FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT...
- The fastest growing bank in the US is Facebook.
- A new thermo-electric fabric generates energy from body heat.
- Check out a $50 LED light bulb that saves a bundle over its 10-year life span.
- Laundry detergent Tide has become a black-market currency.
by John L. Petersen
E.Dee Conrad Coming to Berkeley Springs
We’re continuing our Transition Talks series here in Berkeley Springs with E.Dee Conrad, who will join us on Friday, the 6th of April at 7:00 PM. This will be a great presentation that you won’t want to miss. You can find complete information here.
E.Dee is the author of A New Dawn Awaits: The Times Ahead and How To Shift Your Consciousness, which many FE readers have found quite helpful. I’ve received many compliments on this book, especially about how clear and compelling her picture is of what is driving the present galactic and solar change and what those forces are likely to manifest in our lives in the coming months and years.
This is one of the most coherent, comprehensive and readable summaries of the big change that I know. You can see more about it and view a video here. We have some of E.Dee’s books in stock here which I will send with free domestic shipping if you order it here or click on the book (Sorry, those of you who are out of the U.S., but we’ll need to charge you shipping.)
E.Dee wanted to have a conversation when she’s with us next month, so I’ve agreed to pitch questions to her and comment on some of her ideas. You’ll have a chance to join in the conversation as well, so come for another provocative and informative evening!
No More Encyclopaedia Books
Encyclopaedia Britannica is no longer going to be publishing . . . well, encyclopedias! At least not in the familiar form known the world over. Here’s their announcement:
That big print set will pass into history, but the future it gives way to will be bright.
For 244 years, the thick volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica have stood on the shelves of homes, libraries, and businesses everywhere, a source of enlightenment as well as comfort to their owners and users around the world.
They’ve always been there. Year after year. Since 1768. Every. Single. Day.
But not forever. (rest of story)
Now, this is a big deal. It is really iconic and historical when something as venerable as the Encyclopaedia (they didn’t spell it that way on the Mickey Mouse Club!) Britannica quits printing books. Someday historians will probably list this month as the effective end of the era of the printed book. Britannica isn’t saying yet what they’re doing next, but it’s a really good bet that it will be digital – like everything else.
Monitoring Everything You Say and Do
Every institution on the planet of any size is migrating increasingly toward a largely digital environment. In many cases that makes things easier and faster, but the U. S. government has made extraordinary efforts in the last decade to essentially monitor everything everyone in this country says and does. It’s kind of amazing and ominous what has happened. Read this article from Wired. It does a very good job of painting the larger picture of what is going on: The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)
Did you notice the part where the former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state”? When a former senior official of this agency says that – knowing what he knows – then it is reason for pause.
This is important because what has been put in place is a system to control all of us – to understand enough about what everyone is doing to be able to act against individuals and groups that are in some way considered “threatening” to whoever in the government decides at any given time that they don’t like what you have done. It is literally that broad. Last week the president signed an executive order that essentially gives the authority to almost every cabinet secretary to do whatever they deem necessary to whoever they choose, whether it is a time of crisis or not, to support their agency’s notions of national security.
There was a demonstration at the state capitol in Richmond, Viginia during the last two weeks over some intrusive legislation that mandated invasive sonograms for women desiring an abortion. Regardless of what you think about that issue, the way the state police responded to this really peaceful demonstration is quite illuminating. One of my thoughtful friends sent along some pictures and commentary of the affair.
Below are images of last week's Women's rally on the steps of the Virginia State Capital.
Note the contrast between the protestors and the police. There was no violence by the
protestors. No black-clad anarchists here. The most the newspapers could claim was that
the demonstration was "raucous." All of the arrests were of a small number of people
(31 people -- see 5th photo down) who sat on the steps of the State Capital and refused
an order to disperse, at which point the State Police gumbies and paramilitaries showed
up and arrested them.
And the cops, in full paramilitary battle-rattle and loaded for bear.
The operator on the far left is carrying a short-barrel "flat top" M4 variant of an AR15 with an EO Tech
holographic sight. It has a 300 yard range and a muzzle velocity of 2900 fps. The
operator in the middle is toting a 37mm Less-Lethal grenade launcher, a modern variant
of the old M203 40 mm grenade launcher. Third operator has some type of gas recoil
activated semi-automatic shotgun. And the guy on the far right has another M4 variant.
This is heavy-duty military stuff, also favored by elite FBI anti-terror teams.
