The Protect IP/SOPA Bill Threatens the Entire Internet, Video Explains the Flaws in This Hurried Legislation

Tell Congress not to censor the internet NOW! – fightforthefuture.org/pipa

Source: fightforthefuture.org

Time for a Change? Johns Hopkins Scholars Say Calendar Needs Serious Overhaul

Newswise — Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered a way to make time stand still — at least when it comes to the yearly calendar.

Using computer programs and mathematical formulas, Richard Conn Henry, an astrophysicist in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and Steve H. Hanke, an applied economist in the Whiting School of Engineering, have created a new calendar in which each new 12-month period is identical to the one which came before, and remains that way from one year to the next in perpetuity.

Under the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, for instance, if Christmas fell on a Sunday in 2012 (and it would), it would also fall on a Sunday in 2013, 2014 and beyond. In addition, under the new calendar, the rhyme “30 days hath September, April, June and November,” would no longer apply, because September would have 31 days, as would March, June and December. All the rest would have 30. (Try creating a rhyme using that.)

“Our plan offers a stable calendar that is absolutely identical from year to year and which allows the permanent, rational planning of annual activities, from school to work holidays,” says Henry, who is also director of the Maryland Space Grant Consortium. “Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world and it becomes obvious that our calendar would make life much simpler and would have noteworthy benefits.”

Among the practical advantages would be the convenience afforded by birthdays and holidays (as well as work holidays) falling on the same day of the week every year. But the economic benefits are even more profound, according to Hanke, an expert in international economics, including monetary policy.

“Our calendar would simplify financial calculations and eliminate what we call the ‘rip off’ factor,’” explains Hanke. “Determining how much interest accrues on mortgages, bonds, forward rate agreements, swaps and others, day counts are required. Our current calendar is full of anomalies that have led to the establishment of a wide range of conventions that attempt to simplify interest calculations. Our proposed permanent calendar has a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days, which does away with the need for artificial day count conventions.”

According to Hanke and Henry, their calendar is an improvement on the dozens of rival reform calendars proffered by individuals and institutions over the last century.

“Attempts at reform have failed in the past because all of the major ones have involved breaking the seven-day cycle of the week, which is not acceptable to many people because it violates the Fourth Commandment about keeping the Sabbath Day,” Henry explains. “Our version never breaks that cycle.”

Henry posits that his team’s version is far more convenient, sensible and easier to use than the current Gregorian calendar, which has been in place for four centuries – ever since 1582, when Pope Gregory altered a calendar that was instituted in 46 BC by Julius Caesar.

In an effort to bring Caesar’s calendar in synch with the seasons, the pope’s team removed 11 days from the calendar in October, so that Oct. 4 was followed immediately by Oct. 15. This adjustment was necessary in order to deal with the same knotty problem that makes designing an effective and practical new calendar such a challenge: the fact that each Earth year is 365.2422 days long.

Hanke and Henry deal with those extra “pieces” of days by dropping leap years entirely in favor of an extra week added at the end of December every five or six years. This brings the calendar in sync with the seasonal changes as the Earth circles the sun.

In addition to advocating the adoption of this new calendar, Hanke and Henry encourage the abolition of world time zones and the adoption of “Universal Time” (formerly known as Greenwich Mean Time) in order to synchronize dates and times worldwide, streamlining international business.

“One time throughout the world, one date throughout the world,” they write in a January 2012 Global Asia article about their proposals. “Business meetings, sports schedules and school calendars would be identical every year. Today’s cacophony of time zones, daylight savings times and calendar fluctuations, year after year, would be over. The economy — that’s all of us — would receive a permanent ‘harmonization’ dividend.”

View a website about the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar here:
http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/calendar.html

Read Hanke and Henry’s January 2012 Global Asia article about calendar reform here:
http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=13940

Released: Released: 12/27/2011

Source: Johns Hopkins

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/time-for-a-change-johns-hopkins-scholars-say-calendar-needs-serious-overhaul

Supersized Market Economy, Supersized Belly: Wealthier Nations Have More Fast Food and More Obesity

Newswise — ANN ARBOR, Mich.—New research from the University of Michigan suggests obesity can be seen as one of the unintended side effects of free market policies.

