Saturday, March 1, 2008


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.

"If we withdraw from Jerusalem, Hamas will go in. It will turn into a haven for global terror. If you want peace in Jerusalem, leave it united," Netanyahu told the conference in the capital, addressing his voters.

Meanwhile, Olmert and Abbas each have their coalition and political situation to consider. As American humorist Will Rogers once noted: "Elections are a good deal like marriages. There's no accounting for anyone's taste. Every time we see a bridegroom we wonder why she ever picked him, and it's the same with public officials."

When the leader of the opposition is refreshing his slogans on the subject of a potentially divided Jerusalem (a winning tactic for Netanyahu in the 1996 elections) it is no surprise that the prime minister is promising Shas, his key coalition partner following the Israel Beiteinu walk-out, that the issue will be delayed until the final stage of the talks. The religious party is almost certain to follow in Israel Beiteinu's footsteps if Jerusalem is up for grabs and elections are in the air.

Thus, while Olmert pledges Jerusalem is not yet on the agenda, Palestinian Authority officials insist that Israel is "prepared to withdraw from almost all the Arab neighborhoods and villages in Jerusalem." And Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, while not forgetting Jerusalem, would rather not talk to the press about it altogether.

No wonder Shas MKs complain they are being accosted at weddings and other gatherings by those pushing for them to leave the government and bring Olmert down.

On the Palestinian side, negotiator and Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo threatened that if Jerusalem and other issues are not resolved at this initial stage, the Palestinians will declare independence a la Kosovo. The warning was quickly downplayed by Abbas, however.

When he met Olmert at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on February 19 for their biweekly meeting, the status of the city apparently was not raised.

In a speech to the Presidents Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations on February 17, Olmert said he and Abbas had agreed to make Jerusalem the last item on the agenda because it was "the most sensitive and difficult" issue.

But Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat continues to insist: "Core issues are inseparable.
They are all one package, and there is no such agreement to exclude or delay any of them."

Clearly it's too early to send out the invitations. If the wedding goes ahead, we are likely to find that the confetti consists of shredded paper recording previous peace agreements. The guests might have a good time, but you can kiss the bride and groom goodbye. The world of realpolitik is not known for its fairy-tale endings.

Dog poop is nothing to sniff at -- a huge growth in the business has prompted the explosion of professional pooper scoopers around the country.
And many are competing to be Top Dog.

Last month, at the fifth annual convention of the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists, dog-poop picker-uppers faced off to see who had the best and quickest technique to pick up more than two dozen or so plastic poop. They were made to look like real ones and were scattered over a grassy area of an Atlanta hotel for the group's "Turd-Herding Contest: Rake, Shovel or Hand?" Some used special rakes and hoes, or forgo that method for gloved hands.
Dog poop is nothing to sniff at -- a huge growth in the business has prompted the explosion of professional pooper scoopers around the country. Many are competing to be Top Dog.

The boom in pet waste removal comes at a time when pet ownership is at an all-time high, yards are smaller than ever and home services are exploding as breadwinners are busier and don't have time to mess with the cleanup. Plus, stricter pooper-scooper laws and greater awareness of health hazards of doggie excrement have also helped prop the burgeoning industry. Some have even franchised their business, such as Pet Butler Franchise Services Inc. and DoodyCalls Franchising. aPAWS has grown from 12 businesses in 2002 to about 200 today.

It's a service that's becoming more popular, just like having someone clean the pool, wash the car, walk the dogs or clean the house. "They'd rather spend time with their kids, and play with their dog than picking up after them," says Timothy Stone, co-founder of the organization and owner of Scoop Masters USA Inc. of Santa Clarita, Calif.
Members typically charge about $8 to $10 per visit for one dog, once a week. Cheresee Rehart, owner of Yard Guards on Doody of Tampa, Fla., will be making $100,000 this year from her 110 customers -- a far cry from when she started the company in June 2003 with $40 to buy a book on professional pet waste scooping.

There are 74.8 million pet dogs in the U.S., according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc. And a typical pooch produces 274 pounds of poo each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Last year, pet services accounted for $3 billion out of the total $41.2 billion spent on U.S. pets -- with annual expenses for dogs topping $1,425 per year.

In the first turd-herding contest held in St. Louis in January 2003, cut-up potatoes were used instead of fake poop, which is now used. This year, prunes were also added. Rules abound: Contestants must conduct their poop-scooping in the same manner as they would use normally around their clients, meaning "no shoving, jumping fences, urinating in public, dressing inappropriately." Also, running is prohibited and physical contact with the another contestant (like tackling, which has happened in past events) is a no-no.

In the industry, people have always debated what's the fastest method of picking up dog poop, Mr. Stone says. "So we just decided, why don't we just have the contest, and we'll see what's the fastest?"

This year, the title went to a teenager.

Christopher Trauco, a 19-year-old of Tyrone, Ga., owns Scoop D'Poo ( and was the youngest winner the contest has ever crowned as the aPaws "King of Crap." Mr. Trauco won by picking up 28 rubber poops in two minutes. He chose to not use a shovel or rake or any other doggy tool.

Rather, he used one latex glove and his right hand. He says he usually uses his hand in his business, because it saves more time and money on disinfectants.

"I was really worried about other people who decided to use tools," Mr. Trauco says. "It was a lot of pressure, and I wanted to win. It really helped that I was in athletics in high school."

Mr. Trauco started his own pooper-scooper business at 16. He runs about 20 miles a day and has also participated on a cheerleading squad.

He received an 11-inch high rectangular-shaped plaque with an embedded golden shovel. Second place ("The No. 2 Award") and third place winners scooped up 24 and 23 fake dog-turds, respectively. There were no tiebreakers, so no scoop-off.

That is because the world’s largest maker of generic drugs laid out some bold growth goals last Thursday at its investor day. Teva said it expects to double its revenue to $20 billion by 2012 and, aside from a couple of complimentary acquisitions, it expects to do so primarily through organic growth.

Swanson, though, believes that goal may be overly ambitious without significant M&A. “Teva has a history of sustained growth and shareholder value creation, lending credibility to its targets,” he writes. “Like its past history, however, we believe Teva will need to rely on significant M&A to achieve its goals.”

Citigroup projects that by 2012 Teva’s revenue will rise to $13.3 billion from $10 billion in 2007, meaning that to close the gap the Israeli company will need to add $6.7 billion in revenue through an acquisition or acquisitions.

Swanson points out that Teva should consider a purchase sooner rather than later.
Assuming that Teva could increase the acquired company’s operations 15% for five years, Teva would only need to find a company with $3.3 billion in revenue now. That means the longer Teva waits, the “financial parameters must be increasingly attractive to meet the earnings goals in a shorter time.” On top of that, the number of attractive candidates continues to shrink.

What companies would be on Teva’s wish list? Swanson expects Teva to consider a purchase that would bolster its international presence, especially in emerging markets. Such a deal, though, would face significant hurdles.
The most attractive targets, he says, such as Slovenia’s Krka or Hungary’s Gedeon Richter, each have obstacles ranging from their current valuation to significant government stakes, making a takeout difficult.

What does that leave? Swanson sees “one potential long-shot that runs counter to the ‘add-on’ philosophy expressed by the company: making a run at the combined Mylan/Merck organization and acquiring both U.S. scale and an enhanced international presence at a reasonable price.”

Back in May, Mylan beat out Teva for the generic-drug business of Germany’s Merck KGaA, acquiring it for $6.6 billion. As Swanson points out, that Merck business would have “essentially fit the bill for Teva’s growth needs.”

In his lab near the snow-covered Rocky Mountains, Steve Bytnar is plotting to topple a winter mainstay: rock salt.

Pointing to a line of glass jars containing a colorful array of liquids, Mr. Bytnar declares: "I have a vision that I can de-ice a road without any chemicals." While that is a distant goal, his attack on rock salt is well under way. "We get all our customers by teaching them how to use less" salt, he says.

Spreading rock salt has been the standard response to icy American highways since World War II. Salt is plentiful, and it's cheap. But dumping tons of rock salt has drawbacks. The salt speeds up the corrosion of bridges and cars, chokes vegetation and isn't very effective below 17 degrees Fahrenheit.

Last week, a truck spread liquid deicer in Aurora, Colo.

Now, a campaign to find substitutes is gaining traction.

Mr. Bytnar, a tireless tinkerer who says he is an "obsessive-compulsive" lab rat, is at the forefront of a growing movement to overthrow salt's long reign.
In its place, he and other researchers are producing liquid anti-icers containing molasses, corn syrup, beet juice -- and other, mystery ingredients -- to keep highways safe for winter driving.

Akron and many other Ohio towns are trying "GeoMelt," a gooey liquid derived from sugar beets that is often mixed with salt brine. New Jersey is now treating its busiest thoroughfares -- the turnpike and the Garden State Parkway -- with brines enhanced by "Magic Minus Zero," a liquid anti-icing agent containing residue from rum distillation. "We use half as much [salt] as we used to," says Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the state's turnpike authority.

Transportation departments in Colorado are dousing roads with "MeltDown Apex," a cloudy whitish liquid created by Mr. Bytnar. Highway officials don't know exactly what's in the concoction. Mr. Bytnar says it's a secret. "They're not going to tell you that unless you have a court order," says Steve Krause, a street division manager in Aurora, Colo., who swears by Apex at the first sign of snow.

Rock salt, basically a chunkier version of table salt, remains the entrenched incumbent in many parts of the country because it is abundant and cheaper than liquid de-icers. Areas that apply liquid anti-icing products early in a storm often turn to dry salt as snow piles up, too.

"Salt is still the name of the game," says Matt Smith, a spokesman for Chicago's streets and sanitation department. In Minnesota, where overuse of salt has poisoned waterways like Shingle Creek near Minneapolis, transportation departments still mainly rely on it.

Liquid anti-icers are more expensive up front. But Mr. Bytnar and many of his customers say cost savings accrue eventually as less salt and sand are applied.
This argument has been bolstered lately by an increase in salt prices spurred by a particularly snowy winter across the northern half of the country.

The shift away from sodium chloride began in the 1980s, when companies and towns started experimenting with magnesium chloride and other compounds that melt ice at lower temperatures than sodium chloride does, and had fewer environmental drawbacks. The use of renewable organic matter like corn syrup started in the 1990s. Industry lore has it that a worker taking a smoke break outside a Hungarian factory noticed that pond water mixed with a syrupy byproduct of alcohol distillation wasn't freezing in subzero temperatures.

Soon, American chemists began combining magnesium chloride with liquid residues from plant and vegetable processing to test their de-icing powers.

Mr. Bytnar, 37 years old, plunged into the field of de-icing in the mid-1990s after Minnesota Corn Processors, a cooperative where he worked as a researcher was acquired by Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., gave him free rein to experiment.

"I saw it as a way to separate myself from everyone else," he recalls. "They said don't lose $2 million and blow the plant up, but otherwise do what you want to do."

One of his first projects: finding a way to turn the Hungarian discovery into a commercially viable product.
The result was "Ice Ban," a brown blend of magnesium chloride and residue from ethanol distillation. It attacked the ice-and-pavement bond more effectively and at lower temperatures than sodium chloride did, he says, allowing highway managers to cut their salt use.

However, as with many environmentally friendly alternatives to old technology, Mr. Bytnar's potions had some drawbacks. For one thing, they were expensive. For another, they smelled.

One of the first times Denver sprayed Ice Ban, he says, the expected snow never came, leaving the streets coated in a stinky goo. "The city people thought they'd moved out to the farm," Mr. Bytnar recalls.

But city officials also saw that it worked. "It's colored like maple syrup and smells like a nasty alcohol," says Mr. Krause, the street manager in Aurora, a Denver suburb, as he unscrews an old sample of Ice Ban.
When the snow fell, he says, "this stuff worked."

The next blockbuster anti-icing product to spring from Mr. Bytnar's lab was "Caliber," which incorporated corn syrup and didn't smell as bad. MeltDown Apex hit the market in 2005.

Today, liquid anti-icing is de rigueur in Colorado. Early one morning recently, as a snowstorm began and temperatures fell into the teens, crews at Denver International Airport splashed runways with potassium acetate, a nonchloride de-icer that can be prohibitively expensive for many localities. Mr. Krause's trucks sprayed Mr. Bytnar's MeltDown Apex all over Aurora. During the snowy morning rush, car tires kicked up rooster tails of water even though the outdoor temperature was 20 degrees.

Surveying the situation on Colfax Avenue at 7:30 a.m., Mr. Krause was satisfied. "The road doesn't look bad at all," he said.

Mr. Bytnar now works for EnviroTech Services Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of de-icing and dust-control products. The company is one of many competing in the freewheeling market for rock-salt alternatives, which ranges from small vendors like Road Solutions Inc. of Indianapolis to giants like Cargill Inc. in Minneapolis.

Besides vials of ice-busting liquids, Mr. Bytnar's office is decorated with archery targets commemorating his first perfect score as a competitive archer. He won a state archery title in 2002. But these days, a shoulder injury has him favoring golf, a skill he taught himself and honed by hitting 200 balls a day last summer.

During a recent storm on the frigid mountain passes west of Denver, trucks equipped with rows of metal nozzles sprayed Apex across the lanes, quickly turning the snow into a manageable slush and allowing the flow of traffic to pick up.

Still, some crews were opting to apply a sodium chloride-based product.
At a storage shed atop Vail Pass, where the temperature was 16 degrees, Mr. Bytnar encountered a red-bearded snowplow driver from eastern Colorado, which isn't mountainous. "Sand and salt?" he guessed.

Driving west down the pass, Mr. Bytnar noted slippery conditions where liquids had been shunned. He "doesn't know what he's doing," Mr. Bytnar said. "It's always a battle."

A ceremonial plaza built 5,500 years ago has been discovered in Peru, and archeologists involved in the dig said on Monday carbon dating shows it is one of the oldest structures ever found in the Americas.

A team of Peruvian and German archeologists uncovered the circular plaza, which was hidden beneath another piece of architecture at the ruins known as Sechin Bajo, in Casma, 229 miles north of Lima, the capital. Friezes depicting a warrior with a knife and trophies were found near the plaza.

"It's an impressive find; the scientific and archeology communities are very happy," said Cesar Perez, the scientist at Peru's National Institute of Culture who supervised the project. "This could redesign the history of the country."

Prior to the discovery at Sechin Bajo, archeologists considered the ancient Peruvian citadel of Caral to be one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, at about 5,000 years.

Scientists say Caral, located a few hours drive from Sechin Bajo, was one of six places in the world -- along with Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India and Mesoamerica -- where humans started living in cities about 5,000 years ago.

"The dating done by the German archeologists puts it at about 5,500 years," Perez said of the plaza, which has a diameter of about 46 feet.

Earlier finds near Sechin Bajo had been dated at 3,600 years, and there may be other pieces of the citadel older than the plaza.

"We've found other pieces of architecture underneath the plaza that could be even older," German Yenque, an archeologist at the dig site, told Reuters. "There are four or five plazas deeper down, which means the structure was rebuilt several times, perhaps every 100 to 300 years."

Hundreds of archeological sites dot the country, and many of the ruined structures were built by cultures that preceded the powerful Incan empire, which reached its peak in the 16th century, just before Spanish conquerors arrived in what is now Peru.

There are so many archeological treasures that tomb robbing is a widespread problem in the Andean country.

Yenque said the scientists are filling in the site with dirt to preserve it and plan to resume excavation of the deeper floors when they get more grants to fund the project.

"We are lucky it was never destroyed by tomb robbers; that is why we are covering it up now," Yenque said.

Buoyant energy markets and restructuring efforts helped make Foster Wheeler Ltd. a turnaround story.

Just a few years ago, the engineering and construction company was reeling from losses caused by unprofitable projects and high operating costs in the 1990s. It also faced thousands of claims related to its construction of asbestos-encrusted boilers through the 1970s.

Foster Wheeler was the worst 10-year performer in last year's Shareholder Scoreboard, with a compound average annual return of minus 21.6% for the decade through 2006.

Now, Foster Wheeler is the best three-year performer, with a compound average annual return of 113.8% for the three years through Dec. 31. A $1,000 investment in Foster Wheeler stock at the end of 2004 would have been worth $9,768 at the end of last year, compared with $1,282 for a similar investment in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index.

Glimpses of change were evident in 2005 and 2006, when the stock returned 132% and 50%, respectively.
In 2007, the return was 181.1%, making Foster Wheeler No. 8 among the best one-year performers in this year's Scoreboard.

"We are not done growing," says Raymond Milchovich, chairman and chief executive officer, who was brought in to turn around the company in late 2001.

Foster Wheeler has benefited from the increasing demand for oil, natural gas and petrochemicals, which are the industries the company serves. The firm also has a power unit, which develops boilers that use alternative fuels such as agricultural and animal waste as well as coal. Mr. Milchovich says he expects that unit to be a big driver of earnings this year.

The company's revenue and earnings jumped almost 60% in the first nine months of 2007. It expects to release fourth quarter and full-year 2007 results tomorrow.

The company, which is based in Hamilton, Bermuda, and has operational headquarters in Clinton, N.J., does business in some 30 countries and gets nearly 80% of its revenue from outside North America. Hoping to further expand, the company has been hiring aggressively, cutting back on its debt -- to less than a fifth of the peak in 2002 -- and building up its cash reserves. "Number one priority for the acquisition targets," says Mr. Milchovich.

Challenges remain. Amid a U.S. economic slowdown and a potential global slowdown, energy demand may decline and stall some projects -- though Mr. Milchovich believes developing economies like China and India will keep demand for oil and other fuels high for a long time. Foster Wheeler stock has fallen 1.6% so far this year, adjusted for a 2-for-1 stock split last month.

The company still has pending liabilities from asbestos-related claims, around $399 million at the end of September, down from $445 million a year earlier. Mr. Milchovich says insurance is expected to cover about $336 million of those claims.

Investors are encouraged by the company's leadership. Shawn Driscoll, a stock analyst at money-management firm T. Rowe Price Group Inc., says managers have done a good job of picking appropriate projects and structuring contracts in a way that allows price increases as needed, thus keeping operating margins high.
"This management team has really distinguished itself," says Mr. Driscoll. Several T. Rowe Price funds own the stock.

Five former insurance executives were convicted on charges stemming from a fraudulent transaction between American International Group Inc. and General Re Corp., and prosecutors said they plan to "work up the ladder" seeking more indictments.

Four of the five executives worked for General Re, a unit of billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., while the fifth was formerly with AIG.

A federal jury found them guilty on all 16 counts in their indictment, including conspiracy, securities fraud, mail fraud and making false statements.

Prosecutors had accused the executives of inflating AIG's reserves by $500 million in 2000 and 2001 through fraudulent reinsurance deals to artificially boost the insurer's stock price. Reinsurance allows insurance companies to completely or partly insure the risk they have assumed for their customers.

After winning what legal experts portrayed as a complicated trial involving arcane accounting rules and tens of thousands of pages of documents, prosecutors hinted they might be looking to gather evidence against others in the fraud.

During the trial, former AIG Chief Executive Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg, who led the company for nearly four decades, presiding over much of its growth, and General Re's current chief executive, Joseph Brandon, were identified as unindicted co-conspirators. Neither Mr. Greenberg nor Mr. Brandon have been charged with any wrongdoing.

"We're not done. The investigation continues," said Paul Pelletier, one of three federal prosecutors who tried the case in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Conn. "We've got a lot of work to do to work up the ladder."

Convicted yesterday were General Re's former chief executive, Ronald Ferguson, 65 years old; former Senior Vice President Christopher Garand, 60; former Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Monrad, 53; and Robert Graham, a General Re assistant general counsel, 69, along with Christian Milton, AIG's former vice president of reinsurance.

Messrs. Ferguson, Graham, Milton and Ms. Monrad each face prison terms as long as 230 years and a fine of as much as $46 million. Mr. Garand faces as long as 160 years in prison and a fine of as much as $29.5 million.

While prosecutors might have lacked evidence to secure additional indictments last year, some legal experts said yesterday's convictions could bolster a possible case. Neither Mr. Greenberg nor Mr. Brandon appeared on taped phone conversations that were among the most compelling pieces of evidence presented in the trial.

"When you have a conviction of this sort, it certainly can shake information loose from defendants who are convicted in post-conviction cooperation," says Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University.

"Hank Greenberg was not a defendant in this action, and he neither initiated nor participated in an improper transaction," a lawyer for Mr. Greenberg said in an email yesterday, adding that Mr. Greenberg had "acted responsibly, ethically and legally during his career at AIG, which he built into the largest and most successful insurance company in the world."

For AIG, the verdict comes at a time when the influence of its 82-year-old former leader has loomed large.
In a securities filing in November, Mr. Greenberg and a group of affiliated shareholders expressed "concern over the direction" of AIG, from which he resigned in 2005 amid an investigation into its accounting. Mr. Greenberg and the other shareholders in the group together owned almost 12% of the company's voting shares as of Oct. 31, according to the New York State Insurance Department.

Mr. Greenberg, who has also been actively pursuing other business ventures since he left the insurer, followed up with another filing in which he said he wouldn't launch a proxy fight or serve again as an officer or director of AIG.
Still, his role cast a spotlight on the insurer's performance under Mr. Greenberg's onetime deputy and successor, Martin Sullivan.

This month, AIG disclosed that its auditor had found a "material weakness" in its accounting, and the stock fell to a five-year low, though it has since rebounded somewhat.

Jerry Bernstein, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer at Blank Rome LLP in Manhattan, said that "manipulation of financial reserves and reinsurance are not concepts that typical jurors know about, so these convictions can only further embolden the Justice Department to bring to trial cases dealing with complex financial transactions." Such cases could include the current probes into Wall Street firms' role in the turmoil in subprime-mortgage markets.

Lawyers for the five defendants convicted yesterday said they intend to appeal. Fred Hafetz, a lawyer for Mr. Milton, the only defendant who worked for AIG, said he believes his client was denied a fair trial when he was prosecuted with the four former General Re executives.

The defendants, who remain free on $1 million bond, are scheduled to be sentenced May 15. They could try to reduce their sentences by cooperating with prosecutors in building cases against other, more senior conspirators, if any, legal experts say.

Prosecutors had said they would call Mr. Buffett to testify should the defense produce evidence showing his alleged involvement in the reinsurance deals at issue in the trial. Contrary to pretrial indications by defense attorneys, none of the defendants testified at the trial.
During the trial, defense attorneys invoked Mr. Buffett's name to support their arguments that their clients believed the widely respected investor was aware of the deals, and therefore they didn't have any criminal intent in putting them together.

Prosecutors, however, said Mr. Buffett, who hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing, wasn't involved in the deals. The Omaha businessman wasn't called to testify.

The federal case started coming together in late 2004 and early 2005, when federal investigators began probing various financial products and accounting practices that companies used to improperly burnish their earnings.

The government alleged that the defendants in the case engaged in a sham deal, in which General Re, for a $5 million fee, improperly helped AIG boost its loss reserves by about $500 million, misleading investors about the amount of losses AIG could absorb and supporting its stock price.

Reid Weingarten, a lawyer for Ms. Monrad, previously defended former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers. Before and during the insurance trial, he alleged that Mr. Buffett knew about the transaction, something Mr. Buffett and his attorneys have denied.

The defense lawyers maintained that their clients weren't responsible for the way AIG accounted for the transaction, nor did they know AIG would account for it improperly.

"These convictions continue the string of successes in our crackdown on corporate fraud and our effort to restore integrity to our financial markets," said Acting Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford, chairman of the President's Corporate Fraud Task Force.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have expressed interest in getting information on a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission into whether Merrill Lynch & Co. booked inflated prices of mortgage bonds it held despite knowledge that the valuations had dropped, according to people familiar with the matter.
Prosecutors in Brooklyn, N.Y., have launched a preliminary criminal investigation into whether UBS AG also improperly valued its mortgage-securities holdings, as well as the circumstances surrounding two failed hedge funds at Bear Stearns Cos., which collapsed last summer because of losses tied to mortgage-backed securities, according to people familiar with the matter.

In 1999, I wanted to get business cards, and wanted a more colorful image for them.

My friend DeLee Smith, who is a graphic artist, put a great image together; it's now the one I use at the top of every page of this site.

Hubble image of NGC 3603 It has the same idea as the old image, with the letters reverse-masked over an astronomical image. This time, though the image is of NGC 3603, a gorgeous nebula (cloud of gas and dust) as seen through the eye of Hubble. It may be, in fact, my favorite image from Hubble. And, as it happens, I have a little history with this object.

In the image seen here (click on it to see a bigger version), there is a star in the upper left that has a broken bluish ring around it. Just to the upper right of it is a saucer-shaped blue cap, and the same to the lower left. The bright star in the ring is named Sher 25 (it's the star in the letter "A" in "Astronomy" in my new logo).

It's a pretty interesting star. Classified as a B1a, it's a hot supergiant, tipping the cosmic scale at something like 40 times the mass of the Sun. Stars like that don't live long; a few million years tops. When they die, they do it with a bang. Literally. In a few thousand years, and no more than 20,000, it will explode. When it does, it will send out a flood of high-energy ultraviolet photons that will slam into that ring of gas, making it fluoresce like a neon sign.

How do I know this? The star is a virtual twin of the star that blew up to form Supernova 1987A.

In fact, there are many similarities. Long before it exploded, the progenitor of SN87A formed a three-ring system around it (see the picture to the right). These rings are made of a very tenuous gas, and they have a complicated but interesting history. No one knew of the rings before SN87A exploded because the star wasn't quite hot enough to excite the gas; it took the fury of the star exploding to light up the ring system. From studying the rings, their age can be found, and it's pretty well determined that they formed about 20,000 years ago. Since the star blew up in 1987, and the rings formed when Sanduleak -69 202 was a star like Sher 25, it's reasonable to assume that Sher 25 has a maximum lifespan of 20,000 years.

In fact, Sher 25 may have considerably less time. We don't know how long it's been a blue supergiant; it may have turned a thousand years ago, or 18,000. may actually be right at the end of its life, and may explode like its twin did any day now. I am frequently asked what star I think will blow up next, and many astronomers assume it will be Betelgeuse, the red supergiant located in Orion. But I wonder... not too many people have heard of Sher 25, but I bet they will soon!

One last note: the other reason I am fond of this star is that it was the subject of the only paper I ever refereed as a professional astronomer. I was delighted to referee the article; it was excellent, and was the first time I had ever heard of the star. The authors even thanked me in their acknowledgements: "We thank an anonymous referee for valuable comments." Sniff! How touching!

(η Carinae or η Car) is a highly luminous hypergiant double star. Estimates of its mass range from 100–150 times the mass of the Sun, and its luminosity is about four million times that of the Sun.

This object is currently the most massive nearby star that can be studied in great detail. While it is possible that other known stars might be more luminous and more massive, Eta Carinae has the highest confirmed luminosity based on data across a broad range of wavelengths; former prospective rivals such as the Pistol Star have been demoted by improved data.

Stars in the mass class of Eta Carinae, with more than 100 times the mass of the Sun, produce more than a million times as much light as the Sun. They are quite rare — only a few dozen in a galaxy as big as the Milky Way.
They are assumed to approach (or potentially exceed) the Eddington limit, i.e., the outward pressure of their radiation is almost strong enough to counteract gravity. Stars that are more than 120 solar masses exceed the theoretical Eddington limit, and their gravity is barely strong enough to hold in its radiation and gas, resulting in a possible supernova or hypernova in the near future.

Eta Carinae's chief significance for astrophysics is based on its giant eruption or supernova impostor event seen around 1843. In a few years, Eta Carinae produced almost as much visible light as a supernova explosion, but it survived. Other supernova impostors have been seen in other galaxies, for example the false supernovas SN 1961v in NGC 1058 and SN 2006jc in NGC 4904, which produced a false supernova in October 2004. Significantly, SN 2006jc was destroyed in a supernova explosion two years later, on October 9, 2006. The supernova impostor phenomenon may represent a surface instabilityor a failed supernova. Eta Carinae's giant eruption was the prototype for this phenomenon, and after 160 years the star's internal structure has not fully recovered.

This object is located in the constellation Carina (right ascension 10 h 45.1 m, declination -59°41m), about 7,500 to 8,000 light-years from the Sun.
It is not typically visible north of latitude 27°N.

Related names have caused much confusion:

1. "Eta Carinae" means the star itself.
2. The "Homunculus Nebula" is the bipolar cloud of debris ejected in the great eruption, portrayed in images such as those from the Hubble Space Telescope.
3. "The Keyhole Nebula" is a much larger, nearby diffuse structure.
4. "The Carina Nebula," NGC 3372, is a large, bright star-formation region that produced a number of very massive stars including Eta Carinae.
5. "Trumpler 16" open cluster, to which Eta Carinae belongs, is itself located within the Carina Nebula. The nebula includes other open clusters, for example, Trumpler 14.

[One remarkable aspect of Eta Carinae is its changing brightness. It is currently classified as a luminous blue variable (LBV) double star.

When Eta Carinae was first catalogued in 1677 by Edmond Halley, it was of the 4th magnitude, but by 1730, observers noticed it had brightened considerably, and was at that point one of the brightest stars in Carina. Subsequently it dimmed again, and by 1782 was back to its former obscurity, but in 1820 it started growing in brightness again. By 1827 it had brightened more than tenfold, and reached its greatest brightness in April 1843: with a magnitude of -0.8 it was the second brightest star in the night-time sky (after Sirius at 8.6 light years away), despite its enormous distance of 7,000–8,000 light-years. (To put the relationship in perspective, the relative brightness would be like comparing a candle (Sirius) at 14.5 meters (48 feet) to another light (Eta Carinae) on the horizon of our planet 10 kilometers (6 mi) away, which would appear almost as bright as the candle.)

Eta Carinae sometimes has large outbursts, the last one just around its brightness maximum, in 1841. The reason for these outbursts is not yet known. The most likely possibility is believed to be that they are caused by built-up radiation pressure from the star's enormous luminosity.

After 1843 Eta Carinae faded away, and between about 1900 and 1940 it was only of the 8th magnitude: invisible to the naked eye
A "spectroscopic minimum" or "X-ray eclipse" occurred in the midsummer of 2003.
Astronomers organized a large observing campaign, which included every available ground-based (e.g. CCD optical photometry[6]) and space observatory, including major observations with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the INTEGRAL Gamma-ray space observatory, and the Very Large Telescope. Primary goals of these observations were to determine if in fact Eta Carinae is a binary star; if so, to identify its companion star; to determine the physical mechanism behind the "spectroscopic minima"; and to understand their relation (if any) to the large scale eruptions of the 19th century.

Falceta-Gonçalves and co-workers have found good agreements between the X-rays' light curve and the evolution on a wind-wind collision zone of a binary system. Their results were complemented by new tests on radio wavelengths.

Spectrographic monitoring of Eta Carinae showed that some emission lines faded precisely every 5.52 years, and that this period was stable for decades.
The star's radio emission along with its X-ray brightness, also drop precipitously during these "events" as well. These variations, along with ultra-violet observations gives very high probability for the scenario that Eta Carinae is actually a binary star, in which a hot, lower mass star revolves around η Carinae in a 5.52-year, highly eccentric elliptical orbit.

Kashi and Soker studied the propagation of the ionizing radiation emitted by the secondary star in Eta Carinae. A large fraction of this radiation is absorbed by the primary stellar wind, mainly after it encounters the secondary wind and passes through a shock wave. The amount of absorption depends on the compression factor of the primary wind in the shock wave. The compression factor is limited by the magnetic pressure in the primary wind. The variation of the absorption by the post-shock primary wind with orbital phase changes the ionization structure of the circumbinary gas and can account for the radio light curve of Eta Car. Fast variations near periastron passage are attributed to the onset of the accretion phase.

Eta Carinae suddenly and unexpectedly doubled its brightness in 1998–1999. Currently (2007) it can be easily seen with the naked eye, because it is brighter than magnitude 5.

Very large stars like Eta Carinae use up their fuel very quickly because of their disproportionately high luminosities. Eta Carinae is expected to explode as a supernova or hypernova some time within the next million or so years. As its current age and evolutionary path are uncertain, it could explode within the next several millennia or even in the next few years.
LBVs such as Eta Carinae may be a stage in the evolution of the most massive stars; the prevailing theory now holds that they will exhibit extreme mass loss and become Wolf-Rayet Stars before they go supernova, if they are unable to hold their mass to explode as a hypernova.

More recently another possible Eta Carinae analogue was observed; namely SN 2006jc some 77 million light years away in UGC 4904, in the constellation of Lynx. It brightened on 20 October 2004 and was reported by amateur astronomer Koichi Itagaki as supernova. However, it survived and finally exploded two years later as a Mag 13.8 type Ib supernova on 9 October 2006. Its earlier brightening was a supernova impostor event; the initial explosion hurled 0.01 solar masses (~20 Jupiters) of material into space.

Due to the similarity of Eta Carinae and SN 2006jc, Stefan Immler of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center suggests that Eta Carinae could explode in our lifetime or even in the next few years. However, Stanford Woosley of the University of California in Santa Cruz disagrees with Immler’s suggestion, and he says it is likely that Eta Carinae is at an earlier stage of evolution and that it has several kinds of material left for nuclear fusion.

Another recent analog star explosion was supernova SN 2006gy, observed starting on September 18, 2006 in NGC 1260 (a spiral galaxy in the constellation Perseus) 238 million light years from earth. A number of astronomers modelling supernova events have suggested that the explosion mechanism for SN 2006gy may be very similar to the fate that awaits Eta Carinae.

It is possible that the Eta Carinae hypernova or supernova could affect Earth, about 7,500 light years away, but would not likely affect humans directly, who are protected from gamma rays by the atmosphere. The damage would likely be restricted to the upper atmosphere, the ozone layer, spacecraft, including satellites, and any astronauts in space. At least one scientist has claimed that if the star were to explode, "it would be so bright that you would see it during the day, and you could even read a book by its light at night".
A supernova or hypernova produced by Eta Carinae would probably shoot a gamma ray burst out on both sides in the direction of its rotation axis. This catastrophic burst would probably not hit Earth, though, because the rotation axis does not currently point at us. Since Eta Carinae is at least a double star, or even a triple star, examined due to its short brightness and X-ray variation period, this may either increase or decrease the intensity of the supernova or hypernova it produces depending on the circumstances.

