Saturday, 4 December 2010
Gluster Storage Platform
Open Source Scale-out Storage
Manage your unstructured data in a single global namespace on commodity hardware with the open source Gluster Storage Platform.
Storage for the Modern Data Center and Cloud
Gluster Storage Platform is an open source scale-out storage solution. The software is a powerful and flexible solution that simplifies the task of managing unstructured file data whether you have a few terabytes of storage or multiple petabytes. As enterprises struggle with both the explosive growth of unstructured data and the accelerating virtualization of the computing environment, Gluster provides a solution ideally suited for on-premise NAS, storage for virtual machine images, and cloud storage.
The core of Gluster Storage Platform is the GlusterFS file system. The Storage Platform integrates GlusterFS with an operating systems layer and a graphical user interface (GUI) and installer. Gluster Storage Platform installs directly on any industry standard x64 server creating a fully functional storage server. GlusterFS may be deployed independently as a userspace application on supported operating systems for certain use cases or for access to advanced configuration options. Regardless of deployment method, Gluster is fully POSIX compliant and installs on industry standard hardware providing highly scalable, easy to use storage with the superior economics of commodity hardware plus open source software.
Gluster is scale-out NAS for unstructured file data that is applicable to multiple use cases. GlusterFS is modular and can be configured and optimized for a wide range of workloads. The global namespace aggregates disk and memory into a single pool of resources with flexible back-end disk options, supporting direct attached, JBOD, or SAN storage. Storage servers can be added or removed without disruption to service enabling storage to grow or shrink on-the-fly in the most dynamic environments. Gluster solutions are often deployed in the following scenarios:
Scalable NAS: Gluster provides up to petabytes of file storage in a single namespace for data centers that need scalability and performance that traditional NAS and SAN systems can’t provide. Storage servers are added in building block fashion to meet capacity and performance requirements; compute, I/O and disk resources can be added independently. Gluster is a lower cost alternative to SAN storage, providing comparable reliability and performance at significantly lower cost.
Virtual Storage for Virtual Machines: Gluster is a scalable NAS solution, designed for file storage; Virtual Machine (VM) images are files that are efficiently stored on Gluster. With the ability to scale to petabytes and spread I/O across multiple storage servers, Gluster eliminates the primary problems that traditional VM storage solutions suffer from. Unlike SAN storage for VMs, Gluster provides a single mount-point that thousands of VMs can share offering simplified management and lower cost.
Cloud Storage: Gluster is well suited to both public and private clouds. Enterprises build centralized storage pools that are allocated on a per-volume basis to end user customers. Gluster easily deploys on public cloud platforms such as Amazon and Rackspace to aggregate block storage into a single pool that can be shared across many clients. Gluster is POSIX compliant so the interface abstracts cloud vendor APIs and applications do not need to be modified.
Dynamic Data Center and Cloud Environments
The data storage industry is evolving rapidly to address the explosive growth of unstructured data, the move to virtualize the entire data center, and the delivery of services from the cloud. In many areas storage virtualization technology lacks the maturity of server capabilities. As storage evolves it is transforming to reflect and resemble the compute infrastructure. Gluster addresses these emerging needs on multiple dimensions.
Virtualization – Gluster aggregates disk and memory resources into a single unified pool, abstracting the underlying hardware.
Multi-tenancy – With Gluster data is contained in logical volumes that are separate partitions allocated to different users or groups; volumes are centrally managed for efficiency.
Scale on Demand – Storage servers and disk capacity can be added or removed on-the-fly to address the need for capacity growth or changing workload conditions. Logical volumes can grow, shrink, or migrate across systems in the cluster with no downtime or service interruption.
Automation – Gluster includes an advanced console manager that merges the Command Line Interface (CLI), Application Programming Interface (API) and shell into a single powerful interface, enabling automation by giving the CLI higher level API’s and scripting capabilities.
Scale-out – Gluster treats storage as a software problem, leveraging industry standard hardware and providing the compelling economics of commodity hardware and open source software.
Karen Human Rights Group | Villagers flee to avoid fighting and portering: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District
December 4th, 2010
Villagers flee to avoid fighting and portering: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District
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Civilians in Dooplaya District continue to be impacted by conflict between the Tatmadaw and armed Karen groups, who have increased fighting in the area since November 7th 2010. The situation around Palu village remains highly unstable; in order to avoid conflict and conflict-related abuse, civilians are moving frequently between their homes and fields, more secure locations outside the village and along the Moei River, and both official and unofficial locations in Thailand's Phop Phra District. Residents of the community have told KHRG that they believe male villagers face a serious threat of being forcibly recruited as porters to support re-supply operations of Tatmadaw units deployed in the area, and that men in Palu are actively avoiding encountering Tatmadaw troops.
