+ Reply to Thread
Page 2 of 77 FirstFirst 1 2 12 52 77 LastLast
Results 21 to 40 of 1528

Thread: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz - Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

  1. Link to Post #21
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Lightbulb Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller

    Needle insertion stimulates production of chemical known to reduce discomfort, scientists say

    Posted: May 30, 2010

    SUNDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- The needle pricks involved in acupuncture may help relieve pain by triggering a natural painkilling chemical called adenosine, a new study has found.

    The researchers also believe they can enhance acupuncture's effectiveness by coupling the process with a well-known cancer drug -- deoxycoformycin -- that maintains adenosine levels longer than usual.
    Click here to find out more!

    "Acupuncture has been a mainstay of medical treatment in certain parts of the world for 4,000 years, but because it has not been understood completely, many people have remained skeptical," lead author Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a news release. "In this work, we provide information about one physical mechanism through which acupuncture reduces pain in the body."

    Nedergaard and her team report their findings online May 30 in the journal Nature Neuroscience. They are also scheduled to present the results this week at the Purines 2010 scientific meeting in Barcelona.

    Working exclusively with mice, Nedergaard and her colleagues administered half-hour acupuncture treatments to a group with paw discomfort.

    The investigators found adenosine levels in tissue near the needle insertion points was 24 times greater after treatment, and those mice with normal adenosine function experienced a two-thirds drop in paw pain. By contrast, mice that were genetically engineered to have no adenosine function gained no benefit from the treatment.

    The team also found that if they activated adenosine in the same tissue areas without applying acupuncture, the animals' discomfort was similarly reduced, strongly suggesting that adenosine is the magic behind the method.

    Adenosine, better known for regulating sleep, inhibits nerve signals and inflammation, the authors explained.

    In their experiments with deoxycoformycin, which is known to impede adenosine removal from the body, the researchers said the drug almost tripled the amount of adenosine in the targeted muscles and more than tripled the amount of time that the mice experienced pain relief.

    The study was funded by the New York State Spinal Cord Injury Program and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

    article link;

    More information

    For more on acupuncture, visit the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine here;

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to giovonni For This Post:

    william r sanford72 (11th October 2015)

  3. Link to Post #22
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Thumbs up Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Increasingly I have come to think of individual depression, such as is described here, as a manifestation of the dysfunctionality of our society. Why is it we live in a culture in which large numbers of people have no one with whom they can speak?

    Survey: Talk Therapy as Good as Antidepressants

    Consumer Reports Survey Shows Both Treatments Are Effective for Depression and Anxiety

    By Kathleen Doheny
    WebMD Health News

    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    June 1, 2010 -- Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for treating both anxiety and depression, but talk therapy appears to work just as well as the medications, according to a new survey. People who both take medicine and get therapy fare even better.

    Nearly 80% of survey respondents with depression or anxiety reported antidepressant use, says Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor at Consumer Reports Health, which will publish the results of its third mental health survey of its readers in the July issue.

    While medication produced good results, so did talk therapy. ''What we found is, if you can get yourself to talk therapy, and if you stick with it for at least seven weeks, you are going to get results as good as you would if you just popped a pill," Metcalf tells WebMD.

    The survey, conducted in 2009, includes data from more than 1,500 survey respondents who had sought professional help for depression, anxiety, or another mental health problem between January 2006 and April 2009. They reported the treatments they sought and how well they helped, including specifics on types of drugs and side effects and the types of therapists they went to.

    About 16% of U.S. adults have had depression at some point in their lives, according to a 2006 CDC survey, and about 11% are told by a health care professional they have anxiety.

    Tracking Depression and Anxiety

    Of the 1,544 respondents in the Consumer Reports survey with depression or anxiety, 30% reported depression only, 18% anxiety only, and 52% both at the same time. Most drugs now used for depression treatment also work for anxiety. The average age of the survey respondents was 58.

    In the survey, those who took medications found that some drugs produced fewer side effects than other types.

    Those who took the class of antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Celexa, Prozac, Zoloft, and their generic equivalents had lower rates of side effects than those taking SNRIs.

    SNRIs, or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, are a newer antidepressant class, often more expensive. Among them: Effexor, Cymbalta, and Pristiq.

    The respondents who took SSRIs found them about as helpful as those taking SNRIs, with 53% of those on SSRIs saying they helped a lot and 49% of those on SNRIs saying that.

    The side effects, Metcalf's team found, were higher than what is typically reported in drug company studies; 31% of those on SSRIs and 36% of those on SNRIs reported sexual side effects.

    The first drug tried didn't always work, the readers reported; they took a median (half more, half fewer) of three.

    Of the 45% of respondents who turned to talk therapy, either alone or with medication, 46% said the therapy sessions had made their condition "a lot better," while 45% termed things ''somewhat better."

    Overall, a psychiatrist got a somewhat higher helpfulness score from the readers. But in general, the advantages of talk therapy were consistent whether the therapist was a psychologist, social worker, or licensed counselor.

    Those who stuck with the talk therapy for seven sessions or more had better results than those who completed fewer.

    When single vs. combined treatment was considered, taking into account how helpful readers found their therapist or doctor, how much change they reported in emotional health, and other factors, those who used drugs and engaged in talk therapy for at least seven visits fared the best, according to Metcalf.

    Second Opinion

    In response to the survey results (including the finding of fewer side effects with Prozac than with Cymbalta), Charles McAtee, a spokesman for Eli Lilly and Company, which makes both of the drugs, says in a statement: "Depression is a highly individualized illness. Treatment decisions, including what type of treatment is appropriate for a given patient, are best determined by the health care professional and patient working together and based on the individual patient's needs."

    ''As with any medication," McAtee states, "Prozac and Cymbalta can include side effects, so patients should speak with their doctor about the risks and benefits of any antidepressant medication before starting treatment."

    The report offers some good information, but there's a caveat, says Harold Pincus, MD, vice chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University, New York, who has researched and published on trends in depression treatment.

    ''A lot of the information is pretty sound," says Pincus, who reviewed the report for WebMD. But, he adds, it has flaws inherent in any survey.

    "We have no idea who the respondent pool is, whether they are representative of the general population," he says. (The Consumer Reports authors note that they are not necessarily representative of the general U.S. population). Those who are depressed or anxious who answered the survey may also not be typical of those in the general population with the conditions, he says.

    ''The bottom line is, it's not something I would rely on for decision making," Pincus says.

    Deciding which treatments to recommend for mental health issues, he says, is complicated, with many factors needing to be taken into account. Among them are the degree of symptoms, the patient's medical and family history, and past experiences with medications and other therapies.

    If the depression is very mild, he says, "watchful waiting" for a couple of weeks may be best, as the depression may lift on its own.

    If the depression is mild, he says, psychotherapy or medications can be used with equal benefit. ''For those with moderate to severe major depression, medication is more effective than psychotherapy alone, but the two together may be synergistic because they may attack different components of the illness."

    article link;


    Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor, Consumer Reports Health.

    Harold Pincus, MD, vice chairman of psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York.

    Consumer Reports Health, July 2010: "Depression and Anxiety."

    Charles McAtee, spokesman, Eli Lilly and Company.

    CDC: "Anxiety and Depression."
    © 2010 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
    Last edited by giovonni; 2nd June 2010 at 16:05.

  4. Link to Post #23
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Lightbulb Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    A cultural divide~
    To the women who read The Schwartz Report: Imagine living like this. Then imagine a society of women who want to live this way. That is how far apart our cultures are.

    The Female Factor
    Talk of Women's Rights Divides Saudi Arabia

    May 31, 2010

    Rowdha Yousef started a campaign, “My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me,” which opposes calls for a more liberal approach to women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

    JIDDA — Roughly two years ago, Rowdha Yousef began to notice a disturbing trend: Saudi women like herself were beginning to organize campaigns for greater personal freedoms. Suddenly, there were women asking for the right to drive, to choose whether to wear a veil, and to take a job without a male relative’s permission, all using the Internet to collect signatures and organize meetings and all becoming, she felt, more voluble by the month.

    The final straw came last summer, when she read reports that a female activist in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province, Wajeha al-Huwaider, had been to the border with Bahrain, demanding to cross using only her passport, without a male chaperon or a male guardian’s written permission.

    Ms. Huwaider was not allowed to leave the country unaccompanied and, like other Saudi women campaigning for new rights, has failed — so far — to change any existing laws or customs.

    But Ms. Yousef is still outraged, and since August has taken on activists at their own game. With 15 other women, she started a campaign, “My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me.” Within two months, they had collected more than 5,400 signatures on a petition “rejecting the ignorant requests of those inciting liberty” and demanding “punishments for those who call for equality between men and women, mingling between men and women in mixed environments, and other unacceptable behaviors.”

    Ms. Yousef’s fight against the would-be liberalizers symbolizes a larger tussle in Saudi society over women’s rights that has suddenly made the female factor a major issue for reformers and conservatives striving to shape Saudi Arabia’s future.

    Public separation of the sexes is a strongly distinctive feature of Saudi Arabia, making it perhaps a logical area for fierce debate. Since women have such a limited role in Saudi public life, however, it is somewhat surprising that it is their rights that have become a matter of open contention in a society that keeps most debate hidden.

    Surprising, too, are the complexities turned up by the debate, which go far beyond what some Saudis see as the simplistic Western argument that women are simply entitled to more rights.

    Take Ms. Yousef. She is a 39-year-old divorced mother of three (aged 13, 12 and 9) who volunteers as a mediator in domestic abuse cases. A tall, confident woman with a warm, effusive manner and sparkling stiletto-heeled sandals, her conversation, over Starbucks lattes, ranges from racism in the kingdom (Ms. Yousef has Somali heritage and calls herself a black Saudi) to her admiration for Hillary Rodham Clinton to the abuse she says she has suffered at the hands of Saudi liberals.

    She believes firmly that most Saudis share her conservative values but insists that adherence to Shariah law and family custom need not restrict a woman seeking a say. Female campaigners in the reform camp, she says, are influenced by Westerners who do not understand the needs and beliefs of Saudi women.

    “These human rights groups come, and they only listen to one side, those who are demanding liberty for women,” she said.

    Every Saudi woman, regardless of age or status, must have a male relative who acts as her guardian and has responsibility for and authority over her in a host of legal and personal matters.

    Ms. Yousef, whose guardian is her elder brother, said that she enjoyed a great deal of freedom while respecting the rules of her society. Guardian rules are such that she could start her campaign, for instance, without seeking her guardian’s permission.

    She did not wish to speak in detail about her divorce but noted that, unusually, she had retained custody of her children through their 18th birthdays. She said she had founded her guardianship campaign unassisted, without any special connections, enlisting women in her circle of contacts as fellow founding members.

    Activists like Ms. Huwaider, Ms. Yousef believes, are susceptible to foreign influences because of personal problems with men. “If she is suffering because of her guardian, she can go to a Shariah court that could remove the responsibility for her from that man and transfer it to someone who is more trustworthy.”

    To an outsider, Ms. Yousef’s effort — petitioning King Abdullah to disregard calls for gender equality — might seem superfluous. After all, Saudi women still may not drive or vote and are obliged by custom to wear the floor-length cloaks known as abayas, and headscarves, outside their own homes.

    Women may not appear in court, and though they may be divorced via brief verbal declarations from their husbands, they frequently find it very difficult to obtain divorce themselves. Fathers may marry off 10-year-old daughters, a practice defended by the highest religious authority, Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh.

    The separation of genders in Saudi public life is difficult to overstate — there are women-only stores, women-only lines in fast food restaurants, and women-only offices in private companies. Members of the hai’a, the governmental Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, patrol to ensure that ikhtilat, or “mixing” of the sexes, does not occur.

    There are a few places where men and women do work together — medical colleges, some hospitals, a handful of banks and private companies. But the percentage of Saudis in such environments is minuscule.

    Jidda and Riyadh host stand-up comedy shows where young people do mix — albeit summoned with only hours’ notice via cellphone in an attempt to dodge policing. At the popular Janadriyah cultural festival in Riyadh, families were allowed to visit together for the first time last year, instead of on separate men’s and women’s days.

    Where conservatives like Ms. Yousef attribute the recent volubility of rights campaigners to Western meddling, liberals say that Saudi society itself is changing, and that increasing freedoms for Saudi women appear to be cautiously supported by King Abdullah himself.

    Both sides of the debate tend to claim the king’s backing. Recent history suggests that the sympathies of the 85-year-old monarch — whose feelings are never explicitly outlined in public — lie with the reformers. If so, he seems out in front of most of his youthful subjects (an estimated two-thirds of the 29 million Saudis are under 25).

    The king has appeared in newspaper photographs alongside Saudi women with uncovered faces, a situation that was unimaginable until very recently. Last year, he appointed a woman to deputy minister rank, a first for Saudi Arabia. Schools and colleges remain rigidly segregated by gender, but the opening last September of a coeducational post-graduate research university, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, was hotly debated, even if only about 15 percent of the nearly 400 students at Kaust, as it is known, are Saudi.

    A senior cleric was fired last October after criticizing gender mixing at Kaust on a television call-in show. Two months later, Sheikh Ahmad al-Ghamdi, the head of Mecca’s branch of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, caused a sensation when he told The Okaz, a newspaper, that gender mixing was “part of normal life.” In February, Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Barrak, another prominent cleric, issued a fatwa that proponents of gender mixing should be killed.

    Whether it is the king’s support, or simply the ever greater availability of digital social networks, campaigning is mushrooming on both sides of the women’s rights divide, although Ms. Yousef’s is so far thought to be the only conservative effort led by a woman.

    Hatoon al-Fassi, an assistant professor of women’s history at King Saud University in Riyadh, called 2009 “the year of the campaigns” for women in Saudi Arabia. Female Saudi activists embraced causes as diverse as an effort to ban child marriage and the right to set up businesses without male sponsors.

    Reem Asaad lectures in the finance department at Dar al-Hekma College in Jidda. She organized a nationwide boycott of lingerie shops that employ only men, choosing lingerie because even Saudi conservatives can agree that it may be humiliating for a woman to buy underwear from a male clerk.

    Her ultimate aim is to broaden women’s job opportunities. Outside her university office, where her all-female students wait for meetings with their teacher, hangs a photocopy of the country page for Saudi Arabia from the Global Gender Gap Report for 2009 by the World Economic Forum. In “economic participation and opportunity” for women, the kingdom ranks 133 out of 134 listed countries, above only Yemen. “Many Saudis would rather see a woman in poverty than have her work,” Ms. Asaad said. “This is about opening doors for women in different sectors of the economy.”

    Ms. Huwaider, who so incensed Ms. Yousef with her attempts to cross into Bahrain, is a veteran campaigner, famously seen driving illegally in a YouTube clip in 2008. Now she distributes small lengths of black elastic to Saudi women, asking them to wear the ribbons until Saudi laws treat them as adults.

    Soon, she said in an interview, she plans a campaign for the Saudi government to put in place a law requiring men who wish to take a second wife to obtain permission from the first wife. Morocco has such a law, which Ms. Huwaider believes could serve as a useful model.

    Ms. Huwaider emphatically rejects Ms. Yousef’s characterization that she attacks the guardianship system because of personal problems. Her male guardian, she said, is her ex-husband, and they have excellent relations.

    She did agree, notionally, with Ms. Yousef’s claim that many if not most Saudi men try to be fair and caring guardians. “Saudi men pride themselves on their chivalry,” Ms. Huwaider said, “but it’s the same kind of feeling they have for handicapped people or for animals. The kindness comes from pity, from lack of respect.”

    Ms. Huwaider lives at what she said was considerable expense — the equivalent of $16,000 a year — in the guarded compound of the Saudi Aramco oil company. She is an employee of Aramco, working in a department that runs further education and employee development, and took the rare step, for a Saudi, of moving into the compound in 2007, after her campaign for the right to drive provoked several death threats. Sometimes, she conceded, it is frightening. But she has grown so accustomed to it that “sometimes I think to myself, ‘Oh, I didn’t get any threats today.”’

    Over tea and curried snack mix at her home in Riyadh, Ms. Fassi pronounced herself “very optimistic” about the women’s campaigns for more freedom. They break the censure on expression, and the list of topics that Saudi writers may address without being censored has also expanded very rapidly, Ms. Fassi said.