A study of 26 wealthy nations shows that countries with a higher density of fast food restaurants per capita had much higher obesity rates compared to countries with a lower density of fast food restaurants per capita.

“It’s not by chance that countries with the highest obesity rates and fast food restaurants are those in the forefront of market liberalization, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, versus countries like Japan and Norway, with more regulated and restrictive trade policies,” said Roberto De Vogli, associate professor in the U-M School of Public Health, and lead researcher of the study.

For example, in the United States, researchers reported 7.52 fast food restaurants per 100,000 people, and in Canada they reported 7.43 fast food restaurants per 100,000 people. The paper reported the obesity rates among US men and women were 31.3 percent and 33.2 percent, respectively. The obesity rates for Canadian men and women were 23.2 percent and 22.9 percent, respectively.

Compare that to Japan, with 0.13 fast food restaurants per 100,000 people, and Norway, with 0.19 restaurants per capita. Obesity rates for men and women in Japan were 2.9 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. In Norway, obesity rates for men and women were 6.4 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively. The relationships remain consistent even when researchers controlled for variables such as income, income inequality, urban areas, motor vehicles and internet use per capita.

Obesity research largely overlooks the global market forces behind the epidemic, De Vogli said.

“In my opinion the public debate is too much focused on individual genetics and other individual factors, and overlooks the global forces in society that are shaping behaviors worldwide. If you look at trends overtime for obesity, it’s shocking,” De Vogli said.

“Since the 1980s, since the advent of trade liberalization policies that have indirectly…promoted transnational food companies…we see rates that have tripled or quadrupled. There is no biological, genetic, psychological or community level factor that can explain this. Only a global type of change can explain this.”

Researchers chose one fast food restaurant to use as a proxy measure for how many fast food restaurants were present per 100,000. The study is in no way an indictment of that restaurant, De Vogli said, but rather an indicator of fast food density in a particular area.

Fast food refers to food sold in restaurants or stores with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a packaged form. A typical fast food meal includes a hamburger, fries and a soft drink, the paper said. Fast food is usually high in fat and calories, and several studies have found associations between fast food intake and increased body mass index, weight gain and obesity. Obesity accounts for approximately 400,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. Fast food consumption is also related to insulin resistance and type II diabetes, another major worldwide public health threat.

The paper, “Globesization: ecological evidence on the relationship between fast food outlets and obesity among 26 advanced economies,” will be published in the December print issue of Critical Public Health. The study was funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council.

Released: 12/21/2011

Source: University of Michigan

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/supersized-market-economy-supersized-belly-wealthier-nations-have-more-fast-food-and-more-obesity

Science and Space…NASA’s Kepler Mission Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-like Star

This diagram compares our own solar system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the first "habitable zone" planet discovered by NASA's Kepler mission. Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the “habitable zone,” the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets.

The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don’t yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets.

Previous research hinted at the existence of near-Earth-size planets in habitable zones, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Two other small planets orbiting stars smaller and cooler than our sun recently were confirmed on the very edges of the habitable zone, with orbits more closely resembling those of Venus and Mars.

“This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin,” said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Kepler’s results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA’s science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe.”

Kepler discovers planets and planet candidates by measuring dips in the brightness of more than 150,000 stars to search for planets that cross in front, or “transit,” the stars. Kepler requires at least three transits to verify a signal as a planet.

“Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet,” said William Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., who led the team that discovered Kepler-22b. “The first transit was captured just three days after we declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season.”

The Kepler science team uses ground-based telescopes and the Spitzer Space Telescope to review observations on planet candidates the spacecraft finds. The star field that Kepler observes in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra can only be seen from ground-based observatories in spring through early fall. The data from these other observations help determine which candidates can be validated as planets.

Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away. While the planet is larger than Earth, its orbit of 290 days around a sun-like star resembles that of our world. The planet’s host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler.