Report Maps Map 1: Dooplaya District Map 2: Karen Districts Map 3: Burma
This picture, taken on December 3rd 2010, shows residents of Palu village fleeing to the Burma side of the Moei River to avoid expected fighting between the Tatmadaw and DKBA forces active near Palu. [Photo: KHRG]
Civilians in Dooplaya District continue to be impacted by increased conflict since November 7th 2010, involving Burma's state army, the Tatmadaw, and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), as well as other armed Karen groups. Since larger battles occurred in Myawaddy and Three Pagodas Pass towns on November 8th and 9th, the conflict has been characterised by frequent skirmishes, shelling and guerrilla style attacks throughout areas opposite Tak and Kanchanaburi provinces, Thailand.
Civilians living in areas affected by fighting, including villages in which fighting is expected but has yet to occur, have described a range of physical security and livelihoods threats including: death, injury, or destruction of property as a result of skirmishes between armed groups and functionally indiscriminate use of weapons by soldiers in civilian areas; looting of property by soldiers or other villagers; arrest, detention or execution by soldiers that suspect civilians of supporting an adverse party to the conflict; sexual violence; arrest and forced portering; movement restrictions impeding livelihoods activities and villagers' ability to escape fighting; and the fear that prolonged fighting and associated abuses will disrupt the harvesting of corn and bean crops into which many villagers in the area have invested significant labour and financial resources.
Most of these threats are markedly different from the human rights and security concerns associated with the low-intensity conflict that communities in eastern Dooplaya have confronted over the past decade. Villagers have told KHRG that they do not feel safe amid the unstable and increasingly dangerous military context created by the upheaval of military relationships and the re-emergence of open conflict; many have opted to flee with their families temporarily to more secure locations from which they can monitor the security situation and check on their homes, property and crops. Villagers attempting to access such temporary refuge in Thailand, however, have faced a number of obstacles that have caused incoming refugees to hide in dispersed, discreet locations or else cross back and forth between temporary sites established just across the border in Burma whenever fighting occurs. Several sources, including within the DKBA, have told KHRG that they expect the fighting to continue, which suggests that the protection threats to villagers in eastern Dooplaya will remain urgent.
Continued fighting and displacement in Palu village
Earlier this week KHRG reported that residents of Palu village, Kawkareik Township, began fleeing their homes on November 25th to avoid shelling and clashes between Tatmadaw and DKBA forces. Further fighting in Palu has been reported every day since then, including yesterday, when one villager estimated that more than 20 shells landed in and around the village.
Saw Wi---, a resident of Palu that spoke with KHRG, said that Tatmadaw forces are currently based in several strategic locations in the area, including at a camp on the western edge of Palu at the base of a small mountain and at a site on top of the same mountain known at Dtah Kaw Kyo, a 30-minute climb from Palu village. Dtah Kaw Kyo has a clear line of sight into Palu village and adjacent villages in Thailand, extending as far as the town of Mae Sot on a clear day.
According to Saw Wi---, on the morning of December 3rd at approximately 10 am DKBA soldiers arrived at the edge of a forested area on the outskirts of Palu and began surveying the area to see if Tatmadaw soldiers were present; Saw Wi--- reported that this prompted many villagers to flee the village because they feared that the Tatmadaw unit occupying Dtah Kaw Kyo would easily spot the DKBA soldiers and begin firing mortars into the village. Saw Wi--- also said he heard that another villager had been warned by the DKBA soldiers that they were planning to attack Tatmadaw troops stationed in Palu, and that they should consider fleeing.
These photos, taken on December 2nd 2010, show villagers from Palu in an RTA-administered temporary refugee site in Meh Gku Kay village in Thailand's Phop Phra District. Many residents of Palu have fled multiple times since Tatmadaw forces took positions in the village on November 25th. One Palu resident told KHRG that some villagers preferred not to stay in such official sites if they had other options, because their movements would be tightly controlled, their access to information about the situation in Palu would be limited, and they would have no choice about when to return to Burma. [Photos: KHRG]
Most residents of Palu initially fled only to the Burma side of the Moei River, a short distance from Palu; Saw Wi--- said he believed villagers were unwilling to cross into Thailand at this stage because they worried that Royal Thai Army (RTA) soldiers would ask them to stay in locations tightly administered by the RTA. At approximately 11:30 am some of the villagers decided to cross into Thailand, when shelling began in Palu village. Another villager, who had not fled prior to the shelling but arrived in Thailand at approximately 2 pm, told a KHRG researcher that he estimated more than 20 shells had been fired, and that several shells had landed inside Palu, including on the football pitch, while other shells had landed outside the village and near the Tatmadaw camp on the western edge of Palu.
As of 4 pm on December 3rd, most residents of Palu had not returned to their homes. When asked where the villagers would stay during that evening, Saw Wi--- told KHRG:
"I believe tonight none of the villagers will dare to go back [to Palu]. Some villagers who know people on the Thai side will go stay [in Thailand] with their friends. Villagers who don't have friends there will stay on the Thai side in field huts. Some people will stay on the Burma side, but won't dare to go back to the village."
When asked further whether he thought villagers staying in Thailand would try to stay in sites administered by the Thai authorities, Saw Wi--- said he believed that villagers would avoid these sites because of tight restrictions on refugees entering and exiting the sites, the difficulty of getting information about the situation in their village from inside the sites, and the likelihood of being forcibly returned while staying in the sites. Nonetheless, by 4:30 pm staff from relief organisations in Thailand counted 1,029 villagers at an RTA administered site opposite Palu.
