Author Archives: droestreicher

About droestreicher

Retired scientist, now traveling, writing, petting cats, teaching K-12, and imagining better worlds.

Volcanoes coming to get you #Thera #Eruption #BronzeAge #Archeology


When imagining a volcano most people have three references, one ancient, and two contemporary, but all benign.

Chronologically, the first is the elementary school science project where a volcanic eruption is simulated with baking soda and vinegar. This is notable for its universality and irrelevancy. While it does demonstrate an interesting chemical reaction, it has nothing in common with volcanoes.

Pahoehoe_toe USGS+Wiki

In the United States, Hawaiian volcanoes might be introduced next. These volcanoes are active today and are famous for slow-moving lava flows. The lava is beautiful and hot, but nothing to fear.

Pompeii-Street alago+wiki

Finally, we have the Mount Vesuvius eruption and the city of Pompeii. While this volcano killed many people in 79 AD, the quaint ruins do not elicit a fear of volcanoes.

Let’s talk about real volcanoes…

Here is the remnant of a volcano that erupted around 3,500 years ago (the exact date is still open to research and debate). This is the present-day island of Santorini. It is a volcanic caldera with a radius of about 4 miles (6 km). Around 1500-1600 BCE the island, then called Thera, almost completely enclosed the lagoon before the volcano erupted. It was one of the largest events in recent history.

converted PNM file

This eruption, sometimes called the Minoan Eruption, was a complex event that occurred over a period of time. Notably, the preliminary seismic activity warned the occupants of the city Akrotiri with enough time and clarity that most managed to evacuate the city prior to the worst of it. Thus, we find many preserved artifacts and buildings, much like Pompeii some 1,600 years later, but few of the corpses.

For an excellent detailed description of the entire event sequence, I highly recommend Tom Pfeiffer’s article at

The following discusses a short-lived sequence in the middle of the Thera eruption sequence. Pyroclastic Flow or Pyroclastic Surge.

A pyroclastic flow consists of pyroclasts (pieces of fire) and hot air. This mixture has a lower viscosity than lava, so can move faster, a lot faster. A pyroclastic flow can move 100s of miles/km per hour at temperatures above 1000 degrees (F/C).

Many flows are driven by gravity like a landslide. They are also powered by expanding hot gasses, a significant component of the pyroclastic mixture. They may also pick up additional energy from boiling water and expanding steam (phreatic eruption).

Importantly, superheated water can support the pyroclastic flow over the ocean for a distance of many miles/km.

The aftermath of a pyroclastic flow is a field of pumice, low-density volcanic rock, possibly many feet/meters thick. In the case of flows that are over water, the pumice can float.

Here is a video of a pyroclastic flow.

If you were there…

The first indication is an explosion accompanied by a large cloud of dust. The hot dust roars down the slope of the volcano quickly. If you are on land and in the path, you can expect to be dead in a few minutes. Historically, pyroclastic flows might kill tens of thousands of people like this.

If you are at sea, you might feel safe with an expanse of water between you and this roiling cloud of hot, possibly glowing, dust.

However, once the cloud reaches the water, the feeling of safety quickly dissipates. The boiling water increases the threat in several ways. First, the steam reduces the viscosity and making it easier to flow. Second, the steam increases the volume and this expansion increases the velocity. Finally, the steam provides a cushion facilitating the movement across the water. The end result is an expanding threat moving faster toward you.

Here is a pyroclastic flow entering the water.

If the pyroclastic flow crosses one body of water and reaches land again, it will still be hot enough burn, desiccate, and destroy everything in its path. Generally, the damage of the hot front is not visible because the pyroclastic flow is moving too quickly. However, at the final extent of the expansion, the effects of the heat will be visible, including burning and boiling.





Categories: Bronze Age, Crete, Minoans, Science | 3 Comments

Could Bats be the Pharmacopoeia of the Future?


This is some of the research that contributed to the recently released Darwin’s Paradox: An international science mystery Bats have a major role in this books, also the people who try to protect them when they become a target of fearful people during the pandemic.

Could Bats be the Pharmacopoeia of the Future?

Bats have long been considered a threat to humans, but it might be time for that to change.

Of the almost 5,000 mammal species, about 20% are bats, chiroptera (KIE-ROP-TER-A) to be scientific. There are more bats species than any other order except rodents, and they inhabit every continent except Antarctica. Bats are everywhere, and they’re nocturnal, and they fly. What could be scarier than 1,000 species of bats flying into your nightmares?


