September 2008, Issue 109
to our bi-weekly
of Amsterdam Journal.
"We¹ve got a great agenda lined up for
this SuperMeet," said Daniel Berube, co-producer and head of the
Boston Final Cut Pro User Group. "Europe deserves the best
and we think we have delivered. We will have the latest on Final Cut
Studio delivered by Apple¹s Paul Saccone. We are bringing a little
of Hollywood too, with Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff (screenwriter of
The Day After Tomorrow) and Film Editor, Billy Fox (Hustle and Flow,
Black Snake Moan) who will discuss how Final Cut Studio helped
bring the recently released film, "Traitor" starring Don Cheadle
to life. We will also have Miguel de Olaso from Spain showing off Red
Camera footage and workflow, the new Infinity Camera from Grass Valley/Thomson,
the Sundance Audience Award winning documentary "Fields of Fuel,"
Production Premium from Adobe and Final Cut Pro tips and tricks.
It¹s going to be a great show."
"We¹ve produced these events as part of Macworld in San Francisco
and NAB in Las Vegas for the last seven years," says Michael Horton,
co-producer of the SuperMeet and head of the Los Angeles Final Cut
Pro User Group. "And for seven years we¹ve wanted to bring
the SuperMeet to Europe. Now we will."
First Annual IBC FCPUG SuperMeet, Sunday,
September 14, 2008.
Where: Westergasfabriek - Gashouder, Klönneplein
can predict European region of origin
DNA now also makes
it possible to predict from which region in Europe a person
originates. Researchers from Erasmus MC, in an international
collaborative study, have found the link between genetic diversity
and geographic origin of Europeans. The study, partly financed
by the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), provides an important
new basis for forensic applications. The scientific journal
Current Biology published the research results on 7 August.
the Department of Forensic Molecular Biology of the Erasmus
MC, in an international collaborative study under the leadership
of Prof. Dr. Manfred Kayser, have discovered that autosomal
(non-sex-specific) DNA characteristics can predict from which
region in Europe a man or woman originates.
was only possible to distinguish people according to their
continental origin on the basis of DNA markers and sometimes
additionally, only for men, the region within continents,
using DNA characteristics found on the Y-chromosome. Disadvantage
of this Y-chromosome test is that it can only be carried out
on men and that any possible mixing of ancestors from different
continents or regions is not traceable. The latter can result
in misleading conclusions on the region of origin in forensic
Prof. Dr. Manfred Kayser: "The new method is at present
based on a large number of autosomal DNA markers. These can
only be determined from relatively large amounts of undamaged
DNA material, for example, in forensic cases in which an unknown
person is to be identified on the basis of DNA from a body
or parts of a body. The next step is to determine the minimum
number of autosomal DNA markers necessary to predict the European
region of origin. This should in the future allow making a
reliable decision also when only DNA of limited quantity and
quality is available."
Prof. Dr. Ate
Kloosterman , senior forensic researcher at the NFI says:
"The results of this study offer interesting opportunities
for obtaining in the future more information from traces of
biological material that have, for example, been obtained
from a criminal offender. This is not only of importance in
recent cases but also in 'cold cases' where the information
on geographic origin can be significant. Prior to this, the
method will have to be made suitable for forensic practice
as often little DNA or sometimes partially broken DNA is available.
Genetically speaking, Finns and Italians are the most atypical
Europeans. There is a large degree of overlap between
other European ethnicities, but not up to the point where
they would be indistinguishable from each other. Which means
that forensic scientists now can use DNA to predict the region
of origin of otherwise unknown persons (provided they are
of European heritage)
The discovery that autosomal (i.e. non-gender-related)
aspects of DNA may be used to predict regional European provenance
of unkown individuals was made by prof. dr. Manfred Kaysers
team of forensic molecular biologists. In a press release,
the Erasmus UMC stated that this might potentially be helpful
in resolving so-called cold cases.
The genetic map
of Europe was compiled by comparing DNA samples from 23
populations in Europe (picture B). Those populations were
then placed on the genetic map according to their
similarity, with the vertical axis denoting differences from
south to north, and the horizontal one from west to east.
