domingo, 29 de junho de 2008

Crop Circle Science


When the subject of crop circles comes up, there seem to be just two ways to go: they’re hoaxes or they’re made by aliens. Certainly many intricate designs have been made by people armed with planks and surveying equipment in the dead of night, but some of the strangest things have happened before, during, and after the circles form (or are formed) as well.

My English buddy Mark PIlkington insists that all crop circles are made by hoaxers (or artists) like himself and his friends. Even so, he and others have told me about instances when the circle makers have been stopped in their tracks by strange lights, sounds, and sensations. For a couple of years now, I have been content to take Mark’s word for it.

Nevertheless, there seems to be a significant percentage of crop circles which exhibit anomalies that can’t be easily blamed on people like Doug Bower and Dave Chorley or their skulking nocturnal offspring. Many of these anomalous aspects have been investigated by a woman named Nancy Talbott and her organization, BLT Research Team Inc.

For nearly a decade, BLT has been looking at crop circles from an analytical perspective, using a team of volunteers and scientists who gather samples from the circles and subject them to biological and chemical analysis. They seem to have found evidence that something very weird is going on in at least some cases. Observations include soil changes, microscopic and macroscopic plant structure changes, and effects in seed yields from affected crops (both increase and decrease.) Most of the anomalies can be explained as the effects of heat, identical to those produced by (among other things) microwave radiation. One researcher has actually patented a device to improve crop yields using a device that subjects seeds to “organized plasmas.”

From their website:

The BLT Research Team Inc.’s primary focus is crop circle research - the discovery, scientific documentation and evaluation of physical changes induced in plants, soils and other materials at crop circle sites by the energy (or energy system) responsible for creating them and to determine, if possible, from these data the specific nature and source of these energies. Secondly, our intent is to publish these research results in peer-reviewed scientific journals and to disseminate this information to the general public through lectures, mainstream articles and the internet.

In light of their research, it becomes increasingly difficult for me to accept that all crop anomalies are produced by stomping on plants with boards. Some as yet unknown force-natutral, manmade, or other-may be at work. You may not agree with everything presented at the BLT site, but their efforts are almost singular in the field of crop circle study. It’s certainly better than another analysis of sacred geometry or hypothesizing about alien messages. I plan to ask Talbott to appear on Radio Misterioso in the near future.


The new shape of music: Music has its own geometry, researchers find


The connection between music and mathematics has fascinated scholars for centuries. More than 200 years ago Pythagoras reportedly discovered that pleasing musical intervals could be described using simple ratios.

And the so-called musica universalis or "music of the spheres" emerged in the Middle Ages as the philosophical idea that the proportions in the movements of the celestial bodies -- the sun, moon and planets -- could be viewed as a form of music, inaudible but perfectly harmonious.

Now, three music professors – Clifton Callender at Florida State University, Ian Quinn at Yale University and Dmitri Tymoczko at Princeton University -- have devised a new way of analyzing and categorizing music that takes advantage of the deep, complex mathematics they see enmeshed in its very fabric.

Writing in the April 18 issue of Science, the trio has outlined a method called "geometrical music theory" that translates the language of musical theory into that of contemporary geometry. They take sequences of notes, like chords, rhythms and scales, and categorize them so they can be grouped into "families." They have found a way to assign mathematical structure to these families, so they can then be represented by points in complex geometrical spaces, much the way "x" and "y" coordinates, in the simpler system of high school algebra, correspond to points on a two-dimensional plane.

Different types of categorization produce different geometrical spaces, and reflect the different ways in which musicians over the centuries have understood music. This achievement, they expect, will allow researchers to analyze and understand music in much deeper and more satisfying ways.

The work represents a significant departure from other attempts to quantify music, according to Rachel Wells Hall of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. In an accompanying essay, she writes that their effort, "stands out both for the breadth of its musical implications and the depth of its mathematical content."

The method, according to its authors, allows them to analyze and compare many kinds of Western (and perhaps some non-Western) music. (The method focuses on Western-style music because concepts like "chord" are not universal in all styles.) It also incorporates many past schemes by music theorists to render music into mathematical form.

"The music of the spheres isn't really a metaphor -- some musical spaces really are spheres," said Tymoczko, an assistant professor of music at Princeton. "The whole point of making these geometric spaces is that, at the end of the day, it helps you understand music better. Having a powerful set of tools for conceptualizing music allows you to do all sorts of things you hadn't done before."

Like what?

"You could create new kinds of musical instruments or new kinds of toys," he said. "You could create new kinds of visualization tools -- imagine going to a classical music concert where the music was being translated visually. We could change the way we educate musicians. There are lots of practical consequences that could follow from these ideas."

"But to me," Tymoczko added, "the most satisfying aspect of this research is that we can now see that there is a logical structure linking many, many different musical concepts. To some extent, we can represent the history of music as a long process of exploring different symmetries and different geometries."

Understanding music, the authors write, is a process of discarding information. For instance, suppose a musician plays middle "C" on a piano, followed by the note "E" above that and the note "G" above that. Musicians have many different terms to describe this sequence of events, such as "an ascending C major arpeggio," "a C major chord," or "a major chord." The authors provide a unified mathematical framework for relating these different descriptions of the same musical event.

The trio describes five different ways of categorizing collections of notes that are similar, but not identical. They refer to these musical resemblances as the "OPTIC symmetries," with each letter of the word "OPTIC" representing a different way of ignoring musical information -- for instance, what octave the notes are in, their order, or how many times each note is repeated. The authors show that five symmetries can be combined with each other to produce a cornucopia of different musical concepts, some of which are familiar and some of which are novel.

In this way, the musicians are able to reduce musical works to their mathematical essence.

Once notes are translated into numbers and then translated again into the language of geometry the result is a rich menagerie of geometrical spaces, each inhabited by a different species of geometrical object. After all the mathematics is done, three-note chords end up on a triangular donut while chord types perch on the surface of a cone.

The broad effort follows upon earlier work by Tymoczko in which he developed geometric models for selected musical objects.

The method could help answer whether there are new scales and chords that exist but have yet to be discovered.

"Have Western composers already discovered the essential and most important musical objects?" Tymoczko asked. "If so, then Western music is more than just an arbitrary set of conventions. It may be that the basic objects of Western music are fantastically special, in which case it would be quite difficult to find alternatives to broadly traditional methods of musical organization."

The tools for analysis also offer the exciting possibility of investigating the differences between musical styles.

"Our methods are not so great at distinguishing Aerosmith from the Rolling Stones," Tymoczko said. "But they might allow you to visualize some of the differences between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. And they certainly help you understand more deeply how classical music relates to rock or is different from atonal music."

Article from:


Musica universalis
Scientists convert the sequence of proteins into music
Forgotten In Time: The Ancient Solfeggio Frequencies
The Hermetic Universe
Alaskan High Schoolers Help NASA Record 'Earth Music'
The Da Vinci chapel echoes to sound of Saturn
The discovery of DNA variability, holographic blueprints and the symphony of life
Music of the Spheres - Jupiter NASA-Voyager Recording (Audio
The Voyager Golden Record
Geometry is all


The mystery story of the Maya slowly reveals new twists


Don't tell Indiana Jones, but most archaeologists pack spades, not bullwhips, and big discoveries usually come after lots of digging, not looting. Maya discoveries in Mexico that are rewriting the history of this classic civilization, for example, are coming from years of careful digging, not looted idols.

