Thursday, March 6, 2008


Purity of Essence

Whooping Cough is an infection of the respiratory system and characterized by a “whooping” sound when the person breathes in. In the US it killed 5,000 to 10,000 people per year before a vaccine was available. Vaccination has transformed this and between 1985-88 fewer than 100 children died from pertussis. Worldwide in 2000, according to the WHO, around 39 million people were infected annually and about 297,000 died. A graph is available showing the dramatic effect of introducing vaccination in England.

The infection occurs most with children under the age of one when they are immunized or children with faded immunity, normally around the age 11 through 18. The signs and symptoms are similar to a common cold: runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and low-grade fever. After a spell, they might make a “whooping” sound when breathing in or vomit. Adults have milder symptoms, like prolonged coughing without the “whoop.” The patient becomes most contagious during the catarrhal stage of infection, normally 2 weeks after the coughing begins. It may become airborne when the person coughs, sneezes, or laughs. Pertussis vaccine is part of the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis) immunization. The paroxysmal cough precedes a crowing inspiratory sound characteristic of pertussis. (Infants less than 6 months may not have the typical whoop.) A coughing spell may last a minute or more, producing cyanosis, apnoea and seizures.

A prolonged cough may be irritating and sometimes a disabling cough may go undiagnosed in adults for many months.

Bordetella pertussis also produces a lymphocytosis-promoting factor, which causes a decrease in the entry of lymphocytes into lymph nodes. This can lead to a condition known as lymphocytosis, with a complete lymphocyte count over of 4000/μL in adults or over 8000/μL in children.

The world is a better place because of “UFO Hunters,” a new series on Wednesday nights on the History Channel.

Not because the program is particularly good; in fact, it’s as silly and scientifically shaky as a creature feature from the Eisenhower era. But the mere presence of the series means that we collectively have not completely succumbed to the worship of science and Wall Street. If even one person is watching this show, it proves that humans can still give themselves over to the unexplainable, the mysterious, the fantastical. It means that we have not abandoned the notion that there might be something beyond ourselves.

Yes, that’s piling a lot of baggage onto “UFO Hunters,” but we might as well, since otherwise this series doesn’t have much excuse for existing. Documentaries and pseudodocumentaries examining old claims of visitations from space have been around forever. Most strike the same ominously breathless tone, and all reach the same vague nonconclusions.

How tired is the genre? Not only did the Sci Fi Channel offer its own program last week using a similar premise, but — cue the italic typeface pioneered by the old “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” strip — it also had the exact same title as the History Channel series!!!

In the History Channel’s offering, the investigators are led by Bill Birnes, publisher of UFO Magazine. The team’s opening case, seen last week, was intriguing enough. It involved a 1947 incident in Washington State in which boaters on Puget Sound claimed to have seen hovering aircraft that looked, at least in the show’s re-creation, like inner tubes. One inner tube, apparently having engine trouble, spewed molten slag down onto the boat, and a military plane that came to retrieve samples of the slag a few days later crashed on its way home. The History Channel’s investigators visited the sites, hinted at a lot of possibilities and ultimately clarified none of them.

Mr. Birnes and his colleagues add to the campy feel of the series by not being very good actors, trying in vain to make the discoveries that they no doubt researched ahead of time appear spontaneous on camera. Their awkwardness is good. It gives the show license to indulge in all sorts of spurious revelations and disingenuous teasers, and it relieves the audience of the responsibility of taking any of it seriously.


History Channel, Wednesday night at 10, Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central time.

Enceladus is named after the Titan Enceladus of Greek mythology. It is also designated Saturn II or S II Enceladus. The name Enceladus – like the names of each of the first seven satellites of Saturn to be discovered– was suggested by William Herschel's son John Herschel in his 1847 publication Results of Astronomical Observations made at the Cape of Good Hope.

He chose these names because Saturn, known in Greek mythology as Cronus, was the leader of the Titans. The adjectival form of the name is either Enceladean or Enceladan (both are used with roughly equal frequency).

Features on Enceladus are named by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) after characters and places from the Arabian Nights. Impact craters are named after characters, while other feature types, such as Fossae (long, narrow depressions), Dorsa (ridges), Planitia (plains), and Sulci (long parallel grooves), are named after places. 57 features have been officially named by the IAU; 22 features were named in 1982 based on the results of the Voyager flybys, and 35 features were approved in November 2006 based on the results of Cassini's three flybys in 2005.Examples of approved names include Samarkand Sulci, Aladdin crater, Daryabar Fossa, and Sarandib Planitia.

Enceladus was discovered by Fredrick William Herschel on August 28, 1789, during the first use of his new 1.2 m telescope, then the largest in the world. Herschel first observed Enceladus in 1787, but in his smaller, 16.5-cm telescope, the moon was not recognized. Due to Enceladus' faint apparent magnitude (+11.7m) and its proximity to much brighter Saturn and its rings, Enceladus is difficult to observe from Earth, requiring a telescope with a mirror of 15–30 cm in diameter, depending on atmospherical conditions and light pollution. Like many Saturnian satellites discovered prior to the Space Age,

Enceladus was first observed during a ring crossing, when Earth is within the ring plane during Saturnian equinox. During these periods, Enceladus is easier to observe due to the reduction in glare from the rings.

Prior to the Voyager program, the view of Enceladus improved little from the dot first observed by Herschel. Only its orbital characteristics, along with an estimation of its mass, density, and albedo, were known.
Planned Cassini encounters with Enceladus
Date Distance (km)
February 17, 2005 1,264
March 9, 2005 500
March 29, 2005 64,000
May 21, 2005 93,000
July 14, 2005 175
October 12, 2005 49,000
December 24, 2005 94,000
January 17, 2006 146,000
September 9, 2006 40,000
November 9, 2006 95,000
June 28, 2007 90,000
September 30, 2007 98,000
March 12, 2008 52
June 30, 2008 84,000
August 11, 2008 54
October 9, 2008 25
October 31, 2008 200
November 8, 2008 52,804
November 2, 2009 103
November 21, 2009 1,607
April 28, 2010 103
May 18, 2010 201

The two Voyager spacecraft obtained the first close-up images of Enceladus. Voyager 1 was the first to fly past Enceladus, at a distance of 202,000 km on November 12, 1980. Images acquired from this distance had very poor spatial resolution, but revealed a highly reflective surface devoid of impact craters, indicating a youthful surface. Voyager 1 also confirmed that Enceladus was embedded in the densest part of Saturn's diffuse E-ring. Combined with the apparent youthful appearance of the surface, Voyager scientists suggested that the E-ring consisted of particles vented from Enceladus' surface.

Voyager 2 passed closer to Enceladus (87,010 km) on August 26, 1981, allowing much higher resolution images of this satellite.These images revealed the youthful nature of much of its surface, as seen in Figure 1. They also revealed a surface with different regions with vastly different surface ages, with a heavily cratered mid- to high-northern latitude region, and a lightly cratered region closer to the equator. This geologic diversity contrasts with the ancient, heavily cratered surface of Mimas, another moon of Saturn slightly smaller than Enceladus. The geologically youthful terrains came as a great surprise to the scientific community, because no theory was then able to predict that such a small (and cold, compared to Jupiter's highly active moon Io) celestial body could bear signs of such activity. However, Voyager 2 failed to determine whether Enceladus was currently active or whether it was the source of the E-ring.

The answer to these and other mysteries would have to wait until the arrival of the Cassini spacecraft on July 1, 2004, when it went into orbit around Saturn. Given the results from the Voyager 2 images, Enceladus was considered a priority target by the Cassini mission planners, and several targeted flybys within 1,500 km of the surface were planned as well as numerous, "non-targeted" opportunities within 100,000 km of Enceladus. These encounters are listed at right. So far, three close flybys of Enceladus have been performed, yielding significant information concerning Enceladus' surface, as well as the discovery of water vapor venting from the geologically active South Polar Region. These discoveries have prompted the adjustment of Cassini's flight plan to allow closer flybys of Enceladus, including an encounter in March 2008 which will take the probe to
within 50 km of the moon's surface. A planned extended mission for Cassini includes seven close flybys of Enceladus between July 2008 and July 2010, including two passes at only 50 km in the later half of 2008.

The discoveries Cassini has made at Enceladus has prompted several studies into follow-up missions. In 2007, NASA performed a concept study for a mission that would orbit Enceladus and would perform a detailed examination of the south polar plumes. The concept was not selected for further study. The European Space Agency is also exploring plans to send a probe to Enceladus in a mission to be combined with studies of Titan.

Enceladus is one of the major inner satellites of Saturn. It is the fourteenth satellite when ordered by distance from Saturn, and orbits within the densest part of the E Ring, the outermost of Saturn's rings, an extremely wide but very diffuse disk of microscopic icy or dusty material, beginning at the orbit of Mimas and ending somewhere around the orbit of Rhea.

Enceladus orbits Saturn at a distance of 238,000 km from the planet's center and 180,000 km from its cloudtops, between the orbits of Mimas and Tethys, requiring 32.9 hours to revolve once (fast enough for its motion to be observed over a single night of observation). Enceladus is currently in a 2:1 mean motion orbital resonance with Dione, completing two orbits of Saturn for every one orbit completed by Dione. This resonance helps maintain Enceladus' orbital eccentricity (0.0047) and provides a heating source for Enceladus' geologic activity.

Like most of the larger satellites of Saturn, Enceladus rotates synchronously with its orbital period, keeping one face pointed toward Saturn. Unlike the Earth's moon, Enceladus does not appear to librate about its spin axis (more than 1.5°). However, analysis of the shape of Enceladus suggests that at some point it was in a 1:4 forced secondary spin-orbit libration.This libration, like the resonance with Dione, could have provided Enceladus with an additional heat source.

The E Ring is the widest and outermost ring of Saturn. It is an extremely wide but very diffuse disk of microscopic icy or dusty material, beginning at the orbit of Mimas and ending somewhere around the orbit of Rhea, though some observations suggest that it extends beyond the orbit of Titan, making it 1,000,000 km wide. However, numerous mathematical models show that such a ring is unstable, with a lifespan between 10,000 and 1,000,000 years. Therefore, particles composing it must be constantly replenished. Enceladus is orbiting inside this ring, in a place where it is narrowest but present in its highest density. Therefore, several theories suspected Enceladus to be the main source of particles for the E Ring. This hypothesis was proven by Cassini's flyby.

There are actually two distinct mechanisms feeding the ring with particles.The first, and probably the most important, source of particles comes from the cryovolcanic plume in the South polar region of Enceladus. While a majority of particles fall back to the surface, some of them escape Enceladus' gravity and enter orbit around Saturn, since Enceladus' escape velocity is only 866 km/h. The second mechanism comes from meteoric bombardment of Enceladus, raising dust particles from the surface.
This mechanism is not unique to Enceladus, but is valid for all Saturn's moons orbiting inside the E Ring.

Enceladus is a relatively small satellite, with a mean diameter of 505 km, only one-seventh the diameter of Earth's own Moon. Its dimensions would allow the satellite to be placed inside a state such as Arizona or Colorado, or the British Isles (see picture), although as a spherical object its surface area is much greater, just over 800,000 square km, almost the same as Mozambique, or 15% larger than Texas.

Its mass and diameter make Enceladus the sixth most massive and largest satellite of Saturn, after Titan (5150 km), Rhea (1530 km), Iapetus (1440 km), Dione (1120 km) and Tethys (1050 km). It is also one of the smallest of Saturn's spherical satellites, since all smaller satellites except Mimas (390 km) have an irregular shape.

Enceladus has a shape of a flattened ellipsoid; its dimensions, calculated from pictures taken by Cassini's ISS instrument, are of 513(a)×503(b)×497(c) km with (a) corresponding to the diameter between sub- and anti-Saturnian poles, (b) to the diameter between the leading and trailing poles, and (c) to the distance between the north and south poles.

Voyager 2, in August of 1981, was the first spacecraft to observe the surface in detail. Examination of the resulting highest resolution mosaic reveals at least five different types of terrain, including several regions of cratered terrain, regions of smooth (young) terrain, and lanes of ridged terrain often bordering the smooth areas. In addition, extensive linear cracks and scarps were observed. Given the relative lack of craters on the smooth plains, these regions are probably less than a few hundred million years old. Accordingly, Enceladus must have been recently active with "water volcanism" or other processes that renew the surface. The fresh, clean ice that dominates its surface gives Enceladus probably the most reflective surface of any body in the solar system with a visual geometric albedo of 1.38.[6] Because it reflects so much sunlight, the mean surface temperature at noon only reaches -198 °C (somewhat colder than other Saturnian satellites).

Observations during three flybys by Cassini on February 17, March 9, and July 14 of 2005 revealed Enceladus' surface features in much greater detail than the Voyager 2 observations. For example, the smooth plains observed by Voyager 2 resolved into relatively crater-free regions filled with numerous small ridges and scarps. In addition, numerous fractures were found within the older, cratered terrain, suggesting that the surface has been subjected to extensive deformation since the craters were formed. Finally, several additional regions of young terrain were discovered in areas not well-imaged by either Voyager spacecraft, such as the bizarre terrain near the south pole.

Impact cratering is a common occurrence on many solar system bodies. Much of Enceladus's surface is covered with craters at various densities and levels of degradation. From Voyager 2 observations, three different units of cratered topography were identified on the basis of their crater densities, from ct1 and ct2, both containing numerous 10–20 km-wide craters though differing in the degree of deformation, to cp consisting of lightly cratered plains.
This subdivision of cratered terrains on the basis of crater density (and thus surface age), suggests that Enceladus has been resurfaced in multiple stages.

Recent Cassini observations have provided a much closer look at the ct2 and cp cratered units. These high-resolution observations, like Figure 6, reveal that many of Enceladus' craters are heavily deformed through viscous relaxation and fracturing. Viscous relaxation causes craters and other topographic features formed in water ice to deform over geologic time scales due to the effects of gravity, reducing the amount of topography over time. The rate at which this occurs is dependent on the temperature of the ice: warmer ice is easier to deform than colder, stiffer ice. Viscously relaxed craters tend to have domed floors, or are recognized as craters only by a raised, circular rim (seen at center just below the terminator in Figure 6). Dunyazad, the large crater seen in Figure 8 just left of top center, is a prime example of a viscously relaxed crater on Enceladus, with a prominent domed floor. In addition, many craters on Enceladus have been heavily modified by tectonic fractures. The 10-km-wide crater right of bottom center in Figure 8 is a prime example: thin fractures, several hundred metres to a kilometre wide, have heavily altered the crater's rim and floor. Nearly all craters on Enceladus thus far imaged by Cassini in the Ct2 unit show signs of tectonic deformation. These two deformation styles—viscous relaxation and fracturing—demonstrate that, while cratered terrains are the oldest regions on Enceladus due to their high crater retention, nearly all craters on Enceladus are in some stage of degradation.

Voyager 2 found several types of tectonic features on Enceladus, including troughs, scarps, and belts of grooves and ridges.[24] Recent results from Cassini suggest that tectonism is the dominant deformation style on Enceladus. One of the more dramatic types of tectonic features found on Enceladus are rifts. These canyons can be up to 200 km long, 5–10 km wide, and one km deep. Figure 7 shows a typical large fracture on Enceladus cutting across older, tectonically deformed terrain. Another example can be seen running along the bottom of the frame in Figure 8. Such features appear relatively young, as they cut across other tectonic features and have sharp topographic relief with prominent outcrops along the cliff faces.

Another example of tectonism on Enceladus is grooved terrain, consisting of lanes of curvilinear grooves and ridges. These bands, first discovered by Voyager 2, often separate smooth plains from cratered regions. An example of this terrain type can be seen in Figures 6 and 10 (in this case, a feature known as Samarkand Sulci). Grooved terrain such as Samarkand Sulci are reminiscent of grooved terrain on Ganymede. However, unlike those seen on Ganymede, grooved topography on Enceladus is generally much more complex. Rather than parallel sets of grooves, these lanes can often appear as bands of crudely aligned, chevron-shaped features. In other areas, these bands appear to bow upwards with fractures and ridges running the length of the feature. Cassini observations of Samarkand Sulci have revealed intriguing dark spots (125 and 750 m wide), which appear to run parallel to narrow fractures. Currently, these spots are interpreted as collapse pits within these ridged plain belts.

Figure 9: High-resolution mosaic of Enceladus' surface, showing several tectonic and crater degradation styles. Taken by Cassini on 9 March 2005.
In addition to deep fractures and grooved lanes, Enceladus has several other types of tectonic terrain. Figure 9 shows sets of narrow fractures (still several hundred metres wide) that were first discovered by the Cassini spacecraft. Many of these fractures are found in bands cutting across cratered terrain. These fractures appear to propagate down only a few hundred metres into the crust. Many appear to have been influenced during their formation by the weakened regolith produced by impact craters, often changing the strike of the propagating fracture.[33][34] Another example of tectonic features on Enceladus are the linear grooves first found by Voyager 2 and seen at a much higher resolution by Cassini. Examples of linear grooves can be found in the lower left of the figure at top and Figure 10 (lower left), running from north to south from top center before turning to the southwest. These linear grooves can be seen cutting across other terrain types, like the groove and ridge belts. Like the deep rifts,

they appear to be among the youngest features on Enceladus. However, some linear grooves appear to be softened like the craters nearby, suggesting an older age. Ridges have also been observed on Enceladus, though not nearly to the extent as those seen on Europa. Several examples can be seen in the lower left corner of Figure 7. These ridges are relatively limited in extent and are up to one km tall. One-kilometre high domes have also been observed.[33] Given the level of tectonic resurfacing found on Enceladus, it is clear that tectonism has been an important driver of geology on this small moon for much of its history.

Two units of smooth plains were also observed by Voyager 2. These plains generally have low relief and have far fewer craters than in the cratered terrains and plains, indicating a relatively young surface age. In one of the smooth plain regions, Sarandib Planitia, no impact craters were visible down to the limit of resolution. Another region of smooth plains to the southwest of Sarandib, is criss-crossed by several troughs and scarps. Cassini has since viewed these smooth plains regions, like Sarandib Planitia and Diyar Planitia at much higher resolution. Cassini images show smooth plain regions to be filled with low-relief ridges and fractures. These features are currently interpreted as being caused by shear deformation. The high resolution images of Sarandib Planitia have revealed a number of small impact craters, which allow for an estimate of the surface age, either 170 million years or 3.7 billion years, depending on assumed impactor population.

The expanded surface coverage provided by Cassini has allowed for the identification of additional regions of smooth plains, particularly on Enceladus' leading hemisphere (the side of Enceladus that faces the direction of motion as the moon orbits Saturn). Rather than being covered in low relief ridges, this region is covered in numerous criss-crossing sets of troughs and ridges, similar to the deformation seen in the south polar region. This area is on the opposite side of the satellite from Sarandib and Diyar Planitiae, suggesting that the placement of these regions is influenced by Saturn's tides on Enceladus.

Images taken by Cassini during the flyby on July 14, 2005 revealed a distinctive, tectonically-deformed region surrounding Enceladus' south pole. This area, reaching as far north as 60° south latitude, is covered in tectonic fractures and ridges. The area has few sizable impact craters, suggesting that it is the youngest surface on Enceladus and on any of the mid-sized icy satellites; modeling of the cratering rate suggests that the region is less than 10–100 million years old. Near the center of this terrain are four fractures bounded on either
side by ridges, unofficially called "Tiger stripes". These fractures appear to be the youngest features in this region and are surrounded by mint-green-colored (in false color, UV-Green-near IR images), coarse-grained water ice, seen elsewhere on the surface within outcrops and fracture walls. Here the "blue" ice is on a flat surface, indicating that the region is young enough not to have been coated by fine-grained water ice from E ring. Results from the Visual and Infrared Spectrometer (VIMS) instrument suggest that the green-colored material surrounding the tiger stripes is chemically distinct from the rest of the surface of Enceladus. VIMS detected crystalline water ice in the stripes, suggesting that they are quite young (likely less than 1,000 years old) or the surface ice has been thermally altered in the recent past. VIMS also detected simple organic compounds in the tiger stripes, chemistry not found anywhere else on the satellite thus far.

One of these areas of "blue" ice in the south polar region was observed at very high resolution during the July 14 flyby, revealing an area of extreme tectonic deformation and blocky terrain, with some areas covered in boulders 10–100 m across.

The boundary of the South Polar Region is marked by a pattern of parallel, Y- and V-shaped ridges and valleys. The shape, orientation, and location of these features indicate that they are caused by changes in the overall shape of Enceladus. Currently, there are two theories for what could cause such a shift in shape. First, the orbit of Enceladus may have migrated inward (from the article: "the lack of any plausible mechanism for increased flattening"), leading to an increase in Enceladus' rotation rate. Such a shift would have lead to a flattening of Enceladus' rotation axis.Another theory suggests that a rising mass of warm, low density material in Enceladus' interior led to a shift in the position of the current south polar terrain from Enceladus' southern mid-latitudes to its south pole.Consequently, the ellipsoid shape of Enceladus would have adjusted to match the new orientation. One consequence of the axial flattening theory is that both polar regions should have similar tectonic deformation histories. However, the north polar region is densely cratered, and has a much older surface age than the south pole. Thickness variations in Enceladus' lithosphere is one explanation for this discrepancy. Variations in lithospheric thickness are supported by the correlation between the Y-shaped discontinuities and the V-shaped cusps along the south polar terrain margin and the relative surface age of the adjacent non-south polar terrain regions. The Y-shaped discontinuities, and the north-south trending tension fractures into which they lead, are correlated with younger terrain with presumably thinner lithospheres. The V-shaped cusps are adjacent to older, more heavily cratered terrains.


Following the Voyager encounters with Enceladus in the early 1980s, scientists postulated that the moon may be geologically active based on its young, reflective surface and location near the core of the E ring. Based on the connection between Enceladus and the E ring, it was thought that Enceladus was the source of material from the E ring, perhaps through venting of water vapor from Enceladus' interior. However, the Voyagers failed to provide conclusive evidence that Enceladus is active today.

Thanks to data from a number of instruments on the Cassini spacecraft in 2005, cryovolcanism, where water and other volatiles are the materials erupted instead of silicate rock, has been discovered on Enceladus.

The first Cassini sighting of a plume of icy particles above Enceladus' south pole came from the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) images taken in January and February 2005, though the possibility of the plume being a camera artifact stalled an official announcement. Data from the magnetometer instrument during the February 17, 2005 encounter provided a hint that the feature might be real when it found evidence for an atmosphere at Enceladus. The magnetometer observed an increase in the power of ion cyclotron waves near Enceladus. These waves are produced by the interaction of ionized particles and magnetic fields, and the frequency of the waves can be used to identify the composition, in this case ionized water vapor. During the next two encounters, the magnetometer team determined that gases in Enceladus's atmosphere are concentrated over the south polar region, with atmospheric density away from the pole being much lower. The Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) confirmed this result by observing two stellar occultations during the February 17 and July 14 encounters. Unlike the magnetometer, UVIS failed to detect an atmosphere above Enceladus during the February encounter when it looked for evidence for an atmosphere over the equatorial region, but did detect water vapor during an occultation over the south polar region during the July encounter.

