Colony collapse disorder

Wither thou goest, bees? So far, it's a mystery for the ages: in territories across Canada, Europe and more than 25 states in the U.S., around 40% of bees have simply disappeared. There are no dead bodies left behind to tell the tale; they're just gone. "Colony Collapse Disorder" (or "Vanishing Bee Syndrome," as the BBC calls it) is thus far an unexplained phenomenon, though malnutrition, pesticides, pathogens, immunodeficiencies, mites, fungus, genetically modified crops and electromagnetic radiation have all been cited as possible causes. The bees have disappeared before, of course, but never to this scale. So what's the big deal? First, there's the pocketbook factor: the U.S. produces more than $15 billion in crops every year that depend solely on bees for their pollination. More frightening still is the idea that bees are a cornerstone of our cycle of life. An (unverified but infamous) quote from (possibly) Albert Einstein: "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man." Stay tuned, and we'll let you know when it's time to panic.

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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