Category Archives: Science & Study

No Reducing Atmosphere for Naturalistic Origin of Life

On July 16–21, Fazale “Fuz” Rana and I attended the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL) Conference held at the University of California, San Diego. The climax of the conference was the Wednesday (July 19) evening session devoted to answering the question, “64 Years after Miller Experiment, Can the Formation of Building Blocks of Life Be Considered As Solved?” (The Miller Experiment in 1953 was when Stanley Miller sparked a gas mixture of methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water to produce a low-abundance level of a few of the simpler amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.) A panel consisting of four of the world’s top origin-of-life researchers (Nicholas Hud, Jack Szostak, Steven Benner, and Donna Blackmond) moderated by Antonio Lazcano, Stanley Miller’s research partner and past president of ISSOL, attempted to answer this question.

All four of the panelists and the moderator answered “No” to the posed question. Steven Benner even added that the building blocks of the building block molecules of life are either missing on the early Earth or they exist at abundance levels far too diluted to be of any use.

The day before, the morning sessions of the conference were devoted to discussing the environmental conditions for the origin of life on the early Earth. The first presenter, Yoichiro Ueno, began his talk by pointing out that there was no conceivable hope for a naturalistic origin of the building block molecules of life unless oxygen was totally absent from Earth’s atmosphere.1 However, he speculated that rather than the origin of life occurring on Earth 3.8 billion years ago, it actually occurred much earlier—during the Hadean era, 4.4–4.0 billion years ago.

The Hadean era gets its name from extensive evidence establishing that Earth’s surface previous to 4.0 billion years ago was hellishly hot. However, a few zircons dating back to that period show that there were brief episodes in at least a few locations on Earth during the Hadean era when liquid water was present. Ueno further speculated that during these brief episodes Earth had a reducing (oxygen-free) atmosphere. He then referred to Miller-type experiments that demonstrate ultraviolet-induced photochemistry can produce eleven of the twenty bioactive amino acids.2

Ueno was by no means alone at the ISSOL conference in speculating that a reducing atmosphere on the early Earth was a critical component to a naturalistic origin of life. A consensus emerged among the origin-of-life conference researchers that there simply was no other way to explain life’s origin from a materialistic perspective.

The problem with these speculations about Earth’s early atmosphere is that the most ancient zircons establish that Earth’s mantle oxygen fugacity (tendency to escape or expand isothermally when pressure is released) has not deviated much, if at all, during the past 4.3 billion years.3 This conclusion is confirmed by Archaean (4–3 billion-year-old) mantle residues and magmas that reveal a redox (reduction-oxidation reaction) state equivalent to present-day values.4 These results led geophysicists Brian Hynek and Stephen Mojzsis to conclude in a paper published in Geology, “The resultant atmosphere from outgassing is correspondingly expected to have been at least mildly oxidizing from the early days.”5

What does an “at least mildly oxidizing” atmosphere imply about the origin of life on Earth? It rules out all naturalistic or materialistic origin-of-life models. It establishes that the origin of life on Earth must have been achieved by a super-intelligent, supernatural Being.

Original article: No Atmospheric Reduction

Human Presence in Sumatra 73,000-63,000 Years Ago

Abstract

Genetic evidence for anatomically modern humans (AMH) out of Africa before 75 thousand years ago (ka) and in island southeast Asia (ISEA) before 60 ka (93-61 ka) predates accepted archaeological records of occupation in the region. Claims that AMH arrived in ISEA before 60 ka (ref. 4) have been supported only by equivocal or non-skeletal evidence. AMH evidence from this period is rare and lacks robust chronologies owing to a lack of direct dating applications, poor preservation and/or excavation strategies and questionable taxonomic identifications. Lida Ajer is a Sumatran Pleistocene cave with a rich rainforest fauna associated with fossil human teeth. The importance of the site is unclear owing to unsupported taxonomic identification of these fossils and uncertainties regarding the age of the deposit, therefore it is rarely considered in models of human dispersal. Here we reinvestigate Lida Ajer to identify the teeth confidently and establish a robust chronology using an integrated dating approach. Using enamel-dentine junction morphology, enamel thickness and comparative morphology, we show that the teeth are unequivocally AMH. Luminescence and uranium-series techniques applied to bone-bearing sediments and speleothems, and coupled uranium-series and electron spin resonance dating of mammalian teeth, place modern humans in Sumatra between 73 and 63 ka. This age is consistent with biostratigraphic estimations, palaeoclimate and sea-level reconstructions, and genetic evidence for a pre-60 ka arrival of AMH into ISEA. Lida Ajer represents, to our knowledge, the earliest evidence of rainforest occupation by AMH, and underscores the importance of reassessing the timing and environmental context of the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa.

Continued…

From Nature: Human Presence in Sumatra

Concise Diction of Middle English – A.D. 1150 -1580

By the
Rev. A. L. Mayhew, M.A.
Of Wadham College, Oxford
&
Rev. Walter W. Skeat
Litt. D.; LL.D. Edin.; M.A. Oxon.
Erlington & Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon
in the University of Cambridge

“THESE our Ancient Words here set down, I trust will for this time satisfie the Reader.”
R. VERSTEGAN, Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, ch. vii (at the end)

“Authentic words be given, or none!”
WORDSWORTH, Lines on Macpherson’s Ossian

Oxford
At the Clarendon Press
MDCCCLXXXVIII
All rights reserved

PREFACE

The present work is intended to meet, in some measure, the requirements of those who wish to make some study of Middle-English, and who find a difficulty in obtaining such assistance as will enable them to find out the meanings and etymologies of the words most essential to their purpose.

