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How Environmental Change May Have Played A Role At The Dawn Of Egyptian History – The Wire Science
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How Environmental Change May Have Played A Role At The Dawn Of Egyptian History – The Wire Science

Hieroglyphs depicting modern aircraft and vehicles in a temple in Abydos, Egypt. Photo: Olek95/Wikimedia Commons Around 5,000 years ago (c. 3100 BC), what we know today as Ancient Egypt came into existence. A thousand years either side, and other such “primary states” had also arisen across the world, in Mesopotamia, North China, the Indus Valley and other locations. But why did human social dynamics change so dramatically in such a relatively short space of time? Why did we stop living in smaller communities and come together into cities and “civilisations”? In trying to answer this perennial question, archaeologists and anthropologists have historically studied the emergence of social stratification, notions of kingship, shifting identities, changing techn...
Remembering N.R. Sen, a Less Known Student of the Calcutta School of Science – The Wire Science
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Remembering N.R. Sen, a Less Known Student of the Calcutta School of Science – The Wire Science

N.R. Sen. Photo: Shaer Verlag. The authors of this monograph, Rajinder Singh and Suprakash C. Roy are well-established historians of science. Rajinder Singh has published more than two dozen books on the history of science, based on his research on contributions of the Calcutta School of Science. His has become a household name in Kolkata. N.R. Sen: Life and Science is a part of the same series of books: it deals with the life and scientific work of Nikhil Ranjan Sen, a pioneer in applied mathematics and its applications in many diverse fields. N.C. Ghosh has paid glowing tributes to this grandmaster of Calcutta University in his foreword. Singh’s coauthor, Roy, is an ex-professor at the Bose Institute, Kolkata. In their introductory remarks, Singh and Roy rec...
World No Closer To Answer On COVID Origins Despite WHO Probe – The Wire Science
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World No Closer To Answer On COVID Origins Despite WHO Probe – The Wire Science

WHO team investigating origins of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a visit to the Animal Epidemic Disease Prevention and Control Centre in Hubei, Wuhan. Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter Shanghai: Despite a high-profile visit to China by a team of international experts in January, the world is no closer to knowing the origins of COVID-19, according to one of the authors of an open letter calling for a new investigation into the pandemic. “At this point we are no further advanced than we were a year ago,” said Nikolai Petrovsky, an expert in vaccines at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, and one of 26 global experts who signed the open letter, published on Thursday. In January, a team of scientists picked by the World Health Organization (WHO) vis...
Gujarat Govt Says 313 Gir Lions Dead In Two Years – The Wire Science
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Gujarat Govt Says 313 Gir Lions Dead In Two Years – The Wire Science

A sub-adult male Asiatic lion at the Gir National park. Photo: Tanmay Haldar/Wikimedia Commons New Delhi: The Gujarat government informed the state assembly on Friday that 313 lions have died in the Gir National Park in the last two years – specifically, 152 cubs, 90 lionesses and 71 male Asiatic lions, between January 2019 and December 2020. State forest minister Ganpat Vasava told Times of India that of the 71 lions that died in this time, 69 had died of natural causes, as also 144 of the 152 cubs. However, the opposition has claimed that rotting cattle meat, which is illegally transported into Gir from the peripheral villages, is a major cause of the deaths. Virji Thummar, Congress MLA, told Indian Express, “Dead cattle are brought inside the Gir sanctuar...
Scientists Record Drastic Loss Of Forest Birds In Western Himalaya – The Wire Science
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Scientists Record Drastic Loss Of Forest Birds In Western Himalaya – The Wire Science

Rufous sibia, a forest specialist species, is under threat due to oak forest degradation. Photo: Aditya Pal/Wikimedia Commons Land-use changes in the western Himalayan forests, a global biodiversity hotspot with huge numbers of endemic species, have resulted in a massive decline in forest birds in the region, new research shows. Scientists from the Centre for Ecology, Development and Research (CEDAR), Dehra Dun and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, studied the effects of land-use change on forest bird species and ‘guilds’ (any group of species that exploit the same resources, or that exploit different resources in related ways) in areas in the western Himalayas. They surveyed the birds systematically during their breeding season, i...
SII Warns Of Vaccine Supply Hit With U.S. Raw Materials Export Ban – The Wire Science
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SII Warns Of Vaccine Supply Hit With U.S. Raw Materials Export Ban – The Wire Science

