Volume 19, Number 14 - 8/01/16 Twitter  Facebook  JLP Blog  


FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT--
  • Virtual reality could be your next painkiller; 20 minutes with the virtual-reality software reduced patients’ pain by 24% on average.

  • Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have created an artificial leaf that produces fuel from CO2 and sunlight.

  • Sending text messages on a smartphone can change the rhythm of brain waves, according to a new Mayo Clinic study.

  • Roughly 12 calories of energy (mostly fossil fuel) go into producing each calorie of the food that we consume.



PUNCTUATIONS
by John L. Petersen

New PostScript Interviews

There are a number of new PostScript Interviews that you may find of interest.

Our Transition Talks series features provocative authors and thinkers from around the world who are active in some aspect of the transition to a new world. We sit down with each guest for two half-hour segments, discussing in-depth the areas of their specialties.

Penny Kelly was with us two months ago and fascinated the good group of Transition Talk attendees who came from many places in this part of the country. Penny is a naturopathic physician, researcher and author of seven books – many about the interaction of individual consciousness and the physical reality that we all experience. We talk about those issues in the PostScript segments below.


I continue to be impressed by the kind and amount of change that we see around us. It’s so confusing – all of these seemingly random events – that it’s easy to miss the underlying theme or trajectory of the clustering events.

One such theme is the end of long-lived institutions and perspectives. Here are a couple examples of institutions that are not working to such a degree that they are forcing observers to question the viability of the status quo. We’re watching the end of an era.

REACHING BEYOND THE CANDIDATES
By Robert C. Koehler

What would it take to cause Hillary Clinton to distance herself from the newly launched bombing campaign in Libya? Or call for a congressional debate on it? Or suggest the obvious: that the war on terror isn't working?

Of course it won't happen. But the fact that it sounds so absurd - almost as fanciful as the notion of movie characters stepping off the screen into real life - indicates how illusory, how unglued from reality, American democracy is at the presidential level. It's a spectator sport - mud wrestling, say - doled out to us as entertainment by the media in sound bites and poll numbers.

Public input couldn't be less relevant to what we actually do as a nation, and as an empire.

And mostly what we do is wage war. Now more than ever. Since 9/11, war has become, in essence, self-authorizing, thanks to the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which gives the Executive Branch free rein to fight the war on terror without congressional approval. Thus, according to the New York Times: "By linking the Libya action to the authorization for force, the administration will not have to officially notify Congress. That means that the campaign in Libya can continue indefinitely, or until the administration concludes that the airstrikes have accomplished their objective."

Or as Trevor Timm, writing for The Guardian, put it: "It's yet another episode of the War on Terror Circle of Life, where the U.S. bombs a country and then funnels weapons into the region, which leads to chaos and the opportunity for terrorist organizations, which then leads more US bombing."

We're spawning terror. We're starving our social programs. We're slowly killing ourselves. And we're wrecking the planet.

Why is it again that this isn't worth talking about in a presidential election? Read more.

The US is in its Death Throes

Obama is reviewing the ban on military weapons for police forces after multiple instances of deliberate attacks on police officers. Instead of prosecuting the bad police officers, they are preparing to dig their heels in and arm the police to escalate the confrontation between the people and the police.

This, unfortunately, is also how Rome ended. It was not that the barbarians invaded Rome; rather it was that the armies turned inward and began sacking their own cities and anyone who showed resistance toward the government (emperor). Once you fragment society and divide the people by turning the State against its own, the end is not far behind. This weakens the bonds of civilization and sets the tone, which allows the barbarians to invade for society broke apart. The 33 years from 235 AD to the collapse of the monetary system in 268 AD saw 14 emperors.

The 224-year cycle of political change for the United States peaked in 1999 with Bush Jr. coming to power; although he was a puppet president as Dick Chaney really held the reins of power. The slide down was hard. Obama has also largely been an absentee president as he has missed more than 60% of his morning security briefings since he is more interested in playing golf. Read more.


We do need a little levity, right? The New York Times offered some last week.

Donald Trump and a C.I.A. Officer Walk Into a Room
Nicholas Kristof

The government is arranging classified intelligence briefings for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to prepare them for the White House. This longstanding practice of briefing nominees is controversial this year: Senator Harry Reid has urged the C.I.A. to give Trump a “fake” briefing, while House Speaker Paul Ryan has said Clinton can’t handle classified material. But what would a Trump briefing look like, anyway?

“Mr. Trump, I’m Gene Smith from the C.I.A.”

“Smith, huh? Is that your code name? You know, I know a huge amount about the C.I.A., more than most C.I.A. directors. A terrific, beautiful, very good organization.”

“Actually, Smith is my real name. Anyway, let’s get started with China and our assessment that Xi is much more aggressive than Hu.”

“She is more aggressive than who?”

“Exactly.”

“Well, I’d like to meet her. I like aggressive women. She sounds like a 10.”

"Who?"

“I don’t know. That aggressive woman.”

“I’m not sure I understand. Anyway, in China we assess with high confidence that Xi will continue this aggressive nationalistic ——”

“She sounds hot. No, I’m just joking. But, seriously, women love me.”
Continued . . .




THINK LINKS




INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Mindreading, Ethics, and the Law – (ABC.net – July 17, 2016)
The idea of technologies that could help us read the minds of others just by scanning their brains is both exciting and unnerving—and it’s imminent. In the criminal legal system the use of brain scanning could revolutionize lie detection, eyewitness testimony and even racial bias—but what of our privacy? This article is the transcript of an interview with Professor Jack Gallant, whose laboratory is located in the Department of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley and is affiliated with the programs in Neuroscience, Bioengineering, Biophysics and Vision Science, and with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Gallant’s work combines computer science and neuroscience to study how visual imagery and language is represented in the brain. Along the way he's taking some first steps towards brain decoding. “To my mind, the most interesting decoder that we can create in the immediate future is something that would decode internal speech, the little man or woman in your head that talks to you all the time. That would be interesting just for scientific reasons, but you can imagine if you could make a portable brain decoding device, then that would be just a little headset you could wear that would allow you to interact with your various pieces of equipment, your smart phone and so on, without using your meaty fingers. It would be a much easier way to interact with the world.  Of course, that brings up a lot of ethical issues that have to do with privacy and who can use that information, when they can use it, how they can use it, that really we haven't even begun to think about yet in neuroscience. But I have been arguing that the neuroscience community should start addressing this right now, because frankly it's only a matter of time before someone builds a device that will allow you to decode brain activity portably and at high resolution. So as long as science marches on and we continuously develop new methods for measuring the brain, there will inevitably, along with that, come better brain decoding. And eventually there will be some new technology developed that will allow you to decode internal speech.




