Category Archives: Journalism

On nodding syndrome

A DISEASE mystery with no shortage of leads now has an intriguing new one. Since the 1960s, thousands of children in poor, war-torn regions of East Africa have developed epilepsy-like seizures in which their heads bob to their chest; over time, the seizures worsen, cognitive problems develop, and the victims ultimately die. Researchers have proposed causes for nodding syndrome that include malnutrition, parasites, and viruses, but have not proved a clear link to any of them. Now, the first published examination of the brains of children who died after developing the condition suggests it has a key similarity to certain brain diseases of old age, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s: It leaves victims’ brains riddled with fibrous tangles containing a protein called tau…

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This article first appeared in Science on 21 December 2018. To continue reading, click here (paywall).

Why don’t we remember these 100 million dead?

IN France, where I live, there are more than 170,000 monuments to the First World War. To my knowledge, there is only one to the 1918 influenza pandemic. A simple stone cross, it stands at Lajoux in the Jura Mountains, close to the border with Switzerland…

This article first appeared on UnHerd.com on 6 November 2018. To continue reading, click here:

Why don’t we remember these 100 million dead?

Ancient cities live again

FOR more than 800 years, a minaret dominated the skyline of Mosul, Iraq. Nicknamed al-Hadba, or ‘the hunchback’, because of its 3-metre tilt, it belonged to the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, commissioned in the twelfth century. Mosque and minaret were reduced to rubble after Islamist terrorist group ISIS took the city in 2014…

This article first appeared in Nature on 26 October 2018. To continue reading, click here.

Centenary of a catastrophe

ON June 29th 1918 Martín Salazar, Spain’s inspector general of health, stood up in front of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Madrid and declared, not without embarrassment, that the disease which was ravaging the country was to be found nowhere else in Europe…

This article first appeared in The Economist on 27 September 2018. To continue reading, click here.

 

The drift of humankind

FOR a man who spent his career illuminating the vast, dim migrations of people in prehistory, Luca Cavalli-Sforza’s life was remarkably circular. He first became interested in his major field, genetics, in the house of the geneticist Adriano Buzzati at Belluno, in the hills north of Venice. There he helped to collect thousands of flies in search of mutant Y chromosomes; and though he subsequently travelled the world to study the makeup of its tribes and populations, it was in Belluno that he died…

This article first appeared in The Economist on 13 September 2018. To continue reading, click here.