N.I.H. Funded EcoHealth Wuhan Research to Make Coronaviruses More Infective and Virulent

(p. A21) EcoHealth Alliance has come under scrutiny because of its collaboration on coronavirus research with researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is situated in the city where the pandemic began.

. . .

Last month, The Intercept, an online publication, posted 900 pages of materials related to the N.I.H. grants to EcoHealth Alliance for the research. The materials provided details about experiments designed to provide new insights into the risk that bat coronaviruses have for sparking new pandemics.

In some of their experiments, the researchers isolated genes from bat coronaviruses that encode a surface protein, called spike. Coronaviruses use the spike protein to bind to host cells, the first step to an infection. The spike protein latches onto a cell-surface protein called ACE2.

According to the materials published, the researchers then engineered another bat virus, called WIV1, to carry spike proteins from other bat coronaviruses. They then conducted experiments to see if the engineered WIV1 viruses became better at attaching to ACE2 on cells.

. . .

Dr. Lawrence Tabak, the principal deputy director of the N.I.H., wrote in the letter to Representative Comer that the agency determined that the research proposed by EcoHealth Alliance did not meet the criteria for additional review . . .

. . .

Dr. Tabak noted that in one line of research, the researchers had produced mice genetically engineered to produce the human version of the ACE2 protein on their cells. Infecting these animals with coronaviruses could potentially provide a more realistic sense of the risk that the viruses have of infecting humans than just using dishes of cells.

The N.I.H. required that EcoHealth Alliance notify the agency if the engineered viruses turned out to grow 10 times faster or more than WIV1 would without their new spike proteins.

In some experiments, it turns out, that viruses did grow quickly.

“EcoHealth failed to report this finding right away, as required by the terms of the grant,” Dr. Tabak wrote.

The N.I.H. also sent Representative Comer a final progress report that EcoHealth Alliance submitted to the agency in August [2021].

In the report, the researchers describe finding that WIV1 coronaviruses engineered to carry spike proteins were more virulent. They killed infected mice at higher rates than did the WIV1 virus without spikes from the other coronaviruses.

The filing had been submitted late, the N.I.H. said, nearly two years beyond the grant-specified deadline of 120 days from completion of the work. “Delayed reporting is a violation of the terms and condition of N.I.H. grant award,” Renate Myles, a spokeswoman for the agency, said.

Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center who has called for more research into the origins of the pandemic, said the revelations raised serious questions about the risks of investigating viruses originating from animals, known as zoonotic viruses.

For the full story, see:

Carl Zimmer and Benjamin Mueller. “N.I.H. Says Bat Studies Were Not Submitted Promptly.” The New York Times (Friday, October 22, 2021): A21.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated October 28, 2021, and has the title “Bat Research Group Failed to Submit Virus Studies Promptly, N.I.H. Says.”)

Good Anxiety “Helps Us Rebound and Refocus”

(p. A15) “Good Anxiety” is especially effective in arguing that anxiety shouldn’t be something we seek to hide, numb or even fix. Instead we can use it as a form of energy, thanks to the power of brain plasticity, our ability to rewire this potentially destructive response process. It’s what enables us to learn how to calm down, reassess situations and reframe our thoughts and feelings. “Anxiety is changeable, adaptable like any other feature of our brain,” Ms. Suzuki argues. The promise of her book, she writes, is a better understanding of “how anxiety works in the brain and body” so that we can learn how to adjust our own misfiring neurons.

Anxiety can even give us “hidden superpowers.” Resilience, for example, is learned through dealing with stress, and helps us rebound and refocus after difficult, challenging events. Even bigger payoffs come, Ms. Suzuki suggests, by adopting what she calls an “activist mindset”—the belief that we can reframe our thoughts in a positive and opportunistic way. This gives us agency over how we react to situations. “When it feels like a door has slammed on you, anxiety can lead you to feel like there’s no way out of the room; the activist mindset allows you to take a step back and look for a window,” she writes.

. . .

If anxiety is uncontrolled, our focus is liable to turn sour: Overstating real or imagined threats leads to hypervigilance and dwelling on danger. But Ms. Suzuki argues that anxiety plays a role in executive function, the interaction between attention, thinking and emotion, where it can be used for good. By decreasing distractions, meditating, exercising and transforming a “what-if” list into a productive “to-do” list, anxious thinkers can channel their energy toward progress.

