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The Ford Dome

In 1953, Fuller and his geodesic dome were elevated to international prominence when the first conspicuous commercial geodesic dome was produced. That structure was erected in answer to a Ford Motor Company problem believed to be insoluble.  During 1952, Ford was in the process of preparing for its fiftieth anniversary celebration the following year, and Henry Ford II, grandson of Henry Ford and head of the company, decided he wanted to fulfill one of his grandfather's dreams as a tribute to the company's founder.  The senior Ford had always loved the round corporate headquarters building known as the Rotunda but had wanted its interior courtyard covered so that the space could be used during inclement Detroit weather.

File:Eden Project geodesic domes panorama.jpg

Panoramic view of the geodesic domes at the The Eden Project

Unfortunately -- but fortunately for Bucky -- the building was fairly weak. It had originally been constructed to house the Ford exhibition at the Chicago World's Fair of 1933, but Henry Ford had so loved the building that he had had it disassembled and shipped in pieces to Dearborn, where it was reconstructed. Having been designed as a temporary structure, the fragile Rotunda building could not possibly support the 160-ton weight that Ford's engineers calculated conventional steel-frame dome would require.  Under such pressure, the building's thin walls would have immediately collapsed.

Still, Henry Ford II was a determined person, and he wanted the courtyard covered.  Consequently, Ford management and engineers continued searching for an answer until someone suggested calling Buckminster Fuller.  By that time, Fuller's work drawing international attention, and although his geodesic dome had yet to be proven effective in an industrial project, desperate Ford officials decided they should at least solicit Bucky's opinion.  When he arrives at the Detroit airport, Fuller was greeted by a Ford executive in a large limousine who treated him like royalty, quickly escorting him to the Rotunda building for an inspection.  After a short examination of the 93-foot opening requiring a dome, Ford management asked the critical question: Could Fuller build a dome to cover the courtyard?  With no hesitation, Bucky answered that he certainly could, and the first commercial geodesic dome began to take shape.

The Ford executives next began to question the specifications of Fuller's plan.  When they asked about weight, he made some calculations and answered that his dome would weigh approximately 8.5 tons, a far cry from their 160-ton estimate.  Ford management also requested a cost estimate and advised Fuller that, because of the upcoming anniversay celebration, the dome had to be completed within the relatively short period of a few months.  When Fuller's price was well below Ford's budget and he agreed to construct the dome within the required time frame, he was awarded a contract.

The agreement was signed in January of 1953, and Bucky immediately began working to meet the April deadline.  The somewhat discredited Ford engineers who had failed to develop a practical solution were, however, not convinced that the obscure inventor's fantastic claims were valid.  Thus, they began working on a contingency plan that would prevent further reputations further, the engineers secretly contracted another construction firm to hastily haul away any evidence of Fuller's work when he failed.  The Ford engineers were once again proven wrong when the dome was successfully completed in April, two days ahead of schedule.

Building from the Top Down

Actual construction of the dome was a marvel to behold.  Reporters from around the world gathered to witness and recount the architectural effort as well as Ford's anniversary celebration.  Because the courtyard below the dome was to be used for a television special commemorating the anniversary, and because business at Ford had to proceed normally, Fuller's crew was provided with a tiny working area and instructed to keep disruptions to a minimum.

Ford management was also concerned with the safety of both the dome workers and the people who might wander beneath the construction.  They anticipated that problems would arise when Ford employees, television crews, reporters, and spectators gathered below to observe the construction workers climbing high overhead on the treacherous scaffolding, but once again Bucky surprised everyone.  Instead of traditional scaffolding, he employed a strategy similar to the one he developed in 1940 for the quick assembly of his Dymaxion Deployment Units.

Because the sections of the dome were prefabricated and then suspended from a central mast, no dangerous scaffolding was required.  The construction team worked from a bridge erected across the top of the Rotunda courtyard.  Like Dymaxion Deployment Units, the Ford dome was then built from the top down while being hoisted higher and rotated each time a section was completed.  The dome was assembled from nearly 12,000 aluminum struts, each about three feet long and weighing only five ounces.  Those struts were preassembled into octet-truss, equilateral-triangular sections approximately 15 feet on a side. Since each section weighed only about four pounds and could be raised by a single person, no crane or heavy machinery was required to hoist them to the upper bridge assembly area.

Once on the working bridge, the identical sections were riveted into place on the outwardly growing framework until it covered the entire courtyard.  Upon completion, the 8.5-ton dome remained suspended on its mast, hovering slightly above the building itself until the mooring points were prepared.  Then, it was gently lowered down onto the Rotunda building structure with no problem.

To complete the first commercial geodesic dome, clear Fiberglas "windows" were installed in the small triangular panels of the framework.  Because Fuller had not yet developed or determined the best means of fastening those panels, they would eventually be a cause of the destruction of the dome and the building itself.

Since it was the first large functional geodesic dome, many aspects of the Ford dome were experimental.  They had been tested in models, but how the dome and the materials utilized would withstand the forces of Michigan winters could be determined only by the test of time.  The Rotunda building dome did perform successfully for several years before the elements began taking their toll and leaks between the Fiberglas and the aluminum began to occur.  Still, with regular maintenance, that problem was not serious, and convening corporate events under the dome became a tradition.  One of those events was the annual Ford Christmas gathering.

