Di seguito gli interventi pubblicati in questa sezione, in ordine cronologico.
While many people may assume the answer to that provocative and unsettling question is zero, the creators of a new Web site want to demonstrate how forced labor, especially overseas, is tantamount to slavery.
A nonprofit group, with funding from the State Department, will unveil the new site, www.slaveryfootprint.org, on Thursday in an effort to show that forced laborers are tied to all kinds of everyday products, from electronics and jewelry to the shirt on your back.
Ideally, they hope to get consumers engaged enough in the issue to do something about it, primarily hoping people demand that companies carefully audit supply chains to ensure, as best as they can determine, that no “slave labor” was used to manufacture its products.
“What we are trying to do is make it so it’s not just someone else’s business, it’s everyone’s business,” said Luis CdeBaca, ambassador at large for the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. “There’s a horror about it when they figure out what is going on.”
The slavery footprint is a twist on the more commonly known carbon footprint, and the new site tries to point out areas of a consumer’s life where the organization believes slavery is most likely used to manufacture products.
Slavery Footprint defines a slave as “anyone who is forced to work without pay, being economically exploited and is unable to walk away.” The State Department estimates that there are 27 million slaves globally. The Web site steers users through a set of prompts, where they can define where they live, the type of dwelling they live in, how many children they have, how many cars they use, what they eat and what types of things they have bought.
Sprinkled throughout are grim notations about slave labor and human trafficking, like this one: “In China, soccer ball manufacturers work up to 21 hours in a day, for a month straight. Even the toughest American coaches wouldn’t ask that from their squads.”
Or this claim: “Every day tens of thousands of American women buy makeup. Every day tens of thousands of Indian children mine mica, which is the little sparkles in the makeup.”
The site also asks users how many times they have paid for sex. While there is no way to answer, the site notes that people who pay for sex contribute to the demand for sexual trafficking.
Although the Web site had a few kinks before its official introduction, it informed me that I had 76 slaves working on my behalf, well above the average of 55.
The site was created by the Fair Trade Fund, a California-based nonprofit group that uses media to promote advocacy on issues, particularly human slavery. Among its projects are “Call + Response,” a documentary on the slave trade, and chainstorereaction.com, a Web site that encourages consumers to send electronic letters to companies challenging them to define their policies on human trafficking.
The companies’ responses, or lack thereof, are posted on the Web site.
Based on the movie and the Web site, the State Department sought out the Fair Trade Fund to create the Slavery Footprint site and provided it with a $200,000 grant.
Justin Dillon, 42, the organization’s chief executive, said the Slavery Footprint site did not make specific companies its targets. Instead, it shows consumers which products they use are most likely to involve forced labor.
He said a mobile application would allow consumers to find information on products at the point of purchase, and send companies electronic letters asking about their policies on slave labor. Those letters will also be sent to all of the consumers’ Facebook friends, in the hopes of applying consumer pressure for changes in practices. “Really the goal is to amplify the conversation between the consumer and the producer,” Mr. Dillon said. “Our torches and pitchforks are out for the slave traders, not the multinationals.”
Ideally, he said companies would hire third-party auditors to determine if their supply chains were employing slave labor.
The Slavery Footprint application is being started nearly a year after California passed a law that requires companies with global sales in excess of $100 million who do business in the state to disclose what efforts they have made to eliminate forced labor from their supply chains.
Some business groups opposed the measure, saying it unfairly tagged companies for “failing” on an issue they were powerless to change.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for the United States Chamber of Commerce said he would not comment because officials at the organization had not yet seen the Slavery Footprint Web site. Mr. CdeBaca said the new grant recognized the need to encourage consumers to put pressure on the marketplace.
“Without some kind of demand, the traffickers wouldn’t be rushing to meet that through coercion and threats,” he said.
The truth is, it doesn't. The one-way mirror and its smaller cousin, the mirrored sunglass lens, rely on lighting imbalances for efficacy. If the cops behind the one-way mirror were as brightly lit as the interrogation room, the suspect would be able to see them just fine.
But materials that genuinely discriminate between the direction of light or sound might be possible, according to a new study. That could make for true one-way mirrors or for directional soundproofing—imagine, for instance, a wall through which sound can enter but not escape
Stefano Lepri of the Italian National Research Council and Giulio Casati of the University of Insubria in Italy and the National University of Singapore have worked out the theoretical groundwork for materials that transmit waves in an asymmetric way, which they report in the April 22 issue of Physical Review Letters.
