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Posted by Edward at 10:32 PM
Posted by Edward at 4:45 PM
Posted by Edward at 8:40 AM
Venter quits as president of Celera
By Naomi Aoki, Globe Staff
J. Craig Venter, the outspoken executive who turned the effort to map the human genome into an all-out race, resigned yesterday as president of Celera Genomics, the company he helped found three years ago.
Tony White, chairman and chief executive of Applera Corp., Celera's parent, will step in as his temporary replacement. Venter said he will remain as a scientific adviser to the Maryland company, but will spend more time working at a nonprofit genetic research organization he helped to found.
Venter was often criticized for his brash style and provocative public comments on the federally funded Human Genome Project in the days before its completion. But he is largely credited with having speeded up the genomic discoveries and radically changing the field of genetic analysis.
The company he founded in 1998, though, has evolved into one increasingly focused on developing drugs rather than databases. And as it does so, White said, the company needs a leader with more experience in managing a drug-discovery and development firm.
Celera shifted its efforts last year from selling access to its genetic databases to developing drug targets based on its genetic research. Its $177 million acquisition of Axys Pharmaceuticals Inc. last year, to bolster drug-development efforts, increased the need for a top executive with experience running a drug company, Applera CEO White said.
The company's stock has fallen drastically from more than $50 per share a year ago, closing yesterday
Posted by Edward at 8:33 AM
By Naomi Aoki, Globe Staff
After nearly a decade of using its expertise in chemistry to help other companies discover drugs, ArQule Inc. yesterday announced its intention to invest more heavily in its own drug discovery efforts.
Stephen Hill, the president and chief executive of the Woburn company, said an expansion of a partnership last month with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. put ArQule in the financial position to speed its transition from a service company to a drug discovery outfit.
''We believe this is a significant inflection point for the company,'' Hill said. ''We now have the financial sustainability to support the drug discovery effort and allow us to embark upon this next stage. And we have a portfolio in place that has great potential.''
The collaboration with Pfizer could be worth up to $345 million to ArQule over seven years. Under the pact, ArQule will supply Pfizer with tens, even hundreds, of thousands of compounds that will be screened for their potential as drugs.
As part of this transition, however, Hill warned investors the company will let lapse some existing partnerships and forgo future opportunities that do not advance its goal of becoming a drug discovery company.
Although the company anticipates revenues to reach between $61 million and $63 million this year as compared to $58 million last year, Hill said, it will not be focused on growing revenue as it has in the past. Instead it plans to use its revenues and cash reserves to fill and advance its drug portfolio.
The company began building its own drug discovery programs a year and a half ago in the areas of pain, incontinence, and inflammation. It also has joint drug discovery efforts with Acadia and Genome Therapeutics Corp. in obesity, Parkinson's disease, and antibiotics.
In 2000, the company invested $18.5 million in research and development. That amount grew to more than $28 million last year and is expected to reach more than $35 million in 2002.
Hill said the company plans to develop drugs through the second phase of human testing and then find partners to conduct the final phase of testing, gain approval and market the drugs. ''We have a portfolio that we can now afford to take through the next 12 months and beyond under our own finances,'' Hill said. ''If we wish to partner some of our activities, we can choose partnerships that allow us to retain a significant share of the downstream benefits.''
ArQule shares fell 51 cents to $13.96 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Posted by Edward at 8:31 AM
Aibo, the Sony Corporation's popular robot dog, has delighted scores of critics and consumers since its introduction. But the plastic pup has also caused its creators some grief. Sony is currently struggling to resolve a copyright dispute that centers on the work of a quirky hacker known only as AiboPet. The controversy poses serious questions about the proper use of robots in homes and exposes a potentially stifling effect of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998.
The copyright at the heart of the case protects Aibo's encrypted brain. AiboPet violated that copyright when he cracked the robot's source code to reverse-engineer software that allows Aibo owners to teach their pets to dance, speak, obey wireless commands and share the color video that serves as their vision, among other things. None of the programs are usable without Sony hardware and software. They earned AiboPet no money. He never revealed the encryption code or the program he used to defeat it. Still, because the DMCA makes it illegal to break any encrypted digital code, AiboPet's actions made him a criminal. The fun began when Sony decided to treat him like one.
Posted by Edward at 8:21 AM
January 29, 2002
Dear State Attorney General,
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) urges you to take action to protect consumers against unfair and deceptive trade practices raised by Microsoft Corporation’s Passport service and related “Wallet,” “Kids Passport,” “Hailstorm,” and “.Net Services.” These systems unfairly and deceptively gather personal information and expose consumers to the release, sale, and theft of their personal information. Immediate state action is necessary to protect consumers and ensure Microsoft does not continue to improperly collect personal information.
We have repeatedly urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate this matter in two separate filings, but the Commission has failed to act. We therefore urge you now to initiate an investigation under your statutory authority.
Passport is a system that enables unprecedented profiling of individuals’ browsing and online shopping behaviors. Microsoft has indicated that the company’s goal is to have every Internet user possess a Passport account, thus raising the possibility that Passport may become the tollbooth that controls Internet access and online ordering for millions of consumers in your state. By tying Passport to the Microsoft Hotmail E-Mail system, on-line customer support services, over 100 hundred of the largest online retailers, and to numerous exhortations to subscribe in the Windows XP Operating System and Microsoft home site,
Posted by Edward at 8:18 AM
Scientific American: News In Brief: Seals' Spying Illuminates Behavior of Elusive Antarctic Fish: January 22, 2002 To study the behavior of two elusive species of fish, scientists have enlisted the help of some unlikely photographers: seals. Antarctic silverfish and Antarctic toothfish, though abundant in the Southern Ocean, spend much of their time at great depths and under thick ice, making observation of these ecologically important creatures difficult. But as the fishes' natural predator, the Weddell seal knows exactly where to find them. Now, thanks in large part to data collected by seals equipped with video cameras, researchers have gained new insight into the fishes' mysterious ways. Their findings will appear in the March issue of Marine Biology.
Posted by Edward at 11:17 AM
Scientific American: News In Brief: Study Finds High-Temperature Superconductors Behaving Strangely: January 24, 2002 Room temperature superconductors—materials that conduct electricity perfectly— continue to elude scientists. For now, the closest things available are high-critical temperature (Tc) superconductors. Unlike superconducting metal alloys, which must remain within a few degrees of absolute zero in order to display their resistance-free electron flow, high-Tc superconductors can operate at temperatures around 77 degrees Kelvin. But more than just the operating temperature distinguishes these two types of superconductors. According to a report published today in the journal Nature, the electrons in high-Tc superconductors actually behave differently from those in the conventional variety
Posted by Edward at 10:45 AM
Posted by Edward at 10:36 AM
Byzantine History Constantinople
and the Byzantine Way of life
The Byzantium Empire was once described as a "monotonous story of intrigue, of priests, eunuchs and women, of poisonings, of conspiracies, of uniform ingratitude and of perpetual fratricide...", but it was other things beyond this, most notably a centre of culture and civilisation ahead of its time.
Posted by Edward at 3:53 PM
In The Prince, Machiavelli warns those who conquer territories that they will have to kill off a good deal of the old leadership, and he advises them to get the slaughter over all at once, early in the game. After the battle of Hastings William the Conquerer did just that, not through design but simply because the Anglo-Saxon nobles continued to resist until he had destroyed most of them. Thus his immediate successors found that this part of their work had been done for them. Their problems came from their fellow Normans and from one another. William the Conquerer's son and successor, William Rufus, had to defeat his brother Robert, the duke of Normandy, in order to claim his crown. When William died in 1100, his brother and successor Henry also had to do battle with brother Robert. It was also rumored that William's death in a hunting accident was arranged by brother Henry. Moreover, William and Henry both had to contend with the rambunctious Norman noble families that had crossed the channel with William the Conquerer and been granted large holdings as their share of the spoils. These barons were anxious to rule their territories as independently as possible and were happy to stir up conflict within the royal family in order to keep it weak.