Fortuitously, Cassini flew through this gas cloud during the July 14 encounter, allowing instruments like the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) and the Cosmic Dust Analyser (CDA) to directly sample the plume.
INMS measured the composition of the gas cloud, detecting mostly water vapor, as well as minor components like molecular nitrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide. CDA "detected a large increase in the number of particles near Enceladus," confirming the satellite as the primary source for the E ring. Analysis of the CDA and INMS data suggest that the gas cloud Cassini flew through during the July encounter, and was observed from a distance by the magnetometer and UVIS, was actually a water-rich cryovolcanic plume, originating from vents near the south pole.

Visual confirmation of venting came in November 2005, when ISS imaged fountain-like jets of icy particles rising from the moon's south polar region. (As stated above, the plume was imaged before, in January and February 2005, but additional studies of the camera's response at high phase angles, when the sun is almost behind Enceladus, and comparison with equivalent high phase images taken of other Saturnian satellites, were required before the plume could be confirmed. The images taken in November 2005 showed the plume's fine structure, revealing numerous jets (perhaps due to numerous distinct vents) within a larger, faint component extending out nearly 500 km from the surface, thus making Enceladus the fourth body in the solar system to have confirmed volcanic activity, along with Earth, Neptune's Triton, and Jupiter's Io.
The combined analysis of imaging, mass spectrometry, and magnetospheric data suggests that the observed south polar plume emanates from pressurized sub-surface chambers, similar to geysers on Earth. Because no ammonia was found in the vented material by INMS or UVIS, which could act as an anti-freeze, such a heated, pressurized chamber would consist of nearly pure liquid water with a temperature of at least 270 K, as illustrated in Figure 14. Pure water would require more energy to melt, either from tidal or radiogenic sources, than an ammonia-water mixture. Another possible method for generating a plume is sublimation of warm surface ice.
During the July 14, 2005 flyby, the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) found a warm region near the South Pole. Temperatures found in this region range from 85–90 K, to small areas with temperatures as high as 157 K, much too warm to be explained by solar heating, indicating that parts of the south polar region are heated from the interior of Enceladus. Ice at these temperatures is warm enough to sublimate at a much faster rate than the background surface, thus generating a plume. This hypothesis is attractive since the sub-surface layer heating the surface water ice could be an ammonia-water slurry at temperatures as low as 170 K, and thus not as much energy is required to produce the plume activity. However, the abundance of particles in the south polar plume favors the "cold geyser" model, as opposed to an ice sublimation model.

Alternatively, Kieffer et al. (2006) suggest that Enceladus' geysers originate from clathrate hydrates, where carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen are released when exposed to the vacuum of space by the active, tiger stripe fractures. This hypothesis would not require the amount of heat needed to melt water ice as required by the "Cold Geyser" model, and would explain the lack of ammonia.

Prior to the Cassini mission, relatively little was known about the interior of Enceladus. However, results from recent flybys of Enceladus by the Cassini spacecraft have provided much needed information for models of Enceladus's interior. These include a better determination of the mass and tri-axial ellipsoid shape, high-resolution observations of the surface, and new insights on Enceladus's geochemistry.

Mass estimates from the Voyager program missions suggested that Enceladus was composed almost entirely of water ice.[24] However, based on the effects of Enceladus's gravity on Cassini, its mass was determined to be much higher than previously thought, yielding a density of 1.61 g/cm³. This density is higher than Saturn's other mid-sized icy satellites, indicating that Enceladus contains a greater percentage of silicates and iron. With additional material besides water ice, Enceladus's interior may have experienced comparatively more heating from the decay of radioactive elements.

Castillo et al. 2005 suggested that Iapetus, and the other icy satellites of Saturn, formed relatively quickly after the formation of the Saturnian sub-nebula, and thus were rich in short-lived radionuclides. These radionuclides, like aluminium-26 and iron-60, have short half-lives and would produce interior heating relatively quickly. Without the short-lived variety, Enceladus's complement of long-lived radionuclides would not have been enough to prevent rapid freezing of the interior, even with Enceladus' comparatively high rock-mass fraction, given Enceladus' small size. Given Enceladus's relatively high rock-mass fraction, the proposed enhancement in 26Al and 60Fe would result in a differentiated body, with an icy mantle and a rocky core. Subsequent radioactive and tidal heating would raise the temperature of the core to 1000 K, enough to melt the inner mantle. However, for Enceladus to still be active, part of the core must have melted too, forming magma chambers that would flex under the strain of Saturn's tides. Tidal heating, such as from the resonance with Dione or from libration, would then have sustained these hot spots in the core until the present, and would power the current geological activity.

In addition to its mass and modeled geochemistry, researchers have also examined Enceladus's shape to test whether the satellite is differentiated or not. Porco et al. 2006 used limb measurements to determine that Enceladus's shape, assuming it is in hydrostatic equilibrium, is consistent with an undifferentiated interior, in contradiction to the geological and geochemical evidence.[2] However, the current shape also supports the possibility that Enceladus is not in hydrostatic equilibrium, and may have rotated faster at some point in the recent past (with a differentiated interior).

Seen from Enceladus, Saturn would have a visible diameter of almost 30°, sixty times more than the Moon visible from Earth [48]. Moreover, since Enceladus rotates synchronously with its orbital period and therefore keeps one face pointed toward Saturn, the planet never moves in
Enceladus' sky (albeit with slight variations coming from the orbit's eccentricity), and cannot be seen from the far side of the satellite.

Saturn's rings would be seen from an angle of only 0.019°, and would appear as a very narrow, bright line crossing the disk of Saturn, but their shadow on Saturn's disk would be clearly distinguishable. Like our own Moon from Earth, Saturn itself would show regular phases, cycling from "new" to "full" in about 16 hours. From Enceladus, the Sun would have a diameter of only 3.5 minutes of arc, nine times smaller than that of the Moon as seen from Earth.

An observer located on Enceladus could also observe Mimas (the biggest satellite located inside Enceladus' orbit) transit in front of Saturn every 72 hours on average. Its apparent size would be at most 26 minutes of arc, about the same size as the Moon seen from Earth. Pallene and Methone would appear nearly star-like. Tethys would reach a maximum apparent size just above one degree of arc, about twice the Moon as seen from the Earth, but is visible only from Enceladus' anti-Saturnian side when it is at closest approach.

Albert Einstein is big business. Walk into any science museum store and you’ll find Einstein magnets, posters, spoons, books, CDs, finger puppets and dolls—all offered for a price. For the second year running, Forbes ranked Albert Einstein fifth on the list of top-earning dead celebrities, with $18 million worth of Einstein product changing hands. But how does this enterprise—this Einstein Inc.—work, and where does all the money go?

The vast majority of Einstein-generated cash comes from a single company—Disney-owned Baby Einstein, whose toys and educational DVDs can be found wherever there’s a onesie or a pacifier for sale. Royalties from these products plus the animated television show Little Einsteins add up to a hefty sum without even using the great physicist’s image or ever mentioning his work. True Einstein connoisseurs, meanwhile, can enjoy the quiet thrill of returning home from the gift shop with a new Einstein calendar for tracking personal space-time and Einstein sticky notes for jotting down brilliant ideas while Einstein looks down from a poster on the wall. Parched lips? You can apply some Einstein Lip Therapy (more on this later).

Yet just as Einstein’s universe was a warped, dimpled, and deformed affair, so too is the landscape of Einstein commerce. Amid all the coffee mugs and other paraphernalia, there’s a vastly complicated side to the enterprise left in Einstein’s wake. To make almost anything Einstein—be it product, product name, or advertisement —you must first get past a small but powerful cabal that has included a marketing firm in Beverly Hills, the upper echelon of Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a company owned by another Forbes top earner (a living one): Bill Gates. This formidable group can put the kibosh on a wide range of Einstein products, flying, perhaps,
in the face of the “free, unhampered exchange of ideas” that Einstein favored in “all spheres of cultural life.”

All of this was set in motion with Einstein’s death in 1955. Under the terms of his will, his estate eventually went to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ), where he had been one of the first governors. Long after his death, new laws in the United States gave the university exclusive postmortem rights to profit from the Einstein name and image and the control of the Einstein “brand.” To represent its interests in Einstein’s commercial worth, the university worked with The Roger Richman Agency in Beverly Hills, whose mission was to protect the estate interests of such legendary figures as the Wright brothers, Rudolph Valentino, and Sigmund Freud. Einstein was in excellent company when, in April 2005, Richman was purchased by Corbis, a photo agency founded and owned by Microsoft’s Bill Gates.

Over the years, Richman and Corbis have protected the Einstein image with threats to anyone who came within a quark of using anything Einstein without approval. Take David Borenstein started the quotation reference site when he was 15, back in the heady days of the Internet boom. The site featured several Einstein quips that enlightened and entertained its visitors without incident for two years. But when Borenstein began to offer engravings of the Einstein quotes, he received a letter from the Richman agency on behalf of HUJ that began, “It has come to our attention that you are operating the Web site Quote–, Inc., noting several quotes of Dr. Einstein.” Soon after, “we got the phone call threatening us with fire and brimstone,” says Borenstein, who now works in computational genomics at MIT. “They were asking us to hand over all our records and a percentage of anything I’d made on the site. We hadn’t sold a single Einstein quote at that point.” Though a lawyer friend assured Borenstein that he was in the clear, he did not relish a costly legal battle. He removed the quotes and soon after sold the site. “It’s directly against the principles that Einstein seemed to stand for,” Borenstein says.

Tony Rothman, a faculty member at Princeton University, was equally surprised and indignant when, shortly before his book Everything’s Relative: And Other Fables From Science and Technology went to press, his editors decided to nix the cover photo of Einstein.

Though Wiley, the publisher, had paid Corbis to use the photo of Einstein holding a pipe and looking heavenward, it had not paid to use Einstein’s image in general and feared the litigation power of the Einstein estate. Rothman was appalled. “Bill Gates is getting richer off Einstein—I find this totally absurd,” he says. “Do these laws make any distinction between ‘celebrity’ celeb–rity and a scientist’s celebrity?

“Suppose I were at a conference and I took a picture of Niels Bohr and Einstein. What if Einstein gave me a picture of himself? Would I have to pay to use it?”

The answer is mostly yes, says attorney Jaime Wolf, whose law firm represents the estates of Allen Ginsberg, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, and Diane Arbus, among others. “Every living person has a right to protect use of his or her image, and in some states they can even leave this right to the heir of their choosing,” he explains. The only real question is whether use is considered editorial or commercial. Einstein photos accompanying an article about him need abide only by copyright laws (which is why DISCOVER can feature Einstein on this month’s cover). But for those adverbially challenged “Think Different” Apple ads featuring the great physicist, it was either pay HUJ its licens–ing fee or expect to get sued—and lose.

Einstein’s may be an extreme case, but it is not unique. Many estates protecting the worth of a deceased celebrity’s image employ “a bloody-nose strategy,” Wolf says: “Make an example of some unauthorized use to show the other kids that you won’t hesitate to come down hard.” The cover of a book about Einstein’s ideas clearly falls in the editorial camp, he explains, but the fact that the cover of Rothman’s book was changed may indicate how much of a wallop the estate can have.

Some companies are afraid even to talk about their Einstein products. Stephan Shaw, founder of the Unemployed Philosophers Guild, refuses to discuss his group’s Einstein doll or finger puppets, though he is willing to speak openly about its products based on Nietzsche, Freud, and others. David Wahl, a spokesman for Accoutrements, which produces an Einstein action figure, also refuses to go into his relationship with Corbis, Bill Gates, or HUJ, much less what changes the university may or may not have insisted on for the toy.

Even an Einstein impersonator in New Jersey is unwilling to discuss this subject for fear of opening “a can of worms.” However, another Einstein impersonator (or “character of speech,” as he calls it) is less worried. A resident of California, Arden Bercovitz works under the business name “Einstein Alive” and pulls in $10,000 for a package of two corporate keynote speeches plus a visit to a local school. “As long as you don’t libel the personality—as a writer, as a creator, as a performer—you are free to treat the character any way your imagination allows,” he asserts.
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Only a small and privileged handful of merchants are free to use the Einstein name (though not the image) without worry. Ben Einstein, for instance, is lucky enough to share the physicist’s last name and therefore may sell his Einstein Lip Therapy with abandon. And M. Jay Einstein fearlessly sells insurance through his business, Einstein Associates. In fact, having already established themselves in the spheres of cosmetics and insurance, Einstein Cosmetics and Einstein Associates could conceivably take HUJ to court were the university to sanction, say, an “Eye-nstein” eyeliner or start offering an attractive life-insurance plan.

For many other Einstein product developers, it’s not the threats that discourage them so much as the cost. Smaller manufacturers hoping to obtain a license from Corbis legitimately are likely to find the price tag a bit steep.

“When I heard what the licensing fee was, I freaked out,” says Ingrid Sinyor, founder and president of Euro–graphics, a poster manufacturer in Canada. To print five Einstein posters, with a run of 5,000 each, Sinyor says she paid Corbis $20,000 in licensing fees in addition to $5,000 for the images themselves. “We’ll probably lose money on them, but we were too much into it; we couldn’t just pull out. And it’s a good thing to have,” Sinyor says. “The only safe thing is to deal with really dead artists,” she adds, referring to those whose estates’ rights have lapsed. For instance, Eurographics has had no legal trouble selling merchandise featuring the faces of Van Gogh or Beethoven.

But most manufacturers are unlikely to get as far as Eurographics did. A second hurdle for Einstein product hopefuls is the size of their business. “Corbis will never return our phone calls,” says Terry Powers, president of ComputerGear, which sells computer-related novelties and gifts. (Corbis denies the assertion, saying such calls are returned.) Although the company’s Web site carries many Einstein items—from a polo shirt to a “relativity” watch that conveniently does not feature the face of Einstein—it is not enough to satisfy the “rabid fan base” of Einstein enthusiasts.

“We get calls literally every day,” says Martin Cribbs, the director of rights representation at Corbis. “And the vast majority are small companies that want to do an Einstein key chain or something like that. Ninety-nine
percent of those get turned away. We’re not in the business of one-off Einstein novelty items.”

Even if a company hoping to make an Einstein yarmulke manages to assemble the cash and to get a call back from Corbis, it must leap a final hurdle: getting approval from HUJ. Every single reproduction of an Einstein likeness or creation of an Einstein product must be approved by the university, and, according to several manufacturers, the process is extremely demanding.

“They are very, very strict,” says Anton Skorucak, president of the Xump science store. He tried to produce an Einstein watch, he says, but it was rejected by HUJ. Eurographics’ Sinyor had hoped to print a poster of the famous photo of Einstein with his tongue out, but with a tongue stud Photoshopped into the image.

“The whole thing of piercing, which has become so much a thing of young culture —for my generation...I would not disinherit my daughter if she did it, but it is offensive,” says Hanoch Gutfreund, former president of HUJ and one of three people charged with approving or rejecting Einstein product proposals. “If not for that, we would have had no problem.” HUJ, he says, has no set guidelines for what it takes for a product to earn approval. The judgments are made by analysis and intuition. “In some cases, such decisions are made based on your own cultural background—it’s not always something you can define—a kind of common taste.”

As for whether the whole product-driven enterprise runs counter to the spirit of Einstein, Gutfreund points out that the man himself was an avid fund-raiser for the university. “It’s not like the Hebrew University is doing something that would make Einstein turn in his grave,” he says.

The university’s bonanza will eventually come to an end. While laws governing trademark and copyright vary among countries and states, under California law Einstein’s publicity rights extend just 70 years after his death, through 2024. In an effort to maintain its grip on all things Einstein, Corbis and HUJ have trademarked the Einstein name and image. But a trademark will hold up in court only if the company has a history of producing a product. So the items that HUJ rejects today may be what the rest of the world will be free to produce in 16 years. It is a merchandising catch-22: Turn down those Einstein hankies now and fans may be free to blow their noses—all the more enthusiastically, no doubt—into unauthorized, unlicensed hankies when the time comes. Deny an Einstein whoopee cushion today and you may see tomorrow’s Einstein enthusiasts
gleefully raspberry each other with little fear of litigation.

Let’s hope those Einstein boxers are worth the wait.

For much of 2005 and 2006, headlines about bird flu were sensational (“Virus 911”), fearmongering (“Bird Flu: We’re All Going to Die”), and plentiful, running in major papers daily. The H5N1 strain that swept through Asia showed a limited—but alarming—ability to cross over to humans, with a high fatality rate among those infected. Labs raced to study the virus, researchers coordinated their efforts, and a national pandemic strategy was announced in the United States. Bird flu has since drifted off the media radar. Are we in the clear?

Nope. The United Nations, the World Bank, and thousands of researchers remain worried. According to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for In–fectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, “We are going to have another pandemic. It will occur. It’s something we can’t emphasize enough.” The fear is echoed by a U.N. and World Bank report on bird flu preparedness, released in December 2007, which states that current risks are as high as in mid-2005.

Researchers have made headway in understanding the H5N1 virus; they have created new vaccines and are looking into other possible treatments, such as using antibodies from survivors. But in the United States, some worry that if a wave of flu hits, there won’t be enough tubing, blood bags, and needles for basic supportive care. The good news is that with only 340 cases of avian flu and 209 deaths reported worldwide since 2003, there is still time to prepare.

Global ocean levels have risen by 4 to 10 inches over the past 100 years. How much more will they rise in 10 years? What about in 50?

This kind of question is critical for planning future coastal development, but taking the measurements necessary to make predictions can be difficult and downright risky for human surveyors, who could be smashed by falling chunks of ice the size of the Empire State Building.

So send in a bot, says David Holland, an oceanographer at New York University, who teamed up with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to deploy a five-foot-long autonomous submarine beneath an iceberg off the coast of Greenland. Called the Slocum underwater glider, the sub propels itself through water with a single-stroke piston, thereby conserving most of its energy for data collection.

Sensors under the port-side wing measure conductivity (to find the salinity of the water), temperature, and depth, sending the data to processors within the sub.

Icebergs are difficult to navigate, even for a sophisticated machine like this. In the pitch-black shadow under the iceberg, the Slocum glider has no access to satellite GPS and no visual markers to verify that it is following its intended path. To help the glider get and keep its bearings, the NRC plans to test an acoustic beacon system whose components would be placed underwater at strategic points around an iceberg, allowing the glider to triangulate by sound.

By collecting data on how much and how quickly Greenland’s ice is melting, Holland hopes to create a computer model that will simulate and forecast glacial melt—and the future rise in sea levels—around the world.
To the dismay of environmentalists, coal is still king in the U.S. electricity market. Nearly 50 percent of the electric power in this country comes from burning coal to create steam that drives electricity-generating turbines. Coal-burning power plants in the United States emit about 2.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year—nearly 17 percent of worldwide coal emissions—and finding technologies that reduce those emissions in the United States and China, which burns even more coal than we do, is crucial to combating global warming. One oft-cited but little-used solution is to catch carbon dioxide as it is released from smokestacks and pump it underground into rocks capped by impermeable shale, a process called carbon capture and storage. The worry is that the injected material could leak and bubble to the surface, negating the whole point of the process.

Now, a British geologist’s study suggests sandstone could rapidly absorb the gas, potentially providing a safe, leakproof reservoir. Last year, Bruce Yardley, a professor at the University of Leeds in England, was monitoring oil extraction at a BP oil field in the North Sea. To speed the oil’s flow to the surface, seawater had been pumped to the bottom of the wells. When Yardley analyzed a sample of the injected water, he found it rich in silica. That signaled that the water and
minerals in the surrounding sandstone had reached a chemical equilibrium with the injected seawater far more quickly than anticipated—in two years rather than a century.

Past studies had shown that when carbon dioxide is injected into sandstone, it dissolves common carbonates in the rock, changing the chemistry of sitting water and making a carbonic acid that eats holes in the rock. This can lead to CO2 leakage. Based on the speed of the silicates’ reaction with seawater, Yardley believes that when CO2 is injected into high-silicate minerals like feldspar, it too will quickly react, making clays and carbonates that clog the pores of the rock and trap the gas.

Porous, feldspar-rich sandstone formations are abundant worldwide—in saline aquifers below freshwater bodies, in coal seams, and in aging oil and gas fields. Industrial-scale carbon capture facilities like the Great Plains Synfuel Plant in Beulah, North Dakota (which pipes CO2 to Canada, where it is injected into oil wells to improve oil recovery), already exist, and leaks have never been detected. Although carbon capture and storage has attracted a growing number of advocates, including environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, it has also attracted its fair share of detractors, such as Greenpeace, and skeptics including the U.S. Geological Survey’s Yousif Kharaka (pdf), who has shown that leaking CO2 can make surrounding water acidic, mix with brine and leach metals, and pose potential health risks to people and wildlife. Yardley’s finding could alleviate these worries.

Yardley’s study is one of the most comprehensive of its kind, says Kharaka, but he favors more research. While new data may come from FutureGen, a $1.8 billion prototype “zero emissions” coal-fired plant funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, it is not likely to open before 2012. Yardley’s study gives hope that this technology is feasible now, and in a world whose coal lust is unlikely to diminish, quick reactions—in sandstone or by coal plants—may be just what is needed.

1 Who invented relativity? Bzzzt—wrong. Galileo hit on the idea in 1639, when he showed that a falling object behaves the same way on a moving ship as it does in a motionless building.

2 And Einstein didn’t call it relativity. The word never appears in his original 1905 paper, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” and he hated the term, preferring “invariance theory” (because the laws of physics look the same to all observers—nothing “relative” about it).

3 Space-time continuum? Nope, that’s not Einstein either. The idea of time as the fourth dimension came from Hermann Minkowski, one of Einstein’s professors, who once called him a “lazy dog.”
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4 But Einstein did
reformulate Galileo’s relativity to deal with the bizarre things that happen at near-light speed, where time slows down and space gets compressed. That counts for something.

5 Austrian physicist Friedrich Hasenöhrl published the basic equation E = mc2 a year before Einstein did.

6 Never heard of Hasenöhrl? That’s because he failed to connect the equation with the principle of relativity. Verdammt!

7 Einstein’s full-time job at the Swiss patent office meant he had to hash out relativity during hours when nobody was watching. He would cram his notes into his desk when a supervisor came by.