The best Middle-English Dictionary, that by Dr. Mätzner of Berlin, has only reached the end of the letter H; and it is probable that it will not be completed for many years. The only Middle-English Dictionary that has been carried on to the end of the alphabet is that by the late Dr. Stratmann, of Krefeld. This is a valuable work, and is indispensable for the more advanced student. However, the present work will still supply a deficiency, as it differs from Stratmann’s Dictionary in many particulars. We have chosen as our Main Words, where possible, the most typical of the forms or spellings of the period of Chaucer and Piers Plowman; in Stratmann, on the other hand, the form chosen as Main Word is generally the oldest form in which it appears, frequently one of the twelfth century. Moreover, with regard to authorities, we refer in the case of the great majority of our forms to a few, cheap, easily accessible works, whereas Stratmann’s authorities are mainly the numerous and expensive publications of the Early English Text Society. Lastly, we have paid special attention to the French element in Middle-English, whereas Stratmann is somewhat deficient in respect of words of French origin1. The book which has generally been found of most assistance to the learner is probably Halliwell’s Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words; but this is not specially confined to the Middle-English period, and the plan of it differs in several respects from that of the present work.

The scope of this volume will be best understood by an explanation of vithe circumstances that gave rise to it. Some useful and comparatively inexpensive volumes illustrative of the Middle-English period have been issued by the Clarendon Press; all of which are furnished with glossaries, explaining all the important words, with exact references to the passages wherein the words occur. In particular, the three useful hand-books containing Specimens of English (from 1150 down to 1580) together supply no less than sixty-seven characteristic extracts from the most important literary monuments of this period; and the three glossaries to these books together fill more than 370 pages of closely-printed type in double columns. The idea suggested itself that it would be highly desirable to bring the very useful information thus already collected under one alphabet, and this has now been effected. At the same time, a reference has in every case been carefully given to the particular Glossarial Index which registers each form here cited, so that it is perfectly easy for any one who consults our book to refer, not merely to the particular Index thus noted, but to the references given in that Index; and so, by means of such references, to find every passage referred to, with its proper context. Moreover the student only requires, for this purpose, a small array of the text-books in the Clarendon Press Series, instead of a more or less complete set of editions of Middle-English texts, the possession of which necessitates a considerable outlay of money. By this plan, so great a compression of information has been achieved, that a large number of the articles give a summary such as can be readily expanded to a considerable length, by the exercise of a very little trouble; and thus the work is practically as full of material as if it had been three or four times its present size. A couple of examples will shew what this really means.

At p. 26 is the following entry:—

Bi-hestesb. promise, S, S2, C2, P; byheste, S2; beheste, S2; byhest, S2; bihese, S; biheest, W; bihesepl., S.—AS. be-hǽs.’

By referring to the respective indexes here cited, such as S (= Glossary to Specimens of English, Part I), and the like, we easily expand this article into the following:—

Bi-hestesb. promise, S (9. 19); S2 (1a. 184); C2 (B 37, 41, 42, F 698); P (3. 126); byheste, S2 (18b. 25); beheste, S2 (14a. 3); byhest, S2 (12. 57, 18b. 9, [where it may also be explained by grant]); bihese, S (where it is used as a plural); biheest, W (promise, command, Lk. xxiv. 49, Rom. iv. 13; pl. biheestis, Heb. xi. 13); bihese, S (pl. behests, promises, 4d. 55).—AS. behǽs.’

In order to exhibit the full meaning of this—which requires no further viiexplanation to those who have in hand the books denoted by S, S2, &c.—it would be necessary to print the article at considerable length, as follows:—

Bihestesb. promise; “dusi biheste” a foolish promise, (extract from) Ancren Riwle, l. 19; “and wel lute wule hulde þe biheste þat he nom,” (extract from) Robert of Gloucester, l. 184; “holdeth your biheste,” Chaucer, Introd. to Man of Law’s Prologue, l. 37; “biheste is dette,” same, l. 41; “al my biheste” same, l. 42; “or breken his biheste” Chaucer, sequel to Squieres Tale, l. 698; “þorw fals biheste,” Piers Plowman, Text B, Pass. iii, l. 126; “to vol-vulle (fulfil) þat byheste” Trevisa (extract from), lib. vi. cap. 29, l. 25; “the lond of promyssioun, or of beheste,” Prol. to Mandeville’s Travels, l. 3; “wiþ fair by-hest,” William and the Werwolf, l. 57; “þe byhest (promise, or grant) of oþere menne kyngdom,” Trevisa, lib. vi. cap. 29, l. 9; “y schal sende the biheest of my fadir in-to ȝou,” Wyclif, Luke xxiv. 49; “not bi the lawe is biheest to Abraham,” Wycl. Rom. iv. 13; “whanne the biheestis weren not takun,” Wycl. Heb. xi. 13; “longenge to godes bihese” Old Eng. Homilies, Dominica iv. post Pascha, l. 55.’

We thus obtain fifteen excellent examples of the use of this word, with the full context and an exact reference (easily verified) in every case. And, in the above instance, all the quotations lie within the compass of the eleven texts in the Clarendon Press Series denoted, respectively, by S, S2, S3, C, C2, C3, W, W2, P, H, and G.

The original design was to make use of these text-books only; but it was so easy to extend it by including examples to be obtained from other Glossaries and Dictionaries, that a considerable selection of interesting words was added from these, mainly for the sake of illustrating the words in the Clarendon text-books. These illustrative words can be fully or partially verified by those who happen to possess all or some of the works cited, or they can safely be taken on trust, as really occurring there, any mistake being due to such authority.

A second example will make this clearer. ‘Brantadj. steep, high, MD, HD; brent, JD; brentestsuperl. S2.—AS. brant (bront); cp. Swed. brant, Icel. brattr.’