Further south in the Kyo G'Lee area of Kawkareik Township, meanwhile, a KHRG researcher has reported that villagers have been leaving their homes amid fears of renewed fighting between Tatmadaw and DKBA forces. Since November 27th, small groups of villagers from Mae Gk'La Kee, T'Naw Hta, Maw Gk'Noe Kee, Kyo G'lee, Kwee Ta'Ho, G'Neh Thay Hta and Bpaw Baw Hta villages have reportedly fled, with some seeking protection in Gk'Law Htaw and Noh Bp'Taw Wah villages in Thailand's Umphang District as of December 2nd 2010.
These photos, taken on November 30th 2010, shows villagers from the Kyo G'Lee area of Kawkareik Township, fleeing through the jungle to seek protection in Gk'law Htaw and Noh Bp'Taw Wah villages in Thailand. The situation for communities in eastern Dooplaya District is highly unstable, and many villagers have told KHRG that temporary displacement of families to more secure locations, including to Thailand, until the security situation becomes clearer is an important protection strategy in the current context. [Photos: KHRG]
Residents of Palu have also told KHRG that the arrest of male villagers as porters by Tatmadaw forces remains a significant threat to civilians. According to a Saw Ju---, a villager from Palu who spoke with KHRG, on December 1st two ethnic Burman male residents of Palu were arrested while harvesting beans on a plantation on the outskirts of the village and ordered to carry an injured Tatmadaw soldier as well as rice rations. Ka---, who is in his mid-twenties, and Da---, who is in his early thirties, were detained by Tatmadaw soldiers currently based at a camp at Ta Le Ee Pwa, which is approximately 45 minutes on foot southeast of Palu.
According to Saw Ju---, who met with Ka--- and Da--- after the incident, the two men were ordered to carry a Tatmadaw soldier, who was wounded in his leg, in a bamboo stretcher from the camp at Ta Le Ee Pwa to the Tatmadaw camp on the western edge of Palu village. When the men reached the Tatmadaw camp in Palu, they were immediately ordered to carry sacks of rice back to Ta La Ee Pwa. According to Saw Ju---, Da--- attempted to bribe the soldiers to avoid portering the rice, but his offer was ignored. Hungry from not having eaten after carrying the wounded soldier, Ka--- abandoned his load a short distance from the Tatmadaw outpost and escaped temporarily to Thailand. Da--- finished carrying his load to Ta Le Ee Pwa; on December 2nd he was ordered to porter rice again, this time from Ta Le Ee Pwa to the Tatmadaw camp at Dta Kaw Kyo, on a small mountain to the west of Palu village. Da--- abandoned his load on the way to Dta Kaw Kyo and escaped; Saw Ju--- said that when he spoke with Da--- later that afternoon, he said he would avoid meeting Tatmadaw troops in the future because he did not want to be arrested and forced to porter again.
Villagers from Palu that have spoken with KHRG have confirmed that male residents are highly concerned that they will be arrested as porters, since it is believed that the Tatmadaw has not yet completed the delivery of rations to all of its forces active in the area. Saw Ju--- said he had seen eight truckloads of rations arrive in Palu but that not all of the rations had yet left the village. Another Palu resident, Saw Bo---, told KHRG that, while passing a Tatmadaw checkpoint near the riverside at Palu at 10:45 am on December 2nd, he overheard a Tatamadaw officer's telephone conversation in which the officer explained:
"Now the fighting has stopped but it isn't easy for us to go to Waw Lay. We need more troops. Now some rice has arrived in Palu. Some of the rice still needs to be sent and we need troops who will take security [for the rice delivery]."
KHRG reported last week that DKBA sources said they were in fact actively obstructing Tatmadaw efforts to re-supply units deployed further south in Waw Lay; as long as such operations remain ongoing, villagers in Palu are likely to continue to fear that male civilians will be arrested as porters to support delivery of Tatmadaw rations.
 See: "Protection concerns expressed by civilians amdist conflict in Dooplaya and Pa'an Districts," KHRG, Novmeber 2010; "Arrest, looting and flight: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "Villager injured, community flees: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "Threats to human rights, obstacles to protection: Conditions for civilians seeking refuge in Phop Phra District, Thailand," KHRG, November 2010.
 See: "Protection concerns expressed by civilians amdist conflict in Dooplaya and Pa'an Districts," KHRG, Novmeber 2010; "Arrest, looting and flight: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "Threats to human rights, obstacles to protection: Conditions for civilians seeking refuge in Phop Phra District, Thailand," KHRG, November 2010.
 See: "Protection concerns expressed by civilians amdist conflict in Dooplaya and Pa'an Districts," KHRG, Novmeber 2010; "School closures and movement restrictions: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "Arrest, looting and flight: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "Threats to human rights, obstacles to protection: Conditions for civilians seeking refuge in Phop Phra District, Thailand," KHRG, November 2010.
