I wrote about something I've thinking about a lot recently:

19th century doctors were themselves obsessed with ventilation. How did we manage to forget that? 1/

Florence Nightingale was the original ventilation influencer. As a nurse in the Crimean War, she saw 10x soldiers die of disease than wounds.

She was also a pioneering statistician. This is her famous infographic illustrating deaths during the war

Nightingale popularizing pavilion-plan hospitals, which had big windows that created cross breezes between the beds. She even calculated how many cubic feet of air each patient needed.


📷: Getty
By the way, the windows stayed open even in the dead of winter because air!

One historian told me stories of patients closing windows, nursing opening them, and then finally doctors knocking the glass out so the windows stayed open. 4/
Ventilation changed the very architecture of 19th century buildings.

In the Palace of Westminster, the Victoria Tower and Big Ben were actually ventilation towers too. A quarter of the building's physical space is its old ventilation system, now sitting unused. 5/
Lastly, this essay was a little paean to my apartment because I am moving this week. (😬) Don't worry, the new apartment is also old and it will also have radiators—and more importantly, windows that open!

(Why do new apartment buildings all have windows that barely open?)

Also #ff @CarolineWazer who found this gem of a report by a ventilation expert utterly appalled by the state of air in DC

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Sarah Zhang

Sarah Zhang Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @sarahzhang

9 Feb
I wrote about how all the signs are pointing to herd immunity against COVID-19 becoming impossible.

This is how the pandemic ends instead—because yes, it can still end.


For herd immunity, we need vaccines to prevent transmission. They probably will to some extent but we should expect that protection to

- be weaker than protection against symptomatic infection
- wane over time
- be eroded first by new variants

The herd immunity threshold was always going to be a challenge & variants make it even harder.

That means COVID-19 will probably keep circulating but the good news! Vaccines can still prevent people from getting seriously sick & dying. Life is normal again. Pandemic ends. 3/
Read 8 tweets
18 Nov 20
1/ Hello, I have a story I've been working on for a long time—long before there was a pandemic, if you can believe it. It’s about the past and future of our children’s DNA.

My cover story for @TheAtlantic:

2/ I went to Denmark, where prenatal screening for Down syndrome is near universal and only 18 children with Down syndrome were born in the entire country last year.

But, this isn’t only about Denmark or only about Down syndrome...
3/ This is a story about how genetics limits—but can also expand—what we consider “normal.”

Read 12 tweets
16 Jun 20
Ever since the pandemic began, I've been haunted by stories of coronavirus patients dying alone.

I spoke to a palliative care team caring for these patients in a Boston ICU. They were often the last ones—the only ones—in the room when a patient died.

This small detail about the iPads for families to say goodbye to dying patients gutted me.

It's so hard to hold the plastic-wrapped iPad so that everything is in the camera frame. An intimate and sacred moment, made almost absurd by tech difficulties.

"How do you comfort someone on Zoom? It sucks."

Read 4 tweets
26 May 20
In 2016, I was writing about the return of flesh-eating screwworms in Florida, when I learned about a U.S. government program that sounded totally bonkers


Screwworms were eradicated from the U.S. decades ago. But how?

In the 1950s, the U.S. began growing millions of screwworms in a factory, sterilizing them with radiation, and dropping them out of planes

And this still happens today! Everyday!

Every week, planes drop millions of sterilized screwworms over the border of Panama and Colombia, creating a transcontinental "barrier" to the pests far, far away from the U.S.

Here's one of the planes getting loaded with chilled boxes of adult screwworms:

Read 8 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!