Omitting the etymology, the above information is given in two short lines. Those who possess the ‘Specimens of English’ will easily find the example of the superl. brentest. By consulting Mätzner’s, Halliwell’s, and Jamieson’s Dictionaries, further information can be obtained, and the full article will appear as follows:—

Brantadj. steep, high, MD [brantbrentadj. ags. brand, arduus, viiialtus, altn. brattr, altschw. branter, schw. brantbratt, dän, brat, sch. brent, nordengl. Diall. brant: cf. “brant, steepe,” Manipulus Vocabulorum, p. 25: steil, hoch.—“Apon the bald Bucifelon brant up he sittes,” King Alexander, ed. Stevenson, p. 124; “Thir mountaynes ware als brant upritȝe as thay had bene walles,” MS. quoted in Halliwell’s Dict., p. 206; “Hyȝe bonkkes & brent,” Gawain and the Grene Knight, l. 2165; “Bowed to þe hyȝ bonk þer brentest hit wern,” Alliterative Poems, ed. Morris, Poem B, l. 379]; HD [brant, steep. North: “Brant against Flodden Hill,” explained by Nares from Ascham, “up the steep side;” cf. Brit. Bibl. i. 132, same as brandly?—“And thane thay com tille wonder heghe mountaynes, and it semed as the toppes had towched the firmament; and thir mountaynes were als brant upriȝte as thay had bene walles, so that ther was na clymbyng upon thame,” Life of Alexander, MS. Lincoln, fol. 38]; JD [brentadj. high, straight, upright; “My bak, that sumtyme brent hes bene, Now cruikis lyk are camok tre,” Maitland Poems, p. 193; followed by a discussion extending to more than 160 lines of small print, which we forbear to quote]; brentestsuperl. S2. 13. 379 [“And bowed to þe hyȝ bonk þer brentest hit were (MS. wern),” Allit. Poems, l. 379; already cited in Mätzner, above].’

The work, in fact, contains a very large collection of words, in many variant forms, appearing in English literature and in Glossaries between A.D. 1150 and A.D. 1580. The glossaries in S2, S3 (Specimens of English, 1298-1393, and 1394-1579) have furnished a considerable number of words belonging to the Scottish dialect, which most dictionaries (excepting of course that of Jamieson) omit.

The words are so arranged that even the beginner will, in general, easily find what he wants. We have included in one article, together with the Main Word, all the variant spellings of the glossaries, as well as the etymological information. We have also given in alphabetical order numerous cross-references to facilitate the finding of most of the variant forms, and to connect them with the Main Word. In this way, the arrangement is at once etymological and alphabetical—adapted to the needs of the student of the language and of the student of the literature.

The meanings of the words are given in modern English, directly after the Main Word. The variant forms, as given in their alphabetical position, are frequently also explained, thus saving (in such cases) the trouble of a cross-reference, if the meaning of the word is alone required.

An attempt is made in most cases to give the etymology, so far at least as to shew the immediate source of the Middle-English word. Especial pains have been taken with the words of French origin, which ixform so large a portion of the vocabulary of the Middle-English period. In many cases the AF (Anglo-French) forms are cited, from my list of English Words found in Anglo-French, as published for the Philological Society in 1882.

The student of English who wishes to trace back the history of a word still in use can, in general, find the Middle-English form in Skeat’s Etymological Dictionary, and will then be able to consult the present work in order to obtain further instances of its early use.

The relative share of the authors in the preparation of this work is easily explained. The whole of it in its present form (with the exception of the letter N) was compiled, prepared, and written out for press by Mr. Mayhew. The original plan was, however, my own; and I began by writing out the letter N (since augmented) by way of experiment and model. It will thus be seen that Mr. Mayhew’s share of the work has been incomparably the larger, involving all that is most laborious. On the other hand, I may claim that much of the labour was mine also, at a much earlier stage, as having originally compiled or revised the glossaries marked S2, S3, C2, C3, W, W2, P, and G, as well as the very full glossarial indexes cited as B, PP, and WA, and the dictionary cited as SkD. The important glossary marked S was, however, originally the work of Dr. Morris (since re-written by Mr. Mayhew), and may, in a sense, be said to be the back-bone of the whole, from its supplying a very large number of the most curious and important early forms.

The material used has been carefully revised by both authors, so that they must be held to be jointly responsible for the final form in which the whole is now offered to the public.

1. A new and thoroughly revised edition of Stratmann’s Dictionary is being prepared by Mr. Henry Bradley, for the Delegates of the Clarendon Press.

Note On The Phonology Of Middle-English.

One great difficulty in finding a Middle-English word in this, or any other, Dictionary is due to the frequent variation of the symbols denoting the vowel-sounds. Throughout the whole of the period to which the work relates the symbols iand y, in particular, are constantly interchanged, whether they stand alone, or form parts of diphthongs. Consequently, words which are spelt with one of these symbols in a given text must frequently be looked for as if spelt with the other; i.e. the pairs of symbols i and yai and ayei and eyoi and oyui and uy, must be looked upon as likely to be used indifferently, one for the other. For further information, the student should consult the remarks upon Phonology in the Specimens of English (1150 to 1300), 2nd ed., p. xxv. For those who xhave not time or opportunity to do this, a few brief notes may perhaps suffice.

The following symbols are frequently confused, or are employed as equivalent to each other because they result from the same sound in the Oldest English or in Anglo-French:—

iy;—aiay;—eiey;—oioy;—uiuy.

ao;—aæeea;—eeoie;—ouou;—(all originally short).

aæeaeee;—eeeeoie;—ooooa;—uouui;—(all long).

These are the most usual interchanges of symbols, and will commonly suffice for practical purposes, in cases where the cross-references fail. If the word be not found after such substitutions have been allowed for, it may be taken for granted that the Dictionary does not contain it. As a fact, the Dictionary only contains a considerable number of such words as are most common, or (for some special reason) deserve notice; and it is at once conceded that it is but a small hand-book, which does not pretend to exhibit in all its fulness the extraordinarily copious vocabulary of our language at an important period of its history. The student wishing for complete information will find (in course of time) that the New English Dictionary which is being brought out by the Clarendon Press will contain all words found in our literature since the year 1100.