Irony has a way of being so, well, ironic sometimes. I have been writing these Snacks for three years now, and my plan was-- and still is-- to talk about things I find interesting about astronomy, and hope that you find them interesting as well. So how ironic is it that in all this time, I've never written about the one object I find most interesting of all?

I have always loved supernovae, stars that explode. There's something very dramatic about such a titanic display of force. When a star explodes, in one second it emits as much energy as the Sun does in its entire lifetime! Luckily, these events aren't too common, and tend to happen pretty far from the Earth. They are so bright, they can be seen clear across the Universe, a fact which may have startling implications for our eventual fate.

This week marks the anniversary of perhaps the most important supernova we've ever seen. It was the most closely studied supernova of all time; for one thing, it was the brightest supernova since the invention of the telescope! It revolutionized our ideas about how stars explode, why they explode, and what happens after they explode.
For the next few weeks I'll take a look at different aspects of this star, and how it changed astronomy. It certainly changed me! Even the discovery of this object is amazing, and so we'll start off this mini-series with just how this star exploded into our lives.

Late in the evening of February 23rd/24th, 1987, an astronomer named Ian Shelton was taking images of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. He was using a small telescope to take images of the LMC to check for variable stars and novae (novae are stars that suffer minor explosions, and are far less energetic then their big brothers the supernovae).
Shelton was taking a photographic plate of the LMC at about 1:00 a.m. local time that night.

At roughly the same time, Oscar Duhalde, an operator for a telescope not far from where Shelton was at the same observatory, decided to go outside to take a break from using the 'scope. Using nothing but his own eyes and his intimate knowledge of that area of the sky, he noticed a star in the LMC that wasn't there the last time he looked. He was actually the first person to see the supernova! Unfortunately, he didn't report it to the other astronomers, perhaps because he had been working so hard, and he simply forgot. Shortly thereafter, Ian Shelton developed the plates he had been taking of the LMC and immediately saw the new star. He went over to the other telescope and told them what he had found; Duhalde then mentioned that he had seen it earlier. At this point, the four astronomers (Shelton, Duhalde, Barry Madore and Robert Jedrzejewski) promptly went outside to see for themselves this new supernova.

And a supernova it was. They knew this immediately; it was far too bright to be a simple nova in the LMC. They sent a telegram to Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is the clearing house for astronomical discoveries.
A confirmation was sent by another team in New Zealand just half an hour later. It was by this margin that Shelton became known as the discoverer of Supernova 1987A.

Perhaps even funnier is that the supernova had actually been photographed even earlier. Robert McNaught, in Australia, was also photographing that area of the sky. However, unlike Shelton, he didn't notice the new star until later. Other photographs by other observers were also made before Shelton's. However, he is the one who first reported it, and so he is the one credited with discovering what would later turn out to be the most studied and important object of its kind.

Next week we'll talk about just why a star like this explodes, and how SN87A surprised us all by not following the rules.

Australia's 17-year-old economic expansion has reached a boiling point, leading policy makers to intensify their war on inflation.

Since mid-2002,
the Reserve Bank of Australia has raised its benchmark interest rate 11 times to 7%, the highest since 1996. And it may raise rates by another percentage point by year end.

With the world economy slowing, some Australians worry that the rate increases could go too far, ending the longest sustained period of prosperity in 50 years. "They do need to be careful," says Bernie Fraser, who was governor of the RBA between 1989 and 1996.

So far, however, the problem seems to be the opposite: The tightening measures haven't had much effect on the inflation rate, which could hit 4%, on a year-to-year basis, in the first quarter, well above the central bank's 2% to 3% target.

Australia's economy, the fifth-largest in Asia and about 1/15th the size of the U.S. economy, has withstood past upheavals such as the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s and the U.S. technology bust in 2000. These days, it is insulated to some extent from the storms hitting financial markets because of the rapid emergence of China and India, with their hunger for Australian commodities.

But with core inflation at 16-year highs, the RBA is in an unusual position: It is raising interest rates when many other central banks, including the Federal Reserve, are cutting rates or holding them steady.

Much of the Australian economy is roaring along. Unlike American consumers, who are struggling under heavy debt loads and pulling back, Australians have kept on spending.

Export revenue, meanwhile, is surging as coal and iron-ore producers lock in price increases of as much as 70% from steel mills and energy suppliers in Japan, China and South Korea.

Nicole Hollows, chief executive of MacArthur Coal Ltd., based in Queensland, expects the good times to continue as Russia and Brazil emerge as major buyers of energy products.

In addition, farmers are benefiting from the arrival of La Niña weather patterns, which are ending years of drought. The summer grain crop is projected to rise 40%, while the winter wheat crop is expected to set a record, just as world grain prices surge. Farmers could add A$8 billion (US$7.4 billion) to the economy this year.

The central bank and the new center-left government are determined to bring inflation under control. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has labeled inflation the government's No. 1 challenge, pledging deep spending cuts when he unveils the government's budget in May.

The RBA said last week that it considered raising its target for the cash rate, its main monetary-policy tool, by 0.5 percentage point at its Feb. 5 policy meeting but decided instead on a 0.25-percentage-point increase because of global uncertainty.

That has some onlookers warning that, as the U.S. economy sinks into what many fear could be a severe recession, Australia's war on inflation should be tempered. Gregory, a member of the central-bank board between 1985 and 1995, says there is an increasing risk that the central bank's rate increases will "overshoot."

"You do get locked into the potential for overshooting, because you get frustrated at the lack of success," he says.

Mr. Gregory warns that Australia's growth is uneven, with mining states fueling growth. Using the blunt instrument of interest rates could harm other parts of the economy, he says.

The central bank said in its latest policy statement that it expects annual nonfarm growth to slow to 2.75% this year from a 4% pace in the third quarter of 2007. Fourth-quarter growth data are due in March.

There are signs that the rate increases may be starting to take a toll. Sentiment among some businesses and consumers is falling as their debt-servicing costs rise. Exporters -- particularly those outside the resources sector -- may have a tougher time as interest rates rise, pushing up the Australian dollar. That would make exports more expensive for foreign buyers.

In addition, banks are confronting rising funding costs.
The heads of two of the country's major banks have warned that their costs have risen and customers may end up carrying the burden. "Looking at the global environment more broadly, this is a financial-services bloodbath," says Mike Smith, chief executive of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia's CEO, Ralph Norris, has said he couldn't rule out passing on higher costs to customers if there is a further deterioration in global credit markets.

The diverging trends -- with concern among bankers and some consumers and optimism among miners and other commodity-based companies -- mean policy makers have their work cut out for them. Too much tightening could be disastrous for the economy. But too little could fuel the kind of inflation that in the past required a severe recession to quash.

February 24, Wednesday. I am pressing on the matter of Wilkes. He and his family are moving to extricate him from the results of his own insubordination and folly. Fred Seward called on me by request of his father with a letter of Mrs. Wilkes respecting the court martial. Told Fred the matter must go on, I had borne and forborne with Wilkes until he presumed upon my kindness so far as to compel action if discipline was to be observed in the service. Fred expressed a conviction that I was right.
February 24, 1864

FEBRUARY 24TH.—Bright and pleasant. Intelligence from the West is of an interesting character. The column of Federal cavalry from Memphis, destined to co-operate with Gen. Sherman, has been intercepted and a junction prevented. And both Sherman and the cavalry are now in full retreat—running out of the country faster than they advanced into it. The desert they made as they traversed the interior of Mississippi they have now to repass, if they can, in the weary retreat, with no supplies but those they brought with them. Many will never get back.

And a dispatch from Beauregard confirms Finnegan’s victory in Florida. He captured all the enemy’s artillery, stores, etc., and for three miles his dead and wounded were found strewn on the ground.

Thus the military operations of 1864 are, so far, decidedly favorable. And we shall probably soon have news from Longstreet. If Meade advances, Lee will meet him—and let him beware!

Gold is still mounting up—and so with everything exposed for sale. When, when will prices come down?

But we shall probably end the war this year—and independence will compensate for all. The whole male population, pretty much, will be in the field this year, and our armies will be strong. So far we have the prestige of success, and our men are resolved to keep it, if the dissensions of the leaders do not interfere with the general purpose.
Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy, February 23, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy
by Gideon Welles

February 23, Tuesday. Chase did not come to the Cabinet-meeting to-day. As usual, two or three were absent. Usher has gone to the front, where there was a ball and fancy demonstrations. He is fond of matters of that kind and of the little flying gossip that is afloat.
Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 23, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's Diary FEBRUARY 23D.—Bright and pleasant.

A letter from Gen. Maury indicates now that Mobile is surely to be attacked.
He says they may force a passage at Grant’s Pass, which is thirty miles distant; and the fleet may pass the forts and reach the lower bay. Gen. M. has 10,000 effective men, and subsistence for 20,000 for six months. He asks 6000 or 7000 more men. He has also food for 4000 horses for six months. But he has only 200 rounds for his cannon, and 250 for his siege guns, and 200 for each musket.

Meal is the only food now attainable, except by the rich. We look for a healthy year, everything being so cleanly consumed that no garbage or filth can accumulate.
We are all good scavengers now, and there is no need of buzzards in the streets. Even the pigeons can scarcely find a grain to eat.

Gold brought $30 for $1, Saturday. Nevertheless, we have only good news from the armies, and we have had a victory in Florida.
Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 22, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's Diary

FEBRUARY 22D —The offices are closed, to-day, in honor of Washington’s birth-day. But it is a fast day; meal selling for $40 per bushel. Money will not be so abundant a month hence! All my turnip-greens were killed by the frost. The mercury was, on Friday, 5° above zero; to-day it is 40°. Sowed a small bed of curled Savoy cabbage; and saved the early York in my half barrel hot-bed by bringing it into the parlor, where there was fire.

A letter from Lieut.-Col. R. A. Alston, Decatur, Ga., says Capt. _____ _____, one of Gen. Morgan’s secret agents, has just arrived there, after spending several months in the North, and reports that Lincoln cannot recruit his armies by draft, or any other mode, unless they achieve some signal success in the spring campaign.
He says, moreover, that there is a perfect organization, all over the North, for the purpose of revolution and the expulsion or death of the Abolitionists and free negroes; and of this organization Generals _____ ______, and _____ ______ are the military leaders. Col. A. asks permission of the Secretary of War to go into Southern Illinois, where, he is confident, if he cannot contribute to precipitate civil war, he can, at least, bring out thousands of men who will fight for the Southern cause.

Dispatches from Gen. Lee show that nearly every regiment in his army has re-enlisted for the war.

The body guard of the President has been dispersed.

Here is the sequel to the history of the Jew whose goods brought such fabulous prices at auction a few weeks ago:

“A Heavy Robbery —A former citizen of Richmond stripped of all his goods and chattels.—A few weeks ago, Mr. Lewis Hyman, who had for some years carried on a successful and profitable trade in jewelry in the City of Richmond, disposed of his effects with a view of quitting the Confederacy and finding a home in some land where his services were less likely to be required in the tented field. Having settled up his business affairs to his own satisfaction, he applied for and obtained a passport from the Assistant Secretary of War, to enable him to pass our lines. He first took the Southern route, hoping to run out from Wilmington to Nassau; but delays occurring, he returned to Richmond. From this point he went to Staunton, determined to make his exit from the country by the Valley route.
All went on smoothly enough until he had passed Woodstock, in Shenandoah County. Between that point and Strasburg he was attacked by a band of robbers and stripped of everything he possessed of value, embracing a heavy amount of money and a large and valuable assortment of jewelry. We have heard his loss estimated at from $175,000 to $200,000. His passport was not taken from him, and after the robbery he was allowed to proceed on his journey—minus the essential means of traveling. It is stated that some of the jewelry taken from him has already made its appearance in the Richmond market.

“P. S.—Since writing the above, we have had an interview with Mr. Jacob Ezekiel, who states that the party of Mr. Hyman consisted of Lewis Hyman, wife and child, Madam Son and husband, and H. C. Ezekiel; and the presumption is that if one was robbed, all shared the same fate. Mr. E. thinks that the amount in possession of the whole party would not exceed $100,000. On Friday last two men called upon Mr. Ezekiel,

at his place of business in this city, and exhibited a parchment, in Hebrew characters, which they represented was captured on a train on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This story, Mr. Ezekiel thinks, is incorrect, from the fact that he received a letter from his son, then at Woodstock, dated subsequent to the capture of the train on that road; and he is satisfied that the articles shown him belonged to some of the parties above mentioned.”
February 22, 1864, Diary of a Yankee in the Patent Office

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of a Yankee in the Patent Monday 22nd

No particular notice was taken of the birth day of Washington in this City. The public offices were not closed but the flags were hung from numerous dwellings and offices. Julia and myself had intended to go down to Fort Foot today but the River is still too full of ice to make it pleasant and we decided not to go at present. The great Fair opened this evening for the benefit of the soldiers. Capt Roeselle of the 9th Artillery went with Julia, presented her with an elegant Boquet before starting.
Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy, February 22, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy
by Gideon Welles

February 22, Monday. Wrote a line to Seward that I had not been officially notified of the raising of the blockade of Brownsville, Texas. whole thing has been done most bunglingly by him, Chase, and the President. The subject was discussed two or three weeks since in regard to Brownsville and one or two other places, but we came to no conclusion, and nothing farther was said to me, nor was I aware that any action had been taken in regard to it till I saw the proclamation in the newspapers.

A circular, “strictly private,” signed by Senator Pomeroy and in favor of Mr. Chase for President, has been detected and published. It will be more dangerous in its recoil than its projectile. That is, it will damage Chase more than Lincoln. The effect on the two men themselves will not be serious. Both of them desire the position, which is not surprising; it certainly is not in the President; who would be gratified with an indorsement. Were I to advise Chase, it would be not to aspire for the position, especially not as a competitor with the man who has given him his confidence, and with whom he has acted in the administration of the government at a most eventful period. The President well understands Chase’s wish, and is somewhat hurt that he should press forward under the circumstances. Chase tries to have it thought that he is indifferent and scarcely cognizant of what is doing in his behalf, but no one of his partisans is so well posted as Chase himself.

The National Committee appointed at Chicago met today. As Connecticut had sent forward no one as a substitute in my place, I was for a brief time with the committee. I judge that four fifths are for the reelection of the President. The proceedings were harmonious, and will, I think, be satisfactory. I do not like this machinery and wish it could be dispensed with.
Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 21, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's Diary

FEBRUARY 21ST.—Cold, clear, and calm, but moderating.

Mr. Benjamin sent over, this morning, extracts from dispatches received from his commercial agent in London, dated December 26th and January 16th, recommending, what had already been suggested by Mr. McRae, in Paris, a government monopoly in the export of cotton, and in the importation of necessaries, etc.

This measure has already been adopted by Congress, which clearly shows that the President can have any measure passed he pleases; and this is a good one.

So complete is the Executive master of the “situation,” that, in advance of the action of Congress on the Currency bill, the Secretary of the Treasury had prepared plates, etc. for the new issue of notes before the bill passed calling in the old.

Some forty of the members of the Congress just ended failed to be re-elected,
and of these a large proportion are already seeking office or exemption.

The fear is now, that, from a plethora of paper money, we shall soon be without a sufficiency for a circulating medium. There are $750,000,000 in circulation; and the tax bills, etc. will call in, it is estimated, $800,000,000! Well, I am willing to abide the result. Speculators have had their day; and it will be hoped we shall have a season of low prices, if scarcity of money always reduces prices. There are grave lessons for our edification daily arising in such times as these.

I know my ribs stick out, being covered by skin only, for the want of sufficient food; and this is the case with many thousands of non-producers, while there is enough for all, if it were equally distributed.

The Secretary of War has nothing new from Gen. Polk; and Sherman is supposed to be still at Meridian.

There is war between Gen. Winder and Mr. Ould, agent for exchange of prisoners, about the custody and distribution to prisoners, Federal and Confederate. It appears that parents, etc. writing to our prisoners in the enemy’s country, for want of three cent stamps, are in the habit of inclosing five or ten cent pieces, and the perquisites of the office amounts to several hundred dollars per month—and the struggle is really between the clerks in the two offices.
A Mr. Higgens, from Maryland, is in Winder’s office, and has got the general to propose to the Secretary that he shall have the exclusive handling of the letters; but Mr. Ould, it appears, detected a letter, of an alleged treasonable character, on its way to the enemy’s country, written by this Higgens, and reported it to the Secretary. But as the Secretary was much absorbed, and as Winder will indorse Higgens, it is doubtful how the contest for the perquisites will terminate.

The Secretary was aroused yesterday. The cold weather burst the water-pipe in his office, or over it, and drove him off to the Spottswood Hotel.
Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 20, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's

FEBRUARY 20TH.—Bright, calm, but still cold—slightly moderating. Roads firm and dusty. Trains of army wagons still go by our house laden with ice.

Brig.-Gen. Wm. Preston has been sent to Mexico, with authority to recognize and treat with the new Emperor Maximilian.

I see, by a letter from Mr. Benjamin, that he is intrusted by the President with the custody of the “secret service” money.

Late papers from the United States show that they have a money panic, and that gold is rising in price. In Lowell not a spindle is turning, and 30,000 operatives are thrown out of employment

From England we learn that the mass of the population are memorializing government to put an end to the war!

I saw a ham sell to-day for $350; it weighed fifty pounds, at $7 per pound.
Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy, February 20, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy
by Gideon Welles

February 20, Saturday. Two or three committees are investigating naval matters, — contracts, supplies, engineering, etc. Senator Hale labors hard to find fault with the Department; is searching, as with a lantern, for errors and mistakes. Has detectives, rotten and disappointed contractors, and grouty party men of the Navy, as well as politicians of every kind of politics, to aid him, but has thus far seemed to injure his friends as well as himself and not the Department.

Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 19, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's Diary by John Beauchamp Jones

FEBRUARY 19TH.—Cold and clear. Congress adjourned yesterday, having passed the bill suspending the writ of habeas corpus for six months at least. Now the President is clothed with DICTATORIAL POWERS, to all intents and purposes, so far as the war is concerned.

The first effect of the Currency bill is to inflate prices yet more.
But as the volume of Treasury notes flows into the Treasury, we shall see prices fall. And soon there will be a great rush to fund the notes, for fear the holders may be too late, and have to submit to a discount of 331⁄2 per cent.

Dispatches from Gen. Polk state that Sherman has paused at Meridian.
Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy, February 19, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy by Gideon Welles

February 19, Friday. Am perplexed about charges and specifications against Wilkes. His conduct has been bad, — such as will perhaps break him. I think it might, if pressed to extremes, but I do not wish to be severe. Although insubordinate, disobedient, selfish, arrogant, and imperious towards inferiors, and somewhat insolent to all, I hoped to let him off without a trial. But he would not permit; the more forbearing I was, the more presumptuous and offensive he became, trampling on regulations and making public issue with the Department on false assumptions and misrepresentations. Navy dislike him and would treat him harshly; I have no malevolence towards him and do not want him punished to the extent he deserves and is liable, but he cannot be permitted to go unrebuked.

As I went into the Cabinet-meeting a fair, plump lady pressed forward and insisted she must see the President, —only for a moment, — wanted nothing. I made her request known to the President, who directed that she should be admitted. She said her name was Holmes, that she belonged in Dubuque, Iowa, was passing East and came from Baltimore expressly to have a look at President Lincoln. “Well, in the matter of looking at one another,” said the President, laughing, “I have altogether the advantage.” She wished his autograph, and was a special admirer and enthusiastic.
Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy, February 18, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy
by Gideon Welles

February 18, Thursday. Chase sent to my house this evening a miffy letter. I had written him freely and frankly my repugnance to the system of permits granted, or proposed to be granted, for cutting and collecting ship-timber. Heaton, his agent, proposed to stop granting more either from compunction or to give favorites a monopoly. I expressed my opposition to the whole system as demoralizing, and denied the right to give permits to commit waste. Chase takes exception and perhaps offense; says my letter reads like a lecture and is very unacceptable. Thinks I neither wrote nor read it.

I answered that I wrote it without suggestion from any one; that I was unreserved, and perhaps unfortunate, in my expressions, but that the opinions were honestly entertained and were my convictions, but I disclaimed any intention to lecture or give him offense. The party and political movements just at this time make Chase sensitive, and I award him due allowance.
February 18, 1864, Diary of a Yankee in the Patent Office

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of a Yankee in the Patent Office
by Horatio Nelson Taft

February 18th 1864 (Thursday)

This is the coldest weather that I have ever seen in Washington, that is for Six years. The Mercury was below zero this morning. The River is again frozen over, but there is no snow on the ground and the streets look quite lonesome. A cold cutting wind banishes everybody but those who must go.
Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 18, 1864
Louis J Sheehan Esquire
Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's Diary

by John Beauchamp Jones

FEBRUARY 18TH.—This was the coldest morning of the winter. There was ice in the wash-basins in our bed chambers, the first we have seen there. I fear my cabbage, beets, etc. now coming up, in my half barrel hot-bed, although in the house, are killed.

The topic of discussion everywhere, now, is the effect likely to be produced by the Currency bill. Mr. Lyons denounces it, and says the people will be starved. I have heard (not seen) that some holders of Treasury notes have burnt them to spite the government! I hope for the best, even if the worst is to come. Some future Shakspeare will depict the times we live in in striking colors. The wars of “The Roses” bore no comparison to these campaigns between the rival sections. Everywhere our troops are re-enlisting for the war; one regiment re-enlisted, the other day, for forty years!

The President has discontinued his Tuesday evening receptions. The Legislature has a bill before it to suppress theatrical amusements during the war. What would Shakspeare think of that?

Sugar has risen to $10 and $12 per pound.
Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy, February 17, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy
by Gideon Welles

February 17, Wednesday. Went this A.M. to Brady’s rooms with Mr. Carpenter, an artist, to have a photograph taken. Mr. C. is to paint an historical picture of the President and Cabinet at the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

I called to see Chase in regard to steamer Princeton, but he was not at the Department. Thought best to write him, and also Stanton. These schemes to trade with the Rebels bedevil both the Treasury and the Army.
Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 17, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's Diary

by John Beauchamp Jones

FEBRUARY 17TH.—Bright and very cold—freezing all day. Col. Myers has written a letter to the Secretary, in reply to our ordering him to report to the Quartermaster-General, stating that be considers himself the Quartermaster-General—as the Senate has so declared. This being referred to the President, he indorses on it that Col. Myers served long enough in the United States army to know his status and duty, without any such discussion with the Secretary as he seems to invite.

Yesterday Congress consummated several measures of such magnitude as will attract universal attention, and which must have, perhaps, a decisive influence in our struggle for independence.

Gen. Sherman, with 30,000 or 40,000 men, is still advancing deeper into Mississippi, and the Governor of Alabama has ordered the non-combatants to leave Mobile, announcing that it is to be attacked. If Sherman should go on, and succeed, it would be the most brilliant operation of the war. If he goes on and fails, it will be the most disastrous—and his surrender would be, probably, like the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. He ought certainly to be annihilated.

I have advised Senator Johnson to let my nephew’s purpose to bring Gen. Holmes before a court-martial lie over, and I have the papers in my drawer. The President will probably promote Col. Clark to a brigadiership, and then my nephew will succeed to the colonelcy; which will be a sufficient rebuke to Gen. H., and a cataplasm for my nephew’s wounded honor.

The Examiner has whipped Congress into a modification of the clause putting assistant editors and other employees of newspaper proprietors into the army. They want the press to give them the meed of praise for their bold measures, and to reconcile the people to the tax, militia, and currency acts. This is the year of crises, and I think we’ll win.
We are now sending 400 Federal prisoners to Georgia daily; and I hope we shall have more food in the city when they are all gone.
Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy, February 16, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy
by Gideon Welles

February 16, Tuesday. No matters of much moment at the Cabinet. But three present. Submitted to the President a letter from Admiral Lee, inclosing a permit to steamboat Princeton to trade within the blockading region. The President wished me to see Chase and ascertain how the vessel cleared.
Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 16, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's Diary

Louis J Sheehan

by John Beauchamp Jones

FEBRUARY 16TH.—A plan of invasion. Gen. Longstreet telegraphs that he has no corn, and cannot stay where he is, unless supplied by the Quartermaster-General. This, the President says, is impossible, for want of transportation. The railroads can do no more than supply grain for the horses of Lee’s army—all being brought from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, etc. But the President says Longstreet might extricate himself from the exigency by marching into Middle Tennessee or Kentucky, or both.

Soon after this document came in, another followed from the Tennessee and Kentucky members of Congress, inclosing an elaborate plan from Col. Dibrell, of the Army of Tennessee, of taking Nashville, and getting forage, etc. in certain counties not yet devastated, in Tennessee and Kentucky. Only 10,000 additional men will be requisite. They are to set out with eight days’ rations; and if Grant leaves Chattanooga to interfere with the plan, Gen. Johnston is to follow and fall upon his rear, etc. Gen. Longstreet approves the plan—is eager for it, I infer from his dispatch about corn; and the members of Congress are in favor of it. If practicable, it ought to be begun immediately; and I think it will be.

A bright windy day—snow gone.

The Federal General Sherman, with 30,000 men, was, at the last dates, still marching southeast of Jackson, Miss. It is predicted that he is rushing on his destruction. Gen. Polk is retreating before him, while our cavalry is in his rear. He cannot keep open his communications.
Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy, February 15, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy

by Gideon Welles

February 15, Monday. Mr. Sedgwick on Friday wished a pass to visit Stover, the convict in Fort Lafayette, and would get from him statements that would open frauds and misdeeds upon the government. I disliked to give him such pass, and yet was not fully prepared to deny him, because he might be useful in aiding the Department to bring offenders to light. I therefore put him off with a suggestion that he might consult the marshal, and telegraph me if necessary. I gave a permit, however, to Colonel Olcott, and Baker, the detective. To-day Colonel Olcott telegraphs me that he visited Stover at Fort Lafayette, and found Sedgwick with him by permission of General Dix.

There is evidently a desire among the officials of the War Office to make difficulty, and no disposition to aid the Navy Department in ferreting out offenders. These committees in Congress are like them in many respects.

The movements of parties and partisans are becoming distinct. I think there are indications that Chase intends to press his pretensions as a candidate, and much of the Treasury machinery and the special agencies have that end in view. This is to be regretted. The whole effort is a forced one and can result in no good to himself, but may embarrass the Administration. The extreme radicals are turning their attention to him and also to Fremont. As between the two, Chase is incomparably the most capable and best, and yet I think less of his financial ability and the soundness of his political principles than I did. The President fears Chase, and he also respects him. He places a much higher estimate on the financial talents of Chase than I do, because, perhaps, we have been educated in different schools.
The President, as a follower of Clay, and as a Whig, believes in expedients. I adhere to specie as the true standard of value. With the resources of the nation at his disposal, Chase has by his mental activity and schemes contrived to draw from the people their funds and credit in the prosecution of a war to which they willingly give their blood as well as their treasure.

Some late remarks in the Senate have a mischievous tendency, and there is no mistaking the fact that they have their origin in the Treasury Department. The Administration is arraigned as a departmental one in its management of affairs, and unfortunately the fact is so, owing chiefly to the influence of Seward. But Chase himself is not free from blame in this matter. He did not maintain, as he should have done, the importance of Cabinet consultations and decisions at the beginning, but cuddled first with Cameron, then with Stanton, but gained no strength. Latterly his indifference is more manifest than that of any other one, not excepting Stanton. This being the case, it does not become his special friends to assail the President on that score. Chase himself is in fault.

The President commenced his administration by yielding apparently almost everything to Seward, and Seward was opposed to Cabinet consultations.
He made it a point to have daily or more frequent interviews with the President, and to ascertain from him everything that was being done in the several Departments. A different course was suggested and pressed by others, but Chase, who should, from his position and standing, have been foremost in the matter and who was most decidedly with us then, flinched and shirked the point. He was permitted to do with his own Department pretty much as he pleased, and this reconciled him to the Seward policy in a great degree, though he was sometimes restless and desired to be better informed, particularly in regard to what was doing in the War Department. Things, however, took such a course that the Administration became departmental, and the result was the President himself was less informed than he should have been and much less than he ardently craved to be, with either the War or the Treasury.
The successive Generals-in-Chief he consulted constantly, as did Seward, and, the military measures being those of most absorbing interest, the President was constantly seeking and asking for information, not only at the Executive Mansion, but at their respective offices and headquarters. Scott, and McClellan, and Halleck, each influenced him more than they should have done, often in a wrong direction, for he better appreciated the public mind and more fully sympathized with it than any of his generals. Neither of the three military men named entered into the great political questions of the period with any cordiality, or in fact with any correct knowledge or right appreciation of them. Yet they controlled and directed military movements, and in some respects the policy of the government, far more than the Cabinet.
Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 15, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's Diary

by John Beauchamp Jones

FEBRUARY 15TH.—We have over forty of the escaped Federal officers. Nothing more from Gens. Wise and Finnegan. The enemy have retreated again on the Peninsula. It is said Meade’s army is falling back on Washington.

We have a snow storm to-day.

The President is unfortunate with his servants, as the following from the Dispatch would seem:

“Another of President Davis’s Negroes run away. — On Saturday night last the police were informed of the fact that Cornelius, a negro man in the employ of President Davis, had run away. Having received some clew of his whereabouts, they succeeded in finding him in a few hours after receiving the information of his escape, and lodged him in the upper station house. When caught, there was found on his person snack enough, consisting of cold chicken, ham, preserves, bread, etc., to last him for a long journey, and a large sum of money he had stolen from his master.
Some time after being locked up, he called to the keeper of the prison to give him some water, and as that gentleman incautiously opened the door of his cell to wait on him, Cornelius knocked him down and again made his escape. Mr. Peter Everett, the only watchman present, put off after him; but before running many steps stumbled and fell, injuring himself severely.”
Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 14, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's Diary

FEBRUARY 14TH.—Clear and windy. There is nothing new that I have heard of; but great apprehensions are felt for the fate of Mississippi—said to be penetrated to its center by an overwhelming force of the enemy. It is defended, however, or it is to be, by Gen. (Bishop) Polk.

I hear of more of the escaped Federal officers being brought in to-day.

The correspondence between the President and Gen. Johnston is causing some remark. The whole is not given. Letters were received from Gen. J. to which no allusion is made, which passed through my hands, and I think the fact is noted in this diary. He intimated, I think, that the position assigned him was equivocal and unpleasant in Tennessee. He did not feel inclined to push Bragg out of the field, and the President, it seems, would not relieve Bragg.

Mr. Secretary Seddon, it is now said, is resolved to remain in office.
Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy, February 13, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy by Gideon Welles

February 13, Saturday. Senator Hale called on me today. Was very plausible and half-confidential. Baker, the detective, had been before his committee. Had told many things of men in the Department. Lowering his voice, Hale said, “He tells some things about your Chief Clerk that are very suspicious.” I cautioned the Senator about receiving all the gossip and suspicion of Baker, who had no powers of discrimination, little regard for truth, believed everything bad, suspected everybody, and had no regard for the character and rights of any man. Told him I would be answerable for the honesty of Faxon, that no truthful man could doubt it, and that, having heard Baker’s scandal and suspicion, I requested him to bring me a fact, or find one if he could from his lying detective.

This pitiful Senator is devoting his time and that of his committee in a miserable attempt to bring reproach upon the Navy Department, to make points against it, to pervert facts, and to defame men of the strictest integrity. A viler prostitution of Senatorial position and place I have never witnessed. The primary object is to secure a reelection for himself, and a love of defamation attends it. Had a pleasant half-hour with Preston King, who made a special call to see me. Few men in Congress are his equal for sagacity, comprehensiveness, sound judgment, and fearlessness of purpose.

Such statesmen do honor to their State and country. His loss to the Senate cannot be supplied. I like his successor, Morgan, who has good sense and will, in the main, make a good Senator, but he cannot make King’s place good. I know not who can. Why are the services of such men set aside by small politicians? But King is making himself useful, and has come to Washington from patriotic motives to advise with our legislators and statesmen, and to cheer and encourage the soldiers.

I sometimes think he is more true to principles than I am myself. Speaking of Fernando Wood, we each expressed a common and general sentiment of surprise and disgust that any district could elect such a Representative. But the whole city of New York is alike leprous and rotten. This brought the question, How can such a place be regenerated and purified? What is the remedy? While I expressed a reluctant conviction, which is gradually coming over me, that in such a vicious community free suffrage was abased, and it was becoming a problem whether there should not be an outside movement, or some restriction on voting to correct palpable evil in municipal government, King maintained the old faith and would let the evil correct itself. If factious or partisan violence will go so far as to elect men like Wood or Brooks; if men of property and character will prostitute themselves to vote for them and consent to have their city misgoverned and themselves misrepresented, let them take the consequences. The evil will correct itself. After they have disgraced themselves sufficiently and loaded themselves with taxes and debt, they will finally rouse to a sense of duty, and retrieve the city from misrule and bad management and their district from misrepresentation. Such is the reasoning of Preston King.

I felt a return of old enthusiasm of former years, when in the security of youth I believed the popular voice was right, and that the majority would come to right results in every community; but alas! experience has shaken the confidence I once had. In an agricultural district, or a sparse population the old rule holds, and I am not prepared to deny King’s conclusions, but my faith in the rectitude of the strange material that compose a majority of the population of our large cities is not strong. The floating mass who have no permanent abiding-place, who are the tools of men like Wood and Brooks, who are not patriots but party demagogues, who have no fixed purpose or principle, should not by their votes, control and overpower the virtuous and good. Yet they do. Some permanent element is wanting in our system. We need more stability and
Louis J Sheehan, Esquire
character. In our municipalities there needs some modification for good government.
Diary of a Rebel War Clerk—February 13, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Rebel War Clerk's Diary by John Beauchamp Jones

FEBRUARY 13TH.—Bright, beautiful weather, with frosty nights.

The dispatches I cut from the papers to-day are interesting. Gen. Wise, it appears, has met the enemy at last, and gained a brilliant success—and so has Gen. Finnegan. But the correspondence between the President and Gen. Johnston, last spring and summer, indicates constant dissensions between the Executive and the generals. And the President is under the necessity of defending Northern born generals, while Southern born ones are without trusts, etc.