And the cops in anti-riot gumby-suits, ready for the worst:
The "raucous" crowd before the cops moved in:
The arrestees sitting on the capital steps. Note the camo-dudes off to the far right behind
Luckily for all, this is about as unruly as things got:
But given police inclinations towards such disproportional over-response it is just a
matter of time before an M4-toting officer stumbles and his weapon discharges, or an
officer shooting non-lethal munitions hits someone in the head and kills them.
This trend of militarizing our police force and removing the historical constraints on how they can use their force has produced a never ending stream of YouTube videos of individuals being beaten by police for jaywalking or arguing in an airport over having missed a plane because of security procedures. We have given up our humanity for fear. When it comes to our government, at least, cooperation, communication and friendliness have been replaced by power, force and intrusiveness.
I suppose it would be one thing if there was a pressing threat, but as Kingsley Dennis said in New Consciousness for a New World: During the year of 2001, which was when the 9/11 attack took place, in the United States alone, the following numbers of people were killed from various causes.
Malnutrition:|| 3,500 |
HIVAIDS:|| 14,000 |
Pneumonia:|| 62,000 |
Heart disease:|| 700,000+|
Traffic accidents:|| 42,000+|
Firearms-related incidents:|| 30,000+|
International terrorism, however, had a figure of around 3,000 (which were mostly from the 9/11 event) .
As Micah Zenko and Michael A. Cohen say in the present issue of Foreign Affairs in their excellent article, “Clear and Present Safety: The United States Is More Secure Than Washington Thinks”,
“Much of the fear that suffuses U.S. foreign policy stems from the trauma of 9/11. Yet although the tactic of terrorism remains a scourge in localized conflicts, between 2006 and 2010, the total number of terrorist attacks declined by almost 20 percent, and the number of deaths caused by terrorism fell by 35 percent, according to the U.S. State Department. In 2010, more than three-quarters of all victims of terrorism—meaning deliberate, politically motivated violence by nonstate groups against noncombatant targets—were injured or killed in the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia. Of the 13,186 people killed by terrorist attacks in 2010, only 15, or 0.1 percent, were U.S. citizens. In most places today—and especially in the United States—the chances of dying from a terrorist attack or in a military conflict have fallen almost to zero”.
To put a point on all of this, in 2005, 26 Americans died of dog bites. In 2006 there were 31, in 2007, 35 died, and in 2008, dogs killed 23 people. Fewer Americans died of terrorist attacks in all of those years than of dog bites, yet we’ve spent over a trillion dollars and injected extraordinary fear into our society over an essentially non-existent threat (that assertion, by the way, can be quite easily defended as it is done in the Zenko and Cohen article).
I think, in order to be able to have some understanding of what is happening on this planet these days, it’s important to be aware of the full spectrum of trends that are converging on our near future, hence the information above.
But that’s not the whole story – not by a long shot. For example, this last week I was in Atlanta and had dinner with a friend who gave me Peter Diamandis’ new book, Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think.
My, what a breath of fresh air! Peter has chronicled a wonderful collection of (mostly technological) trends that really hold out great hope for bettering many areas of our lives. It’s so easy to get focused on all of what appears to be the bad news and forget the larger perspective.
There are increasing indications that significant disruptive events are headed into our near future, events that will greatly disrupt the status quo. That is what gives me hope – the notion that there is emerging, throughout all of the attempts to tie us to the past – a new world that will not be based on fear and control and scarcity, but on a set of values and principles that will dramatically and positively shape and illuminate the way we live in the near future.
It’s getting there that will be the interesting part!
The Fastest Growing Bank in the US is Facebook – (High Velocity – March 10, 2012)
The fastest growing bank in the U.S. is Facebook, writes Shamir Karkal, who says the company accepts deposits and provides means for payment - "pretty darn close to being a bank." So-called "deferred revenue and deposits," rose 114% last year to $90M - a puny amount - but rapid growth looks likely for years to come, and all without being subject to bank regulation.