Their proposal relies on the use of nonlinear materials, in which the response of the material depends on the attributes of the wave passing through it. "When you introduce nonlinear interactions and forces, many of the intuitions we have are no longer valid," Lepri told Physical Review Focus, an American Physical Society publication that highlights studies from affiliated journals and explains them to a wider audience. "We can use this nonlinear interaction to break this fundamental result of reciprocity theory," which demands that all waves get the same transmission treatment regardless of the direction from which they arrive.
By stacking layers of nonlinear materials along with ordinary linear layers in an asymmetric fashion, the researchers have calculated, a wave would be able to pass through in one direction but would almost completely bounce off when it arrives from the other direction. The one-way bias isn't universal, however—the researchers note that each particular implementation would have a sweet spot of wave amplitudes and frequencies for which it would work best.
So far, the finding is based only on numerical simulations rather than laboratory experiments. But if those simulations prove to be a good approximation of real materials, the researchers report, the "results may open the way to novel strategies to control and optimize wave propagation and to design devices for sound or light rectification."
Source: Scientific American
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The 2011 Zeitgeist Media Festival, Global:
The Inaugural 2011 Zeitgeist Media Festival Global Event set, which enabled a socially conscience Arts and Media platform across 20 countries, accessing about 10,000 people in person and almost 200,000 through free live Webcasts, was a notable success.
Organized by The Zeitgeist Movement [ www.thezeitgeistmovement.com ], a global, non-profit sustainability advocacy group seeking to change the current social order, this unprecedented concept has generated a resonance that is expected to grow every year as it continues its development. The integrity of the project seems to rest not only with the social intent, but also with the 1000s of Volunteers who worked to make it happen without any financial gain and even severe losses.
In a post event interview with Peter Joseph, the curator/sponsor of the Main Event at Hollywood's "Music Box", he stated "Yeah, I lost about $35,000 dollars when I expected to lose only $10,000. But it was worth every cent for the dedication and commitment of those who helped execute such a large production was unmatched and just glorious. This is what Community is about and we are only just beginning with our efforts to unify the world."
Coupled with its Global Food Drive Initiative via The Zeitgeist Movement's ongoing "Z-Drive", over 12,000 meals were facilitated through regional Food Banks to feed the ever growing the poor and starving population.
"The Zeitgeist Media Festival is a global, Non-profit, multimedia event working to utilize the Arts as an avenue to create sustainable values in the pursuit of a better world. Recognizing the power of art and media to help change the world, "The Zeitgeist Media Festival" engages the artistic community and their power to changes values. It proposes that needed changes in the structural/economic workings of society can only manifest in tandem with a personal/social transformation of values in each of us. While intellectual knowledge serves its role of showing the path, many in the world follow their feelings- not the knowledge. The Zeitgeist Media Festival hopes to bridge those levels, while also illuminating a focus where changing and improving the world is no longer considered a fringe, suspect or ever dangerous pursuit- but rather the highest and most honorable level of personal/social integrity we have."
The Los Angeles Beat:
The Zeitgeist Movement:
Case in point, a new article in the Nature Nanotechnology journal details a new nanostructure-based cathode technology developed in Illinois University professor Paul Braun's lab. This new cathode allows extremely fast charging and discharging to the tune of 400C for lithium-ion and 1,000C for NiMH batteries. For those of you who never got into an electric-powered hobby, the "C" simply means the charge (or discharge) rate where 1C equals a charge in one hour. 400C means a full charge in 1/400 of an hour (9 seconds!). Braun figures this translates to practical lithium-ion batteries that could be recharged to 90 percent in two minutes.
With modern lithium-ion batteries on the market today, the ability to charge and discharge rapidly often results in reduced capacity, meaning less range in an EV. This new cathode, however, supposedly does not affect the total capacity, leaving the battery with, as Paul Braun puts, "capacitor-like power with battery-like energy".
It's worth taking a step back at this point and realizing that even if batteries like this were available right now, there is little to no infrastructure in place to allow for recharging at these high power levels. However, having a huge increase in discharge power-density would immediately allow hybrids and plug-ins to have a ton of power available from even a very small pack. This could give new meaning and life to the 'sport hybrid' segment, which we'd be all for.