For the full review, see:

Taylor Cromwell. “BOOKSHELF; The Upside Of Worry.” The Wall Street Journal (Friday, Sept. 17, 2021): A15.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review was updated Sept. 3, 2021, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘Good Anxiety’ Review: The Upside of Worry.”)

The book under review is:

Suzuki, Wendy. Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion. New York: Atria Books, 2021.

UNL Ph.D. Studies Cow Manure and Burps “to Help Save the Planet”

(p. A1) ITHACA, Neb. — In what’s been dubbed the “methane barn” at a University of Nebraska-Lincoln agricultural research center near here, sensitive electronic equipment monitors and logs the amount of gas belched out by a herd of yearling steers.

Yes, Andrea Watson and her fellow UNL scientists are studying cow burps. She has already heard all the jokes.

“My brother especially thinks it’s funny I had to get a Ph.D. to study cow manure and cow burps,” she said.

But this work is really quite serious. If it can help reduce the beef industry’s global environmental hoofprint, it could one day help save the planet.

. . .

Consider that in a year, the average cow belches out 220 pounds of greenhouse gas. According to United Nations figures, if the world’s beef and dairy cattle were their own country, they would be the third-largest emitter, after only China and the United States.

. . .

(p. A9) “Trying to blame the cow industry for any of this is BS,” said Jay Wolf, an Albion, Nebraska, cattle rancher who definitely is familiar with real BS. “We have reduced the herd by one-third. When other sources reduce by one-third, come talk to me.”

. . .

Climate experts are increasingly recognizing that in the decades-long battle ahead, reducing methane emissions from all sources is crucial to helping the planet buy time and avoid catastrophe. Cattle can play a big role in that, said Joe Rudek, lead senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund.

. . .

(p. A11) In North America, livestock are responsible for 28% of all methane emissions, with an additional 41% from the oil and gas industry (mostly through leaks) and 21% from landfills. In all, a hefty 25% of today’s warming globally is driven by methane.

Rudek said if methane emissions across all industries worldwide can be cut by 30% by 2050, it would be enough to avoid a half degree of warming.

For the full story, see:

Henry J. Cordes. “Much-maligned cattle now have chance to be part of climate solution.” Omaha World-Herald (Sunday, October 24, 2021): A1 & A9-A11.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated November 4, 2021, and has the title “The State of Beef: Much-maligned cattle now have chance to be part of climate solution.”)

Little Free Lithuania Stands Up to Big Bully Communist China

(p. A4) VILNIUS, Lithuania — It was never a secret that China tightly controls what its people can read and write on their cellphones. But it came as a shock to officials in Lithuania when they discovered that a popular Chinese-made handset sold in the Baltic nation had a hidden though dormant feature: a censorship registry of 449 terms banned by the Chinese Communist Party.

Lithuania’s government swiftly advised officials using the phones to dump them, enraging China — and not for the first time. Lithuania has also embraced Taiwan, a vibrant democracy that Beijing regards as a renegade province, and pulled out of a Chinese-led regional forum that it scorned as divisive for the European Union.

Furious, Beijing has recalled its ambassador, halted trips by a Chinese cargo train into the country and made it nearly impossible for many Lithuanian exporters to sell their goods in China. Chinese state media has assailed Lithuania, mocked its diminutive size and accused it of being the “anti-China vanguard” in Europe.

In the battlefield of geopolitics, Lithuania versus China is hardly a fair fight — a tiny Baltic nation with fewer than 3 million people against a rising superpower with 1.4 billion. Lithuania’s military has no tanks or fighter jets, and its economy is 1/270th the size of China’s.

But, surprisingly, Lithuania has proved that even tiny countries can create headaches for a superpower, especially one like China whose diplomats seem determined to make other nations toe their line.

. . .

In an interview, Gabrielius Landsbergis, the foreign minister, said the country had a “values-based foreign policy” of “supporting people supporting democratic movements.”