American Express Incentives to Push Deals on Twitter - (New York Times - March 7, 2012)
Amex may seek you out, particularly if you’re influential with your Twitter followers in a particular subject area, such as food or cars. (Companies like Klout keep track of such things, assigning social network users a score that measures their power to influence others.) That’s because there’s a new way for American Express cardholders to earn rewards — but you have to Tweet for these savings. Amex customers can now sync their credit cards to their Twitter accounts, which will make them eligible for credits applied to their monthly statements. The savings can be pretty good. They include a $10 statement credit when you spend $100 at Best Buy or $50 at H&M, the clothing store. At Dell, you need to spend $599 to receive $100. And at McDonald’s, if you spend $5, you’ll get the entire amount back. You won’t have to feel like a total shill, but let’s not fool ourselves; that’s exactly what you will be, as American Express is hoping you’ll share the details of its promotion with your Twitter followers, and then they will let their followers know.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Swiss Government's Remarkable Report on Homeopathic Medicine – (Huffington Post – February 15, 2012)
Released in late 2011, the Swiss government's report on homeopathic medicine represents the most comprehensive evaluation of homeopathic medicine ever written by a government and it has just been published in English (Bornhoft and Matthiessen, 2011). This report affirmed that homeopathic treatment is both effective and cost-effective and that homeopathic treatment should be reimbursed by Switzerland's national health insurance program. The report included a comprehensive review the body of evidence from randomized double-blind and placebo controlled clinical trials testing homeopathic medicines; evaluated the "real world effectiveness" as well as safety and cost-effectiveness; and reviewed the wide body of preclinical research (fundamental physio-chemical research, botanical studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies with human cells). Still further, the report evaluated systematic reviews and meta-analyses, outcome studies, and epidemiological research.
The Myth of the Eight-Hour Sleep – (BBC News – February 22, 2012)
Lying awake in the middle of the night could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that eight uninterrupted hours of sleep may be unnatural. In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks. His book, At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern - in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer's Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria. These references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep. "It's not just the number of references - it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge," Ekirch says.
New Gels Heal Themselves—and Maybe You – (Scientific American – March 7, 2012)
They’re called hydogels: Jell-O-like materials made of networks of long-chain molecules in water. And they’re as flexible as living tissue. But hydrogels could not recover from a cut—until now. Bioengineers at U.C. San Diego have made hydrogels that are self-healing in acidic conditions. in the new gels, additional molecular chains dangle from the primary structure. When two pieces of the cut hydrogel are pressed together in an acidic solution, the side chains of each piece tangle up to weld the parts together. These hydrogels could seal up industrial acid leakages and contribute to self-healing plastics. In the acidic environment of the stomach, they could bandage holes or deliver drugs to ulcers. The researchers are now trying to make gels that mend at a range of pH levels.
Scientists Claim Brain Memory Code Cracked – (Science Daily – March 9, 2012)
Despite a century of research, memory encoding in the brain has remained mysterious. Neuronal synaptic connection strengths are involved, but synaptic components are short-lived while memories last lifetimes. This suggests synaptic information is encoded and hard-wired at a deeper, finer-grained molecular scale. However, physicists Travis Craddock and Jack Tuszynski of the University of Alberta, and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff of the University of Arizona have now demonstrated a plausible mechanism for encoding synaptic memory in microtubules, major components of the structural cytoskeleton within neurons. Microtubules are cylindrical hexagonal lattice polymers of the protein tubulin, comprising 15% of total brain protein. Microtubules define neuronal architecture, regulate synapses, and are suggested to process information via interactive bit-like states of tubulin. But any semblance of a common code connecting microtubules to synaptic activity has been missing. Until now.
Can You Build a Human Body? – (BBC News – March 14, 2012)
Here is an interactive guide to some of the latest developments in bionic body parts.
Industrial Chemical Exposure Can Cause Learning Problems and Hyperactivity - (Nation of Change - March 6, 2012)
New research conducted in New Bedford, Massachusetts suggests that industrial chemicals, which were first linked to learning problems in children more than two decades ago, may play a role in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Bedford is a community contaminated by an old burn dump containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Banned in the United States more than 30 years ago, PCBs are long-lived industrial chemicals that accumulate in food chains. Nearly every U.S. resident still has detectable levels in his or her blood. PCBs have the ability to disrupt hormones, which can alter how the brain develops.
The Climate Wizard – (Climate Wizard website – no date)
Here is an interactive website modeling the world (or, as an alternate, just the U.S.) temperatures with numerous factors that influence climate change. Tweak the various parameters and see how global or national temperatures might change.
“Miracle Tree” Substance Produces Clean Drinking Water Inexpensively and Sustainably – (ACS – February 27, 2012)
Removing the disease-causing microbes and sediment from drinking water requires technology not always available in rural areas of developing countries. For an alternative approach, scientists looked to Moringa oleifera, also called the “miracle tree,” a plant grown in equatorial regions for food, traditional medicine and biofuel. Lead researcher Stephanie B. Velegol, Pennsylvania State University explained, “Past research showed that a protein in Moringa seeds can clean water. One approach creates water that could not be stored and the other approach is too expensive and complicated. We wanted to develop a simpler and less expensive way to utilize the seeds’ power.” To do that, they added an extract of the seed containing the positively charged Moringa protein, which binds to sediment and kills microbes, to negatively charged sand.