Source: Autoblog Green
A startup called TenKsolar, based in Minneapolis, says it can increase the amount of solar power generated on rooftops by 25 to 50 percent, and also reduce the overall cost of solar power by changing the way solar cells are wired together and adding inexpensive reflectors to gather more light.
TenKsolar says its systems can produce power for as little as eight cents a kilowatt-hour in sunny locations. That's significantly more expensive than electricity from typical coal or natural-gas power plants, but it is less than the average price of electricity in the United States.
Solar cells have become more efficient in recent years, but much of the improvement has gone to waste because of the way solar cells are put together in solar panels, the way the panels are wired together, and the way the electricity is converted into AC power for use in homes or on the grid. Typically, the power output from a string of solar cells is limited by the lowest-performing cell. So if a shadow falls on just one cell in a panel, the power output of the whole system drops dramatically. And failure at any point in the string can shut down the whole system.
Dark Mirror: Solar panels (with silver lines) are paired with reflectors (the solid dark material) to increase the amount of power a rooftop array can generate.
TenKsolar has opted for a more complex wiring system—inspired by a reliable type of computer memory known as RAID (for "redundant array of independent disks"), in which hard disks are connected in ways that maintain performance even if some fail. TenKsolar's design allows current to take many different paths through a solar-panel array, thus avoiding bottlenecks at low-performing cells and making it possible to extract far more of the electricity that the cells produce.
The wiring also makes it practical to attach reflectors to solar panels to gather more light. When solar panels are installed on flat roofs, they're typically mounted on racks that angle them toward the sun, and spaced apart to keep them from shading each other over the course of the day. Reflectors increase the amount of light that hits a solar array, but they reflect the sunlight unevenly. So in a conventional solar array, the output is limited by the cell receiving the least amount of reflected light. The new system can capture all the energy from the extra, reflected light. "The small added cost we put in on the electronics is paid back, plus a bunch, from the fact that we basically take in all of this reflected light," says Dallas Meyer, founder and president of TenKsolar. "We've architected a system that's completely redundant from the cell down to the inverter," he says. "If anything fails in the system, it basically has very low impact on the power production of the array."
The reflectors use a film made by 3M that reflects only selected wavelengths of light, reducing visible glare. The material also reflects less infrared light, which can overheat a solar panel and reduce its performance.
Meyer says the system costs about the same as those made by Chinese manufacturers but produces about 50 percent more power for a given roof area. Power output is about 25 percent higher than from the more expensive, high-performance systems made by SunPower, he says.
The new wiring approach does have a drawback: because it's new, the banks that finance solar-power installations may have doubts that the system will last for the duration of the warranty, and this could complicate financing, says Travis Bradford, an industry analyst and president of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development.
TenKSolar, which has so far raised $11 million in venture funding and has the capacity to produce 10 to 12 megawatts of systems a year, is working on partnerships with larger companies to help provide financial backing for guarantees of its products.
Source: Technology Review
After weeks of dithering on the precipice of his own downfall, Silvio Berlusconi tonight survived a crucial vote of confidence, by one of the narrowest possible margins, allowing his government it to push through its proposed package of deeply unpopular austerity measures.
The cutbacks and tax hikes had been demanded by the European Central Bank in exchange for its buy-up of Italian bonds on secondary markets, after markets turned their sights on Italy last month, pushing the government’s borrowing costs close to the level where Greece had previously required an EU bailout.
But as Parliament prepared to vote on the austerity measures, violent clashes broke out between protesters and riot police. Downtown Rome was left billowing in smoke and littered with debris as at least 40 protesters were injured by random rounds of police baton charges.
“The police displayed a disproportionate reaction,” one witness told La Repubblica. “They were hit with batons, even women. A mother, too, was pushed and fell to the ground.” Images on Italian TV showed several people with bleeding head wounds and other injuries.
“And all this,” lamented Luca Cafagna of Unicommon, “because they are protesting against a move that is not shared, that will affect precarious young people, and that will not contribute to development. We need mass mobilizations in the fall,” he concluded, “especially in light of October 15th.”
On that day, mass demonstrations are scheduled to take place around the world to demand global change and an end to the oligarchy of financial elites and their political patrons. Take the Square, the international wing of the 15-M movement in Spain, has transformed itself into the digital hub of these worldwide events.
As the Italian crisis deepens, the people finally appear to be waking up from their deep slumber of political apathy. Tonight’s violence begs the question if Italy may soon be headed down the same road as Greece, where mass resistance to the austerity memorandum has made its implementation virtually impossible.
