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By Admin (from 30/04/2011 @ 11:00:39, in ro - Observator Global, read 2522 times)

 Aflat la 84 kilometri nord-vest de Londra, pe malul raului Chervel, Oxfordul este un oras vechi si elegant, vestit mai ales pentru celebra sa Universitate. Mentionat documentar in 912, orasul s-a grupat in jurul acestui asezamant de cultura fondat in 1168. Farmecul orasului este renumit in intreaga lume. Peste tot esti intampinat de turle, cupole, ziduri medievale, multe dintre ele inecate in iedera.

Galeriile acoperite ale manastirilor, cele 65 de biserici fac din orasul inconjurat de dealuri un loc fascinant cu o arhitectura unica in lume. Universitatea ca emblema a orasului este la fel de cunoscuta si la fel de veche precum cele de la Paris, Bologna, Padova si Salamanca. Multi dintre oamenii de seama ai Marii Britanii si nu numai au studiat aici sau la Cambridge, celalalt oras universitar al tarii situat in nord-estul capitalei. De fapt cele doua universitati sunt cunoscute sub numele comun Oxbridge. Oxfordul a servit ca decor de film pentru numeroase pelicule printre care cele realizate dupa romanele politiste ale lui Colin Dexter, al caror erou este inspectorul Morse.

Un colorit aparte il ofera orasului multimea studentilor imbracati in robele largi si purtand toci in culoarea colegiului respectiv. Colegiile au un aspect specific. Fiecare are o poarta prin care se intra in curtea interioara (patrulaterul) in jurul careia se inalta capela, sala mare, dormitoarele si camerele de studiu. Toate se mandresc cu gradini, banci de piatra, cadrane solare si arbori seculari.

Cel mai frumos dintre acestea este Christ Church, a carui catedrala, Sfantul Frideswide a fost ridicata intre 1170-1180 si completata in 1225. Colegiul se mandreste cu numeroase tablouri de Titian, Leonardo da Vinci si Rubens. La colegiul Merton, inaltat in 1264, exista o biblioteca in timpul Renasterii iar la Colegiul Hertford un pod venetian reconstruit, care leaga aripa noua de cea veche. Fiecare colegiu are viata lui proprie, este o organizatie independenta si are o avere considerabila, provenita in special din donatii si dispozitii testamentare.

Colegiile au fost puternic ancorate in istorie. Oxfordul era unul dintre locurile preferate de plimbare ale reginei Elisabeta care discuta si glumea aici cu profesorii in engleza si latina. Tot aici Carol I si-a tinut curtea in timpul Razboiului Civil, in timp ce farfuriile de argint ale colegiilor erau topite pentru a servi cauzei regale.

Una dintre cladirile si institutiile incarcate de traditii este Biblioteca Bodleiana care adaposteste peste 6.000.000 de volume, pe langa inestimabilele manuscrise si tiparituri din secolul al XV-lea. Ea a pornit din donatia testamentara de 256 manuscrise ale ducelui de Gloucester si finantata ulterior de Sir Thomas Bodley. Farmecul orasului este sporit de teatre, muzee, de strazile intortocheate, totul amintind un tablou realizat de un mare maestru.


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By Admin (from 30/04/2011 @ 14:00:06, in en - Science and Society, read 2119 times)

An Oxford University study suggests that people living in countries with 'free market' regimes are more likely to become obese due to the stress of being exposed to economic insecurity.

The researchers believe that the stress of living in a competitive social system without a strong welfare state could be causing people to overeat. According to the study published in the latest issue of the journal Economics and Human Biology, Americans and Britons are much more likely to be obese than Norwegians and Swedes.

Oxford researchers compared 11 affluent countries and found that those with a liberal market regime (strong market incentives and relatively weak welfare states) experienced one-third more obesity on average. Their analysis of nearly 100 surveys, carried out between 1994 and 2004, revealed that the highest prevalence of obesity reported in a single survey was in the United States where one-third of the population was classed as obese. By contrast, Norway had the lowest prevalence of obesity in a single survey at just five per cent.

The study compared 'market-liberal' countries (United States, Britain, Canada and Australia) with seven relatively affluent European countries that have systems that traditionally offer stronger social protection (Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden). It concludes that economic security plays a significant role in determining levels of obesity. Countries with higher levels of job and income security were associated with lower levels of obesity.