1-in-8 Chance of a Catastrophic Solar Megastorm by 2020 – (Gizmodo – February 29, 2012)
The Earth has a roughly 12% chance of experiencing a megaflare erupting from the sun in the next decade. This event could potentially cause trillions of dollars' worth of damage and take up to a decade to recover from. Such an extreme event is relatively rare. The last gigantic solar storm, known as the Carrington Event, occurred in 1859 and was the most powerful such event in recorded history. At the time of the Carrington Event, telegraph stations caught on fire, their networks experienced major outages and magnetic observatories recorded disturbances in the Earth's field that were literally off the scale. In today's electrically dependent modern world, a similar scale solar storm could have catastrophic consequences. Auroras damage electrical power grids and may contribute to the erosion of oil and gas pipelines. They can disrupt GPS satellites and disturb or even completely black out radio communication on Earth.
Detonate the Transparency Grenade to Instantly Collect and Leak Sensitive Data – (GizMag – February 20, 2012)
The transparency grenade is going to blow you away. This tiny bit of hardware hidden under the shell shaped like a classic Soviet F1 hand grenade allows you to leak information from anywhere just by pulling a pin. The device is essentially a small computer with a powerful wireless antenna and a microphone. Following detonation, the grenade intercepts local network traffic and captures audio data, then makes the information immediately available online. The “grenade” was designed by Julian Oliver for an arts exhibition, but it is very much real and tangible. The development of a "transparency grenade" app for rooted Android devices is already under way.
Google to Release Head Up Glasses – (Flying – March 1, 2012)
Word has leaked that Google is planning to unveil some hardware later this year that will get pilots dreaming and developers drooling. Google’s sunglasses are designed to house a head-up display. The glasses, according to a report in the New York Times and on several tech websites, will cost several hundred dollars, feature Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity along with integral GPS and accelerometers. The HUD Glasses — Google hasn’t released any official information on the product — will run Google’s Android operating system and will integrate with Google Maps.
Raspberry Pi Demand Running at 700 Per Second – (Guardian – March 5, 2012)
Demand for the Raspberry Pi computer – a £22 British-designed system ($35) – was still running at 700 per second at the end of last week, according to one of its main distributors in the UK. The device, intended to make programming simple and accessible for children, has also attracted interest from a Middle East country which plans to issue one to every schoolgirl, said Harriet Green, chief executive of Premier Farnell, which is selling the device via its site. "It's interesting to look at why there's so much excitement around Raspberry Pi," said Green. "I think that a lot of teachers, parents and children are worrying that they're becoming just consumers – taking something out of a box and plugging it in. There's a lot of points of concern about children being just consumers rather than creators and innovators." The Raspberry Pi has already sold its initial production run, of around 10,000 units. "Demand was 20 times greater than our supply," said Green. But the price will not be raised; the company will simply increase production as far as it can to meet demand.
This Startup Could Change the Entire Software Industry – (Business Insider – March 5, 2012)
Startup Numecent offers something it calls "cloud paging" and, if successful, it could be a game-changer for enterprise software, video gaming, and smartphone apps. Red Hat thinks so. It has already partnered with the company to help it offer Windows software to Linux users. "Cloud paging" instantly "cloudifies" any software, even an operating system like Windows itself, says founder and CEO Osman Kent. It lets any software, with no modification, be delivered from the cloud and run as fast or faster than if the app was on your desktop. Lots of so-called "desktop virtualization" services work fast. But cloud-paging can even operate the cloud software if the PC gets disconnected from the network or Internet. It can also turn a smartphone into a server. That means a bunch of devices like tablets can run the software—for example a game— off a smartphone.
Now You Can Buy an Entire House from IKEA – (Time – March 2, 2012)
The Swedish company, IKEA, has partnered with Oregon architectural firm Ideabox to launch a line of prefabricated homes. Dubbed “aktiv,” the one-bedroom homes will be decked out entirely in hip IKEA decor. Expected to sell at $86,500, the homes are “Swedish inspired” and “full of personality.” The houses are reminiscent of trailers or motor homes — neat little 53′ x 14′ rectangles. Ideabox says there’s “no wasted space,” which makes sense, since there’s not much space to be wasted. A combination of corrugated metal, fiber-cement siding, and a metal roof house the mini IKEA wonderland, which comes equipped with a dual-flush toilet and energy-efficient electronics. If, however, you are looking for something at the other end of the scale, see: Castles in Need of a Lord.
