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Weekend Reads 2/3/18

We Were Wrong About Rats Spreading The Black Death Plague

Using these parameters, the scientists modeled three scenarios. In one, lice and fleas spread the plague. In another, rodents plus their parasites spread the plague. In a third, coughing humans spread an airborne version of the disease, called pneumonic plague.

The rodent model did not match the historical death rates.

Shark charities flooded with donations after Trump says he hopes sharks die

“We have been receiving donations in Trump’s name since the story was published,” said Cynthia Wilgren, chief executive officer and co-founder of Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, based in Chatham, Mass. Most of the money has come from first-time donors, she added. “It can certainly be a challenge to raise money for a species that most people fear,” Wilgren said.

Can we zero-in on Earth’s sensitivity to CO₂?

It's not like we have no idea how sensitive the climate is. The range of possible values that scientists have been able to narrow it down to only spans from “climate change is very bad news” to “climate change is extremely bad news.”

But the difference between “very bad” and “extremely bad” is pretty important, so climate scientists aren’t throwing up their hands any time soon—as two new studies published this week show.

China’s breathtaking transformation into a scientific superpower

In a sane world — shorn of nationalistic, economic, racial and ethnic conflicts — none of this would be particularly alarming. Technology is mobile, and gains made in China could be enjoyed elsewhere, and vice versa. But in our contentious world, China’s technological prowess is potentially threatening.

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