Saturday, March 8, 2008


Russian businessman Viktor Bout was arrested by Thai police in a U.S. sting operation after years of slipping past accusations that he operated an arms-trafficking network that fueled wars from Africa to the Balkans to Asia.

Thai security officers escort alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout following his arrest yesterday on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had been trying for nearly a year to lure Mr. Bout into showing up to finalize a fictitious $5 million deal to deliver a cache of guns and surface-to-air missiles to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas, or FARC, according to U.S. officials.

Mr. Bout, 41 years old, was arrested in Thailand yesterday along with an associate, Andrew Smulian, on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization,

according to court documents unsealed by federal prosecutors in New York's Southern District. U.S. authorities said they planned to seek the men's extradition to the U.S.

Mr. Bout said in the past that he was unaware of any illegal content in cargo shipped by his operations, and he has repeatedly denied his companies did anything but legitimate business. He said on Russian television in 2006 that he had

given up the air-transport business because of arms-trading allegations.

Some Conversations Recorded

U.S. authorities said paid informants negotiated the FARC deal in meetings, email and telephone conversations in locations including the Dutch island territory of Curaçao, Denmark and Romania. With the help of local police, the DEA recorded some of the conversations conducted via cellphones secretly provided by U.S. authorities and email addresses set up for the sting.

One of the informants had worked with Mr. Bout in the mid-1990s, including in an aborted operation in which Mr. Bout allegedly wanted the informant to fly on an arms drop in Chechnya, according to the court documents.

Mr. Bout was caught in a trap similar to the one U.S. drug agents used last year to catch reputed arms smuggler Monzer al-Kassar. Mr. Kassar, who is Syrian, is being held in Spain. U.S. authorities have requested extradition.

A DEA official said an undercover agent infiltrated Mr. Bout's inner circle and a close aide persuaded Mr. Bout to proceed with the putative FARC deal. "It was a realistic scenario that convinced him that he could go forward," the official said.

Mr. Bout has been sought since 2002 on an Interpol warrant for alleged money laundering after he drew attention for what the United
Nations said was his role funneling arms that fueled conflicts involving Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and the genocidal conflict in Rwanda.

Through a series of companies registered in the Middle East, the U.S. and elsewhere, Mr. Bout ran one of the largest private-aircraft fleets, mostly huge Soviet-era cargo planes. A U.S. Treasury report said he had a reputation in the smuggling world for being able to deliver anything, anywhere, anytime.

"Viktor Bout provided the means with which barbaric regimes and murderous warlords have been able to carry out their horrendous acts," said Alex Yearsley, of human-rights group Global Witness, which has tracked Mr. Bout's alleged role in trading arms for so-called conflict diamonds in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and Congo. "For years, he was delivering cargoes of death."

U.S. claims of his willingness to do business with the FARC rebels come as Colombia is in a standoff with Ecuador and Venezuela over a Colombian military raid on a rebel camp just inside Ecuadorian territory last week.

It was in Africa that Mr. Bout's planes gained profile throughout much of the 1990s. According to the U.N., the planes carried weapons to anyone who would pay, in conflicts across the continent.

Alex Vines, a former U.N. arms inspector whose investigations contributed to many of the U.N.'s accusations, said that in Angola's civil war, Mr. Bout supplied weapons to both the government and rebels of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or Unita.
"He was a very pragmatic fellow," said Mr. Vines, who is now head of the African program at Chatham House, a think tank in London. Mr. Vines said he saw Mr. Bout's planes and evidence of their fraudulent registrations, but never Mr. Bout himself.

Those who have tracked Mr. Bout for years were surprised at the apparent carelessness that helped the U.S. sting succeed. U.S. Treasury officials have placed sanctions on Mr. Bout's companies and on his associates in recent years, and they have frozen some of his assets. A November email U.S. prosecutors say was from Mr. Smulian hints that those sanctions may have been having an effect. "Our man has been made persona non-G[rata] -- for the world through the UN....All assets cash and kind frozen, total value is around 6 Bn USD, and of course no ability to journey anywhere other than home territories."

So extensive was Mr. Bout's network that U.S. military officials said in 2005 that they had contracted with companies that used Mr. Bout's cargo companies to ferry materials for the military and its contractors to Iraq, following the U.S. invasion. U.S. officials said they weren't aware beforehand that Mr. Bout's companies were involved. His companies also have shown up carrying humanitarian aid for the U.N. in Africa.

Mr. Bout is a colorful figure who rarely showed himself in public, and he is believed to have inspired the 2005 film "Lord of War."

In 2006, he appeared on a Russian government-run television channel to dismiss allegations against him. Investigators from the U.S. and U.N., he said, had conflated him into an international bogeyman of gun-running. "Every time, it's the same story, the same repetition," he told English-language program Russia Today. "I can even call it a witch hunt."

Mr. Bout said he had given up the air-transport business because of the accusations against him. He told the Russian channel that he had seen the Hollywood film in which Nicholas Cage plays a morally bereft arms dealer believed to be modeled on Mr. Bout and that it was "a bad movie."
He added: "I'm sorry for Nicholas Cage."

Others note that while Mr. Bout's arrest could be significant, it's just a step.

"Viktor Bout is not the only person accused of trafficking arms in violation of U.N. embargoes," said Brian Wood,
who analyzes arms and security issues at Amnesty International in London. "He's most certainly a businessman in a chain."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Jessica Snyder Sachs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of the USDA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Jessica Snyder Sacs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course, the invisible

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

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

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

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

Name Address 1 Address 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[edit] Anandwan and the fight against leprosy

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

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

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

[edit] Baba Amte and Gandhism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ymmersta school principal Hannele Frantsi

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

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

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

At the Norssi School in Jyväskylä, school principal Helena Muilu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tampa, Fla.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Changing of the Guard”
The Twilight Zone episode

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Critical Response

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

See also

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


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

External links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Profit also fell 22% in general insurance operations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tampa, Fla.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"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.

Hot on the heels of that fabulous Spitzer image comes news that Hubble and Spitzer have teamed up to find what may be the most distant galaxy ever seen. It appears to be at a distance of 12.8 billion light years.

The big image shows the incredible galaxy cluster Abell 1689, a well-studied city of galaxies. The combined gravity of the galaxies in that cluster act as a lens, distorting and magnifying the light of galaxies on the other side, more distant galaxies that might be too faint to be seen on their own. The arcs you see are all more distant galaxies, their light strewn out by the gravity if the intervening cluster (see how they all appear to have the center of the cluster as their own center of curvature?).
Even boosted by this gravitational lens, the light of the distant galaxy named A1689-zD1 is too faint to be detected in the visible, but Hubble’s infrared camera NICMOS got a peek at it. Then the Spitzer Space Telescope was able to see it even more clearly, as can be seen by the three images on the right.
The more distant galaxies we see, the younger they are, because it takes light a long time to cross the Universe. We see this galaxy as it was when the Universe itself was only about a billion years old. Astronomers are not sure how long it took galaxies to form after the Big Bang, but every time we look farther away, we still see galaxies. Mind you, the ones we see have to be fantastically bright, so they may be skewing our view (there may be much dimmer ones, but they are as yet too faint to see). But the point is, we do see galaxies at this fantastic distance.
The distance was determined by looking at the colors of the galaxy. The Universe is expanding, and more distant galaxies recede from us more quickly. This stretches the light from distant objects out, making them redder, a cosmic variation on the more familiar Doppler shift that makes car engines make that WWEWEEEEEOOOOOORRRR sound as they pass. By knowing what kind of light a young galaxy emits, and then comparing it to the amount of light in each image, the amount of redshift can be estimated, and the distance determined. For A1689-zD1, it’s invisible in visible light, detectable at near infrared wavelengths, and stronger yet in the longer infrared colors. This indicates a tremendous redshift, and therefore a great distance.
From my rough calculation, it may be possible to nail down the redshift using STIS, a camera on board Hubble. STIS is currently dead, the victim of an electrical short. However, astronauts will attempt a repair of it in September during the Hubble servicing mission. I wonder if it’s worth trying to observe the galaxy… it’s a marginal observation; it’s possible that even if STIS can detect this faint smudge, it will only be able to give us a lower limit to the distance (in other words, the data will say that the galaxy is at least at a distance of X billion light years, but not tell us what the actual distance is). Still, it might be worth a shot.
By knowing the distance to this galaxy, and examining
the way it emits light, we can put yet another data point in our models of the early Universe. We’re still trying to figure out just what the heck the cosmos was doing back then, and every time we see farther back, we nail down a little bit more about this place we live in. Observations like this one from Hubble and Spitzer propel us that much farther in our understanding.

Cognitive side effects like memory loss and fuzzy thinking aren't listed on the patient information sheet for Lipitor, the popular cholesterol-lowering drug. But some doctors are voicing concerns that in a small portion of patients, statins like Lipitor may be helping hearts but hurting minds.

• Like every medication, statins also have side effects such as muscle aches and memory loss that can be difficult to measure. What's your experience been with statins? Join a discussion.
• Health Mailbox: Melinda Beck reviews the procedure recommended to care for someone who is unconscious.

"This drug makes women stupid," Orli Etingin, vice chairman of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital, declared at a recent luncheon discussion sponsored by Project A.L.S. to raise awareness of gender issues and the brain. Dr. Etingin, who is also founder and director of the Iris Cantor Women's Health Center in New York, told of a typical patient in her 40s, unable to concentrate or recall words. Tests found nothing amiss, but when the woman stopped taking Lipitor, the symptoms vanished. When she resumed taking Lipitor, they returned.

"I've seen this in maybe two dozen patients," Dr. Etingin said later, adding that they did better on other statins. "This is just observational, of course. We really need more studies, particularly on cognitive effects and women."

Pfizer Inc.'s Lipitor is the world's best-selling medicine, with revenues of $12.6 billion in 2007. The company says that its safety and efficacy have been demonstrated in more than 400 clinical trials and 145 million patient years of experience, and that the extensive data "do not establish a casual link between Lipitor and memory loss." Pfizer also says it draws conclusions about adverse events from a variety of sources "as opposed to anecdotal inferences by individual providers with a limited data pool."

World-wide, some 25 million people take statins, including Zocor, Mevacor, Crestor, Pravachol and Vytorin. As a group, they are widely credited with reducing heart attacks and strokes in people at high risk, though the benefits are less clear in people who are not at high risk, particularly women and the elderly. Some 15% of patients complain of side effects; muscle aches and liver toxicity are the most recognized to date. But anecdotes linking statins to memory problems have been rampant for years.

On balance, most cardiologists see little cause for concern. "The benefits far outweigh the risks," says Antonio Gotto, dean of the Weill-Cornell Medical School and past president of the American Heart Association. Dr. Gotto, who has consulted for most of the statin makers and been involved in many of the trials, says "I would hate to see people frightened off taking statins because they think it's going to cause memory loss."

Thinking and memory problems are difficult to quantify, and easy for doctors to dismiss. Many people who take statins are elderly and have other conditions and medications that could have cognitive side effects.

Still, the chronology can be very telling, says Gayatri Devi, an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, who says she's seen at least six patients whose memory problems were traceable to statins in 12 years of practice. "The changes started to occur within six weeks of starting the statin, and the cognitive abilities returned very quickly when they went off," says Dr. Devi. "It's just a handful of patients, but for them, it made a huge difference."

Researchers at the University of California at San Diego are nearing completion of a randomized controlled trial examining the effects of statins on thinking, mood, behavior, and quality of life. Separately, the UCSD researchers are collecting anecdotal experiences of patients, good and bad, on statins; memory problems are the second most common side effect, after muscle aches, in about 5,000 reports to date.

"We have some compelling cases," says Beatrice Golomb, the study's lead researcher. In one of them, a San Diego woman, Jane Brunzie, was so forgetful that her daughter was investigating Alzheimer's care for her and refused to let her babysit for her 9-year-old granddaughter. Then the mother stopped taking a statin. "Literally, within eight days, I was back to normal -- it was that dramatic," says Mrs. Brunzie, 69 years old.

Doctors put her on different statins three more times. "They'd say, 'Here, try these samples.' Doctors don't want to give up on it," she says. "Within a few days of starting another one, I'd start losing my words again," says Mrs. Brunzie, who has gone back to volunteering at the local elementary school she loves and is trying to bring her cholesterol down with dietary changes instead.

"I feel very blessed -- I got about 99% of my memory back," she adds. "But I worry about people like me who are starting to lose their words who may think they have just normal aging and it may not be."

Of course, not every case of mental decline can be reversed by stopping statins. In fact, there's some evidence that statins may ward off Alzheimer's by reducing plaque and inflammation in the brain.

On the other hand, the brain is largely cholesterol, much of it in the myelin sheaths that insulate nerve cells and in the synapses that transmit nerve impulses. Lowering cholesterol could slow the connections that facilitate thought and memory. Statins may also lead to the formation of abnormal proteins seen in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

The cognitive changes can affect men as well as women. But women on statins are often simultaneously losing estrogen due to menopause, which can also cause cognitive changes. "Women are getting hit with a double whammy," says Elizabeth Lee Vliet, a women's health physician in Tucson, Ariz., who has a background in neuroendochronology.

Side effects are always highly individual. Most patients tolerate statins very well, and heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. for men and women.

But it pays to think hard about whether you really need to be on a statin -- or if you could accomplish your goals with diet and exercise instead. "Some people want to take a pill and think they can eat whatever they want," says Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist and medical director of the Women's Heart Program at the New York University School of Medicine. She says she typically prescribes statins for women who have elevated cholesterol and have already had a heart attack. But for younger women with high cholesterol and no other risk factors, she encourages lifestyle changes.

"I try to initiate diet modifications and physical activity in all my patients -- even if they still need medication, I can give them a lower dose," says Dr. Goldberg. "I try to make the point that we are all in this together."

If you do need to be on cholesterol-lowering medication, pay close attention to any side effects and talk with your doctor. You may have a different experience with a different dose or different statin. Also remember that the doctor taking care of your heart condition may not be as experienced in other body parts. "You really need a balanced approach," says Dr. Vliet. But "each physician may be looking at only one part of the elephant -- that's the way medicine is practiced in the U.S.

As Jane Brunzie says, "I learned through this experience that you have to use your own brain, as well as your doctor's brain, when it comes to your health."

The drug of the week is Zetia—another tale of a good drug potentially gone bad. Zetia lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) by preventing it from being "recycled" in the intestines. This is different from the more commonly used "statins" that prevent bad cholesterol from being formed in the liver. The news stories have highlighted research suggesting that lowering your cholesterol with Zetia may not have the same benefits as doing so with statins. There is even a suggestion that Zetia may have a negative effect on fat deposits in blood vessels.

This story has a lot of angles. There are allegations that these new data were not released in a timely manner. Other stories suggest that guidelines encouraging ultralow levels of bad cholesterol were influenced by the makers of Zetia. Some of the more insightful stories have pointed out that Zetia, unlike statins, has never been

There is some merit to all of these concerns. For me, though, the big question is what this new information tells us about treating heart disease in general and LDL in particular. Over the past few years, many studies have shown that statins prevent heart disease and stroke, saving lives. The medical community has centered on the role of LDL in this story, with the mantra being that lower is better. But statins do much more than lower LDL—they affect the function of the lining of our blood vessels and reduce some markers of inflammation, for instance.

Why then the emphasis on LDL? Probably because it's something that makes intuitive sense: Statins save lives. Statins lower LDL. So a lower LDL must save lives. (Kind of like the old Woody Allen joke: Socrates is a man. men are mortal. So all men are Socrates.) What the Zetia story tells us is that there’s more to preventing heart disease than lowering LDL, and that how we lower LDL may be more important than we thought.

An unidentified flying object, or UFO, is any real or apparent flying object that cannot be identified by the observer, especially those which remain unidentified after investigation. UFOs have been spotted in many different places around the world.

Reports of unusual aerial phenomena date back to ancient times, but modern reports and first official investigations began during World War II with sightings of so-called foo fighters by Allied airplane crews and in 1946 with widespread sightings of European "ghost rockets." UFO reports became even more common after the first widely publicized United States UFO sighting, by private pilot Kenneth Arnold in the summer of 1947.

Many tens of thousands of UFO reports have since been made worldwide. But many sightings may yet remain unreported, due to fear of public ridicule because of the social stigma surrounding the subject of UFOs, and because most nations lack any officially sanctioned authority to receive and evaluate UFO reports.

Once a UFO has been identified as a known object; it can be reclassified as an Identified flying object.

On April 14, 1561 the skies over Nuremberg, Germany were reportedly filled with a multitude of objects.

Unusual aerial phenomena have been reported throughout history.Some of these phenomena were undoubtedly astronomical in nature: comets, bright meteors, one or more of the five planets which can be seen with the naked eye, planetary conjunctions, or atmospheric optical phenomena such as parhelia and lenticular clouds.An example is the Comet Halley, which was recorded first by Chinese astronomers in 240 B.C. and possibly as early as 467 B.C.

"The Baptism of Christ", 1710, by Aert de Gelder. UFO proponents have drawn comparisons between modern UFO reports and aerial objects depicted in historical art, such as this religious painting.

Other historical reports seem to defy prosaic explanation, but assessing such accounts is difficult, because the information in a historical document may be insufficient, inaccurate, or embellished enough to make an informed evaluation difficult.

For example, in the Old Testament of the Bible, Ezekiel apparently had a first-hand encounter with something that might now be described as an Unidentified Flying Object, but which the Bible describes as a fiery chariot.

Whatever their actual cause, such sightings throughout history were often treated as supernatural portents, angels, or other religious omens. Art historian Daniela Giordano cites many Medieval-era paintings, frescoes, tapestries and other items that depict unusual aerial objects; she acknowledges many of these paintings are difficult to interpret, but cites some that depict airborne saucers and domed-saucer shapes that are often strikingly similar to UFO reports from later centuries.
Louis J Sheehan
Louis J Sheehan, Esquire

Before the terms “flying saucer” and “UFO” were coined in the late 1940s, there were a number of reports of unidentified aerial phenomena in the West. These reports date from the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century. They include:

* On January 25, 1878, The Denison Daily News wrote that local farmer John Martin had reported seeing a large, dark, circular flying object resembling a balloon flying “at wonderful speed.” He compared its shape when overhead to that of a "large saucer".
* On November 17, 1882, a UFO was observed by astronomer Edward Walter Maunder of the Greenwich Royal Observatory and some other European astronomers. Maunder in The Observatory reported “a strange celestial visitor” that was "disc-shaped," "torpedo-shaped," "spindle-shaped," or "just like a Zeppelin" dirigible (as he described it in 1916). According to Maunder, it was much brighter than the concurrent auroral displays, had well-defined edges and was opaque in the center, whitish or greenish-white, about 30 degrees long and 3 degrees wide, and moved steadily across the northern sky in less than 2 minutes from east to west. Maunder said it was very different in characteristics from a meteor fireball or any aurora he had ever seen. Nonetheless, Maunder thought it was probably related to the huge auroral magnetic sunspot storm occurring at the same time; Maunder called it an "auroral beam."
* On February 28, 1904, there was a sighting by three crew members on the USS Supply 300 miles west of San Francisco, reported by Lt. Frank Schofield, later to become Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Battle Fleet. Schofield wrote of three bright red egg-shaped and circular objects flying in echelon formation that approached beneath the cloud layer, then changed course and “soared” above the clouds, departing directly away from the earth after 2 to 3 minutes. The largest had an apparent size of about six suns.

Drawing of E. W. Maunder's Nov. 17, 1882, "auroral beam" by astronomer Rand Capron, Guildown Observatory, Surrey, UK, who also observed it.
Drawing of E. W. Maunder's Nov. 17, 1882, "auroral beam" by astronomer Rand Capron, Guildown Observatory, Surrey, UK, who also observed it.

* On 5 August 1926, while traveling in the Humboldt Mountains of Tibet's Kokonor region, Nicholas Roerich reported that members of his expedition saw "something big and shiny reflecting sun, like a huge oval moving at great speed”.
* In both the European and Japanese aerial theatres during World War II, “Foo-fighters” (balls of light and other shapes that followed aircraft) were reported by both Allied and Axis pilots.
* On February 25, 1942, the U.S. Army detected unidentified aircraft both visually and on radar over the Los Angeles, California region. No readily-apparent explanation was offered. The incident later became known as the Battle of Los Angeles, or the West coast air raid.

* In 1946, there were over 2000 reports of unidentified aircraft in the Scandinavian nations, along with isolated reports from France, Portugal, Italy and Greece, then referred to as “Russian hail,” and later as “ghost rockets,” because it was thought that these mysterious objects were Russian tests of captured German V1 or V2 rockets. Over 200 were tracked on radar and deemed to be “real physical objects” by the Swedish military.

The post World War II UFO phase in the United States began with a reported sighting by American businessman Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947 while flying his private plane near Mount Rainier, Washington. He reported seeing nine brilliantly bright objects flying across the face of Rainier towards nearby Mount Adams at “an incredible speed”, which he "calculated" as at least 1200 miles per hour by timing their travel between Rainier and Adams.

His sighting subsequently received significant media and public attention. Arnold would later say they “flew like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water” (it would ricochet) and also said they were “flat like a pie pan”, “shaped like saucers,” and “half-moon shaped, oval in front and convex in the rear. ...they looked like a big flat disk.” (One, however, he would describe later as being almost crescent-shaped.) Arnold’s reported descriptions caught the media’s and the public’s fancy and gave rise to the terms flying saucer and flying disk. Arnold’s sighting was followed in the next few weeks by hundreds of other reported sightings, mostly in the U.S., but in other countries as well.

Another case was a United Airlines crew sighting of nine more disc-like objects over Idaho on the evening of July 4. At the time, this sighting was even more widely reported than Arnold’s and lent considerable credence to Arnold’s report. In fact, American UFO researcher Ted Bloecher, in his comprehensive review of newspaper reports, found a sudden surge upwards in sightings on July 4, peaking on July 6-8. Bloecher noted that for the next few days most American newspapers were filled with front-page stories of the new “flying saucers” or “flying discs.” Starting with official debunkery that began the night of July 8 with the Roswell UFO incident, reports rapidly tapered off, ending the first big U.S. UFO wave.

Over several years in the 1960s, Bloecher (aided by physicist James E. McDonald) discovered 853 flying disc sightings that year from 140 newspapers from Canada, Washington D.C, and every U.S. state save Montana.
The Falcon Lake incident report filed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Stephen Michalak claimed incident with a UFO.
The Falcon Lake incident report filed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Stephen Michalak claimed incident with a UFO.

Starting July 9, Army Air Force intelligence, in cooperation with the FBI, began a formal investigation into selected sightings with characteristics that could not be immediately rationalized, which included Arnold’s and the United crew’s. The FBI used “all of its scientists” to determine whether or not “such a phenomenon could, in fact, occur.” The research was “being conducted with the thought that the flying objects might be a celestial phenomenon,” or that “they might be a foreign body mechanically devised and controlled.”Three weeks later they concluded that, “This ‘flying saucer’ situation is not all imaginary or seeing too much in some natural phenomenon. Something is really flying around.”A further review by the intelligence and technical divisions of the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field reached the same conclusion, that “the phenomenon is something real and not visionary or fictitious,” that there were objects in the shape of a disc, metallic in appearance, and as big as man-made aircraft. They were characterized by “extreme rates of climb [and] maneuverability,” general lack of noise, absence of trail, occasional formation flying, and “evasive” behavior “when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar,” suggesting a controlled craft. It was thus recommended in late September 1947 that an official Air Force investigation be set up to investigate the phenomenon.This led to the creation of the Air Force’s Project Sign at the end of 1947, which became Project Grudge at the end of 1948, and then Project Blue Book in 1952. Blue Book closed down in 1970, ending the official Air Force UFO investigations.