In 1962, numerous leaks in the dome were noticed as the Christmas season approached, and a maintenance crew was dispatched one cold late-autumn day to repair the problem.  The temperature was, however, too cold to permit proper heating of the tar they used for the repairs, and, in a common practice, the workers added gasoline to thin the tar.  They were warming the tar with a blowtorch when that potent mixture ignited, and the building quickly caught fire.  Since the building had never been planned as a permanent structure, it was not long before the entire Rotunda was engulfed in flames that destroyed the first commercial geodesic dome, the singular structure that, more than any other, had catapulted Fuller to public fame.

Doing More with Less

The notoriety provided by the Ford project resulted in an enormous amount of nearly instant public interest in Fuller and his ideas.  It also brought him to the attention of a group of scientists who were struggling with another seemingly unsolvable problem: protection of the Distant Early Warning Line radar installations throughout the Arctic.  Once again, Fuller and his amazing geodesic dome surprised all the experts as his hastily invented Fiberglas "radomes" proved more than able to handle that difficult task.

The proliferation of radomes in technologically advanced situations around the world moved the geodesic dome into its rightful position as a symbol of developing humanity doing more and more with fewer resources.  Thus, geodesic domes are now employed for diverse tasks such as providing a more natural structure for children on playgrounds, covering athletic stadiums, and being proposed for use in future space construction.

However, the true significance of the geodesic dome is most evident in the fact that it is often the dominant symbol employed at major future-oriented expositions.  When most people remember the 1967 Montreal World's Fair, the 1986 Vancouver World's Fair, or Disney's EPCOT Center, the first image they recall is the geodesic dome.

It properly stands as a monument to the work of Buckminster Fuller, who successfully shared his vision of a world that works for everyone.  He also inspired scores of people to work, as he did, to establish a network of equally significant individuals supporting humanity's emergence into a new era of cooperation.  That relationship between individual human beings, as well as that between humans and their environment, is not modeled by the rigid conventional buildings that fill our environment.  It is modeled in the amazing geodesic dome's network of lightweight, resilient struts, wires, and panels.

Lloyd Steven Sieden is an author, lecturer, and consultant whose primary concentration is helping businesses, organizations, and individuals apply Buckminster Fuller's ideas and solutions to practical issues.  His address is Sieden & Associates, 32921 Avenida Descanso, San Juan Capistrano, California 92675.

This article is adapted from his book Buckminster Fuller's Universe: An Appreciation (Plenum Press, 1989), which is available from the Futurist Bookstore.  See page 42 for details.




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By Admin (from 02/02/2012 @ 08:04:09, in en - Science and Society, read 1517 times)

Technology for making an "artificial leaf" holds the potential for opening an era of "fast-food energy," in which people generate their own electricity at home with low-cost equipment perfect for the 3 billion people living in developing countries and even home-owners in the United States. That's among the prospects emerging from research on a new genre of "electrofuels" described in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News, the American Chemical Society's weekly newsmagazine.

In the article, C&EN Senior Correspondent Stephen K. Ritter describes research on electrofuels, made by using energy from the sun and renewable ingredients like water and carbon dioxide, reported at a gathering of experts sponsored by the U. S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E). Created in 2009 by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, ARPA-E is funding electrofuels research, with the goal of developing technologies that improve on nature's approach — photosynthesis. Electrofuels is one of 12 programs funded by ARPA-E.

The artificial leaf is one of the electrofuels technologies. Made of inexpensive materials, the leaf breaks down ordinary water into the oxygen and hydrogen that can power an electricity-producing fuel cell. Just drop the credit-card-sized device into a bucket of water and expose it to sunlight. With the cost-conscious technology, one door-sized solar cell and three gallons of water could produce a day's worth of electricity for a typical American home. The article describes a range of other electrofuel technologies, including ones based on engineered microbes, being developed in the quest for new ways of making fuels.

Source: PhysOrg - via ZeitNews

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Cea mai noua arma de spionaj a armatei SUA, elicopterul-drona dotat cu o camera color de 1,8 gigapixeli, a fost recent dezvaluita. Armata SUA spune ca noua tehnologie ofera „o capacitate fara precedent de a urmari si monitoriza activitatea de la sol”.

Dronele-elicopter pentru prima data în uz în 2012, urmând ca în luna mai sau iunie a acestui an trei drone de acest tip sa fie introduse în Afghanistan.

Armata SUA a dezvăluit drona-elicopter care vede tot pe o suprafaţă de 168 km pătraţi (VIDEO)

"Aceste aeronave vor îndeplini misiuni care vor dura pâna la un an, iar lectiile învatate de-a lungul acestora vor fi utilizate pentru transformarea acestui program într-unul de lunga durata", a explicat lt-col. Matthew Munster, product manager în cadrul unitatii dedicate aeronavelor fara pilot din cadrul SUA.

Dronele-elicopter A160 Hummingbird au capacitatea de a efectua decolari verticale, lucru pe care celelalte drone din arsenalul SUA nu îl pot face.

Înainte ca noile drone sa înceapa misiunile în Afghanistan, acestea vor fi testate în cadrul unei baze militare din Arizona.

Camera de 1.8 gigapixeli este cel mai mare senzor video folosit vreodata în cadrul misiunilor de catre armata SUA. Acestea vor furniza date catre sistemul Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance-Imaging System, al carui acronim (ARGUS-IS) face aluzie la monstrul Argus din mitologia greaca, un gigant cu 100 de ochi.