NEW REALITIES

LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor of Life on Earth – (Smithsonian – July 26, 2016)
In the last few years, DNA analysis has allowed researchers to redraw the tree of life in incredible detail, but there’s always been a question mark at the base of the tree. While it’s unlikely that researchers will ever find the exact species that started it all, they recently came up with a pretty good description of LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor of all of Earth's creatures, sometimes referred to as microbial Eve. Life as we know it is currently divided into six kingdoms: plants, animals, fungus, protists, eubacteria and archaebacteria. The first four belong to the a domain known as eukaryotes, sporting cells with distinct nuclei. The other two kingdoms are single-celled organisms without a distinct nucleus. All of them evolved from a single-celled ancestor that lived about 4 billion years ago when Earth was celestial baby. After all those billions of years of change, evidence of LUCA’s existence is still visible in the genes of modern organisms. That’s why William Martin, an evolutionary biologist at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany, set out to study LUCA's trail in the genes of bacteria and archaea, the two groups researchers believe became eukaryotes. The researchers combed through DNA databanks, analyzing the genomes of 2,000 modern microbes sequenced over the last two decades. From six million total genes, they found 355 gene families that were widespread among the microbes, which means they were likely to be genes LUCA passed down. LUCA’s genes are those of an extremophile organism that likely lived in an area where seawater and magma meet on the ocean floor, known as hydrothermal vents, And many researchers already believe this is where life first began. The genes show that LUCA lived in an environment with no oxygen. It fed on hydrogen gas, meaning it was likely an organism that lived near super-heated volcanic vents where hydrogen gas was likely produced. 

First Farmers Had Diverse Origins, DNA Shows – (BBC News – July 15, 2016)
Researchers sequenced genomes from ancient Neolithic skeletons uncovered in Iran. The results shed light on a debate over whether farming spread out from a single source in the region, or whether multiple farmer groups spread their technology across Eurasia. The switch from mobile hunting and gathering to the sedentary lifestyle of farming first occurred about 10,000 years ago in south-western Asia. Analysis of DNA from ancient remains in Europe has established that farming spread via the mass migration of people, rather than adoption of new ideas by indigenous populations. In the new study, researchers show that the DNA of early farmers who lived in the Zagros mountains of Iran was very different from that of the people who spread farming west through Turkey and into Europe. Despite the fact that both these groups inhabited the Fertile Crescent - a sickle-shaped zone stretching from the Nile Valley in the west to western Iran - they appear to have separated genetically between 46,000 and 77,000 years ago. The DNA of the Zagros mountains farmers most closely resembled that of living people from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran - and Iranian Zoroastrians in particular. The present-day population whose genomes most closely resemble the western farmers is found not in the Middle East, but on the Italian island of Sardinia. Interestingly, what the early farmer populations do share is ancestry from an enigmatic group of humans known as Basal Eurasians. After humans left Africa, this population split away from other non-Africans and somehow avoided interbreeding with Neanderthals. But it's unclear where exactly these ancient people resided until they mixed with the ancestors of the farmers.

Archaeologists Find Possible Evidence of Earliest Human Agriculture – (Guardian – July 24, 2016)
This article discusses using a different approach to dating farming than the previous one: archeology rather than genome sequencing – and comes up with different answers, but both articles have merit. Israeli archaeologists have uncovered dramatic evidence of what they believe are the earliest known attempts at agriculture, 11,000 years before the generally recognized advent of organized cultivation. Previously, scientists had believed that organized agriculture in the Middle East had begun around 12,000 BC and later spread west through Europe. The new research is based on excavations at a site known as Ohalo II, which was discovered in 1989. Occupied by a community of hunter-gatherers at the height of the last ice age 23,000 years ago, it revealed evidence of six brush huts with hearths as well as stone tools and animal and plant remains. According to the researchers, the community at Ohalo II was already exploiting the precursors to domesticated plant types that would become a staple in early agriculture, including emmer wheat, barley, pea, lentil, almond, fig, grape and olive. Significantly, however, they discovered the presence of two types of weeds in current crop fields: corn cleavers and darnel. Microscopic examination of the edges of stone blades from the site also found material that may have been transferred during the cutting and harvesting of cereal plants. Prof Ehud Weiss, head of the archaeological botany lab at the Department of Land of Israel Studies, told the Guardian [that] the mixture of “proto-weeds” and grains that would become domesticated mirrors plant findings from later agricultural communities. The site also revealed evidence of rudimentary bread-making.



GENETICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/BIOTECHNOLOGY

Better Than Opioids? Virtual Reality Could Be Your Next Painkiller – (Technology Review – July 18, 2016)
Not so far in the future, your doctor might prescribe playing a few games in virtual reality to ease aches and pains, rather than popping a pill. That’s Matthew Stoudt’s hope, anyway. He’s the CEO of AppliedVR, a startup that’s building a library of virtual-reality content for alleviating pain and anxiety before, during, and after medical procedures. The company is working with hospitals and doctors to get patients using the technology on Samsung’s Gear VR headset and to study its effectiveness as well. So far, the company has created three different virtual-reality pain applications, as well as one for reducing anxiety, Stoudt says, and it’s using some third-party content, too. Headsets running AppliedVR’s platform are being used in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and clinics for things like drawing blood and administering epidurals, as well as for pain management after operations.  AppliedVR is working with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center—an investor in the company—and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which are conducting studies using its software. One study that Cedars-Sinai recently completed but hasn’t yet published had a group of 60 patients with a range of medical conditions (things like abdominal pain from pancreatitis or chest pain from pneumonia) use AppliedVR-provided content including a game called Bear Blast, in which the player moves his head to throw balls at cartoon bears. Brennan Spiegel, who directs health services research at Cedars-Sinai, says researchers found that 20 minutes with the virtual-reality software reduced patients’ pain by 24% on average; before using VR the patients had a mean pain score of roughly 5.5 on a zero to 10 scale, he says, and afterward it averaged 4. “That’s a pretty dramatic reduction for an acute pain,” he says. “It’s not too different from what we see from giving narcotics.”

