585 - Poitiers All Over Again: Pastry, Islam and Isoglosses
Among the baker's dozen of legends obscuring the true origin of the croissant, the one repeated most often transports us back to Austria in 1683. Up before dawn, Vienna's bakers notice the besieging Ottomans  preparing a sneak attack. They raise the alarm, and save the city. Their contribution to the Ottomans' ultimate defeat is immortalised in a crescent-shaped pastry, reminiscent of the half-moon on the Ottoman flag .
So is the humble croissant an old symbol of the clash between Islam and Christianity? Perhaps. But you could also argue the reverse. Another origin story  tells of the croissant's invention to celebrate the world's first major alliance between a Christian and a Muslim power. The alliance was concluded in 1536 by King François I of France (nicknamed au Grand Nez, or 'Big Nose') and Suleiman the Magnificent. It held, in some shape and form, until Napoleon's invasion of Ottoman Egypt in 1798.
The answer may remain elusive, as crescent-shaped pastries have been attested in Austria and France centuries before the first siege of Vienna, or the Franco-Ottoman alliance.
As ancient and mysterious as its origins are, the croissant's popularity is puzzlingly recent. The earliest known recipe for the modern croissant dates from the first half of the 20th century, when it became a permanent fixture of French cuisine. Its traceable culinary history is only a century older. In the late 1830s, the Austrians August Zang and Ernest Schwarzer opened a Boulangerie viennoise in Paris, selling the sweet bread and puff-pastry products that became known and popular as viennoiseries : croissants, pains aux raisins, brioches, etc. These are typically eaten at breakfast, or as on-the-go snacks.
Now it seems that another member of the viennoiserie family has been drawn into the clash of civilisations. On the 5th of October, a French politician caused a stir when he decried an incident in one of the suburbs where many of the country's Muslims work:
"I can understand the frustration of some of our compatriots in some quarters [i.e. city areas], where fathers and mothers return home from work to hear that their son had his pain au chocolat taken from him when leaving school by thugs who told him that he couldn't eat during [the daytime in] ramadan".
The comment was made by Jean-François Copé at a meeting of the right-wing UMP party at Draguignan. Copé is the opposition party's parliamentary leader, and candidate for its overall presidency. The latter fact may explain some of his more 'muscular' speeches, such as an earlier one attacking so-called 'anti-white racism' in France, and the title of his book: Manifeste pour une droite décomplexée .
To be a successful politician, this simple mantra will suffice: Find out in which direction the people are marching, and then go march in front of them. Copé would not be the first European politician in recent years to rise to prominence on the back of nativist frustrations with the continent's rapidly changing demographics.
That his critics denounced his pain au chocolat remark as toxic demagoguery, and a cynical overture to the electorate of the far-right Front National party (which polled 25% in Draguignan during the recent presidential elections), will probably not have bothered Copé - who made sure his remark was reposted on YouTube and Twitter. Even for certain seemngly impalatable political views, there is no such thing as bad publicité .
But then a strange thing happened. Copé's remark did lead to a nationwide debate - with a twist. To the undoubted frustration of those wishing to stir up animosity between religious groups, the debate turned to matters of language. The subject was not Islam versus laïcité , but pain au chocolat against chocolatine. For Copé referred to the delicacy - puff pastry around one or two chocolate bars - by its northern name. In the south of France, it's not pain au chocolat, but chocolatine. But where exactly?
Two web developers in the south-western French town of Poitiers were particularly offended by the pain au chocolat discussion. Surely, the right name for it is chocolatine!
Using a method reminiscent of the French Kissing Map (discussed earlier as #210) Romain Menard and Adrien Van Hamme decided to put the question directly to France's internet users (or internautes), and then tally up the results, département by département. The result is a homemade, but statistically relevant isogloss map  showing the distribution of both variants throughout France.
"Turns out our town Poitiers is on the border, both geographically and lexically, between pain au chocolat and chocolatine", says Van Hamme.