In the past, the rise of obesity in affluent societies has frequently been attributed to the ready supply of cheap, accessible, high-energy, pre-processed food in fast food outlets and supermarkets. This cause is known by researchers as the 'fast food shock'. Oxford researchers measured the impact of fast food by using a price index, constructed by The Economist magazine*, showing the international variation in the cost of the McDonald's Big Mac hamburger. They found that the availability of fast food may not be as significant as previously thought, as they calculated it had half as much an effect on the prevalence of obesity as the effects of economic insecurity.

Lead author Professor Avner Offer, Chichele Professor of Economic History at the University of Oxford, said: 'Policies to reduce levels of obesity tend to focus on encouraging people to look after themselves but this study suggests that obesity has larger social causes. The onset and increase of large-scale obesity began during the 1980s, and coincided with the rise of market-liberalism in the English-speaking countries.

'It may be that the economic benefits of flexible and open markets come at a price to personal and public health which is rarely taken into account. Basically, our hypothesis is that market-liberal reforms have stimulated competition in both the work environment and in what we consume, and this has undermined personal stability and security.'

The Oxford research team based this study on observations in academic literature about animal behaviour. Animals, both in captivity and in the wild, have been found to increase their food intake when they are faced with uncertainty about their future food supply.

These latest findings suggest that obesity in affluent societies is a response to the stress of economic insecurity. The researchers found that the effects of economic security were considerably greater in causing obesity than other factors measured (the existence of a market-liberal regime; inequality, the price of fast food, and the passage of time).

'Obesity under affluence varies by welfare regimes: The effect of fast food, insecurity, and inequality' is by Avner Offer, Rachel Pechey and Stanley Ulijaszek.

Source: ScienceDaily

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By Admin (from 30/04/2011 @ 20:35:20, in en - Science and Society, read 15320 times)

Marijuana plants are either male or female . The male Marijuana plants produce pollen which pollinates the flowers  of  the  female  Marijuana plant, which once pollenized, produce seeds . If the female Marijuana plant  isn't  pollenized  (if  there  are  no  male  Mariuana plants  nearby  producing pollen), the flower/buds continue to develop and produce THC. Female Marijuana plants  which  are  not  pollenized  are  referred  to  as sinsemilla (without seeds). Usually 30-50% of the Marijuana plants are male.

What's the Difference you ask?

Males are often, but not always, tall with stout stems ,  sporadic  branching  and  few  leaves.  Males  are  usually  harvested except those used for breeding,  after  their  sex  has  been  determined,  but  before  the  pollen  is  shed.  When  harvesting, especially if close to females, cut the Marijuana plant off at the base, taking  care  to  shake  the  male  as  little  as  possible.  This  helps prevent any accidental pollination by an unnoticed, open male flower.

When a male enters the stage of flower development, the tips  of  the  branches  where  a  bud  would  develop  will  start  to grow what looks like a little bud (little balls) but it will have no white hairs coming  out  of  it.  Females  will  have  no  balls  and will have small white hairs. Read More about Male marijuana plants.

Male marijuana plant 


Cannabis in temperate climates begin to show his sexual identity by the end of July (end of January in the southern hemisphere) in different dates according to the varieties, Marijuana being the resinous flower of female cannabis plants intended for seed production, in absence of pollen buds turns out pure sensimilla weed and is gentle and sweet to smoke.

It is very important to get rid of male plants on time, as they are unwanted pollen carriers. By the early flowering stage male cannabis, if compared to female's, shows quite a different structure but the characteristic excrescencies would be the sex indicator this are called primordia and will emerge by the side of the third or fourth internodes in the main stem.

Female cannabis are completely revealed when the characteristic "V" shaped pistils become visible, all this to a close observation. Outdoors males will uncover themselves approximately three weeks before the females, indoors sexing of both males and females happens within a week to ten days according to the variety.

Female marijuana plant 


We've heard of urban legends about environmental conditions, age of seeds, added chemicals and even lunar stages having an influence on sexual differentiation of Cannabis; you might take note of those suggestions as personal communications, but a good handbook or an internet surf works the best if you lack in experience when sexing.