Of course variations in the vowel-sounds are also introduced, in the case of strong verbs, by the usual ‘gradation’ due to their method of conjugation. To meet this difficulty in some measure, numerous (but not exhaustive) cross-references have been introduced, as when, e.g. ‘Bar, bare’ is given, with a cross-reference to Beren. Further help in this respect is to be had from the table of 183 strong verbs given at pp. lxix-lxxxi of the Preface to Part I of the Specimens of English (2nd edition); see, in particular, the alphabetical index to the same, at pp. lxxxi, lxxxii. The same Preface further contains some account of the three principal Middle-English dialects (p. xl), and Outlines of the Grammar (p. xlv). It also explains the meaning of the symbols þ, ð (both used for th), ȝ (used for y initially, gh medially, and gh or z finally), with other necessary information.

Continued…

From Gutenberg: Concise Dictionary of Middle English

I find this completely fascinating.

I should have been a linguist.

All Things Considered by G. K. Chesterton

The Case for the Ephemeral

I cannot understand the people who take literature seriously; but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this book. It is a collection of crude and shapeless papers upon current or rather flying subjects; and they must be published pretty much as they stand. They were written, as a rule, at the last moment; they were handed in the moment before it was too late, and I do not think that our commonwealth would have been shaken to its foundations if they had been handed in the moment after. They must go out now, with all their imperfections on their head, or rather on mine; for their vices are too vital to be improved with a blue pencil, or with anything I can think of, except dynamite.

Their chief vice is that so many of them are very serious; because I had no time to make them flippant. It is so easy to be solemn; it is so hard to be frivolous. Let any honest reader shut his eyes for a few moments, and approaching the secret tribunal of his soul, ask himself whether he would really rather be asked in the next two hours to write the front page of the Times, which is full of long leading articles, or the front page of Tit-Bits, which is full of short jokes. If the reader is the fine conscientious fellow I take him for, he will at once reply that he would rather on the spur of the moment write ten Times articles than one Tit-Bits joke. Responsibility, a heavy and cautious responsibility of speech, is the easiest thing in the world; anybody can do it. That is why so many tired, elderly, and wealthy men go in for politics. They are responsible, because they have not the strength of mind left to be irresponsible. It is more dignified to sit still than to dance the Barn Dance. It is also easier. So in these easy pages I keep myself on the whole on the level of the Times: it is only occasionally that I leap upwards almost to the level of Tit-Bits.

I resume the defence of this indefensible book. These articles have another disadvantage arising from the scurry in which they were written; they are too long-winded and elaborate. One of the great disadvantages of hurry is that it takes such a long time. If I have to start for High-gate this day week, I may perhaps go the shortest way. If I have to start this minute, I shall almost certainly go the longest. In these essays (as I read them over) I feel frightfully annoyed with myself for not getting to the point more quickly; but I had not enough leisure to be quick. There are several maddening cases in which I took two or three pages in attempting to describe an attitude of which the essence could be expressed in an epigram; only there was no time for epigrams. I do not repent of one shade of opinion here expressed; but I feel that they might have been expressed so much more briefly and precisely. For instance, these pages contain a sort of recurring protest against the boast of certain writers that they are merely recent. They brag that their philosophy of the universe is the last philosophy or the new philosophy, or the advanced and progressive philosophy. I have said much against a mere modernism. When I use the word “modernism,” I am not alluding specially to the current quarrel in the Roman Catholic Church, though I am certainly astonished at any intellectual group accepting so weak and unphilosophical a name. It is incomprehensible to me that any thinker can calmly call himself a modernist; he might as well call himself a Thursdayite. But apart altogether from that particular disturbance, I am conscious of a general irritation expressed against the people who boast of their advancement and modernity in the discussion of religion. But I never succeeded in saying the quite clear and obvious thing that is really the matter with modernism. The real objection to modernism is simply that it is a form of snobbishness. It is an attempt to crush a rational opponent not by reason, but by some mystery of superiority, by hinting that one is specially up to date or particularly “in the know.” To flaunt the fact that we have had all the last books from Germany is simply vulgar; like flaunting the fact that we have had all the last bonnets from Paris. To introduce into philosophical discussions a sneer at a creed’s antiquity is like introducing a sneer at a lady’s age. It is caddish because it is irrelevant. The pure modernist is merely a snob; he cannot bear to be a month behind the fashion Similarly I find that I have tried in these pages to express the real objection to philanthropists and have not succeeded. I have not seen the quite simple objection to the causes advocated by certain wealthy idealists; causes of which the cause called teetotalism is the strongest case. I have used many abusive terms about the thing, calling it Puritanism, or superciliousness, or aristocracy; but I have not seen and stated the quite simple objection to philanthropy; which is that it is religious persecution. Religious persecution does not consist in thumbscrews or fires of Smithfield; the essence of religious persecution is this: that the man who happens to have material power in the State, either by wealth or by official position, should govern his fellow-citizens not according to their religion or philosophy, but according to his own. If, for instance, there is such a thing as a vegetarian nation; if there is a great united mass of men who wish to live by the vegetarian morality, then I say in the emphatic words of the arrogant French marquis before the French Revolution, “Let them eat grass.” Perhaps that French oligarch was a humanitarian; most oligarchs are. Perhaps when he told the peasants to eat grass he was recommending to them the hygienic simplicity of a vegetarian restaurant. But that is an irrelevant, though most fascinating, speculation. The point here is that if a nation is really vegetarian let its government force upon it the whole horrible weight of vegetarianism. Let its government give the national guests a State vegetarian banquet. Let its government, in the most literal and awful sense of the words, give them beans. That sort of tyranny is all very well; for it is the people tyrannising over all the persons. But “temperance reformers” are like a small group of vegetarians who should silently and systematically act on an ethical assumption entirely unfamiliar to the mass of the people. They would always be giving peerages to greengrocers. They would always be appointing Parliamentary Commissions to enquire into the private life of butchers. Whenever they found a man quite at their mercy, as a pauper or a convict or a lunatic, they would force him to add the final touch to his inhuman isolation by becoming a vegetarian. All the meals for school children will be vegetarian meals. All the State public houses will be vegetarian public houses. There is a very strong case for vegetarianism as compared with teetotalism. Drinking one glass of beer cannot by any philosophy be drunkenness; but killing one animal can, by this philosophy, be murder. The objection to both processes is not that the two creeds, teetotal and vegetarian, are not admissible; it is simply that they are not admitted. The thing is religious persecution because it is not based on the existing religion of the democracy. These people ask the poor to accept in practice what they know perfectly well that the poor would not accept in theory. That is the very definition of religious persecution. I was against the Tory attempt to force upon ordinary Englishmen a Catholic theology in which they do not believe. I am even more against the attempt to force upon them a Mohamedan morality which they actively deny.