Other European countries declaring fealty to democratic values have rarely acted on them in their relations with China. Mr. Landsbergis’s party, however, has made action part of its appeal to domestic voters: Its pre-election manifesto last year included a promise to “maintain the value backbone” in foreign policy “with countries such as China.”

. . .

From China’s perspective, last week’s release of a report on the Chinese-made cellphones by Lithuania’s Defense Ministry Cyber Security Center was yet another provocation. The hidden registry found by the center allows for the detection and censorship of phrases like “student movement,” “Taiwan independence,” and “dictatorship.”

The blacklist, which updates automatically to reflect the Communist Party’s evolving concerns, lies dormant in phones exported to Europe but, according to the cyber center, the disabled censorship tool can be activated with the flick of a switch in China.

The registry “is shocking and very concerning,” said Margiris Abukevicius, a deputy defense minister responsible for cybersecurity.

. . .

Lithuania has made “a clear geopolitical decision” to side decisively with the United States, a longtime ally, and other democracies, said Laurynas Kasciunas, the chairman of the national security and defense committee. “Everyone here agrees on this. We are all very anti-communist Chinese. It is in our DNA.”

For the full story, see:

Andrew Higgins. “A Minnow (Pop.: 3 Million) Defies a Whale (Pop.: 1.4 Billion).” The New York Times (Friday, October 20, 2021): A4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated October 8, 2021, and has the title “Lithuania vs. China: A Baltic Minnow Defies a Rising Superpower.” Where the wording differs between the versions, the quotations above follow the online version.)

Communist China Pays World Bank for Higher Ranking in “Doing Business” Report

(p. A1) The World Bank canceled a prominent report rating the business environment of the world’s countries after an investigation concluded that senior bank management pressured staff to alter data affecting the ranking of China and other nations.

The leaders implicated include then World Bank Chief Executive Kristalina Georgieva, now managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and then World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

The episode is a reputational hit for Ms. Georgieva, who disagreed with the investigators’ conclusions. As leader of the IMF, the lender of last resort to struggling countries around the world, she is in part responsible for managing political pressure from nations seeking to advance their own interests. It was also the latest example of the Chinese government seeking myriad ways to burnish its global standing.

(p. A10) The Doing Business report has been the subject of an external probe into the integrity of the report’s data.

. . .

The World Bank was in the middle of difficult international negotiations to receive a $13 billion capital increase. Despite being the world’s second largest economy, China is the No. 3 shareholder at the World Bank, following the U.S. and Japan, and Beijing was eager to see its power increased as part of a deal for more funding.

In October 2017, Ms. Georgieva convened a meeting of the World Bank’s country director for China, as well as the staff economists that compile Doing Business. She criticized “mismanaging the Bank’s relationship with China and failing to appreciate the importance of the Doing Business report to the country,” according to the investigative report’s summary of the meeting.

. . .

Ultimately, the team identified three data points that could be altered to raise China’s score, the investigative report said. For example, China had passed a law related to secured transactions, such as when someone makes a loan with collateral. The World Bank staff determined it could give China a significant improvement to its score for legal rights, citing the law as the reason.

World Bank employees knew the changes were inappropriate but “a majority of the Doing Business employees with whom we spoke expressed a fear of retaliation,” the investigative report said.

Although the data-gathering process for the 2018 report was finished, the World Bank’s economists reopened the data tables and altered China’s data, the investigative report said. Instead of ranking 85th among the world’s countries, China climbed to 78th due to the alterations.

For the full story, see:

Josh Zumbrun. “World Bank Cancels Report After Investigation.” The Wall Street Journal (Friday, Sept. 17, 2021): A1 & A10.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date September 16, 2021, and has the title “World Bank Cancels Flagship Report After Investigation.”)

Many Plants and Animals Quickly Adapt to Global Warming

(p. A15) Amid the ice floes of the Arctic, tiny seabirds called dovekies feed in the plankton-rich waters, a survival strategy that worked well until the pack ice began to dwindle around the islands in Russia’s Franz Josef Land, where the dovekies breed. Like their Arctic neighbors the polar bears, often seen stranded on shrinking icebergs, it appeared that the dovekies faced an existential threat because of climate change. Scientists working in the region predicted that they would have to fly an hour or more to find food.