And the winner is… quite clearly, the pain au chocolat. On 16 October, with just over 18,500 votes counted, the northern variety had garnered 62% of the votes, putting the south-western variety in a sizeable minority, with 38% (however, at the time of writing, the tally is just over 32,000 votes, and pain au chocolat's lead has shrunk to 59% versus 41%. This may be due, the accidental pollsters admit, "to over-mobilisation by one side of the argument. In the case of chocolatine, there's a connection between the term and a regional identity which is missing with pain au chocolat".
The map quite clearly supports that thesis: even though chocolatine is not unheard of in the rest of France - 7% in the département du Nord prefer the term, as do 11% in central Paris - it is dominant only in the south-west: 97% in Pyrénées-Atlantiques, 73% in Cantal. The department of Pyrénées-Orientales, around Perpignan, is a deep-south exclave of the northern variant (77% vs. 23%).
To spur on the discussion even more, the Poitiers pollsters also include a graph, lifted from Google Books, showing the occurrence of both terms in (French) literature throughout the 20th century. The graph quite clearly shows that chocolatine was the dominant variant, reigning unopposed until the late 1930s, and then swiftly and brutally eclipsed by pain au chocolat.
So chocolatine is not so much a regional variant, as a former ubiquitous term that has found refuge in a region that is safely remote from the national capital. This only intensifies the mystery: what's so special about the south-west of France?
Well, for one, the region often votes quite distinctly in French national elections . Also, the area vaguely corresponds to the Visigothic kingdom defeated and conquered at Vouillé in 507 by the Merovingians .
But - and here we come back to the civilisational clash that Mr Copé so adroitly evoked with his pastry anecdote - the location of Poitiers on the border of the two word variants echoes another time when the city resonated with the clash of two different world views. At Poitiers in 732, a Frankish army under Charles Martel halted the Umayyad march into Europe. As a result of that battle, Muslim influence was limited to the Iberian peninsula, and the foundations were laid for the French state.
Having said that, could the residual influence of the Muslim invaders in the south-west not be responsible for the local preference for chocolatines over pains au chocolat? Perhaps those thugs mentioned in Mr Copé's anecdote didn't so much mind the pastry, as the name the victim used to refer to it. Maybe it's time for a crusade against chocolatines and other words beloved by foreigners and south-westerners. Who knows, this might yet turn into a vote-winner for Mr Copé.
 This is the Second Siege of Vienna by the Ottomans. The first one was laid in 1529 by Suleiman the Magnificent, 10th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Although both failed, they had different outcomes for the defeated besieger, not unconnected to their status. Suleiman simply turned his attention to other theatres of war, in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and elsewhere. The second defeat was incurred not by a Sultan, but by a subordinate Grand Vizier, Kara Mustafa Pasha. He was strangled with a silk cord in Belgrade, his head delivered in a velvet bag to Mehmet IV, the 19th Sultan.
 The crescent as a vexillological symbol predates Islam, and was known to the pagan Byzantines, who associated it with the cult of Artemis/Hecate, goddess of the moon. It has been suggested that the Ottomans appropriated the Byzantine crescent and star (perhaps added as a Christian reference, to the Virgin Mary) after their conquest of Constantinople in 1453. However, the crescent had had symbolic significance to the Turks since pagan times too. By centuries-long association with the Ottomans, the crescent now has immediate Islamic associations. Star and crescent remain present on the Turkish flag, and on the flags of many other Islamic countries, from Mauritania to Malaysia, and institutions, such as the Red Crescent, sister organisation to the Red Cross.
 Yet another one has the croissant migrate from Vienna to Paris in 1770, as a favourite snack of Marie-Antoinette, the Austrian princess who became France's last pre-Revolutionary queen (yes, she of "Let them eat cake" infamy. Perhaps because she wanted to have all the croissants for herself).
 'Stuff from Vienna'. Compare chinoiserie, as in Chinese-style porcelain objects and other artwork with an oriental flourish.
 'Manifesto For An Uninhibited Right', with 'right' as in 'political right-wing'.
