News Briefs 18-08-2004

Time doesn’t work quite the same way here in Atlantis.

  • Cassini finds new Saturn moons.
  • Stars reveal the Milky Way’s age.
  • Seoul ticks off Beijing for distorting history.
  • Tibetan medicine packed with unusual pharmaceutical properties.
  • Cosmic ray link to global warming boosted.
  • Ice yields ancient plant matter.
  • Hurricane Charley’s sharp turn baffles scientists.
  • Churchill and Hitler: Titans of World War 2.
  • The forgotten black confederate soldier.
  • Greenstock: If Iraq in 2006 looks very little better than under Saddam, then the whole thing was a waste of lives, money and effort.
  • 100,000 Radiations – A Review.
  • The devil in their diet.
  • Prions act as stepping stones in evolution.
  • Ganymede has a lumpy interior.
  • A flash flood in the pan or a rainstorm caused by global warming?
  • Taking the pulse of planet Earth.
  • Nanotubes may have no temperature.
  • Scientists to investigate genetic history of Britons.
  • Maligned and ridiculed, cold fusion gains respect as a cheap way to produce nuclear weapons.
  • Is Mercury an incredible shrinking planet?
  • Low-carb diets get thermodynamic defence.
  • On the electromagnetic basis for gravity.
  • Walden’s ripple effect.
  • Could Australia’s deadly snakes put the bite on cancer. Perhaps they could even provide for a test of another viewpoint?
  • Cornish sun pillar.
  • Earth in 2050: Expect 9 billion humans.
  • Explorers find ancient city in Peru jungle.
  • Venus: an inhabited world?
  • Sankapala Viharaya’s archaeological importance.
  • Marijuana extract fights brain cancer.

Quote of the Day:

Better late than never.


  1. Freeing people from tyrany is
    Freeing people from tyrany is always worth the price, regardless of how long it takes or how many lives are sacrificed.
    I would have assumed most Europeans would understand that.

    1. One man’s tyrant is anothers President
      So why not North Korea? Oh yeah…they already HAVE nukes, and dont have any oil.

      Given your reasoning, which seems fine on the face of it, does that mean Europe and the Canadians (with Venezualan help maybe) can invade the US now then?

      Honestly, your simplistic and emotionally charged reasoning is exactly of that order. It was and still is a needless war. That is even the opinion of at least one Republican congressman, who is Vice-Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

      “I’ve reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action,”

      To sit in silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men

      1. Who cares what Republicans sa
        Who cares what Republicans say, they are just as corupt as Democrats.
        Yes I do believe we should take out North Korea, but not before we stop through a few spots in Africa on the way. Republicans certainly don’t believe that, but I do.

        I will continue to protest as well, I will protest that we need to do more, not less, in ousting tyrany and suffering.

        Oh and if Canada and Europe are suffering that badly because of America’s so called Tyrany, then yes, they should rally up and take down the evil satan, if they can prove their case. By all means, do it. The fact of the matter is, they are just depend on America just as much as they might ‘suffer’ because of America. So go ahead, cut the cord from their evil tyrianical satan if that’s what America is proven to be. If they are right, they will prevail.

        1. Misunderstanding
          You misunderstand. Europe and Canada should mount a “crusade” to free the American people, not themselves.

          To sit in silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men

          1. Curious, what do the American
            Curious, what do the American people need to be freed of exactly? If we are suffering, then please free us.

      2. North Korea and Evil Oil
        Hi Cernig,

        You wrote, “So why not North Korea? Oh yeah…they already HAVE nukes, and dont have any oil.”

        You’re right, we can’t invade N. Korea now that they have developed a nuclear capability. They bought the technology from Pakistan and developed those weapons right under the noses of the UN inspectors. We waited too late, and some of us didn’t seem to learn anything from the experience. Oh well, let the UN put another sanction on them that everyone knows the UN will never enforce. That will fix it.

        Speaking of oil, I’ve never seen any crow-eating or apologies from those that accused the US of invading Iraq for the oil. The invasion kept the oil flowing, but the US and all other coalition participants buy Iraqi oil on the open market just like everyone else. Keeping that oil flowing is important, unless you didn’t eat, drink anything, or go anywhere today. Did you run that air conditioner in Texas today? That mean old dirty oil is the life-blood of western society. Iraq has the second-largest oilfield on the planet.


        1. oil
          Bill and Cernig,

          If oil is the real reason for war, why hasn’t the US invaded Sudan yet? Here’s a country with a minority Muslim government, slaughtering the Sudanese, and there are vast reserves of oil.