Power Felt Generates Energy from Body Heat – (GizMag – February 22, 2012)
Some day, your jacket may be able to power your iPod because your jacket might be made out of a new thermoelectric material called Power Felt, that converts temperature differences into electrical voltage - in the case of the jacket, the difference between its wind-cooled exterior and its body-warmed lining might be all that was needed. Power Felt was created by a team of researchers at North Carolina's Wake Forest University, led by graduate student Corey Hewitt. The material is made up of carbon nanotubes contained within flexible plastic fibers, and reportedly feels like regular felt. Should you choose to feel it, the temperature of your bare fingertip will be enough to create a measurable current.
New Hybrid Energy Device Could Clean Water While Generating Power – (GeekoSystem – March 2, 2012)
How to keep public supplies of water clean and divest ourselves of waste water has been an ongoing problem especially in urban areas. However, new technology from Penn State University might not only clean water, but produce enough electrical power to be self-sustaining. The Penn State device is a hybrid one, comprised of two fundamental pieces of technology: Microbial fuel cells and reverse electrodialysis. The two techniques can generate power in their own right, but on their own they cannot practically be made self-sustaining. A microbial fuel uses two chambers separated by a semi-permeable barrier, with an electrode in each. One side of the fuel cell contains waste water and an electrode coated in microbes. As the microbes digest the organic material in the waste water, they create electrons, protons, and simple molecules like CO2. Here’s where things get clever: The protons pass through the barrier unaided, but the electrons are trapped, creating a concentration on either side of the chambers. The electrons then move through the microbe-covered electrode, through a circuit, and finally end up on the other side of the chamber where they recombine with the protons and oxygen, generating water as a by-product.
The Troubling Case of Andrea Rossi – (Next Big Future – March 2, 2012)
Steven Krivit is the editor of the New Energy Times and an authority on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR). He has spent the past decade thoroughly and scientifically studying LENR phenomena. The entrepreneur Andrea Rossi has claimed to have invented a LENR device capable of producing far more energy than it takes in. In an interview, Krivit discusses the absence of scientific evidence to support Rossi's claims, the questionable nature of the demonstrations that Rossi has given, and the reasons why he is a skeptic both of Rossi and of his E-Cat device.
$50 Light Bulb Could Save You a Fortune – (Business Insider – March 13, 2012)
The winner of the U.S. Department of Energy’s $10 million L Prize competition for lighting innovation – Philips Electronics – came up with a $50 LED (light emitting diode) bulb. Carefully working out the math, over ten years (the life of the new bulb), consumers would pay $210 for conventional bulbs and electricity, with most of the money going to the local utility. If they use the prize-winning bulb, they would spend $80 with most of the money going to the manufacturer of the bulb and the retailers.
Virgin Galactic Aims to Test Fly Ship in Space This Year – (Yahoo – February 28, 2012)
Virgin Galactic, an offshoot of Richard Branson's Virgin Group, expects to test fly its first spacecraft beyond the Earth's atmosphere this year, with commercial suborbital passenger service to follow in 2013 or 2014. Nearly 500 customers have signed up for rides on SpaceShipTwo, a six-passenger, two-pilot spaceship being built and tested by Scaled Composites, an aerospace company founded by aircraft designer Burt Rutan and now owned by Northrop Grumman. The suborbital flights, which cost $200,000 per person, are designed to reach an altitude of about 68 miles, giving fliers a few minutes to experience zero gravity and glimpse Earth set against the blackness of space.
Campbell’s Soup to Remove BPA from Soup Cans – (Seattle Press Intelligencer – March 9, 2012)
Campbell’s Soup says it will stop using the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, in the linings of its cans as soon as it can find “feasible alternatives”. “When the world’s largest soup maker moves to remove BPA from its cans, that sends a signal to the rest of the food and beverage industry to do the same,” said Jane Houlihan, EWG senior vice president for research. “Unlike some of its competitors, Campbell’s has listened to its customers’ concerns. It plans to remove this toxic chemical, which is associated with a very long list of serious health problems, many of which are on the rise among Americans.” Last September, the Breast Cancer Fund launched their Cans Not Cancer campaign which, with the help of Healthy Child Healthy World, generated more than 70,000 letters to the company urging it to find an alternative can lining that didn’t contain BPA, a synthetic estrogen that disrupts the hormone system. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had found detectable levels of BPA in the urine of 93% of Americans over the age of 6.