What is a Hermaphrodite plant?
An hermaphrodite, or hermie, is a Marijuana plant of one sex that develops the sexual organs of the other sex. Most commonly, a flowering female  Marijuana plant  will  develop  staminate flowers, though the reverse is also true. Primarily male hermaphrodites are  not  as well  recognized  only  because  few   growers  let  their  males  reach  a  point  of flowering where the pistillate would be expressed.

Hermaphrodites are generally viewed with disfavor. First, they  will  release  pollen and ruin a sinsemelia crop, pollinating themselves and all of the other females in the room. Second, the resulting seeds are worthless, because hermaphrodite  parents tend to pass on the tendency to their offspring.

Please note that occassionally specious staminate  flowers  will  appear  in  the  last  days  of  flowering  of  a  female  Marijuana plant. These do not drop pollen and their appearance is not considered evidence of deleterious hermaphroditism.

Hermaphrodite marijuana plant 


Here's an image of a hermaphrodite, specifically a female Marijuana plant with staminate flowers.


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By Admin (from 01/05/2011 @ 08:00:23, in en - Global Observatory, read 1842 times)

Future buildings may use heat to cool off more efficiently, using new materials developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The materials could enable compact adsorption chillers inside homes and office buildings.

Adsorption chillers are a type of air conditioner that runs on waste heat, requiring very little electricity. But they’re big and expensive, which has limited their use to large, hot places like power plants or industrial spaces, as Technology Review explains.

PNNL received a grant last summer from the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, ARPA-E, to build smaller adsorption chillers based on PNNL-developed nanostructured metal-organic heat carriers, or MOHCs. The material is more porous than existing adsorption materials, which makes them more efficient. PNNL researchers displayed the new material at a recent conference.

Adsorption is the binding of molecules or particles to a surface. In an adsorption chiller, hot water drives the cooling process instead of electricity. An evaporated refrigerant (in this case, water) binds to the surface of silica gel. The gel acts as a sponge for water vapor, and when the gel is heated, the water molecules are released, condensing into water droplets when the pressure rises.

The nanostructured MOHCs are even better sponges, trapping three or four times more water by weight, which can reduce the size of the system. They are also more efficient at releasing the water molecules, further reducing the chiller’s size; Tech Review gives the full breakdown here.

PNNL says a variety of heat sources can be used to warm up the MOHCs and free the water vapor, such as burning natural gas or other fuels, heating with solar thermal, or capturing engine or fuel cell system waste heat.

Source: Technology Review

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By Admin (from 01/05/2011 @ 11:00:18, in it - Scienze e Societa, read 1859 times)

Vi avvisiamo: non provateci. O, se proprio volte farlo, affidatevi a un esperto. Di cosa stiamo parlando? Di far passare corrente elettrica nel cervello: un buon modo per diventare più bravi in matematica. Parola di ricercatore di Oxford.

Bastano 15 minuti di una leggera stimolazione elettrica del cervello per migliorare le proprie capacità matematiche per almeno 6 mesi: è la singolare conclusione di uno studio recentemente condotto  nei laboratori di Oxford su alcuni volontari.

Utilizzando un metodo non invasivo noto come stimolazione elettrica transcranica diretta gli scienziati britannici hanno fatto passare una leggera corrente nel cranio di alcuni volontari, stimolando in questo modo il lobo parietale, sede dell’elaborazione numerica.

La matematica? Elettrizzante...

Ai pazienti è stato chiesto di imparare dei nuovi simboli da sostituire ai comuni numeri, poi, durante la stimolazione elettrica, è stato chiesto loro di compiere delle operazioni con le nuove cifre. Le loro performance sono state nettamente migliori di quelle fatte registrare prima della elettrizzante esperienza. Non solo: il test è stato ripetuto dopo 6 mesi e le alte performance si sono mantenute. Secondo i ricercatori la corrente aiuta le terminazioni nervose coinvolte nel ragionamento matematico ad accendersi in tempi più rapidi, rendendo più semplice la memorizzazione delle informazioni.
Il prossimo passo dello studio coinvolgerà persone con capacità matematiche più basse della media. Gli scienziati di Oxford sperano di riuscire a mettere a punto un dispositivo che consenta una pratica somministrazione della stimolazione elettrica transcranica per aiutare quel 20% della popolazione che ha difficoltà più o meno gravi nel maneggiare i numeri. Ma prima di poter parlare di una terapia passeranno ancora diversi anni.