“CHARLESTON, February 11th, 1864.


“Gen Finnegan has repulsed the enemy’s force at Lake City—details not known.

“(Signed) G. T. BEAUREGARD.”


“CHARLESTON, February 11th—11 A.M.


“Gen. Finnegan’s success yesterday was very creditable—the enemy’s force being much superior to his own. His reinforcements had not reached here, owing to delays on the road. Losses not yet reported.

“(Signed) G. T. BEAUREGARD.”


“CHARLESTON, February 12th, 1864.

“Gen. Wise gallantly repulsed the enemy last evening on John’s Island. He is, to-day, in pursuit. Our loss very trifling. The force of the enemy is about 2000; ours about one-half.

“(Signed) G. T. BEAUREGARD.”

Every day we recapture some of the escaped Federal officers. So far we have 34 of the 109.

The President sent over a “confidential” sealed letter to the Secretary to-day. I handed it to the Secretary, who was looking pensive.

Dr. McClure, of this city, who has been embalming the dead, and going about the country with his coffins, has been detected taking Jews and others through the lines. Several live men have been found in his coffins.

Again it is reported that the enemy are advancing up the Peninsula in force, and, to-morrow being Sunday, the local troops may be called out. But Gen. Rhodes is near with his division, so no serious danger will be felt, unless more than 20,000 attack us. Even that number would not accomplish much—for the city is fortified strongly.

It is rumored by blockade-runners that gold in the North is selling at from 200 to 500 per cent. premium. If this be true, our day of deliverance is not distant.
Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy, February 12, 1864

Filed Under Civil War, Diary of the Union Secretary of the Navy
by Gideon Welles

February 12, Friday. Incessant employment early and late has prevented me from making entries, and there has been little of public interest to engage me. On Monday evening I attended a party at Admiral Shubrick’s which could not be avoided, and was detained later than I intended, but also went at 11 p.m. to Tassara’s, the Spanish Minister. Both were very dull, the latter crowded.

Committees and resolutions of inquiry from Congress have flocked in upon the Department. Many of the latter were frivolous, and most of them for mischievous purposes. How little do the outside public know of the intrigues of Congressional demagogues, who, under the guise of great public economists, are engaged in speculating schemes and fraudulent contrivances to benefit themselves, pecuniarily! John P. Hale, who is eminently conspicuous in this class of professed servants and guardians of the public treasury, has been whitewashed for his three-thousand-dollar retainer.
The committee excuse him, but propose a law which shall inflict ten thousand dollars’ fine and two years’ imprisonment on any one who shall again commit the offense.

Little of particular interest in the Cabinet-meeting. Seward left early, and Chase soon followed. I to-day wrote the latter, expressing pretty deliberately and effectually my opinion in regard to permits for cutting ship-timber in North Carolina. It may give offense, but I could
do no less than in a mild form object to the favoritism and monopoly that the system engendered.

Blair, who, with Senator Doolittle, was at my house this evening, avers I am a fortunate man above others. He says my opponents are making me great, and that I am fortunate in the attacks and abuses that are bestowed, and repeats an aphorism of Colonel Benton, that “a man is made great by his enemies, and not by his friends.” There is doubtless some truth in the remark, but not, I apprehend, as regards myself.

Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) Species represent a disproportionate amount of unique evolutionary history. They have few close relatives and are often extremely unusual in the way they look, live and behave. Some EDGE species, such as elephants and pandas, are well known and already receive considerable conservation attention, but many others, such as the Yangtze River dolphin (the world’s rarest cetacean), the bumblebee bat (arguably the world’s smallest mammal) and the egg-laying long-beaked echidnas are highly threatened yet remain poorly understood and are frequently overlooked by existing conservation frameworks. Recent research indicates that 70% of the world’s most threatened and evolutionarily distinct mammal species are currently receiving little or no conservation attention [1]. If these species are not highlighted and conserved we will not only lose many of the world’s unique species and a disproportionate amount of biodiversity, but we may also greatly reduce the potential for future evolution. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has launched a new global conservation initiative, the EDGE of Existence Programme to raise awareness and funds for the conservation of these species.

Placentonema gigantisma

Placentonema gigantisma
The largest nematode ever observed is Placentonema gigantisma, discovered in the placenta of a sperm whale. This 8 meter long nematode is said to have 32 ovaries. The original reference (which I’ve never seen) is Gubanov, N.M. 1951. Compt. Rend. Acad. Sci. URSS 77, 1123.

Other big verebrate parasites include Dioctophyma renale, the giant kidney worm (1m x 1.5cm). Most plant parasites are considerably smaller, usually measuring around 1 mm or less. Several Longidorus species exceed 10mm in length.

Roundworms (Nematoda)

The largest roundworm, Placentonema gigantisma, is a parasite found in the placentas of sperm whales which can reach up to 9 m in length.

While it has recently been suggested that nematodes are related to the arthropods and priapulids and should be grouped with them in the Ecdysozoa (molting animals), there is substantial resistance within the nematology community. Grouping organisms based on behaviors is not generally accepted. While there seems to be some evolutionary connection between these phyla, the exact nature of their relationship is still being debated.

That the roundworms have a large number of peculiar apomorphies and in many cases a parasitic lifestyle confounds analyses; the DNA sequence data hitherto analyzed is equivocal on ecdysozoan monophyly. Genetic analyses of roundworms suggest that - as is also indicated by their unique morphological features - the group has been under intense selective pressure during its early radiation, resulting
apparently in accelerated rates of both morphological and molecular evolution. Until a strong phylogenetic tree based on molecular characters is produced, most agree that the Nematoda should simply be referred to as part of the Metazoa.

Nematodes are unsegmented, bilaterally symmetric and triploblastic protostomes with a complete digestive system. Roundworms have no circulatory or respiratory systems so they use diffusion to breathe. Although they lack a circulatory system, nutrients are transported throughout the body via fluid in the pseudocoelom. They are thin and are round in cross section. Nematodes are one of the simplest animal groups to have a complete digestive system, with a separate orifice for food intake and waste excretion, a pattern followed by all subsequent, more complex animals. The body cavity is a pseudocoelom (persistent blastula), which lacks the muscles of coelomate animals used to force food down the digestive tract. Nematodes thus depend on internal/external pressures and body movement to move food through their digestive tracts. The mouth is often surrounded by various flaps or projections used in feeding and sensation. The portion of the body past the anus or cloaca is called the "tail." As they grow, their cells get larger, but the total number is constant, called eutely. The epidermis secretes a layered cuticle made of three layers of collagen[2] that protects the body from drying out, from digestive juices, or from other harsh environments. Although this cuticle allows movement and shape changes via a hydrostatic skeletal system, it is very inelastic so does not allow the volume of the worm to increase. Therefore, as the worm grows, it has to molt and form new cuticles. The cuticles don't allow volume to increase so as to keep hydrostatic pressure inside the organism very high. For this reason, the roundworms do not possess circular muscles (just longitudinal ones) as they're not required. This hydrostatic pressure is the reason the roundworms are round.

Most free-living nematodes are microscopic, though a few parasitic forms can grow to over a meter in length (typically as parasites of very large animals such as whales). are no circular muscles, so the body can only undulate from side to side. Contact with solid objects is necessary for locomotion; its thrashing motions vary from mostly to completely ineffective at swimming.

Nematodes generally eat bacteria, fungi and protozoans, although some are filter feeders. Excretion is through a separate excretory pore. Nematodes also contract bacterial infections within excretion pores.

Reproduction is usually sexual. Males are usually smaller than females (often very much smaller) and often have a characteristically bent tail for holding the female for copulation. During copulation, one or more chitinized spicules move out of the cloaca and are inserted into genital pore of the female. Amoeboid sperm crawl along the spicule into the female worm. Nematode sperm is thought to be the only eukaryotic cell without the globular protein G-actin.

Eggs may be embryonated or unembryonated when passed by the female, meaning that their fertilized eggs may not yet be developed. In free-living roundworms, the eggs hatch into larva, which eventually grow into adults; in parasitic roundworms, the life cycle is often much more complicated.

Nematodes have a simple nervous system, with a main nerve cord running along the ventral side. Sensory structures at the anterior end are called amphids, while sensory structures at the posterior end are called phasmids.

Roundworm—Dioctophyma renale causes Dioctophymiasis. Symptoms of this disease in the human include renal dysfunction, blood in the urine and kidney spasms. Urinalysis will reveal the eggs of D. renale but if the parasite is male, it can burrow into the abdomen and must be removed surgically. Eating raw or undercooked fish, frogs or crawfish livers can cause the disease.
Dioctophyma renale

Dioctophyma renale

a large blood red nematode found in the pelvis of the kidney and the peritoneal cavity of the dog; fairly common in wild carnivores like the mink, but rarely found in man; the life cycle is via leeches ectoparasitic on crayfish, which are then eaten by various fishes and finally by man or any of a number of other mammalian fish-eating hosts.

Dioctophyma renale or the giant kidney worm is a common parasital worm found especially in carnivorous animals, particularly minks and mustelids. It can also infect dogs and humans. Becoming up to 60 centimeters in length in mink and up to 100 centimeters in lupine animals, this vermillion kidney worm is one of the largest of all parasitic nematodes.

The giant kidney worm enters the definitive host (most commonly the mink) after ingestion of raw fish, frogs, or annelids containing encysted larvae. The larva migrates through the bowel wall and travels through the abdominal cavity first to the liver and then to the kidney. It slowly devouring the renal tissue of the host and reducing it to a hollow organic sack. It is found more frequently in the right kidney than in the left.[1] It can also occur in the digestive tract.

Occasionally this worm is an incidental finding within the abdominal cavity during routine ovariohysterectomies on canines in veterinary practices.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Nematoda
Class: Secernentea
Order: Ascaridida
Family: Dioctophymatidae
Genus: Dioctophyma
Species: Dioctophyma renale
Geographic Range

Dioctophyma renale is a cosmopolitan parasite occuring across Europe, the Americas, Africa and Australia. (Moravec, 1994)

Biogeographic Regions:
nearctic ; palearctic ; ethiopian ; neotropical ; australian .

Dioctophyma renale has a wide range of mammalian host species, such as dog, wolf, cheetah, mink, horse, swine and humans. Fish-eating mammals are the most common hosts of D. renale because fish often serve as paratenic hosts after ingesting an infected annelid intermediate. Any mammal that drinks water infested with infected annelid intermediate hosts, such as horses, has the potential of ingesting an infective third stage juvenile of D. renale. Given the aquatic portion of its life cycle, water is a necessary element of the habitat of D. renale. (Kothekar, 1984)

These animals are found in the following types of habitat:
temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial ; freshwater .

Terrestrial Biomes:
desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest .

Aquatic Biomes:
lakes and ponds; temporary pools.

Wetlands: marsh , swamp .

urban ; suburban ; agricultural .
Physical Description
20 to 100 cm
(7.87 to 39.37 in)

Dioctophyma renale is one of the largest nematodes to parasitize humans. This worm is cylindrical, has a cuticle with three or more main outer layers made of collagen and other compounds. The outer layers are non-cellular and are secreted by the epidermis. The cuticle layer protects the nematodes so they can invade the digestive tracts of animals. Longitudinal muscles line the body wall.
The muscles are obliquely arranged in bands. Dorsal, ventral and longitudinal nerve cords are connected to the main body of the muscle.

Adult females are significantly larger than males, reaching up to 100 cm long and 12 mm wide whereas males only reach 20 cm long and 6 mm wide. Dioctophyma renale is generally red in color and blunt at the end. The male has a fleshy bell-shaped copulatory organ, or bursa, without any supporting rays and a single bristle-like spicule. The female reproductive organ, or vulva, is in the anterior of the body. The eggs are constant in size, light in color, lemon-shaped with deep pits in the shells. The larvae of D. renale are yellow to rusty colored, threadlike and range in length from 6.0 to 10 mm and in width from .1 mm to .202 mm. (Moravec, 1994; Olsen, 1974; Roberts and Janvoy, 1996; Tuur et al., 1987)

Some key physical features:
ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry .

Sexual dimorphism: female larger, sexes shaped differently.

Dioctophyma renale eggs are laid in the kidneys of the definitive host and passed to the urinary bladder. They need two weeks to three months in water, depending on temperature, to embryonate. Infective eggs only hatch when ingested by an intermediate host of D. renale, generally an annelid worm. The first stage juveniles penetrate the ventral blood vessel of the annelid host and develop through two molts into the third stage juvenile. When the intermediate host annelid is ingested by a fish, the third stage larvae encysts in the abdominal muscle or wall of the digestive tube and the fish acts as a paratenic host. Third stage juveniles of D. renale continue to mature until the paratenic host is eaten by a vertebrate definitive host, where they migrate from the intestine to the kidney and eventually reach sexual maturity. (Moravec, 1994; Olsen, 1974; Roberts and Janvoy, 1996)


Females may produce a phermomone to attract males. The male coils around a female with his curved area over the female genital pore. The gubernaculum, made of cuticle tissue, guides spicules which extend through the cloaca and anus. Males use spicules to hold the female during copulation. Nematode sperm are amoeboid-like and lack flagella. (Barnes, 1987; Roberts and Janvoy, 1996)

Key reproductive features:
sexual ; fertilization (internal ); oviparous .

Often the right kidney is infected, perhaps because it is closer to the stomach and liver. (Roberts and Janvoy, 1996)

Key behaviors:
parasite ; motile ; sedentary .
Communication and Perception

Nematodes in general have papillae, setae and amphids as the main sense organs. Setae detect motion (mechanoreceptors), while amphids detect chemicals (chemoreceptors). (Barnes, 1987; Roberts and Janvoy, 1996)

Communicates with:
tactile ; chemical .

Other communication keywords:
pheromones .

Perception channels:
tactile ; chemical .
Food Habits

Dioctophyma renale is most prevalently found in the kidneys and parts of the abdominal cavities of mammalian hosts. Rarely, D. renale is found in the ureter, urinary bladder or urinary canal.
Dioctophyma renale generally feed on blood and tissue cells. Pharyngeal glands and intestinal epithelium produce digestive enzymes to feed on the hosts’ body fluids. Extracellular digestion begins within the lumen and is finished intracellularly. (Barnes, 1987; Kothekar, 1984; Roberts and Janvoy, 1996)

Primary Diet:
carnivore (sanguivore , eats body fluids).

Animal Foods:
blood; body fluids.

These parasites are usually not preyed on directly, but are ingested from host to host. Larval mortality is high as most of the parasites do not reach appropriate hosts.
Ecosystem Roles

Dioctophyma renale has a wide range of mammalian host species, such as dog, wolf, cheetah, mink, horse, swine and humans. Fish-eating mammals are the most common hosts of D. renale because fish often serve as paratenic hosts after ingesting an infected annelid intermediate. Any mammal that drinks water infested with infected annelid intermediate hosts, such as horses, has the potential of ingesting an infective third stage juvenile of D. renale. (Kothekar, 1984)

Key ways these animals impact their ecosystem:
parasite .
Species (or larger taxonomic groups) used as hosts by this species

* horses, Equus
* dogs and wolves, Canis
* swine, Suidae
* mink, Mustela
* cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus
* humans, Homo sapiens
* Annelida

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Dioctophyma renale can have devastating effects on its host. In one study, the presence of D. renale in dogs, ranging in size from 21 x .3 cm to 75.5 x .8 cm, caused macroscopic alterations in the kidneys as well as in the abdominal cavities. Most hosts of D. renale, including humans, suffer from pressure necrosis caused by growing worms and their feeding activities. This reduces the infected kidney to a thin-walled, ineffective organ. Loss of kidney function and
uremic poisoning are severe side effects. Treatment is limited to surgical removal of the parasite and the affected kidney. Human infection with D. renale is rare and generally easy to avoid via thorough cooking of fish and boiling of water. (Neves et al., 1983; Roberts and Janvoy, 1996)

Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans:
injures humans (causes disease in humans ); causes or carries domestic animal disease .

Renee Sherman Mulcrone (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Maya Ravani (author), University of Michigan.
Solomon David (editor), University of Michigan.

Barnes, R. 1987. Invertebrate Zoology. Orlando, Florida: Dryden Press.

Kothekar, V. 1984. Key to Parasitic Nematodes V 4. Washington, D.C.: Amerind Publishing Co., Pvt, Ltd..

Moravec, F. 1994. Parasitic Nematodes of Freshwater Fishes of Europe. The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Neves, D., A. Morais, R. Nogueira, M. Chquiloff. 1983. Occurrence of Dioctophyma renale in Dogs in Lages State of Santa-Catarina Brazil. Arquivo Brasileiro de Medicina Veterinaria e Zootecnia, 35 (5): 665-674.

Ohio State University, 2001?. "Dioctophyme renale (giant kidney worm)" (On-line). Parasites and Parasitological Resources. Accessed September 15, 2004 at
Olsen, O. 1974. Animal Parasites: Their Life Cycles and Ecology Third Edition. Maryland: University Park Press.

Roberts, L., J. Janvoy. 1996. Foundations of Parasitology Sixth Edition. Massachusetts: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..

Tuur, S., A. Nelson, D. Gibson, F. Johnson, F. Mostofi. 1987. Liesegange Rings in Tissue: How to Distinguish Liesegang Rings from the Giant Kidney Worm Dioctophyme renale. American Journal of Surgical Pathology, 11 (8): 598-605.
2008/02/24 03:35:49.230 US/Eastern

To cite this page: Ravani, M. 2003. "Dioctophyma renale" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 24, 2008 at

Disclaimer: The Animal Diversity Web is an educational resource written largely by and for college students. ADW doesn't cover all species in the world, nor does it include all the latest scientific information about organisms we describe. Though we edit our accounts for accuracy, we cannot guarantee all information in those accounts. While ADW staff and contributors provide references to books and websites that we believe are reputable, we cannot necessarily endorse the contents of references beyond our control.

By June, for the first time in decades, there will be a big new stand-alone candy maker: Cadbury. But its architects had intended to add another iconic brand to the name -- Hershey.

A little over a year ago, Todd Stitzer, chief executive of Cadbury Schweppes PLC, of the United Kingdom, sat down in the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes hotel in Orlando, Fla., with Richard Lenny, his counterpart at Hershey Co., to suggest the two executives create a "global confectionery powerhouse."

"We disagree with much that is in the letter, including your self-serving version of events and selective use of facts, but we see no useful purpose served by a continuing exchange of letters."
-- Hershey Co.'s board of directors to the directors of the Hershey Trust.

The encounter set off a chain reaction that has left Cadbury, which has since agreed to spin off its beverage business, on its own and Hershey firmly in the grip of its largest shareholder, a secretive charitable organization called the Hershey Trust Co. The events culminated in the fall with the resignation of Mr. Lenny and the subsequent departure of eight Hershey directors in what a local newspaper dubbed "the Sunday night massacre."

The Pennsylvania chocolatier faces a host of challenges. Hershey's earnings have deteriorated and the company has been losing market share to rival Mars Inc. Its stock price has fallen about 31% in the past 12 months, closing at $36.84 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, while the Dow Jones Wilshire U.S. Food and Beverage Index is up 5.6% over that same period. Hershey also is one of several candy companies under a price-fixing probe by antitrust authorities in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Hershey's downward spiral offers an illustration of how a breakdown in communication and trust among a company's main actors -- management, the board of directors and key shareholders -- can paralyze an organization and leave it vulnerable. As Hershey Trust Chairman LeRoy Zimmerman wrote in an October letter to Hershey Co.'s board: "The lifeblood of collaboration is truth."

In 1909, company founder Milton Hershey established a school for orphans and later transferred his wealth, including his ownership stake in the company, to the Hershey Trust Co., which administers the school's trust. Few trusts hold substantial equity in public companies anymore, and those that do rarely seek to wield much influence over them.

The Hershey Trust became aggressive after concluding Mr. Lenny had kept it in the dark about Cadbury and the company's declining financial fortunes. Now, the future of Hershey and its hometown, population 12,771, according to the 2000 census, lies squarely in the trust's hands. The trust, whose board is dominated by local elites, owns almost 30% of Hershey's stock, controls about 79% of the voting shares and has the legal authority to appoint or remove up to five-sixths of the company's directors.

The trust would like to find an international partner like Cadbury that would help solve Hershey's biggest problem -- reliance on the U.S., which accounts for more than 80% of its revenue. So far, that hasn't happened.

Cadbury and Hershey had flirted for decades. But Hershey had insisted on doing a deal on equal footing, and the two sides were never able to agree on how to handle Cadbury's drinks business, which made it considerably larger than Hershey.

Armed with a nearly 30-page presentation, Mr. Stitzer told Mr. Lenny in Florida in January, 2007, that Cadbury's board was ready to remove that stumbling block by getting rid of the drinks division, people familiar with the matter said. He also offered to register the company in Delaware, put headquarters in Hershey and maintain a U.S. stock listing.

Under the plan, Mr. Stitzer would be CEO of the new company and Mr. Lenny chairman, the people said. Mr. Lenny told Mr. Stitzer that he would consult his board and get back to him.

Exactly when Messrs. Stitzer and Lenny next spoke and what was said is a matter of dispute. What is clear is that merger talks between the two never got off the ground.

Mr. Lenny waited for the Hershey board's next regular meeting Feb. 13, 2007, to address the issue. He raised it late in the session, and the discussion was short. Some directors left not realizing the approach had been serious, people familiar with the matter said.

In mid-March, Mr. Stitzer announced Cadbury would jettison its drinks business, which makes Dr Pepper and 7 UP. Two weeks later, he told analysts in London a merger with Hershey would make sense. The news piqued the interest of Robert Vowler, the trust's liaison to the company who met quarterly with Mr. Lenny.

Relations between Mr. Vowler, who manages the trust's day-to-day operations from the limestone mansion in Hershey where the company's founder used to live, and Mr. Lenny have been cool for years. In 2002, the trust decided to sell Hershey and then reversed course just as Mr. Lenny was about to sign an agreement with Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. It was Mr. Vowler who called Mr. Lenny to tell him the trust was pulling the plug.

So when Mr. Vowler reached out to Mr. Lenny last April to ask about Hershey's position on Cadbury, things didn't go well. It was only then that Mr. Lenny told him that he had gotten a proposal from Mr. Stitzer, said a person familiar with the matter. In a series of testy exchanges, Mr. Vowler accused the CEO of intentionally withholding information from the trust, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Lenny responded that it was the responsibility of the trust's representative on the Hershey board to tell the trust, not his. That representative, Robert Cavanaugh, didn't notify the trust because he didn't know how detailed the Cadbury proposal was, said a person familiar with the matter.

So upset was Mr. Vowler that Mr. Lenny had discussed a merger with Cadbury without engaging the trust that he recruited former Hershey executive Robert Reese to advise the trust on the potential merits of a Cadbury deal.

Mr. Reese is a grandson of the man who created the eponymous peanut butter cups; Hershey bought the H.B. Reese Candy Co. in 1963, and Mr. Reese worked as a lawyer at Hershey from 1978 to 2002. In the late 1980s, he worked with Mr. Stitzer on a deal that gave Hershey the rights to sell Cadbury chocolates in the U.S.

Working out of an office in the Hershey mansion, Mr. Reese called Hershey employees with questions about the company. Mr. Reese, in a written statement, said he began advising the trust last April "on a variety of matters."

When the company reported a disappointing second quarter in July, the trust board felt blindsided, said people familiar with the matter. Once again, Mr. Lenny had withheld key information, they believed.

By September, Hershey stock was down about 7% for the year. As Hershey's profits and market capitalization had declined since the stock's peak in 2005, the trust had seen the value of its holdings decrease more than $1 billion.

Early in September, the trust took the Cadbury matter into its own hands. Trust and Cadbury representatives met at the Palace Hotel in New York City; Mr. Lenny wasn't invited, though Jon Boscia, a Hershey company board member, was.

But things had changed. The credit crisis had made a sale of Cadbury's beverage business much less certain, and Hershey's declining performance made the company look less attractive. The talks went nowhere. On Oct. 1, Mr. Lenny called trust Chairman Mr. Zimmerman and said he was going to "retire."

The next day, Hershey Co. announced Mr. Lenny's right-hand man, Chief Operating Officer David West, would become CEO Dec. 1. Trust board members believed Mr. West would be an interim CEO, according to a letter the trust later wrote to the Hershey board. But a few days later, the trust learned from a regulatory filing that the company board had signed Mr. West to a three-year contract. People close to the company insist the trust knew Mr. West would be signed on as the permanent CEO.

In either case, the trust again felt betrayed. On Oct. 10, Mr. Zimmerman issued a public statement on behalf of the trust in which he said the shareholder was "not satisfied with the company's results."

About a week later, Hershey reported third-quarter earnings had fallen 66%. Mr. Zimmerman arranged for a conference call with Mr. Boscia and Hershey director Robert Campbell, who worked most closely with the trust's board. Mr. Zimmerman demanded they resign and that four trust nominees be added to the Hershey board by the close of business Oct. 22.

The Hershey board agreed to the trust nominees but not the resignations. If the trust forced the resignations, the board said, the other directors, with the exception of the trust's representative, Mr. Cavanaugh, would quit, too. The board had drawn its line in the sand.
On Nov. 9, the trust board decided to cross it. It demanded and received the resignations of Messrs. Campbell and Boscia, along with four other directors. Two other independent directors resigned on their own.

On Sunday, Nov. 11, the trust announced their successors.

The game is over!

[DOOM]: Berserker

[IRIS]: Merchant

[NEON]: Pirate


W2 (89,182,212,235) [STYX] (Industry=1/0,Metal=5,Mines=2,Population=28,
F83[NEON]=37 (Moved)
F178[NEON]=124 (Moved)
(F13[STYX](Unload)-->W89 F192[STYX](Unload)-->W89 F214[STYX]-->W89)

W3 (5,97,103,203) [NEON] (Industry=30,Metal=130,Mines=4,Population=100,
Limit=100,Turns=5) V15:Titanium Crown V16:Blessed Crown
V21:Platinum Pyramid V27:Vegan Pyramid V36:Blessed Lodestar
V45:Titanium Shekel V47:Vegan Shekel V64:Golden Sepulchre
V96:Blessed Sphinx V97:Vegan Sphinx
F148[IRIS]=10 (Moved,Cargo=18)
(F8[IRIS]-->W103 F58[IRIS]-->W97 F72[IRIS]-->W5 F123[IRIS]-->W203

W5 (3,15,162,253) [NEON] (Industry=2/0,Metal=15,Mines=7,Population=78,
F72[IRIS]=3 (Moved)

W8 (13,21,94) [DOOM] (Industry=2,Metal=12,Mines=3,Population=5R,Limit=43,

W13 (8,86,175) [DOOM] (Industry=1,Metal=71,Mines=7,Population=12R,Limit=71,

W15 (5,44,83,214) [IRIS] (Industry=3,Metal=4,Mines=4,Population=76,Limit=76,
F11[IRIS]=13 (Moved,Cargo=26) V93:Silver Sphinx
F166[IRIS]=8 (Gift from [NEON],Cargo=2)

W16 (140,165,198,215) [DOOM] (Industry=2,Metal=14,Mines=6,Population=84,
(F18[IRIS]-->W215 F47[IRIS]-->W198 F103[IRIS]-->W165)

W17 (35,42,152,169) [DOOM] (Industry=2,Metal=6,Mines=3,Population=12R,
(F68[DOOM]-->W35 F124[IRIS]-->W152 F206[DOOM]-->W35 F217[NEON]-->W42

W18 (47,48,242) [NEON] (Metal=22,Mines=3,Population=83,Limit=83,Turns=3,

W20 (165,192,238,253) [NEON] (Metal=9,Mines=6,Population=47,Limit=47,Turns=1,

W22 (77,107,155) [DOOM] (Industry=6/5,Metal=5,Mines=5,Population=76,Limit=76,
F204[IRIS]=23 (Moved)

W25 (52,115,211) [NEON] (Metal=4,Mines=4,Population=59,Limit=59,Turns=5,
P-Ships=1,Plunder=1) V23:Silver Pyramid
F6[STYX]=21 (Moved)
F234[STYX]=25 (Moved)

W26 (61,117,243) [STYX] (Metal=4,Mines=2,Population=1,Limit=89,Turns=7,
F69[DOOM]=22 (Moved) V10:Plastic Crown
F181[DOOM]=1 (Moved) V9:Radioactive Isotope
F179[NEON]=20 (Moved)

W27 (67,184,194,242) [NEON] (Mines=8,Population=159,Limit=159,Turns=7,

W28 (73,108,116,160) [MARS] (Metal=39,Mines=4,Population=39,Limit=39,Turns=2,

W29 (34,101,133,197) [DOOM] (Industry=30,Metal=51,Mines=3,Population=50R,
Limit=100,Turns=5,I-Ships=1) V67:Vegan Sepulchre
V69:Radiant Sepulchre V99:Radiant Sphinx
F134[IRIS]=7 (Moved,Cargo=14)
F135[IRIS]=10 (Moved,Cargo=18)
(F41[DOOM]-->W133 F88[DOOM]-->W34 F118[IRIS]-->W197 F145[DOOM]-->W34
F150[DOOM]-->W34 F162[DOOM]-->W101)

W32 (60,64,205) [DEEP] (Metal=1,Mines=4,Population=1,Limit=97,Deaths=96/20C,
F53[NEON]=2 (Captured,Lost by [ICON],R12)
F249[NEON]=31 (Moved)
(F25[MARS]-->W205 F254[MARS]-->W205)

W34 (29,82,168) [DOOM] (Industry=1,Metal=17,Mines=4,Population=7R,Limit=82,
Turns=3,I-Ships=1) V55:Titanium Sword
F145[DOOM]=1 (Moved)
(F88[DOOM]-->W82 F134[IRIS]-->W29 F150[DOOM]-->W168)

W35 (17,96,201,207) [] (Lost by [DEEP],BUSTED,Population=0,Deaths=69/22C,
F68[DOOM]=26 (Moved)
F206[DOOM]=2 (Moved)
F102[ICON]=1 (D)
(F80[MARS]-->W96 F160[NEON]-->W96)

W36 (123,220,236) [NEON] (Captured,Lost by [STYX],Metal=5,Mines=2,
F238[NEON]=12 (AH)

W40 (85,128,140,198) [DOOM] (Metal=15,Mines=7,Population=77,Limit=77,Turns=4,
F196[IRIS]=8 (Moved)
(F2[IRIS]-->W128 F240[IRIS]-->W85)

W42 (17,92,96,254) [ICON] (Industry=2,Metal=2,Mines=3,Population=4R,Limit=72,
F109[NEON]=1 (Captured,Lost by [MARS],Moved,At-Peace)
F239[NEON]=12 (Moved)
(F80[MARS]-->W92 F217[NEON]-->W254)

W44 (15,165,215,253) [IRIS] (Industry=33,Metal=121,Mines=4,Population=100,
Limit=100,Turns=5,I-Ships=1) V26:Blessed Pyramid V73:Silver Moonstone
F103[IRIS]=15 (Moved,Cargo=30)
(F70[IRIS]-->W165 F183[IRIS]-->W15 F193[IRIS]-->W215)

W45 (106,143,158) [DOOM] (Metal=12,Mines=5,Population=116,Limit=116,Turns=2,

W47 (18,113,130) [DOOM] (Industry=2,Metal=12,Mines=3,Population=9R,Limit=28,

W48 (18,81,130,240) [NEON] (Metal=14,Mines=2,Population=37,Limit=69,Turns=7,

W51 (10,187,200) [] C[DEEP] (Lost by [STYX],Mines=2,Population=31/2C,
F62[NEON]=1 (Moved) V7:Lesser of Two Evils
F207[DEEP]=15 (AH)

W52 (25,181,207,218) [NEON] (Metal=2,Mines=2,Population=82,Limit=82,Turns=5,
P-Ships=1,Plunder=1/2) V34:Golden Lodestar

W59 (77,107,185,214) [NEON] (Gift from [IRIS],Metal=4,Mines=4,Population=66,
(F11[IRIS]-->W214 F204[IRIS]-->W77)

W60 (32,43,216) [DOOM] (Captured,Lost by [DEEP],Metal=7,Mines=2,Population=5R,
F31[DOOM]=3 (R3)

W64 (32,99,225) [DEEP] C[DEEP] (Metal=4,Mines=4,Population=77/21C,Limit=85,
F38[DOOM]=21 (AF15)
F78[DOOM]=17 (Moved)
F15[ICON]=8 (R1)
F176[ICON]=1 (Gift from [MARS],At-Peace)

W67 (27,81,144) [NEON] (Metal=41,Mines=7,Population=132,Limit=138,Turns=2,

W69 (105,111,171,179) [NEON] (Gift from [DOOM],Metal=35,Mines=3,Population=85,
Limit=85,Turns=1,P-Ships=1) V41:Platinum Shekel

W73 (28,102,202) [DEEP] (Metal=2,Mines=5,Population=1,Limit=121,Turns=2,
F113[DOOM]=9 (Moved)
(F45[ICON]-->W202 F54[MARS]-->W202)

W76 (70,72,105,200) [OOZE] (Gift from [STYX],Metal=6,Mines=2,Population=24,
F227[DEEP]=3 (Moved)
(F62[NEON](Unload)-->W200 F203[IRIS]-->W200)

W77 (22,59,222) [DOOM] (Metal=46,Mines=5,Population=13R,Limit=38,Turns=1)

W81 (48,67,124,242) [NEON] (Metal=25,Mines=4,Population=48,Limit=48,Turns=1,

W82 (34,101,175) [DOOM] (Industry=3,Metal=3,Mines=8,Population=6R,Limit=92,
F88[DOOM]=1 (Moved)

W83 (15,87,162) [NEON] (Mines=4,Population=78,Limit=78,Turns=1,Plunder=1/1)

W85 (40,164,177,189) [DOOM] (Metal=21,Mines=4,Population=100,Limit=100,
Turns=3,P-Ships=1) V2:Nebula Scrolls, Vol. II
F240[IRIS]=10 (Moved)

W87 (83,185,214) [NEON] (Metal=18,Mines=6,Population=126,Limit=126,Turns=7,
F183[IRIS]=8 (Moved)