Again, in the case of anonymous journalism I seem to have said a great deal without getting out the point very clearly. Anonymous journalism is dangerous, and is poisonous in our existing life simply because it is so rapidly becoming an anonymous life. That is the horrible thing about our contemporary atmosphere. Society is becoming a secret society. The modern tyrant is evil because of his elusiveness. He is more nameless than his slave. He is not more of a bully than the tyrants of the past; but he is more of a coward. The rich publisher may treat the poor poet better or worse than the old master workman treated the old apprentice. But the apprentice ran away and the master ran after him. Nowadays it is the poet who pursues and tries in vain to fix the fact of responsibility. It is the publisher who runs away. The clerk of Mr. Solomon gets the sack: the beautiful Greek slave of the Sultan Suliman also gets the sack; or the sack gets her. But though she is concealed under the black waves of the Bosphorus, at least her destroyer is not concealed. He goes behind golden trumpets riding on a white elephant. But in the case of the clerk it is almost as difficult to know where the dismissal comes from as to know where the clerk goes to. It may be Mr. Solomon or Mr. Solomon’s manager, or Mr. Solomon’s rich aunt in Cheltenham, or Mr. Soloman’s rich creditor in Berlin. The elaborate machinery which was once used to make men responsible is now used solely in order to shift the responsibility. People talk about the pride of tyrants; but we in this age are not suffering from the pride of tyrants. We are suffering from the shyness of tyrants; from the shrinking modesty of tyrants. Therefore, we must not encourage leader-writers to be shy; we must not inflame their already exaggerated modesty. Rather we must attempt to lure them to be vain and ostentatious; so that through ostentation they may at last find their way to honesty.

The last indictment against this book is the worst of all. It is simply this: that if all goes well this book will be unintelligible gibberish. For it is mostly concerned with attacking attitudes which are in their nature accidental and incapable of enduring. Brief as is the career of such a book as this, it may last just twenty minutes longer than most of the philosophies that it attacks. In the end it will not matter to us whether we wrote well or ill; whether we fought with flails or reeds. It will matter to us greatly on what side we fought.

Continued…

From Gutenberg: All Things Considered

Chameleon Care

purple lizard

The following is a brief summary of general chameleon care, husbandry, and medicine. It is not all conclusive, but does provide a framework of necessary information for the chameleon owner. As with any pet, proper husbandry and veterinary care are the most important factors in a long, healthy life. It isn’t hard to see why so many people fall in love with chameleons, and desire to keep them as pets. They are interesting, colorful animals that are unlike so many other animals. However, any prospective chameleon owner should realize that they are fragile in nature, and have some very specific needs. Without continual proper care, a pet chameleon can become very sick, very quickly.

Origin and Species Variety

There are several species of “true” chameleon, many whose native habitats range from Yemen and Saudi Arabia southward to Madagascar and parts of eastern Africa. The most popular varieties kept as pets are the Veiled, Panther, and Jackson’s chameleons. Depending on their sex and species, they can grow up to 24 inches in length, live from 1 to 12 years old, and reach sexual maturity in about five months. Obviously, individuals that are kept in ideal conditions, with proper diet and veterinary care will live longer lives. While some species are from drier climates such as the veiled chameleon, others are from more tropical areas. Therefore, in order to properly care for your particular chameleon, do some research to learn more about its life in the wild.

You may have already noticed some of the traits that make true chameleons so unique. They have prehensile tails, and zygodactyl feet, which means their toes are grouped in opposition to each other. Their large, obtrusive eyes work independently of one another, allowing them to keep a watch out for predators and catch their food. Of course, they are able to change colors, depending on their emotions and health condition. These colors can have varying patterns, and can contain shades of green, white, blue, red, yellow, brown, orange, purple, and black.

Enclosure

A chameleon’s cage should be large enough to allow it adequate exercise and accommodate a three-dimensional “playground” of different diameter branches with leaves for cover. Cages should be taller than they are long, and made of material that is easily cleaned. Avoid placing the enclosure in drafty or busy areas of the house. As for foliage, ficus and pathos plants are commonly used since they can be eaten by adults. Hardwood branches provide good perches; do not use limbs from “sappy” trees such as pines. Give your pet enough cover inside his cage so that he can feel that he is hiding.

UV-B Spectrum Lighting

Perhaps the most common mistake of the novice chameleon owner is not realizing the absolute dependence of chameleons upon specific wavelengths of light. They require 12 hours of exposure per day to the “UV-B” spectrum of light. This spectrum (290-320nm) can be provided by special light bulbs or natural unfiltered sunlight (which is the best source). Bulbs specifically stating that they provide 5% or more UV-B spectrum should be used while the chameleon is indoors. Without this spectrum, they are unable to properly utilize calcium inside their body, regardless of how much they ingest. This condition, called metabolic bone disease, or secondary nutritional hyperparathyroidism, is probably the number one cause of fatalities and growth defects in captive chameleons. Note that most window glass panes filter out UV radiation. Owners should also be informed that UV-B lamps are generally good for about 6-8 months, but can still produce visible light without UV-B spectrum after this period of time. Therefore, bulbs should be changed after six months of use.

