The Ebola Contagion Epidemic of 2014

Ebola-virusIn late December of 2013, children of Meliandou, Guinea in West Africa found hundreds of bats nesting in a hollowed out tree. The children had no way of knowing that bats are the suspected carriers of the ebola virus. The children lit a fire and the bats scattered from the tree, allowing the children to catch and consume these bats as a source of protein. It is suspected that this is what triggered the ebola epidemic of 2014. Villagers originally thought that the illness spreading was due to witchcraft but authorities quickly identified the outbreak as ebola in an attempt to quarantine and curb the spread of the infection. Illness rapidly spread across the forest region of Guinea as those who were ill came into contact with healthcare workers whilst seeking medical attention which lead to surrounding areas becoming impacted. For 3 months, the symptoms of ebola were mistaken for cholera and malaria, which is why the contagion was unable to be controlled and halted. The problem quickly spiraled out of control with thousands becoming ill and a total of 11,315 deaths across 6 countries including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mali, and the U.S., however the U.S. faired best with only 49 of the total deaths. The government of Guinea had no idea how to respond as all previous ebola outbreaks had occurred over 1600 kilometers away, however the relief group Doctors Without Borders had decades of experience and were able to be flown in in and effort to curb the spread of the pathogen. Within 48 hours of arrival, Doctors Without Borders had setup a field hospital in the village of Guéckédou, Guinea, the epicenter of the ebola outbreak. Past outbreaks have taught physicians that the best counter attack is to isolate the ill, monitor those who have had contact with the sick, and safely bury the dead. Due to the scale of the problem and the fact that it was not isolated to a single group or village, Doctors Without Borders did not have the resources to contain this potential global threat which is why the World Health Organization became involved, a group which is part of the United Nations and has access to the best and most expensive resources in the world, with a mandate to help governments coordinate responses to outbreaks. The main problem facing the World Health Organization is that the organization itself does not take precedent nor command of any medical situation as it is the country which is dealing with a contagion that must take this lead. Due to the fact that Guinea is a poor nation with few resources, grabbing hold of the ebola outbreak was exceedingly difficult as physicians did not have proper oversight by those in power with ebola experience, the governments of affected nations were some of the poorest in the world, and the World Health Organization was in the process of downsizing, causing the entire process to become more complicated and convoluted as decision making was scattered and often conflicted. This created the perfect storm for ebola to quickly spread across the African continent and into the western world. The government of Guinea accused Doctors Without Borders of sowing panic among the public which further elevated tensions between the 3 organizations involved. Guinea’s Ministry of Health demanded that only laboratory confirmed cases be counted towards the total ebola death count which tied the hands of physicians and their governing organizations as this act downplayed the importance and severity of just how severe the ebola outbreak truly was which lead to further contamination as the public did not treat the disease with the full gravitas of what it demanded. It is believed that this single political act is what allowed ebola to jump across borders, starting with the neighboring country of Sierra Leone as residents of both states are permitted to freely cross the borderline of either nation as often as they wish, a political policy which should have been suspended during a period of mass outbreak. Rumors of foreign physicians killing impoverished residents with syringes helped inflame already growing tensions between healthcare professionals and the general public which made working with infected or potentially infected individuals exceedingly difficult for healthcare practitioners. The corpse of an ebola victim is highly infectious but in West Africa, it is customary for friends and family to spend hours with a person after death, washing and preparing them for their burial (e.g. cutting nails and braiding hair etc.). The sudden cessation of the ability to perform this ritualistic act deeply embedded within West African culture fueled even more resent from the public which caused mass rioting and chaos to ensue, endangering the lives of those who were there to help, made worse by the lack of education, language barriers, and cultural barriers already present. It is theorized that this cultural convention played a major and definitive role in the spread of the ebola virus, as mourners often touch the body during the funerary procession. It is believed by the inhabitants of West Africa that if a body is not laid to rest properly, the ghost of that person will return to haunt the people of the village which is why this ritualistic process is so deeply embedded and revered in this region of the world. The government of Guinea had no method of contact tracing, that is to say, there was no method in place to monitor those who had come in contact with ebola victims which allowed for hundreds of cases to go undetected. The World Health Organization debated whether or not to declare an international health emergency which would have acted as a global distress signal, enacting the aid and preparation for a counter attack from many of the worlds most industrialized nations (e.g. the U.S., Canada, Japan etc.). Officials worried that declaring a global emergency would create panic which would only help exacerbate the issue as many countries, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, could potentially close their borders in an effort to ensure the ebola virus remained exclusively in Africa, the worlds most impoverished continent. To exacerbate the already fevered tensions between government officials, healthcare workers, and the public