An employee at Serum Institute of India removes vials of AstraZeneca’s Covishield from a visual inspection machine inside a lab. Photo: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas New Delhi: A temporary U.S. ban on exports of critical raw materials could limit the production of coronavirus vaccines by companies such as the Serum Institute of India (SII), its chief executive said in a World Bank panel discussion on Thursday. SII, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, has licensed the AstraZeneca/Oxford University product and will soon start bulk-manufacturing the Novavax shot. “There are a lot of bags, filters and critical items that manufacturers need,” Adar Poonawalla said. “The Novavax vaccine, which we are a major manufacturer of, needs these items from the U.S.” He said th...
In Tanzania, Survival of Giraffes Is Influenced by How Close They Live To Towns – The Wire Science
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In Tanzania, Survival of Giraffes Is Influenced by How Close They Live To Towns – The Wire Science

A Masai giraffe, the tallest animal in Kenya with the Britam Tower, the tallest building in Kenya. Photo: Alexmbogo/Wikimedia Commons The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an iconic megaherbivore whose populations are declining across Africa, the only continent where they are found. Giraffe numbers have plummeted from an estimated 150,000 in 1985 to fewer than 100,000 today. Like many species of African wildlife, giraffes face numerous threats. The biggest threats are hunting for bushmeat markets and loss of habitat due to deforestation and the spread of farms. Giraffes shape and sustain healthy ecosystems. For example, woody plant spines, such as thorn trees, are a response to giraffe browsing. Giraffes are also a big attraction for tourists. The best way...
How Overuse of Sub-Standard Disinfectants Could Develop Bacterial Resistance – The Wire Science
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How Overuse of Sub-Standard Disinfectants Could Develop Bacterial Resistance – The Wire Science

A firefighter gestures fellow firefighters to stop spraying disinfectant in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our lives. One effect that could yet be seen might be the development of bacterial resistance to disinfectants, as a result of the overuse of substandard disinfectants. SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – is susceptible to most disinfectants, including those containing 70% alcohol. As a result the manufacture and sale of “hand sanitisers” has become big business in the COVID-19 era. Hand sanitising is a key public health intervention and is encouraged in all public spaces. There is, unfortunately, very little control of the quality and efficacy of many of these hand sanitisers. These p...
What Do You Do if a ‘Sacred’ Cow Falls Sick – and Can’t Be Culled? – The Wire Science
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What Do You Do if a ‘Sacred’ Cow Falls Sick – and Can’t Be Culled? – The Wire Science

Photo: Taylor Brandon/Unsplash. In 2015, Vikas Gupta was ready for a change. Then the head of international marketing at a large corporation in Mumbai, the 42-year-old decided to give it all up, return to his home state of Haryana in northwest India, and become a dairy farmer. To ease his transition into a field that he knew nothing about, Gupta began speaking to hundreds of veterinarians, animal health researchers and cattle farmers across the country. As he did, he noticed one thing kept cropping up in his conversations. “I came to know very early in the trade that there are a few issues that as a country we face,” says Gupta, who is now one of the directors of Doozy Farms, home to several hundred cows. “Brucellosis is one of those and it is big.” A highly...
Obesity a Considerable Risk Factor for COVID-19 Deaths, Global Report Finds – The Wire Science
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Obesity a Considerable Risk Factor for COVID-19 Deaths, Global Report Finds – The Wire Science