W88 (182,212,213,218) [NEON] (Industry=1/0,Metal=21,Mines=4,Population=121,
F50[NEON]=0 (Captured)
(F3[NEON]-->W218 F10[NEON]-->W212 F24[NEON]-->W182 F32[NEON]-->W218
F79[DOOM]-->W212 F83[NEON]-->W182 F116[NEON]-->W218 F178[NEON]-->W182)

W90 (181,201,207) [DEEP] C[DEEP] (Metal=36,Mines=3,Population=81C,Limit=81,
F5[NEON]=11 (Moved)

W91 (39,220,235,236) [NEON] (Captured,Lost by [STYX],Industry=2,Metal=2,
F211[NEON]=9 (AH)

W92 (42,152,223,232) [ICON] (Industry=30/0,Metal=76,Mines=3,Population=33R,
F124[IRIS]=25 (Moved)
F13[STYX]=26 (Moved)
F19[STYX]=1 (Moved) V3:Nebula Scrolls, Vol. III
F29[STYX]=13 (Moved)
F43[STYX]=18 (AI)
F46[STYX]=4 (Moved)
F56[STYX]=12 (Moved)
F74[STYX]=8 (AI)
F101[STYX]=49 (Moved)
F139[STYX]=1 (Moved)
F170[STYX]=12 (Moved)
F171[STYX]=9 (Moved)
F173[STYX]=28 (Moved)
F191[STYX]=8 (Moved)
F192[STYX]=10 (Moved)
F199[STYX]=18 (Moved)
F214[STYX]=23 (Moved)
F232[STYX]=9 (Moved)
F80[MARS]=21 (Moved,At-Peace)
F91[MARS]=15 (Moved,At-Peace)
F117[MARS]=1 (AF43,At-Peace) V49:Radiant Shekel
F165[MARS]=25 (At-Peace)
F30[ICON]=34 (AF43)
F168[ICON]=1 (AF43)
F220[ICON]=20 (AF74)
(F109[MARS]-->W42 F121[DEEP]-->W223 F231[DEEP]-->W223)

W94 (8,63,86,195) [NEON] (Metal=9,Mines=3,Population=49,Limit=83,Deaths=8,
F23[ICON]=1 (R1,At-Peace)

W96 (35,42,58,129) [OOZE] C[OOZE] (Metal=19,Mines=2,Population=10C,Limit=66,
F98[NEON]=1 (Captured,Lost by [ICON],R7)
F160[NEON]=10 (Moved)

W97 (3,114,184) [NEON] (Industry=2/0,Metal=3,Mines=6,Population=96,Limit=96,
(F58[IRIS]-->W114 F236[NEON]-->W184)

W98 (114,192,202) [NEON] (Mines=3,Population=44,Limit=44,Turns=7,P-Ships=1,
F58[IRIS]=12 (Moved)
W99 (64,205,245) [NEON] (Metal=43,Mines=4,Population=134,Limit=136,Turns=1,
(F37[NEON]-->W245 F78[DOOM]-->W64 F152[NEON]-->W245)

W101 (29,82,193) [DOOM] (Industry=1,Metal=1,Mines=3,Population=2R,Limit=80,
F162[DOOM]=1 (Moved)

W102 (11,73,160,225) [DEEP] C[DEEP] (Industry=1,Metal=14,Mines=4,
F138[ICON]=1 (R1,At-Peace)
F77[]=0 V70:Plastic Moonstone
(F54[MARS]-->W73 F244[MARS]-->W160)

W103 (3,114,192,253) [NEON] (Mines=5,Population=84,Limit=84,Turns=2,
(F8[IRIS]-->W192 F148[IRIS]-->W3)

W105 (69,76,177,189) [DOOM] (Metal=15,Mines=3,Population=1R,Limit=50,Turns=5,

W107 (22,59,198,215) [DOOM] (Industry=3,Metal=16,Mines=5,Population=82,
Limit=82,Turns=3,I-Ships=3) V35:Titanium Lodestar
F18[IRIS]=3 (Moved)

W108 (28,106,143,238) [NEON] (Industry=1/0,Metal=3,Mines=2,Population=27,

W109 (149,156,205,245) [] (Lost by [ICON],Industry=30/0,Metal=55,Mines=3,
F21[DOOM]=52 (AF222)
F26[DOOM]=42 (AF146)
F41[DOOM]=35 (Moved)
F57[DOOM]=1 (AP) V56:Blessed Sword
F61[DOOM]=1 (AP)
F66[DOOM]=1 (Moved,Cargo=1,At-Peace) V91:Platinum Sphinx
F87[DOOM]=1 (Moved)
F132[DOOM]=26 (AP)

F151[DOOM]=4 (Moved)
F153[DOOM]=1 (AP)
F197[DOOM]=4 (AP)
F37[NEON]=1 (Moved)
F95[NEON]=17 (AP)
F152[NEON]=1 (Moved)
F25[MARS]=33 (Moved,At-Peace)
F163[MARS]=3 (Moved,At-Peace)
F254[MARS]=28 (Moved,At-Peace)
F146[]=0 (Lost by [ICON])
F222[]=0 (Lost by [MARS],At-Peace)

W113 (47,86,175) [DOOM] (Industry=1,Metal=15,Mines=3,Population=14R,Limit=70,

W114 (97,98,103) [NEON] (Metal=7,Mines=3,Population=79,Limit=79,Turns=1,

W115 (25,213,218) [NEON] (Metal=4,Mines=1,Population=46,Limit=46,Turns=7,
(F6[STYX]-->W25 F234[STYX]-->W25)

W116 (28,192,202,238) [NEON] (Industry=3/0,Mines=3,Population=81,Limit=114,
Turns=7,P-Ships=1,Plunder=1/2) V94:Golden Sphinx
F8[IRIS]=13 (Moved)

W117 (26,127,234) [] (Lost by [STYX],Industry=3/0,Mines=2,Population=38,
F112[DOOM]=1 (Moved)
F105[IRIS]=22 (AH)
F12[NEON]=11 (Moved)
F104[NEON]=1 (Moved)
(F1[NEON]-->W234 F69[DOOM]-->W26 F137[DOOM]-->W234 F179[NEON]-->W26
F181[DOOM]-->W26 F241[IRIS]-->W234)

W121 (37,157,225) [DEEP] C[DEEP] (Industry=1,Metal=27,Mines=4,Population=9/4C,
F156[ICON]=2 (Moved) V75:Titanium Moonstone
F159[ICON]=1 (R1)

W123 (36,118,173) [TROY] (Industry=2,Metal=11,Mines=5,Population=13R,Limit=81,
(F111[NEON]-->W173 F243[TROY]-->W173)

W124 (81,136,144,240) [NEON] (Metal=25,Mines=4,Population=56,Limit=56,Turns=7,
F245[ICON]=12 (Moved,At-Peace) V92:Ancient Sphinx

W127 (117,131,222,224) [DOOM] (Metal=5,Mines=4,Population=72R,Limit=94,
(F1[NEON]-->W117 F12[NEON]-->W117 F20[DOOM]-->W224 F69[DOOM]-->W117
F104[NEON]-->W117 F112[DOOM]-->W117 F119[IRIS]-->W224 F127[DOOM]-->W224
F137[DOOM]-->W117 F179[NEON]-->W117 F181[DOOM]-->W117 F241[IRIS]-->W117)

W128 (40,155,177) [DOOM] (Metal=35,Mines=5,Population=71,Limit=71,Turns=3,
P-Ships=1) V52:Ancient Sword

W130 (47,48,86,195) [NEON] (Metal=12,Mines=2,Population=45,Limit=52,Turns=6,

W133 (29,149,156,168) [DOOM] (Industry=3,Metal=9,Mines=5,Population=8R,

W135 (149,168,194) [NEON] (Metal=30,Mines=4,Population=116,Limit=125,Turns=2,

W140 (16,40,164,176) [DOOM] (Industry=30,Metal=151,Mines=4,Population=50R,
Limit=100,Turns=5) V86:Blessed Stardust
(F2[IRIS]-->W40 F18[IRIS]-->W16 F47[IRIS]-->W16 F94[IRIS]-->W176
F196[IRIS]-->W40 F240[IRIS]-->W40)

W141 (10,72,142,200) [IRIS] (Captured,Lost by [STYX],Metal=3,Mines=3,
V37:Vegan Lodestar
F161[IRIS]=25 (Moved)
(F85[STYX]-->W10 F131[STYX]-->W142)

W143 (45,108,164,176) [DOOM] (Metal=11,Mines=5,Population=156,Limit=156,
F70[IRIS]=38 (Moved)

W144 (67,124,241) [NEON] C[DEEP] (Metal=14,Mines=2,Population=43/24C,Limit=43,

W149 (109,133,135,174) [DOOM] (Industry=1,Metal=91,Mines=6,Population=5R,
(F41[DOOM]-->W109 F66[DOOM]-->W109)

W152 (17,89,92,212) [] (Lost by [ICON],Industry=2/0,Metal=49,Mines=6,
F92[STYX]=17 (AH)
(F124[IRIS]-->W92 F232[STYX]-->W92)

W155 (22,128,198) [DOOM] (Metal=27,Mines=5,Population=59,Limit=59,Turns=2,
P-Ships=1) V42:Ancient Shekel
F47[IRIS]=13 (Moved)

W156 (109,133,197,216) [ICON] (Industry=2,Metal=15,Mines=6,Population=14R,
F198[MARS]=1 (Gift from [ICON],At-Peace)
(F151[DOOM]-->W109 F163[MARS]-->W109)

W158 (45,164,189) [DOOM] (Metal=17,Mines=3,Population=73,Limit=73,Turns=3,

W162 (5,83,203) [NEON] (Metal=1,Mines=6,Population=82,Limit=82,Turns=1,

W163 (146,211,219) [] (Metal=8,Mines=2,Population=53,Limit=53,Plunder=1)
V48:Arcturian Shekel
F147[DOOM]=41 (AF195)
F169[IRIS]=9 (Moved,Cargo=4)
F65[NEON]=30 (Moved)
F110[NEON]=5 (AF75)
F149[NEON]=1 (Moved)
F75[STYX]=2 (AF110)
F225[STYX]=20 (AF110)
F247[STYX]=22 (Moved)
F251[STYX]=24 (AF110)
F195[]=0 (Lost by [STYX],AF147)

W164 (85,140,143,158) [DOOM] (Metal=21,Mines=4,Population=82,Limit=82,Turns=4)
V81:Platinum Stardust
W165 (16,20,44,176) [IRIS] (Industry=1,Metal=17,Mines=5,Population=77,
F94[IRIS]=5 (Moved)
(F70[IRIS]-->W176 F103[IRIS]-->W44)

W168 (34,133,135) [DOOM] (Industry=3,Metal=39,Mines=6,Population=11R,
F150[DOOM]=1 (Moved)

W169 (17,207,212,218) [DOOM] (Industry=30,Metal=130,Mines=3,Population=50R,
F246[IRIS]=1 (Unload)
F3[NEON]=1 (Moved,Cargo=1)
F32[NEON]=8 (Moved,Cargo=8)
F116[NEON]=37 (Moved,Cargo=37)
(F5[NEON]-->W207 F27[NEON]-->W207 F124[IRIS]-->W17 F160[NEON]-->W207
F217[NEON]-->W17 F239[NEON]-->W17)

W173 (123,142,190,220) [TROY] (Industry=30/0,Metal=33,Mines=4,Population=33R,
Limit=100,Turns=2,I-Ships=16) V54:Golden Sword V85:Titanium Stardust
F111[NEON]=74 (Moved)
F144[NEON]=181 (Moved)
F189[NEON]=1 (Captured,Lost by [ZEUS],Gift to [STYX],At-Peace)
F243[NEON]=2 (Captured,Lost by [TROY],Moved)

W174 (149,194,245) [DOOM] (Metal=77,Mines=5,Population=87,Limit=87,Turns=3)

W175 (13,82,113,222) [DOOM] (Metal=12,Mines=4,Population=9R,Limit=100,Turns=4,

W176 (140,143,165,238) [DOOM] (Industry=4,Metal=10,Mines=6,Population=78,
(F70[IRIS]-->W143 F94[IRIS]-->W165)

W177 (85,105,128) [NEON] (Gift from [DOOM],Metal=24,Mines=5,Population=112,
F2[IRIS]=82 (Moved)

W181 (52,90,211) [NEON] (Metal=17,Mines=3,Population=53,Limit=53,Turns=4,

W182 (2,88,138,153) [STYX] (Industry=1/0,Metal=1,Mines=1,Population=32,
F24[NEON]=3 (Moved,Cargo=1)
(F83[NEON]-->W2 F178[NEON]-->W2)

W184 (27,97,203,211) [NEON] (Metal=10,Mines=5,Population=45,Limit=45,Turns=1,

W185 (59,87,222) [DOOM] (Metal=25,Mines=3,Population=7R,Limit=41,Turns=1,

W189 (85,105,158) [DOOM] (Metal=18,Mines=3,Population=44,Limit=44,Turns=1,

W192 (20,98,103,116) [IRIS] (Metal=7,Mines=3,Population=77,Limit=77,Turns=3,

W193 (53,101,197) [DOOM] (Metal=61,Mines=4,Population=103,Limit=103,Turns=3,
P-Ships=1) V76:Blessed Moonstone

W194 (27,135,174) [NEON] (Industry=1/0,Metal=6,Mines=4,Population=132,

W195 (94,130,237,240) [NEON] (Metal=6,Mines=1,Population=24,Limit=53,Turns=5,
F218[ICON]=4 (Moved,At-Peace) V79:Radiant Moonstone

W197 (29,156,193,228) [DOOM] (Industry=1,Metal=99,Mines=7,Population=10R,
F118[IRIS]=12 (Moved)
(F174[IRIS]-->W228 F255[IRIS]-->W228)

W198 (16,40,107,155) [NEON] C[DEEP] (Gift from [IRIS],Metal=6,Mines=4,
(F47[IRIS]-->W155 F103[IRIS]-->W16)

W200 (51,76,141) [IRIS] (Captured,Lost by [STYX],Mines=1,Population=27,
F203[IRIS]=36 (Moved,Cargo=3)
F205[IRIS]=3 (AH)
(F62[NEON]-->W51 F161[IRIS]-->W141)

W201 (35,90,129) [] (Industry=1/0,Metal=2,Mines=2,Population=0,Limit=48,
F27[NEON]=10 (Moved)

W203 (3,162,184) [NEON] (Industry=2/0,Metal=7,Mines=5,Population=63,Limit=63,
F123[IRIS]=1 (Moved) V51:Platinum Sword

W205 (32,99,109,216) [HALO] C[HALO] (Industry=3/0,Population=78C,Limit=78,
CG-Unload=1) V83:Silver Stardust
(F25[MARS]-->W109 F78[DOOM]-->W99 F87[DOOM]-->W109 F254[MARS]-->W109)

W207 (35,52,90,169) [DOOM] (Industry=3,Metal=3,Mines=3,Population=10R,
(F5[NEON]-->W90 F27[NEON]-->W90 F160[NEON]-->W35)

W211 (25,163,181,184) [NEON] (Metal=14,Mines=3,Population=47,Limit=47,Turns=6,
F236[NEON]=83 (Moved)
(F65[NEON]-->W163 F149[NEON]-->W163 F169[IRIS]-->W163)

W212 (2,88,152,169) [NEON] (Industry=1/0,Metal=11,Mines=8,Population=5,
F79[DOOM]=1 (Moved,Cargo=1)
F10[NEON]=32 (Moved)

W214 (15,59,87,215) [NEON] (Mines=6,Population=94,Limit=107,Turns=1,P-Ships=1,
Plunder=1/2,CG-Unload=1) V44:Golden Shekel

W215 (16,44,107,214) [IRIS] (Industry=1,Metal=13,Mines=7,Population=74,
F193[IRIS]=6 (Moved)

W216 (60,156,205,228) [MARS] (Metal=7,Mines=3,Population=6,Limit=62,Deaths=56,
F16[ICON]=1 (R7)
(F87[DOOM]-->W205 F163[MARS]-->W156)

W218 (52,88,115,169) [NEON] (Mines=6,Population=82,Limit=82,Turns=2,P-Ships=1,
(F3[NEON]-->W169 F32[NEON]-->W169 F116[NEON]-->W169)

W220 (36,91,172,173) [TROY] (Industry=4,Metal=5,Mines=5,Population=7R,

W222 (77,127,175,185) [DOOM] (Industry=1,Metal=7,Mines=3,Population=6R,
Limit=88,Turns=3,I-Ships=1) V11:Platinum Crown

W224 (39,127,236) [STYX] (Industry=6/0,Mines=3,Population=57,Limit=90,Turns=4,
F20[DOOM]=8 (Moved)
F119[IRIS]=4 (Moved,Cargo=8)
F127[]=0 (Lost by [DOOM],Moved)

W225 (64,102,121,251) [DEEP] C[DEEP] (Metal=28,Mines=3,Population=3C,
F51[NEON]=8 (AF156)

W228 (43,53,197,216) [CRAY] (Metal=115,Mines=8,Population=117,Limit=158,
Deaths=40,Turns=3,CG-Unload=1) V59:Radiant Sword
F185[DOOM]=8 (AF237)
F174[IRIS]=5 (Moved,Cargo=2)
F255[IRIS]=23 (Moved,Cargo=2)
F237[ICON]=1 (R5,At-Peace)

W234 (54,117,243) [STYX] (Industry=5/0,Metal=4,Mines=4,Population=8,Limit=72,
F137[DOOM]=1 (Moved) V60:Plastic Sepulchre
F241[IRIS]=20 (Moved)
F1[NEON]=155 (Moved)
F210[STYX]=48 (Moved)

W238 (20,108,116,176) [NEON] (Metal=2,Mines=3,Population=57,Limit=57,Turns=2,

W240 (48,124,195,226) [NEON] (Industry=1/0,Metal=6,Mines=3,Population=43,
F154[DOOM]=11 (Moved)

W241 (136,144,251) [NEON] (Industry=2/0,Metal=26,Mines=5,Population=82,

W242 (18,27,81) [NEON] (Industry=6/0,Mines=4,Population=54,Limit=54,Turns=5,

W245 (99,109,174) [NEON] (Metal=59,Mines=6,Population=86,Limit=86,Turns=2,
P-Ships=1,Plunder=2/2) V31:Platinum Lodestar
(F37[NEON]-->W109 F152[NEON]-->W109)

W253 (5,20,44,103) [IRIS] (Industry=1,Metal=7,Mines=7,Population=94,Limit=94,

W254 (42,58,150,223) [DEEP] C[DEEP] (Metal=5,Mines=5,Population=16C,Limit=97,
F217[NEON]=4 (Moved)
F22[ICON]=4 (Moved)
F164[ICON]=1 (R9)
F129[]=0 (Lost by [DEEP],At-Peace) V19:Radiant Crown
(F35[ICON]-->W58 F91[MARS]-->W223 F231[DEEP]-->W150)

Players you can see this turn: [CRAY] [OOZE] [TROY] [STYX] [ICON]

Their scores (not necessarily in order): 720 1846 2444 7922 9075 9505
9884 9927 10671

Final Results -- Victory-point limit was 9750

(1) Jack Fulmer
[ZEUS]: Merchant (Score=10671,Keys=2,Ships=40,Artifacts=2)
[STYX]: Pirate (Score=9884,Worlds=62,Keys=56,Ships=684,Industry=128,
[TROY]: Berserker (Score=9927,Worlds=18,Keys=21,Ships=125,Industry=79,

(2) Gary Schaefers
[MARS]: Merchant (Score=7922,Worlds=3,Keys=17,Ships=203,Mines=14,
[DEEP]: Apostle (Score=9075,Worlds=41,Keys=7,Ships=82,Industry=57,
[ICON]: Berserker (Score=9505,Worlds=11,Keys=39,Ships=333,Industry=40,

(3) Sven Hassel
[DOOM]: Berserker (Score=3555,Worlds=38,Keys=31,Ships=436,Industry=130,
[IRIS]: Merchant (Score=7641,Worlds=8,Keys=37,Ships=483,Industry=39,
[NEON]: Pirate (Score=3569,Worlds=47,Keys=36,Ships=1009,Industry=54,

(4) Maurice McLey
[NOVA]: Merchant (Score=90)
[OOZE]: Apostle (Score=2444,Worlds=2,Ships=1,Mines=4,People=24,
[EROS]: Berserker (Score=220)

(5) Ocie Hudson
[LENS]: Merchant
[CRAY]: Berserker (Score=720,Worlds=1,Mines=8,People=117,Artifacts=1)
[HALO]: Apostle (Score=1846,Worlds=2,Industry=3,Mines=4,Converts=207,

Orders=231 :
F51P102 F51P121 W5X W20X W108X W135X W59G=NEON W198G=NEON W177G=NEON
W69G=NEON F166G=IRIS F8U F58U F72U F236U F8W103W192W116 F58W97W114W98 F72T3F8
F72T2F58 F72W5 F123T48F236 F123W203 F236W97W184W211 W3B30F236 F70U F183U
F193U W44B33F70 F70W165W176W143 F70T2F183 F183W15W83W87 F193T1F70 F193W215
F11T23F204 F11L F11W214W15 F204W77W22 V93F11 F135W29 W101B1F135 F105AH F2U
F18U F47U F73U F94U F196U F240U W140B30F2 F2W40W128W177 F196W40 F240W40W85
F18T4F2 F18W16W215W107 F47W16W198W155 F94T4F2 F94W176W165 F73T8F2 W165B1I
W168B3F134 I168T3F134 F134L F134W34W29 F203L3 F203W105W76W200 F169L4
F169W211W163 W197B1F255 F255W228 F103T1P F103W16W165W44
F205T1F161 F205AH F161W141 W215B1I F241X W222B1F241 F241W127W117W234
P222T2F241 W253B1F148 I253T2F148 F148L F148W103W3 I197T2F255 F174L2 F174W228
F255L2 F103L W5B2I W15B3F166 I15T4F166 F166L F111W123W173 F62W200W51 F62N1
F32T3P F116T89F178 F116W218W169 F32W218W169 F10W212 F178W182W2 F83T2F24
F24W182 F79L F3L F144T9F211 F211AH F144W220W173 W108B1I F1X F119X F12X F104X
F179X F181T19F179 F181W117W26 F179W117W26 F12W117 F112W117 F20T20F1 F20W224
F127T20F1 F127W224W236 F83W182W2 F79W212 F3W218W169 F104W117 F112T10F12
F1W117W234 F137T21F1 F111T11F238 F238AH F69W117W26 F137W117W234 F119T10F1
F119W224 V10F69 V60F137 P127T83F1 F119L F110T50F147 F147AF195 F110AF75
F65T1F149 F65W163 F149W163 F51AF156 F154X W8B2F154 I8T9F154 F154W94W195W240
W13B1I W16B2I F88W34W82 F145W34 F150W34W168 F162W101 F26T10F95 W17B2F206
F68W35 F206W35 W22B4I F41U F145U F167U F41W133W149W109 W29B30F41 F88T3F118
F145T7F118 F167T1F118 F118W197 W34B1I W47B2I F249T5F31 F249W32 F31R3 F38AF15
W82B3I F37T1P F37T1F152 W99X F37W245W109 F152W245W109 W107B3I F21AF222
F21T4F26 F132T1F26 F26AF146 F57AP F61AP F132AP F153AP F197AP F95AP W113B1I
I116T9F113 F113W28W73 W133B3I W149B1I F151W109 F76U F122U F124U F187U F5U
F27U F160U F246N1 F246U11 W169B10F5 W169B10F27 W169B10F160 F5W207W90
F27W207W90W201 F160W207W35W96 F124T11F217 F217W17W42W254 F124T11F239
F239W17W42 F246T7F124 F124W17W152W92 F122T4F124 F76T7F124 P174T1F66 F66L
F66W149W109 W176B4I W207B3I F87W205W109 F185AF237 F78W99W64 <231>

Documents/Basics of Diesel Engines.doc 1
The basics of diesel engines and diesel fuels

The diesel engine has been the engine of choice for heavy-duty applications in
agriculture, construction, industrial, and on-highway transport for over 50 years. Its early
popularity could be attributed to its ability to use the portion of the petroleum crude oil
that had previously been considered a waste product from the refining of gasoline. Later,
the diesel’s durability, high torque capacity, and fuel efficiency assured its role in the
most demanding applications. While diesels have not been widely used in passenger cars
in the United States (less than 1%), they have achieved widespread acceptance in Europe
with over 33% of the total market [1].

In the United States, on-highway diesel engines now consume over 30 billion gallons of
diesel fuel per year and virtually all of this is in trucks [2]. At the present time, only a
minute fraction of this fuel is biodiesel. However, as petroleum becomes more expensive
to locate and extract, and environmental concerns about diesel exhaust emissions and
global warming increase, biodiesel is likely to emerge as one of several potential
alternative diesel fuels.

In order to understand the requirements of a diesel fuel and how biodiesel can be
considered a desirable substitute, it is important to understand the basic operating
principles of the diesel engine. This chapter describes these principles, particularly in
light of the fuel used and the ways in which biodiesel provides advantages over
conventional petroleum-based fuels.
Diesel Combustion

The operating principles of diesel engines are significantly different from those of the
spark-ignited engines that dominate the U.S. passenger car market. In a spark-ignited
engine, fuel and air that are close to the chemically correct, or stoichiometric, mixture are
inducted into the engine cylinder, compressed, and then ignited by a spark. The power of
the engine is controlled by limiting the quantity of fuel-air mixture that enters the
cylinder using a flow-restricting valve called a throttle. In a diesel engine, also known as
a compression-ignited engine, only air enters the cylinder through the intake system. This
air is compressed to a high temperature and pressure and then finely atomized fuel is
sprayed into the air at high velocity. When it contacts the high temperature air, the fuel
vaporizes quickly, mixes with the air, and undergoes a series of spontaneous chemical
reactions that result in a self-ignition or autoignition. No spark plug is required, although
some diesel engines are equipped with electrically heated glow plugs to assist with
starting the engine under cold conditions. The power of the engine is controlled by
varying the volume of fuel injected into the cylinder, so there is no need for

Six nights a week, Guo Bairong takes the stage at the Xanadu Lounge at the Sands Macau casino. As players place their bets at nearby tables, he opens with a popular love song in Mandarin, closing his eyes as he sways with the music. Slipping into Cantonese, he launches into another number.

Crowds gather not only to hear his singing but also to gape: Guo Bairong is also known as Barry Cox, a Caucasian former waiter and supermarket cashier from Liverpool, England, whose only formal study of Cantonese was at a British community center.

Mr. Cox's act, sandwiched between cabaret dance performances like the scantily clad Glamour Girls and authentic Chinese crooners such as Hua D, is among the spectacles on Macau's emerging entertainment scene.

Macau's clutch of casinos has quickly outpaced the Las Vegas Strip in gambling revenue, taking in around $10 billion last year, compared to almost $7 billion on the Strip. But the former Portuguese colony has to up its game -- particularly its entertainment roster -- to compete with its American counterpart as an all-around tourism destination.

Feb. 23: African-blues singer Cesária Évora at the Macau Cultural Center Grand Auditorium.
March 15: Canadian singer Céline Dion at the Venetian Arena.
Until May 11: Chinese acrobatic show the Four Seasons at the Roman Amphitheater, Fisherman's Wharf.
Summer: Cirque de Soleil, in 10 performances a week at a new theater at the Venetian.

A few years ago, Macau was a sleepy coastal town. Visitors came for the Portuguese wine, cobblestone streets and musty antique shops -- and for the gambling. The city became a special administrative zone when it was returned to China in 1999, making it the only place in China where casinos are legal.

Within a few years, the Beijing-backed Macau government ended local tycoon Stanley Ho's monopoly on the territory's gambling industry, issuing licenses to other companies, including Wynn Resorts, MGM Mirage and Australia's Crown. About 10.5 million Chinese mainland visitors came to Macau in 2005 and nearly 15 million are expected next year, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association, a trade group.

When the new casinos began opening in 2004, the prevailing logic among casino executives was that the Chinese visitors mostly come to gamble. Some operators are still unsure what entertainment to offer, especially performances that guests would have to pay to see.
Entertainer Barry Cox

"This is a very new market," says a Wynn Macau spokeswoman. "No one really knows what people are looking for here," says Jennifer Welker, the local author of travel guide "The New Macau." "They're still in that testing phase."

There are now more than 25 casinos, and many have a mix of gambling, hotel rooms and restaurants. Wynn casino's current entertainment options are limited to a five-minute water and light show set to music. At the Crown Macau, there's a spa and eight restaurants, but there are no live performances. It's a different story at Grand Lisboa, where there are two shows: a free, daily "Crazy Paris" performance -- a can-can-style dance act -- and "Tokyo Nights," performed by a troupe of Japanese dancers.

Strict rules against advertising by casinos in mainland China make it difficult to promote events there, and a taxi shortage means travelers arriving on the ferry from Hong Kong often have to wait in long lines.

Still, many big-name acts are choosing to play in Macau rather than Hong Kong. Last October, the National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers and the China Men's National Team played at the Venetian Arena, the 15,000-seat stadium at the Venetian resort and casino. The Police performed there in early February, and Celine Dion arrives next month for a one-night-only show as part of her world tour.

This summer, the Venetian plans to bring Cirque du Soleil, the acrobatic show that's a fixture in Las Vegas, to Macau as a permanent show. Cirque will perform in a 1,800-seat theater that is still under construction.

Outsourcing Wombs to India

A growing number of women in India are making it their jobs to help others create a family — literally. At a clinic in Anand, they carry and deliver children from infertile couples around the world.
The clinic matches infertile couples with local women, cares for the women during pregnancy and delivery, and counsels them afterward. Surrogacy in the U.S. is nothing new, but the article suggests outsourcing it could become more common for the same reasons outsourcing in other industries has been successful: a wide labor pool working for relatively low rates.

The women’s doctor, Nayna Patel, defends her work. She says, “There is this one woman who desperately needs a baby and cannot have her own child without the help of a surrogate. And at the other end there is this woman who badly wants to help her [own] family,” Patel is quoted as saying. One young surrogate mother says she will buy a house with the $4,500 she receives from the British couple whose child she’s carrying; another says she’ll use the money for her own daughters’ education.

Critics say the couples are exploiting poor women in India. They fear the practice could change from a medical necessity for infertile women to a convenience for the rich who want to avoid the discomfort and risks of pregnancy and childbirth.

As fertility-treatment costs soar -- and more women seek treatment at an older age -- a growing number of Americans are heading abroad to try to get pregnant.

The Internet has made it easier for women to connect with fertility clinics in diverse locales such as the Czech Republic, Israel, Canada and Thailand. And specialized travel services have sprung up to help people arrange accommodations, set up medical appointments and even plan sightseeing tours.

The cost of in-vitro fertilization in many foreign countries is a fraction of that in the U.S., even after factoring in expenses for travel and accommodations. And some women say they have been able to get treatment abroad after having been turned away by a U.S. clinic because of their age.
In-vitro fertilization at the Jetanin Institute in Bangkok.

There are some downsides. Treatments can take four or five weeks -- too long for many couples to take a break from their regular lives. It might not be possible to find medical practitioners who speak fluent English, though some of the travel firms also provide translation services. And while medical standards are high in many countries, regulations can vary, including rules for screening egg donors, leaving it to patients to do due diligence. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration regulates egg-donor screening, though some states set stricter standards.

"Money was a factor" for Robyn Bova, 47 years old, in deciding with her husband to travel to the Clinic of Reproductive Medicine and Gynecology in Zlin, a college town in the Czech Republic, for IVF treatment in May and again in November after their first attempt failed. Though initially concerned about everything from the health of the egg donors to the medical standards, Ms. Bova researched the clinic and contacted other American women who'd gone there. "I thought, if we get there and it's horrible, we don't have to go through with it," she says.

Ms. Bova says she was pleased with the treatment she received and is now 17 weeks pregnant. And during their time in Eastern Europe, "we had the most incredible trips you could imagine." Ms. Bova says the total price tag for both trips, including travel, hotels, food and treatments, was $22,000, or roughly the cost of one round of in-vitro fertilization in the U.S.
The Bovas booked their overseas treatment through, which was started by Craig and Marcela Fite. The Ohio couple had traveled to Marcela's native Czech Republic for their own IVF treatments and decided to serve as middlemen for Americans wishing to do the same. The couple charge between $1,500 and $2,500 for their services, which include arranging appointments at the clinic and providing on-site assistance for driving and translations.

Other such service providers include, a Web site that helps arrange treatments at a fertility clinic in Thailand. And the CHEN Patient Fertility Association (, an Israeli fertility group that promotes fertility treatments along with sightseeing tours around the Holy Land.

"We're just now starting to see foreign clinics market themselves to U.S. patients," says Barbara Collura, executive director of Resolve: The National Infertility Association.

U.S. fertility doctors say that while IVF isn't a high-risk medical procedure, patients going abroad should consider several things, including the reputation and number of procedures performed, and the success and complication rates of a clinic -- information the clinic should be able to provide. Also worth considering: liability and patients' rights to take legal action if something goes wrong. "There are great and good hospitals in many countries," says Zev Rosenwaks, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at New York Weill Cornell Center. "One has to look at the overall medical standards and I think it's much harder to judge from far away."

While Americans have increasingly gone abroad in recent years for medical procedures ranging from hip replacements to face lifts, fertility treatments have largely remained an outlier. Concerns about medical standards and the strong emotions that often surround infertility have persuaded many people seeking IVF treatment to stick close to home.

But outsize costs and relatively sparse insurance coverage at home are driving more Americans to seek treatments abroad. The cost of fertility treatments in the U.S. varies by region and depends on the procedures needed. A single round of IVF with a woman's own eggs, including medications, costs on average about $12,000, according to Resolve, but can run much higher. For IVF using donor eggs, the cost can add as much as $5,000 to $15,000. Prices have risen steadily in recent years as more-advanced technology and additional options have emerged.

The in-vitro fertilization process involves stimulating a woman's ovaries with hormone treatments, extracting eggs for fertilization, and then implanting embryos in her uterus. Alternatively, a donor's eggs are used to create an embryo. Insurance plans sometimes cover aspects of the process, such as the drug treatments, or they might cover a single round. Only a handful of states, including Massachusetts, require some form of IVF coverage.