The larger the area assigned to a population, the larger the
genetic variation within that population.
to the actual map, the populations kinda sorta maintain
their relative position to each other. Two observations spring
to mind immediately: the fact that most populations overlap
so intimately with their neighbours. And that Finland
doesnt. Some other observations:
extent of genetic variation is greater north to south
than east to west. This may be a result of the way Europe
was colonized by modern humans, i.e. from the south, in three
successive waves of migration (45,000 years ago, where before
there had only been Neanderthals; 17,000 years ago, after
the last Ice Age; and 10,000 years ago, with the advent of
farming techniques from the Middle East).
isolation of Finnish genetics can be explained by the
fact that they were at one time a very small population, preserving
its genetic idiosyncrasies as it expanded.
relative isolation of Italian genetics is probably due to
the Alps, providing a geographic barrier to the free
and unhindered flow of population to and from Italy
Although Hannibal, the Celtic and Germanic influence in Italys
north and of course the expansion of the Roman Empire would
seem to contradict this.
genetic variation is quite large (hence the big pink blob),
and overlaps with the Greek, Romanian, Hungarian, Czech and
even the Italian ones.
is surprisingly little overlap between the northern and
southern German populations, each of which has more in
common with their other neighbours (Danish/Dutch/Swedish in
the northern case, Austrian/Swiss/French in the other one).
Polish population is quite eccentric as well, only
significantly overlapping with the Czech one (and only minimally
with the northern German one).
Swiss population is entirely subsumed by the French
one, similarly, the Irish population almost doesnt show
any characteristics that would distinguish it from the British
and Irish insularity probably explains why so much of their
genetic area is not shared with their closest European cousins,
i.c. the Norwegian / Danish / Dutch cluster.
First Annual IBC FCPUG SuperMeet
Organised by Final Cut Pro User Group Los Angeles
Sunday, September 14, 2008
After Party: 22:00-01:00
event is open to the public. Seating is first come first serve.
Event Management & Catering by SONARIS:
Mediterranean food, beer, wine, champagne, non-alcoholic and tropical
event is supported by
Apple, Adobe, Blackmagicdesign, Thomson, the
many more ..
of Amsterdam blog
of Amsterdam blog
correspondents day 2008: Weak Signals in Foresight
June 9 :
in the 21st Century: Vision 2030
about the Future
Finding ways to assist
and care for the growing elderly population in many developed countries
is a growing problem. One challenge is to work out how to improve
the strength and utility of ageing limbs.
Yoshiyuki Sankai at
the University of Tsukuba near Tokyo, has developed an exoskeleton
for a single arm that can do just that.
The device consists
of a tabard worn over the shoulders with a motorised exoskeleton
for one arm attached. The exoskeleton senses the angle, torque and
nerve impulses in the arm and then assists the user to move his
or her shoulder and elbow joints accordingly.
The Snow Room is a ten-degrees-below-zero
"spa" that will be making its way to luxury hotels in
Antalya, Turkey. The room will be offered to those hotel guests
who have had enough of the blazing sun and unbearable heat, and
are looking for a way to cool down - at minus ten degrees the Snow
Room will be just the place.
If you're looking for an adventurous place
in Amsterdam, then the Westergasfabriek Culture Park is worth a
visit. Art and culture form the basis of this down-to-earth industrial
complex close to the centre of Amsterdam. The new energy is tangible
for everyone who visits for work, play, exercise, entertainment
Just about anything
goes in these historic buildings; from a photo shoot to major
audience events, from weddings to exclusive product presentations.
The venues available for a temporary hire are: the magnificent
circular Gasometer (2500 m2), the Transformer House with its sacred
mood (700 m2), the impressive Purification Hall (1200 m2), the
intimate Machine Building with chapel (340 m2) and the small Eastern
Meter House (60 m2), furnished as a meeting room. The outdoor
spaces such as the quayside, the larger meadow or the gardens
of the park can also be used for events.
is freely accessible all day. From early in the morning, there's
fresh bread and fine coffee at the Baker's Shop (open every day)
and the Espresso Factory (open tue - sun). There are various galleries
and shops, Pacific Parc cafe/restaurant/dancing (open everyday)
and the food-design studio Proef (open: fri-sun). The Ketelhuis
Cinema (open everyday) shows the latest films and in the Flex
Bar (open thu - sun) you can dance late in the night. Opening
soon: The WestergasTerras for drinks, dinner, parties & salsa
near the wetlands. The modern park surrounding the site offers
plenty of space, peace and nature; for a picknick, to throw a
frisby or a pleasant walk. You are most welcome.
