patterns of variation differ among populations. Because microsatellites are passed from generation to generation and have a high mutation rate, they are a useful tool for estimating when two populations diverged.
In their study, the research team compared 377 microsatellite markers in DNA collected from 1,056 individuals representing 52 geographic sites in Africa, Eurasia (the Middle East, Europe, Central and South Asia), East Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
Statistical analysis of the microsatellite data revealed a close genetic relationship between two hunter-gatherer populations in sub-Saharan Africa - the Mbuti pygmies of the Congo Basin and the Khoisan (or "bushmen") of Botswana and Namibia. These two populations "may represent the oldest branch of modern humans studied here," the authors concluded.
The data revealed a genetic split between the ancestors of these hunter-gatherer populations and the ancestors of contemporary African farming people - Bantu speakers who inhabit many countries in southern Africa. "This division occurred between 70,000 and 140,000 years ago and was followed by the expansion out of Africa into Eurasia, Oceania, East Asia and the Americas - in that order," Feldman said.
This result is consistent with an earlier study in which Feldman and others analyzed the Y chromosomes of more than 1,000 men from 21 different populations. In that study, the researchers concluded that the first human migration from Africa may have occurred roughly 66,000 years ago.
Most people know little about today's Samaritans. Many believe that the name refers to an ancient Biblical race of which no vestige survives. They are often surprised to learn that the Samaritans, who accept only the Pentateuch as Holy Writ, are a vital, intelligent group with a rich history and a distinctive language and literature, practicing their own form of worship and following age-old traditions and customs.
They claim direct descent from Ephraim and Manasseh, sons of Joseph, who entered the Promised Land with Joshua and settled in the Samaria region; while their priests stem from the tribe of Levi. The Samaritans rather resent the name by which they are known; preferring to call themselves "Shamerim" --in Hebrew, guardians-- for they contend that they have guarded the original Law of Moses, keeping it pure and unadulterated down the centuries.
Their numbers are not large, and today less than five hundred are left of a great nation that is said to have been counted in hundreds of thousands --there were estimated to be over three-quarters of a million in the early part of the Christian era. About half of the remnant live on their ancestral site, close to Mount Gerizim (1), and the other half in Holon, near Tel Aviv.