8 Although Einstein was a teetotaler, when he finally completed his theory of relativity, he and his wife, Mileva, drank themselves under the table—the old-fashioned way to mess with the space-time continuum.

9 Affection is relative. “I need my wife, she solves all the mathematical problems for me,” Einstein wrote while completing his theory in 1904. By 1914, he’d ordered her to “renounce all personal relations with me, as far as maintaining them is not absolutely required for social reasons.”

10 Rules are relative too. According to Einstein, nothing travels faster than light, but space itself has no such speed limit; immediately after the Big Bang, the runaway expansion of the universe apparently left light lagging way behind.

11 Oh, and there are two relativities. So far we’ve been talking about special relativity, which applies to objects moving at constant speed. General relativity, which covers accelerating things and explains how gravity works, came a decade later and is regarded as Einstein’s truly unique insight.

12 Pleasure doing business with you, chum(p): When Einstein was stumped by the math of general relativity, he relied on his old college pal Marcel Grossmann, whose notes he had studied after repeatedly cutting class years earlier.

13 Despite that, the early version of general relativity had a major error, a miscalculation of the amount a light beam would bend due to gravity.

14 Fortunately, plans to test the theory during a solar eclipse in 1914 were scuttled by World War I. Had the experiment been conducted then, the error would have been exposed and Einstein would have been proved wrong.

15 The eclipse experiment finally happened in 1919 (you’re looking at it on this very page). Eminent British physicist Arthur Eddington declared general relativity a success, catapulting Einstein into fame and onto coffee mugs.

16 In retrospect, it seems that Eddington fudged the results, throwing out photos that showed the “wrong” outcome.

17 No wonder nobody noticed: At the time of Einstein’s death in 1955, scientists still had almost no evidence of general relativity in action.

18 That changed dramatically in the 1960s, when astronomers began to discover extreme objects—neutron stars and black holes—that put severe dents in the shape of space-time.

19 Today general relativity is so well understood that it is used to weigh galaxies and locate distant planets by the way they bend light.

20 If you still
don’t get Einstein’s ideas, try this explanation reportedly from The Man Himself: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

On a bright winter morning high in the Colorado Rockies, a slight young woman in oversize hip boots sidles up to a gap of open water in the icy Cache la Poudre River. Heather Storteboom, a 25-year-old graduate student at nearby Colorado State University, is prospecting for clues to an invisible killer.

Image courtesy of Jessica Snyder Sachs

Storteboom snaps on a pair of latex gloves and stretches over the frozen ledge to fill a sterile plastic jug with water. Then, setting the container aside, she swings her rubber-clad legs into the stream. “Ahh, no leaks,” she says, standing upright. She pulls out a clean trowel and attempts to collect some bottom sediment; in the rapid current, it takes a half dozen tries to fill the small vial she will take back to the DNA laboratory of her adviser, environmental engineer Amy Pruden. As Storteboom packs to leave, a curious hiker approaches. “What were you collecting?” he asks. “Antibiotic resistance genes,” she answers.

Storteboom and Pruden are at the leading edge of an international forensic investigation into a potentially colossal new health threat: DNA pollution. Specifically, the researchers are seeking out snippets of rogue genetic material that transforms annoying bacteria into unstoppable supergerms, immune to many or all modern antibiotics. Over the past 60 years, genes for antibiotic resistance have gone from rare to commonplace in the microbes that routinely infect our bodies. The newly resistant strains have been implicated in some 90,000 potentially fatal infections a year in the United States, higher than the number of automobile and homicide deaths combined.
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Among the most frightening of the emerging pathogens is invasive MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Outbreaks of MRSA in public schools recently made headlines, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Researchers estimate that invasive MRSA kills more than 18,000 Americans a year, more than AIDS, and the problem is growing rapidly. MRSA caused just 2 percent of staph infections in 1974; in the last few years, that figure has reached nearly 65 percent. Most reported staph infections stem from MRSA born and bred in our antibiotic-drenched hospitals and nursing homes. But about 15 percent now involve strains that arose in the general community.

It is not just MRSA that is causing concern; antibiotic resistance in general is spreading alarmingly. A 2003 study of the mouths of healthy kindergartners found that 97 percent harbored bacteria with genes for resistance to four out of six tested antibiotics. In all, resistant microbes made up around 15 percent of the children’s oral bacteria, even though none of the children had taken antibiotics in the previous three months.
Such resistance genes are rare to nonexistent in specimens of human tissue and body fluid taken 60 years ago, before the use of antibiotics became widespread.

In part, modern medicine is paying the price for its own success. “Antibiotics may be the most powerful evolutionary force seen on this planet in billions of years,” says Tufts University microbiologist Stuart Levy, author of The Antibiotic Paradox: How the Misuse of Antibiotics Destroys Their Curative Powers. By their nature, anti­biotics support the rise of any bug that can shrug off their effects, by conveniently eliminating the susceptible competition.

But the rapid rise of bacterial genes for drug resistance stems from more than lucky mutation, Levy adds. The vast majority of these genes show a complexity that could have been achieved only over millions of years. Rather than rising anew in each species, the genes spread via the microbial equivalent of sexual promiscuity. Bacteria swap genes, not only among their own kind but also between widely divergent species, Levy explains. Bacteria can even scavenge the naked DNA that spills from their dead compatriots out into the environment.

The result is a microbial arms-smuggling network with a global reach. Over the past 50 years, virtually every known kind of disease-causing bacterium has acquired genes to survive some or all of the drugs that once proved effective against it. Analysis of a strain of vancomycin-resistant enterococcus, a potentially lethal bug that has invaded many hospitals, reveals that more than one-quarter of its genome—including virtually all its antibiotic-thwarting genes—is made up of foreign DNA. One of the newest banes of U.S. medical centers, a supervirulent and multidrug-resistant strain of Acinetobacter baumannii, likewise appears to have picked up most of its resistance in gene swaps with other species.

So where in Hades did this devilishly clever DNA come from? The ultimate source may lie in the dirt beneath our feet.

For the past decade, Gerry Wright has been trying to understand the rise of drug resistance by combing through the world’s richest natural source of resistance-enabling DNA: a clod of dirt. As the head of McMaster University’s antibiotic research center in Hamilton, Ontario, Wright has the most tricked-out laboratory a drug designer could want, complete with a $15 million high-speed screening facility for simultaneously testing potential drugs against hundreds of bacterial targets. Yet he says his technology pales in comparison with the elegant antibiotic-making abilities he finds encoded in soil bacteria. The vast majority of the antibiotics stocking our pharmacy shelves—from old standards like tetracycline to antibiotics of last resort like vancomycin and, most recently, daptomycin—are derived from soil organisms.

Biologists assume that soil organisms make antibiotics to beat back the microbial competition and to establish their territory, Wright says, although the chemicals may also serve other, less-understood functions. Whatever the case, Wright and his students began combing through the DNA of soil microbes like streptomyces to better understand their impressive antibiotic-making powers. In doing so the researchers stumbled upon three resistance genes embedded in the DNA that Streptomyces toyocaensis uses to produce the antibiotic teicoplanin. While Wright was not surprised that the bug would carry such genes as antidotes to its own weaponry, he was startled to see that the antidote genes were nearly identical to the resistance genes in vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), the scourge of American and European hospitals.

Yet here they were in a soil organism, in the exact same orientation as you find in the genome of VRE,” Wright says. “That sure gave us a head-slap moment. If only we had done this experiment 15 years ago, when vancomycin came into widespread use, we might have understood exactly what kind of resistance mechanisms would follow the drug into our clinics and hospitals.” If nothing else, that foreknowledge might have prepared doctors for the inevitable resistance they would encounter soon after vancomycin was broadly prescribed.

Image courtesy of the USDA

Wright wondered what else he might find in a shovelful of dirt. So he handed out plastic bags to students departing on break, telling them to bring back soil samples. Over two years his lab amassed a collection that spanned the continent.
It even included a thawed slice of tundra mailed by Wright’s brother, a provincial policeman stationed on the northern Ontario-Manitoba border.

By 2005 Wright’s team had combed through the genes of nearly 500 streptomyces strains and species, many never before identified. Every one proved resistant to multiple antibiotics, not just their own signature chemicals. On average, each could neutralize seven or eight drugs, and many could shrug off 14 or 15. In all, the researchers found resistance to every one of the 21 antibiotics they tested, including Ketek and Zyvox, two synthetic new drugs.
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“These genes clearly didn’t jump directly from streptomyces into disease-causing bacteria,” Wright says. He had noted subtle variations between the resistance genes he pulled out of soil organisms and their doppelgängers in disease-causing bacteria. As in a game of telephone, each time a gene gets passed from one microbe to another, slight differences develop that reflect the DNA dialect of its new host. The resistance genes bedeviling doctors had evidently passed through many intermediaries on their way from soil to critically ill patients.

Wright suspects that the antibiotic-drenched environment of commercial livestock operations is prime ground for such transfer. “You’ve got the genes encoding for resistance in the soil beneath these operations,” he says, “and we know that the majority of the antibiotics animals consume get excreted intact.” In other words, the antibiotics fuel the rise of resistant bacteria both in the animals’ guts and in the dirt beneath their hooves, with ample opportunity for cross-contamination.

Nobody knows how long free-floating DNA might persist in the water.

A 2001 study by University of Illinois microbiologist Roderick Mackie documented this flow. When he looked for tetracycline resistance genes in groundwater downstream from pig farms, he also found the genes in local soil organisms like Microbacterium and Pseudomonas, which normally do not contain them. Since then, Mackie has found that soil bacteria around conventional pig farms, which use antibiotics, carry 100 to 1,000 times more resistance genes than do the same bacteria around organic farms.

“These animal operations are real hot spots,” he says. “They’re glowing red in the concentrations and intensity of these genes.” More worrisome, perhaps, is that Mackie pulled more resistance genes from his deepest test wells, suggesting that the genes percolated down toward the drinking water supplies used by surrounding communities.

An even more direct conduit into the environment may be the common practice of irrigating fields with wastewater from livestock lagoons. About three years ago, David Graham, a University of Kansas environmental engineer, was puzzled in the fall by a dramatic spike in resistance genes in a pond on a Kansas feedlot he was studying. “We didn’t know what was going on until I talked with a large-animal researcher,” he recalls. At the end of the summer, feedlots receive newly weaned calves from outlying ranches. To prevent the young animals from importing infections, the feedlot operators were giving them five-day “shock doses” of antibiotics. “Their attitude had been, cows are big animals, they’re pretty tough, so you give them 10 times what they need,” Graham says.

The operators cut back on the drugs when Graham showed them that they were coating the next season’s alfalfa crop with highly drug-resistant bacteria. “Essentially, they were feeding resistance genes back to their animals,” Graham says. “Once they realized that, they started being much more conscious. They still used antibiotics, but more discriminately.”

While livestock operations are an obvious source of antibiotic resistance, humans also take a lot of antibiotics—and their waste is another contamination stream. Bacteria make up about one-third of the solid matter in human stool, and Scott Weber, of the State University of New York at Buffalo, studies what happens to the antibiotic resistance genes our nation flushes down its toilets.

Conventional sewage treatment skims off solids for landfill disposal, then feeds the liquid waste to sewage-degrading bacteria. The end result is around 5 billion pounds of bacteria-rich slurry, or waste sludge, each year. Around 35 percent of this is incinerated or put in a landfill. Close to 65 percent is recycled as fertilizer, much of it ending up on croplands.

Weber is now investigating how fertilizer derived from human sewage may contribute to the spread of antibiotic-resistant genes. “We’ve done a good job designing our treatment plants to reduce conventional contaminants,” he says. “Unfortunately, no one has been thinking of DNA as a contaminant.” In fact, sewage treatment methods used at the country’s 18,000-odd wastewater plants could actually affect the resistance genes that enter their systems.

Every tested strain in a dirt sample proved resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Most treatment plants, Weber explains, gorge a relatively small number of sludge bacteria with all the liquid waste they can eat. The result, he found, is a spike in antibiotic-resistant organisms. “We don’t know exactly why,” he says, “but our findings have raised an even more important question.” Is the jump in resistance genes coming from a population explosion in the resistant enteric, or intestinal, bacteria coming into the sewage plant? Or is it coming from sewage-digesting sludge bacteria that are taking up the genes from incoming bacteria? The answer is important because sludge bacteria are much more likely to thrive and spread their resistance genes once the sludge is discharged into rivers (in treated wastewater) and onto crop fields (as slurried fertilizer).

predicts that follow-up studies will show the resistance genes have indeed made the jump to sludge bacteria. On a hopeful note, he has shown that an alternative method of sewage processing seems to decrease the prevalence of bacterial drug resistance. In this process, the sludge remains inside the treatment plant longer, allowing dramatically higher concentrations of bacteria to develop. For reasons that are not yet clear, this method slows the increase of drug-resistant bacteria. It also produces less sludge for disposal. Unfortunately, the process is expensive.
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Drying sewage sludge into pellets—which kills the sludge bacteria—is another way to contain resistance genes, though it may still leave DNA intact. But few municipal sewage plants want the extra expense of drying the sludge, and so it is instead exported “live” in tanker trucks that spray the wet slurry onto crop fields, along roadsides, and into forests.

Trolling the waters and sediments of the Cache la Poudre, Storteboom and Pruden are collecting solid evidence to support suspicions that both livestock operations and human sewage are major players in the dramatic rise of resistance genes in our environment and our bodies. Specifically, they have found unnaturally high levels of antibiotic resistance genes in sediments where the river comes into contact with treated municipal wastewater efflu­ent and farm irrigation runoff as it flows 126 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park through Fort Collins and across Colorado’s eastern plain, home to some of the country’s most densely packed livestock operations.

“Over the course of the river, we saw the concentration of resis­tance genes increase by several orders of magnitude,” Pruden says, “far more than could ever be accounted for by chance alone.” Pruden’s team likewise found dangerous genes in the water headed from local treatment plants toward household taps.

Presumably, most of these genes reside inside live bacteria, but a microbe doesn’t have to be alive to share its dangerous DNA. As micro­biologists have pointed out, bacteria are known to scavenge genes from the spilled DNA of their dead.

“There’s a lot of interest in whether there’s naked DNA in there,” Pruden says of the Poudre’s waters. “Current treatment of drinking water is aimed at killing bacteria, not eliminating their DNA.” Nobody even knows exactly how long such free-floating DNA might persist.

All this makes resistance genes a uniquely troubling sort of pollution. “At least when you pollute a site with something like atrazine,” a pesticide, “you can be assured that it will eventually decay,” says Graham, the Kansas environmental engineer, who began his research career tracking chemical pollutants like toxic herbicides. “When you contaminate a site with resistance genes, those genes can be transferred into environmental organisms and actually increase the concentration of contamination.”

Taken together,
these findings drive home the urgency of efforts to reduce flagrant antibiotic overuse that fuels the spread of resistance, whether on the farm, in the home, or in the hospital.

For years the livestock pharmaceutical industry has played down its role in the rise of antibiotic resistance. “We approached this problem many years ago and have seen all kinds of studies, and there isn’t anything definitive to say that antibiotics in livestock cause harm to people,” says Richard Carnevale, vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs at the Animal Health Institute, which represents the manufacturers of animal drugs, including those for livestock. “Antimicrobial resistance has all kinds of sources, people to animals as well as animals to people.”

The institute’s own data testify to the magnitude of antibiotic use in livestock operations, however. Its members sell an estimated 20 million to 25 million pounds of antibiotics for use in animals each year, much of it to promote growth. (For little-understood reasons, antibiotics speed the growth of young animals, making it cheaper to bring them to slaughter.) The Union of Concerned Scientists and other groups have long urged the United States to follow the European Union, which in 2006 completed its ban on the use of antibiotics for promoting livestock growth. Such a ban remains far more contentious in North America, where the profitability of factory-farm operations depends on getting animals to market in the shortest possible time.

On the other hand, the success of the E.U.’s ban is less than clear-cut. “The studies show that the E.U.’s curtailing of these compounds in feed has resulted in more sick animals needing higher therapeutic doses,” Carnevale says.

“There are cases of that,” admits Scott McEwen, a University of Guelph veterinary epidemiologist who advises the Canadian government on the public-health implications of livestock antibiotics. At certain stressful times in a young animal’s life, as when it is weaned from its mother, it becomes particularly susceptible to disease. “The lesson,” he says, “may be that we would do well by being more selective than a complete ban.”

McEwen and many of his colleagues see no harm in using growth-promoting livestock antibiotics known as ionophores. “They have no known use in people, and we see no evidence that they select for resistance to important medical antibiotics,” he says. “So why not use them? But if anyone tries to say that we should use such critically important drugs as cephalosporins or fluoroquinolones as growth promoters, that’s a no-brainer. Resistance develops quickly, and we’ve seen the deleterious effects in human health.”
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A thornier issue is the use of antibiotics to treat sick livestock and prevent the spread of infections through crowded herds and flocks. “Few people would say we should deny antibiotics to sick animals,” McEwen says, “and often the only practical way to administer an antibiotic is to give it to the whole group.” Some critics have called for restricting certain classes of critically important antibiotics from livestock use, even for treating sick animals. For instance, the FDA is considering approval of cefquinome for respiratory infections in cattle. Cefquinome
belongs to a powerful class of antibiotic known as fourth-generation cephalosporins, introduced in the 1990s to combat hospital infections that had grown resistant to older drugs. In the fall of 2006, the FDA’s veterinary advisory committee voted against approving cefquinome, citing concerns that resistance to this vital class of drug could spread from bacteria in beef to hospital superbugs that respond to little else. But the agency’s recently adopted guidelines make it difficult to deny approval to a new veterinary drug unless it clearly threatens the treatment of a specific foodborne infection in humans. As of press time, the FDA had yet to reach a decision.

Image courtesy of Jessica Snyder Sacs

Consumers may contribute to the problem of DNA pollution whenever they use antibacterial soaps and cleaning products. These products contain the antibiotic-like chemicals triclosan and triclocarban and send some 2 million to 20 million pounds of the compounds into the sewage stream each year. Triclosan and triclocarban have been shown in the lab to promote resistance to medically important antibiotics. Worse, the compounds do not break down as readily as do traditional antibiotics. Rolf Halden, cofounder of the Center for Water and Health at Johns Hopkins University, has shown that triclosan and triclocarban show up in many waterways that receive treated wastewater—more than half of the nation’s rivers and streams. He has found even greater levels of these two chemicals in sewage sludge destined for reuse as crop fertilizer. According to his figures, a typical sewage treatment plant sends more than a ton of triclocarban and a slightly lesser amount of triclosan back into the environment each year.

For consumer antibacterial soaps the solution is simple, Halden says: “Eliminate them. There’s no reason to have these chemicals in consumer products.” Studies show that household products containing such anti­bacterials don’t prevent the spread of sickness any better than ordinary soap and water. “If there’s no benefit, then all we’re left with is the risk,” Halden says. He notes that many European retailers have already pulled these products from their shelves. “I think it’s only a matter of time before they are removed from U.S. shelves as well.”

Consumers may contribute to the problem of DNA pollution whenever they use soaps and cleaning products containing antibiotic-like compounds.

Finally, there is
the complicated matter of the vast quantity of anti­biotics that U.S. doctors prescribe each year: some 3 million pounds, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. No doctor wants to ignore an opportunity to save a patient from infectious disease, yet much of what is prescribed is probably unnecessary—and all of it feeds the spread of resistance genes in hospitals and apparently throughout the environment.

“Patients come in asking for a particular antibiotic because it made them feel better in the past or they saw it promoted on TV,” says Jim King, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. The right thing to do is to educate the patient, he says, “but that takes time, and sometimes it’s easier, though not appropriate, to write the prescription the patient wants.”

Curtis Donskey, chief of infection control at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, adds that “a lot of antibiotic overuse comes from the mistaken idea that more is better. Infections are often treated longer than necessary, and multiple antibiotics are given when one would work as well.” In truth, his studies show, the longer hospital patients remain on anti­biotics, the more likely they are to pick up a multidrug-resistant super­bug. The problem appears to lie in the drugs’ disruption of a person’s protective microflora—the resident bacteria that normally help keep invader microbes at bay. “I think the message is slowly getting through,” Donskey says. “I’m seeing the change in attitude.”

Meanwhile, Pruden’s students at Colorado State keep amassing evidence that will make it difficult for any player—medical, consumer, or agricultural—to shirk accountability for DNA pollution.

Late in the afternoon, Storteboom drives past dairy farms and feedlots, meatpacking plants, and fallow fields, 50 miles downstream from her first DNA sampling site of the day. Leaving her Jeep at the side of the road, she strides past cow patties and fast-food wrappers and scrambles down an eroded embankment of the Cache la Poudre River. She cringes at the sight of two small animal carcasses on the opposite bank, then wades in, steering clear of an eddy of gray scum. “Just gross,” she mutters, grateful for her watertight hip boots.

Of course, the invisible

genetic pollution is of greater concern. It lends an ironic twist to the river’s name. According to local legend, the appellation comes from the hidden stashes (cache) of gunpowder (poudre) that French fur trappers once buried along the banks. Nearly two centuries later, the river’s hidden DNA may pose the real threat.

Silbury Hill, a 4,400-year-old, 130-foot-high mound of chalk and dirt about 80 miles west of London, has finally yielded its ancient secrets. It is not the tomb of the long-forgotten King Sil nor the resting place of a golden knight. And it is not, despite the folklore, a dumping ground for the devil’s dirt, forced to drop there by the magic of priests. The story behind the mysterious hill is much less colorful. Silbury Hill is a shrine filled with rocks that, for Stone Age Britons, probably represented the spirits of ancient ancestors.

The physical excavation (video) of Silbury Hill, along with studies using ground-penetrating radar and seismic sonar equipment, has shown that there is not a single human bone in the mound. Instead, dozens of sarsen stones, a type of sandstone that is also used for Neolithic stone circles like Stonehenge, are buried there.

Local geologists think that during the Stone Age, the landscape around Silbury Hill contained hundreds of thousands of sarsen stones. Because the area is made mainly of chalk, prehistoric people would have seen no apparent natural origin for the stones. Archaeologists think the locals endowed these rocks with a spiritual importance that Silbury Hill still embodies. The area itself is considered sacred by modern pagans, who still make offerings at a nearby spring. Due to conservation laws, the prehistoric holy hill is out-of-bounds to pagans and tourists alike.