    “The media is not that free, still, but it is much better than it was a few years ago. Nowadays we talk openly about minors’ marriages, about rape and incest, about cases brought against the religious police.”

    And, of course, the activism produces backlash. “This campaign of Rowdha Yousef’s is a reaction,” she said — unaware that Ms. Yousef, when contacted by this reporter, expressed surprise that a journalist had come from New York to meet her. Ms. Yousef said more than 30 articles discussing her campaign had appeared in the Saudi press, but no Saudi reporter was willing to meet her, and coverage was mainly what she called mocking opinion columns.

    Ahmad al-Omran, a pharmacist who blogs under the name Saudi Jeans, points out that, in the absence of opinion polling or free elections, it is hard to measure the popularity or representative nature of women’s campaigns. None have produced even an official response from the Saudi leadership.

    “What do they achieve?” Mr. Omran asked. “Changing laws comes from higher up, not lower down.”

    Even the most optimistic say that change will be slow. Ms. Fassi explained that even the hint of breaking the taboo on gender mixing had been traumatic for many Saudis. “People had lived their whole lives doing one thing and believing one thing, and suddenly the king and the major clerics were saying that mixing was O.K.,” Ms. Fassi said.

    The extent of this trauma may be difficult for outsiders to understand, Ms. Fassi said. “You can’t begin to imagine the impact that the ban on mixing has on our lives and what lifting this ban would mean.”

    Noura Abdulrahman, an Education Ministry employee who recently founded an after-school Islamic studies program aimed at teenage girls in Riyadh, said she tries to be generous toward the “liberaliyeen” — Saudi conservatives give the English word an Arabic plural and frequently employ it as a term of disparagement.

    “The liberals’ motives might be good — they might want to make Saudi Arabia competitive with Western societies — but they’re failing to understand the uniqueness of Saudi society,” Ms. Abdulrahman said. “In Saudi culture, women have their integrity and a special life that is separate from men. As a Saudi woman, I demand to have a guardian. My work requires me to go to different regions of Saudi Arabia, and during my business trips I always bring my husband or my brother. They ask nothing in return — they only want to be with me.”

    While Ms. Abdulrahman was discussing guardianship with a visitor, a neighbor, Umm Muhammad, dropped in for a morning tea. She proudly volunteered that her own guardian, her husband, was out of town but they were in constant touch by phone. In fact, she had just called him for permission to visit Ms. Abdulrahman.

    “The image in the West is that we are dominated by men, but they always forget the aspect of love,” she said. “People who aren’t familiar with Shariah often have the wrong idea. If you want stability and safety in your life, if you want a husband who takes care of you, you won’t find it except in Islam.”

    Eman Fahad is a 31-year-old linguistics graduate student and mother of three. In her blog, she called Ms. Yousef’s campaign an effort to “stand against women who are demanding to be treated as adults.”

    Even if most Saudi men are caring guardians, Ms. Fahad said, until women have full adult rights under the law, there will be abuses. She said she resented conservatives’ portrayal of Saudi women’s rights activists as spoiled and frivolous. She spoke of women she had met who had been forced to quit work they loved because their guardianship had been transferred to a new, less understanding man, and of women with no legal recourse when estranged husbands snatched their children away.

    “These are the women they are fighting for,” Ms. Fahad said of the campaigners. “They’re not campaigning because they really want to be allowed to go crazy in some nightclub.”

    Yet Ms. Fahad conceded that most Saudi women cleave to tradition. “If you actually talk to ordinary people,” including in her circle, she said, “you’ll find that most people want things to stay the same.”

    From The NYTimes.com-Middle East

  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to giovonni For This Post:

    QueenKat (7th April 2011), Smith (15th February 2011)

  6. Link to Post #24
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Lightbulb Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Working with nature is healthier. What a concept !

    Carmen my friend~ you were (quite) right~ all along~

    Science News

    'Balanced' Ecosystems Seen in Organic Agriculture Better at Controlling Pests, Research Finds

    ScienceDaily (July 1, 2010) — There really is a balance of nature, but as accepted as that thought is, it has rarely been studied. Now Washington State University researchers writing in the journal Nature have found that more balanced animal and plant communities typical of organic farms work better at fighting pests and growing a better plant.

    The researchers looked at insect pests and their natural enemies in potatoes and found organic crops had more balanced insect populations in which no one species of insect has a chance to dominate. And in test plots, the crops with the more balanced insect populations grew better.

    "I think 'balance' is a good term," says David Crowder, a post-doctorate research associate in entomology at Washington State University. "When the species are balanced, at least in our experiments, they're able to fulfill their roles in a more harmonious fashion."

    Crowder and colleagues here and at the University of Georgia use the term "evenness" to describe the relatively equal abundance of different species in an ecosystem. Conservation efforts more typically concentrate on species richness -- the number of individual species -- or the loss of individual species. Crowder's paper is one of only a few to address the issue. It is the first the first to look at animal and fungal communities and at multiple points in the food chain.

    The researchers say their results strengthen the argument that both richness and evenness need to be considered in restoring an ecosystem. The paper also highlights insect predator and prey relationships at a time when the potato industry and large French fry customers like McDonald's and Wendy's are being pushed to consider the ecological sustainability of different pest-control practices.

    Conventional pest-management on farms often leads to biological communities dominated by a few species. Looking at conventional and organic potato farms in central Washington State's Columbia Basin, Crowder found that the evenness of natural pests differed drastically between the two types of farms. In the conventional fields, one species might account for four out of five insects. In the organic fields, the most abundant species accounted for as little as 38 percent of a field's insect predators and enemies.

    Using field enclosures on Washington State University's Pullman campus, Crowder recreated those conditions using potato plants, Colorado potato beetles, four insect species and three soil pathogens that attack the beetles. When the predators and pathogens had similar numbers, says Crowder, "we would get significantly less potato beetles at the end of the experiment."

    "In turn," he adds, "we'd get bigger plants."

    Crowder says he is unsure why species evenness was lower in conventional crops. It could be from different types of fertilization or from insecticides killing some natural enemies more than others.

    Journal Reference: David W. Crowder, Tobin D. Northfield, Michael R. Strand, William E. Snyder. Organic agriculture promotes evenness and natural pest control. Nature, 2010; 466 (7302): 109 DOI: 10.1038/nature09183

    original story link;
    Last edited by giovonni; 5th July 2010 at 05:33.

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to giovonni For This Post:

    Smith (15th February 2011)

  8. Link to Post #25
    Avalon Member
    Join Date
    30th April 2010
    Thanked 98 times in 38 posts

    Default Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Quote Posted by bettye198 (here)
    This post, Giovanni merits a bump.
    Are futurists only tapping in beyond reality? Maybe. We have such power, such imagination, such knowledge stored in our being and we live in such a lazy world that allows life to just swim by and we observe. Ok for the Zens but not ok for those primed to make a difference by waking up the sleepy heads.

    Just a side note on your cannibus post. I just read from Fritz Springmeier's online book on Mind Control ( he has many ) that one type of drug is NOT used by handlers and programmers of Mind Control and that is Marijuana. I find that extraordinary since they use every other kind of drug, the list is so long and devastating. The reason for not using weed was because they could NOT control the victims. How is that possible? From my son's perspective on the experience years ago was that it made his brain sleepy and dull and fogged and useless. Any comments?

    Cannabis isn't for anyone, there are people that just can't stand the feeling of being stoned or high much like people don't like to be drunk from alcohol.
    marihuana in my case just makes me feel calm, relaxed, stress-free, i just forget all worries.
    it also makes me think in different ways, from angles you didn't think possible, it also makes you gratefull xD in a happy state, more social - like not affraid to talk to someone you don't know... you can connect easier with a person.
    If you have smoked for years this will be the result of smoking cannabis

    If it isn't then it's just not for you...
    I smoke cannabis 24% THC (basicly the highest quality) and smoke around 2 or 3 joints a day.
    I never get sick... I wake up easily in the morning (i have to wake up for work at 3.30 am) and I am feeling good all day long xD

    Here's what i want to say... I don't see a downside to marihuana...


    mod edit to add this section of the forum guidelines regarding talk of illegal substances
    Section B - Posting

    Discussions that involve drugs and other intoxicating substances, pornography, foul language, racial / sexual / national intolerance, hate speech, politically subversive acts or planning, will not be tolerated. See "Trolling" in the Infractions/Suspensions section below. http://projectavalon.net/forum4/faq....shipguidelines
    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 4th July 2010 at 12:09. Reason: emphasizing the aspect of the guideline in question.

  9. Link to Post #26
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Lightbulb Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    MIT Researchers Promise an Internet That's 100x Faster and Cheaper
    A team of MIT researchers has developed technology that they say not only will make the Internet 100 to 1,000 times faster, but could also make high-speed...
    Sharon Gaudin

    MIT researchers have developed technology that they say not only will make the Internet 100 to 1,000 times faster, but also could make high-speed data access a lot cheaper.

    The trick to such dramatic performance gains lies within routers that direct traffic on the Internet, according to Vincent Chan , an electrical engineering and computer science professor at MIT, who led the research team. Chan told Computerworld that replacing electrical signals inside the routers with faster optical signals would make the Internet 100, if not 1,000 times faster, while also reducing the amount of energy it consumes.

    What would the Internet be like if it ran that much faster?

    Today, a user who has a hard time downloading a 100MB file would be able to easily send a 10GB file, with the Internet running 100 times faster, according to Chan.

    "We're looking to the future when computer processors are much more powerful and we have much bigger downloads and applications," Chan said. "When we get more powerful processors, people will be clamoring for more speed. The question is, can these new processors and their powerful applications be supported over the Internet? Everyone will be using more high-rate applications, like 3D, interactive games, high-speed financial trading."

    And when that happens, Chan said users of those large applications will run into choke points on the Internet. And that could happen as soon as 16-core processors hit the market, if not sooner. "I think the Internet will not be fast enough within three to five years," he added.

    The answer, he said, is optical fibers, which carry light pulses.

    Optical fibers are used widely on the Internet, spanning great distances and even continents. While they transmit information more efficiently than electrical signals, optical signals are complicated to deal with. A router, for instance, has problems handling optical signals coming from different directions at the same time. To get around that problem, routers on the Internet generally take in optical signals and convert them to electrical signals so they can be stored in memory until they can be processed, said MIT's report. After that, the electrical signals are converted back to optical signals so they can be sent back out.

    That process eats up chunks of time and energy. Chan and his team have developed technology that would eliminate the need for such conversions.

    Chan's architecture, which is called "flow switching," establishes a dedicated path across the network between locations that exchange large volumes of data -- from Silicon Valley to Boston, for instance. MIT explained that routers along that path would only accept signals coming from one direction and send them off in only one direction. Since the optical signals aren't coming from different directions, there's no need to convert them to electrical signals for storage in memory.

    "If this can truly jack up Internet data speeds by 100 times, that would have a huge impact on the usability of the Net," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "We'd see the era of 3D computing and fully immersive Internet experiences come much sooner.... If this turns out to be practical, it could be a very big step forward."

    Dealing with network bottlenecks would be a huge accomplishment, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group.

    "Right now, the network is the bottleneck for hosted computing. This change could transform the industry as we know it," said Enderle. "We are going to need a faster Internet. We need it now. Currently, we only have about 20% [of available bandwidth] in many places."

    Olds noted that there's no way to get around the fact that a faster Internet infrastructure will be needed to continue to push forward with better devices and applications.

    "The Internet is going to have to become faster," he said. "We still have millions and millions of people added every year. But, just as importantly, consider the millions and millions of devices that are now vying for Net access -- all of the smartphones, sensors and other devices that need connectivity. All of these new users are generating new Web traffic and content at a furious pace, and the Internet needs to get faster to keep up."

    Chan was quick to note that switching to optical fibers won't just mean better performance. It also will mean cheaper high-speed access.

    "With bigger applications and more bottlenecks, you could buy extra bandwidth if you pay through the nose, but that's not something every user could do," Chan said. "Sure, you can increase the data rate, but it's expensive. With this new architecture, we can speed up the Internet but make high-speed access cheaper."

    The MIT research team is testing the transport part of its architecture at Bell Labs in New Jersey, Chan said, and they're making sure the switch to all optical fibers won't cause any long-term effects on the Internet.

    Chan, who is planning to start a company that will deploy and sell the technology, added that the next step will be to piggyback the new system onto some traditional networks in the U.S. in a limited trial.

    "I think we have enough tests to know that the transport is ready and the architecture would work," he added.

    Chan said he's been in talks with router companies about the new architecture. The router companies, along with major Internet service providers, would have to buy into his plan.

    "Assuming the technology works as advertised, the main drawback will be the cost of rolling out the new gear and optimizing the Net so that it takes best advantage of the new stuff," Olds said. "New cutting-edge technology isn't cheap, and while prices will drop over time, they will only fall if the volume for the equipment is there."

    Olds also noted that it might take a little doing for major ISPs and user organizations to swallow that expense.

    "There will be considerable expense in adopting this new technology, not just in the new hardware, but in testing and optimizing the Internet so it can take advantage of the higher speeds," he added. "Given that the new equipment will be more expensive, it isn't going to be easy to convince the providers to adopt it right away. Just because the speed of light is the fastest thing we know, it doesn't mean they'll pay big bucks harnessing it so I can get my e-mail faster. They're going to need to be convinced that the higher transmission speeds and lower power requirements will help their bottom line."

    Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com .

    Read more about internet in Computerworld's Internet Topic Center.

    original link here;

  10. The Following User Says Thank You to giovonni For This Post:

    Smith (15th February 2011)

  11. Link to Post #27
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Lightbulb Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Quantum Entanglement Holds DNA Together, Say Physicists
    A new theoretical model suggests that quantum entanglement helps prevent the molecules of life from breaking apart.

    There was a time, not so long ago, when biologists swore black and blue that quantum mechanics could play no role in the hot, wet systems of life.

    Since then, the discipline of quantum biology has emerged as one of the most exciting new fields in science. It's beginning to look as if quantum effects are crucial in a number of biological processes, such as photosynthesis and avian navigation which we've looked at here and here.

    Now a group of physicists say that the weird laws of quantum mechanics may be more important for life than biologists could ever have imagined. Their new idea is that DNA is held together by quantum entanglement.

    That's worth picking apart in more detail. Entanglement is the weird quantum process in which a single wavefunction describes two separate objects. When this happens, these objects effectively share the same existence, no matter how far apart they might be.

    The question that Elisabeth Rieper at the National University of Singapore and a couple of buddies have asked is what role might entanglement play in DNA. To find out, they've constructed a simplified theoretical model of DNA in which each nucleotide consists of a cloud of electrons around a central positive nucleus. This negative cloud can move relative to the nucleus, creating a dipole. And the movement of the cloud back and forth is a harmonic oscillator.

    When the nucleotides bond to form a base, these clouds must oscillate in opposite directions to ensure the stability of the structure.

    Rieper and co ask what happens to these oscillations, or phonons as physicists call them, when the base pairs are stacked in a double helix.

    Phonons are quantum objects, meaning they can exist in a superposition of states and become entangled, just like other quantum objects.

    To start with, Rieper and co imagine the helix without any effect from outside heat. "Clearly the chain of coupled harmonic oscillators is entangled at zero temperature," they say. They then go on to show that the entanglement can also exist at room temperature.

    That's possible because phonons have a wavelength which is similar in size to a DNA helix and this allows standing waves to form, a phenomenon known as phonon trapping. When this happens, the phonons cannot easily escape. A similar kind of phonon trapping is known to cause problems in silicon structures of the same size.

    That would be of little significance if it had no overall effect on the helix. But the model developed by Rieper and co suggests that the effect is profound.

    Although each nucleotide in a base pair is oscillating in opposite directions, this occurs as a superposition of states, so that the overall movement of the helix is zero. In a purely classical model, however, this cannot happen, in which case the helix would vibrate and shake itself apart.

    So in this sense, these quantum effects are responsible for holding DNA together.

    The question of course is how to prove this. They say that one line of evidence is that a purely classical analysis of the energy required to hold DNA together does not add up. However, their quantum model plugs the gap. That's interesting but they'll need to come up with something experimentally convincing to persuade biologists of these ideas.

