|Volume 13, Number 4 – 2/28/10FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS|
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
Factory farms are probably a long-term fact, but it is still possible to reduce the animals’ discomfort. Recent advances suggest it may soon be possible to genetically engineer livestock so that they suffer much less.With enough number crunching and a powerful brain scanner, science can pluck pictures-and maybe one day even thoughts- directly from your brain.South Carolina now requires all ‘subversives’ to register with the Secretary of State and pay a $5 filing fee.Almost no country can have full employment and still remain competitive. But no one knows how to structure a sustainable economy – or sustainable government – with a permanent, real unemployment rate of 20% or more.
by John L. Petersen
In the last issue of FUTUREdition I made mention of Mitch Battros’ book, Solar Rain which, published in 2005, made note of significant shortcomings in the collection of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) data which underpins almost all of the notions that most people and governments have about climate change. That common perspective is that the earth is getting warmer and that human activity is an important contributing factor to that escalation. It’s known as AGW, anthropomorphic global warming. Essentially all national initiatives and policies related to reducing CO2 and carbon trading and sequestration are based upon IPCC data and pronouncements.
Battros said, (remember, this is five years ago), quoting from an article in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters:Many teams have tried to independently replicate the above (hockey stick) chart, but none has succeeded, yet the IPCC inexplicably accepted the theory as scientific fact.One of the article’s authors asked Professor Michael Mann (one of the principal authors of the hockey stick chart) for his original data and was told, “We’ve forgotten where we put it.” The IPCC never actually verified the data.Mann has been vague and evasive on which “proxies,” such as tree rings, he used. Initially it was 112, but then in 2003, Mann suddenly increased the number to 159.When asked, Mann refused to provide the original computer code for his model, but McIntyre (one of the authors) found evidence that Mann had worked backwards from the hockey stick graph to determine which tree rings to select.Climatologists know for a fact that the weather in the 15th century was actually warmer than in the 20th century, but Mann’s model completely ignores it.Every time I have mentioned the possible problem with this data and the implications that have been drawn from it I have received communications from well-meaning friends and FUTUREdition readers imploring me to be more “balanced” in dealing with the subject. Some folks have cancelled their subscription to this newsletter because I raised these issues, suggesting that I was a “denier” of the obvious indications that the world was warming and that if we all didn’t do something about it – fast – that humanity itself was threatened.
Well, now it turns out that all of those allegations (and even more data manipulations) were quite true and even worse, some “threats” – like the supposed fact that Himalayan glaciers would all be melted by about 2030 putting at risk the lives of billions of downstream Asians – were just made up . . . in order to generate funding for the author’s (and many other scientists’) projects.
Please read this article from the IMVA Medical News which reports that “Professor Phil Jones, who is at the centre of the “Climategate” affair, conceded that there has been no “statistically significant” rise in temperatures since 1995.
“Jones, the former director of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at Britain’s University of East Anglia, admitted to the BBC in February of 2010 not only the statistics but stated that from January 2002 to the present, the earth has been cooling and that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) from 800 to 1300 A.D., did in fact exist; a scientifically accepted fact that Jones and other climate researchers tried to discount or hide.”
But the glaciers are melting, you say. Yes, there are some places that are warmer than they have been and some glaciers are indeed melting, but there are also many major places that are significantly colder (read the article at the link) and other glaciers that are rapidly expanding. On the average, the global temperature has not changed.
What’s also interesting about this piece is that it echoes Mitch Battros’s notion that this climate shift is being greatly influenced by the sun. “Climate is changing much faster, stronger and sooner than anyone expected and it is changing in unexpected ways. It is supposed to be warming but the reality is actually cooling. Sami K. Solanki of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research announced that he believes the Sun is leaving its fifty to sixty year long grand maximum of the second half of the 20th century. He had said previously that the Sun was more active in the second half of the 20th century than in the previous 8,000 years. Solanki holds that a repeat of the Dalton Minimum is most likely, and that the earth is in for an unusually deep and long solar minimum. The sun is cycling through its own solar minimum phase and naturally when things calm down in terms of solar radiation, things tend to cool, not warm.”