Use of UFO instead of flying saucer was first suggested in 1952 by Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, the first director of Project Blue Book, who felt that flying saucer did not reflect the diversity of the sightings. Ruppelt suggested that UFO should be pronounced as a word — you-foe. However it is generally pronounced by forming each letter: U.F.O. His term was quickly adopted by the Air Force, which also briefly used “UFOB” circa 1954, for Unidentified Flying Object. Ruppelt recounted his experiences with Project Blue Book in his memoir, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (1956), also the first book to use the term.

Air Force Regulation 200-2, issued in 1954, defined an Unidentified Flying Object (UFOB) as “any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object.” The regulation also said UFOBs were to be investigated as a “possible threat to the security of the United States” and “to determine technical aspects involved.” As with any then-ongoing investigation, Air Force personnel did not discuss the investigation with the press.

In Canada, the Department of National Defence has dealt with reports, sightings and investigations of UFOs across Canada. In addition to conducting investigations into crop circles in Duhamel, Alberta, it still identifies the Falcon Lake incident in Manitoba and the Shag Harbour incident in Nova Scotia as "unsolved".

Ufology is a neologism coined to describe the collective efforts of those who study UFO reports and associated evidence. Not all ufologists believe that UFOs are necessarily extraterrestrial spacecraft, or even that they are objective physical phenomena. Even UFO cases that are exposed as hoaxes, delusions or misidentifications may still be worthy of serious study from a psychosocial point of view. While Ufology does not represent an academic research program, UFOs have been subject to various investigations over the years, varying widely in scope and scientific rigor. Governments or independent academics in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and the Soviet Union are known to have investigated UFO reports at various times. No national government has ever publicly admitted that UFOs represent any form of alien intelligence. Perhaps the best known study was Project Blue Book, previously Project Sign and Project Grudge, conducted by the United States Air Force from 1947 until 1969. Other notable investigations include the Robertson Panel (1953), the Brookings Report (1960), the Condon Committee (1966-1968), the Project Twinkle investigation into green fireballs (1948-1951), the Sturrock Panel (1998), and the French GEIPAN (1977-) and COMETA (1996-1999) study groups.

In March 2007, the French Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) published an archive of UFO sightings and other phenomena online.

At 11am on November 12, 2007, Former Arizona Governor Fife Symington moderated a panel of former high-ranking government, aviation and military officials from seven countries at the National Press Club; discussing the UFO topic and governmental investigations. The press conference was open for credentialed media and congressional staff only.
The following officials and former officials participated in the press conference:

* Fife Symington, Former Arizona Governor, Moderator
* Ray Bowyer, Captain, Aurigny Air Services, Channel Islands
* Rodrigo Bravo, Captain and Pilot for the Aviation Army of Chile
* General Wilfried De Brouwer, former Deputy Chief of Staff, Belgian Air Force (Ret.)
* John Callahan, Chief of Accidents and Investigations for the FAA, 1980’s (Ret.)
* Dr. Anthony Choy, founder, 2001, OIFAA, Peruvian Air Force
* Jean-Claude Duboc, Captain, Air France (Ret.)
* Charles I. Halt, Col. USAF (Ret.), Former Director, Inspections Directorate, DOD I.G.
* General Parviz Jafari, Iranian Air Force (Ret.) As a young Iranian Air Force pilot, Jafari was a participant in the 1976 Tehran UFO incident, one of the most famous and well-documented UFO incidents in modern times.

* Jim Penniston, TSgt USAF (Ret.)
* Dr. Claude Poher, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, founder, French GEPAN
* Nick Pope, Ministry of Defence, UK, 1985-2006
* Dr. Jean-Claude Ribes, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, 1963-98
* Comandante Oscar Santa Maria, Peruvian Air Force (Ret.)

Although it is sometimes contended that astronomers never report UFOs, the Air Force's Project Blue Book files indicate that approximately 1% of all their reports came from amateur and professional astronomers or other users of telescopes (such as missile trackers or surveyors). In the 1970s, astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock conducted two surveys of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and American Astronomical Society. About 5% of the members polled indicated that they had had UFO sightings. In 1980, a survey of 1800 members of various amateur astronomer associations by Gert Helb and astronomer J. Allen Hynek of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) found that 24% responded "yes" to the question "Have you ever observed an object which resisted your most exhaustive efforts at identification?"

Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who admitted to 6 UFO sightings[, including 3 green fireballs supported the Extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) for UFOs and stated he thought scientists who dismissed it without study were being "unscientific." Another astronomer was Dr. Lincoln La Paz, who had headed the Air Force's investigation into the green fireballs and other UFO phenomena in New Mexico. La Paz reported 2 personal sightings, one of a green fireball, the other of an anomalous disc-like object. Even later UFO debunker Dr. Donald Menzel filed a UFO report in 1949.

Various public scientific studies over the past half century have examined UFO reports in detail. None of these studies have officially concluded that any reports are caused by extraterrestrial spacecraft (e.g., Seeds 1995:A4). Some studies were neutral in their conclusions, but argued the inexplicable core cases called for continued scientific study. Examples are the Sturrock Panel study of 1998 and the 1970 AIAA review of the Condon Report. Other private or governmental studies, some secret, have concluded in favor of the ETH, or have had members who disagreed with the official conclusions. The following are examples of such studies and individuals:

* One of the earliest government studies to come to a secret ETH conclusion was Project Sign, the first official Air Force UFO investigation. In 1948, they wrote a top-secret intelligence estimate to that effect. The Air Force Chief of Staff ordered it destroyed. The existence of this suppressed report was revealed by several insiders who had read it, such as astronomer and USAF consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Edward J. Ruppelt, the first head of the USAF's Project Blue Book. (Ruppelt, Chapt. 3)
* An early U.S. Army study, of which little is known, was called the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit (IPU). In 1987, British UFO researcher Timothy Good received a letter confirming the existence of the IPU from the Army Director of Counter-intelligence, in which it was stated, "...the aforementioned Army unit was disestablished during the late 1950s and never reactivated. All records pertaining to this unit were surrendered to the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations in conjunction with operation BLUEBOOK." The IPU records have never been released. (Good, 484).
* In 1967, Greek physicist Paul Santorini, a Manhattan Project scientist, publicly stated that a 1947 Greek government investigation that he headed into the European Ghost rockets of 1946 quickly concluded that they were not missiles. Santorini claimed the investigation was then quashed by military officials from the U.S., who knew them to be extraterrestrial, because there was no defense against the advanced technology and they feared widespread panic should the results become public. (Good, 23)
* Various European countries conducted a secret joint study in 1954, also concluding that UFOs were extraterrestrial. This study was revealed by German rocketry pioneer Hermann Oberth, a member of the study, who also made many public statements supporting the ETH.
* In 1958, Brazil's main UFO investigator, Dr. Olavo T. Fuentes wrote a letter to the American UFO group APRO summarizing a briefing he had received from two Brazilian Naval intelligence officers. Fuentes said he was told that every government and military on Earth was aware that UFOs were extraterrestrial craft and there was absolute proof of this in the form of several crashed craft. The subject was classified Top Secret by the world's militaries. The objects were deemed dangerous and hostile when attacked, many planes had been lost, and it was generally believed that Earth was undergoing an invasion of some type, perhaps a police action to keep us confined to the planet. This information had to be withheld from the public by any means necessary because of the likelihood of widespread panic and social breakdown.

* An FBI field office letter to the FBI Director, dated January 31, 1949, stated "...the matter of 'Unidentified Aircraft' or 'Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,' otherwise known as 'Flying Discs,' 'Flying Saucers,' and 'Balls of Fire' considered Top Secret by Intelligence Officers of both the Army and Air Forces." (emphasis included in original).
* During the height of the flying saucer epidemic of July 1952, including highly publicized radar/visual and jet intercepts over Washington, D.C., the FBI was informed by the Air Force Directorate of Intelligence that they thought the "flying saucers" were either "optical illusions or atmospheric phenomena" but then added that, "some Military officials are seriously considering the possibility of interplanetary ships." FBI document
* The CIA started their own internal scientific review the following day. Some CIA scientists were also seriously considering the ETH. An early memo from August was very skeptical, but also added, " long as a series of reports remains 'unexplainable' (interplanetary aspects and alien origin not being thoroughly excluded from consideration) caution requires that intelligence continue coverage of the subject."
A report from later that month was similarly skeptical but nevertheless concluded "...sightings of UFOs reported at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge, at a time when the background radiation count had risen inexplicably. Here we run out of even 'blue yonder' explanations that might be tenable, and we still are left with numbers of incredible reports from credible observers." A December 1952 memo from the Assistant CIA Director of Scientific Intelligence (O/SI) was much more urgent: "...the reports of incidents convince us that there is something going on that must have immediate attention. Sightings of unexplained objects at great altitudes and traveling at highs speeds in the vicinity of U.S. defense installation are of such nature that they are not attributable to natural phenomena or known types of aerial vehicles."
Some of the memos also made it clear that CIA interest in the subject was not to be made public, partly in fear of possible public panic. (Good,331-335)
* The CIA organized the January 1953 Robertson Panel of scientists to debunk the data collected by the Air Force's Project Blue Book. This included an engineering analysis of UFO maneuvers by Blue Book (including a motion picture film analysis by Naval scientists) that had concluded UFOs were under intelligent control and likely extraterrestrial. (Dolan, 189; Good, 287, 337; Ruppelt, Chapt. 16))
* Extraterrestrial "believers" within Project Blue Book including Major Dewey Fournet, in charge of the engineering analysis of UFO motion. Director Edward J. Ruppelt is also thought to have held these views, though expressed in private, not public. Another defector from the official Air Force party line was consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who started out as a staunch skeptic. After 20 years of investigation, he changed positions and generally supported the ETH. He became the most publicly known UFO advocate scientist in the 1970s and 1980s.
* The first CIA Director, Vice Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, stated in a signed statement to Congress, also reported in the New York Times, February 28, 1960, "It is time for the truth to be brought out... Behind the scenes high-ranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about the UFOs. However, through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense.... I urge immediate Congressional action to reduce the dangers from secrecy about unidentified flying objects." In 1962, in his letter of resignation from NICAP, he told director Donald Keyhoe, "I know the UFOs are not U.S. or Soviet devices. All we can do now is wait for some actions by the UFOs." (Good, 347)
* Although the 1968 Condon Report came to a negative conclusion (written by Condon), it is known that many members of the study strongly disagreed with Condon's methods and biases. Most quit the project in disgust or were fired for insubordination. A few became ETH supporters. Perhaps the best known example is Dr. David Saunders, who in his 1968 book UFOs? Yes lambasted Condon for extreme bias and ignoring or misrepresenting critical evidence. Saunders wrote, "It is clear... that the sightings have been going on for too long to explain in terms of straightforward terrestrial intelligence. It is in this sense that ETI (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) stands as the `least implausible' explanation of `real UFOs'."
* Nick Pope, the head of the UK government UFO desk for a number of years, is an advocate of the ETH based on the inexplicable cases he reviewed, such as the Rendlesham UFO incident, although the British government has never made such claims.
* Jean-Jacques Velasco, the head of the official French UFO investigation SEPRA, wrote a book in 2005 saying that 14% of the 5800 cases studied by SEPRA were utterly inexplicable and extraterrestrial in origin.
Yves Sillard, the head of the new official French UFO investigation GEIPAN and former head of the French space agency CNES, echoes Velasco's comments and adds the U.S. is guilty of covering up this information. Again, this isn't the official public posture of SEPRA, CNES, or the French government. (CNES recently announced that their 5800 case files will be placed on the Internet starting March 2007.)
* The 1999 French COMETA committee of high-level military analysts/generals and aerospace engineers/scientists declared the ETH was the best hypothesis for the unexplained cases.

Besides visual sightings, cases sometimes have an indirect physical evidence, including many cases studied by the military and various government agencies of different countries. Indirect physical evidence would be data obtained from afar, such as radar contact and photographs. More direct physical evidence involves physical interactions with the environment at close range—Hynek's "close encounter" or Vallee's "Type-I" cases—which include "landing traces," electromagnetic interference, and physiological/biological effects.

* Radar contact and tracking, sometimes from multiple sites. These are often considered among the best cases since they usually involve trained military personnel and control tower operators, simultaneous visual sightings, and aircraft intercepts. One such recent example were the mass sightings of large, silent, low-flying black triangles in 1989 and 1990 over Belgium, tracked by multiple NATO radar and jet interceptors, and investigated by Belgium's military (included photographic evidence).[53] Another famous case from 1986 was the JAL 1628 case over Alaska investigated by the FAA.
* Photographic evidence, including still photos, movie film, and video, including some in the infrared spectrum (rare).
* Recorded visual spectrograms (extremely rare) — (see Spectrometer)
* Recorded gravimetric and magnetic disturbances (extremely rare)
* Landing physical trace evidence, including ground impressions, burned and/or desiccated soil, burned and broken foliage, magnetic anomalies, increased radiation levels, and metallic traces.
See, e.g. Height 611 UFO Incident or the 1964 Lonnie Zamora's Socorro, New Mexico encounter, considered one of the most inexplicable of the USAF Project Blue Book cases). A well-known example from December 1980 was the USAF Rendlesham Forest Incident in England. Another less than 2 weeks later, in January 1981, occurred in Trans-en-Provence and was investigated by GEPAN, then France's official government UFO-investigation agency.[55] Project Blue Book head Edward J. Ruppelt described a classic 1952 CE2 case involving a patch of charred grass roots.[56] Catalogs of several thousand such cases have been compiled, particularly by researcher Ted Phillips.[57][58]
* Physiological effects on people and animals including temporary paralysis, skin burns and rashes, corneal burns, and symptoms superficially resembling radiation poisoning, such as the Cash-Landrum incident in 1980.
One such case dates back to 1886, a Venezuelan incident reported in Scientific American magazine.[59]
* So-called animal/cattle mutilation cases, that some feel are also part of the UFO phenomenon. Such cases can and have been analyzed using forensic science techniques.
* Biological effects on plants such as increased or decreased growth, germination effects on seeds, and blown-out stem nodes (usually associated with physical trace cases or crop circles)
* Electromagnetic interference (EM) effects, including stalled cars, power black-outs, radio/TV interference, magnetic compass deflections, and aircraft navigation, communication, and engine disruption.[60] A list of over 30 such aircraft EM incidents was compiled by NASA scientist Dr. Richard F. Haines.[61] A famous 1976 military case over Tehran, recorded in CIA and DIA classified documents, resulted in communication losses in multiple aircraft and weapons system failure in an F-4 Phantom II jet interceptor as it was about to fire a missile on one of the UFOs. This was also a radar/visual case. (Fawcett & Greenwood, 81-89; Good, 318-322, 497-502).
* Remote radiation detection, some noted in FBI and CIA documents occurring over government nuclear installations at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1950, also reported by Project Blue Book director Ed Ruppelt in his book.
* Actual hard physical evidence cases, such as 1957, Ubatuba, Brazil, magnesium fragments analyzed by the Brazilian government and in the Condon Report and by others. The 1964 Socorro/Lonnie Zamora incident also left metal traces, analyzed by NASA.
* Misc: Recorded electromagnetic emissions, such as microwaves detected in the well-known 1957 RB-47 surveillance aircraft case, which was also a visual and radar case;polarization rings observed around a UFO by a scientist, explained by Dr. James Harder as intense magnetic fields from the UFO causing the Faraday effect.

These various reported physical evidence cases have been studied by various scientist and engineers, both privately and in official governmental studies (such as Project Blue Book, the Condon Committee, and the French GEPAN/SEPRA). A comprehensive scientific review of physical evidence cases was carried out by the 1998 Sturrock UFO panel.

Attempts have been made to reverse engineer the possible physics behind UFOs through analysis of both eyewitness reports and the physical evidence. Examples are former NASA and nuclear engineer James McCampbell in his book Ufology online, NACA/NASA engineer Paul R. Hill in his book Unconventional Flying Objects, and German rocketry pioneer Hermann Oberth. Among subjects tackled by McCampbell, Hill, and Oberth was the question of how UFOs can fly at supersonic speeds without creating a sonic boom. McCampbell's proposed solution of a microwave plasma parting the air in front of the craft is currently being researched by Dr. Leik Myrabo, Professor of Engineering Physics at the Rensselaer

An Air Force study by Battelle Memorial Institute scientists from 1952-1955 of 3200 USAF cases found 22% were unknowns, and with the best cases, 33% remained unsolved. Similarly about 30% of the UFO cases studied by the 1969 USAF Condon Committee were deemed unsolved when reviewed by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). The official French government UFO scientific study (GEIPAN) from 1976 to 2004 listed about 13% of 5800 cases as very detailed yet still inexplicable (with 46% deemed to have definite or probable explanations and 41% having inadequate information).

Despite the remaining unexplained cases in the cited scientific studies above, many skeptics still argue that the general opinion of the mainstream scientific community is that all UFO sightings could ultimately be explained by prosaic explanations such as misidentification of natural and man-made phenomena (either known or still unknown), hoaxes, and psychological phenomena such as optical illusions or dreaming/sleep paralysis (often given as an explanation for purported alien abductions).

Other skeptical arguments against UFOs include:

* Most evidence is ultimately derived from notoriously unreliable eyewitness accounts and very little in the way of solid or other physical evidence has been reported.[citation needed]
* Most UFO sightings are transitory events and there is usually no opportunity for the repeat testing called for by the scientific method.

* Occam's razor of hypothesis testing, since it is considered less incredible for the explanations to be the result of known scientifically verified phenomena rather than resulting from novel mechanisms (e.g. the extraterrestrial hypothesis).
* The market being biased in favor of books, TV specials, etc. which support paranormal interpretations, leaving the public poorly informed regarding more mundane explanations for UFOs as a possibly socio-cultural phenomenon only.[citation needed]

What appears interesting is that UFO sightings depend on the technological environment of their time. At late 1800s UFOs were described as airships larger,sturdier and more maneuverable than those commonly used. As planes were developed UFO descriptions appeared as planes with speed and maneuverability greater than in any known design. Nowadays UFOs have many shapes, but are still described to perform maneuvers no known aircraft is able to. These include complete or near complete silence when spotted, hovering, great speeds and very small turn radius. Also capability for rapid change in altitude have been sighted.

To account for unsolved UFO cases, a number of explanations have been proposed by both proponents and skeptics.

Among proponents, some of the more common explanations for UFOs are:

* The Extraterrestrial Visitation Hypothesis (ETH) (most popular)
* The Interdimensional Hypothesis
* The Paranormal/Occult Hypothesis
* The hypothesis that they are time machines or vehicles built in a future time.
* Another is the Extraterrestrial energyzoa theory

Similarly, skeptics usually propose one of the following explanations:

* The Psychological-Social Hypothesis
* The man-made craft hypothesis
* The unknown natural phenomena hypothesis, e.g. ball lightning, sprites
* Peter F Coleman advanced a meteorological theory that many so-called UFOs or unexplained lights seen now and in the past are actually instances of visible combustion of a fuel (e.g. natural gas) inside an atmospheric vortex. He has argued his case in his book, Great Balls of Fire-a unified theory. This vortex fireball theory was first published in Weather and later in the Journal of Scientific Exploration
* Earthquake lights/Tectonic Strain hypothesis
* One explanation is that (some) UFOs are misidentified "shiny-bodied insects".

Among the many people who have reported UFO sightings, some have been exposed as hoaxers. Not all alleged hoax exposures are certain, however, and many claimants have stuck by their stories, leaving the determination of specific cases as hoaxes contentious. Some of the controversial subjects include these:

* Perhaps most notably, Ed Walters' 1987 hoax, perpetrated in Gulf Breeze, Florida. Walters claimed at first having seen a small UFO flying near his home, and then in a second incident seeing the same UFO and a small alien being standing by his back door after being alerted by his dog. Several photographs were taken of the craft, but none of the being. Three years later in 1990, after the Walters family had moved, the new residents discovered a model of a UFO poorly hidden in the attic that bore an undeniable resemblance to the craft in Walters' photographs. Various witnesses and detractors came forward after the local Pensacola newspaper printed a story about the discovered model, and some investigators now consider the sightings to be a hoax. In addition, a six-figure television miniseries and book deal were nearly struck with Walters.
* Contactees such as George Adamski, who claimed he went on flights in UFOs. (Even some believers contend he had real
experiences and later fictionalized others, leaving the subject murky.)
* Bob White (UFO hunter) claims to have an alleged UFO artifact.
* Billy Meier, some of whose photographs have been discredited.
* The Maury Island Incident
* The Ummo affair, a decades-long series of detailed letters and documents allegedly from extraterrestrials. The total length of the documents is at least 1000 pages, and some estimate that further undiscovered documents may total nearly 4000 pages. A Jose Luis Jordan Pena came forward in the early nineties claiming responsibility for the phenomenon, and most consider there to be little reason to challenge his claims.
* The Sci-fi channel ran an advertising promo of a UFO near the World Trade Center being seen by a group of tourists in a helicopter. Created prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the commercial used realistic special effects to simulate the encounter. The video has subsequently been aired on East Asian television and posted to video-sharing sites like YouTube as genuine footage.[76]
* A video was posted as genuine footage to by a "barzolff814". It depicts two large UFOs flying over an observer on a tropical island, said to be Haiti in the title "Haiti Ufo". The video was quickly debunked by, and other sites. The video was done entirely with CGI 3D Animation programs by French animator David Nicolas, also known as "Numero 6." It managed to fool many people; many still thoroughly believe that the video is real.
The hoax was discerned by the identical palm trees in the video, which were the same as in a promo video for a 3D program called Vue Infinite.

Several physicists, some working for the US Military, others said to be associated with the US Intelligence Community are seriously interested in UFOs as alien extraterrestrial flying machines. Dr. Jack Sarfatti, in his book "Super Cosmos" (2005), has the most detailed "theory" based on the recent discovery of the repulsive anti-gravity field "dark energy" that is accelerating the expansion of the 3D space of our universe. Sarfatti also cites Alcubierre's weightless warp drive without time dilation as essential conditions for "propellantless propulsion" in what Puthoff has called "metric engineering." However, in his book "The Physics of Star Trek," Lawrence M. Krauss reveals that it would be physically impossible to concentrate enough energy in one place to "warp" the fabric of space. Sarfatti's key idea is that the ship is able to control its own zero-g force geodesic flight path using small amounts of energy, despite the evident lack of external propulsion visible in most UFO sightings.

The study of UFO claims over the years has led to valuable discoveries about atmospheric phenomena and psychology. In psychology, the study of UFO sightings has revealed information on misinterpretation, perceptual illusions, hallucination and fantasy-prone personality.
Many have questioned the reliability of hypnosis in UFO abduction cases.

Famous psychologist Carl Gustav Jung compared the UFO's "saucer" shape with mandala symbolism and speculated with the idea of UFO sightings being linked to his theory of Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, suggesting UFOs are projection carriers of the archetype of "psychic wholeness" (also known in Jungian terms as The Self).
Such projections endow the carrier with numinous and mythical powers giving it a highly suggestive effect and rapidly turning it into a saviour myth.

Some researchers recommend that observations be classified according to the features of the phenomenon or object that are reported or recorded. Typical categories include:

* Saucer, toy-top, or disk-shaped "craft" without visible or audible propulsion. (day and night)
* Large triangular "craft" or triangular light pattern
* Cigar-shaped "craft" with lighted windows (Meteor fireballs are sometimes reported this way, but are very different phenomena).
* Other: chevrons, equilateral triangles, spheres (usually reported to be shining, glowing at night), domes, diamonds, shapeless black masses, eggs, and cylinders.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek developed another commonly used system of description, dividing sightings into six categories. It first separates sightings based on proximity, arbitrarily using 500 feet as the cutoff point. It then subdivides these into divisions based on viewing conditions or special features. The three distant sighting categories are:

* Nocturnal Lights (NL): Anomalous lights seen in the night sky.
* Daylight Discs (DD): Any anomalous object, generally but not necessarily "discoidal", seen in the distant daytime sky.
* Radar/Visual cases (RV). Objects seen simultaneously by eye and on radar.

