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Duelling Doctors

Due to social convention, 19th-century doctors, who were considered gentlemen, were not exempt from the bloody and sometimes fatal practice of the gentlemen’s duel. Society pressured them to entertain an attack on their honour with a duel, even though it went against their oath to heal, lest they be cast out of high society. Some doctors, like Peter Hennis, reconciled these duelling ideologies by deliberately missing or refusing to pull the trigger; in a cruel twist of fate, Hennis eventually died from injuries induced in a duel. Read full article here

Selling Weapons the Nice Way?

Is there a moral benefit in selling weapons to warring countries for influence? Britain claims that by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, they’re accomplishing two things: 1) gaining influence over the Saudis to comply with humanitarian law and 2) preventing more morally corrupt states from filling the void and exerting their influence. However, the good they perceive to be doing is thought to vastly outweigh the consequences, including undermining international norms against arming aggressive regimes. Read full article here

Hippos’ Constant Defecating Turns African Pools Into Communal Guts

For more than 4,000 hippopotami, the Mara River in East Africa has become not only their home, but also their communal gut, leaving significant impacts on the hippos’ immediate ecosystems. Researchers’ findings through field observations, experiments, and sequencing methods reveal that after the hippos defecate and release their bacteria and other microbes into a shared pool environment, it makes the water “almost like a probiotic shake.” This could negatively affect other species living in the water, such as fish, due to high accumulations of hippo faeces. Read full article here

The Bizarre Cultural History of Saliva

Humans once regarded saliva as the ultimate cure for disease. The English, in particular, believed that saliva, when ingested with bread and mixed with digestive fluids, could cure gout, asthma, and dropsy. Research has shown that there are some morsels of truth to it: saliva contains minute traces of antibacterial compounds. But scientists are more interested in saliva as a non-invasive diagnostic tool, as they have minute traces of biologically active molecules that can tell professionals the overall health of the body. Read full article here

Why salt was so important throughout history

Did you know that salt caused wars? The abundance of this substance makes it easy for us to take it for granted, but it was heavily controlled centuries ago. Governments knew that having control of salt meant control over the population, as everyone was so reliant on it to preserve their food. But if they had too tight of a grip, their subjects retaliated; for example, Gandhi rallied the Indians to revolt through his Salt March, where he defied British laws against Indian salt production. Read full article here

Egg-Citing Inventions

Hundreds of egg cartons available in supermarkets are possible only because of the breakthroughs of one Mary Engle Pennington. In her prolific career as a food scientist, she transformed the field of food safety, particularly the transportation and storage of perishable goods like eggs. Aside from her work in refrigeration and cold storage, Pennington also set her sights on improving egg packaging; she had five patents in 11 years related to eggs and poultry and developed a “breakage-reducing packing case” for eggs. Read full article here


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