 See: "Protection concerns expressed by civilians amdist conflict in Dooplaya and Pa'an Districts," KHRG, Novmeber 2010
 See: "Protection concerns expressed by civilians amdist conflict in Dooplaya and Pa'an Districts," KHRG, Novmeber 2010; "More arrests and movement restrictions: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "Threats to human rights, obstacles to protection: Conditions for civilians seeking refuge in Phop Phra District, Thailand," KHRG, November 2010.
 See: "School closures and movement restrictions: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "Villager injured, community flees: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "More arrests and movement restrictions: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010
 See: "Protection concerns expressed by civilians amdist conflict in Dooplaya and Pa'an Districts," KHRG, Novmeber 2010; "School closures and movement restrictions: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "Threats to human rights, obstacles to protection: Conditions for civilians seeking refuge in Phop Phra District, Thailand," KHRG, November 2010.
 See: "Protection concerns expressed by civilians amdist conflict in Dooplaya and Pa'an Districts," KHRG, Novmeber 2010; "Arrest, looting and flight: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "More arrests and movement restrictions: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "Threats to human rights, obstacles to protection: Conditions for civilians seeking refuge in Phop Phra District, Thailand," KHRG, November 2010.
 See: "Arrest, looting and flight: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010; "Threats to human rights, obstacles to protection: Conditions for civilians seeking refuge in Phop Phra District, Thailand," KHRG, November 2010.
 See: "Protection concerns expressed by civilians amdist conflict in Dooplaya and Pa'an Districts," KHRG, Novmeber 2010; "Threats to human rights, obstacles to protection: Conditions for civilians seeking refuge in Phop Phra District, Thailand," KHRG, November 2010.
 KHRG reported earlier this week that two civilians in the Kyo G'Lee area had been arrested and that Tatmadaw forces were enforcing movement restrictions in the area; see: "More arrests and movement restrictions: Conflict continues to impact civilians in Dooplaya District," KHRG, November 2010
Xenon gas used in a bid to reduce brain injury in newborns
An ongoing research study in newborn babies investigating the feasibility of using inhaled xenon gas to prevent brain injury is to be the subject of a BBC2 Horizon documentary this coming Monday 27th September at 21.00.
In March this year, in a bid to prevent brain injury, Dr John Dingley, Consultant Anaesthetist and Reader in Anaesthetics at Swansea University’s School of Medicine, became the first doctor to administer xenon gas to a newborn - baby ‘Riley' - who suffered oxygen deprivation at birth. Since then, Dr Dingley has successfully used this gas in a further seven babies at risk of developing brain damage.
Baby ‘Riley’, born by emergency Caesarean section in Bath at full term, showed early signs of brain injury and was immediately transferred to St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol for ‘cooling’. After being cooled by Professor Marianne Thoresen to 33.5 degrees Celsius, Dr Dingley then connected baby Riley up to his xenon breathing system, which works in conjunction with the mechanical lung ventilator, and administered the gas from his workstation at the side of the baby incubator for a period of up to 12 hours.
Riley was then kept cool for 72 hours; slowly re-warmed and was able to breathe without assistance on day five. On day seven, Riley was alert, able to look at his mother’s face, hold up his head and begin to take milk.
Since 1998, St Michael’s Hospital and the University of Bristol had been pioneering new cooling treatments for brain injury in babies since Marianne Thoresen - Professor of Neonatal Neuroscience at the University of Bristol - showed that cooling babies after a lack of oxygen could reduce damage in the newborn brain. However, it was accepted that cooling only partially reduced the onset of disability and the search had been focused on finding a second treatment that could be added to cooling to further reduce disability. Commenting, Professor Marianne Thoresen, said:
“Xenon is a very rare and chemically inert anaesthetic gas found in tiny quantities in the air that we breathe. In 2002 John Dingley and I realised the potential xenon and cooling might have in combination to further reduce disability. Over the past eight years, we have shown in the laboratory that xenon doubles the protective effect of cooling on the brain; however we faced the challenge of how to safely and effectively deliver this rare and extremely expensive gas to newborn babies.”
For over 10 years, Dr Dingley had been developing equipment in Swansea University for xenon anaesthesia in adults and has now developed the concept to successfully deliver the gas to babies. Commenting Dr Dingley, said:
“The main design feature of this machine is that it is very efficient, using less than 200ml of xenon per hour – less than the volume of a soft drinks can. Xenon is a precious and finite resource and difficult to extract so it can cost up to £30 per litre. As mechanical ventilators for newborns consume many litres of gas per minute , any xenon based treatment would be impossibly expensive without a far more economical delivery method.”
He continued: “Despite these challenges, the lack of side-effects and brain protecting properties of xenon make it uniquely attractive as a potential treatment to apply alongside cooling in these babies. We are also very grateful to SPARKS, the children’s medical research charity, for supporting us in making this happen.”
Professor Thoresen and Dr Dingley’s previously successful research work into cooling and the increased survival chances offered by xenon have been funded through the children’s medical research charity; SPARKS, which has committed almost £800,000 to the team’s pioneering work.