at large, an event transpired which threw much of the West African population into a panic. In Kenema, Sierra Leone, a woman purporting herself as a nurse, began shouting in the center of the cities most populated marketplace, “there is no ebola! I say to everyone it’s not real. Ebola is not real. It’s cannibalism”. The crowd started to cry for others to come over, to hear the supposed confessions of a nurse stating that physicians are killing innocent people for the consumption of their bodies as meat. The tide quickly changed and the crowd began turning upon the healthcare staff present, throwing stones, giving chase, and threatening their lives, forcing the evacuation of virtually all physicians, nurses, and other interdisciplinary healthcare personnel. This woman was not a nurse, rather she was a person afflicted with mental illness, but her impact greatly exacerbated an already uneasy hoard of people, so much in fact that law enforcement were forced to attend and disperse tear gas to control the ire of the group. By this point, the ebola outbreak had claimed more than 800 people across 3 countries. Physicians urged the World Health Organization to declare an international emergency however organization officials refused to do so because it was believed that this act would only add fuel to an already raging and seemingly out of control inferno of illness and chaotic unrest. It was at this point that the ebola outbreak rose to a new level when an infected Liberian traveled to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, and the U.S., forcing the World Health Organization to declare an international emergency, by holding a press conference given by Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the organization itself. A high ranking team was assembled and deployed to Geneva, Switzerland in response, devising and enacting a plan to employ thousands of western medical professionals in an attempt to curb an infectious outbreak which was growing by this point at an exponential rate. The outbreak was so beyond the reach of control by this time that it had spread across a broad geographical area, unlike anything ever witnessed in modern memory. The main caveat to the curated plan was that the World Health Organization did not have a standing force of physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, and other various healthcare practitioners, ready and willing to help serve in the fight to combat such a prevalent contagion, nor did they have the budget to build one. The only option available was to appeal to the worlds wealthiest nations, persuading and to an extent pleading with trained and qualified healthcare workers who were willing and able to travel abroad and join the collective effort. This endeavor would take time as acquiring a team en mass is an extraordinarily ambitious goal to accomplish. Rioting continued to occur with some hospitals being overrun by disillusioned citizens who were angry, frightened, and frustrated enough to allow every patient under quarantine to run back into the village, allowing for the proliferation of the disease to spread even further. Governments attempted to respond by sending in military squadrons to guard sanctioned quarantined buildings in an effort to help contain an outbreak which for all intents and purposes was completely out of control and continuing to spiral into calamity. Citizens were killed both by soldiers with firearms as well as infection as those who were infected were in the streets, amongst the general populous. Doctors Without Borders began constructing ELWA 3 (pronounced “ell-wah-three”), the largest Ebola treatment center ever built, but despite their best efforts, the facility was not large enough to contain the sheer volume of people who needed medical aide. It was at this point that Doctors Without Borders made an urgent plea directed solely towards the U.S to provide thousands of soldiers immediately in order to help isolate and treat patients. Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Center of Disease Control, traveled to the ELWA 3 clinic in Monrovia, Liberia to see first hand, just how bad the epidemic was. Frieden recounted his experience by stating that he witnessed a “level of devastation that I have never seen” and that he was “seeing a country essentially in free fall and knowing, knowing with certainty that no matter what we did, it was going to get a lot worse before it got better”. Frieden called then President Barack Obama stating that the outbreak was expanding at an exponential pace, doubling every 3 weeks, resulting in a tripling of results with every month of delay instituted. Obama responded by implementing emergency U.S. aide, sending thousands of soldiers and medics, 10 months after the outbreak had initially begun, in an attempt to quell and eradicate the spread of this viral disease. Other industrialized nations soon followed suit and the United Nations created a new emergency mission for the World Health Organization and other related agencies to coordinate the response. Work began on the ground with the building of new treatment centers and training to teach those deployed how to properly bury affected victims. Despite these monumentous efforts, the ebola virus was still ahead of the response and threatened to spread beyond African borders. Shortly after this humanitarian response, cases in Monrovia began to sharply decline, but experts believed that the downward trajectory would bounce back in an even more dramatic resurgence as people were now staying home due to the events which had recently transpired across the African continent, allowing them to infect more people than if they had been under isolation. Fortunately, the drop in reported cases remained steadfast in its declination as Liberians stopped trying to nurse their sick and started burying the dead in an appropriate and safe manner. Liberians began to understand that the ebola virus was so drastically deadly that previous cultural customs had to be shelved for the time being so that the disease could be expunged and life could return to normal for those who had survived. Thousands more continued to die across West Africa, but the changed behavior of West Africans and the massive international response gradually turned the tide of the war