Name Address 1 Address 2

Tne morning in September, 1989, a former sales representative in his mid-forties entered an examination room with Stanislas Dehaene, a young neuroscientist based in Paris.
Three years earlier, the man, whom researchers came to refer to as Mr. N, had sustained a brain hemorrhage that left him with an enormous lesion in the rear half of his left hemisphere. He suffered from severe handicaps: his right arm was in a sling; he couldn’t read; and his speech was painfully slow. He had once been married, with two daughters, but was now incapable of leading an independent life and lived with his elderly parents. Dehaene had been invited to see him because his impairments included severe acalculia, a general term for any one of several deficits in number processing. When asked to add 2 and 2, he answered “three.” He could still count and recite a sequence like 2, 4, 6, 8, but he was incapable of counting downward from 9, differentiating odd and even numbers, or recognizing the numeral 5 when it was flashed in front of him.

To Dehaene, these impairments were less interesting than the fragmentary capabilities Mr. N had managed to retain. When he was shown the numeral 5 for a few seconds, he knew it was a numeral rather than a letter and, by counting up from 1 until he got to the right integer, he eventually identified it as a 5. He did the same thing when asked the age of his seven-year-old daughter. In the 1997 book “The Number Sense,” Dehaene wrote, “He appears to know right from the start what quantities he wishes to express, but reciting the number series seems to be his only means of retrieving the corresponding word.”

Dehaene also noticed that although Mr. N could no longer read, he sometimes had an approximate sense of words that were flashed in front of him; when he was shown the word “ham,” he said, “It’s some kind of meat.” Dehaene decided to see if Mr. N still had a similar sense of number. He showed him the numerals 7 and 8. Mr. N was able to answer quickly that 8 was the larger number—far more quickly than if he had had to identify them by counting up to the right quantities. He could also judge whether various numbers were bigger or smaller than 55, slipping up only when they were very close to 55. Dehaene dubbed Mr. N “the Approximate Man.” The Approximate Man lived in a world where a year comprised “about 350 days” and an hour “about fifty minutes,” where there were five seasons, and where a dozen eggs amounted to “six or ten.” Dehaene asked him to add 2 and 2 several times and received answers ranging from three to five. But, he noted, “he never offers a result as absurd as 9.”

In cognitive science, incidents of brain damage are nature’s experiments. If a lesion knocks out one ability but leaves another intact, it is evidence that they are wired into different neural circuits. In this instance, Dehaene theorized that our ability to learn sophisticated mathematical procedures resided in an entirely different part of the brain from a rougher quantitative sense. Over the decades, evidence concerning cognitive deficits in brain-damaged patients has accumulated, and researchers have concluded that we have a sense of number that is independent of language, memory, and reasoning in general. Within neuroscience, numerical cognition has emerged as a vibrant field, and Dehaene, now in his early forties, has become one of its foremost researchers. His work is “completely pioneering,” Susan Carey, a psychology professor at Harvard who has studied numerical cognition, told me. “If you want to make sure the math that children are learning is meaningful, you have to know something about how the brain represents number at the kind of level that Stan is trying to understand.”

Dehaene has spent most of his career plotting the contours of our number sense and puzzling over which aspects of our mathematical ability are innate and which are learned, and how the two systems overlap and affect each other. He has approached the problem from every imaginable angle. Working with colleagues both in France and in the United States, he has carried out experiments that probe the way numbers are coded in our minds. He has studied the numerical abilities of animals, of Amazon tribespeople, of top French mathematics students. He has used brain-scanning technology to investigate precisely where in the folds and crevices of the cerebral cortex our numerical faculties are nestled. And he has weighed the extent to which some languages make numbers more difficult than others. His work raises crucial issues about the way mathematics is taught. In Dehaene’s view, we are all born with an evolutionarily ancient mathematical instinct. To become numerate, children must capitalize on this instinct, but they must also unlearn certain tendencies that were helpful to our primate ancestors but that clash with skills needed today. And some societies are evidently better than others at getting kids to do this. In both France and the United States, mathematics education is often felt to be in a state of crisis. The math skills of American children fare poorly in comparison with those of their peers in countries like Singapore, South Korea, and Japan. Fixing this state of affairs means grappling with the question that has taken up much of Dehaene’s career: What

is it about the brain that makes numbers sometimes so easy and sometimes so hard?

Dehaene’s own gifts as a mathematician are considerable. Born in 1965, he grew up in Roubaix, a medium-sized industrial city near France’s border with Belgium. (His surname is Flemish.) His father, a pediatrician, was among the first to study fetal alcohol syndrome. As a teen-ager, Dehaene developed what he calls a “passion” for mathematics, and he attended the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the training ground for France’s scholarly élite. Dehaene’s own interests tended toward computer modelling and artificial intelligence. He was drawn to brain science after reading, at the age of eighteen, the 1983 book “Neuronal Man,” by Jean-Pierre Changeux, France’s most distinguished neurobiologist. Changeux’s approach to the brain held out the tantalizing possibility of reconciling psychology with neuroscience. Dehaene met Changeux and began to work with him on abstract models of thinking and memory. He also linked up with the cognitive scientist Jacques Mehler. It was in Mehler’s lab that he met his future wife, Ghislaine Lambertz, a researcher in infant cognitive psychology.

By “pure luck,” Dehaene recalls, Mehler happened to be doing research on how numbers are understood. This led to Dehaene’s first encounter with what he came to characterize as “the number sense.” Dehaene’s work centered on an apparently simple question: How do we know whether numbers are bigger or smaller than one another? If you are asked to choose which of a pair of Arabic numerals—4 and 7, say—stands for the bigger number, you respond “seven” in a split second, and one might think that any two digits could be compared in the same very brief period of time. Yet in Dehaene’s experiments, while subjects answered quickly and accurately when the digits were far apart, like 2 and 9, they slowed down when the digits were closer together, like 5 and 6. Performance also got worse as the digits grew larger: 2 and 3 were much easier to compare than 7 and 8. When Dehaene tested some of the best mathematics students at the École Normale, the students were amazed to find themselves slowing down and making errors when asked whether 8 or 9 was the larger number.

Dehaene conjectured that, when we see numerals or hear number words, our brains automatically map them onto a number line that grows increasingly fuzzy above 3 or 4.

He found that no amount of training can change this. “It is a basic structural property of how our brains represent number, not just a lack of facility,” he told me.

In 1987, while Dehaene was still a student in Paris, the American cognitive psychologist Michael Posner and colleagues at Washington University in St. Louis published a pioneering paper in the journal Nature. Using a scanning technique that can track the flow of blood in the brain, Posner’s team had detailed how different areas became active in language processing. Their research was a revelation for Dehaene. “I remember very well sitting and reading this paper, and then debating it with Jacques Mehler, my Ph.D. adviser,” he told me. Mehler, whose focus was on determining the abstract organization of cognitive functions, didn’t see the point of trying to locate precisely where in the brain things happened, but Dehaene wanted to “bridge the gap,” as he put it, between psychology and neurobiology, to find out exactly how the functions of the mind—thought, perception, feeling, will—are realized in the gelatinous three-pound lump of matter in our skulls. Now, thanks to new technologies, it was finally possible to create pictures, however crude, of the brain in the act of thinking. So, after receiving his doctorate, he spent two years studying brain scanning with Posner, who was by then at the University of Oregon, in Eugene. “It was very strange to find that some of the most exciting results of the budding cognitive-neuroscience field were coming out of this small place—the only place where I ever saw sixty-year-old hippies sitting around in tie-dyed shirts!” he said.

Dehaene is a compact, attractive, and genial man; he dresses casually, wears fashionable glasses, and has a glabrous dome of a head, which he protects from the elements with a chapeau de cowboy. When I visited him recently, he had just moved into a new laboratory, known as NeuroSpin, on the campus of a national center for nuclear-energy research, a dozen or so miles southwest of Paris. The building, which was completed a year ago, is a modernist composition in glass and metal filled with the ambient hums and whirs and whooshes of brain-scanning equipment, much of which was still being assembled. A series of arches ran along one wall in the form of a giant sine wave; behind each was a concrete vault built to house a liquid-helium-cooled superconducting electromagnet. (In brain imaging, the more powerful the magnetic field, the sharper the picture.) The new brain scanners are expected to show the human cerebral anatomy at a level of detail never before seen, and may reveal subtle anomalies in the brains of people with dyslexia and with dyscalculia, a crippling deficiency in dealing with numbers which, researchers suspect, may be as widespread as dyslexia. One of the scanners was already up and running. “You don’t wear a pacemaker or anything, do you?” Dehaene asked me as we entered a room where two researchers were fiddling with controls. Although the scanner was built to accommodate humans, inside, I could see from the monitor, was a brown rat. Researchers were looking at how its brain reacted to various odors, which were puffed

in every so often. Then Dehaene led me upstairs to a spacious gallery where the brain scientists working at NeuroSpin are expected to congregate and share ideas. At the moment, it was empty. “We’re hoping for a coffee machine,” he said.

Dehaene has become a scanning virtuoso. On returning to France after his time with Posner, he pressed on with the use of imaging technologies to study how the mind processes numbers. The existence of an evolved number ability had long been hypothesized, based on research with animals and infants, and evidence from brain-damaged patients gave clues to where in the brain it might be found. Dehaene set about localizing this facility more precisely and describing its architecture. “In one experiment I particularly liked,” he recalled, “we tried to map the whole parietal lobe in a half hour, by having the subject perform functions like moving the eyes and hands, pointing with fingers, grasping an object, engaging in various language tasks, and, of course, making small calculations, like thirteen minus four. We found there was a beautiful geometrical organization to the areas that were activated. The eye movements were at the back, the hand movements were in the middle, grasping was in the front, and so on. And right in the middle, we were able to confirm, was an area that cared about number.”

The number area lies deep within a fold in the parietal lobe called the intraparietal sulcus (just behind the crown of the head). But it isn’t easy to tell what the neurons there are actually doing. Brain imaging, for all the sophistication of its technology, yields a fairly crude picture of what’s going on inside the skull, and the same spot in the brain might light up for two tasks even though different neurons are involved. “Some people believe that psychology is just being replaced by brain imaging, but I don’t think that’s the case at all,” Dehaene said. “We need psychology to refine our idea of what the imagery is going to show us. That’s why we do behavioral experiments, see patients. It’s the confrontation of all these different methods that creates knowledge.”

Dehaene has been able to bring together the experimental and the theoretical sides of his quest, and, on at least one occasion, he has even theorized the existence of a neurological
feature whose presence was later confirmed by other researchers. In the early nineteen-nineties, working with Jean-Pierre Changeux, he set out to create a computer model to simulate the way humans and some animals estimate at a glance the number of objects in their environment. In the case of very small numbers, this estimate can be made with almost perfect accuracy, an ability known as “subitizing” (from the Latin word subitus, meaning “sudden”). Some psychologists think that subitizing is merely rapid, unconscious counting, but others, Dehaene included, believe that our minds perceive up to three or four objects all at once, without having to mentally “spotlight” them one by one. Getting the computer model to subitize the way humans and animals did was possible, he found, only if he built in “number neurons” tuned to fire with maximum intensity in response to a specific number of objects. His model had, for example, a special four neuron that got particularly excited when the computer was presented with four objects. The model’s number neurons were pure theory, but almost a decade later two teams of researchers discovered what seemed to be the real item, in the brains of macaque monkeys that had been trained to do number tasks. The number neurons fired precisely the way Dehaene’s model predicted—a vindication of theoretical psychology. “Basically, we can derive the behavioral properties of these neurons from first principles,” he told me. “Psychology has become a little more like physics.”

But the brain is the product of evolution—a messy, random process—and though the number sense may be lodged in a particular bit of the cerebral cortex, its circuitry seems to be intermingled with the wiring for other mental functions. A few years ago, while analyzing an experiment on number comparisons, Dehaene noticed that subjects performed better with large numbers if they held the response key in their right hand but did better with small numbers if they held the response key in their left hand. Strangely, if the subjects were made to cross their hands, the effect was reversed. The actual hand used to make the response was, it seemed, irrelevant; it was space itself that the subjects unconsciously associated with larger or smaller numbers. Dehaene hypothesizes that the neural circuitry for number and the circuitry for location overlap. He even suspects that this may be why travellers get disoriented entering Terminal 2 of Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport, where small-numbered gates are on the right and large-numbered gates are on the left. “It’s become a whole industry now to see how we associate number to space and space to number,” Dehaene said. “And we’re finding the association goes very, very deep in the brain.”

Last winter, I saw Dehaene in the ornate setting of the Institut de France, across the Seine from the Louvre. There he accepted a prize of a quarter of a million euros from Liliane Bettencourt, whose father created the cosmetics group L’Oréal. In a salon hung with tapestries, Dehaene described his research to a small audience that included a former Prime Minister of France. New techniques of neuroimaging, he explained, promise to reveal how a thought process like calculation unfolds in the brain. This isn’t just a matter of pure knowledge, he added. Since the brain’s architecture determines the sort of abilities that come naturally to us, a detailed understanding of that architecture should lead to better ways of teaching children mathematics and may help close the educational gap that separates children in the West from those in several Asian countries. The fundamental problem with learning mathematics is that while the number sense may be genetic, exact calculation requires cultural tools—symbols and algorithms—that have been around for only a few thousand years and must therefore be absorbed by areas of the brain that evolved for other purposes. The process is made easier when what we are learning harmonizes with built-in circuitry. If we can’t change the architecture of our brains, we can at least adapt our teaching methods to the constraints it imposes.

For nearly two decades, American educators have pushed “reform math,” in which children are encouraged to explore their own ways of solving problems. Before reform math, there was the “new math,” now widely thought to have been an educational disaster. (In France, it was called les maths modernes, and is similarly despised.) The new math was grounded in the theories of the influential Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, who believed that children are born without any sense of number and only gradually build up the concept in a series of developmental stages. Piaget thought that children, until the age of four or five, cannot grasp the simple principle that moving objects around does not affect how many of them there are, and that there was therefore no point in trying to teach them arithmetic before the age of six or seven.

Piaget’s view had become standard by the nineteen-fifties, but psychologists have since come to believe that he underrated the arithmetic competence of small children.
Six-month-old babies, exposed simultaneously to images of common objects and sequences of drumbeats, consistently gaze longer at the collection of objects that matches the number of drumbeats. By now, it is generally agreed that infants come equipped with a rudimentary ability to perceive and represent number. (The same appears to be true for many kinds of animals, including salamanders, pigeons, raccoons, dolphins, parrots, and monkeys.) And if evolution has equipped us with one way of representing number, embodied in the primitive number sense, culture furnishes two more: numerals and number words. These three modes of thinking about number, Dehaene believes, correspond to distinct areas of the brain. The number sense is lodged in the parietal lobe, the part of the brain that relates to space and location; numerals are dealt with by the visual areas; and number words are processed by the language areas.

Nowhere in all this elaborate brain circuitry, alas, is there the equivalent of the chip found in a five-dollar calculator. This deficiency can make learning that terrible quartet—“Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision,” as Lewis Carroll burlesqued them—a chore. It’s not so bad at first. Our number sense endows us with a crude feel for addition, so that, even before schooling, children can find simple recipes for adding numbers. If asked to compute 2 + 4, for example, a child might start with the first number and then count upward by the second number: “two, three is one, four is two, five is three, six is four, six.” But multiplication is another matter. It is an “unnatural practice,” Dehaene is fond of saying, and the reason is that our brains are wired the wrong way. Neither intuition nor counting is of much use, and multiplication facts must be stored in the brain verbally, as strings of words. The list of arithmetical facts to be memorized may be short, but it is fiendishly tricky: the same numbers occur over and over, in different orders, with partial overlaps and irrelevant rhymes. (Bilinguals, it has been found, revert to the language they used in school when doing multiplication.) The human memory, unlike that of a computer, has evolved to be associative, which makes it ill-suited to arithmetic, where bits of knowledge must be kept from interfering with one another: if you’re trying to retrieve the result of multiplying 7 X 6, the reflex activation of 7 + 6 and 7 X 5 can be disastrous. So multiplication is a double terror: not only is it remote from our intuitive sense of number; it has to be internalized in a form that clashes with the evolved organization of our memory. The result is that when adults multiply single-digit numbers they make mistakes ten to fifteen per cent of the time. For the hardest problems, like 7 X 8, the error rate can exceed twenty-five per cent.

Our inbuilt ineptness when it comes to more complex mathematical processes has led Dehaene to question why we insist on drilling procedures like long division into our children at all. There is, after all, an alternative: the electronic calculator. “Give a calculator to a five-year-old, and you will teach him how to make friends with numbers instead of despising them,” he has written. By removing the need to spend hundreds of hours memorizing boring procedures, he says, calculators can free children to concentrate on the meaning of these procedures, which is neglected under the educational status quo. This attitude might make Dehaene sound like a natural ally of educators who advocate reform math, and a natural foe of parents who want their children’s math teachers to go “back to basics.” But when I asked him about reform math he wasn’t especially sympathetic. “The idea that all children are different, and that they need to discover things their own way—I don’t buy it at all,” he said. “I believe there is one brain organization. We see it in babies, we see it in adults. Basically, with a few variations, we’re all travelling on the same road.” He admires the mathematics curricula of Asian countries like China and Japan, which provide children with a highly structured experience, anticipating the kind of responses they make at each stage and presenting them with challenges designed to minimize the number of errors. “That’s what we’re trying to get back to in France,” he said. Working with his colleague Anna Wilson, Dehaene has developed a computer game called “The Number Race” to help dyscalculic children. The software is adaptive, detecting the number tasks where the child is shaky and adjusting the level of difficulty to maintain an encouraging success rate of seventy-five per cent.

Despite our shared brain organization, cultural differences in how we handle numbers persist, and they are not confined to the classroom. Evolution may have endowed us with an approximate number line, but it takes a system of symbols to make numbers precise—to “crystallize” them, in Dehaene’s metaphor. The Mundurukú, an Amazon tribe that Dehaene and colleagues, notably the linguist Pierre Pica, have studied recently, have words for numbers only up to five. (Their word for five literally means “one hand.”) Even these words seem to be merely approximate labels for them: a Mundurukú who is shown three objects will sometimes say there are three, sometimes four. Nevertheless, the Mundurukú have a good numerical intuition. “They know, for example, that fifty plus thirty is going to be larger than sixty,” Dehaene said. “Of course, they do not know this verbally and have no way of talking about it. But when we showed them the relevant sets and transformations they immediately got it.”

The Mundurukú, it seems, have developed few cultural tools to augment the inborn number sense. Interestingly, the very symbols with which we write down the counting numbers bear the trace of a similar stage. The first three Roman numerals, I, II, and III, were formed by using the symbol for one as many times as necessary; the symbol for four, IV, is not so transparent. The same principle applies to Chinese numerals: the first three consist of one, two, and three horizontal bars, but the fourth takes a different form. Even Arabic numerals follow this logic: 1 is a single vertical bar; 2 and 3 began as two and three horizontal bars tied together for ease of writing. (“That’s a beautiful little fact, but I don’t think it’s coded in our
brains any longer,” Dehaene observed.)

Today, Arabic numerals are in use pretty much around the world, while the words with which we name numbers naturally differ from language to language. And, as Dehaene and others have noted, these differences are far from trivial. English is cumbersome. There are special words for the numbers from 11 to 19, and for the decades from 20 to 90. This makes counting a challenge for English-speaking children, who are prone to such errors as “twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-ten, twenty-eleven.” French is just as bad, with vestigial base-twenty monstrosities, like quatre-vingt-dix-neuf (“four twenty ten nine”) for 99. Chinese, by contrast, is simplicity itself; its number syntax perfectly mirrors the base-ten form of Arabic numerals, with a minimum of terms. Consequently, the average Chinese four-year-old can count up to forty, whereas American children of the same age struggle to get to fifteen. And the advantages extend to adults. Because Chinese number words are so brief—they take less than a quarter of a second to say, on average, compared with a third of a second for English—the average Chinese speaker has a memory span of nine digits, versus seven digits for English speakers. (Speakers of the marvellously efficient Cantonese dialect, common in Hong Kong, can juggle ten digits in active memory.)

In 2005, Dehaene was elected to the chair in experimental cognitive psychology at the Collège de France, a highly prestigious institution founded by Francis I in 1530. The faculty consists of just fifty-two scholars, and Dehaene is the youngest member. In his inaugural lecture, Dehaene marvelled at the fact that mathematics is simultaneously a product of the human mind and a powerful instrument for discovering the laws by which the human mind operates. He spoke of the confrontation between new technologies like brain imaging and ancient philosophical questions concerning number, space, and time. And he pronounced himself lucky to be living in an era when advances in psychology and neuroimaging are combining to “render visible” the hitherto invisible realm of thought.

For Dehaene, numerical thought is only the beginning of this quest. Recently, he has been pondering how the philosophical problem of consciousness might be approached by the methods of empirical science. Experiments involving subliminal “number priming” show that much of what our mind does with numbers is unconscious, a finding that has led Dehaene to wonder why some mental activity crosses the threshold of awareness and some doesn’t. Collaborating with a couple of colleagues, Dehaene has explored the neural basis of what is known as the “global workspace” theory of consciousness, which has elicited keen interest among philosophers. In his version of the theory, information becomes conscious when certain “workspace” neurons broadcast it to many areas of the brain at once, making it simultaneously available for, say, language, memory, perceptual categorization, action-planning, and so on. In other words, consciousness is “cerebral celebrity,”
as the philosopher Daniel Dennett has described it, or “fame in the brain.”

In his office at NeuroSpin, Dehaene described to me how certain extremely long workspace neurons might link far-flung areas of the human brain together into a single pulsating circuit of consciousness. To show me where these areas were, he reached into a closet and pulled out an irregularly shaped baby-blue plaster object, about the size of a softball. “This is my brain!” he announced with evident pleasure. The model that he was holding had been fabricated, he explained, by a rapid-prototyping machine (a sort of three-dimensional printer) from computer data obtained from one of the many MRI scans that he has undergone. He pointed to the little furrow where the number sense was supposed to be situated, and observed that his had a somewhat uncommon shape. Curiously, the computer software had identified Dehaene’s brain as an “outlier,” so dissimilar are its activation patterns from the human norm. Cradling the pastel-colored lump in his hands, a model of his mind devised by his own mental efforts, Dehaene paused for a moment. Then he smiled and said, “So, I kind of like my brain.”