Instead, data from radio-tagged birds have revealed something entirely different: Faced with the prospect of extinction, the dovekies adapted. They were able to pivot to a new foraging opportunity a five-minute flight away, where water from melting glaciers slams into ocean currents just offshore, making plankton there easy pickings. For now, the dovekie population is thriving, producing just as many healthy chicks as before. Unfortunately, this tactic is not a permanent solution, as Arctic glaciers are dwindling too. But it could buy the birds another century to try to adjust their survival strategy again.

The Franz Josef dovekies remind us that nature is not a passive bystander to climate change. In some surprising cases, new conditions can trigger new behaviors.

. . .

When a group of biologists recently fanned out across the eastern Pacific to study aggression in butterfly fish, they expected to witness the constant territorial skirmishes for which these feisty coral reef dwellers are famous. Then a marine heat wave caused the corals to expel their algae, a damaging process called bleaching that leaves once-colorful reefs ghostly pale and lacking in nutrients for fish.

Suddenly without meals worth fighting for, the butterfly fish changed too. They transformed from aggressors into pacifists almost overnight, becoming docile to save energy and eke out an existence, albeit a subdued one, in a calorie-starved environment. If the corals ever recover, then the fish may regain their previous territorial vigor. If not, then they’ll no longer be famous for defending their food; they’ll be too busy trying to find enough of it.

Butterfly fish and dovekies both employ what biologists call “plasticity,” a natural ability to be flexible.

. . .

Warmer temperatures are forcing conifers to shift northward, while many hardwoods are moving north and west, chasing increases in rainfall. But the direction of these shifts isn’t nearly as surprising as their speed. Red oaks like those at Walden Pond are lumbering north by more than 10 miles every decade, which is nothing next to the 40-mile pace set by honey locusts. Both are shifting considerably faster than the range of the average bird: . . .

. . .

When back-to-back hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2017, they flattened buildings, uprooted trees and left the community reeling. They also created a rare scientific opportunity. Surveys of a local species of anole—a distant cousin of iguanas—had just been completed prior to the storms. The researchers had intended to show the effects of predation on the lizards by non-native rats. Instead, they turned their attention to the impact of the hurricanes and immediately repeated their field work. What they found was survival of the fittest in action: Lizards in the post-storm population all had larger toe pads and stronger front legs better suited to gripping trees in high winds. And those traits were being passed on to the next generation.

While scientists expected to eventually see evolution in reaction to extreme weather, many were stunned that it could happen so fast. Understanding how some species adapt in various ways, while others can’t, may help to inform our own responses to climate change. Plasticity may become an unavoidable priority in preparing for a warmer world.

For the full commentary, see:

Thor Hanson. “Some Species Are Changing Along With the Climate.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date September 24, 2021, and has the same title as the print version.)

The commentary quoted above is adapted from Hanson’s book:

Hanson, Thor. Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid: The Fraught and Fascinating Biology of Climate Change. New York: Basic Books, 2021.

Auntie Sewing Squad Made, and Distributed, 350,000 Free Masks

(p. C7) Kristina Wong is an in-your-face performer who, until this month, hadn’t performed for an in-person audience since March 2020.

. . .

While Wong was stuck at home in Los Angeles, she stayed busy leading the Auntie Sewing Squad, a volunteer group of mostly Asian American women she founded in March 2020 to make face masks for health care workers, farm workers, incarcerated people and others. She recruited 6-year-old children, her 73-year-old mother and others for the operation, which ballooned to more than 800 “Aunties,” a cross-cultural term of respect and affection for women, as well as “Uncles” and nonbinary volunteers in 33 states. Together, they distributed more than 350,000 masks.

“I feel like I got more done for the world by running a mutual aid group than as an elected official,” said Wong, a third-generation Chinese American from San Francisco.

. . .

In March 2020 your tour for “Kristina Wong for Public Office” was postponed. What made you want to start a mask-making group?

I was home without income feeling sorry for myself, and I stumbled across some articles that said there was a need for homemade masks. It started with me taking my Hello Kitty sewing machine and fabric and making a naïve offer to the internet: “If you need masks and don’t have access to them, I will help you!” But my ego wrote a check my body couldn’t cash, and within four days I was inundated with requests, so I started a Facebook group of people whom I knew could sew. We had Aunties cutting the elastic off their fitted sheets, the straps off their bras. It was a Robinson Crusoe situation.