Armata SUA afirma ca acest sistem permite supravegherea unei suprafete de 168 de kilometri patrati de la o înaltime de 6,1 kilometri (20.000 de picioare). Pe lânga supravegherea generala, operatorii dronelor pot selecta 65 de zone pentru a fi studiate în mod separat. Astfel, masinile, oamenii si alte obiecte pot fi monitorizate în timp real, chiar daca se deplaseaza în directii diferite.

"Daca un grup de oameni parasesc un loc în acelasi timp, nu mai e nevoie sa alegi pe care dintre ei sa îi urmaresti - pot fi urmariti toti, chiar daca pleaca în directii diferite. Urmarirea are loc automat si simultan", a explicat Brian Leninger, product manager la Boeing, fabricantul acestor drone.

La finalul misiunii de un an din Afghanistan, armata SUA planuieste sa organizeze o licitatie pentru a doua generatie de drone capabile sa decoleze vertical. Acestea vor beneficia de un senzor mai bun, noua versiune a Argus-IS urmând sa poata oferi si imagini în infrarosu, iar numarul zonelor ce vor putea fi studiate separat urmând sa creasca la 130.

Sursa: BBC News - via

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Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) aveva cominciato sin da ragazzo a giocare al piccolo chimico, quando aveva progettato una sorta di cannone, ispirato da un libro che gli era capitato tra le mani. In realtà non si trattava di un manuale per costruire armi, ma solo di un libro di scienze, che spiegava tra l'altro come riuscire a calcolare la distanza di un cannone conoscendo la velocità del suono, a partire dal rumore dell’esplosione. Da allora, la curiosità sarebbe sempre stata una delle principali caratteristiche di Rutherford, che anche da adulto avrebbe continuato a giocare col fuoco - nello specifico raggi X, particelle alfa e lamine d'oro.

Ernest Rutherford

Dopo l'infanzia e gli anni degli studi in Nuova Zelanda, Ernest Rutherford si era trasferito a Cambridge, in Inghilterra, sotto la guida di Joseph John Thomson al Cavendish Laboratory, dove era arrivato grazie a una borsa di studio nel 1895. Furono i primi esperimenti condotti con Thompson - con il quale dimostrò che i raggi X potevano indurre la formazione di ioni nell'aria - ad avvicinarlo allo studio delle radiazioni e dei materiali radioattivi (erano infatti gli anni delle scoperte di Becquerel, e di Pierre e Marie Curie). Per farlo al meglio, Rutherford si trasferì in Canada, alla McGill University di Montreal, approfittando di una cattedra di fisica vacante. Era il 1898, ed Ernest aveva appena scoperto che le radiazioni emesse dagli atomi radioattivi potevano distinguersi in raggi alfa e beta (i gamma sarebbero stati trovati poco dopo).


E fu proprio alle particelle alfa che sono legati due dei suoi esperimenti più famosi. Il primo risale al 1910, poco dopo esser tornato in Inghilterra e aver vinto il Nobel per la chimica , non solo per la scoperta dei diversi tipi di radiazioni, ma anche per aver dimostrato che il decadimento radioattivo causa trasmutazione naturale degli elementi, ovvero la trasformazione di un atomo in un altro. Per il suo esperimento aveva preso un sottile foglio di oro e lo aveva bombardato con particelle alfa (nuclei di elio, a carica positiva quindi). L'idea era quella di osservare in che modo venissero deviate le particelle per far luce indirettamente sulla struttura degli atomi di oro.

Osservando i segnali lasciati dalle particelle sul rivelatore posto intorno alla lastra, Rutherford ipotizzò che l'atomo avesse una piccola e densa zona centrale nella quale era concentrata la carica positiva. Aveva appena delineato il primo abbozzo della struttura nucleare dell'atomo, che solo qualche anno dopo avrebbe provato a trasformare.

Quando ne ebbe l'occasione, infatti, prese un materiale emettitore di particelle alfa, lo sistemò vicino a un contenitore pieno di azoto, e aspettò. Il 3 gennaio 1919, analizzando il contenuto del box riempito di gas, si accorse della presenza di un altro materiale: l'isotopo 17 dell' ossigeno, prodotto a partire da una particella alfa e da un atomo di azoto 14 (insieme all'emissione di un protone). Era riuscito in una delle sfide più grandi per gli alchimisti di tutti i tempi: aveva realizzato la prima trasformazione nucleare, tramutando (artificialmente) un materiale in un altro.


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By Admin (from 02/02/2012 @ 19:24:34, in en - Global Observatory, read 1811 times)

Written by Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

Major General Smedley D. Butler

USMC, Retired

How many of today's generals have this much honor and integrity?



WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

Again they are choosing sides. France and Russia met and agreed to stand side by side. Italy and Austria hurried to make a similar agreement. Poland and Germany cast sheep's eyes at each other, forgetting for the nonce [one unique occasion], their dispute over the Polish Corridor.

The assassination of King Alexander of Jugoslavia [Yugoslavia] complicated matters. Jugoslavia and Hungary, long bitter enemies, were almost at each other's throats. Italy was ready to jump in. But France was waiting. So was Czechoslovakia. All of them are looking ahead to war. Not the people – not those who fight and pay and die – only those who foment wars and remain safely at home to profit.

There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making.

Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?

Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what they are being trained for. He, at least, is frank enough to speak out. Only the other day, Il Duce in "International Conciliation," the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said:

"And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace... War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it."