The classic Maya were part of a Central American civilization best known for stepped pyramids, beautiful carvings and murals and the widespread abandonment of cities around 900 A.D. in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador, leaving the Maya only the northern lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula. The conventional wisdom of this upheaval is that many Maya moved north at the time of this collapse, also colonizing the hilly "Puuc" region of the Yucatan for a short while, until those new cities collapsed as well.

But that story of the Maya is wrong, suggests archaeologist George Bey of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., who is co-leading an investigation of the abandoned city of Kiuic with Mexican archaeologist Tomas Gallareta of Mexico's National Institute of Archaeology and History. "Our work indicates that instead the Puuc region was occupied for almost 2,000 years before the collapse in the south," says Bey, by e-mail.

Over the last five years, Bey and his colleagues have started unearthing Maya cities in the Puuc region dating back to more than 800 B.C. "It is both the number of sites we are finding as well as that some of them produced large-scale monumental architecture — pyramids and an acropolis — while others have ball courts." At Kiuic, Bey's team has found a large platform that held at least two large ceremonial structures with ceramics. The cities dated back more than a millennium earlier than anyone had thought Maya cities existed in the region.

"This is interesting stuff. The northern lowlands usually get the short end of the stick because all the well-known classic sites are in the southern lowlands," says Maya archaeologist Lisa Lucero of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose own research is in Belize. "There is no doubt that many people went north after the collapse, but, there is a fuller, longer story to the northern lowlands."

The buildings, ceramics and trade items, such as Guatemalan obsidian and Olmec jade, found at Kiuic indicate these early cities of the Puuc were tied to Maya centers further south. Archaeologists had known that people lived in the region for a long time, he adds, but the complexity — large cities with hundreds of thousands of people living nearby — was unknown until recently. In 1980, only one site, Komchen, was known in the Puuc, and now there are hundreds, says Bey. "Part of the problem was that people didn't think it existed, so we were not, until recently, looking for it."

The research paints a picture of the classic Maya civilization as one big connected society from antiquity, and the "collapse" looks more like a series of local catastrophes, rather than a single apocalyptic event (apologies to Mel Gibson for the Apocalypto reference.) "The public needs to understand that the so-called Maya collapse was not an overnight affair that resulted in the total disappearance of the Maya people. The collapse took place over a period of more than 200 years," says Bey. "The result was the breakdown of elite culture and the abandonment of their cities. However, millions of Maya continued to live in Mesoamerica, especially in the northern Maya lowland, as they do so today."

Kiuic's abandonment sometime in the 10th Century is also part of the collapse story. Bey and his colleagues have found large grinding stones turned on their sides at the site, a regular practice for farmers planning to return to them — but more ominously, a large number of spear points as well.

They plan to keep on digging into the mystery. "I believe there is an even earlier occupation than what we have defined thus far," Bey says, perhaps dating back before 1000 B.C. "I may be optimistic, but I think now that we are looking for it, it is only a matter of time."


Fenómeno atmosférico descoberto ao largo de Cabo Verde vai ajudar previsões climáticas


Ao largo de Cabo Verde, no ar cálido que varre as águas tropicais do Atlântico e é salpicado pelas ondas, decorrem, todos os dias do ano, reacções químicas que destroem um gás que todos conhecemos: o ozono. O fenómeno foi agora descoberto por cientistas britânicos e cabo-verdianos e, a confirmar-se o seu carácter global (os oceanos cobrem 70 por cento da superfície do planeta), poderá obrigar os especialistas a reverem os modelos utilizados para prever a evolução do clima no nosso planeta.

A equipa de Lucy Carpenter, da Universidade de York, Reino Unido, escreve hoje na revista Nature que, naquela região, nas camadas de ar mais baixas, é destruída uma quantidade de ozono perto de 50 por cento maior do que previsto pelos mais sofisticados modelos climáticos actuais. A partir de um observatório instalado na aldeia piscatória de Calhau, 15 quilómetros a leste do Mindelo, na ilha de São Vicente, e de observações feitas com uma avioneta, os cientistas conseguiram, pela primeira vez, medir o fenómeno, sem interrupção, ao longo de um ano, de Outubro de 2006 a Outubro de 2007.

A química da atmosfera em geral, e a do ozono em especial, são pratos de digestão difícil para leigos. Mas num comentário na mesma edição da revista, Roland von Glasow, da Universidade de East Anglia, resume bem a importância do ozono: "O ozono", escreve, "é um gás atmosférico fascinante, com papéis diferentes conforme a sua localização. Na troposfera [a camada inferior] é um gás de estufa e pode ser nocivo para os animais e as plantas. Mas o ozono da estratosfera (...) absorve os raios nocivos do Sol." O ozono também é importante, salienta, porque a sua destruição dá origem aos chamados radicais hidroxilos, moléculas altamente reactivas que "limpam" o ar, removendo um outro potentíssimo gás de estufa: o metano.

"Neste momento", diz Alastair Lewis, co-autor do estudo, em comunicado, "é uma boa notícia - há mais ozono e mais metano a serem destruídos do que se pensava -, mas o Atlântico tropical não pode ser considerado como um 'sorvedouro' permanente de ozono. (...) Bastaria um pequeno aumento dos óxidos de azoto vindos dos combustíveis fósseis e trazidos de Europa, África Ocidental ou América do Norte pelos ventos, para que o oceano passasse de sorvedouro a fonte de ozono".

Mas o que é que leva a esta destruição - natural - do ozono no meio do Atlântico? Os cientistas encontraram, no ar em contacto com a água, altas concentrações de monóxido de iodo e de bromo e concluem que são esses compostos que promovem a destruição do ozono. O primeiro provém dos aerossóis de água salgada que se misturam com o ar e o segundo das algas marinhas - e nos dois casos, as reacções decorrem sob a acção do Sol.

Contactado pelo PÚBLICO, John Plane, um outro co-autor, da Universidade de Leeds, disse-nos que o resultado é importante porque "os modelos da química do clima que tentam prever o futuro nunca serão fiáveis se não incluírem os processos naturais importantes". E também porque mostra que "as propostas para remover o CO2 da atmosfera alterando a produtividade do oceano, isto é, fertilizando-o com ferro, serão altamente perigosas enquanto não percebermos adequadamente o sistema natural".


Investigadores portugueses comprovam efeitos terapêuticos em plantas medicinais de São Tomé


Uma equipa científica portuguesa comprovou efeitos anti-bacterianos e anti-fúngicos em 75 por cento de um conjunto de 50 plantas medicinais usadas por terapeutas tradicionais para combater infecções em São Tomé e Príncipe.

Estes dados constam do livro "Estudo Etnofarmacológico de Plantas Medicinais de S. Tomé e Príncipe", que será apresentado amanhã no jardim Botânico Tropical, em Lisboa, pela coordenadora da equipa, Maria do Céu Madureira, do Instituto Superior de Ciências da Saúde Egas Moniz.

"Os resultados do estudo comprovam a veracidade da utilização empírica e o potencial farmacêutico dessas plantas", disse a investigadora à agência Lusa.