Media Contact:Sian Newman - Communications Manager School of Medicine, Swansea University Direct Dial: 01792 602362 Mobile: 07717 651280 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
December 3, 2010
Ok, now we have arsenic life. But here's a much wilder thought: How about living clouds?Sean Heavey/The 2010 National Geographic Photography Contest
A supercell thunderstorm rolls across the Montana prairie at sunset.
I assume you've read the news. To life as we know it, with carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, sulfur and phosphorous, we can now add life with arsenic. Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon fed a little bacterium daily doses of the dread element, and the little guy slurped it up, chucked most of its phosphorous, and became an arsenic-creature. "It's a really nice story about adaptability of our life form," chemist Gerald Joyce told the New York Times, "It gives food for thought about what might be possible in another world."
Well, here's one possibility. The otherwise sane and respected astrobiologist David Grinspoon has been considering that under the right circumstances, clouds could become living things. With intelligence, even. Carl Sagan thought so, too.NASA/ESA/JPL/Arizona State Univ.
We think the Crab Nebula looks super intelligent.
A living thing, it is thought, needs to feed, grow, copy and evolve and persist. It needs some kind of shape. Clouds can do all that, says David Grinspoon. Though they look hazy and random here on Earth, they contain levels of order, they hold themselves together, they move around, they have routines. They can, in theory, produce increasingly complex forms of themselves.
Stuart Kauffman talks about life in an abstract sense as a system that uses energy and builds complexity out of flows and gradients of energy and matter resulting in something that self replicates, so Darwinian evolution can take over.
If you look at that as an abstract idea of what you need – constant flows of energy and nutrients to provide templating building blocks — then you ask, "What kind of environment provides those sources of energy that facilitate complexity?"
Imagine a cloud of stellar dust several light years across quietly drifting through space. Powered by its own bursting stars feeding it oxygen, carbon, life-giving chemistries, could it not become a slightly lonely but vastly oversized life form? An enormous space traveler?NASA
Galactic Drifter: a star-forming region in the Carina Nebula.
About 50 years ago, the astronomer Fred Hoyle wrote a science fiction book called The Black Cloud, in which a huge interstellar cloud becomes a thinking being. It uses gravity as its container.
Astronomer Chris Impey says that little kids who read Hoyle's book – and lots of them did — are now grownups. They have put his fanciful notions into equations and, alas, the idea doesn't quite work:
Unfortunately, in real life the density of interstellar gas is so low that interactions would take place hundreds or thousand of times slower than that in a liquid medium on Earth. Hoyle's idea is implausible, but it's hard to rule out.
But what about a local cloud? One, say, on Jupiter or Venus?
Grinspoon says when our probe landed on Venus, the place looked dead. We saw no signs of life.
But we overreacted. There can't be life as we know it on the surface of Venus, but there is the possibility of life in the clouds of Venus — they're within the right temperature range for life as we know it, and they are in a continuous, dynamic environment, one with a lot of interesting energy sources and a certain amount of chemical equilibrium in the atmosphere that has not yet been well explained.
Grinspoon's mentor and friend Carl Sagan thought that Jupiter could have buoyant creatures floating in its clouds. He called them "floaters" and "sinkers," and he and another scientist made up an imaginary world of Jovian clouds hanging out together. So far, no one has detected clouds on Jupiter humming to each other, but cloud life isn't the only idea being explored. Astrobiologists are thinking about self-organizing electric fields and magnetic fields (whatever they are). But far from the lab I bumped into a group of weavers who've been knitting neurons in wool…Gabrielle Theriault
A hand-knit neuron, the perfect gift for your favorite neuroscientist.
I don't think these "brain cells" are even remotely alive – though they are gorgeous — but as Chris Impey says: "The possibilities may simply be limited by our imaginations."
David Grinspoon is Curator of Astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and an Adjunct Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at the University of Colorado. He was interviewed by astronomer Chris Impey. The interview appears in Impey's new book "Talking About Life, Conversations on Astrobiology"(Cambridge University Press, 2010). Living Clouds are also discussed in Impey's book "The Living Cosmos" (Random House, 2007), and while I am blushing as I say this, Radiolab was thinking about arsenic and life a year ago. The first cloud photo is a submission from National Geographic's 2010 photo contest. Check out their Web site to see other 2010 submissions, vote on your favorites and see past winners.
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yuan sun (ysun) wrote:
on the fifteenth of june, in the garden of nigel
in the light of the moon, in the shadow of rigel
he was melting stones... enjoying earth's bones
when horton the horta was shot by a phasor
so horton cried in pain. tried to run from kirk in vain.
till spock did a meld and bones healed with his powers he held.
then horton found the miners new veins
Fri Dec 03 2010 18:16:07 GMT+0000 (GMT Standard Time)
We like to think of the Earth as alive. In reality it's just a rock with dynamic atmospheric and geologic processes. It provides a home for living organisms but a rock, itself, is not a living organism.