The distant classification is useful in terms of evidentiary value, with RV cases usually considered to be the highest because of radar corroboration and NL cases the lowest because of the ease in which lights seen at night are often confused with prosaic phenomena such as meteors, bright stars, or airplanes. RV reports are also fewest in number, while NL are largest.
In addition were three "close encounter" (CE) subcategories, again thought to be higher in evidentiary value, because it includes measurable physical effects and the objects seen up close are less likely to be the result of misperception. As in RV cases, these tend to be relatively rare:

* CE1: Strange objects seen nearby but without physical interaction with the environment.
* CE2: A CE1 case but creating physical evidence or causing electromagnetic interference (see below).
* CE3: CE1 or CE2 cases where "occupants" or entities are seen. (Hence the title of Steven Spielberg's movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind)

Hynek's CE classification system has since been expanded to include such things as alleged alien abductions (CE4s) and cattle mutilation phenomena.

Jacques Vallee has devised a UFO classification system which is preferred by many UFO investigators over Hynek's system as it is considerably more descriptive than Hynek's, especially in terms of the reported behavior of UFOs.

Type I (a, b, c, d): Observation of an unusual object, spherical discoidal, or of another geometry, on or situated close to the ground (tree height, or lower), which may be associated with traces - thermal, luminous, or mechanical effects.

1. On or near ground.
2. Near or over body of water.
3. Occupants appear to display interest in witnesses by gestures or luminous signals.
4. Object appears to be "scouting" a terrestrial vehicle.

Type II (a, b, c): Observation of an unusual object with vertical cylindrical formation in the sky, associated with a diffuse cloud. This phenomenon has been given various names such as "cloud-cigar" or "cloud-sphere."

1. Moving erratically through the sky.
2. Object is stationary and gives rise to secondary objects (sometimes referred to as "satellite objects").
3. Object is surrounded by secondary objects.

Type III (a, b, c, d, e): Observation of an unusual object of spherical, discoidal or elliptical shape, stationary in the sky.

1. Hovering between two periods of motion with "falling-leaf" descent, up and down, or pendulum motion.
2. Interruption of continuous flight to hover and then continue motion.
3. Alters appearance while hovering - e.g., change of luminosity, generation of secondary object, etc.
4. "Dogfights" or swarming among several objects.
5. Trajectory abruptly altered during continuous flight to fly slowly above a certain area, circle, or suddenly change course.

Type IV (a, b, c, d): Observation of an unusual object in continuous flight.

1. Continuous flight.
2. Trajectory affected by nearby conventional aircraft.
3. Formation flight.
4. Wavy or zig-zag trajectory.

Type V (a, b, c): Observation of an unusual object of indistinct appearance, i.e., appearing to be not fully material or solid in structure.

1. Extended apparent diameter, non-point source luminous objects ("fuzzy").
2. Starlike objects (point source), motionless for extended periods.
3. Starlike objects rapidly crossing the sky, possibly with peculiar trajectories.

Source: 1. Jacques and Janine Vallee: Challenge To Science: The UFO Enigma, LC# 66-25843

UFOs are sometimes an element of elaborate conspiracy theories in which the government is said to be intentionally covering up the existence of aliens, or sometimes collaborating with them. There are many versions of this story; some are exclusive, while others overlap with various other conspiracy theories.

In the U.S., opinion polls again indicate that a strong majority of people believe the U.S. government is withholding such information. Various notables have also expressed such views. Some examples are astronauts Gordon Cooper and Edgar Mitchell, Senator Barry Goldwater, Vice Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter (the first CIA director), Lord Hill-Norton (former British Chief of Defense Staff and NATO head), the 1999 high-level French COMETA report by various French generals and aerospace experts, and Yves Sillard (former director of the French space agency CNES, new director of French UFO research organization GEIPAN).

There is also speculation that UFO phenomena are tests of experimental aircraft or advanced weapons. In this case UFOs are viewed as failures to retain secrecy, or deliberate attempts at misinformation: to deride the phenomenon so that it can be pursued unhindered. This explanation may or may not feed back into the previous one, where current advanced military technology is considered to be adapted alien technology. (See also: skunk works and Area 51)

It has also been suggested by a few fringe authors that all or most human technology and culture is based on extraterrestrial contact. See also ancient astronauts.

Some also contend regarding physical evidence that it exists abundantly but is swiftly and sometimes clumsily suppressed by governments, aiming to insulate a population they regard as unprepared for the social, theological, and security implications of such evidence. See the Brookings Report.

There have been allegations of suppression of UFO related evidence for many decades. There are also conspiracy theories which claim that physical evidence might have been removed and/or destroyed/suppressed by some governments. (See also Men in Black) Some examples are:

* On July 7, 1947, William Rhodes took photos of an unusual object over Phoenix, Arizona.[81] The photos appeared in a Phoenix newspaper and a few other papers. According to documents from Project Bluebook, an Army counter-intelligence (CIC) agent and an FBI agent interviewed Rhodes on August 29 and convinced him to surrender the negatives. The CIC agent deliberately concealed his true identity, leaving Rhodes to believe both men were from the FBI. Rhodes said he wanted the negatives back, but when he turned them into the FBI the next day, he was informed he wouldn't be getting them back, though Rhodes later tried unsuccessfully.The photos were extensively analyzed and would eventually show up in some classified Air Force UFO intelligence reports. (Randle, 34-45, full account)
* A June 27, 1950, movie of a "flying disk" over Louisville, Kentucky, taken by a Louisville Courier-Journal photographer, had the USAF Directors of counterintelligence (AFOSI) and intelligence discussing in memos how to best obtain the movie and interview the photographer without revealing Air Force interest. One memo suggested the FBI be used, then precluded the FBI getting involved. Another memo said "it would be nice if OSI could arrange to secure a copy of the film in some covert manner," but if that wasn't feasible, one of the Air Force scientists might have to negotiate directly with the newspaper. In a recent interview, the photographer confirmed meeting with military intelligence and still having the film in his possession until then, but refused to say what happened to the film after that.
* In another 1950 movie incident from Montana, Nicholas Mariana filmed some unusual aerial objects and eventually turned the film over to the U.S. Air Force, but insisted that the first part of the film, clearly showing the objects as spinning discs, had been removed when it was returned to him. (Clark, 398)
* During the military investigation of green fireballs in New Mexico, UFOs were photographed by a tracking camera over White Sands Proving Grounds on April 27, 1949. The final report in 1951 on the green fireball investigation claimed there was insufficient data to determine anything. However, documents later uncovered by Dr. Bruce Maccabee indicate that triangulation was accomplished. The data reduction and photographs showed four objects about 30 feet in diameter flying in formation at high speed at an altitude of about 30 miles. Maccabee says this result was apparently suppressed from the final report.
* Project Blue Book director Edward J. Ruppelt reported that, in 1952, a U.S. Air Force pilot fired his jet's machine guns at a UFO, and that the official report which should have been sent to Blue Book was quashed. 1952 newspaper articles of USAF jets being ordered to shoot down saucers.
* Astronaut Gordon Cooper reported suppression of a flying saucer movie filmed in high clarity by two Edwards AFB range photographers on May 3, 1957. Cooper said he viewed developed negatives of the object, clearly showing a dish-like object with a dome on top and something like holes or ports in the dome. The photographers and another witness, when later interviewed by Dr. James McDonald, confirmed the story. Cooper said military authorities then picked up the film and neither he nor the photographers ever heard what happened to it. The incident was also reported in a few newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times. The official explanation, however, was that the photographers had filmed a weather balloon distorted by hot desert air. McDonald, 1968 Congressional testimony, Case 41

* On January 22, 1958, when NICAP director Donald Keyhoe appeared on CBS television, his statements on UFOs were pre-censored by the Air Force. During the show when Keyhoe tried to depart from the censored script to "reveal something that has never been disclosed before," CBS cut the sound, later stating Keyhoe was about to violate "predetermined security standards" and about to say something he wasn't "authorized to release." What Keyhoe was about to reveal were four publicly unknown military studies concluding UFOs were interplanetary (including the 1948 Project Sign Estimate of the Situation and Blue Book's 1952 engineering analysis of UFO motion). (Good, 286-287; Dolan 293-295)
* Astronomer Jacques Vallee reported that in 1961 he witnessed the destruction of the tracking tapes of unknown objects orbiting the Earth. (However, Vallee indicated that this didn't happen because of government pressure but because the senior astronomers involved didn't want to deal with the implications.)
* In 1965, Rex Heflin took four Polaroid photos of a hat-shaped object. Two years later (1967), two men posing as NORAD agents confiscated three prints. Just as mysteriously, the photos were returned to his mailbox in 1993. detailed article and photos
* A March 1, 1967 memo directed to all USAF divisions, from USAF Lt. General Hewitt Wheless, Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, stated that unverified information indicated that unknown individuals, impersonating USAF officers and other military personnel, had been harassing civilian UFO witnesses, warning them not to talk, and also confiscating film, referring specifically to the Heflin incident. AFOSI was to be notified if any personnel were to become aware of any other incidents. (Document in Fawcett & Greenwood, 236).
* In 1996, the CIA revealed an instance from 1964 where two CIA agents posed as USAF representatives in order to recover a film canister from a Corona spy satellite that had accidentally come down in Venezuela. The event was then publicly dismissed as an unsuccessful NASA space experiment.

UFOs constitute a widespread international cultural phenomenon of the last half-century.Gallup polls rank UFOs near the top of lists for subjects of widespread recognition. In 1973, a survey found that 95 percent of the public reported having heard of UFOs, whereas only 92 percent had heard of US President Gerald Ford in a 1977 poll taken just nine months after he left the White House. (Bullard, 141) A 1996 Gallup poll reported that 71 percent of the United States population believed that the government was covering up information regarding UFOs. A 2002 Roper poll for the Sci Fi channel found similar results, but with more people believing UFOs were extraterrestrial craft. In that latest poll, 56 percent thought UFOs were real craft and 48 percent that aliens had visited the Earth. Again, about 70 percent felt the government was not sharing everything it knew about UFOs or extraterrestrial life.

Documentary channels, such as the Discovery Channel and the History Channel, air UFO and alien related material from time to time.(e.g., UFO Files)

In a 2006 survey, 24.6% of Americans agreed (or strongly agreed) that some UFOs are probably spaceships from other worlds.[89]

Several mechanisms have been suggested for the Moon's formation. The formation of the Moon is believed to have occurred 4.527 ± 0.010 billion years ago, about 30–50 million years after the origin of the solar system.

* Fission Theory - Early speculation proposed that the Moon broke off from the Earth's crust because of centrifugal forces, leaving a basin (presumed to be the Pacific Ocean) behind as a scar.This fission concept, however, requires too great an initial spin of the Earth. Furthermore, it would have resulted in an orbit following Earth's equatorial plane, which is not the case.

* Capture Theory - Others speculated that the Moon formed elsewhere and was captured into Earth's orbit. However, the conditions required for this capture mechanism to work (such as an extended atmosphere of the Earth for dissipating energy) are improbable.

* CoFormation Theory - The coformation hypothesis posits that the Earth and the Moon formed together at the same time and place from the primordial accretion disk. In this hypothesis, the Moon formed from material surrounding the proto-Earth, similar to the formation of the planets around the Sun. Some suggest that this hypothesis fails adequately to explain the depletion of metallic iron in the Moon.

A major deficiency with all of these hypotheses is that they cannot easily account for the high angular momentum of the Earth–Moon system.

* Giant Impact Theory - Today, the giant impact hypothesis for forming the Earth–Moon system is widely accepted by the scientific community. In this hypothesis, the impact of a Mars-sized body (Theia) on the proto-Earth is postulated to have put enough material into circumterrestrial orbit to form the Moon. Given that planetary bodies are believed to have formed by the hierarchical accretion of smaller bodies to larger ones, giant impact events such as this are thought to have affected most planets. Computer simulations modelling this impact are consistent with measurements of the angular momentum of the Earth–Moon system, as well as the small size of the lunar core. Unresolved questions regarding this theory have to do with determining the relative sizes of the proto-Earth and impactor, and with determining how much material from the proto-Earth and impactor ended up in the Moon.

Silicon Valley is the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California in the United States. The term originally referred to the region's large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers, but eventually came to refer to all the high-tech businesses in the area; it is now generally used as a metonym for the high-tech sector. Despite the development of other high-tech economic centers throughout the United States, Silicon Valley continues to be the leading high-tech hub because of its large number of engineers and venture capitalists. Geographically, Silicon Valley encompasses the northern part of Santa Clara Valley and adjacent communities.

The term Silicon Valley was coined by Ralph Vaerst, a Northern California entrepreneur. His journalist friend, Don Hoefler, first published the term in 1971. He used it as the title of a series of articles "Silicon Valley USA" in a weekly trade newspaper Electronic News which started with the January 11, 1971 issue. Valley refers to the Santa Clara Valley, located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay, while Silicon refers to the high concentration of semiconductor and computer-related industries in the area. These and similar technology and electricity firms slowly replaced the orchards which gave the area its initial nickname, the Valley of Heart's Delight.

Perhaps the strongest thread that runs through the Valley’s past and present is the drive to “play” with novel technology, which, when bolstered by an advanced engineering degree and channeled by astute management, has done much to create the industrial powerhouse we see in the Valley today.

Looking west over northern San Jose (downtown is at far left) and other parts of Silicon Valley
Looking west over northern San Jose (downtown is at far left) and other parts of Silicon Valley

Since the early twentieth century, Silicon Valley has been home to a vibrant, growing electronics industry. The industry began through experimentation and innovation in the fields of radio, television, and military electronics. Stanford University, its affiliates, and graduates have played a major role in the evolution of this area.

The San Francisco Bay Area had long been a major site of U.S. Navy research and technology. In 1909, Charles Herrold started the first radio station in the United States with regularly scheduled programming in San Jose. Later that year, Stanford University graduate Cyril Elwell purchased the U.S. patents for Poulsen arc radio transmission technology and founded the Federal Telegraph Corporation (FTC) in Palo Alto. Over the next decade, the FTC created the world's first global radio communication system, and signed a contract with the U.S. Navy in 1912.

In 1933, Air Base Sunnyvale, California was commissioned by the United States Government for the use as a Naval Air Station (NAS). The station was renamed NAS Moffett Field, and between 1933 and 1947, US Navy blimps were based here. A number of technology firms had set up shop in the area around Moffett to serve the Navy. When the Navy gave up its airship ambitions and moved most of its West Coast operations to San Diego[citation needed], NACA (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, forerunner of NASA) took over portions of Moffett for aeronautics research. Many of the original companies stayed, while new ones moved in. The immediate area was soon filled with aerospace firms such as Lockheed.

After World War II, universities were experiencing enormous demand due to returning students. To address the financial demands of Stanford's growth requirements, and to provide local employment opportunities for graduating students, Frederick Terman proposed the leasing of Stanford's lands for use as an office park, named the Stanford Industrial Park (later Stanford Research Park).

Leases were limited to high technology companies. Its first tenant was Varian Associates, founded by Stanford alumni in the 1930s to build military radar components. However, Terman also found venture capital for civilian technology start-ups . One of the major success stories was Hewlett-Packard. Founded in Packard's garage by Stanford graduates William Hewlett and David Packard, Hewlett-Packard moved its offices into the Stanford Research Park slightly after 1953. In 1954, Stanford created the Honors Cooperative Program to allow full-time employees of the companies to pursue graduate degrees from the University on a part-time basis. The initial companies signed five-year agreements in which they would pay double the tuition for each student in order to cover the costs. Hewlett-Packard has become the largest personal computer manufacturer in the world, and transformed the home printing market when it released the first ink jet printer in 1984. In addition, the tenancy of Eastman Kodak and General Electric undoubtedly made Stanford Industrial Park a center of technology in the mid-1990's.

In 1953, William Shockley left Bell Labs in a disagreement over the handling of the invention of the transistor. After returning to California Institute of Technology for a short while, Shockley moved to Mountain View, California in 1956, and founded Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory.
Unlike many other researchers who used germanium as the semiconductor material, Shockley believed that silicon was the better material for making transistors. Shockley intended to replace the current transistor with a new three-element design (today known as the Shockley diode), but the design was considerably more difficult to build than the "simple" transistor. In 1957, Shockley decided to end research on the silicon transistor. As a result, eight engineers left the company to form Fairchild Semiconductor.
Two of the original employees of Fairchild Semiconductor, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, would go on to found Intel.

By the early 1970s there were many semiconductor companies in the area, computer firms using their devices, and programming and service companies serving both. Industrial space was plentiful and housing was still inexpensive. The growth was fueled by the emergence of the venture capital industry on Sand Hill Road, beginning with Kleiner Perkins in 1972; the availability of venture capital exploded after the successful $1.3 billion IPO of Apple Computer in December 1980.

Although semiconductors are still a major component of the area's economy, Silicon Valley has been most famous in recent years for innovations in software and Internet services. Silicon Valley has significantly influenced computer operating systems, software, and user interfaces.

Using money from NASA and the U.S. Air Force, Doug Engelbart invented the mouse and hypertext-based collaboration tools in the mid-1960s, while at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International). When Engelbart's Augmentation Research Center declined in influence due to personal conflicts and the loss of government funding, Xerox hired some of Engelbart's best researchers.
In turn, in the 1970s and 1980s, Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) played a pivotal role in object-oriented programming, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), Ethernet, PostScript, and laser printers.

While Xerox marketed equipment using its technologies, for the most part its technologies flourished elsewhere. The diaspora of Xerox inventions led directly to 3Com and Adobe Systems, and indirectly to Cisco, Apple Computer and Microsoft. Apple's Macintosh GUI was largely a result of Steve Jobs' visit to PARC and the subsequent hiring of key personnel.[citation needed] Microsoft's Windows GUI is based on Apple's work, more or less directly.[citation needed] Cisco's impetus stemmed from the need to route a variety of protocols over Stanford's campus Ethernet.

Silicon Valley is generally considered to have been the center of the dot-com bubble which started from the mid-1990s and collapsed after the NASDAQ stock market began to decline dramatically in April of 2000. During the bubble era, real estate prices reached unprecedented levels. For a brief time, Sand Hill Road was home to the most expensive commercial real estate in the world, and the booming economy resulted in severe traffic congestion.

Even after the dot-com crash, Silicon Valley continues to maintain its status as one of the top research and development centers in the world. A 2006 Wall Street Journal story found that 13 of the 20 most inventive towns in America were in California, and 10 of those were in Silicon Valley. [6] San Jose led the list with 3,867 utility patents filed in 2005, and number two was Sunnyvale, at 1,881 utility patents.

Thousands of high technology companies are headquartered either in or near Silicon Valley; among those, the following are in the Fortune 1000:

* Adobe Systems
* Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
* Agilent Technologies
* Apple Inc.
* Applied Materials
* Business Objects
* Cisco Systems
* eBay
* Electronic Arts (actually in Redwood Shores north of the Valley)
* Google
* Hewlett-Packard
* Intel
* Intuit

* LSI Logic
* Maxtor
* National Semiconductor
* Network Appliance
* Nvidia
* Oracle Corporation (actually in Redwood Shores north of the Valley)
* SanDisk
* Solectron
* Symantec
* Sun Microsystems
* Yahoo!

Additional notable companies headquartered (or with a significant presence) in Silicon Valley include (some defunct or subsumed):

* 3Com (headquartered in Marlborough, Massachusetts)
* Actuate Corporation
* Adaptec
* Amdahl
* Aricent
* Asus
* Atari
* Atmel
* BEA Systems
* Cypress Semiconductor
* Computer Literacy Bookstore
* Foundry Networks
* Fujitsu (headquartered in Tokyo, Japan)
* Gaia Online
* Hitachi Global Storage Technologies
* Juniper Networks
* Knight-Ridder (acquired by The McClatchy Company)
* Logitech
* McAfee
* Memorex (acquired by Imation and moved to Cerritos, California)
* Microsoft (headquartered in Redmond, Washington)
* Netscape (acquired by AOL)
* NeXT Computer, Inc. (acquired by Apple)
* Nintendo of America
* Opera Software
* Palm, Inc.
* PalmSource, Inc. (acquired by ACCESS)
* PayPal (now part of eBay)
* Rambus
* Redback Networks
* SAP AG (headquartered in Walldorf, Germany)
* Silicon Graphics
* Silicon Image
* Sony
* SRI International
* Tesla Motors
* Tellme Networks
* TiVo
* VA Software (Slashdot)
* WebEx
* VeriSign
* Veritas Software (acquired by Symantec)
* VMware (acquired by EMC)
* Xilinx

Silicon Valley is also home to the high-tech superstore retail chain Fry's Electronics.

* Northwestern Polytechnic University (Fremont)
* Carnegie Mellon University (West Coast Campus)
* San José State University
* Santa Clara University
* Stanford University
* International Technological University(Sunnyvale), this is NOT an accredited school.
* University of California, Santa Cruz (NASA Ames UARC & UC Extension)

A number of cities are located in Silicon Valley (in alphabetical order):

* Campbell
* Cupertino
* East Palo Alto (San Mateo County)
* Fremont
* Los Altos
* Los Altos Hills
* Los Gatos
* Menlo Park (San Mateo County)
* Milpitas
* Mountain View
* Newark
* Palo Alto
* San Jose
* Santa Clara
* Saratoga
* Sunnyvale

Cities sometimes associated with the region:

* Redwood City (home to Oracle and PDI/DreamWorks)
* San Mateo
* Scotts Valley
* Santa Cruz

* List of technology centers around the world
* List of research parks around the world
* List of places with 'Silicon' names
* Pirates of Silicon Valley — Movie about the early development of Microsoft and Apple.
* Science park

As the first wave of baby boomers hits retirement age, life overseas beckons. But be warned: Retiring abroad can have its logistical headaches.

Many of today's graying expatriates are heading permanently offshore to stretch their nest egg. Jon and Gretchen Nickel, formerly of Portland, Ore., settled in Panama, where they say they can live like the rich without needing a big bankroll. Lee Harrison and Julie Lowrey, from Vermont, moved to Uruguay because the lower living costs allowed them to retire years early. Other expat retirees are seeking foreign adventure, cultural experiences and exotic travel, without having to board an airplane.

But retiring to a foreign land can present a number of challenges, from opening a local bank account to avoiding being gouged for services. And while many countries, from Belize to South Africa, offer inducements to attract foreign retirees, making sure you've got health insurance can be a big problem.

Moving abroad also means leaving behind family and friends, though Internet communications can shorten the distances. There can also be safety and security concerns, depending on where you end up.

"People go on a vacation and love the place and say 'I want to live here.' But that's very different than living there day to day and buying groceries and dealing with your finances," says Hugh Bromma, chief executive of Entrust Group, a financial-services firm that caters to many expat retirees.

Roger and Jennifer Miller retired to the Caribbean nation of Dominica in 2005, expecting that meeting residency requirements "would be a cakewalk, and it wasn't," says Mr. Miller, 61, a former analytical chemist in St. Louis. What's more, he says, "expenses you expect to be cheaper often aren't" because locals expect Americans have money and charge more for services. He says life in Dominica "is about two times more expensive than I was led to believe when we started asking around down here about retiring here."

No agency tracks how many U.S. retirees live overseas. The federal government requires no forms. To help start you in the right direction, here are some things you should consider before making a move:

Banking and Finance

Online banking and brokerage accounts make managing money easy from anywhere you can find an Internet connection. But working with local banks can be frustrating.

