Plagues and empires

What can the decline of the Roman Empire and the end of European feudalism tell us about COVID-19 and the future of the West? John Rapley is a political economist at the University of Cambridge, as well as a senior fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study. His latest book is Twilight of the Money Gods: Economics as a Religion and How it all Went Wrong (2017). He lives in London and Johannesburg. Edited bySam Haselby Early in 2020, after a mysterious coronavirus emerged out of China and then raced across the globe, a quiet new year took a screeching turn. … Continue reading Plagues and empires

How to Unlearn a Disease

Medicine’s latest cure is forgetting you’re sick. BY KELLY CLANCY My father, a neurologist, once had a patient who was tormented, in the most visceral sense, by a poem. Philip was 12 years old and a student at a prestigious boarding school in Princeton, New Jersey. One of his assignments was to recite Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. By the day of the presentation, he had rehearsed the poem dozens of times and could recall it with ease. But this time, as he stood before his classmates, something strange happened. Each time he delivered the poem’s famous haunting refrain—“Quoth the Raven … Continue reading How to Unlearn a Disease

Protein in deadly spider venom blocks “death signal” after heart attack

By Nick Lavars As unlikely as it may seem, the venom of the deadly funnel web spider could prove a valuable source of a number of life-saving medicines, including drugs that kill skin cancer and reduce brain damage in stroke victims. Adding to these possibilities is new research demonstrating how a drug candidate built off a molecule in this spider venom can stop the “death signal” that results from a heart attack, potentially providing first responders with a powerful new way to intervene. The work was carried out by scientists at the Australia’s University of Queensland and actually builds off a previous study in which … Continue reading Protein in deadly spider venom blocks “death signal” after heart attack

Study: Alcohol Linked to More Than 700,000 Cancer Cases Worldwide Every Year

Though heavy drinking was most strongly linked to cancer, even light to moderate drinking contributed to over 100,000 cases a year, the researchers estimated. By Ed CaraYesterday New research this week is the latest to find that alcohol use is a major cancer risk, one that people aren’t necessarily too aware of. The study estimated that over 700,000 cases of cancer worldwide can be attributed to alcohol annually. The research, published in Lancet Oncology, was conducted by scientists in North America, Europe, and Africa. It’s meant to be an update to previous estimates of the cancer burden linked to alcohol use. For … Continue reading Study: Alcohol Linked to More Than 700,000 Cancer Cases Worldwide Every Year

20% of all deaths could be prevented if cities were better designed

Many of the models for healthy urban design, like the superblock city or the 15-minute city, are rooted in Western cultural ideals. Here’s why that’s a problem. BY TOLULLAH ONI AND RIZKA MAULIDA By 2050, it is projected that almost 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities, up from 55% today. The fastest urban growth is happening in Asia and Africa, which is also where we’re seeing a rapid rise in people suffering from, and dying of, heart disease. The impact of noncommunicable diseases on the world population’s health is growing. Noncommunicable diseases are those that are not directly transmissible from one person to … Continue reading 20% of all deaths could be prevented if cities were better designed

The Delta Variant Isn’t Just Hyper-Contagious. It Also Grows More Rapidly Inside You

by MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF After months of data collection, scientists agree: The delta variant is the most contagious version of the coronavirus worldwide. It spreads about 225% faster than the original version of the virus, and it’s currently dominating the outbreak in the United States. A new study, published online Wednesday, sheds light on why. It finds that the variant grows more rapidly inside people’s respiratory tracts and to much higher levels, researchers at the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported. On average, people infected with the delta variant had about 1,000 times more copies of the virus in their respiratory tracts … Continue reading The Delta Variant Isn’t Just Hyper-Contagious. It Also Grows More Rapidly Inside You

Listening to Silence

Complete stillness leads to complete awakening. By Dharma Master Hsin Tao, edited and translated by Maria Reis When I was a young monk, I practiced Chan Buddhism by myself in a graveyard for ten years and later in a mountain cave for an additional two years. I did not have a teacher to guide me, but—propelled by devotion—I followed a method of practice that Bodhisattva Guanyin, also known as Avalokiteshvara, teaches in the Shurangama Sutra. This method, called Perfect Penetration through Hearing, relies not on any words or concepts but on listening to silence. In the sutra, Guanyin, who was dwelling on an island, … Continue reading Listening to Silence

REMEMBERING WHO WE TRULY ARE IN THE FACE OF THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION

by Jeremy Nadler, New DawnWaking Times In the Western wisdom tradition, there is a recurrent theme of humanity’s self-forgetfulness. We find it, for example, in Plato, in the Corpus Hermeticum, in Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy and in Gnostic texts such as the Hymn of the Pearl. This self-forgetfulness is a forgetting of our spiritual origins, and of the fact that human nature has a transcendent source. The person we ordinarily identify with is not the totality of who we are. This totality includes a spiritual kernel of which we are for the most part unconscious, and yet is nevertheless the foundation of our being, … Continue reading REMEMBERING WHO WE TRULY ARE IN THE FACE OF THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION

Climate change could fuel the spread of a flesh-eating parasite

IDLIB, SYRIA – JULY 02: A Syrian kid suffering from leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease spread by the bite of phlebotomine sandflies, is seen in a refugee camp in Idlib, Syria on July 02, 2020. In the refugee camps in Idlib, danger of leishmaniasis disease arose due to inadequate living conditions and insufficient health services. In the camps where sheltered civilians escaping from the attacks of Assad regime and its supporters, infrastructure problems, especially exposed septic pits and damaged sewers, cause the spread of the disease. (Muhammed Abdullah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) Scientists caution that as the planet warms, more Americans could … Continue reading Climate change could fuel the spread of a flesh-eating parasite

Stress can literally kill you. Here’s how.

Don’t let anxiety be the death of you.  Tough times can take a real toll on your body. BY LEIGH COWART  In the face of grueling stress, it’s easy to romanticize the body’s commitment to balance. A dark and lovely liver serenely regulates its life-sustaining chores like some kind of untrammeled deity. Nearby, plump kidneys churn out requests for water and salt—twin cherubs of the torso. Even Claude Bernard, the 19th-century French physiologist credited with devising the concept of such internal give-and-take, spoke of his theory with beauty and grace, saying “a free and independent existence is possible only because of the stability … Continue reading Stress can literally kill you. Here’s how.