A sign reminding to wear protective masks is painted on the pavement of Cologne’s main shopping street in Germany. Photo: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo London: The majority of global COVID-19 deaths have been in countries where many people are obese, with coronavirus fatality rates 10 times higher in nations where at least 50% of adults are overweight, a global study found on Thursday. The report, which described a correlation between countries’ COVID-19 death and obesity rates, found that 90% or 2.2 million of the 2.5 million deaths from the pandemic disease so far were in countries with high levels of obesity. The study analysed the COVID-19 death figures from Johns Hopkins University in the United States and the World Health Organisation’s global hea...
Wildfire Ravages Similipal, Asia’s Second Largest Biosphere Reserve – The Wire Science
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Wildfire Ravages Similipal, Asia’s Second Largest Biosphere Reserve – The Wire Science

Image posted by Odisha chief forest officer on March 4, 2021, of fire service personnel inspecting a charred forest area in Similipal National Park. Photo: Twitter. A wildfire raging for over 10 days has destroyed nearly a third of the Similipal biosphere reserve in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district. The state government has said that firefighters have brought the fire under control but conservationists have also demanded an immediate impact assessment. The Similipal National Park and Tiger Reserve is spread out over 2,750 sq. km, and is known for its tiger and elephant population. The reserve is also home to a large variety of other flora and fauna, including 94 species of orchids, 55 species of mammals, 304 species of birds, 60 species of reptiles, 21 species of ...
Indigenously Developed Spectrograph Commissioned on Devasthal Optical Telescope – The Wire Science
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Indigenously Developed Spectrograph Commissioned on Devasthal Optical Telescope – The Wire Science

The 3.6 m Ritchey Chretien Telescope at Devasthal, India. Photo: Ajay Talwar/Wikimedia Commons New Delhi: Indian scientists have indigenously designed and developed a low cost optical spectrograph that can locate sources of faint light from distant quasars and galaxies in a very young universe, regions around supermassive black holes around the galaxies, and cosmic explosions, the Department of Science and Technology said on Wednesday. Such spectroscopes were so far imported from abroad involving high costs. The optical spectrograph named as Aries-Devasthal Faint Object Spectrograph & Camera (ADFOSC), indigenously designed and developed by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, is about 2.5 times less costlier compared...
New Govt Order: Coastal Projects Sans Valid Clearance Can Pay Fine and Continue – The Wire Science
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New Govt Order: Coastal Projects Sans Valid Clearance Can Pay Fine and Continue – The Wire Science

Representational image. Photo: Shailesh Andrade/ Reuters India’s environment ministry has come out with a set of rules which facilitates any industrial project that starts in an ecologically sensitive coastal zone without required permissions, to compensate by paying for a conservation and environmental management plan, and avoid the risk of closure. On February 19, 2021 the Indian government’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) sent an “office memorandum” to all coastal states detailing the procedure for dealing with violations by industries starting projects without obtaining a valid Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance. The ministry’s order held that for “protecting and improving the quality of the coastal environment and abati...
What Makes One Strain of the Exceptional Neurospora Fungus So Exceptional – The Wire Science
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What Makes One Strain of the Exceptional Neurospora Fungus So Exceptional – The Wire Science

Neurospora crassa. Image: devbio.biology.gatech.edu. Mutations are widely considered to be detrimental to an organism because they alter the genome in unpredictable ways. So it might come as a surprise that the Neurospora fungus maintains genes that increase the occurrence of mutations. Neurospora has the highest known mutation rate among all life forms. This rate is 100- to 1,000-fold higher than in humans, rice and fruit flies, and 10,000-fold higher than in the bacterium Escherichia coli. Only RNA viruses have a higher mutation rate. Scientists determined Neurospora‘s mutation rate by mating two Neurospora individuals – two strains – with each other, and sequenced their genomes as well as the genomes of all four of their progeny. (The results were publish...
COVID-19 Costs Could Push Hospitals To Rethink Billions in Wasted Supplies – The Wire Science
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COVID-19 Costs Could Push Hospitals To Rethink Billions in Wasted Supplies – The Wire Science