Good friends have sent me this video, which purports to debunk the “deniers”. It features many indications of weather (not climate) and says that this indicates that the planet is warming. Weather, by definition, is short-term, and one or two months of warmer (or colder) weather can never be an accurate indication of what the global climate is doing. Look at the significant disparity in the underlying data points in the graphs that are shown. One scientist talks about his global climatic model that he implies predicts what the global weather is likely to be in 90 years (at the end of the century). Do you really believe that we have computer models that can predict what the climate might be almost a century from now? Since our models certainly didn’t anticipate the unusual weather that we are experiencing now, it takes a significant amount of hubris to believe that we understand what the climate might be that many decades from now.
I think it is vitally important to contextualize all of this:
If you think that science is without politics and is always practiced by individuals who are upstanding, honest and have high integrity – then you have not read much on the history of science. Science is hugely influenced by the availability of funding and the politics are extraordinarily brutal. And by the way, much of what we think we know will be proven wrong in time. That’s how it works.None of these models nor the scientists defending their theories of warming reference the effects of the sun on our climate. There are very good reasons to believe there are direct correlations between the general state of the sun and our climate and between the specific sunspot and coronal discharges and our weather. That idea is slowly working its way into the system of scientific knowledge. When it continues to get colder, that perspective will be harder to ignore.Please don’t get me wrong about all of this. Let me quickly and emphatically say that I really think we should be cleaning up the place and finding new, clean sources of energy. It’s inevitable that we will need new sources and the time is right to rapidly move in that direction. Personally, I’m involved in a number of new energy projects, each of which has the potential to significantly change the world – so I’m very much for new, clean energy.
At the same time, I also believe that honesty, integrity, truth, and common sense – virtues that seem to be increasingly in short supply these days – are really central to any healthy society.
A Global Social Network without the Language Barrier
Not Grass-Fed, but at Least Pain-Free
Neural Advertising: The Sounds We Can’t Resist
Augmented Identity – (Technology Review – February 23, 2010)
A new application lets users point a smart phone at a stranger and immediately learn about the person. Developed by The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), a Swedish mobile software and design firm, the prototype software, called Recognizr, combines computer vision, cloud computing, facial recognition, social networking, and augmented reality. “It’s taking social networking to the next level,” says Dan Gärdenfors, head of user experience research at TAT. “We thought the idea of bridging the way people used to meet, in the real world, and the new Internet-based ways of congregating would be really interesting.”
A Global Social Network without the Language Barrier – Mojofiti – (Singularlity Hub – February 16, 2010)
Mojofiti has a simple but awesome concept behind it: connect people together in a world without language barriers. The Mojofiti website, now in its second round of Beta testing, allows you to build a profile, make friends, form groups, and start a blog – your standard social networking tools. The twist is in a series of tabs on the left of the screen bearing the flags of different nations. Click on a flag and everything on the site is instantly translated into any one of 27 different languages. The real innovation is not that you can arbitrarily translate your text into another language, but that you have access to thousands of other users without having to worry about their native language.
Not Grass-Fed, but at Least Pain-Free – (New York Times – February 18, 2010)
Factory farms: Veal calves and gestating sows are so confined as to suffer painful bone and joint problems. The unnatural high-grain diets provided in feedlots cause severe gastric distress in many animals. And faulty or improperly used stun guns cause the painful deaths of thousands of cows and pigs a year. However, we are most likely stuck with factory farms, given that they produce most of the beef and pork Americans consume. But it is still possible to reduce the animals’ discomfort – through neuroscience. Recent advances suggest it may soon be possible to genetically engineer livestock so that they suffer much less.
Neural Advertising: The Sounds We Can’t Resist – (Time – March 1, 2010)
83% of all advertising principally engages the sense of sight. Hearing, however, can be just as powerful, though advertisers have taken only limited advantage of it. But advertisers are catching on. The 0101 department store in Japan, for example, has been designed as a series of soundscapes, playing different sound effects such as children at play, birdsongs and lapping water in the sportswear, fragrance and formal-wear sections. Lindstrom is consulting with clients about employing a similar strategy in European supermarkets, piping the sound of percolating coffee or fizzing soda into the beverage department or that of a baby cooing into the baby-food aisle.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY
What Do Aging, Inflammatory Disease, Cancer, Genes
and Telomeres Have in Common?