Posted by Edward at 3:48 PM
This is a list of "Frequently Asked Questions" for the BeDevTalk and BeCodeTalk mailing lists.
These mailing lists are run by Be Inc, for the benefit of the developer community.
This document is not official. Be Inc does not have any involvement in its creation or maintenance. It is the work of one person (me) in an attempt to prevent the regulars on the list from having to repeat the same answers every week. This way we can just say "RTFFAQ" (Read the Fantastic FAQ).
There is one document for both BeDevTalk and BeCodeTalk.
These lists are not the same, and posters should consider carefully which list they ought to post their questions to.
However experience has shown that the same questions tend to appear on both lists, and so, the same FAQs apply.
All the public Be mailing lists are archived on the web. (See L-2).
A large number of the answers given here are actually URLs to these archives
Since these are frequently asked questions, the answers have been repeated many times, and I have no interest in repeating what has already been well said.
For any concerns, requests or recommendations for this FAQ, please send an e-mail to the FAQ author: Tim Vernum
Posted by Edward at 4:57 PM
AtheOS is a free desktop operating system under the GPL license. AtheOS currently run on Intel, AMD and other compatible processors and support the Intel Multi Processor architecture. I have seen quite a few anouncements of "promising" OSes with "great potential" during the development of AtheOS. The problem is that when I follow the links I normally find a description of the concept, a floppy-bootloader written in assembly, and not much else. AtheOS is a bit more mature, and is already running quite a lot of software. This server for example is running AtheOS. The HTTP server is a AtheOS port of Apache, and most of the content is generated by the AtheOS port of PHP3 and perl.The native AtheOS file system is 64-bit and journaled.
Posted by Edward at 4:53 PM
Berlin is a windowing system derived from Fresco, a powerful structured graphics toolkit originally based on InterViews. Berlin extends Fresco to the status of a full windowing system, in command of the video hardware (via GGI, SDL, DirectFB or GLUT) and processing user input directly rather than peering with a host windowing system. Additionally, Berlin's extensions include a rich drawing interface with multiple backends, an upgrade to modern CORBA standards, a new Unicode-capable text system, dynamic module loading, and many communication abstractions for connecting other processes to the server. It is developed entirely by volunteers on the internet, using free software, and released under the GNU Library General Public License.
Posted by Edward at 4:53 PM
A headache that explodes like the finale of the "1812 Overture," a mouth that tastes like the proverbial bottom of a parrot cage, bleary eyes and a queasy stomach - these are familiar symptoms the morning after in many Asian countries where drinking away the night with the boss or clients is a big step to success in business.
What to do for that hangover? Take an aspirin? South Korea, where corporate culture is especially dedicated to late-night carousing, has another remedy: Apply for workman's compensation.
According to Agence France-Presse in Seoul, illness caused by work-related drinking is to be treated as an industrial accident under a new insurance system.
Rules that come into force in March will expand the scope of work-related conditions covered by industrial accident insurance, the Labor Ministry said this week.
"If work-related drinking causes serious health problems, you'll be covered," a ministry official said.
If somebody has a liver disease from drinking with the boss, he or she will also be covered, he said, adding that the ministry was drawing up detailed standards on industrial accidents.
The list includes more than a wrecked liver. Job-induced asthma, skin diseases, hepatitis, stress, depression and death caused by work will also be designated as industrial accidents, the official said.
Until now, stress and liver conditions required a court verdict before compensation was paid.
Posted by Edward at 2:56 PM
Martel noted, however, that robots currently in use are non-autonomous units placed in fixed locations, and they are relatively slow -- making about one movement per second. They are also relatively imprecise and can only perform simple tasks, such as moving compounds from one location to another.
In contrast, Martel said the mini robots under development at MIT will be fully autonomous and are being designed to make nearly 10,000 movements per second. They will be able to move in three dimensions, with precision as much as 10 million times better than current assembly robots.
Posted by Edward at 1:13 PM
I am deeply saddened to inform you that my mother passed away last night (January 21, 2002) at approximately 8 p.m. My children David, Holly, and Michael and I were comforted by the fact that she was at home, and that I was able to be by her side.
My mother was always very appreciative of the love and loyalty she received from her wonderful fans, and so this is the first announcement to be made. A copy of our family's statement to the press is below.
Posted by Edward at 4:33 PM
Posted by Edward at 4:33 PM
Rocketcalc manufactures compact, powerful, and affordable multiprocessor computers and software.
Posted by Edward at 3:03 PM
Soon you'll be able to post a message in the air wherever you go. Bennett Daviss explores a weird new way to keep in touch
THE KIDS are going to love this. You walk up to the teacher's desk with a little practical joke in mind. Your mobile phone suddenly bleeps, and you hear a soft whisper in your ear: "MAJOR bad mood today-don't try anything." You think better of the prank and decide to avoid certain detention. All thanks to an invisible message placed in the air above the teacher's desk.
Posted by Edward at 11:30 AM
Interview with Hernando de Soto (Region, June 2001) You say in your new book, The Mystery of Capital, that the essential meaning of capital has been lost to history. So, let's begin by defining our terms, and one term in particular—capital.
Posted by Edward at 12:29 PM
Evolutionary Anatomy of the Primate Cerebral Cortex Evolutionary Anatomy of the Primate Cerebral Cortex
Edited by Dean Falk, Kathleen R. Gibson
Posted by Edward at 3:29 PM
Paleoneurology: The study of brain endocasts of extinct vertebrates Relation between Brain Weight and Body Weight of Living Vertebrates
Fossil Endocasts reveal similar relationships:
Larger & more complexly evolved animals have larger brains
Harry J. Jerison
Department of Psychiatry, Univ.of California, Los Angeles
In collaboration with the National Museum of Health and Medicine
Posted by Edward at 3:27 PM
Skeptics Society--Newsworthy Deconstructing The Dead: Cross Over One Last Time To Expose Medium John Edward
By Michael Shermer
History is not just one damn thing after another, it is also the same damn thing over and over--time's arrow and time's cycle. Fads come and go, in clothing, cars, and psychics. In the 1970s it was Uri Geller, in the 1980s it was Shirley MacLaine, in the 1990s it was James Van Praagh, and to kick off the new millennium it is John Edward. Edward's star is rising rapidly with a hit daily television series "Crossing Over" on the Sci Fi network and a New York Times bestselling book "One Last Time." He has appeared, unopposed, on Larry King Live and has been featured on Dateline, Entertainment Tonight, and an HBO special. He is so hot that his television show is about to make the jump to network television, as he is soon to go opposite Oprah in CBS's afternoon lineup.
Posted by Edward at 3:18 PM
By Edward O. Wilson
The 20th century was a time of exponential scientific and technical advance, the freeing of the arts by an exuberant modernism, and the spread of democracy and human rights throughout the world. It was also a dark and savage age of world wars, genocide, and totalitarian ideologies that came dangerously close to global domination. While preoccupied with all this tumult, humanity managed collaterally to decimate the natural environment and draw down the nonrenewable resources of the planet with cheerful abandon. We thereby accelerated the erasure of entire ecosystems and the extinction of thousands of million-year-old species. If Earth's ability to support our growth is finite--and it is--we were mostly too busy to notice.
