Two metres apart

Social distancing measures are in place pretty much everywhere. They have been instituted to reduce the possibility of infection. No contact, no contagion. If we don’t share the same space, we won’t get infected. We won’t get assassinated either. It may be argued that the 2-metre rule could have saved Julius Caesar’s life. Since MarchContinue reading “Two metres apart”

The Romans always win until they don’t

One of the most fascinating inscriptions from ancient Rome is the so-called ‘Hisma inscription’. Written in Greek by someone named ‘Lauricius’ in probably the late 2nd century AD, it proclaims that: ‘The Romans always win’. The sandstone slab was found in South Jordan, in Roman Arabia, on the edge of the Empire. The Romans keptContinue reading “The Romans always win until they don’t”

To put the pan in the demic

I’ve noticed that the words ‘pandemic’ and ‘epidemic’ have recently been used interchangeably in the media and in everyday speech. Any extensive outburst of a contagious disease is a pandemic or an epidemic, depending on which prefix you prefer or comes to mind first. Pandemic sounds a bit more catastrophic, while epidemic has a scientific,Continue reading “To put the pan in the demic”

Dea Febris

Every age and every culture has its own way to respond to viral diseases, plagues and epidemics. While we have medicine, technology and social services, the ancient Romans had Dea Febris, the goddess of fever, the protector against malaria and other infectious diseases, though by no means the only one. According to one theory, FebrisContinue reading “Dea Febris”

The bored ones get the best of Hell

Dante’s Hell is a place of extreme pain and suffering. This is partly the reason why generations of modern readers have found Inferno so much more exciting than Paradiso or even Purgatorio. The farther one moves away from excruciating pain, the boring the story gets, right? This is not how I feel, but I recognise,Continue reading “The bored ones get the best of Hell”

The Covid-19-prisoner’s dilemma

According to this renowned game theory postulate, cooperation is not always the best way to maximise individual benefit. The key thing about the prisoner’s dilemma model is that what you don’t know prompts you to adopt the position of lowest risk. The classic illustration offered by Albert Tucker involves two criminals who have been arrestedContinue reading “The Covid-19-prisoner’s dilemma”

Near Life Experience

Everyone seems to agree that one of the casualties of this crisis is our interpersonal life. The first thing to die of Covid-19 was the handshake, which had long been seen as one of the guarantors of humanity’s ability to close gaps between individuals. The handshake had been in the street long before the hugContinue reading “Near Life Experience”

The pundits

Suddenly everyone has become an immunologist and a confinement pundit. It is easy to tell the genuine immunologist from the quack, but it’s not so easy to recognise a true confinement pundit. Who are these? Surely it can’t be those who tell us to fight the disruption to our normal routines by engineering new routines.Continue reading “The pundits”