Entre as plantas em causa, cujas características químicas e farmacológicas estudou, Maria do Céu Madureira destacou a Tithonia diversifolia, chamada localmente girassol ("parecida com o girassol mas muito mais pequena"), com comprovada actividade anti-malárica.

Foram também encontradas espécies com actividade anti-viral comprovada "in vitro" na replicação do VIH (vírus da imunodeficiência humana) e contra os vírus herpes simplex e da hepatite B, nestes casos "in vivo" - salientou.

Este trabalho insere-se no Projecto Pagué ("Papagaio" em português e o nome de um distrito da ilha de Príncipe), que consiste na recolha e investigação etnofarmacológica de plantas medicinais por farmacêuticos e botânicos portugueses com a colaboração do Ministério da Saúde de São Tomé e Príncipe.

As receitas do livro revertem na totalidade para a melhoria das condições de vida e de trabalho de três terapeutas tradicionais santomenses (Sum Pontes, Sum gino e Sum Costa), que trabalharam mais directamente com os investigadores, facultando os seus conhecimentos, sendo por isso seus co-autores.

"Os terapeutas tradicionais são pessoas com muita experiência, alguns com mais de 80 anos, que dedicam as suas vidas a cuidar de outras pessoas, muitas vezes sem receberem nada em troca, e vivendo em condições muito precárias", disse a investigadora.

O livro, que já foi lançado em S. Tomé e Príncipe a 21 de Março, com a presença do ministro da Saúde santomense, Martinho do Nascimento, regista informações recolhidas junto de alguns dos mais conceituados terapeutas tradicionais em exercício nas duas ilhas, e que são muito procurados para acudir a vários tipos de doenças, principalmente a malária e outras doenças infecciosas, nomeadamente infecções das vias respiratórias, dermatológicas e do tracto urinário e gastrointestinal, entre muitas outras.

"As preparações tradicionais consistem em infusões, decocções ou macerações aquosas de cascas ou raízes deixadas numa garrafa de um dia para o outro", referiu. "Podem também fazer macerações com bebidas alcoólicas, como aguardente ou vinho de palma, e há casos de misturas complexas em que chegam a juntar três, quatro ou cinco plantas" - acrescentou.

Os dados recolhidos nesta obra resultaram de um trabalho de três anos iniciado em 2002 por um primeiro grupo de jovens investigadores farmacêuticos (Ana Fernandes, António Gonçalves, Cátia Fernandes, Carlos Catalão, Jaime Atalaia, Jorge Vieira e Verónica Gaspar) e que foi financiado pela Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, estando um segundo grupo, ainda sem financiamento, a trabalhar desde 2005 no estudo de mais 80 espécies de plantas recolhidas nas ilhas.

Com financiamento da Cooperação Portuguesa, através do IPAD (Instituto Português de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento), está na forja a publicação um livro mais centrado na medicina tradicional, que coligirá em cerca de 500 páginas todos os conhecimentos recolhidos ao longo de 15 anos de estudos etnofarmacológicos realizados em São Tomé e Príncipe por Maria do Céu Madureira.


Sigmund Freud, cocaine & the birth of big pharma

May 30, 2008

SciCurious has written an interesting post about Sigmund Freud's experiments with cocaine.

Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was also a pioneer of psychopharmacology; as well as being one of the first to scientifically investigate the properties and effects of cocaine, he also played a key role in the growth of the pharmaceuticals industry.

In 1884, Freud read a paper which described the effects of cocaine on Bavarian soldiers. The author, a German physician named Theodor Aschenbrandt, reported that the drug suppressed the appetite and increased mental powers and endurance.

Intrigued, Freud obtained some samples of the drug, and began to experiment with it himself. Later that year, he published a review called Uber Coca ("About Cocaine"). This was Freud's first paper; it contains the "definitive description of the effects" of the drug on humans:

exhilaration and lasting euphoria, which in no way differs from the normal euphoria of the healthy person...You perceive an increase of self-control and possess more vitality and capacity for work...In other words, you are simply normal, and it is soon hard to believe you are under the influence of any drug....Long intensive physical work is performed without any fatigue...This result is enjoyed without any of the unpleasant after-effects that follow exhilaration brought about by alcohol...Absolutely no craving for the further use of cocaine appears after the first, or even after repeated taking of the drug...

Freud became extremely enthusiastic about the drug - "I take very small doses of it regularly," he said, "against depression and indigestion" - and regarded it is as something like a panacea, which would be an effective treatment for various conditions, including asthma and addiction to morphine and alcohol.

The pharmaceuticals companies Merck and Parke Davies, which had only just been established, began paying him to promote and endorse their rival brands of the drug. At around the same time, Karl Koller, an ophthalmic surgeon, discovered that cocaine was an excellent local anaesthetic.

As a result, use of cocaine as a local anaesthetic became widespread (e.g. in the form of toothache drops for children) and the pharmaceuticals companies increased commercial production of the purified drug. Thus, with a helping hand from Sigmund Freud, was big pharma born.


Marijuana replaces Ritalin in treatment for ADD/ADHD

June 2008

Dr Claudia Jenson, who is a consultant pediatrician from USC, has come up with a novel way of treating ADD/ADHD, WITHOUT any of the unwanted side effects which can result from using popularly prescribed medicines.

Attention deficit Disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is a biological, brain based condition that is characterized by poor attention and distractibility and/or hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. It is one of the most common mental disorders that develop in children. Symptoms can continue into adolescence and adulthood.
If left untreated, ADHD can lead to poor school/work performance, poor social relationships and a general feeling of low self esteem.

The normal course of treatment for a child diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, is a course of methylphenidate, better known as Ritalin.

Methylphenidate (MPH) is a prescription stimulant commonly used to treat Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. It is also one of the primary drugs used to treat the daytime drowsiness symptoms of narcolepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome. The drug is seeing early use to treat cancer-related fatigue.

As always there is a flip-side to these prescription drugs, and in the case of Ritalin, substance abusers have found various ways to ingest the drug recreationally, which gives an effect similar to cocaine or amphetamine so the use of ritalin is to be closely monitored.

For the child diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, the side effects of using Ritalin, are many, including psychosis (abnormal thinking or hallucinations), difficulty sleeping, stomach aches, diarrhea, headaches, lack of hunger (leading to weight loss) and dry mouth. In some cases, the use of Ritalin has led to death.

If Ritalin or its side effects, are causing your children problems, ask your doctor about using marijuana as an alternative.


Ion Microprobe Technology Reveals Earth was Habitable 4.3 Billion Years Ago

June 20, 2008

A team of scientists led by University of Wisconsin-Madison geologists Takayuki Ushikubo, Valley and Noriko Kita have completed an analysis of ancient minerals called zircons which shows liquid water existed at least 4.3 billion years ago and that heavy weathering by an acrid climate possibly destroyed the surface of the Earth's earliest continents when the planet was a mere 150 million years old.

Zircons, the oldest known materials on Earth, offer a window in time back as far as 4.4 billion years ago. Because these crystals are exceptionally resistant to chemical changes, they have become the gold standard for determining the age of ancient rocks, says UW-Madison geologist John Valley.

Valley previously used these tiny mineral grains — smaller than a speck of sand — to show that rocky continents and liquid water formed on the Earth much earlier than previously thought, about 4.2 billion years ago.