It can be difficult to compare success rates of women getting pregnant from IVF treatments because of the different ways statistics are collected. In the U.S., the rate of live single births from IVF transfer was 40.5% in women under 35, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2005 Assisted Reproductive Technology Report. That fell to 13.1% in women ages 41 to 42. In Europe, 18.6% of IVF transfers resulted in pregnancies, according to 2003 statistics from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, which doesn't break out data by age.

Age restrictions for fertility treatments vary in the U.S. by clinic and by the individual health of the patients. For women using their own eggs, the age cutoff is usually early 40s; if using donor eggs, it's usually late 40s to 50.

Kathy Jackson, a 43-year-old Minneapolis resident, says she was turned away by local fertility clinics because they require a woman to be no older than 43 at the time of a birth. Instead, she has gone twice to the Markham Fertility Centre near Toronto for IVF. The cost, at about $6,000 for a single treatment using her own eggs, was half what it is in her area, not including medications, she says.

Ms. Jackson says her Canadian doctor "was brutally honest with me about my chances, to the point where I cried after." She says she was told that with her age and medical history, her chances of getting pregnant were 3% to 5%. Ms. Jackson returned to the Canadian clinic for her final attempt last month, and just learned that she is not pregnant.
Rupert Polson and Jennifer Rosendale, with Olivia and Alliyah, born after IVF treatment in Eastern Europe.

Ofra Balaban of Holon, Israel, founded the Chen Patient Fertility Association seven years ago following her own experience with assisted reproductive therapy. She promotes tour packages: A one-week trip is $7,000, including the $2,500 cost of one round of IVF. But women need to do some initial preparation, including hormone treatment, in their own country.

Fertility treatments are cheaper in many foreign countries, partly because of nationalized health plans. In the Czech Republic, for instance, citizens up to the age of 39 can get three IVF treatments for roughly $750 each. Visiting Americans must pay for the service, but it is still cheaper than in the U.S.

When Jennifer Rosendale, 33, and her husband decided to start a family, she says they were told that IVF near their home in Shelton, Wash., would cost them roughly $25,000. The hormone-boosting drugs would cost $3,000 to $5,000 alone, and none of the costs would be covered by insurance.

Ms. Rosendale at first began looking online to see if she could purchase the medications more cheaply overseas. But then she came upon IVFVacation. A year ago, she and her husband traveled to the Czech Republic. They stayed for five weeks, mixing their fertility treatments with trips to Prague and Vienna. The price tag for their entire stay: $12,000. And at the end of October, Ms. Rosendale gave birth to twin girls.

Surgery for a painful, common back condition known as spinal stenosis resulted in significantly reduced back pain and better physical function than treatment with drugs and physical therapy, according to the latest findings from a large federally funded research effort.

The results from the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial, or Sport, echo findings it reported last April involving degenerative spondylolisthesis, another common spinal problem. A separate, earlier report from the same study found nonsurgical treatment for herniated disks worked nearly as well as surgery.

The Sport study, which started in 2000, set out to compare surgical and nonsurgical treatments for several common back ailments. Paid for by the National Institutes of Health, the trial involved about 2,500 patients at 13 treatment centers around the country. Patients were initially divided into surgery and nonsurgery groups, but during the various related studies, many people randomly assigned to get nonsurgical treatments decided to get surgery instead, which has led to criticisms of the studies.

Lead researcher James N. Weinstein, surgeon and chairman of orthopedics at the Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H., said, "I still believe we have too much spine surgery overall," but this study shows that where there is a "specific diagnosis of stenosis, spine surgery will bring a benefit."

The study is likely to be welcomed by back surgeons who have been stung by questions about the value of back surgery. Earlier this month, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a report that showed that despite a 73% increase in spending on back problems in the U.S. from 1997 through 2005, complaints about back pain continued to rise.

Spinal stenosis involves a narrowing of a passage in the spine through which nerves pass, and it can result in debilitating pain in the lower back, hips and legs. The surgical solution involves enlarging the opening to relieve the pressure on the nerves, in an operation called a laminectomy that costs $10,000 to $12,000. It is among the most common operations performed in the U.S.

In the new study, which is being published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, Sport followed 803 patients, of whom 398 ended up getting surgery. After two years, of those who had surgery, 63% said they had a major improvement in their condition, compared with 29% among those who got nonsurgical treatment.

In terms of self-reported pain and physical function, both groups improved over the two-year period, though the final scores for patients who had surgery were in the 60-point range, while scores for those who stuck with nonsurgical treatments, such as physical therapy, were in the low 40s. Dr. Weinstein said that the new study attempts to answer some of the criticisms of the earlier study by separating out the patients who stuck with their random assignment to surgery or nonsurgery options. He said those randomized patients' results were very similar to those of patients who selected one course or the other.

Hospitals, schools, public utilities and other institutions that have issued auction-rate securities to raise cash are scrambling to get out of this troubled corner of the credit market.

Valley Medical Center, in Renton, Wash., moved to retire $170 million in auction-rate securities by issuing tax-exempt, 30-year bonds that will price today.

The Long Island Power Authority, or LIPA, is looking to get out of all of its $993 million in auction-rate debt during the next several months, possibly replacing at least some of it with long-term, fixed-rate bonds. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center also stepped up efforts to exit the market with the help of funding from local banks.

Other issuers, including the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, New York's Battery Park City Authority and Brazos Higher Education Corp., said they were evaluating their options.

"We're looking to address this as quickly as we can," LIPA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth McCarthy said in an interview. "You've got to deal with the fact that the market seems to be pretty much going away."

Auction-rate securities are long-term bonds that behave like short-term debt. The interest rates are reset in auctions conducted by Wall Street dealers regularly, from daily to every 35 days.

The securities often are tax-exempt and are issued by municipalities, museums, student-loan providers and others to raise cash to fund projects or operations. In normal times, they get to pay lower interest rates than they would on long-term debt.

The $330 billion auction-rate market became the latest casualty of the global credit crunch last week when dozens of auctions on such debt failed to generate enough investor interest, causing interest rates to soar.

Auctions failed on between $80 billion and $85 billion of such debt last week, according to J.P. Morgan Securities analyst Alex Roever. About half of the market, or $100 billion to $150 billion of such securities, will be restructured in coming months as issuers seek alternative methods of financing, he said.

Demand has collapsed because many auction-rate securities are insured by troubled bond insurers. Investors fear the bond insurance is no longer good, making the auction-rate securities riskier, even though many issuers of this debt are healthy institutions with strong credit ratings on their own.

The path of interest rates after auctions fail can vary, depending on how issuers structured the debt at the outset. Some rates are capped, or tied to the low London interbank offered rate. While some rates soared to 20%, others barely budged.

For municipal issuers, the average interest rate after failed auctions between Feb. 12 and Feb. 15 was 7.3%, up from between 4.25% and 4.7% in January, J.P. Morgan said. For issuers raising money to fund student lending, the average rate jumped to 6.3% compared with last months' average of about 4.75%.

Regulators have worried about problems in this market before. In May 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission fined 15 Wall Street firms for improperly propping up demand for these auctions and thereby painting an artificially rosy picture of how smoothly the market functioned.

Valley Medical Center, otherwise known in the auction-rate market as Public Hospital District #1 of King County, WA, saw interest rates on some of its securities soar to 15% from 3.75% last week, said Jeannine Grinnell, the hospital's vice president of finance and treasurer.

The hospital was already planning to issue long-term debt before the market turmoil, and it decided to increase the amount by $105 million to raise enough cash to retire its volatile auction-rate securities. Ms. Grinnell said she expects to pay 5.25% on the new bonds, which will be underwritten by Morgan Stanley.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has offered to buy back $230 million of its debt. The rates on its various auctions shot up from about 3.9% a month ago to as high as 17.3% last week, threatening the fast-growing system with an extra weekly interest bill of more than $600,000.

Those rates came down to 5.4% yesterday, according to Talbot Heppenstall, the system's treasurer.

The Long Island Power Authority had its first auction failure Feb. 12. Interest rates on some of its debt, formerly about 3.4% on average, rose to 4.1% on average, with some moving as high as 4.7%, LIPA said.
The authority started taking action before then. When its bond insurer, XL Capital, was downgraded by Fitch Ratings in January, it faced the prospect of soaring rates in an auction failure. As a result, it filed a notice to redeem $200 million of its $993 million in auction-rate debt.

Now, it is looking to convert the rest of its auction-rate securities into other securities, like fixed-rate bonds, in the next few months.

Higher rates have also affected such widely known institutions as Deerfield Academy, Georgetown University, Carnegie Hall and mutual funds run by money managers including BlackRock Inc., Nuveen Investments Inc. and Pacific Investment Management Co.

Carnegie Hall, the New York fine-arts performance center, saw its seven-day auctions fail. All of its $41.6 million of borrowing raised to build Zankel Hall, one of Carnegie Hall's three performance venues, was raised in the auction-rate market.

Its cost of borrowing increased from 3.2% on Jan. 23 to 3.5%, this week. Spokeswoman Synneve Carlino said that according to the legal documents associated with its auction-rate program, its interest costs can't go beyond 3.5%. It doesn't plan to refinance.

Separately, Massachusetts's top securities regulator asked nine financial-service firms yesterday for information on their closed-end funds in the wake of woes in the auction-rate securities market. Secretary of State William Galvin's office is concerned about failed auctions that have left some investors in certain "auction-rate" shares issued by closed-end funds unable to sell because no one is bidding for their funds.

From the Jetsons to James Bond, flying via jet pack has become an icon of the futuristic way to travel. But jet propulsion is actually older than the Flintstones. It's a standard means of locomotion for jellyfish, the earliest animals to swim the seas using muscles. Jellies have been jet-propelling for at least 550 million years, yet only recently have scientists begun to understand how the challenges of moving in fluid have shaped jellyfish evolution.

This Scyphozoan jellyfish, with its UFO-shaped bell, moves to a slower rhythm than its smaller, rocket-shaped relatives. New studies link jellyfish means of locomotion to body size and shape.

Jellyfish invented muscle-powered movement, a feat that allowed them to diversify into a number of ecological nooks and crannies. But jelly muscles are relatively meager and the jet-pack method of motion requires serious strength. That has presented a mystery about how some species of jellyfish can get so big. New studies have begun to explain how enormous gelatinous creatures muster the strength to swim. The answers may lead to novel designs for underwater vehicles and are prompting scientists to rethink how to harness energy from wind currents.

If you've seen a jellyfish washed up on the beach, its brawn probably wasn't the first thing that struck you. Their bell-shaped bodies are mostly gelatinous goo, surrounded by a network of nerves and a paper-thin layer of tissue. But on the interior wall of the bell is a layer of muscle. Contracting this muscle ejects water from the opening at the base of the bell, propelling the animal on its path.

"There's probably no source of locomotion that's easier to evolve—it's a pipe with a muscle around it," says biomechanics expert Steven Vogel of Duke University in Durham, N.C.

In fact, jet propulsion appears again and again in animal evolution, Vogel says. Dragonfly larvae make use of an anal jet, and some squid can blast themselves to speeds of 25 miles an hour. But while the jet pack allows for a speedy escape, it is inefficient energetically, releasing a lot of kinetic energy into the water that can't be recovered, says John Dabiri, an expert in fluid dynamics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He points to more efficient swimmers such as dolphins or tuna, which glide through the water without a lot of disturbance.

STEADY AS SHE GOES. The spotted jellyfish, Mastigias papua, uses a combination of jet and paddle to swim.
A. Migotto

And jet propulsion is not the best strategy for bigger beasts. A large jellyfish must expel a large volume of water behind it to move forward. Such an expulsion requires brute strength.

Jellyfish don't have those muscular capabilities. The muscle that lines their interiors is a mere one cell-layer thick. Making it bigger would take more than calisthenics—it would take a circulatory system that could supply those muscles with oxygen and nutrients.

"As you get bigger, you have less and less wiggle room evolutionarily," says Vogel. "Jet propulsion is fabulous when you are a micron in size and fabulously bad when you are big."

Yet jellyfish do get big—some, such as the well-named giant jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai), can grow to almost 8 feet across and weigh in at 400 pounds. But when Dabiri modeled the forces required for jet propulsion and did the math, the numbers said that jellyfish much bigger than a softball shouldn't even exist.

Then Dabiri took closer notice of a relationship between the size of a jellyfish and the shape of its bell. The smaller jellyfish tend to look like thimbles or little rockets, their bells always taller than wide.
The larger jellies had bells shaped more like UFOs—wider than they were tall. To investigate, he ordered some crystal jellies, Aequorea victoria, little thimble-shaped creatures small enough to swim comfortably in a petri dish. As a jellyfish explored its surroundings, Dabiri's colleagues Sean Colin and John Costello squirted a bit of harmless fluorescent dye behind the animal, to better see the water's motion. The small, thimble-shaped jelly zipped around jet-pack style, and the dye revealed the lost kinetic energy swirling in its wake.

Then the research team filmed some broad, UFO-shaped jellies known as moon jellyfish, or Aurelia aurita, in shallow waters of the Adriatic Sea and in a saltwater lake on the Adriatic island of Mljet. Again, the scientists used dye to visualize the animals' wakes. The researchers immediately noticed that these jellies didn't zip to and fro, but meandered, using a leisurely half-jet, half-paddle approach. Like their rocket-shaped relatives, these broader, flatter jellies moved by contracting their meager muscles, squeezing water from their bells into a swirling vortex behind them. But when a moon jellyfish relaxed, postsqueeze, and water rushed in to refill its bell, the dye revealed a second vortex forming at the bell's edge. Dabiri realized that this second vortex was swirling in the opposite direction of that of the first, like water swirling inward at the edge of a bowl pushed down into a basin of water. The collision of these opposing, swirling masses of water was providing enough thrust to propel the moon jellyfish forward.

CONTRAST IN CADENCE. A jellyfish with a broader bell, left, propels itself by creating two opposing vortices of water—the first results from a jet thrust, the second forms after the jelly relaxes in a paddlelike stroke. Rocket-shaped jellies, right, use a purely jet-pack approach.
R. Rogge

Dabiri crunched the numbers again, incorporating bell dimensions and the force of the second vortex into his equations. His new model, published with Colin and Costello in the June 2007 Journal of Experimental Biology, suggests that broad jellies, no matter how big, should be able to generate enough force to swim, albeit via a gentle, slow paddle, not a jet. And because of the superior elasticity of a jelly's gooey cellular matrix, the critter doesn't use extra energy to generate the second vortex. It's like a spring that's been compressed and wants to recoil, says Dabiri. "The relaxation phase is essentially for free."

Dabiri is impressed by the fancy footwork of these broad jellies and by how they've managed with the hand (or tentacles) that they've been dealt.

"We think of them as blobs on the beach that don't have the capabilities of complex swimmers," Dabiri says. In fact, the signature move of the broader jellies, the jet-paddle, is sophisticated enough to inspire Dabiri to rethink the constraints faced by underwater vehicles. His graduate student Lydia Trevino is working on modifying propellers in such a way that they could generate enough force to move an otherwise cumbersome machine more efficiently in the fluid environment of the sea.

While the two swimming styles of jellyfish appear to allow for the breadth of sizes seen in jellies today, scientists such as Allen Collins of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seem more struck by the fact that Dabiri's equations predict the limits on jelly bell shapes that are manifest in nature.

"They can't seem to get beyond what is theoretically possible," says Collins, who is also curator of the Smithsonian Institution's jellyfish and glass sponge collections at the National Museum of Natural History.

Before choosing betwixt jet and paddle, jellies had to become free-floating beasts, a first for their lineage. Jellyfish belong to a larger group of animals known as Cnidarians, united by their ability to make stinging, poisonous barbs, a feat they presumably inherited from a common, ancient ancestor (knidï is Greek for "stinging nettle"). Corals and anemones are part of this group, as are critters known as sea fans and sea pens. Like jellyfish, most Cnidarians have a tubular body with a mouth on one end surrounded by tentacles. But many of these creatures are anchored to sand or rock. They can't move, by jet or by paddle.

Young jellies are also limited in terms of purposeful movement. They begin life as small larvae dispersed by currents and eventually settle on the bottom of the sea. The majority then grow into polyps, small finger- or pear-shaped lumps. Some species have polyps that can crawl around a bit, but mostly they stay put, waiting for something tasty to stumble into their tentacles. This was life in the 'burbs for Cnidarians, until the day, roughly 550 million years ago, that a polyp ancestor of today's jellies grew a little bud that broke off and got into the swim of things. Called medusans, these free jellies are the adult jellyfish that marinelife fans know and love (or fear). Almost all of today's jellies still begin as larvae, become polyps, and eventually medusans, free to roam the seas.

It's likely that the first free-floating jellies were the only swimmers in the ancient seas, says Collins. There would have been algae and coral larvae and such floating around, and eventually ancient versions of lobsters and other marine arthropods. But the highways were basically clear. No sharks. No fish. Certainly no people. The jellies had the pool to themselves.

But what stroke the earliest jellyfish used isn't as clear. When Dabiri and his colleagues realized that the same swimming styles cropped up in distinct groups of jellies, the researchers wondered whether the first ancient swimming jelly blasted from place to place via jet pack or gently paddled around. So the researchers looked up the most recent version of the jellyfish family tree. (The tree was generated using molecular data by Collins and colleagues published in Systematic Biology in 2006.)

When Dabiri's team plotted swimming strategies onto the tree, it appeared that both swimming styles have been invented again and again in jellyfish evolution. But Collins cautions that jellyfish are understudied beasts. Without surveying all of the species in every group it is difficult to say if jets or paddles emerged first. Scientists often look to the fossil record for answers to what-came-first kinds of questions. And while some fossilized jellies have been found, the record remains murky.

It is clear that some groups tend to favor one mode of motion. Among the box jellies (Cubozoans), which are known for their fierce venom and distinct cube shape, bell size has been restricted and many of these jellies are small, jet-propelled species. The hydrozoans, a sister group of the box jellies, show more variation. Hydrozoans called Trachymedusae have diminutive bells and belong to the jet set. Other hydrozoans called siphonophores include species like the Portuguese man-o-war that may grow up to several feet long, but are actually colonies made up of many smaller bells chained together. While technically too large to jet, siphonophores pull off jet propulsion through the coordinated thrusts of the individual bells.

The leisurely paddle propulsion also appears more than once in the greater jellyfish family tree, and different groups have made use of various body parts to enhance the paddlelike edges of their bells. Thimble-shaped hydrozoans have a velum, a sort of muscular shelf at the inner edge of the bell, that boosts propulsive power by providing a stiff collar through which to blast the water. The larger, flatter paddling hydrozoans known as Narcomedusans sport a tweaked velum—a flapping paddlelike appendage—that helps generate the second vortex.

Some of the wispy creatures' body plans fall between the extremes, or switch as teens, going from UFO-shaped juveniles to rocket-shaped adults. But it appears that it isn't advantageous to take the middle road. Examining dining preferences hints at why, say Dabiri and his colleagues in an upcoming issue of Invertebrate Biology.

Jet-propellers tend to be what ecologists call ambush predators—they lie in wait for a small creature to swim by, then ensnare it in a stinging mass of tentacles. Like Agent 007, most of these jellies appear to employ the jet pack to escape from an enemy rather than to attack. On the other hand, what's known of the paddling jellyfish suggests that they are largely cruising foragers—they amble along, capturing soft-bodied, slow-moving prey such as drifting eggs or tadpole-like creatures.

Of course, jellies may have done it first, but most animals have since figured out how to generate force by contracting muscles, points out Edwin DeMont of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. But many creatures use two muscles where jellies use one. Human biceps and triceps, for example, pair up so that when one contracts, the other pulls back to rest. The equivalent in jellies is the springy, postsqueeze expansion of their goo.

"They can't increase that rate—it is passive," says DeMont. "They've had to capture the fluid processes in the environment."

From Dabiri's perspective, the ability to harness these fluid processes is one of the marvels of these graceful ghosts of the sea. He hopes to do something similar with air currents. Inspired by the flow dynamics employed by the jet-paddling jellies, he has begun investigating how to capture the energy of winds whipping through a city. Because this wind can quickly change direction and strength as it slides down buildings, turns corners, or blasts down streets, taking advantage of it requires thinking more like a jelly than a tuna. Dabiri recently received funding from the National Science Foundation to explore the energy conversion that happens when eddies and vortices are generated by animals like jellyfish.

"Whether water or air," Dabiri says, "it all comes back to the same equations."

Strong though the temptation is to call the bearded charioteer pictured on the front cover "Ben Hur of Ur," it would not be quite accurate to do so. For the little statuette comes not from the famous Chaldean city but was dug up at Tell Agrab, near Baghdad. Probably, though, Ur's warriors drove to battle in just such jolting war-chariots behind teams of four scampering donkeys.

Notable are the big copper studs that circled the wheels, tire fashion, and the driver's not-too-comfortable position astride a continuation rearward of the chariot pole. It is to be noticed especially that he is shown standing on the floor of the chariot—he probably didn't sit down much.

This interesting find, which dates from about 2800 B.C., was made by an expedition of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Many an American family that would not buy second-hand furniture or wear second-hand clothes is eating a third-rate diet. This is apparent from a survey of typical food expenditures made by Dr. Hazel K. Stiebeling of the U.S. Bureau of Home Economics. The survey included 25,000 representative city, village, and rural families.

Size of the family pocketbook was not the only or perhaps even the chief factor responsible for the poor nutritional quality of the family's diet. At every expenditure level above $100 per person per year, some families were able to provide themselves with very good diets. The reason more families do not get good diets is chiefly because they do not know how to select the most nourishing foods for the money.

As might be expected, the tables of the well-to-do families were more frequently and more liberally supplied with milk, butter, eggs, fruits, and green and leafy vegetables. These are classed by nutritionists as the "protective foods" because they protect against such serious ills as rickets, beriberi, and scurvy and also against numerous minor degrees of ill health and undernutrition. Families spending less than $85 per year per person for food, as might be expected, got very poor diets.

At the median expenditure level, however, which is $130 per person per year, almost one-half were eating a third-rate diet and nearly another fifth a very poor diet. At this expenditure level a little over one-fifth of the families had a first-rate diet.

Three-fourths of the families were at $100 or more expenditure level, but less than one-third of them were selecting very good diets.

Ruins of an ancient American trade town, where Indians turned out cheap pottery bowls for traveling salesmen to handle, have been unearthed in the tropics in northeast Honduras, by a Smithsonian-Harvard University joint expedition. The Smithsonian Institution has just issued a report of the expedition, which took place in 1936.

The town unearthed sheds light on industrial life of aboriginal America. Evidence that mass production was tried in those days is found in quantities of broken pottery, some decorated in the "factory" method of stamping the design.

Indian businessmen of the town lived well, judging by two house floors unearthed by the expedition. The plastered floors were stained red. Fragments of plaster, apparently from walls, show redecoration in successive layers of red, yellow, red, blue-gray, and red.

The town is identified as Naco, visited by Spanish explorers in 1526. Spaniards found it a flourishing place of 2,000 houses and about 10,000 natives, with Aztec traders from Mexico bargaining for goods in the shady city square. Ten years later, Naco was reduced to a pitiable handful of 45 Indians, the rest having been killed, enslaved, or driven into the hills.

So I’m at Peet’s coffee a while back — Pirillo loves it, and talked me into it — and I want to buy some beans. They look good, oily and dark. I move over to the counter, and the barrista looks up at me and asks if she can help me.
As I’m about to open my mouth, I notice she’s wearing an unusual necklace. It’s a simple thing, wire with small beads on it. The shape is odd, though. The wire has been bent into a pattern, a hexagon with some radial bits coming out at the vertices.
It’s obviously a molecule. It looks familiar, but I can’t place it. Suddenly, though, I get a flash of insight.
Where am I standing?
I smile. I already know the answer… "Is that a caffeine molecule?" I ask.
Over the course of two seconds her expression changes from open and helpful to one of surprise and amazement.
"That’s right!" she exclaims. "You’re the first person to get it!"
Just like that, we bonded. Turns out she’s a biochem major, and working at Peet’s to make ends meet. We chatted for a while — we scientists tend to stick together — and she told me she made the necklace herself, which is cool.
Finally, though, I have to leave. As I turn to go, she tells me to wait. She reaches down and grabs something. Smiling broadly, she passes it to me.
It’s a coupon for a free cup of coffee, next time I come in.
Science, babies. It pays.

Some people call Venus our sister planet, but if it is, it’s the sister that went very, very bad.

The atmospheric pressure at the surface is a crushing 90 atmospheres. The surface temperature is 470 Celsius (about 900 F). The atmosphere is almost entirely carbon dioxide, and it rains sulphuric acid. To paraphrase Chekov, it’s not exactly a garden spot.*
Through a telescope (and by eye for that matter) Venus is beautiful and bright, but featureless. In visible light, the best you can see are very subtle patches on the disk of the planet. The atmosphere is far too thick to see the surface.
But there’s still a lot to learn from the planet. The European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter arrived at the hellish planet in April 2006 and set up shop. It’s equipped with an ultraviolet camera, and when viewed in UV Venus is a whole ‘nuther place. The chemicals in the atmosphere reflect or absorb UV from the Sun ,creating beautiful global weather patterns reminiscent of Earth’s. Here’s a recent UV shot:

As you can see, the story is different in UV than in visible. Things is, scientists aren’t exactly sure what they’re seeing. The bright stripes are due to sulphuric acid droplets in the air (yikes… I mean seriously, yikes). But they’re not sure what’s causing the darker regions; something is absorbing UV, but it’s unknown exactly what it is.
And the weather on Venus is weird, too. The science team was recently amazed to see a bright haze form over the south pole of Venus, then, over the course of several days, grow to cover the southern half of the planet. Then, just as quickly, it receded. What could cause such a thing? No one knows. There are very small amounts of water vapor and sulphur dioxide in Venus’s atmosphere, located deeper down (below 70 km in height). If this wells up, the ultraviolet from the Sun can break the molecules apart, which would reform into sulphuric acid, creating the haze. But why would those two molecules suddenly well up to the top of the atmosphere in the first place? Again, no one knows.
The only thing to do is keep looking. Venus Express has been orbiting the planet for nearly two years now, and that allows the long view, so to speak. By examining the data taken over long periods of time, scientists can investigate global properties of the planet and look for trends, connections, cause and effect. Venus has the same mass, size, and density of Earth, but at some point in its past it took a very different path than we did. Studying it carefully will reveal more about the Earth and why things turned out so well for us.
Sure, when you look into the abyss, sometimes it looks back into you. But that can be pretty helpful when you want to learn more about the abyss as well as yourself.

The U.S. faces an unwelcome combination of looming recession and persistent inflation that is reviving angst about stagflation, a condition not seen since the 1970s.

Inflation is rising. Yesterday the Labor Department said consumer prices in the U.S. jumped 0.4% in January and are up 4.3% over the past 12 months, near a 16-year high. Even stripping out sharply rising food and energy costs, prices rose 0.3% in January, driven by education, medical care, clothing and hotels. They are up by 2.5% from the previous year, a 10-month high.

The same day brought a reminder of possible recession. The Federal Reserve disclosed that its policy makers lowered their forecast for economic growth this year to between 1.3% and 2%, half a percentage point below the level of their previous forecast, in October. They blamed a further slowdown on the slump in housing prices, tighter lending standards and higher oil prices. They warned the economy's performance could fall short of even that lowered outlook.

Stocks fell on the Labor Department's morning inflation report. But shares rallied after the afternoon release of the minutes of the Jan. 29-30 meeting of Fed policy makers and their latest forecast for the economy. That's because investors took the Fed's darker outlook on growth to mean that it intended to cut its short-term interest rate next month at its next scheduled meeting.

A simultaneous rise in unemployment and inflation poses a dilemma for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. When the Fed wants to fight unemployment, it lowers interest rates. When it wants to damp inflation, it raises them. It's impossible to do both at the same time.

Stagflation, a term coined in the United Kingdom in 1965, defined the years from 1970 to 1981 in the U.S. Inflation rose to almost 15%. The economy went through three recessions. Unemployment reached 9%. Fed Chairman Paul Volcker finally conquered inflation, but only by dramatically boosting interest rates, causing a severe recession in 1981-82.

Today's circumstances are far from that. Inflation is lower. Unemployment has risen, but only to 4.9%.

Yet there are similarities. As in the 1970s, surging commodity prices are leading the way. Crude oil rose to $100.74 a barrel yesterday, a new nominal high and close to its 1980 inflation-adjusted high. Wheat prices have hit a record. And, as in the 1970s, the rate at which the U.S. economy can grow without generating inflation has fallen, because of slower growth in both the labor force and in productivity, or output per hour of work.

The biggest difference is that in the 1970s, the Fed was unwilling, or thought itself unable, to bring inflation down. The Fed today sees achieving low inflation as its primary mission.

"The reason we're so unlikely to see a repeat is we're not adding irresponsible policy," says Christina Romer, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley and a historian of Fed policy. That means if the Fed is wrong in thinking inflation's recent rise is temporary, it will tolerate economic weakness in order to get inflation down again. "They'd have to let us suffer for a while."

Indeed, in minutes to officials' Jan. 29-30 meeting, released yesterday with the customary three-week lag, some officials noted it was important not to lose sight of controlling inflation. They argued that "when prospects for growth had improved, a reversal of [some rate cuts], possibly even a rapid reversal, might be appropriate."

But that does not seem imminent. Officials said keeping interest rates low "appeared appropriate for a time," implying Fed officials felt little urgency to reverse recent cuts. Even after the January meeting's half-point rate cut, to 3%, "downside risks" to the economy remain, they said.

The inflation picture makes steep rate cuts a riskier way to rescue the economy than when former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan delivered them in 2001. Stephen Cecchetti, an economist at Brandeis University, said the Fed is now torn between its dual responsibilities of keeping unemployment down and prices stable. "The primary objective has to be to shore up the financial markets" to protect the economy, he said. "Then, once you're finished, come back and start worrying about inflation."

Members of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed's policy committee, raised their forecasts for both the overall inflation rate and the "core" rate, which excludes food and energy, by 0.3 percentage points from October, their latest forecast revealed. Yet they dialed back their rhetorical concern. The officials pronounced risks on inflation to be "balanced" -- in other words, they felt inflation, should it differ from their forecast, was as likely to be lower as it was higher. In October, by contrast, they suggested that, if inflation was to differ from their forecast, they expected it to be higher. That's principally because they see unemployment remaining higher for longer than they did in October, and expect that to help contain price increases.

Higher inflation is still a possibility. Food and energy costs could keep rising, instead of flattening out as futures markets currently anticipate. Companies could succeed in passing those costs onto consumers.

Sara Lee Corp. this week told analysts it expects to recoup rising raw-material costs in part by raising prices, especially on bread. Company spokesman John Harris said Sara Lee's significant competitors had matched the increases, with consumers showing no sign of trading down to lower-cost brands."With commodities reaching unprecedented levels," Mr. Harris said, "it is quite likely we will take pricing up again."

Goodyear Tire & Rubber raised the price of replacement tires 7% on Feb. 1, on top of two increases totaling 11% last year. Chief Financial Officer Mark Schmitz told analysts last week that the hike was the result of rising prices of key raw materials, according to a transcript by Thomson Financial. Mohawk Industries Inc. raised carpet prices in December and again in January because of rising material costs, even though sales have been hurt by the slumping housing market.

The declining dollar, while boosting U.S. exports, is adding to inflation pressure, as goods priced in foreign currencies become relatively more expensive. Prices for imports from China jumped 0.8% in January, the largest monthly increase since the Labor Department began reporting the data in 2003.

British Parliamentarian Iain Macleod is credited with first using the word stagflation in 1965. "We now have the worst of both worlds -- not just inflation on the one side or stagnation on the other, but both of them together. We have a sort of 'stagflation' situation."

In the U.S., stagflation scares are more common than actual stagflation. Core inflation rose after the start of recessions in both 1990-91 and 2001, but then trended down as unemployment kept rising.

The only generally agreed period of stagflation in the U.S. came in the 1970s. Its seeds were planted in the late 1960s, when President Johnson revved up growth with spending on the Vietnam War and his Great Society programs. Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin, meanwhile, failed to tighten monetary policy sufficiently to rein in that growth.

In the early 1970s, President Nixon, with the acquiescence of Fed Chairman Arthur Burns, tried to get inflation down by imposing controls on wage and price increases. The job became harder after the Arab oil embargo dramatically drove up energy prices, and overall inflation, in 1973.
Mr. Burns persistently underestimated inflation pressure: In part, he did not realize the economy's potential growth rate had fallen, and that an influx of young, inexperienced baby boomers into the work force had made it harder to get unemployment down to early-1960s levels.

As a result, even when he raised rates, pushing the economy into a severe recession in 1974-75, inflation and unemployment didn't fall back to the levels of the previous decade. Mr. Burns and his colleagues wrongly concluded inflation no longer responded to the condition of the economy, said Ms. Romer, the Berkeley economist. "They didn't know how the world worked," she said.

In a speech in 1979, a year after he stepped down, Mr. Burns blamed his failure on a political environment that wouldn't tolerate the high interest rates necessary to rein in inflation. As the Federal Reserve tested how far it could raise rates, he said, "it repeatedly evoked violent criticism" from the White House and Congress.

Such political risks are smaller but not entirely absent for Mr. Bernanke in this election year. On Sunday, the likely Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, told ABC's "This Week": "I would have liked to have seen faster rate cuts and earlier than they were done by him." Asked if he would reappoint Mr. Bernanke when his term expires in 2010, Sen. McCain said, "I would have to consider that at the time."

Still, Mr. Bernanke has reiterated the importance of not repeating the 1970s. He and his colleagues believe a persistent escalation of inflation is likely only if workers and firms come to expect the elevated inflation rate to persist, and set their wages and prices accordingly.

"Any tendency of inflation expectations to become unmoored -- or for the Fed's inflation-fighting credibility to be eroded -- could greatly...reduce the central bank's policy flexibility" to support growth with lower interest rates, he told Congress last week.