Mr. Harrison, a former project manager with power company Exelon Corp., first retired to Ecuador at the age of 49, before relocating last year to a $160,000 beach house near Punta del Este, Uruguay, and a 1,000-square-foot apartment in Montevideo, Uruguay's cosmopolitan capital. In Ecuador, which uses the U.S. dollar as the national currency, he could deposit dollar-denominated checks at his local bank, though they generally took three weeks to clear. But Uruguay uses the peso, and local banks don't accept dollar checks.

So, like many retired expats, Mr. Harrison operates his finances from the U.S. He maintains a Citibank account in the U.S. and wires blocks of money to Uruguay three times a year at a cost of $45 per transaction. Other retirees also rely on local ATMs to tap their cash in the U.S., though fees for currency conversion and non-network ATM use can add up quickly.

Most retirees also keep their credit cards based in the U.S. Mr. Harrison says he buys lots of merchandise online "and American vendors generally don't let you use a foreign credit card." Bills also are paid online.

Opening accounts can range from simple to vexing. Mr. Harrison's bank in Uruguay "just wanted my passport. It was so easy." For the Millers, the process took weeks. They didn't bring any documents, and the Dominican bank they chose wanted letters of credit and references from the couple's U.S. bank.

Banks are trying to make some of these processes easier. HSBC PLC has revamped its Premier Account to help customers moving overseas arrange for bank accounts and mortgages in their new country. The bank also provides documents necessary for obtaining services such as a mobile phone, which often requires a local credit history. Charles Schwab & Co. has begun allowing its overseas customers, located in more than 200 countries, to establish standing letters of authorization so they can request with just an email that money be wired to an account abroad.

Health and Social Security

Social Security won't be much of a problem. The Social Security Administration will electronically deposit a monthly Social Security check in many banks around the world, though not all. Still, many expat retirees, to avoid challenges with local banking, have their Social Security checks electronically deposited into their U.S. bank, which they can then access online.

Health care is a bigger concern. Few U.S. employers offer health-care coverage to expat retirees, and U.S. carriers typically don't provide individual coverage to Americans living abroad. Moreover, the federal Medicare program generally doesn't cover costs outside the U.S. As such, many retirees either pay out of pocket or, once eligible for Medicare at age 65, return to the U.S. from time to time for care.

The Nickels bought a catastrophic health-care policy from a European insurer to cover them in case a pricey medical emergency arises in Panama. The policy costs less than $2,000 a year, but kicks in only after the first $10,000 in expenses. "I'm gambling at the moment that my health will hold out to 65," says Mr. Nickel, 62 years old. "Once I get Medicare in three years, I'll be flying to Houston or Miami more often for my health care."

There is some good news. Health insurer Cigna Corp. a year ago rolled out a new insurance plan, covering health, dental and vision, that allows employers to extend health coverage to retired workers who move abroad. The plan currently covers about 200 retirees living abroad, but the insurer expects larger numbers because "we anticipate the trend to retire overseas will grow," says a Cigna spokeswoman.

Many retirees also say that basic health care in many parts of the world is very good and inexpensive.
Many doctors are Western trained, and some local hospitals are affiliated with U.S. institutions. Hospital Punta Pacifica in Panama City, for instance, has partnered with Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Medicine International.

In some countries, retirees who become residents gain access to the national health-care system. Mr. Harrison, who just gained Uruguayan residency, is considering joining the national health plan. He says a friend recently joined and pays the equivalent of $65 a month for coverage that includes hospitalization, doctor visits and prescriptions.

Measuring one country's quality of health care against another isn't easy, since so many variables exist. However, the World Health Organization's World Health Report 2006 (available at contains some statistical indicators to help compare health systems across various countries.

Still, for most major medical issues, "you probably want to return to the U.S.," because of superior medical technology in U.S. hospitals, says Robert Gallo, who founded, a Web site that offers information about overseas living., to which Mr. Harrison is a contributor, also offers information on living overseas.

Some expat retirees rent property, others buy. The Millers bought land in Dominica and are building a 900-square-foot home with a big veranda in southern Dominica overlooking the Caribbean. The Nickels gutted and remodeled an apartment on the 24th floor of a Panama City apartment building and built a "very nice kitchen area" because they like to cook and entertain.

In some situations, there can be legal issues to owning property abroad. Mr. Gallo, of, encourages people to set up and own their property in the name of a Panamanian or British Virgin Islands corporation. When you go to sell it, you sell the corporation and the property just switches hands, easing transfer of title, Mr. Gallo says.

Taxes and Legal Issues

Many countries try to lure foreign retirees. Belize's nearly decade-old Retired Persons Incentive Act, for instance, allows retirees over age 45 to import their personal effects duty free, and to earn retirement income tax free. Countries from Italy to Panama to South Africa and Thailand offer a "pensioner visa" or "retirement visa" to Americans who can prove a certain level of monthly income. The visas can provide a variety of benefits, such as automatic discounts on certain purchases and the ability to obtain a local passport.

Still, the Internal Revenue Service taxes Americans on income no matter where it's earned in the world. Tax regimens vary widely overseas, and you may or may not be subject to local taxes. Many countries have tax treaties with the U.S. to alleviate double taxation. A list of countries with such tax treaties is available at; search "tax treaties A to Z."

Yamato (大和), named after the ancient Japanese Yamato Province, was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was lead ship of her class. She and her sister Musashi were the largest, heaviest, and most powerful battleships ever constructed, displacing 72,800 tonnes at full load. The class carried the largest naval artillery ever fitted to any warship - 460 mm (18.1 in) guns which fired 1.36 tonne shells.

The ship held special significance for the Empire of Japan as a symbol of the nation's naval power ('Yamato' was sometimes used to refer to Japan itself), and its sinking by US aircraft in the final days of the war during the suicide Operation Ten-Go is sometimes considered symbolic of Japan's defeat itself.
The Yamato class was built after the Japanese withdrew from the Washington Naval Treaty at the Second London Conference of 1936. The treaty, as extended by the London Naval Treaty of 1930, forbade signatories to build battleships before 1937.

Design work on the class began in 1934 and after modifications the design for a 68,000 ton vessel was accepted in March 1937. Yamato was built in intense secrecy at a specially prepared dock to hide her construction at Kure Naval Dockyards beginning on 4 November 1937. She was launched on 8 August 1940 and commissioned on 16 December 1941.

Originally, five ships of this class were planned. The third, Shinano, was converted to an aircraft carrier during construction after the defeat at the Battle of Midway. The un-named "Hull Number 111" was scrapped in 1943 when roughly 30% complete, and "Hull Number 797", proposed in the 1942 5th Supplementary Program, was never ordered.

Plans for a "Super Yamato" class, with 20 inch (508 mm) guns, provisionally designated as "Hull Number 798" and "Hull Number 799", were abandoned in 1942.

The class was designed to be superior to any ship that the United States was likely to produce. Her 460 mm main guns were selected over 406 mm (16 in) ones because the width of the Panama Canal would make it impractical for the U.S. Navy to construct a battleship with the same caliber guns without severe design restrictions or inadequate defensive arrangement. To further confuse the intelligence agencies of other countries, Yamato's main guns were officially named 40.6 cm Special, and civilians were never notified of the true nature of the guns. This worked so well that as late as 1945, the U.S. believed the Yamato had 16 inch (406 mm) guns and a 40,823 tonne displacement, comparable to the Iowas. Funding for the Yamato class was also scattered among various projects so the huge costs would not be immediately noticeable.

At the Kure Navy Yard, the construction dock was deepened, the gantry crane capacity was increased to 100 tonnes, and part of the dock was roofed over to prevent observation of the work. Many low-level designers and even senior officers were not informed of the true dimensions of the battleship until after the war. When the ship was launched, there was no commissioning ceremony or fanfare.

Yamato was designed by Keiji Fukuda and followed the trend of unique and generally excellent indigenous Japanese warship designs begun in the 1920s by Fukuda's predecessor Yuzuru Hiraga. The design of Yamato contained a number of unique features, some of which contributed to the striking appearance of the vessel. To begin with, unlike most of the designs of the 1920s and 1930s, Yamato's deck was not flush. The undulating line of the main deck forward saved structural weight without reducing hull girder strength. Tests of models in a model basin led to the adoption of a semitransom stern and a bulbous bow, which reduced hull resistance by 8%.

The nine 460 mm main battery were the largest ever fielded at sea, a major technological challenge to construct and operate. Their successful implementation in the Yamato class constitutes a major achievement on the part of Japanese naval constructors. The exponentially higher blast effect of the main armament prevented the stowage of boats on deck or the stationing of unshielded personnel in combat. As a result, all anti-aircraft positions (even the smallest) were enclosed in blast shields as designed. Later in their career the anti-aircraft armament of both ships were considerably augmented by open positions of both light and heavy weapons. Presumably AA gun crews would evacuate the weather deck prior to the firing of the main armament. This might help explain Yamato's ineffectiveness at the Battle off Samar; the ship was under almost continual air attack and may have been prevented from firing her main armament at the risk of killing or disabling gunners in open positions. For similar reasons, the superstructure of the ship was extremely compact, which reduced armored citadel length but also hampered anti-aircraft arcs of fire.
Boats were stowed in below-deck hangars and launched via an unusual traveling crane arrangement mounted on both quarters. The quarter deck aft of Turret 3 was paved with concrete, beneath which a hangar for the stowage of up to seven spotter aircraft was provided for via a wide elevator-like opening in the stern. Contrary to some descriptions the Yamato and Musashi did not have "Pagoda" masts as did previous Japanese battleships, but modern tower bridge structures to house command and fire control facilities. The mainmast, funnel and tower bridge were all unique in design and appearance, differing markedly both from other Japanese battleships and from capital ships of other navies. There is a general "familial" resemblance however between the architecture of the Yamatos and the Hiraga/Fujimoto designed series of cruisers of the 1920s and 30s, particularly the Takao and Mogami classes.

The immense beam of these ships made them perhaps the most stable of all battleships. Both ships were reported to be very stable even in heavy seas. However, the increased width of the hull also meant that any loss of stability required a correspondingly greater righting-arm to correct in the event of significant flooding. The ship had one single large rudder (at frame 231), which gave it a small (for a ship of that size) turning circle of 640 m. By comparison the U.S. Iowa-class fast battleship had one of over 800 m. There was also a smaller auxiliary rudder installed (at frame 219) which turned out to be virtually useless.

The steam turbine power plant was a relatively low powered design (25 kgf/cm² (2.5 MPa), 325 °C), and as such, their fuel usage rate was very high. This is a primary reason why they were not used during the Solomon Islands campaign and other mid-war operations. In addition, installed horsepower was only 147,948 (110,324kW), limiting her ability to operate with carriers.

Arc welding, a relatively new procedure at that time, was used extensively. The lower side-belt armor was used as a strength member of the hull structure. This was done to save weight, an important concern for the designers, despite the lack of treaty limitations. There were a total of 1,147 watertight compartments in the ship (1,065 of these beneath the armored deck).

Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, 24 October 1944. Yamato is hit by a bomb near her forward 460 mm gun turret, during attacks by U.S. carrier planes as she transited the Sibuyan Sea. This hit did not produce serious damage.
Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, 24 October 1944. Yamato is hit by a bomb near her forward 460 mm gun turret, during attacks by U.S. carrier planes as she transited the Sibuyan Sea. This hit did not produce serious damage.
Yamato was the flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto from 12 February 1942, replacing Nagato. She sailed with Nagato, Mutsu, Hosho, Sendai, nine destroyers, and four auxiliary ships as Yamamoto's Main Body during the attempted invasion of Midway Atoll in June 1942, but took no active part in the Battle of Midway. She remained the flagship for 364 days until February 11, 1943, when the flag was transferred to her sister ship Musashi. From 29 August 1942 to 8 May 1943, she spent all of her time at Truk, being underway for only one day during this entire time. In May 1943, she returned to Kure, where the two wing 155 mm turrets were removed and replaced by 25 mm machine guns, and Type-22 surface search radars were added. She returned to Truk on 25 December 1943. On the way there, she was damaged by a torpedo from the submarine USS Skate, and was not fully repaired until April 1944. During these repairs, additional 127 mm anti-aircraft guns were installed in the place of the 155 mm turrets removed in May, and additional 25 mm anti-aircraft guns were added.

She joined the fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. In October, she participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, during which she first fired her main guns at enemy aircraft and surface ships. During the initial air attack, she received two bomb hits from aircraft which did little damage. However, her sister, Musashi, bore the brunt of the US carrier aircraft attacks and was sunk. Yamato compatriots later sank an escort carrier and some escort vessels at Samar, but Yamato herself was largely absent from the climax of this engagement due to her having turned away from American torpedoes launched from USS Heermann (DD-532). She returned home in November and her anti-aircraft capability was again upgraded over the winter. She was attacked in the Inland Sea on 19 March 1945 by carrier aircraft from Task Force 58 as they attacked Kure, but suffered little damage.

On 6 April 1945, Yamato was sent on a suicidal mission (operation Ten-Go) against more than 1000 US ships off Okinawa. US carrier-based aircraft sank her before she was close to her target.

Operation Ten-Go

Her final mission was as part of Operation Ten-Go following the invasion of Okinawa on 1 April 1945. It was a suicide mission (commanded by Admiral Seiichi Ito) to attack the U.S. fleet supporting the U.S. troops landing on the west of the island; her mission was to beach herself on the coast, in effect becoming an unsinkable gun battery. In addition, the Yamato's crew was to join the defending Japanese forces on Okinawa after the beaching. On 6 April Yamato and her escorts, the light cruiser Yahagi and eight destroyers, left port at Tokuyama. They were detected by US submarines on the night of 6 April as they exited the Inland Sea southbound.

Yamato had no air cover for her final mission, nor did she have many escorts. All of the officers and crew assumed it would be her last voyage. On her final evening, as it was expected U.S. carrier planes would attack the next morning, the officers allowed or even ordered the crew to indulge in sake.

At about 0830 hours on 7 April 1945, United States fighter planes were launched to pinpoint the Japanese task force. By 1000 hours, Yamato's radar picked up the U.S. planes and a state of battle readiness was commanded. Within seven minutes all doors, hatches and ventilators were closed, and battle stations were fully manned.

Yamato fired beehive shells (三式燃散弾, san-shiki shosan dan ) from her main guns against the US planes. Each of these anti-aircraft shells contained thousands of pellets that would be scattered upon explosion - analogous to a massive shotgun round. However, the beehive shells were ineffective against the incoming US planes, and performed little more than pyrotechnic displays. Strafing attacks by the US warplanes would decimate many of the AA gun crews, reducing the battleship's ability to fend off the attacking US aircraft.
Planes from the carrier Hornet joined the strike force from Bennington. Bennington's VB-82, led by Lieutenant Commander Hugh Wood, was flying at 6,000 m (20,000 ft) altitude in heavy clouds on the bearing to intercept the ships. Although the radar indicated they were very close, the pilots were startled when they realized they were directly above the Japanese task force and within range of anti-aircraft fire. Lieutenant Commander Wood immediately pushed his Helldiver into the clouds and made a sharp left turn, commencing their attack. Wood's wingman was unable to stay with the formation, leaving Lieutenant (jg) Francis R. Ferry and Lieutenant (jg) Edward A. Sieber to follow Wood into the first strike on the Yamato.

The dives began at 20,000 ft directly over the Yamato, bearing from stern to bow. Bombs were released at an altitude of less than about 500 m (1,500 ft). The dives were made as close to a 90-degree angle as possible to avoid most anti-aircraft guns. Each of the three planes released eight 127 mm (5 in) rockets; two armor-piercing bombs and bursts of 20 mm machine gun fire. Lt. (jg) Ferry remembers that "at this distance a miss was impossible".

The first two bombs dropped by Lt. Commander Wood hit on the starboard side of the weather deck, knocking out several of the 25 mm machine guns and the high-angle gun turret and ripping a hole in the flying deck. Seconds later came the two bombs from Lt. (jg) Ferry, destroying secondary battery fire control station as they blew through the flying deck, and starting a fire that was never extinguished. This fire continued to spread and is believed to have caused the explosion of the main ammunition magazine as the Yamato capsized some two hours later. Hot on Ferry's tail was Lt. (jg) Sieber, delivering two bomb hits forward of the island, ripping more holes in the decks in the vicinity of the number three main gun turret.

The torpedo plane pilots were ordered to aim for the parts of the Yamato's hull unprotected by her torpedo defense system: the bow and stern. They were also ordered to attack her on one side only, so that their target would capsize more easily since counter-flooding would become more difficult. Within minutes of the Avengers' torpedo attacks, the Yamato suffered three torpedo hits to her port side and began listing.

Over the next two hours, two more attacks would be launched, pounding the Yamato with torpedoes and bombs. Attempts at counter-flooding failed, and shortly after 1400 hours, the commanding officer gave the word to prepare to abandon ship. As the ship listed beyond a 90° angle and began sinking, a gigantic explosion of the stern ammunition magazines tore the ship apart. The huge mushroom of fire and smoke exploded almost four miles into the air and the fire was seen by sentries 125 miles away in Kagoshima prefecture on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands. Only 280 of the Yamato 2,778-man crew were rescued from the sinking ship. The end had come for the Yamato, foreshadowing the coming end of the Imperial Japanese Military. Ten aircraft and 12 airmen were lost in the attack on the Yamato.

Naval gunfire took no part in Yamato's demise. The sinking of the world's largest battleship by aircraft alone confirmed the lessons learned by the sinking of the Prince of Wales, Repulse, and Musashi: The battleship had been supplanted by the aircraft carrier as queen of the sea and the capital ship of any fleet.

The wreckage lies in around 300 meters of water and was surveyed in 1985 and 1999. These surveys show the hull to be in two pieces with the break occurring in the area of the second ('B') main turret.

The senior surviving bridge officer Mitsuru Yoshida claims that a fire alert for the magazine of the forward superfiring 155 mm guns was observed as the ship sank. This fire appears to have detonated the shell propellant stored as the ship rolled over, which in turn set off the magazine in Turret No. 2, resulting in the famous pictures of the actual explosion and subsequent smoke column photographed by US aircraft.

The bow section landed upright, with the stern section remaining keel up. The three main turrets fell away as the ship turned over and landed in the wreckage field around the separated hull pieces.

A further large hole was found in the stern section, strongly suggesting that a third magazine explosion occurred, possibly the aft 155 mm gun magazine.

Further examples of capital ships being lost due to magazine detonations of this nature during or after battle are the British battlecruisers HMS Queen Mary, Invincible and Indefatigable at the battle of Jutland in 1916, Hood at battle of the Denmark Strait in 1941, and USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor in 1941. A magazine or shell room explosion occurred aboard HMS Barham in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1941, but she was already sinking fast - in fact rapidly capsizing - as the explosion occurred.

Commanding officers
Rank Name Command Notes
Chief Equipping Officer
Captain / RADM Shutoku Miyazato 5 September 1941 –
1 November 1941 Promoted to Rear Admiral on 15 October 1941.
Chief Equipping Officer
Captain Gihachi Takayanagi 1 November 1941 –
16 December 1941
Captain / RADM Gihachi Takyanagi 16 December 1941 –
17 December 1942 Promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 May 1942.
Captain / RADM Chiaki Matsuda 17 December 1942 –
7 September 1943 Promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 May 1943.
Captain / RADM Takeji Ono 7 September 1943 –
25 January 1944 Promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 November 1943.
Captain / RADM Nobuei Morishita 25 January 1944 –
25 November 1944 Promoted to Rear Admiral on 15 October 1944.
Captain / VADM* Kosaku Aruga 25 November 1944 –
7 April 1945 *Posthumous 2-rank promotion upon special request of CinC Combined Fleet.

Nature changed the rules of the game of radioactivity 10 billion years ago, probably long before the Earth was formed. It was then that potassium, an element essential to life, began disintegrating radioactively, Dr. A.K. Brewer, chemist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture here, has determined.
Measuring the rate of breakdown of potassium into a kind of calcium, a component of limestone, then determining the time that this breakdown has been going on from the amount of this calcium now existing, Dr. Brewer finds that the process has been going on for about 10 billion years. In reaching this figure, he assumes that all of this special calcium, which has an atomic weight of 40 instead of 40.08 as does ordinary calcium, was derived from the breakdown of potassium, and that the breakdown rate has been uniform since it started. A similar time has elapsed since a variety of rubidium, a rare earth, started to break down into a kind of strontium, another rare earth.

Attempts to determine our planet's age by studying the end products of radioactive breakdown, such as calcium derived from the decay of potassium, may be as futile as trying to find out how old a stove is by weighing the ashes. The method will show, Dr. Brewer believes, how long the disintegration has been going on or, more simply, how long the fire has been burning.

Dr. Brewer's new studies in no way affect the ages determined for a number of rocks by radioactive methods. The amount of uranium, another radioactive element, in rocks is measured and then compared with the lead that it has added to the rock by uranium's previous decay. The oldest rocks dated by this method are about 1.5 billion years old.

With Earth age estimated from a number of sources at not more than 2.5 billion years, some of the breakdown of potassium must have occurred before Earth was formed. Under present theories, the breakdown began on the sun, 7 or 8 billion years before that little star was torn apart to create the solar system.

How matter behaved under the old rules, in force until 10 billion or so years ago, before the formation of the solar system, Dr. Brewer will not state. His studies give no clue to older, now nonexistent states of matter.

Life, in the early days of our planet, hundreds of millions of years ago, may have been greatly affected by the radioactivity of potassium, says Dr. Brewer. Potassium is necessary to life, and if the minute fraction that is radioactive gets into a plant or animal, its radiations may damage the plant or animal and cause a sudden change of form, called a mutation.

Recently, by exposing fruit flies to X rays, similar to radium radiations, Dr. Calvin Bridges, California Institute of Technology geneticist, was able to produce freak flies in a very few generations. Millions of years ago, when radioactivity was stronger than at present, changes in life forms may have been greatly accelerated by radiations from this type of potassium.

Studies of the ages of rocks, using radioactive potassium as the clock, indicate to Dr. Brewer that their age cannot exceed 6 billion years and probably they are very much younger. Disintegration long ago of other elements, now completely broken down, may make this age entirely too large. More work on radioactivity, leading to a more exact, and probably smaller, value for rock age, is suggested by Dr. Brewer.


Revision of our maps of the moon may be necessary as a result of the discovery of a series of craters and walled plains near the edge of our satellite's visible disk by H. Percy Wilkins, British astronomer.

Occupying 20 degrees of latitude on the southeast edge of the moon, this tangle of walled valleys, craters, and high peaks has escaped discovery for many years, chiefly because nobody looked there carefully enough until now. Commenting on Mr. Wilkins' discovery, Dr. Walter Goodacre, acting director of the British Astronomical Society, recommended further observations of the moon's edges, which may lead to additional discoveries.

In the 1967 film classic The Graduate, a businessman corners Benjamin Braddock at a cocktail party and gives him a bit of career advice. "Just one word…plastics."

Although Benjamin didn't heed that recommendation, plenty of other young graduates did. Today, the planet is awash in products spawned by the plastics industry. Residues of plastics have become ubiquitous in the environment—and in our bodies.

A federal government study now reports that bisphenol A (BPA)—the building block of one of the most widely used plastics—laces the bodies of the vast majority of U.S. residents young and old.

Manufacturers link BPA molecules into long chains, called polymers, to make polycarbonate plastics. All of those clear, brittle plastics used in baby bottles, food ware, and small kitchen appliances (like food-processor bowls) are made from polycarbonates. BPA-based resins also line the interiors of most food, beer, and soft-drink cans. With use and heating, polycarbonates can break down, leaching BPA into the materials they contact. Such as foods.