          As for Iraq — France opposed the invasion of Iraq because it is one of Iraq’s biggest oil customers (and weapons suppliers). Same goes for China, Russia and Germany. Ironic, the very countries who opposed war in Iraq did so for selfish reasons, to protect their own economies and to keep the oil flowing through their pipelines. Not to mention the SAMs found in Iraq that were dated to this year and supplied by France …

          The one thing I despise more than Right-Wing America is Left-Wing hypocrisy and double-standards. The US is not the cause of the world’s ills, it’s a cause; many other countries are just as guilty as the US. Hell, if you want someone to blame, throw a rock in the air, you’ll hit someone guilty.

          I’m for regime change in Iraq and the downfall of Saddam Hussein. Yet I don’t like Bush. I oppose Bush’s methods and reasons for invading Iraq: he did the wrong thing, manipulating the global terrorist threat to justify his own personal revenge story. He should be voted out of office at the next election and forced to share a cell with Saddam Hussein. Yet I oppose the Left’s hypocrisy over Iraq even more!

          Blaming America is easy, anyone can do that. What no one is doing (or rather, the Left isn’t doing), is looking at all of the factors, all of the countries, all of the people and situations involved. And when you do this, it’s a whole lot messier and harder to put the blame on any one nation.

          Meanwhile in Africa, 2 million die of AIDS each year, millions of others die of ridiculous things such as diarrhea and other diseases caused by poverty.

          As for North Korea, it has this comrade called China …

          America is a convenient scapegoat for the Left to avoid looking at the real issues in this world. The Left’s hypocrisy sickens me as much as Bush does.

          I wonder how many of those who hate America and Bush and the war in Iraq actually donate some of their time or money to organisations such as Medicines Sans Frontiere (Doctors Without Borders) or the Red Cross or any charity that works in Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, helping the poor and the sick? I doubt any of them do. And this is the worst hypocrisy of the Left.

          1. In my own defence
            Bill and Rico,

            I agree with all that you both wrote. I was merely playing Devil’s Advocate to the original post. Yes, I am unashamedly left-wing, although fairly anarchistic in my outlook. I was brought up by socialists in a socialist nation where “from each according to their means, to each according to their needs” was held to be self-evident. But I am not stupid.The left is to blame as is the right, and other nations share the fault.However, in the most powerful nation on earth, the right currently holds power. To the biggest kid on the block goes the decision to be either bully or protector.

            As to charities, I give to Red Cross and Amnesty International whenever I can. I refuse to give to any charity organised on religious lines however.

            To sit in silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men

        2. oil
          Bill, Australia supplies 85% of it’s own oil needs and we could pay a whole lot less than we do at present, nearly $1 litre.By 2005 we may be paying twice as much, I recently heard.
          But, we belong to OPEC so we pay a whole lot more than you do.

          My daughter in Canada pays as much per month to heat her 3 storey house as I pay a month to a/c a tiny 2 bedroom house.

          There has never been parity in petrol prices.

          The US is the country running out of oil, not us, we have plenty.

          Our country went to war in Iraq not for oil, but to buddy up to the US.A pretty lousy reason IMHO.

          The US has for many many years had cheap power at the expense of the rest of the world. You drive bigger cars while the rest of the world down-sized years ago.

          The reason for the Republican’s invasion of Iraq was oil and Bush has been reported as saying that he would not have Americans lower their standard of living for anyone.

          It’s not the people in our countries that stink Bill, it is our leaders.



          1. Price of oil
            Excuse me, Shadows, but I think you confuse the ‘price’ of oil with the ‘cost’ of oil. Your $1/litre is almost entirely the result of your government doing social engineering literally at your expense. And that, of course, is following the european model. Just about everybody is paying the same $40/bbl. for the raw material. And in spite of the SUV slams, the real reason the price of crude is that high is the rapidly expanding consumption of the Chinese and to a lessor extent, the Indians, just now. If you could mail order petrol like we are trying to mail order prescription drugs, you would quickly find your government punishing you.

          2. No
            No Xavier, I am referring to what the rest of the world pays for oil as against what the US has always paid for oil.
            Yes our government whacks us with a huge levy on petrol, but we don’t need to belong to OPEC.
            The US has horn-swoggled us into it.
            The price we pay is not what it would be if we did not belong to OPEC.
            Our government long ago said we had to have parity of pricing with the rest of the world.
            That’s a joke.
            We are not paying high prices for the 85% of oil we produce ourselves, only the other 15%, but then we have to go with the OPEC line on pricing.

