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Edward II's reign is best known for its dramatic political narrative of a wilful king, his reliance on favourites, violent baronial resistance and eventually the loss of his throne and his murder, but he also confronted major economic problems of price inflation, famine, murrain and a sliding wool trade. These problems prompted complaints and governmental action. English kings had long had both the responsibility and means to act in economic affairs; they were expected to maintain a stable coinage, fair weights and measures, fair prices in an open market and legal protection for traders. As England's economy had grown in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, so government action had expanded to cope with and benefit from it, steadily moving from simply upholding local regulations to issuing national legislation. Indeed, state intervention of this sort has been seen as one of the drivers towards European economic expansion. But how far did English governments yet have conscious and coherent economic policies? Political problems brought open clashes and conscious articulation of political theories and practices. But what happened in the less confrontational economic area? The government was financially sophisticated, but were there conscious articulations of financial and economic concepts as there were political ones? How far did the government look for the causes of economic problems? How far was government aware of economic consequences of its actions? Did it, indeed, consciously attempt to manipulate the economy as well as squeezing it for financial gains?
Edward's reign offers two areas in which to explore these questions: rising prices and the conflict over compulsory wool staples. In its responses to both of these problems Edward's government went further than its predecessors in manipulating the economy and surviving records of its actions allow us to see something of its approach to the problems.
It has become a cliche to say that economics was not an acknowledged intellectual discipline in the Middle Ages and that the present vocabulary of economics was a nineteenth-century development. Nonetheless there was strong interest in economic ideas in the writings of theologians, philosophers, lawyers and moralists, who, as part of their other interests, discussed theories of just price, supply and demand, monopoly and competition, risk, usury and exploitation. Their views seeped out beyond the schools and universities and casual comment on economic matters crops up in many writings.
Machine learning (ML) has revolutionized disciplines within materials science that have been able to generate sufficiently large datasets to utilize algorithms based on statistical inference, but for many important classes of materials the datasets remain small. However, a rapidly growing number of approaches to embedding domain knowledge of materials systems are reducing data requirements and allowing broader applications of ML. Furthermore, these hybrid approaches improve the interpretability of the predictions, allowing for greater physical insights into the factors that determine material properties. This review introduces a number of these strategies, providing examples of how they were implemented in ML algorithms and discussing the materials systems to which they were applied.
Combinational creativity is a significant element of design in supporting designers to generate creative ideas during the early phases of design. There exists three driven approaches to combinational creativity: problem-, similarity- and inspiration-driven. This study provides further insights into the three combinational creativity driven approaches, exploring which approach could lead to ideas that are more creative in the context of practical product design. The results from a case study reveal that the problem- driven approach could lead to more creative and novel ideas or products compared with the similarity- and inspiration-driven approach. Products originating from the similarity- and inspiration-driven approach are at comparable levels. This study provides better understanding of combinational creativity in practical design. It also delivers benefits to designers in improving creative idea generation, and supports design researchers in exploring future ideation methods and design support tools employing the concept of 'combination'.
Idea generation is significant in design, but coming up with creative ideas is often challenging. This paper presents a computer-based tool, called the Combinator, for assisting designers to produce creative ideas. The tool is developed based on an approach simulating aspects of human cognition in achieving combinational creativity. It can generate combinational prompts in text and image forms through combining unrelated ideas. A case study has been conducted to evaluate the Combinator. The study results indicate that the Combinator, in its current formulation, has assisted the tool users involved in the case study in improving the fluency of idea generation, as well as increasing the originality, usefulness, and flexibility of the ideas generated. The results also indicate that the tool could benefit its users in generating high-novelty and high-quality ideas effectively. The Combinator is considered to be beneficial in expanding the design space, increasing better idea occurrence, improving design space exploration, and enhancing the design success rate.