And that could be bad if what happens in laboratory animals also happens in people, because studies in rodents show that BPA can trigger a host of harmful changes, from reproductive havoc to impaired blood-sugar control and obesity (SN: 9/29/07, p. 202).

For the new study, scientists analyzed urine from some 2,500 people who had been recruited between 2003 and 2004 for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Roughly 92 percent of the individuals hosted measurable amounts of BPA, according to a report in the January Environmental Health Perspectives. It's the first study to measure the pollutant in a representative cross-section of the U.S. population.

Typically, only small traces of BPA turned up, concentrations of a few parts per billion in urine, note chemist Antonia M. Calafat and her colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, with hormone-mimicking agents like BPA, even tiny exposures can have notable impacts.

Overall, concentrations measured by Calafat's team were substantially higher than those that have triggered disease, birth defects, and more in exposed animals, notes Frederick S. vom Saal, a University of Missouri-Columbia biologist who has been probing the toxicology of BPA for more than 15 years.

The BPA industry describes things differently.
Although Calafat's team reported urine concentrations of BPA, in fact they assayed a breakdown product—the compound by which BPA is excreted, notes Steven G. Hentges of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group. As such, he argues, "this does not mean that BPA itself is present in the body or in urine."

On the other hand, few people have direct exposure to the breakdown product.

Hentges' group estimates that the daily BPA intake needed to create urine concentrations reported by the CDC scientists should be in the neighborhood of 50 nanograms per kilogram of bodyweight—or one millionth of an amount at which "no adverse effects" were measured in multi-generation animal studies. In other words, Hentges says, this suggests "a very large margin of safety."

No way, counters vom Saal. If one applies the ratio of BPA intake to excreted values in hosts of published animal studies, concentrations just reported by CDC suggest that the daily intake of most Americans is actually closer to 100 micrograms (µg) per kilogram bodyweight, he says—or some 1,000-fold higher than the industry figure.

Clearly, there are big differences of opinion and interpretation. And a lot may rest on who's right.

Globally, chemical manufacturers produce an estimated 2.8 million tons of BPA each year. The material goes into a broad range of products, many used in and around the home. BPA also serves as the basis of dental sealants, which are resins applied to the teeth of children to protect their pearly whites from cavities (SN: 4/6/96, p. 214). The industry, therefore, has a strong economic interest in seeing that the market for BPA-based products doesn't become eroded by public concerns over the chemical.

And that could happen. About 2 years after a Japanese research team showed that BPA leached out of baby bottles and plastic food ware (see What's Coming Out of Baby's Bottle?), manufacturers of those consumer products voluntarily found BPA substitutes for use in food cans. Some 2 years after that, a different group of Japanese scientists measured concentrations of BPA residues in the urine of college students. About half of the samples came from before the switch, the rest from after the period when BPA was removed from food cans.

By comparing urine values from the two time periods, the researchers showed that BPA residues were much lower—down by at least 50 percent—after Japanese manufacturers had eliminated BPA from the lining of food cans.

Concludes vom Saal, in light of the new CDC data and a growing body of animal data implicating even low-dose BPA exposures with the potential to cause harm, "the most logical thing" for the United States to do would be to follow in Japan's footsteps and "get this stuff [BPA] out of our food."

Kids appear most exposed

Overall, men tend to have statistically lower concentrations of BPA than women, the NHANES data indicate. But the big difference, Calafat says, traces to age. "Children had higher concentrations than adolescents, and they in turn had higher levels than adults," she told Science News Online.

This decreasing body burden with older age "is something we have seen with some other nonpersistent chemicals," Calafat notes—such as phthalates, another class of plasticizers.

The spread between the average BPA concentration that her team measured in children 6 to 11 years old (4.5 µg/liter) and adults (2.5 µg/L) doesn't look like much, but proved reliably different.

The open question is why adults tended to excrete only 55 percent as much BPA. It could mean children have higher exposures, she posits, or perhaps that they break it down less efficiently. "We really need to do more research to be able to answer that question."

Among other differences that emerged in the NHANES analysis: urine residues of BPA decreased with increasing household income and varied somewhat with ethnicity (with Mexican-Americans having the lowest average values, blacks the highest, and white's values in between).

There was also a time-of-day difference, with urine values for any given group tending to be highest in the evening, lowest in the afternoon, and midway between those in the morning. Since BPA's half-life in the body is only about 6 hours, that temporal variation in the chemical's excretion would be consistent with food as a major source of exposure, the CDC scientists note.

In the current NHANES paper, BPA samples were collected only once from each recruit. However, in a paper due to come out in the February Environmental Health Perspectives, Calafat and colleagues from several other institutions looked at how BPA excretion varied over a 2-year span among 82 individuals—men and women—seen at a fertility clinic in Boston.

In contrast to the NHANES data, the upcoming report shows that men tended to have somewhat higher BPA concentrations than women. Then again both groups had only about one-quarter the concentration typical of Americans.

The big difference in the Boston group emerged among the 10 women who ultimately became pregnant. Their BPA excretion increased 33 percent during pregnancy. Owing to the small number of participants in this subset of the study population, the pregnancy-associated change was not statistically significant. However, the researchers report, these are the first data to look for changes during pregnancy and ultimately determining whether some feature of pregnancy—such as a change in diet or metabolism of BPA—really alters body concentrations of the pollutant could be important. It could point to whether the fetus faces an unexpectedly high exposure to the pollutant.

If it does, the fetus could face a double whammy: Not only would exposures be higher during this period of organ and neural development, but rates of detoxification also would be diminished, vom Saal says.

Indeed, in a separate study, one due to be published soon in Reproductive Toxicology, his team administered BPA by ingestion or by injection to 3-day-old mice. Either way, the BPA exposure resulted in comparable BPA concentrations in blood.

What's more, that study found, per unit of BPA delivered, blood values in the newborns were "markedly higher" than other studies have reported for adult rodents exposed to the chemical. And that makes sense, vom Saal says, because the enzyme needed to break BPA down and lead to its excretion is only a tenth as active in babies as in adults. That's true in the mouse, he says, in the rat—and, according to some preliminary data, in humans.

Vom Saal contends that since studies have shown BPA exhibits potent hormonelike activity in human cells at the parts-per-trillion level, and since
the new CDC study finds that most people are continually exposed to concentrations well above the parts-per-trillion ballpark, it's time to reevaluate whether it makes sense to use BPA-based products in and around foods.

LETTER FROM POLAND about novelist Krystian Bala and the murder of Dariusz Janiszewski. Writer describes the discovery of Janiszewski’s body in the Oder River in December, 2000. Janiszewski had run a small advertising firm in the city of Wroclaw. He had no apparent enemies and no criminal record. After six months, the investigation was dropped. Tells about police detective Jacek Wroblewski taking an interest in the Janiszewski case in 2003. In cold cases the key to solving the crime is often an overlooked clue in the original file. The file detailed a series of calls to Janiszewski’s cell phone on the day of the murder, some from a phone booth down the street from his office. Yet the cell phone had never been found. Wroblewski and a colleague traced the cell phone, which had been sold on an Internet auction site four days after Janiszewski disappeared. The seller, investigators learned, was a thirty-year old Polish intellectual named Krystian Bala. Bala had recently published a sadistic, pornographic, creepy novel called “Amok.” The book featured a murder not unlike Janiszewski’s and a narrator named Chris, the English version of Bala’s first name. Discusses Bala’s interest in postmodern thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Georges Bataille, and Michel Foucault. Bala constructed myths about himself so that friends often had trouble distinguishing his real character from the one he had invented. Bala married his high-school sweetheart, Stasia, in 1995; they had a son in 1997. To support his family, he left the university and started a cleaning business, which went bankrupt in 2000. His marriage also collapsed. He left Poland, traveling widely, and worked on his novel, finishing the book in 2002. The book came out in 2003 but it did not sell well.
Describes Wroblewski using the book as a guide to his investigation of Bala’s possible involvement in the murder and discusses similarities between events in the book and Bala’s life. When Bala returned to Poland, he was arrested. Bala claims that he was violently beaten during the interrogation, a claim Wroblewski denies. Bala took a polygraph test but the results were inconclusive. Further investigation revealed a darker picture of the years during which Bala’s business and marriage failed (and during which Janiszewski was murdered). Investigators were able to connect Bala to the card that was used to make calls to Janiszewski’s cell phone on the day he was murdered. A friend of Bala’s ex-wife then told Wroblewski that, in the summer of 2000, Stasia had met Janiszewski at a night club. Bala had then confronted Stasia in a jealous rage. Tells about Bala’s trial and conviction for the murder. He was sentenced to twenty-five years. Writer visits Bala in prison. Bala tells him about a new novel he is working on called “De Liryk.”

Sometime after midnight on September 6, 2007, at least four low-flying Israeli Air Force fighters crossed into Syrian airspace and carried out a secret bombing mission on the banks of the Euphrates River, about ninety miles north of the Iraq border. The seemingly unprovoked bombing, which came after months of heightened tension between Israel and Syria over military exercises and troop buildups by both sides along the Golan Heights, was, by almost any definition, an act of war. But in the immediate aftermath nothing was heard from the government of Israel. In contrast, in 1981, when the Israeli
Air Force destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, near Baghdad, the Israeli government was triumphant, releasing reconnaissance photographs of the strike and permitting the pilots to be widely interviewed.

Within hours of the attack, Syria denounced Israel for invading its airspace, but its public statements were incomplete and contradictory—thus adding to the mystery. A Syrian military spokesman said only that Israeli planes had dropped some munitions in an unpopulated area after being challenged by Syrian air defenses, “which forced them to flee.” Four days later, Walid Moallem, the Syrian foreign minister, said during a state visit to Turkey that the Israeli aircraft had used live ammunition in the attack, but insisted that there were no casualties or property damage. It was not until October 1st that Syrian President Bashar Assad, in an interview with the BBC, acknowledged that the Israeli warplanes had hit their target, which he described as an “unused military building.” Assad added that Syria reserved the right to retaliate, but his comments were muted.

Despite official silence in Tel Aviv (and in Washington), in the days after the bombing the American and European media were flooded with reports, primarily based on information from anonymous government sources, claiming that Israel had destroyed a nascent nuclear reactor that was secretly being assembled in Syria, with the help of North Korea. Beginning construction of a nuclear reactor in secret would be a violation of Syria’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and could potentially yield material for a nuclear weapon.

The evidence was circumstantial but seemingly damning. The first reports of Syrian and North Korean nuclear coöperation came on September 12th in the Times and elsewhere. By the end of October, the various media accounts generally agreed on four points: the Israeli intelligence community had learned of a North Korean connection to a construction site in an agricultural area in eastern Syria; three days before the bombing, a “North Korean ship,” identified as the Al Hamed, had arrived at the Syrian port of Tartus, on the Mediterranean; satellite imagery strongly suggested that the building under construction was designed to hold a nuclear reactor when completed; as such, Syria had crossed what the Israelis regarded as the “red line” on the path to building a bomb, and had to be stopped. There were also reports—by ABC News and others—that some of the Israeli intelligence had been shared in advance with the United States, which had raised no objection to the bombing.

The Israeli government still declined to make any statement about the incident. Military censorship on dispatches about the raid was imposed for several weeks, and the Israeli press resorted to recycling the disclosures in the foreign press. In the first days after the attack, there had been many critical stories in the Israeli press speculating about the bombing, and the possibility that it could lead to a conflict with Syria. Larry Derfner, a columnist writing in the Jerusalem Post, described the raid as “the sort of thing that starts wars.” But, once reports about the nuclear issue and other details circulated, the domestic criticism subsided.

At a news conference on September 20th, President George W. Bush was asked about the incident four times but said, “I’m not going to comment on the matter.” The lack of official statements became part of the story.
“The silence from all parties has been deafening,” David Ignatius wrote in the Washington Post, “but the message to Iran”—which the Administration had long suspected of pursuing a nuclear weapon—“is clear: America and Israel can identify nuclear targets and penetrate air defenses to destroy them.”

It was evident that officials in Israel and the United States, although unwilling to be quoted, were eager for the news media to write about the bombing. Early on, a former officer in the Israel Defense Forces with close contacts in Israeli intelligence approached me, with a version of the standard story, including colorful but, as it turned out, unconfirmable details: Israeli intelligence tracking the ship from the moment it left a North Korean port; Syrian soldiers wearing protective gear as they off-loaded the cargo; Israeli intelligence monitoring trucks from the docks to the target site. On October 3rd, the London Spectator, citing much of the same information, published an overheated account of the September 6th raid, claiming that it “may have saved the world from a devastating threat,” and that “a very senior British ministerial source” had warned, “If people had known how close we came to World War Three that day there’d have been mass panic.”

However, in three months of reporting for this article, I was repeatedly told by current and former intelligence, diplomatic, and congressional officials that they were not aware of any solid evidence of ongoing nuclear-weapons programs in Syria. It is possible that Israel conveyed intelligence directly to senior members of the Bush Administration, without it being vetted by intelligence agencies. (This process, known as “stovepiping,” overwhelmed U.S. intelligence before the war in Iraq.) But Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations group responsible for monitoring compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, said, “Our experts who have carefully analyzed the satellite imagery say it is unlikely that this building was a nuclear facility.”

Joseph Cirincione, the director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C., think tank, told me, “Syria does not have the technical, industrial, or financial ability to support a nuclear-weapons program. I’ve been following this issue for fifteen years, and every once in a while a suspicion arises and we investigate and there’s nothing. There was and is no nuclear-weapons threat from Syria. This is all political.” Cirincione castigated the press corps for its handling of the story. “I think some of our best journalists were used,” he said.

A similar message emerged at briefings given to select members of Congress within weeks of the attack. The briefings, conducted by intelligence agencies, focussed on what Washington knew about the September 6th raid. One concern was whether North Korea had done anything that might cause the U.S. to back away from ongoing six-nation talks about its nuclear program. A legislator who took part in one such briefing said afterward, according to a member of his staff, that he had heard nothing that caused him “to have any doubts” about the North Korean negotiations—“nothing that should cause a pause.” The legislator’s conclusion, the staff member said, was “There’s nothing that proves any perfidy involving the North Koreans.”

Morton Abramowitz, a former Assistant Secretary of State for intelligence and research, told me that he was astonished by the lack of response. “Anytime you bomb another state, that’s a big deal,” he said. “But where’s the outcry, particularly from the concerned states and the U.N.? Something’s amiss.”

Israel could, of course, have damning evidence that it refuses to disclose. But there are serious and unexamined contradictions in the various published accounts of the September 6th bombing.

The main piece of evidence to emerge publicly that Syria was building a reactor arrived on October 23rd, when David Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, a highly respected nonprofit research group, released a satellite image of the target. The photograph had been taken by a commercial satellite company, DigitalGlobe, of Longmont, Colorado, on August 10th, four weeks before the bombing, and showed a square building and a nearby water-pumping station. In an analysis released at the same time,

Albright, a physicist who served as a weapons inspector in Iraq, concluded that the building, as viewed from space, had roughly the same length and width as a reactor building at Yongbyon, North Korea’s main nuclear facility. “The tall building in the image may house a reactor under construction and the pump station along the river may have been intended to supply cooling water to the reactor,” Albright said.
He concluded his analysis by posing a series of rhetorical questions that assumed that the target was a nuclear facility:

How far along was the reactor construction project when it was bombed? What was the extent of nuclear assistance from North Korea? Which reactor components did Syria obtain from North Korea or elsewhere, and where are they now?

He was later quoted in the Washington Post saying, “I’m pretty convinced that Syria was trying to build a nuclear reactor.”

When I asked Albright how he had pinpointed the target, he told me that he and a colleague, Paul Brannan, “did a lot of hard work”—culling press reports and poring over DigitalGlobe imagery—“before coming up with the site.” Albright then shared his findings with Robin Wright and other journalists at the Post, who, after checking with Administration officials, told him that the building was, indeed, the one targeted by the Israelis. “We did not release the information until we got direct confirmation from the Washington Post,” he told me. The Post’s sources in the Administration, he understood, had access to far more detailed images obtained by U.S. intelligence satellites. The Post ran a story, without printing the imagery, on October 19th, reporting that “U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the aftermath of the attack” had concluded that the site had the “signature,” or characteristics, of a reactor “similar in structure to North Korea’s facilities”—a conclusion with which Albright then agreed. In other words, the Albright and the Post reports, which appeared to independently reinforce each other, stemmed in part from the same sources.

Albright told me that before going public he had met privately with Israeli officials. “I wanted to be sure in my own mind that the Israelis thought

it was a reactor, and I was,” he said. “They never explicitly said it was nuclear, but they ruled out the possibility that it was a missile, chemical-warfare, or radar site. By a process of elimination, I was left with nuclear.”

Two days after his first report, Albright released a satellite image of the bombed site, taken by DigitalGlobe on October 24th, seven weeks after the bombing. The new image showed that the target area had been levelled and the ground scraped. Albright said that it hinted of a coverup—cleansing the bombing site could make it difficult for weapons inspectors to determine its precise nature. “It looks like Syria is trying to hide something and destroy the evidence of some activity,” he told the Times. “But it won’t work. Syria has got to answer questions about what it was doing.” This assessment was widely shared in the press. (In mid-January, the Times reported that recent imagery from DigitalGlobe showed that a storage facility, or something similar, had been constructed, in an obvious rush, at the bombing site.)

Proliferation experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency and others in the arms-control community disputed Albright’s interpretation of the images. “People here were baffled by this, and thought that Albright had stuck his neck out,” a diplomat in Vienna, where the I.A.E.A. is headquartered, told me. “The I.A.E.A. has been consistently telling journalists that it is skeptical about the Syrian nuclear story, but the reporters are so convinced.”

A second diplomat in Vienna acidly commented on the images: “A square building is a square building.” diplomat, who is familiar with the use of satellite imagery for nuclear verification, added that the I.A.E.A. “does not have enough information to conclude anything about the exact nature of the facility. They see a building with some geometry near a river that could be identified as nuclear-related. But they cannot credibly conclude that is so. As far as information coming from open sources beyond imagery, it’s a struggle to extract information from all of the noise that comes from political agendas.”

Much of what one would expect to see around a secret nuclear site was lacking at the target, a former State Department intelligence expert who now deals with proliferation issues for the Congress said. “There is no security around the building,” he said. “No barracks for the Army or the workers. No associated complex.” Jeffrey Lewis, who heads the non-proliferation program at the New America Foundation, a think tank in Washington, told me that, even if the width and the length of the building were similar to the Korean site, its height was simply not sufficient to contain a Yongbyon-size reactor and also have enough room to extract the control rods, an essential step in the operation of the reactor; nor was there evidence in the published imagery of major underground construction. “All you could see was a box,” Lewis said. “You couldn’t see enough to know how big it will be or what it will do. It’s just a box.”

A former senior U.S. intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, said, “We don’t have any proof of a reactor—no signals intelligence, no human intelligence, no satellite intelligence.” Some well-informed defense consultants and former intelligence officials asked why, if there was compelling evidence of nuclear cheating involving North Korea, a member of the President’s axis of evil, and Syria, which the U.S. considers a state sponsor of terrorism, the Bush Administration would not insist on making it public.

When I went to Israel in late December, the government was still maintaining secrecy about the raid, but some current and former officials and military officers were willing to speak without attribution. Most were adamant that Israel’s intelligence had been accurate. “Don’t you write that there was nothing there!” a senior Israeli official, who is in a position to know the details of the raid on Syria, said, shaking a finger at me. “The thing in Syria was real.”

Retired Brigadier General Shlomo Brom, who served as deputy national-security adviser under Prime Minister Ehud Barak, told me that Israel wouldn’t have acted if it hadn’t been convinced that there was a threat. “It may have been a perception of a conviction, but there was something there,” Brom said. “It was the beginning of a nuclear project.”

However, by the date of our talk, Brom told me, “The question of whether it was there or not is not that relevant anymore.”

Albright, when I spoke to him in December, was far more circumspect than he had been in October. “We never said ‘we know’ it was a reactor, based on the image,” Albright said. “We wanted to make sure that the image was consistent with a reactor, and, from my point of view, it was. But that doesn’t confirm it’s a reactor.”

The journey of the Al Hamed, a small coastal trader, became a centerpiece in accounts of the September 6th bombing. On September 15th, the Washington Post reported that “a prominent U.S. expert on the Middle East” said that the attack “appears to have been linked to the arrival . . . of a ship carrying material from North Korea labeled as cement.” The article went on to cite the expert’s belief that “the emerging consensus in Israel was that it delivered nuclear equipment.” Other press reports identified the Al Hamed as a “suspicious North Korean” ship.

But there is evidence that the Al Hamed could not have been carrying sensitive cargo—or any cargo—from North Korea. International shipping is carefully monitored by Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit, which relies on a network of agents as well as on port logs and other records. In addition, most merchant ships are now required to operate a transponder device called an A.I.S., for automatic identification system. This device, which was on board the Al Hamed, works in a manner similar to a transponder on a commercial aircraft—beaming a constant, very high-frequency position report. (The U.S. Navy monitors international sea traffic with the aid of dedicated satellites, at a secret facility in suburban Washington.)

According to Marine Intelligence Unit records, the Al Hamed, which was built in 1965, had been operating for years in the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, with no indication of any recent visits to North Korea. The records show that the Al Hamed arrived at Tartus on September 3rd—the ship’s fifth visit to Syria in five months.
(It was one of eight ships that arrived that day; although it is possible that one of the others was carrying illicit materials, only the Al Hamed has been named in the media.) The ship’s registry was constantly changing. The Al Hamed flew the South Korean flag before switching to North Korea in November of 2005, and then to Comoros. (Ships often fly flags of convenience, registering with different countries, in many cases to avoid taxes or onerous regulations.) At the time of the bombing, according to Lloyd’s, it was flying a Comoran flag and was owned by four Syrian nationals. In earlier years, under other owners, the ship seems to have operated under Russian, Estonian, Turkish, and Honduran flags. Lloyd’s records show that the ship had apparently not passed through the Suez Canal—the main route from the Mediterranean to the Far East—since at least 1998.

Among the groups that keep track of international shipping is Greenpeace. Martini Gotjé, who monitors illegal fishing for the organization and was among the first to raise questions about the Al Hamed, told me, “I’ve been at sea for forty-one years, and I can tell you, as a captain, that the Al Hamed was nothing—in rotten shape. You wouldn’t be able to load heavy cargo on it, as the floorboards wouldn’t be that strong.”

If the Israelis’ target in Syria was not a nuclear site, why didn’t the Syrians respond more forcefully? Syria complained at the United Nations but did little to press the issue. And, if the site wasn’t a partially built reactor, what was it?

During two trips to Damascus after the Israeli raid, I interviewed many senior government and intelligence officials. None of President Assad’s close advisers told me the same story, though some of the stories were more revealing—and more plausible—than others. In general, Syrian officials seemed more eager to analyze Israel’s motives than to discuss what had been attacked. “I hesitate to answer any journalist’s questions about it,” Faruq al-Shara, the Syrian Vice-President, told me. “Israel bombed to restore its credibility, and their objective is for us to keep talking about it. And by answering your questions I serve their objective. Why should I volunteer to do that?” Shara denied that his nation has a nuclear-weapons program. “The volume of articles about the bombing is incredible, and it’s not important that it’s a lie,” he said.

One top foreign-ministry official in Damascus told me that the target “was an old military building that had been abandoned by the Syrian military” years ago. But a senior Syrian intelligence general gave me a different account. “What they targeted was a building used for fertilizer and water pumps,” he said—part of a government effort to revitalize farming. “There is a large city”— Dayr az Zawr—“fifty kilometres away. Why would Syria put nuclear material near a city?” I interviewed the intelligence general again on my second visit to Damascus, and he reiterated that the targeted building was “at no time a military facility.” As to why Syria had not had a more aggressive response, if the target was so benign, the general said, “It was not fear—that’s all I’ll say.” As I left, I asked the general why Syria had not invited representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the bombing site and declare that no nuclear activity was taking place there. “They did not ask to come,” he said, and “Syria had no reason to ask them to come.”