How about over 3,000 species of viruses? The International Committee of Taxonomy of Viruses has identified over 3,000 virus species. Unfortunately, a large number of the viruses that are dangerous to people spend their vacations with bats. The list of viruses that are hosted by bats is both long and scary: hepaciviruses, pegiviruses, influenza A virus, hantavirus, paramyxoviruses, and of course lyssaviruses which include rabies.

Besides the viral threat, bats are vampires, as every school child can tell you. NOT! Only 3% of the bat species are vampires, and those are isolated to south and central America.

Recall the major pandemics (Black Plague, Spanish Flu, HIV/AIDS)? All caused by viruses. People die from viruses. Bats host viruses. Bats and Rats … maybe we’d be better off if we killed them all?

This has been the myth, legend, and superstition for millennia. With modern science, it’s time to reconsider.

Science is now asking the question, “Why do viruses that infect and kill humans and other mammals exist benignly in bats?”

If scientists can answer this question, find what protects the bats, we might be able to prevent future pandemics and even cure the common cold.

Chiroptera differ from other mammals in several ways. First, bats reached their current evolutionary point over 33.5 million years ago, while other mammals continued to evolve. Felines didn’t even appear until about 25 million years ago, and people, homo sapiens sapiens, didn’t show up until a few hundred thousand years ago.


This might explain why bats are better at dealing with viruses. Some scientists suggest that given 30 million years bats had time to evolve better defenses than we could in a few hundred thousand. Bats also had strong evolutionary pressures since they live in large, dense colonies – ideal for spreading viral infections. This is very different from primates which evolved in small isolated groups.

Others suggest that it’s just a numbers game. Given a thousand species of bats, to our one, they had a better chance to get lucky. This is supported by the rodents which have even more species and also host lots of viruses.

The third line of investigation is the high metabolism required for flight. This, combined with the observation that bats don’t seem to get cancer, leads to the hypothesis that their DNA repair mechanisms work faster and better.

This third hypothesis brings up another bat anomaly: not only are they more resistant to viral diseases, but they also live longer than expected. Are these two related? Maybe?


Regardless, the denizens of Chiroptera have antiviral secrets that we need and science is working to find them. Today more scientists study the biology of bats, and more bats are getting their DNA sequenced. Perhaps soon we will live longer and healthier because of those scary, night flying, echolocating bats.


Categories: Bats, Viruses | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to stop viral vampires: virus life cycle and antiviral 101

Cyto Citadel 2

This is some of the research that contributed to the recently released Darwin’s Paradox: An international science mystery Anti-virals are way more complicated that I first imagined.

The Battle for Cyto Citadel – A Primer in Antiviral Warfare

This is the story of viral vampires and their clone armies attacking the friendly territory defended by cyto citadels. Viruses, not quite alive, walking dead, attack cells, armored castles (Cyto Cidadel), defended by vaccines and drugs. Some are defeated.

Skirmish 1 – VACCINATION

All around the Cyto Citadel are roaming squads of deadly B-cell skirmishers and T-cell marauders searching for viral vampires. These forces are very effective and win most of their battles leaving vanquished vampires in their wake.

Unfortunately, they only attack vampires they have seen before. Any new viral vampires get by them unnoticed as if they were wearing invisibility cloaks.

Vaccines introduce B-cells and T-cells to recognized vampires of the viral armies, such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and hepatitis. Captain Cytoplasm uses as many vaccines as possible, but still many viral vampires get pass this defense, especially influenza viruses which constantly mutate into unrecognizable forms.

Skirmish 2 – ATTACHMENT

When the invisibility-cloaked vampires approach the Cyto Citadel, their first objective is to attach to the citadel walls to stage their break in. Medical sentries can stop some viral attacks before they attach to the wall.

Docosanol dragoons prevent herpes simplex viral vampires from attaching to the citadel walls. Unfortunately, if these loyal dragoons do not recognize the viral vampires, the invaders slip by undeterred.

Skirmish 3 – ENDOCYTOSIS

With the vampires at the wall, they need to worm their way through. The Cyto Citadel has strong walls to thwart this intrusion.

For example, even the dreaded HIV horde, causers of the AIDS scourge, can not penetrate the citadel without the help of CCR5 crackers or CXCR4 crashers. Blockers can be brought against CCR5 and CXCR4 to isolate the HIV horde outside the Citadel where they can do no damage.