That credibility could be endangered by the Fed's recent track record. Yesterday's forecasts show that FOMC members define price stability as inflation of 1.5% to 2%, measured by an index that differs slightly from the commonly cited consumer-price index. By that measure, inflation has averaged 2.8% since mid-2004, when oil began a multiyear surge. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, has averaged 2.2%.

Thus far, Fed officials have taken comfort that surveys and bond-market behavior suggest the public expects the inflation rate to fall. But expected inflation, as measured by trading of inflation-protected Treasury bonds, has jumped since the Fed declared in early January that supporting growth would be a more important focus than holding down inflation. (Fed officials believe technical details in the way the bonds trade may explain some of the jump.) And professional forecasters surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently nudged up their expected inflation rate for the next 10 years to 2.5% from 2.4%, where it had stood all last year.

On the other hand, surveys of consumer predictions about inflation show no corresponding jump. And most important, wage gains have not accelerated. Since labor is the largest component of business costs, a wage-price spiral would likely be a prerequisite for stagflation.

"We're a very, very long way from the 1970s," former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said in an interview yesterday. A hit to overall spending, as has resulted from the current tightening of lending conditions, first affects production and employment, and only later inflation, he said. "But obviously, inflation figures need to be monitored very closely."

Six nights a week, Guo Bairong takes the stage at the Xanadu Lounge at the Sands Macau casino. As players place their bets at nearby tables, he opens with a popular love song in Mandarin, closing his eyes as he sways with the music. Slipping effortlessly into Cantonese, he launches into another number.

Crowds gather not only to hear his singing, which is mellifluous, but also to gape: Guo Bairong is also known as Barry Cox, a Caucasian, former waiter and supermarket cashier from Liverpool, England, whose only formal study of Cantonese was at a British community center.

Mr. Cox's quirky act -- sandwiched between cabaret dance performances like the scantily clad Glamour Girls in glittery outfits and red elbow-length gloves and authentic Chinese crooners such as Hua D, is among the spectacles on Macau's emerging entertainment scene.

Macau's clutch of new casinos has quickly outpaced the Las Vegas strip in gambling revenue, raking in some $10 billion last year. But the former Portuguese colony has to up its game to compete with its American counterpart as an all-around tourism destination. Key to that growth is the territory's entertainment scene, which pales in comparison to the A-list performers in Las Vegas, such as Bette Midler and Cher, who have regular gigs.

A few years ago, Macau was a sleepy coastal town. Visitors came for the fresh fish and Vinho Verde, the cobblestone streets and musty antique shops -- and for the gambling. The city became a special administrative zone when it was returned to China in 1999, making it the only place in China where casinos are legal.

It all began to change after 2002, when the Beijing-backed Macau government ended local tycoon Stanley Ho's monopoly on the territory's gambling by issuing licenses to other companies, including the Vegas casino Wynn Resorts. MGM Mirage, Crown Ltd. from Australia and others soon piled in.

Around the same time, China began to ease its restrictions on individual travel to Hong Kong and Macau.
A flood of tourists poured in from the mainland to try their luck. About 10.5 million visited Macau in 2005; that figure is expected to jump to nearly 15 million next year, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association, a trade group.

But how to entertain this growing crowd? When the new casinos began opening in 2004, the prevailing logic among casino executives was that the Chinese visitors mostly come to gamble. Some operators are still unsure what entertainment to offer, especially performances that guests would have to pay for as opposed to the complimentary shows available on the gambling floors.

"This is a very new market," says a Wynn Macau spokeswoman, adding that "we're not sure how the market would respond" to big global acts that visitors would have to shell out for.

Wynn casino's current entertainment options are limited to a five-minute water and light show set to music, and an attraction known as the Tree of Prosperity. The 11-meter tall golden tree, which Wynn Macau says is an auspicious symbol, sits in the casino's atrium.

At the Crown Macau, "we're focusing on offering a six-star experience," says Charles Ngai, a Crown spokesman. Apparently that doesn't include entertainment; the hotel-casino has a spa, eight restaurants and two bars, but no performances on offer.

It's a different story at Mr. Ho's Grand Lisboa, where there are two shows: a free, daily "Crazy Paris" performance -- a can-can-style dance act performed by Western women, and "Tokyo Nights," performed by a troupe of Japanese dancers, which costs $31.

"No one really knows what people are looking for here," says Jennifer Welker, the Macau-based author of "The New Macau." "They're still in that testing phase of trying to suss out what people really like." Many of the guests at the Sands, for instance, she says, seem most interested in gambling and aren't willing to pay for a show."The Venetian might need to host more Chinese acts to appeal to the mainland tourists," she adds.

Macau's entertainment limitations aside, the territory already is giving neighboring Hong Kong a run for its money. Many big-name acts have chosen to play in Macau rather than Hong Kong recently. Last October, for instance, the U.S. National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the China Men's National Team played at the Venetian Arena, the 15,000-seat stadium at the Venetian resort and casino. The same month, hip-hop stars the Black Eyed Peas brought a crowd of more than 10,000 to its feet there. The Police performed in Macau in early February, and Celine Dion arrives next month for a one-night-only show as part of her world tour.

Hong Kong has the facilities to compete: In addition to the cavernous convention center hall in the Wanchai area that big-name acts traditionally use, the territory has the newer AsiaWorld-Arena, a 13,500-seat concert venue next to the airport. But economics may play a role in the migration of big acts to Macau. Min Yoo, a Shanghai- and Hong Kong-based concert promoter, says it is cheaper to put on a large event in Macau than in Hong Kong.

In any case, Macau still has a few wrinkles to iron out. For starters, it isn't always easy to know what events are on.

Strict rules against advertising by casinos in mainland China make it impossible to promote events there. Even in Hong Kong, says Mark Brown, president of the Sands Macau and Venetian Macau, advertising for events has to be planned carefully, considering the potential sensitivity around the idea of gambling.

What's more, Macau's transportation infrastructure is lacking. A taxi shortage means fans arriving on the ferry from Hong Kong often have to wait in long lines for a shuttle bus to the Venetian Arena.

For now, the Venetian and its sister property, the Sands, are where the serious entertainment action is. This summer, the Venetian plans to bring Cirque du Soleil, the acrobatic show that's a fixture in Las Vegas, to Macau as a permanent show with 10 performances a week. Cirque will perform in a 1,800-seat theater that is still under construction.'s only the beginning. "Every top U.S. name you can think of, we have an offer out there," says Mr. Brown. "Every top Asian artist, we have an offer out there. Every type of sport you can think of...we have an offer out there."

Meantime, acts like Mr. Cox's are filling the gap.

As a high-school student, Mr. Cox watched Jackie Chan movies and fell in love with the Canto-pop soundtracks. He took a few Cantonese lessons and discovered he had a flair for Asian languages -- he's never studied Mandarin formally, though he considers himself fluent in both.

So he quit his job as a salesman in a Liverpool electrical store and started waiting tables in a Chinese restaurant to hone his language skills. Eventually, he began performing at Chinese gatherings in Liverpool. His renditions of popular Canto-pop classics such "Kiss Under the Moon" and "Love Once More" won over the immigrant crowds there, turning him into a local celebrity.

But all along, his dream was to make it big in Asia. And so in 2002, he moved to Hong Kong, where he sang at corporate events and Christmas parties. He even traveled in mainland China doing a few performances in discos in places like Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Then, six months ago, Mr. Cox, whose Chinese name was given to him by his Chinese-language headmaster, left Hong Kong for the lights of Macau."It's good for what I'm doing," he says, in his Liverpudlian accent. I'm "partly living the dream," he adds.

On a chilly Saturday night, as the Black Eyed Peas warmed up at the Venetian Arena, Mr. Cox, dressed entirely in black down to his pointy-toed shoes, was warming up his audience. Gamblers at nearby slot machines had fallen still, their jaws slack at the spectacle of a foreigner singing Canto-pop. A woman was dancing in her chair.

"This one's for you," he said in Mandarin to a Chinese couple in the crowd, as he launched into a number by Deng Lijun, a Taiwanese singer popular in the 1970s and '80s. The lounge, filled with mainland and Taiwanese tourists, exploded into applause.

Dates of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt: The Old Kingdom ran from about 2686-2160 B.C. It started with the 3rd Dynasty and ended with the 8th (some say the 6th).

* 3rd: 2686-2613 B.C.
* 4th: 2613-2494 B.C.
* 5th 2494-2345 B.C.
* 6th: 2345-2181 B.C.
* 7th and 8th: 2181-2160 B.C.

Before the Old Kingdom was the Early Dynastic Period, which ran from about 3000-2686 B.C.

Before the Early Dynastic Period was the Predynastic which began in the 6th millennium B.C.

Earlier than the Predynastic Period were the Neolithic (c.8800-4700 B.C.) and Paleolithic Periods (c.700,000-7000 B.C.).

* Predynastic Egypt

* Pharaohs of the Predynastic Period, Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom

Old Kingdom Capital: During the Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom Egypt, the residence of the pharaoh was at White Wall (Ineb-hedj) on the west bank of the Nile south of Cairo. This capital city was later named Memphis.

After the 8th Dynasty, the pharaohs left Memphis.
Turin Canon: The Turin Canon, a papyrus discovered by Bernardino Drovetti in the necropolis at Thebes, Egypt, in 1822, is so-called because it resides in the northern Italian city of Turin at the Museo Egizio. The Turin Canon provides a list of names of the kings of Egypt from the beginning of time to the time of Ramses II and is important, therefore, for providing the names of the Old Kingdom pharaohs.

For more on the problems of ancient Egyptian chronology and the Turin Canon, see Problems Dating Hatshepsut.
Step Pyramid of Djoser: The Old Kingdom is the age of pyramid building beginning with Third Dynasty Pharaoh Djoser's Step Pyramid at Saqqara, the first finished large stone building in the world. Its ground area is 140 X 118 m., its height 60 m., its outside enclosure 545 X 277 m. Djoser's corpse was buried there but below ground level. There were other buildings and shrines in the area. The architect credited with Djoser's 6-step pyramid was Imhotep (Imouthes), a high priest of Heliopolis.

* Imhotep
* Step Pyramid - Archaeology Guide
* Step Pyramid Tomb Robbers

Old Kingdom True Pyramids: Dynasty divisions follow major changes. The Fourth Dynasty begins with the ruler who changed the architectural style of the pyramids.

Under Pharaoh Sneferu (2613-2589) the pyramid complex emerged, with the axis re-oriented east to west. A temple was built against the eastern side of the pyramid. There was a road running to a temple in the valley that served as entrance to the complex. Sneferu's name is connected with a bent pyramid whose slope changed two-thirds of the way up. He had a second (Red) pyramid in which he was buried. Sneferu's son Khufu (Cheops) built the Great Pyramid at Giza.
About the Old Kingdom Period: The Old Kingdom was a long, politically stable, prosperous period for ancient Egypt. Government was centralized. The king was credited with supernatural powers, his authority virtually absolute. Even after death the pharaoh was expected to mediate between gods and humans, therefore preparation for his afterlife, the building of elaborate burial sites, was vitally important.

Over time, the royal authority weakened while the power of viziers and local administrators grew. The office of overseer of Upper Egypt was created and Nubia became important because of contact, immigration, and resources for Egypt to exploit.

Although Egypt had been self-sufficient with its bountiful annual Nile inundation allowing farmers to grow emmer wheat and barley, building projects like the pyramids and temples led the Egyptians beyond its borders for minerals and manpower.

The sun god Ra grew more important through the Old Kingdom Period with obelisks built on pedestals as part of their temples. A full written language of hieroglyphs was used on the sacred monuments, while hieratic was used on papyrus documents.

Although their lifetimes span billions of years, galaxies age, just like people. As rambunctious young’uns, they undergo bursts of star formation that create hot blue orbs out of the simple elements hydrogen and helium. As galaxies grow older, they settle down. Not only do their stars cool and become redder, but they eventually burn out and die, releasing into the galaxy heavier elements that formed in the stellar furnaces.

So astronomers have been repeatedly baffled by a peculiar, developmentally challenged galaxy called I Zwicky 18. When they first sighted it about 40 years ago, they thought it was a not-quite-billion-year-old toddler brimming with hot young stars, full of hydrogen and helium and possessing very few heavy elements, called metals. Finding such a young galaxy near others that are at least 7 billion years old thrilled—and perplexed—the scientists. But new observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have revealed ancient stars mingled with the young ones, proving the galaxy as a whole is in fact as old as its neighbors.
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Astronomers don’t know why this galaxy is so low on metals, or why it’s forming so many new stars so late in the game. It’s possible that this relatively light galaxy has too little mass—or gravitational pull—to retain the metals, and that a rush of gas called a galactic wind swept them away. Or maybe the galaxy’s relatively isolated position caused it to develop slowly: There are few other galaxies around to help seed star formation.

They also don’t know why it’s not happening in all dwarf galaxies. “It’s possible that there are more out there like this,” says Francesca Annibali, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, who worked on the project. “If they are more common, then that means that some process is inhibiting star formation in small, low-metal environments.” Whatever the cause of I Zwicky 18’s strange history, its close resemblance to primordial galaxies offers a unique opportunity to study how stars acted in the early universe, something that normally cannot be observed at such close range.

For astronauts toiling in the close quarters of the International Space Station or on a shuttle to Mars, an ordinary germ would be risky enough. But a recent experiment published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has shown that a microbe can turn even more dangerous in space than on Earth. In that study, a bacte–rium particularly nasty for humans—salmonella—was shown to become more virulent after just 83 hours of growing in space.

The experiment on the space shuttle Atlantis was designed to explore how a lack of gravity affects disease-causing microbes in space. Astronauts aboard the space shuttle grew the salmonella, and back on Earth researchers used it to infect a group of mice. For comparison, bacteria grown in a laboratory on Earth in normal gravity infected another group of mice. The mice infected with the space-grown germs had a mortality rate almost three times higher than that of mice given germs grown in normal gravity.

Researchers noticed that while on board the space shuttle, the salmonella encased themselves in a biofilm, a protective coating that is notoriously resistant to anti–biotics. Several follow-up experiments on space flights over the next few years will look to see whether other bacteria undergo similar changes in virulence in microgravity.

By now you’ve probably heard about the lunar eclipse tomorrow night. Lunar eclipses are great; they last a long time, so there’s no hurry, you don’t need crystal clear skies (the clearer the better, of course), and you don’t need a telescope! Just your eyes will do, though having binoculars is better. I actually prefer them over using a telescope.

The event will be visible pretty much everywhere in the US, Canada, South America, and western Africa and Europe. Orbiting Frog has a ton of info, including a nice animation of what to expect. Sky and Telescope has info as well (including a diagram with times listed for the west coast of the US, if that helps). But here’s the rundown:
The show starts for real around 01:43 Universal Time (CAREFUL HERE! That’s 1:43 a.m. on Thursday morning in England, but that’s Wednesday night for the United States. Check to see what your local offset is from Universal Time; for example, in Boulder we are UT - 7, so the eclipse starts here at 1:43 a.m. UT - 7 hours = 6:43 p.m. local time Wednesday night.
But don’t trust me– do this math for yourself!).
You may read that the eclipse starts an hour or so before that, but if you look you probably won’t see anything. Earth casts a dark shadow surrounded by a much lighter one, called the umbra and penumbra, respectively. When the Moon enters the penumbra you’ll hardly notice, but when it enters the umbra at 01:43 it’ll look like a bite is taken out of it.
1 hour 20 minutes later (03:00 UT) the Moon will be totally engulfed in the Earth’s shadow. It may take on a brown or reddish appearance, depending on various factors like pollution in our atmosphere. Sometimes the Moon turns blood red, and it’s really amazing. I have found that the Moon appears to really be a globe when this happens; I assume it’s an illusion of some kind but the effect can be overwhelming.
The totality phase of the eclipse will last for about 51 minutes, and then it will start to leave the umbra, and you’ll see a bright crescent begin to form. By 05:10 UT it’ll all be over, and the Moon will look normal again.
I plan on being at The Little Astronomer’s school, since they’re hosting a party in the parking lot to see it. There are no doubt viewings all over the place, so call your local astronomy club, museum, or even news station to see what’s going on in your area.
This is the last total lunar eclipse for the US until very late in 2010, so I hope you get a chance to see it!

The Code of Hammurabi is one of the earliest known law codes and was probably compiled at the start of the reign of the Babylonian king Hammurabi (1792–1750 B.C.). The Code of Hammurabi is famous for demanding punishment to fit the crime (the lex talionis, or an eye for an eye) with different treatment for each social class. The Code is thought to be Sumerian in spirit but with a Babylonian inspired harshness. Its laws cover land tenure, rent, the position of women, marriage, divorce, inheritance, contracts, control of public order, administration of justice, wages, and labor conditions. (See LOC article on Iraq.) The prologue of the Code give a glimpse of the relationship between the Babylonian gods and kings.

A 2.3 m high diorite or basalt stele of the Code of Hammurabi was found at Susa, Iran, in 1901. At the top is a bas relief image. The text of laws is written in cuneiform. This stele of the Code of Hammurabi is at the Louvre.

Source: James A. Armstrong "Mesopotamia" The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Brian M. Fagan, ed., Oxford University Press 1996. Oxford Reference Online.

Go to Other Ancient / Classical History Glossary pages beginning with the letterSilbury 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. 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.

Kosovo won the recognition of the United States and its biggest Western European allies Monday, while earning rebukes and rejections from Serbia, Russia and a disparate mix of states the world over who face their own separatist movements at home.

One day after the tiny Balkan province declared its independence, the world had its chance to choose sides. While some countries had made their decisions months in advance, that did not diminish the drama of whether a newly birthed nation would be welcomed into the fold or rejected.

Major European powers, including France, Germany and Britain, along with the United States, officially recognized Kosovo, even as officials took pains to point out that it should not serve as an invitation or precedent for other groups hoping to declare independence. That is because one of the biggest unknowns remains whether Kosovo’s declaration could rekindle conflicts elsewhere, including in ethnically divided Bosnia.

As a result, the reverberations were felt from Russian-backed enclaves in Georgia to the Taiwan Strait. Spain, a member of the European Union and one of the countries with soldiers in the NATO force in Kosovo, refused its recognition. Yet Turkey, despite its history of conflict with Kurdish separatists, chose to support Kosovo’s independence.

In a letter to Kosovo’s president, Fatmir Sejdiu, President Bush wrote: “On behalf of the American people, I hereby recognize Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. I congratulate you and Kosovo’s citizens for having taken this important step in your democratic and national development.”

In an apparent conciliatory gesture, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in her own statement, “The United States takes this opportunity to reaffirm our friendship with Serbia, an ally during two world wars.”

But Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica of Serbia, which has regarded Kosovo as its heartland since medieval times, vowed that Serbia would never recognize the “false state.”
Mr. Kostunica recalled Serbia’s ambassador to Washington, wire services reported. The State Department had no comment on those reports on Monday evening.

At the United Nations, Boris Tadic, Serbia’s president, told the Security Council that the declaration of independence “annuls international law, tramples upon justice and enthrones injustice.” He asked that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon direct the United Nations mission chief in Kosovo to declare the action “null and void” and to dissolve the Kosovo Assembly, which adopted the declaration on Sunday.

Addressing the Council before Mr. Tadic spoke, Mr. Ban said the United administration, approved by the Council in 1999, would continue to run Kosovo until a formal transition could be arranged.

European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels appeared to reach a minimal common position, acknowledging that Kosovo had declared independence and allowing those nations that wanted to recognize it formally to do so.

Bernard Kouchner, France’s foreign minister, said the declaration was “a victory for common sense,” and pointed to what he hoped would be future reconciliation between Serbia and Kosovo. “I don’t know at what date, in which year, but Kosovo and Serbia will be together in the European Union,” he said.

However, the foreign minister of Spain, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, told reporters that the declaration did not respect international law and that Spain would not recognize Kosovo. “The government of Spain will not recognize the unilateral act proclaimed yesterday by the Assembly of Kosovo,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

Among European Union members, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia have also been reluctant to recognize Kosovo.

Diplomatic recognition is more than just a popularity contest for Kosovo, a desperately poor, predominantly Muslim landlocked territory of two million. It needs the help and support of international institutions if it expects to improve its dire economic condition. A United Nations protectorate since 1999, it is policed by 16,000 NATO troops and has an unemployment rate of around 60 percent and an average monthly wage of $250.

“We will be working with the government to try to help it politically as well as economically,” said R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, in a conference call with reporters on Monday, pointing out that the United States gave $77 million in aid to Kosovo in 2007 and would raise that amount to roughly $335 million in 2008.

Mr. Burns, who said he had consulted by phone with European counterparts after the meeting of European Union foreign ministers, said there would be a donor conference in Europe in the coming months to encourage additional aid, and hoped there could be debt relief for Kosovo as well as strong regional trade opportunities.

Russia, which opposes Kosovo’s independence, demanded an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Sunday to proclaim the declaration “null and void,” but the meeting produced no resolution. The Security Council agreed to a request by Russia and Serbia to hold the open meeting on Monday that Mr. Tadic addressed.

Mr. Burns said he did not foresee trouble with Russia. “I do not expect any kind of crisis with Russia over this,” he said. “I expect Russia to be supportive of stability in this region.”

But in Moscow, the upper and lower houses of Parliament on Monday released a joint statement signaling an intention to recognize at least two Russian-backed separatist areas in the former Soviet Union — Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both in Georgia.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia have announced their intention to seek recognition as independent states. Russia has already granted citizenship to most residents of both enclaves and had hinted that it might recognize their independence if Western countries recognized Kosovo.

“The right of nations to self-determination cannot justify recognition of Kosovo’s independence along with the simultaneous refusal to discuss similar acts by other self-proclaimed states, which have obtained de facto independence exclusively by themselves,” the Russian Parliament’s statement read.

Georgia disputes the claim that the regions have obtained independence by themselves. The areas broke from Georgia after brief wars in the 1990s, and have survived with Russian support.

Eduard Kokoity, the Ossetian president, said Monday that the two breakaway regions would submit a request for recognition to Russia’s Parliament by the end of the month, the Interfax news agency reported.

But experts and officials said they did not expect simmering conflicts to break out into significant violence as a result of Kosovo’s declaration. “These are emotional reactions that I think are transitory and can be contained,” said Peter Semneby, the European Union’s special representative for the South Caucasus, in a telephone interview from Georgia. “It’s very much in the interest of major actors to try to contain them.”

On the other side of the world, China, Indonesia and Sri Lanka also criticized Kosovo’s of independence, while Taiwan and Australia welcomed it, as Kosovo’s move appeared to be a litmus test of attitudes in Asia toward secession.

The Beijing government, which has threatened military action if Taiwan declares formal independence, voiced “grave concern” over Kosovo’s action.

“China is deeply worried about its severe and negative impact on peace and stability of the Balkan region and the goal of establishing a multiethnic society in Kosovo,” said Liu Jianchao, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.

The province of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on Sunday, sending tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians streaming through the streets to celebrate what they hoped was the end of a long and bloody struggle for national self-determination.

Kosovo’s bid to be recognized as Europe’s newest country — after a civil war that killed 10,000 people a decade ago and then years of limbo under United Nations rule — was the latest episode in the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia, 17 years after its dissolution began.

It brings to a climax a showdown between the West, which argues that Serbia’s brutal subjugation of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority cost it any right to rule the territory, and the Serbian government and its allies in the Kremlin.
They counter that Kosovo’s independence is a reckless breach of international law that will spur other secessionist movements across the world.

As Albanians danced in the streets and fired guns in the air in the capital, Pristina, international reaction was sharply divided, suggesting that the clash between the principles of sovereignty and self-determination was far from resolved.

Britain, France and Germany were expected to be the first to recognize the new nation as early as Monday, while other nations, fearing separatist movements within their own borders, have said they will refuse. Russia demanded an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to proclaim the declaration “null and void,” but the meeting produced no resolution.

The United States and additional European Union member states were expected to recognize Kosovo’s independence in the coming days.

President Bush, speaking in Tanzania, said the United States would continue to work to prevent violence in Kosovo, while reaching out to Serbia. He said that resolving the conflict in Kosovo was essential to stability in the Balkans and that “the Serbian people can know that they have a friend in America.”

In declaring independence, Kosovo’s prime minister, Hashim Thaci, a former leader of the guerrilla force that just over 10 years ago began an armed rebellion against Serbian domination, struck a note of reconciliation. Addressing Parliament in both Albanian and Serbian, he pledged to protect the rights of Kosovo’s Serbian minority. “I feel the heartbeat of our ancestors,” he said. “We, the leaders of our people, democratically elected, through this declaration proclaim Kosovo an independent and sovereign state.”

Kosovo, a desperately poor, predominantly Muslim landlocked territory of two million, has been a United Nations protectorate since 1999, policed 16,000 NATO troops. Its unemployment rate is about 60 percent and average monthly wage is $250.

Electricity is so undependable that lights go out in the capital several times a day. Corruption is rife and human trafficking threatens to entrench a lawless state on Europe’s doorstep.

Ethnic Albanians from as far away as the United States poured into Pristina over the weekend, braving freezing temperatures and heavy snow to dance in frenzied jubilation. Beating drums, waving Albanian flags and throwing firecrackers, they chanted: “Independence! Independence! We are free at last!”

A 100-foot-long birthday cake was installed on Pristina’s main boulevard.

In an outpouring of adulation for the United States, the architect of NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign against Serbian forces under President Slobodan Milosevic, revelers unfurled giant American flags, carried posters of former President Bill Clinton and chanted, “Thank you, U.S.A.” and “God bless America.”

Hundreds of people, many waving Albanian flags, celebrated in Times Square. Revelers in cars drove in circles around the area, leading chants whenever they passed the crowds gathered on the sidewalks.

That spirit of exaltation contrasted sharply with the despair, anger and disbelief that gripped Serbia and the Serbian enclaves of northern Kosovo. In Belgrade,
Serbia’s capital, as many as 2,000 angry Serbs converged on the United States Embassy, hurling stones and smashing windows.

In the Kosovo Serb stronghold of Mitrovica, a grenade was thrown at a United Nations building, the police said. No one was injured.

Vojislav Kostunica, the prime minister of Serbia, which has regarded Kosovo as its heartland since medieval times, vowed that Serbia would never recognize the “false state.”

In an address on national television on Sunday, he said Kosovo was propped up unlawfully by the United States and called the declaration a “humiliation” for the European Union. The Serbian government has ruled out using military force in response, but was expected to downgrade diplomatic ties with any government that recognized Kosovo.

Demonstrations were planned for Monday in Serbian enclaves across Kosovo. Serbs said they were under orders from Belgrade to ignore the independence declaration and remain in Kosovo to keep the northern part of the territory under de facto Serbian control, raising questions about Serbia’s long-term aims.

At the Security Council, Russia argued that the proclamation violated the 1999 resolution that established the United Nations mission in Kosovo. “Our position is that the declaration should be disregarded by the international community and declared null and void,” said Vitaly I. Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations.

But Alejandro D. Wolff, the deputy American ambassador, said, “In our view, this declaration is logical and consistent and completely in line with” the 1999 measure.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pleaded with all parties “to refrain from any actions or statements that could endanger peace, incite violence or jeopardize security in Kosovo or the region.”

The Security Council agreed to a request by Russia and Serbia to hold an open meeting on Monday that will be addressed by the Serbian president, Boris Tadic.

Kosovo’s declaration followed nearly two years of United Nations-sponsored negotiations between it and Serbia. Those talks failed, as did a Security Council effort in December to resolve Kosovo’s future.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive branch, appealed for calm, while NATO’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said the alliance would respond “swiftly and firmly against anyone who might resort to violence.”

Kosovo’s sovereignty remains severely circumscribed, making it reliant on the international community. NATO still provides international security, while the European Union has agreed to send an 1,800-strong police and judicial mission to help run the territory after the United Nations leaves.

Ulrich Wilhelm, the spokesman for the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said Germany would decide what to do on Monday.

Kosovo played a central role in the collapse of the Yugoslav federation built by the Communist strongman Josip Broz Tito, who died in 1980. Albanian nationalism erupted in Kosovo in 1981, leading to bloody clashes.

In the 1980s, Mr. Milosevic used Serbs’ enormous sense of grievance that their ancestral heartland was now dominated by Muslim Albanians to come to power in Serbia. By 1989, he had abolished Kosovo’s autonomy, fired tens of thousands of Albanians from their jobs, suppressed Albanian language education and controlled the territory with a heavy police presence.

Ten years ago, Mr. Milosevic’s forces moved against the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army, killing a guerrilla leader and his family at their compound. As violence escalated, NATO intervened in a 1999 bombing campaign, causing hundreds of thousands of Albanians and Serbs to flee.

An estimated 10,000 civilians were killed in the 1998-99 conflict, many of them Albanians, while 1,500 Serbs died in revenge killings that followed.

For the ethnic Albanians who make up 95 percent of Kosovo’s population, independence marks a new beginning.

“Independence is a catharsis,” said Antoneta Kastrati, 26, an Albanian from Peja, who said her mother and older sister were killed by their Serbian neighbors in 1999. “Things won’t change overnight and we cannot forget the past, but maybe I will feel safe now and my nightmares will finally go away.”

In Mitrovica, a 70-year-old Serbian engineer who would give only his first name, Svetozar, said: “I will stay here forever. This will always be Serbia.”

Kosovo’s declaration created immediate ripples in the former Soviet Union, where small, Russian-backed separatist areas — one in Moldova and two in the republic of Georgia — have existed since the early 1990s. of them — Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia — announced their intention to seek recognition as independent states.

Conversely, several of the European Union’s 27 member states — including Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania — oppose recognizing Kosovo because they fear encouraging secessionist movements within their own borders.

In Brussels, officials were drafting a statement for a foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday. Senior European Union officials said they expected it to acknowledge Kosovo’s independence declaration without endorsing it.

The declaration of independence raises the prospects of a new constitution and emblems of nationhood, including a new flag bearing a map of Kosovo topped by six stars.

But in a sign of how hard it will be to forge the kind of multiethnic, secular identity that foreign powers have urged, the distinctive two-headed eagle of the red and black Albanian flag, reviled by Serbs, was everywhere Sunday, held by revelers, draped on horses, flapping out of car windows and hanging outside homes and storefronts across the territory.

Warren Hoge contributed reporting from the United Nations, C. J. Chivers from Moscow and Nicholas Kulish from Berlin.

It’s a rare political race where particle physics might come up, but IL-14, Denny Hastert’s former seat, is just such a delightful intersection. And Bill Foster is that Heinlein-esque synthesis; a businessman who started the firm that revolutionized theatre lighting and invented the Source 4 ellipsoidal reflector spotlight, turned award winning physicist, and now candidate.

To appreciate what kind of congressman Foster might become, it’s worth considering what kind of primary campaign he ran: he provides the option of healthcare insurance to all his paid staff; he ran a clean, non negative primary campaign stressing his positions on issues; Foster opposes the war in Iraq, champions legitimate, unfettered science and research, and supports stem cell research, just to name a few.
To appreciate the scientific side of Dr Bill Foster, follow me below to examine one of the most fascinating, spectacular light-shows our universe can serve up.

Stars that blow themselves to smithereens often produce magnificent sights before, during, and especially after an official supernova explosion. The enigmatic Eta Carinae, below left, is thought to contain a highly unstable star on the precipice of a hypernova. The lacy remains of a supernova observed in 1054 AD is now the Crab Nebula, a tiny, rapidly rotating neutron star lurks noisily inside.

The three schematics below courtesy of graphic artist Karen Wehrstein illustrate the basics of what is thought to happen deep inside a massive, aging star near the end of its life, during a classic kind of Supernova called a Type ll. After burning successively heavier elements, the star eventually begins producing iron at its center. It's a stellar dead end. The iron core grows, robbing the star of energy due to the idiosyncrasies (See comment) of atomic physics, and soon reaches a critical threshold; a massive ball of iron thousands of kilometers in diameter suddenly collapses dramatically, like a soap bubble, into an unimaginably dense remnant a few kilometers wide. Overlying superheated plasma, compressed so much it weighs way more than lead -- quickly falls in to fill the gaping void. When it slams in to the surface of the degenerate core it begans fusing furiously. Short version: Star Go Ka-BOOM!

This does two things: it sets up a huge rebound, sending the outer layers of the star back out, and also releases a vast number of neutrinos .. The gas from the outer layers absorbs these neutrinos, which is like lighting a match in a fireworks factory. The outer layers explode upwards, and several solar masses of doomed star tear outwards at speeds of several thousand kilometers per second.

Under normal conditions, neutrinos are ghostly little particles that overwhelmingly zip through ordinary matter, even a million miles of solid lead, like it was so much hard vacuum. They dwell in an incomprehensible universe seething with subatomic wraiths, not quite pure energy, not entirely solid matter, but a whiff of both. These are not ‘ordinary’ objects. The neutrino represented as a little dot or arrow racing around is an avatar of sorts; a symbolic construct of a hazy particulate property from the surreal world of high energy that our large, clunky macro-minds can latch on to. They’re sleeting through you by the trillions as you read this. No need for alarm though: fortunately for us, they don’t interact with the matter in our body!

But every now and then, one in uncounted zillions will cause a sub-atomic change which can in turn produce a tiny flash of light. So, with a giant tank of a clear substance, shielded from as much radiation as possible, surrounded by sensitive photo detectors, every now and then a lone of neutrino can be confirmed. Since these little guys whip through ordinary matter effortlessly, they’re a potential window deep into high energy places we cannot directly observe, like the fusing core of a star. And since a single light ray can take up to a million years to stagger drunkenly out of a stellar core, while neutrinos simply slip through the outer layers of plasma, neutrinos also uniquely offer current information about the state of affairs in places we can’t otherwise observe in real time.

On February 23, 1987, three separate neutrino detectors recorded a spike lasting just a few seconds. This was a strong indication that somewhere in the universe, something really, really big and no doubt violent beyond imagination had happened.

The next day several astronomers, amateur and professional, reported a small but bright point in a nearby dwarf galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. Within a few hours of that report pretty much every telescope in the southern hemisphere had swung to the anomaly. The source was a star estimated to be twenty times heavier than our sun. Except now it was gone, and in its place was the blazing Supernova 1987A. Right: Several frames taken over the course of a decade by the Hubble Space Telescope, and after the initial supernova faded, show the effects of secondary spasms of invisible gas expelled at extreme velocity smacking into a ring of previously ejected material.