Fri Dec 03 2010 17:38:55 GMT+0000 (GMT Standard Time)
The more we learn about the universe the fewer differences we find between inorganic matter and what we consider to be life. Life is, in essence, a rather complex and continuous series of chemical and electrical reactions. Expanding the definition to include gravitational interactions and such really isn't meaningful because there is no defining line between what is life and what isn't. Rather than suggesting that everything in the universe is alive, I suggest that it's all dead. Our perception is valuable only to us - let's expand the scope of the Copernican Principle again!
Fri Dec 03 2010 17:20:43 GMT+0000 (GMT Standard Time)
James Harvey (J01) wrote:
Funny how what we concieve as possible is so thoroughly constrained by what we know:
"Unfortunately, in real life the density of interstellar gas is so low that interactions would take place hundreds or thousand of times slower"
- does life have to proceed on the same time scale elsewhere as it does on Earth? Is it possible that there is life that has such a slow metabolism that we cannot detect it in a human lifetime? Any fundamental reasons why/why not?
"There can't be life as we know it on the surface of Venus, but there is the possibility of life in the clouds of Venus — they're within the right temperature range for life as we know it"
Life as we don't know it seems just as likely, if not more likely, to exist. Why not silicate life forms at 1200°C?
Fri Dec 03 2010 17:02:19 GMT+0000 (GMT Standard Time)
Friday, 3 December 2010
27 September 2010 Last updated at 10:35
Surgeons use cold to suspend lifeBy Dr Kevin Fong Consultant Anaesthetist, University College London HospitalExtreme cooling is used to stop a patient's heart during life-saving surgery
Heart surgeons are using extreme cooling to allow them to stop a patient's heart long enough to carry out surgery and then revive them.
"The body is essentially in true, real-life, suspended animation, with no pulse, no blood pressure, no signs of brain activity," explains Dr John Elefteriades.
At Yale University's New Haven hospital, he has made a craft of this life-saving but hazardous technique.
The patients undergo induced hypothermia. Their body is cooled from its normal temperature of 37C (98.6F) to just 18C (64.4F).
The patient is indistinguishable from someone who is actually dead.Continue reading the main story
But crucially the cold slows the body's processes offering a window for surgery before risk of brain damage.
Once surgery is complete, the patient is warmed up and their heart restarted with a defibrillator.
"There is no room for error or failure really - that would be catastrophic," says Dr Elefteriades.
"It is the most fascinating technique to which I have ever been exposed in medicine and each time, it seems a miracle to me that it works."Double-edged sword
For heart surgeons like Dr Elefteriades, operating on a beating heart presents obvious challenges. Some operations are difficult, if not impossible, if the heart cannot first be isolated and stopped.Continue reading the main story
“Start QuoteEnd Quote Dr John Elefteriades Yale University School of Medicine
There is no room for error or failure really - that would be catastrophic”
Surgeons can and do provoke cardiac arrest, stopping the heart, but under usual circumstances, they rely upon heart-lung bypass machines to replace its function for the duration of surgery.
This technique is now so commonplace that it is almost considered routine.
But sometimes heart-lung bypass is not an option and induced hypothermia is now proving a powerful alternative.
The technique of extreme cooling is fascinating. It takes the moment of death and smears it out. By putting the whole body in a sort of metabolic slow motion it also slows the process of dying, buying clinicians and patients precious time.
But it is a double-edged sword. Cooling to these extremes is about as likely to kill you as it is to cure you and these hazards need to be negotiated.
This has led to deep hypothermia becoming less fashionable as a technique until recently, when its potential to enable seemingly impossible operations became clear.Continue reading the main story
Find out more
Dr Kevin Fong presents Horizon: Back From The Dead on BBC Two, on Monday 27 September at 2100 BST
Leading researchers can now use induced hypothermia to offer life-saving surgery in previously inoperable frontline medical situations, such as neonatal brain injuries, cardiac arrest and major traumas.Life-saving operation
This is the case for 59-year-old Esmail Dehzbod, who needed complicated repairs to the great blood vessels immediately surrounding his heart to prevent the fatal rupture of an aneurysm of his aorta.
Life-saving surgery was absolutely necessary, but in Mr Dehzbod's case, once the function of his heart had been stopped, it could not be replaced.
Because of the position of the aneurysm, surgeons would need to cut off the blood supply to his brain, which, in a traditional bypass operation, would starve it of oxygen and lead to brain damage.
Instead, Dr Elefteriades chose to stop Mr Dezhbod's heart by inducing hypothermia.
This would leave him without a circulation and indistinguishable from someone dead but crucially, would slow his metabolic process and allow time for the difficult repair before the dying process became irreversible.
Mr Dezhbod expressed his fears ahead of undergoing such a high-risk operation.
"I'm concerned about my children. I cannot mention reality because it will hurt them. This morning I hugged them and kissed them and mentioned everything will be ok - but it will be a risk too."
These remarkable feats of surgery are a race against the clock of life.
The risks are huge but for Mr Dezhbod there was no better alternative. And remarkably, his operation proved successful and he was successfully revived.