Why did you call yourself a “sweatshop overlord”?

My first volunteers were all Asian women, and I was like, “Oh, my God, this is the sickest moment, we are a modern-day sweatshop.” Our mothers and grandmothers did garment work — my grandmother and grandfather did laundry work as part of their rite of passage to America — and now we find ourselves doing this work again, for free, because the government hasn’t prepared us for this moment. So it was this gallows humor joke that I was the sweatshop overlord — also humor about child labor because I was ordering children around.

For the full interview, see:

Sarah Bahr, interviewer. “Kristina Wong’s Story: Sewing With Her Aunties.” The New York Times (Saturday, October 30, 2021): C7.

(Note: ellipses added; bold in original. The questions in bold are from the interviewer. The words under each question are quotes from Kristina Wong.)

(Note: the online version of the interview has the date October 19, 2021, and has the title “Kristina Wong’s Pandemic Story: Sewing With Her Aunties.”)

CDC Intentionally Overestimated Risk of Heterosexual Spread of AIDS

(p. A17) ‘Follow the science,” we’ve been told throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. But if we had paid attention to history, we would have known that once a disease becomes newsworthy, science gets distorted by researchers, journalists, activists and politicians eager for attention and power—and determined to silence those who challenge their fear-mongering.

When AIDS spread among gay men and intravenous drug users four decades ago, it became conventional wisdom that the plague would soon devastate the rest of the American population.

. . .

In reality, researchers discovered early on that transmission through vaginal intercourse was rare, and that those who claimed to have been infected that way were typically concealing intravenous drug use or homosexual activity. One major study estimated the risk of contracting AIDS during intercourse with someone outside the known risk groups was 1 in 5 million. But the CDC nonetheless started a publicity campaign warning that everyone was in danger. It mailed brochures to more than 100 million households and aired dozens of public-service announcements, like a television ad with a man proclaiming, “If I can get AIDS, anyone can.”

The CDC’s own epidemiologists objected to this message, arguing that resources should be focused on those at risk, as the Journal reported in 1996. But they were overruled by superiors who decided, on the advice of marketing consultants, that presenting AIDS as a universal threat was the best way to win attention and funding. By those measures, the campaign succeeded. Polls showed that Americans became terrified of being infected, and funding for AIDS prevention surged—much of it squandered on measures to protect heterosexuals.

Scientists and public officials sustained the panic by wildly overestimating the prevalence of AIDS. Challenging those numbers was a risky career move, as New York City’s health commissioner, Stephen C. Joseph, discovered in 1988 when he reduced the estimated number of AIDS cases in the city by half. He had good reasons for the reduction—the correct number turned out to be much lower still—but he soon needed police protection. Activists occupied his office, disrupted his speeches, and picketed and spray-painted his home.

Another victim of 1980s-style cancel culture was Michael Fumento, who meticulously debunked the scare in his 1990 book, “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS.” It received good reviews and extensive publicity, but it was unavailable in much of the country because local bookstores and national chains succumbed to pressure not to sell it. Mr. Fumento’s own publisher refused to keep it in print, and he was forced out of two jobs—one as an AIDS analyst in the federal government.

The AIDS fear-mongers suffered few consequences for their mistakes.

For the full commentary, see:

John Tierney. “Unlearned AIDS Lessons for Covid.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, October 4, 2021): A17.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary was updated October 3, 2021, and has the same title as the print version.)

At His Toga Birthday Party FDR Dressed “Imperiously” in Wreath and Robe as Caesar

(p. C6) Again and again, artists and artisans have reworked ancient images, turning emperors and imperial women into role models or cautionary tales. Whether central to the debate or only hovering at the edges in a ghostly manner, the ancients have always been there. Such is the argument of Mary Beard’s “Twelve Caesars: Images of Power From the Ancient World to the Modern.”

. . .