Of the 54 habitable zone planet candidates reported in February 2011, Kepler-22b is the first to be confirmed. This milestone will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The Kepler team is hosting its inaugural science conference at Ames Dec. 5-9, announcing 1,094 new planet candidate discoveries. Since the last catalog was released in February, the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler has increased by 89 percent and now totals 2,326. Of these, 207 are approximately Earth-size, 680 are super Earth-size, 1,181 are Neptune-size, 203 are Jupiter-size and 55 are larger than Jupiter.

The findings, based on observations conducted May 2009 to September 2010, show a dramatic increase in the numbers of smaller-size planet candidates.

Kepler observed many large planets in small orbits early in its mission, which were reflected in the February data release. Having had more time to observe three transits of planets with longer orbital periods, the new data suggest that planets one to four times the size of Earth may be abundant in the galaxy.

The number of Earth-size and super Earth-size candidates has increased by more than 200 and 140 percent since February, respectively.

There are 48 planet candidates in their star’s habitable zone. While this is a decrease from the 54 reported in February, the Kepler team has applied a stricter definition of what constitutes a habitable zone in the new catalog, to account for the warming effect of atmospheres, which would move the zone away from the star, out to longer orbital periods.

“The tremendous growth in the number of Earth-size candidates tells us that we’re honing in on the planets Kepler was designed to detect: those that are not only Earth-size, but also are potentially habitable,” said Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead at San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. “The more data we collect, the keener our eye for finding the smallest planets out at longer orbital periods.”

NASA’s Ames Research Center manages Kepler’s ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA’s 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters.

Released: December 5, 2011

Source: NASA

Related Link:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepscicon-briefing.html

World Aids Update… Unparalleled global progress in HIV response but sustained investment vital

GENEVA, 30 November 2011—Global progress in both preventing and treating HIV emphasizes the benefits of sustaining investment in HIV/AIDS over the longer term. The latest report by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and UNAIDS Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Response indicates that increased access to HIV services  resulted in a 15% reduction of new infections over the past decade and a 22% decline in AIDS-related deaths in the last five years.

“It has taken the world ten years to achieve this level of momentum,” says Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of WHO’s HIV Department. “There is now a very real possibility of getting ahead of the epidemic. But this can only be achieved by both sustaining and accelerating this momentum over the next decade and beyond.”

Advances in HIV science and programme innovations over the past year add hope for future progress. In times of economic austerity it will be essential to rapidly apply new science, technologies and approaches to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of HIV programmes in countries.

The report highlights what is already working:

  • Improved access to HIV testing services enabled 61% of pregnant women in eastern and southern Africa to receive testing and counseling for HIV – up from 14% in 2005.
  • Close to half (48%) of pregnant women in need receive effective medicines to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in 2010.
  • Antiretroviral therapy (ART), which not only improves the health and well-being of people living with HIV but also stops further HIV transmission, is available now for 6.65 million people in low- and middle-income countries, accounting for 47% of the 14.2 million people eligible to receive it.

When people are healthier, they are better able to cope financially. The report acknowledges that investment in HIV services could lead to total gains of up to US$ 34 billion by 2020 in increased economic activity and productivity, more than offsetting the costs of ART programmes.

“2011 has been a game changing year. With new science, unprecedented political leadership and continued progress in the AIDS response, countries have a window of opportunity to seize this momentum and take their responses to the next level,” said Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNAIDS. “By investing wisely, countries can increase efficiencies, reduce costs and improve on results. However, gains made to date are being threatened by a decline in resources for AIDS.”

The report also points to what still needs to be done:

  • More than half of the people who need antiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries are still unable to access it. Many of them do not even know that they have HIV.
  • Despite the growing body of evidence as to what countries need to focus on to make a real impact on their epidemics, some are still not tailoring their programmes for those who are most at risk and in need. In many cases, groups including adolescent girls, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, prisoners and migrants remain unable to access HIV prevention and treatment services.

Worldwide, the vast majority (64%) of people aged 15-24 living with HIV today are female. The rate is even higher in sub-Saharan Africa where girls and young women make up 71% of all young people living with HIV – essentially because prevention strategies are not reaching them.

