Archive for the ‘The Internet’ Category

More Earthquakes for Italy?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Looking for survivors in Italy.

BBC Science — There remains the potential for future quakes in Italy’s Apennines region, say scientists who have reviewed the latest satellite maps of the region. The new radar imagery suggests Sunday’s big tremor ruptured a segment of a fault in between sections broken by two other quakes in recent weeks. But the Magnitude 6.6 event has still left the deeper parts of the fault system locked in place. And this unrelieved stress now represents a risk down the line.

The researchers are keen to emphasise, however, that predicting precisely when and where a future quake might strike is not possible. No-one was killed in Sunday’s big tremor but more than 30,000 residents have been left homeless as a consequence of the damage it wrought. The new space data comes from Europe’s Sentinel-1 satellites which overfly Italy every day or so. These platforms are able to sense ground movement by comparing before and after radar imagery acquired from orbit.

The scientists turn this information into an interferogram – a colourful, but highly technical, depiction of the displacement that occurs on a fault. (11/02/2016)

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8 Things to Tell Your Doctor

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Patient with her Physician.

LifeScript — Ellen Wlody reports: We talked to top experts and here are the 8 things you must confess at your next visit…

1. You’re taking vitamins, herbs or supplements.

You pop a daily multivitamin, an herbal supplement for sleep and a powder to improve memory. They’re harmless, right? Not always.

2. You noticed blood in your stool.

Most of us steer clear of potty talk – even with our doctors. Patients of Internist, Dr. Clancy, however, are asked at each visit whether they’ve seen blood in their stool. The response, she says, is often the same: “Why would I look?”  … Dr. Clancy’s answer: “It could save your life.”

3. You think you’re depressed.

So you’ve been feeling a little down; it’ll pass, you think. Besides, why bother your doctor with it? … Emotions can affect your physical health. Depressed people often feel fatigued, lose their appetite or have stomachaches. In fact, if your doctor doesn’t know you’re depressed, you may have to undergo unnecessary tests or medications.

4. You’re worried about something you read on the Web.

You’re not the first (or last) to turn to Dr. Google. So your doc won’t be offended or surprised when you admit this. In fact, most doctors say they like well-informed patients.

5. Your diet and exercise routine are lacking.

That morning doughnut-and-coffee ritual? Those couch potato nights? ‘Fess up! People often lie or omit information because they don’t realize how harmful those habits really are, Dr. Clancy says. “That’s why we recommend that overweight people keep a food diary, so they can get a more realistic picture of what they eat in a day,” she says. Even if weight isn’t an issue, talk to your doctor about your diet. You may not need a major meal overhaul – just a little tweaking.

6. You quit your meds.

One of Dr. Goldberg’s patients stopped taking her cholesterol medication. The reason: A friend on the same drug developed muscle aches. But the patient didn’t tell Dr. Goldberg. So when tests showed higher cholesterol levels, she called to increase her dosage.

7. You’ve lost interest in sex.

“People are pretty open about their physical complaints, but they’re not so open about sexual issues,” says Judie Brock, certified nurse-midwife at Cooley Dickinson Center for Midwifery Care, in Northampton, Mass. But women need to talk about emotional and sexual health with their doctor, because it can be a symptom of a physical problem. Loss of desire can signal health issues, such as chronic stress, anxiety, depression or even anorexia.

8. You had surgery or sickness a long time ago.

Especially when seeing a doctor for the first time, the details of your medical history matter – and that includes the tonsillectomy you had at age 4.Your physician needs background information to diagnose and prescribe the best treatment for you.

There’s an advantage to being well prepared: You’ll get better treatment. In addition, jot down notes about current symptoms. If you’re having headaches, for example, how often do they occur and at what time of day? How painful are they? What type of pain do they cause – sharp or dull throbbing? “If you walk in with a record – even just some notes – and can say, ‘I’ve given this some thought,’ you’ll be taken a lot more seriously by the doctor,” Dr. Clancy says. (04/08/2016)

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Dear Body

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

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Washington Post — Casey Seidenberg writes a letter for her body as a model for her children as they begin the new year. …

Dear Body,

Thank you for being my home. For loving me no matter what I do. For keeping me in one piece and recovering quickly even when I challenge you with trips, slips, falls, collisions, tackles, concussions, late nights of studying, too much sugar, and the germs that I encounter everywhere.

Thank you for protecting me from the many harsh and damaging chemicals, pollutants and substances in our world. For ditching the bad stuff you are given and employing the good.

Thank you for helping me to grow and get stronger every year. Thank you for balancing and righting me when I become sad, scared or discouraged. You never ask questions, and you are always there for me.

So to say thank you this New Year I will try my hardest to make more choices that benefit you.

I will try to sleep well so that you can rebuild the pieces that get broken or weary during a typical day. I will stretch and I will exercise to help you transport blood efficiently. I will eat lots of vegetables so you don’t have to work so hard to filter the pollution in the air I breathe or the chemicals in the candy I eat. I will drink many glasses of water so my spine and joints stay hydrated, my blood travels efficiently, and my nerves function correctly. I will eat protein to give me long-lasting energy, and healthful fats to help my brain function at its highest capacity. I will take lots of deep breaths so all of my cells receive the oxygen they need to do their jobs.