Urban slums provide suitable conditions for infestation by rats, which harbour and shed a wide diversity of zoonotic pathogens including helminths. We aimed to identify risk factors associated with the probability and intensity of infection of helminths of the digestive tract in an urban slum population of Rattus norvegicus. Among 299 rats, eleven species/groups of helminths were identified, of which Strongyloides sp., Nippostrongylus brasiliensis and, the human pathogen, Angiostrongylus cantonensis were the most frequent (97, 41 and 39%, respectively). Sex interactions highlighted behavioural differences between males and females, as eg males were more likely to be infected with N. brasiliensis where rat signs were present, and males presented more intense infections of Strongyloides sp. Moreover, rats in poor body condition had higher intensities of N. brasiliensis. We describe a high global richness of parasites in R. norvegicus, including five species known to cause disease in humans. Among these, A. cantonensis was found in high prevalence and it was ubiquitous in the study area – knowledge which is of public health importance. A variety of environmental, demographic and body condition variables were associated with helminth species infection of rats, suggesting a comparable variety of risk factors for humans.
Urban slum environments in the tropics are conducive to the proliferation and the spread of rodent-borne zoonotic pathogens to humans. Calodium hepaticum (Brancroft, 1893) is a zoonotic nematode known to infect a variety of mammalian hosts, including humans. Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) are considered the most important mammalian host of C. hepaticum and are therefore a potentially useful species to inform estimates of the risk to humans living in urban slum environments. There is a lack of studies systematically evaluating the role of demographic and environmental factors that influence both carriage and intensity of infection of C. hepaticum in rodents from urban slum areas within tropical regions. Carriage and the intensity of infection of C. hepaticum were studied in 402 Norway rats over a 2-year period in an urban slum in Salvador, Brazil. Overall, prevalence in Norway rats was 83% (337/402). Independent risk factors for C. hepaticum carriage in R. norvegicus were age and valley of capture. Of those infected the proportion with gross liver involvement (i.e. >75% of the liver affected, a proxy for a high level intensity of infection), was low (8%, 26/337). Sixty soil samples were collected from ten locations to estimate levels of environmental contamination and provide information on the potential risk to humans of contracting C. hepaticum from the environment. Sixty percent (6/10) of the sites were contaminated with C. hepaticum. High carriage levels of C. hepaticum within Norway rats and sub-standard living conditions within slum areas may increase the risk to humans of exposure to the infective eggs of C. hepaticum. This study supports the need for further studies to assess whether humans are becoming infected within this community and whether C. hepaticum is posing a significant risk to human health.
Prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics are dietary ingredients with the potential to influence health and mucosal and systemic immune function by altering the composition of the gut microbiota. In the present study, a candidate prebiotic (xylo-oligosaccharide, XOS, 8 g/d), probiotic (Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Bi-07, 109 colony-forming units (CFU)/d) or synbiotic (8 g XOS+109 CFU Bi-07/d) was given to healthy adults (25–65 years) for 21 d. The aim was to identify the effect of the supplements on bowel habits, self-reported mood, composition of the gut microbiota, blood lipid concentrations and immune function. XOS supplementation increased mean bowel movements per d (P= 0·009), but did not alter the symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain or flatulence or the incidence of any reported adverse events compared with maltodextrin supplementation. XOS supplementation significantly increased participant-reported vitality (P= 0·003) and happiness (P= 0·034). Lowest reported use of analgesics was observed during the XOS+Bi-07 supplementation period (P= 0·004). XOS supplementation significantly increased faecal bifidobacterial counts (P= 0·008) and fasting plasma HDL concentrations (P= 0·005). Bi-07 supplementation significantly increased faecal B. lactis content (P= 0·007), lowered lipopolysaccharide-stimulated IL-4 secretion in whole-blood cultures (P= 0·035) and salivary IgA content (P= 0·040) and increased IL-6 secretion (P= 0·009). XOS supplementation resulted in lower expression of CD16/56 on natural killer T cells (P= 0·027) and lower IL-10 secretion (P= 0·049), while XOS and Bi-07 supplementation reduced the expression of CD19 on B cells (XOS × Bi-07, P= 0·009). The present study demonstrates that XOS induce bifidogenesis, improve aspects of the plasma lipid profile and modulate the markers of immune function in healthy adults. The provision of XOS+Bi-07 as a synbiotic may confer further benefits due to the discrete effects of Bi-07 on the gut microbiota and markers of immune function.