 One criticism of Copé's remark may prove more crucial than others: this year's ramadan occurred in August, when schools were closed. So the incident he referred to is at least not recent, and perhaps not real.
 This typically French version of secularism denotes a separation of church and state that is so strict that the state is even prohibited from recognising religions per se. Consequently, some critics consider the French state not neutral, but hostile to religion.
 An isogloss map shows the geographical boundaries between linguistic features, be they syntactic, semantic or related to pronunciation. Earlier examples discussed on Strange Maps include #500 and #308.
 See #108 for a discussion on the 2007 presidential elections, in the first round of which the southwest voted for Ségolène Royal (and Francois Bayrou) rather than Nicolas Sarkozy.
 See Norman Davies' fantastic 'Vanished Kingdoms' for a brief history of Visigothic Tolosa, and a handful of other European states that vanished not just from history, but also from the history books.
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.
- Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
- The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
- The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
What are they?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDA0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTM1ODc0Mn0.NH33LuauIo__sUBi4tvhwxDcsvhflDFD-Nhx9FjlSNk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=148%2C0%2C149%2C0&height=700" id="cec96" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="acb78abe2ab46a17e419ad30906751d6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Artist's impression of the Kordylewski cloud in the night sky (with its brightness greatly enhanced) at the time of the observations.
G. Horváth<p>The<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kordylewski_cloud" target="_blank"> Kordylewski clouds</a> are two dust clouds first observed by Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski in 1961. They are situated at two of the <a href="https://www.space.com/30302-lagrange-points.html" target="_blank">Lagrange points</a> in Earth's orbit. These points are locations where the gravity of two objects, such as the Earth and the Moon or a planet and the Sun, equals the centripetal required to orbit the objects while staying in the same relative position. There are five of these spots between the Earth and Moon. The clouds rest at what are called points four and five, forming a triangle with the clouds and the Earth at the three corners.</p><p>The clouds are enormous, taking up the same space in the night sky as twenty lunar discs; covering an area of 45,000 miles. They are roughly 250,000 miles away, about the same distance from us as the Moon. They are entirely comprised of specks of dust which reflect the light of the sun so faintly most astronomers that looked for them were unable to see them at all. </p><p>The clouds themselves are probably ancient, but the model that the scientists created to learn about them suggests that the individual dust particles that comprise them can be blown away by solar wind and replaced by the dust from other cosmic sources like comet tails. This means that the clouds hardly move but are <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/11/news-earth-moon-dust-clouds-satellites-planets-space/" target="_blank">eternally changing</a>. </p>
How did they discover this?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Nzc4MjQ4MX0.7uU9OqmQcWw5Ll1UXAav0PCu4nTg-GdJdAWADHanC7c/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C180%2C0%2C181&height=700" id="952fb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a778280a20f1c54cd2c14c8313224be2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"In this picture the central region of the Kordylewski dust cloud is visible (bright red pixels). The straight tilted lines are traces of satellites."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>In their study published in the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/mnras" target="_blank">Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society</a>, Hungarian astronomers Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, and Gábor Horváth described how they were able to find the dust clouds using polarized lenses.</p><p>Since the clouds were expected to polarize the light that bounces off of them, by configuring the telescopes to look for this kind of light the clouds were much easier to spot. What the scientists observed, polarized light in patterns that extended outside the view of the telescope lens, was in line with the predictions of their mathematical model and ruled out other possible sources. </p>
Why are we just learning this now?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjUyNDMyMH0.Zl8GmQ_rJHiL4b7hN0r_YBmgb6_ZqIRvqOVuko2ubpw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C141%2C0%2C185&height=700" id="87afe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd4c0b5088e601d7279cc5eb226f8b7b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"Mosaic pattern of the angle of polarization around the L5 point (white dot) of the Earth-Moon system. The five rectangular windows correspond to the imaging telescope with which the patterns of the Kordylewski cloud were measured."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>The objects, being dust clouds, are very faint and hard to see. While Kordylewski observed them in 1961, other astronomers have looked there and given mixed reports over the following decades. This discouraged many astronomers from joining the search, as study co-author Judit Slíz-Balogh <a href="https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/research-highlights/earths-dust-cloud-satellites-confirmed" target="_blank">explained</a>, <em>"The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the Moon are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy. It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor."</em></p>
Will this have any impact on space travel?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c3d797fff5430c64afcb5a49bddc3616"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ou8N3v9SFPE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lagrange points have been put forward as excellent locations for a space station or satellites like the <a href="https://jwst.nasa.gov/about.html" target="_blank">James Webb Telescope</a> to be put into orbit, as they would require little fuel to stay in place. Knowing about a massive dust cloud that could damage sensitive equipment already being there could save money and lives in the future. While we only know about the clouds at Lagrange points four and five right now, the study's authors suggest there could be more at the other points.</p><p>While the discovery of a couple of dust clouds might not seem all that impressive, it is the result of a half-century of astronomical and mathematical work and reminds us that wonders are still hidden in our cosmic backyard. While you might never need to worry about these clouds again, there is nothing wrong with looking at the sky with wonder at the strange and fantastic things we can discover. </p>
New cancer-scanning technology reveals a previously unknown detail of human anatomy.