    One tantalising suggestion at the end of their paper is that the entanglement may have an influence on the way that information is read off a strand of DNA and that it may be possible to exploit this experimentally. Just how, they don't say.

    Speculative but potentially explosive work.

    Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1006.4053: The Relevance Of Continuous Variable Entanglement In DNA

    for original story and comments~go here;

  12. The Following User Says Thank You to giovonni For This Post:

    Smith (15th February 2011)

  13. Link to Post #28
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Default Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Frankly, I don't hold out much hope that we will do anything until it is too late. If you look at history you see clearly that great empires destroy themselves from within, usually as a result of willful ignorance. It is themselves not their enemies that cause their collapse, and I think the same is happening with us.

    You can't explain away climate change
    Some hold that global warming stopped in 1998, but scientists know better.

    July 22, 2010

    You probably won't hear it from columnist George F. Will, Fox News commentators or the plethora of conservative blogs that have claimed global warming essentially stopped in 1998, but recent figures released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that global land and ocean surface temperatures in June were the highest since record-keeping began in 1880. What's more, the first half of 2010 was the hottest such period ever recorded, and Arctic sea ice melted at a record-setting pace in June.

    The heat can probably be attributed at least in part to periodic and entirely natural changes in ocean temperatures and surface air pressure — the El Niño/La Niña phenomena most likely played a role. But the fact that peak years are getting hotter while even relatively "cool" years now tend to remain above historical averages (the 10 warmest years on record all occurred within the last 15 years, according to the NOAA) shows that something else is at work. A consensus of climate scientists worldwide, including not only the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change but the national scientific academies of the United States and the rest of the developed world, have identified that "something else" as anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gases, which reflect the sun's heat back onto the Earth rather than letting it escape into space.

    Climate skeptics such as Will et al either deny that this warming is happening — an increasingly untenable position in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is — or insist that it doesn't matter. They argue that it would be more expensive to try to solve the problem than to adapt to it, and that in any case, the effects of higher temperatures won't be all that damaging. Climate modelers, who have accurately forecast the currently observed climate oscillations, sea-level rise and ice melting, do not agree. They predict catastrophic destruction in coastal cities, droughts, crop failure, forest loss, insect infestations and other woes.

    For us, it's not a difficult decision which side to believe: scientists who directly observe and measure climate changes and whose accuracy is rigorously tested by their peers, or pundits with little knowledge of climate science whose views are informed by a long-held resentment of environmentalists and government regulation. Yet the latter group, working hand in hand with big energy companies that profit from the filthy status quo, have injected enough doubt into the national debate to paralyze Congress — which seems little closer to imposing greenhouse-gas limits or placing a market price on emissions than it was during the laissez-faire George W. Bush administration — and confuse the public, who in recent polls are increasingly inclined to believe that the threat of climate change has been exaggerated.

    Granted, scientists themselves deserve some blame for the shift in attitudes. Climatology, even more than other fields, is undergoing changes that are unsettling for those in the trenches. A relatively obscure line of work until policymakers started seriously considering carbon curbs in recent years, climate science is suddenly at the center of a raging international debate. Meanwhile, a sedate culture of publication and private peer review has been roiled by a new media environment; today, critics of a scientist's work don't have to publish a carefully reviewed study in a major journal, they just have to fire off an indignant blog post.

    When scientists at the prestigious Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia responded to such critics by sending catty e-mails to their colleagues, and when those e-mails were made public by hackers last November, it did more to impede action on climate change than Big Oil could have achieved with an army of lobbyists. Yet investigations have shown that the e-mails amounted to little more than fits of pique. The most recent review, conducted by an independent team funded by the University of East Anglia, found no evidence that the researchers had undermined scientific findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or any other group, and that they neither withheld access to data nor tampered with it.

    We'd love to hear climate skeptics explain away the results of such investigations and address the latest report from the NOAA. But we suspect they'll do what they usually do when confronted with facts that contradict their worldview: ignore them.

    Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
    original story link;
    Last edited by giovonni; 23rd July 2010 at 22:07.

  14. The Following User Says Thank You to giovonni For This Post:

    Smith (15th February 2011)

  15. Link to Post #29
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Thumbs up Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    FDA approves Geron's groundbreaking study of embryonic cells
    By Steve Johnson
    Posted: 07/30/2010 06:37:40 PM PDTUpdated: 07/31/2010 03:50:48 AM PDT

    A Menlo Park biotech firm said Friday that federal regulators will let it proceed with the world's first human test of a treatment made from embryonic stem cells, a much-anticipated but controversial study of patients with spinal cord injuries that had been placed on hold for nearly a year because of safety concerns.

    If the treatment from Geron works, it "would be revolutionary," said Dr. Richard Fessler, a neurological surgeon at Northwestern University, who will lead the study of a stem-cell treatment designed to be injected into patients with spinal injuries to restore their motor function. "The therapy would provide a viable treatment option for thousands of patients who suffer severe spinal cord injuries each year."

    Geron has spent 15 years and more than $150 million to develop the treatment, and "getting it into a clinical trial, just by itself, is a big deal," added Fessler, who has no financial ties to the company.

    Many people hope that human embryonic stem cells, which can turn into any type of tissue in the body, could prove useful for everything from generating organs for transplants to helping test drugs on numerous diseases. But because the cells are derived from discarded 3- to-5-day-old embryos, their use by researchers has sparked ethical concerns and a highly contentious national debate.

    The Food and Drug Administration had put the study on hold last year after a few animals the company was testing with its treatment developed small cysts. Although similar cysts had appeared in earlier animal studies, they appeared with "a higher frequency" in more recent animal tests, the company said at the time.

    FDA officials declined to comment on why they decided to lift their hold on the study. However, Geron said Friday that it determined the cysts "did not lead to any adverse consequences to the animals" and that the company changed some of its procedures "to minimize the likelihood of cyst formation."

    After Geron's announcement, its stock price rose 83 cents, or about 17 percent, to $5.63 at the close of trading.

    In studies several years ago, Geron reported that its spinal treatment had helped paralyzed rats walk. The company's treatment involves turning embryonic cells into another type of cell, which helps nerve fibers replace myelin, a fatty insulating substance that often gets stripped away when spines are injured, inhibiting the body's ability to transmit sensory signals.

    However, no people have ever been tested using human embryonic stem cells, That's partly because critics — many of them involved in religious and anti-abortion groups — argue that research with the cells is unethical because the embryos the cells come from are life-forms.

    In addition, some scientists have feared that if the cells are injected into people they might form teratomas, which are growths of unwanted cells. Supporters of human embryonic stem-cell studies argue that the cells' potential benefits outweigh any ethical concerns about where they come from and Geron has said it has found no teratomas among the vast numbers of animals it has tested with its treatment.

    Having Geron's study given the go-ahead, "is an important milestone for the whole field," said Alan Trounson, president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a state agency that promotes research with human embryonic stem cells. "We are looking with hope and expectation that the transplant will be safe and effective."

    Adult stem cells, which appear in the body about 12 weeks after conception and typically produce a limited variety of tissue types, have been tested on people in various ways.

    To be selected for the study, patients must have mid-back spinal cord injuries that leave them paralyzed below the site of their injuries, which must be one to two weeks old.

    Geron has identified seven U.S. medical centers that may participate in the study, which is primarily intended to gauge how safe the treatment is. The tests are expected to involve only a small number of patients. Geron did not disclose when the treatments would begin, though Fessler said it might take a couple of months to get the medical center personnel prepared for the study.

    Geron isn't the only company seeking FDA permission to test a human embryonic stem cell treatment on people. Santa Monica-based Advanced Cell Technology hopes to win approval soon to study a treatment it has developed for patients suffering from an eye disease called Stargardt's macular dystrophy.

    "We're also hoping we can begin our clinical trials in the next few months," said Dr. Robert Lanza, the company's chief scientific officer. "Of course, it's not important who does the first clinical trial," he added, "but, rather, whether your therapy helps patients."


    The company plans to conduct the world"s first test on people of a treatment made from human embryonic stem cells, which are controversial in large part because they are derived from discarded embryos.
    People with severe mid-back spinal cord injuries that leave them paralyzed below the injury, which must be one to two weeks old.
    The treatment is to help patients regrow a spinal insulating material, called myelin, which often gets stripped away during injuries, disrupting the body"s ability to transmit sensory signals and resulting in paralysis.
    Primarily if the treatment is safe for humans. Geron also hopes the study indicates whether the treatment improves neuromuscular control and sensation. Later studies in people would be needed to fully assess the treatment"s effectiveness in alleviating spinal damage.
    Information about the tests can be found at Geron"s website, www.geron.com.


    The company plans to conduct the world"s first test on people of a treatment made from human embryonic stem cells.

    HOW IT COULD HELP: The treatment is to help patients
    regrow a spinal insulating material, called myelin, that often gets stripped away during injuries, disrupting the body"s ability to transmit sensory signals and resulting in paralysis.
    WHAT THE STUDY DETERMINES: The study will primarily determine if the treatment is safe for humans, and whether it
    improves neuromuscular control and sensation. Later studies in people would be needed to assess the treatment"s effectiveness.

    article link here;

  16. The Following User Says Thank You to giovonni For This Post:

    Smith (15th February 2011)

  17. Link to Post #30
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Exclamation Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    (CNN) -- A piece of ice four times the size of Manhattan island has broken away from an ice shelf in Greenland, according to scientists in the U.S.

    Satellite image from Aug. 5, 2010, shows the huge ice island calved from Greenland's Petermann Glacier. Credit: Andreas Muenchow, University of Delaware.
    The 260 square-kilometer (100 square miles) ice island separated from the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland early on Thursday, researchers based at the University of Delaware said.

    The ice island, which is about half the height of the Empire State Building, is the biggest piece of ice to break away from the Arctic icecap since 1962 and amounts to a quarter of the Petermann 70-kilometer floating ice shelf, according to research leader Andreas Muenchow.

    "The freshwater stored in this ice island could keep the Delaware or Hudson rivers flowing for more than two years. It could also keep all U.S. public tap water flowing for 120 days," Muenchow said.

    Muenchow's team is studying ice in the Nares Strait separating Greenland from Canada, about 1,000 kilometers south of the North Pole.

    Satellite data from NASA's MODIS-Aqua satellite revealed the initial rupture which was confirmed within hours by Trudy Wohlleben of the Canadian Ice Service, according to the University of Delaware website.

    Muenchow said the island could block the Nares Strait as it drifts south, or break into smaller islands and continue towards the open waters of the Atlantic.

    "In Nares Strait, the ice island will encounter real islands that are all much smaller in size," he said.

    "The newly born ice island may become land-fast, block the channel, or it may break into smaller pieces as it is propelled south by the prevailing ocean currents. From there, it will likely follow along the coasts of Baffin Island and Labrador, to reach the Atlantic within the next two years."

    Environmentalists say ice melt is being caused by global warming with Arctic temperatures in the 1990s reaching their warmest level of any decade in at least 2,000 years, according to a study published in 2009.

    Current trends could see the Arctic Ocean become ice free in summer months within decades, researchers predict.

    click here to view slide show of glacier;

    original story link;
    Last edited by giovonni; 8th August 2010 at 19:30.

  18. Link to Post #31
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Unhappy Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Unpaving our roads.
    Can anything be more symbolic of what has gone wrong with America? We are closing our schools, closing libraries, shutting down our street lighting. But nothing, for me, is quite as symbolic as unpaving the roads. Have you ever before heard of an advanced nation tearing up the pavement of its roads?

    This is the natural progression and inevitable consequence of 30 years of conservatives pounding away that government is bad. It began with Ronald Reagan and his statement that that "government is not the solution, government is part of the problem." We are now reaping the fruits of that worldview and, if the midterm elections go as many believe they will, and Republicans gain seats, it will only get worse. Unpaving the roads. It is the sign of who we have become, and the road we have chosen.

    Roads to Ruin: Towns Rip Up the Pavement
    Asphalt Is Replaced By Cheaper Gravel; 'Back to Stone Age'


    Dan Koeck for The Wall Street Journal

    A road crew in Jamestown, N.D., where road repair means reclaiming the original asphalt and processing it to rese
    mble gravel.

    SPIRITWOOD, N.D.—A hulking yellow machine inched along Old Highway 10 here recently in a summer scene that seemed as normal as the nearby corn swaying in the breeze. But instead of laying a blanket of steaming blacktop, the machine was grinding the asphalt road into bits.

    "When [counties] had lots of money, they paved a lot of the roads and tried to make life easier for the people who lived out here," said Stutsman County Highway Superintendant Mike Zimmerman, sifting the dusty black rubble through his fingers. "Now, it's catching up to them."

    Outside this speck of a town, pop. 78, a 10-mile stretch of road had deteriorated to the point that residents reported seeing ducks floating in potholes, Mr. Zimmerman said. As the road wore out, the cost of repaving became too great. Last year, the county spent $400,000 on an RM300 Caterpillar rotary mixer to grind the road up, making it look more like the old homesteader trail it once was.

    Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls.

    Project supervisor Jerry Brickner checked a county road recently converted to gravel in Jamestown, N.D.

    In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as "poor man's pavement." Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.

    The moves have angered some residents because of the choking dust and windshield-cracking stones that gravel roads can kick up, not to mention the jarring "washboard" effect of driving on rutted gravel.

    The heavy machines at work in Jamestown, N.D., are grinding the asphalt off road beds, grading the bed and packing the material back down to create a new road surface.

    But higher taxes for road maintenance are equally unpopular. In June, Stutsman County residents rejected a measure that would have generated more money for roads by increasing property and sales taxes.

    "I'd rather my kids drive on a gravel road than stick them with a big tax bill," said Bob Baumann, as he sipped a bottle of Coors Light at the Sportsman's Bar Café and Gas in Spiritwood.

    Rebuilding an asphalt road today is particularly expensive because the price of asphalt cement, a petroleum-based material mixed with rocks to make asphalt, has more than doubled over the past 10 years. Gravel becomes a cheaper option once an asphalt road has been neglected for so long that major rehabilitation is necessary.

    "A lot of these roads have just deteriorated to the point that they have no other choice than to turn them back to gravel," says Larry Galehouse, director of the National Center for Pavement Preservation at Michigan State University. Still, "we're leaving an awful legacy for future generations."

    Some experts caution that gravel roads can be costlier in the long run than consistently maintained asphalt because gravel needs to be graded and smoothed. A gravel road "is not a free road," says Purdue University's John Habermann, who organized a recent seminar about the resurgence of gravel roads titled "Back to the Stone Age."

    Paving grew in popularity in the early 20th century as more cars hit streets and spread when the federal government built the Interstate Highway System.

    Over the years, many of the two-lane arteries that connect country roads with metro areas have deteriorated under rising traffic and the growing weight of farm combines, logging trucks and other heavy equipment.

    Frederick Wachtel, county engineer in Coshocton County, Ohio, says his budget, largely driven by fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, was off 5% last year, the first decline in nearly 20 years. He is now letting some of his roads return to nature.

    In Spiritwood one day recently, a soft breeze carried the scents of cow manure and hot asphalt over the tall broom grass. The giant Caterpillar chugged along at a speed of 2.4 feet per minute and pulverized Old Highway 10 into a black dust with chunks of rock and pavement. A piece of equipment following behind rolled the surface flat.

    The machines rumbled along a path carved by homesteaders' covered wagons in the 1800s. Over time, grain elevators and railroad depots sprung up along the route, which became known as the Old Red Trail. Later, the road was paved and renamed Highway 10.

    After Interstate 94 was built alongside the road in the 1950s, it became Old Highway 10. Traffic volumes gradually dropped until Old 10 became a lazy backcountry road dotted with abandoned farmsteads. In the 1960s the state gave Old 10 to the counties it ran through, leaving them to pay for upkeep. North Dakota's Stutsman County got a 30-mile stretch.

    The gift became a burden. The Stutsman highway department, which gets the bulk of its funds from local property taxes, state fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, let the road fall into disrepair as it juggled other projects. Every year without major maintenance, the road became more expensive to fix.

    Judy Graves of Ypsilanti, N.D., voted against the measure to raise taxes for roads. But she says she and others nonetheless wrote to Gov. John Hoeven and asked him to stop Old 10 from being ground up because it still carries traffic to a Cargill Inc. malting plant. She says the county has mismanaged its finances and badly neglected roads.