Undoubtedly Mussolini means exactly what he says. His well-trained army, his great fleet of planes, and even his navy are ready for war – anxious for it, apparently. His recent stand at the side of Hungary in the latter's dispute with Jugoslavia showed that. And the hurried mobilization of his troops on the Austrian border after the assassination of Dollfuss showed it too. There are others in Europe too whose sabre rattling presages war, sooner or later.

Herr Hitler, with his rearming Germany and his constant demands for more and more arms, is an equal if not greater menace to peace. France only recently increased the term of military service for its youth from a year to eighteen months.

Yes, all over, nations are camping in their arms. The mad dogs of Europe are on the loose. In the Orient the maneuvering is more adroit. Back in 1904, when Russia and Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the Russians and backed Japan. Then our very generous international bankers were financing Japan. Now the trend is to poison us against the Japanese. What does the "open door" policy to China mean to us? Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a year. Or the Philippine Islands? We have spent about $600,000,000 in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our bankers and industrialists and speculators) have private investments there of less than $200,000,000.

Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or to protect these private investments of less than $200,000,000 in the Philippines, we would be all stirred up to hate Japan and go to war – a war that might well cost us tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.

Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating profit – fortunes would be made. Millions and billions of dollars would be piled up. By a few. Munitions makers. Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators. They would fare well.

Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn't they? It pays high dividends.

But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their children?

What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits?

Yes, and what does it profit the nation?

Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn't own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became "internationally minded." We forgot, or shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington's warning about "entangling alliances." We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total favorable trade balance during the twenty-five-year period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade might well have been ours without the wars.

It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people – who do not profit.



The World War, rather our brief participation in it, has cost the United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That means $400 to every American man, woman, and child. And we haven't paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will pay it, and our children's children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed. Let's just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people – didn't one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn't much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let's look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump – or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!

Or, let's take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.

There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let's look at something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.

Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year.

Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.

Let's group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000.

A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.

Does war pay? It paid them. But they aren't the only ones. There are still others. Let's take leather.

For the three-year period before the war the total profits of Central Leather Company were $3,500,000. That was approximately $1,167,000 a year. Well, in 1916 Central Leather returned a profit of $15,000,000, a small increase of 1,100 per cent. That's all. The General Chemical Company averaged a profit for the three years before the war of a little over $800,000 a year. Came the war, and the profits jumped to $12,000,000. a leap of 1,400 per cent.

International Nickel Company – and you can't have a war without nickel – showed an increase in profits from a mere average of $4,000,000 a year to $73,000,000 yearly. Not bad? An increase of more than 1,700 per cent.

American Sugar Refining Company averaged $2,000,000 a year for the three years before the war. In 1916 a profit of $6,000,000 was recorded.

Listen to Senate Document No. 259. The Sixty-Fifth Congress, reporting on corporate earnings and government revenues. Considering the profits of 122 meat packers, 153 cotton manufacturers, 299 garment makers, 49 steel plants, and 340 coal producers during the war. Profits under 25 per cent were exceptional. For instance the coal companies made between 100 per cent and 7,856 per cent on their capital stock during the war. The Chicago packers doubled and tripled their earnings.

And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public – even before a Senate investigatory body.

But here's how some of the other patriotic industrialists and speculators chiseled their way into war profits.

Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment during the war had only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were good shoes. But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over. Bought – and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.

There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn't any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody had to make a profit in it – so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have those yet.

Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches – one hand scratching cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!

Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam.

There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in those days, even if there were no mosquitoes in France. I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little longer, the enterprising mosquito netting manufacturers would have sold your Uncle Sam a couple of consignments of mosquitoes to plant in France so that more mosquito netting would be in order.

Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just profits out of this war. Why not? Everybody else was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000 – count them if you live long enough – was spent by Uncle Sam in building airplane engines that never left the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France. Just the same the manufacturers made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.

Undershirts for soldiers cost 14˘[cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30˘ to 40˘ each for them – a nice little profit for the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap manufacturers and the steel helmet manufacturers – all got theirs.

Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment – knapsacks and the things that go to fill them – crammed warehouses on this side. Now they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the contents. But the manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them – and they will do it all over again the next time.

There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.

One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The only trouble was that there was only one nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the one that holds the turbines at Niagara Falls. Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put on freight cars and shunted all around the United States in an effort to find a use for them. When the Armistice was signed it was indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches. Then he planned to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.

Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels shouldn't ride in automobiles, nor should they even ride on horseback. One has probably seen a picture of Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some 6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the use of colonels! Not one of them was used. But the buckboard manufacturer got his war profit.

The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. They built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn't float! The seams opened up – and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody pocketed the profits.

It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits. That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.

The Senate (Nye) committee probe of the munitions industry and its wartime profits, despite its sensational disclosures, hardly has scratched the surface.

Even so, it has had some effect. The State Department has been studying "for some time" methods of keeping out of war. The War Department suddenly decides it has a wonderful plan to spring. The Administration names a committee – with the War and Navy Departments ably represented under the chairmanship of a Wall Street speculator – to limit profits in war time. To what extent isn't suggested. Hmmm. Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600 per cent of those who turned blood into gold in the World War would be limited to some smaller figure.

Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any limitation of losses – that is, the losses of those who fight the war. As far as I have been able to ascertain there is nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss of but one eye, or one arm, or to limit his wounds to one or two or three. Or to limit the loss of life.

There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says not more than 12 per cent of a regiment shall be wounded in battle, or that not more than 7 per cent in a division shall be killed.

Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such trifling matters.