I’ve written about Brian Cox before; he’s a UK physicist working on the new Large Hadron Collider in France. He’s a smart fellow, as you might expect.
He was interviewed for Wired magazine, and in the course of talking about life at CERN (the research lab in charge of the LHC) this exchange occurred:
Wired: CERN has about 5,600 scientists from dozens of countries running the experiments. How does this mini United Nations get along? Had any bar fights yet?
Cox: No, it’s a miracle. It’s one of the great things about CERN, when you see what strange bedfellows it’s created. We’ve got Iran and Pakistan and the U.S. and Israel. List any two counties that you think wouldn’t be able to get along and they’re at CERN, getting along. I think it’s one of the great achievements at CERN; and CERN is very proud of it. They’re very insistent, for example, that the U.S. has to sign papers with Iranian scientists. In general, the U.S. doesn’t sign papers with scientists from particular countries. That ethos is very strong at CERN; that there’s one CERN in the world and it’s part of the world and everybody who wants to work at CERN is allowed to work at CERN.
He’s right. I’ve heard the same story
from international missions with NASA and other astronomy projects as well. Sure, there can be personality conflicts, and individuals have their own idiosyncrasies, but as a group, scientists tend to transcend national ideologies.
Sagan talks about this in several of his books; he would meet with Soviet scientists back when the Cold War was strong, and they would risk political suicide — and severe punishment — just to do the science. When I was working with different NASA missions, it was common to be side-by-side with people of all nationalities, and it usually hardly ever came up except in the introductions (or to compare cultures, which was always fun). Hubble, as one example, has equipment from several countries on board, as does GLAST, which launches in a few months.
I know it’s not just science; other fields have similar stories. When I hear things like this, I will readily and happily admit it makes my heart sing.

It reminds me that in almost all cases, there are more similarities joining us all than there are differences. But our brains are wired to detect those differences, so they take on an import that is magnified beyond what they deserve.
We need to be reminded of that sometimes. I know I do. It’s nice to have my own preconceptions shaken — well, maybe "nice" is the wrong word; it can be difficult, it can be painful, and it can be embarrassing, but it is also necessary. Reality is what it is — I might venture to offer that up as a definition — and we have to overcome our prejudices and accept that. Scientists have just as many prejudices as anyone else, of course. It’s just that the thrill of discovery and the search for knowing are more important.
Maybe we all need a little more scientific method in our lives.

Book Description
A highly readable exploration of the biology, history and social influence of our most humble and versatile foodstuff.

Baked, roasted, boiled, mashed, steamed, french-fried — the potato is one of the most familiar and ubiquitous foods we have, and part of our sense of humble, mundane normality. But the story of the solarum tuberosum is one of struggle, disease and survival.

Naturally fat-free, potatoes consist mainly of energy-giving carbohydrates, as well as protein and half of our RDA of Vitamin C and Potassium. People have been known to sustain active lives for months fuelled only by potatoes and a little margarine. These bundles of nutrition, which grow safely and cheaply underground in almost any weather and soil conditions, have fuelled industrial revolutions and population explosions.
Reader follows the potato’s fascinating journey, from its origins and evolution in the Andes thousands of years ago, to its slightly mysterious arrival in Europe where it became a crucial part of the gastronomic and social fabric.

2008 has been designated International Year of the Potato by the UN and, as global population swells and famine remains a constant risk, Reader asks what role the spud still has to play.

About the Author
John Reader is an author and photojournalist. He holds fellowships in the Department of Anthropology at University College London, the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Royal Geographic Society.

ON THE face of it, John Reader's new biography of the potato seems to have a silly title—“propitious esculent” is just a fancy way to say “helpful food”—and an even sillier subtitle. But that is because the virtues of the world's fourth biggest food crop (after maize, wheat and rice) and its influence on world history are easily overlooked. “I used to take potatoes for granted,” the author writes. His aim is to discourage readers from doing likewise.

The key to the potato's value lies in its high yield and its almost perfect balance of nutrients. Potatoes can produce more energy per unit area per day than any other crop, and it is possible (though tedious) to subsist on a diet of spuds and very little else.

First domesticated in the Andes, the potato was carried to Europe in the 16th century. At first Europeans were suspicious: the potato was variously thought to be an aphrodisiac, to cause leprosy or to be poisonous. But it slowly caught on as its merits in times of famine and war became apparent (it is more reliable than grain and remains hidden underground until harvested). By the late 18th century it was being hailed as a wonder-food—for the poor, at least.
Marie Antoinette promoted potatoes by wearing their flowers in her hair.

People then started to worry that the potato was too popular, and that its abundance was causing an unsustainable increase in population. Exhibit A was Ireland, where the booming population subsisted almost entirely on potatoes. The danger of such dependency was starkly revealed by the Irish potato famine of 1845: at least a million people died, and another million emigrated.

Mr Reader's tale ends with the modern efforts to understand the genetics of the potato, which could lead to more disease-resistant varieties.
The propitious esculent, he explains, is likely to feature in the diets of space-farers who will have to grow their own food.

The all-potato diet will not appeal to all readers, but this accessible account embraces the latest scholarship and addresses the failings of previous works on the subject. Indeed the book, like the tuber it describes, fills a void: the spud now has the biography it deserves.

There's still a CO2 question to be answered with fossil fuel
Monday, March 03, 2008

You can't blame governors from states without coal calling on coal-state governors advocating clean-coal technology to, in effect, "show us the beef."

Speaking at the annual conference of the National Governors Association in Washington recently, Gov. Ed Rendell said if clean-coal technology takes off, "coal states would be back in business big time and the economies would flourish."

Pennsylvania currently ranks fourth in U.S. coal production behind Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky. Most of the coal is burned to produce about half of the nation's electricity.

But that's a big "if." Billions upon billions of dollars have been spent in be half of the al most mytho logical notion of "clean coal," whose mere extrac tion amounts to a con trolled envi ronmental disaster. We see that most egregiously in the form of the "mountaintop removal" used to mine coal in West Virginia.

It is true that modern coal-fired power plants do spew significantly fewer pollutants into the atmosphere than older plants. There isn't, however, a single commercial coal-fired power plant in existence that captures carbon dioxide -- the primary greenhouse gas driving global warming -- and disposes of it in an environmentally acceptable manner.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a study last year that said there were promising technologies to clean up coal but that no one technology would do the trick.
The challenge is to capture carbon dioxide, a process known as "carbon sequestration," and keep it from going into the atmosphere, where at the current level of 382 parts per million carbon is about 100 parts per million higher than it was at the start of the Industrial Revolution.

In the North Sea, in the first commercial venture of its kind, Norway's Statoil removes carbon from natural gas and stores it 1,000 meters under the seabed. So it can be done. The question is whether it can be done on a scale that would be required effectively to turn the world's massive burning of coal into an environmentally benign activity, which is far from certain.

One issue that arises is that carbon capture reduces the efficiency of coal plants so that more coal must be burned to obtain the equivalent amount of electricity without capture.

Notwithstanding the environmental and technological hurdles to truly achieving "clean coal," the inescapable reality is that the world appears to be a long way from replacing coal as a mainstay of our modern, electricity-dependent society with an alternative fuel that doesn't pose similar challenges.

And without such a breakthrough, it becomes all the more incumbent upon society to conserve energy, use it more efficiently and to preserve and expand the world's forests, which with the oceans and peat beds, serve as the planet's most important natural means of carbon storage.

©2008 The Patriot-News
© 2008 All Rights Reserved.

Murlidhar Devidas (“Baba”) Amte, champion of India's lepers and outcastes, died on February 9th, aged 93


HE HADN'T meant to touch it. As he grubbed in the rain-filled gutter to pick up dog shit, human excrement and blackened, rotten vegetables, stowing them in the basket he carried on his head, he brushed what seemed to be a pile of rags, and it moved a little. The pile was flesh; it was a leper, dying. Eyes, nose, fingers and toes had already gone.
Maggots writhed on him. And Murlidhar Devidas Amte, shaking with terror and nausea, stumbled to his feet and ran away.

Most people thought he was crazy to be doing that job anyway. Scavenging was a job for harijans, outcastes. But Mr Amte, a handsome man in his 30s, was better known as a big-shot criminal lawyer in Warora, in what is now Maharashtra in central India. He could charge as much as 50 rupees for arguing for 15 minutes. He was a member of the bridge club and the tennis club and vice-president of the Warora municipality, and he kept, outside town, an elegant farmhouse set in lush fields which he had never lifted a finger to cultivate himself. But after living with Mahatma Gandhi in his ashram in the mid-1940s, something had happened to him.

At first he let his hair and fingernails grow long, a holy man's guise that looked odd in a lawyer. After that, when the scavengers came to him with grievances one week, he decided to try their work, scraping out latrines for nine hours a day. His family, landowner Brahmins who had given him a costly education and a sports car, were scandalised; and the more so when, in 1946, he married a Brahmin girl, Sadhna, who thought nothing of leaving her own sister's wedding to help a servant-woman do the washing.

It was the encounter with the dying leper, however, that shaped Mr Amte's life. He was outraged at the fear he felt: fear of touching, as if he shared the common belief that lepers were paying for their sins and would infect anybody who came close. Where there was fear, he told himself, there was no love; and when an action was not done in love, it had no value. Deliberately, he went back to the gutter to feed the leper and to learn his name, Tulshiram. He then carried him home to care for him until he died, and began—once he had had training in Calcutta—to work in leper clinics all around the town.

His own ashram, founded in 1951 on barren, rocky land full of snakes, was specifically for the handicapped and for lepers, who built and tilled it from scratch with half a dozen tools and their stumps of hands. It was called Anandwan, “grove of joy”; its philosophy was that lepers could be rehabilitated not by charity, nor by the begging life in railway stations and on streets, but by hard work and creativity, which would bring self-respect.

By his death around 3,000 people lived at Anandwan. The farm grew millet, grains and fruit; in the schools, lepers taught the blind, deaf and dumb; there were colleges, two hospitals, workshops and an orchestra, where popular songs were conducted by a polio victim. Warora townsfolk, who had shunned the ashram in its early years, had learnt to buy its vegetables and drink its milk without fear of contagion.
Not by tears, but by sweat, Mr Amte wrote once, and noted how similar those were.
And at its centre, himself crippled from his 50s by degeneration of the spine, lay Mr Amte on his cot in his white home-woven vest and shorts, smilingly encouraging human beings to see the divine spark in each other.
On the river bank

The Indian government liked what he did and gave him prizes for it. But Mr Amte was a difficult character politically: a non-believer who rejected idol-worship, an excoriator of politicians, rich landlords, agri-business and big corporations, and above all a Gandhian of the pure, old style, who believed that economic development had to be person by person and village by village, by means as small as handwoven threads and fingerfuls of salt. On the outlying fields of his ashrams he held camps where the young were inspired to be social activists;
he led them, lying in a van, on rallies for peace and social unity throughout India; and he never ceased to beat the drum of self-sufficiency, for he had proved that even lepers could achieve it.

In his last three decades, however, his focus shifted to the preservation of rivers and the well-being of the tribes who lived in the unexploited forest. These people too, like lepers, had to be taught to eat properly, to bathe and to use toilets, and their habitat had to be saved from the building of huge dams. To the fury of both state and federal governments,
Mr Amte campaigned against these projects, rubbishing the official cost-benefit analyses and blocking main roads with his supporters.

From 1990 he went to live by the Narmada, the most threatened river, building another ashram from scratch on stony, empty ground. Each day, until he grew too frail and the slippery banks too hazardous, he would walk to the river to watch it flow. Atheist though he was, he saw the Narmada as a goddess whose beauty should be decorated only with micro-dams on a human scale. And certainly he did not want his ashes to float there after his death. He insisted on burial, where his body—becoming what he had once been most disgusted and afraid of—might go on being useful and productive, inside the earth.


Murlidhar Devidas Amte was busy cutting a leafy vegetable in kitchen at Sewagram Ashram. The athletic young man accustomed to and enjoyed doing many different kinds of physical work. But there was a special delight in even this mundane chore at Bapu's ashram.

Gandhi arrived in the kitchen just as Murlidhar complete the task and handed over the vessel of cut vegetables to the cook. His glance fell on a few stray leaves of the vegetable left lying on the stonefloor. Picking up each leaf Gandhiji washed them in a pot of potassium permanganate lying close by, and then tossed them into the cooking pot. To Murlidhar the morsels had not seemed important. Then Gandhiji turned to him and explained. We are living on public funds, he told the young volunteer, we cannot afford to waste even a single tiny fragment. Murlidhar never forgot that moment. Years later it helped him to manage vast amounts of donated funds when he became famous as Baba Amte of Anandwan.

At that time M.K. Gandhi was already known as 'Mahatma' and Murlidhar was a fresh law graduate. Bapu Kuti was then a live home - a place of work, struggle and worship. It was not only the heart of Sewagram Ashram but the veritable headquarters of the movement for Swaraj through Satyagraha.

Gandhi replied to thousands of letters, wrote editorials for Harijan and young India, met with other history makers like Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and still made time for the daily sacrificial spinning, a good massage, playing with children and talking with an eager young man like Murlidhar Amte.

Gandhi usually had a mission for most people in his orbit. He urged the energetic and extrovert Murlidhar to make palm jaggery his life's mission.
At that time, this idea held little or no appeal for the restless young man. Eventually he would come to agree with Bapu. But, by then, Baba Amte was in the twilight of his life.
Sunrise over the Narmada

Even with the heavy doze of medicines Baba Amte has just a few hours of sleep. Halfway through the night he gets up, puts on the brace which supports his damaged spine, and heads for the river flowing a few yards away from his home.

At that hour even the tiny creatures of the soil are hardly stirring. There is just the soft murmur of the river flowing by and sometimes a shooting star zooming silently down to earth. Leaning lightly on a thick bamboo staff Baba stands alone, framed by the timeless grandeur of the river. The gentle fragrance of carefully-nurtured flowers follows him back into the house.

Later, lying in his bed, Baba can see the early morning colours skimming over the waters. Baba's vanprastha ashram is located on a high cliff on the south bank of the river that the world knows as the 'Narmada'. For people who live along the banks, she, the river, has always been Rewa Maiya-mother, virgin-goddess, friend, and provider. Her journey begins hundreds of miles to the east, in a pond on the Chota Nagpur plateau.

Flowing gently towards its union with the Arabian Sea, the Narmada accepts homage at innumerable ghats and temples. A little before she turns that luxurious bend at Kasravad, Rewa Maiya caresses the magnificently crafted ghats of Maheshwar, built by Ahilyabai Holkar. Perhaps the same craftsmen built the tiny Shiva temple that has stood near the village of Kasravad for a couple of hundred years before Baba came to live there.

Long before recorded time, pilgrims have walked the full course of the river in a reverential parikrama. On the threshold of the twenty-first century too there are countless such pilgrims. Many of these parikrama yatris are naturally drawn to this unusual ashram at Kasravad where an aging couple lives with a small team of workers who help to care for the steady stream of visitors. The yatris stop by for rest, a meal and satsang with Baba and Tai. Baba enjoys observing these guests and quietly sifting the genuine pilgrims from the less earnest ones.
But, even in Tai's absence, he never falters from the rule that all such visitors must be welcomed and fed-no questions asked.

But most visitors are yatris of a different kind. They are fellow travelers who come to share notes or seek advice. Many of these are young friends who gleefully rush down to bathe in the river. Though he cannot join in their frolic, Baba ruefully watches from the high perch, enjoying the distant sounds of laughter and splashing water. Baba had been at Kasravad for seven years when I wrote a profile about him, which appeared in the Times of India under the heading: 'The Old Man and the River'. The next time I went to Kasravad, Baba had not forgotten about this- 'What do you mean the old man and the river', he roared at me in mock anger, 'I am in my late youth!'

On the walls of the porch is ample evidence of this extended late youth. There is the photo of a handsome young man sitting affectionately with two baby tigers and a fully grown lion. This is Dr Prakash Amte, Baba and Tai's second son. The older son, Vikas, who is also a doctor, is in his late forties and manages a vast enterprise called Anandwan, or forest of bliss.

The passage of time is more evident in the memories which crowd Tai's conversations. Perhaps she has travelled a longer distance. Half a century earlier, long before she came to be known as 'Tai' to the world at large, Indu Ghuleshastri was the quiet dutiful daughter of an orthodox Brahmin family. When she married the somewhat eccentric young lawyer from a wealthy Brahmin family, she expected her life to change. And change it did indeed. The vanprastha ashram on that grand bend of the Narmada is a long, long way from small-town life of Warora where her journey with Murlidhar Devidas Amte began in the late-40s.
A childhood encounter

The streets of Nagpur were aglow with the excitement of Diwali. An eight-year-old boy ran towards the market clutching a handful of coins his mother had given him. Stuffed full with sweets, feeling that life was just grand, he rushed along all set to buy whatever he pleased. But suddenly he came to a dead halt. Before him on the roadside was a blind beggar.
The man sat crouched on the edge of the unpaved road as gusts of wind raised clouds of dust and rubbish over him. He was holding up a rusty cigarette tin as a begging bowl and waiting for someone to drop him a few coins. The little boy's excitement evaporated at this sight. How could such misery and pain exist in his bright, happy world? Removing that handful of coins from his pocket he dropped them into the tin. With the sudden, unexpected weight of coins, the tin almost fell Out of the man's hand. Sensing childish mischief, the man appealed: 'I am only, a beggar, Young Sir, don't put stones into my bowl'.
'These are not stones but coins. Count them if you wish,' the little boy urged. Putting the tin down on the tattered rag before him the man began counting and recounting the coins-over and over again. He could not seem to believe that any one person could drop so many coins for him. As the man went on feeling the coins and counting them, the little boy was struck dumb by a sadness which he never otherwise felt. He ran back home in tears.

That boy, Murlidhar Devidas Amte was born the day after Christmas in 1914, the very year that the First World War began in Europe. Life at Hinganghat, a little town in Maharashtra's Wardha district, went on undisturbed, as though in another time dimension. In any case, as the eldest son of a wealthy Brahmin landowner, Murlidhar was protected from any material deprivation. His enormous energy was happily absorbed in an idyllic childhood with long hours of play, pranks and wrestling with other boys.
Murlidhar's father disapproved of his over-boisterous, uninhibited son's 'unbecoming behaviour'. Till the twilight of his life Baba would fondly recall how his mother had always shielded him from his father's wrath. It was his mother who affectionately called him 'Baba' and the name stuck for life.

But there was more to Baba than pure boyish mischief. He rebelled against restrictions that prevented him from playing with the 'low-caste' servants' children. Even when he was too young to question whether the were indeed 'lesser' people, he protested against how they were treated. Baba would defiantly go off to eat with them and later willingly take the punishment.

At the same time, Baba enjoyed the privileges and carefree life of a wealthy young man.
Since his father was an officer in the government's finance department, the family lived in Nagpur for many years before shifting to the nearby town of Warora. By the time he was fourteen, Baba owned his own gun and hunted boar and deer. He developed a special interest in cinema and could see several films in a day. When he was old enough to drive, Baba was given a Singer sportscar which had cushions covered with panther skin.

In the year that Murlidhar turned sixteen, Mahatma Gandhi was attracting world attention by walking to Dandi and challenging the British empire with a pinch of salt. While Gandhi went to jail for this defiance, Baba completed his school education and entered college. By the time the Sewagram Ashram took shape, in 1936, Baba had become a lawyer.
Tagore, Gandhi and other influences

By now the playful energy of young Baba had transformed into a burning curiosity. During the college holidays he travelled all over India to fulfil his craving to see beautiful places and soak up the company of fascinating people. This naturally took him to Shantiniketan and the orbit of Rabindranath Tagore. He had been drawn initially by Tagore's music but once at Shantiniketan, young Baba imbibed the poetic faith of the Brahmo Samaj. He never forgot these words of Devendranath Tagore:

The Divine Spirit permeates every pore of matter and humanity, and yet is absolutely different from both. There is no flight of fowls to their evening home that is not directed by the unerring hand of Divine Love. There is no lily in the field nor rose in the valley whose blossom and fragrance do not come from the breath of infinite beauty. There is no beauty, no wisdom, no faithfulness, no purity, no piety and self-sacrifice that is not inspired by Him. The goodness of all the good is a ray of reflection from Him, the greatness of all the great points to His throne on high.

Rabindranath Tagore's poems were an exquisite expression of this love. Shantiniketan, located amid lush natural beauty, was a microcosm of Tagore's ideal world-here was a community united in joy, work and love. Baba came away deeply touched and somehow altered for life.

Closer to home, at Sewagram near Wardha town, Baba was equally fascinated with Gandhi's relationship with God. Through Gandhi Baba saw that:

God is that indefinable something which we all feel but which we do not know. To me, God is truth and love, God is ethics and morality, God is fearlessness. God is the source of light and life, and yet He is above and beyond all these. God is conscience.

Simultaneously, he was deeply impressed by what he saw as Gandhi's scientific attitude to life. For Bapu's ideals were never some personal fetish but the rational basis for finding solutions to the problems of life. The result was modes of life which were both verifiable and replicable. Baba realized that it was no small privilege to be living in the 'company of two universal souls that inhabited Shantiniketan and Sewagram'.
Even more he felt honoured to be able to quarrel with both of them, yet to love them immensely and also earn their love.

While the ideas of Marx and Mao inspired him, the Marxist revolutions in Russia and China did not. He felt closer to the worldview of John Ruskin and Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin which emphasized the empowerment of the community with greater freedom from the state. Thus the poetic simplicity of Maharashtra's fiery social reformer, Sane Guruji, drew him like a magnet.

Yet, for a while still, his life proceeded along the conventional track. He built up a lucrative practice as an advocate in Warora. On weekends he looked into affairs at the family's farm of 450 acres, at Goraja near Warora. Soon he was organizing farmers' cooperatives and was eventually elected vice-president of the Warora municipality. And he still had time for hunting and games of bridge or tennis at the local club. But the money, prestige and comfort were not making Baba happy. Instead, he became restless. This surely could not be the purpose of life, he thought. Besides now he was even more appalled by the callousness he saw within his own family. He rebelled against the 'strong barriers' families like his own used to block out the misery in the world outside:

I, who never had planted a single seed in the estate, was expected to enjoy the comfort of a beautiful farm house, while those who had toiled there all their lives had only the meanest hovels ... I was charging fifty rupees for arguing for fifteen minutes while a labourer
Louis J Sheehan
Louis J Sheehan, Esquire

was getting only three-quarters of a rupee for twelve hours of toil. That was what was eating into me.

So Baba set about changing what he could. Harijans on his family's lands had always walked a long distance to collect water because the village well was forbidden to them.
Louis J Sheehan Esquire
Baba defied the bitter opposition of the upper-caste villagers and opened up the well to all people. During the Quit India movement, in 1942, he organized lawyers to take up the defence of the jailed leaders and was himself thrown into prison. It was at work that Baba faced the toughest challenges. He discovered that many clients expected him to lie for them:

A client would admit that he had committed rape and I was expected to obtain an acquittal. Worse still, when I succeeded, I was expected to attend the celebration party.

Soon Baba lost all interest in the law practice. More and more he admired the 'richness of heart of the poor people' and despised 'the poverty of heart of the rich'. It was the 'common man', he decided, who was really uncommon. Perhaps one way of ensuring a full life was to become one with the poor and oppressed. But how to go about this ? Even while the answer eluded him, he was sure of one thing. This quest for a richer life would be aborted if he married any one of the girls whose hopeful mothers were ever in pursuit of the most eligible young Amte.