Key populations are continually marginalized. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, more than 60% of those living with HIV are people who inject drugs. But injecting drug users account for only 22% of those receiving ART.

Although better services to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV have averted some 350 000 new infections among children, some 3.4 million children are living with HIV – many of whom lack HIV treatment. Only about one in four children in need of HIV treatment in low- and middle-income countries received it in 2010, as compared to 1 in 2 adults.

“While there have been gains in treatment, care and support available to adults, we note that progress for children is slower,” says Leila Pakkala, Director of the UNICEF Office in Geneva.  “The coverage of HIV interventions for children remains alarmingly low. Through concerted action and equity-focused strategies, we must make sure that global efforts are working for children as well as adults”.

HIV in regions and countries

In 2010, HIV epidemics and responses in different parts of the world vary with shifting trends, progress rates and outcomes.

Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the biggest overall annual increase–30%–in the number of people accessing ART. Three countries (Botswana, Namibia and Rwanda) have achieved universal coverage (80%) for HIV prevention, treatment and care services. The regional ART coverage rate stood at 49% at the end of 2010. Approximately 50% of pregnant women living with HIV receive treatment to prevent mother-to child transmission of HIV. And 21% of children in need are able to get paediatric HIV treatments. There were 1.9 million new infections in the region, where 22.9 million people are living with HIV. There are some major disparities in progress between different parts of the region. Countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have reached much higher coverage rates for ART (56%) and PMTCT (64%) than countries in Western and Central Africa (30% and 18% respectively).

Asia shows a stabilizing epidemic overall, but new infections are very high in some communities. Of the 4.8 million people living with HIV in Asia, nearly half (49%) are in India. Antiretroviral treatment coverage is increasing with 39% of adults and children in need of HIV treatment having access. Coverage of PMTCT services is relatively low- (16%).

Eastern Europe and Central Asia presents a dramatic growth in HIV, with new infections increasing by 250% in the past decade. Over 90% of these infections occur in just two countries: Russia and Ukraine. The region demonstrates high coverage rates for PMTCT and paediatric HIV treatment (with 78% and 65% coverage rates respectively). However, ART coverage is very low at 23%, particularly among the most affected people- the ones who inject drugs.

Middle East and North Africa records the highest number of HIV infections ever in the region (59 000) in 2010, which represents a 36% increase over the past year. Coverage of HIV services are very low in the region: 10% for ART, 5% for paediatric treatment and 4% for PMTCT.

Latin America and the Caribbean have a stabilizing epidemic with 1.5 million living with HIV in Latin America and 200 000 in the Caribbean. HIV is predominantly among networks of men who have sex with men in Latin America. In the Caribbean though, women are the more affected group accounting for 53% of people living with HIV. The region has ART coverage of 63% for adults and 39% for children.  Coverage for effective PMTCT regimen is relatively high at 74%.

Sustaining the HIV response through the next 10 years

  • Countries are already showing marked efficiency gains in HIV programmes: South Africa reduced HIV drug costs by more than 50% over a two-year period by implementing a new tendering strategy for procurement. Uganda saved US$2 million by shifting to simpler paediatric regimens. Such efficiencies are promoted through Treatment 2.0 – an initiative launched by WHO and UNAIDS in 2010 to promote simpler, cheaper and easier-to-deliver HIV treatment and diagnostic tools, combined with decentralized services that are supported by communities.
  • WHO is developing new guidance on the strategic use of antiretroviral drugs for both prevention and treatment.
  • WHO’s “Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV/AIDS, 2011-2015”, endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2011 highlights the importance of continuing efforts to optimize HIV treatment and “combination” prevention – the use of a range of different approaches to reduce people’s risk of infection.

The 2011 “Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Response” is the comprehensive report on both the epidemiology and progress rates in access to HIV services globally and in regions and countries. It has been jointly developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS, in collaboration with national and international partners.

The full report is available from: http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/progress_report2011/.

In The News….What Does It Look Like When an Economy Collapses?

Newswise — Europe’s financial crisis has now reached a point where many economists worry the continent’s economy could collapse in weeks, if not days, unless political leaders can agree on a bailout package for economies groaning under unmanageable debt loads.