Raise Crops on the Moon with Plant-Growing Jelly – (Nature Next – February, 2012)
In dry areas like the desert, on mountain tops or on the moon it’s impossible to grow anything. Or is it? Conceived of by industrial design students Ruud van Reijmersdal, Tom Slijkhuis, Joppe Spaans and Jeroen Rood, this speculative project consists of a gel which serves as an ideal growing environment for food crops. The gel contains all the vital nutrients for a plant to grow, and insulates it from extremes of temperatures. Isolated the plant from the outside world could enable plants to grow anywhere, even on the moon. This enriched environment would attractive for mass-production, as fruits and vegetables could grow faster, earlier, and take up less space than traditional methods. To learn more, read the Project Report
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
FBI Creating System to Monitor All Conversations on Social Networking Sites – (Nation of Change – March 11, 2012)
The goal, according to the Bureau's request, is to develop a sort of early warning system that provides real-time intelligence to improve "the FBI's overall situational awareness." The proposed program must "have the ability to rapidly assemble critical open source information and intelligence that will allow SIOC to quickly vet, identify, and geo-locate breaking events, incidents, and emerging threats." The FBI, however, is a domestic law enforcement apparatus, and as such, subject to constitutional restrictions regarding the development of its cases. In defending its request for the development of a social media-monitoring program, the FBI emphasized its focus on the "publicly available" information- the same information that is accessible to marketers and advertisers.
Pentagon Considers On-demand Disposable Satellites – (BBC News – March 14, 2012)
Squads of disposable mini-satellites able to provide reconnaissance to soldiers at the "press of a button" are being considered by the US military. The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) says the machines could provide tactical information at times when existing satellites were not in position. Darpa has invited manufacturers to discuss the project, expecting the satellites to cost around $500,000 apiece. "We envision a constellation of small satellites, at a fraction of the cost of airborne systems, that would allow deployed warfighters to hit 'see me' on existing handheld devices and in less than 90 minutes receive a satellite image of their precise location to aid in mission planning," the agency says in a statement. Each constellation should consist of about 24 satellites able to stay in low-Earth orbit for 60-90 days before burning up on re-entry.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
Wyoming House Advances Doomsday Bill – (Tribune – February 24, 2012)
Wyoming State representatives have advanced legislation to study what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States. House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government. Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.
The U.S. Legacy in Iraq – (Lobe Log – March 1, 2012)
Please ignore the official title of the article and the tasteless opening “joke”. Cut to the chase: The number of documented Iraqi civilian deaths from violence since the onset of the “Second Iraq War” now totals between 105,000-115,000, according to the continuously updated Iraq Body Count database. According to the WikiLeaks Iraq war logs, the figure may be 13,750 higher still. Official Department of Defense statistics as of mid-December reveal that 4,484 members of the US military and 1,487 private military contractors have lost their lives since the war began, as well as 319 “Coalition” troops, 348 journalists and 448 academics. Estimates of the number of Americans wounded range from an official count of 33,000 to estimates of over 100,000. Iraqi physicians are seeing an upsurge in cancers and birth defects, which they blame on the usage of depleted uranium in the shells and bombs used by US and British forces in the 1991 Iraq war and the 2003 invasion. An estimated 300 tons of depleted uranium were used to attack Iraq in the First Gulf War. The effects of depleted uranium on the human body don’t even begin to manifest until 5-6 years after exposure. Iraqi cancer rates spiked in 1996-1997 and 2008-2009. The BBC reports that babies born in Fallujah now have 13 times the rate of congenital heart deformities than European-born infants. The director of the Afghan Depleted Uranium and Recovery Fund, Dr. Daud Miraki, has found that increasing numbers of infants in eastern and southeastern Afghanistan are being born without eyes or limbs, and have tumors protruding from their mouths and eyes. The Pentagon denies any connection with the US military’s use of depleted uranium, even though (or perhaps because) these same effects are endangering veterans returning to the US from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Spyware Assails Russian Opposition Members – (CNN – March 9, 2012)
A computer virus campaign is targeting opponents of Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin, according to anti-virus software maker Symantec. A wave of spam e-mails promoting a rally against the newly elected president is delivering the spyware as an attachment that appears to be a Word document. In reality, the file is a software program known as "Trojan.Dropper." The spam e-mails began circulating sometime around March 5, according to an entry Wednesday on Symantec's official blog. The Trojan also attempts to connect to IP address 188.8.131.52 (down at the time of analysis), Symantec says. This server address is located in Switzerland, but it is associated with another virus that once operated off of a Web address with a Russian domain name.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Man with Locked-in Syndrome to Have Right-to-Die Case Heard – (BBC News – March 12, 2012)
British subject, Tony Nicklinson, a paralyzed man who wants a doctor to be able to lawfully end his life can proceed with his "right-to-die" case, a High Court judge has ruled. “It is no longer acceptable for 21st Century medicine to be governed by 20th Century attitudes.” Mr. Nicklinson, who communicates through the use of an electronic board or special computer, said before the ruling that his life was "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable". He went on to spell out: "I can just about cope with life at the moment, but not forever." Mr. Nicklinson is seeking a court declaration based on his right to "respect for private life" under Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention - in effect saying that in his circumstances, his right to life should include the right to end his life in a humane manner of his choosing.