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By Admin (from 01/05/2011 @ 14:00:24, in ro - Observator Global, read 1790 times)

Imagini care au surprins momente cutremuratoare, impresionante, emblematice, imprimate in memoria noastra afectiva, au fost realizate de fotografi extraordinari ale caror nume, de obicei, nu sunt retinute. Sa ne reamintim de ei si de imaginile care au facut inconjurul lumii.

1. Jeff Widener - Omul din fata tancurilor, in piata Tienamnen, Beijing

Pe 5 iunie 1989, cand protestele de la Beijing au atins apogeul, zeci de tancuri au invadat piata Tienanmen, insa un singur om a avut curajul sa stea in fata lor. Identitatea lui a ramas necunoscuta. Se spune ca patru fotografi au imortalizat momentul, insa doar imaginea realizata de Jeff Widener a facut inconjurul lumii.

2. Kevin Carter - vultur pandind un copil sudanez mort de foame

La trei luni dupa ce a realizat aceasta imagine, pentru care a castigat un premiu Pulitzer, Kevin Carter s-a sinucis. Fotograful a fost acuzat ca a stat 20 de minute in fata acelui spectacol de cosmar, in care copilul sudanez subnutrit era pandit de un vultur, ca sa isi realizeze imaginea, in loc sa sara in ajutorul bietului neputincios.

3. Alberto Korda - Che Guevara

Imaginea simbol cu Guevara, imprimata si pe bancnota de trei pesos cubanezi, a fost realizata in timpul unui eveniment organizat in memoria victimelor exploziei de la La Coubre.


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By Admin (from 01/05/2011 @ 21:10:44, in en - Video Alert, read 3465 times)
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By Admin (from 02/05/2011 @ 08:00:51, in en - Science and Society, read 1849 times)

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have for the first time used an apparatus that relies on the "noise" of jiggling electrons to make highly accurate measurements of the Boltzmann constant, an important value for many scientific calculations. The technique is simpler and more compact than other methods for measuring the constant and could advance international efforts to revamp the world’s scientific measurement system.

The Boltzmann constant relates energy to temperature for individual particles such as atoms. The currently accepted value of the Boltzmann Constant is 1.380 6504 x 10-23 joules/kelvin. The accepted value of this constant is based mainly on a 1988 NIST measurement performed using acoustic gas thermometry, with a relative standard uncertainty of less than 2 parts per million (ppm). The technique is highly accurate but the experiment is complex and difficult to perform. To assure that the Boltzmann constant can be determined accurately around the world, scientists have been trying to develop different methods that can reproduce this value with comparable uncertainty.

The latest NIST experiment used an electronic technique called Johnson noise thermometry (JNT) to measure the Boltzmann constant with an uncertainty of 12 ppm. The results are consistent with the currently recommended value for this constant. NIST researchers aim to make additional JNT measurements with improved uncertainties of 5 ppm or less, a level of precision that would help update crucial underpinnings of science, including the definition of the Kelvin, the international unit of temperature.

The international metrology community is expected to soon fix the value of the Boltzmann constant, which would then redefine the Kelvin as part of a larger effort to link all units to fundamental constants. This approach would be the most stable and universal way to define measurement units, in contrast to traditional measurement unit standards based on physical objects or substances. The Kelvin is now defined in terms of the triple-point temperature of water (273.16 K, or about 0 degrees C and 32 degrees F), or the temperature and pressure at which water’s solid, liquid and vapor forms coexist in balance. This value may vary slightly depending on chemical impurities.

The NIST JNT system measures very small electrical noise in resistors, a common electronic component, when they are cooled to the water triple point temperature. This “Johnson noise” is created by the random motion of electrons, and the signals they generate are directly proportional to temperature. The electronic devices measuring the noise power are calibrated with electrical signals synthesized by a superconducting voltage source based on fundamental principles of quantum mechanics. This unique feature enables the JNT system to match electrical power and thermal-noise power at the triple point of water, and assures that copies of the system will produce identical results. NIST researchers recently improved the apparatus to reduce the statistical uncertainty, systematic errors and electromagnetic interference. Additional improvements in the electronics are expected to further reduce measurement uncertainties.