Who provides the profits – these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them – in taxation. We paid the bankers their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to the bankers. These bankers collected $100 plus. It was a simple manipulation. The bankers control the security marts. It was easy for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then all of us – the people – got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or $86. The bankers bought them. Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went to par – and above. Then the bankers collected their profits.

But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

If you don't believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran's hospitals in the United States. On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men – men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home.

Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.

Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face" ! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't need them any more. So we scattered them about without any "three-minute" or "Liberty Loan" speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face" alone.

In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around outside the buildings and on the porches. These already have been mentally destroyed. These boys don't even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are gone.

There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are coming in all the time. The tremendous excitement of the war, the sudden cutting off of that excitement – the young boys couldn't stand it.

That's a part of the bill. So much for the dead – they have paid their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally and physically wounded – they are paying now their share of the war profits. But the others paid, too – they paid with heartbreaks when they tore themselves away from their firesides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam – on which a profit had been made. They paid another part in the training camps where they were regimented and drilled while others took their jobs and their places in the lives of their communities. The paid for it in the trenches where they shot and were shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where they slept in the mud and the cold and in the rain – with the moans and shrieks of the dying for a horrible lullaby.

But don't forget – the soldier paid part of the dollars and cents bill too.

Up to and including the Spanish-American War, we had a prize system, and soldiers and sailors fought for money. During the Civil War they were paid bonuses, in many instances, before they went into service. The government, or states, paid as high as $1,200 for an enlistment. In the Spanish-American War they gave prize money. When we captured any vessels, the soldiers all got their share – at least, they were supposed to. Then it was found that we could reduce the cost of wars by taking all the prize money and keeping it, but conscripting [drafting] the soldier anyway. Then soldiers couldn't bargain for their labor, Everyone else could bargain, but the soldier couldn't.

Napoleon once said,

"All men are enamored of decorations...they positively hunger for them."

So by developing the Napoleonic system – the medal business – the government learned it could get soldiers for less money, because the boys liked to be decorated. Until the Civil War there were no medals. Then the Congressional Medal of Honor was handed out. It made enlistments easier. After the Civil War no new medals were issued until the Spanish-American War.

In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn't join the army.

So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the Germans. God is on our is His will that the Germans be killed.

And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the please the same God. That was a part of the general propaganda, built up to make people war conscious and murder conscious.

Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the "war to end all wars." This was the "war to make the world safe for democracy." No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United States patents. They were just told it was to be a "glorious adventure."

Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it was decided to make them help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.

All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave their dear ones behind, give up their jobs, lie in swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could get it) and kill and kill and kill...and be killed.

But wait!

Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter in a shipyard or a laborer in a munitions factory safe at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to support his dependents, so that they would not become a charge upon his community. Then we made him pay what amounted to accident insurance – something the employer pays for in an enlightened state – and that cost him $6 a month. He had less than $9 a month left.

Then, the most crowning insolence of all – he was virtually blackjacked into paying for his own ammunition, clothing, and food by being made to buy Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at all on pay days.

We made them buy Liberty Bonds at $100 and then we bought them back – when they came back from the war and couldn't find work – at $84 and $86. And the soldiers bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!

Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill. His family pays too. They pay it in the same heart-break that he does. As he suffers, they suffer. At nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in their beds and tossed sleeplessly – his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.

When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind broken, they suffered too – as much as and even sometimes more than he. Yes, and they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders and the manufacturers and the speculators made. They, too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.

And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken and those who never were able to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying.



WELL, it's a racket, all right.

A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.

The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation – it must conscript capital and industry and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted – to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.

Let the workers in these plants get the same wages – all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers –

yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders – everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!

Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds.

Why shouldn't they?

They aren't running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered. They aren't sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren't hungry. The soldiers are!

Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket – that and nothing else.

Maybe I am a little too optimistic. Capital still has some say. So capital won't permit the taking of the profit out of war until the people – those who do the suffering and still pay the price – make up their minds that those they elect to office shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.

Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should be declared. A plebiscite not of all the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying. There wouldn't be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory or the flat-footed head of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a uniform manufacturing plant – all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in the event of war – voting on whether the nation should go to war or not. They never would be called upon to shoulder arms – to sleep in a trench and to be shot. Only those who would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have the privilege of voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.

There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected. Many of our states have restrictions on those permitted to vote. In most, it is necessary to be able to read and write before you may vote. In some, you must own property. It would be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their communities as they did in the draft during the World War and be examined physically. Those who could pass and who would therefore be called upon to bear arms in the event of war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite. They should be the ones to have the power to decide – and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit and fewer still of whom are in physical condition to bear arms. Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote.

A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.

At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don't shout that "We need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation." Oh no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.

Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh.

The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline on the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the coast.

The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond expression to see the united States fleet so close to Nippon's shores. Even as pleased as would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.

The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war if its ships can't go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army should never leave the territorial limits of our nation.

To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.

We must take the profit out of war.

We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.

We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.



I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another war.

Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a platform that he had "kept us out of war" and on the implied promise that he would "keep us out of war." Yet, five months later he asked Congress to declare war on Germany.

In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched or sailed away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die.

Then what caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?


An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over shortly before the war declaration and called on the President. The President summoned a group of advisers. The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what he told the President and his group:

"There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The cause of the allies is lost. We now owe you (American bankers, American munitions makers, American manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters) five or six billion dollars.

If we lose (and without the help of the United States we must lose) we, England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money...and Germany won't.


Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned, and had the press been invited to be present at that conference, or had radio been available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War. But this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our boys were sent off to war they were told it was a "war to make the world safe for democracy" and a "war to end all wars."

Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.

And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that the World War was really the war to end all wars.

Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?

The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.

The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences has not been to achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself and less for any potential foe.

There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability. That is for all nations to get together and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle, every tank, every war plane. Even this, if it were possible, would not be enough.

The next war, according to experts, will be fought not with battleships, not by artillery, not with rifles and not with machine guns. It will be fought with deadly chemicals and gases.

Secretly each nation is studying and perfecting newer and ghastlier means of annihilating its foes wholesale. Yes, ships will continue to be built, for the shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns still will be manufactured and powder and rifles will be made, for the munitions makers must make their huge profits. And the soldiers, of course, must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must make their war profits too.

But victory or defeat will be determined by the skill and ingenuity of our scientists.

If we put them to work making poison gas and more and more fiendish mechanical and explosive instruments of destruction, they will have no time for the constructive job of building greater prosperity for all peoples. By putting them to this useful job, we can all make more money out of peace than we can out of war – even the munitions makers.

So...I say,



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Siamo nel 2012, e tutti dicono che sarà un anno davvero intenso. Basta dare un'occhiata alla classifica stilata da New Scientist per rendersi conto che per i prossimi 366 giorni (anno bisestile, già) saremo letteralmente sommersi da un'ondata di novità. Scienza, società e politica affronteranno alcune delle più grandi sfide del secolo e – potete stare tranquilli – la fine del mondo non c'entra affatto.

1) La velocità dei neutrini
Tunnel Gelmini a parte, il grande esperimento Opera ha insinuato un grande dubbio nella comunità scientifica. Dopo le prove di settembre 2011, i fisici di tutto il mondo si chiedono se i neutrini lanciati dal Cern di Ginevra ai laboratori del Gran Sasso abbiano veramente superato la velocità della luce, mettendo in crisi la teoria della relatività speciale di Einstein. Visto che gli scienziati non sono mai molto inclini a gridare al miracolo, nel 2012 verranno condotti due nuovi esperimenti mirati a valutare la veridicità dei dati raccolti da Opera. Si chiamano Minos (Usa) e T2k (Giappone).

2) Caccia aperta al bosone
Le frontiere della fisica restano tra le sfide da affrontare per tutto il 2012. Lo scorso 13 dicembre gli scienziati del Cern di Ginevra (di nuovo) hanno annunciato che l'esperimento del Large Hadron Collider (Lhc) ha prodotto i primi risultati utili a individuare il fantomatico bosone di Higgs. Quest'anno, i supercomputer analizzeranno l'immensa molte di dati prodotti da Lhc alla ricerca di un segnale che identifichi in modo chiaro il profilo chiave del bosone, sempre che esista. In caso contrario, saremo certi che occorrerà pensare a una nuova fisica.

3) Il futuro del Pianeta
Quest'anno a Rio de Janeiro si terrà l' Earth Summit 2012, una nuova occasione per fare il punto sul futuro dell'ecosistema Terra. Tra il 20 e il 22 giugno, centinaia di delegati dei governi e migliaia tra attivisti e rappresentanti di realtà locali si riuniranno in Brasile per il quarto grande meeting patrocinato dalle Nazioni Unite. A 20 anni di distanza dal primo meeting di Rio (1992), le delegazioni globali torneranno intorno al tavolo delle trattative per delineare le strategie verdi del nuovo millennio. In particolare, i due temi principali dell'Earth Summit verteranno su green economy e sviluppo sostenibile.

4) Quanto sono intelligenti i computer?
Cento anni fa, nel 1912, nasceva Alan Turing, il matematico inglese padre dell'informatica e dell'intelligenza artificiale. Nell'arco di un secolo, i computer hanno fatto passi da gigante, ma nessuno scienziato è mai riuscito a sviluppare nuovi test per valutare la capacità intellettiva delle macchine. Tuttora, per mettere alla prova il QI dei computer viene utilizzato il famoso test di Turing: si tratta di uno scambio di chat al buio in cui un essere umano deve capire se l'interlocutore con cui comunica attraverso la tastiera è un computer o un suo simile. In futuro, gli scienziati potrebbero sviluppare dei test di gran lunga più affidabili, con lo scopo di valutare in modo universale quanto una macchina sia intelligente rispetto agli standard umani.

5) Nati per vincere
Alle olimpiadi di Londra 2012 saranno atleti sempre più preparati – nel fisico e nella mente – a raggiungere la vetta del podio. Sembra che per arrivare al primo posto non basti un fisico scattante, ma anche un allenamento psicologico da veri campioni. Come spiega New Scientist, la scienza sportiva ha elaborato nuove forme di preparazione atletica: la nazionale inglese si avvale dell'aiuto di uno psicologo che guida gli atleti durante l'ultimo anno di preparazione, mentre la squadra israeliana punta su un lungo e intenso percorso di 4 anni. Nel frattempo, gli scienziati si stanno focalizzando sulla mappatura del genoma comune ai grandi campioni di tutte le discipline.