Rewinding the Clock for Aging Cells
Scientists Discover the Secret of Ageing
The Quest to Read the Human Mind
What Do Aging, Inflammatory Disease, Cancer, Genes and Telomeres Have in Common? – (Smart Economy – February 7, 2010)
Scientists have identified for the first time definitive variants associated with biological ageing in humans. The team analyzed more than 500,000 genetic variations across the entire human genome to identify the variants which are located near a gene called TERC. Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London who co-led this project, said: “What our study suggests is that some people are genetically programmed to age at a faster rate. The effect was quite considerable in those with the variant, equivalent to between 3-4 years of ‘biological aging’ as measured by telomere length loss.”
Rewinding the Clock for Aging Cells – (Technology Review – February 18, 2010)
People with a premature aging disease called dyskeratosis congenita often have genetic defects in one of the three components of telomerase, producing a range of abnormalities, including in the skin, blood, and gastrointestinal tract. The deadliest defect is an inability to replenish the various types of blood cells, leading to early death from infection or bleeding. In the new study, Suneet Agarwal, a physician and researcher at Children’s Hospital, and collaborators took skin cells from three patients with the disease and genetically engineered the cells to express a set of genes that triggers reprogramming, reverting the cells to an embryonic state. They were surprised to find that the reprogrammed cells grew and divided, their telomeres lengthening with subsequent divisions.
Scientists Discover the Secret of Ageing – (Financial Times – February 15, 2010)
One of the biggest puzzles in biology – how and why living cells age – has been solved. The answer is complex, and will not produce an elixir of eternal life in the foreseeable future. The research shows that when an ageing cell detects serious damage to its DNA – caused by the wear and tear of life – it sends out specific internal signals. These distress signals trigger the cell’s mitochondria, its tiny energy-producing power packs, to make oxidising “free radical” molecules, which in turn tell the cell either to destroy itself or to stop dividing. The aim is to avoid the damaged DNA that causes cancer. The discovery plays down the role of telomeres, the protective tips on the ends of human chromosomes, which gradually become shorter as we grow older. Tom Kirkwood, director of Newcastle’s Institute of Ageing and Health said, “The telomere story has over-promised and the biology is more complicated.”
The Quest to Read the Human Mind – (PopSci – February 9, 2010)
If a few very smart neuroscientists are right, with enough number crunching and a powerful brain scanner, science can pluck pictures-and maybe one day even thoughts- directly from your brain. Neuroscientist Jack Gallant – who prefers the term “neural decoding” to “mind reading” – knows that his algorithms are getting faster and more sophisticated all the time. In fact, last October, his lab managed to re-create entire video clips just by analyzing the brain patterns of people watching them. In one example, a reconstructed video of an elephant walking through the desert shows a blotchy Dumbo-shaped mass plodding across the screen. The fine details are lost, but the rendering is nonetheless impressive for having been pulled from someone’s brain. Using similar technology, other researchers are unlocking memories and dreams.
DISCOVERIES ENABLED BY NEW TECHNOLOGY
Latvian ‘Robin Hood’ Hacker Leaks Bank Details to TV – (BBC News – February 24, 2010)
Thanks to an anonymous hacker, the Latvian public is discovering a great deal. The hacker, who claims he wants to expose those cashing in on the recession in Latvia, is slowly passing details of leading Latvian firms via Twitter to a TV station. Data leaked so far includes pay details of managers from a Latvian bank that received a bail-out. It reveals that many did not take the salary cuts they promised. Other data shows that state-owned companies secretly awarded bonuses while publicly asking the government for help. The hacker, thought to be based in Britain, claims to be part of a group called the Fourth Awakening People’s Army that downloaded more than seven million confidential tax documents from the State Revenue Service and the private data of up to 1,000 companies.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
Bark Beetles’ Song Could Save Forests – (AZ Central – February 9, 2010)
Researchers at Northern Arizona University think they may have found an environmentally safe and readily available weapon against the tree-eating armies of bark beetles. When the beetles were exposed to digitally altered recordings of their own calls, the sounds they make to attract or repel other beetles, the response was immediate. The beetles stopped mating or burrowing. Some fled, helter-skelter. Some violently attacked each other. Most important, they stopped chewing away at the pine tree, suggesting that the scientists may have discovered a sort of sonic bullet that could help slow the beetles’ destructive march.
Killer Way to Slay the Google Beast!