            Australian governments have historically always ridden on the coattails of the US.
            When the US president says to jump our pollies say….how high?
            We should be like NZ, a tiny country of 3 million people but they told the US to shove their ANZUS Treaty and their nuclear ships coming into their harbours, and what they thought about invading Iraq.

            Check the price the US has paid for oil in the past 50 years and compare it with any other country.
            America is the greatest consumer of oil and intends to remain so,they have their standards to maintain, no matter that the world is fast running out of oil available to them, they will just take it when and where they need it.


    2. Freedom from tyranny?
      Noble, but naive. You can’t “free” people who don’t want liberty with every fiber of their being, enough to sacrifice themselves to the last to obtain it. Liberation most often means replacing one oppressive regime with another. Without the resolve and determination to remain free, the society will just degrade into a dictatorship – just like democracy’s natural evolution, but faster.

      As for America’s prosecution of the “war”; it was nothing of the kind, with no formal declaration of war as far as I am aware, and I’m a 60 year-old American veteran. We didn’t understand the mindset of the Vietnamese, much less belong there, and we don’t understand the mindset and commitment of the Islamic radical, and we don’t belong there, either. When (if) we’re gone, the country will slide right back into the mess it’s been in for millennia: killing each other brutally over how to worship the same God. All those who don’t subscribe to the “official” (read whoever is in power) doctrine will be slaughtered and persecuted, while the country languishes in the hands of some corrupt, petty dictator who will become another Saddam Hussein. To have a working free democracy, you must have good will among the people, true participation in government, and sacrifice to maintain the precious liberties you desire. We’re fast losing that here in America, and this will certainly be its last century (if that) of freedom, and Iraq is way ahead of us. Full bellies, jobs, and a reasonably decent place to breed – that’s what will be the wtachword of the next century, after a natural or man-made cataclysm has taken us back to square one. Selah.

      With a peaceful hope, but not much hope for peace; regards.

    3. mindless
      What a totally mindless statement……freeing people from tyrany is always worth the price, regardless of how long it takes or how many lives are sacrificed…

      How long did it take you to think that one up, or is it a quote from some fascist manifesto?

      Define tyranny.
      One man’s tyrant is another man’s saviour.

      In sacrificing these lives to get rid of the tyrant isn’t that sort of a like a dog chewing it’s tail off because it itches?
      OK now the itch is gone, but the tail is gone too and now it is infected and the dog dies.

      There is more than one way to rid the world of tyrants and most of these do not involve killing innocent people.


      1. neo lib facism
        No that is not a quote, it took me about .3 seconds to think up myself.

        I stand by what I said, and by sacrifice, I wasn’t reffering to innocents, I was reffering to liberators, soldiers. Sure innocents die, but in todays day of “senstive warfare”, where anyone can hide in a religious building and shoot from it knowing it is a safe place and can kill as many of their own people as they want from it…. I am speaking about soldiers sacrificing their freedom and lives in the hopes others can have benefit.

        I don’t know what other ways you are reffering to that gets rid of tyrants but all the ways the U.N. practices in most cases costs more lives than wars, statistics prove that.

        I don’t know who you have talked to but I have talked to many many friends who have recently returned from Iraq. All with the same thing to say. The news lies. Those people are incredibly happy we are there and incredibly grateful. So a few bad eggs get 1000% more media coverage than the average Iraqi, so people like you think up faciast ignorant things to say like “One man’s tyrant is another man’s saviour”…. What sad sad excuse to not save people that is. I’d like you to go to Iraq and find how many people thought Saddam was a savior.

        If you sir, or your country were being supressed and tortured like those in Iraq, I will gladly come and give my life in hopes that you can see a better day, while people like you are saying I’m doing it for oil, politics, porn, koolaid, or free sand. That’s another ‘facist’ quote you can write down in your little journal of hate, from me.
        Calling people facist is very popular from people like you. But the only facism I know, comes from those with logic like yours.

        1. fascists
          Dear whoever you are,

          I am sorry I called your quote fascist, even though you will find that every dictator or conqueror for thousands of years has assuaged his people’s fears with the same line.
          But liberators and soldiers are souls too, and should not be sacrificed for what someone believes to be a truth.
          Your truth and my truth for instance are obviously very different.

          As for Iraq, I agree with you that things are different there than the bit that gets in the news each day.
          For instance how many US soldiers have REALLY been killed there.
          Does anyone actually know?
          I don’t think so.