An I.A.E.A. official dismissed that assertion when we spoke in Vienna a few days later. “The I.A.E.A. asked the Syrians to allow the agency to visit the site to verify its nature,” the I.A.E.A. official said. “Syria’s reply was that it was a military, not a nuclear, installation, and there would be no reason for the I.A.E.A. to go there. It would be in their and everyone’s interest to have the I.A.E.A. visit the site. If it was nuclear, it would leave fingerprints.”

In a subsequent interview, Imad Moustapha, the Syrian Ambassador to Washington, defended Syria’s decision not to invite the I.A.E.A. inspectors. “We will not get into the game of inviting foreign experts to visit every site that Israel claims is a nuclear facility,” Moustapha told me. “If we bring them in and they say there is nothing there, then Israel will say it made a mistake and bomb another site two weeks later. And if we then don’t let the I.A.E.A. in, Israel will say, ‘You see?’ This is nonsense. Why should we have to do this?”

Even if the site was not a nuclear installation, it is possible that the Syrians feared that an I.A.E.A. inquiry would uncover the presence of North Koreans there. In Syria, I was able to get some confirmation that North Koreans were at the target. A senior officer in Damascus with firsthand knowledge of the incident agreed to see me alone, at his home; my other interviews in Damascus took place in government offices. According to his account, North Koreans were present at the site, but only as paid construction workers. The senior officer said that the targeted building, when completed, would most likely have been used as a chemical-warfare facility. (Syria is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention and has been believed, for decades, to have a substantial chemical-weapons arsenal.)

The building contract with North Korea was a routine business deal, the senior officer said—from design to construction. (North Korea may, of course, have sent skilled technicians capable of doing less routine work.) Syria and North Korea have a long-standing partnership on military matters. “The contract between Syria and North Korea was old, from 2002, and it was running late,” the senior officer told me. “It was initially to be finished in 2005, and the Israelis might have expected it was further along.”

The North Korean laborers had been coming and going for “maybe six months” before the September bombing, the senior officer said, and his government concluded that the Israelis had picked up North Korean telephone chatter at the site. (This fit the timeline that Israeli officials had given me.) “The Israelis may have their own spies and watched the laborers being driven to the area,” the senior officer said. “The Koreans were not there at night, but slept in their quarters and were driven to the site in the morning. The building was in an isolated area, and the Israelis may have concluded that even if there was a slight chance”—of it being a nuclear facility—“we’ll take that risk.”

On the days before the bombing, the Koreans had been working on the second floor, and were using a tarp on top of the building to shield the site from rain and sun. “It was just the North Korean way of working,” the Syrian senior officer said, adding that the possibility that the Israelis could not see what was underneath the tarp might have added to their determination.

The attack was especially dramatic, the Syrian senior officer said, because the Israelis used bright magnesium illumination flares to light up the target before the bombing. Night suddenly turned into day, he told me. “When the people in the area saw the lights and the bombing, they thought there would be a commando raid,” the senior officer said. The building was destroyed, and his government eventually concluded that there were no Israeli ground forces in the area. But if Israelis had been on the ground seeking contaminated soil samples, the senior officer said, “they found only cement.”

A senior Syrian official confirmed that a group of North Koreans had been at work at the site, but he denied that the structure was related to chemical warfare. Syria had concluded, he said, that chemical warfare had little deterrent value against Israel, given its nuclear capability. The facility that was attacked, the official said, was to be one of a string of missile-manufacturing plants scattered throughout Syria—“all low tech. Not strategic.” (North Korea has been a major exporter of missile technology and expertise to Syria for decades.) He added, “We’ve gone asymmetrical, and have been improving our capability to build low-tech missiles that will enable us to inflict as much damage as possible without confronting the Israeli Army. We now can hit all of Israel, and not just the north.”

Whatever was under construction, with North Korean help, it apparently had little to do with agriculture—or with nuclear reactors—but much to do with Syria’s defense posture, and its military relationship with North Korea. And that, perhaps, was enough to silence the Syrian government after the September 6th bombing.

It is unclear to what extent the Bush Administration was involved in the Israeli attack. The most detailed report of coöperation was made in mid-October by ABC News. Citing a senior U.S. official, the network reported that Israel had shared intelligence with the United States and received satellite help and targeting information in response.

At one point, it was reported, the Bush Administration considered attacking Syria itself, but rejected that option. The implication was that the Israeli intelligence about the nuclear threat had been vetted by the U.S., and had been found to be convincing.

Yet officials I spoke to in Israel heatedly denied the notion that they had extensive help from Washington in planning the attack. When I told the senior Israeli official that I found little support in Washington for Israel’s claim that it had bombed a nuclear facility in Syria, he responded with an expletive, and then said, angrily, “Nobody helped us. We did it on our own.” He added, “What I’m saying is that nobody discovered it for us.” (The White House declined to comment on this story.)

There is evidence to support this view. The satellite operated by DigitalGlobe, the Colorado firm that supplied Albright’s images, is for hire; anyone can order the satellite to photograph specific coördinates, a process that can cost anywhere from several hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company displays the results of these requests on its Web page, but not the identity of the customer. On five occasions between August 5th and August 27th of last year—before the Israeli bombing—DigitalGlobe was paid to take a tight image of the targeted building in Syria.

Clearly, whoever ordered the images likely had some involvement in plans for the attack. DigitalGlobe does about sixty per cent of its business with the U.S. government, but those contracts are for unclassified work, such as mapping. The government’s own military and intelligence satellite system, with an unmatched ability to achieve what analysts call “highly granular images,” could have supplied superior versions of the target sites. Israel has at least two military satellite systems, but, according to Allen Thomson, a former C.I.A. analyst, DigitalGlobe’s satellite has advantages for reconnaissance, making Israel a logical customer. (“Customer anonymity is crucial to us,” Chuck Herring, a spokesman for DigitalGlobe, said. “I don’t know who placed the order and couldn’t disclose it if I did.”) It is also possible that Israel or the United States ordered the imagery in order to have something unclassified to pass to the press if needed. If the Bush Administration had been aggressively coöperating with Israel before the attack, why would Israel have to turn to a commercial firm?
Last fall, aerospace industry and military sources told Aviation Week & Space Technology, an authoritative trade journal, that the United States had provided Israel with advice about “potential target vulnerabilities” before the September 6th attack, and monitored the radar as the mission took place. The magazine reported that the Israeli fighters, prior to bombing the target on the Euphrates, struck a Syrian radar facility near the Turkish border, knocking the radar out of commission and permitting them to complete their mission without interference.

The former U.S. senior intelligence official told me that, as he understood it, America’s involvement in the Israeli raid dated back months earlier, and was linked to the Administration’s planning for a possible air war against Iran. Last summer, the Defense Intelligence Agency came to believe that Syria was installing a new Russian-supplied radar-and-air-defense system that was similar to the radar complexes in Iran. Entering Syrian airspace would trigger those defenses and expose them to Israeli and American exploitation, yielding valuable information about their capabilities. Vice-President Dick Cheney supported the idea of overflights, the former senior intelligence official said, because “it would stick it to Syria and show that we’re serious about Iran.” (The Vice-President’s office declined to comment.) The former senior intelligence official said that Israeli military jets have flown over Syria repeatedly, without retaliation from Syria.

At the time, the former senior intelligence official said, the focus was on radar and air defenses, and not on any real or suspected nuclear facility. Israel’s claims about the target, which emerged later, caught many in the military and intelligence community—if not in the White House—by surprise.

On the days before the bombing, the Koreans had been working on the second floor, and were using a tarp on top of the building to shield the site from rain and sun. “It was just the North Korean way of working,” the Syrian senior officer said, adding that the possibility that the Israelis could not see what was underneath the tarp might have added to their determination.

The attack was especially dramatic, the Syrian senior officer said, because the Israelis used bright magnesium illumination flares to light up the target before the bombing. Night suddenly turned into day, he told me. “When the people in the area saw the lights and the bombing, they thought there would be a commando raid,” the senior officer said. The building was destroyed, and his government eventually concluded that there were no Israeli ground forces in the area. But if Israelis had been on the ground seeking contaminated soil samples, the senior officer said, “they found only cement.”

A senior Syrian official confirmed that a group of North Koreans had been at work at the site, but he denied that the structure was related to chemical warfare. Syria had concluded, he said, that chemical warfare had little deterrent value against Israel, given its nuclear capability. The facility that was attacked, the official said, was to be one of a string of missile-manufacturing plants scattered throughout Syria—“all low tech. Not strategic.” (North Korea has been a major exporter of missile technology and expertise to Syria for decades.) He added, “We’ve gone asymmetrical, and have been improving our capability to build low-tech missiles that will enable us to inflict as much damage as possible without confronting the Israeli Army. We now can hit all of Israel, and not just the north.”

Whatever was under construction, with North Korean help, it apparently had little to do with agriculture—or with nuclear reactors—but much to do with Syria’s defense posture, and its military relationship with North Korea. And that, perhaps, was enough to silence the Syrian government after the September 6th bombing.

It is unclear to what extent the Bush Administration was involved in the Israeli attack. The most detailed report of coöperation was made in mid-October by ABC News. Citing a senior U.S. official, the network reported that Israel had shared intelligence with the United States and received satellite help and targeting information in response. At one point, it was reported, the Bush Administration considered attacking Syria
itself, but rejected that option. The implication was that the Israeli intelligence about the nuclear threat had been vetted by the U.S., and had been found to be convincing.

Yet officials I spoke to in Israel heatedly denied the notion that they had extensive help from Washington in planning the attack. When I told the senior Israeli official that I found little support in Washington for Israel’s claim that it had bombed a nuclear facility in Syria, he responded with an expletive, and then said, angrily, “Nobody helped us. We did it on our own.” He added, “What I’m saying is that nobody discovered it for us.” (The White House declined to comment on this story.)

There is evidence to support this view. The satellite operated by DigitalGlobe, the Colorado firm that supplied Albright’s images, is for hire; anyone can order the satellite to photograph specific coördinates, a process that can cost anywhere from several hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company displays the results of these requests on its Web page, but not the identity of the customer. On five occasions between August 5th and August 27th of last year—before the Israeli bombing—DigitalGlobe was paid to take a tight image of the targeted building in Syria.

Clearly, whoever ordered the images likely had some involvement in plans for the attack. DigitalGlobe does about sixty per cent of its business with the U.S. government, but those contracts are for unclassified work, such as mapping. The government’s own military and intelligence satellite system, with an unmatched ability to achieve what analysts call “highly granular images,” could have supplied superior versions of the target sites. Israel has at least two military satellite systems, but, according to Allen Thomson, a former C.I.A. analyst, DigitalGlobe’s satellite has advantages for reconnaissance, making Israel a logical customer. (“Customer anonymity is crucial to us,” Chuck Herring, a spokesman for DigitalGlobe, said. “I don’t know who placed the order and couldn’t disclose it if I did.”) It is also possible that Israel or the United States ordered the imagery in order to have something unclassified to pass to the press if needed. If the Bush Administration had been aggressively coöperating with Israel before the attack, why would Israel have to turn to a commercial firm?

Last fall, aerospace industry and military sources told Aviation Week & Space Technology, an authoritative trade journal, that the United States had provided Israel with advice about “potential target vulnerabilities” before the September 6th attack, and monitored the radar as the mission took place. The magazine reported that the Israeli fighters, prior to bombing the target on the Euphrates, struck a Syrian radar facility near the Turkish border, knocking the radar out of commission and permitting them to complete their mission without interference.

The former U.S. senior intelligence official told me that, as he understood it, America’s involvement in the Israeli raid dated back months earlier, and was linked to the Administration’s planning for a possible air war against Iran. Last summer, the Defense Intelligence
Agency came to believe that Syria was installing a new Russian-supplied radar-and-air-defense system that was similar to the radar complexes in Iran. Entering Syrian airspace would trigger those defenses and expose them to Israeli and American exploitation, yielding valuable information about their capabilities. Vice-President Dick Cheney supported the idea of overflights, the former senior intelligence official said, because “it would stick it to Syria and show that we’re serious about Iran.” (The Vice-President’s office declined to comment.) The former senior intelligence official said that Israeli military jets have flown over Syria repeatedly, without retaliation from Syria. At the time, the former senior intelligence official said, the focus was on radar and air defenses, and not on any real or suspected nuclear facility. Israel’s claims about the target, which emerged later, caught many in the military and intelligence community—if not in the White House—by surprise.

The senior Israeli official, asked whether the attack was rooted in his country’s interest in Syria’s radar installations, told me, “Bullshit.” Whatever the Administration’s initial agenda, Israel seems to have been after something more.

The story of the Israeli bombing of Syria, with its mixture of satellite intelligence, intercepts, newspaper leaks, and shared assumptions, reminded some American diplomats and intelligence officials of an incident, ten years ago, involving North Korea. In mid-1998, American reconnaissance satellites photographed imagery of a major underground construction project at Kumchang-ri, twenty-five miles northwest of Yongbyon. “We were briefed that, without a doubt, this was a nuclear-related facility, and there was signals intelligence linking the

construction brigade at Kumchang-ri to the nuclear complex at Yongbyon,” the former State Department intelligence expert recalled.

Charles Kartman, who was President Bill Clinton’s special envoy for peace talks with Korea, told me that the intelligence was considered a slam dunk by analysts in the Defense Intelligence Agency, even though other agencies disagreed. “We had a debate going on inside the community, but the D.I.A. unilaterally took it to Capitol Hill,” Kartman said, forcing the issue and leading to a front-page Times story.

After months of negotiations, Kartman recalled, the North Koreans agreed, under diplomatic pressure, to grant access to Kumchang-ri. In return, they received aid, including assistance with a new potato-production program. Inspectors found little besides a series of empty tunnels. Robert Carlin, an expert on North Korea who retired in 2005 after serving more than thirty years with the C.I.A. and the State Department’s intelligence bureau, told me that the Kumchang-ri incident highlighted “an endemic weakness” in the American intelligence community. “People think they know the ending and then they go back and find the evidence that fits their story,” he said. “And then you get groupthink—and people reinforce each other.”

It seems that, as with Kumchang-ri, there was a genuine, if not unanimous, belief by Israeli intelligence that the Syrians were constructing something that could have serious national-security consequences. But why would the Israelis take the risk of provoking a military response, and perhaps a war, if there was, as it seems, no smoking gun?

Mohamed ElBaradei, expressing his frustration, said, “If a country has any information about a nuclear activity in another country, it should inform the I.A.E.A.—not bomb first and ask questions later.”

One answer, suggested by David Albright, is that Israel did not trust the international arms-control community. “I can understand the Israeli point of view, given the history with Iran and Algeria,” Albright said. “Both nations had nuclear-weapons programs and, after being caught cheating, declared their reactors to be civil reactors, for peacetime use. The international groups, like the U.N. and the I.A.E.A, never shut them down.” Also, Israel may have calculated that risk of a counterattack was low: President Assad would undoubtedly conclude that the attack had the support of the Bush Administration and, therefore, that any response by Syria would also engage the U.S. (My conversations with officials in Syria bore out this assumption.)

In Tel Aviv, the senior Israeli official pointedly told me, “Syria still thinks Hezbollah won the war in Lebanon”—referring to the summer, 2006, fight between Israel and the Shiite organization headed by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. “Nasrallah knows how much that war cost—one-third of his fighters were killed, infrastructure was bombed, and ninety-five per cent of his strategic weapons were wiped out,” the Israeli official said. “But Assad has a Nasrallah complex and thinks Hezbollah won. And, ‘If he did it, I can do it.’ This led to an adventurous mood in Damascus. Today, they are more sober.”

That notion was echoed by the ambassador of an Israeli ally who is posted in Tel Aviv. “The truth is not important,” the ambassador told me. “Israel was able to restore its credibility as a deterrent. That is the whole thing. No one will know what the real story is.”

There is evidence that the preëmptive raid on Syria was also meant as a warning about—and a model for—a preëmptive attack on Iran. When I visited Israel this winter, Iran was the overriding concern among political and defense officials I spoke to—not Syria. There was palpable anger toward Washington, in the wake of a National Intelligence
Estimate that concluded, on behalf of the American intelligence community, that Iran is not now constructing a nuclear weapon. Many in Israel view Iran’s nuclear ambitions as an existential threat; they believe that military action against Iran may be inevitable, and worry that America may not be there when needed. The N.I.E. was published in November, after a yearlong standoff involving Cheney’s office, which resisted the report’s findings. At the time of the raid, reports about the forthcoming N.I.E. and its general conclusion had already appeared.

Retired Major General Giora Eiland, who served as the national-security adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told me, “The Israeli military takes it as an assumption that one day we will need to have a military campaign against Iran, to slow and eliminate the nuclear option.” He added, “Whether the political situation will allow this is another question.”

In the weeks after the N.I.E.’s release, Bush insisted that the Iranian nuclear-weapons threat was as acute as ever, a theme he amplified during his nine-day Middle East trip after the New Year. “A lot of people heard that N.I.E. out here and said that George Bush and the Americans don’t take the Iranian threat seriously,” he told Greta Van Susteren, of Fox News. “And so this trip has been successful from the perspective of saying . . . we will keep the pressure on.”

Shortly after the bombing, a Chinese envoy and one of the Bush Administration’s senior national-security officials met in Washington. The Chinese envoy had just returned from a visit to Tehran, a person familiar with the discussion told me, and he wanted the White House to know that there were moderates there who were interested in talks. The national-security official rejected that possibility and told the envoy, as the person familiar with the discussion recalled, “‘You are aware of the recent Israeli statements about Syria. The Israelis are extremely serious about Iran and its nuclear program, and I believe that, if the United States government is unsuccessful in its diplomatic dealings with Iran, the Israelis will take it out militarily.’ He then told

the envoy that he wanted him to convey this to his government—that the Israelis were serious.

“He was telling the Chinese leadership that they’d better warn Iran that we can’t hold back Israel, and that the Iranians should look at Syria and see what’s coming next if diplomacy fails,” the person familiar with the discussion said. “His message was that the Syrian attack was in part aimed at Iran.”

Ann Tucker is pushing a shopping cart through the produce section of a supermarket in Plainview, N.Y., when she turns to kiss her husband. The supermarket kiss is a regular ritual for the Tuckers. So are the restaurant kiss and the traffic-light kiss. "I guess we do kiss a lot," says Mrs. Tucker, a 39-year-old mathematician at a money-management firm.

Mrs. Tucker is living happily ever after, and scientists are curious why. She belongs to a small class of men and women who say they live in the thrall of early love despite years of marriage, busy jobs and other daily demands that normally chip away at passion.

Most couples find that the dizzying, almost-narcotic feeling of early love gives way to a calmer bond. Now, researchers are using laboratory science to investigate Mrs. Tucker and others who live fairy-tale romances. The studies could help reveal the workings of lifelong passion and perhaps one day lead to a restorative.

Philosophers and writers have long examined passion and love. The 19th century introduced psychologists and sociologists to the discussion. In recent years, neuroscientists have joined in. While love is historically tied to the heart, they are looking for answers in the brain, using magnetic imaging and other modern tools to try to map love's pathways.
Sam Schechner reports on a study looking at the brains of people who claim to have stayed madly in love for over a decade.

Psychologists studying relationships confirm the steady decline of romantic love. Each year, according to surveys, the average couple loses a little spark. One sociological study of marital satisfaction at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Penn State University kept track of more than 2,000
married people over 17 years. Average marital happiness fell sharply in the first 10 years, then entered a slow decline.

About 15 years ago, Arthur Aron, a social psychologist at Stony Brook University, became curious about couples outside the norm. His own work turned up the usual pattern of declining passion. But he was drawn to what statisticians call outliers, points way off the curve. These dots represented people who claimed they'd been madly in love for years. "I didn't know what to make of that," Dr. Aron says. "Was it random error? Were they self-deceiving? Were they deceiving others? Because it's not supposed to happen."

On a clear day in late August, Mrs. Tucker visited New York University's Center for Brain Imaging. There, a four-ton device called a functional magnetic-resonance imaging scanner would analyze her brain while she looked at a photo of her husband. The machines record changes in oxygen levels of blood feeding the brain. Because the brain is quick to supply fresh blood to working areas, researchers use them to see where the brain is more active during such mental tasks as recognizing words or feeling love.

Mrs. Tucker drove in with Bianca Acevedo, one of Dr. Aron's graduate students. Ms. Acevedo's doctoral dissertation studies brain images to compare new love with long-term love.

Only a handful of studies have used magnetic imaging to study love, in part because scientists debate whether it is a good measure of hard-to-define mental states. The first widely cited study, published in 2000, scanned men and women who claimed to be madly in love. It found evidence that love could be traced in the brain.

Over the next few years, Dr. Aron collaborated on a study that would push further. Published in 2005, it helped establish the link between romantic love and the so-called reward-seeking circuitry, which is thought to be linked to such deep motivations as thirst or drug addiction. Dr. Aron joined Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and Lucy L. Brown, a neuroscientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York's Bronx borough. They examined blood flow in the brains of 17 volunteers, mostly college students, who were scanned as they looked at photos of their lovers.

They found robust activity in a brain region called the ventral tegmental area, which is rich in dopamine, a brain chemical connected to feelings of pleasure. Another of Dr. Aron's students repeated the results in China, bolstering the case that romantic love is a biological drive not bound by culture.

None of the published studies, however, focused on people in long-term relationships. Ms. Acevedo's research plan -- hatched with Drs. Aron, Fisher and Brown -- was to repeat the experiment with people who had been in love for more than a decade to see how they compare. The first hurdle was finding such couples.

Mrs. Tucker is a meticulous woman with black hair in a pixie cut who moved to the U.S. from Korea when she was 5. She is shy and speaks carefully, sometimes slipping into statistical jargon when talking with her husband. When the two Ph.D.s plan a party they weigh a "Type I error" against a "Type II error," too little food or too much.

Her husband, Alan, 64, is a lanky, applied-math professor at Stony Brook who speaks with a youthful enthusiasm. They met sitting across a horseshoe-shaped table at a math conference in the Adirondack Mountains. "I knew immediately we'd get married," Mrs. Tucker says. They got their marriage license less than a year later, on Valentine's Day.

They share a two-story home in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. One afternoon last fall, their son Teddy, now 10, works his PlayStation, and their toddler James plays with a toy train. Mr. Tucker recounts their courtship. "After the second date, it would be three steps, stop and kiss," he says. After nearly 11 years of marriage, they still see each other as romantic ideals.

Researchers also found Michelle Jordan, a 59-year-old communications consultant, and her husband, Billy Owens. On a cross-country flight, she sat next to Mr. Owens, a well-built man from Gadsden, Ala. "I had this immediate reaction of, 'What a nice-looking guy,' " she says. They chatted throughout the flight, her dry wit mixing with his easy charm.

Ms. Jordan and Mr. Owens lived in different cities so it took months of long-distance dating before their first kiss. "You're always cautious about setting yourself up for disappointment again," recalls Ms. Jordan, who was 42 at the time. They married three years later and now live in Newport Beach, Calif. Even now, Ms. Jordan still seeks her husband's hand when they're together. "It comes very naturally," she says.

Ms. Acevedo was confident that such long-term love was a real if somewhat rare phenomenon. Brain activity in the ventral tegmental area would support the idea. Dr. Brown, the neuroscientist on the project, was skeptical. Her theory: Mrs. Tucker and Ms. Jordan weren't experiencing the same brain impulses as new lovers, and brain scans would show that.