I will try to listen when you talk to me. When I yawn, I will recognize that you want me to sleep. When I ache, I will stop pushing you so vigorously. When I feel anxious, I will breathe deeply and slow down. When I feel angry, I will pause, acknowledge and respect my feelings. When I lack energy, I will drink water, eat healthful food and get some fresh air.

And since you love and take care of me no matter what, perhaps this year I could decide to love you back no matter what shape or size you are, no matter how much muscle or fat or bone you build, no matter how coordinated you are or are not, no matter how many pimples you produce, or how many bad hair days you have. I will love you and take care of you as much as you love and take care of me.

(02/03/2016)

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Winning Hyperloop design revealed by MIT engineers

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

MIT Hyperloop Pod

BBC Technology — Designs for passenger pods that could travel through airless tubes have been revealed by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Hyperloop is a conceptual transport system in which passenger pods could be fired through vacuum tubes at more than 600mph (1,000km/h). The MIT team came first in a SpaceX competition to design pods that could be tested in a prototype tube. The team will now have the opportunity to build and test its design in the US.

Describing his team’s winning design, chief engineer Chris Merian said: “Our pod focuses on levitating as well as moving at really high speeds. Those are the two things that we see as crucial to this being a true Hyperloop pod,” he added.

To help reassure potentially nervous riders, the MIT designers have included fail-safe brakes, which would stop the pod if the computer systems failed. However the design currently does not have space for cargo or passengers. More than 115 teams entered the design competition, with the MIT engineers scooping the Best Overall Design prize. Twenty-two teams will go on to test their pod designs on the SpaceX test track. (02/03/2016)

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Microcephaly: ‘It’s not the end of the world’

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Laney (age 13)

BBC Medical Science — Microcephaly has come to prominence since the news reports of the Zika virus being linked to birth defects. The condition causes the head to be small in size and the brain to under-develop. But it is not known why babies are born with microcephaly. Gabrielle Frohock from Austin, Texas, US is a mum of three daughters – her last born – nicknamed Laney – has microcephaly. This is her story.

Diagnosis

“After she was born doctors saw her head was too small. They did a cat scan the same day and diagnosed her with microcephaly. Part of the corpus callosum, or the nerve fibres, didn’t form at the back of the head that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. Doctors didn’t expect her to survive beyond a few months old. I had never heard of the condition before, and it was complete and utter devastation when we got the news. We also found out later she has a chromosome disorder that may be a cause of the microcephaly. I was determined I would love her and hold her – I did not put her down for six months, as I didn’t know how long she would survive. …

“When you have a child you love it unconditionally – when you have a special child, for me it’s a love without expectation. If she never says she loves me or never talks, it doesn’t matter. She’s a gift to me. It’s been heartbreaking but I never knew that kind of love existed. It only takes little things to make her happy. She can crawl now – and she can push a button on her favourite toy. We celebrate her birthday like you can’t imagine every year! She has brought so much joy in our lives. She is so wonderful, sweet and loving.” (02/03/2016)

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Greatest Poems Ever Written

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

Robert Frost

Epoch Times — Evan Mantyk reports:For your education, enjoyment, and (perhaps) excitement, this is a list of the greatest poems originally written in the English language. It is presented from least greatest (10) to greatest greatest (1) and each poem is followed by a brief analysis of each poem.

The poems in the list were selected by the Society of Classical Poets to inspire and educate new poets, but can also inspire and educate all people with their timeless wisdom and universal themes.

Many good poems and poets had to be left out of this list because of the list’s necessary shortness (a mere 10 among many thousands) as well as the Society’s emphasis on classical poetry.

What is classical poetry? It means poems that follow perennial forms, like meter and rhyme, and that are infused with a classical flavor—that is, with humanity’s quintessential quest for virtue over vice, epic over ephemeral, and beauty over baseness.

Additionally, I note that long poems, such as epics and plays, and excerpts of such works have not been considered for this list. (01/23/2016)

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10. ‘The Road Not Taken’

By Robert Frost (1874–1963)

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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2015 was Hottest Year on Record

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

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Bloomberg Business — To say that 2015 was hot is an understatement. The average recorded temperature across the surface of the planet was so far above normal that it set a record for setting records.

The year was more than a quarter of a degree Fahrenheit warmer than the last global heat record—set all the way back in 2014—according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration figures released on Wednesday. A quarter of a degree may not sound like much, but on a planetary scale it’s a huge leap. Most previous records were measured by hundredths of a degree.

A powerful El Niño is largely responsible for the year’s extremes, but make no mistake: This is what global warming looks like. Temperatures are rising 10 times faster than during the bounce back from the last ice age. Fifteen of the hottest 16 years on record have come in the 21st century. …

The heat during 2015 was relentless. Monthly records were broken for every month except January (second hottest) and April (third hottest), according to data from NOAA. The year ended with an exclamation point in December, recording the most extreme departure for any month on record.