You, Too, Can Soon Be Like Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’
Looks Can’t Kill But Might Control Your Phone
Computers Turn Flat Photos into 3-D Buildings
Killer Way to Slay the Google Beast! – (World Net Daily – January 17, 2010)
Who in the world knows as much about you and your private thoughts as Google? If you get a rash between your toes, you go into Google. If you have a miscarriage, you go into Google. If you lose your job, you look for unemployment benefit information on Google. People unwittingly share their most private thoughts with search engines, serving up snippets of deeply personal information about their lives, habits, troubles, health concerns, preferences and political leanings. In a December 2009 interview with CNBC, Google CEO Eric Schmidt divulged that search engines may turn over citizens’ private information to the government. “When was the last time a company making billions of dollars gave you every single thing they offered for free?” Katherine Albrecht, radio talk-show host, asked. “They’re not giving you those products for free. You’re the product.” But there is an alternative according to Albrecht, spokeswoman for Startpage, a proxy service that allows users to search and surf the Web anonymously.
You, Too, Can Soon Be Like Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’ – (New York Times – February 15, 2010)
John Underkoffler, who led the team that came up with the interface that Tom Cruise’s character used in the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” co-founded a company, Oblong Industries, to make the gesture-activated interface a reality. Using special gloves, Mr. Underkoffler demonstrated the interface – called the g-speak Spatial Operating Environment. In one part of the demonstration, he reached into a series of movies, plucked out a single character from each and placed them onto a “table” together where they continued to move. Gesture technology is already being used in Fortune 50 companies, government agencies and universities, and he predicted that it would soon be available for consumers. “I think in five years’ time, when you buy a computer, you’ll get this,” he said. In fact, consumers will get the first taste of gesture-based interfaces later this year.
Looks Can’t Kill But Might Control Your Phone – (PhysOrg – February 17, 2010)
If a technology demonstration by NTT DoCoMo goes anywhere, we may have to get ready for another odd sight: people who quickly flick their gaze sideways and roll their eyes for no apparent reason. They’ll be controlling their phones or their music players. NTT DoCoMo has created headphones that sense eye movements. For instance, you can look from right to left to pause your music. Look right, then right again, to skip to the next track. Roll them clockwise to raise the volume. The Eye-Controlled Earphones have electrodes around the outside of the buds. These electrodes, called ‘electroculograms’ (EOG), detect tiny difference in the electrical potential of the eyes as they move. The eye is positive at the cornea and negative at the retina. As the eyes move, the potential around it changes, and these changes can be used to control things.
Computers Turn Flat Photos into 3-D Buildings – (New York Times – February 23, 2010)
Computer science researchers at the University of Washington and Cornell University are deploying a system that will blend teamwork and collaboration with powerful graphics algorithms to create three-dimensional renderings of buildings, neighborhoods and potentially even entire cities. The original project has been commercialized as Microsoft’s Photosynth service, making it possible for users to upload collections of photos that can then be viewed in a quasi three-dimensional montage with a Web browser. However, Photosynth collections are generally limited to hundreds of photos. The researchers wanted to “scale” their technology to handle tens of thousands or even millions of photos. They also wanted to use computer processing power to transform the photos into true three-dimensional images, or what they refer to as a “dense point cloud.” To improve the quality of their rendering capabilities, the researchers plan to integrate their computing system with a social game that will permit competing teams to add images where they are most needed to improve the quality of the visual models.
Britain Faces Oil Crunch within Five Years
IBM Develops Promising Contender for Cheaper Solar Cells
Near-threshold Computing Could Enable up to 100x
Reduction in Power Consumption
Saudi Arabia Preparing for Oil Demand to Peak
Is the Bloom Box the iPod of Clean Energy?
Britain Faces Oil Crunch within Five Years – (Telegraph – February 10, 2010)
Consumers face a spike in costs for heating, transport, food and other goods, according to the report entitled ”The Oil Crunch – a wake up call for the UK economy”. The report said Government must acknowledge the risks to the economy and to produce contingency plans for transport, retail, agriculture and alternative power. ‘Unless we do so, we face a situation during the term of the next government where fuel price unrest could lead to shortages in consumer products and the UK’s energy security will be significantly compromised,” it said. The report was compiled by the Industry Taskforce for Peak Oil and Energy Security, a group of private British companies.