    "Our expenses outweigh the income," says Mr. Zimmerman, who has been with the county highway department for nearly 30 years. He says the county will pay about $2,600 per mile annually for the newly ground-up road, as against about $75,000 per mile to reconstruct it.

    Gayne Gasal, who lives along the redone stretch of road, says it has turned out "better than we all thought." But Sportsman's Bar owner Hilda Kuntz worries that the classic cars and bikers that roll through town in the summer will stay away.

    "It's going to kill my business," she said.

    Write to Lauren Etter at lauren.etter@wsj.com

    original article link;

  19. Link to Post #32
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Exclamation Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    The alarm bells go off one by one, but is anyone in power listening? The only way climate change is going to be addressed is if citizens create a voting mass that overcomes special interests. whether religious, political, or corporate.

    Greenland ice sheet faces 'tipping point in 10 years'

    Scientists warn that temperature rise of between 2C and 7C would cause ice to melt, resulting in 23ft rise in sea level.

    * Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
    * guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 10 August 2010 19.29 BST

    An enormous chunk of ice, roughly 97 square miles in size, has broken off the Petermann Glacier along the northwest coast of Greenland. Photograph: Aqua/Modis/Nasa

    The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress today.

    Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century last week, and faces an even grimmer future, according to Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University

    "Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive," Alley told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2C to 7C would mean the obliteration of Greenland's ice sheet.

    The fall-out would be felt thousands of miles away from the Arctic, unleashing a global sea level rise of 23ft (7 metres), Alley warned. Low-lying cities such as New Orleans would vanish.

    "What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done," he said.

    Speaking by phone, Alley was addressing a briefing held by the House of Representatives committee on energy independence and global warming.

    Greenland is losing ice mass at an increasing rate, dumping more icebergs into the ocean because of warming temperatures, he said.

    The stark warning was underlined by the momentous break-up of one of Greenland's largest glaciers last week, which set a 100 sq mile chunk of ice drifting into the North Strait between Greenland and Canada.

    The briefing also noted that the last six months had set new temperature records.

    Robert Bindschadler, a research scientist at the University of Maryland, told the briefing: "While we don't believe it is possible to lose an ice sheet within a decade, we do believe it is possible to reach a tipping point in a few decades in which we would lose the ice sheet in a century."

    The ice loss from the Petermann Glacier was the largest such event in nearly 50 years, although there have been regular and smaller "calvings".

    Petermann spawned two smaller breakaways: one of 34 sq miles in 2001 and another of 10 sq miles in 2008.

    Andreas Muenchow, professor of ocean science at the University of Delaware, who has been studying the Petermann glacier for several years, said he had been expecting such a break, although he did not anticipate its size.

    He also argued that much remains unknown about the interaction between Arctic sea ice, sea level, and temperature rise.

    Muenchow told the briefing that over the last seven years he had only received funding to measure ocean temperatures near the Petermann Glacier for a total of three days.

    He was also reduced, because of a lack of funding, to paying his own airfare and that of his students to they could join up with a Canadian icebreaker on a joint research project in the Arctic.

    original article here;


  20. Link to Post #33
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Lightbulb Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    It can be done. It is possible to make the Green Transition. So why are we dragging our feet in the U.S.? Because our government has been captured by the corporate virtual states whose rice bowl is enslaved to petroleum? That's what it looks like.

    Portugal Gives Itself a Clean-Energy Makeover


    LISBON — Five years ago, the leaders of this sun-scorched, wind-swept nation made a bet: To reduce Portugal’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, they embarked on an array of ambitious renewable energy projects — primarily harnessing the country’s wind and hydropower, but also its sunlight and ocean waves.

    Today, Lisbon’s trendy bars, Porto’s factories and the Algarve’s glamorous resorts are powered substantially by clean energy. Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago.

    Land-based wind power — this year deemed “potentially competitive” with fossil fuels by the International Energy Agency in Paris — has expanded sevenfold in that time. And Portugal expects in 2011 to become the first country to inaugurate a national network of charging stations for electric cars.

    “I’ve seen all the smiles — you know: It’s a good dream. It can’t compete. It’s too expensive,” said Prime Minister José Sócrates, recalling the way Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, mockingly offered to build him an electric Ferrari. Mr. Sócrates added, “The experience of Portugal shows that it is possible to make these changes in a very short time.”

    The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has renewed questions about the risks and unpredictable costs of America’s unremitting dependence on fossil fuels. President Obama has seized on the opportunity to promote his goal of having 20 to 25 percent of America’s electricity produced from renewable sources by 2025.

    While Portugal’s experience shows that rapid progress is achievable, it also highlights the price of such a transition. Portuguese households have long paid about twice what Americans pay for electricity, and prices have risen 15 percent in the last five years, probably partly because of the renewable energy program, the International Energy Agency says.

    Although a 2009 report by the agency called Portugal’s renewable energy transition a “remarkable success,” it added, “It is not fully clear that their costs, both financial and economic, as well as their impact on final consumer energy prices, are well understood and appreciated.”

    Indeed, complaints about rising electricity rates are a mainstay of pensioners’ gossip here. Mr. Sócrates, who after a landslide victory in 2005 pushed through the major elements of the energy makeover over the objections of the country’s fossil fuel industry, survived last year’s election only as the leader of a weak coalition.

    “You cannot imagine the pressure we suffered that first year,” said Manuel Pinho, Portugal’s minister of economy and innovation from 2005 until last year, who largely masterminded the transition, adding, “Politicians must take tough decisions.”

    Still, aggressive national policies to accelerate renewable energy use are succeeding in Portugal and some other countries, according to a recent report by IHS Emerging Energy Research of Cambridge, Mass., a leading energy consulting firm. By 2025, the report projected, Ireland, Denmark and Britain will also get 40 percent or more of their electricity from renewable sources; if power from large-scale hydroelectric dams, an older type of renewable energy, is included, countries like Canada and Brazil join the list.

    The United States, which last year generated less than 5 percent of its power from newer forms of renewable energy, will lag behind at 16 percent (or just over 20 percent, including hydroelectric power), according to IHS.

    To force Portugal’s energy transition, Mr. Sócrates’s government restructured and privatized former state energy utilities to create a grid better suited to renewable power sources. To lure private companies into Portugal’s new market, the government gave them contracts locking in a stable price for 15 years — a subsidy that varied by technology and was initially high but decreased with each new contract round.

    Compared with the United States, European countries have powerful incentives to pursue renewable energy. Many, like Portugal, have little fossil fuel of their own, and the European Union’s emissions trading system discourages fossil fuel use by requiring industry to essentially pay for excessive carbon dioxide emissions.

    Portugal was well poised to be a guinea pig because it has large untapped resources of wind and river power, the two most cost-effective renewable sources. Government officials say the energy transformation required no increase in taxes or public debt, precisely because the new sources of electricity, which require no fuel and produce no emissions, replaced electricity previously produced by buying and burning imported natural gas, coal and oil. By 2014 the renewable energy program will allow Portugal to fully close at least two conventional power plants and reduce the operation of others.

    “So far the program has placed no stress on the national budget” and has not created government debt, said Shinji Fujino, head of the International Energy Agency’s country study division.

    If the United States is to catch up to countries like Portugal, energy experts say, it must overcome obstacles like a fragmented, outdated energy grid poorly suited to renewable energy; a historic reliance on plentiful and cheap supplies of fossil fuels, especially coal; powerful oil and coal industries that often oppose incentives for renewable development; and energy policy that is heavily influenced by individual states.

    The relative costs of an energy transition would inevitably be higher in the United States than in Portugal. But as the expense of renewable power drops, an increasing number of countries see such a shift as worthwhile, said Alex Klein, research director, clean and renewable power generation, at IHS.

    “The cost gap will close in the next decade, but what you get right away is an energy supply that is domestically controlled and safer,” Mr. Klein said.

    Necessity Drives Change

    Portugal’s venture was driven by necessity. With a rising standard of living and no fossil fuel of its own, the cost of energy imports — principally oil and gas — doubled in the last decade, accounting for 50 percent of the country’s trade deficit, and was highly volatile. The oil went to fuel cars, the gas mainly to electricity. Unlike the United States, Portugal never depended heavily on coal for electricity generation because close and reliable sources of natural gas were available in North Africa, and Europe’s carbon trading system could make coal costly.

    Portugal is now on track to reach its goal of using domestically produced renewable energy, including large-scale hydropower, for 60 percent of its electricity and 31 percent of its total energy needs by 2020. (Total energy needs include purposes other than generating electricity, like heating homes and powering cars.)

    In making the shift, Portugal has overcome longstanding concerns about reliability and high cost. The lights go on in Lisbon even when the wind dies down at the vast two-year-old Alto Minho wind farm. The country’s electricity production costs and consumer electricity rates — including the premium prices paid for power from renewable sources — are about average for Europe, but still higher than those in China or the United States, countries that rely on cheap coal.

    Portugal says it has kept costs down by focusing heavily on the cheapest forms of renewable energy — wind and hydropower — and ratcheting down the premium prices it pays to lure companies to build new plants.

    While the government estimates that the total investment in revamping Portugal’s energy structure will be about 16.3 billion euros, or $22 billion, that cost is borne by the private companies that operate the grid and the renewable plants and is reflected in consumers’ electricity rates. The companies’ payback comes from the 15 years of guaranteed wholesale electricity rates promised by the government. Once the new infrastructure is completed, Mr. Pinho said, the system will cost about 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) a year less to run than it formerly did, primarily by avoiding natural gas imports.

    A smaller savings will come from carbon credits Portugal can sell under the European Union’s carbon trading system: countries and industries that produce fewer emissions than allotted can sell permits to those that exceed their limits.

    Mr. Fujino of the International Energy Agency said Portugal’s calculations might be optimistic. But he noted that the country’s transition had also created a valuable new industry: Last year, for the first time, it became a net power exporter, sending a small amount of electricity to Spain. Tens of thousands of Portuguese work in the field. Energias de Portugal, the country’s largest energy company, owns wind farms in Iowa and Texas, through its American subsidiary, Horizon Wind Energy.

    Redesigning the System

    A nationwide supply of renewable power requires a grid that can move electricity from windy, sunny places to the cities.

    But a decade ago in Portugal, as in many places in the United States today, power companies owned not only power generating plants, but also transmission lines. Those companies have little incentive to welcome new sources of renewable energy, which compete with their investment in fossil fuels. So in 2000, Portugal’s first step was to separate making electricity from transporting it, through a mandatory purchase by the government of all transmission lines for electricity and gas at what were deemed fair market prices.

    Those lines were then used to create the skeleton of what since 2007 has been a regulated and publicly traded company that operates the national electricity and natural gas networks.

    Next, the government auctioned off contracts to private companies to build and operate wind and hydropower plants. Bidders were granted rights based on the government-guaranteed price they would accept for the energy they produced, as well as on their willingness to invest in Portugal’s renewable economy, including jobs and other venture capital funds. Some of the winners were foreign companies. In the latest round of bidding, the price guaranteed for wind energy was in the range of the price paid for electricity generated by natural gas.

    Such a drastic reorganization might be extremely difficult in the United States, where power companies have strong political sway and states decide whether to promote renewable energy. Colorado recently legislated that 30 percent of its energy must come from renewable sources by 2020, but neighboring Utah has only weak voluntary goals. Coal states, like Kentucky and West Virginia, have relatively few policies to encourage alternative energies.

    In Portugal, said Mr. Pinho, the former economy minister, who will join Columbia University’s faculty, “the prime minister had an absolute majority.”

    “He was very strong, and everyone knew we would not step back,” Mr. Pinho said.

    A Flexible Network

    Running a country using electricity derived from nature’s highly unpredictable forces requires new technology and the juggling skills of a plate spinner. A wind farm that produces 200 megawatts one hour may produce only 5 megawatts a few hours later; the sun shines intermittently in many places; hydropower is plentiful in the rainy winter, but may be limited in summer.

    Portugal’s national energy transmission company, Redes Energéticas Nacionais or R.E.N., uses sophisticated modeling to predict weather, especially wind patterns, and computer programs to calculate energy from the various renewable-energy plants. Since the country’s energy transition, the network has doubled the number of dispatchers who route energy to where it is needed.

    “You need a lot of new skills. It’s a real-time operation, and there are far more decisions to be made — every hour, every second,” said Victor Baptista, director general of R.E.N. “The objective is to keep the system alive and avoid blackouts.”

    Like some American states, Portugal has for decades generated electricity from hydropower plants on its raging rivers. But new programs combine wind and water: Wind-driven turbines pump water uphill at night, the most blustery period; then the water flows downhill by day, generating electricity, when consumer demand is highest.

    Denmark, another country that relies heavily on wind power, frequently imports electricity from its energy-rich neighbor Norway when the wind dies down; by comparison, Portugal’s grid is relatively isolated, although R.E.N. has greatly increased its connection with Spain to allow for energy sharing.

    Portugal’s distribution system is also now a two-way street. Instead of just delivering electricity, it draws electricity from even the smallest generators, like rooftop solar panels. The government aggressively encourages such contributions by setting a premium price for those who buy rooftop-generated solar electricity. “To make this kind of system work, you have to make a lot of different kinds of deals at the same time,” said Carlos Zorrinho, the secretary of state for energy and innovation.

    To ensure a stable power base when the forces of nature shut down, the system needs to maintain a base of fossil fuel that can be fired up at will. Although Portugal’s traditional power plants now operate many fewer hours than before, the country is also building some highly efficient natural gas plants.

    To accommodate all this, Portugal needed new transmission lines from remote windy regions to urban centers. Portugal began modernizing its grid a decade ago. Accommodating a greater share of renewable power cost an additional 480 million euros, or about $637 million, an expense folded into electricity rates, according to R.E.N.

    Last year, President Obama offered billions of dollars in grants to modernize the grid in the United States, but it is not clear that such a piecemeal effort will be adequate for renewable power. Widely diverse permitting procedures in different states and the fact that many private companies control local fragments of the grid make it hard to move power over long distances, for example, from windy Iowa to users in Atlanta. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United States’ grid a “D+,” commenting that it is “in urgent need of modernization.”

    “A real smart national grid would radically change our technology profile,” said John Juech, vice president for policy analysis at Garten Rothkopf, a Washington consulting firm that focuses on energy. “But it will be very costly, and the political will may not be there.”

    A 2009 report commissioned by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change estimated that the United States would have to spend $3 billion to $4 billion a year for the next two decades to create a grid that could accommodate deriving 20 percent of electricity from wind power by 2030 — a 40 percent to 50 percent increase over current spending.

    The Drawbacks

    Energy experts consider Portugal’s experiment a success. But there have been losers. Many environmentalists object to the government plans to double the amount of wind energy, saying lights and noise from turbines will interfere with birds’ behavior. Conservation groups worry that new dams will destroy Portugal’s cork-oak habitats.

    Local companies complain that the government allowed large multinationals to displace them.

    Until it became the site of the largest wind farm south of Lisbon, Barão de São João was a sleepy village on the blustery Alentejo Coast, home to farmers who tilled its roller coaster hills and holiday homeowners drawn to cheap land and idyllic views. Renewable energy has brought conflict.

    “I know it’s good for the country because it’s clean energy and it’s good for the landowners who got money, but it hasn’t brought me any good,” said José Cristino, 48, a burly farmer harvesting grain with a wind turbine’s thrap-thrap-thrap in the background. “I look at these things day and night.” He said 90 percent of the town’s population had been opposed.

    In Portugal, as in the United States, politicians have sold green energy programs to communities with promises of job creation. Locally, the effect has often proved limited. For example, more than five years ago, the isolated city of Moura became the site of Portugal’s largest solar plant because it “gets the most sun of anywhere in Europe and has lots of useless space,” said José Maria Prazeres Pós-de-Mina, the mayor.

    But while 400 people built the Moura plant, only 20 to 25 work there now, since gathering sunlight requires little human labor. Unemployment remains at 15 percent, the mayor said — though researchers, engineers and foreign delegations frequently visit the town’s new solar research center.