6) La campagna elettorale si fa su Twitter
Nel 2012 si torna a votare per eleggere il prossimo presidente degli Stati Uniti, e state pur certi che Obama e il suo oppositore repubblicano (quando si scoprirà chi è) punteranno tutto sui social network. La nuova campagna elettorale avrà tra i suoi punti di forza Twitter, Facebook e tutti i social network utili per trasmettere messaggi personalizzati diretti agli elettori. E le informazioni dedotte dagli account social degli americani saranno indispensabili per pianificare strategie di comunicazione sempre più efficaci. Insomma, se qualcuno ha messo “ mi piace” sul profilo di Obama, può star certo che i democratici gli ricorderanno più di una volta che Barack è in corsa per le prossime elezioni.

7) L'impero di Facebook
Anno d'oro per Mark Zuckerberg: nel 2012 è attesa la quotazione in borsa di Facebook. Si parla di un lancio di 100 miliardi di dollari, ma le stime potrebbero essere anche troppo ottimiste. In pratica, è come se il social network incassasse circa 125 dollari per ognuno degli 800 milioni di profili iscritti. Se Fb dovesse veramente entrare a Wall Street con un portafoglio così ricco, sarebbe uno dei più grandi casi di e-business fondato sulla vendita di informazioni pubblicitarie mai visto prima. A volte ci scordiamo quasi del fatto che l'iscrizione a Facebook non è affatto gratuita: in cambio di un account si regaliano i dati personali.

8) Una nuova mappa del cervello umano
Finora gli scienziati si sono limitati a studiare il cervello da una prospettiva molto limitata: sappiamo bene quali aree si accendono e si spengono in seguito a un danno cerebrale, ma non sappiamo come funzionano le connessioni tra le diverse zone del cervello. In un certo senso, è un po' come aspettare che una macchina si schianti contro un muro per sapere cosa c'è dentro il cofano. Nel 2012, le lacune degli scienziati verranno colmate dallo Human Connectome Project promosso dall'Università di Oxford. Il progetto sta mappando le connessioni all'interno di 1.200 cervelli umani e utilizzerà i risultati per ottenere un modello dettagliato di come le aree cerebrali comunicano tra di loro entro la fine dell'anno.


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Researchers from the UCLA School of Dentistry investigating how stem cells can be used to regenerate dental tissue have discovered a way to produce cells with stem cell-like characteristics from the most common type of human skin cell in the epidermis.These skin cells, called keratinocytes, form the outermost layer of skin and can be cultured from discarded skin tissues or biopsy specimens.

The findings, published in the Nov. 4 edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Biological Chemistry, may be beneficial for individuals with limited sources of endogenous stem cells.

The gene known as ∆Np63α is highly synthesized in regenerating cells of various tissues. The UCLA researchers found that introducing ∆Np63α into skin keratinocytes makes them lose their skin-cell characteristics and de-differentiate to resemble mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), undifferentiated cells that can self-renew and differentiate to yield specialized cells of various tissue types.

MSCs may serve as an internal repair system by replenishing cells needed for tissue regeneration and homeostasis and are currently being investigated for a number of regenerative therapeutics.

The conversion of keratinocytes into mesenchymal-like cells involves a process known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition. This is the first study to show that the gene ∆Np63α triggers this process in human skin keratinocytes and that the transformed cells acquire multipotent stem cell characteristics.

Since the skin cells transformed by ∆Np63α are induced to acquire the mesenchymal and stem cell characteristics, the research team named them "induced mesenchymal stem cells," or iMSCs. Specifically, the researchers demonstrated that iMSCs can be triggered to form bone-like tissues or become fat tissues in a laboratory setting.

Dr. Mo K. Kang, the Jack A. Weichman Chair of Endodontics at the UCLA School of Dentistry and a member of the research team, said the finding had great significance for human health.

"Since iMSCs may be obtained by taking a small punch-biopsy of skin tissues from patients, these cells are an easily accessible, patient-specific source of stem cells, which can be used for regenerative purposes," Kang said.

Stem cell-based therapies are currently being developed to treat degenerative conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, neuronal disorders and liver diseases. Many of these diseases are strongly associated with aging. Endogeneous MSCs found in various tissues, such as bone marrow, fat tissues and, in certain cases, dental tissues such as dental pulp, lose their regenerative potential during the aging process.

"It is possible that iMSCs retain their stem-cell characteristics even when derived from aged patients," Kang said. "In such cases, this new approach may be useful, especially for geriatric patients or individuals with limited therapeutic value of their endogenous stem cells."

"The UCLA School of Dentistry is very proud to be at the forefront of this research inquiry, which may facilitate future advances in regenerative dentistry and medicine," said Dr. No-Hee Park, dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry and one of the study's co-authors. "While the focus of this study was on the use of adult stem cells to regenerate dental tissue, including dental pulp and periodontal ligament, these findings could lead to further development of a variety of cell-based therapies."

Source: PhysOrg - via ZeitNews

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Una pausa di 60 giorni. Per chiarire i possibili benefici derivanti dalla ricerca, illustrare le procedure di sicurezza adottate e per discutere dei comportamenti - scientifici e regolatori - da adottare in un caso come questo. Quello, cioè, del supervirus H5N1, la variante del patogeno dell’aviaria potenzialmente in grado di uccidere milioni di persone grazie a poche mutazioni che lo rendono superinfettivo, perché capace anche di trasmettersi per via aerea. Una scoperta scientifica tale da chiamare in causa, poco più di un mese fa, il National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity statunitense, per decidere se tenere o meno nascosti i risultati del team di Ron Fouchier dell’ Erasmus Medical Center (Paesi Bassi) e di Yoshihiro Kawaoka dell’ University of Wisconsin. 