One of the instruments that recorded a spike was the Irving-Michigan-Brookhaven proton decay detector. The futuristic chamber of ultra pure water surrounded by two-thousand photodetectors is shown left (The source of the bubbles is a diver inspecting the equipment). Bill Foster played a significant role in the development of the IMB. When the neutrinos set off alarm bells in 1987, Foster had moved on to Fermilab. But because of his involvement with the IMB detector and the subsequent neutrino detection from SN1987A, Foster and his team shared in the 1989 Rossi Prize in high energy physics.

If anything like SN1987A happened too near our planet, the earth would evaporate faster than a snowflake in a bonfire. And yet we may owe our existence to these violent events. The shock wave from SN 1987A will travel outward, essentially forever. Along the way it will combine with other blast fronts, forming waves of compactions and rarefactions in the medium of thin interstellar gas. Simultaneously it will salt those vast clouds of buoyant hydrogen and helium with heavier substances, volatile gases, ices, and metals. The immense waves will diffract causing nodes, small pockets will condense here and there. Gravity will take hold, and the knots of gas will shrink under their own weight, they will begin to glow with dozens of individual sparks, each lighting up the infant stellar nursery from inside. In the center of each spark, pressure and temperature will grow so high that hydrogen will begin to fuse: this is the birth of stars, this is how our own solar system may have arisen five billion years ago.

Speaking purely for myself, as an interesting side note about SN1987A: That primary ring allows astronomers to calculate the distance between us and SN1987A using simple trigonometry. That distance is about 168,000 light-years, meaning the proginator star blew up about 160,000 years before young earth creationists believe the universe began. In addition, short lived isotopes can be seen decaying in the spectra from SN1987A. That is a direct, empirical observation that radio decay rates in the past were the same as predicted by atomic theory and observed in labs today.

Thus, SN1987A is like a Wrecking Ball of Reality to two basic tenets in Young Earth Creationist apologetics: The age of the universe and the validity of radiometric dating.
Doesn't it seem fitting then, in some cosmic way, that the candidate who contributed to our elegant understanding of the universe should prevail over the other fellow, who hails from a party where antiscientific concepts like climate change denial and creationism are badges of honor?

The polling in what should be an easy GOP victory shows Foster in a dead heat with Republican opponent Jim Oberweis. Republicans are intersted in holding the seat (John McCain is reportedly going to hold an Oberweis fundraiser with a goal of 200,000 dollars). So, if that poll is close to accurate, it is a blinking red warning that this campaign needs every vote, every volunteer, and every dollar it can muster to succeed.

Given the obvious difference between these two candidates, it seems a no brainer that the residents of IL-14 would be best served by Oberwies staying in town, and focusing on improving his already scrumptious home-made ice cream. Whereas voters in IL-14 would be far better represented by a Congressman with Bill Foster’s intellect and accomplishments serving their collective interests in Washington, DC.

If Foster manages to pull this off, it will send a powerful message about what may be in store for other 'safe GOP seats' in 2008 -- a progressive message that incidentally embraces science and reason -- well beyond the confines of Illinois' fourteenth district, and into every nook and cranny in this nation. So if I didn't convince you up there, I hope I've provided you some reason to give Bill Foster's qualifications a second look down here.

Was awfully as tempting to make a pun about Oberweis being served there at the end ... I mean to say, If it’s Sunday, it’s Sunday Kos!

It's not an idio whatever of physics.

Fusion reactions release energy up to a point where the nucleus is most energetically stable - the lowest energy configuration. The Iron nucleus is that configuration.

Heavier elements than iron are built in most cases by neutron adsorption, not fusion reactions.

"It's the planet, stupid."

This was a really cool candidate endorsement, DS, and well written for a pop audience. However, the gravitational collapse of the iron core is just too amazing to brush over.

The iron core is initially supported by electron degeneracy pressure and it is surrounded by a silicon burning shell. That shell keeps dumping more and more iron into the core and eventually the core mass approaches the Chandrasekhar limit of 1.4 Mo. Then degeneracy pressure begins to fail and the core begins to collapse. Temperatures and densities soar as the collapse proceeds. The situation is worsened by the following nuclear reaction

e + p -----> n + neutrino

which is the forcing together of electrons and protons to form neutrons and neutrinos. The neutrinos represent an energy loss term since they don't interact much with other matter and can escape from the star. Hence they won't contribute much to the pressure. The high temperatures of the contracting core also produce gamma rays which smash the iron nuclei to bits, undoing in a tenth of a second all the nuclear fusion that went on before. This process, the destruction of nuclei by highly energetic gamma ray photons, is known as photodisintegration. Both of these effects cause the pressure to drop further and the core to collapse further. This is runaway core collapse and in a fraction of a second the core goes from Earth size to about 10 km in diameter. At this point the densities are equal to the density of nuclear material in the form of a ball of neutrons. Neutron degeneracy pressure suddenly takes over and the collapse stops as the core now becomes virtually incompressible. Of course the surrounding star doesn't know that and it continues to hurtle inward. When all this stuff hits the core it bounces and drives a shock wave outward. The escaping neutrinos play an important role in energizing this outward moving shock wave. Normally neutrinos don't interact very well with matter, but here the densities are so great that the neutrinos dump considerable energy into the overlaying layers. In a few hours the shock wave hits the surface of the star and we see the star explode as a Type II supernova. In a matter of days the star brightens by about a factor of 100 million, becoming for a brief time as bright as an entire galaxy. Note: massive stars that explode in this manner are known as Type II supernovae. There is also a Type I supernova that results from an explosion in a binary system. We will discuss Type I supernova later.

Ultimately the source of energy that powers a supernova is gravity.
The collapse of a solar mass of material down into a neutron star the size of 10 kilometers releases 10^53 ergs of energy which is an enormous amount.

A plan of invasion. Gen. Longstreet telegraphs that he has no corn, and cannot stay where he is, unless supplied by the Quartermaster-General. This, the President says, is impossible, for want of transportation. The railroads can do no more than supply grain for the horses of Lee’s army—all being brought from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, etc. But the President says Longstreet might extricate himself from the exigency by marching into Middle Tennessee or Kentucky, or both.

Soon after this document came in, another followed from the Tennessee and Kentucky members of Congress, inclosing an elaborate plan from Col. Dibrell, of the Army of Tennessee, of taking Nashville, and getting forage, etc. in certain counties not yet devastated, in Tennessee and Kentucky. Only 10,000 additional men will be requisite. They are to set out with eight days’ rations; and if Grant leaves Chattanooga to interfere with the plan, Gen. Johnston is to follow and fall upon his rear, etc. Gen. Longstreet approves the plan—is eager for it,
I infer from his dispatch about corn; and the members of Congress are in favor of it. If practicable, it ought to be begun immediately; and I think it will be.

A bright windy day—snow gone.

The Federal General Sherman, with 30,000 men, was, at the last dates, still marching southeast of Jackson, Miss. It is predicted that he is rushing on his destruction. Gen. Polk is retreating before him, while our cavalry is in his rear. He cannot keep open his communications.

The Jewish revolt against the Romans, ending with the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in A.D. 70, marked an irreparable breach between the pagan-and later Christian-worlds and an outcast Jewish minority. Yet the first two-thirds of this absorbing historical study explores the harmony of Roman and Judaic civilizations before the revolt. Goodman, a professor of Jewish studies at Oxford, finds many similarities in a far-ranging comparative analysis of their religions, cultures, economies and governments, though he gives more space to the worldly, extravagant Romans than to the relatively austere and parochial Jews. Before the revolt, he contends, Romans considered Jews unobjectionable, despite their eccentric monotheism; Jerusalem prospered under Roman rule and Jews living in diaspora were well integrated into Roman society. Goodman argues that the cataclysm could have been avoided (the burning of the Temple was accidental, he believes) but for the politics of the imperial succession, which prompted a needlessly hard line against the revolt and then Judaism itself. Drawing on Josephus's firsthand narrative, Goodman fleshes out his lucid account with archeology, numismatics and commentary from Roman and Jewish sources. The result is a scholarly tour de force, a resonant story of a tragic conflict caused by political miscalculation and opportunism. 16 pages of photos, 8 maps.

"This is an important book, on a difficult subject: the reason why the Romans, who had so much in common with the Jews, sought to destroy the Jews and Judaism completely. Only one man could have written it. Martin Goodman is professor of Jewish studies at Oxford and has the unique distinction of having edited both the Journal of Roman Studies and the Journal of Jewish Studies. This polarity of expertise enables him to describe in a penetrating way the terrifying Jewish revolts against Rome of AD 66-70 and 132-5, as well as provide a fresh and convincing analysis of their origins and consequences. . . Goodman has written a splendid book."
—Paul Johnson, The Tablet

“Martin Goodman’s massive new treatment of two crucial centuries of Jewish history should be read by anyone seeking seriously to understand modern Middle Eastern tanges. . . It would be pleasing to feel that international
statesmen might draw lessons from Goodman’s lucid account of ancient tragedy.”
—Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Guardian

“Sombre and magisterial. . . a brilliant comparative survey. . . There can be no doubting that the issues raised by Rome and Jerusalem will have a resonance with readers far beyond the confines of university classes or theology departments. The Roman world has begun to hold a mirror up to our own anxieties in a way that would have appeared wholly implausible a bare decade ago. If it was the fall of the Bastille that shaped 19th and 20th century history, then it can sometimes seem as though the 21st century is being shaped by the fall, nearly 2000 long years ago, of Jerusalem.”
—Tom Holland, Sunday Times

“His style is brisk and clear, his learning prodigious and his scope immense. . . as Goodman’s compelling and timely book reminds us, even the most pessimistic could hardly have guessed that it would take 2000 years for [the Jews] to return to their holy city — or that even then, their battles would be far from over.”
—Dominic Sandbrook, Saturday Telegraph

“Rome and Jerusalem is, among many other things, a history of anti-Semitism — or, if that term is felt to be anachronistic for Goodman’s period. . . judaophobia. . . Martin Goodman has spent his career studying both ancient Rome and ancient Jerusalem …He is thus the ideal scholar to try to hack a way through these tangled thickets of belief, prejudice and false consciousness.”
—Paul Cartledge, Sunday Telegraph

“A monumental work of scholarship … the parallels with modern day Baghdad are all the more resonant for Goodman studiously avoiding them.”
—Rabbi David J. Goldberg, the Independent

“An impressive, scholarly book.”
—The Economist

In 1912, Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole only to discover that he had been beaten to the Antarctic prize five weeks earlier by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen. Scott turned around and began a perilous journey back to base camp. He never made it. He and his four teammates died after two months of heartbreaking toil. The diaries they left behind recounted their struggle in harrowing detail.

Two years later, Ernest Shackleton led an expedition to Antarctica with the aim of exploring the continent much further than before. His ship, the Endurance, became trapped by ice, and Shackleton led his crew to the relative safety of nearby Elephant Island. Despairing of rescue, he and a handful of men set sail in a lifeboat to cross 800 miles of the rough seas, making for South Georgia Island, east of the Falklands. After an epic 16-day journey, Shackleton and his men reached the island, then hiked to a whaling station and arranged to rescue their 22 stranded shipmates. Not a single life was lost.

The two expeditions, with their dramatically different outcomes, are classics of polar exploration. Yet as Stephanie Barczewski observes in "Antarctic Destinies," the meaning of the tales -- along with their moral lessons and cultural appeal -- has shifted over the course of a century. "In 1912," she writes, "many people saw Scott as a hero. Today, many people see him as a bumbling idiot whose incompetence resulted in his own death as well as the deaths of his four companions.
In 1916, many people saw Shackleton as admirable on some level but not quite trustworthy. . . . Today, many people see him as one of the greatest leaders in human history." Her book attempts to show, as she puts it, "the malleability of heroism."

The Scott expedition's Terra Nova at Cape Evans in Antarctica, 1910

At first, Scott was revered in death as the embodiment of British manliness. "Had we lived," he wrote in one of his diary's final entries, "I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale." Scott was adduced as an exemplar of hardihood, endurance, courage and plenty else besides. No cause seemed too hopeless to hitch its wagon to his star. Even the Alliance of Honour, an anti-masturbation group, appropriated Scott's resolve in its pamphleteering.

Shackleton, by contrast, was greeted by more creditors than fans when he returned to England in late 1914. (He had undertaken the expedition only after interesting a host of investors.) And he encountered a public
that, far from marveling at his ordeal, appeared to regard as unseemly the very idea of able-bodied men, on the eve of World War I, running off to polar wastes in search of adventure.

It is perhaps not surprising that Scott's reputation has undergone revision, given his team's grisly end and our inclination, in retrospect, to question the rightness of failed decisions. Shackleton's rise in recent years, however, has been puzzlingly meteoric. History long treated him with mild curiosity or indifference. The James Caird -- that plucky lifeboat that traveled so far -- gathered dust for decades at an obscure college in England and was even used as a trash receptacle. But in 1998 The Wall Street Journal noted a surging "Shackleton Mania" and, the next year, New York's American Museum of Natural History hosted an exhibition about the Endurance. An accompanying book became a best seller and publishers unleashed a flood of Shackleton titles, including business and leadership books. Movies and documentaries followed.

Why was Shackleton so suddenly ascendant? Ms. Barczewski notes that his Endurance experience matches three popular genres: man against nature, maritime adventure and polar survival. Shackleton, in short, could be recast as a prototypical action hero for the late 20th century, not least for Americans. The new Shackleton, Ms. Barczewski writes, "combined optimism and pragmatism in a stereotypically American way: he united an eternally sunny outlook and 'can-do' spirit with a hard-headed assessment of the obstacles that must be overcome."

The most exciting, though unoriginal, part of "Antarctic Destinies" traces the oft-told tales of the two expeditions. Longer sections detail various biographical and pop-cultural trends: Ms. Barczewski cites everything from scholarly tomes and magazine articles to Monty Python sketches and Chick Lit to show how the two men have been viewed by each new generation.

As she was finishing her book, Ms. Barczewski saw signs that popular estimations were changing again. Recent researchers have suggested that Scott encountered unusually bad weather; other writers have focused on the fate of the Ross Sea party, a usually forgotten sledging expedition poorly organized by Shackleton as part of the 1914 venture. It resulted in the deaths of three men.

Ms. Barczewski, for her part, prefers not to pick a winner. And who can blame her? Both Scott and Shackleton, she says, were "great men."

Joseph Albert "Jock" Yablonski (March 3, 1910 - December 31, 1969) was an American labor leader in the United Mine Workers in the 1950s and 1960s. He was murdered in 1969 by killers hired by a union political
opponent, Mine Workers president W. A. Boyle. His death led to significant reforms in the union.

* 1 Early life and union career
* 2 UMWA presidential candidacy
* 3 Murder
* 4 Aftermath of Yablonski's murder
* 5 Portrayal in popular culture
* 6 Notes
* 7 References
* 8 External links

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1910, Yablonski began working in the mines as a boy. He became active in the United Mine Workers after his father was killed in a mine explosion. He was first elected to union office in 1934. In 1940, he was elected as a representative to the international executive board, and in 1958 was appointed president of UMW District 5.

He clashed with W. A. "Tony" Boyle, who became president of the UMW in 1963, over how the union should be run and his view that Boyle did not adequately represent the miners. In 1965, Boyle removed Yablonski as president of District 5 (under reforms enacted by Boyle, district presidents were appointed, not elected). In May 1969, Yablonski announced his candidacy for president of the union. As early as June, Boyle was discussing the need to kill him.

UMWA presidential candidacy

The United Mine Workers was in turmoil by 1969. Legendary UMWA president John L. Lewis had retired in 1960. His successor, Thomas Kennedy, died in 1963. From retirement, Lewis hand-picked Boyle for the UMWA presidency. A Montana miner, Boyle was as autocratic and bullying as Lewis, but not as well liked.

From the beginning of his administration, Boyle faced significant opposition from rank-and-file miners and UMWA leaders. Miners' attitudes about their union had also changed. Miners wanted greater democracy and more autonomy for their local unions. There was also a widespread belief that Boyle was more concerned with protecting mine owners' interests than those of his members. Grievances filed by the union often took months—sometimes years—to resolve, lending credence to the critics' claim. Wildcat strikes occurred as local unions, despairing of UMWA assistance, sought to resolve local disputes with walkouts.

In 1969, Yablonski challenged Boyle for the presidency of UMWA.In an election widely seen as corrupt, Boyle beat Yablonski in the election held on December 9 by a margin of nearly two-to-one (80,577 to 46,073). Yablonski conceded the election, but on December 18, 1969, asked the United States Department of Labor (DOL) to investigate the election for fraud. He also initiated five lawsuits against UMWA in federal court.

On December 31, 1969, three hitmen shot Yablonski, his wife Margaret, and his 25-year-old daughter Charlotte, as they slept in the Yablonski home in Clarksville, Pennsylvania. The bodies were discovered on January 5, 1970, by Yablonski's son, Kenneth. The killings had been ordered by Boyle, who had demanded Yablonski's death on June 23, 1969, after a meeting with Yablonski at UMWA headquarters degenerated into a screaming match. In September 1969, UMWA executive council member Albert Pass received $20,000 from Boyle (who had embezzled the money from union funds) to hire gunmen to kill Yablonski. Paul Gilly, an out-of-work house painter and son-in-law of a minor UMWA official, and two drifters, Aubran Martin and Claude Vealey, agreed to do the job. The murder was postponed until after the election, however, to avoid suspicion falling on Boyle. After three aborted attempts to murder Yablonski, the killers did their job. But they left so many fingerprints behind, it took police only three days to catch them.

A few hours after Yablonski's funeral, several of the miners who had supported
Yablonski met in the basement of the church were the memorial service was held. They met with attorney Joseph Rauh and drew up plans to establish a reform caucus within the United Mine Workers.

The day after the killing, 20,000 miners in West Virginia walked off the job in a one-day strike, convinced Boyle was responsible for the murders.

Yablonski's murder sparked action. On January 8, 1970, Yablonski's attorney waived the right to further internal review and requested an immediate investigation of the 1969 union presidential election by DOL. On January 17, 1972, the United States Supreme Court granted Mike Trbovich, a 51-year-old coal mine shuttle car operator and union member from District 5 (Yablonski's district), permission to intervene in the DOL suit as a complainant—keeping the election fraud suit alive.
The Department of Labor had taken no action on Yablonski's complaints while he lived, as if preserving the rights of union members were not important or urgent. But after his murder, Labor Secretary George P. Shultz assigned 230 investigators to the UMWA investigation.

The Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) of 1959 regulates the internal affairs of labor unions, requiring regular secret-ballot elections for local union offices and providing for federal investigation of election fraud or impropriety. DOL is authorized under the act to sue in federal court to have the election overturned. By 1970, however, only three international union elections had been overturned by the courts.

Gilly, Martin and Vealey were arrested days after the assassinations and indicted for Yablonski's death. Eventually, investigators arrested Pass and Pass' wife. All were convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Two of the three assassins were sentenced to death; Martin avoided execution by pleading guilty and turning state's evidence.

Miners for Democracy (MFD) formed in April 1970 while the DOL investigation continued. Its members included most of the miners who belonged to the West Virginia Black Lung Association and many of Yablonski's supporters and former campaign staff. MFD's support was strongest in southwestern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and the panhandle and northern portions of West Virginia, but MFD supporters existed in nearly all affiliates. The chief organizers of Miners for Democracy included Yablonski's sons, Joseph (known as "Chip") and Ken, Trbovich and others.

DOL filed suit in federal court in 1971 to overturn the 1969 UMWA election. After several lengthy delays, the suit moved went to trial on September 12, 1971. On May 1, 1972, Judge William Bryant threw out the results of the 1969 UMWA international union elections. Bryant scheduled a new election to be held during the first eight days of December 1972. In addition, Bryant agreed that DOL should oversee the election to ensure fairness.

On May 28, 1972, MFD nominated Arnold Miller, a miner from West Virginia who had challenged Boyle on the need for black lung legislation, as its presidential candidate.

Balloting for the next UMWA president began on December 1, 1972. Balloting ended on December 9, and Miller was declared the victor on December 15. The Labor Department certified Miller as UMWA's next president on December 22, 1972. The vote was 70,373 for Miller and 56,334 for Boyle.

of the convicted murders accused Boyle of masterminding and funding the assassination plot. Boyle was indicted on three counts of murder in April 1973 and convicted in April 1974. He was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison. He died in prison in 1985.

The murders were portrayed in a 1986 HBO television movie, Act of Vengeance. Charles Bronson portrayed Yablonski and Wilford Brimley played Boyle.

Cuvier's beaked whale has a robust body and a small head which is about ten percent of its body length. Its forehead slopes to a poorly defined short beak, and its mouth turns upward, giving it a goose-like profile. This whale has a depression behind the blowholes which ends in a distinct neck. Its blow is small and not very noticeable and is projected slightly forward and to the left. One of its more interesting features is that in adult males two large teeth about 2 inches long (5 cm) protrude from the tip of the lower jaw. The males use these teeth in fights with each other over females. For their part the females have smaller, more pointed teeth that remain embedded in the gums. The lower jaw of the Cuvier's beaked whale extends well beyond the upper jaw. Like other beaked whales, the Cuvier's has two deep, V-shaped throat grooves.

COLOR: This whale varies greatly in color. Its back may be rusty-brown, dark gray, or fawn colored and the underside of the body may be dark brown or black. As the Cuvier's beaked whale ages, first the head and neck and then the body become more lightly colored; the heads of old males are almost completely white. The back and sides of this whale, especially the males, are often covered with double-lined scratches caused by the teeth of other males. Its sides and belly are covered with oval white patches.

Cuvier's beaked whale surface characteristics
surface characteristics

FINS AND FLUKE: Dorsal fins of Cuvier's beaked whales may vary in shape; they may be as high as 15 inches (38 cm) and falcate (curved) or less than 10 inches (25 cm) and triangular. The fin of this whale is located well behind the mid-section. Its flukes are large and rounded at the tips and may or may not be slightly notched in the center. Its flippers are small and rounded at the tips and fold back into little depressions on the side of the body.

Length and Weight: Maximum size is 23 feet (7 m). The average adult is 18 feet (5.5 m) and weighs 2.7 tons (2500 kg).

Feeding: Squid is its primary food, though it sometimes eats fish and, rarely, crustaceans.

MATING AND BREEDING Sexual maturity is reached when the animal is an average of about 19 feet (5.8 m) long for females and 18 feet (5.5 m) for males. Calves are between 6.5 to 10 feet (2-3 m) at birth and weigh about 600 pounds (272 kg).

Mating and Breeding: fs6-breeding

Cuvier's beaked whale range map
range map
Distribution and Migration: Cuvier's beaked whales are found in all the oceans of the world except the polar regions of both hemispheres. They prefer deep water of over 3,300 feet (1,000 m) and avoid shallow coastal areas.

Natural History: Cuvier's beaked whales are almost never seen at sea, so we know very little about their habits. Sightings of single animals (which are probably males) have been reported, but they are more commonly seen in groups of 2 to 7. Their life span is believed to be at least 25 years.

Status: We know so little about this whale that there are no estimates of past or present population size. Though Cuvier's beaked whales are found stranded more often than any other species of beaked whales, only two mass strandings have been reported; one in the Galapagos and the other in Puerto Rico. These whales beach themselves singly all over the world, more often in some locations than in others. A few Cuvier's beaked whales were taken by hunters in the 1940s to 1960s in Japan's coastal whaling operations, but the numbers were so few that there was no threat to the survival of the species. This whale is not hunted at the present time. More recently, acoustical trauma has been implicated in the mass strandings of Cuvier's beaked whales in the Caribean, Azores, and the Gulf of California.

An old adage says high taxes don't redistribute income, they redistribute people. For new evidence look no further than migration patterns within the United States, as documented in a new survey by the moving company United Van Lines.

A record eight million Americans -- some 20,000 people every day -- relocated to another state last year. So where are these families headed and why? The general picture is this: Americans are continuing to flee the Northeast and Midwest, while the leading destinations continue to be Southern and Western states.

The United Van Lines study finds that the biggest population loser last year was Michigan, where two families moved out of the state for every new family that moved in. Americans are also fleeing New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Without interviewing the departed, it's impossible to know the reasons for this outward migration. No doubt overall economic prospects, climate, quality of life and housing prices play a role.

But one reason to conclude that taxes are also a motivator is because the eight states without an income tax are stealing talent from other states. They are Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming, and each one gained in net domestic migrants. Each one except Florida -- which has sky-high property taxes on new homesteaders -- also ranked in the top 12 of destination states. The nearby table ranks the top five destination and departure states.

Politicians who think taxes don't matter might want to explain the Dakotas. North Dakota ranked second worst in out-migration last year, while South Dakota ranked in the top 10 as a destination. The two are similar in most regards, with one large difference: North Dakota has an income tax and South Dakota doesn't.

Here's another example. The only Pacific Coast state to lose migrant population in 2007 was California, which has the highest state income tax in the nation. This is the continuation of a dismal 10-year performance with nearly one and a half million Golden Staters leaving what was once the premier destination state in America.

Meanwhile, next door, Nevada was second among the states in new families -- and a big percentage of the new arrivals are Californians. Nevada has no income tax. High income Californians can buy a house in Las Vegas for the amount of money they save in three or four years by not paying California income taxes.

One of the few Northeastern states that gained interstate migrants in 2007 was New Hampshire, the only state in New England without an income tax. For the exception that proves the tax rule, we should also mention Vermont, a high-tax state with a big net influx last year. Maybe these folks like the Ben & Jerry's lifestyle, and we also hope they like the government they're paying for.

We invite readers to visit the U-Haul Moving Company Web site (, where you can type in a pair of U.S. cities to learn what it costs to move from point A to B. If you want to move, say, from Austin, Texas to Southern California, the moving van will cost you $407 to rent. But if you want to move out of California to Austin, the same van costs $1,831. A move from Dallas to Philadelphia costs $663, versus $2,433 to swap homes in the other direction. The biggest discrepancy we could find was $557 from Nashville, Tennessee to Los Angeles, but the trip costs nearly eight times more, or $4,285, to move to Nashville from L.A.

Our friends on the left say Americans are willing to pay more taxes to get better government services, but their migration patterns reveal the opposite. Governors would be wise to heed these interstate migration trends as they try to cope with what may be one of the worst years in recent memory for state finances. The people who tend to be the most mobile in American society are the educated and motivated -- in other words, the taxpaying class. Tax them too much, and you'll soon find they aren't there to tax at all.

America is back to working on the railroads.

For decades, stretches of track west of this town were so rough that trains couldn't run faster than 25 miles an hour. Lanie Keith, a locomotive engineer for Kansas City Southern, recalls waiting for hours when trains stalled on a steep curve on a stretch of single track between Meridian and Shreveport, La.

But over the past two years, at a cost of $300 million, track crews have transformed the 320-mile route. Installing 960,000 crossties and 80 miles of new rail, they've turned a railroad backwater into a key link in a resurging national transport network. Mr. Keith now skims parts of the improved track, called the Meridian Speedway, at nearly 60 miles an hour.
"You went from moving like a turtle to a jack rabbit," he says.

The upgrade is part of a railroad renaissance under way across much of the U.S. For the first time in nearly a century, railroads are making large investments in their networks -- adding sets of tracks, straightening curves that force engines to slow and expanding tunnels for bigger trains. Their campaign is altering the corridors of American commerce, more so than any other development since interstate highways spread to the interior.

For decades, railroads spent little on expansion, even tore up surplus track and shrank routes. But since 2000 they've spent $10 billion to expand tracks, build freight yards and buy locomotives, and they have $12 billion more in upgrades planned.

The buildout comes as the industry transitions away from its chief role in recent decades of hauling coal, timber and other raw materials in manufacturing regions. Now, increasingly, railroads are moving finished consumer goods, often made in Asia, from ports to major cities. Their new higher-volume routes, called corridors, often serve the South, where the rail system is less developed and the population is rising.

Railroad operators are pressing for advantage over their main competitor, long-haul trucking, which has struggled with rising fuel prices, driver shortages and highway congestion. Railroads say a load can be moved by rail using about a third as much fuel as it takes to haul it by truck. And rail transport is becoming more efficient still, they say, as operators speed their lines and logistics companies build huge warehouse areas along routes.

Demand for rail service increased sharply when the U.S. economy and Asian imports surged starting in 2003. Tight capacity on major routes enabled railroads to raise prices. The growth in freight volume has slowed along with economic growth, but shippers say they're still planning to increase their use of rail transport because of the cost.

"The railroad industry is finally making some money," says Charles "Wick" Moorman IV, chief executive officer of Norfolk Southern Corp., based in Norfolk, Va. "And we're pumping that money into our infrastructure."

Trucking accounted for 82% of the U.S.'s truck-and-rail intercity-freight spending in 2004, up from 78% in 1990, according to Eno Transportation Foundation, a research organization in Washington, D.C. But trucking companies, notably industry giant J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell, Ark., are using railroads for the long-haul part of some trips because it's cheaper. Some rail promoters believe that as a result of their investments, they could cut into the business of the two million long-haul freight trucks in the U.S., which account for 350 million shipments a year.

Attracting Interest

For the first time in years, the industry is attracting interest among big-name investors. Last spring, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., disclosed an 11% stake in Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., the second-largest U.S. railroad by revenue. Berkshire has since raised the stake to more than 18%. In a move recalling rail boardroom battles of the past, Children's Investment Fund Management LLP, a London hedge fund, and other shareholders have put up a slate of directors for a coming annual meeting of the nation's No. 3 railroad, CSX Corp. (Union Pacific Corp. is the largest U.S. railroad in revenue terms; Norfolk Southern and Kansas City Southern are fourth and fifth, respectively.)

The expansion is stirring conflict with some old customers, the shippers who move raw materials such as chemicals, grain and logs, who feel they're being charged unnecessarily high rates to pay for capital improvements. Trade groups representing such shippers are seeking federal legislation to rein in railroad rate increases.

"I think the railroads are investing in corridors to serve a different customer, and heavy U.S. industry will be left in the dust," says Kenneth Walker, a transportation manager of Graphic Packaging International Corp., a cardboard manufacturer in Marietta, Ga.

It's been a century since railroads embarked on a similar spate of capital investment. Between 1900 and World War I, they launched a huge rebuilding program across the U.S. midsection to handle freight and passenger trains. Traffic was booming as the economy roared back from a financial panic in the 1890s. Railroads added second, third and fourth sets of tracks along main routes, built tunnels and bridges and installed stronger locomotives.

After World War II, though, cars began wiping out passenger-train service. New interstate highways unleashed trucks as a freight competitor. By the 1970s, U.S. railroads were deep into a decline, other than adding new track to the coal fields of Wyoming.

Burlington Northern was the first to pursue the strategy of building a high-capacity corridor to link ports with population centers needing consumer goods, rather than linking industrial centers. In the 1990s, it set out to complete a second set of tracks on its Chicago-Los Angeles Transcon line. "It came right out of the 'Field of Dreams': Build it and they will come," says Rob Krebs, a retired Burlington CEO.

Wall Street analysts objected to the big spending, and Mr. Krebs throttled down the expansion in 1999 and 2000.
But his successor, Matt Rose, resumed work on the project in 2003, and it is now nearing completion.

Problems with old infrastructure were becoming clear elsewhere. Union Pacific was plagued with freight jams and service breakdowns during a surge of Asian imports a few years ago. Union Pacific hired thousands of new train crew members, and it has since launched a massive track-installation program across the Southwest.

It is upgrading its Sunset Route, from Los Angeles to El Paso, Texas, with a second set of tracks. It's planning to build new freight yards and a fueling station along the way. When the $2 billion project is finished in 2010, Union Pacific will be able to roughly double the number of freight cars crossing the Sunset each day to more than 9,000 from about 5,000 currently.

Railroads are generating development in the same way they spawned towns and industrial sites over a century ago. Warehouse complexes are popping up next to new rail yards designed to load and unload trains carrying containerized goods. Major distribution operations have opened or are planned in places like Elwood, Ill., Kansas City, Mo., and Columbus, Ohio.

The social consequences are evident in developments like AllianceTexas. In the late 1980s, Hillwood Development Co., founded by Ross Perot Jr., son of the former presidential candidate, built a cargo airport outside Fort Worth, thinking that would be the best way to attract companies to 17,000 acres of land north of the city. As an afterthought, the company says, it made room for a rail yard.

A decade later, it's the rail yard that has attracted huge warehouses, for companies such as J.C. Penney Co. and Bridgestone Corp. These and others get container loads of jeans, electronics, tires and such from Southern California ports. "I never would have thought having a rail hub in the middle of our development would have attracted so much interest," says Thomas Harris, a Hillwood senior vice president.

The development, which employs 27,000, has spawned a nearby minicity of shopping centers, a golf course, a racetrack and 6,200 houses.
More than 300 of the homes are high-priced models in gated communities.

Railroads have found friends among environmentalists, who see moving freight by train rather than truck as a way to reduce fuel burning and emissions. Method Products Inc., a San Francisco maker of nontoxic home and personal-care products, says it plans to use rail for 50% of its shipments this year, up from 33% in 2007. "We view rail as a solution to lower our greenhouse-gas emissions," says Jason Bowman, the firm's global logistics manager.

States Climb Aboard

States have also started to climb aboard. In a 2002 report, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials said transportation capacity could be increased more cheaply in some intercity corridors by adding railways rather than expanding highways.

Norfolk Southern is seeking public funding to accelerate rail-corridor projects, arguing that they provide a public benefit by limiting fuel use, traffic congestion and air pollution. The idea is gaining backers. Virginia created a rail-enhancement fund in 2005 from car-rental fees and is spending $40 million to improve a Norfolk Southern freight line in the state. The railroad industry is urging Congress to pass a railroad investment tax credit to fund rail improvements.

Many old lines need work. Norfolk Southern's most direct route to the Midwest from the docks of Norfolk, Va., has tunnels high enough for coal trains. But they are too low for double-stack trains, which haul shipping containers one above the other. Norfolk Southern has begun a three-year, $260 million project to raise the height of 28 tunnels on the route, which it has renamed the Heartland Corridor.

