Scientists have reconstructed the genetic code of a strain of bacteria that caused one of the most deadly pandemics in history nearly 1,500 years ago.
They did it by finding the skeletons of people killed by the plague and extracting DNA from traces of blood inside their teeth.
This plague struck in the year 541, under the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian, so it's usually called the Justinian plague. The emperor actually got sick himself but recovered. He was one of the lucky ones.
On a frigid afternoon, Jack Burke is coaching young skiers in a field in Saranac Lake, N.Y. His son Tim — who shoots and skis as part of the U.S. biathlon team — got his start training here. Now, Tim is off to Sochi to compete, but Jack and his whole family are staying home, missing the games for the first time since Tim's first Olympics in 2006.
"The uncertainty certainly did weigh into it," says Jack. "The cost was substantial, and costs seemed to be changing weekly."
A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state's fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.
On a Sunday at dusk, Amtrak's eastbound Empire Builder train is jampacked, filled with people heading to their jobs in North Dakota towns like Minot, Williston and Watford City.