          Sure Saddam was a tyrant and should have been removed, and there are ways and means to do that.
          After all the US has a history of removing those they think are tyrants.
          Think Allende for starters.

          OK, saying “one person’s tyrant is another person’s saviour” is a bit flip, and I admit it.


    4. I understand your perspective
      I have a picture that sits on the mantlepiece in the front room of my house. It is a black and white picture of a man wearing a uniform with wings displayed on the lapel. He has slightly curly hair, a kind but serious face, with dark eyes. I never knew him but he was my Great Uncle. He died in the Battle of Britain. He died without a wife, without children, and he died a meaningless death. He wasn’t shot down by German pilots defending this Great Country. He wasn’t bombed out of existence. He was teaching other pilots how to fly. He taught a number of the RAF survivors. But he died whilst flying at night over southern Britain. He hit some telegraph wires whilst flying low over the countryside. His death tore the heart out of my family and left those that survived shocked and numb. It simply isn’t possible to say goodbye to the chopped up remains of a loved one. I know of him but I never knew him. Never got to laugh at his jokes or get pissed off by him either. I never knew him. But he is also one of the most familiar faces I know. I guess he died with honour – having trained many that survived the war. But he died a meaningless death. In a small vilage outside Glasgow, chiselled into a piece of granite his name stands among many. I saw it when I was a nipper. But I never knew him. In a matter of five years you could see the effect all the loss of those once living breathing people could have on that village. Grieving mothers, lonely fathers, lost siblings. It is hard not to look at one of those monuments and not feel the loss. A friend of mine went all through France visiting all the monuments. The photographs brought home were nothing more than a large gravestone. I have never seen, but I can guess that these photographs could have come from Russia or Germany or Poland and just about any other country in Europe one cares to mention. I’d like to think that most Europeans understand that. I’d like to think that most Americans understand that. In fact, I’d like to think that just about anyone from anywhere would understand that. What is important is not to reify the dead but to learn from the dead. To learn from history. You can’t beggar peoples, cultures or races, not really. The point is not to honour sacrifice, but to learn from it, and in doing so, honour the sacrifice those people made. But you also have to do so with a clear mind. The day the leader of my country leads his countrymen into war is the day I will follow. I’ve seen statues of men who survived war, and I can only assume that they deserved such monumental reverence for their heroism. When the people who have to actually fight the war are the only ones to get to vote to go to war will be a victory for heroes and cowards everywhere, the world over.


      1. Respect Due`
        Jameske, I take my hat off to you. That is quite simply the most intelligent, empathic and above all sensible comment I have yet seen on this or any other website on this matter. It brought a lump to my throat, remembering my own grandfather’s horror stories of the invasion of Europe in ww2. Thank you.

        I am also requested to pass on the compliments of my wife on a point well and truly made.

        To sit in silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men

      1. yup
        Yup. I’m mostly Irish and proud of it.

        The reason that Aussies boast about their larrikin humour is thanks to all the Irish settlers and convicts who founded this country.
        The English were only too happy to ship off as many Irish to Oz as they could, not realising that in 200 years they would have produced an entirely new mould of people.

        I remember in the movie The Committments someone said that the Irish were the blacks of Europe, and ain’t it the truth.

        In my life I have been abused, denigrated, and ridiculed for being Irish but it won’t stop me boasting till my last breath about it.

        My great great grandfather came to this country with Red Kelly, father of Ned, they were first cousins.

        When I was just a little kid at school I told the teacher and was told what a thug Ned Kelly was and I should be ashamed to admit my relationship to him.
        Well I wasn’t then and I’m not now.

        People should think about the 40,000 signatures on the petition to try and save Ned’s life.And that was in a time of very small population.

        In the other quarter of my genes I am English and German but I don’t like to talk about that.

        I love all things Irish with a passion but fear going there because I would probably never be able to come back to Oz.

        As Kermit said….it ain’t easy being green.


  2. Laws of thermodynamics
    Last year, Marilyn Vos Savant, who has “the highest I.Q. in the world”, posted a Q&A about low-carb diets in her weekly column in Parade. In her answer, she said low-carb diets work simply because they’re low in calories.

    From experience, I knew there was more to it. But I also knew I’d need a far more substantial argument than just a personal testimonial to take on the smartest person in the world. So ever since that column appeared, I’ve been keeping an eye out for the kind of evidence I’d need. Now, thanks to jameske, tdg, nature, Richard Feinman, Eugene Fine, and the laws of thermodynamics, I’ve just sent her an email explaining why she was wrong. 😉

    Thanks, Jameske — that article made my day!

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