Representative image. Photo: Mfermion/Wikimedia Commons The United States spends more on health care than any other nation. What many people don’t realise is that a large portion of this spending goes to waste. Every year, an estimated US$760 billion to $935 billion is wasted through overtreatment, poor coordination and other failures, amounting to about a quarter of total U.S. health care spending, research has shown. Medical supplies and equipment are part of that. One study estimated that nearly $1,000 in unused supplies are wasted on average during each neurosurgery procedure. With hospitals under financial pressure from COVID-19 and medical waste volumes even higher, the pandemic could finally trigger a much-needed reset in how health care organisations...
Comic: COVID-19 Inspires Rethink of How We Design, Use Our Built Environments – The Wire Science
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Comic: COVID-19 Inspires Rethink of How We Design, Use Our Built Environments – The Wire Science

Photo: Sanyam Bahga/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0. This piece was produced in cooperation with The Nib. Greg Miller is a science journalist based in Portland, Oregon. Follow him on Twitter @dosmonos. Joyce Rice is a cartoonist, news designer and professor making comics about history, technology and the future. She has worked with outlets like The Nib, Vox and PBS, and she speaks internationally about the power of comics in news media, advocacy and education. You can see more of her work at teenyrobots.com. This article originally appeared in Knowable Magazine, an independent journalistic endeavour from Annual Reviews. Source link
Bangladesh Seeks To Double Vaccine Purchases From Serum Institute of India – The Wire Science
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Bangladesh Seeks To Double Vaccine Purchases From Serum Institute of India – The Wire Science

Dhaka: Bangladesh wants to buy up to 40 million more doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII), its health secretary said on Thursday, potentially more than doubling its purchases. Bangladesh, a country of more than 160 million people, has already received vaccines from SII as part of an earlier deal for 30 million doses. India‘s government has also gifted the neighbour 2 million doses of the shot that SII, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, is producing for many countries. “Talks ongoing. Let’s see,” Health Secretary Abdul Mannan told Reuters. SII did not respond to a request for comment. Bangladesh is also due to get a total of 68 million doses of vaccines from a WHO-backed alliance, with the first shipment of aro...
Powerful Earthquakes Strike New Zealand in Quick Succession – The Wire Science
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Powerful Earthquakes Strike New Zealand in Quick Succession – The Wire Science

A US Geological Survey map showing the epicentres of the different quakes that struck on March 5, 2021. Image: USGS. Wellington: Small tsunami waves triggered by a series of powerful earthquakes hit the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island on Friday and authorities said thousands of residents who had evacuated to higher ground could now return to their homes. Officials had warned that waves could reach three metres above high tide levels after the quakes – the strongest a magnitude 8.1 – but the largest waves have now passed, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said as it downgraded the threat level. “All people who evacuated can now return,” the agency said. Video footage posted on social media showed surges of water entering a marina in Nor...
Canada’s Vaccine Panel Recommends 4 Months Between COVID Doses – The Wire Science
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Canada’s Vaccine Panel Recommends 4 Months Between COVID Doses – The Wire Science

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removes his face mask before speaking at the 3M’s plant in Ontario, Canada. Photo: Reuters/Lars Hagberg/File Photo Toronto: A national panel of vaccine experts in Canada recommended Wednesday that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to four months to quickly inoculate more people amid a shortage of doses in Canada. A number of provinces said they would do just that. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed optimism that vaccination timelines could be sped up. But one top health official called it an experiment and noted no other country is doing it. The current protocol is an interval of three to four weeks between doses for the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Johnson &am...
COVID-19 Has Disrupted Paediatric Cancer Care Globally, LMICs Hardest Hit – The Wire Science
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COVID-19 Has Disrupted Paediatric Cancer Care Globally, LMICs Hardest Hit – The Wire Science

A child suffering from cancer sits on a bed as a worker sprays disinfectant at the Children’s Hospital for Cancer Diseases, Basra, Iraq. Photo: Reuters/Essam-al-Sudani New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted paediatric cancer care at about 150 of over 200 hospitals surveyed in a study, published in The Lancet Journal, which calls for better oncology services worldwide to prevent future public health emergencies. The survey covered 311 healthcare workers at 213 institutions in 79 countries from June 22 to August 21, 2020, and included a range of questions to assess hospital characteristics, the number of patients diagnosed with COVID-19, and disruptions and adaptations to cancer care. According to the researchers, including Rashmi Dalvi from the Bombay...