Heating

Reptiles are ectothermic, and require external sources of heat in order to carry out their metabolic processes. Certain body temperatures are necessary for digestion, reproduction, and feeding. The average chameleon requires a daytime temperature range from about 77-87° F, and a night temperature of 65-75 °F. Some good heat sources that can be used outside your chameleon’s enclosure (placed 12-24 inches from the cage walls) are 50-75 watt incandescent bulbs, ceramic heating elements (commercially made), or so-called “heat lamps”. There should be several horizontal branches nearby so that your pet can move closer or farther away from the heat source if it needs. The key is to set up an environment that provides a gradient of temperatures. Red light bulbs and ceramic elements can be used 24 hours per day, without affecting the chameleons’ daily light rhythms. Heat rocks or other heating elements under the cage or at the bottom of the cage are not recommended. Temperatures in different parts of the cage can be easily monitored by placing thermometers (available at pet stores) in a few places. Generally expert herpetologists will slightly decrease temperatures and light cycles in the winter months.

Water and Humidity

Chameleons drink water from droplets sitting on objects (usually leaves) in their surroundings. The most common way to provide these droplets is to use a dripping system. This can be easily fashioned by making a hole in the bottom of a bucket, plastic mild carton, or container just large enough that a drop of water will come from it every several seconds to few minutes, and fall on plant leaves within the enclosure. Another smaller container should be placed in the chameleon’s cage under the drip system to catch the water as it falls through the plant leaves. As a short term solution, ice cubes can be placed on the cage top to slowly drip water while they melt. Commercially-made drip systems or ultrasonic misting devices can also be purchased to be used in this regard. Misting the animal itself is controversial, as it seems to stress some individuals. The humidity in a chameleon’s cage should correspond to its native environment, and be monitored daily. The average humidity needs between the different species is 50-70%.

Diet

True chameleons are mostly carnivorous, which means that they rely on insects or other animals for food sources. They are able to eat a variety of insects, but are fed mostly cricket diets in captivity. However, crickets should not comprise more than 50% of the diet. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat”, so it is important that crickets being used as food also be fed a diverse nutritious diet. They can be fed commercial “gut-loading” food in addition to dark leafy greens (collards, kale, dandelion leaves, mustard greens), oats, broccoli, alfalfa hay, and other fruits and vegetables. Adding calcium supplement powder to the crickets’ diet is also recommended. One is unable to know if crickets obtained from a pet store have been fed recently. So, owners should make sure that crickets have eaten just before being given to their chameleons. Sprinkle calcium supplement powder on the prey items every other feeding. Other insects and larvae such as waxworms, earthworms, caterpillars, grasshoppers, flies, and like should be fed for diversity. Using a “sweep net” over a lawn or garden can catch a variety of bugs for you to use. Avoid beetles and the frequent feeding of mealworms, as they are not easily digested. Some larger species can be fed “pinkie” mice on occasion.

I recommend feeding your chameleon either by hand, or placing all its food items into a bowl so that your pet recognizes the bowl as its source of food. Of course, have a branch placed very close to the bowl so that the chameleon can get to the prey items. Some chameleons will eat vegetables (dark, leafy greens are best), and you can finely chop them up to place into the food bowl daily with the prey. Adults should be fed once per day, while juveniles require feedings several times per day. Provide each creature as much as it can eat in a single feeding. Do not leave insects in the enclosure for extended periods of time.

Substrate

Substrate or “bedding” is what is used to line the bottom of a cage or enclosure. The best substrate for chameleons is simple flat newspaper (cheap, recyclable, easily disposed). If a particulate or natural substrate is used avoid the following: beddings with small particles (sand, kitty litter, etc.), cedar, gravel, corn cob bedding, and beddings that would hold excess moisture. Moisture trapped in bedding can promote bacterial and fungal growth.

Stressors

Stress is a very common reason for poor health in chameleons. Common sources of stress are being placed in a cage with another chameleon, handling, noises, excessive traffic or movement outside of the enclosure, inappropriate temperatures, or changes in the environment. One should remember that these species are not domesticated, and even though they are captive bred, are still in their minds wild animals. If you are handling your chameleon, do not “put him on show” and allow several people to hold and touch it. Be very gentle when removing it from its enclosure.

Diseases

Like humans and other animals, chameleons can get sick from a variety of sources. They are susceptible to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, and can harbor several different kinds of parasites as well. You can help these infections at bay by keeping the enclosure clean, removing uneaten prey items daily, and keeping your pet from coming into contact with another chameleon. If you already have a reptile at home, you should quarantine any new addition for at least 1-3 months time to avoid transference of disease from one individual to another.

Chameleons are sensitive to many chemicals and toxins in the environment, and should be kept away from household cleaners, aerosols, etc. As with any reptile, you should wash your hands after handling it or items within its enclosure (especially soiled bedding). There are diseases that can be transferred from reptiles from humans in this manner (Salmonella infection is one example), but proper hygiene should alleviate this risk. Other problems that can occur in chameleons include egg-binding, organ failure (especially kidney and liver), cancer, and bone fractures due to insufficient vitamin D, calcium, or UVB radiation.

Preventive Care

Your chameleon should be given a check-up by your veterinarian every 6-12 months. In addition, your veterinarian should perform a fecal examination annually to determine if there are gastrointestinal parasites present, and can prescribe the appropriate medications. Blood tests are recommended every 1-3 years to check for internal disease. Speak to your veterinarian about any concerns regarding your chameleon’s care.