Ushikubo, the first author on the new study, says that atmospheric weathering could provide an answer to a long-standing question in geology: why no rock samples have ever been found dating back to the first 500 million years after the Earth formed.

"Currently, no rocks remain from before about 4 billion years ago," he says. "Some people consider this as evidence for very high temperature conditions on the ancient Earth."

Previous explanations for the missing rocks have included destruction by bombardment of meteorites and the possibility that the early Earth was a red-hot sea of magma in which rocks could not form.

The current analysis suggests a different scenario. Ushikubo and colleagues used a sophisticated new instrument called an ion microprobe to analyze isotope ratios of the element lithium in zircons from the Jack Hills in western Australia. By comparing these chemical fingerprints to lithium compositions in zircons from continental crust and primitive rocks similar to the Earth's mantle, they found evidence that the young planet already had the beginnings of continents, relatively cool temperatures and liquid water by the time the Australian zircons formed.

"At 4.3 billion years ago, the Earth already had habitable conditions," Ushikubo says.

The zircons' lithium signatures also hold signs of rock exposure on the Earth's surface and breakdown by weather and water, identified by low levels of a heavy lithium isotope. "Weathering can occur at the surface on continental crust or at the bottom of the ocean, but the [observed] lithium compositions can only be formed from continental crust," says Ushikubo.

The findings suggest that extensive weathering may have destroyed the Earth's earliest rocks, he says.

"Extensive weathering earlier than 4 billion years ago actually makes a lot of sense," says Valley. "People have suspected this, but there's never been any direct evidence."

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can combine with water to form carbonic acid, which falls as acid rain. The early Earth's atmosphere is believed to have contained extremely high levels of carbon dioxide — maybe 10,000 times as much as today.

At those levels, you would have had vicious acid rain and intense greenhouse effects. "That is a condition that will dissolve rocks," Valley says. "If granites were on the surface of the Earth, they would have been destroyed almost immediately — geologically speaking — and the only remnants that we could recognize as ancient would be these zircons."

Posted by Casey Kazan

Adapted from a University of Wisconsin release.


THC Kills Glioma Cancer Cells - Medical Miracles from Europe

May 20, 2008

April 4, 2008 - Before speaking to the 5th Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics in Pacific Grove, CA, Deputy Director of NORML Paul Armentano talks about new science on Cannabis (marijuana) and the Endo-Cannabinoid system being done in Europe, while American cancer patients, many with tragic cases of Glioma brain tumors, seek any news of an alternative therapy.

Paul references the work of Dr. Manuel Guzman, Madrid, who has seen THC kill brain cancer cells while leaving surrounding tissue unharmed, demonstating the neuroprotectant properties of Cannabinoids.

Then Paul is joined by Dr. David Bearman, of Galeta, CA, who tells of the fear that patients feel when encountering an cancer like Glioma.

Paul has collected the latest research on medical Cannabis, available in a PDF or booklet at:

We also talk about Cannabis in the treatment of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and the documentary I'm doing on Cathy Jordan, a medical marijuana patient who has survived ALS for 22 years now!

View "Surviving ALS" in chapter releases:

Cannabis Therapeutics Conference hosted by Patients Out of Time:

terça-feira, 24 de junho de 2008

U.K. to Begin Microchipping Prisoners

June 21, 2008

The British government is developing a plan to track current and former prisoners by means of microchips implanted under the skin, drawing intense criticism from probation officers and civil rights groups.

As a way to reduce prison crowding, many British prisoners are currently released under electronic monitoring, carried out by means of an ankle bracelet that transmits signals like those used by mobile phones.

Now the Ministry of Justice is exploring the possibility of injecting prisoners in the back of the arm with a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that contains information about their name, address and criminal record. Such chips, which contain a built-in antenna, could be scanned by special readers. The implantation of RFID chips in luggage, pets and livestock has become increasingly popular in recent years.

In addition to monitoring incarcerated prisoners, the ministry hopes to use the chips on those who are on probation or other conditional release. By including a satellite uplink system in the chip, police would be able to use global positioning system (GPS) technology to track subjects' exact locations at all times. According to advocates of such a measure, this could help keep sex offenders away from "forbidden" zones like schools.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, blasted the measure as degrading to the people chipped and of no benefit to probation officers.

"Knowing where offenders like pedophiles are does not mean you know what they are doing," Fletcher said. "Treating people like pieces of meat does not seem to represent an improvement in the system to me."

Shami Chakrabarti of the civil rights group Liberty had even stronger words:

"If the Home Office doesn't understand why implanting a chip in someone is worse than an ankle bracelet, they don't need a human-rights lawyer; they need a common-sense bypass."


Suicides 'linked to phone masts'

June 22,2008
By Lucy Johnston

THE spate of deaths among young people in Britain’s suicide capital could be linked to radio waves from dozens of mobile phone transmitter masts near the victims’ homes.

Story Image

There are thousands of masts in Britain

Dr Roger Coghill, who sits on a Government advisory committee on mobile radiation, has discovered that all 22 youngsters who have killed themselves in Bridgend, South Wales, over the past 18 months lived far closer than average to a mast.

He has examined worldwide studies linking proximity of masts to depression. Dr Coghill’s work is likely to trigger alarm and lead to closer scrutiny of the safety of masts, which are frequently sited on public buildings such as schools and hospitals.

It is also likely to fuel more campaigns against placing masts close to public places on health grounds.

Dr Coghill said last night there was strong circumstantial evidence that the masts may have triggered depression in those from Bridgend who took their lives.

They include Kelly Stephenson, 20, who hanged herself from a shower rail in February this year while on holiday in Folkestone, Kent.

Dr Coghill said: “There is a body of research that has over the years pointed to the fact that exposure to mobile radiation can lead to depression. There is evidence of higher suicide rates where people live near any electrical equipment that gives off radio or electrical waves.”

There are now 70 million mobile phone handsets in the UK and around 50,000 masts. Both emit radio signals and electromagnetic fields that can penetrate the brain, and for many years campaigners have argued that this could seriously damage people’s health.

The national average for proximity to a mobile phone transmitter varies depending on the type of mast. The latest masts are far more powerful so they can transmit more sophisticated data, such as photos and videos for people to download on internet phones.

Masts are placed on average 800 metres away from each home across the country. In Bridgend the victims lived on average only 356 metres away.

The national average distance from a new powerful mast is a kilometre while in Bridgend it is 540 metres. Three transmitters were within 200 metres, 13 within 400 metres and as many as 22 within 500 metres of victims’ homes. Carwyn Jones, 28, who hanged himself last week, was the third young person in his street to commit suicide.

Research shows young people’s brains are more susceptible to radio wave energy. Only two weeks ago a report identified mobiles as having an effect on sleep patterns.

Dr Coghill added: “What seems to be happening is that the electrical energy is having an effect on the chemistry of the brain, depleting serotonin levels. We know that in depression serotonin levels are low and that a standard treatment for depression is to give drugs to boost serotonin levels. As they begin to work, the patient’s depression lifts.”

He said urgent research was needed because Britain was now covered with thousands of masts, many close to homes, schools and offices.

Since January 5, 2007, there have been 22 deaths of young people in the Bridgend area. Some believe the suicides are linked but so far experts have failed to find a common cause.