As a new century begins, we have begun to awaken from this delirium. Now, increasingly postideological in temper, we may be ready to settle down before we wreck the planet. It is time to sort out Earth and calculate what it will take to provide a satisfying and sustainable life for everyone into the indefinite future. The question of the century is: How best can we shift to a culture of permanence, both for ourselves and for the biosphere that sustains us?
The bottom line is different from that generally assumed by our leading economists and public philosophers. They have mostly ignored the numbers that count. Consider that with the global population past six billion and on its way to eight billion or more by midcentury, per capita freshwater and arable land are descending to levels resource experts agree are risky. The ecological footprint--the average amount of productive land and shallow sea appropriated by each person in bits and pieces from around the world for food, water, housing, energy, transportation, commerce, and waste absorption--is about one hectare (2.5 acres) in developing nations but about 9.6 hectares (24 acres) in the U.S. The footprint for the total human population is 2.1 hectares (5.2 acres). For every person in the world to reach present U.S. levels of consumption with existing technology would require four more planet Earths. The five billion people of the developing countries may never wish to attain this level of profligacy. But in trying to achieve at least a decent standard of living, they have joined the industrial world in erasing the last of the natural environments. At the same time, Homo sapiens has become a geophysical force, the first species in the history of the planet to attain that dubious distinction. We have driven atmospheric carbon dioxide to the highest levels in at least 200,000 years, unbalanced the nitrogen cycle, and contributed to a global warming that will ultimately be bad news everywhere.
In short, we have entered the Century of the Environment, in which the immediate future is usefully conceived as a bottleneck. Science and technology, combined with a lack of self-understanding and a Paleolithic obstinacy, brought us to where we are today. Now science and technology, combined with foresight and moral courage, must see us through the bottleneck and out.
"Wait! Hold on there just one minute!"
That is the voice of the cornucopian economist. Let us listen to him carefully. He is focused on production and consumption. These are what the world wants and needs, he says. He is right, of course. Every species lives on production and consumption. The tree finds and consumes nutrients and sunlight; the leopard finds and consumes the deer. And the farmer clears both away to find space and raise corn--for consumption. The economist's thinking is based on precise models of rational choice and near-horizon timelines. His parameters are the gross domestic product, trade balance, and competitive index. He sits on corporate boards, travels to Washington, occasionally appears on television talk shows. The planet, he insists, is perpetually fruitful and still underutilized.
The ecologist has a different worldview. He is focused on unsustainable crop yields, overdrawn aquifers, and threatened ecosystems. His voice is also heard, albeit faintly, in high government and corporate circles. He sits on nonprofit foundation boards, writes for Scientific American, and is sometimes called to Washington. The planet, he insists, is exhausted and in trouble.
"EASE UP. In spite of two centuries of doomsaying, humanity is enjoying unprecedented prosperity. There are environmental problems, certainly, but they can be solved. Think of them as the detritus of progress, to be cleared away. The global economic picture is favorable. The gross national products of the industrial countries continue to rise. Despite their recessions, the Asian tigers are catching up with North America and Europe. Around the world, manufacture and the service economy are growing geometrically. Since 1950 per capita income and meat production have risen continuously. Even though the world population has increased at an explosive 1.8 percent each year during the same period, cereal production, the source of more than half the food calories of the poorer nations and the traditional proxy of worldwide crop yield, has more than kept pace, rising from 275 kilograms per head in the early 1950s to 370 kilograms by the 1980s. The forests of the developed countries are now regenerating as fast as they are being cleared, or nearly so. And while fibers are also declining steeply in most of the rest of the world--a serious problem, I grant--no global scarcities are expected in the foreseeable future. Agriforestry has been summoned to the rescue: more than 20 percent of industrial wood fiber now comes from tree plantations.
" Social progress is running parallel to economic growth. Literacy rates are climbing, and with them the liberation and empowerment of women. Democracy, the gold standard of governance, is spreading country by country. The communication revolution powered by the computer and the Internet has accelerated the globalization of trade and the evolution of a more irenic international culture.
"For two centuries the specter of Malthus troubled the dreams of futurists. By rising exponentially, the doomsayers claimed, population must outstrip the limited resources of the world and bring about famine, chaos, and war. On occasion this scenario did unfold locally. But that has been more the result of political mismanagement than Malthusian mathematics. Human ingenuity has always found a way to accommodate rising populations and allow most to prosper.
"Genius and effort have transformed the environment to the benefit of human life. We have turned a wild and inhospitable world into a garden. Human dominance is Earth's destiny. The harmful perturbations we have caused can be moderated and reversed as we go along."
"YES, IT'S TRUE that the human condition has improved dramatically in many ways. But you've painted only half the picture, and with all due respect the logic it uses is just plain dangerous. As your worldview implies, humanity has learned how to create an economy-driven paradise. Yes again--but only on an infinitely large and malleable planet. It should be obvious to you that Earth is finite and its environment increasingly brittle. No one should look to gross national products and corporate annual reports for a competent projection of the world's long-term economic future. To the information there, if we are to understand the real world, must be added the research reports of natural-resource specialists and ecological economists. They are the experts who seek an accurate balance sheet, one that includes a full accounting of the costs to the planet incurred by economic growth.
"This new breed of analysts argues that we can no longer afford to ignore the dependency of the economy and social progress on the environmental resource base. It is the content of economic growth, with natural resources factored in, that counts in the long term, not just the yield in products and currency. A country that levels its forests, drains its aquifers, and washes its topsoil downriver without measuring the cost is a country traveling blind.
"Suppose that the conventionally measured global economic output, now at about $31 trillion, were to expand at a healthy 3 percent annually. By 2050 it would in theory reach $138 trillion. With only a small leveling adjustment of this income, the entire world population would be prosperous by current standards. Utopia at last, it would seem! What is the flaw in the argument? It is the environment crumbling beneath us. If natural resources, particularly freshwater and arable land, continue to diminish at their present per capita rate, the economic boom will lose steam, in the course of which--and this worries me even if it doesn't worry you--the effort to enlarge productive land will wipe out a large part of the world's fauna and flora.
"The appropriation of productive land--the ecological footprint--is already too large for the planet to sustain, and it's growing larger. A recent study building on this concept estimated that the human population exceeded Earth's sustainable capacity around the year 1978. By 2000 it had overshot by 1.4 times that capacity. If 12 percent of land were now to be set aside in order to protect the natural environment, as recommended in the 1987 Brundtland Report, Earth's sustainable capacity will have been exceeded still earlier, around 1972. In short, Earth has lost its ability to regenerate--unless global consumption is reduced or global production is increased, or both."
By dramatizing these two polar views of the economic future, I don't wish to imply the existence of two cultures with distinct ethos. All who care about both the economy and environment, and that includes the vast majority, are members of the same culture. The gaze of our two debaters is fixed on different points in the space-time scale in which we all dwell. They differ in the factors they take into account in forecasting the state of the world, how far they look into the future, and how much they care about nonhuman life. Most economists today, and all but the most politically conservative of their public interpreters, recognize very well that the world has limits and that the human population cannot afford to grow much larger. They know that humanity is destroying biodiversity. They just don't like to spend a lot of time thinking about it.