Skirmish 4 – UNCOATING

Once inside, all is not lost. First of all the viral vampires come heavily armored for the battle to breach the citadel walls. Before they can do their real damage, they need to remove this armor. This is called uncoating.

Two antiviral armies, the amantadine arsenal, and the rimantadine rangers, prevent influenza vampires from releasing acid to dissolve their armor. Without this acid, they are stuck inside their own armor and helpless to do any damage.

Skirmish 5 – MUTAGENESIS

Once uncoated, the viral vampires break into the citadel storeroom to steal parts to build a vampire clone army. This is the last thing the citadel defenders want: a viral vampire clone army!

The citadel storerooms are infiltrated by ribavirin robots that fool the vampires to accepting mutating parts. When the vampires build clones from mutating parts, errors pile up and the clones die from error catastrophe. Too many errors equal dead clones.

Skirmish 6 – SYNTHESIS

Another attack on the synthesis of the viral clone army is to supply the vampires with the wrong parts. Reverse Transcriptase quartermasters delivering the wrong parts from inventory can foil the cloning efforts of some of the HIV horde, and the Hepatitis B horde also. The parts look right, but when used, the result is defective.

Skirmish 7 – REPLICATION

If a few clones get this far, all is not lost. Building a clone is a slow process. Unfortunately, once they are operational, they can replicate themselves. From a few clones, they can grow a full clone army.

Patrol of protease (pronounced PRO-TEA-AZE) inhibitors can stop the replication. Unfortunately, like all the fighters in the Cyto Citadel, patrols are very specific about who they will attack. Smart citadel defenders recruit as many different protease inhibitor patrols as possible.

If the HIV horde invades, the saquinavir, ritonavir, indinavirnelfinavir, and amprenavir patrols are recommended. For the hepatitis C horde, different patrols are needed: boceprevir and telaprevir.

The last defense: Skirmish 8 – EXOCYTOSIS

If the clone army is successfully put together, the Cyto Citadel is lost, but a lost battle is not a lost war. As a last ditch effort, oseltamivir (aka Tamaflu) can prevent the clone army from breaching the walls from the inside. With the clone army trapped in this citadel, other Citadels can be safe.

Good News and Bad News

The good news is that there are many ways the Cyto Citadel defenders can stop the viral vampires and their clone armies.

The bad news is that all the defenders are all very specific, and each different vampire attack must be met with the correct response. Unfortunately, some vampires mutate rapidly, so there is an arms race to keep finding new defenders. Even worse, for some viral attacks, there are no known defenders.

Map credit: Dyson Logos


Categories: Diseases, Pharmaceutical Industry | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why didn’t I go to medical school?


This is some of the thinking that contributed to the recently released Darwin’s Paradox: An international science mystery Novelists are always accused of adding biographical details, especially by their families. On their other hand they are advised to “write what you know.” The Ariq, a medical school dropout from Mongolia is a bit autobiographical. Yes, I have been to Mongolia.

I can’t stand the sight of needles or blood. When I go in for a blood test, I close my eyes and cringe. When it’s all over, I know it’s polite to assure the phlebotomist (that’s what they are called) that their technique was painless. I just can’t stand the idea of sticking a needle into me and drawing out my blood. When I get a vaccination, the nurses are concerned I might faint (more on that later). When I watch movies or television, I close my eyes and cover my face during any scenes with blood or needles.

I am not alone. About 3-4% of the population has something similar or even more severe. The condition is called: vasovagal syncope (sin-coe-pee), or neurally mediated syncope (NMS), or vasodepressor syncope, or even reflex syncope. Syncope is just the medical term for fainting. I don’t faint, because I follow the advice given to those who do: “don’t do that (whatever causes you to faint);” I don’t look at blood or needles. This condition is idiopathic, physician speak for: “I don’t know the cause.”

Medical Science might not know the cause of NMS, but that doesn’t mean nothing is known.

NMS has to do with the autonomic nervous system. That is the part of your nervous system responsible for automatic behaviors. You control what you put into your mouth, chew, and swallow, but once the food gets into your digestive tract, the autonomic nervous system takes over. Also, your autonomic nervous system keeps you breathing and your heart beating 24/7.

One part of the autonomic nervous system is the sympathetic nervous system which gets lots of press for its part in “fight or flight” responses. Vasovagal syncope is controlled/caused by the under-appreciated parasympatheic nervous system which controls “rest or digest” responses. That’s right! Fight-or-flight is not the only choice. One system prepares for action and the other for inaction. It is an over-reaction of the latter that causes fainting.