Chinese Scientists Will Soon Begin the First CRISPR Human Trial – (Engadget – July 22, 2016)
American regulators already approved a University of Pennsylvania team's plans to conduct a CRISPR trial on humans, but a group of Chinese scientists will beat them to the punch. The Chinese team from the Sichuan University's West China Hospital in Chengdu will begin testing the efficacy of modified cells for lung cancer treatment in August. They chose patients who still haven't gotten well even after undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other treatments. The scientists plan to take T cells (a type of white blood cell) from patients and use the CRISPR-Cas9 technique to edit out the PD-1 gene. PD-1 regulates T cells' immune response and prevents them from attacking healthy cells. The team will then multiply the modified samples in the lab before reintroducing them to the patients' bloodstream, in hopes that they'll target parts of the patient's body affected with cancer. They'll begin with 10 people and will initially administer increasing dosages on just one patient in order to monitor the results closely and to look out for side effects. It's worth noting that Chinese scientists were also the first to use CRISPR editing on human embryos to repair a gene that causes fatal blood disorder. Their approach only worked on half the embryos, though, so they ultimately had to scrap the study.

New Brain Map Identifies 97 Previously Unknown Regions – (CNN – July 20, 2016)
A new 21st century map of the human brain contains 180 distinct areas in each hemisphere, including 97 previously undiscovered territories. It's not quite Google Maps, but the new optic still provides the most detailed understanding of the cerebral cortex to date, based on the freshest data from the latest technologies. The new map "is a major revision and updating" of previous maps," said David Van Essen, senior author of the study. "Most of the new areas are in regions we associate with higher cognitive function," he said. This is version 1.0, and as new data comes in, there will be revisions, said Dr. Greg Farber, director of technology development at the National Institute of Mental Health, echoing the authors of the research. To create the colorful map, they dipped into the wealth of data gathered by the sophisticated technologies employed in the Human Connectome Project, a National Institutes of Health initiative. This is a key reason the map is more precise than previous versions -- the team began with finer-grain detail than available in the past, including brain images collected from 210 healthy young adult participants in the NIH project.  Next, instead of focusing on just one biological property of the brain -- architecture, function, connectivity or topography -- the researchers combined all four criteria to draw border lines around each "country" within the cortex. The team compared 210 brains. Seeing an area of unusual thickness of myelin (insulation for nerve cells) or a hotspot of connection activity, they would align all the brains according to that feature. Eventually, a picture of the "typical" brain appeared.

Why Healthy Teens Are Taking a Daily Anti-AIDS Pill – (NPR – July 21, 2016)
South Africa has nearly 7 million people living with HIV, more than any other country in the world. And nearly 1 in 5 adults is infected. HIV rates are lower for adolescents but increase rapidly as teens move into their 20s. Some AIDS experts now believe that one way to keep rates down is with a daily pill. The novel prevention technique has proven highly effective in blocking the transmission of HIV in gay men and sex workers. Now it's being tried among sexually active teens. Studies have shown that taking daily doses of the drugs offers an extremely high level of protection against HIV. If taken correctly and consistently, the pill is nearly 100% effective in blocking transmission of the virus. Researchers call the technique pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. Those earlier studies were primarily with gay men. The current study was launched last year with 150 sexually active teens between the ages of 15 and 19. Linda-Gail Bekker, deputy director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town and one of the lead investigators on this pilot study, said "I think having [a form of HIV prevention] that a young woman can use discreetly and is in her absolute control is something we've been missing throughout this epidemic. And I think now for the first time we are able to offer something to young women that is not required at the time of sexual coitus." Expecting teenagers to negotiate the use of condoms in the heat of sexual passion hasn't always been successful, she notes.

New Antibiotic Found in Human Nose – (Science – July 27, 2016)
A new antibiotic that has, quite literally, emerged from the human nose. The compound is produced by one species of nose-dwelling bacterium to kill another microbe, which kills thousands of people every year. Any new antibiotic is welcome because the world is running out of these life-saving drugs. But the researchers behind the new finding believe that studying the microbial warfare going on inside our bodies may lead to not just one, but a whole slew of novel drugs. “We’ve found a new concept of finding antibiotics,” Andreas Peschel, a bacteriologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany. “We have preliminary evidence at least in the nose that there is a rich source of many others, and I’m sure that we will find new drugs there.” The researchers found that the bacterium produced an antibiotic compound and succeeded in synthesizing it in the laboratory. The chemical, which they named lugdunin, inhibited S. aureus from growing in the petri dish, and when applied to the skin of mice infected with S. aureus, it reduced or even eradicated the infection, the team reported. It was also effective against antibiotic-resistant strains like MRSA. Just how lugdunin works is unclear. Theoretically, instead of using the antibiotic, you could also allow S. lugdunensis to colonize patients at risk from S. aureus, he says—a probiotics treatment for the nose. The problem is that S. lugdunensis is itself associated with a range of infections—including of the heart, joints, skin, and eyes—so that strategy could be dangerous. “There may be other bacteria where that is an option,” Peschel says.

The 7 Types of Cancer That Alcohol Might Actually 'Cause' – (Forbes – July 22, 2016)
If there was ever a research area to inspire confusion in the public, it’s the alcohol-and-health debate. Some studies suggest that alcohol may be good for us in certain ways, while others find that it’s decidedly bad. Much of the discrepancy may have to do with the quantity of alcohol consumed, and the other lifestyle habits that go, or don’t go, along with it. Now, a new paper in the journal Addiction suggests that alcohol is not only linked to, but may actually cause, seven different types of cancer. But as always, the dose makes the poison. The study looked at a number of long-term studies including the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the Global Burden of Disease Alcohol Group. Lead researcher Jennie Connor of the University of Otago in New Zealand found that drinking alcohol was routinely linked to cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and, in women, the breast. It’s important to point out that the study doesn’t actually “prove” that alcohol causes cancer, but Connor argues that the whole body of literature taken together gets about as close to showing causation as one can, without randomly assigning people to drink alcohol or abstain over the course of their lifetimes. The biological mechanisms behind the connection aren’t completely mapped out, but there are some good bets. One mechanism, at least for cancers of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus and liver, may be due to DNA damage from acetaldehyde, a metabolite of alcohol and a carcinogen. In other cases, compounds in alcohol may also facilitate entry of other types of carcinogens, like those from tobacco, into the mucosal cells that line the upper digestive tract. And for breast cancer, alcohol is known to increase levels of reproductive hormones, like estrogen, which can increase cell division and increase cancer risk.


ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Canterbury's Poisonous Lake Forsyth Kills Sheep, Full of Green Slime – (Stuff.co – April 27, 2016)
Poisonous water in Canterbury Lake in New Zealand has killed sheep and household pets after recurring algal blooms made the water toxic. After several years of improvement, the water quality has deteriorated due to dry weather. For the last few months, large parts of the lake have been green, with toxic green slime seeping onto the shores. Several weeks ago, a farmer lost around 30 sheep who died from drinking the water. Toxic green algal slime, sometimes as thick as avocado spread, is turning up in lakes all over the world. “Green slime” headlines are appearing in local news reports from Maine to Florida, in Denver, Utah, communities around Lake Erie, and in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. See also: Green Slime Invades World’s Deepest Lake. Russia’s Lake Baikal has a new threat that worries scientists. Additionally, see Mysterious Green Slime Bubbles Up from Sewers in Utah Town.

Finland to Bury Nuclear Waste for 100,000 Years in World's Costliest Tomb – (ABC – June 7, 2016)
Tiny Olkiluoto island, off Finland's west coast, will become home to the world's costliest and longest-lasting burial ground, a network of tunnels called Onkalo — Finnish for "The Hollow". Most nations keep the waste above ground in temporary storage facilities, but Onkalo is the first attempt to bury it for good. Starting in 2020, Finland plans to stow around 5,000 tons of nuclear waste in the tunnels, more than 420 meters below the Earth's surface. Already home to one of Finland's two nuclear power plants, Olkiluoto is now the site of a tunneling project set to cost up to 3.5 billion euros ($5.3 billion) to build and operate until the 2120s, when the vaults will be sealed for good. The project began in 2004 with the establishment of a research facility to study the suitability of the bedrock. At the end of last year, the Government issued a construction license for the encapsulation plant, effectively giving its final approval for the burial project to go ahead. At present, Onkalo consists of a twisting five-kilometer tunnel with three shafts for staff and ventilation. Eventually the nuclear warren will stretch 42 kilometers. The temperature is cool and the bedrock is extremely dry — crucial if the spent nuclear rods are to be protected from the corrosive effects of water. The waste is expected to have lost most of its radioactivity after a few hundred years, but engineers are planning for 100,000, just to be on the safe side. Spent nuclear rods will be placed in iron casts, then sealed into thick copper canisters and lowered into the tunnels. Each capsule will be surrounded with a buffer made of bentonite, a type of clay that will protect them from any shuddering in the surrounding rock and help stop water from seeping in. Clay blocks and more bentonite will fill the tunnels before they are sealed up. The method was developed in Sweden where a similar project is under way.

Desalination Plant Would Go Deep to Protect Marine Life – (New Atlas [formerly GizMag] – July 31, 2016)
A desalination project proposed for California's central coast would draw water from one of the world's deepest submarine canyons, making it potentially less harmful to ocean life. The Deep Water Desal facility would require substantially less energy to operate than typical desalination plants, use renewable energy sources, and provide cooling for a data center that would be built in tandem. It's projected to produce 25,000 acre-feet (30 million cubic meters) of freshwater per year, serving 50,000 homes. Monterey Canyon is the deepest submarine canyon on North America's west coast at more than 10,000 ft (3 km) deep, twice the depth of the Grand Canyon. Within just 2 miles (3. 2km) from shore it plummets to a depth of 1,600 ft. Deep Water Desal would draw its seawater from an intake pipe at about 1,000 ft. offshore at 130-ft. deep, an area with a quarter of the sea life compared to shallows near shore. Typical desalination projects pull in water close to shore, exacerbating the harmful effects on sea life. At the same time, those murkier shoreline waters require two energy-intensive filtering stages to clean the water before it can be desalinated through reverse osmosis. The deeper water to be drawn by Deep Water Desal is cleaner and would require only one filtering step prior to desalination. Thus, the energy needed to run the facility would be reduced by an estimated 40%. Intake water at the proposed depths is also colder and more dense, which requires more energy to push it through the micropores in filters for reverse osmosis.

Reuse of Radioactive Soil Approved Despite 170-year Safety Criteria Estimate – (Mainichi [Japanese Newspaper] – June 27, 2016)
An Environment Ministry panel approved the recycling of tainted soil generated from Fukushima decontamination work despite an estimate presented during a closed meeting of a working group that it will require 170 years for radioactivity concentrations in the contaminated soil to drop to legal safety standards, shelving a decision over whether such soil should be put under long-term management. The ministry is planning to allow reuse of the tainted soil in mounds beneath road pavements, asserting that radiation will be shielded by concrete covering such mounds. However, an estimate presented at the closed meeting of the working group on the radiation impact safety assessment states that such mounds would be durable for just 70 years, suggesting that the soil would need to be managed for another 100 years after its road use ends. "There's no way they can manage the soil for a total of 170 years without isolating it," said an angry expert. Under the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors, the safety standards for recycling metals and other materials generated from the decommissioning of nuclear reactors are set at up to 100 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram. Meanwhile, the special measures law concerning decontamination of radioactive materials, which was enacted after the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant crisis, classifies materials whose radiation levels top 8,000 becquerels per kilogram as designated waste, and stipulates that waste whose radiation levels are 8,000 becquerels or lower can be put to ordinary disposal. See also: Scientists Find New Kind of Fukushima Fallout.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

Snowden Designs iPhone Case to Detect Snooping – (PC Mag – July 21, 2016)
For the few people who discuss deep, dark secrets over the phone, there's now an Edward Snowden-designed iPhone case that can detect eavesdropping signals sent to the phone's internal antennas. It's called an "introspection engine," and it can sniff out the government-surveillance signals Snowden is famous for revealing. Developed in collaboration with fellow security expert Andrew Huang, Snowden's introspection device operates on a simple principle: if someone puts their phone in airplane mode, there should be no signals going in or out. If there are, the device alerts the user. The introspection device, currently just a prototype and not available for sale, is user-inspectable and relies on open-source software, according to Huang's description. It performs its signal monitoring independently of the phone's processor, to avoid false positive readings, and is undetectable by the operating system. In addition to cellular signals, it can also detect unwanted Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. The pair conducted their research on a shoestring budget, but Huang said they could seek the necessary funding to develop and maintain a supply chain if the prototype is successful in field trials. Snowden sees the invention as primarily useful for journalists, who he said are most at risk of snooping using these signals when they are reporting on atrocities committed by governments during conflict zones, for instance.