The environmentalist view is fortunately spreading. Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the "environmentalist" view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view. In a realistically reported and managed economy, balanced accounting will be routine. The conventional gross national product (GNP) will be replaced by the more comprehensive genuine progress indicator (GPI), which includes estimates of environmental costs of economic activity. Already a growing number of economists, scientists, political leaders, and others have endorsed precisely this change.
What, then, are essential facts about population and environment? From existing databases we can answer that question and visualize more clearly the bottleneck through which humanity and the rest of life are now passing.
On or about October 12, 1999, the world population reached six billion. It has continued to climb at an annual rate of 1.4 percent, adding 200,000 people each day or the equivalent of the population of a large city each week. The rate, though beginning to slow, is still basically exponential: the more people, the faster the growth, thence still more people sooner and an even faster growth, and so on upward toward astronomical numbers unless the trend is reversed and growth rate is reduced to zero or less. This exponentiation means that people born in 1950 were the first to see the human population double in their lifetime, from 2.5 billion to over six billion now. During the 20th century more people were added to the world than in all of previous human history. In 1800 there had been about one billion and in 1900, still only 1.6 billion.
The pattern of human population growth in the 20th century was more bacterial than primate. When Homo sapiens passed the six-billion mark we had already exceeded by perhaps as much as 100 times the biomass of any large animal species that ever existed on the land. We and the rest of life cannot afford another 100 years like that.
By the end of the century some relief was in sight. In most parts of the world--North and South America, Europe, Australia, and most of Asia--people had begun gingerly to tap the brake pedal. The worldwide average number of children per woman fell from 4.3 in 1960 to 2.6 in 2000. The number required to attain zero population growth--that is, the number that balances the birth and death rates and holds the standing population size constant--is 2.1 (the extra one tenth compensates for infant and child mortality). When the number of children per woman stays above 2.1 even slightly, the population still expands exponentially. This means that although the population climbs less and less steeply as the number approaches 2.1, humanity will still, in theory, eventually come to weigh as much as Earth and, if given enough time, will exceed the mass of the visible universe. This fantasy is a mathematician's way of saying that anything above zero population growth cannot be sustained. If, on the other hand, the average number of children drops below 2.1, the population enters negative exponential growth and starts to decline. To speak of 2.1 in exact terms as the breakpoint is of course an oversimplification. Advances in medicine and public health can lower the breakpoint toward the minimal, perfect number of 2.0 (no infant or childhood deaths), while famine, epidemics, and war, by boosting mortality, can raise it well above 2.1. But worldwide, over an extended period of time, local differences and statistical fluctuations wash one another out and the iron demographic laws grind on. They transmit to us always the same essential message, that to breed in excess is to overload the planet.
By 2000 the replacement rate in all of the countries of western Europe had dropped below 2.1. The lead was taken by Italy, at 1.2 children per woman (so much for the power of natalist religious doctrine). Thailand also passed the magic number, as well as the nonimmigrant population of the U.S.
When a country descends to its zero-population birth rates or even well below, it does not cease absolute population growth immediately, because the positive growth experienced just before the breakpoint has generated a disproportionate number of young people with most of their fertile years and life ahead of them. As this cohort ages, the proportion of child-bearing people diminishes, the age distribution stabilizes at the zero-population level, the slack is taken up, and population growth ceases. Similarly, when a country dips below the breakpoint, a lag period intervenes before the absolute growth rate goes negative and the population actually declines. Italy and Germany, for example, have entered a period of such true, absolute negative population growth.
The decline in global population growth is attributable to three interlocking social forces: the globalization of an economy driven by science and technology, the consequent implosion of rural populations into cities, and, as a result of globalization and urban implosion, the empowerment of women. The freeing of women socially and economically results in fewer children. Reduced reproduction by female choice can be thought a fortunate, indeed almost miraculous, gift of human nature to future generations. It could have gone the other way: women, more prosperous and less shackled, could have chosen the satisfactions of a larger brood. They did the opposite. They opted for a smaller number of quality children, who can be raised with better health and education, over a larger family. They simultaneously chose better, more secure lives for themselves. The tendency appears to be very widespread, if not universal. Its importance cannot be overstated. Social commentators often remark that humanity is endangered by its own instincts, such as tribalism, aggression, and personal greed. Demographers of the future will, I believe, point out that on the other hand humanity was saved by this one quirk in the maternal instinct.
The global trend toward smaller families, if it continues, will eventually halt population growth and afterward reverse it. What will be the peak, and when will it occur? And how will the environment fare as humanity climbs to the peak? The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs released a spread of projections to the year 2050 that ranged from 7.3 billion to 14.4 billion, with the most likely scenario falling somewhere between nine billion and 10 billion.
Enough slack still exists in the system to justify guarded optimism. Women given a choice and affordable contraceptive methods generally practice birth control. By 1996 about 130 countries subsidized family-planning services. More than half of all developing countries in particular also had official population policies to accompany their economic and military policies, and more than 90 percent of the rest stated their intention to follow suit. The U.S., where the idea is still virtually taboo, remained a stunning exception.
The encouragement of population control by developing countries comes not a moment too soon. The environmental fate of the world lies ultimately in their hands. They now account for virtually all global population growth, and their drive toward higher per capita consumption will be relentless.
The consequences of their reproductive prowess are multiple and deep. The people of the developing countries are already far younger than those in the industrial countries and destined to become more so. The streets of Lagos, Manaus, Karachi, and other cities in the developing world are a sea of children. To an observer fresh from Europe or North America, the crowds give the feel of a gigantic school just let out. In at least 68 of the countries, more than 40 percent of the population is under 15 years of age.
A country poor to start with and composed largely of young children and adolescents is strained to provide even minimal health services and education for its people. Its superabundance of cheap, unskilled labor can be turned to some economic advantage but unfortunately also provides cannon fodder for ethnic strife and war. As the populations continue to explode and water and arable land grow scarcer, the industrial countries will feel their pressure in the form of many more desperate immigrants and the risk of spreading international terrorism. I have come to understand the advice given me many years ago when I argued the case for the natural environment to the president's scientific adviser: your patron is foreign policy.
Stretched to the limit of its capacity, how many people can the planet support? A rough answer is possible, but it is a sliding one contingent on three conditions: how far into the future the planetary support is expected to last, how evenly the resources are to be distributed, and the quality of life most of humanity expects to achieve. Consider food, which economists commonly use as a proxy of carrying capacity. The current world production of grains, which provide most of humanity's calories, is about two billion tons annually. That is enough, in theory, to feed 10 billion East Indians, who eat primarily grains and very little meat by Western standards. But the same amount can support only about 2.5 billion Americans, who convert a large part of their grains into livestock and poultry. There are two ways to stop short of the wall. Either the industrialized populations move down the food chain to a more vegetarian diet, or the agricultural yield of productive land worldwide is increased by more than 50 percent.
The constraints of the biosphere are fixed. The bottleneck through which we are passing is real. It should be obvious to anyone not in a euphoric delirium that whatever humanity does or does not do, Earth's capacity to support our species is approaching the limit. We already appropriate by some means or other 40 percent of the planet's organic matter produced by green plants. If everyone agreed to become vegetarian, leaving little or nothing for livestock, the present 1.4 billion hectares of arable land (3.5 billion acres) would support about 10 billion people. If humans utilized as food all of the energy captured by plant photosynthesis on land and sea, some 40 trillion watts, the planet could support about 16 billion people. But long before that ultimate limit was approached, the planet would surely have become a hellish place to exist. There may, of course, be escape hatches. Petroleum reserves might be converted into food, until they are exhausted. Fusion energy could conceivably be used to create light, whose energy would power photosynthesis, ramp up plant growth beyond that dependent on solar energy, and hence create more food. Humanity might even consider becoming someday what the astrobiologists call a type II civilization and harness all the power of the sun to support human life on Earth and on colonies on and around the other solar planets. Surely these are not frontiers we will wish to explore in order simply to continue our reproductive folly.
