Weekly Round Up: Peat bogs, AI Bards, Ancient Plagues and a Spanish hero

some things that made us think this week

Whose climate change is it? The developed world has been cutting down forests and pouring out CO2 for centuries. Now we learn that peat deposits in Congo could act as enormous carbon sinks, and ought to be preserved. Trouble is: they belong to the Congolese and as they point out: “why should we stay poor to fix your climate problem?” Good question. Here’s Andrew Harding of the BBC.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-61708452

Multidisciplinary teams amaze on Black Death It’s incredible to think that the precise point of origin of the Medieval Black Death has been located. This was the work of scientific detective teams comprising archaeologists, DNA experts and historians and of course the Max Planck Institute which does so much to understand the deep past with such modern techniques. Nature Briefings, Ancient DNA Traces origins of Black Death

A strain of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for the Black Death pandemic in the 1300s, has been traced back to a fourteenth-century outbreak in what is now Kyrgyzstan. “It is like finding the place where all the strains come together, like with coronavirus where we have Alpha, Delta, Omicron all coming from this strain in Wuhan,” says palaeogeneticist and co-author Johannes Krause. The area was on the Silk Road trade route, which might have helped the plague to spread westwards.Nature | 6 min read
Reference: Nature paper

Can computers write? Remember HAL the singing computer in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey? Well he probably couldn’t have written the lyrics. Not yet anyway, according to Alex Connock and Andrew Stephen, who tried to train AI systems to write like Shakespeare. Their own jottings are recorded in The Conversation:

https://theconversation.com/we-taught-an-ai-to-impersonate-shakespeare-and-oscar-wilde-heres-what-it-revealed-about-sentience-184969?utm

Antonio de Nebrija-this week’s hero of learning Today we salute this eponymous pioneer of language learning, who among other things produced the first grammar and dictionary in Castilian Spanish. Somehow the Iberian Peninsular gets sidelined in studies of the Renaissance, but here was one Spaniard up there with the best of them

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_de_Nebrija

#global warming #climate change #peat #carbon sink #nebrija #renaissance #iberia #AI #black death

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