IBM Develops Promising Contender for Cheaper Solar Cells – (PhysOrg – February 11, 2010)
Solar cells could make fossil fuels virtually redundant if they were cheaper, but their use of rare elements and complex manufacturing processes makes them expensive. Now IBM Research has developed a prototype solar cell that solves both problems, using common, cheap elements (tin, zinc, copper, selenium, and sulfur) to replace expensive rare elements indium and tellurium, and an inexpensive manufacturing process.
Near-threshold Computing Could Enable up to 100x Reduction in Power Consumption – (Phys Org – February 17, 2010)
While electronic devices have greatly improved in many regards, such as in storage capacity, graphics, and overall performance, etc., they still have a weight hanging around their neck: they’re huge energy hogs. When it comes to energy efficiency, today’s computers, cell phones, and other gadgets are little better off than those from a decade ago, or more. Now a team of researchers from the University of Michigan have investigated a solution to the power problem by using a method called near-threshold computing (NTC). The researchers predict that NTC could enable future computer systems to reduce energy requirements by 10 to 100 times or more, by optimizing them for low-voltage operation. Unfortunately, to date, low-voltage operation also involves performance trade-offs: specifically, performance loss, performance variation, and memory and logic failures.
Saudi Arabia Preparing for Oil Demand to Peak – (Associated Press – February 15, 2010)
A top Saudi energy official expressed serious concern Monday that world oil demand could peak in the next decade and said his country was preparing for that eventuality by diversifying its economic base. Mohammed al-Sabban, lead climate talks negotiator, said the country with the world’s largest proven reserves of conventional crude is working to become the top exporter of energy, including alternative forms such as solar power. Some experts have argued that demand for oil, the chief export for Saudi Arabia and the vast majority of other Gulf Arab nations, has already peaked. Others say consumption will plateau soon, particularly in developed nations that are pushing for greater reliance on renewable energy sources.
Is the Bloom Box the iPod of Clean Energy? – (SF Gate – February 24, 2010)
The Bloom Box, a refrigerator-sized generator made by Silicon Valley startup Bloom Energy produces emissions-free energy. The box combines biofuel or natural gas with oxygen via a chemical reaction. With an estimated price tag of $700,000, a Bloom Box generates about 200 kW, enough electricity to power 100 American homes. The manufacturer says it will eventually market hand-held units powerful enough to run a single home for $3,000. The power will reportedly be cheaper than that purchased from standard power plants. Is the box as game-changing as its backers believe? Well, as 60 Minutes put it, it may just do to the power plant what the laptop did to the desktop because it doesn’t require a grid. Google was the first to sign up for a Bloom Box, and other big names such as Walmart and FedEx have also come on board, touting its efficiency. Video clip
Pandemic Hybrid of Bird and Human Flu Possible – (MediLexicon – February 24, 2010)
An international team of scientists has created a highly pathogenic laboratory hybrid of the H5N1 bird flu and human seasonal flu viruses by swapping just one gene, and propose that a similar genetic interaction could happen in nature between the current pandemic H1N1 swine flu and H5N1 avian flu strains, highlighting the importance of continued surveillance. When two different virus strains infect the same host, they often exchange genes, a process known as reassortment. A significant number of experts are concerned that as H5N1 spreads more widely and infects more people, it will come across more hosts who are also carrying human seasonal flu viruses. This increases the likelihood of a new strain emerging that has the severity of the bird flu virus and the infection rate of the swine flu virus, leading to a new global pandemic with much deadlier consequences than the one we are experiencing at the moment.
Researchers Develop Nanofiber-Based Technology
to Make Energy-Efficient Lighting
A Stellar, Metal-Free Way to Make Carbon Nanotubes
Researchers Develop Nanofiber-Based Technology to Make Energy-Efficient Lighting – (PhysOrg – February 10, 2010)
RTI International has developed a revolutionary lighting technology that is more energy efficient than the common incandescent light bulb and does not contain mercury, making it environmentally safer than the compact fluorescent light bulb. RTI’s technologycenters around advancements in the nanoscale properties of materials to create high-performance, nanofiber-based reflectors and photoluminescent nanofibers (PLN). When the two nanoscale technologies are combined, a high-efficiency lighting device is produced that is capable of generating in excess of 55 lumens of light output per electrical watt consumed. This efficiency is more than five times greater than that of traditional incandescent bulbs.