The epicenter of environmental change, the paradigm of population stress, is the People's Republic of China. By 2000 its population was 1.2 billion, one fifth of the world total. It is thought likely by demographers to creep up to 1.6 billion by 2030. During 1950-2000 China's people grew by 700 million, more than existed in the entire world at the start of the industrial revolution. The great bulk of this increase is crammed into the basins of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, covering an area about equal to that of the eastern U.S. Hemmed in to the west by deserts and mountains, limited to the south by resistance from other civilizations, their agricultural populations simply grew denser on the land their ancestors had farmed for millennia. China became in effect a great overcrowded island, a Jamaica or Haiti writ large.
Highly intelligent and innovative, its people have made the most of it. Today China and the U.S. are the two leading grain producers of the world. But China's huge population is on the verge of consuming more than it can produce. In 1997 a team of scientists, reporting to the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC), predicted that China will need to import 175 million tons of grain annually by 2025. Extrapolated to 2030, the annual level is 200 million tons--the entire amount of grain exported annually in the world at the present time. A tick in the parameters of the model could move these figures up or down, but optimism would be a dangerous attitude in planning strategy when the stakes are so high. After 1997 the Chinese in fact instituted a province-level crash program to boost grain level to export capacity. The effort was successful but may be short-lived, a fact the government itself recognizes. It requires cultivation of marginal land, higher per acre environmental damage, and a more rapid depletion of the country's precious groundwater
According to the NIC report, any slack in China's production may be picked up by the Big Five grain exporters: the U.S., Canada, Argentina, Australia, and the European Union. But the exports of these dominant producers, after climbing steeply in the 1960s and 1970s, tapered off to near their present level in 1980. With existing agricultural capacity and technology, this output does not seem likely to increase to any significant degree. The U.S. and the European Union have already returned to production all of the cropland idled under earlier farm commodity programs. Australia and Canada, largely dependent on dryland farming, are constrained by low rainfall. Argentina has the potential to expand, but due to its small size, the surplus it produces is unlikely to exceed 10 million tons of grain production per year.
China relies heavily on irrigation, with water drawn from its aquifers and great rivers. The greatest impediment is again geographic: two thirds of China's agriculture is in the north, but four fifths of the water supply is in the south--that is, principally in the Yangtze River Basin. Irrigation and withdrawals for domestic and industrial use have depleted the northern basins, from which flow the waters of the Yellow, Hai, Huai, and Liao rivers. Starting in 1972, the Yellow River Channel has gone bone dry almost yearly through part of its course in Shandong Province, as far inland as the capital, Jinan, thence down all the way to the sea. In 1997 the river stopped flowing for 130 days, then restarted and stopped again through the year for a record total of 226 dry days. Because Shandong Province normally produces a fifth of China's wheat and a seventh of its corn, the failure of the Yellow River is of no little consequence. The crop losses in 1997 alone reached $1.7 billion.
Meanwhile the groundwater of the northern plains has dropped precipitously, reaching an average rate of 1.5 meters (five feet) per year by the mid-1990s. Between 1965 and 1995 the water table fell 37 meters (121 feet) beneath Beijing itself.
Faced with chronic water shortages in the Yellow River Basin, the Chinese government has undertaken the building of the Xiaolangdi Dam, which will be exceeded in size only by the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. The Xiaolangdi is expected to solve the problems of both periodic flooding and drought. Plans are being laid in addition for the construction of canals to siphon water from the Yangtze, which never grows dry, to the Yellow River and Beijing, respectively.
These measures may or may not suffice to maintain Chinese agriculture and economic growth. But they are complicated by formidable side effects. Foremost is silting from the upriver loess plains, which makes the Yellow River the most turbid in the world and threatens to fill the Xiaolangdi Reservoir, according to one study, as soon as 30 years after its completion.
China has maneuvered itself into a position that forces it continually to design and redesign its lowland territories as one gigantic hydraulic system. But this is not the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem is that China has too many people. In addition, its people are admirably industrious and fiercely upwardly mobile. As a result, their water requirements, already oppressively high, are rising steeply. By 2030 residential demands alone are projected to increase more than fourfold, to 134 billion tons, and industrial demands fivefold, to 269 billion tons. The effects will be direct and powerful. Of China's 617 cities, 300 already face water shortages.
The pressure on agriculture is intensified in China by a dilemma shared in varying degrees by every country. As industrialization proceeds, per capita income rises, and the populace consumes more food. They also migrate up the energy pyramid to meat and dairy products. Because fewer calories per kilogram of grain are obtained when first passed through poultry and livestock instead of being eaten directly, per capita grain consumption rises still more. All the while the available water supply remains static or nearly so. In an open market, the agricultural use of water is outcompeted by industrial use. A thousand tons of freshwater yields a ton of wheat, worth $200, but the same amount of water in industry yields $14,000. As China, already short on water and arable land, grows more prosperous through industrialization and trade, water becomes more expensive. The cost of agriculture rises correspondingly, and unless the collection of water is subsidized, the price of food also rises. This is in part the rationale for the great dams at Three Gorges and Xiaolangdi, built at enormous public expense.
In theory, an affluent industrialized country does not have to be agriculturally independent. In theory, China can make up its grain shortage by purchasing from the Big Five grain-surplus nations. Unfortunately, its population is too large and the world surplus too restrictive for it to solve its problem without altering the world market. All by itself, China seems destined to drive up the price of grain and make it harder for the poorer developing countries to meet their own needs. At the present time, grain prices are falling, but this seems certain to change as the world population soars to nine billion or beyond.
The problem, resource experts agree, cannot be solved entirely by hydrological engineering. It must include shifts from grain to fruit and vegetables, which are more labor-intensive, giving China a competitive edge. To this can be added strict water conservation measures in industrial and domestic use; the use of sprinkler and drip irrigation in cultivation, as opposed to the traditional and more wasteful methods of flood and furrow irrigation; and private land ownership, with subsidies and price liberalization, to increase conservation incentives for farmers.
Meanwhile the surtax levied on the environ-ment to support China's growth, though rarely entered on the national balance sheets, is escalating to a ruin-ous level. Among the most telling indicators is the pollution of water. Here is a measure worth pondering. China has in all 50,000 kilometers of major rivers. Of these, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 80 percent no longer support fish. The Yellow River is dead along much of its course, so fouled with chromium, cadmium, and other toxins from oil refineries, paper mills, and chemical plants as to be unfit for either human consumption or irrigation. Diseases from bacterial and toxic-waste pollution are epidemic.
China can probably feed itself to at least midcentury, but its own data show that it will be skirting the edge of disaster even as it accelerates its lifesaving shift to industrialization and megahydrological engineering. The extremity of China's condition makes it vulnerable to the wild cards of history. A war, internal political turmoil, extended droughts, or crop disease can kick the economy into a downspin. Its enormous population makes rescue by other countries impracticable.
China deserves close attention, not just as the unsteady giant whose missteps can rock the world, but also because it is so far advanced along the path to which the rest of humanity seems inexorably headed. If China solves its problems, the lessons learned can be applied elsewhere. That includes the U.S., whose citizens are working at a furious pace to overpopulate and exhaust their own land and water from sea to shining sea.