It is assumed that evolution has maintained this “rest or digest” response because it’s beneficial. Perhaps, if two people received severe traumas, the one who could lower their blood pressure had a better chance to survive by bleeding less and healing faster. Clearly, pumping the body full of adrenaline (fight-or-flight response) is not beneficial if you are bleeding profusely – in spite how often this is seen in action movies.

Here’s the movie scene I’d like to see. The hero and the antagonist wound each other. Now the antagonist gets mad, flexes her muscles, swinging her battle ax like crazy until she bleeds out over the passed-out body of our fainting hero. Evidently, that’s how my ancestors got this far and saying “not for the faint-hearted,” might not be true.

Also, the rest-or-digest response could work like a playing-dead response which is often beneficial when faced with an attacking animal.

So it seems that the meek have inherited 3-4% of the earth. Regardless, one way or another, my ancestors found a survival boost from their reaction to blood. I no longer need to be embarrassed. I have a name for my condition (actually four names) and assurance that I am not alone. I even can smugly know that many (genes) without reflex syncope did not make it this far. So there!


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#Minoan #Astronomy Spring Constellations #BronzeAge

This is the fourth in a series about imagined Minoan constellations. Since the discovery of Knossos by Arthur Evans in 1900, many sites have been discovered, including the exceptionally well-preserved city of Akrotiri on the island of Thera (now Santorini). However, the written record in Linear A is sparse and indecipherable. Academics have differing interpretations of the evidence. Some see kings and palaces, while others see priestesses and temples. These posts are historical fiction and in preparation for a novel set around 1500 BCE near the peak of the Minoan civilization.

This post concerns the constellations that rise with the sun during the Spring. Also included is the one additional constellation that first rises around the Spring equinox and is generally visible in the night sky during the Spring and Summer.


For the first Spring constellation (Taurus), I’ve chosen is the Spring flowers fresco from Akrotiri ( Akrotiri, like Pompeii about 1,500 years later, was well preserved under a thick layer of volcanic ash.


The next constellation (Gemini) is based on the Boxer fresco, also from Akrotiri. Even though the fresco shows long hair, I’ve imagined this as young initiates, who have shaved heads. The initiates play a larger role in the novel, so I honored them with a constellation.


The final Spring constellation (Cancer) is a triton a sculpture from the Archeological Museum of Agios Minolaos  ( Living on an island, the Minoan were well acquainted with the sea and used many marine motifs in their art and pottery.


Finally, I have selected the Horns of Consecration ( for the constellation Orion which would have been visible during the Spring and Summer nights. I only used part of Orion, but kept his belt which is the most visible part. The Horns were displayed extensively throughout all Minoan sites, and connect back to the bull jumping rituals.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this imagining of the Minoan zodiac.


Categories: Bronze Age, Crete, Minoans | Tags: | Leave a comment

#Bat Wings #Chiroptera /|\^o^/|\ (#Science #Biology #Anatomy #Evolution)

(Fruit Bat)PikiWiki_Israel_11327_Wildlife_and_Plants_of_Israel-Bat-003

This is some of the research that contributed to the recently released Darwin’s Paradox: An international science mystery Bats have a major role in this books, also the people who try to protect them when they become a target of fearful people during the pandemic.

In mammals, teeth provide quick and easy information as to diet, and an endless source of argument as to whether homo sapiens sapiens (that’s you) are carnivores or herbivores. Of course, the answer to this argument is that we are omnivores.


Sharp, pointed teeth indicate a carnivorous diet. In fact, most felines are obligate carnivores, so putting you pet cat on a vegan diet will kill it.


Flat, grinding teeth indicate a plant based diet. This horse is a typical herbivore and loves a vegan diet.


Often examining isolated characteristics can tell a lot about an animal’s environment, diet, and place in the food chain. Darwin famously famously supported his case for evolution be cataloging the beaks of finches.


In the case of bats, wings provide instant information about environment, diet, and prey. Most bats are designed on the model of jet fighter for maneuverability. They use this to avoid obstacles when flying inside caves or through trees.

They also, like fighter jets, use sonar (radar) and agility to track and capture flying targets. These bats have relatively short wings. The same can be seen in birds that live in forest and jungle environments.


Alternately wings might be long. Relative large wings optimize for distance flying.