Thomas Davies, 20, hanged himself in February 2007. Last night his brother Nathan, 19, welcomed Dr Coghill’s research. “As far as this family is concerned nothing can bring Tom back,” he said. “But if there is a link found and something can be done then it could prevent further suicides.”

But Mike Dolan, executive director of the Mobile Operators Association, dismissed Dr Coghill’s research. “This is an insensitive and outrageous piece of speculation which has no basis in established science,” he said.

The Government’s Health Protection Agency insisted that fields from mobile masts – even modern powerful masts – were well within international agreed safety limits. “There is no evidence that masts do you harm. The levels of radio waves are very low.”


segunda-feira, 23 de junho de 2008

Evidence of ancient farming found

A 3,600-year-old native village site uncovered during road work for the new Golden Ears Bridge is being hailed as a globally significant find that suggests aboriginal people here were Canada’s first recorded farmers.

The ancient discovery has electrified archaeologists who say it may help reverse long-held notions of pre-contact natives as hunter-gatherers who didn’t actively garden or otherwise manage the landscape.

It also shines a new spotlight on the accelerating loss of First Nations heritage sites in the Lower Mainland to make way for new highways, bridges and development.

The site was found more than a year ago but has been kept quiet throughout a 10-month excavation that wrapped up this spring.

And it will soon be paved over.

The Abernethy connector is being built through the ancient village to link the Golden Ears Bridge to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

But rather than oppose the road work, the local Katzie First Nation headed up the dig themselves.

The band’s development corporation signed on to excavate any sites found during bridge construction.

The multi-million-dollar deal gave band members skills and job training in archaeology and more control in saving their own heritage if anything significant was found.

Nobody was more stunned than Katzie First Nation chief negotiator Debbie Miller when Katzie workers began to unearth scores of artifacts and implements in the middle of the road right-of-way.

“Every day you could see bucket after bucket and say, ‘Look, look, look,’ ” she recalled.

“There are hundreds of thousands of pieces—everything from stone to wood.”

They’ve found what are believed to be house structures, cookery, arrow points, digging sticks—in short, all the evidence of human habitation.

But it is the wapato or Indian potato—a root vegetable that would have been grown in the Pitt polder mud and cooked as a source of starch—that has generated the most excitement.

“It has global importance,” said SFU associate professor of archaeology Dana Lepofsky, who rates it as possibly the Lower Mainland’s most significant find to date. “Everyone is so excited.”

Until now the oldest evidence found of gardening in B.C. dated to between 300 and 400 years ago on the central coast, where aboriginal people tended clover and silverweed in the intertidal zone. It sheds light on a mystery that has puzzled scientists: how did coastal aboriginal people—thought to be reliant on hunting, fishing and gathering—develop such large and complex societies associated more with agrarian civilizations?

It now appears, Lepofsky said, that the people here did garden and actively change their landscape, not simply harvest what grew naturally.

In a land where rivers wriggled with salmon, veggies might seem unimportant.

But Lepofsky believes the humble wapato was actually a hot commodity.

Analysis of aboriginal bones shows every member of coastal society – rich or poor, men or women, slaves or children – got plenty of protein from fish.

“Salmon was in such abundance, protein was not a problem,” Lepofsky said. “I think carbs were in much higher demand. That’s the reason why wapato was traded by the Katzie up and down the Fraser Valley.”

Europeans who first arrived here didn’t recognize aboriginal gardens because they weren’t neatly tended plots with fences.

Instead, the newcomers saw virgin wilderness that wasn’t being used.

“It was ‘wasted’ and up for grabs,” Lepofsky said. “That philosophy was fundamental of the move to put First Nations on reserves.”

She said there are “huge implications” today, as evidence mounts that aboriginal people did manage the land and resources in various ways.

Resource managers ordered to return an area to a “wild” state may have to think harder about what “wilderness” is.

For archaeologists, the new discovery is exceptional.

For the Katzie, working side-by-side to remove tools their ancestors once held and the vegetables they intended to eat, the dig has been an emotional journey into the past.

“It was overwhelming,” says the Katzie’s Debbie Miller.

The site was divided into a grid of squares and material was painstakingly excavated down in layers about 20 centimetres at a time.

Two-thirds of the 90 employees on the job at its peak were Katzie band members.

The arrangement flows from a 2004 benefits agreement the Katzie signed with TransLink, in which the band pledged to cooperate in exchange for a $1.8-million payment and promises of band employment and business opportunities.

More money has flowed from the bridge-building consortium, the Golden Crossing Constructors Joint Venture, for the actual archaeological work by the Katzie Development Corporation.

Acutely aware of their responsibility to deliver, Miller bristles when initially asked if the find could delay completion of the bridge.

That won’t happen, she insists. And indeed, TransLink’s now projects the bridge will be finished by next June, ahead of schedule.

Despite months of fieldwork, just five per cent of the site was actually excavated.

But under B.C. law, that’s considered sufficient to constitute a representative snapshot.

Now that the dig is over, the bridge builders have obtained a site alteration permit, allowing road crews to rapidly excavate the rest of the site with heavy equipment – with monitoring in case more artifacts emerge.

Preload will follow and then paving. Then, in mid-2009, the first motorists to cross the Golden Ears Bridge will unknowingly roll over the ancient site.

“That’s the way this thing works,” Miller says. “The site gets altered so significantly it no longer exists. The proponent builds its project and moves forward.”

She speaks in precise, clinical terms about the business arrangement and the rules on how much of a site gets the feather duster treatment and how much can be attacked with big yellow machines.

How does she keep her chin up through a process that will obliterate such an historic site?

“I hate the whole thing,” Miller confesses. “I am so saddened and disillusioned that something that could be our equivalent to the Sphinx or the Pyramids or Stonehenge in this province gets to be just picked up and set aside.”

Had the band known in advance the road would go over such a site, Miller said, it’s possible they would have fought to change the route.

But ultimately, the Katzie gave their word and are living by it.

“No I’m not happy. But my business is to make sure we do a professional quality job. I can tell you one thing, we have done that.”

The challenge doesn’t end now that what could be recovered has been dug up, bagged and itemized.

Researchers will want access to the artifacts indefinitely.

And the Katzie aren’t yet sure how they’ll store it all properly, along with the several thousand other pieces already in their possession.

“This just exponentially increases our responsibility,” Miller said. “Many of the wet site pieces will need to be curated. We don’t have the ability to do that.”

Neither the bridge builders nor TransLink are required to contribute to the ongoing cost of curating found artifacts.

“It’s just a monumental task we’re going through.”

SFU’s Dana Lepofsky doesn’t fault the Katzie for the choice they made.

She says the Katzie archaeology team did a “phenomenal” job excavating the site.

But having to scramble so a bridge can open on time isn’t the same as if the site had become a long-term research project.

Lepofsky’s preference is clear.

“In my perfect world, the site would have been either left entirely or excavated slowly over 30 years with huge public involvement and turned into a place people could visit forever – in the way it would have happened almost anywhere else in the western world.

“France, Japan – you pick the country – a site like this would have been preserved,” she said. “To me it should have been non-negotiable. It should have been turned into a heritage landscape for all people and all generations.”

Road work crews have now begun final removal of the site, according to officials at the Golden Ears Bridge project office. The excavation is to be finished by mid-July.