Tide Detergent Thefts Fund US Drug Habits (BBC News- March 14, 2012)
Proctor and Gamble never imagined that Tide would become an “alternative currency”. Large bottles of Tide, a leading laundry liquid - which cost some $20 legally - have become a black market currency. Shop workers are increasing security measures around their stocks of Tide. In Washington DC, local branches of the nationwide pharmacy chain CVS have attached anti-theft tags to bottles. One branch in the Dupont Circle area of the city keeps the bottles locked up behind glass. One Safeway supermarket in Maryland was losing thousands of dollars of stock each week before two dozen arrests were made. For a variety of reasons, the detergent in the familiar flame-orange bottle is well-suited for resale on the black market: Everybody needs laundry detergent; Tide is the nation's most popular brand; it's expensive; and it doesn't spoil. It's not clear how new the Tide theft phenomenon is, but organized theft has been a growing problem for U.S. retailers, costing them $3.53 billion in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation. Other popular items for thieves include baby formula, razor blades and over-the-counter medication. See also: this article.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Strange, Colossal Explosions on Venus – (Daily Galaxy – March 6, 2012)
Odd, colossal explosions, known as hot flow anomalies (HFAs) fueled by solar energy detonate just above the surface of Venus, a new study finds. Similar eruptions have been seen before near Earth, Saturn and possibly Mars. This is the first true confirmation of HFAs on Venus, which differ dramatically from what happens near our planet with its strong magnetic field. "At Venus, since there's no protective magnetic field, the explosion happens right above the surface of the planet," according to study lead author Glyn Collinson, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. "Hot flow anomalies release so much energy that the solar wind is deflected, and can even move back toward the sun. That's a lot of energy when you consider that the solar wind is supersonic – traveling faster than the speed of sound – and the HFA is strong enough to make it turn around."
Our Universe Is Merely a Region of an Enormous Galaxy – (Daily Galaxy – March 7, 2012)
Our universe is merely a part of an enormous universe containing diverse regions each with the right amount of the "dark energy" and each larger than the observed universe, according to Raphael Bousso, Professor of Theoretical Physics at UC Berkeley and Leonard Susskind, Professor of Physics, Stanford University. The two theorize that information can leak from our causal patch into others, allowing our part of the universe to "decohere" into one state or another, resulting in the universe that we observe. According to Sir Martin Rees, physicist, Cambridge University, "This new concept is, potentially, as drastic an enlargement of our cosmic perspective as the shift from pre-Copernican ideas to the realization that the Earth is orbiting a typical star on the edge of the Milky Way."