Environmentalism is still widely viewed, especially in the U.S., as a special-interest lobby. Its proponents, in this blinkered view, flutter their hands over pollution and threatened species, exaggerate their case, and press for industrial restraint and the protection of wild places, even at the cost of economic development and jobs.
Environmentalism is something more central and vastly more important. Its essence has been defined by science in the following way. Earth, unlike the other solar planets, is not in physical equilibrium. It depends on its living shell to create the special conditions on which life is sustainable. The soil, water, and atmosphere of its surface have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to their present condition by the activity of the biosphere, a stupendously complex layer of living creatures whose activities are locked together in precise but tenuous global cycles of energy and transformed organic matter. The biosphere creates our special world anew every day, every minute, and holds it in a unique, shimmering physical disequilibrium. On that disequilibrium the human species is in total thrall. When we alter the biosphere in any direction, we move the environment away from the delicate dance of biology. When we destroy ecosystems and extinguish species, we degrade the greatest heritage this planet has to offer and thereby threaten our own existence.
Humanity did not descend as angelic beings into this world. Nor are we aliens who colonized Earth. We evolved here, one among many species, across millions of years, and exist as one organic miracle linked to others. The natural environment we treat with such unnecessary ignorance and recklessness was our cradle and nursery, our school, and remains our one and only home. To its special conditions we are intimately adapted in every one of the bodily fibers and biochemical transactions that gives us life.
That is the essence of environmentalism. It is the guiding principle of those devoted to the health of the planet. But it is not yet a general worldview, evidently not yet compelling enough to distract many people away from the primal diversions of sport, politics, religion, and private wealth.
The relative indifference to the environment springs, I believe, from deep within human nature. The human brain evidently evolved to commit itself emotionally only to a small piece of geography, a limited band of kinsmen, and two or three generations into the future. To look neither far ahead nor far afield is elemental in a Darwinian sense. We are innately inclined to ignore any distant possibility not yet requiring examination. It is, people say, just good common sense. Why do they think in this shortsighted way? The reason is simple: it is a hardwired part of our Paleolithic heritage. For hundreds of millennia, those who worked for short-term gain within a small circle of relatives and friends lived longer and left more offspring--even when their collective striving caused their chiefdoms and empires to crumble around them. The long view that might have saved their distant descendants required a vision and extended altruism instinctively difficult to marshal.
The great dilemma of environmental reasoning stems from this conflict between short-term and long-term values. To select values for the near future of one's own tribe or country is relatively easy. To select values for the distant future of the whole planet also is relatively easy--in theory, at least. To combine the two visions to create a universal environmental ethic is, on the other hand, very difficult. But combine them we must, because a universal environmental ethic is the only guide by which humanity and the rest of life can be safely conducted through the bottleneck into which our species has foolishly blundered.
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Scientific American: News In Brief: Physicists Observe the Quantum Effects of Gravity: January 17, 2002 Physicists Observe the Quantum Effects of Gravity
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Scientific American: News In Brief: E.T. Life-Forms Might Resemble Newly Discovered Microbial Community: January 17, 2002 Far below a mountain range in Idaho, in hydrothermal waters circulating through igneous rocks, lurks a unique community of microbes that may one day help scientists find similar forms of life on other planets. According to a report published today in the journal Nature, the newly discovered organisms are "unlike any previously described on earth."
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Physics News Update Quantum gravitational states have been observed for the first time. An experiment with ultracold neutrons shows that their vertical motion in Earth's gravitational field come in discrete sizes. Quantum properties--such as the quantization of energies, wavelike dynamics including interference, and an irreducible uncertainty in the simultaneous measurement of position and momentum--usually emerge only at the atomic level or under special circumstances (e.g., low temperatures) wherein a particle is trapped in a potential well by a controlling force. Observing such properties in phenomena governed by the electromagnetic or the weak and strong nuclear forces is common enough, but the strength of gravity, many orders of magnitude weaker than the other forces, has not previously been strong enough to enforce the kind of confinement needed to make quantum reality manifest.
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Finding Aid to the Florence S. Mahoney Papers, 1935-1988 Finding Aid to the Florence S. Mahoney Papers, 1935-1988
Philip, 1947-1971. Miscellaneous correspondence, 1935-1988
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The Absolutely Weird Bookshelf, DAW Science Fiction & Fantasy Paperbacks Part 1 The Weird Bookshelf catalog and the Strange Words book review and article archive
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First Chapter: F. CAROLYN GRAGLIA Two perceptions with which I had emerged from my youth were that women were usually better persons than men and that it would be highly risky ever to place my welfare in the hands of a man. These perceptions derived from my experiences growing up during the Great Depression and living in straitened financial circumstances with my divorced mother. My parents separated when I was two years old, and I never saw my father from the time I was seven, although we lived in the same city. The neighborhood in which I lived with my mother was an ethnic mix of mainly lower-middle-class and working-class Irish and Germans. I knew no parents who had attended college; many--including all my maternal relatives except my mother--had not graduated from high school. My keenest perception was that women's and children's lives would have been much improved if men consumed less alcohol and allocated more money to their families' support.
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E3 - September 1998 Somewhere along life's journey I got caught up with the writing of Philip Wylie. Wylie was a rather prolific writer from the 1920's into the 1950's. Among his more memorable works were Gladiator (the eventual model for Superman), When World's Collide (made into what is considered the first really classic science fiction movie), Tomorrow, Triumph, An Essay on Morals, Opus 21, The Answer and a host of other fiction and non-fiction works. (Wylie even managed to write a regular series of fiction for the Saturday Evening Post dealing with the exploits of two charter boat fisherman - Crunch & Des.)
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My Favorite Fish Tales Earlier this year, on a windy and unfishable winter's weekend, I discovered the writings of Philip Wylie (1902-1971) hidden deep within the bowels of the new downtown county library building. Writing in The Saturday Evening Post for much of his career, Wylie -- the antithesis of Zane Grey and Grey's he-man vs. the sea monster image -- did more than any other author of his time to promote the idea that offshore fishing was a sport anyone could participate in, not just the muscular and well-heeled in their mega-yachts. He also championed the notion that there was plenty of exciting light tackle angling available inshore for those who lacked the finances, physical condition, or inclination to go offshore and do battle with the big ones.
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Lost Books - The Disappearance by Philip Wylie The Disappearance
by Philip Wylie — Copyright 1951
Review by D. D. Shade — December 22, 1998
What really defines gender? Are we the products of genetics and evolution (nature) or the way we are socialized by family and local culture (nurture)? What accounts for masculine and feminine traits? Is aggression a 'male only' behavior? Is it women only who can be compassionate? Are women the weaker sex or does strength mean something other than muscle bulk. Is a man weak if he cries in "The Horse Whisperer" or tough because he drives a Humvee. These are some of the manifests of age-old questions that are still being debated in the most Ivy League of towers today. I myself am forced to painfully discuss this issue each year when I teach human development (fortunately college freshmen are well taught in high school on how to appear interested). To answer the question, Wylie would have us think neither. Wylie's belief is that we created the segregation of the sexes ourselves and we started it at the dawn of time. He further believes it didn't have to be this way.
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Philip Wylie - Bibliography Summary Novels
The Murderer Invisible (1931)
The Savage Gentleman (1932)
Finnley Wren (1934)
Blunder: A Story of the End of the World (1946)
The Disappearance (1951)
The Answer (1955)
The Smuggled Atom Bomb (1956)
Los Angeles: A.D. 2017 (1971) - TV tie-in
The End of the Dream (1972)
When Worlds Collide (1999) with Edwin Balmer
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In December, Java was more popular than .Net for building Web services, according to a ZDNet UK poll, but weeks later the position had dramatically reversed; investigation revealed just what lengths Microsoft will go to to promote its products
Microsoft's .Net Web services technology appeared to experience a sudden massive boost in popularity over its rival Java, according to a poll run by ZDNet UK.