Read also: Prehistoric settlement found in Qatar


domingo, 22 de junho de 2008

Was Inventor of 'Water Fueled Car," Stanley Meyer Murdered?

June 22

Stanley Meyer, Water-Fuel Cell Inventor & Promoter, Dies Suddenly
By Dr. Gene Mallove

Stanley A. Meyer, the controversial Ohio inventor who had claimed his technology could produce a hydrogen-oxygen mixture with a minimal energy input (compared with conventional electrolysis) died on March 21, 1998. He did not have a world-wide following, like he should have, few people have heard of him.

There were also those of adherents and people who had invested in his activities --- Water Fuel Cell (Grove City, OH). He was famous for his claimed "water fueled car" which was exhibited symbolically in the BBC/CBC 1994 documentary on cold fusion, "Too Close to the Sun". We were initially curious about Meyer's work, the late Christopher Tinsley of the UK, and the late Admiral of the British Navy, Sir Anthony Griffin, but who became frustrated by being unable --- or, more to the point, not allowed --- to confirm (or reject) Meyer's claims.

It makes no sense that after discovering the technological process that he had. Why there is no way that a reasonable, straightforward marketing strategy would have failed to make his technology quickly spread worldwide. He could have become very influential and very rich.

There remains a very strong suspicion that he had no such process, from his enemies, (Oil Corp. Cartels) even though he conducted a demonstration (before this writer and another engineer at the Meyer lab in 1993) of the production of copious hydrogen/oxygen gas from what visually seemed like a small input power. But Meyer was exceedingly paranoid and he flatly refused reasonable requests by us and others to test the performance --- the input/out power ratio, even with the proviso that we did not have to "look into his black box" of electronics feeding his rather simply constructed stainless steel electrode, alternating current and voltage cell. The last such refusal --- this one in public and recorded on video tape --- was at the ANE meeting in Denver CO in 1997. Then Meyer loudly and falsely protested that he would "lose his patent rights" if he were to release anything but complete, integrated systems --- such as a water-fueled vehicle.

In 1996, Meyer lost a long-lasting Ohio civil court battle accusing him of "egregious fraud" against a former associate. Meyer's said, he ascribed this and other alleged assaults on him to various conspiracies against water as a fuel. He was offered huge sums of money (a billion dollars) to "suppress this technology", but that he had refused those sums. One had the impression that he really believed that there were conspiracies against him. These conspiracies exist today. That is a tragedy, a very compounded tragedy if he had actually come up with something novel and useful that he was hiding.

This is a very complex human and scientific story that we shall want to cover in greater detail in a future issue of infinite energy. There are other processes and inventions that suggest that splitting water molecules with much greater efficiency than with conventional electrolysis is possible. Certainly there are other novelties within water --- "cold fusion" to be sure --- that really do produce prodigious quantities of energy, in the mode Meyer claimed. For now, here are some of the facts surrounding Meyer's death:

He was apparently eating dinner at a Grove City OH restaurant, when it is reported that he jumped up from the table, yelled that he'd been poisoned", and rushed out into the parking lot, where he collapsed and died. It has been reported by Meyer's associates that Meyer had just secured funding for a $50 million research center near Grove City, but there is no way to confirm or reject this at the moment.

See Also:

'Dallasite Patents Invention Which He Claims Substitutes Water for Gasoline as Fuel'

New Fuel Cell System 'Generates Electricity with Only Water, Air'


quinta-feira, 12 de junho de 2008

Cannabis Hemp: A Viable Option to Oil Dependency

May 2008

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown yesterday told millions of families hit by the soaring costs of running a car in the United Kingdom, or running a domestic heating or cooking system in rural regions, that high oil prices were a long-term global issue that could not be tackled by Britain alone, but some disagree.

Chancellor Alistair Darling has once again assured voters he will "take another look" at a proposed 2p fuel price rise which is set to come into being from October 2008, but seriously is 2p enough? Is NOT increasing the price of fuel the bait needed to win back a million (or two) voters? Hardly.

Only a couple of days ago, members of the UK road haulage industry threatened to blockade oil refinery's and ports unless the government managed to find a 20p-25p essential user rebate for the transport sector, in 7 days. An industry which has borne the brunt of the last decade + of Labour rule has decided clearly, enough is enough.

Isn't it about time we as a nation looked to break our dependency on the petroleum industry, by investigating the other alternatives? There are a few.

Oil Price
Around the world and the price of oil, which has hit an all time high of almost $140 dollars a barrel, (up from $70 a barrel only 18 months ago) is a major political talking point. Not least of which within the walls of our own Home Office.

At a time when Gordon Brown is said to be "cold-calling" Labour voters in their homes to "discuss policy", he needs to come up with a solution which is going to turn heads, in a bid to win back some of the millions of voters, fickle beasts that they are, who have changed allegiances recently, and given the Conservative party a 40 point lead in the polls.

A margin not seen since John Major lost the tories power to a Labour landslide at the start of this current term of power.

But what goes around comes around and the Conservatives have turned the tide, aided no doubt by Gordon Brown's personal popularity, which is lower than any other Prime Minister in the history of Prime Ministers.

Mr Darling said: “If you look at the problems we face now, the big effort must be, firstly, trying to get oil prices down and secondly – and I’ve made this clear before – I intend to come back to the issue of the fuel tax increase that will be due this October."

We're listening Mr Darling, but try as we may, we simply do not see how a struggling Labour party who it seems, are unable to save themselves, is going to cure the oil price, which as you have already mentioned is set at a global level? So whilst it appears you're saying all the right things, the effectiveness; the actual possibility of anything constructive happening as a result of your comments, is less than "no chance".

So whats the alternative?

Hemp, or "cannabis hemp" to give it its proper title.

Hemp as a Fuel Alternative
Biofuels such as biodiesel and alcohol fuel can be made from the oils in hemp seeds and stalks, and the fermentation of the plant as a whole, respectively. The energy from hemp may be high based on acreage or weight, but can be low based on the volume of the light weight harvested hemp. It does, however, produce more energy per acre per year than corn, sugar, flax, or any other crop currently grown for ethanol or biodiesel.

Henry Ford grew industrial hemp on his estate after 1937, possibly to prove the cheapness of methanol production at Iron Mountain. He made plastic cars with wheat straw, hemp and sisal. (Popular Mechanics, Dec. 1941, "Pinch Hitters for Defense.") In 1892, Rudolph Diesel invented the diesel engine, which he intended to fuel "by a variety of fuels, especially vegetable and seed oils.

Hemp was outlawed early in the 20th century, as a by-product of cannabis prohibition. Its said the DuPont Petroleum Company was at the forefront of the movement to outlaw cannabis, in a bid to protect its new investments in the United States newly established oil fields.

The technology existed even then, which made it possible to run a motor car using the hemp plant as fuel, and Olivier DuPont knew hemp would become a viable alternative to petrol (gasoline). So the die was cast and along with a number of other prominent industrialists of the time, representing the timber industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the Press as well as the petroleum industry and the US Treasury, they threw their collective weight (and financial clout) into outlawing hemp and cannabis together.

Make no bones about it. There was no talk of "public health" when cannabis was outlawed!