Norfolk Southern's most ambitious project is the Crescent Corridor, a network of tracks between the New York City area and New Orleans. The company touts the corridor as a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to widening highways such as Interstate 81, which runs through Virginia's scenic Shenandoah Valley.

Trucks make four million to 4.5 million trips annually along I-81 in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Norfolk Southern envisions a route with enough speed and capacity to displace about a million truck trips a year. It is seeking funding for most of the $2 billion project from the U.S. government and states along the corridor.

Tim Lynch, an executive of the American Trucking Associations in Arlington, Va., says it's "folly" to think rail corridors can take the place of additional highways. "You need to do both, because you have growth in freight traffic that will keep both modes busy," he says.

Work continues on the Meridian Speedway between Meridian and Shreveport. Kansas City Southern bought the line in 1994 as a shortcut for freight moving between Los Angeles and Atlanta, bypassing crowded gateways in Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans. The railroad began to improve the line, at one point easing a hilly curve near the river town of Vicksburg, Miss., that for years hampered Mr. Keith and other engineers when trains stalled there.

Additional Overhauls

Two years ago, Norfolk Southern agreed to contribute more than $300 million for additional overhauls in exchange for a 30% stake in the Speedway. The money has helped replace tracks and install a signal system on a line that had none. It allowed construction of sidings so trains can pass each other in more places.

Union Pacific uses the Speedway for a leg of a longer run that begins near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif. Improvements on the line have enabled Union Pacific to launch a new train packed with Asian goods that can cross the Southern U.S. in 72 hours, down from the 120-hour service it offered in past years.
Such numbers translate into big savings for railroads, which figure that each mile per hour of speed they can add systemwide translates into fewer cars, locomotives and crew members.

Mr. Keith says his trips between Meridian and Vicksburg now take six or seven hours, compared with 11 or 12 before the upgrades. He says he saved 30 minutes on a recent run by pulling onto a newly lengthened siding in Meehan, Miss., to pass another train.

Mr. Keith says the work will clear the Speedway to handle more and faster trains. "I love it," he says. "It guarantees me work stability."

Marsh & McLennan Cos.' fourth-quarter profit fell 62% as weakness continued in its insurance-brokerage business.

Marsh, one of the world's largest insurance brokers, reported net income of $85 million, or 16 cents a share, as revenue increased 8.1% to $2.93 billion.

Earnings in Marsh's risk-and-insurance business fell 54%, which the company blamed on a revenue drop at its Risk Capital Holdings that cut per-share earnings by eight cents.
The risk-and-insurance segment's operating margin, which has severely trailed Marsh's rivals, slumped to 4.2%.

Marsh also reported that profit in its consulting firms rose 38% on a 19% revenue increase.

The company hired a chief executive last month and fired the head of its insurance-brokerage unit in September over rising expenses, poor operating margins and weak revenue in the segment. Competitors such as Aon Corp. and Willis Group Holdings Ltd. are outflanking Marsh in the insurance business, and speculation on an asset sale or merger abounds as investors try to discern how new CEO Brian Duperreault will right the ship.

Pricing is an issue that has been of paramount concern to insurers of late. The current profit equation must factor how low to price policies so as to attract customers less concerned with risk in a time of fewer disasters.

Shares of Marsh & McLennan were up 69 cents, or 2.7%, to $25.99 in 4 p.m. trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Since taking over in 2005 as American International Group Inc.'s chief executive, Martin Sullivan has pushed the big insurer to be transparent, hoping to move past the accounting scandal that helped get him the top job.

Suddenly, though, analysts and investors are trying to assess the significance of a new accounting problem that has put Mr. Sullivan in an awkward spot: the "material weakness" that AIG's auditor found relating
to exposure to subprime-linked securities.

So far, Wall Street seems willing to cut him some slack -- but patience is limited. After sinking to a five-year low Monday, AIG shares rose 3.1%, or $1.40, yesterday to $46.14 in 4 p.m. composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The scope of the accounting problems appears far narrower than those that swamped the insurer in 2005 and led to the exit of longtime leader Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg. It also helps AIG that so many other financial companies are wrestling with the valuations of their own subprime exposures.

Still, the current situation could become more painful, especially if AIG has to keep on valuing its exposures in the same way going forward. The change the company announced Monday increased the size of its write-down for a single month, November, by $3.6 billion.

For the full fourth quarter, Goldman Sachs analyst Thomas Cholnoky estimated in a research report yesterday that AIG may be forced to write down $10 billion for those exposures. AIG hasn't announced when it will report quarterly results, but it has until Feb. 29 to file its annual report.

"The estimated market values are having a real-world impact in that they reduce reported earnings, they reduce reported shareholders' equity," says Bruce Ballantine, an analyst at Moody's Investors Service. They also could reduce the company's financial flexibility "to some extent."

Yesterday, both Moody's and Standard & Poor's said they revised their outlook on AIG downward to "negative" from "stable." Among the things S&P said could trigger a downgrade is "if accounting losses are sufficiently large to cause market issues for the company." It added that a downgrade could follow if it determines the material weakness is "significant."

The hit to AIG's credibility was severe not just because of the size of the change in the expected write-down but because analysts and investors found the company's explanation of what caused the increased loss to be difficult to decipher.

At issue for AIG is the valuation of a portfolio of what are essentially insurance contracts that the company sold, known as credit default swaps.

The swaps serve as credit protection on, among other things, $62.4 billion in collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, backed by collateral that includes subprime mortgages.

The key question now: How to value that portfolio? These kinds of highly specialized instruments aren't traded even in normal circumstances, making them hard to price. Valuing them becomes more difficult when the market for the securities and assets they're linked to is in the kind of distressed situation that currently exists.

A Look in the Pool

Analysts believe AIG originally valued these contracts by looking to prices supplied for a pool of CDOs, among other factors. The company then adjusted these values based on indexes that track subprime securities, analysts surmise.

But AIG didn't directly apply the loss implied by a fall in CDO values because the contracts it had written tend to trade at a premium to the instruments they are insuring.
AIG held these contracts, not the underlying CDOs.

AIG's auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, appears to have taken issue with the process. That prompted AIG to use market prices of CDOs, which in many cases are considered to be at fire-sale levels, rather than values for a pool of CDOs. In addition, the insurer eliminated the premium that typically applies to the value of the insurance contracts. That was done because it said market conditions had become too uncertain to calculate this.

The moves seem designed to make AIG's valuation place greater weight on market factors that immediately affect the value of the company's contracts. AIG's models seemed to place less emphasis on this and greater weight on the fact that the company doesn't believe it will ultimately suffer losses related to the contracts.

AIG drew a distinction between whatever losses it records based on the current value of the portfolio (an estimate of what someone would pay to take the risk off AIG's hands) and what it may actually have to pay to fulfill its obligations under the contracts.

In a statement, the company said it believes any losses "will not be material."

That calmed investors a bit. "That was a minorly helpful statement," says Ed Walczak, who runs the U.S. value funds for Vontobel Asset Management Inc., which has 3.5% of its $350 million holdings in AIG. As for the company's overall situation, "the grounds are still changing," Mr. Walczak adds.

Still, the wording of yesterday's statement varied slightly from AIG's statement last fall that it was "highly unlikely" the company would
have to "make payments" on the portfolio, Kathleen Shanley, an analyst at Gimme Credit, noted in a report yesterday.

Meaning of 'Not Material'

"'Not material' can still be a pretty big number when you are talking about a firm the size of AIG," Ms. Shanley wrote. "And investors are right to wonder if the next step on the slippery slope will be from 'not material' to 'material,' especially considering that AIG has not yet finalized its year-end numbers."

In response, a spokesman for AIG said of the prospect of any losses: "We would say it's slightly less than 'highly unlikely,' simply because of further deterioration in the default frequency of underlying mortgages." But if there were any losses, he added, "they would be immaterial" to the company's income statement or balance sheet.

Write to Liam Pleven at liam.plev

St. Jude Medical, Inc. (NYSE:STJ) announced it has received an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin enrollment in a controlled, multi-site, blinded, clinical study of deep brain stimulation for major depressive disorder, a severe form of depression.

The BROADEN™ (BROdmann Area 25 DEep brain Neuromodulation) study will
evaluate the safety and effectiveness of deep brain stimulation in patients with depression for whom currently-available treatments are not effective. The study will build upon the pioneering depression work of a research team from the University of Toronto, led by neurologist Helen S. Mayberg, M.D. (now with Emory University School of Medicine), and neurosurgeon Andres Lozano, M.D.

"Major depressive disorder is severely disabling," said Dr. Lozano. "Currently, there are no widely-accepted treatment options for patients with this condition once multiple medications, psychotherapy and electroconvulsive therapy have failed."

Drs. Mayberg and Lozano conducted the first study of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for depression in Toronto, Canada, in 2003 and published their findings in Neuron in March 2005. As reported in this journal article, imaging studies led them to an area of the brain thought to be involved in depression called Brodmann Area 25. This area appears to become overactive when people are profoundly sad and depressed.

St. Jude Medical owns the intellectual property rights and has various patents pending for the use of neurostimulation at Brodmann Area 25. The Libra® Deep Brain Stimulation System, which is being evaluated in this study, is designed to deliver mild electrical pulses from a device implanted near the collarbone and connected to small electrical leads placed at specific targets in the brain.

In the U.S.,
more than 21 million adults suffer from some kind of depressive disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Of these, only about 80 percent can be effectively treated with currently available therapies, according to the National Advisory Mental Health Council. Unfortunately, that means approximately 4 million adult Americans live with depression that does not respond to medications, psychotherapy and, in certain cases, electroconvulsive therapy.

"St. Jude Medical is dedicated to researching and developing neuromodulation therapies for people who live with conditions such as severe depression," said Chris Chavez, president of St. Jude Medical's ANS Division. "We are hopeful that this trial will lead to the successful development of a sustainable therapy for those patients who have exhausted other treatment options."

About St. Jude Medical

St. Jude Medical is dedicated to making life better for cardiac, neurological and chronic pain patients worldwide through excellence in medical device technology and services. The Company has five major focus areas that include: cardiac rhythm management, atrial fibrillation, cardiac surgery, cardiology and neuromodulation. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., St. Jude Medical employs approximately 12,000 people worldwide. For more information, please visit

About the ANS Division of St. Jude Medical

The ANS Division (Advanced Neuromodulation Systems) became a part of St. Jude Medical in 2005. The ANS Division is an innovative technology leader dedicated to the design, development, manufacturing and marketing of implantable neuromodulation systems to improve the quality of life for people suffering from disabling chronic pain and other nervous system disorders (

Using a cosmic magnifying glass to peer into the deepest reaches of space, two teams of astronomers have discovered tiny galaxies that may be among the most distant known. Images suggest that one of the galaxies is so remote that the light now reaching Earth left this starlit body when the 13.7-billion-year-old universe was only about 700 million years old.

LONG AGO, FAR AWAY. Gravity of the cluster Abell 1689 acts as a gravitational lens,
bending into arcs and magnifying the light from remote background galaxies. One galaxy appears so remote that it doesn't show up in visible light but only in the infrared.

The discoveries are important, notes Tim Heckman of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, because they probe a special time in the universe, when the cosmos changed from a place filled with neutral gas to a place ionized by the emergence of the first substantial population of stars and black holes. Studies of distant galaxies help pinpoint when that critical era happened.

All of the galaxies are so small that even the keen eye of the Hubble Space Telescope couldn't have spotted them without nature providing a gravitational assist. According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, a massive foreground body acts like a lens, bending and magnifying light from a more remote galaxy that lies along the same line of sight to Earth.

That's why Garth Illingworth and Rychard Bouwens of the University of California, Santa Cruz and their colleagues went hunting for distant galaxies around a nearby cluster of galaxies called Abell 1689.

The cluster's gravity distorts images of background galaxies, bending them into arcs and magnifying their brightness. One of these galaxies proved especially intriguing because it appeared bright at several infrared wavelengths recorded by Hubble but disappeared in visible light.

That's a sign that the galaxy, dubbed A1689-zD1, is both extraordinarily distant and youthful. The data also indicate that the galaxy forms stars at a rate equivalent to five suns a year, typical of the small galaxies thought to be common in the early universe, says Bouwens.

The researchers don't have a spectrum for the galaxy and therefore can't be sure of its distance, but they calculate in an upcoming Astrophysical Journal paper that the galaxy most likely lies 13 billion light-years from Earth and has a redshift of 7.6. That redshift signifies that cosmic expansion has stretched the wavelengths emitted by the galaxy by a factor of 8.6.

"The reason we are excited about this [galaxy] is that we can look at it in great detail because of the factor of 10 gravitational amplification by the foreground cluster," Bouwens says. A1689-zD1 is the brightest known galaxy that's likely to be extremely distant, his team notes.

The Hubble images show several dense clumps, each containing hundreds of millions of stars. Follow-up images, taken at longer infrared wavelengths with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, provide additional evidence that the galaxy is remote and also yield a more accurate measurement of the galaxy's mass.

"It looks pretty convincing" that A1689-zD1 is remote, but proof may require spectra taken by Hubble's proposed successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, Heckman says.

In searching for distant galaxies, a second team, which includes Richard Ellis and Johan Richard of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, also surveyed several galaxy clusters. The team found evidence of six distant galaxies, which may lie between 12.9 billion and 13.1 billion light-years from Earth, Richard reported this week at an astrophysics meeting at the Aspen Center for Physics in
Colorado. Because the galaxies don't appear as bright—the clusters magnify them by a factor of only two to four—astronomers have less information about these faint bodies than about A1689-zD1, Richard notes.

At first, it may seem like a treat to stay up late—but the next day will be no picnic. There'll be yawning, heavy limbs, and a cranky disposition.

At times like these, the desire to sleep can feel overwhelming.

And it should.

Growing kids need sleep, as do people of all ages. Indeed, research shows that health and safety both suffer when we try to get by with too little shut-eye. So it's fortunate that our bodies do such a good job of alerting us when it's time to hit the sack.

Like people, other animals also take time out to rest. You've probably seen a lion dozing at the zoo, or maybe watched your dog snooze away, curled up in its bed. In fact, sleep is a necessity for every animal that's ever been studied. This includes whales, octopuses—even fruit flies.
How long animals slumber, though, varies widely. Elephants and giraffes sleep only about 2 to 4 hours a day, while bats and opossums may nod off for up to 20 hours. By studying similarities and differences in when and how long various animals sleep, researchers hope to better understand why the need for rest is critical to creatures throughout the animal kingdom.

Getting sleepy? Yawning is just one trait we share with many animals that are tired.

Getting sleepy? Yawning is just one trait we share with many animals that are tired.

What is sleep?

It's obvious what your mom means when she says it's time to go sleep, But how do scientists describe this restful period? When we sleep, our eyes usually close and we lose consciousness. You might even think that your brain shuts down. But it doesn't.

By attaching sensors to the surface of a sleeper's scalp, researchers can listen in on patterns of electrical waves within the brain. Such measurements show that the patterns of these waves change throughout the night as the body alternates between two types of sleep.

In the first type, brain activity slows as the body enters an especially deep sleep. In the second type, known as rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, our eyes flutter rapidly under their lids (hence the name)—and our brains become almost as active as they are when we're awake.
This period is also when we dream.

Unlike reptiles, amphibians, and fish, all land mammals and birds experience this type of resting. "REM sleep is quite a mystery," says Jerome Siegel, who studies slumber in animals at the University of California, Los Angeles. Researchers don't know why people or any other animals do it.

One thing REM-sleeping animals have in common, though, is that they're all relatively intelligent. Researchers wonder if the need for REM sleep, with its buzzing brain activity, has something to do with that.
The need for sleep is important, which is why many animals—including cats and dogs—grab a nap when there's little need for activity.

The need for sleep is important, which is why many animals—including cats and dogs—grab a nap when there's little need for activity.

"We have always joked and used the term 'birdbrain' to indicate that somebody's stupid," says Niels Rattenborg, who studies bird sleep at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Starnberg, Germany. But birds are better at certain intelligence tests than are some mammals, so perhaps "birdbrain" should be considered a compliment, he says.

On the other hand, Siegel has found that the duck-billed platypus, which isn't a particularly brainy animal, has "spectacular" REM sleep—twitching its bill and legs throughout this stage. And some of the smartest animals—dolphins and whales—experience no REM sleep. So its purpose remains a puzzle.

That's not the only baffling thing about the sleep habits of dolphins and whales. A second mystery is that just half of their brain dozes—and one eye closes—at a time. Keeping partly alert may be one way that these mammals protect themselves in the open ocean, Siegel says: "They have no safe place to sleep."

Ducks do something similar. When sleeping together, the birds on the edge of the group slumber with the outside eye open and half of their brain awake—presumably to keep watch while the other half of their brain snoozes.

Some birds may even sleep while flying. Rattenborg's team has designed instruments to attach to birds that spend most of their life in flight. Using these tools, the scientists will measure the birds' brain waves as the animals fly, looking for signs that they might nap in the air.

The fact that all animals make time for sleeping, even under potentially dangerous circumstances, suggests that sleep must serve a crucial function. And indeed, some evidence suggests that sleep is essential for learning and forming permanent memories.

But sleep may also be primarily a way for animals to save energy and stay out of harm's way, Siegel says. This may help explain why meat-eating critters sleep more than herbivores, which are animals that dine solely on plants. Herbivores like cows and zebras need to spend more time searching for and grazing on food than do meat eaters, such as lions and other big cats. A lion that has just fed on an antelope won't have to eat again for several days. So a big cat might be better off snoozing for a spell after it eats, rather than prowling around and risking injury.

Top predators, like this polar bear, may slumber for a long time after a major meal.

Top predators, like this polar bear, may slumber for a long time after a major meal.

But that's just an educated guess, really, based on a growing number of observations. Scientists need to study the animals they've already looked at in greater detail. And they need to study other animals as well before they can fully understand the benefits of sleep and identify which benefits are most important for a particular species.

One thing is certain: ample slumber is essential to health and learning. So give in when a strong urge to sleep hits, and catch plenty of ZZZ's.

Jupiter’s twin found… 60 light years away!Triple asteroid amateur imageDid salt lick Martian life?AstroShaqCarnival of Space 41XKCD has SETI’s numberGLAST’s rocket arrives at CapeJupiter’s twin found… 60 light years away!
Astronomers have just announced that they have found a near twin of Jupiter orbiting the star HD 154345, a fairly sunlike star about 60 light years away. This is very cool news, and has some pretty big implications for finding another Earth around some distant star.

Finding a planet like this isn’t as easy as it sounds! Finding planets with the same mass as Jupiter isn’t hard; many have been found with even lower mass. The hard part is finding one that is orbiting a sun-like star at the same distance Jupiter orbits our Sun. The closer in a planet is to its star, the easier it is to find: the method used measures how hard the planet’s gravity tugs on its parent star as it orbits; the planet pulls the star around just like the star pulls the planet, and we see this as a change in the velocity of the star toward and away from us (called the radial velocity; Wikipedia has a nice animated GIF for this), and that effect gets bigger with bigger planets, and the closer they orbit.
So we see lots of
superjupiters orbiting close in, and some lighter planets also close to their parent stars. But finding a Jupiter-like planet on an orbit like Jupiter’s, well, that takes a long time to do. Jupiter takes 12 years to orbit the Sun, so it would take many observations over many years to detect a planet like that.
But they’ve done it! The team (Jason White, Geoff Marcy, Paul Butler, and Steven Vogt) have been using the monster 10-meter Keck telescope for ten years, observing HD 154345. This star is a lot like the Sun (it’s a G8, and the Sun is a G0 G2, meaning it’s a little smaller, lower mass, and cooler than the Sun). The planet (called HD 154345b) has a mass of no less than 0.95 times that of Jupiter, and orbits the star 4.2 AU out — 1 AU is the Earth-Sun distance, and Jupiter’s orbit is about 5.2 AU from the Sun. The planet takes a little over 9 years to orbit the star, and the orbit is circular.

This makes HD 154345b the first true Jupiter analog discovered. It’s a tremendous achievement!
So why is this important?
The superjupiters in tight orbits that have been discovered probably didn’t form that close to their stars; it’s a tough environment to form a big planet. The commonly accepted theory is that a planet like that forms farther out from the star and migrates closer in over millions of years, probably due to friction from the disk of gas and dust from which it formed.
Now imagine: you’re a planet that’s about the size of Earth, orbiting your star at about the same distance Earth is from the Sun. You’re pretty happy, thinking that in a few hundred million years, things’ll cool off, you’ll form oceans, and continents, and life. But then, hey, what’s that? Oh, it’s a planet with 5000 times your mass, headed right for you! When it passes you by, its tremendous gravity either drops you into the star, or ejects you right out of the system!
So we don’t think that the stars that have close-in massive planets will have Earth-like planets. It may be that the only solar systems with planets like Earth will have their Jupiter analogs orbiting farther out, where they can’t hurt the smaller planets.
And hey, that’s just what we have here!

So, does HD 154345 have a blue-green ball orbiting it as well? These observations can’t say; they are only sensitive enough to find the Jupiter-like planet (and they can’t rule out planets farther out either). It might, or it might not. But here’s an interesting point: the system is probably about 2 billion years old. By that age, the Earth was already teeming with microscopic life. Provocative, eh?
I expect that future missions will spend quite a bit of time peering at this system. As of right now, it holds a lot of promise for those of us hoping that one day we’ll find another Earth.

Did salt lick Martian life?
Scientists working to see if Mars ever had life have concentrated, of course, on looking for water. It appears to have been abundant on Mars a long time ago, but what was it like?

On Earth, water can be pure, or salty, or laden with minerals and metals. On Mars, the presence of minerals like jarosite indicate that at least in some spots, Martian water was high in minerals, with a corresponding high acidity. That’s bad enough, but now evidence from the rover Opportunity indicates that the water was also very salty, far higher in salinity than Earth’s oceans.
This has dimmed somewhat the idea of life on Mars, at least lately — meaning, the last few billion years. It’s possible that the water was in better shape to develop life as we know it early on in the history of Mars, but over time, the water got more acidic and more salty. At first blush, this precludes life arising and flourishing on the Red Planet, but I wonder. One scientist said "This tightens the noose on the possibility of life," but I think that’s a hasty conclusion.
Life arose on Earth almost immediately after the asteroid and comet bombardment ceased, just a billion or so years after Earth formed. Conditions then were very different than they are now, and yet here we are. Whatever life started back then, it evolved, adapted. Every corner of the Earth has life in it, from miles down under the surface to pools of chemicals that would kill a human (and most bacteria) instantly. Check out D. radiodurans for a real eye-opener on how tough life can be. I have little doubt our oceans have changed their salinity numerous times over the past 3 billion years, and life adapted.
From this press release, it’s impossible to say how much things have changed on Mars — besides, of course, the loss of its atmosphere, its water, and the drop in temperature. In this case, I mean how the water on Mars changed over time, and how rapidly. If it happened overnight, then sure, it’s not hard to imagine it wiping out all life on the planet. But what if it took, say, a few million years? Life on Earth has survived horrific circumstances in the past. Could any possible Martian life have done the same?

We still have no idea if life ever arose on Mars or not — Mars cooled more rapidly than the Earth did, and so may have had life on it before we did. If any life did form there, it may not be around anymore, and there could be any number of causes. We simply don’t know, and I think it’s way too early in our exploration of the planet to rule anything out.

Cupid is the Roman love god associated with the cherubic archer of Valentine's Day. Cupid is also the fully adult god associated with Psyche in the story of the marriage of Cupid and Psyche, our first record of which comes from the Golden Ass of Apuleius, and was retold in C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces. The story of Cupid and Psyche has also interested Jungian psychologists, including Erich Newman and Marie-Louise Von Franz. Cupid is the son of the Roman goddess of love and beauty Venus. The Roman love god is Eros.

In 1957, marketing executive James Vicary claimed that during screenings of the film Picnic, the words “eat popcorn” and “drink Coca-Cola” were flashed on the screen every five seconds for 1/3,000 second—well below the threshold of conscious awareness. Vicary said soda and popcorn sales spiked as a result of what he called “subliminal advertising.”

Psychologists had been studying subliminal messages since the late 19th century. It was Vicary’s ideas, presented in Vance Packard’s 1957 best seller, The Hidden Persuaders, that catapulted the concept of subliminal advertising into the public consciousness. Even though in a 1962 interview with Advertising Age Vicary admitted that the amount of data he’d collected was “too small to be meaningful,” subliminal messages continued to attract public—and commercial—interest.

In 1974, the FCC held hearings about the perceived threat of subliminal advertising and issued a policy statement saying that “subliminal perception” was deceptive and “contrary to the public interest.”

Concerns about subliminal advertising continued for decades. As recently as 2000 during the presidential race, the Republican National Committee ran an ad attacking the policies of Al Gore in which the word rats briefly flashed on the screen. Many suspected subliminal intent, which the ad’s creator denied.

Matthew Erdelyi, a psychology professor at Brooklyn College, says that while Vicary’s methods were controversial, new studies continue to suggest the use of subliminal perception in advertising could be effective. “There’s a lot of interest, but the subject matter is a little bit taboo,” he says. Still, if subliminal messages in advertising have a resurgence in the future, “nobody should be terribly surprised.”

An icy landscape studded with frozen lakes, the wintry terrain of southern Finland appears to be the birthplace of ice skating.

To trace the sport’s origins, researchers studied remnants of bone-and-leather skates found throughout northern Europe and dating to at least 2000 B.C. They re-created these ancient skates and gave them to volunteers, who glided on ice while scientists measured the energy spent. Then the researchers entered findings in a computer program that simulated journeys through five different European regions. For each region, the computer calculated the energy spent by travelers who walked around every lake as opposed to those who skated across them.

In places where lakes are relatively uncommon, like northern Germany, a human making a 10-kilometer trek would have saved two or three percent of his energy by skating across frozen lakes. But in southern Finland, there are so many lakes that those with skates could save as much as 10 percent of their metabolic energy.
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“These tools were used for traveling and to save energy and time when people had to go hunting and fishing,” said Federico Formenti, a human locomotion biomechanist at the University of Oxford and one of the study’s authors. “The energy saved in the southern area of Finland was far greater than the energy saved in any other area,” making it the most likely birthplace of the ice skate.

But the Finns don’t get all the credit, Formenti says. The next big innovation—the more efficient wooden skates with steel blades—likely originated

in the Netherlands, where extensive, man-made canals provided new skating opportunities.

Do emotions influence a cancer patient’s prognosis? In one of the largest, longest, and most controlled studies of its kind, researchers investigated whether the emotional state of cancer patients has any relationship to their survival.

University of Pennsylvania psychologist James Coyne and his colleagues followed 1,093 adults, all of whom had advanced head and neck cancer with nonspreading tumors. All patients received standardized medical care through clinical trials run by the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG).

At the start of the study, the participants completed a 27-item questionnaire used to evaluate the physical, social, and emotional quality of life in people with cancer and other chronic diseases. Five items targeted emotional state, asking patients to rate, on a scale of 0 to 4, the extent to which statements like “I feel sad” and “I am losing hope in my fight against my illness” had been true for them over the past seven days. The researchers then calculated a score for each person’s initial emotional well-being.

Coyne tracked patients for an average of nine years, until they either dropped out of the study or died. The study reported 646 deaths. Once the records for the participants were complete, researchers analyzed the data. “We were surprised to find absolutely no relationship” between emotion and survival, Coyne says.

Louis J Sheehan
Louis J Sheehan, Esquire
Louis J Sheehan Esquire

The researchers then looked at emotion and survival in greater detail, examining data for the most buoyant optimists, the most despondent individuals, and patients with complicating factors like smoking. In none of these analyses did emotional well-being affect survival. Because the study was so large and long, it gathered far more information than previous investigations of emotion and cancer survival. In smaller studies, Coyne says, it can be difficult to tell whether deaths were related to a factor like emotion or were simply due to chance.

While the huge pool of subjects and the controlled clinical trial conditions give the study statistical heft, Coyne acknowledges a few limitations. Having only people with head and neck cancers in the study eliminates the variability of a group suffering from different forms of the disease, but it also eliminates information about whether patients with other forms of cancer would show the same results. Additionally, patients had to be judged “mentally reliable”—able to follow instructions and keep appointments—in order to qualify for the clinical trials, so their emotional scores might not represent the full spectrum of psychological states among cancer patients.

Coyne says this is the most in-depth study of its kind, and until a study with a similar sample size proves otherwise, he is convinced there is no conclusive relationship between emotional well-being and cancer survival. Many cancer patients struggling to maintain a positive outlook—and fearing that their lives depended on it—have contacted Coyne to express relief that their survival may not be dependent on their emotions. “Having a positive outlook is not going to extend the quantity of life,” Coyne says. “Not everybody is capable of being positive when they have cancer.”

• A 2004 study found that 72 percent of the public and 86 percent of cancer patients believe psychological factors affect cancer survival. Only 26 percent of oncologists agree.
• About 25 percent of breast cancer patients who joined support groups told researchers in a 2005 study that they attended to improve their immune systems.
• Four previous studies indicate that people with better psychological function do survive longer with cancer—but four others suggest that a healthier psychological condition predicts shorter survival time. More than a dozen studies have found no relationship between the two variables.
• A 2007 study found that the emotional, physical, and social questionnaire Coyne used is effective at predicting depression.
• Major depression afflicts about 25 percent of all cancer patients.
• The two clinical trials in Coyne’s study were conducted by the RTOG, which had a $13 million budget in 2007 and is funded by the National Cancer Institute.
• The American Cancer Society cited 1.4 million new cases of cancer in the United States in 2007 and more than 500,000 cancer deaths, with about 11,000 due to head and neck cancer.

While this study attempts to correct factors that muddied previous research, few experts think the question of cancer and emotion is closed. Stanford psychiatrist David Spiegel notes that coping strategies are an important part of the picture and that they were not addressed by Coyne’s research. He points to a study of breast cancer patients that provides evidence that survival has to do more with how people deal with emotions than how they feel. (Coyne believes the sample size in that study was inadequate and says larger studies oppose Spiegel’s contention.)

Spiegel says support groups and other therapies might improve outcomes by helping patients manage stress and improve communication with doctors. Coyne acknowledges the possibility that psychological support could affect survival by mechanisms other than emotional well-being but says no methodologically sound study has yet shown a relationship.

In 1957, marketing executive James Vicary claimed that during screenings of the film Picnic, the words “eat popcorn” and “drink Coca-Cola” were flashed on the screen every five seconds for 1/3,000 second—well below the threshold of conscious awareness. Vicary said soda and popcorn sales spiked as a result of what he called “subliminal advertising.”

Psychologists had been studying subliminal messages since the late 19th century.

It was Vicary’s ideas, presented in Vance Packard’s 1957 best seller, The Hidden Persuaders, that catapulted the concept of subliminal advertising into the public consciousness. Even though in a 1962 interview with Advertising Age Vicary admitted that the amount of data he’d collected was “too small to be meaningful,” subliminal messages continued to attract public—and commercial—interest.

In 1974, the FCC held hearings about the perceived threat of subliminal advertising and issued a policy statement saying that “subliminal perception” was deceptive and “contrary to the public interest.”

Concerns about subliminal advertising continued for decades. As recently as 2000 during the presidential race, the Republican National Committee ran an ad attacking the policies of Al Gore in which the word rats briefly flashed on the screen. Many suspected subliminal intent, which the ad’s creator denied.

Matthew Erdelyi, a psychology professor at Brooklyn College, says that while Vicary’s methods were controversial, new studies continue to suggest the use of subliminal perception in advertising could be effective. “There’s a lot of interest, but the subject matter is a little bit taboo,” he says. Still, if subliminal messages in advertising have a resurgence in the future, “nobody should be terribly surprised.”

We report the anticarcinogenic, anti-aging polyphenol resveratrol activates the radio- and chemo-inducible cancer gene therapy vector Ad.Egr.TNF, a replication-deficient adenovirus that expresses human tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) under control of the Egr-1 promoter. Like ionizing radiation or chemotherapeutic agents previously shown to activate Ad.Egr.TNF, resveratrol also induces Egr-1 expression from its chromosomal locus with a possible role for Egr-1 promoter CC(A+T)richGG sequences in the expression of TNF-alpha. Resveratrol induction of TNF-alpha in Ad.Egr.TNF-infected tumor xenografts demonstrated antitumor response in human and rat tumor models comparable to that of radio- or chemotherapy-induced TNF-alpha. Although sirtuins are known targets of resveratrol, in vitro inhibition of SIRT1 activity did not abrogate resveratrol induction of Egr-1 expression. This suggests that SIRT1 is not essential to mediate resveratrol induction of Egr-1. Nevertheless, control of transgene expression via resveratrol activation of Egr-1 may extend use of Ad.Egr.TNF to patients intolerant of radiation or cytotoxic therapy and offer a novel tool for development of other inducible gene therapies.

resveratrol, adenovirus, TNFerade, SIRT1, TNF-alpha

Dietary habits and incidence of prostate cancer (PCa) are very different in several parts of the world. Among the differences between Eastern and Western diets is the greater intake of soy in the Eastern cultures. This might be one factor contributing to a lower incidence of PCa in Asian men. Many studies using PCa cells and animal studies of chemical carcinogenesis have shown that a wide range of dietary compounds have cancer chemopreventive potential.

Therefore, the interest in nutrition-based approaches for prevention and treatment of PCa is increasing. We reviewed all experimental preclinical in vitro and in vivo data as well as clinical trials performed with soy isoflavone genistein for prevention and treatment of PCa. The preclinical data for genistein presented in this review show a remarkable efficacy against PCa cells in vitro with molecular targets ranging from cell cycle regulation to induction of apoptosis. In addition, seemingly well-conducted animal experiments support the belief that genistein might have a clinical activity in human cancer therapy. However, it is difficult to make definite statements or conclusions on clinical efficacy of genistein because of the great variability and differences of the study designs, small patient numbers, short treatment duration and lack of a standardized drug formulation. Although some results from these genistein studies seem encouraging, reliable or long-term data on tumor recurrence, disease progression and survival are unknown. The presented data potentially allow recommending patients the use of genistein as in soy products in a preventive setting. However, at present there is no convincing clinical proof or evidence that genistein might be useful in PCa therapy.

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