Data Storage Breakthrough Could Store the Library of Congress on a Dust Mite – (Popular Mechanics – July 18, 2016)
Using this new data storage technique, you could fit the entire Library of Congress on a cube smaller than a dust mite—or the size of George Washington's pupil on a one dollar bill. A team of nanoscientists led by Sander Otte at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has just unveiled the densest method ever developed to store re-writable digital data. By scooting around individual chlorine atoms on a flat sheet of copper, the scientists could write a 1 kilobyte message at 500 terabits per square inch. That's around 100 times more info per square inch than the most efficient hard drive ever created. Otte says the method could theoretically fit every book ever written onto a flat copper sheet the size of a postage stamp.


ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS

Artificial Leaf That Produces Fuel from CO2 and Sunlight – (IBT – August 1, 2016)
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have created a solar cell that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide into a usable fuel. “The new solar cell is not photovoltaic — it’s photosynthetic. Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight.” said Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC. He added: “The new solar cells can remove carbon dioxide, or CO2, from the atmosphere — like trees do — and farms that use such cells as artificial leaves “could produce energy-dense fuel efficiently,” according to the UIC website. The fuel produced by the cells is “synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide,” which “can be burned directly, or converted into diesel or other hydrocarbon fuels.” Methods to convert CO2 to a burnable form of carbon have been around, but are inefficient and require precious metals like silver to be carried out. The device created by UIC researchers uses nanoflake tungsten diselenide, a material that is 20 times cheaper than its precious metal counterparts and works 1,000 times faster as a catalyst in the chemical reaction.

13-Year-Old Creates Energy Harvesting Device – (KTVN – February 18, 2016)
Do you think a 13-year-old could change the world? Max Loughan wants to make the world a better place, and to do that, Max believes you need one single thing: "If you got energy, you have power, you have everything." So to solve this problem, a few months ago, Max took the matter into his own hands. He created an electro magnetic harvester out of a coffee can, some wire, two coils, and a spoon. "This cost me 14 bucks," Max said. The harvester conducts radio waves, thermal, and static energy, and turns it into electricity. "This wire takes energy from the air." We took the device outside, and wrapped Max's twin brother, Jack, in a string of L.E.D. lights. Max connects the lights to the harvester, and sure enough, they turned on. His device clearly works. A $14.00 invention was able to do that. So imagine this same harvester on a scale 20 times larger. "As cheesy as this sounds, from day one, on this planet that I knew I was put here for a reason," said Max. "And that reason is to invent, to bring the future." (Editor’s note: We don’t know if Max’s coffee can is the invention of the century or not – but this inventor is someone to keep an eye on. We expect that he will be bringing the future.)



TRANSPORTATION

Rugged Teardrop Trailer Spreads Its Gullwings Deep into the Wild – (New Atlas – July 15, 2016)
Vacation time? The Venture OHV (off highway vehicle) teardrop trailer from North Carolina's Inka Outdoor makes an immediate impression, whether on-highway or off. Its gullwing doors give it a distinct look, while a rugged chassis and construction allow it to go places other trailers wouldn't dare. Thoughtful features and plenty of customization options ready it for a comfortable stay off the beaten track. We almost passed the trailer over because we've seen off-road teardrop trailers many times before, with the likes of the Vintage Overland and Moby1 XTR. But then we looked a little closer, checked out the spec sheet and found a few details that make the Venture OHV an original. These details add up to a package that looks greater than the sum of its parts. Article includes details and cool photos. See another new and nifty camper: This egg-shaped camper wraps modern comforts in retro style.


AGRICULTURE/FOOD

In Conversation: Food After Fossil Fuels – (Post Carbon Institute - Jul 26, 2016)
While its slice of the overall energy pie may seem relatively low, the modern American food system is figuratively awash in fossil fuels. On average, roughly 12 calories of (mostly fossil fuel) energy go into producing each calorie of the food that we consume. The use of fossil fuels in every phase of the food system—from fertilization, treatment, and harvesting to manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and preparation—has utterly transformed what we eat, how we eat, where we eat, and how our food is grown. Since our current food system is so heavily dependent on fossil fuels, major changes to agriculture, farm labor, food processing, food transport, and food packaging are likely as we move toward the renewable future. The transition to 100% renewable energy thus raises some profound questions for the future of our food system. For instance: What would a future farm without fossil fuels look like? How might the rest of the food system—transport, packaging, processing, food choices—evolve as we eliminate fossil fuels? Asher Miller from Post Carbon Institute was joined by Michael Bomford (Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia) and Tom Philpott (Mother Jones) for an engaging, expansive conversation about what the future of the food system and agriculture might look like in a 100% renewable energy future. Both the recording and the transcript are available from the link.

Everything We Love to Eat Is a Scam – (New York Post – July 10, 2016)
In his new book, “Real Food Fake Food,” author Larry Olmsted exposes the breadth of counterfeit foods we’re unknowingly eating. Fraudulence spans from haute cuisine to fast food: A February 2016 report by Inside Edition found that Red Lobster’s lobster bisque contained a non-lobster meat called langostino. In a statement to The Post, Red Lobster maintains that langostino is lobster meat and said that in the wake of the IE report, “We amended the menu description of the lobster bisque to note the multiple kinds of lobster that are contained within.” Moving on: That extra-virgin olive oil you use on salads has probably been cut with soybean or sunflower oil, plus a bunch of chemicals. The 100% grass-fed beef you just bought is no such thing — it’s very possible that cow was still pumped full of drugs and raised in a cramped feedlot. Olmstead reports that the USDA repealed its standards for the “grass-fed” designation in January after pressure from the agriculture industry. All that stamp now means, he says, is that in addition to grass, the animals “can still be raised in an industrial feed lot and given drugs. It just means the actual diet was grass rather than corn.” Farmed Cambodian ponga poses as grouper, catfish, sole, flounder and cod. Wild-caught salmon is often farmed and pumped up with pink coloring to look fresher. Sometimes it’s actually trout. Where can you get “real food”?  The article has some suggestions.  The best one is: Shop at your local farmers’ market.



SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Apple and Facebook Helped Bust the World's Biggest Torrent Site – (Engadget – July 21, 2016)
When you're the owner of the world's biggest torrent-sharing site, the last thing you'd expect to land you in trouble would be a totally legitimate (and legal) purchase via iTunes. But that's what happened to 30-year-old Ukrainian Artem Vaulin a.k.a "tirm," owner and operator of KickassTorrents (KAT), who was yesterday arrested and charged in Poland for criminal copyright infringement and money laundering. He's been accused of illegally reproducing and distributing hundreds of millions of copies of movies, video games, TV shows and music albums totaling more than $1 billion. The US is now waiting to extradite him. Founded in 2008, the site has slowly grown to become the biggest torrent-sharing website in the world. It finally took the mantle in 2015 after The Pirate Bay experienced multiple raids, battled lengthy spells of downtime and its three founders were arrested. KAT counts more than 50 million unique monthly visitors and is estimated to be the 68th most frequently visited website on the internet. The article goes on to detail how an undercover IRS Special Agent traced the torrent-sharing website to Vaulin, with assistance from Apple, Facebook, the Department of Homeland Security, and a fake advertisement on the website.

Russia’s New Stealth Bomber Will Reportedly Be Capable of Launching Nukes from Space – (Digital Trends – July 15, 2016)
Russia is developing a next-gen stealth bomber, capable of exiting Earth’s atmosphere, flying anywhere on the planet within two hours, and hypothetically even launching a nuclear strike from space. Called the PAK-DA strategic bomber, the hypersonic aircraft — which won’t be visible to radar — could take to the skies within the next half-decade, after successful prototype engine tests were completed recently. “Right now we are reviewing the [craft’s] nuances, which will take approximately one year,” said Sergei Karakayev, commander of Russian Strategic Missile Forces. “Once we agree on the plans, we will start building the engine itself. In the second year of development — 2018 — we will build the hardware. Perhaps I am rushing things, and some issues may arise, but by 2020 we should have a fully-functioning product.” The Russian stealth bomber will reportedly burn traditional kerosene fuel while flying in Earth’s atmosphere, although it will run on methane and oxygen while in space — which explains how it would be able to fly in an atmosphere where air isn’t exactly in ready availability. Running these two fuel types will require two engines — one engine for the airplane and the other for the spaceship — which will be combined within the bomber’s engine setting. (Editor’s note: The Russian government owns its defense manufacturing companies; they don’t contract out with publically held companies whose stockholders want a return on their investment, paid for with tax dollars. It makes things much simpler.)



TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

An Illegal Military Strategy Disguised as Technological Advance – (Truth Dig – July 18, 2016)
The technical advances embodied in drone technology distract us from a more fundamental change in military strategy. However it is achieved—whether through conventional air strikes, cruise missiles fired from ships, or by drone—the United States has now embraced extrajudicial executions on foreign soil. Successive administrations have implemented this momentous change with little public discussion. And most of the discussion we’ve had has focused more on the new instrument (drone technology) than on its purpose (assassination). It’s a case of the means justifying the end. The drones work so well that it must be all right to kill people with them. The Bush administration launched the assassination program in October 2001 in Afghanistan, expanded it in 2002 to Yemen, and went from there. Under Obama, with an actual White House “kill list,” the use of drones has again expanded, this time nine-fold, with growing numbers of attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, as well as in the Afghan, Iraqi, and Syrian war zones. There’s an obvious appeal to a technology that allows pilots for the CIA, Joint Special Operations Command, or the Air Force to sit safely in front of video screens in Nevada or elsewhere in the U.S., while killing people half a world away. This is especially true for a president running a global war with a public that does not easily accept American casualties and a Congress that prefers not to be responsible for war and peace decision-making. Drone assassinations have allowed President Obama to spread the “war on terror” to ever more places (even as he quietly retired that phrase), without U.S. casualties or congressional oversight and approval.

7,000 Deaths in Custody – (Atlantic – July 28, 2016)
A first-ever database provides a detailed look at how people died during encounters with the criminal-justice system in Texas. Between 2005 and 2015, 6,913 people died while in legal custody in Texas. Many died of natural causes while serving long prison sentences. Others ended their own lives. A few died at the hands of another inmate, or, in some cases, police or correctional officers. In a handful of instances, people died from cardiac arrest after quickly ingesting a lethal dose of drugs while being arrested or after getting pulled over by police. Together, these deaths form revealing patterns about Texas-style justice and the state of corrections in an increasingly carceral country. This information used to be hard to access, but it’s now readily available in an online database called the Texas Justice Initiative, created by Amanda Woog, the postdoctoral legal fellow at the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis at the University of Texas at Austin. The final product was culled from thousands of internal reports and includes names, time and place of death, cause of death, time in custody, and a description of the circumstances. “These deaths occurred in local jail cells, in the backs of police cars, and on prison sidewalks,” Woog wrote in the summary report of her findings. Among the “suicide” listings is one for Sandra Bland, who died in police custody after a traffic stop. Like Bland, more than 1,900 of those who died, or 28%, had not been convicted of or even charged with a crime.