Today we're picking up the pieces of that public lie, with global warming as a result of greenhouse gases. With higher oil prices, which the oil industry has carte blanche to set as it see's fit. And with every country in the world losing more of its citizens to alcohol related deaths than they do to the entire illicit drugs catalog put together.


Plastic - a by-product of the petroleum industry is choking wildlife as well as the eco-system of an entire planet. Only hemp offers a worthy alternative.

In short, the situation we find ourselves in today, is as a result of the greed of a few industrialists, and perhaps one of the most surprising reasons cannabis remains illegal today, is as a result of the Petroleum Industry that so desperately seeks the public's "understanding" today.

Petroleum Industry
The petroleum by-products market is one of the few which could give the alcohol and tobacco industry's a run for their money or even exceed them.

Every single man-made fibre we wear, or walk on, or sit on, we drive in, we fly in, we eat from, we cook with etc, is a by-product of the petroleum industry, and as such, has a nett "worth" for every barrel of crude oil used to produce it.

Ever since man made fibre's and plastic were invented a little over 80-90 years ago, (around the time of cannabis prohibition, surprisingly enough) they've taken over in our homes, offices and factories.

But here's a fact you probably didn't realise. Almost every piece of plastic ever manufactured, still exists in one form or another, apart from a very small amount which has been incinerated.

Sure a lot of it is in a hole in the ground somewhere.

Bulking up landfill sites it may be, but it still "exists".

A huge percentage of it is floating around the Pacific Ocean in phenomena called "The Eastern Garbage patch" or the "North Pacific Gyre".

"The North Pacific Gyre (also known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre) is a swirling vortex of ocean currents comprising most of the northern Pacific Ocean.

It is located between the equator and 50º N latitude and occupies an area of approximately ten million square miles (34 million km²)."

The centre of the North Pacific Gyre is relatively stationary region of the Pacific Ocean (the area it occupies is often referred to as the horse latitudes) and the circular rotation around it draws waste material in.

This has led to the accumulation of flotsam and other debris in huge floating 'clouds' of waste which have taken on informal names, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex.

While historically this debris has biodegraded, the gyre is now accumulating vast quantities of plastic and marine debris.

Rather than biodegrading, plastic photodegrades, disintegrating in the ocean into smaller and smaller pieces. These pieces, still polymers, eventually become individual molecules, which are still not easily digested.

Some plastics photodegrade into other pollutants.

The floating particles also resemble zooplankton, which can lead to them being consumed by jellyfish, thus entering the ocean food chain.

In samples taken from the gyre in 2001, the mass of plastic exceeded that of zooplankton (the dominant animalian life in the area) by a factor of six. Many of these long-lasting pieces end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals."

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is said to cover an area twice the size of Texas and every single one of us, no matter where we live on the planet, add's to this when we dispose of our plastic products.

Its an ecological disaster, quite literally "fuelled" by the petroleum industry, and one which never needed to happen in the first place, but for the fact hemp was outlawed at the same time as cannabis.

Hemp is a hugely useful commodity which we are not allowed to grow because it is a distant cousin to the much maligned cannabis plant.

Yet in countries around the world such as The Phillipines and Canada, hemp is grown, and sold to the UK and the United States under cannabis prohibition.

Hemp is a multi-billion dollar global industry which we are not allowed to take part in by law. But by planting hemp crops on available farm land which is otherwise left to pasture, by growing it alongside existing crops, we could not only solve our addiction to petroleum products, but also reduce carbon dioxide levels, whilst setting up an entire new multi-billion pound British industry which as yet, doesn't exist. So whats the hold-up?

Hemp has many uses to us as a civilisation. Not least of which is the inherent strength the hemp fibre maintains, making it ideal for many different applications including rope, twine, clothing, fabrics of all descriptions including being built into the interior of luxury motor cars including Mercedes and BMW.

As a food source the hemp seed contains the fullest spectrum of essential omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which the body needs to function properly but don't take my word for it.

If you are looking for a complete food supplement to feed your children, ask at your local health food shop about the benefits of whole, shelled hemp seed.

Natural Plastics
Running through the centre of the hemp stalk is a material which is composed of 100% cellulose, or plastic, in its naturally occurring raw form.

With an absolute minimum of processing this cellulose core can be harvested and turned into any plastic object you can think of, or that you may use today, without the need for oil derricks or platforms and as a result the hemp plant is the only real alternative to our addiction to fossil fuels.

As if that wasn't reason enough to demand the UK grows hemp wholesale and as soon as possible, there's another reason you should know about.

Carbon Dioxide - Primary "Greenhouse" Gas
When it grows, hemp sequesters literally hundreds of tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, per hectare of hemp grown.

Here's the science;
Plants grow by using the process of photo-synthesis.

That is, active radiation (sunlight) falls upon the leaves of the plant, and the nutrients which are transported up from the routes via the internal distribution system, "photo-synthesize" these nutrients into sugars and starch's, which the plant uses to feed itself, but there's one important feature ingredient missing at this stage.


As you will no doubt be aware, everything which exists, does so as a result of carbon, and hemp loves carbon, which it uses as the building blocks to actually build itself. Lots of it too.

If we as a planet were to undertake a 10 year program of growing hemp we could reduce the rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere drastically, bringing our impending ecological disaster firmly into check, and all as a result of growing a single species of plant. FACT!

All of which begs the question, why does cannabis (and hemp) remain illegal in the United Kingdom?

With the reclassification of cannabis back to a Class B substance, many thousands of British citizens will be imprisoned, and suffer the stigma of having a criminal record to contend with for the rest of their lives, and on what grounds?

Public Health?
Certainly not on the grounds of public health! The current policies concerning alcohol and tobacco, and the millions of deaths which have resulted to date disprove that theory once and for all.

The fact is, cannabis and hemp are illegal as a result of industry. At the whim of a few once powerful men.

Big business, which is set to lose trillions of pounds sterling as a result of people shifting over to more ecologically sound living and working practices and with support of the public, we can bring pressure to bear on governments around the world, to do away with ecologically unsound practices of drilling holes in the earth's crust and extracting the black stinking mess that is crude oil, because the fact is we don't need it anymore.

Whats this got to do with the legal status of cannabis in the UK?

It has everything to do with it and any politician, or high ranking police officer who stands in the way of this, whilst lying about "public health" or "social issues", should be removed from office at the earliest possible convenience, as for the sake of a few large industrialists they are commiting crimes against humanity.

Crimes which could be stopped today, but for having the balls to make a few tough decisions.

Taxi for Mr Brown?


segunda-feira, 2 de junho de 2008

Who Owns the Moon? The Case for Lunar Property Rights

June 2008

The moon has been in plain view for all of human history, but it's only within the past few decades that it's been possible to travel there. And for just about as long as the moon has been within reach, people have been arguing about lunar property rights: Can astronauts claim the moon for king and country, as in the Age of Discovery? Are corporations allowed to expropriate its natural resources, and individuals to own its real estate?

The first article on the subject, "High Altitude Flight and National Sovereignty," was written by Princeton legal scholar John Cobb Cooper in 1951. Various theoretical discussions followed, with some scholars arguing that the moon had to be treated differently than earthbound properties and others claiming that property laws in space shouldn't differ from those on Earth.