Mrs. Tucker recalls taking off a gold bracelet, a gift from her husband, before sliding into the fMRI machine. Images of her husband are reflected on a mirror above her. She recalls feeling "a warm contentment."

Until recently, most neuroscientists considered love an ill-defined topic best avoided. But a growing body of work showed that our attachments have a neurological underpinning. In 1996, a privately funded conference in Stockholm took the title "Is there a neurobiology of love?" Among the organizers was Sue Carter, an expert on the prairie-vole brain.

The prairie vole is a North American rodent that mostly mates for life, making it a useful proxy for studying human attachment. Dr. Carter, a neuroendocrinologist now at the University of Illinois at Chicago, helped establish a link between vole monogamy and oxytocin -- the so-called love hormone that helps bind mates, as well as mothers and their offspring.

Psychologists and social scientists worked on a different track, applying their theories about love to social experiments and surveys. Their
most popular measure is the Passionate Love Scale. People are asked to score 15 statements about their lovers, such as, "For me, [blank] is the perfect romantic partner."

The work of Dr. Aron and his colleagues reflects growing collaboration between the social and neurosciences.

Days after Mrs. Tucker's brain scan, Dr. Brown, the neuroscientist, sat in her book-lined office looking at the results. "Wow, just wow," she recalls thinking. Mrs. Tucker's brain reacted to her husband's photo with a frenzy of activity in the ventral tegmental area. "I was shocked," Dr. Brown says.

The brain scan confirmed what Mrs. Tucker said all along. But when she learned the result, she too was a bit surprised. "It's not something I expected after 11 years," she says. "But having it, it's like a gift."

The scan also showed a strong reaction in Mrs. Tucker's ventral pallidum, an area suspected from vole studies to have links with long-term bonds. Mrs. Tucker apparently enjoyed old love and new. In the months since, Dr. Brown analyzed data from four more people, including Ms. Jordan, who also showed brain activity associated with new love. The study is ongoing, and more volunteers are being sought.

There is much work ahead before scientists can map the human-attachment system and learn what factors affect it. A love drug is an even more distant dream.

"People in the field, we've kidded about it, but nobody thinks it's, in the short term, realistic," says Dr. Aron. "Of course, maybe we'll be contacted by a pharmaceutical company,
and they'll give us $10 zillion and we'll find something."
February is African History month. A perfect time to learn about the ancient history of Egypt.

To me, the most fascinating aspect of ancient Egypt is the length of time its style of government lasted. The family of the rulers changed, and sure, Egypt had shifting borders, sometimes extending further south into Africa, sometimes extending east into what is now the Middle East, but it was still Egypt, and despite the fact that a Greek follower of Alexander the Great took over as ruler of Egypt, it kept the same system of government -- with a pharaoh at its head -- for not just centuries, but millennia -- from 2920-31 B.C.

Because of the climate of Egypt, as well as the religious beliefs of the ancients, monuments in its desert, still standing five thousand years later, reveal information about who the ancient people were. How closely related they are to the inhabitants of today's Egypt, we don't know, but we do know that the builders of the past had practical knowledge of geometric measurement and amazing building skills.

Archaeologists, linguists, and historians have joined efforts to understand the picture writing known as hieroglyphs that adorn princely burial chambers. From remains of Egyptian pyramids and the coffins (sarcophagi, plural of sarcophagus -- literally, flesh eater) themselves, Egyptologists have discovered a complex society focused on the afterlife.

Below is a list of some of the very most basic concepts, objects, rulers, and gods of ancient Egypt -- the rudimentary terms about Egypt. Most, you may already be familiar with, from crossword puzzles or elsewhere. Even so, by following the link-a-day below to definitions, articles, reviews, and deeper information on other sites, you will learn more about this fascinating society.

Egyptian Terms for Each Day of the Month of February

1. Amarna
2. Cartouche
3. Cleopatra
4. Giza
5. Hatshepsut
6. Hieroglyph
7. Horus
8. Isis
9. King Tut (Tutankhamen)
10. Mastaba
11. Middle Kingdom
12. Mummy
13. Nefertiti
14. New Kingdom
15. Nile River
16. Old Kingdom
17. Osiris
18. Papyrus
19. Pharaoh
20. Pyramid
21. Ramses
22. Re
23. Rosetta Stone
24. Sarcophagus
25. Scarab
26. Sphinx
27. Step Pyramid
28. Tuthmose

It is rare for a sociological study to wind up a part of pop culture, but that’s what has happened to Stanley Milgram’s “small world” study, which posits that all of the people on the planet are connected to one another through an average of six acquaintances—or through six degrees of separation. The first popular use of Milgram’s study was the John Guare play Six Degrees of Separation, which was later made into a movie. Then came the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, created by college students, in which players must connect the actor to another actor by no more than six other people. In 2006 there was the TV show Six Degrees, which told the story of six characters who, according to the network, “go about their lives without realizing the impact they are having on one another.” Even the popular PBS series American Masters has jumped on the six degrees bandwagon, with a Web game that allows you to pick any two of the accomplished people it has profiled through the years—everyone from Aaron Copland to William Styron—and find the links that connect them. How are Truman Capote and Lucille Ball connected? This is the Web engine’s answer: Truman Capote is connected to Lena Horne because Horne appeared in the book Observations by Capote and Richard Avedon. Horne is connected to Lucille Ball because they—along with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly—were in the Ziegfeld Follies.

But perhaps the most interesting use of Milgram’s study came from Judith Kleinfeld, a psychology professor at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. In 2002 she realized she had a problem in her classroom. “My graduate students insisted that social science research was nothing more than the systematic study of what you already know,” she says. To challenge them, she decided to have them replicate social scientist Milgram’s small world study. The more Kleinfeld thought about the assignment, the better she liked it. They could update the technique, she thought. Milgram had used regular mail as the mode of communication between acquaintances, but her students could use e-mail. Maybe they would find that the Internet had closed the gap further. They could even, Kleinfeld fantasized, track down some of the participants in the original study and see if they were game for another round. To do it right, though, she needed to look through Milgram’s papers, which his wife had donated to Yale
University after his death in 1984. Kleinfeld boarded a plane and made her way to Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library in New Haven, Connecticut, where she donned white gloves and rummaged through boxes 48 and 49 of the Milgram collection.

Milgram’s original study design was simple: He gave 60 people in Wichita, Kansas, envelopes and the name of a target person—a stranger—along with a few details of that person’s life. Their mission: to get that envelope to someone they knew on a first-name basis who
then might be able to pass the envelope a step closer to the target person. In a subsequent study, he used two starter populations in Nebraska and one in Boston to reach a target in Sharon, Massachusetts.

The idea was to see how many steps it would take to get each envelope to the target person. In his 1967 write-up of his work in the premiere issue of Psychology Today, Milgram shared one particularly riveting anecdote from the first study—that of an envelope that made its way from a wheat farmer in Kansas to the target, a divinity student’s wife in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with just two connections. However, he also reported that the average number of connections (not the maximum number, as people sometimes mistakenly believe) between strangers was six—still astonishingly few.

Milgram’s study made headlines and resonated in the public’s imagination. Were each of us really only six people removed from a long-lost childhood friend, a lower-caste field worker in India, or any celebrity? Could we really find our way to, say, Stephen Hawking or Brad Pitt or even Osama bin Laden in just six steps? Of course, this raises the question:
If we’re only six people away from bin Laden, why hasn’t he been tracked down and captured? The answer, as Kleinfeld discovered, is complicated. It involves the misleading reporting of statistical data, the seductive power of a pleasing idea, and the vagaries of human behavior.

When Kleinfeld began sifting through Milgram’s original data at Yale, she was surprised to find how much that data seemed to conflict with what Milgram had reported. Only 3 of the 60 envelopes in the original study had reached the divinity student’s wife—a completion rate of just 5 percent. The second study reported a completion rate of only 29 percent. Moreover, Milgram recruited subjects for two of his studies by buying mailing lists, which tend to be biased in favor of high-income people with high numbers of connections. Other sociological work has shown that low-income people are generally able to reach other individuals with low incomes, but not those with high incomes.

assumed that Milgram’s study must have been replicated for his results to have been so widely and enthusiastically accepted. Confirming the validity of a finding by repeating experiments is, after all, a hallmark of the scientific process. Kleinfeld scoured the academic literature but found only two follow-up studies, one done by Milgram himself. And neither one, Kleinfeld says, substantiated the six-degrees claim. “I was disappointed in Milgram, who was one of my idols, for avoiding the limitations of his research in the arresting and well-written article he had published in Psychology Today,” Kleinfeld says. “My students, however, were not surprised. The results supported their notions of the limitations of social research.”

Was Milgram so in love with the idea of six degrees that he overlooked the weak statistics.

Milgram had said that he got the idea for his small world study from social scientist Ithiel de Sola Pool and mathematician Manfred Kochen, who, in the 1950s, spent a good deal of time trying to arrive at a mathematical formula that would explain how closely all of us are actually connected. But de Sola Pool and Kochen were unable to find an equation that satisfactorily represented the nuances and complexities of society. Milgram, who was already famous for the obedience experiment in which study subjects administered painful electric shocks to other study subjects when urged to do so by an authority figure, came up with the letter method as a tool to try to solve the problem in real life.

Usually scientists publish in academic journals first, and then bring their results to the lay press. Milgram did it in reverse by publishing first in Psychology Today. “This allowed Milgram to sidestep the usual publication lag in academic publishing,” explains Thomas Blass, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland and author of The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram. But in writing for the lay public, Milgram omitted statistics—the numbers that would show how few of his chains were in fact completed. Milgram did publish the actual results of his second study, including the statistics, in an academic journal a couple of years later, pondering at length the reasons for the low completion rates of the chains.

Kleinfeld’s interpretation of all this—which she also published in Psychology Today (March/April 2002)—is that Milgram was so in love with the idea of six degrees that he overlooked the weak statistics backing it up. And worse, he promoted his sketchy results to an unsuspecting public. Not that she thinks the public minds. In talking to others about their coincidental experiences running into friends and friends of friends in unlikely places, she’s become convinced that

the idea of six degrees has deep psychological appeal. “The belief in a small world gives people a sense of security,” she says.

But that’s not really the end of the story. In the interval between Milgram’s work and Kleinfeld’s digging through those boxes, a field known as the science of networks had blossomed. “Just about anything in the social, biological, and physical world has to do with systems that comprise lots and lots of interacting components,” says Duncan Watts, a professor of sociology at Columbia University. It’s important to understand how networks function because, as Watts puts it, “that has relevance to just about every question we’re interested in, whether we’re talking about the spread of epidemics, or changes in social norms, or fashions, or the expression of the genome.” It’s all about some sort of process driven by many things interacting with one another. “And the interactions,” Watts believes, “are critical.”

In 1998 Watts and Steven Strogatz, a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University, published a paper in Nature that did what de Sola Pool and Kochen hadn’t done: It provided a mathematical explanation for how random people living far apart can be linked by a handful of connections. The concept rests upon the idea that we all lead multidimensional lives. “People organize their lives along different social dimensions,” explains Watts. “I know some people because of what I do for work, some because of where I live, and others because of where I grew up. A professional colleague and someone I grew up with may look at one another and not think they have anything in common, but I form the bridge because I’m close to each one of them.”

It’s these acquaintances that allow us to cut through the swaths of humanity, and many social dimensions, to reach people who seem far removed from ourselves. But what of the enormous attrition rate in Milgram’s study, which Kleinfeld found so damning? Milgram, in the results he published in the scientific literature, speculated that study participants hadn’t completed their chains because they lacked motivation or didn’t really believe that they could reach their targets. Watts tends to agree with that argument—largely because he’s seen it in action

of an e-mail version he did of Milgram’s experiment. He set up a Web page and recruited 18 targets in 13 countries. In the end, 61,168 starters signed on, and 24,163 chains were begun. Of those, only 384 were completed.
Those who finished their chains did so within slightly more than four links, on average. Watts, unlike Milgram, included a survey with his study, and one of the questions asked people who hadn’t finished to give the reason why. Less than one-half of 1 percent of respondents said they had failed to pass the e-mail on because they didn’t know who to send it to. Watts believes the majority failed because of other problems, such as e-mail spam blocks that diverted their requests. Other times, he suspects, chains failed because the people who received an e-mail weren’t as interested in continuing the chain as the people who’d started it.

“People so much want to believe that we live in a global village, all holding hands,” Kleinfeld says.

Lack of interest, Watts says, points to the underlying complexity of networking. The question is not just whether we are closely connected, but how we navigate those connections—and whether we choose to do so at all. “People can find these paths as long as they’re motivated to do so and able to motivate people to help them,” he says. “But no matter how motivated you are, you have to be able to motivate the other person, who can put you in touch with the next person, and the next person has to do it too.”

According to Watts, sometimes those in the best position to help you aren’t inclined to do so. This would undoubtedly be a problem if the CIA, say, tried to connect with Osama bin Laden. “If you’re trying to reach bin Laden, the last couple of people in the chain are not going to be particularly cooperative, even if they could be,” says Watts.

There’s also the issue of belief. Some people just don’t believe we can be linked by so few people, so they don’t try to connect. But the perception of connectivity is crucial in completing the chains. Take the example of Petey Pierre, a student and boxer who worked out at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Boxing Center in Brooklyn, New York.

In 2006 Pierre agreed to participate in a small world experiment with Watts and ABC News that addressed two of the criticisms of small world research: that no studies had ever been played out in real time, and that the people who had participated in the chains tended be educated, white, and middle or upper class. Critics say it’s easy to show how predominantly middle-class professional people can connect to one another in different countries. But add race and socioeconomic status and it’s a different ball game.

So ABC recruited Petey Pierre and Kristina Stewart Ward, then an editor for Hampton Style magazine who split her time between the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the Hamptons on Long Island, where she hobnobbed with celebrities. Ward’s assignment: Get to Pierre.

Ward was sure she could connect with him in just a couple of steps. She first called her friend James, who worked at Asprey, a store known for its luxury jewelry. She remembered having a conversation with him once in which he mentioned a fellow employee who boxed. James promptly put her in touch with that person, a woman named Michelle. Michelle put Ward in touch with her trainer, Michael Olajide, a former middleweight contender, who owned a gym in Manhattan’s fashionable Meatpacking District. He directed Ward to Bruce Silverglade, owner of Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. As it turned out, Silverglade not only knew of Pierre’s Bedford-Stuyvesant gym, he knew Nate Boyd, Pierre’s trainer. It was Boyd who made the final connection. When Ward arrived at the gym, both Pierre and Watts were there. “It was amazing,” Watts recalls. “Pierre was blown away.”

Unlike the people who participated in Milgram’s and Watts’s experiments, Ward and Pierre were motivated by a camera crew and a mention on ABC News.

Most people don’t have that. Nevertheless, for Watts the TV experiment provided another bit of evidence that the idea of six degrees of separation has a lot of truth behind it. Kleinfeld is more skeptical. “I still find one of the most interesting questions to be why people so much want to believe that we live in a global village, all holding hands.”

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.

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.”

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 shuttle flights over the next few years will look to see whether other bacteria undergo similar changes in virulence in microgravity.

1 Arguably the inspiration for much science fiction traces back to classical mythology. Think of it—Earthlings abducted by beings from the sky, humans morphing into strange creatures, and events that defy the laws of nature.

2 Birth of the (un)cool: In 1926 writer Hugo Gernsback founded Amazing Stories, the first true science-fiction magazine.
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3 Gernsback loved greenbacks. He tried to trademark the term science fiction, and he paid writers so little that H. P. Lovecraft later nicknamed him “Hugo the Rat.”

4 Rat’s revenge: The most famous sci-fi writing award is called the Hugo.

5 Writers for the early pulp magazines would often write under multiple pseudonyms so they could have more than one article per issue. Ray Bradbury—taking this practice to another level—used six different pen names.

6 Serious science-fiction heads say sci-fi carries schlocky, B-movie connotations. Many prefer the abbreviation SF.

7 Prominent physicists and space travel pioneers have (often secretly) contributed to SF lit. German rocket genius Wernher Von Braun wrote space fiction and was an adviser to sci-fi movies such as Conquest of Space.

8 During the 1960s, James Tiptree Jr. penned sci-fi classics like Houston, Houston, Do You Read? but was so secretive that people suspected he was a covert government operative.

9 At age 61, Tiptree was outed—not as a spy but as outspoken feminist Alice B. Sheldon.

10 One of the more famous works in the growing field of gay sci-fi is Judith Katz’s Running Fiercely Toward a High Thin Sound, about a woman who bolts from her overbearing Jewish family to the mystical all-lesbian city of New Chelm.

11 Irony alert: Ray Bradbury, one of the world’s most influential SF writers, studiously avoids computers and ATMs and claims he has never driven a car.

12 Not to be outdone, sci-fi legend Isaac Asimov wrote about interstellar spaceflight but refused to board an airplane.

13 Neal Stephenson’s acclaimed 1992 novel Snow Crash has inspired two major online creations: Second Life (derived from Stephenson’s virtual Metaverse) and Google Earth (from the panoptic Earth application).

14 Meanwhile, in the humble brick-and-mortar world: Sci-fi author Gene Wolfe helped develop the machine that cooks Pringles, while Robert Heinlein conceived the first modern water bed.

15 Sexual liberation plays a big role in Heinlein’s books, which really puts the water-bed thing into perspective.

16 In Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001, the HAL 9000 computer discusses its feelings and Pan Am flies passenger shuttles to the moon. After the book’s release, Pan Am announced a real-life list of passengers waiting to go to the moon; Walter Cronkite, Ronald Reagan, and 80,000 others signed up.

17 Forty years later, computers can’t discuss printer drivers, let alone emotions, and Pan Am has been dead for 17 years.

18 When sci-fi visionary Philip K. Dick inadvertently re-created a Bible scene in his book Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, he became convinced that the spirit of the prophet Elijah had overcome him, kicking off a long bout of schizophrenia.

19 After Dick’s death, fans built an android likeness of him that mimicked his mannerisms and quoted his writings.

20 In 2005, the Dickbot was misplaced by a baggage handler. It remains at large.

Several outbreaks of ciguatera fish poisoning have been confirmed in consumers who ate fish harvested in the northern Gulf of Mexico, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The FDA said that fish such as grouper, snapper, amberjack and barracuda represent the most significant threat to consumers. They feed on fish that have eaten toxic marine algae. The toxin is stable in the tissue of living fish and does them no harm. But larger carnivores have higher concentrations of the toxin in their tissues. As a result, the greatest risk of poisoning for humans comes from the largest fish.

Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning include nausea, vomiting, vertigo and joint pain. In the most serious cases, neurological problems can last for months or even years. Several outbreaks of the illness were confirmed in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, the FDA said. Overall, there have been at least 28 reported cases across the country, with the first case being reported in late November.

The fish linked to the illnesses were harvested near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, an area of 56 square miles in the northwestern Gulf. The FDA recommends that processors not purchase fish harvested near the sanctuary.

Ciguatera is common in fish living in tropical and subtropical regions, including the Caribbean Sea, the South Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. But the FDA has considered it rare for fish in the northern Gulf of Mexico to have the toxin.

The FDA warned processors to reassess their hazard control plans as necessary, and that failure to take proper precautions may cause products to be considered adulterated by the agency.

Consumers who think they may have ciguatera poisoning are encouraged to report their symptoms and what fish they ate to a doctor or local health department.

According to the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Rat begins tomorrow. But here it may have started sooner: Unexpected changes in Vietnam's food chain and diet have sparked a rodent-eating bonanza.
Due to bird flu, field rats have become a popular food in Vietnam. Watch how rats are caught and prepared, and see WSJ reporter James Hookway have a taste.

In Tu Son, a small village sitting near the banks of the Red River, rat hunter Ngo Minh Tam reckons "99%" of the people regularly dine on rat meat, an estimate local street vendor Nguyen Thi Le supports. "I've sold two kilos [almost 4.5 pounds] in the past quarter hour," she boasts, displaying a large metal bowl of skinned and cleaned bodies.

Rat-based cuisine is beginning to catch on in the big cities as well. Handwritten signs in some of the backstreets of Hanoi offer cash in return for freshly caught rat. "Both Vietnamese and foreign tourists are eating more rat meat these days," says Pham Huu Thanh, proprietor of the Luong Son Quan restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, the former southern capital Saigon. Mr. Thanh serves rat grilled with lemon grass or roasted in garlic for around 60,000 Vietnamese dong, or $4, a serving. (Rat may taste like chicken, but with a tiny rat drumstick between your fingers, it's hard to pretend it really is.)

Rats have been a delicacy in Vietnam's rural areas for centuries, with recipes dating back 150 years. For a long time, however, this country's big city folk were generally less enthusiastic, often associating the animals more with garbage-digging vermin than mouth-watering entrees.

Nguyen Huy Duc stir-fries some rat. Smoking seems to help mask the smell.

But in 2004, flare-ups of bird flu claimed scores of lives here and prompted many diners to search for alternative sources of protein. Demand went up, but paradoxically supply did too. That's because rats' natural predators -- snakes and cats -- are increasingly finding themselves on the menus of posh restaurants frequented by wealthy Vietnamese.

In the Le Mat district of Hanoi, dozens of restaurants specialize in snakes either farmed for the table or caught by hunters. Other snakes are shipped to China, where they are also considered a delicacy. A booming economy has caused snake prices to double in the past year in some places to roughly $18 a pound.

And despite a 1998 government ban on cat consumption enacted to control the rat population, felines are also sometimes eaten at some restaurants; on menus, they appear as "little tiger."

"If people are eating the rats' natural predators, then that means more rats for us," says the spry Mr. Tam as he pursues his quarry one recent morning. The 53-year-old farmer and part-time taxi driver supplements his income by hunting the rodents in the fields and industrial estates around this village on the outskirts of Hanoi.

He is joined in the hunt by his friends Ngo Van Phong, 55, and Nguyen Huy Duc, 53, and his two trusty dogs, Muc and Ki. The party gets lucky on some disused land at the back of the Tong Thanh Dong Packaging factory. Muc catches the scent of a rat. After a brief chase she burrows her muzzle into a grass embankment and wags her tail furiously -- a sign she has found a candidate for lunch.

Digging Into the Ground

Messrs. Tam and Duc leap into action, digging into the ground, while Mr. Phong secures the rat's possible escape routes. Mr. Duc pulls dry straw from a canvas sack, stuffs it into holes in the embankment and sets it on fire. As the fire takes hold, a fleeing rat ends up instead in a bamboo funnel which Mr. Tam placed over a hole.


Two field rats, chopped into quarters
Two chopped cloves of garlic
Half cup of lemon leaves
Half a cup of dried chili peppers
Quarter cup of fish sauce
A dash of salt
• Mash up the chili peppers and add fish sauce to moisten the mixture. Then added the chopped garlic.
• Place the lemon leaves in a bowl of water to soak.
• Heat a frying pan over an open flame and add vegetable oil. Then add the chili pepper mixture. When sizzling, add the rat meat. Stir vigorously until cooked, and then add the lemon leaves. Simmer for five minutes, adding water as necessary to keep it moist.
• Serve with steamed rice.


Two cleaned and gutted rats, chopped into quarters
A small bundle of lemongrass
Half a cup of fish sauce
One small onion
• Place the rat meat in a bamboo steamer. Place the steamer in a saucepan of boiling water. Add the lemongrass and onion, then brush the rat with fish sauce.
• Steam for approximately 20 minutes, or until the rat meat cooks thoroughly.
• Serve with steamed rice and spring onions.