A Stellar, Metal-Free Way to Make Carbon Nanotubes – (PhysOrg – February 22, 2010)
Space apparently has its own recipe for making carbon nanotubes, one of the most intriguing contributions of nanotechnology here on Earth, and metals are conspicuously missing from the list of ingredients. “Instead, nanotubes were produced when graphite dust particles were exposed to a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases,” explains NASA scientist Nuth. “I am amazed at the implications, not only for astrophysics but also for materials science,” says Dick Zare, the chair of the chemistry department at Stanford University. “Could Nature know a new chemistry for making carbon nanotubes that we have yet to discover?”
TERRORISM, SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Cyberattack Drill Shows U.S. Unprepared
South Carolina Now Requires ‘Subversives’ to Register
Cyberattack Drill Shows U.S. Unprepared – (Information Week – February 17, 2010)
In an effort to spur U.S. officials to take cybersecurity more seriously, Cyber Shockwave brought together a group of former high-ranking White House, Cabinet, and national security officials to see how they would deal with such a crisis in realtime. They did not fare especially well. Cyber Shockwave posed two scenarios. In the first, a March Madness mobile application spread malware from cell phone to cell phone. In the second, the U.S. electricity grid crashed for reasons not immediately known.
South Carolina Now Requires ‘Subversives’ to Register – (Raw Story – February 5, 2010)
Terrorists who want to overthrow the United States government must now register and pay a $5 filing fee with South Carolina’s Secretary of State and declare their intentions – or face a $25,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. The state’s “Subversive Activities Registration Act,” passed last year and now officially on the books, states that “every member of a subversive organization, or an organization subject to foreign control, every foreign agent and every person who advocates, teaches, advises or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States … shall register with the Secretary of State.” The complete text of the law can be read on the website of the SC State Legislature.
TRENDS OF GOVERNMENT
Economy Prompts Fresh Look at ND’s Socialist Bank
The Terror-Industrial Complex
Economy Prompts Fresh Look at ND’s Socialist Bank – (Associated Press – February 16, 2010)
The Bank of North Dakota – the nation’s only state-owned bank – might seem to be a relic. It was the brainchild of a failed flax farmer and one-time Socialist Party organizer during World War I. But now officials in other states are wondering if it is helping North Dakota sail through the national recession. The bank has the advantage of being the repository for most state funds, which can be used for loans and occasional relief for private banks that need a jolt of cash during sluggish credit markets. The state earns roughly 0.25 percent less interest than state agencies would get from a commercial institution but during the last decade, the bank funneled almost $300 million in profits to North Dakota’s treasury. The bank also pays no state or federal taxes and has no deposit insurance; North Dakota taxpayers are on the hook for any losses.
The Terror-Industrial Complex – (Truth Dig – February 8, 2010)
The bizarre story surrounding Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, 37, who received an undergraduate degree from MIT and a doctorate in neuroscience from Brandeis University, often defies belief. Siddiqui, who could spend 50 years in prison on seven charges when she is sentenced in May, was by her own account abducted in 2003 from her hometown of Karachi, Pakistan, with her three children-two of whom remain missing-and spirited to a secret U.S. prison where she was allegedly tortured and mistreated for five years. The American government has no comment, either about the alleged clandestine detention or the missing children.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
New Evidence that Saturn Moon May Contain Life
UFO Files: MoD Documents Record Mystery Illnesses
and Alien Residue
A New Exit to Space Readies for Business
Invisible Extraterrestrials? They Could Exist in Forms We Can’t Conceive
New Evidence that Saturn Moon May Contain Life – (Telegraph – February 8, 2010)
New evidence that liquid water lies beneath the surface on the Saturn moon of Enceladus has been discovered by NASA scientists. If there is liquid water on Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth-largest moon could have the conditions necessary to sustain life. High-resolution images already taken by the Cassini spacecraft show that the icy surface of Enceladus has a spreading Earthlike crust that has changed over time. On Earth the spreading of the sea floor is driven by molten rock and Nasa scientists speculated that the liquid beneath the south pole of Enceladus may be water. The evidence gathered by Cassini also points to other constituents for life, such as carbon, plus a source of heat to keep the water liquid.
UFO Files: MoD Documents Record Mystery Illnesses and Alien Residue – (Telegraph – February 18, 2010)
The UK Ministry of Defense has released more than 6,000 pages of material spanning from 1994 to 2000 detailing hundreds of other-worldly experiences with unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and apparent aliens across Britain. The material contains hundreds of bizarre reports received by the police, military and Government, suggesting that the truth might be out there after all. This fifth installment released under a three-year project between the MoD and The National Archives consists of 24 files of UFO sightings, letters and Parliamentary Questions.
