The Daily Dose: Did an Alaskan volcano ruin the Roman Republic?

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The coronavirus knows no-race. It doesn’t know religion either. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Buddhist. It doesn’t matter. If you need any more proof, look no further than Saudi Arabia and this year’s Hajj. The Saudi government has decided to severely limit the pilgrims allowed to visit Mecca this year.. “The kingdom’s Hajj Minister Muhammad Benten said a “small and very limited” number of people — even as low as just 1,000 from inside the kingdom — will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage to ensure social distancing and crowd control amid the global virus outbreak.” The decision likely avoided Mecca becoming a massive super-spreader event. https://bit.ly/2A07HlW

Flowers are beautiful. They’re vibrant colors are amazing. They’re pollinated by bees and other winged insects. It feels like we know a lot about them, probably because of their familiarity. However, speak to any botanist or evolutionary biologist, and they’ll tell you there’s still a lot of mystery, especially when it comes to their origins. A new article explores the issues that haunt paleobotanists. As per Science, “Darwin described the seemingly explosive diversification of angiosperms as an ‘abominable mystery,’ and debates continue about the origin and processes driving angiosperm speciation. Dating the origin of angiosperms was traditionally the prerogative of paleobotanists who read the fossil record of plants, but with DNA sequencing becoming increasingly sophisticated, molecular dating methods have come to the table.“ It’s a fascinating topic, proof that the botanical world doesn’t get its due sometimes. https://bit.ly/2B05E1y

Did a volcano eruption halfway around the world facilitate the fall of the Roman Republic? A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that indeed it did. Specifically, a mega-eruption in Alaska — the Okmok volcano — created topsy-turvy climate conditions that led to agricultural disruptions. As per PNAS, “The darkened sky after Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March was likely caused by a known, small eruption at Mount Etna. But early the next year, in January or February, Alaska’s Okmok volcano in the Aleutian Islands blew its stack, forming a giant, 10-kilometer-wide crater rim. The volcano’s northern location meant that sunlight-blocking particles could rise into the low-lying Arctic stratosphere, where they would spread easily throughout the Northern Hemisphere” As you’d expect, there are experts who strongly disagree with this assertion, noting that by the time Julius Caesar was murdered, the republic was already declining. https://bit.ly/2YWIVeS

Another major food chain has taken the plant-based meat leap. This time, it’s Starbucks. As per the Associated Press, “The Seattle coffee chain said Tuesday that a breakfast sandwich made with imitation sausage from Redwood City, California-based Impossible Foods is now available at a majority of its U.S. restaurants. The sandwich comes with egg and cheese and is served on a ciabatta bun.” This is welcome news any way you cut it… https://bit.ly/3eq1lLG

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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