"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
Hi, this is Greg Powell. I hope you'll enjoy one or more of these interesting topics from the world of business and beyond. Dan Powell, my son and collaborator, has researched the articles and written the summaries, so this is not a boilerplate message. We'd like to give you a weekly break to learn about something cool or, better yet, 5 Cool Things.


First Vaccine to Fully Immunize Against Malaria Builds on Pandemic-Driven RNA Tech (The Academic Times)

Previously on 5 Cool Things, we highlighted an article about the new technology employed to create Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines for covid-19: mRNA (the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a traditional method involving disassembled adenovirus). mRNA technology is promising because it employs genetic information to attack viral RNA, instead of training the patient’s immune system cells. Now, scientists working to create an effective vaccine against malaria, a disease associated with a parasite that suppresses immune system response, say that mouse trials with mRNA techniques show full immunization. The malarial parasite, called Plasmodium, has its own gene instructions to surpress T-cell response, say scientists. “If you eliminate that factor, the body naturally develops memory immunity.” And finally developing an effective malaria vaccine might be just the beginning. Read more…

Why Cavemen Needed No Braces (Stanford University Press Blog)

Ignoring your dental health can lead to some pretty serious health problems, as well as some serious pain. Modern science employs drills, braces, x-rays, and other techniques to fix what nature gave us — but what did humans do hundreds or thousands of years ago? Did they simply let their teeth fall out or grow in horribly crooked? Strangely enough, archaeological finds don’t show mouths like some of those we see today. In fact, experts see straighter teeth and healthier mouths the farther back they go -- “Apparently, orthodontists and dentists were rarely necessary in the Stone Age.” That’s because, according to scientists, ancient people used their teeth more. Tougher foods mean more chewing, which stimulates the jaw to grow and allows teeth to fit without crowding. Ironically, the development of refined and, ultimately, safer sources of food led to a decline in oral health. Read more…


Long-Missing Jacob Lawrence Painting Comes to Light in New York (ARTnews)

“Struggle: From the History of the American People” is a landmark 30-painting series by Jacob Lawrence that’s currently on exhibition across the country by the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, MA. The series, completed in 1956, has been missing five panels since the 1960s — until late last year, when panel 16 was discovered in a New York City apartment. Now, just months later, missing panel 28 has been discovered as well. It takes its place, finally, among the rest of the existing series after being discovered in yet another New York City apartment. The painting’s current owner inherited it from her mother-in-law. She had no idea that it was a mid-century masterpiece until her son told her about the exhibit of “Struggle” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “I didn’t know I had a masterpiece,” she told the New York Times. The series was a reaction in part to the growing Civil Rights movement at the time and highlights the experiences of women and people of color in America. Read more…

The City of London’s Strange History (Financial Times)

The City of London is far from just a national capital. As ruling body of the historical center of the city, the City of London Corporation represents the oldest continuous democratic commune in the world, dating all the way back to its establishment during the time when Romans ruled the city. In fact, when the famous Magna Carta charter of rights was enacted in 1215, the mayor of London was designated as one of two guarantors to the agreement. The co-development of the British Empire and its capital city involved many of these cooperative agreements, but also numerous conflicts, with the City of London traditionally standing up for free trade and individual rights against the crown and its ideals of top-down rule from the sovereign. Today, however, controversy remains over the role of such an organization and its responsibility to the rest of the city and the nation. Read more...

Robertson, Phillips, and the History of the Screwdriver (The History Guy)

While screws existed for many centuries as a geometric concept, the widespread use of screws as a fastener had to wait until industrial production allowed for their inexpensive production. As anyone who has used screws will relate, the slotted top, though simple to manufacture, can be awkward and frustrating to tighten due to slippage. The race was on, therefore, to find a better screw and Peter Robertson, a Canadian, was the first to market a square-socket design that’s still widely used in Canada. Unfortunately for Robertson, his refusal to license his invention allowed American auto tycoon Henry Ford to patent the cross-shaped Phillips-head screw, which remains the global standard today. Watch more...

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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