Among the book’s many striking illustrations and images is a photo of Franklin D. Roosevelt celebrating his 52nd birthday in January 1934 with a toga party in the White House. Wreathed and wearing what might be a triumphator’s robe, arms folded imperiously, FDR is surrounded by more than a dozen family members and friends dressed variously as senators, matrons and legionaries. What does this Busby Berkeley-esque scene mean? It might have been a sardonic joke from FDR’s staff and friends to respond to critics who charged that the president was becoming a dictator.

For the full essay, see:

Barry Strauss. “Power in Profile.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021): C6.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date October 1, 2021, and has the title “‘Twelve Caesars’ Review: Power in Profile.”)

The book under review is:

Beard, Mary. Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2021.

Musk Wants to Use His Billions “to Get Humanity to Mars”

(p. B1) In the negotiations over President Biden’s infrastructure bill, Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and chairman of the Finance Committee, proposed the idea of a tax on billionaires specifically. Thursday morning, Mr. Biden announced his framework for paying for the bill, which promised additional taxes on the income of “the wealthiest 0.02 percent of Americans.”

Mr. Wyden’s proposed tax will likely never make it into law.

. . .

(p. B5) Elon Musk, in a tweet, seemed to come out against the proposal. “Eventually, they run out of other people’s money and then they come for you,” he wrote. It is fairly safe to say that Mr. Musk will never run out of money. A back-of-the-envelope calculation from Forbes’s real-time net worth tracker suggests that he could spend $1 million a year for 100,000 years and still have more money than Bill Gates, with an estimated $136.2 billion.

. . .

Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Roy Disney and a longtime critic of income inequality, said in an interview that she believes the immense displays of wealth by the country’s richest during the pandemic — particularly the ostentatiousness of last summer’s space race — helped foster a serious discussion about the tax burdens on billionaires.

. . .

In comments denouncing the proposed billionaire tax, Mr. Manchin described the ultrawealthy as people who “create a lot of jobs and invest a lot of money and give a lot to philanthropic pursuits.”

That was an implicit endorsement of the idea, often repeated in discussions around high-net worth giving, that regular people pay taxes while rich people pursue philanthropy, giving not to the Treasury but to their preferred causes. “My plan is to use the money to get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness,” Mr. Musk said in a subsequent tweet in response to the tax proposal.

“That idea that ‘it’s my money and I should decide what to do with it’ is very dominant, and it goes along with the culture of individualism that allows people to feel that they’ve done this on their own and haven’t benefited from social goods like roads and education and laws,” Professor Sherman said.

Ms. Disney, who is an active member of the Patriotic Millionaires, said she sees that thinking as a primary obstacle to raising taxes on the richest Americans. “Billionaires may be brilliant — and I don’t doubt Elon Musk’s I.Q. — but they don’t do anything on their own,” she said. She also questioned the prevailing wisdom among the country’s wealthiest that they know best and the government shouldn’t be trusted with their money.

“The last time I was in the Bay Area, I went walking in the marina and saw seven consecutive boats named after characters from Ayn Rand,” Ms. Disney said. “They need to come to their senses.”

For the full story, see:

Nicholas Kulish, Ephrat Livni and Emma Goldberg. “Billionaires Of America Are Thriving.” The New York Times (Friday, October 29, 2021): B1 & B5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Nov. 2, 2021, and has the title “Who Are America’s Billionaires, Anyway?”)

Proof Vikings Were in North America 1,000 Years Ago

(p. A8) A new look at wooden artifacts found amid the ruins of an ancient homestead shows that Vikings had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and settled in North America as far back as 1021—exactly 1,000 years ago and almost five centuries before Columbus’s famous voyage.

. . .

To pinpoint the year that Vikings occupied the site, the scientists scoured the ancient settlement for wooden artifacts, hoping to find any made from trees that had grown during an unusually intense burst of cosmic radiation known to have occurred in the year 993.

. . .

Using the carbon spike as a reference point, they counted the tree rings in each specimen until they reached the bark, indicating the year the tree was cut down—in this case 1021.

For the full story, see:

Robert Lee Hotz. “Viking Artifacts Pinpoint Europeans.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, October 21, 2021): A8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date October 20, 2021, and has the title “Viking Artifacts Give Precise Date for Europeans’ Earliest Presence in North America.”)