Either way, whatever happens in coming days and weeks, one thing has now become abundantly clear: the wave of protests and clashes that has been shaking the Mediterranean since the beginning of this year has finally reached the Italian shores. Things could start to get very serious very soon indeed.
Pictures of the clashes here, video here and here (embedding disabled)
“At the moment of the economic cataclysm,” Spitzer said — referring to the financial sector freeze-up that began in fall 2008 — “I thought, ‘We will finally have that epiphany that will bring us back, we will embrace rational policy once again.’ And here we are two years later, and I’m thinking: ‘What happened? How can this possibly be? Didn’t people learn a lesson?’ ... I’m afraid to say the answer is no, they didn’t.”
Speaking in a full Wong Auditorium, Spitzer suggested that Congress’ efforts at financial reform have not brought about substantive changes to the financial industry. That inertia has left the economy “on the precipice” and at risk of similar downturns in the future, Spitzer said, while maintaining a dangerous level of income inequality in the United States. The talk, “Government’s Place in the Market,” was part of a series of “Ideas Matter” forums, presented by Boston Review and the MIT Department of Political Science.
Three reasons for government to get involved
In his remarks, Spitzer outlined three main reasons why government is necessary to keep markets competitive and fair. First, he offered, “Only government can enforce rules of integrity, transparency and fair dealing in the marketplace. Private-sector companies simply can’t do it.” As an example, Spitzer cited his own experience as New York attorney general, prosecuting investment-bank analysts who promoted dot-com businesses, effectively helping the banks make money by underwriting initial public offerings of those firms’ stocks.
During the more recent collapsing bubble, tied to the collapse of the subprime-mortgage market, Spitzer noted that some investment banks were selling securities based on subprime mortgages to clients while privately betting that those securities would fall.
Second, normal economic actions produce “negative externalities,” or costs imposed on those not responsible for the activity, Spitzer observed. For instance, pollution from powerplants can move across state lines, creating health and economic costs for those far away from the source of pollution. “Only government can measure these negative externalities and try to impose behavior modification on the economic actors,” Spitzer said.
Finally, Spitzer noted, “There are certain core values that pure unbridled market behavior does not respond to,” naming discrimination laws as an example of necessary government interventions.
Spitzer served as New York attorney general from 1998 until 2006, then as governor from January 2007 until resigning a year later.
Moving the debate
In making the case for the active hand of government, Spitzer acknowledged, he was moving against a tide of “anti-government venom” over the last 30 years. That sentiment, Spitzer said, has successfully created a “shifting of the political debate far to the right” that helped undercut momentum for more ambitious reforms following the market meltdown of 2008-09.
Spitzer was introduced by Simon Johnson, the Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management, who has also become a vocal critic of the banking industry. Johnson began the question-and-answer session after Spitzer's remarks with his own question: “What should any one individual do? … As a regular person, what opportunities do they have and what should they prioritize?”
In response, Spitzer said, “The first thing we should do is demand a greater level of integrity in the substantive answers we’re getting from our elected officials,” saying that members of both political parties have whitewashed the serious economic problems the country faces. In lieu of strengthening regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, Spitzer said, “We need to reinvigorate shareholder activism.”
Spitzer has written a short book, also called Government’s Place in the Market, appearing this month as part of the Boston Review series published by MIT Press. This was the eighth and final “Ideas Matter” forum of the 2010-11 academic year. The event was taped for future airing on the cable network C-SPAN.
The first superlaser in the project is to be built near Prague, with a goal of achieving exawatt class, which would make it at least a hundred times more powerful than anything that exists today.
The purpose of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI), as its known, is first and foremost to serve as a research tool. Such a laser could be used to develop new cancer diagnosis and treatments as well as possible ways to deal with nuclear waste. In addition, the simple existence and experimentation with such a powerful laser could expand knowledge of nanoscience and molecular biology.
The ELI project was not easily won, as there were five countries lobbying to have it in their home states, and thereafter there was some bit of contention among the commissioners regarding feasibility and financing of the project. With the win, though, the Czech Republic will be sit at the forefront of optic and photonic research, adding to its already impressive résumé; for the past ten years, Prague has hosted Precision Automated Laser Signals (PALS), one of the premier laser systems in all of Europe. The installation will signal another milestone as well; the ELI venture will be the first big research project funded by the EU that will be located in an Eastern European country.