Original article: Chameleon Care

Satellite-to-Ground Quantum Key Distribution

Abstract

Quantum key distribution (QKD) uses individual light quanta in quantum superposition states to guarantee unconditional communication security between distant parties. In practice, the achievable distance for QKD has been limited to a few hundred kilometers, due to the channel loss of fibers or terrestrial free space that exponentially reduced the photon rate. Satellite-based QKD promises to establish a global-scale quantum network by exploiting the negligible photon loss and decoherence in the empty out space. Here, we develop and launch a low-Earth-orbit satellite to implement decoy-state QKD with over kHz key rate from the satellite to ground over a distance up to 1200 km, which is up to 20 orders of magnitudes more efficient than that expected using an optical fiber (with 0.2 dB/km loss) of the same length. The establishment of a reliable and efficient space-to-ground link for faithful quantum state transmission constitutes a key milestone for global-scale quantum networks.

Introduction

Private and secure communications are fundamental human needs. Traditional public key cryptography usually relies on the perceived computational intractability of certain mathematical functions. In contrast, quantum key distribution (QKD)1 proposed in the mid-1980s—the best known example of quantum cryptographic tasks—is a radical new way to offer an information-theoretically secure solution to the key exchange problem, ensured by the laws of quantum physics. QKD allows two distant users, who do not share a long secret key initially, to produce a common, random string of secret bits, called a secret key. Using the one-time pad encryption, this key is proven to be secure by Shannon2 to encrypt (and decrypt) a message, which can then be transmitted over a standard communication channel. In the QKD, the information is encoded in the superposition states of physical carriers at single-quantum level, where photons, the fastest flying qubits with their intrinsic robustness to decoherence and ease of control, are usually used. Any eavesdropper on the quantum channel attempting to gain information of the key will inevitably introduce disturbance to the system, and can be detected by the communicating users.

Continued…

Original article: Satellite-to-Ground Quantum Key Distribution

Top 10 Contributions of Aristotle

Born in 384 BC in Stagira, a small town on the northern coast of Greece, Aristotle’s is argua1bly one of the most well-known figures in the history of ancient Greece. He was a popular pupil of famous ancient Greek philosopher Plato. But unlike Plato and Socrates, Aristotle displayed an instinct to conclude about his study of nature using scientific and factual reasoning – a trait his predecessors routinely discarded in favor of their philosophical discerns. Perhaps it was his unyielding fascination for nature, logic and reason that he went on to make some pivotal contributions that are still reflected today in modern day mathematics, metaphysics, physics, biology, botany, politics, medicine and many more. He truly earns the honor of being called the “First Teacher” in the west. Further delving into the details of his achievements, here is a list of top 10 contributions of Aristotle.

Invented the Logic of the Categorical Syllogism

Syllogism represents a certain form of reasoning where a conclusion is made based on two premises. These premises always have a common or middle term to associate them together, but this binding term is absent in the conclusion that is decided upon. This procedure of logical deduction invented by Aristotle, perhaps, lies at the epitome of all his famous achievements. He was the first person to come up with an authentic and logical procedure to conclude a statement based on the propositions that are at hand. These propositions or premises are either provided as facts or simply taken as assumptions provided beforehand. For instance – Socrates is a man. All men are mortal. These two premises can be concluded as – ‘Socrates is mortal.’

The logic behind finding a reasoning based on a proposition and an inference that has something common with the said proposition is clearly pretty straight forward. Its deductive simplicity and ease of use catapulted Aristotle’s theory of syllogism to attain an unparalleled influence on the history of western logic and reasoning. Although in the post renaissance era leading up to the modern age, we came up with logical approaches that were based more on mathematical deductions (and were far more accurate), and less on the uncertainty of non-plausible premises. That being said, Aristotle’s logical theory of categorical syllogism attained a stature that makes it far more than a mere historical curiosity.

Classification of Living Beings

In his book, History of Animals (Historia Animalium), Aristotle was the first person in human history to venture in the classification of different animals. He would use the traits that are similar among certain animals to classify them under similar groups. For example – based on the presence of blood, he would make two different groups such as animals with blood and animals without blood. Similarly, based on their habitat, he classified animals as ones that live on water and ones that live on land. In his perspective, life had a hierarchical make up and all the living beings could be grouped in this hierarchy based on their position from lowest to highest. He placed human species at the highest strata in this hierarchy.

He also devised the binomial naming convention. Using this system, all living organisms now could be given two different sets of nomenclature defined by name of organism’s ‘genus’ and ‘difference’. Aristotle meant the ‘genus’ of a living being to represent its collective family/group as a whole. The name of the ‘difference’ is what makes the living organism different other members of the family it falls within.

Founder of Zoology

Aristotle is also known as the father of Zoology. As evident from his classification of living being, all his classification procedures and several other treatises he wrote primarily involved different species of animal kingdom only. He wrote a number of treatises that revolved around different aspects of zoology. Some of his popular treatises such as ‘History of Animals’, ‘Movement of Animals’, ‘Progression of Animals’ and others, were based on study of different land, water and aerial animals. Unlike his predecessors who merely documented their routine observations of nature, Aristotle worked on outlining specific techniques that he would use to make specific observations.

He used these empirical methods to carry out, what we could call in modern age designation, several proto-scientific tests and experiments to study the flora and fauna around him. One of his early observational experiments included dissecting the bird eggs throughout different stages of embryo development inside the egg. Using his observations, he was able to study the detailed growth of different organs as the embryo develops into a fully hatched youngling.

Contributions in Physics

To put it out rather bluntly, it is true that while Aristotle established new frontiers in the field of life sciences, his escapades in physics fall shorter in comparison. His studies in physics seems to have been highly influenced from pre-established ideas of contemporary and predecessor Greek thinkers. For instance, in his treatises On Generation and Corruption and On the Heavens, the world setup he described had many similarities with propositions made by some pre-Socratic era theorists. About the makeup of the universe, he tardily embraced Empedocles’ view that everything was created from different compositions of four fundamental elements – earth, water, air and fire.