    Indeed, Portugal’s engineers and companies are now global players. Portugal’s EDP Renováveis, first listed on stock exchanges in 2008, is the third largest company in the world in wind-generated electricity output. This year, its Portuguese chief executive, Ana Maria Fernandes, signed contracts to sell electricity from its wind farm in Iowa to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

    “Broadly, Europe has had great success in this area,” said Mr. Juech, the analyst at Garten Rothkopf. “But that is the result of huge government support and intervention, and that raises questions about what happens when you have an economic crisis or political change; will these technologies still be sustainable?”

    original story here;

  21. The Following User Says Thank You to giovonni For This Post:

    Smith (15th February 2011)

  22. Link to Post #34
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Question Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    Please excuse me for diverting from the usual future trends format~ for a momentary> regressive interlude~
    while the next story takes us back and examines ~ a provocative hypothesis:

    No Copyright Law
    The Real Reason for Germany's Industrial Expansion?

    By Frank Thadeusz

    Interior of the Krupp steelworks in Essen in the 19th century. Historian Eckhard Höffner argues that Germany's rapid expansion was partly due to the huge amount of books, many dealing with science, that were printed in the 19th century.

    Did Germany experience rapid industrial expansion in the 19th century due to an absence of copyright law? A German historian argues that the massive proliferation of books, and thus knowledge, laid the foundation for the country's industrial might.

    The entire country seemed to be obsessed with reading. The sudden passion for books struck even booksellers as strange and in 1836 led literary critic Wolfgang Menzel to declare Germans "a people of poets and thinkers."

    "That famous phrase is completely misconstrued," declares economic historian Eckhard Höffner, 44. "It refers not to literary greats such as Goethe and Schiller," he explains, "but to the fact that an incomparable mass of reading material was being produced in Germany."

    Höffner has researched that early heyday of printed material in Germany and reached a surprising conclusion -- unlike neighboring England and France, Germany experienced an unparalleled explosion of knowledge in the 19th century.

    German authors during this period wrote ceaselessly. Around 14,000 new publications appeared in a single year in 1843. Measured against population numbers at the time, this reaches nearly today's level. And although novels were published as well, the majority of the works were academic papers.

    The situation in England was very different. "For the period of the Enlightenment and bourgeois emancipation, we see deplorable progress in Great Britain," Höffner states.

    A printing press in the 17th century. Germany, unlike England at the time, did not have strict copyright laws. Many books were plagarized and printers made money by selling cheap mass-market books, as well as luxury volumes for wealthier buyers.

    Equally Developed Industrial Nation

    Indeed, only 1,000 new works appeared annually in England at that time -- 10 times fewer than in Germany -- and this was not without consequences. Höffner believes it was the chronically weak book market that caused England, the colonial power, to fritter away its head start within the span of a century, while the underdeveloped agrarian state of Germany caught up rapidly, becoming an equally developed industrial nation by 1900.

    Even more startling is the factor Höffner believes caused this development -- in his view, it was none other than copyright law, which was established early in Great Britain, in 1710, that crippled the world of knowledge in the United Kingdom.

    Germany, on the other hand, didn't bother with the concept of copyright for a long time. Prussia, then by far Germany's biggest state, introduced a copyright law in 1837, but Germany's continued division into small states meant that it was hardly possible to enforce the law throughout the empire.

    Höffner's diligent research is the first academic work to examine the effects of the copyright over a comparatively long period of time and based on a direct comparison between two countries, and his findings have caused a stir among academics. Until now, copyright was seen as a great achievement and a guarantee for a flourishing book market. Authors are only motivated to write, runs the conventional belief, if they know their rights will be protected.

    Yet a historical comparison, at least, reaches a different conclusion. Publishers in England exploited their monopoly shamelessly. New discoveries were generally published in limited editions of at most 750 copies and sold at a price that often exceeded the weekly salary of an educated worker.

    London's most prominent publishers made very good money with this system, some driving around the city in gilt carriages. Their customers were the wealthy and the nobility, and their books regarded as pure luxury goods. In the few libraries that did exist, the valuable volumes were chained to the shelves to protect them from potential thieves.

    In Germany during the same period, publishers had plagiarizers -- who could reprint each new publication and sell it cheaply without fear of punishment -- breathing down their necks. Successful publishers were the ones who took a sophisticated approach in reaction to these copycats and devised a form of publication still common today, issuing fancy editions for their wealthy customers and low-priced paperbacks for the masses.

    Mary Shelley's Gothic horror novel "Frankenstein" may still be read today. But Berlin professor, Sigismund Hermbstädt, earned far more royalties for his book "Principles of Leather Tanning."

    A Multitude of Treatises

    This created a book market very different from the one found in England. Bestsellers and academic works were introduced to the German public in large numbers and at extremely low prices. "So many thousands of people in the most hidden corners of Germany, who could not have thought of buying books due to the expensive prices, have put together, little by little, a small library of reprints," the historian Heinrich Bensen wrote enthusiastically at the time.

    The prospect of a wide readership motivated scientists in particular to publish the results of their research. In Höffner's analysis, "a completely new form of imparting knowledge established itself."

    Essentially the only method for disseminating new knowledge that people of that period had known was verbal instruction from a master or scholar at a university. Now, suddenly, a multitude of high-level treatises circulated throughout the country.

    The "Literature Newspaper" reported in 1826 that "the majority of works concern natural objects of all types and especially the practical application of nature studies in medicine, industry, agriculture, etc." Scholars in Germany churned out tracts and handbooks on topics such as chemistry, mechanics, engineering, optics and the production of steel.

    In England during the same period, an elite circle indulged in a classical educational canon centered more on literature, philosophy, theology, languages and historiography. Practical instruction manuals of the type being mass-produced in Germany, on topics from constructing dikes to planting grain, were for the most part lacking in England. "In Great Britain, people were dependent on the medieval method of hearsay for the dissemination of this useful, modern knowledge," Höffner explains.

    The German proliferation of knowledge created a curious situation that hardly anyone is likely to have noticed at the time. Sigismund Hermbstädt, for example, a chemistry and pharmacy professor in Berlin, who has long since disappeared into the oblivion of history, earned more royalties for his "Principles of Leather Tanning" published in 1806 than British author Mary Shelley did for her horror novel "Frankenstein," which is still famous today.

    'Lively Scholarly Discourse'

    The trade in technical literature was so strong that publishers constantly worried about having a large enough supply, and this situation gave even the less talented scientific authors a good bargaining position in relation to publishers. Many professors supplemented their salaries with substantial additional income from the publication of handbooks and informational brochures.

    Höffner explains that this "lively scholarly discourse" laid the basis for the Gründerzeit, or foundation period, the term used to describe the rapid industrial expansion in Germany in the late 19th century. The period produced later industrial magnates such as Alfred Krupp and Werner von Siemens.

    The market for scientific literature didn't collapse even as copyright law gradually became established in Germany in the 1840s. German publishers did, however, react to the new situation in a restrictive way reminiscent of their British colleagues, cranking up prices and doing away with the low-price market.

    Authors, now guaranteed the rights to their own works, were often annoyed by this development. Heinrich Heine, for example, wrote to his publisher Julius Campe on October 24, 1854, in a rather acerbic mood: "Due to the tremendously high prices you have established, I will hardly see a second edition of the book anytime soon. But you must set lower prices, dear Campe, for otherwise I really don't see why I was so lenient with my material interests."

    original story link here;

  23. Link to Post #35
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Unhappy Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    As you can see in this German article, I am not alone in seeing the destruction of the American middle class as a powerful trend in the U.S. It can be reversed, consider what Germany looked like 60 years ago, but not if the current trends continue. This is yet another screaming alarm bell telling us how important the November election is going to be.If the Republicans take power and attempt to reassert their policies, a full bore depression would not surprise me.

    The End of the American dream?

    view photo gallery here> http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fo...cke-58334.html

    While America's super-rich congratulate themselves on donating billions to charity, the rest of the country is worse off than ever. Long-term unemployment is rising and millions of Americans are struggling to survive. The gap between rich and poor is wider than ever and the middle class is disappearing.

    Ventura is a small city on the Pacific coast, about an hour's drive north of Los Angeles. Luxury homes with a view of the ocean dot the hillsides, and the beaches are popular with surfers. Ventura is storybook California. "It's a well-off place," says Captain William Finley. "But about 20 percent of the city is what we call at risk of homelessness." Finley heads the local branch of the Salvation Army.

    Last summer Ventura launched a pilot program, managed by Finley, that allows people to sleep in their cars within city limits. This is normally illegal, both in Ventura and in the rest of the country, where local officials and residents are worried about seeing run-down vans full of Mexican migrant workers parked on residential streets.

    But sometime at the beginning of last year, people in Ventura realized that the cars parked in front of their driveways at night weren't old wrecks, but well-tended station wagons and hatchbacks. And the people sleeping in them weren't fruit pickers or the homeless, but their former neighbors.

    Finley also noticed a change. Suddenly twice as many people were taking advantage of his social service organization's free meals program, and some were even driving up in BMWs -- apparently reluctant to give up the expensive cars that reminded them of better times.

    Finley calls them "the new poor." "That is a different category of people that I think we're seeing," he says. "They are people who never in their wildest imaginations thought they would be homeless." They're people who had enough money -- a lot of money, in some cases -- until recently.

    "The image of what is a poor person in today's day and age doesn't fly. When I was growing up a poor person, and we grew up fairly poor, you drove a 10-year-old car that probably had some dents in it. You know, there was one car for the family and you lived out of the food bank," says Finley. "In the past, you got yourself out of poverty and were on your way up."

    American Way Heads in Opposite Direction

    It was the American way, a path taken by millions. "Today the image is you're getting newer late model cars that at one point cost somebody 40, 50 grand, and they're at wits end, now they're living out of the food banks. And for many of them it takes a lot to swallow their pride," says Finley.

    Today the American way is often headed in the opposite direction: downward.

    For a while, America seemed to have emerged relatively unscathed from the worst economic crisis in decades -- with renewed vigor and energy -- just as it had done in the wake of past crises.

    The government was announcing new economic growth figures by as early as last fall, much earlier than expected. The banks, moribund until recently, were back to earning billions. Companies nationwide are reporting strong growth, and the stock market has almost returned to it pre-crisis levels. Even the number of billionaires grew by a healthy 17 percent in 2009.

    Two weeks ago, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and 40 other billionaires pledged to donate at least half of their fortunes to philanthropy, either while still alive or after death. Is America a country so blessed with affluence that it can afford to give away billions, just like that?

    Growing Resentment

    Gates' move could also be interpreted as a PR campaign, in a country where the super-rich sense that although they are profiting from the crisis, as was to be expected, the number of people adversely affected has grown enormously. They also sense that there is growing resentment in American society against those at the top.

    For people in the lower income brackets, the recovery already seems to be falling apart. Experts fear that the US economy could remain weak for many years to come. And despite the many government assistance programs, the small amount of hope they engender has yet to be felt by the general public. On the contrary, for many people things are still headed dramatically downward.

    According to a recent opinion poll, 70 percent of Americans believe that the recession is still in full swing. And this time it isn't just the poor who are especially hard-hit, as they usually are during recessions.

    This time the recession is also affecting well-educated people who had been earning a good living until now. These people, who see themselves as solidly middle-class, now feel more threatened than ever before in the country's history. Four out of 10 Americans who consider themselves part of this class believe that they will be unable to maintain their social status.

    Unemployment Persists

    In a recent cover story titled "So long, middle class," the New York Post presented its readers with "25 statistics that prove that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America." Last week, the leading online columnist Arianna Huffington issued the almost apocalyptic warning that "America is in danger of becoming a Third World country."

    In fact, the United States, in the wake of a real estate, financial economic and now debt crisis, which it still hasn't overcome, is threatened by a social Ice Age more severe than anything the country has seen since the Great Depression.

    The United States is experiencing the problem of long-term unemployment for the first time since World War II. The number of the long-term unemployed is already three times as high as it was during any crisis in the past, and it is still rising.

    More than a year after the official end of the recession, the overall unemployment rate remains consistently above 9.5 percent. But this is just the official figure. When adjusted to include the people who have already given up looking for work or are barely surviving on the few hundred dollars they earn with a part-time job and are using up their savings, the real unemployment figure jumps to more than 17 percent.

    In its current annual report, the US Department of Agriculture notes that "food insecurity" is on the rise, and that 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy enough food to stay healthy at some point last year. One in eight American adults and one in four children now survive on government food stamps. These are unbelievable numbers for the world's richest nation.

    Even more unsettling is the fact that America, which has always been characterized by its unshakable belief in the American Dream, and in the conviction that anyone, even those at the very bottom, can rise to the top, is beginning to lose its famous optimism. According to recent figures, a significant minority of US citizens now believe that their children will be worse off than they are.

    Many Americans are beginning to realize that for them, the American Dream has been more of a nightmare of late. They face a bitter reality of fewer and fewer jobs, decades of stagnating wages and dramatic increases in inequality. Only in recent months, as the economy has grown but jobs have not returned, as profits have returned but poverty figures have risen by the week, the country seems to have recognized that it is struggling with a deep-seated, structural crisis that has been building for years. As the Washington Post writes, the financial crisis was merely the final turning -- for the worse.

    Where Did All the Money Go?

    The boom in stocks and real estate, the country's wild borrowing spree and its excessive consumer spending have long masked the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans derived almost no benefit from 30 years of economic growth. In 1978, the average per capita income for men in the United States was $45,879 (about €35,570). The same figure for 2007, adjusted for inflation, was $45,113 (€35,051).

    Where did all the money go? All the enormous market gains and corporate earnings, the profits from the boom in the financial markets and the 110-percent increase in the gross national product in the last 30 years? It went to those who had always had more than enough already.

    While 90 percent of Americans have seen only modest gains in their incomes since 1973, incomes have almost tripled for people at the upper end of the scale. In 1979, one third of the profits the country produced went to the richest 1 percent of American society. Today it's almost 60 percent. In 1950, the average corporate CEO earned 30 times as much as an ordinary worker. Today it's 300 times as much. And today 1 percent of Americans own 37 percent of the total national wealth.

    Income inequality in the United States is greater today than it has been since the 1920s, except that hardly anyone has minded until now.

    Little Chance of the American Dream

    In America, the free market is king, and people with low incomes are seen as having only themselves to blame. Those who make a lot of money are applauded -- and emulated. The only problem is that Americans have long overlooked the fact that the American Dream was becoming a reality for fewer and fewer people.

    Statistically, less affluent Americans stand a 4-percent chance of becoming part of the upper middle class -- a number that is lower than in almost every other industrialized nation.

    So far, politicians have failed to come up with solutions for the growing social crisis. Washington is still waiting for jobs that aren't coming. President Barack Obama and his administration seem to be pinning their hopes on the notion that Americans will eventually pull themselves up by their bootstraps -- preferably by doing the same thing they've always done: spending money. Domestic consumer spending is responsible for two-thirds of American economic output.

    But even though Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke continues to pump money into the market, and even though the government deficit has now reached the dizzying level of $1.4 trillion, such efforts have remained unsuccessful.

    "The lights are going out all over America," Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman wrote last week, and described communities that couldn't even afford to maintain their streets anymore.

    The problem is that many Americans can no longer spend money on consumer products, because they have no savings. In some cases, their houses have lost half of their value. They no longer qualify for low-interest loans. They are making less money than before or they're unemployed. This in turn reduces or eliminates their ability to pay taxes.

    Turning Out the Lights

    As a result, many state and local governments are faced with enormous budget deficits. In Hawaii, for example, schools are closed on some Fridays to save the state money. A county in Georgia has eliminated all public bus services. Colorado Springs, a city of 380,000 people, has shut off a third of its streetlights to save electricity.

    There are many discrepancies in America in the wake of the financial crisis. On the one hand, the Fed is constantly printing fresh money, and the government spent $182 billion to bail out a single company, the insurance giant AIG. On the other hand, the lights are in fact going out in some areas, because Washington, citing the need to reduce spending, is unwilling to provide local governments with financial assistance. "America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere," economist Krugman warns.

    Chanelle Sabedra is already on that road. She and her husband have been sleeping in their car for almost three weeks now. "We never saw this coming, never ever," says Sabedra. She starts to cry. "I'm an adult, I can take care of myself one way or another, and same with my husband, but (my kids are) too little to go through these things." She has three children; they are nine, five and three years old.