Quando è arrivata la notizia del ceppo di H5N1 superinfettivo, la comunità scientifica (e non) ha cominciato a interpellarsi sulla convenienza e la necessità di pubblicare o meno i dati inerenti la ricerca (anche lo aveva chiesto ai suoi lettori): da una parte i ricercatori sostengono che il traguardo raggiunto potrebbe aiutare lo sviluppo di vaccini e a prevenire possibili infezioni, d’altra parte è indubbio anche il rischio che una ricerca del genere porta con sè.

Infatti, senza considerare i pericoli derivanti da una possibile fuga dei virus dai laboratori, rendere disponibili i dati attraverso le pubblicazioni scientifiche universalmente accessibili significa renderli alla portata di tutti. Anche di potenziali terroristi che potrebbero utilizzarli per scopi tutt’altro che nobili. Così, come riporta Nature News, dopo la revisione dei paper scientifici (affinché questi contenessero i risultati ma non i dettagli della ricerca, così che i dati sensibili potessero essere in qualche modo al riparo) è arrivata la decisione di una pausa di 60 giorni.

Due mesi di sospensione dalle attività di ricerca sui ceppi mutanti, annunciata in contemporanea su Science e Nature, con cui i due gruppi di ricercatori artefici della scoperta sperano di calmare le acque, attenuando le paure della comunità scientifica riguardo i potenziali rischi derivanti dai loro studi. “Riconosciamo il bisogno di spiegare chiaramente i benefici di questa importante ricerca e le misure prese per minimizzare i rischi”, scrivono nel documento condiviso in cui annunciano la moratoria, “e proponiamo di farlo in un forum internazionale in cui la comunità scientifica discuta insieme e abbia modo di dibattere sul problema”.

Ma non tutti avrebbero accettato di buon grado la moratoria. Come riporta, secondo Michael Osterholm dell’ University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, la pausa di 60 giorni non può essere sufficiente a prendere delle misure per gestire situazioni del genere. Insomma, serve più tempo. Mentre per Richard Ebright, della Rutgers University (New Jersey), lo stop non ha alcun significato. Non sarebbe nulla di più che una procedura di public relation. 


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By Admin (from 03/02/2012 @ 14:02:15, in ro - TV Network, read 1704 times)

O companie belgiana, Imec, promite ca în cursul acestui an va crea un dispozitiv care poate proiecta imagini 3D holografice. Spre deosebire de tehnologia actuala, aceste imagini 3D nu vor provoca dureri de cap sau afectiuni oftalmologice.

Proiectul cercetatorilor consta în crearea de holograme cu ajutorul laserelor si al sistemelor microelectromecanice (MEMS).

Imaginile 3D holografice devin realitate! (VIDEO)

"Vizualizarea holografica poate oferi privitorilor o experimentare naturala a imaginilor de tip 3D, fara efectele secundare negative ale vizualizarilor tridimensionale clasice, concretizate de regula în dureri de cap, obosirea oculara si privire împaienjenita", declara purtatorii de cuvânt ai companiei Imec.

Sistemul la scala nano prezentat de acestia, functioneaza cu ajutorul unor cip-uri speciale. Când fluxul razei laser atinge cip-ul, se creaza o imagine tridimensionala. Pe baza principiilor sale inovatoare în acest domeniu de activitate, compania Imec lucreaza la crearea unui display holografic cu o difractie de 60 de grade a unghiului, alaturi de o experienta vizuala de tip high-definition.

Pe de alta parte, cercetatorii din cadrul MIT, declara ca în decursul acestui an vor renunta la televiziunea de tip holografic, în favoarea unui nou sistem capabil sa redea 15 cadre pe secunda. Tot în decursul anului 2011, compania Defense Advanced Research Project Agency a definitivat un proiect la care lucra de cinci ani, intitulat Urban Photonic Sandtable Display, care poate crea în timp real o holograma tridimensionala, color, de 360 de grade.

Sursa: Physorg - via

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La storia di Facebook arriva oggi a una svolta: la vita da  private company si conclude qui, con il suo ingresso in borsa. Come si vocifera da tempo, Mark Zuckerberg dovrebbe presenterare oggi la documentazione per quotarsi sul mercato azionario e fare della sua creatura una società per azioni.

L'offerta iniziale?

5 miliardi di dollari, secondo le ultime indiscrezioni. Un bel cambiamento, proprio a 8 anni dalla sua creazione e dopo gli ultimi problemi con la privacy, come racconta il numero di febbraio di Wired Italia, in edicola. 

Sull'entità della Ipo, (Offerta pubblica iniziale), circolavano voci già da tempo e lo scorso novembre si ventilava l'ipotesi che il social network riuscisse a raccogliere addirittura 10 miliardi di dollari, una cifra raggiunta solo 18 altre volte da altrettante società pronte a sbarcare a Wall Street. Oggi, invece, i rumors parlano di un gruzzoletto più esiguo, ridotto della metà: solo 5 miliardi. Secondo l' International Financing Review Zuckerberg punterebbe a una soluzione meno d'assalto e più prudente, volta a sondare il terreno per valutare l'opportunità, in futuro, di aumentare la quota. Nell'operazione, ipotizza l'agenzia Reuters, potrebbero essere coinvolti colossi dell'economia Usa come Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs e Morgan Stanley, con quest'ultima in pole position. Al momento non ci sono dichiarazioni ufficiali da parte di Facebook. A ogni modo, se tutto andrà come deve andare, Facebook apparirà in borsa a maggio, come preventivato.


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