Fruit bats have long wings appropriate for their stationary targets (fruit) and look more like cargo transports or bombers. Carrion birds like vultures and condors also follow this model.

So short, stubby wings: think jet fighter, and large, long wings think bombers. Evolution is warfare, and the right equipment in the right situation is victorious.


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#Minoan #Astronomy Winter Constellations #BronzeAge

Bronze age Crete is a tantalizing period for historians and archeologists. So much is known from the archeological record since the discovery of Knossos by Arthur Evans starting in 1900, but the written record is sparse and indecipherable. This mysterious language, Linear A, leaves opportunity for both academics and authors to imagine different scenarios. I belong to the latter group and this series of posts is best classified as historical fiction and in preparation for a historical fiction novel.


These are the three constellations that the Minoans would have seen rising at dawn in the winter, the period between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The first constellation (Zodiac name: Aquarius) is the Bull Jumper (above) from the Bull Leaping fresco in the Knossos Palace (or as some believe, Temple) on Crete. Note: the constellations appear are different times of the year than currently due to 3,500 years of precession.


For the next constellation of winter, I’ve chosen Papyrus Fresco from Akrotiri. This constellation is based on the current Pisces constellation. Akrotiri is the source of much of this artwork, as, like Pompeii about 1,500 years later, much of the city was well preserved under a thick layer of volcanic ash.


For the final winter constellation (Aries), we have the Bee. The Minoans kept bees and Mycenaeans likely learned the skill from Crete and brought it to Greece. The Greek goddess of bees Melissa likely came from a similar Minoan god.

Those are the imagined Winter constellations for Crete at the time of the Thera explosion.

Categories: Bronze Age, Crete | Tags: | 2 Comments

#Evolution of #Flight by #Chiroptera (aka #Bats)


This is some of the research that contributed to the recently released Darwin’s Paradox: An international science mystery Bats have a major role in this books, also the people who try to protect them when they become a target of fearful people during the pandemic.

An important principle of evolution is that evolution does not plan. There is no such thing as a species evolving in a direction that is not superior to the status quo just to be better prepared for some eventual benefit later.

This is important when thinking about flight, or any evolutionary change that makes use of several systems (such as the skeletal system, cardiovascular system, and the respiratory system), or which requires significant anatomical modifications. Both of these are true for flight.


While speciation, based on size and color (canis and felis) or beaks (Darwin’s finches), can be understood by a few, small genetic changes, the evolution of flight is more complex. However, in spite of the complexity, flight has evolved at least four independent times: insects, pterosaurs, bats, and birds.


Flight requires both the development of wings and changes to cardiorespiratory systems to support the short-term effort required for aerial takeoff.

Now, from the no planning principle, we know that in the millennia before flight is achieved, the intermediate changes must be an improvement at every step of the way. In the case of flight, there are two major theories for an evolutionary path to flight.


The first path to flight (ground up) assumes an animal that lives on the ground and evolves to run faster building up their cadriorespiratory endurance and uses their hands to catch prey expanding the area of their hands. Over time this animal benefits from hopping and gliding and finally true flight. This seems to be a good theory for birds.


The second path to flight (height down) assumes an arboreal animal that lives in the trees and first jumps down on prey, and eventually glides, and finally develops true flight. This seems to be a good theory for pterosaurs.

In the case of chiroptera (bats), it could have gone either way. There are bats that run along the ground suggesting ground up and those that climb trees suggesting height down.

In either case, bats have successfully populated all continents except Antarctica. They represent 20% of all mammal species, second only to rodents.


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Thinking of Zebras #Rabies #Bats #Chiroptera #Medical


This is some of the research that contributed to the recently released Darwin’s Paradox: An international science mystery When the pandemic strikes, the medical doctors are forced to look for more and more unlikely causes.

New medical students are regularly warned that when they hear hoof beats, they should think of horses, not zebras. Before they get their clinical experiences, new doctors treat all diseases as equally probable. After they become experienced, they naturally think of horses (the common causes) when they hear hoof beats (common symptoms).

This leads to an opposite problem. Experienced doctors have a blind spot when the hoof beats actually foretell zebras (a rare disease).

Consider this case from Canadian Journal of Infectious Disease, Volume 13, Number 2, March/April 2002.

A nine-year-old boy had upper arm pain and a slight fever. In a few days the pain extended down to his wrist and up to his shoulder and neck. The area was tender to touch and prevented him from sleeping. The next day he had tremors and was hospitalized.