So Baba let his hair and fingernails grow and spread the word that he had taken a vow of celibacy. To complete the effect he even feigned sitting in meditation. All this changed when he spotted Indu Ghuleshastri at a wedding. Baba noticed that amid the wedding festivities of her elder sister, Indu had quietly slipped away to help an old servant woman who was washing clothes.


Baba Amte, a follower of Mohandas Gandhi whose dedication to helping the lepers of India brought him the Templeton Prize and many other international awards, died Feb. 9 at his shelter for leprosy patients in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. He was 93.

The cause was age-related ailments, said his eldest son, Dr. Vikas Amte.

Amte, who was trained as a lawyer, turned from an early life of hunting, playing sports, driving fancy cars and writing film reviews to working with the poor of his country,
but his direction was irrevocably determined by an encounter with a destitute leper. After that, he gave up his father's huge estate and dedicated himself to the service of lepers.

Murlidhar Devidas Amte - later known by the honorific "baba" - was born Dec. 24, 1914, in Hingaighat in Maharashtra, the eldest son of an affluent Brahmin landlord. His life was privileged, but even in his youth Amte rebelled against injustice and discrimination on the basis of birth, caste and creed. Despite his parents' disapproval, he often ate with servants and played with lower-caste children.
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He spent time at Gandhi's ashram in Sevagram, took part in his movement to get the British to leave India in 1942 and organized lawyers to defend the movement's jailed leaders. He was also arrested and imprisoned.

Seeing grim poverty in and around his father's large estate, he gave up his lucrative law practice in his early 30s and began working with untouchable sweepers and night soil carriers.

One rainy night on his way home, he saw a leper named Tulshiram lying naked by the road.
Horrified by the sight of his fingerless and maggot-ridden body and fearing infection, Amte at first ran home, but he returned when his conscience got the better of him, fed the man with his own hands and gave him shelter for the short remainder of his life.

After that, Amte read voraciously about leprosy and worked at the Warora leprosy clinic. In 1951, he established his own commune for lepers, called Anandvan, on rocky land in Maharashtra State. Later, 50 young volunteers from dozens of countries would work for three-month stints at Anandvan, which became the nerve center of Amte's relentless crusade. His goal was to help leprosy patients become self-confident and capable of cooperative and creative leadership.

Despite having a back ailment later in his life, Amte took part in long protest marches for causes including environmentalism, religious tolerance, peace and justice. He was a supporter of India's indigenous tribes and opposed the construction of a "super dam" project on one of India's largest rivers; it eventually destroyed many villages.

In addition to the Templeton Prize, which he won in 1990, his awards included the 1988 UN Human Rights Prize.
Amte was born in Hinganghat located in Wardha District of Maharashtra state of India in a wealthy family of Brahmin jagirdars. He was called as baba (an affectionate title in Marathi, which can also be interpreted as a title of respect) not because it was conferred upon him but since it was a nickname given to him by his parents.[1]. Trained in law, Baba Amte had a lucrative practice at Wardha. It was then that he got involved in Indian freedom struggle and started acting as a defence lawyer for leaders imprisoned in the 1942 Quit India movement. He was deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, with whom he spent some time in Sevagram Ashram. Baba Amte was follower of Gandhism for his entire life. He practiced various aspects of Gandhism including weaving and wearing khadi, dedicating his life to the cause of upliftment of the downtrodden classes of society.

In 1946, Baba got married to Sadhana Guleshastri, who was later referred to by community members as Sadhanatai or simply Tai ("elder sister" in Marathi). Their two sons, Vikas and Prakash, are both doctors. Both have dedicated their lives to social work and causes similar to those of their parents. Elder son Vikas Amte runs the Maharogi Sewa Samiti ("Leprosy Service Society"). Vikas, along with his wife Dr. Bharati Amte, coordinates operations between Anandwan and satellite projects while also running a hospital at Anandwan.

Dr. Prakash Amte and his wife Dr. Mandakini Amte run a school and a hospital at Hemalkasa village in the underprivileged district of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. While on a picnic to Bhamragad in Gadchiroli along with his father, Prakash Amte, then a doctor doing his post doctoral studies, was very moved after seeing the misery of Madia Gond tribes in Hemalkasa. In the meanwhile he got married to Dr. Mandakini Amte (later known as Mandatai) who left her government job and moved to
Hemalkasa to eventually start a hospital, school and an orphanage for injured wild animals including a lion, leopards and more. Their sons Digant and Aniket are both doctors themselves have decided to dedicate their lives to the same cause.

[edit] Anandwan and the fight against leprosy

Anandwan was the first of the three ashrams started by Baba Amte to treat and rehabilitate leprosy victims from the disadvantaged sections of society. After taking a leprosy orientation course at the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine, Baba Amte began his fight against leprosy. He used to set up about 11 weekly clinics around Warora, in Chandrapur district. Taking his work to the next level, he started the "Anandwan" (Forest of Joy) ashram in a remote jungle near Warora to help rehabilitate patients. Anandwan was registered in 1951 and received a a state land grant of 250 acres (1.0 km²). In those days, leprosy was associated with social stigma and patients were disowned by society. It was then believed that leprosy patients were sinners, paying for sins they had committed. There was also a widespread fear that leprosy was contagious and could be spread by touch. Baba Amte strove to dispel these myths and once even allowed bacilli from a leprosy patient to be injected into him while participating in an experiemental test.[6]

Baba Amte also founded the Somnath and Ashokvan ashrams for treating leprosy patients. The community development project at Anandwan in Maharashtra is recognised and respected around the world and has done much to dispel prejudice against leprosy victims. Baba Amte was given the Damien-Dutton award from the Damien-Dutton Leprosy Society for his work in the year 1983.

Today, Anandwan has two hospitals, a university, an orphanage and also a school for the blind. The self-sufficient ashram unit has more than 5,000 people residing in it.

[edit] Baba Amte and Gandhism

Baba Amte believed in Gandhism and followed the ideals laid by Gandhi. After his stay at Sevagram, Gandhi's ashram near Wardha, Baba Amte was fascinated by Gandhi and became his disciple. Gandhi conferred upon Baba Amte the title Abhayasadhak (translated as The Fearless Aspirant), for his fight against leprosy.

All his life, Baba Amte was a follower of the Gandhian philosophy and lead a spartan life. He wore khadi clothes from the looms of Anandwan, and ate fruits and vegetables grown in
Anandwan. He believed in the concept of a self-sufficient village industry for the empowerment of seemingly helpless people, and successfully brought his ideas into practice when he established Anandwan.

Baba Amte also used Gandhian principles to fight against the government. He used the same non-violent means to fight the Indian government during the Narmada Bachao Andolan that Gandhi used against the British Raj.

In 1990, Baba Amte left Anandwan to live along the Narmada river and to join Medha Patkar's Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmada Movement), which fights against the unjust displacement of local inhabitants and damage to the environment on account of the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river. Narmada Bachao Andolan, together with Patkar and Baba Amte as its spokespersons, was the 1991 recipient of the Right Livelihood Award

Baba Amte had not been keeping well for several years in his later life. He was compelled to lie down on a bed for much of the time due to a severe spondylosis condition. In 2007, he was diagnosed with leukemia.

Baba Amte passed away in Anandwan on February 9th, 2008 at 4.15 am. He was 93. As per his last wish, he was buried and not cremated.

Upon his death, the 14th Dalai Lama, among others, expressed his condolences saying, "His demise is a great loss to all of us. I am an admirer of Baba Amte. I vividly remember my visit to his thriving community of handicapped people at Anandvan in 1990".[10].

Baba Amte won numerous awards during his life, most notably the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 1985. He was chosen for his work-oriented rehabilitation of Indian leprosy patients and other handicapped outcasts. In 1999, he was awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize for his exemplary work for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients and his concept of the "Shramik Vidyapeeth" (Workers' University) where patients and volunteers work together.

All monetary proceeds from his awards were used for his social projects.

In Puglia, at the heel of the Italian boot, a centuries-old architectural peculiarity has turned into an unlikely real-estate boom.

To the locals, the trulli -- the cone-roofed structures that dot the countryside -- are a reminder of the region's humble past. The most basic trulli are one-room, round huts constructed of stacked, dry stones, which form walls and a simple vaulted cone roof. They date back to as early as the 14th century, and most housed peasants or livestock -- or both. Dimensions are snug: The average cone is slightly bigger than a four-person camping tent. Many lack necessities, such as running water or toilets.
Trulli, quirky structures in Southern Italy that once housed peasants and livestock, sparks an unlikely real estate boom.

But to a growing number of British, Dutch and Germans, they are the ideal fixer-upper. "Our kids thought we were crazy," says Stephen Snooks, who moved from Derby, England, to a 300-year-old trullo (from the Greek troulos or tholos, meaning dome) about four years ago.
"They couldn't believe we were going to live in it."

Mr. Snooks first saw a picture of a trullo on the Internet, then headed to Puglia with his wife to see what they were all about. To them the trullo was romantic, it was steeped in history and it was a property they could fix up. It reminded them of the cone-shaped coast houses in the English countryside that were used for drying hops for beer. They also fell in love with the region and the simple way of life they could have in Puglia, where people still take siestas in the afternoons and Sundays are for relaxing.

They laid down a deposit on a five-cone trullo -- each room has its own cone-shaped roof -- on about two acres that cost a total of €57,000 ($85,570). Three months later they moved to the small town of Martina Franca and lived out of their camper while they gave the trullo a thorough cleaning and installed a bathroom. "I thought, 'I need my bloody kitchen,' " says Mr. Snooks's wife, Jo Waters, but after sinking another €30,000 into renovations after moving in, she says she got used to life in a trullo. The renovations included connecting a power line for electricity, and repairing the pump for a rainwater tank to provide water for the bathroom. (They bring in bottled drinking water.) They also added appliances to the kitchen and painted inside and out.

There are about 5,000 trulli in various states of disrepair scattered among the olive groves and prickly pear cacti in the Valle d'Itria, on the strip of land flanked by the Adriatic and the Ionian seas. Stone was plentiful in the area, and according to local legend, the trulli were built without mortar so they could be quickly disassembled into a pile of bricks when the tax collector came.
About 1,400 of them are located in the town of Alberobello, designated a Unesco World Heritage site because of the structures.

During the 20th century, the trulli were abandoned by their owners, who fled to the city in search of modern conveniences. Some were used as occasional country homes by locals, while some of the larger ones were turned into rustic country inns or restaurants.

Then, foreigners started coming. About five years ago, low-cost carriers, such as Ryanair, began ferrying people to nearby Bari from Frankfurt and London. Visitors were intrigued by the oddly shaped structures, many with Christian or astrological symbols painted on their roofs.

Sensing opportunity, local real-estate firms started advertising in British magazines, and pushing the trullo as a unique country-home investment.
Pietro D'Amico, who owns a local property firm, says he sold 200 trulli to British buyers last year, a 10% increase from the year before.

The recent trulli boom is partly a continuation of the foreign-fueled real-estate speculation that began in Tuscany several decades ago, where so many British began buying second homes that it was given the nickname Chiantishire. As the values of country homes in Tuscany soared, the more adventurous wandered into nearby regions such as Umbria, and then farther south to the Marche and Abruzzo, buying up abandoned farmhouses or run-down villas. Puglia is the end of the line.

"These are properties that are still affordable, in spite of the soaring real-estate prices in Italy," says Lucia Bruno, an architect whose company helps restore trulli.

While a trullo might be cheaper than a Tuscan farmhouse, prices have risen in recent years. Today, unrestored trulli with three cones go for around €80,000, an increase of about 30% from five years ago, according to Mr. D'Amico. The cost of fixing one up has also surged. Adding the basics -- bathroom, kitchen and electricity -- can cost at least another €80,000, he says.

Gregory Snegoff, of California, was living in Rome for several years but grew tired of its big-city chaos and, along with his wife, decided to move to the country. The actor/director first learned about Puglia and its trulli from friends. He initially rented a trullo and then decided to buy one in the small town of Ceglie Messapica, where they have lived for four years.

"For us, it's wonderful," says Mr. Snegoff, who bought a one-cone trullo and another small structure, which sit on six acres, for €25,000. "We are interested in a self-sustaining way of life where we can eat the fruit and vegetables we grow and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the country."

As more foreigners have bought trulli, businesses have popped up to service them. Ms. Bruno, who is from Turin and now lives in a restored trullo powered by solar panels, heads a small firm called Trullishire (after Tuscany's Chiantishire) which tries to help foreigners find qualified local craftsmen and offers assistance in navigating the thicket of red tape that comes with restoring a trullo. Trulli have to be restored in accordance with strict building-code and planning regulations, which can be a tangled bureaucratic process.

Common requests that are denied include enlarging or adding to the trulli's small windows, or adding sunrooms or expansions using wood or terra cotta.

There are a few new trulli owners who have pushed the envelope, turning what was once a humble abode into a luxury residence. Ms. Bruno is handling the construction management of a five-bedroom, three-bathroom trullo, with an underfloor heating system powered by solar energy, for a London resident. It will also feature a 161⁄2-foot-by-261⁄4-foot in-ground pool. The owner paid €90,000 for the trullo but is spending €300,000 on the restoration and expansion, says Ms. Bruno. It took more than a year and several revisions of plans to get a building permit, Ms. Bruno says.

High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don't start school until age 7.

Yet by one international measure, Finnish teenagers are among the smartest in the world. They earned some of the top scores by 15-year-old students who were tested in 57 countries. American teens finished among the world's C students even as U.S. educators piled on more homework, standards and rules. Finnish youth, like their U.S. counterparts, also waste hours online. They dye their hair, love sarcasm and listen to rap and heavy metal. But by ninth grade they're way ahead in math, science and reading -- on track to keeping Finns among the world's most productive workers.
Finland's students are the brightest in the world, according to an international test. Teachers say extra playtime is one reason for the students' success.

The Finns won attention with their performances in triennial tests sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group funded by 30 countries that monitors social and economic trends. In the most recent test, which focused on science, Finland's students placed first in science and near the top in math and reading, according to results released late last year. An unofficial tally of Finland's combined scores puts it in first place overall, says Andreas Schleicher, who directs the OECD's test, known as the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA.
The U.S. placed in the middle of the pack in math and science; its reading scores were tossed because of a glitch. About 400,000 students around the world answered multiple-choice questions and essays on the test that measured critical thinking and the application of knowledge. A typical subject: Discuss the artistic value of graffiti.

The academic prowess of Finland's students has lured educators from more than 50 countries in recent years to learn the country's secret, including an official from the U.S. Department of Education. What they find is simple but not easy: well-trained teachers and responsible children. Early on, kids do a lot without adults hovering.

And teachers create lessons to fit their students. "We don't have oil or other riches. Knowledge is the thing Finnish people have," says Hannele Frantsi, a school principal.

Visitors and teacher trainees can peek at how it's done from a viewing balcony perched over a classroom at the Norssi School in Jyväskylä, a city in central Finland. What they see is a relaxed, back-to-basics approach.
The school, which is a model campus, has no sports teams, marching bands or prom.

Trailing 15-year-old Fanny Salo at Norssi gives a glimpse of the no-frills curriculum. Fanny is a bubbly ninth-grader who loves "Gossip Girl" books, the TV show "Desperate Housewives" and digging through the clothing racks at H&M stores with her friends.

Fanny earns straight A's, and with no gifted classes she sometimes doodles in her journal while waiting for others to catch up. She often helps lagging classmates. "It's fun to have time to relax a little in the middle of class," Fanny says. Finnish educators believe they get better overall results by concentrating on weaker students rather than by pushing gifted students ahead of everyone else. The idea is that bright students can help average ones without harming their own progress.

At lunch, Fanny and her friends leave campus to buy salmiakki, a salty licorice. They return for physics, where class starts when everyone quiets down. Teachers and students address each other by first names. About the only classroom rules are no cellphones, no iPods and no hats.

Every three years, 15-year-olds in 57 countries around the world take a test called the Pisa exam, which measures proficiency in math, science and reading.
• The test:2 Two sections from the Pisa science test
• Chart:3 Recent scores for participating countries

Fanny's more rebellious classmates dye their blond hair black or sport pink dreadlocks. Others wear tank tops and stilettos to look tough in the chilly climate. Tanning lotions are popular in one clique. Teens sift by style, including "fruittari," or preppies; "hoppari," or hip-hop, or the confounding "fruittari-hoppari," which fuses both. Ask an obvious question and you may hear "KVG," short for "Check it on Google, you idiot." Heavy-metal fans listen to Nightwish, a Finnish band, and teens socialize online at

The Norssi School is run like a teaching hospital, with about 800 teacher trainees each year. Graduate students work with kids while instructors evaluate from the sidelines.
Teachers must hold master's degrees, and the profession is highly competitive: More than 40 people may apply for a single job. Their salaries are similar to those of U.S. teachers, but they generally have more freedom.

Finnish teachers pick books and customize lessons as they shape students to national standards. "In most countries, education feels like a car factory. In Finland, the teachers are the entrepreneurs," says Mr. Schleicher, of the Paris-based OECD, which began the international student test in 2000.

One explanation for the Finns' success is their love of reading. Parents of newborns receive a government-paid gift pack that includes a picture book. Some libraries are attached to shopping malls, and a book bus travels to more remote neighborhoods like a Good Humor truck.

Ymmersta school principal Hannele Frantsi

Finland shares its language with no other country, and even the most popular English-language books are translated here long after they are first published. Many children struggled to read the last Harry Potter book in English because they feared they would hear about the ending before it arrived in Finnish. Movies and TV shows have Finnish subtitles instead of dubbing. One college student says she became a fast reader as a child because she was hooked on the 1990s show "Beverly Hills, 90210."

In November, a U.S. delegation visited, hoping to learn how Scandinavian educators used technology. Officials from the Education Department, the National Education Association and the American Association of School Librarians saw Finnish teachers with chalkboards instead of whiteboards, and lessons shown on overhead projectors instead of PowerPoint. Keith Krueger was less impressed by the technology than by the good teaching he saw. "You kind of wonder how could our country get to that?" says Mr. Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking, an association of school technology officers that organized the trip.

Finnish high-school senior Elina Lamponen saw the differences firsthand. She spent a year at Colon High School in Colon, Mich., where strict rules didn't translate into tougher lessons or dedicated students, Ms. Lamponen says. She would ask students whether they did their homework. They would reply: " 'Nah. So what'd you do last night?'" she recalls. History tests were often multiple choice. The rare essay question, she says, allowed very little space in which to write. In-class projects were largely "glue this to the poster for an hour," she says. Her Finnish high school forced Ms. Lamponen, a spiky-haired 19-year-old, to repeat the year when she returned.

At the Norssi School in Jyväskylä, school principal Helena Muilu

Lloyd Kirby, superintendent of Colon Community Schools in southern Michigan, says foreign students are told to ask for extra work if they find classes too easy.
He says he is trying to make his schools more rigorous by asking parents to demand more from their children.

Despite the apparent simplicity of Finnish education, it would be tough to replicate in the U.S. With a largely homogeneous population, teachers have few students who don't speak Finnish. In the U.S., about 8% of students are learning English, according to the Education Department. There are fewer disparities in education and income levels among Finns. Finland separates students for the last three years of high school based on grades; 53% go to high school and the rest enter vocational school. (All 15-year-old students took the PISA test.) Finland has a high-school dropout rate of about 4% -- or 10% at vocational schools -- compared with roughly 25% in the U.S., according to their respective education departments.

Another difference is financial. Each school year, the U.S. spends an average of $8,700 per student, while the Finns spend $7,500. Finland's high-tax government provides roughly equal per-pupil funding, unlike the disparities between Beverly Hills public schools, for example, and schools in poorer districts. The gap between Finland's best- and worst-performing schools was the smallest of any country in the PISA testing. The U.S. ranks about average.

Finnish students have little angstata -- or teen angst -- about getting into the best university, and no worries about paying for it. College is free. There is competition for college based on academic specialties -- medical school, for instance. But even the best universities don't have the elite status of a Harvard.

Taking away the competition of getting into the "right schools" allows Finnish children to enjoy a less-pressured childhood. While many U.S. parents worry about enrolling their toddlers in academically oriented preschools, the Finns don't begin school until age 7, a year later than most U.S. first-graders.

Once school starts, the Finns are more self-reliant. While some U.S. parents fuss over accompanying their children to and from school, and arrange every play date and outing, young Finns do much more on their own.
At the Ymmersta School in a nearby Helsinki suburb, some first-grade students trudge to school through a stand of evergreens in near darkness. At lunch, they pick out their own meals, which all schools give free, and carry the trays to lunch tables. There is no Internet filter in the school library. They can walk in their socks during class, but at home even the very young are expected to lace up their own skates or put on their own skis.

The Finns enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, but they, too, worry about falling behind in the shifting global economy. They rely on electronics and telecommunications companies, such as Finnish cellphone giant Nokia, along with forest-products and mining industries for jobs. Some educators say Finland needs to fast-track its brightest students the way the U.S. does, with gifted programs aimed at producing more go-getters. Parents also are getting pushier about special attention for their children, says Tapio Erma, principal of the suburban Olari School. "We are more and more aware of American-style parents," he says.

Mr. Erma's school is a showcase campus. Last summer, at a conference in Peru, he spoke about adopting Finnish teaching methods. During a recent afternoon in one of his school's advanced math courses, a high-school boy fell asleep at his desk. The teacher didn't disturb him, instead calling on others. While napping in class isn't condoned, Mr. Erma says, "We just have to accept the fact that they're kids and they're learning how to live."

Tampa, Fla.

They're bullish on testosterone here at the 6th Annual World Congress on the Aging Male.

Physicians and researchers from around the world gathered to review the latest findings on what low levels of the male hormone means for men, how replacing it might help and why it hasn't caught on broadly.

"If we had a drug that could restore sexual function in men, make them stronger, build their bones, reduce fat and get rid of the blues, you'd say, 'Oh my God, why doesn't everybody know about it?' " says Abraham Morgentaler, a urologist at Harvard Medical School and director of the Men's Health Boston clinic.

"There is a drug like that -- but the public associates testosterone with cheating and illicit behavior and the fact that 40 years ago, it was thought to give people prostate cancer."