With the space race in full flower, though, the real worry was national sovereignty. Both the United States and the Soviet Union wanted to reach the moon first but, in fact, each was more worried about what would happen if they arrived second. Fears that the competition might trigger World War III led to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which was eventually ratified by 62 countries. According to article II of the treaty, "Outer Space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sover­eignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means."

So national appropriation was out, along with fortifications, weapons and military installations. But what about private property rights—personal and corporate? Some scholars argue that property rights can exist only under a nation's dominion, but most believe that property rights and sovereignty can be distinct.

In something of an admission that this is the case, nations that thought the Outer Space Treaty didn't go far enough proposed a new agreement, the Moon Treaty, in 1979. It explicitly barred private property rights on the moon. It also provided that any development, extraction and management of resources would take place under the supervision of an international authority that would divert a share of the profits, if any, to developing countries.

The Carter administration liked the Moon Treaty, but space activists, fearful that the sharing requirement would subjugate American mineral claims to international partners, pressured the Senate, ensuring that the United States didn't ratify it. Although the Moon Treaty has entered into force among its 13 signatories, none of those nations is a space power.

So property rights on the moon are still the subject of international discussion. But would anyone buy lunar land? And what would it take to establish good title?

The answer to the first question is clearly "yes." Lots of people would buy lunar land—and, in fact, lots of people have, sort of. Dennis Hope, owner of Lunar Embassy, says he's sold 500 million acres as "novelties." Each parcel is about the size of a football field and costs $16 to $20. Buyers choose the location—except for the Sea of Tranquility and the Apollo landing sites, which Hope has placed off-limits.

To convey good title, Hope essentially wrote the U.N. to say he was going to begin selling lunar property. When the U.N. didn't respond with an objection, he asserted that this allowed him to proceed. Although I regard his claim to good title as dubious, his customers have created a constituency to recognize his position. If he sells enough lunar property, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So there's demand, even for iffy titles. But what would it take to establish title, rather than Dennis Hope's approximation? That's not so clear. In maritime salvage law, which also deals with property rights beyond national territory, actually being there is key: Those who reach a wreck first and secure the property are generally entitled to a percentage of what they recover. There's even some case law allowing that presence to be robotic rather than human. Traditionally, claims to unclaimed property require long-term presence, effective control and some degree of improvement. Those aren't bad rules for lunar property, either. But who would recognize such titles?

Individual nations might. In the 1980 Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act, the United States recognized deep-sea mining rights outside its own territory without claiming sovereignty over the seabed. There's nothing to stop Congress from passing a similar law relating to the moon. For that matter, there's nothing to stop other nations from doing the same.

Ideally, title would be recognized by an international agreement that all nations would endorse. The 1979 Moon Treaty was a flop, but there's no reason the space powers couldn't agree on a new treaty that recognizes property rights and encourages investment. After all, the international climate has warmed to property rights and capitalism over the past 30 years.

I'd like to see something along these lines. Property rights attract private capital and, with government space programs stagnating, a lunar land rush may be just what we need to get things going again. I'll take a nice parcel near one of the lunar poles, please, with a peak high enough to get year-round sunlight and some crater bottoms deep enough to hold ice. Come visit me sometime!

PM contributing editor, Instapundit blogger and University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds is the author (with Robert P. Merges) of Outer Space: Problems of Law and Policy.


Machine to clean up greenhouse gas is breakthrough in war on global warming

June 2, 2008

Scientists say they have invented a machine that can suck carbon dioxide out of the air – potentially creating a vital weapon in the war against global warming.

The blueprint for the CO2 'scrubber' raises the prospect of a generation of machines which would help reduce the billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere by the use of fossil fuels.

The team of US scientists now plans to build a prototype which would capture one tonne of CO2 from the air every day.

Though the idea is considered a holy grail in the battle against climate change – and Sir Richard Branson has put up £12.6 million for anyone who makes it a reality – the machines would fall far short of a quick fix.

The prototype, being built at a laboratory in Tucson, Arizona, by a company called Global Research Technologies, will cost about £100,000 and take about two years to construct.

The devices – each nearly the size of a shipping container - would have to be produced in their millions to soak up human carbon emissions.
US physicist Klaus Lackner

Inventor: US physicist Klaus Lackner says his machine offers more hope than attempts to cut down carbon emissions

The idea is bound to be controversial, with environmentalists seeing so-called technological solutions to global warming as undermining attempts to promote greener lifestyles and industries.

But physicist Klaus Lackner, who led the U.S. team behind the invention, said the CO2 scrubber offered more hope than current efforts to cut carbon emissions by reducing fossil fuel use.

' I'd rather have a technology that allows us to use fossil fuels without destroying the planet, because people are going to use them anyway,' he said.

Scientists say it is not difficult to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by absorbing it in various chemical filters. But the problem has been how to clean those filters of CO2 so they can then be reused to carry on the job.

Professor Lackner, of New York's Columbia University, says the solution lies in a newly discovered property of absorbent plastic sheets known as 'ion exchange membranes' which are routinely used to purify water.

It turns out that humid air can make these membranes 'exhale' the CO2 they have trapped – leaving them clean and ready to absorb another load.

The Lackner team says the captured carbon dioxide could then be pumped into greenhouses to boost plant growth.


How Plasma From Superstorms Affects Near-Earth Space

May 31, 2008

NASA scientists have uncovered new details about how plasma from superstorms interact with Earth’s magnetosphere.

“The surprising result of this model is that the magnetosphere’s main phase pressure is dominated by energetic protons from the plasmasphere, rather than from the solar wind,” says Mei-Ching Fok, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Fok and her team will present their findings on May 29 at the American Geophysical Union conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.

Violent activity on the sun, such as a solar flare, can produce a monster superstorm that releases plasma into the solar wind. Large flares often result in an ejection of material from the solar corona, called a coronal mass ejection (CME). A CME can spew billions of tons of plasma away from the sun and toward Earth at speeds faster than 1.5 million mph. The plasma affects Earth and the vicinity surrounding Earth dominated by its magnetic field, called the magnetosphere.

As plasma from a superstorm interacts with Earth’s magnetosphere, it can trigger spectacular displays of the Northern Lights, called auroras, interfere with communications between satellites and airplanes traveling near the North Pole, and interrupt global positioning systems and our power grid.

Fok and her team used their global ion kinetic model to evaluate contributions to magnetospheric pressure from the solar wind, polar wind, auroral wind, and plasmaspheric wind. Their model, which simulates sources of superstorm plasmas, found that energetic protons from the plasmasphere dominate the magnetosphere’s main phase pressure. Until now, scientists thought energetic protons from the solar wind most affected the magnetosphere.

The inner region of Earth’s magnetosphere contains a low-density mixture of hot and cold plasmas, which include the ring current, the plasmasphere, and the radiation belt.

The plasmasphere is a donut-shaped region of the inner magnetosphere. During space storms, the plasmasphere is squashed and pressurized by the solar wind, forming a long tail called the plasmaspheric plume. The plume particles are picked up and further energized by the solar wind. When they re-enter the magnetosphere, they supply the majority of energetic protons that affect the magnetosphere’s main phase pressure during a superstorm event.

Simulating the sources of superstorm plasmas will help to better understand superstorms and pave the way to predicting their impact on Earth. The details uncovered in the team’s model provide a new piece of the Sun-Earth puzzle.

Adapted from materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.