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Where does the word quarantine come from?

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Photo by  CDC  on  Unsplash It is often assumed that the bubonic plague (black death) spread across Europe because the authorities did not understand the concept of contagion. In fact, it was widely understood that an infected person would pass their disease to others. What was not known was the precise transmission mechanism or what you needed to do to avoid contagion. It was obvious, however, that the disease was manifesting itself in particular localities. The key to prevention was isolation. You needed to keeping infected persons out your town, city or community. Who first used the term? In the 1340s the Venetian authorities in charge of the port city of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) issued the first quarantine measures. This was aimed  at ensuring that infected visitors did not mix with the rest of the population.  The edict established an isolation period of trentino giorni (30 days). This applied to anyone arriving from an area known to be affected by bubonic plague. This example

US Election Vocabulary: Electoral college? Battleground states?

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US presidential elections are not decided by  the  popular vote  (counting the number of votes obtained nationally for each candidate).  Each voter  votes for a state representative to allocate a vote for the president and vice president in what is called an  electoral college . What is the electoral college? States send delegates to the electoral college according to the state vote - with 48 out of 50 using a 'winner takes all system'. Only in Maine and Nebraska are the delegates allocated proportionally. The number of delegates sent to the electoral college is decided by the population of the state. Thus the largest delegations come from the most populous states: New York, California and Texas. Most states are comfortably red (Republican) or blue (Democrat) - see here . This means  that presidential elections are essentially fought over a small number of purple or battleground states which swing between parties in different election cycles. Ohio is the classic exam

What is skeuomorphism?

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  "an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material" Basalla, George (1988).  The Evolution of Technology . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 107 .  ISBN   0-521-29681-1 . Skeuomorphism - very difficult word to spell and say - is a key concept in contemporary design. Until this week it was seen as one of the core concepts behind the success of Apple.  The skeuomorphic principle is that innovation works best when it is presented in a familiar form. An ebook, for example, mimics the physical appearance of a book, even though this is not technically necessary. Steve Jobs skeuomorphic approach to design was a key element in transforming  previously geeky gadgets into must-have accessories - MP3s into iPods for example. Later Sir Jonathan Ive took 'a hatchet to the skeuomorphic design principles of iOS' - see here   Many des

What is seroprevalence?

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Covid test vial  Photo by  Vincent Ghilione  on  Unsplash Seroprevalence is the level of a pathogen (e.g. the virus Covid-19) found in a particular population - a country, city or region for example. This is measured by administering blood test to as wide a sample of that population as is feasible. Testing The accuracy of seroprevalence is dependent on a number of factors including the size of the sample tested as a proportion of the general population Photo by  Colin D  on  Unsplash the representative nature of that population in terms of age, sex, socio-economic conditions, ethnicity, size of household, number of social interactions, occupation etc. the accuracy of the tests, especially if these are physically difficult to administer. Covid-19 tests are quite physically intrusive as they require a throat swab. the accurate record keeping of the testers the potential for cross-contamination the estimated number of false positives and false negatives. Medical

Where does 'catch a cold' come from?

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Lest the bargain should catch cold and starve. (Iachimo, Act 1 Scene 4)   Shakespeare introduces the phrase 'to catch cold' in Cymbeline (1610). This was his 'comeback'  play after theatres had been 'dark' (closed) for a long period due to a plague epidemic in London.  'Catch cold' is a euphemism here. Iachimo is thinking of something more serious than a blocked nose and a sore throat. The Common Cold: Vocabulary Worksheet

What is the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic?

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An epidemic is the rapid spread of an infectious disease, usually in a particular area over a short period of time. E pidemiologists look for these additional key features a high number of infections in relation to the expected number. Endemic diseases (like influenza) return every year but usually at a low and predictable rate. spread accelerated by person-to-person transmission a rapidly increasing morbidity rate (proportion of the population with disease)  a population that extends beyond shared accommodation (not a cruise ship, for example, where the world outbreak would be used.) For endemic diseases an epidemic can be clearly marked on a statistical chart - with a sudden rising curve .  Here the data from hospital visits in the US suggests a possible influenza epidemic in the winter of 2007/8  (credit: modification of work by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from ' The language of epidemiology ') With a new pathogen, it is more difficult to identify the start