Results from the world’s top monitoring agencies vary slightly, but NASA, NOAA, the Japan Meteorological Agency, and the U.K.’s Met Office all agree: 2015 was unprecedented. The heat was experienced differently around the world, but most regions were unusually warm to downright scorching for much of the year. (01/20/2016)

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Wealth of richest 1% ‘equal to other 99%’

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

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BBC  Business News — The richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined, according to Oxfam. It uses data from Credit Suisse from October for the report, which urges leaders meeting in Davos this week to take action on inequality. Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population.

It criticised the work of lobbyists and the amount of money kept in tax havens. Oxfam predicted that the 1% would overtake the rest of the world this time last year.

It takes cash and assets worth $68,800 (£48,300) to get into the top 10%, and $760,000 (£533,000) to be in the 1%. That means that if you own an average house in London without a mortgage, you are probably in the 1%.

The figures carry various caveats, for example, information about the wealth of the super-rich is hard to come by, which Credit Suisse says means its estimates of the proportion of wealth held by the 10% and the 1% is “likely to err on the low side”.

As a global report, the figures also necessarily include some estimates of levels of wealth in countries from which accurate statistics are not available. Oxfam said that the 62 richest people having as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the population is a remarkable concentration of wealth, given that it would have taken 388 individuals to have the same wealth as the bottom 50% in 2010. (01/17/2016)

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Inequality and Modernization

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Ronald Inglehart

Foreign Affairs — Ronald Inglehart writes: During the past century, economic inequality in the developed world has traced a massive U-shaped curve—starting high, curving downward, then curving sharply back up again. In 1915, the richest one percent of Americans earned roughly 18 percent of all national income. Their share plummeted in the 1930s and remained below ten percent through the 1970s, but by 2007, it had risen to 24 percent. Looking at household wealth rather than income, the rise of inequality has been even greater, with the share owned by the top 0.1 percent increasing to 22 percent from nine percent three decades ago. In 2011, the top one percent of U.S. households controlled 40 percent of the nation’s entire wealth. And while the U.S. case may be extreme, it is far from unique: all but a few of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for which data are available experienced rising income inequality (before taxes and transfers) during the period from 1980 to 2009.

The French economist Thomas Piketty has famously interpreted this data by arguing that a tendency toward economic inequality is an inherent feature of capitalism. He sees the middle decades of the twentieth century, during which inequality declined, as an exception to the rule, produced by essentially random shocks—the two world wars and the Great Depression—that led governments to adopt policies that redistributed income. Now that the influence of those shocks has receded, life is returning to normal, with economic and political power concentrated in the hands of an oligarchy.

Piketty’s work has been corrected on some details, but his claim that economic inequality is rising rapidly in most developed countries is clearly accurate. What most analyses of the subject miss, however, is the extent to which both the initial fall and the subsequent rise of inequality over the past century have been related to shifts in the balance of power between elites and masses, driven by the ongoing process of modernization.

In hunting-and-gathering societies, virtually everyone possessed the skills needed for political participation. Communication was by word of mouth, referring to things one knew of firsthand, and decision-making often occurred in village councils that included every adult male. Societies were relatively egalitarian.

The invention of agriculture gave rise to sedentary communities producing enough food to support elites with specialized military and communication skills. Literate administrators made it possible to coordinate large empires governing millions of people. This much larger scale of politics required specialized skills, including the ability to read and write. Word-of-mouth communication was no longer sufficient for political participation: messages had to be sent across great distances. Human memory was incapable of recording the tax base or military manpower of large numbers of districts: written records were needed. And personal loyalties were inadequate to hold together large empires: legitimating myths had to be propagated by religious or ideological specialists. This opened up a wide gap between a relatively skilled ruling class and the population as a whole, which consisted mainly of scattered, illiterate peasants who lacked the skills needed to cope with politics at a distance. And along with that gap, economic inequality increased dramatically. (01/16/2016)

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Kenny’s Window: A Book Review

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Book Cover

brainpickings — Maria Popova writes: “I don’t write for children,” Maurice Sendak (June 10, 1928–May 8, 2012) told Stephen Colbert in his last on-camera appearance. “I write — and somebody says, ‘That’s for children!’” Having fallen in love with his work as an adult myself — none of it made it past the Iron Curtain and into the Bulgaria of my childhood — I’ve come to appreciate this sentiment all the more deeply. Sendak was indeed a storyteller who, while enchanting children, very much embodied E.B. White’s dictum that “anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time” — instead, he wrote up to them and made an art of naming what is dark and difficult, then enveloping it in hope.

It’s a craft he began honing in the largely forgotten 1956 masterpiece Kenny’s Window (public library) — his first and, in many ways, most directly philosophical children’s book, written and illustrated when Sendak was only twenty-eight.

Published seven years before Where the Wild Things Are turned him into a cultural icon, this was Sendak’s debut as a storyteller. He was yet to encounter William Blake, who would become his greatest influence. Although he had previously illustrated children’s books by other authors — including the immeasurably wonderful Open House for Butterflies and I’ll Be You and You Be Me by Ruth Krauss, one of the finest children’s storytellers of all time — this was Sendak’s serenade to his own becoming, a creative homecoming into his own voice as an artist of word and image. (01-10-2016)

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