2 cups fragrant khotweed
Several spring onions
Quarter cup of fish sauce
Two cleaned and gutted rats, chopped into chunks
Half cup of vegetable oil
Fresh basil
• Mix the rat chunks in a bowl with fragrant khotweed and spring onions. Add the fish sauce. Let stand for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to sink into the rat meat.
• Then, gently heat the vegetable oil over low heat and add the mixture, slowly stirring. Cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
• Serve with steamed rice or rice noodles. Garnish with fresh basil.

Mr. Tam's favorite rat repast is a stew of rat meat, heart and liver and served up in a steaming broth. "It's just the thing for a cold winter's day," he says.

In total, Mr. Tam nabs eight rats in 45 minutes. He and his friends sell whatever they don't need for themselves to village market vendors. The vendors sell rat meat for about $1.50 a pound. It's a relative deal. Pork costs roughly a third more, and chicken twice as much.

The field rats which Mr. Tam and his friends hunt are white and brown, with a diet rich in grain and snails. Although Vietnamese generally don't consume the flea-infested sewer rats of popular imagination, the stigma still lingers. Some restaurants in Vietnam are wary of explicitly offering rat on their menus. Owners worry their customers might suspect they are being served rat meat when they order more expensive chicken dishes.

At the elegant Dan Toc Quan restaurant in Hanoi, a waitress whispers that she can serve rat -- if the chef can find one. She disappears to the kitchen and comes back shaking her head. "Perhaps you could bring your own rat and we'll cook it for you," she said. Most Vietnamese prefer to prepare their rat at home. In Tu Son, Ngo Thi Thanh one recent day bought almost 4.5 pounds of rat meat to feed 10 of her friends who had dropped in for lunch. "It's difficult to compare the taste of rat to other meat," she says.

'It's Delicious'

When Ms. Thanh got home, she carefully washed the rat and chopped the meat into quarters. Bending over a charcoal stove, she fried one batch with salt and steamed the other with lemon leaves as her friends looked on with anticipation. "It's delicious," one said.

For connoisseurs of rat meat, slightly chubby rats are the most sought after. A thin layer of fat adds more flavor to the meat and provides a satisfying sizzle when the chunks of rat meat are added to the frying pan, they say. It is also best, they add, served with generous servings of potent home-brewed rice wine.

Some wonder whether the Year of the Rat will help promote the cause of rat cuisine. While rodent vittles are still consumed in China, the popularity of these and other exotic meats waned after epidemiologists traced the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003 to the consumption of weasel-like animals called civets.

Mr. Tam, the hunter, is underwhelmed by the event. "We don't need an excuse to eat rat," he said.

London-based reporter Aaron Odysseus Patrick on
where to eat, stay and shop in this Arab beach town.
February 5, 2008; Page D4

What to do: With a population of just 100,000, Essaouira is a way to see Morocco and avoid the tourist crowds of Marrakesh or Casablanca. The city has two main attractions: the beach and the medina. The medina, or old city, was built in the late 1700s and is ringed by picturesque ramparts and cannons built to fend off European invaders. Inside, hundreds of tiny shops along narrow lanes sell everything from spices to surf clothes. Part of the fun is wandering around and haggling with shopkeepers, some of whom wear the traditional berber robe, the djellaba.
Essaouira's long beach gets lots of sun, even in the middle of winter. The small, clean waves are good for beginner surfers and a consistent breeze makes it a popular spot for wind-surfing. There are also camel and horse rides on the beach and four-wheel motorbike riding.
[See Slideshow]

Where to stay:
Retiring Abroad May Not Be Paradise
February 5, 2008; Page D1

As the first wave of baby boomers hits retirement age, life overseas beckons. But be warned: Retiring abroad can have its logistical headaches.

Many of today's graying expatriates are heading permanently offshore to stretch their nest egg. Jon and Gretchen Nickel, formerly of Portland, Ore., settled in Panama, where they say they can live like the rich without needing a big bankroll. Lee Harrison and Julie Lowrey, from Vermont, moved to Uruguay because the lower living costs allowed them to retire years early. Other expat retirees are seeking foreign adventure, cultural experiences and exotic travel, without having to board an airplane.
Jon and Gretchen Nickel retired to Panama, where they remodeled their oceanview apartment.

But retiring to a foreign land can present a number of challenges, from opening a local bank account to avoiding being gouged for services. And while many countries, from Belize to South Africa, offer inducements to attract foreign retirees, making sure you've got health insurance can be a big problem.

Moving abroad also means leaving behind family and friends, though Internet communications can shorten the distances. There can also be safety and security concerns, depending on where you end up.

"People go on a vacation and love the place and say 'I want to live here.' But that's very different than living there day to day and buying groceries and dealing with your finances," says Hugh Bromma, chief executive of Entrust Group, a financial-services firm that caters to many expat retirees.

Would you consider retiring overseas to save money? Join a discussion.

Roger and Jennifer Miller retired to the Caribbean nation of Dominica in 2005, expecting that meeting residency requirements "would be a cakewalk, and it wasn't," says Mr. Miller, 61, a former analytical chemist in St. Louis. What's more, he says, "expenses you expect to be cheaper often aren't" because locals expect Americans have money and charge more for services. He says life in Dominica "is about two times more expensive than I was led to believe when we started asking around down here about retiring here."

No agency tracks how many U.S. retirees live overseas. The federal government requires no forms. To help start you in the right direction, here are some things you should consider before making a move:

Banking and Finance

Online banking and brokerage accounts make managing money easy from anywhere you can find an Internet connection. But working with local banks can be frustrating.

Mr. Harrison, a former project manager with power company Exelon Corp., first retired to Ecuador at the age of 49, before relocating last year to a $160,000 beach house near Punta del Este, Uruguay, and a 1,000-square-foot apartment in Montevideo, Uruguay's cosmopolitan capital. In Ecuador, which uses the U.S. dollar as the national currency, he could deposit dollar-denominated checks at his local bank, though they generally took three weeks to clear. But Uruguay uses the peso, and local banks don't accept dollar checks.

So, like many retired expats, Mr. Harrison operates his finances from the U.S. He maintains a Citibank account in the U.S. and wires blocks of money to Uruguay three times a year at a cost of $45 per transaction. Other retirees also rely on local ATMs to tap their cash in the U.S., though fees for currency conversion and non-network ATM use can add up quickly.

Most retirees also keep their credit cards based in the U.S. Mr. Harrison says he buys lots of merchandise online "and American vendors generally don't let you use a foreign credit card." Bills also are paid online.

Opening accounts can range from simple to vexing. Mr. Harrison's bank in Uruguay "just wanted my passport. It was so easy." For the Millers, the process took weeks. They didn't bring any documents, and the Dominican bank they chose wanted letters of credit and references from the couple's U.S. bank.

Banks are trying to make some of these processes easier. HSBC PLC has revamped its Premier Account to help customers moving overseas arrange for bank accounts and mortgages in their new country. The bank also provides documents necessary for obtaining services such as a mobile phone, which often requires a local credit history. Charles Schwab & Co. has begun allowing its overseas customers, located in more than 200 countries, to establish standing letters of authorization so they can request with just an email that money be wired to an account abroad.

Health and Social Security

Social Security won't be much of a problem. The Social Security Administration will electronically deposit a monthly Social Security check in many banks around the world, though not all. Still, many expat retirees, to avoid challenges with local banking, have their Social Security checks electronically deposited into their U.S. bank, which they can then access online.

Health care is a bigger concern. Few U.S. employers offer health-care coverage to expat retirees, and U.S. carriers typically don't provide individual coverage to Americans living abroad. Moreover, the federal Medicare program generally doesn't cover costs outside the U.S. As such, many retirees either pay out of pocket or, once eligible for Medicare at age 65, return to the U.S. from time to time for care.
Lee Harrison and Julie Lowrey retired early -- to Uruguay.

The Nickels bought a catastrophic health-care policy from a European insurer to cover them in case a pricey medical emergency arises in Panama. The policy costs less than $2,000 a year, but kicks in only after the first $10,000 in expenses. "I'm gambling at the moment that my health will hold out to 65," says Mr. Nickel, 62 years old. "Once I get Medicare in three years, I'll be flying to Houston or Miami more often for my health care."

There is some good news. Health insurer Cigna Corp. a year ago rolled out a new insurance plan, covering health, dental and vision, that allows employers to extend health coverage to retired workers who move abroad. The plan currently covers about 200 retirees living abroad, but the insurer expects larger numbers because "we anticipate the trend to retire overseas will grow," says a Cigna spokeswoman.

Many retirees also say that basic health care in many parts of the world is very good and inexpensive. Many doctors are Western trained, and some local hospitals are affiliated with U.S. institutions. Hospital Punta Pacifica in Panama City, for instance, has partnered with Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Medicine International.

In some countries, retirees who become residents gain access to the national health-care system. Mr. Harrison, who just gained Uruguayan residency, is considering joining the national health plan. He says a friend recently joined and pays the equivalent of $65 a month for coverage that includes hospitalization, doctor visits and prescriptions.

Measuring one country's quality of health care against another isn't easy, since so many variables exist. However, the World Health Organization's World Health Report 2006 (available at contains some statistical indicators to help compare health systems across various countries.

Still, for most major medical issues, "you probably want to return to the U.S.," because of superior medical technology in U.S. hospitals, says Robert Gallo, who founded, a Web site that offers information about overseas living., to which Mr. Harrison is a contributor, also offers information on living overseas.


Some expat retirees rent property, others buy. The Millers bought land in Dominica and are building a 900-square-foot home with a big veranda in southern Dominica overlooking the Caribbean. The Nickels gutted and remodeled an apartment on the 24th floor of a Panama City apartment building and built a "very nice kitchen area" because they like to cook and entertain.

• A Remote Village in Uruguay Tries to Maintain its Exclusivity
• South of the Border, The Market Is Still Hot
• More Americans Warm Up To Homes in Newfoundland
• Low Cost of Living Draws Retirees to Southeast Asia

In some situations, there can be legal issues to owning property abroad. Mr. Gallo, of, encourages people to set up and own their property in the name of a Panamanian or British Virgin Islands corporation. When you go to sell it, you sell the corporation and the property just switches hands, easing transfer of title, Mr. Gallo says.

Taxes and Legal Issues

Many countries try to lure foreign retirees. Belize's nearly decade-old Retired Persons Incentive Act, for instance, allows retirees over age 45 to import their personal effects duty free, and to earn retirement income tax free. Countries from Italy to Panama to South Africa and Thailand offer a "pensioner visa" or "retirement visa" to Americans who can prove a certain level of monthly income. The visas can provide a variety of benefits, such as automatic discounts on certain purchases and the ability to obtain a local passport.

Still, the Internal Revenue Service taxes Americans on income no matter where it's earned in the world. Tax regimens vary widely overseas, and you may or may not be subject to local taxes. Many countries have tax treaties with the U.S. to alleviate double taxation. A list of countries with such tax treaties is available at; search "tax treaties A to Z."

Three of Wall Street's biggest investment banks are set to announce today that they are imposing new environmental standards that will make it harder for companies to get financing to build coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley say they have concluded that the U.S. government will cap greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants sometime in the next few years. The banks will require utilities seeking financing for plants before then to prove the plants will be economically viable even under potentially stringent federal caps on carbon dioxide, the main man-made greenhouse gas.

The move shows Wall Street is the latest U.S. business sector that sees some kind of government emissions-capping as inevitable. But it shows disagreement about what to do.

It also marks the latest obstacle to coal, which provides about half of U.S. electricity but emits large amounts of CO2. Citing costs, the U.S. government last week pulled support for a project called FutureGen that many utilities saw as a step toward burning coal cleanly.

The standards, which would apply to all but the smallest plants, result from nine months of negotiations among the three banks and some of the biggest U.S. utilities and environmental groups. The standards could hurt coal-dependent utilities that haven't begun factoring a future price of CO2 emissions into their planning. But they could help utilities that have.

The banks say they don't want to be involved with debt that goes bad as a result of government emissions caps that require the power plants they finance to buy large numbers of extra pollution allowances. Under a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse-gas emissions, the government would distribute a certain number of emission allowances each year. Companies whose emissions exceeded their allowances would have to buy more from companies that had more than needed. Congress is considering several cap-and-trade proposals.

"We have to wake up some people who are asleep," says Jeffrey Holzschuh, vice chairman of institutional securities at Morgan Stanley.

The banks are likely to continue to finance certain coal-fired power plants: those designed to capture greenhouse-gas emissions and shoot them underground if that technology became practical. But they make it less likely the banks will finance other coal-fired plants. Several dozen are on the drawing board in the U.S., many not yet financed.

The standards follow TXU Corp.'s proposal to build 11 coal-fired power plants in Texas -- a plan it scaled back to three last year. TXU was later taken private by a group led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and TPG, formerly Texas Pacific Group. Citi, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley -- top financiers to the U.S. power industry -- were among the banks that advised the buyers.

The banks are under pressure from environmental groups but say their bigger motive is financial. Most major presidential candidates favor legislation to limit emissions. "What is earth-shakingly different between now and two years ago is the focus on CO2," says Eric Fornell, vice chairman of J.P. Morgan's natural-resources banking division. Several states have begun requiring utilities to account for the potential cost of emissions in new-plant plans.

The banks say they will encourage energy-efficiency and renewable-energy pushes before backing new coal plants. And they say they will help utilities push for new government policies that make efficiency programs and renewable energy more practical.

When utilities apply for financing for coal-fired plants, the banks will use "somewhat conservative" assumptions about future caps, says Hal Clark, co-chairman of Citi's power-sector investment-banking division. The banks say they will consider the possibility that utilities will have to pay for their allowances -- an idea utilities are fighting.

Two environmental groups -- Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council -- worked with the banks to develop the standards. Mark Brownstein, an Environmental Defense official, says if utilities have to pay for emission allowances, "the days of conventional coal really are over."

But several utilities that helped draft the standards say they shouldn't have to pay for most of their allowances. Michael Morris, chief executive of American Electric Power Co., says his company believes it should get 90% to 95% free. Most big coal-fired utilities paying for their allowances would drive up their costs and consumers' electric bills.

Some conventional coal-fired plants could pass muster if the utility showed it could raise its rates to cover the higher cost of polluting. "It's still conceivable that conventional coal plants might make the most sense in a specific location in a specific community," J.P. Morgan's Mr. Fornell says.

AEP's Mr. Morris says the new standards clearly make it "more difficult" to build a conventional coal plant. AEP is designing new plants to capture and store CO2 if that technology becomes viable. The Wall Street seal of approval, he says, might help surmount local opposition. "A regulator may find this another reason to go forward" in approving a new coal-fired plant, Mr. Morris says. A spokesman for Southern Co., another big utility that helped draft the standards, says it believes they will stimulate more discussion.

President Bush's final budget shows war spending and the cooling economy pushing the federal deficit to near-record levels in the current and next fiscal years.

That gloomy fiscal outlook has emerged quickly. Just last summer, the Office of Management and Budget predicted the current fiscal year's deficit would come in at $258 billion; but the White House now expects the deficit to reach $410 billion in the current fiscal year, just short of the record set four years ago. The flood of red ink will flow from cooling corporate-tax receipts, the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan and a short-term economic stimulus package, according to the plan released today. In fiscal 2007, with the economy humming, corporate tax receipts reached a record $370 billion. Now, they're pegged at $345 billion in fiscal 2008 and $339 billion in fiscal 2009, which begins in October. With military spending in the budget approaching World-War-II levels, the Bush administration aims to hold down the deficit by essentially freezing discretionary spending in other areas. The White House again called for lawmakers to scrap hundreds of government programs, saying 151 programs needlessly spend more than $18 billion. Whether Congress is ready to get on board is another question. The White House's budget request is typically declared dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, especially coming in a president's final year. "This budget will be quickly forgotten," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.). "But, unfortunately, the president's legacy of debt will stay with us, as it is passed on to future generations."

The budget's short-term pessimism contrasts with its optimism over the medium term. The Bush administration still insists that its tax cuts and stimulus package will revive growth enough to eliminate the deficit after Mr. Bush leaves office and generate a $48 billion surplus in 2012. To keep with that prediction, the budget makes a few assumptions that critics call overly positive. One of them is a $70 billion price tag for the war on terror, far short of what is expected to be the war's full cost. The critics also point to the assumption that the recent relief granted for the alternative minimum tax won't become a long-term measure. Finally, the White House is using the same forecast it released in November, despite mounting concerns that the economy is now slipping into recession. And even if the government achieves a budget surplus in fiscal 2012, its fiscal standing will quickly deteriorate due to the exploding growth of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, a situation the White House acknowledges.
Budget Proposes $560 Billion Cut
In Medicare; Insurance Subsidy Intact
February 4, 2008 10:38 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration would cut roughly $560 billion from Medicare over the next decade but would leave intact program subsidies to insurers worth an estimated $150 billion over the same period.

The cuts would slow the program's projected annual growth rate from 7% to 5% and are needed to slow "the unsustainable growth in entitlement spending," President Bush said in a letter to Congress submitting his last budget plan.

"If we do not address this challenge, we will leave our children three bad options: huge tax increases, huge deficits, or huge cuts in benefits," Mr. Bush said.

Several congressional leaders are also calling for a bipartisan discussion of federal entitlements, but most observers say differences between Mr. Bush and the Democratically controlled Congress are too great for any agreement to be reached.

The Bush administration estimates that the cuts would save the program, in net present value terms, roughly $10 trillion over the next 75 years. The savings would reduce nearly one-third of the program's unfunded obligations, the White House said.

The budget, however, contains few details about some of the proposed cuts. For example, the budget says with little elaboration that it "proposes to encourage greater individual responsibility for health care choices and costs."

The budget does outline a plan to cut Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals when certain funding levels are surpassed. If enacted, the proposal would cut such payments by 0.4% each year the program relied upon general revenues for more than 45% of its funding. In 2006, about 41% of the program's costs were funded from general revenue.

It is unclear, however, whether payments to insurers would be subject to the provider payment cuts proposed by the White House.

The White House has fought congressional efforts to cut subsidized payments to insurers in the past. And in the budget Monday it argues that the payments allow insurers to "offer beneficiaries greater choices and higher-quality health care."

The administration and insurer advocates also argue that the additional payments are needed to encourage seniors to switch from the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program in favor of private insurance. They argue that while benefits offered by private insurers cost more today, over they long run an insurer-managed program will cost less than the traditional fee-for-service program.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, however, estimates that the overpayments to insurers increase costs premiums fee-for-service beneficiaries and will shorten the program's fiscal solvency by two years.

Democrats have targeted the subsidies as a possible offset to the cost of an increase in federal funding for state children's health insurance programs, or SCHIP. Mr. Bush has proposed a $20 billion increase in SCHIP funding, but Democrats argue that would lead to fewer children being covered by the program and are advocating a $50 billion SCHIP funding hike.

OPEN on a stark white background, with tinkly music in the background. On the left stands a stuffy-looking man in khakis, jacket and tie, wearing glasses. On the right, an laid-back guy in casual clothes. In the center, a bald, nondescript middle-aged guy.
If you're going to write a script for a PC vs. Mac ad, why not shoot one? Brian Fitzgerald plays PC, and Marshall Crook is Mac. Full warning: The guy in the middle is the worst actor to ever walk the face of the earth. Be gentle.

Laid-Back Guy (morosely): Hi, I'm a Mac.

Stuffy-Looking Guy (smugly): And I'm a PC.

Nondescript Guy: And I'm a tech columnist.

Mac: I don't know what to say. This almost never happens.

PC (gleefully): What happened, Mac?

Mac: Well --

Columnist: What happened is, you broke. Three and a half weeks after I got you, I came home and your screen was dark and you wouldn't switch on. Thank goodness I'd just put PC aside, instead of putting him on the curb like I'd planned.

PC: Came crawling back, did you? So I guess that bright and shiny Mac world wasn't quite as wonderful as you thought it would be.

Columnist: No, actually it was pretty nice.

(PC looks at the camera, nonplussed.)

Columnist: After 25 years using PCs, I bought a 24-inch iMac in December. And I was impressed before I even plugged it in -- it came in one slim box, instead of a stack of them. I had it up and running in about three minutes, and was on my wireless network a minute after that.

PC: Why don't we skip ahead to the part where Mac breaks?

Mac (patiently): PC….

Columnist: And it was great clearing out all those wires and cords. I don't think I'd seen the floor under my desk in two years with all the mess down there.

PC: But surely it must have been strange, adapting to all the peculiar ways those people work.

Mac: PC….

Columnist: Yeah, it was weird for a while. I had trouble getting used to the idea that there was one status bar at the top of the screen, instead of one on top of every application window. And it took me a long time to figure out Apple-C instead of CTRL-C. I felt lost for a week or so, sure. But then --

PC: But tell me about the part where he breaks!

(Mac hangs head.)

Columnist: Calm down, PC. It took me a while, but I got all my stuff transferred -- mostly files for iTunes and Word and Photoshop. My biggest problem was with Mozy, the program I use for remote backup. I loved it on the PC, but it was really slow on the Mac. Brought everything to a crawl, and crashed sometimes.

Mac: I like working with lots of programs. But I can't always control --

Columnist: I know, Mac. I'm not blaming you. Mozy for Mac's in beta. (They say they're working on an issue with wireless backups for the Mac, and pointed me to a new software release.) And even that hasn't been so bad: I know once I get the initial backup finished, things will be a lot easier. Meanwhile, I felt like I'd really made the switch. I mean, iTunes was a revelation on the Mac --

PC: Revelation? Let's not get sacrilegious here!

Columnist: ITunes worked a lot more quickly and smoothly, how's that? My dad was even inspired by my example -- he got a MacBook. A couple of days later, he asked me what antivirus software he should get, and I heard myself saying, "You don't need it, Dad -- it's a Mac." It was my first Mac Guy moment. And I felt proud.

PC: And then he broke.

Mac: Oh, don't be cruel, PC.

Columnist: Yeah, I came home and you were broken.

(PC begins hopping up and down and clapping his hands.)

Mac: What was wrong with me?

Columnist: Bad power supply. I called Apple and they had me take you into the shop. I got you back a week later.

Mac: Wow, tough break. But you know, if something like this does happen with me within the first 90 days after you take me home, you get complimentary phone support.

(Mac looks off to the side.)

Mac: Hey, let me bring out one of our technical-support people! I think she'll be played by that girl from "Juno" --

Columnist: No offense, Mac, but I was hoping not to be acquainted with your technical-support folks quite so soon. I got an appointment at the Genius Bar in the Soho Apple store. It's a strange place, the Genius Bar. Everybody waiting for help looks kind of mournful, like they did something wrong.

PC (scoffing): Sounds like some kind of weird cult to me. I'd be careful.

Columnist: Please. If there were such a thing as a PC Genius Bar, people wouldn't be waiting quietly. They'd be rioting.

PC: Hey! I'm not the one who stopped working!

Columnist: Don't start with me, PC. How many times a week did you tell me you were low on virtual memory? And remember Windows ME? I've had tumbles down the stairs that were more fun than that.

PC: But that was a long time ago! You were happy with XP! That's what I don't understand, Jace. I know I was getting old -- I couldn't simultaneously run Photoshop and Excel and surf the Web and play that indie rock you're too old for. But you could have upgraded me! You could have bought a new me! What did I do to you that was so bad that you'd leave?

Columnist: It wasn't you, PC. It was me. I guess I just wanted to try something new. I loved my iPod, and iTunes changed my musical life. Then I got an AirPort Express, and I liked that too. And eventually, the fact that I liked all these Apple products made me wonder what I was missing. I thought it might be fun to play around with iMovie and GarageBand, you know? And since you two can share files really easily now, what was holding me back?

PC: Well, busted power supplies, for one.

Mac: PC, please. So did everything work out OK?

Columnist: I don't know, Mac, you tell me. You've been running for a week. I guess that's progress.

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