- Scientists using new scanning technology and hunting for prostate tumors get a surprise.
- Behind the nasopharynx is a set of salivary glands that no one knew about.
- Finding the glands may allow for more complication-free radiation therapies.
PSMA PET/CT technology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="676e611b970c9b516cace0870447b325"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RHAyoQF09X4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>PSMA PET/CT is a new combination of <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pet-scan/about/pac-20385078" target="_blank">PET scans</a> and <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ct-scan/about/pac-20393675" target="_blank">CT scans</a> that is believed to offer a more reliable means of locating prostate cancer metastasis. A <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/prostate-cancer-psma-pet-ct-metastasis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> published last spring suggests it may be the most accurate way to diagnose prostate cancer metastasis than any method previously available.</p><p>Prior to PSMA PET/CT, the primary way to look for metastatic prostate cancer was to image the body using x-ray-based CT scans and to perform bone scans, since bone is where prostate cancer often spreads. CT scans, however, often miss small tumors, and bone scans can generate false positives as a result of other damage or abnormalities that have nothing to do with prostate cancer.</p><p>PSMA PET/CT scans track the travels of an intravenously administered radioactive glucose tracer throughout the body. For hunting down prostate cancer, this tracer contains a molecule that binds to the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472940/" target="_blank">PSMA</a> protein that's present in large amounts in prostate tumors. The molecule is linked to a radioisotope, <a href="https://netrf.org/2018/11/13/gallium-68-scan-for-neuroendocrine-tumors/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gallium-68</a> (Ga-68).</p><p>In last spring's research, PSAM PET/CT was shown to be 27 percent more accurate than previous methods at finding metastases (92 percent accuracy as opposed to 65 percent). In addition, it was found to be much less likely to produce false positives, and it was particularly good at detecting tumors far removed from the prostate.</p>
A good kind of avoidance behavior<p>"Radiation therapy can damage the salivary glands," says Vogel, "which may lead to complications. Patients may have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, which can be a real burden."</p><p>The researchers looked back through the cases of 723 patients who had undergone radiation treatment, interested in seeing if inadvertent radiation of the tubarial glands was associated with the complications experienced by the patients. It turned out that this <em>was</em> the case: In cases where more radiation had been delivered to this area, patients did indeed report more in the way of complications of the type one would expect when salivary glands are radiated.</p><p>Now that we know the tubarial salivary glands exist, therapists can stay out of their way. Vogel says, "For most patients, it should technically be possible to avoid delivering radiation to this newly discovered location of the salivary gland system in the same way we try to spare known glands."</p><p>He's hopeful that that things may be about to get at least a bit better for cancer patients: "Our next step is to find out how we can best spare these new glands and in which patients. If we can do this, patients may experience less side effects which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment."</p>
A new survey found that 27 percent of millennials are saving more money due to the pandemic, but most can't stay within their budgets.