The new measurements were made in collaboration with guest researchers from the Politecnico di Torino, Italy; the National Institute of Metrology, China; the University of Twente, The Netherlands; the National Metrology Institute of Japan, Tsukuba, Japan; and the Measurement Standards Laboratory, New Zealand.

Source: PhysOrg

More information: S.P. Benz, et al. An electronic measurement of the Boltzmann Constant. Metrologia. Published online March 30, 2011.

Provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology

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By Admin (from 02/05/2011 @ 11:00:59, in it - Video Alerta, read 2439 times)

Mentre saremo in sala a guardare un film, il cinema guarderà noi. Per capire se una scena - o quel nuovo gadget "trendy" che ci cambierà la vita - ci piace tanto, poco o... troppo. (Davide Sher)
Attraverso un sistema di telecamere a circuito chiuso, a infrarossi e in 3D stereoscopico, presto non andremo più al cinema solo per guardare un film, ma anche per farci guardare. La società inglese Aralia Systems, specializzata in sistemi di sorveglianza, sta sviluppando un sistema di digital imaging in grado di ricreare modelli tridimensionali del pubblico in sala, per studiarne le espressioni e le reazioni alla pubblicità e ai momenti salienti di un film.
È l'evoluzione di un sistema di telecamere a infrarossi già in uso per scovare le videocamere che registrano illegalmente un film per i circuiti pirata. Ma se nel caso del sistema anti-pirateria l'esigenza è comprensibile, l'analisi dettagliata delle reazioni a un film potrebbe essere più discutibile. L'idea è di utilizzare i dati raccolti per aiutare i produttori a capire cos'è che il pubblico apprezza e cosa invece trova noioso, oppure per operazioni di marketing o di product placement mirato.

Il sistema sarà infatti in grado di determinare la direzione in cui una persona sta guardando, se è scioccata, eccitata o annoiata, se è seduta in gruppo o da sola e via dicendo - anche per rapportare le reazioni alla presenza o meno di un gruppo. Per i produttori cinematografici queste sono informazioni preziose, da vendere a caro prezzo agli sponsor.

SEI ANTIAMERICANO? Ma quali sono le implicazioni se, per esempio, una persona viene colta in comportamenti imbarazzanti o potenzialmente pericolosi, come ad esempio mostrare entusiasmo durante una scena di omicidio o stupro? E, anche senza arrivare a questi estremi, quanti di noi vorrebbero le proprie espressioni studiate nei minimi dettagli davanti a una Jessica Alba che fa la doccia nel suo prossimo film Machete? O al sedere di Mel Gibson in Cosa vogliono le donne?

Per questi esempi non c'è bisogno di tanta analisi hi-tech, ma sembra che "il mercato" voglia proprio sapere se avete notato quale computer usava Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day. E forse c'è chi è interessato anche a sapere qual è stata la vostra reazione alla distruzione della Casa Bianca e della Statua della Libertà.


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By Admin (from 02/05/2011 @ 14:00:52, in ro - Observator Global, read 2457 times)


4. Buzz Aldrin - Neil Armstrong pe Luna

Exista mai multe imagini de la aselenizarea din 1969, cand Neil si Buzz s-au fotografiat folosindu-se de reflectiile de la castile lor de astronauti. Aceasta imagine celebra cu Neil Armstrong, primul om care a pus piciorul pe luna, a fost realizata de colegul lui, Buzz Aldrin.

5. Steve McCurry - fetita afgana

Realizata in 1984 in tabara de refugiati Nasir Bagh din Pakistan, dupa ce Uniunea Sovietica a bombardat Afganistanul, imaginea a aparut in iunie 1985 pe coperta revistei "National Geographic", iar identitatea fetitei afgane a ramas necunoscuta timp de 17 ani.

6. Richard Drew - om cazand de la inaltime pe 11 septembrie 2001

La ora 09:41:15, pe 11 septembrie 2001 un barbat se arunca de la inaltimea unuia dintre cele doua turnuri gemene. S-a realizat un film pornind de la aceasta imagine, iar identitatea barbatului a ramas necunoscuta.


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