A New Exit to Space Readies for Business – (New York Times – February 21, 2010)
In Upham, NM, the future is just past a ranch that used to be a stage stop on an ancient trade route called El Camino Real. Right beside a two-mile runway designed to accommodate spaceships, the groundwork is being laid for a hangar large enough to store spaceships between launchings. This is not a secret government project, or some NASA reception hall for alien dignitaries. This is Spaceport America, a $198 million endeavor by the State of New Mexico to plumb the commercial potential of the suborbital heavens – a place once known only to astronauts, dreamers and the occasional chimp. Space tourism. Scientific research. Satellite deliveries. Who knows? All are possible up there, where the stars glitter like spilled coins.
Invisible Extraterrestrials? They Could Exist in Forms We Can’t Conceive – (Daily Galaxy – February 23, 2010)
The intriguing remark was made by Lord Martin Rees, a leading cosmologist and astrophysicist who is the president of Britain’s Royal Society and astronomer to the Queen of England. “They could be staring us in the face and we just don’t recognize them. The problem is that we’re looking for something very much like us, assuming that they at least have something like the same mathematics and technology.”
How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America – (Atlantic Monthly – March, 2010)
An era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. This thoughtful sociological analysis suggests that before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar men. It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a despair not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years to come.
Europe’s South Refuses to Downsize without a Fight
What’s a $Billion, or $Trillion or Two?
Europe’s South Refuses to Downsize without a Fight – (Guardian – February 14, 2010)
This article examines the impact on employment in each of the southern EU countries facing requirements to cut their debt load. Without saying so, it is also looking at the human and social side of a significant trend: almost no country can have full employment and still remain competitive. (The Netherlands might be an exception.) But no one knows how to structure a sustainable economy – or sustainable government – with a permanent, real unemployment rate of 20% or more.
What’s a $Billion, or $Trillion or Two? – (Smart Economy – February 8, 2010)
It’s useful to be able to put these numbers and ranges – these orders of magnitude – in perspective. So, for comparison, here are a few statistics: $5 Billion- Goldman Sacs 4Q 2009 earnings; 10 Billion – the number of cells in your body (as a reference point); $1 Trillion – Annual global spending on military and arms (US accounts for ½ of that figure); $75 Trillion – Total value of the world’s real estate (estimated today); $1.14 Quadrillion ( or $1,140 Trillion) – Estimated world derivatives market, March 2009 (BIS).
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
Guidelines for Future Occupation of Earth by Extraterrestrials
Guidelines for Future Occupation of Earth by Extraterrestrials – (Laetus in Praesens – February 13, 2010)
Many have speculated on whether extraterrestrials would be characterized by exploitative, malevolent intent or by enlightened, benevolent intent. There is another interesting possibility however: extraterrestrials may have reached the conclusion that any civilization should be encountered on its own terms, according to its own rules. In other words: Be done by as you did. The article is therefore an exploration of patterns of human collective behavior over the past seven generations.
Shelter Box – (You Tube – July 31, 2009)
ShelterBox is a disaster relief charity which provides aid in the form of ShelterBoxes. Utterly practical and remarkably culture-free, the ‘ShelterBox’ is is a large plastic storage box with contents tailored to each disaster, but typically containing a ten-man tent, blankets, cooking and water purification equipment, tools, mosquito nets and children’s packs. ShelterBox has responded to more than 80 disasters in almost 50 different countries. If you’ve lost everything, this is what you’ll need to begin again.
JUST FOR FUN
Beauty Beneath the Microscope’s Lens – (Fox News – January 4, 2010)
Nikon’s Small World contest showcases the beauty of life as photographed through a microscope. Here are the winners from 2009’s contest.
A FINAL QUOTE…
“It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task.” — Robert Francis Kennedy
A special thanks to: Kevin Clark, Walter Derzko, Kevin Foley, Ursula Freer, Lee Gunn, Diane Petersen, Bobbie Rohn, Paul Saffo, Joel Snell, Cory Shreckengost, Loren Webster 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
A Vision for 2012: Planning for Extraordinary Change
by John L. Petersen
Former senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart has said “It should be required reading for the next President.”
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