    "We had a house further south, in San Bernardino," says Sabedra. Her husband lost his job building prefab houses in July 2009. The utility company turned off the gas. "We were boiling water on the barbeque to bathe our kids," she says. No longer able to pay the rent, the Sabedras were evicted from their house in August.

    Friends and relatives had few resources to help them. Now they live in a room at the Salvation Army homeless shelter in downtown Ventura, which is run by Captain Finley.

    The sudden plunge into homelessness is a reality that's difficult to understand, given the images of America we are accustomed to seeing in television series and films. They always depict homes with well-kept yards and two-car garages with basketball hoops attached to them. This America still exists, but it's shrinking. And often those who are managing to keep the illusion alive can hardly afford to do so.

    Americans have been struggling with a rising cost of living for the past 20 years. At the beginning of the decade, families were already paying twice as much for health insurance and their mortgages than the previous generation did.

    "To cope, millions of families put a second parent into the workforce," says Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren, who President Obama appointed to chair the congressional panel to oversee the government's bank bailout program. According to Warren, the average family has spent all of its income and used up its savings "just to stay afloat a little while longer."

    Spiraling Debt

    Because they lacked savings, Americans began borrowing money to cover all of their other expenses, including education, healthcare and consumption. American consumer debt now totals about $13.5 trillion.

    Many people threaten to suffocate under the burden of their debt. Some 61 percent of Americans have no financial reserves and are living from paycheck to paycheck. As little as a single hospital bill can spell potential financial ruin.

    Chanelle Sabedra's husband has found another job, this time as a warehouse worker for a company that makes aircraft turbines. But he doesn't earn enough to get the family out of the homeless shelter. "I haven't got a new job yet," says Sabedra. Her husband's job doesn't pay enough, and the couple has now joined the growing ranks of the working poor, for whom even two low-wage jobs are insufficient to feed their families. "We need the second income," says Sabedra. "Just the baby alone is $600 a month for half-day care."

    In pre-recession America, she and her husband would have had two jobs each to make ends meet. They would have worked at the cash register at Wal-Mart during the day, flipped burgers at McDonald's in the early evening and perhaps spent half the night working as a security guard or cleaning buildings. These are all low-paying jobs, hardly careers, but the combined income is usually enough to keep a family afloat. In pre-recession America, life wasn't luxurious for Chanelle Sabedra, but it was doable if they were willing to work hard enough and sacrifice enough of their lives to stay afloat.

    What kind of a job is she looking for now? "Anything right now. Mostly I'm looking for retail, or just anything to get me started, but there's just nothing out there," says Sabedra.

    Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
    URL: below
    * http://www.spiegel.de/international/...712496,00.html

  24. Link to Post #36
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Question Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    This is a pretty good overview of what those of us who are studying the nature of consciousness -- what your faithful editor does when not doing SR -- are exploring. This is all part of an important emerging trend, which is pushing the old reductionist materialist paradigm into crisis.

    from~ The Huffington PostAugust 22, 2010

    Does the Past Exist Yet? Evidence Suggests Your Past Isn't Set in Stone

    Robert Lanza, M.D

    Recent discoveries require us to rethink our understanding of history. "The histories of the universe," said renowned physicist Stephen Hawking "depend on what is being measured, contrary to the usual idea that the universe has an objective observer-independent history."

    Is it possible we live and die in a world of illusions? Physics tells us that objects exist in a suspended state until observed, when they collapse in to just one outcome. Paradoxically, whether events happened in the past may not be determined until sometime in your future -- and may even depend on actions that you haven't taken yet.

    In 2002, scientists carried out an amazing experiment, which showed that particles of light "photons" knew -- in advance −- what their distant twins would do in the future. They tested the communication between pairs of photons -- whether to be either a wave or a particle. Researchers stretched the distance one of the photons had to take to reach its detector, so that the other photon would hit its own detector first. The photons taking this path already finished their journeys -− they either collapse into a particle or don't before their twin encounters a scrambling device. Somehow, the particles acted on this information before it happened, and across distances instantaneously as if there was no space or time between them. They decided not to become particles before their twin ever encountered the scrambler. It doesn't matter how we set up the experiment. Our mind and its knowledge is the only thing that determines how they behave. Experiments consistently confirm these observer-dependent effects.

    More recently (Science 315, 966, 2007), scientists in France shot photons into an apparatus, and showed that what they did could retroactively change something that had already happened. As the photons passed a fork in the apparatus, they had to decide whether to behave like particles or waves when they hit a beam splitter. Later on - well after the photons passed the fork - the experimenter could randomly switch a second beam splitter on and off. It turns out that what the observer decided at that point, determined what the particle actually did at the fork in the past. At that moment, the experimenter chose his history.

    Of course, we live in the same world. Particles have a range of possible states, and it's not until observed that they take on properties. So until the present is determined, how can there be a past? According to visionary physicist John Wheeler (who coined the word "black hole"), "The quantum principle shows that there is a sense in which what an observer will do in the future defines what happens in the past." Part of the past is locked in when you observe things and the "probability waves collapse." But there's still uncertainty, for instance, as to what's underneath your feet. If you dig a hole, there's a probability you'll find a boulder. Say you hit a boulder, the glacial movements of the past that account for the rock being in exactly that spot will change as described in the Science experiment.

    But what about dinosaur fossils? Fossils are really no different than anything else in nature. For instance, the carbon atoms in your body are "fossils" created in the heart of exploding supernova stars. Bottom line: reality begins and ends with the observer. "We are participators," Wheeler said "in bringing about something of the universe in the distant past." Before his death, he stated that when observing light from a quasar, we set up a quantum observation on an enormously large scale. It means, he said, the measurements made on the light now, determines the path it took billions of years ago.

    Like the light from Wheeler's quasar, historical events such as who killed JFK, might also depend on events that haven't occurred yet. There's enough uncertainty that it could be one person in one set of circumstances, or another person in another. Although JFK was assassinated, you only possess fragments of information about the event. But as you investigate, you collapse more and more reality. According to biocentrism, space and time are relative to the individual observer - we each carry them around like turtles with shells.

    History is a biological phenomenon − it's the logic of what you, the animal observer experiences. You have multiple possible futures, each with a different history like in the Science experiment. Consider the JFK example: say two gunmen shot at JFK, and there was an equal chance one or the other killed him. This would be a situation much like the famous Schrödinger's cat experiment, in which the cat is both alive and dead − both possibilities exist until you open the box and investigate.

    "We must re-think all that we have ever learned about the past, human evolution and the nature of reality, if we are ever to find our true place in the cosmos," says Constance Hilliard, a historian of science at UNT. Choices you haven't made yet might determine which of your childhood friends are still alive, or whether your dog got hit by a car yesterday. In fact, you might even collapse realities that determine whether Noah's Ark sank. "The universe," said John Haldane, "is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."

    original story here;

  25. The Following User Says Thank You to giovonni For This Post:

    Smith (15th February 2011)

  26. Link to Post #37
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Exclamation Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    The Coming Food Crisis

    Global food security is stretched to the breaking point, and Russia's fires and Pakistan's floods are only making a bad situation worse.


    There was already little margin for error in a world where, for the first time in history, 1 billion people are suffering from chronic hunger. But the fragility of world food markets has been underscored by the tragic events of this summer.

    The brutal wildfires and crippling drought in Russia are decimating wheat crops and prompting shortsighted export bans. The ongoing floods and widespread crop destruction in Pakistan are creating a massive humanitarian crisis that has left more than 1,600 dead and some 16 million homeless and hungry in a region vital to U.S. national security. These and other climate crises trigger widespread food-price volatility, disproportionately and relentlessly devastating the world's poor.

    Less noticed has been the spiking price of wheat -- up 50 percent since early June. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization recently cut its 2010 global wheat forecast by 4 percent amid fears of a scramble among national governments to secure supplies. As wheat prices climb, demand for other essential food crops such as rice will increase as part of a knock-on effect on world food markets, driving up costs for consumers. In particular, Egypt and other countries that depend heavily on Russian wheat might see dramatic price increases and unrest in the streets.

    Fortunately, there are signs we will likely avoid a repeat of the 2007-2008 food crisis, when prices jumped as much as 100 percent and led to deadly riots in Port-au-Prince and Mogadishu. This year, bumper crops in the United States, alongside replenished wheat stocks globally, may be adequate to offset shortages due to the fires in Russia. But these short-term measures should not lull us into complacency or a false sense of confidence. We still have neither a strategy nor a solution to ending global hunger.

    John D. Podesta is the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress (CAP) and was White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. Jake Caldwell is the director of policy for agriculture, trade, and energy at CAP.

    In the short term, the United States must implement U.S. President Barack Obama's promise to commit $3.5 billion to food security assistance. Since he made the pledge in 2009, only $812 million has been allocated. Surely the United States can do better, and at a faster pace. Emergency food aid is needed now to prevent famine and needless deaths in Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and northern Nigeria. Congress should increase U.S. contributions to the World Food Program and insist on accountability and reform in the distribution of more than $2 billion in annual U.S. food aid. And the Emergency Food Security Program, which allows greater flexibility in international food assistance by allowing purchases from local producers, cash transfers, and food vouchers, is a step in the right direction and deserves congressional support.

    Looking beyond the immediate crisis, the United States and other developed countries must renew long-neglected investments in agriculture assistance across the developing world, targeting small farmers as the fundamental drivers of economic growth. In Africa, for example, agriculture employs more than 60 percent of the labor force and accounts for 25 percent of the continent's economic output. And yet, Africa continues to struggle: Nearly 10 million people in the northern Sahel region are suffering from extreme hunger, and most countries still lack adequate investment in agricultural and road infrastructure to facilitate the development of value-added products and new markets.

    While the United States provides more than half of the world's food aid, agriculture assistance today stands at only 3.5 percent of overall U.S. development aid, down from 18 percent in 1979. Not surprisingly, agricultural productivity growth in developing countries is now less than 1 percent annually.

    We must also improve how this assistance is targeted. We can reap lasting results by focusing on soil and water conservation and improved crop varieties rather than carbon-intensive fertilizers. Scientific research and appropriate biotechnology can deliver significant crop yield gains and water savings if conducted in a safe and transparent manner. We also must invest in women, who represent up to 80 percent of the food producers in many developing countries, but frequently lack the support and services that will allow them to reinvest hard-earned agricultural gains into health and education for their families.

    Internationally, the United States must lead efforts to ensure open and well-regulated agricultural markets. Farm subsidies and tariffs in rich countries must be reduced and commodity markets made more transparent. A recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicates subsidies for agriculture in the world's richest countries rose to $252.5 billion, or 22 percent of farmers' total receipts in 2009. And impediments to free trade between developing countries must be eliminated.

    The Group of Twenty leading developed and developing nations must uphold their pledges of $22 billion to enhance global food security by sending real money out the door. The multilateral Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, a new global partnership funded by commitments from the United States, Canada, South Korea, Spain, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is to be commended for issuing $224 million in initial grants to help increase food security and reduce poverty in five developing countries.

    But lasting gains in agricultural productivity will require something more -- action to confront climate change. Food shortages resulting from severe crop losses will occur more frequently and take longer to recover from as more people become vulnerable to extreme weather events like the droughts and flooding we see today in Russia and Pakistan. The World Bank predicts that developing countries will require $75 billion to $100 billion a year for the next 40 years to adapt to the effects of climate change on agricultural productivity, infrastructure, and disease.

    This year, we may be able to limit the damage to a single supply shock in Russia and Eastern Europe. But even in the best of times, our global food system is stretched to the breaking point by the ever-present challenges of population growth, increased demand from changing diets, higher energy costs, and more extreme weather. Experts at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimate global agricultural productivity must double by 2050 to keep pace with increased demand. Unless we take immediate action, we are destined to race from food crisis to food crisis for generations to come, with grim consequences for the world's poor and our own national security.

    John D. Podesta is the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress (CAP) and was White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. Jake Caldwell is the director of policy for agriculture, trade, and energy at CAP.


    For More
    A Food Program That's Not About Food:

    India's starving children don't need more blind handouts. They need real social change.

    By Purnima Menon

    Last year, the New York Times splashed stark images of child malnutrition in India's hinterland across its front page. More recently, another front-page article in the Times reminded the world that India's hunger problem hasn't gone anywhere and told the story of how various social-safety-net programs have failed to help. As the article explains, India still faces endemic problems with chronic malnutrition and hunger -- rates of child nutrition here compare unfavorably with many countries in sub-Saharan Africa -- that government initiatives have failed to address.

    The story of why hunger persists in India is long, sometimes depressing, and full of paradoxes, the central one of course being the fact that the country actually has a booming economy and robust food stocks. But really it's a story of poor planning, social exclusion, gender inequality, and above all, a government that's failing to translate new capital into broad prosperity for its people. Because of this, the various schemes for food distribution debated in the recent Times article, which are part of the conversation as India's long-delayed National Food Security Bill wends its way slowly through the political system, will likely do little to create a long-lasting solution to hunger in India. Any real effort will have to start with the country's social and governance problems, and include nutrition programs that pick their targets better.

    India's nutrition programs have failed to provide what the most vulnerable members of its population need -- and the new bill under development isn't likely to do enough to address them either. We've known for a long time that the period beginning before a woman gives birth and ending around the second year of her child's life are the crucial years for addressing nutrition. Miss this window, and the battle is largely lost. India's programs are only now just starting to take this "window of opportunity" paradigm into account. But to actually translate a policy into action, reaching all children under 2 with everything that they need (breast-feeding, high-quality foods, immunizations and preventive health care, hygiene and sanitation, and above all, mothers who are healthy themselves), an approach is required that goes far beyond food distribution.

    Taking social exclusion, the evidence has consistently shown that marginalized social groups -- particularly lower castes, certain tribes, and some religious minorities -- have poorer access to social-safety-net services and are also more likely to be excluded from India's rapid economic growth. The stories from Madhya Pradesh portrayed in the Times this year and last year exemplify this social exclusion (as does Foreign Policy's recent story on the resource wars in the nearby provinces of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand), as they describe the precarious conditions that exist for India's tribal populations, migrant laborers, and extreme poor.

    In 2006, the Supreme Court of India asked the government to universalize projects such as the Integrated Child Development Services, the world's largest health, immunization, and nutrition program for young children. This has certainly helped expand services to excluded geographic areas and groups, but ensuring quality of service and reaching the more vulnerable children is still a challenge.

    Gender is a problem as well. Research has shown that empowering women is one of the most effective ways to improve nutrition, especially for children. Studies by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), where I work, have demonstrated that the low status of women contributes to hunger and malnutrition -- not just among the women themselves, but among their children too.

    It's easy to see this process at work in India. South Asia, including India, is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, especially a poor woman. Sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, low rates of female education, early marriage, domestic violence, and social exclusion of widows create misery across the life cycle. These gender imbalances lead directly to poor nutrition among women, as well as compromising their children's nutrition. Our research in Bangladesh, for example, shows that women who condone domestic violence have children who are more undernourished than those who do not condone violence.

    When it comes to children, malnourished women are much more likely to give birth to a low-weight baby -- birth weight being an important predictor of child survival. Not surprisingly, one-third of babies born in India are born with low birth weight, compared with one-sixth in sub-Saharan Africa.

    The extent to which women are allowed to control household spending also affects childhood nutrition. Numerous studies, including those by IFPRI, have shown that income or assets controlled by women are more likely to be spent on items that benefit children and themselves, such as food, clothing, and health care, than assets controlled by men.

    As with social exclusion, gender inequality has been the target of a number of government and civil society programs. Sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, early marriage, and domestic violence are illegal -- though they still persist. Some states, including Madhya Pradesh, have conditional cash transfer programs aimed at families with girl children. These programs provide financial incentives to families to keep girls in school and delay marriage. Unfortunately, though, little is known about their impact. This is another problem: Well-intentioned investments are made, but without research into outcomes, little is known about how well they work and how they can be made to work better.