Whether it does or not is still an open question. But many studies have shown that low testosterone is associated with reduced muscle mass, bone density, sexual function and vitality, and increased fatigue, depression, Type II diabetes and obesity -- particularly belly fat. Evidence is accumulating that restoring testosterone to normal can alleviate many of those problems.
Some studies suggest that boosting testosterone can boost muscle strength, bone density, sexual function and general quality of life in older men. But the risks remain unknown. So, is it a risk worth taking? "Men with low testosterone are miserable to live with -- they fall asleep after dinner and snap at everyone," says David Greenberg, a general practitioner in Toronto. "You restore it and they say, 'Wow, I feel like myself again.' "

But there's debate over which of the three forms of testosterone to measure, what level constitutes "low" and, most importantly, at what age. Testosterone declines naturally after age 40. So is a 70-year-old man deficient or just aging?

"The moment you add the element of aging, you add the element of ageism. It's giving things for sex to old men," says John E. Morley, director of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University, who, like other experts quoted here has worked with makers of testosterone products.

"Everybody agrees that testosterone deficiency should be treated in younger men.
Why not treat it in older age groups?" says Ronald S. Swerdloff, chief of the endocrinology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Women lose estrogen much more abruptly in menopause, and replacing it to alleviate symptoms and maintain bone health has been standard practice for decades, though questions remain about the risk of breast cancer.

There are even more unknowns about the risks and benefits of testosterone replacement. For one thing, many of the symptoms of low testosterone are very common in older men and could be related to other conditions. Some, like obesity, may lead to low testosterone rather than vice versa.

And there is lingering concern that testosterone could fuel prostate cancer -- largely because drugs that reduce testosterone seem to shrink enlarged prostates and lower the risk of developing prostate cancer by 25%, according to the National Cancer Institute's Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial.

On the other hand, an analysis of 18 studies in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute last month concluded that there is no correlation between testosterone levels and prostate-cancer risk. Another study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that men with low testosterone had higher mortality rates in general than those with higher levels, regardless of other risk factors.

Some drug makers are testing oral variations of testosterone that would deliver the benefits without the potential prostate hazards. For now, testosterone is available mainly in injections, topical gels and patches. Nearly three million prescriptions were written in the U.S. in 2007, according to IMS Health, a health-information company.

Everyone here agrees that large-scale clinical trials are needed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of testosterone therapy. One such trial has been proposed to the National Institutes of Health; and the New England Research Institutes is starting a registry of 1,000 patients, half in the U.S. and half in Europe, to follow for two years.

In the meantime, some doctors are wary of treating older men until more is known. "If your patient is an old man who's grumpy and not the stud he used to be, you could give him testosterone for a few months and see what happens," says Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, chief of epidemiology at University of California, San Diego. "But no epidemiological results justify giving it to older men in general."

Starbucks' chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz, has embarked on an aggressive campaign to restore the company's luster after various missteps, such as selling glorified Egg McMuffins (bad) and hawking CDs by Kenny G (worse). Stores nationwide were shut down for a few hours Tuesday so that baristas could be retrained to work the espresso machines correctly. But if Mr. Schultz is eager to improve the Starbucks experience, there's a simple place he could start: Lose the tip jars.

During the second half of the 20th century, the practice of tipping largely retreated from American life. The earliest of tipped workers -- railroad porters -- gave way to flight attendants (the first of whom were registered nurses, whose station was deemed above gratuities). Gone are telegrams, the receipt of which required a tip. Men stopped getting shaved at barbershops -- where one stiffed the barber at one's peril. In June 1903, an unlucky New York streetcar conductor named John Shanno failed to tip his barber, Joseph Ferlanto. "I'll teach you not to forget to tip," Ferlanto screamed, and went all Sweeney Todd on him.

But after decades in which tipping was reserved almost exclusively for waiters, waitresses, hairdressers, cabdrivers and bellhops, the practice has begun to expand again. Typical is a sandwich shop in my neighborhood: Pay with a credit card and the signature slip urges the addition of a gratuity, all for a sack handed over a counter. This new expansion of everyday tipping has been driven by the near-ubiquitous tip jar, a phenomenon for which Starbucks bears no little responsibility, having brought the practice to every corner of the country.

For Starbucks' CEO, getting and giving tips are matters of significant self-regard. In his memoir, "Pour Your Heart Into It," Mr. Schultz recalls the degradations of his youthful days waiting tables in the Catskills. "I remember how terribly rude some of the guests were to me," Mr. Schultz writes.

"They would be brusque and demanding, and I'd run around and do my best to please them, and when they departed, they would leave only a meager tip." Mr. Schultz promised himself, were he to get rich: "I'm always going to be a big tipper."

One of Henry James's favorite ways to illustrate the naïveté and social insecurity of newly rich Americans in Europe was to show them lavishing excessive tips on everyone in sight. But such extravagance can also be a sign of an unpleasantly aristocratic impulse. The grand tip reached its modern zenith in Frank Sinatra, whose entourage had pockets full of neatly folded 50s and hundreds. At a signal from the Chairman, his hangers-on would "duke" -- Sinatra's lordly slang for his largess -- the lucky waiters, hat-check girls, doormen and anyone else nearby.

When tipping first caught on in the U.S., late in the 19th century, it was the old-world, aristocratic overtones of the practice that drew the most ire. An 1897 editorial in the New York Times declared tipping to be the "vilest of imported vices." The paper lamented not only that "we have men among us servile enough to accept their earnings in this form" but that others were willing "to reward the servility." Joining the chorus against "flunkyism," the Washington Post denounced tipping as "one of the most insidious and one of the most malignant evils" of modern life. Tipping was seen to foster a lord-and-vassal relationship that the prouder professions resisted. Well into the 1910s many bartenders refused gratuities as an insult to their status.

Opposed to vassalage and servility (except to the state, that is), communists have often targeted tipping. When George Orwell arrived in Barcelona in 1936 to fight in Spain's civil war, "almost my first experience was receiving a lecture from an hotel manager for trying to tip a lift-boy." In fact, one of the best arguments to be found in favor of tipping is that Fidel Castro tried to eradicate it in Cuba.

In America, receiving tips long ago lost any stigma; indeed, the "partners" at Starbucks regard their gratuities as an acknowledgment that they are more worthy than their counterparts at McDonalds. But making one's employees dependent on the kindness of strangers is not without cost.

Jim Romenesko, known for his media Web site, also runs the popular Starbucksgossip.com1, where baristas and customers post comments and questions about the chain. As Mr. Romenesko has noted, the most heated, vitriolic discussions are those on tipping. Most of the postings are by levelheaded employees who make it clear that they deliver good service tips or no. But there is no shortage of workers angry at the "cheap bastards" who risk getting secretly "decaffed" if they don't tip. One barista reminds customers: "I control your daily dose of crack!"

If the tip jar encourages staff animosity, it also makes many customers uncomfortable. On the Starbucksgossip site, plenty of coffee-drinkers echo Mark Twain's complaint about tipping: "We pay that tax knowing it to be unjust and an extortion; yet we go away with a pain at the heart if we think we have been stingy with the poor fellows."

We Americans see ourselves as generous -- we each want to tip a bit more than the average guy. Thus the actual average creeps ever higher. Not long ago, an 18% restaurant tip was a tad better than the 15% that was expected. Now I don't know anyone who tips less than 20%. Soon we'll feel the need to show our generosity by leaving 25% of the tab.

To resist the custom is to be radically antisocial, like "Mr. Pink," the crook played by Steve Buscemi in "Reservoir Dogs." He doesn't tip "because society says I gotta tip." When a fellow hoodlum avers that waitresses are underpaid, Mr. Pink answers: "She don't make enough money, she can quit."

Generous? No. But economically sound. It's not that we tip waiters because they are paid so little; they are paid so little because they can expect to make up the difference in tips. Starbucks is known for paying relatively well and providing respectable benefits. Yet, without the tip-jar take, the company would have to raise its wages commensurately to maintain the same caliber of employees.

Perhaps prices would rise too, but I suspect many would be happy to have the full, unambiguous cost of the transaction up on the board. As things stand, the tip jar subsidizes the company's payroll costs. So when you toss a dollar into the cup, you're really making a donation to Starbucks -- and I can think of needier beneficiaries.

The mob that set the American embassy in Belgrade ablaze had that intuitive sense crowds of this kind possess: a feeling of persecution and a "knowledge" of the enemy. Grant the Serbian nationalists, with their narrative of victimization and belligerent self-pity, their due: It was American power, deployed in the Balkans since the mid-1990s, which rescued the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo from the dark threat of Serbian nationalism.

In the early 1990s, it was said that Europe would put out the flames of the Balkans and shelter the Muslims of that region. But Europe averted its gaze from the pitiless campaigns of Serbian nationalism (the Croats, too, had been no friends of tolerance), and it was left for American power to come to the rescue of the beleaguered Muslims. The angry crowd in Serbia had it right: This new, impoverished state of Kosovo would have never seen the light of day without American patronage.

A rioter throws wood into the burning U.S. embassy in Belgrade, Serbia.

The Ottoman Turks brought Islam to the Balkans, but their power receded in the middle years of the 19th century. In his celebrated and disturbing work of fiction, "Bridge on the Drina," (1945), Bosnian-born Ivo Andric prophesied calamities for the Muslims. The power of the Turks had vanished "like an apparition," he wrote, yet the children of Islam "remained here, deceived and menaced like seaweed on dry land left to their own devices and their own evil fate." Andric was prescient: The dark nationalisms of the Balkans would eventually heap on the Muslims of these lands bottomless sorrow.

Communist leader Josip Tito gave the Muslims and other nationalities of the south Slavs a reprieve from the battles of faith and nationalism.

No sooner had the edifice he had maintained come apart, the Bosnians and the Kosovars would be hurled into a battle for their very survival.

On one cruel day in the summer of 1995, some 7,000 people, men and young boys, were herded out of the town of Srebrenica by General Ratko Mladic, of the Bosnian Serb army, and executed in cold blood. When it fell to the Serbs, the town was flying the flag of the United Nations, it was a "safe area," patrolled by Dutch troops. But the peacekeepers had simply handed it over to the Serbs and made their way to safety.

Srebrenica shamed Bill Clinton who had tried his best, over 30 long, bloody months, to stay out of the war for Yugoslavia. (Here he was true to the policy of his predecessor, George H.W. Bush, who along with his advisors, believed that America had no dog in that Balkan fight, as the inimitable James Baker so famously put it.)

After Srebrenica, appeasement of the Serbs came to a swift end, and America would give the Muslims of Bosnia a chance at some normalcy. America was now in the Balkans, the Muslim children of the Ottoman Empire had become wards of the Pax Americana.

And so a Balkan mantra would come to pass: "The Yugoslav crisis began in Kosovo, and it will end in Kosovo." It was on the outskirts of Pristina, Kosovo's principal city, on June 28, 1989, that Slobodan Milosevic, the arsonist who lit the fuse of Yugoslavia's wars, recast himself from a communist party hack into a great nationalist avenger.

It was a day fraught with symbolism: the anniversary of what the Serbs take to be the central drama and epic of their history, their defeat in 1389 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, on the Field of Blackbirds.

In their self-pitying epic, fate had been cruel to the Serbs -- their capital, Belgrade was destroyed 40 times, their holy lands in Kosovo lost to the infidels, overwhelmed by the Albanians. Kosovo may indeed have been the cradle of the Serbian Church: But in the 1980s and 1990s, the Serbs were deserting Kosovo by the day, and by the time it descended into mayhem, they accounted for less than 10% percent of the province's population.

It would have been the better part of wisdom to let well enough alone, but Serbia's grief over setbacks in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia, and Serbia's vanity, broke the fragile peace of Kosovo. There had been autonomy for the Kosovars, the regime in Belgrade annulled it. There had been a constitution that gave the Kosovars a measure of protection within Serbia, but the Milosevic regime shredded all that.

Then the Kosovars declared their own independence in 1990. That declaration was in vain, only Albania recognized the new entity.

It would take an American-led NATO campaign, an air war of 11 weeks, in 1999, to make Serbia abandon its project of conquest and tyranny in Kosovo. Milosevic had played cat-and-mouse with Washington and Brussels, and had bet on the Russians coming to his rescue. He was in for the surprise of his life: The air campaign was a substitute for a ground war that American and European leaders were eager to avoid.

The Serbs (and the Croats) had been warning of an "Islamic crescent" in the Balkans; they had depicted themselves as standing at the ramparts of Christendom, fighting the wars of the West. This was bigotry and delusion: Islam of the Balkan variety was tolerant and pluralistic, the religion of people who had an enlightened view of their faith, and who lived at the crossroads of civilizations.

Some jihadists, it is true, made their way to the Balkans from the Middle East and North Africa but their zeal was alien to these secularized children of Islam. In the most telling metaphor of this civilizational drama, some jihadists brought the seeds of the palm trees of their habitat. Those seedlings would not take and died. Only apple trees grew here, said a man of the Balkans.

The air war launched by NATO ended the Serbian reign of terror in Kosovo, and made that province a NATO protectorate.

The day of reckoning was put off -- but the declaration of independence by the Kosovars on Feb. 17 has now resolved the ambiguity of Kosovo's status.

There are no angels in the Balkans, and the Albanian inheritors of Kosovo who were forged by a bitter military struggle against the Serbs will have to tread carefully. They will have to show qualities of mercy and moderation that have not been in ample supply on the Balkan soil. Too much history, too little geography, it has been said of the Balkan Peninsula and its terrible wars.

And in Muslim lands? There has been silence about American deeds in the Balkans. The drums of anti-Americanism are steady, and no one has stepped forth to acknowledge American mercy and American protection. Precious few, even in "moderate" Muslim lands, own up to the fact that Islam survived in Sarajevo only because American power rescued it from the Serbo-Croat campaign of the 1990s.

And yet today, in this tale of Kosovo, the willfulness in Muslim lands is easy to see. Whether Muslims acknowledge it or not, whether Americans themselves admit it or not, the Pax Americana is the provider of order of last resort in the lands of Islam.

In less than two decades, there have been American campaigns of rescue in Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Two of these American wars, the ones in the Balkans, were on behalf of Muslims stranded in a hostile European landscape. In its refusal to acknowledge the debt owed American power, Muslim society tells us a good deal about its modern condition, and about that false, mindless anti-Americanism on the loose in Muslim lands.

U.S. Senator John McCain
"Reagan's Disciple is the ideal antidote for the superficial and imitative analysis that seems to dominate the coverage of George W. Bush. For those looking for a deeper and fairer understanding of the strengths and flaws of his presidency, and for penetrating observations about Ronald Reagan's enduring influence on this country, this is the book to read."

Kenneth M. Duberstein, former Reagan White House chief of staff
"Lou and Carl, as usual, get it right. Uncommon anecdotes, insights, and analysis that catalogue why one president soared--and one didn't. They tell it like it was, and like it is."

Discover the tender gritty, self-told survival story of a teenage addict. Here is a cant-tear-yourself-away look at what can happen to the one-in-five teenagers who have a drinking problem. At age six, author Jennifer Storm was already stealing sips of her mothers crème de menthe. By age 13, she was binge drinking and well on her way to regular use of cocaine and LSD. She anesthetized herself to many of the harsh realities of her young lifeincluding her own misunderstandings about her sexual orientation which made her even more vulnerable to victimization.
As a young teen, Jennifers life was awash in alcohol, drugs, and the trauma of rape. The upside is that Jennifer came through untold darkness to create for herself a life of accomplishment and joy. Her remarkably tender and telling story proves that forgiveness and redemption are more than possible through recovery and a commitment to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Jennifer Storm is the executive director of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 2002, Governor Edward G. Rendell appointed Storm as a commissioner to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Her media appearances include frequent live and taped interviews on all major networks as a spokesperson for victims' rights.

She has been profiled and appeared in We, Women, Central Penn Business Journal, Rolling Stone, Time, and many local and statewide newspapers. This is her first book.

“The Changing of the Guard”
The Twilight Zone episode

Scene from "The Changing of the Guard"
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 102
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by Robert Ellis Miller
Guest stars Donald Pleasence : Professor Ellis Fowler
Liam Sullivan : Headmaster
Production no. 4835
Original airdate June 1, 1962
Episode chronology
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"Cavender Is Coming" "In His Image"
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"The Changing of the Guard" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

* 1 Synopsis
* 2 Trivia
* 3 Critical Response
* 4 See also
* 5 References
* 6 External links

Please help improve this article or section by expanding it.
Further information might be found on the talk page or at requests for expansion. (January 2008)

Professor Ellis Fowler is an elderly teacher who is forced into retirement by his school. Looking through his old yearbooks and reminiscing about his former students, he becomes convinced that all of his lessons have been in vain and that he has accomplished nothing with his life.
Deeply depressed, he returns to his school one last time intending to kill himself. Before he can commit suicide, the ghosts of former students reappear to prove that his teachings were very much appreciated.

Trivia sections are discouraged under Wikipedia guidelines.
The article could be improved by integrating relevant items and removing inappropriate ones.

* Donald Pleasence was heavily made-up in order to appear much older than his actual age of 42.

* The quote Professor Fowler reads on the statue's plinth, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity,” is the motto of Rod Serling’s alma mater Antioch College, and was said by its first president, Horace Mann. Serling accepted a teaching post there after completing this script.

Critical Response

Andrew Sarris, excerpt from Rod Serling: Viewed from Beyond the Twilight Zone:
“ It should be noted, however, that much of Serling’s fantasy and science fiction writing is somewhat genteel by today’s scary, paranoid standards. Although he has acknowledged Hemingway as an early stylistic influence, there are echoes in his recurringly pastoral nostalgia of such wistful authors as Thornton Wilder, Christopher Morley, Robert Nathan, and James Hilton. Indeed Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips could have served as the model for “The Changing of the Guard” with Donald Pleasence cast in the role of Professor Ellis Fowler, an old crock who is being retired after 51 years of service.
Convinced that his life’s work has been a waste, he is reassured only by the testimony of ghosts of students past that his teachings have been applied and absorbed. This fantasy is so gentle, uncomplicated and sentimental that one is brought up short by the seeming absence of a disquieting twist in the plot, which one could suppose is that self-same twist. ”

See also

* The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series)
* Episode List
* Season 3


* Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)

External links

* The Changing of the Guard at the Internet Movie Database
* episode page

A little over a year ago, NASA announced it had found strong evidence of liquid water flowing, at least temporarily, on the surface of Mars. Pictures taken a few years apart showed flow-like gullies in the sides of craters, and there were a few different pieces of evidence that these were due to sudden flooding of liquid water downhill. Here are the original shots:

However, a new study just released says that these images fit better with being dry grains flowing downhill.
The researchers, led by Jon D. Pelletier of The University of Arizona, used HiRISE, the very high-resolution camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, to look at the same regions as observed before. By taking images at different angles, they could establish a digital elevation model, a topographical map of the same crater shown in the earlier announcement.
They then modeled the way liquid water would flow under Martian conditions compared to how dry grains would flow. To their surprise, they found that dry grains were a better match. From their press release:
“The dry granular case was the winner,” said Pelletier, … “I was surprised. I started off thinking we were going to prove it’s liquid water.”
Finding liquid water on the surface of Mars would indicate the best places to look for current life on Mars, said co-author Alfred S. McEwen, a UA professor of planetary sciences.
“What we’d hoped to do was rule out the dry flow model — but that didn’t happen,” said McEwen, the HiRISE principal investigator and director of UA’s Planetary Image Research Laboratory.
An avalanche of dry debris is a much better match for their calculations and also what their computer model predicts, said Pelletier and McEwen.
While this isn’t conclusive, it does seem compelling (they can’t rule out very thick mud, incidentally). The press release doesn’t have any statements from the scientists who made the previous announcement about water, and I’ll be very curious indeed to hear what they have to say.
If it holds up, it’s too bad. I’d love to see better evidence of ubiquitous water on (or immediately under) the surface of Mars. But facing reality is what we have to do. Of course, as our tools get better, we’ll get better at figuring this stuff out, too.
It helps that so many people involved are so very clever.
A final note: I reread my original blog post about the announcement of possible water. While I think the content of my post was suitably skeptical, I let my feelings get away from me a bit in the headline: "LIQUID WATER ON MARS!" Hmmmm. Looks like sometimes I need to remember my own advice.
American International Group Inc. swung to a fourth-quarter net loss on a $11.12 billion pre-tax write-down on the value of insurance contracts tied to mortgages.

Shares fell in after-hours trading as the company said it expected to report more unrealized market valuation losses and impairment charges in 2008.

The New York insurance giant reported a net loss of $5.29 billion, or $2.08 a share, compared with net income of $3.44 billion, or $1.31 a share, a year earlier.

Results in the latest quarter also included pretax net realized capital losses of $2.63 billion primarily from other-than-temporary impairment charges in AIG's investment portfolio, with an additional $643 million pretax other-than-temporary impairment charge related to available-for-sale investment securities.
These charges resulted primarily from rapid declines in market values of residential mortgage-backed securities.

The prior-year quarter's results included a pretax net realized capital gains of $238 million.

Excluding items, such as the $11.12 billion write-down related to a decline in value of credit default swaps, which are financial instruments used to insure against default of certain securities, the company lost $1.25 a share compared with earnings of $1.47 a year earlier.

Analysts' mean estimates were for earnings of 60 cents a share on revenue of $29.83 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

Chief Executive Martin Sullivan said, "During 2008, we expect the U.S. housing market to remain weak and credit market uncertainty will likely persist. Continuing market deterioration would cause AIG to report additional unrealized market valuation losses and impairment charges."

He called AIG's results in 2007 "clearly unsatisfactory."

Earlier this month, AIG disclosed in an Securities and Exchange Commission filing that its outside accountants had found "material weakness" in its accounting systems and were forcing it to boost its fourth-quarter write-down of the value of insurance contracts.

In a press release Thursday, AIG said it "continues to believe that the unrealized market valuation losses on this super senior credit default swap portfolio are not indicative of the losses it may realize over time. Based upon its most current analyses, AIG believes that any credit impairment losses realized over time will not be material to AIG's consolidated financial condition, although it is possible that realized losses could be material to AIG's consolidated results of operations for an individual reporting period."

AIG's shares fell 12% after that accounting announcement to $44.74, a five-year low. They were at $49.15, down $1, or 2%, in after-hours trading Thursday.

The company faces other challenges confronting the insurance industry, such as the inability to raise premiums because of competition. Problems in the housing market were among the reasons that AIG's mortgage insurance unit, United Guaranty Residential Insurance Co., recorded a $348 million operating loss compared with operating income of $27 million a year earlier.

Profit also fell 22% in general insurance operations.

Mount Lycaeon, in Arcadia, was a place of cult worship and sacrifice to Zeus Lycaeus. A temple and altar stood on the mountain's highest summit. The Arcadians believed Zeus Lycaeus was born in the district of Mount Lycaeon. They celebrated the Lycaea in Zeus' honor; however, ironically, the events of the originating myth of the Lycaea brought Zeus' wrath.
NASA’s Swift observatory is designed to detect high-energy radiation coming from the most powerful explosions in the Universe: gamma-ray bursts.