"I have pain - it is not easy - but I know it will be a good end and I know that my problem has been solved."Miraculous recovery
Click to play
Anna Bagenholme and the doctors who saved her explain how she froze to death - and lived
Some 11 years ago, Anna Bagenholme, a 29-year-old skier, fell through ice covering a ravine in Norway.
Her heart stopped for more than three hours and her body temperature dropped to 13.7C (56.7F).
This is the longest and coldest cardiac arrest on record and that she survived at all is nothing short of miraculous.
This case alters the very concept of life and death and reminds us that death itself is not an event but a process. A process that might be manipulated to our advantage.
The idea of extreme cooling to save lives might appear simple but as a technique, it is as powerful as it is enigmatic - and it has the potential to bring hope where historically there has been none.
Dr Kevin Fong presents Horizon: Back From The Dead on BBC Two, on Monday 27 September at 2100 BST.
3 December 2010 Last updated at 20:48
Ivory Coast poll overturned: Gbagbo declared winnerThere has been an angry reaction to the Constitutional Council decision from some in AbidjanContinue reading the main story
Ivory Coast's Constitutional Council has overturned earlier poll results and declared President Laurent Gbagbo the winner of Sunday's run-off.
On Thursday the electoral commission head said opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara had defeated Mr Gbagbo.
But the UN mission in Ivory Coast has said even if complaints of fraud are upheld, Mr Ouattara should still win.
The presidential poll was intended to reunify the world's largest cocoa producer after a civil war in 2002.
The two candidates represent the two sides of the north-south divide that exists religiously, culturally and administratively, with the northern half still controlled in part by the former rebels.
After the move by the Constitutional Council, Mr Ouattara declared himself the new head of state.
He has been backed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the Security Council is later expected to issue a similar statement.Burning tyres
Paul Yao N'Dre, chairman of the Constitutional Council, which validates election results, said Mr Gbagbo had won a little more than 51% of the vote.Continue reading the main story
- Constitutional Council: Laurent Gbagbo 51%, Alassane Ouattara 49%
- Electoral Commission: Laurent Gbagbo 46%, Alassane Ouattara 54%
He said results in seven regions in the north, where Mr Ouattara draws most of his support, had been annulled.
"The irregularities are of such a nature that they invalidate the vote," AFP news agency quotes Mr N'Dre, an ally of President Gbagbo, as saying on national television.
The head of the electoral commission had said Mr Gbagbo won 46% of ballots cast.
The UN peace mission said it had received reports of violence in parts of the west and north on election day, but that overall the voting seemed to be peaceful and any irregularities did not overturn Mr Ouattara's lead.
The BBC's John James in Abidjan, the country's main city, says the Constitutional Council's decision has come as a shock to many, especially the opposition.Continue reading the main story
- World's largest cocoa producer
- Once hailed as a model of stability, slipped into strife several years after death of first President Felix Houphouet-Boigny in 1993
- An armed rebellion in 2002 split the country between rebel north and government south
- Power-sharing government took over in 2007 with the ex-rebel leader as prime minister
- 2010: First presidential elections in 10 years -culmination of the peace process
Youths from the opposing camps took to the streets in various districts in Abidjan as well as towns in the interior, throwing stones and burning tyres.
On Thursday evening, the military closed the country's borders and international news sources were suspended. An overnight curfew is in place.
The African Union said it was "deeply concerned" by the developments.
There have been dramatic scenes since Sunday over the declaration of the results.
On Tuesday, Mr Gbagbo's representative in the electoral commission tore up the first batch of results as the commission's spokesman was about to announce them.
The electoral commission head, Youssouf Bakayok, then went ahead with an announcement on Thursday, speaking under armed guard at a hotel rather than from the commission's headquarters, declaring Mr Ouattara the winner.
Not long afterwards, Mr N'Dre said that, as the announcement had come after Wednesday's legal deadline, those results were "null and void".
Both the army and UN peacekeepers have been patrolling the streets of Abidjan since Sunday.
At least four people have been killed in election-related clashes in Abidjan this week.
Are you in Ivory Coast? What is your reaction to the latest announcement? What are your concerns about the election outcome? Send your comments to the BBC using the form below:
3 December 2010 Last updated at 17:04
Slowing down: The body and the big chillBy Dominic Hughes Health correspondent, BBC NewsThe cold can slow you down in more ways than oneContinue reading the main story
Plenty of us have felt the icy blast of the winter weather over the past week.
But the cold conditions nearly cost retired gardener Brian Courtney his life, after he collapsed in a Salisbury street and developed hypothermia over several hours before an ambulance was called.
Doctors say the 77-year-old was lucky to survive after his body temperature dropped to just 26C, compared with a normal temperature of around 37C.
So what effect does the cold weather have on our bodies?
Frostbite is an obvious danger, which occurs when the body's extremities - fingers, toes, cheeks, noses and ears, get so cold their temperature drops below freezing.
Caught early enough it can be reversed, but if not it can result in tissue loss.Core temperature
But hypothermia is one of the cold's most dramatic manifestations in the human body.Continue reading the main story
“Start QuoteEnd Quote Dr Kevin Fong University College London
The way to avoid freezing to death in a ski resort is to put on a coat and go inside. We are very attuned to doing the right thing when we get cold.”