    Under the best of circumstances, though, reshaping social norms around gender and class could take a long time. Part of the impetus must come from the Indian media, which to their credit have taken an interest in pushing Indians to question the basic assumptions they grew up with. A long-running TV serial, Balika Vadhu (Child Bride), tackles issues of child marriage and ostracism of widows by showing the daily struggles and stories of a girl married as a child and another married early and widowed at age 16. The show is among the top 10 most-watched soap operas in India. In October 2009, Life Gulmohar Style, a 156-episode radio drama by the BBC World Service Trust aired on FM channels of All India Radio and Dhamaal Radio and took on issues of women's rights, including the question of dowry, in the modern world by portraying the lives of five young people, men and women; the BBC World Service Trust will conduct research on the social impact of the show later this year.

    Finally, there's the role of good governance in addressing the crisis. As the recent Times story pointed out, vast resources are being lost to bad planning and corruption. The proposed National Food Security Bill aims to guarantee food security for all people in India, using means such as provision of subsidized food grains. However, it is currently caught up in acrimonious back-and-forth between the group of ministers who drafted its early version and critics who would like to see a more encompassing bill. In either case, it doesn't address any of the broader social problems that are really at the heart of the hunger problem in India.

    That's a huge niche for government to fill, as a major report last year from the Institute of Development Studies pointed out, suggesting solutions to governance problems such as poor local-area service delivery, poor outreach to excluded groups, and the overall political economy of nutrition in India. There are ongoing experiments with some approaches to increase transparency and accountability: for example, leaning on local-level government or civil society groups to audit programs. Programs like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which guarantees 100 days of hard-labor employment to poor rural families and sets a minimum wage rate for such labor, has offered ways to inform communities about their rights and address grievances. Such mechanisms should be tried out in nutrition programs as well.

    All these efforts notwithstanding, government has a ways to go, both on the national and local levels -- and outside pressure can help. India's media has been, again, a key player in the fight. The Tracking Hunger campaign by the Hindustan Times has continued to portray different dimensions of the hunger and nutrition problem in India, while other papers have covered discussions surrounding the National Food Security Bill as it continues to be developed. But NGOs and research organizations need to continue to offer material to the media and civil society that puts pressure on Indian policymakers (such as IFPRI's India State Hunger Index), while also asking tough questions about how the current programs are functioning.

    International donors and NGOs must work on investing in programs and research with a positive effect on women and marginalized classes and minorities. Nutrition, health, and anti-poverty programs must be designed so that they help women control family resources. Leaders at the G-8 and G-20 must force India to confront the role of social exclusion, gender inequality, and poor governance in malnutrition. Research institutions must make the effort to document the effectiveness and impact of ongoing efforts to address food security and nutrition, to report on people who are left out of such programs, and to tell the positive stories of those who implement successful programs in the face of these hurdles.

    India's hunger problem is not necessarily fatal. If the country can take some decisive action, reaching out to women and the poor and excluded and scaling up the social safety net in effective ways, it could make radical changes in a comparatively short time. Countries such Brazil, China, and Thailand have made huge leaps in nutrition in their countries, all in a short period of time. India can hardly afford to be left behind.


  27. Link to Post #38
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Thumbs up Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    This is another emerging trend in the redesign of cities. First, they are being broken down into internally coherent segments, such as is happening in Detroit; second, this movement for healtful cities; third, the Green Transition.

    Healing Cities Comes to Gaining Ground Conferences

    For immediate release

    September 1, 2010

    Vancouver, BC - At the turn of the 19th Century no one would have considered planning, designing or building urban spaces without consulting health professionals. Somewhere between then and now until today, where it's a rare occurance, that drop off the agenda. But if you've been paying attention, it's starting to change.

    In inviting the Healing Cities Working Group to co-host its community development and social innovation day, Gaining Ground it treading in a new way onto old territory. They bring perspectives on all aspects of health - emotional, social, mental, physical and spiritual - to the conversation and activities of the day.

    "The notion of Healthy Cities has been coming into it's own for the past 30 years and you will find that urban planners and developers are starting to take many health considerations into account in their thinking and implementation," says Mark Holland, Urban Planner, a part of the Working Group and this year's moderator. Holland continues, "What is different for us is switching from "health" as an absolute, to "healing" as a whole health process that is ongoing. It's not something that's done and then finished. Healing takes place over time and covers very broad territory including addressing people's spiritual needs. That's new. And while we are developing a framework to use to implement healing aspects in concrete, practical ways into urban planning work, we understand that the process is organic, and unique in each situation."

    Holland adds, "We cannot afford to continue to build cities that erode our health, fill our air, water and earth with toxins, add stress to our children's lives, and make our souls feel exhausted. We need to think of cities as places that can make us healthier simply by living in them - and use that vision to drive our planning and design. Creating healthy cities may become a key part of keeping our future health care costs in check - a critical piece in the plan for shaping the determinants of population health. This conference is going to be a rare opportunity to look ahead to a leading edge of planning cities and health initiatives to explore the direct links between urban design and our health and wellbeing."

    The full title of 2010's Gaining Ground being held in Vancouver in October, is EcoLogical: The Power of Green Cities to Shape the Future. A green city is a healthy city and we will explore the question, Can we think of a city or other build space as an organism that can be treated and healed? And then, can that built space be one that in turn heals us by simply being in it and engaging in our lives there? On October 7 you will hear the perspectives of not only urban planners, but also transportation expert-s and physicians; not only architects, but also ? and ?.

    EcoLogical: The Power of Green Cities to Shape the Future
    October 4 - 7, 2010

    Healing Cities Day - October 7th www.gaininggroundsummit.com

    Vancouver, BC, Downtown

    Email Marketing by
    Center for Urban Innovation | 8-900 Park Blvd. | Victoria | BC | V8V 2T3 | Canada
    Last edited by giovonni; 2nd September 2010 at 18:57.

  28. Link to Post #39
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Thumbs up Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    I am trying to buy the Virgin G3 MiFi 2200. I forgot to do it day before yesterday, and David Pogue wrote this glowing piece about it in the NYT, so when I called tonight they were sold out. Coming back from a week teaching at Omega in upstate New York I stayed at a decent New York hotel -- whose name I will mercifully leave unmentioned, because they didn't mean for it to happen -- whose internet collapsed, forcing me out into the night to do SR. Think about it: $40 a month for unlimited usage, paid only when you need it, nothing when you don't, and it costs $149.95. Near Broadband speed. How cool is that?

    September 1, 2010
    Your Own Hot Spot, and Cheap

    Someday, they’ll build wireless Internet into every building, just the way they build in running water, heat and electricity today. Someday, we won’t have to drive around town looking for a coffee shop when we need to check our e-mail.

    If you want ubiquitous Internet today, though, you have several choices. They’re all compromised and all expensive.

    You could get online using only a smartphone, but you’ll pay at least $80 a month and you’ll have to view the Internet through a shrunken keyhole of a screen. You could equip your laptop with one of those cellular air cards or U.S.B. sticks, which cost $60 a month, but you’d be limited to 5 gigabytes of data transfer a month (and how are you supposed to gauge that?). You could use tethering, in which your laptop uses your cellphone as a glorified Internet antenna — but that adds $20 or $30 to your phone bill, has a fixed data limit and eats through your phone’s battery charge in an hour.

    Last year, you could hear minds blowing coast to coast when Novatel introduced a new option: the MiFi. It creates a personal Wi-Fi bubble, a portable, powerful, password-protected wireless hot spot that, because it’s the size of a porky credit card, can go with you everywhere. The MiFi gets its Internet signal from a 3G cellphone network and converts it into a Wi-Fi signal that up to five people can share.

    You can just leave the thing in your pocket, your laptop bag or your purse to pump out a fresh Internet signal to everyone within 30 feet, for four hours on a charge of the removable battery. You’re instantly online whenever you fire up your laptop, netbook, Wi-Fi camera, game gadget, iPhone or iPod Touch.

    The MiFi released by Virgin Mobile this week ($150) is almost exactly the same thing as the one offered by Verizon and, until recently, Sprint — but there’s a twist that makes it revolutionary all over again.

    The Virgin MiFi, like its rivals, is still an amazing gizmo to have on long car rides for the family, on woodsy corporate offsite meetings, at disaster sites, at trade show booths or anywhere you can’t get Wi-Fi. If you live alone, the MiFi could even be your regular home Internet service, too — one that you can take with you when you head out the door. And it’s still insanely useful when you’re stuck on a plane on a runway.

    But three things about the Virgin MiFi are very, very different. First, Virgin’s plan is unlimited. You don’t have to sweat through the month, hoping you don’t exceed the standard 5-gigabyte data limit, as you do with the cellular-modem products from Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. (If you exceed 5 gigabytes, you pay steep per-megabyte overage charges, or in T-Mobile’s case, you get your Internet speed slowed down for the rest of the month.)

    If you hadn’t noticed, unlimited-data plans are fast disappearing — but here’s Virgin, offering up an unlimited Internet plan as if it never got the memo.

    Second, Virgin requires no contract. You can sign up for service only when you need it. In other words, it’s totally O.K. with Virgin if you leave the thing in your drawer all year, and activate it only for, say, the two summer months when you’ll be away. That’s a huge, huge deal in this era when every flavor of Internet service, portable or not, requires a two-year commitment.

    Third, the service price for this no-commitment, unlimited, portable hot spot is — are you sitting down? — $40 a month.

    That’s no typo. It’s $40 a month. Compare that with the cheapest cellular modems from AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint: $60 a month. T-Mobile also charges $40 a month for its cellular modems. But all four of those big companies require a two-year contract, and come with those scary 5-gigabyte monthly data limits.

    (There’s actually another Virgin plan available, too: you can pay $10 for a 100-megabyte chunk of Internet use that expires in 10 days. It’s intended for people who are heading out for the weekend and just want to keep in touch with e-mail without having to fork over a whole month’s worth of money — and without paying $15 or $25 for each night of overpriced hotel Wi-Fi. And speaking of options, Virgin also offers a standard U.S.B. plug-in cellular modem with exactly the same pricing details.)

    I’ve pounded my head against the fine print, grilled the product managers and researched the heck out of this, and I simply cannot find the catch.

    Is it the speed? No. You’re getting exactly the same 3G speed you’d get on rival cellular modems and MiFi’s. That is, about as fast as a DSL modem. A cell modem doesn’t give you cable-modem speed, but you’ll have no problem watching online videos and, where you have a decent Sprint signal, even doing video chats.

    Is it the coverage? Not really; Virgin uses Sprint’s 3G cellular Internet network, which is excellent. You’re getting exactly the same battery life and convenience of Verizon’s MiFi — for two-thirds the monthly price.

    (Why would Sprint allow Virgin to use its data network but undercut its own pricing in such a brazen way? Because Sprint is focused on promoting its 4G phones and portable hot spots — even faster Internet, available so far only in a few cities. For example, its Overdrive portable hot spot is $100 after rebate, with a two-year commitment. The service is $60 a month for 5 gigabytes of 3G data and unlimited 4G data.)

    That’s not to say that there’s no fine print whatsoever.

    First, the Virgin plan doesn’t include roaming off Sprint’s network; the old Sprint MiFi plans did. According to Virgin, that’s not a big deal — the regular Sprint network covers 262 million people, whereas roaming would cover 12 million more — but it means that you might be out of luck in smaller towns.

    Second, the Virgin MiFi can’t plug directly into your computer’s U.S.B. port to act as a wired cellular modem, like other carriers’ MiFi units. You can connect to it only wirelessly, if you care. (You can still charge it from your computer’s U.S.B. jack, but very slowly. A wall outlet or car adapter is a much better bet.)

    Finally, remember that the Virgin MiFi is still a MiFi, so it’s a bit uncommunicative. It has only a single, illuminated button that serves as the on-off switch and an indicator light that blinks cryptically in different colors. You have to press that button and wait about 20 seconds before you can get online.

    But come on: $40 a month? With no commitment or contract?

    I did a little survey of broadband Internet prices among my Twitter followers. Turns out $40 a month is not only a great price for cellular (portable) Internet service — it’s among the lowest broadband prices in America, period. In some areas you can pay $35 a month for DSL service. But most people pay $50 to $60 for high-speed Internet, which makes the Virgin deal seem even more incredible.

    And unlike those plans, Virgin lets you turn on service only when you want it. You can buy service — as with a prepaid phone —either by calling an 800 number or visiting a Web site. Handily enough, you can get onto the Virgin Web site to re-activate your MiFi, even if you’d previously stopped paying for service.

    The MiFi’s portability has always made it an exceptionally flexible and useful little gadget — and Virgin’s prepaid model, unlimited data plan and dirt-cheap pricing just multiply that flexibility. And if Virgin can make money with a plan like this, the mind boggles at just how overpriced the similar offerings from its rivals must really be.

    E-mail: pogue@nytimes.com

  29. Link to Post #40
    Avalon Retired Member
    Join Date
    16th March 2010
    Thanked 93,587 times in 20,439 posts

    Question Re: From futurist Stephan A. Schwartz ~ Trends That Will Affect Your Future …

    This is the second major piece in a popular magazine in less than a week addressing quantum mechanics and consciousness. When a subject like this begins appearing frequently in the popular press it is because it is reaching consensus in the scientific community.

    Back From the Future
    A series of quantum experiments shows that measurements performed in the future can influence the present. Does that mean the universe has a destiny—and the laws of physics pull us inexorably toward our prewritten fate?
    by Zeeya Merali; photography by Adam Magyar

    Jeff Tollaksen may well believe he was destined to be here at this point in time. We’re on a boat in the Atlantic, and it’s not a pleasant trip. The torrential rain obscures the otherwise majestic backdrop of the volcanic Azorean islands, and the choppy waters are causing the boat to lurch. The rough sea has little effect on Tollaksen, barely bringing color to his Nordic complexion. This is second nature to him; he grew up around boats. Everyone would agree that events in his past have prepared him for today’s excursion. But Tollaksen and his colleagues are investigating a far stranger possibility: It may be not only his past that has led him here today, but his future as well.

    Tollaksen’s group is looking into the notion that time might flow backward, allowing the future to influence the past. By extension, the universe might have a destiny that reaches back and conspires with the past to bring the present into view. On a cosmic scale, this idea could help explain how life arose in the universe against tremendous odds. On a personal scale, it may make us question whether fate is pulling us forward and whether we have free will.

    The boat trip has been organized as part of a conference sponsored by the Foundational Questions Institute to highlight some of the most controversial areas in physics. Tollaksen’s idea certainly meets that criterion. And yet, as crazy as it sounds, this notion of reverse causality is gaining ground. A succession of quantum experiments confirm its predictions—showing, bafflingly, that measurements performed in the future can influence results that happened before those measurements were ever made.

    As the waves pound, it’s tough to decide what is more unsettling: the boat’s incessant rocking or the mounting evidence that the arrow of time—the flow that defines the essential narrative of our lives—may be not just an illusion but a lie.

    Tollaksen, currently at Chapman University in Orange County, California, developed an early taste for quantum mechanics, the theory that governs the motion of particles in the subatomic world. He skipped his final year of high school, instead attending physics lectures by the charismatic Nobel laureate Richard Feynman at Caltech in Pasadena and learning of the paradoxes that still fascinate and frustrate physicists today.

    Primary among those oddities was the famous uncertainty principle, which states that you can never know all the properties of a particle at the same time. For instance, it is impossible to measure both where the particle is and how fast it is moving; the more accurately you determine one aspect, the less precisely you can measure the other. At the quantum scale, particles also have curiously split personalities that allow them to exist in more than one place at the same time—until you take a look and check up on them. This fragile state, in which the particle can possess multiple contradictory attributes, is called a superposition. According to the standard view of quantum mechanics, measuring a particle’s properties is a violent process that instantly snaps the particle out of superposition and collapses it into a single identity. Why and how this happens is one of the central mysteries of quantum mechanics.

    “The textbook view of measurements in quantum mechanics is inspired by biology,” Tollaksen tells me on the boat. “It’s similar to the idea that you can’t observe a system of animals without affecting them.” The rain is clearing, and the captain receives radio notification that some dolphins have been spotted a few minutes away; soon we’re heading toward them. Our attempts to spy on these animals serve as the zoological equivalent of what Tollaksen terms “strong measurements”—the standard type in quantum mechanics —because they are anything but unobtrusive. The boat is loud; it churns up water as it speeds to the location. When the dolphins finally show themselves, they swim close to the boat, arcing through the air and playing to their audience. According to conventional quantum mechanics, it is similarly impossible to observe a quantum system without interacting with the particles and destroying the fragile quantum behavior that existed before you looked.