By 21 December, more than two-thirds of the respondents (69.5 percent), said they planned to deliver some applications by Web services by the end of 2002, with a large majority of those (nearly half the total sample) planning to use Java. Only 21.5 percent said they planned to use Microsoft .Net -- less than the figure (23.5 percent) planning to use neither.
But by the time the poll closed, on 5 January, the position had dramatically changed, with three quarters of voters claiming to be implementing .Net. This apparent sudden change of heart over the Christmas period appears to be the result of a concerted campaign within Microsoft.
ZDNet UK logs reveal rather obvious vote rigging, and prove that it originated from within Microsoft:
A very high percentage of voters are from within the microsoft.com domain.
There is a very high incidence of people attempting to cast multiple votes, even though the poll script blocked out most attempts at multiple voting. The one that wins the prize made 228 attempts to vote. This person was from within
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News & Markets Rolls-Royce flies to Boeing rescue
Russell Hotten, Mail on Sunday25 November 2001
OEING has called in Rolls-Royce aerospace to help develop a revolutionary new engine for its planned Sonic Cruiser aircraft. The potentially huge deal comes after concern about pollution and noise prompted Boeing to abandon plans to use a modified version of the jumbo jet engine.
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REVISING DESIGNS FOR SONIC CRUISER
6 December 2001 - Source: Daily Telegraph
Boeing said that it had been asked by airlines to revise its designs for a "Sonic Cruiser" to produce an aircraft capable of flying at 1.8 times the speed of sound, roughly 1,200mph.
Boeing's initial concept, announced nine months ago, envisaged a plane that would travel at 0.98 of the speed of sound, about 10 or 15 per cent faster than conventional jets. However, a group of leading carriers believes that the time gain offered by the original version will be insufficient, and wants to offer passengers much more radical reductions in journey times. Wind tunnel tests on the basic Sonic Cruiser have shown that its unique front-located winglets and outward-leaning twin tails have reduced to almost zero the buffeting effect expected as the aircraft approaches the sound barrier.
Work is also proceeding on adapting the shape of the main double-delta wings to decrease the impact of the sonic boom, opening the possibility that supersonic flight over land might become achievable for the first time.
Pete Rumsey, Boeing's director of aircraft development, said advances in technology would allow the twin-engined aircraft to be as fuel-efficient per passenger as any existing jet.
AIRLINES ABANDON BOEING'S CONNEXION
29 November 2001 - Source: Dow Jones
Boeing's Connexion business suffered a blow this week when three major US airlines, American Airlines
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Quantum Leap: Seize the Light These days, quantum computers are scrawny little gadgets whose greatest accomplishment so far is factoring the number 15.
However, their power grows exponentially with size, so whenever quantum computers grow a little bigger, researchers get more than a little excited.
Two papers this month, in fact, present new frameworks for quantum information storage and large-scale quantum computation -- involving hundreds of thousands of potential quantum bits (qubits). Both tasks are essential to making a quantum computer, and both entail challenges for the engineer as well as the theoris
One system involves a new state of matter called either a "Mott insulator" or, more colloquially, a "patterned liquid." The other concerns a method of stopping, storing and retrieving light pulses, as if they were an atom, or a carton of milk that could just be thrown in the refrigerator.
This week, a team of physicists at Munich's Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics and Zurich's Institute of Quantum Electronics published a paper in Nature in which they cooled and cajoled a gas of rubidium atoms into an orderly grid framework. Each grid element is filled with one and only one atom, and each atom can be individually manipulated via finely tuned magnetic pulses.
"One way to picture this new state of matter is as an egg carton which is filled with eggs," Immanuel Bloch of the Max Planck Institute said. "The 'eggs' in our case are individual atoms, and the 'egg carton' is formed by a crystal of light."
Crisscrossing beams of lasers form a crystal-like structure that defines the boundaries of each atom's confined space, like the contoured cardboard of an egg carton. And the cool temperatures (less than a hundred-millionth of a degree above absolute zero) keep the atoms from fidgeting out of their assigned seats.
"The (Mott insulator) phase, by its nature, wants to have every atom as an individual atom," Henk Stoof of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands said. "They don't interact with each other. So it's not something you have to struggle against."
Bloch and his team were able to maintain this high state of order over a network containing some 150,000 rubidium atoms. Each atom acts like a miniature bar magnet that can point up ("1") or down ("0") -- or, in the case of a qubit, weird intermediate quantum states of both up and down at the same time.
Since each atom sits alone and unperturbed, each atom is free to carry out the steps of a quantum algorithm -- which requires that no stray atoms, electrons or photons bounce off it and upset its delicate work in progress.
The difficult task ahead is developing the quantum logic gates to lead these qubits through a calculation. Then, of course, one must also figure out a way to read the results of a computation once it's completed.
Bloch's team has ideas for clearing both hurdles -- involving pulses like those used in NMR machines -- but this work is still underway.
While Bloch and other researchers around the world contemplate Mott insulators as the ultimate quantum computer processors, another group has tackled the quantum RAM question.
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By Mark K. Anderson "If we're going to use nanotubes for any application, we're hoping that they'll one day replace not only wires but also be a sort of template for molecular scale electronics," said Ali Yazdani of the University of Illinois.
Yazdani is one of eight co-authors on the paper that first studied the electronic properties of these stuffed nanotubes. The paper will appear in an upcoming issue of Science and now appears on the journal's Science Express website.
"In a transistor, you want to modulate the electronic properties to control or gate the flow of electrons through it," Yazdani said. "That's the basic idea behind an electronic device."
Yazdani's device is called a nanotube "peapod" -- whose "peas" are typically the spherical C60 molecule, also known as buckminsterfullerene or buckyballs. By encapsulating C60 within a nanotube, Yazdani's team found that the electronic properties of the system varied from semiconductor to conductor to insulator, depending on the peas' positions.
They note that, if the peas are spaced periodically, quantum wave resonances of the electrons traveling through the system can also be tuned. This could, in turn, open the door to using the peapod as a medium for quantum computations.
"People talk about using quantum dots for quantum computations," Yazdani said. "A C60 molecule is a small dot ... and understanding these (peapod) structures may give us a clue how to engineer these quantum dot-like states."
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Sympatico NewsExpress: Business | Full Story Set-top box provides biggest buzz at consumer electronics show
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Amid the latest in high-tech - from wearable gadgetry to automobile accoutrements - the loudest buzz at the 2002 International Consumer Electronics Show will likely centre on entertainment devices for the living room.
At the show that opens Tuesday, hardware makers plan to unveil DVD players that double as digital music or photo storage centres. New entries are also expected among a small but fast-growing crop of networked devices that are designed to play MP3s and Internet radio as well as host personal music collections.
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Digital cable or satellite receiver
Tune 150 channels of crystal-clear digital audio and video.
Digital Music Jukebox
Store hundreds of your CDs on the Moxi Media Center's hard drive and download your favorite songs from the latest digital music services. Create playlists, find and purchase music, and download songs to your MP3 player to bring your music with you.
Personal Video Recorder (PVR)
Pause and rewind live TV. Record and save up to 60 hours (or, hundreds of hours with expansion 1394 drives) of your favorite shows and movies from any TV in the house.