But what would an economic crash look like when the crash is only metaphorical, so there’s no actual rubble or twisted metal strewn about? And how much time would pass before we knew it happened?

“There would be immediate financial chaos,” said Paul Weller, a professor of finance at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business. “Europe would be plunged into a deep recession and the real economic effects would come into play quite quickly.”

Most worst-case scenarios that have been playing out in recent days involve a default by Italy’s government on its sovereign debt, a scenario Weller believes is unlikely, but “is more likely than it was a few weeks ago.” The country would need billions of Euros from the European Central Bank to relieve its staggering $2.5 trillion debt, but leaders in other Eurozone countries are balking at such a large amount. They want Italy, Greece, and other struggling countries to put more effort into reforming their economies first, and there’s political resistance in Germany because the country’s still-strong economy would likely bear most of the costs of any bailout.

Weller said the triggering event of an all-out economic collapse would be an announcement that “Italy has begun an orderly debt restructuring, which is really a euphemism for default.”

After that, he says the first immediate visible sign that the economy has collapsed would be runs on banks, leading to long lines at banks and ATMs and people spending lots of time online trying to get their money out of failing banks. This would begin on the day of the default in Italy if not earlier, then quickly spread to the so-called PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain), other Eurozone countries with massive debt and fragile economies that are also in danger of default. Eventually, he said banks in other parts of Europe, in particular France and Germany, would feel the effects, and then banks in other countries.

With no cash, many banks go out of business and those that survive stop lending. Credit dries up, leaving even healthy businesses with no cash to pay their bills or short-term debt and no choice but to close their doors. Workers are laid off within weeks and unemployment shoots up. A default also likely leads to the break-up of the Eurozone and the collapse of the European Union as an economic entity, leading to more economic and political chaos.

Governments fall and in a matter of months, Europe is in a deep recession with high unemployment and unstable, austerity-wrecked governments unable to provide assistance or stimulus.

Weller says the U.S. economy would take a hit because American banks own huge amounts of European debt and credit default swaps written on that debt. With Europe’s economy plunging off a cliff, those banks are forced to swallow a loss on most if not all of that debt.

He says the current European scenario is similar to what happened when the bankrupt investment bank Lehman Bros. collapsed in 2008, causing a credit freeze among other lenders and investment banks that sent the U.S. economy into recession within a quarter. The damage was so sudden and so traumatic that the Federal Reserve immediately took action to minimize the fallout and spent billions of dollars to prop up other weakened financial services companies, while Congress passed the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Weller said the EU scenario is similar, with Italy in the role of Lehman Bros. and the European Central Bank as the Fed. But he is cautiously optimistic that the collapse that would have occurred in 2008 without Fed intervention won’t play out because he thinks Europe’s political leaders will eventually agree on a bailout plan for Italy and other beleaguered eurozone economies. It might not happen until the eleventh hour, but Weller said a collapse would be so catastrophic that politicians, especially in Germany, will do all within their power to sell a bailout to voters as a least-bad option.

“When people stare into the abyss, they often decide other options are worth pursuing,” he says.

Released: 11/29/2011

Source: University of Iowa

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/what-does-it-look-like-when-an-economy-collapses

Hubble Uncovers Tiny Galaxies Bursting with Star Birth in Early Universe

Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, and the CANDELS team CANDELS DWARF GALAXIES. The CANDELS team identified 69 dwarf galaxies that are undergoing intense bursts of star formation. The dwarf galaxies were found in two regions of the sky called the Great Observatories Deep Survey-South and the UKIDSS Ultra Deep Survey (part of the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey). Each dwarf is shown centered in cutouts made from near-infrared (I, J, and H band) images acquired by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys. The light from these galaxies has been traveling for about 9 billion years. Many of the stars in nearby dwarf galaxies may have formed in similar starbursts around the same time. The background shows a wider near-infrared view of the CANDELS Ultra Deep Survey field.

Newswise — Using its near-infrared vision to peer 9 billion years back in time, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered an extraordinary population of tiny, young galaxies that are brimming with star formation. The galaxies are typically a hundred times less massive than the Milky Way galaxy, yet they churn out stars at such a furious pace that their stellar content would double in just 10 million years. By comparison, the Milky Way would take a thousand times longer to double its population.

These newly discovered dwarf galaxies are extreme even for the young universe, when most galaxies were forming stars at higher rates than they are today. The universe is 13.7 billion years old. Hubble spotted the galaxies because the radiation from young, hot stars has caused the oxygen in the gas surrounding them to light up like a bright neon sign. The rapid star birth likely represents an important phase in the formation of dwarf galaxies, the most common galaxy type in the cosmos.

“The galaxies have been there all along, but up until recently astronomers have been able only to survey tiny patches of sky at the sensitivities necessary to detect them,” said Arjen van der Wel of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. Van der Wel is the lead author of a paper that will be published online Nov. 14 in The Astrophysical Journal. “We weren’t looking specifically for these galaxies, but they stood out because of their unusual colors.”

The observations were part of the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS), an ambitious three-year survey to analyze the most distant galaxies in the universe. CANDELS is the census of dwarf galaxies at such an early epoch in the universe’s history.

“In addition to the images, Hubble has captured spectra that show us the oxygen in a handful of galaxies and confirm their extreme star-forming nature,” said co-author Amber Straughn at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Spectra are like fingerprints–they tell us the galaxies’ chemical composition.”

The observations are somewhat at odds with recent detailed studies of the dwarf galaxies that are orbiting as satellites of the Milky Way.

“Those studies suggest that star formation was a relatively slow process, stretching out over billions of years,” explained Harry Ferguson of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., co-leader of the CANDELS survey. “The CANDELS finding that there were galaxies of roughly the same size forming stars at very rapid rates at early times is forcing us to re-examine what we thought we knew about dwarf galaxy evolution.”

Added team member Anton Koekemoer, also of STScI, who is producing all the Hubble imaging data for the survey: “As our observations continue, we should find many more of these young galaxies and gather more details on their star-forming histories.”

The CANDELS team uncovered the 69 young dwarf galaxies in near-infrared images taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys. The galaxies were found in two regions of the sky called the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey South and the UKIDSS Ultra Deep Survey (part of the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey).

The observations suggest that the newly discovered galaxies were very common 9 billion years ago. It is a mystery, however, why the newly found dwarf galaxies were making batches of stars at such a high rate. Computer simulations show that star formation in small galaxies may be episodic. Gas cools and collapses to form stars. The stars then reheat the gas through, for example, supernova explosions, which blow the gas away. After some time, the gas cools and collapses again, producing a new burst of star formation, continuing the cycle.

“While these theoretical predictions may provide hints to explain the star formation in these newly discovered galaxies, the observed ‘bursts’ are much more intense than what the simulations can reproduce,” van der Wel said.

The James Webb Space Telescope, an infrared observatory scheduled to launch later this decade, will be able to probe these faint galaxies at an even earlier era to see the glow of the first generation of stars, providing detailed information of the galaxies’ chemical composition.

“With Webb, we’ll probably see even more of these galaxies, perhaps even pristine galaxies that are experiencing their first episode of star formation,” Ferguson said. “Being able to probe down to dwarf galaxies in the early universe will help us understand the formation of the first stars and galaxies.”

For images and more information about Hubble and the CANDELS results, visit:

http://hubblesite.org/news/2011/31
http://www.nasa.gov/hubble
http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1117

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. in Washington, D.C.

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/hubble-uncovers-tiny-galaxies-bursting-with-star-birth-in-early-universe

Important New Book Discusses China’s Economic Strategy

Newswise — Everyone is talking about China.

In the news daily — on TV, online and in print — China’s arrival as a rapidly developing and industrializing global power is front and center.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) ranks as the world’s second largest economy after the United States. It has been the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with consistent growth rates of around 10 percent over the past 30 years. The nation is also the largest exporter and second largest importer of goods in the world.

Despite an economy that seems to be growing at a boundless rate, China’s rise as an economic powerhouse has been carefully managed by its Communist leaders, according to Roselyn Hsueh, assistant professor of political science and Asian studies at Temple.

“In the last 30 years, China has opened its doors to global integration and external investment,” said Hsueh. “Today’s China is governed by a new economic model that departs fundamentally from its East Asian neighbors and its own Communist past.”

“But behind the buzz of ‘China’s rise’ is a complex story of how the Chinese government has selectively used market liberalization followed by re-regulation in a way that enables the Communist leadership to promote domestic industries, enhance its technology base and retain power, including the power to control the flow of information,” she said.

Hsueh examines China’s distinctive integration into the international economy in her new book, China’s Regulatory State: A New Strategy for Globalization (Cornell University Press, 2011).

While visiting China in the summer of 2002, Hsueh confronted a paradox: On the one hand, the state’s hand could be seen in economic activities everywhere; yet simultaneously there existed genuinely capitalist practice and values. Foreign influence was ubiquitous — from neon displays of ING on skyscrapers in Shanghai to billboards selling Motorola handsets on provincial boulevards. Yet, she said, visits to municipalities and towns and villages revealed the government was still maintaining tight control over some sectors of the economy.

“Witnessing this apparent unevenness of liberal market capitalism got me asking deeper questions about China’s politics and economy,” said Hsueh.

In her book, Hsueh demonstrates that China only appears to be a more liberal state. According to her model, the central government tightly regulates sectors with high strategic value, such as telecommunications, but will allow much looser regulation of nonstrategic subsectors, such as textiles.

“China has adopted a bifurcated economic strategy,” said Hsueh. “Even as it introduces competition, the state selectively asserts control over industry and market development at the sectoral level to achieve state goals.”

Released: 9/30/2011
Source:Temple University
Via Newswise
Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/china-s-bifurcated-economic-strategy

Medical News: Research Demonstrates Cost-Effectiveness of Early Antiretroviral Therapy for HIV-Infected Adults in Haiti

Study Supports Value of Early Treatment

Newswise — NEW YORK (Sept. 20, 2011) — Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College and GHESKIO (Groupe Haitien d’Etude du Sarcome de Kaposi et des Infections Opportunistes) have shown that early treatment of HIV not only saves lives but is also cost-effective. Results are published in today’s edition of PLoS Medicine.

Before 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended waiting to initiate antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV until a patient’s CD4+ T cells fall below 200 cells per cubic millimeter. But in that year, a randomized clinical trial completed by Weill Cornell researchers at the GHESKIO clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, demonstrated that early ART decreased mortality by 75 percent in HIV-infected adults with a CD4 cell count between 200 and 350 cells/mm3. As a result, the WHO now recommends that ART is started in HIV-infected people when their CD4 cell count falls below 350 cells/mm3.

The new study, conducted by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, GHESKIO, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston sought to evaluate if the revised WHO recommendation is cost-effective and if its benefits outweigh its costs. A medical intervention is generally considered cost-effective if it costs less than three times a country’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) per year of life saved (YLS).

The researchers used data from the previous randomized trial to compare the cost-effectiveness of early versus standard ART. They included in their analysis the use and costs of ART, other medications, laboratory tests, outpatient visits, radiography, procedures and hospital services. Patients who received early ART had higher average costs for ART but lower costs for other aspects of their treatment than patients who received standard ART. When the costs of research-related tests were excluded, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio after three years for early ART compared with standard ART was US $2,050/YLS.

“Because the Haitian GDP per capita is US $785, these findings suggest that, in Haiti, early ART is a cost-effective intervention over the observation period of the trial,” says lead author Dr. Serena P. Koenig, assistant professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios calculated in our study are probably conservative because they did not consider the clinical benefits of early ART that continue beyond three years — early ART is associated with lower longer-term mortality than standard ART — or the benefit of early ART on disability and quality of life,” says senior author Dr. Bruce R. Schackman, associate professor of public health and chief of the Division of Health Policy at Weill Cornell Medical College.

“This study suggests that the new WHO guidelines for ART initiation can be cost-effective in resource-poor settings,” says Dr. Jean W. Pape, founder and director of GHESKIO and professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. “Despite substantial budget and logistical constraints to implementing earlier treatment,” he continues, “policymakers should allocate resources to maximize their ability to implement the new guidelines.”

The paper’s other authors are, from Weill Cornell Medical College, Dr. Daniel W. Fitzgerald, Dr. Warren D. Johnson, Dr. Jean W. Pape, Dr. Heejung Bang and Ms. Alison Edwards; and from GHESKIO, Dr. Patrice Severe, Dr. Marc Antoine Jean Juste, Dr. Alex Ambroise, Dr. Cynthia Riviere, Ms. Jessica Hippolyte, Mr. Jolion McGreevy, Mr. Serge Marcelin and Dr. Rode Secours.

Funding for the study was provided by the U.S. National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Fogarty International Center, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Fondation Mérieux, among others.

Founded in 1982, GHESKIO (Groupe Haitien d’Etude du Sarcome de Kaposi et des Infections Opportunistes, or the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections) is a nongovernmental research and training center internationally recognized for its pioneering work in the treatment of HIV and AIDS-related illnesses. GHESKIO maintains a close relationship with Weill Cornell Medical College. Its founding director, Dr. Jean Pape, is a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Since its inception, GHESKIO has never closed its doors to patients, not even during the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.

Weill Cornell Medical College
Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University’s medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside, aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease, and most recently, the world’s first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with the Methodist Hospital in Houston. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.

Released: 9/20/2011

Source: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College

Via Newswise

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/weill-cornell-research-demonstrates-cost-effectiveness-of-early-antiretroviral-therapy-for-hiv-infected-adults-in-haiti

Environmental News: Aerosols Affect Climate More than Satellite Estimates Predict

Newswise — ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Aerosol particles, including soot and sulfur dioxide from burning fossil fuels, essentially mask the effects of greenhouse gases and are at the heart of the biggest uncertainty in climate change prediction. New research from the University of Michigan shows that satellite-based projections of aerosols’ effect on Earth’s climate significantly underestimate their impacts.

The findings will be published online the week of Aug. 1 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Aerosols are at the core of “cloud drops”—water particles suspended in air that coalesce to form precipitation. Increasing the number of aerosol particles causes an increase in the number of cloud drops, which results in brighter clouds that reflect more light and have a greater cooling effect on the planet.

As to the extent of their cooling effect, scientists offer different scenarios that would raise the global average surface temperature during the next century between under 2 to over 3 degrees Celsius. That may not sound like a broad range, but it straddles the 2-degree tipping point beyond which scientists say the planet can expect more catastrophic climate change effects.

The satellite data that these findings poke holes in has been used to argue that all these models overestimate how hot the planet will get.

“The satellite estimates are way too small,” said Joyce Penner, the Ralph J. Cicerone Distinguished University Professor of Atmospheric Science. “There are things about the global model that should fit the satellite data but don’t, so I won’t argue that the models necessarily are correct. But we’ve explained why satellite estimates and the models are so different.”

Penner and her colleagues found faults in the techniques that satellite estimates use to find the difference between cloud drop concentrations today and before the Industrial Revolution.

“We found that using satellite data to try to infer how much radiation is reflected today compared to the amount reflected in the pollution-free pre-industrial atmosphere is very inaccurate,” Penner said. “If one uses the relationship between aerosol optical depth—essentially a measure of the thickness of the aerosols—and droplet number from satellites, then one can get the wrong answer by a factor of three to six.”

These findings are a step toward generating better models, and Penner said that will be the next phase of this research.

“If the large uncertainty in this forcing remains, then we will never reduce the range of projected changes in climate below the current range,” she said. “Our findings have shown that we need to be smarter. We simply cannot rely on data from satellites to tell us the effects of aerosols. I think we need to devise a strategy to use the models in conjunction with the satellite data to get the best answers.”

The paper is called “Satellite-methods underestimate indirect climate forcing by aerosols.” The research is funded by NASA.

Released: 7/29/2011  Source: University of Michigan

Via Newswise

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/aerosols-affect-climate-more-than-satellite-estimates-predict

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