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Pious drinking. Walter Dendy Sadler via Wikimedia Commons

Feeling guilty about drinking? Well, ask the saints

For those wondering whether it is sinful to drink, even moderately, a scholar goes into the history of alcohol and its distillation to show how early monks and priests contributed to it.
Uncollected rubbish provides food and shelter for rodents which can spread plague if they pick up the bacteria. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Explainer: understanding plague in the 21st century

Plague, one of the deadliest diseases in the world, has been reported in several African countries in the past decade.
A model of the bubonic plague bacterium, which is known as Yersina pestis. Tim Evanson/Flcikr

Explainer: what is the plague?

Cases of plague have been reported in the Chinese city of Yumen, where a man has died of the disease. Control measures taken by the authorities include travel restrictions in and out of the city, and 151…
Not pretty. Pete Seidel/Jack Poland/CDC

The bug that lost a few genes to become Black Death

About 6,000 years ago, a bacterium underwent a few genetic changes. These allowed it to expand its habitat from the guts of mice to that of fleas. Such changes happen all the time, but in this particular…
We may have pinpointed the event that started modern Y. pestis epidemics. Steam Pirate.

Did the Black Death give birth to modern plagues?

Could contemporary plague outbreaks such as those that have hit Peru and the USA have their origins in the medieval era? It would seem so. A paper published in Nature today reports a genome sequence taken…

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