Play your favorite CDs and DVDs from the Moxi Media Center's built-in player.
Cable/DSL Modem and Internet Gateway
Access the Internet at blazing speeds from any computer in your home and know that the built-in Firewall will protect your computers.
Why should the TV in your family room have all the fun? For the first time, all the great features available on your main TV can be enjoyed on any TV in the home1. With Moxi, your family can...
enjoy digital cable in the living room
watch last week's favorite sitcom in the den
pause the ballgame in the bedroom
listen to music in the study
...all at the same time!
The Moxi Media Center supports up to four TVs, each with their own dedicated audio or video stream. These additional TVs can be connected via the cable already in your home or usi
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A new type of super lightweight telescope mirrors has been developed and is undergoing testing at NASA GSFC. By 'super lightweight' we refer, for example, to a 0.6 m mirror for space projects that weighs less than 1.5 kg, and to a 0.9 m mirror for ground-based applications that weighs less than 5 kg. The mirrors are made by optical replication using graphite fiber cyanate ester composite materials. In contrast to other lightweight optics technologies, composite replica mirrors are far simpler in structure, lighter, faster to produce, and cost much less. Potential applications include uv-vis-ir telescopes for balloon, space and lunar missions, portable meter class optical telescopes, and the next generation of very large (>10 m) ground-based telescopes.
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At least once per day, without fail, my computer, like every computer I have ever owned, has some kind of emotional breakdown. It simply stops working -- often when I'm not touching it -- and it puts a message on the screen informing me that an error has occurred. It does not say what the error is, nor where it occurred. For all I know, it occurred in New Zealand, and my computer found out about it via the Internet, and became so upset that it could not go on.
When this happens, I have to turn my computer off and start it up again. When I do, my computer puts a snippy note on the screen informing me that it is scanning its disks for errors, because it was shut down improperly.
``But I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!'' I shout, but my computer ignores me, because it is busy scanning its disks. You just know that if it finds any errors, it's going to blame me, even though I don't even know where its disks ARE.
While my computer is busy, I scan my wart. I have a wart on my right leg. It has been there for many years. I call it Buddy. I keep an eye on Buddy, in case his appearance changes. I've read that it's a bad thing, medically, when a wart suddenly changes appearance. If I ever look down and see that Buddy has turned green, or he's wearing a little pair of Groucho glasses, I'll know it's time to take some kind of medical action. Such as quit drinking.
But my point is that because of computer weirdness, I regularly see an entire morning's work -- sometimes as many as 18 words -- get blipped away forever to the Planet of Lost Data. Needless to say, I use Microsoft Windows. I've been a loyal Windows man since the first version, which required you to write on the screen with crayons. Every year or so, Microsoft comes out with a new version, which Microsoft always swears is better and more reliable, and I always buy it. I bought Windows 2.0, Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1415926, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows RSVP, The Best of Windows, Windows Strikes Back, Windows Does Dallas, and Windows Let's All Buy Bill Gates a House the Size of Vermont.
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In the last six months several noteworthy events and disclosures have occurred in the fast moving world of microprocessors. AMD started shipping its Palomino K7 processor as the Athlon XP. Despite the controversy surrounding the performance rating based model naming scheme associated with the XP, it appears the latest refinement of the AMD’s venerable K7 design has, by most measures relevant to the PC world, eclipsed the performance of the 2 GHz Pentium 4 (P4), the highest speed grade offered for Intel’s first implementation of its new x86 microarchitecture. However, this advantage should prove short-lived, as the second generation 0.13 um Northwood P4 will be officially released in early January. The Northwood will offer higher clock rates, an L2 cache doubled in size, and minor internal performance enhancements.
Posted by Edward at 11:05 AM
PCBs - PolyChlorinated Biphenyls - were manufactured by a one company - Monsanto Chemical - starting in the 1930s. They were promoted as a nearly indestructible replacement for hydraulic oil, pump oil, and the oil bath for electrical transformers and capacitors. It was known even in the 1930s, when production began, that they were extremely toxic. Exposed workers began showing signs of toxic exposure almost immediately.
The two largest users of PCBs were General Electric (Pittsfield, MA and Corning, NY) and Westinghouse Electric (Bloomington, Indiana) in their transformer manufacturing operations. Air cooling of transformers was difficult, expensive, and unreliable, so PCB oil was used to transfer heat Transformers used for transmission of electricity are ubiquitous, and millions of gallons of PCB oil were used to transfer heat from the transformer coils to the heat sink - the metal can surrounding the coils and holding the oil. Inevitably, both during manufacture of the transformers, in auto and weather accidents, and in the disposal of defective or damaged transformers, millions of gallons of PCB oil has leaked out. Westinghouse apparently dumped huge amounts of PCB-contaminated trash into unlined landfills in Bloomington, Indiana. General Electric's Pittsfield site has been declared a Superfund site, and GE has agreed to clean up its now-abandoned plant and several miles of the Housatonic River in western Massachusetts. The GE plant in Corning, NY contaminated 100 miles of the Hudson River3
Posted by Edward at 10:36 AM
No new chemical wonders until they clean up the old ones
John Peterson Myers
The Keene Sentinel
Keene, New Hampshire
1 July 2000
Monsanto, a company that desperately needs to convince the public that genetically modified organisms represent a boon and not a bane for humanity, had an opportunity recently to demonstrate its good intentions regarding another of its products. Unfortunately the corporation did nothing, leaving the world to wonder whether its pretensions of good citizenship are fiction.
When delegates from around the world gathered in Bonn, Germany, last month under the auspices of the United Nations to continue negotiations toward eliminating toxins known as persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, they considered twelve chemicals that have been identified through decades of research to present serious harm to health and the environment. No credible public health authority argues that these compounds are safe. The newest science has revealed that even low levels of these compounds can undermine normal development of the fetus, with potentially serious long-term consequences from infancy into adulthood. Fertility may be impaired, immune systems compromised, and intelligence undermined.
Long prior to its recent metamorphosis into a bioengineering company, Monsanto was among the largest manufacturers in the U.S. of one of the twelve targeted compounds, PCBs. While banned for production and use in the United States in 1976, PCBs remain in the environment in large quantities and even now s
Posted by Edward at 10:35 AM
Monsanto PCB trial begins BIRMINGHAM (AP) -- A federal trial has opened over claims Monsanto Co. poisoned an east Alabama community with toxic PCBs and tried to cover up the problem rather than help people.
Attorneys representing about 1,600 Anniston residents in the class-action suit told the nine-member jury Wednesday that the company, now called Solutia, should be forced to pay a "substantial" amount.
"The evidence is going to show that Monsanto dumped PCBs out its back door into the neighborhood for years and years," said plaintiff lawyer Bob Shields.
Residents suing the company include Ruth Mims, who lived closer to the plant than anyone for about 70 years. Her blood contained one of the highest concentrations of PCBs ever found in a human, Shields said.
Posted by Edward at 10:34 AM
By Michael Grunwald
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 1, 2002; Page A01
ANNISTON, Ala. -- On the west side of Anniston, the poor side of Anniston, the people ate dirt. They called it "Alabama clay" and cooked it for extra flavor. They also grew berries in their gardens, raised hogs in their back yards, caught bass in the murky streams where their children swam and played and were baptized. They didn't know their dirt and yards and bass and kids -- along with the acrid air they breathed -- were all contaminated with chemicals. They didn't know they lived in one of the most polluted patches of America.
Posted by Edward at 10:26 AM