Mirror Symmetry in the Milky Way – (Daily Galaxy – March 7, 2012)
The discovery last year of a vast section of a spiral, star-forming arm at the Milky Way’s outskirts about 49,000 light-years from the galactic center, showed the galaxy to have a rare, beautiful symmetry -- one half of the Milky Way essentially mirrors the other half. The discovery provides evidence for a large-scale coherent structure, spanning 60 degrees in the sky, which contains giant molecular gas clouds far from the galactic center that contain an amount of molecular hydrogen equivalent to that of 50,000 suns. Thomas Dame and Patrick Thaddeus of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said the structure they discovered in 2011 is most likely the outer extension of the Scutum-Centaurus arm from the inner galaxy. The finding suggests that Scutum-Centaurus arm wraps all the way around the Milky Way, making it a symmetric counterpart to the galaxy’s other major star-forming arm, Perseus. The two arms appear to extend from opposite ends of the galaxy’s central, bar-shaped cluster of stars, each winding around the galaxy. The feature was previously overlooked because it tilts out of the plane of the galaxy, following the outer galaxy’s warp.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Japanese Researchers Invent Gun that Silences Speech – (Extinction Protocol – March 2, 2012)
Japanese researchers have created a hand-held gun that can jam the words of speakers who are more than 100 feet away. According to the researchers: At its most basic, this gun could be used in libraries and other quiet spaces to stop people from speaking — but its second application is more chilling. The researchers were looking for a way to stop “louder, stronger” voices from saying more than their fair share in conversation. The paper reads: “We have to establish and obey rules for proper turn-taking when speaking. However, some people tend to lengthen their turns or deliberately interrupt other people when it is their turn in order to establish their presence rather than achieve more fruitful discussions. Furthermore, some people tend to jeer at speakers to invalidate their speech.” In other words, the speech-jamming gun was built to enforce “proper” conversations. The gun works by listening in with a directional microphone, and then, after a short delay of around 0.2 seconds, playing it back with a directional speaker. This triggers an effect that psychologists call Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF), which has long been known to interrupt your speech.
James Cameron Performs Deepest-ever Solo Sub Dive, with a Deeper One on the Way – (Gizmag – March 11, 2012)
Film director and deep-sea explorer James Cameron is setting his sights on a solo trip to the ocean's deepest point, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench off Guam. Only two people have made it to where Cameron intends to go later this year - Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh - when they co-piloted Project Nekton's (U.S. Navy) bathyscaphe Trieste to the sea's deepest floor on January 23, 1960. When the Trieste landed, it kicked up clouds of silt that rendered photography impossible. Cameron's specially-designed high-tech submersible, the Deepsea Challenger, will be able to hover just off the bottom and capture footage of such high quality, some of it will likely end up in his upcoming Avatar sequel. Eight years in the making, the unusual, vertically-configured, 24-foot tall, 11.8-ton deep-ocean, one-person sub (photos in article) is a technological wonder that incorporates surprisingly little off-the-shelf equipment in its design.
Heart Drug Can Alter Racial Attitudes – (Independent – March 7, 2012)
It is not a cure for racism - but researches have discovered that a commonly prescribed heart drug alters subconscious racial attitudes. The researchers say racism is founded on fear and the heart drug used in the study, propranolol, helps damp down fear by blocking nerve circuits that govern the heart rate and the part of the brain linked with emotional responses. “Biological research aiming to make people morally better has a dark history. Propranolol is not a pill to cure racism. But given that many people are already using drugs like propranolol which have 'moral' side effects, we at least need to better understand what these effects are,” according to Professor Savulescu of Oxford University, co-author of the study.
Ancient Builders Created Monumental Structures that Altered Sound and Mind – (Popular Archeology – March 5, 2012)
Beginning in 2008, a recent and ongoing study of the massive 6,000-year-old stone structure complex known as the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum on the island of Malta is producing some revelatory results. This structure features central corridors and curved chambers and is unique in that it is subterranean, created through the removal of an estimated 2,000 tons of stone carved out with stone hammers and antler picks. Low voices within its walls create eerie, reverberating echoes, and a sound made or words spoken in certain places can be clearly heard throughout all of its three levels. Now, scientists are suggesting that certain sound vibration frequencies created when sound is emitted within its walls are actually altering human brain functions of those within earshot. "Findings indicated that at 110 Hz, the patterns of activity over the prefrontal cortex abruptly shifted, resulting in a relative deactivation of the language center and a temporary shifting from left to right-sided dominance related to emotional processing and creativity.”
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.
The True Size of Africa – (Information is Beautiful – October 14, 2010)
Good graphical display, as opposed to numerical data, can sometimes convey information brilliantly – and almost instantly. Here are some graphic presentations that may give you a new perspective on relative size. See also this elegantly conceived website which gives you a sense of perspective relative to the entire universe.
JUST FOR FUN
Beauty in Every Grain – (Daily Mail – July 5, 2011)
When you're walking along the beach, what's under your feet might be more lovely than you imagine. Take a look at these close-up photos of grains of sand.
A FINAL QUOTE...
To predict the future, we need logic; but we also need faith and imagination, which can sometimes defy logic itself. – Arthur C. Clarke
A special thanks to: Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Richard Giles, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Bobbie Rohn, Karina Stewart, Gary Sycalik, David Treinis, Ed Weklar, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks.
Edited by John L. Petersen