The Eurasian Yamnaya People and Their Cultural and Physical Dominance of the European and Asian Continents

Yamnaya-horseback

The Yamnaya people were bands of nomads who roamed territory north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea during the Bronze Age. By 3000 B.C., the Yamnaya became the greatest horse culture of the ancient world, as they were the first culture to adopt both riding upon horseback as well as the pulling of horse wagons. This breakthrough in technology allowed the Yamnaya to transport food and supplies more easily and readily so that the best pasture lands could be acquired. This allowed the Yamnaya to quickly become the most dominant culture within the Central Step region. Horses allowed for larger herds of cattle and sheep, which permitted wealth to be quickly generated and redistributed into local economies. The Yamnaya alongside other cultures which they combined with traversed across the Central Step, moving as far east as Mongolia and as far west as central Europe. The Yamnaya nomads dominated virtually every culture encountered which is understood due to the fact that many regions began speaking the Proto-Indo-European language in the Yamnaya dialect. The rationale for this is that language is connected to power and/or wealth which is a large incentive for a person or group of people to adopt because it provides unique advantages in all aspects of life including everything from economic trade to finding a romantic life partner. The Yamnaya left no written record of a written language but linguists are able to piece together fragments of the Yamnaya dialect due to the fact that many languages in Europe and Asia, including ancient languages like Greek and Latin, modern romantic languages like Italian, French, and Spanish, Germanic languages like various Scandinavian languages and English, and Russian and Sanskrit, all derive from the common Proto-Indo-European language spoken by the Yamnaya (e.g. the English term ”brother” is “frater” in Latin, “bratar” in Sanskrit, and “pratar” (pronounced “pray-tarr” with a rolled “R”) in Greek). The term “wheel” and “wagon” are Yamnaya terms, and only appeared after the Yamnaya people became dominant within the Central Step region where these two technologies were developed. This is important because Proto-Indo-European languages like that of the Yamnaya must have been spoken after the invention of the wheel around 3500 B.C., as the terms invented would have no use prior to the advent of the practical application (e.g. only using the term “hard drive” in English after the advent of computers, as there is no intended use prior). Many linguists believe that all languages stem from a single source language and that this single source may be the Yamnaya dialect. This dialect and Yamnaya culture as a whole spread across Europe and Asia with millions of modern day people in both continents with generic markets tracing their lineage back to the Yamnaya people. Archeologists and anthropologists believe the Yamnaya were so successful because of learned, acquired immunity towards the Bubonic Plague. Evidence of yersinia pestis bacteria exists within the burial sites of Yamnaya people, which means that the Bubonic Plague was already affecting humans as far back as 3000 years before any written record. This evidence further demonstrates that the Bubonic Plague began within Eurasia, possibly in Yamnaya communities and that those who survived, were most likely able to dominate other European and Asian cultures which did not have acquired immunity as they brought the plague with them when invading foreign territory. It is believed by experts that this immunity and transference of the Bubonic Plague allowed the Yamnaya to expand across the known world, conquering and acquiring the people and regions they came across

The Ancient History of Damascus Steel

Damascus-steel-swordDamascus, Syria, the birthplace of Damascus steel was prized in the ancient world for its durability but unbeknownst to the craftspeople who forged Damascus steel, the region from which the iron ore was taken had naturally occurring nickel which meant that Damascus metalsmiths had composite steel 3000 years before the rest of the world as the idea to mix different kinds of metals had not yet been invented. Damascus steel was shatter resistant and could be sharpened to become sharper than any other type of steel. Having first encountered it during the Crusades of the 11th century, European forgers attempted for centuries to recreate what their Middle Eastern counterparts had already perfected

The Mathematical Inventions of Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi

Muhammad-ibn-Musa-al-Khwarizmi

The mathematical concept of algorithms were developed by and subsequently named after Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (pronounced “moo-ham-mad ih-bin moo-sah al kwar-iz-me”), an Islamic scholar who lived during the 8th century. The concept of algorithms arrived in Europe in the 12th century and al-Khwarizmi’s name was translated to Latin which is where the term “algorithm” is derived. al-Khwarizmi also introduced the western world to the decimal system and introduced reduction and balancing methods (e.g. like and unlike terms) causing al-Khwarizmi to become referred to as the ”father and founder of algebra”. The term “algebra” is derived from the Arabic term “al-jabr” which means “reunion of broken parts”. al-Khwarizmi invented and used algebra to solve quadratic equations and it has been stated throughout history that the ideas that al-Khwarizmi developed, helped usher in the European Renaissance during the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries

The Defiant American Natural Landscape Art Form and Luminism

Albert-Bierstadt-Among-the-Sierra-Nevada-California-American-landscape

Artists in the America’s who continually pushed further west, pioneered the technique of “luminism” which used light effects and concealed brush strokes to create paintings which were considered so overwhelming detailed that opera glasses were needed to fully appreciate their true beauty. The American landscape was psychologically bore out of feelings of inferiority and competition with the European continent, as the Americas at this time were not the industrialized indomitable power they are today, but rather a fairly poor country still developing itself and not yet having reached the same milestones which Europe had already accomplished. During the 18th and 19th century, those living in the Americas rejected the notion that Rome, Italy was the center of art and that the best landscapes with the highest and most spectacular mountains were only found in places like France and Switzerland, as the west had its own mountains and its own unique monoliths and animals which could be depicted and celebrated to create American pride within the American landscape

Ancient Stained Glass Manufacturing

ancient-stained-glass

The manufacturing of stained glass is an ancient technology which dates back so far that the ancient Egyptians knew how to do it 2000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Medieval Europe inherited this form of technology but did not invent it as is common belief. Deep, rich blue glass was very difficult to make and therefore needed to be imported from southern Italy. The deep blues which the Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France is so famous for can historically be traced through documentation to fragments coming from the Byzantine Empire as well as the Roman Empire. These imports were melted down and used to create new glass. Most colors and dyes came from the natural world in the forms of roots, berries, barks, leaves, minerals, and crushed insects, but the most prized colors were imported into Europe from the east, specifically India and China using Ottoman trade routes. The simple luck of geography made Venice, Italy an incredibly wealthy city as it acted as a nexus between the east and west. The blue hue referred to as “ultramarine” was the most expensive color to acquire and therefore it was almost always saved for depictions of the Virgin Mary, typically in her cloak or some other form of clothing, as Mary was depicted as the focal point of every painting she appeared within. Ultra Marine came from the mineral of lapis lazuli and when it was ground up into powder, some parts would inevitably become smaller than others which allowed these particles to reflect more light and provide a deeper, richer color to work with and appreciate. Vermillion Red was almost as precious as ultramarine, and has been used in Europe for hundreds of years in various illuminated manuscripts. Made from the mineral cinnabar, vermillion was adopted in places outside of Europe like meso-America for painting, India for bindi dots, and China to create lacquerware

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

ocean-wave

The process of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion is a process by which warm surface sea water which is 26 degrees Celsius, is pumped through a heat exchange to vaporize low boiling point fluids like ammonia which then turns a turbine, after which the ammonia is cooled by deep sea water which is 5 degrees Celsius and returned back into a liquid state. This cycle can be performed again and again with the same water being utilized each time and produces a byproduct of hydrogen which can be used for rocket fuel and to create hydrogen fuel cells. Perhaps the most attractive aspect of this technology is that the only lasting byproduct produced is sea water, which is completely harmless to the environment. The infrastructure for this technology is already available due to the various corporations who pump oil out of the ocean floor using oil rigs. The problem with this technology however is that the United States government is intertwined with the oil industry as a whole and therefore separation of the two entities would be a difficult endeavour to achieve. Europe and China have already adopted trials of this technology because they do not have the same allegiance and ties to oil

The Bubonic Plague

Black-Plague

The Bubonic Plague killed off approximately 66% of Europe during the 1350’s with the exception of Milan, Italy and Kraków, Poland. This was due to the people of Milan understanding that quarantining the city was a necessary requirement to help aide in the cessation of disease proliferation. Quarantining was performed despite physicians not properly and/or fully understanding the mechanics of viral and bacterial infection. The citizens of Milan also burned down the home of any person or family suspected of having recently contracted the Black Plague. Kraków was a prominent refuge for people of Jewish descent, as Jewish people were used as scapegoats as to the reason why the Black Plague occurred in Europe in the first place. Due to the fact that Jews frequently bathed as it was not in conflict with their religious beliefs, unlike most others in Europe, the Black Plague was barred from having as great of an effect as it did across the rest of Europe. Milan and Kraków were left virtually unscathed with most of their populations surviving the catastrophic epidemic

Chess

chess

Chess was originally a two player game from India referred to as “Chaturanga” and dates back to 600 A.D.. The first chessboard which displayed alternating light and dark squares appeared in Europe in 1090. The phrase “checkmate” comes from the Persian phrase “shāh māt” (pronounced “shah-mat”) which means “the king is dead” in Persian