It occurs when the body's core temperature drops and, in the most severe cases, leads to uncontrolled shivering, a loss of control over hands, feet and limbs and sometimes blue, puffy skin.
But the brain slows down too, meaning thinking becomes sluggish, speech is difficult and the victim can become irrational.
Dr Kevin Fong of University College London is an expert in space medicine, where it tends to be either extremely cold or extremely hot, but rarely in-between.
He says humans operate in a narrow temperature range.
"We're useless more than two or three degrees above or below 37C - we cook above and shut down below."
Dr Fong says that when the body's temperature drops to between 32C and 35C, the heart starts to slow down.
If the temperature falls still further, things start to get very worrying indeed.
At a cellular level, the spread of the electrical impulses that drive the heart can be disrupted, increasing the risk of heart attack.Mechanisms for coping
If the core temperature drops to the high 20s, like it apparently did for Mr Courtney, the heart may just stop altogether.
The body has all sorts of elaborate mechanism to combat heat loss.
Shivering, for example, is an attempt by the body to create warmth through tiny muscle movements round vital organs.Extreme cooling is used to stop a patient's heart during life-saving surgery
It is triggered by a part of the brain that responds to even small fluctuations in the core temperature.
But Dr Fong says in humans our most basic defence is behaviour.
"The way to avoid freezing to death in a ski resort is to put on a coat and go inside.
"We are very attuned to doing the right thing when we get cold."Extreme cooling
Earlier this year Dr Fong took part in a Horizon documentary for BBC TV, looking at the technique of extreme cooling to bring people back from the dead.
"I had to sit in a pool filled with water at 12C.
"The hardest thing was sitting there doing nothing about being cold.
"Every fibre of my being was crying out to do something that would warm me up, like swimming."
And the cold can be a double edged sword.
While extreme cold can stop the heart, it also preserves the brain.
So in extremely cold conditions someone may look dead, but could still be very much alive.
Dr Fong quotes the old medical aphorism: "You're not dead until you're warm and dead."
3 December 2010 Last updated at 15:42
MPs' expenses: David Chaytor pleads guilty to chargesDavid Chaytor will be sentenced in January
Former Labour MP David Chaytor has pleaded guilty to three charges relating to his expenses claims.
Chaytor, 61, the former MP for Bury North, was charged with false accounting totalling just over £20,000.
He stood down as an MP at the general election after stories about his expenses emerged in the press.
He changed his plea ahead of a trial which was due to start on Monday. He was the first Parliamentarian due to face trial over his expenses.
He will be sentenced on 7 January at Southwark Crown Court. He faces a maximum seven years in jail but is likely to receive a more lenient sentence because of his guilty plea.Family member
Two other former MPs, one current MP and two members of the House of Lords are due to face separate trials over their expenses claims.Continue reading the main story
“Start QuoteEnd Quote Crown Prosecution Service
Nothing that happened today should reflect on any defendant in any other case”
Chaytor had claimed £12,925 between 2005 and 2006 for renting a flat in Regency Street, near Westminster, which he owned the lease to - he produced a tenancy agreement falsely showing he was paying £1,175 a month rent.
He also falsely claimed £5,425 between 2007 and 2008 for renting a home in Castle Street, Bury, which was owned by his mother. He had produced a false tenancy agreement showing he was paying £775 a month.
The charge said that he was not paying his mother and would not have been allowed to claim for leasing a property from a family member.
A third charge related to falsely charging £1,950 for IT support services in May 2006 - money which was not paid to him. The charge said that he supplied two invoices from a man named Paul France for his professional services "when in fact the services had not been provided or charged for".'Abused trust'
He had denied the charges but appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday to change his plea, having failed in a court bid to argue that expenses cases should be heard by Parliament, not the courts.
He was granted unconditional bail.
Asked for his reaction to the verdict, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "We take seriously any breaches of rules on expenses. It's for the court to reach its judgement in that case."
He added: "It is very important that we do all we can, as we have done in Parliament, to clean up our expenses system."
Chaytor was mobbed by photographers as he left the court with his legal team before getting into a taxi. He did not comment.
Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Simon Clements, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "David Chaytor has admitted his dishonesty and will now face the consequences of his actions.
"No-one, no matter what their position, should be allowed to take money they are not entitled to.Media disclosures
"By his actions David Chaytor has abused the trust placed in him by the public.
"I would remind everyone that today is about David Chaytor alone.
"Nothing that happened today should reflect on any defendant in any other case."
Chaytor, who was elected during Labour's 1997 landslide victory, had spent his 13 years in the Commons on the back benches.
He was suspended by the Labour Party and barred from standing for them again after stories about his expenses claims emerged when the Daily Telegraph published hundreds of claims made by MPs over several years.
At the time he apologised for what he called accounting errors and referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for investigation.
But after a lengthy police inquiry the Crown Prosecution Service announced in February he would face criminal charges.