Similarly, Aristotle believed that any kind of change meant something was in motion. In a rather self-contradicting way (at least the initial interpreters found it to be so), he defined the motion of anything as the actuality of a potentiality. In its entirety, Aristotle understood physics as a part of theoretical science that was in sync with natural philosophy. Perhaps a more synonymous term to adhere with Aristotle’s interpretation would be ‘physis’ or simply the study of nature.

Influences in History of Psychology

Aristotle was the first to write a book that dealt with the specifics of psychology – his book De Anima (in translation read as ‘On the Soul’) being the first book on psychology. In his book, he proposes the idea of abstraction that reigns over body and mind of a human being – they exist within the same being, intertwined such that mind is one of the many basic functions of the body. In his more detailed psychological analysis, he constitutes the human intellect into two essential categories – the passive intellect and the active intellect.

According to Aristotle, it is in human nature to imitate something that, even if on a mere superficial level, provided us with a sense of happiness and satisfaction. Perhaps the highlight of his psychological observations has been the delicate connection that binds the human psychology with the underlying human physiology. His contributions take a giant leap from where the pre-scientific era psychology stood before him, into an age of far more precise qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Advances in Meteorology

For his contemporary time and age, Aristotle was able to put forth a detailed analysis of world around him. At present, the term meteorology specifically encompasses the interdisciplinary scientific study of atmosphere and weather. But Aristotle made a far more generalized approach wherein he also covered different aspects and phenomenon of air, water and earth within his treatise Meteorologica or Meteora.

In his treatise, in his own words, he lays out details of ‘different affections’ that are common in between air and water, as well as the different kinds and parts of the earth, and the affections that associate those parts together. The highlight of his ‘Meteora’ treatise are his accounts for water evaporation, earthquakes, and other common weather phenomena. His analysis for these different meteorological occurrences is one of the earliest representations of such phenomena. Though that doesn’t say much about the accuracy of his meteorological studies. Aristotle believed in the existence of ‘underground winds’ and that the winds and earthquakes were caused by them. Similarly, he categorized thunder lightning, rainbows, meteors and comets as different atmospheric phenomena.

Ethics

An attempt to summarize the rich details of Aristotelian ethics within the bounds of a couple of paragraphs will only put it short. Having said that, Nicomachean Ethics stand as the major highlight of Aristotelian ethics. It represents the best-known work on ethics by Aristotle – a collection of ten books maintained based on notes taken from his various lectures at the Lyceum. The Nicomachean Ethics lays out Aristotle’s thoughts on various moral virtues and their respective details.

Aristotelian ethics outline the different social and behavioral virtues of an ideal man. The confidence one bears in the face of fear and defeat stacks up as courage. The ability to resist the temptations of physical pleasures stand out as a person’s temperance. Liberality and magnificence speak the volumes of wealth one can give away for the welfare of others. Any ambition can never be truly magnanimous unless it attains an impeccable balance between the honor it promises and the dues it pays. These, along with other pivotal excerpts, build the groundwork for Aristotle’s endeavors in ethics. In this ethical essence, Aristotle believed that ‘regardless of the various influences of our parents, society and nature, we ourselves are the sole narrators of our souls and their active states.’

Aristotelianism

Aristotelianism is the biggest exemplary to the influence Aristotelian philosophy has had on the entire subsequent philosophical paradigm itself. Aristotelianism represents the philosophical traditions that takes its roots from the various works of Aristotle in philosophy. This route of conventional philosophy is highly influenced from different aspect of various Aristotelian ideologies including his view on philosophical methodology, epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics and many more.

The fact remains that Aristotle’s ideas have become deeply engraved in the social and communal thought structure of overall civilization that followed in the western world. His philosophical works were first rehearsed and defended by the members of Peripatetic school. The Neoplatonist followed suit soon after, and made well documented critical commentaries on his popular writings. Historians also point out major references of Aristotelianism in early Islamic philosophy where in contemporary Islamic philosophers such as Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi and others translated and incorporated Aristotle’s work in their learning.

Politics

The word politics is derived from the Latin word ‘polis’ which in ancient Greece simply represented any city-state. Aristotle believed that ‘polis’ reflected the topmost strata of political association. Being a citizen of a polis was essential for a person to lead a life of good quality. Attaining the stature of such a citizen meant you needed to make necessary political connections to secure a permanent residence. In Aristotle’s view, this very pursues concluded the fact that ‘man is a political animal.’

Without a doubt, the various ventures of Aristotle’s life helped shape up his political acumen in ways his predecessors and contemporaries could not. His progressive adventures in the biology of natural flora and fauna are quite visible in the naturalism of his politics. He divides the polis and their respective constitutions into six categories, of which three he adjudges as good and remaining three as bad. In his view, the good ones are constitutional government, aristocracy, and kingship, and the bad ones include democracy, oligarchy and tyranny. He believes that the political valuation of an individual directly depends on their contributions in making the life of their polis better.

Poetics

Many of the records of Aristotle’s take on art and poetics, much like many other documents of his philosophical and literary works, were composed around 330 BCE. Most of these exist and survive to this day because they were duly noted down and preserved by his pupils during his lectures. Aristotle’s insight in poetics primarily revolve around drama.

Perhaps in one of those subsequent periods when Aristotelianism was gaining more ground around the world, his original take on drama was divided into two separate segments. The first part now focused on tragedy and epic, and the second part discussed the various details of comedy. According to Aristotle, a good tragedy should be able to involve the audience and make them feel katharsis (a sense of purification through pity and fear).

Conclusion

It has been more than 2300 years since the last day of Aristotelian era in ancient Greece, yet the research and work of Aristotle remains as influential in this time and age. From fields that significantly incline towards a structurally scientific orientation such as physics and biology, to the very minute details about the nature of knowledge, reality and existence – his multitudinous all-around contributions truly make him one of the most influential people in human history.

Original article: Ten Contributions by Aristotle