This was followed by sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and intense itching. The doctors considered allergies and treated his with diphenhydramine (an antihistamine) which had little effect.

The tremors and spasms got worse, and the patient had difficulty speaking. Knee-jerk reflexes were normal, but the doctor considered epilepsy and ordered an electroencephalogram. This showed a slowing of brain activity, but not epilepsy.

The patient next developed aerophobia (fear of air blown on them) and hydrophobia (inability to drink water). This was accompanied by a rash, transient hallucinations, and intense itching.

The following day brought severe tremors of the face and all limbs, drooling, priapism, and the feeling of suffocation. At this point the doctors presumed that the patient had rabies.

Nine days later, “14 days after the onset of his initial symptoms, the patient presented a clinical picture compatible with brain death, was extubated and died.”

This is an example of how difficult it is to diagnose rabies, absent a reported bite.


Here is another case from CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Volume 60, Number 14, April 15, 2011.

“The patient reportedly had awakened with a bat on his arm 9 months earlier, but had not sought medical evaluation. He went to a local emergency department (ED) on October 30 and soon after was hospitalized; he died 12 days later.”

Initially he was treated by a chiropractor for pain and numbness of his left hand and arm, lower neck and upper back. The chiropractic treatment relieved the back pain, but the arm numbness and tingling got worst.

At the hospital, the patient did not have a fever, blood pressure was normal, blood count and routine chemistries were normal. Strength and sensation were normal. The only symptoms were weakness of the left arm, elevated white blood cell counts, and elevated glucose. A CT scan also revealed some anomalies.

Most concerning, the patient had such difficulty breathing that he was put on ventilation.

AIDP and Guillain-Barre syndrome were the chief diagnoses considered at this point. MRI and entectromyography pointed to AIDP and treatment began.

A few days later, with the patient not improving, CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) analysis lead the staff to switch the diagnosis to meningoencephalitis. This treatment was also not effective.

At that point, “on November 4, the infectious disease physician asked the patient’s wife about any animal exposure history. … The wife had no knowledge of any recent animal bites. …
On November 8, another relative recounted an incident that had occurred approximately 9 months before onset of illness. The patient had told the relative about waking one night to a bat crawling on his arm. …
On November 11, the patient’s family elected to withdraw life support, and the patient died shortly afterward.”


Here is a third case from CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Volume 59, Number 13, April 9, 2010.

When an apparently healthy man visited a clinic with fever and a cough, the clinician diagnosed bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics.

By the follow-up, the patient now had fever, chills, chest pains and left arm numbness. An electrocardiogram did not indicate a heart attack. The diagnosis was musculoskeletal pain and the patient was prescribed pain killers and muscle relaxants at this time.

Next visit the patient was agitated and restless, which was presumed to be a side-effect of the muscle relaxants. Hospital observation was recommended, but the patient went home.

The next day, the patient presented with twitches, high heart rate, low blood pressure, and fever. The doctor now considered sepsis and the patient was hospitalized.

The patient was intubated and tested extensively. The patient continued to deteriorate with low heart rate, low blood pressure, muscle wasting, and kidney failure requiring dialysis.

Two weeks after the initial clinic visit, rabies were considered. The patient died the next day.


Sometimes those hoof beats are zebras.


Categories: Bats, Diseases | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

#Minoan #Astronomy Autumn Constellations #BronzeAge


Bronze Age Crete is a tantalizing period for historians and archeologists. So much is known from the archeological record since the discovery of Knossos by Arthur Evans starting in 1900, but the written record is sparse and indecipherable. This mysterious language, Linear A, leaves opportunity for both academics and authors to imagine different scenarios. I belong to the latter group and this series of posts is best classified as historical fiction.

These are the three constellations that the Minoans would have seen rising at dawn in the autumn, the period between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. The first constellation (Zodiac name: Scorpio) is the Three Women (above) from the Ladies in Blue fresco in the Knossos Palace on Crete.


The second month of autumn is marked with the rising of the Octopus constellation (Zodiac name: Sagittarius). This is represented by this marine style jug.


The final month prior to the winter solstice is marked by the rising of ship constellation (Zodiac name: Capricorn). This is represented by a fresco from Akrotiri which was preserved under the ash fall from the Thera eruption circa 1500 BCE. This preservation mirrors the later preservation of Pompeii.

Categories: Bronze Age, Crete, Minoans | Tags: | Leave a comment

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