But it’s also equipped with a more normal telescope, one that has a 30 centimeter mirror — that’s smaller than the one I have in my garage! But, this telescope is in space, so the atmosphere doesn’t blur out the images.
More importantly, the air above our heads absorbs ultraviolet light, preventing ground-based telescopes from even seeing any UV light.
So Swift’s UVOT (Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope) may not be big, but it can easily see UV coming from astronomical objects. And it has a wide field of view, allowing it to get fantastic images of bigger things… like galaxies.

That’s M33 (click to embiggen), a very nearby galaxy; it’s part of our neighborhood of galaxies called the Local Group. It’s a hair under 3 million light years away, and it’s smaller than the Milky Way, about half our size and a tenth our mass. It’s actually visible with binoculars as a fuzzy patch not too far from its big brother, the Andromeda galaxy.
The funny thing is, we know that UV light is predominantly given off by star-forming regions in galaxies; gas clouds where stars are actively being born. The amount of UV from M33 indicates that it is ablaze with stars, cranking them out at a rate far higher than the Milky Way. So even though it’s a bit on the smallish side, it’s certainly pulling its weight when it comes to making stars.
This image is pretty cool. It’s a mosaic of 39 individual images totaling 11 hours of exposure time, using three different UV filters, and it’s the most detailed UV image of an entire galaxy ever taken. Not bad for a telescope built to do an entirely different kind of science!
I worked on the education and public outreach for Swift for several years, and I remember first reading about the UVOT and thinking, wow that’s a pretty small telescope.
I wonder what it will be able to do? Then after a moment or two of some mental math I began to realize that this was in fact a fairly powerful telescope; it’s no Hubble, but it can do some terrific science. And it can also make some very pretty pictures.

Ulysses’s odyssey comes to an end
You may have already heard that scientists have decided that is it time for the solar satellite Ulysses to shed this mortal coil.

Ulysses was launched from the Space Shuttle back in 1990, and was designed to operate for 5 years. Now, over 17 years later, its radioactive power source has finally decayed to the point where power is a serious issue.
They’ve decided that in a few months they’ll shut it off, after an extraordinary mission.
Ulysses didn’t take pictures, so you may never have heard of its breakthrough science. It was the first machine to directly detect interstellar dust particles and helium atoms in our solar system, literally, interlopers from another star. It took unprecedented data of the Sun and its magnetic field, and did so continuously for so long that we now have an excellent baseline for such measurements, including over an entire sunspot cycle*.
For me, the most interesting aspect of the mission was that it was in a solar polar orbit: instead of sticking to the orbital plane of the planets like most probes, it was actually sent into an orbit nearly perpendicular to the orbit of the planets, so that it could peer straight down over the solar poles, an aspect we had never witnessed before.

Getting a probe into an orbit like this is hard. Why? Because the Earth orbits the Sun pretty quickly, at 30 km/s (18 miles/second). You need to mostly negate that velocity for a probe to end up perpendicular to the plane of Earth’s orbit, and then you need to give it a huge velocity "down", south if you will, to get it in that orbit (or up, of course, but in this case Ulysses was sent down). No rocket we have now (or in 1990) could do that.
So we borrowed energy from one of the biggest sources we have: Jupiter. Ulysses was launched toward the giant planet, and using a slingshot maneuver launched itself down, down, and away, into the polar orbit around the Sun. While it was at Jupiter it took lots of scientific measurements, and has been sending back data ever since.
But now that’s over. With the power source dying, it cannot keep energy flowing to its instruments, communication devices, and also be able to heat the hydrazine fuel it uses for maneuvering (this is the same stuff the spysat that was recently destroyed — and many other satellites — use for fuel).
When Ulysses’s orbit takes it out to Jupiter’s distance once again, it’s so cold that the probe has a hard time keeping its fuel from freezing. All of these together mean it’s time for Ulysses to say its goodbyes.
My only regret for this mission? It didn’t swing by the asteroid 201 Penelope.
Panspermia is the idea that life on Earth originated in space and was seeded here by some event. This covers a lot of ground sky: comets, Mars, Venus, aliens, and so on.

The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. It’s more medium-fetched. Mars is smaller and farther from the Sun, so therefore it cooled faster than Earth did after the period of heavy asteroid and comet bombardment a billion or so years after the planets formed. It may have had oceans and better conditions for the start of basic life before the Earth had cooled enough.
But if life started up first on Mars, how did it get here?
Asteroid impacts. The idea is that a smallish asteroid could have hit Mars and launched quite a bit of Martian territory into space. Eventually this could hit Earth. We know this can happen; we have samples of meteorites that are clearly form Mars; the isotope ratios of the chemicals in the meteorites matches what we know of Mars’s atmosphere.
Heck, I used to own a small Mars meteorite myself, until it fell out of my bag and I lost it, arrrrggggg!
Anyway, if some of that Martian ground had bugs in it of the protozoan kind, then they could make it to Earth.

Of course, there are hazards. They’re in space a long time, so they have to survive that. They also have to survive the fall to Earth. It’s not clear they could live through either event. And before that, they have to survive the enormous pressure of being smacked by an asteroid impact.
But a new paper that just came out in the peer-reviewed journal Astrobiology says that some bacteria could, in fact, survive the initial launch event. Amazingly, the enormous pressure generated in an asteroid impact on the surface of Mars may be survivable, if you’re really really tiny.
The researcher made models of the Martian ground seeded with bacteria, then subjected these samples to the pressures expected in an impact event. Amazingly, many of the bacteria survived. Lichens and bacteriospores did the best, surviving pressures from 5 - 40 billion Pascals, which is about 50,000 to 400,000 atmospheric pressures. That’s a lot. Cyanobacteria were the wussies of the lot, only surviving up to 100,000 atmospheric pressures.
Mind you, a human would be less than a greasy smear at that kind of pressure.
Anyway, this is pretty interesting stuff. It doesn’t say that the buggers could survive the trip here (millions of years) and the entry into our atmosphere, but there are scenarios where those are possible.
On a personal note, I think panspermia is interesting and worth investigating, but some people think it’s the panacea to everything. Notably an astronomer named Chandra Wickramasinghe, who has made the fun claims that interstellar dust is actually made of clouds of E. coli, and that the flu is really a virus from space.
Still, when the study stays scientific, it’s worth a look.
I have seen no evidence at all that we actually did start on Mars or a comet or Somewhere Else, but it’s still possible such evidence will turn up. When we get to Mars, for example, what if we find DNA-based life? It’s much easier to get a rock from Mars to Earth than vice-versa (due to orbital and gravitational mechanics), so a find like that would be pretty conclusive. Until then, we have to do what we can to figure out what it was like for such interplanetary interlopers each step of the way. And the first step appears to be viable.
Oh– I cover some of this in my upcoming book, too. After all, if bugs might have made it here three billion years ago, they might make it today. Can we get wiped out by alien bacteria? Well, no, but read the book anyway.
More than a trillion tons of methane lie trapped in permafrost and under frozen lakes in the Arctic. As the region thaws, the gas—a huge potential source of alternative energy—is bubbling out, simultaneously attracting venture capitalists and worrying climatologists. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that methane locked in ice (known as hydrates) could contain more organic carbon than all the world’s coal, oil, and nonhydrate natural gas combined. But that isn’t the only reason to keep track of methane release. Because of the way methane absorbs warmth radiating from Earth, it is as much as 21 times more heat-trapping—and thus climate-warming—than carbon dioxide. Yet current models of climate change do not take into consideration the potential impact of methane.

Katey Walter, a researcher at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, has spent the past few years mapping and measuring hot spots of methane emission in the rapidly melting regions of Alaska and Siberia. In a recent study, Walter and her team predict that if these methane reservoirs melt over the next 100 years, the gas released could re-create climate conditions that prevailed during a 2,500-year warming spell that began 14,000 years ago.
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Walter mapped likely methane deposits across the region; quantified how much methane, formed when permafrost melts, is bubbling out of current lakes; and compared that with the amount emitted from methane-laden sediments taken from ancient frozen lakes.

She determined that 11,000 years ago methane released from thawing lakes contributed 33 to 87 percent of atmospheric methane. After that, melting slowed for the next 9,000 years and the lakes refroze. But now due to global warming over the past 100 years, methane release in the Arctic seems to be accelerating, Walter says, and left unchecked, it will continue to rise well above the levels found 10,000 years ago.

A 386,000-square-mile tract of permafrost in Siberia contains as much as 55 billion tons of potential methane, Walter says —10 times the amount currently in the atmosphere. Several companies, including BMW, have expressed interest in methane-to-energy technologies for large-scale operations.

Walter sees the benefits of using methane as an energy source as twofold: “Not only does it prevent a potent greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere by converting it to weaker greenhouse gases—water vapor and carbon dioxide—but using it on-site would also reduce the demand for other fossil-fuel sources.”

Vitamin A is essential for the production of testosterone. Could our high fiber low fat diets have anything to do with low testerone levels?

High quality cod liver oil is an excellent source of both vitamins A&D, not to mention essential fatty acids EPA and DHA.

My boyhood baseball hero Rich "Goose" Gossage made it into the baseball Hall of Fame last week. His 98-mph fastball and 22-year career as a fearsome relief pitcher were achieved without the use of steroids. His best years were back in the '70s and early '80s when men were men and made their own testosterone naturally. But even the most macho among us face a decline in the quintessential male hormone as we age. Recent evidence points to a decline in testosterone levels in the general population of men, regardless of age.

A 20-year study of testosterone levels in men found that testosterone concentrations dropped about 1.2% per year, or about 17% overall, from 1987 to 2004. The downward trend was seen in both the population and in individuals over time.

What happened to our testosterone? Did the ballplayers siphon it off? Some theorize changes in the environment are responsible for the broad decline. A physician friend who works out regularly told me recently that he could really start to feel the effects of his age after he hit his 40s. The signs: Slower recovery from activity, less tolerance of long hours and less muscle flexibility.

Testosterone levels start to drop for most men in middle age. For those wanting to start their testosterone decline sooner than that, getting married may help.

Married men have lower testosterone levels than single guys. A recent study among the Ariaal people in Kenya showed that unmarried men had higher testosterone levels than men with a single wife. men with two or more wives had even lower testosterone than those with one.

It's estimated that two million to four million American men have a significant testosterone deficiency and that less than 5% of them are getting treatment. That mirrors what I see in my own practice. Most men who might need treatment don't come in with any regularity. Overall, I'm probably not helping as many men with the problem as I need to.

Low testosterone may lead to loss of body hair, sleep disturbance, sweats, depression, impaired thinking, lower bone mass and strength, fatigue and weak bones. Some signs are more subtle. Decreases in sex drive, energy, motivation, initiative, aggressiveness and self-confidence are other signals. Testosterone levels can be measured with a blood test. It's best to have it done before 10 a..m. because levels fluctuate during the day.

I discovered one of my patients was low on testosterone after he fell during a minor mishap and unexpectedly broke his forearm. He turned out to have osteoporosis due to low testosterone. He developed type 2 diabetes around the same time. Adult onset diabetes in men is also associated with low testosterone.

Carrying extra weight around the middle and a drop in muscle mass were warning signals that became clear after the fact. Low testosterone levels are increasingly prevalent and often under diagnosed by the medical community. It's one of those chronic things that can drag on for years without much beyond vague symptoms that a guy might wonder about but not come in over. Doctors often overlook it because other important and more pressing health problems.

How do you separate what's normal aging from a serious medical problem? And how bad would it have to be before you would bring it up with your doctor? Men, do you find it difficult to discuss "nonpressing" issues with your doctor? What about sex-related disorders like erectile dysfunction and lowered sex drive? Women, do you have a tough time convincing the men in your life to seek medical counsel? Share your views on the board.

Some two in 10 men over the age of 60 are testosterone deficient. Still, many men aren't aware that their testosterone levels are low or that there's a treatment available if they have symptoms from a deficiency.

Most commonly, gels, patches or injections are given to correct the deficiency.
There can be side effects such as acne and oily skin, increases in red blood cells that could be potentially harmful and, in a worse-case scenario, acceleration of prostate cancer growth if an undiagnosed tumor is present.

This is one situation where more of a medication isn't necessarily better and the levels of testosterone need to be monitored along with prostate exams, blood work for PSA testing, liver function testing and blood counts.

Men with erectile dysfunction should have their heart and their testosterone levels checked because there is much more at stake than just their sex life.

ED is associated with heart disease, and the smallest arteries responsible for erections are often the first to clog. If you have ED and haven't had your heart checked, you should. If you have ED and your Viagra isn't working, you should have your testosterone levels checked.

Compared with our knowledge of estrogen replacement for menopausal women relatively little is known about the long-term effects of testosterone supplementation in men. There were years when estrogen replacement was commonly prescribed for women with the expectation that it was beneficial for all sorts of ills. When large clinical trials were done we found out that risks for breast cancer and heart problems were higher for women taking hormones and that some benefits were overstated.

One thing is certain: Testosterone is not a magic medicine that will halt aging.

Steroids should stay banned from baseball, but in medicine they have their place. Despite all the testosterone in the world I'm never going to get a hit off the Goose. Even if he is 56.

Tampa, Fla.

They're bullish on testosterone here at the 6th Annual World Congress on the Aging Male.

Physicians and researchers from around the world gathered to review the latest findings on what low levels of the male hormone means for men, how replacing it might help and why it hasn't caught on broadly.

"If we had a drug that could restore sexual function in men, make them stronger, build their bones, reduce fat and get rid of the blues, you'd say, 'Oh my God, why doesn't everybody know about it?' " says Abraham Morgentaler, a urologist at Harvard Medical School and director of the Men's Health Boston clinic.
"There is a drug like that -- but the public associates testosterone with cheating and illicit behavior and the fact that 40 years ago, it was thought to give people prostate cancer."

Whether it does or not is still an open question. But many studies have shown that low testosterone is associated with reduced muscle mass, bone density, sexual function and vitality, and increased fatigue, depression, Type II diabetes and obesity -- particularly belly fat. Evidence is accumulating that restoring testosterone to normal can alleviate many of those problems.

"Men with low testosterone are miserable to live with -- they fall asleep after dinner and snap at everyone," says David Greenberg, a general practitioner in Toronto. "You restore it and they say, 'Wow, I feel like myself again.' "

But there's debate over which of the three forms of testosterone to measure, what level constitutes "low" and, most importantly, at what age.
Testosterone declines naturally after age 40. So is a 70-year-old man deficient or just aging?

"The moment you add the element of aging, you add the element of ageism. It's giving things for sex to old men," says John E. Morley, director of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University, who, like other experts quoted here has worked with makers of testosterone products.

"Everybody agrees that testosterone deficiency should be treated in younger men.
Why not treat it in older age groups?" says Ronald S. Swerdloff, chief of the endocrinology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Women lose estrogen much more abruptly in menopause, and replacing it to alleviate symptoms and maintain bone health has been standard practice for decades, though questions remain about the risk of breast cancer.

There are even more unknowns about the risks and benefits of testosterone replacement.

For one thing, many of the symptoms of low testosterone are very common in older men and could be related to other conditions. Some, like obesity, may lead to low testosterone rather than vice versa.

And there is lingering concern that testosterone could fuel prostate cancer -- largely because drugs that reduce testosterone seem to shrink enlarged prostates and lower the risk of developing prostate cancer by 25%, according to the National Cancer Institute's Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial.

On the other hand, an analysis of 18 studies in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute last month concluded that there is no correlation between testosterone levels and prostate-cancer risk. Another study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that men with low testosterone had higher mortality rates in general than those with higher levels, regardless of other risk factors.

Some drug makers are testing oral variations of testosterone that would deliver the benefits without the potential prostate hazards. For now, testosterone is available mainly in injections, topical gels and patches.
Nearly three million prescriptions were written in the U.S. in 2007, according to IMS Health, a health-information company.

Everyone here agrees that large-scale clinical trials are needed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of testosterone therapy. One such trial has been proposed to the National Institutes of Health; and the New England Research Institutes is starting a registry of 1,000 patients, half in the U.S. and half in Europe, to follow for two years.

In the meantime, some doctors are wary of treating older men until more is known.
"If your patient is an old man who's grumpy and not the stud he used to be, you could give him testosterone for a few months and see what happens," says Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, chief of epidemiology at University of California, San Diego. "But no epidemiological results justify giving it to older men in general."

The Jerusalem Post is an Israeli daily English language broadsheet newspaper, founded on December 1, 1932, by Gershon Agron as The Palestine Post. While the daily readership numbers (tens of thousands) do not approach those of the major Hebrew newspapers, the Jerusalem Post has a much broader reach than these other newspapers in that their readership is composed of Israeli politicians, foreign journalists, tourists, and also distributed worldwide. Whilst it was once regarded as left-wing, the paper underwent a noticeable shift to the right in the late 1980s. Under new ownership and editorial leadership of editor-in-chief David Horovitz since 2004, the paper's political identity has moved again to a more complex centrist position.
Examples of this shift include support for the August 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the paper's advocacy for privatization of Israeli religious institutions.

The Palestine Post was founded on December 1, 1932 by American journalist-turned-newspaper-editor, Gershon Agron in the British Mandate of Palestine. During its time as The Palestine Post, the publication supported the struggle for a Jewish homeland in Palestine and openly opposed British policy restricting Jewish immigration during the Mandate period.

On the evening of February 1, 1948, a car exploded outside the Jerusalem building housing the Palestine Post. The building also contained other newspaper offices, the British press censor, the Jewish settlement police, and a Hagana post with a cache of weapons.
The bomb destroyed the Hagana post, a large part of the Palestine Post offices, and badly damaged several nearby buildings. One typesetter died and about 20 people were injured. The morning edition of the Palestine Post appeared in reduced format.
The bombing was the work of Fawzi el-Kuttub, under the command of Arab leader Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni. Al-Husayni claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Hagana leaders did not believe that the Arab forces were capable of such operations and suspected various other parties, including Etzel, British forces, and "German saboteurs".

The newspaper's name was changed in 1950, two years after the state of Israel was declared and the Mandate of Palestine ended.

Until 1989 the Jerusalem Post supported the forerunners of the Labour Party and had a liberal or left of center political orientation. In 1989 it was purchased by Hollinger Inc. Under the control of Canadian conservative newspaper magnate Conrad Black the paper became supportive of the Likud.
A number of journalists resigned from the Post after Black's takeover and founded the left-wing weekly Jerusalem Report, which eventually was sold to the Post. On November 16, 2004, Hollinger sold the paper to Mirkaei Tikshoret Ltd., a Tel Aviv-based publisher of Israeli newspapers. CanWest Global Communications, Canada's biggest media concern, had announced an agreement to take a 50 percent stake in the Jerusalem Post after Mirkaei bought the property, but the Mirkaei pulled out of the deal. CanWest sued in court, but lost.

Currently the newspaper is viewed as having a moderate conservative slant on news coverage, although left-wing columns are often featured on the editorial pages.
It espouses economic positions close to those of neoliberalism: tight fiscal control on public spending, curbing of welfare, cutting taxes, and anti-union monopoly legislation, among others. The paper competes with the liberal Haaretz newspaper, which began publishing an English language edition in the 1990s as an insert to the International Herald Tribune.

As with other Israeli newspapers, the Jerusalem Post is published from Sunday to Friday, with no edition appearing on Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath) and Jewish religious holidays.

The current head editor is David Horovitz (formerly editor of the Jerusalem Report) who took over for current Wall Street Journal editorial board member Bret Stephens in 2004.

In print, the Jerusalem Post also publishes other editions geared for the local and foreign markets: a Christian Edition, French, 'International', as well as several kids and youth magazines. There is also a section titled "Iranian Threat". In 2007, it also started publishing a Hebrew-only business daily called The Business Post. The newspaper also maintains an online edition named

I wish I could draw. Instead of writing 1,000 words I would sketch a cartoon of Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas all dressed up for a wedding with nowhere to go. Not a pretty picture, I admit. But this was the image that sprang to mind as the two very odd friends argued about Jerusalem - not about its status, but about when to discuss it.

They reminded me of a couple so in love with the idea of getting married that they refuse to talk about any of the serious issues - like where to live or how to raise their children - for fear that their different ideas would trip them up on the way to the wedding canopy.

Such a marriage, if it takes place at all, is clearly doomed. Olmert and Abbas also know their chances of a happy union are slim.
They might march off to "Here comes the Bride," arguably Richard Wagner's best-known piece, but Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, with its convoluted plot full of fateful decisions and deceit, might be more suitable. In fact, Olmert and Abbas might not so much march off into the sunset ceremony as waddle, in the view of some. Speaking at last week's Jerusalem Conference, Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu warned: "The prime minister said that we are not talking about Jerusalem, and that we are leaving it until last. But I say, if it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, then they plan to divide Jerusalem." Perhaps I should alter my mental cartoon to include the image of lame ducks. Or sitting ducks. At least I should add some ruffled feathers.

Jerusalem is definitely what is now being called a "core issue." Obviously it must be resolved if a peace agreement is to be born of a union between Olmert and Abbas or any other unlikely couple. Like other core issues, such as the "right of return for refugees" and the eventual borders, it lies at the heart of the matter. Even the question of who has the right to decide Jerusalem's fate - the politicians, the voting public, or the Diaspora - has not been solved.

The press has obsessed over whether the question of Jerusalem is currently "on the table," "under the table," or tabled for a different round of discussions some time in the future when the smaller issues are out of the way.

Our bride, it seems, has a dress, a venue, a caterer and music in mind. She just doesn't have a date.

A groom under the huppa pledges: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning. If I do not raise thee over my own joy, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth." He then stamps on a glass in an act usually attributed to commemorating the destruction of the Temple.

Olmert might do well to put his foot down now and remember not just the destruction of the ancient sanctuary but also what his strange communion will mean for the future. Love might be blind but it is wise to go into marriage with your eyes wide open. Marriage requires compromise and sacrifice, it is true. In a happy marriage, however, they have to be made by both sides and be worth it.

The international community, including the US and the European states, are eager to attend this wedding. You can almost imagine George W. Bush and Tony Blair practicing their best-man speeches in the mirror. The presents will undoubtedly be lavish. Like wedding guests everywhere, the celebrants here, too, would be happy to eat, drink, dance and then go home to discuss the chances of the bride and groom living happily ever after.

Unfortunately, shlom bayit, domestic peace, is not likely to come out of these nuptials if the bride and groom can't even admit there is a problem to begin with. The guests want Israel and the PA to divide Jerusalem.
But Jerusalem is far more than a city. It cannot be cut up for convenience as if it were simply some triple-tiered wedding cake with a plastic bride and groom perched on top.

1 comment:

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