Slated to become operational by 2015, and located in Dolní B?ežany, near Prague, the superlaser will operate using super-short pulses of very high energy particle and radiation beams, with each pulse lasting just 1.5 x 10-14 of a second, more than enough time to conduct high energy research experiments.
The installation in Prague will be followed up by projects in Hungary and then Romania, with each specializing in different areas of research; all of which will culminate in the development of a fourth super-super laser in an as yet to be decided location, which is expected to have twice the power of the original three lasers (though current plans have it comprised of 10 beans) which should add up to 200 petawatts of power; the theoretical limit for lasers.
The project is expected to cost in the neighborhood of €700 million.
Developed by an interdisciplinary team at the University of Alberta and Canada's National Institute for Nanotechnology, this new process was developed to address some of the problems associated with the introduction of stainless steel into the human body.
Implanted biomedical devices, such as cardiac stents, are implanted in over 2 million people every year, with the majority made from stainless steel. Stainless steel has many benefits -- strength, generally stability, and the ability to maintain the required shape long after it has been implanted. But, it can also cause severe problems, including blood clotting if implanted in an artery, or an allergenic response due to release of metal ions such as nickel ions.
The University of Alberta campus is home to a highly multidisciplinary group of researchers, the CIHR Team in for Glyconanotechnology in Transplantation, that is looking to develop new synthetic nanomaterials that modify the body's immune response before an organ transplant. The ultimate goal is to allow cross-blood type organ transplants, meaning that blood types would not necessarily need to be matched between donor and recipient when an organ becomes available for transplantation. Developing new nanomaterials that engage and interact with the body's immune system are an important step in the process. In order to overcome the complex range of requirements and issues, the project team drew on expertise from three major areas: surface science chemistry and engineering, carbohydrate chemistry, and immunology and medicine.
For the transplantation goals of the project, sophisticated carbohydrate (sugar) molecules needed to be attached to the stainless steel surface to bring about the necessary interaction with the body's immune system. Its inherent stainless characteristic makes stainless steel a difficult material to augment with new functions, particularly with the controlled and close-to-perfect coverage needed for biomedical implants. The Edmonton-based team found that by first coating the surface of the stainless steel with a very thin layer (60 atoms deep) of glass silica using a technique available at the National Institute for Nanotechnology, called Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD), they could overcome the inherent non-reactivity of the stainless steel. The silica provide a well-defined "chemical handle" through which the carbohydrate molecules, prepared in the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Carbohydrate Science, could be attached. Once the stainless steel had been controlled, the researchers demonstrated that the carbohydrate molecules covered the stainless steel in a highly controlled way, and in the correct orientation to interact with the immune system.
Source: Science Daily
It seems it might be something as mundane as adding in the tiny forces that occur when minute traces of heat from the plutonium on board the probes bounce off their receiving dishes, creating a counterforce, which in turn, causes the craft to slow; if ever so slightly.
The Pioneer anomaly, as it’s come to be known, has had physicists scratching their heads ever since an astronomer by the name of John Anderson, working for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, back in 1980, noticed a discrepancy between the slowdown rate projections for the craft and the rates they were actually experiencing, which led to the basic question, how could both probes be slowing down faster than the laws of physics projected? Possible explanations ranged from unknown mechanical issues with both craft, to dark matter pushing back, to possible flaws in the physics theories themselves.
But now, Frederico Francisco of the Instituto de Plasmas e Fusao Nuclear, Lisbon Portugal and colleagues, as they describe in their paper published inarXiv, seem to have solved the problem using a simple old technology.
Schematics of the conﬁguration of Lambertian sources used to model the lateral walls of the main equipment compartment.
Suspecting that heat was involved, they started with follow-up work by Anderson in 2002 and Slava Turyshev in 2006, also from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories, who both showed that heat released from the plutonium onboard the spacecraft could very well explain a slowdown. Unfortunately, both concluded that such heat emissions could not possibly account for the amount of slowdown seen. But this was because neither man thought to consider the impact of heat hitting the backside of the satellite dish (antennae) and then bouncing back. Francisco and his team used a computer modeling technique called Phong shading to show how the flow of heat as it was emitted from the main equipment compartment could emanate outwards, eventually bouncing off the back of the dish, resulting in just enough counterforce to explain the gravitational discrepancy.
Case closed, as far as Francisco et al are concerned, but of course this being science, others will have to replicate the results before any sort of consensus can be found.