GLOBAL RELATIONS


Evicted Tribe Say They’re Left with Nowhere to Go – (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – June 20, 2016)
“In Tanzania, it is as if we don’t exist,” says Salumu Kundaya Kidomwita, a Barabaig cattle herder whose name translates to “Warthog.” At the age of 60, Kidomwita is facing his second eviction in the last decade. After being pushed out of his home by a rice plantation in 2008, his new village of Kwa Wagonzi is being uprooted to make way for a dam that will provide irrigation for commercial rice and sugar farms. Like warthogs, who can live for several months of the year without water, the Barabaig have had to adapt their herder lifestyle with similar austerity due to competing interests for dwindling land and resources. The World Bank initially required Tanzania to follow the bank’s policy for protecting indigenous groups such as the Barabaig and Hadzabe tribes. But the World Bank’s board has granted an East African agribusiness project called SAGCOT a waiver that exempts it from following the bank’s Indigenous Peoples Policy — sparking fears among human rights advocates that the development lender is setting a precedent that weakens protections for indigenous peoples. The Tanzanian government launched SAGCOT in 2010 to promote economic growth in Tanzania’s southern corridor, which covers a third of mainland Tanzania extending from the capital, Dar es Salaam, to Tanzania’s border with Zambia. Over a 20-year period, SAGCOT aims to convert 350,000 hectares of land into commercial production, boost annual farming revenues by $1.2 billion and lift roughly 450,000 farming households out of poverty,  the Tanzanian government estimated. According to a report by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, the Barabaig have been targeted for state-sponsored evictions for half a century.  “Operation Barabaig” was a program designed to permanently settle Barabaig herders, forcing families from their homes and seizing their rangelands for tourism and commercial agriculture interests. (Editor’s note: This article is essentially about a contemporary occurrence of an issue that goes back thousands of years: the difference in land rights between nomadic peoples and settled peoples and the economic benefits which accrue to farmers by displacing herders.)


LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Instead of a Coffin, Be Buried in a Biodegradable Pod That Helps Grow a Tree – (Fast Company – June 1, 2016) Designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel want to change the way we think about death—and the way humans think about their relationship to the environment. Instead of tombstone-filled cemeteries, and formaldehyde-filled bodies sealed in steel or wooden coffins, they think people should be buried in biodegradable pods, becoming fertilizer for trees planted on top. "We imagine that cemeteries could become forests," says Bretzel. The egg-shaped pod they created, called Capsula Mundi, is designed to hold a dead body in a fetal position, and slowly decompose underground. “It's planted like a seed, and on top of it, we plant a tree chosen in life by the person," he says. Last year, Citelli and Bretzel released designs for a smaller pod that can hold ashes. Now they're tackling the challenges of making the pod the size of a body. Creating a mold for manufacturing at that scale is difficult; it's also more difficult to maintain the structure of the material, a biopolymer made from plant starch. Once the design is ready, it won't be available for use everywhere. In some countries—such as Italy, where the designers are based—so-called "green burials" are still illegal. In other countries, like the U.S. and U.K., green burials are becoming more popular, as people realize the environmental problems caused by burying people along with gallons of toxic embalming fluid, reinforced concrete, and heavy metals.

Text Messaging with Smartphones Triggers a New Type of Brain Rhythm – (Elsevier – June 7, 2016)
To find out more about how our brains work during textual communication using smartphones, a team led by Mayo Clinic researcher William Tatum analyzed data from 129 patients. Their brain waves were monitored over a period of 16 months through electroencephalograms (EEGs) combined with video footage. Dr. Tatum, professor of neurology and director of the epilepsy monitoring unit and epilepsy center at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida found a unique ‘texting rhythm’, which was different than any previously described brain rhythm, in approximately 1 in 5 patients who were using their smartphone to text message while having their brain waves monitored. No correlation was found between the presence of a texting rhythm and the patients’ demographic information, including age, gender, epilepsy type, presence of a brain lesion on MRI, or ictal EEG. “We believe this new rhythm is an objective metric of the brain’s ability to process non-verbal information during use of electronic devices and that it is heavily connected to a widely distributed network augmented by attention or emotion,” Dr. Tatum commented. The texting rhythm was also found in iPad users. This finding could have significant implications for brain-computer interfacing, gaming, and, perhaps most importantly, driving, Dr. Tatum noted: “There is now a biological reason why people shouldn’t text and drive – texting can change brain waves,” he said.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

NASA Identifies ‘Cosmic Choir’ of Black Holes Belting Out X-Ray Melodies – (IBT – July 31, 2016)
Black holes have voracious appetites. As these objects, which are so dense that not even light can escape their gravitational pull, chow down on gas and stellar debris, they emit powerful bursts of X-rays, creating what is known as a cosmic X-ray background — a “song” of X-rays being emitted by millions of black holes, which fills the entire sky. Although astrophysicists have long known about this “cosmic choir,” identification of individual singers has proven elusive. Now, data gathered by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) — a space-based X-ray telescope — is finally helping scientists pinpoint the black holes emitting high-energy X-rays, thereby taking a significant step toward resolving the cosmic X-ray background. “Before NuSTAR, the X-ray background in high energies was just one blur with no resolved sources,” said lead author Fiona Harrison, the principal investigator of NuSTAR at Caltech in Pasadena.  “We've gone from resolving just two percent of the high-energy X-ray background to 35 percent. ... We can see the most obscured black holes, hidden in thick gas and dust.” “We knew this cosmic choir had a strong high-pitched component, but we still don't know if it comes from a lot of smaller, quiet singers, or a few with loud voices,” co-author Daniel Stern added. Scientists hope that the new observations will ultimately help them better understand how the feeding patterns of supermassive black holes change over time, providing a clearer picture of their evolution.



NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Why a Smart Contact Lens Is the Ultimate Wearable – (Computer World – May 9, 2016)
There's a race on to develop technology for the contact lenses of the future — ones that will give you super-human vision and will offer heads-up displays, video cameras, medical sensors and much more. In fact, these products are already being developed. It turns out that eyeballs are the perfect place to put technology. Smart contact lenses are like implants but they don't require surgery and can usually be removed or inserted by the user. They're neither on nor under the skin full time. They're exposed to both air and the body's internal chemistry. Contact lenses sit on the eye, and so can enhance vision. They're exposed to both light and the mechanical movement of blinking, so they can harvest energy. The company that has been the most aggressive about bringing electronics to contact lenses is Verily. (Verily Life Sciences is the Alphabet/Google independent subsidiary that's developing advanced contact lenses.) The latest Verily smart contact lens is actually injected into the eyeball, according to a recently published patent. So it's less of a contact lens and more of a surgical implant. Inside this new, artificial lens lives storage, battery, sensors, a radio and other electronics. The artificial lens would take over the job of focusing light onto the retina, improving vision in numerous ways without glasses, but in a flexible, interactive way.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

U.S. and Chinese Labor Groups Collaborated before China Wal-Mart Strikes – (Reuters – July 18, 2016)
OUR Walmart, the American worker group, has taken the unusual step of collaborating with a group of Chinese Wal-Mart workers trying to fight work schedule changes and low wages. OUR Walmart and the Wal-Mart Chinese Workers Association (WCWA) discussed strategy for recent strikes in China on a Skype call last month using a translator, both groups told Reuters. "They asked for our support," said Cantare Davunt, OUR Wal-Mart's leader from Minnesota, who participated in the Skype call. The U.S. organization is keen to maintain the relationship with the WCWA and believes such partnerships can boost the clout of the retailer’s global workforce. Wal-Mart declined to comment on the collaboration among worker groups in both countries, though the company did address the scheduling dispute in China. OUR Wal-Mart - which last year split from the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) over strategic direction - says it has the support of more than 100,000 Wal-Mart workers. Such international collaborations are rare, especially in China, said Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California in Santa Barbara. Many U.S. workers and union advocates have traditionally viewed workers in other nations as competition for jobs, labor experts said. The only legal labor organization in China is the state-backed All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which is widely considered an arm of the ruling Communist Party. Most strikes, including those at Wal-Mart, have happened without AFCTU involvement. Neither OUR Walmart nor Chinese workers' groups have much leverage to force changes at the behemoth retailer. The U.S. group has no collective bargaining rights, and it offers workers free, voluntary memberships.



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

Study Finds Drop In Prescription Drugs In Medical Marijuana States – (Huffington Post – July 24, 2016)
States looking for a way to reduce Medicare spending and prescription drug use may want to turn to legalizing medical marijuana, a new study suggests. The District of Columbia and the 17 states that had medical marijuana as an alternative to prescription drugs in 2013 saved an estimated total of $165.2 million in Medicare program and enrollee spending that year, researchers at the University of Georgia reported in the journal Health Affairs this month. Their results found that there were fewer prescriptions filled for the majority of those categories. The pain category, for instance, saw a decrease in 1,826 daily doses, while the depression category saw a 265 daily dosage decrease. “The results suggest that if all states had implemented medical marijuana the overall savings to Medicare would have been around $468 million,” a press release on the findings stated.

Abolish Long-Term Solitary Confinement: It's a Threat to the Public – (Truth Out – July 23, 2016)
This article was written by a man who spent a decade of his life in isolation at the notorious Tamms supermax prison in southern Illinois. Joseph Dole, who is currently serving a life-without-parole sentence, writes, “The public may not care for my well-being, or that of the nearly 100,000 Americans who are currently being held in long-term isolation -- but they should. Through their indifference, the public is directly responsible for the torture of their fellow citizens, the deterioration of their mental health, and all of the suicides that occur in isolation units (which account for nearly one half of all prison suicides). They are also responsible for the effects these facilities have on the people who work there, as well as the threat these places pose to society at large. People who work in isolation units are severely affected by their work of brutalizing people on a daily basis. Their average life expectancy, according to one study, is 20 years less than that of the average citizen, and rates of alcoholism are significantly higher. They also have higher rates of spousal abuse. Beyond the direct human impacts on prisoners and guards, control units and supermax prisons are also extremely expensive, siphoning limited resources away from things that actually protect society, like rehabilitation programs, police and fire departments and schools. Plus, there are the additional court costs of all the lawsuits isolation units generate.

Aliens Cause Global Warming – (Wall St. Journal – November 7, 2008)
This op-ed piece is not about aliens. It’s about the rise of what has been called consensus science and the validity of computer modeling for long term projections. “I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.” Let's be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period. To an outsider, the most significant innovation in the global warming controversy is the overt reliance that is being placed on models. No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world -- increasingly, models provide the data. As if they were themselves a reality. And indeed they are, when we are projecting forward. There can be no observational data about the year 2100. There are only model runs. And only if you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen can you arrive at the complex point where the global warming debate now stands.



FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.

You Are Surprisingly Likely to Have a Living Doppelganger – (BBC News  - July 13, 2016)
Folk wisdom has it that everyone has a doppelganger; somewhere out there there’s a perfect duplicate of you, with your mother’s eyes, your father’s nose and that annoying mole you’ve always meant to have removed. The notion has gripped the popular imagination for millennia – it was the subject of one of the oldest known works of literature – inspiring the work of poets and scaring queens to death. But is there any truth in it? We live on a planet of over seven billion people, so surely someone else is bound to have been born with your face? It’s a silly question with serious implications – and the answer is more complicated than you might think. It all comes down to what you mean by a doppelganger. “It depends whether we mean ‘lookalike to a human’ or ‘lookalike to facial recognition software’,” says David Aldous, a statistician at U.C. Berkeley. Francois Brunelle, who has photographed over 200 pairs of doubles for his project I'm not a look-alike, agrees. “For me it’s when you see someone and you think it’s the other person. It’s the way of being, the sum of the parts.” When seen apart, his subjects looked like perfect clones. “When you get them together and you see them side by side, sometimes you feel that they are not the same at all.” Article includes photos.



JUST FOR FUN

One Year on Earth – Seen From 1 Million Miles – (NASA Goddard – July 20, 2016)
NASA has released to the world the first image of the sunlit side of Earth captured by the space agency's EPIC camera on NOAA's DSCOVR satellite. The camera has now recorded a full year of life on Earth from its orbit at Lagrange point 1, approximately 1 million miles from Earth, where it is balanced between the gravity of our home planet and the sun. The video combines 3,000 images from the DSCOVR satellite's EPIC camera to show a year of Earth's rotation. EPIC takes a new picture every two hours, revealing how the planet would look to human eyes, capturing the ever-changing motion of clouds and weather systems and the fixed features of Earth such as deserts, forests and the distinct blues of different seas. EPIC will allow scientists to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth.


A FINAL QUOTE

Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today. - African proverb



A special thanks to: Sam Bonasso, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Sergio Lub, Diane Petersen, Abby Porter, Gary Sycalik, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks. johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org




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Edited by John L. Petersen
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