    Most physicists accept these peculiar restrictions as part and parcel of the theory. Tollaksen was not so easily appeased. “I was smitten, and I knew there was no chance I was ever going to do anything else with my life,” he recalls. On Feynman’s advice, the teenager moved to Boston to study physics at MIT. But he missed the ocean. “For the first time in my life, I lost the background sound of surf,” he says. “That was actually traumatic.”

    Mindful that a job in esoteric physics might not be the best way to put food on his family’s table, Tollaksen worked on a computing start-up company while pursuing his Ph.D. But if the young man wasn’t sure of his calling, fate quickly gave him a nudge when a physicist named Yakir Aharonov visited the neighboring Boston University. Aharonov, now at Chapman with Tollaksen, was renowned for having codiscovered a bizarre quantum mechanical effect in which particles can be affected by electric and magnetic fields, even in regions where those fields should have no reach. But Tollaksen was most taken by another area of Aharonov’s research: a time-twisting interpretation of quantum mechanics.

    “Aharonov was one of the first to take seriously the idea that if you want to understand what is happening at any point in time, it’s not just the past that is relevant. It’s also the future,” Tollaksen says. In particular, Aharonov reanalyzed the indeterminism that forms the backbone of quantum mechanics. Before quantum mechanics arrived on the scene, physicists believed that the laws of physics could be used to determine the future of the universe and every object within it. By this thinking, if we knew the properties of every particle on the planet we could, in principle, calculate any person’s fate; we could even calculate all the thoughts in his or her head.

    That belief crumbled when experiments began to reveal the indeterministic effects of quantum mechanics—for instance, in the radioactive decay of atoms. The problem goes like this, Tollaksen says: Take two radioactive atoms, so identical that “even God couldn’t see the difference between them.” Then wait. The first atom might decay a minute later, but the second might go another hour before decaying. This is not just a thought experiment; it can really be seen in the laboratory. There is nothing to explain the different behaviors of the two atoms, no way to predict when they will decay by looking at their history, and—seemingly—no definitive cause that produces these effects. This indeterminism, along with the ambiguity inherent in the uncertainty principle, famously rankled Einstein, who fumed that God doesn’t play dice with the universe.

    It bothered Aharonov as well. “I asked, what does God gain by playing dice?” he says. Aharonov accepted that a particle’s past does not contain enough information to fully predict its fate, but he wondered, if the information is not in its past, where could it be? After all, something must regulate the particle’s behavior. His answer—which seems inspired and insane in equal measure—was that we cannot perceive the information that controls the particle’s present behavior because it does not yet exist.

    “Nature is trying to tell us that there is a difference between two seemingly identical particles with different fates, but that difference can only be found in the future,” he says. If we’re willing to unshackle our minds from our preconceived view that time moves in only one direction, he argues, then it is entirely possible to set up a deterministic theory of quantum mechanics.

    In 1964 Aharonov and his colleagues Peter Bergmann and Joel Lebowitz, all then at Yeshiva University in New York, proposed a new framework called time-symmetric quantum mechanics. It could produce all the same treats as the standard form of quantum mechanics that everyone knew and loved, with the added benefit of explaining how information from the future could fill in the indeterministic gaps in the present. But while many of Aharonov’s colleagues conceded that the idea was built on elegant mathematics, its philosophical implications were hard to swallow. “Each time I came up with a new idea about time, people thought that something must be wrong,” he says.

    Perhaps because of the cognitive dissonance the idea engendered, time-symmetric quantum mechanics did not catch on. “For a long time, it was nothing more than a curiosity for a few philosophers to discuss,” says Sandu Popescu at the University of Bristol, in England, who works on the time-symmetric approach with Aharonov. Clearly Aharonov needed concrete experiments to demonstrate that actions carried out in the future could have repercussions in the here and now.

    Through the 1980s and 1990s, Tollaksen teamed up with Aharonov to design such upside-down experiments, in which outcome was determined by events occurring after the experiment was done. Generally the protocol included three steps: a “preselection” measurement carried out on a group of particles; an intermediate measurement; and a final, “postselection” step in which researchers picked out a subset of those particles on which to perform a third, related measurement. To find evidence of backward causality—information flowing from the future to the past—the experiment would have to demonstrate that the effects measured at the intermediate step were linked to actions carried out on the subset of particles at a later time.

    Tollaksen and Aharonov proposed analyzing changes in a quantum property called spin, roughly analogous to the spin of a ball but with some important differences. In the quantum world, a particle can spin only two ways, up or down, with each direction assigned a fixed value (for instance, 1 or –1). First the physicists would measure spin in a set of particles at 2 p.m. and again at 2:30 p.m. Then on another day they would repeat the two tests, but also measure a subset of the particles a third time, at 3 p.m. If the predictions of backward causality were correct, then for this last subset, the spin measurement conducted at 2:30 p.m. (the intermediate time) would be dramatically amplified. In other words, the spin measurements carried out at 2 p.m. and those carried out at 3 p.m. together would appear to cause an unexpected increase in the intensity of spins measured in between, at 2:30 p.m. The predictions seemed absurd, as ridiculous as claiming that you could measure the position of a dolphin off the Atlantic coast at 2 p.m. and again at 3 p.m., but that if you checked on its position at 2:30 p.m., you would find it in the middle of the Mediterranean.

    And the amplification would not be restricted to spin; other quantum properties would be dramatically increased to bizarrely high levels too. The idea was that ripples of the measurements carried out in the future could beat back to the present and combine with effects from the past, like waves combining and peaking below a boat, setting it rocking on the rough sea. The smaller the subsample chosen for the last measurement, the more dramatic the effects at intermediate times should be, according to Aharonov’s math. It would be hard to account for such huge amplifications in conventional physics.

    For years this prediction was more philosophical than physical because it did not seem possible to perform the suggested experiments. All the team’s proposed tests hinged on being able to make measurements of the quantum system at some intermediate time; but the physics books said that doing so would destroy the quantum properties of the system before the final, postselection step could be carried out. Any attempt to measure the system would collapse its delicate quantum state, just as chasing dolphins in a boat would affect their behavior. Use this kind of invasive, or strong, measurement to check on your system at an intermediate time, and you might as well take a hammer to your apparatus.

    By the late 1980s, Aharonov had seen a way out: He could study the system using so-called weak measurements. (Weak measurements involve the same equipment and techniques as traditional ones, but the “knob” controlling the power of the observer’s apparatus is turned way down so as not to disturb the quantum properties in play.) In quantum physics, the weaker the measurement, the less precise it can be. Perform just one weak measurement on one particle and your results are next to useless. You may think that you have seen the required amplification, but you could just as easily dismiss it as noise or an error in your apparatus.

    The way to get credible results, Tollaksen realized, was with persistence, not intensity. By 2002 physicists attuned to the potential of weak measurements were repeating their experiments thousands of times, hoping to build up a bank of data persuasively showing evidence of backward causality through the amplification effect.

    Just last year, physicist John Howell and his team from the University of Rochester reported success. In the Rochester setup, laser light was measured and then shunted through a beam splitter. Part of the beam passed right through the mechanism, and part bounced off a mirror that moved ever so slightly, due to a motor to which it was attached. The team used weak measurements to detect the deflection of the reflected laser light and thus to determine how much the motorized mirror had moved.

    That is the straightforward part. Searching for backward causality required looking at the impact of the final measurement and adding the time twist. In the Rochester experiment, after the laser beams left the mirrors, they passed through one of two gates, where they could be measured again—or not. If the experimenters chose not to carry out that final measurement, then the deflected angles measured in the intermediate phase were boringly tiny. But if they performed the final, postselection step, the results were dramatically different. When the physicists chose to record the laser light emerging from one of the gates, then the light traversing that route, alone, ended up with deflection angles amplified by a factor of more than 100 in the intermediate measurement step. Somehow the later decision appeared to affect the outcome of the weak, intermediate measurements, even though they were made at an earlier time.

    This amazing result confirmed a similar finding reported a year earlier by physicists Onur Hosten and Paul Kwiat at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They had achieved an even larger laser amplification, by a factor of 10,000, when using weak measurements to detect a shift in a beam of polarized light moving between air and glass.

    For Aharonov, who has been pushing the idea of backward causality for four decades, the experimental vindication might seem like a time to pop champagne corks, but that is not his style. “I wasn’t surprised; it was what I expected,” he says.

    Paul Davies, a cosmologist at Arizona State University in Tempe, admires the fact that Aharonov’s team has always striven to verify its claims experimentally. “This isn’t airy-fairy philosophy—these are real experiments,” he says. Davies has now joined forces with the group to investigate the framework’s implications for the origin of the cosmos (See “Does the Universe Have a Destiny?” below).

    Vlatko Vedral, a quantum physicist at the University of Oxford, agrees that the experiments confirm the existence and power of weak measurements. But while the mathematics of the team’s framework offers a valid explanation for the experimental results, Vedral believes these results alone will not be enough to persuade most physicists to buy into the full time-twisting logic behind it.

    For Tollaksen, though, the results are awe-inspiring and a bit scary. “It is upsetting philosophically,” he concedes. “All these experiments change the way that I relate to time, the way I experience myself.” The results have led him to wrestle with the idea that the future is set. If the universe has a destiny that is already written, do we really have a free choice in our actions? Or are all our choices predetermined to fit the universe’s script, giving us only the illusion of free will?

    Tollaksen ponders the philosophical dilemma. Was he always destined to become a physicist? If so, are his scientific achievements less impressive because he never had any choice other than to succeed in this career? If I time-traveled back from the 21st century to the shores of Lake Michigan where Tollaksen’s 13-year-old self was reading the works of Feynman and told him that in the future I met him in the Azores and his fate was set, could his teenage self—just to spite me—choose to run off and join the circus or become a sailor instead?

    The free will issue is something that Tollaksen has been tackling mathematically with Popescu. The framework does not actually suggest that people could time-travel to the past, but it does allow a concrete test of whether it is possible to rewrite history. The Rochester experiments seem to demonstrate that actions carried out in the future—in the final, postselection step—ripple back in time to influence and amplify the results measured in the earlier, intermediate step. Does this mean that when the intermediate step is carried out, the future is set and the experimenter has no choice but to perform the later, postselection measurement? It seems not. Even in instances where the final step is abandoned, Tollaksen has found, the intermediate weak measurement remains amplified, though now with no future cause to explain its magnitude at all.

    I put it to Tollaksen straight: This finding seems to make a mockery of everything we have discussed so far.

    Tollaksen is smiling; this is clearly an argument he has been through many times. The result of that single experiment may be the same, he explains, but remember, the power of weak measurements lies in their repetition. No single measurement can ever be taken alone to convey any meaning about the state of reality. Their inherent error is too large. “Your pointer will still read an amplified result, but now you cannot interpret it as having been caused by anything other than noise or a blip in the apparatus,” he says.

    In other words, you can see the effects of the future on the past only after carrying out millions of repeat experiments and tallying up the results to produce a meaningful pattern. Focus on any single one of them and try to cheat it, and you are left with a very strange-looking result—an amplification with no cause—but its meaning vanishes. You simply have to put it down to a random error in your apparatus. You win back your free will in the sense that if you actually attempt to defy the future, you will find that it can never force you to carry out postselection experiments against your wishes. The math, Tollaksen says, backs him on this interpretation: The error range in single intermediate weak measurements that are not followed up by the required post*selection will always be just enough to dismiss the bizarre result as a mistake.

    physics mainstream isdestined to finally notice his time-twisting ideas, then so it will be.

    Tollaksen sums up this confounding argument with one of his favorite quotes, from the ancient Jewish sage Rabbi Akiva: “All is foreseen; but freedom of choice is given.” Or as Tollaksen puts it, “I can have my cake and eat it too.” He laughs.

    Here, finally, is the answer to Aharonov’s opening question: What does God gain by playing dice with the universe? Why must the quantum world always retain a degree of fuzziness when we try to look at it through the time slice of the present? That loophole is needed so that the future can exert an overall pull on the present, without ever being caught in the act of doing it in any particular instance.

    “The future can only affect the present if there is room to write its influence off as a mistake,” Aharonov says.

    Whether this realization is a masterstroke of genius that explains the mechanism for backward causality or an admission that the future’s influence on the past can never fully be proven is open to debate. Andrew Jordan, who designed the Rochester laser amplification experiment with Howell, notes that there is even fundamental controversy over whether his results support Aharonov’s version of backward causality. No one disputes his team’s straightforward experimental results, but “there is much philosophical thought about what weak values really mean, what they physically correspond to—if they even really physically correspond to anything at all,” Jordan says. “My view is that we don’t have to interpret them as a consequence of the future’s influencing the present, but rather they show us that there is a lot about quantum mechanics that we still have to understand.” Nonetheless, he is open to being convinced otherwise: “A year from now, I may well change my mind.”

    Popescu argues that the Rochester findings are hugely important because they open the door to a completely new range of laboratory explorations based on weak measurements. In starting from the conventional interpretation of quantum mechanics, physicists had not realized such measurements were possible. “With his work on weak measurements, Aharonov began to pose questions about what is possible in quantum mechanics that nobody had ever even thought could be articulated,” Popescu says.

    Aharonov remains circumspect. He has spent most of his adult life waiting for recognition of the merit of his theory. If it is destined that mainstream physics should finally take serious notice of his time-twisting ideas, then so it will be.

    And Tollaksen? He too is at one with his destiny. A few months ago he moved to Laguna Beach, California. “I’m in a house where I can hear the surf again—what a relief,” he says. He feels that he is finally back to where he was always meant to be.


    Is feedback from the future guiding the development of life, the universe, and, well, everything? Paul Davies at Arizona State University in Tempe and his colleagues are investigating whether the universe has a destiny—and if so, whether there is a way to detect its eerie influence.

    Cosmologists have long been puzzled about why the conditions of our universe—for example, its rate of expansion—provide the ideal breeding ground for galaxies, stars, and planets. If you rolled the dice to create a universe, odds are that you would not get one as handily conducive to life as ours is. Even if you could take life for granted, it’s not clear that 14 billion years is enough time for it to evolve by chance. But if the final state of the universe is set and is reaching back in time to influence the early universe, it could amplify the chances of life’s emergence.

    With Alonso Botero at the University of the Andes in Colombia, Davies has used mathematical modeling to show that bookending the universe with particular initial and final states affects the types of particles created in between. “We’ve done this for a simplified, one-dimensional universe, and now we plan to move up to three dimensions,” Davies says. He and Botero are also searching for signatures that the final state of the universe could retroactively leave on the relic radiation of the Big Bang, which could be picked up by the Planck satellite launched last year.

    Ideally, Davies and Botero hope to find a single cosmic destiny that can explain three major cosmological enigmas. The first mystery is why the expansion of the universe is currently speeding up; the second is why some cosmic rays appear to have energies higher than the bounds of normal physics allow; and the third is how galaxies acquired their magnetic fields. “The goal is to find out whether Mother Nature has been doing her own postselections, causing these unexpected effects to appear,” Davies says.

    Bill Unruh of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, a leading physicist, is intrigued by Davies’s idea. “This could have real implications for whatever the universe was like in its early history,” he says.

    Also see the other articles in this issue's special Beyond Einstein section: Is the Search for Immutable Laws of Nature a Wild-Goose Chase and The Mystery of the Rocketing Particles That Shouldn't Exist.

    and here;

    original story source;
    Last edited by giovonni; 6th September 2010 at 21:36.

  30. The Following User Says Thank You to giovonni For This Post:

    Smith (15th February 2011)

+ Reply to Thread
Page 2 of 77 FirstFirst 1 2 12 52 77 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. 10 Best Jobs Of The Future
    By Beth in forum News and Updates
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 26th September 2010, 00:02
  2. I saw the future, I think.
    By jacody in forum Future Talk
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 20th August 2010, 11:53
  3. How will this oil spill disaster affect us?
    By Peace of Mind in forum The 2010 Gulf Oil Disaster
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 10th June 2010, 20:01

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts