Chinese animator Te Wei dies at age 95

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Chinese animator Te Wei dies at age 95

November 21st, 2018

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chinese animator Te Wei has died at the age of 95 in Shanghai.

The cause of death was announced as respiratory failure. Wei was known for his traditional style of art.

Born in 1915 as Sheng Song, Wei was classed as one of the founders of Chinese animation. He worked in animation for several decades and won several awards for his work. He has the credit of being the only Chinese artist to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Animated Film Association.

During the Cultural Revolution of China, Wei was not permitted to carry on with his work.

One of his best works was the short animated film The Conceited General in 1956. Other notable works include Where is Mama, The Cowboy’s Flute and Feeling from Mountain and Water.

Chinese animator Te Wei dies at age 95

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A portrait of Scotland: Gallery reopens after £17.6 million renovation

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A portrait of Scotland: Gallery reopens after £17.6 million renovation

November 21st, 2018

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today saw Edinburgh’s Scottish National Portrait Gallery reopen following a two-and-a-half-year, £17.6m (US$27.4m) refurbishment. Conversion of office and storage areas sees 60% more space available for displays, and the world’s first purpose-built portrait space is redefining what a portrait gallery should contain; amongst the displays are photographs of the Scottish landscape—portraits of the country itself.

First opened in 1889, Sir Robert Rowand Anderson’s red sandstone building was gifted to the nation by John Ritchie Findlay, then-owner of The Scotsman newspaper and, a well-known philanthropist. The original cost of construction between 1885 and 1890 is estimated at over 70,000 pounds sterling. Up until 1954, the building also housed the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland who moved to the National Museum of Scotland buildings on Chambers Street. The society’s original meeting table now sits in the public part of the portrait gallery’s library, stared down on by an array of busts and phrenological artefacts.

Wikinewsie Brian McNeil, with other members of the press, received a guided tour of the gallery last Monday from Deputy Director Nicola Kalinsky. What Kalinsky described as an introduction to the gallery that previously took around 40 minutes, now takes in excess of an hour-and-a-half; with little in the way of questions asked, a more inquisitive tour group could readily take well over two hours to be guided round the seventeen exhibitions currently housed in the gallery.

A substantial amount of the 60% additional exhibition space is readily apparent on the ground floor. On your left as you enter the gallery is the newly-fitted giant glass elevator, and the “Hot Scots” photographic portrait gallery. This exhibit is intended to show well-known Scottish faces, and will change over time as people fall out of favour, and others take their place. A substantial number of the people now being highlighted are current, and recent, cast members from the BBC’s Doctor Who series.

The new elevator (left) is the most visible change to improve disabled access to the gallery. Prior to the renovation work, access was only ‘on request’ through staff using a wooden ramp to allow wheelchair access. The entire Queen Street front of the building is reworked with sloping access in addition to the original steps. Whilst a lift was previously available within the gallery, it was only large enough for two people; when used for a wheelchair, it was so cramped that any disabled person’s helper had to go up or down separately from them.

The gallery expects that the renovation work will see visitor numbers double from before the 2009 closure to around 300,000 each year. As with many of Edinburgh’s museums and galleries, access is free to the public.

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The expected significant increase in numbers has seen them working closely with the National Museum of Scotland, which was itself reopened earlier this year after extensive refurbishment work; improved access for wheelchair users also makes it far easier for mothers with baby buggies to access the gallery – prompting more thought on issues as seemingly small as nappy-changing – as Patricia Convery, the gallery’s Head of Press, told Wikinews, a great deal of thought went into the practicalities of increased visitor numbers, and what is needed to ensure as many visitors as possible have a good experience at the gallery.

Press access to the gallery on Monday was from around 11:30am, with refreshments and an opportunity to catch some of the staff in the Grand Hall before a brief welcoming introduction to the refurbished gallery given by John Leighton, director of the National Galleries of Scotland. Centre-stage in the Grand Hall is a statue of Robert Burns built with funds raised from around the British Empire and intended for his memorial situated on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill.

The ambulatories surrounding the Grand Hall give the space a cathedral-like feel, with numerous busts – predominantly of Scottish figures – looking in on the tiled floor. The east corner holds a plaque commemorating the gallery’s reopening, next to a far more ornate memorial to John Ritchie Findlay, who not only funded and commissioned the building’s construction, but masterminded all aspects of the then-new home for the national collection.

Split into two groups, members of the press toured with gallery Director James Holloway, and Nicola Kalinsky, Deputy Director. Wikinews’ McNeil joined Kalinsky’s group, first visiting The Contemporary Scotland Gallery. This ground-floor gallery currently houses two exhibits, first being the Hot Scots display of photographic portraits of well-known Scottish figures from film, television, and music. Centre-stage in this exhibit is the newly-acquired Albert Watson portrait of Sir Sean Connery. James McAvoy, Armando Iannucci, playwright John Byrne, and Dr Who actress Karen Gillan also feature in the 18-photograph display.

The second exhibit in the Contemporary gallery, flanked by the new educational facilities, is the Missing exhibit. This is a video installation by Graham Fagen, and deals with the issue of missing persons. The installation was first shown during the National Theatre of Scotland’s staging of Andrew O’Hagan’s play, The Missing. Amongst the images displayed in Fagen’s video exhibit are clips from the deprived Sighthill and Wester-Hailes areas of Edinburgh, including footage of empty play-areas and footbridges across larger roads that sub-divide the areas.

With the only other facilities on the ground floor being the education suite, reception/information desk, cafe and the gallery’s shop, Wikinews’ McNeil proceeded with the rest of Kalinsky’s tour group to the top floor of the gallery, all easily fitting into the large glass hydraulic elevator.

The top (2nd) floor of the building is now divided into ten galleries, with the larger spaces having had lowered, false ceilings removed, and adjustable ceiling blinds installed to allow a degree of control over the amount of natural light let in. The architects and building contractors responsible for the renovation work were required, for one side of the building, to recreate previously-removed skylights by duplicating those they refurbished on the other. Kalinsky, at one point, highlighted a constructed-from-scratch new sandstone door frame; indistinguishable from the building’s original fittings, she remarked that the building workers had taken “a real interest” in the vision for the gallery.

The tour group were first shown the Citizens of the World gallery, currently hosting an 18th century Enlightenment-themed display which focuses on the works of David Hume and Allan Ramsay. Alongside the most significant 18th century items from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, are some of the 133 new loans for the opening displays. For previous visitors to the gallery, one other notable change is underfoot; previously carpeted, the original parquet floors of the museum have been polished and varnished, and there is little to indicate it is over 120 years since the flooring was originally laid.

Throughout many of the upper-floor displays, the gallery has placed more light-sensitive works in wall-mounted cabinets and pull-out drawers. Akin to rummaging through the drawers and cupboards of a strange house, a wealth of items – many previously never displayed – are now accessible by the public. Commenting on the larger, featured oils, Deputy Director Kalinsky stressed that centuries-old portraits displayed in the naturally-lit upper exhibitions had not been restored for the opening; focus groups touring the gallery during the renovation had queried this, and the visibly bright colours are actually the consequence of displaying the works in natural light, not costly and risky restoration of the paintings.

There are four other large galleries on the top floor. Reformation to Revolution is an exhibition covering the transition from an absolute Catholic monarchy through to the 1688 revolution. Items on-display include some of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s most famous items – including Mary Queen of Scots and The Execution of Charles I. The portrait-based depiction of this historical age is complemented with prints, medals, and miniatures from the period.

Imagining Power is a Jacobite-themed exhibition, one which looks at the sometime-romanticised Stuart dynasty. The Gallery owns the most extensive collection of such material in the world; the portraiture that includes Flora MacDonald and Prince Charles Edward Stuart is complemented by glassware from the period which is on-loan from the Drambuie Liqueur Company which Kalinsky remarked upon as the only way Scots from the period could celebrate the deposed monarchy – toasting The King over the Water in appropriately engraved glasses.

On the other side of the upper floor, the two main naturally-lit exhibitions are The Age of Improvement, and Playing for Scotland. The first of these looks at societal changes through the 18th and 19th centuries, including Nasmyth’s 1787 portrait of the young Robert Burns and – well-known to past visitors to the portrait gallery – Raeburn’s 1822 depiction of Sir Walter Scott. These are complemented with some of the National Gallery’s collection of landscapes and earliest scenes from Scottish industry.

Playing for Scotland takes a look at the development of modern sports in the 19th century; migration from countryside to cities dramatically increased participation in sporting activities, and standardised rules were laid down for many modern sports. This exhibition covers Scotland’s four national sports – curling, shinty, golf, and bowls – and includes some interesting photographic images, such as those of early strong-men, which show how more leisure time increased people’s involvement in sporting activities.

Next to the Reformation to Revolution gallery is A Survey of Scotland. Largely composed of works on-loan from the National Library of Scotland, this showcase of John Slezer’s work which led to the 1693 publication of Theatrum Scotiae also includes some of the important early landscape paintings in the national collection.

The work of Scotland’s first portrait painter, the Aberdeen-born George Jamesone, takes up the other of the smaller exhibits on the east side of the refurbished building. As the first-ever dedicated display of Jamesone’s work, his imaginary heroic portraits of Robert the Bruce and Sir William Wallace are included.

On the west side of the building, the two smaller galleries currently house the Close Encounters and Out of the Shadow exhibits. Close Encounters is an extensive collection of the Glasgow slums photographic work of Thomas Annan. Few people are visible in the black and white images of the slums, making what were squalid conditions appear more romantic than the actual conditions of living in them.

The Out of the Shadow exhibit takes a look at the role of women in 19th century Scotland, showing them moving forward and becoming more recognisable individuals. The exceptions to the rules of the time, known for their work as writers and artists, as-opposed to the perceived role of primary duties as wives and mothers, are showcased. Previously constrained to the domestic sphere and only featuring in portraits alongside men, those on-display are some of the people who laid the groundwork for the Suffrage movement.

The first floor of the newly-reopened building has four exhibits on one side, with the library and photographic gallery on the other. The wood-lined library was moved, in its entirety, from elsewhere in the building and is divided into two parts. In the main public part, the original table from the Society of Antiquaries sits centred and surrounded by glass-fronted cabinets of reference books. Visible, but closed to public access, is the research area. Apart from a slight smell of wood glue, there was little to indicate to the tour group that the entire room had been moved from elsewhere in the building.

The War at Sea exhibit, a collaboration with the Imperial War Museum, showcases the work of official war artist John Lavery. His paintings are on-display, complemented by photographs of the women who worked in British factories throughout the First World War. Just visible from the windows of this gallery is the Firth of Forth where much of the naval action in the war took place. Situated in the corner of the room is a remote-controlled ‘periscope’ which allows visitors a clearer view of the Forth as-seen from the roof of the building.

Sir Patrick Geddes, best-known for his work on urban planning, is cited as one of the key influencers of the Scottish Renaissance Movement which serves as a starting point for The Modern Scot exhibit. A new look at the visual aspects of the movement, and a renewal of Scottish Nationalist culture that began between the two World Wars, continuing into the late 20th century, sees works by William McCance, William Johnstone, and notable modernists on display.

Migration Stories is a mainly photographic exhibit, prominently featuring family portraits from the country’s 30,000-strong Pakistani community, and exploring migration into and out of Scotland. The gallery’s intent is to change the exhibit over time, taking a look at a range of aspects of Scottish identity and the influence on that from migration. In addition to the striking portraits of notable Scots-Pakistani family groups, Fragments of Love – by Pakistani-born filmmaker Sana Bilgrami – and Isabella T. McNair’s visual narration of a Scottish teacher in Lahore are currently on-display.

The adjacent Pioneers of Science exhibit has Ken Currie’s 2002 Three Oncologists as its most dramatic item. Focussing on Scotland’s reputation as a centre of scientific innovation, the model for James Clerk Maxwell’s statue in the city’s George Street sits alongside photographs from the Roslin Institute and a death mask of Dolly the sheep. Deputy Director Kalinsky, commented that Dolly had been an incredibly spoilt animal, often given sweets, and this was evident from her teeth when the death mask was taken.

Now open daily from 10am to 5pm, and with more of their collection visible than ever before, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery will change some of the smaller current exhibits after 12 to 18 months on display. The ground-floor information desk has available five mini-guides, or ‘trails’, which are thematic guides to specific display items. These are: The Secret Nature trail, The Catwalk Collection trail, The Situations Vacant trail, The Best Wee Nation & The World trail, and The Fur Coat an’ Nae Knickers Trail.

A portrait of Scotland: Gallery reopens after £17.6 million renovation

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Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenkovi?

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Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenkovi?

November 20th, 2018

Friday, November 9, 2018

Vlada Stamenkovi? and his colleagues developed a new model which raises the possibility of oxygen-rich brines on Mars; enough, perhaps, to support simple animals such as sponges. One of our volunteer reporters for Wikinews caught up with him in an email interview to find out more about their research and their plans for the future.

The atmosphere of Mars is far too thin for us to breathe, or indeed, to extract any oxygen at all in our lungs. It has on average only around 0.6% of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere, and it is mainly carbon dioxide; only 0.146% of that is oxygen. Yet the result of their modeling was clear, these minute traces of oxygen should be able to get into salty seeps of water on or near its surface, at levels high enough to support at least some forms of microbial life that require oxygen, and possibly higher life too, maybe even simple sponges.

As interviewed by Wikinews:

VS: Our work really opens up new possibilities for the Martian habitability, and that’s why it’s so exciting!

As previously interviewed by National Geographic (October 22):

Vlada Stamenkovi?: We were absolutely flabbergasted. I went back to recalculate everything like five different times to make sure it’s a real thing.

So, why is their research about briny seeps rather than fresh water? Mars is so dry because fresh water is not stable over most of its surface. Even with the higher pressure at the depths of the huge ancient impact crater of the Hellas basin, with a boiling point of 10 °C, it is close to boiling point already at 0 °C, and would evaporate rapidly.

However, salty brines can be liquid at much lower temperatures. Salts and very salty brines can actually take in water from the atmosphere at low temperatures. Curiosity discovered indirect evidence of this process (through humidity measurements). It found that brines form during winter nights in the top 15cm of the soil through deliquescence, taking up water from the atmosphere at around -70 °C. This water then evaporates again as the soil warms up through the day, and the process repeats every day – night cycle.

There is other indirect evidence that salty brines may exist, perhaps more habitable than the Curiosity brines, even though the atmosphere is so thin and the climate so cold. In their paper, the authors mention one of the lines of evidence, the hydrated magnesium and calcium salts associated with the Recurring Slope Lineae. These are seasonal streaks that form in spring on sun facing slopes, extend and broaden through the summer and fade away in autumn. These streaks are not thought to be damp patches themselves but may be associated with thin seeps of brine just below the surface.

If these habitats do exist, scientists have assumed up to now that any life on present day Mars had to be capable of growth without oxygen. Based on Mars simulation experiments, these could include certain blue-green algae such as chroococcidiopsis, some black fungi, and some purple salt loving haloarchaea found in salt ponds and hypersaline lakes on Earth.

The significance of oxygen is that it permits a more energy intensive metabolism and perhaps even true multicellular animal life such as simple sponges. Almost all complex multicellular life uses oxygen.

As previously interviewed by Scientific American (October 22):

VS: Our work is calling for a complete revision for how we think about the potential for life on Mars, and the work oxygen can do, implying that if life ever existed on Mars it might have been breathing oxygen

The authors cite research from 2014 that showed that some simple sponges can survive with only 0.002 molesper cubic meter (0.064 mg per liter) . Some microbes that need oxygen can survive with as little as a millionth of a mole per cubic meter (0.000032 mg, or 32 nanograms per liter). In their model, they found that there can be enough oxygen for microbes throughout Mars, and enough for simple sponges in oases near the poles.

This isn’t the first suggestion for multicellular life on Mars. Some lichens, such as Pleopsidium chlorophanum are able to survive in close to Mars-like conditions high up on Antarctic mountain ranges, and show promise in Mars simulation chamber experiments. However, they can do this because the algal component is able to make the oxygen needed by its fungal component. Even animal life is not completely ruled out in anoxic brines. These are not candidates for life on Mars, but three species of Loricifera, tiny animals about the size of a large amoeba, are able to survive without oxygen in deep extremely salty mud sediments in the Mediterranean.

However, this new research greatly expands the possibilities for complex life on Mars.

The paper includes a map of potential brine oxygen concentrations for the surface of Mars (their figure 4). These would be higher at the lowest points such as the floor of the Hellas basin, south of the equator, where the atmospheric pressure is highest, reaching around 1% of Earth’s atmosphere and lowest of all in the mountainous southern uplands.

However the highest oxygen concentrations of all, occur when the water is colder, which is most easily attained in polar regions. They studied mixtures of magnesium and calcium perchlorates, common on Mars. In simulation experiments these stay liquid as they are supercooled to temperatures as low as -123 to -133 °C before they transition to a glassy state. They do this even when mixed with the soil of Mars (regolith). It’s at these very low temperatures that the optimal oxygen concentrations can be reached.

They found that oxygen levels throughout Mars would be high enough for the least demanding aerobic (oxygen using) microbes, with around 25 millionths of a mole per cubic meter (0.0008 mg per liter) even in the southern uplands. However it is here at the polar regions poleward of about 67.5° to the north and about ? 72.5° to the south, that oxygen concentrations could be high enough for simple sponges. Indeed the paper suggests that in regions closer to the poles, concentrations could go even higher, right up to the levels typical of sea water on Earth, 0.2 moles per cubic meter (6.4 mg per liter). With their best case estimate and supercooling it could potentially go up all the way through to levels far higher than those in sea water, at two moles per cubic meter (64 mg per liter – a mole of oxygen is a little under 32 grams). . By comparison worms and clams that live in the muddy sea bed require 1 mg per liter, bottom feeders such as crabs and oysters 3 mg per liter and spawning migratory fish 6 mg per liter. Saturated sea water is about 9 mg per liter at 20 °C ranging up to 11 mg per liter at 0 °C.

Wikinews asked him whether their research suggests potential for life as active as this.

((Wikinews)) Does your paper’s value of up to 0.2 moles of oxygen per cubic meter, the same as Earth’s sea water mean that there could potentially be life on Mars as active as our sea worms or even fish?

VS: Mars is such a different place than the Earth and we still need to do so much more work before we can even start to speculate.

((WN)) (background information): In their model, Oxygen gets into the brines at the poles so readily because they may reach extremely cold temperatures. These are far below the usual cold limit of life. It is not a hard limit because life gets slower and slower at lower temperatures to the point where individual microbes have lifetimes of millennia. Such life is hard to study, to see whether it is active and able to reproduce at those temperatures or dormant. But the usual limit cited is -20 °C. That’s well above the lowest temperatures studied in the paper which go down to -133 °C.

Dirk Schulze-Makuch has proposed that Martian life might evolve an exotic metabolism with the perchlorates of Mars taking the place of the salts inside the cells of Earth life. This would have advantages on Mars, with the brines inside their own cells acting as an anti-freeze to protect them against extreme cold. Also with their salts being so hygroscopic, they may help them scavenge water from the atmosphere and their surroundings.

With this background, Wikinews asked:

((WN)) The temperatures for the highest levels of oxygen are really low -133 °C, so, is the idea that this oxygen would be retained when the brines warm up to more habitable temperatures during the day or seasonally? Or would the oxygen be lost as it warms up? Or – is the idea that it has to be some exotic biochemistry that works only at ultra low temperatures like Dirk Schulze-Makuch’s life based on hydrogen peroxide and perchlorates internal to the cells as antifreeze?

VS: The options are both: first, cool oxygen-rich environments do not need to be habitats. They could be reservoirs packed with a necessary nutrient that can be accessed from a deeper and warmer region. Second, the major reason for limiting life at low temperature is ice nucleation, which would not occur in the type of brines that we study.

((WN)) (background information): His first suggestion here is that the cool oxygen rich reservoirs could have warmer water come up through them from below. He doesn’t say where the warm water would come from, but one possibility is from geological hot spots. Our orbiting spacecraft have not yet found any, but Olympus Mons has been active as recently as 2.5 million years ago. If sources of warmer water could rise to the surface from below and encounter these cold oxygen-rich brines, life could make use of oxygen where the two mix.

The other possibility is an exotic biochemistry. He remarks that the brines he studies don’t form ice crystals when cooled. Indeed, as they explain in the paper, they smoothly transition to a glassy state after supercooling, which makes the conditions easier for life.

Their research also helps to explain the presence of some minerals on the Mars surface, such as manganese oxides which require conditions of water and oxygen to form. These could be evidence that the early Mars atmosphere was thick and oxygen rich (which doesn’t require life; it could for instance be oxygen rich due to ionizing radiation splitting water). However this new reseach shows that these minerals could form even without an oxygen rich atmosphere.

As previously interviewed by National Geographic (October 22):

VS: Our explanation doesn’t need any special magic — it works on Mars today,

((WN)) (background information): The idea that Mars had enough oxygen in the past for marine animals, billions of years ago, when the atmosphere was thicker, is not too surprising nowadays since the discovery of those manganese oxides. That it may have enough right now is what is so very surprising about this new research, given that it has such a thin atmosphere, with so little oxygen in it. The atmosphere is unbreathable, its trace amounts of oxygen can’t be used by any form of terrestrial animal life, but the brines may be another story.

The paper is theoretical and is based on a simplified general circulation model of the Mars atmosphere – it ignores distinctions of seasons and the day / night cycle. But it takes account of topography (mountains, craters etc) and the axial tilt. They combined it with a chemical model of how oxygen would dissolve in the brines and used this to establish predicted oxygen levels in the brines at the various locations on Mars.

Wikinews asked if they have plans to look into a more detailed model:

((WN)) and about whether there are any future plans for using a more detailed model with time variation diurnally or seasonally.

VS: Yes, we are now exploring the kinetics part and want to see what happens on shorter timescales.

((WN)) (background information): Their model took account of the tilt of the Mars axis, which varies much more than for Earth (our axis is stabilized by the presence of the Moon). They found that for the last five million years conditions were particularly favorable for oxygen rich brines, and that it continues like this for ten million years into the future, as far as they ran the model. For the last twenty million years, as far back as they took their modeling, oases with enough oxygen for sponges are still possible.

Remarkably, as they say in the paper, present day Mars would have more oxygen available for life than early Earth had prior to 1.4 billion years ago. On Earth, photosynthesis seems to have come first, generating the oxygen for the first animals. On Mars, with a different source for oxygen, oxygen breathers could arise before photosynthesis, which gives broader opportunities for oxygen-breathing life on other planets.

Wikinews asked Vlada Stamenkovi? if he had any ideas about whether and how sponges could survive through times when the tilt was higher and less oxygen would be available:

((WN)) I notice from your figure 4 that there is enough oxygen for sponges only at tilts of about 45 degrees or less. Do you have any thoughts about how sponges could survive periods of time in the distant past when the Mars axial tilt exceeds 45 degrees, for instance, might there be subsurface oxygen rich oases in caves that recolonize the surface? Also what is the exact figure for the tilt at which oxygen levels sufficient for sponges become possible? (It looks like about 45 degrees from the figure but the paper doesn’t seem to give a figure for this).

VS: 45 deg is approx. the correct degree. We were also tempted to speculate about this temporal driver but realized that we still know so little about the potential for life on Mars/principles of life that anything related to this question would be pure speculation, unfortunately.

((WN)) (background information): When the Phoenix lander landed on Mars in 2008, what appeared to be droplets formed on its legs. They grew, coalesced, and then disappeared, presumably falling off its legs. It was not able to analyze these droplets, but simulations since then in Mars simulation chambers have shown that such droplets can form within minutes when salt overlays ice on Mars. With this background then Wikinews asked him if he had investigated the timescale, and if so, whether these brines could become oxygenated.

((WN)) How quickly would the oxygen get into the brines – did you investigate the timescale?

VS: No, we did not yet study the dynamics. We first needed to show that the potential is there. We are now studying the timescales and processes.

((WN)) (background information): It is no wonder that this is a challenge. For instance, Curiosity measures temperature changes of around 70 °C between day and night. Also there are large pressure differences between summer and winter. In Gale crater it varied from under 7.5 mbar to nearly 9.5 mbar. There are also large pressure differences between day and night, varying by 10% compared to a tenth of a percent on Earth. On Earth we see such large pressure differences only during a major hurricane.

((WN)) Could the brines that Nilton Renno and his teams simulated forming on salt / ice interfaces within minutes in Mars simulation conditions get oxygenated in the process of formation? If not, how long would it take for them to get oxygenated to levels sufficient for aerobic microbes? For instance could the Phoenix leg droplets have taken up enough oxygen for aerobic respiration by microbes?

VS: Just like the answer above. Dynamics is still to be explored. (But this is a really good question ?).

Wikinews also asked how their research is linked to the recent discovery of possible large subglacial lake 1.5 km below the Martian South Pole found through radar mapping.

((WN)) Some news stories coupled your research with the subglacial lakes announcement earlier this year. Could the oxygen get through ice into layers of brines such as the possible subglacial lakes at a depth of 1.5 km?

VS: There are other ways to create oxygen. Radiolysis of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen can liberate oxygen in the deep and that O2 could be dissolved in deep groundwater. The radiolytic power for this would come from radionuclides naturally contained in rocks, something we observe in diverse regions on Earth.

((WN)) (ebackground information): There’s research by Möhlmann that suggests that fresh liquid water may form in the Martian polar region a few centimeters below clear ice, a process that happens regularly in Antarctica. If similar clear ice exists on Mars, this process should happen even at very low surface temperatures. Our reporter, referring to this research, asked him:

((WN)) Could it get into a layer of fresh water just 30 cms below clear ice melted by the solid state greenhouse effect, as in Möhlmann’s model (which forms subsurface liquid water at surface temperatures as low as -56 °C).

VS: See response above.

((WN)) (background information): So, his answer here is that it could be possible by the same process, radiolysis of the ice through radioactivity in the rocks.

If there are indeed biologically friendly oases dotted throughout the surface of Mars then this could make it harder to sterilize spacecraft sufficiently to explore Mars. They have to be sterilized in order to avoid introducing Earth life to the habitats and so confusing the searches. If the surface of Mars has these oxygen rich habitable brines then it makes the sterilization requirements more stringent. As the Scientific American article suggests, it might be necessary to sterilize robots completely of all micro-organisms, which would drive up the cost of missions to Mars.

Stamenkovi? as interviewed by Scientific American says

VS: I think there’s a sweet spot where we can be curious and we can be explorers and not mess things up, We have to go for that.

((WN)) (background information): NASA and ESA both have missions that they plan to launch to Mars in 2020 to search for life but both have the search for past life as their main focus. The last and only missions to search for present day “extant” life on Mars were the Viking 1 and 2 missions in the 1970s. Stamenkovi? would like that to change.

As interviewed by Space.com (October 22) he said.

VS: There is still so much about the Martian habitability that we do not understand, and it’s long overdue to send another mission that tackles the question of subsurface water and potential extant life on Mars, and looks for these signals

((WN)) (background information): There are many such instruments we could send. One example, the “Chemical laptop” or PISCES under development at JPL is shown to the right. A National Academy of Sciences report released 10th October 2018 emphasizes the need to include in situ life detection instruments on future missions:

“The report highlights the need to include in situ detection of energy-starved or otherwise sparsely distributed life such as chemolithotrophic or rock-eating life. In particular, the report found that NASA should focus on research and exploration of possible life below the surface of a planet in light of recent advances that have demonstrated the breadth and diversity of life below Earth’s surface, the nature of fluids beneath the surface of Mars, and the likelihood of life-sustaining geological processes in planets and moons with subsurface oceans.”

Vlada Stamenkovi? is working on a new instrument TH2OR to send to Mars on some potential future mission. It would search for potentially habitable brines deep below its surface using ultra low frequency radio waves. This is a frequency far lower than that of ground penetrating radar, in the range of a fraction of a Hertz up to kilohertz. Wavelengths are measured in kilometers up to tens of thousands of kilometers or more. Wikinews asked him for more details

((WN)) And I’d also like to know about your experiment you want to send to Mars to help with the search for these oxygenated brines

VS: We are now developing at “NASA/JPL-California Institute of Technology” a small tool, called TH2OR (Transmissive H2O Reconnaissance) that might one day fly with a yet-to-be-determined mission. It will use low frequency sounding techniques, capable of detecting groundwater at depths down to ideally a few km under the Martian surface, thanks to the high electric conductivity of only slightly salty water and Faraday’s law of induction. Most likely, such a small and affordable instrument could be placed stationary on the planet’s surface or be carried passively or actively on mobile surface assets; TH2OR might be also used in combination with existing orbiting assets to increase its sounding depth. Next to determining the depth of groundwater, we should also be able to estimate its salinity and indirectly its potential chemistry, which is critical information for astrobiology and ISRU (in situ resource utilization).

((WN)) (background information): Wikinews asked if this device would use natural sources of ultra low frequency radio waves, or if it would use TDEM – a method that involves setting up a current in a loop to generate a sine wave and then suddenly switching it off and observing the radio waves generated by transient eddy currents. The eddy currents have been compared to a smoke ring, they propagate downwards and outwards, a circular current that gets wider as it gets deeper, creating secondary radio waves in a broad band including ultra low frequency waves. The Russian Mars 94 mission, canceled during the break up of USSR, would have flown a TDEM device to Mars.

((WN)) Does your TH2OR use TDEM like the Mars 94 mission – and will it use natural ULF sources such as solar wind, diurnal variations in ionosphere heating and lightning?

VS: The physical principle it uses is the same and this has been used for groundwater detection on the Earth for many decades; it’s Faraday’s law of induction in media that are electrically conducting (as slightly saline water is).However, we will focus on creating our own signal as we do not know whether the EM fields needed for such measurements exist on Mars. However, we will also account for the possibility of already existing fields.

Contents

  • 1 Technical details – guide to paper
  • 2 Background information – why oxygen is so significant for multicellular life
  • 3 Sources
  • 4 External links

[edit]

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No people or animals hurt in rural Australian fire

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No people or animals hurt in rural Australian fire

November 20th, 2018

Saturday, January 30, 2010

According to local police chief Craig Van Breugel there were no injuries or loss of life to animals or local residents in the recent fire in the rural Australian town of Toongabbie. “There was no injury to persons or animals. That is all I have for you,” Detective Acting Sergent Van Breugel said in response to queries from Wikinews.

The fire began about 2:20 pm local time (UTC+11) between Humphrey and Eagle Hawk roads, north of the township proper. The local Country Fire Authority brigade managed to contain the blaze to approximately three to five hectares.

Victoria Police have recently indicated that the area around where the fire was started is only accessible by four wheel drives (4WD) or off-road motorcycles; it is popular with dirt bike riders and 4WD enthusiasts.

The local Country Fire Authority brigade managed to contain the blaze to approximately three to five hectares between Humphrey and Eagle Hawk roads.

Det.Act.Sgt Van Breugel confrimed that there wer some off road motor cyclists in the are that day. “[Police] know there was a number of off road motorcyclists in the area on the day. Some of [them] have already been spoken to by the Police” Det.Act.Sgt Van Breugel said.

The fire is being treated as suspicious and people with infomation that may help the investigation are encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers or the local police.

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Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech addresses the economy

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Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech addresses the economy

November 20th, 2018

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke live on state television Monday in his annual state-of-the-nation address using high ideological rhetoric when calling on lawmakers and the public to strengthen democracy and the rule of law. His 50 minute address from the Kremlin’s Marble Hall only briefly touched on the “epidemic of collapse” , a reference to upheavals in Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan and the Ukraine, which was “a real drama” stranding millions of Russians beyond the borders of the Russian Federation.

Brushing off what was probably taken as criticism during last week’s visit by Condoleezza Rice who commented the Kremlin ran a “managed democracy”, Putin stressed that “Russia … will decide for itself the pace, terms and conditions of moving towards democracy.”

Putin was critical of the lack of progress in implementing his reform proposals. Calling for a crackdown on corruption, where treatment by tax inspectors are “terrorizing business”, he addressed concerns of the business community by condemning a series of back-tax bills like the ones that dismembered Yukos and face other major Russian corporations.

He was also critical of a bureaucratic attitudes that treat “state service as some type of business”. He made clear the need for investment must be met by “rules of the game” that are consistent, saying “Russia is certainly interested in the inflow of private investments on a large scale, including foreign investments. It is our strategic choice and our strategic approach.”

Putin called for proposals to index wages to inflation over the next two years, and for the introduction of a flat 13% tax on undeclared earnings in the shadow economy, a slice that represents nearly 35% of the nation’s economy, by legalizing what was previously defined as illegal income.

Putin supports the development of a strong state system with determination for Russia to avoid the disarray that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Saying, “First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” He sees the need for strengthening the legal system and the political environment to assure a more just society in avoiding a replay of a Russian downfall.

On politics, he pointedly abandoned the much-used ‘stability’ catch phrase of the bureaucracy. Putin signaled to the bureaucratic caste who are on the eve of their upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections they should promote partisanship and civil society.

By studiously avoiding too many references to business, the thrust of his address sought to reassure the small property holder class, rather than big business and other elite investors.

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Bush Administration changes official position on legitimacy of Qur’an desecration allegations

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Bush Administration changes official position on legitimacy of Qur’an desecration allegations

November 20th, 2018

Saturday, June 4, 2005

After an investigation of allegations that Islam’s holy book the Qu’ran was mishandled in front of inmates at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Bush administration has acknowledged the credibility of some of these reports. According to Robert Burns of the Associated Press, U.S. military officials acknowledged that, “a Muslim holy book was splashed with urine,” and “a detainee’s Quran was deliberately kicked and another’s was stepped on.” The US government first denied a specific report that the Qu’ran had been flushed down a toilet at the prison facility, but on Friday agreed that similar allegations were indeed true.

On May 16, Newsweek magazine apologized to the victims of deadly riots that ensued due to a Newsweek article stating that U.S. officials defiled the Qur’an. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan criticized Newsweek’s initial response to the incident, saying it was “puzzling.” Later that day, Newsweek retracted the story, which the White House said was a “good first step”.

On May 20, the International Red Cross (IRC) revealed in a rare public announcement that it had documented and reported to the United States credible information concerning desecration of the Qur’an by Guantanamo Bay personnel. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, acknowledged that allegations were made on “rare occasions” but were uncorroborated. Simon Schorno, a Red Cross spokesman, disputed the Pentagon’s denial saying, “All information we received were corroborated allegations.” He added that, “We certainly corroborated mentions of the events by detainees themselves,” and that “the ICRC considers such reports “very seriously, and very carefully, and [we] document everything.”

Scott McClellan explained in a press conference that the White House is not trying to tell Newsweek what to print. McClellan said, “Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that’s all I’m saying. But, no, you’re absolutely right, it’s not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report.”

On May 25, Amnesty International called for the shutdown on Guantanamo Bay due to numerous human rights violations, saying “The ‘war on terror’ appeared more effective in eroding international human rights principles than in countering international ‘terrorism’.” Amnesty International’s view was shared by both the International Red Cross (IRC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The IRC has said it reported to the U.S. government detainee’s reports of desecration of the Qur’an. In the foreword of the report, written by Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan, Guantanamo was compared to a Soviet-era gulag in that it is “entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law”.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan responded saying the report’s allegations were “ridiculous and unsupported by the facts. The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity. We have liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have worked to advance freedom and democracy in the world so that people are governed under a rule of law and that there are… protections in place for minority rights, that women’s rights are advanced so that women can fully participate in societies where now they cannot”, as well as supporting the fight against AIDS in Africa.

About the allegations of abuse at Guantanamo, which McClellan has previously called isolated incidents, he said, “We hold people accountable when there is abuse. We take steps to prevent it from happening again, and we do so in a very public way for the world to see that we lead by example, and that we do have values that we hold very dearly and believe in.”

On May 31, U.S. President George W. Bush dismissed the human rights report as “absurd” for its harsh criticism of U.S. treatment of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the allegations were made by prisoners “who hate America.” “It’s an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world,” Bush said of the Amnesty International report.

William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, defended the report, saying, “What is ‘absurd’ is President Bush’s attempt to deny the deliberate policies of his administration.” and “What is ‘absurd’ and indeed outrageous is the Bush administration’s failure to undertake a full independent investigation”. Irene Khan also responded saying, “The administration’s response has been that our report is absurd, that our allegations have no basis, and our answer is very simple: if that is so, open up these detention centres, allow us and others to visit them.”

And, on Friday, the U.S. military released the results of their investigation and confirmed that in 5 separate incidents, American guards at the Guantánamo Bay prison “mishandled” the Islamic holy book. However, they stress that guards were usually “respectful” of the Qur’an. One incident involved splashing a Koran with urine by urinating near an air vent while others involved kicking, stepping on and writing in Qur’ans.

Brigadier-General Jay Hood, the commander of the jail, looked into the allegations, published and then retracted by Newsweek, that American personnel flushed a Qur’an down a toilet. He said that the inquiry did not find any evidence supporting this particular allegation. “The inquiry found no credible evidence that a member of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay ever flushed a Qur’an down a toilet. This matter is considered closed.”

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London Knights trade Steve Mason to Kitchener Rangers

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London Knights trade Steve Mason to Kitchener Rangers

November 19th, 2018

Sunday, January 6, 2008

On the morning of January 4, 2008, while at the 2008 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, 19-year-old goalie Steve Mason received a phone call from Canada informing him that he was traded by the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights to the Kitchener Rangers.

In a press release Friday, Kitchener Rangers Head coach and General Manager Peter DeBoer announced the trade to the Knights. In return for obtaining Mason, the Rangers have sent the Knights, Centre Phil Varone, Defenceman Steve Tarasuk along with 2nd, 3rd and 4th round draft picks in 2011 and a 2nd round pick in 2012.

Mason said that he had an enjoyable time playing for the London Knights, but nonetheless, he believes that he has a bright future playing for the Kitchener Rangers. He also notes that he doesn’t want the trade to distract him from playing in the Gold Medal Game, against Team Sweden.

Team Canada won the game in overtime 3-2.

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Blown for Good author discusses life inside international headquarters of Scientology

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Blown for Good author discusses life inside international headquarters of Scientology

November 19th, 2018

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wikinews interviewed author Marc Headley about his new book Blown for Good, and asked him about life inside the international headquarters of Scientology known as “Gold Base“, located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California. Headley joined the organization at age seven when his mother became a member, and worked at Scientology’s international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005.

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Dominican murder draws light to anti-Haitian sentiment

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Dominican murder draws light to anti-Haitian sentiment

November 18th, 2018

Thursday, February 12, 2015

They shouldn’t have to apply for residency. They are Dominicans.

Yesterday’s discovery of a bound man, believed to be of Haitian ancestry, hanged from a tree in Santiago, Dominican Republic has drawn attention to anti-Hatian sentiments in the nation.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti between them make up the island of Hispaniola and Dominicans have grown concerned by Haitian immigration in recent years. Police say they believe the man, known to his friends as Tulile, was murdered during a robbery. Police officers anonymously told reporters a winning lottery ticket may have been the motive.

Aged around 23, Tulile made his living shining shoes and taking commissions from money lending in the area he was murdered. Bound hand and foot, his body was found at dawn in Ercilia Pepín park, Sabana Larga street. The scene is close to the University Hospital Jose Maria Cabral y Báe, around which Tulile worked.

This week saw the public burning of Haiti’s flag in Santiago by local residents, saying it symbolised their rejection of Haitian immigration. The issue is a hot topic, with a court ruling two years ago retrospectively stripping Dominicans born to unregistered Haitian parents from 1930 onwards of their citizenship.

Only 7,000 of an estimated 200,000 eligible residents have signed up for residency cards, a scheme instigated by the government in the face of international pressure. The deadline to apply for the permits, which allow citizenship after two years, has passed.

“They shouldn’t have to apply for residency,” said Santiago Canton of the Robert F Kennedy Center for Human Rights in a Guardian interview. “They are Dominicans.” Canton said the murder should be viewed “in the context of constant discrimination and violence against Haitians”.

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After A Bulging Disc Diagnosis

November 18th, 2018

By Patrick Foote

Receiving a bulging disc diagnosis can mean different things to different people. Some patients may find relief simply in knowing what has been causing their discomfort. Others may learn that they have a bulging disc and weren’t even aware of the existence of the condition.

If symptoms are hindering a patient’s way of life, a treatment plan to help alleviate pain should be implemented as soon as possible. Oftentimes patients will find relief through a specific combination of non-surgical therapies; however, since every case is different, patients should expect a period of trial-and-error to occur before the ideal treatment regimen is determined.

Discussing a Treatment Plan with Your Doctor

For individuals who have received a bulging disc diagnosis, the next step is to discuss and determine a treatment plan with the diagnosing doctor or spine specialist. Typically, a course of conservative (non-surgical) methods are recommended first. Conservative treatments can include:

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— Physical therapy – Physical therapists can help to educate patients about proper body mechanics and correct posture, as well as exercises and stretching techniques that can prepare muscles to better support the spine.

— Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – NSAIDs are usually used as the first line of defense when it comes to bulging disc treatments. Naproxen and ibuprofen are two types of NSAIDs widely available to patients over-the-counter and in varying strengths by prescription. These medications work to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

— Heat and/or cold therapy – In most cases, the application of cold compresses or ice packs is recommended at the onset of symptoms. When cold is applied to a painful area several times a day in 20-minute increments, it can help to combat inflammation and numb pain. Heat may be more effective several days after the onset of symptoms, working to reduce muscle tension and promote blood flow.

— Low-impact exercise – Exercises such as walking or swimming can not only improve the overall health of a bulging disc patient, but can also increase blood circulation and promote the absorption of nutrients within the intervertebral discs.

A number of patients with a bulging disc diagnosis decide to attempt an alternative treatment plan. Such treatments are also non-surgical, but tend to take a more holistic approach to treatment than conservative methods. Massage, chiropractic adjustments, herbal supplements, acupuncture, and acupressure are all alternative methods that a patient may want to research after a bulging disc diagnosis.

It is helpful to know that no one treatment plan has to be set in stone; in fact, adjustment to some methods often is necessary over the course of several weeks or months to give a patient the best possible chance for pain relief.

The Possibility of Surgery

Surgery is rarely suggested immediately after a bulging disc diagnosis. In most cases, a doctor or spine specialist will only recommend that a patient undergo a surgical procedure if the individual’s symptoms have not responded well to conservative or alternative treatments and they continue to live in extreme pain. Additionally, if a doctor believes that a surgical procedure can be helpful for a particular patient, there will be several factors taken into account before suggesting a procedure, such as the patient’s age and overall health, as well as the severity, location, and frequency of symptoms experienced.

About the Author: Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for

bulging discs

and several other spinal conditions.

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

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