/ Pazzanistraat 41 / 1041 DB Amsterdam /
T: + 31 (0) 20 5860710 / F: + 31 (0) 20 6813062 /
'autonomous' helicopters teach themselves to fly
scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system that
enables robotic helicopters to teach themselves to fly difficult
stunts by watching other helicopters perform the same maneuvers.
The result is an
autonomous helicopter than can perform a complete airshow of complex
tricks on its own.
The stunts are "by
far the most difficult aerobatic maneuvers flown by any computer
controlled helicopter," said Andrew Ng, the professor directing
the research of graduate students Pieter Abbeel, Adam Coates,
Timothy Hunter and Morgan Quigley.
The dazzling airshow
is an important demonstration of "apprenticeship learning,"
in which robots learn by observing an expert, rather than by having
software engineers peck away at their keyboards in an attempt
to write instructions from scratch.
intelligence system learned how to fly by "watching"
the four-foot-long helicopters flown by expert radio control pilot
Garett Oku. "Garett can pick up any helicopter, even ones
he's never seen, and go fly amazing aerobatics. So the question
for us is always, why can't computers do things like this?"
Computers can, it
turns out. On a recent morning in an empty field at the edge of
campus, Abbeel and Coates sent up one of their helicopters to
demonstrate autonomous flight. The aircraft, brightly painted
Stanford red, is an off-the-shelf radio control helicopter, with
instrumentation added by the researchers.
For five minutes,
the chopper, on its own, ran through a dizzying series of stunts
beyond the capabilities of a full-scale piloted helicopter and
other autonomous remote control helicopters. The artificial-intelligence
helicopter performed a smorgasbord of difficult maneuvers: traveling
flips, rolls, loops with pirouettes, stall-turns with pirouettes,
a knife-edge, an Immelmann, a slapper, an inverted tail slide
and a hurricane, described as a "fast backward funnel."
de résistance may have been the "tic toc," in
which the helicopter, while pointed straight up, hovers with a
side-to-side motion as if it were the pendulum of an upside down
"I think the
range of maneuvers they can do is by far the largest" in
the autonomous helicopter field, said Eric Feron, a Georgia Tech
aeronautics and astronautics professor who worked on autonomous
helicopters while at MIT. "But what's more impressive is
the technology that underlies this work. In a way, the machine
teaches itself how to do this by watching an expert pilot fly.
This is amazing."
for robotic helicopters is a daunting task, in part because the
craft itself, unlike an airplane, is inherently unstable. "The
helicopter doesn't want to fly. It always wants to just tip over
and crash," said Oku, the pilot.
To scientists, a
helicopter in flight is an "unstable system" that comes
unglued without constant input. Abbeel compares flying a helicopter
to balancing a long pole in the palm of your hand: "If you
don't provide feedback, it will crash."
Early on in their
research, Abbeel and Coates attempted to write computer code that
would specify the commands for the desired trajectory of a helicopter
flying a specific maneuver. While this hand-coded approach succeeded
with novice-level flips and rolls, it flopped with the complex
It might seem that
an autonomous helicopter could fly stunts by simply replaying
the exact finger movements of an expert pilot using the joy sticks
on the helicopter's remote controller. That approach, however,
is doomed to failure because of uncontrollable variables such
as gusting winds.
When the Stanford
researchers decided their autonomous helicopter should be capable
of flying airshow stunts, they realized that even defining their
goal was difficult. What's the formal specification for "flying
well?" The answer, it turned out, was that "flying well"
is whatever an expert radio control pilot does at an airshow.
So the researchers
had Oku and other pilots fly entire airshow routines while every
movement of the helicopter was recorded. As Oku repeated a maneuver
several times, the trajectory of the helicopter inevitably varied
slightly with each flight. But the learning algorithms created
by Ng's team were able to discern the ideal trajectory the pilot
was seeking. Thus the autonomous helicopter learned to fly the
routine better - and more consistently - than Oku himself.
During a flight,
some of the necessary instrumentation is mounted on the helicopter,
some on the ground. Together, they continuously monitor the position,
direction, orientation, velocity, acceleration and spin of the
helicopter in several dimensions. A ground-based computer crunches
the data, makes quick calculations and beams new flight directions
to the helicopter via radio 20 times per second.
The helicopter carries
accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers, the latter of which
use the Earth's magnetic field to figure out which way the helicopter
is pointed. The exact location of the craft is tracked either
by a GPS receiver on the helicopter or by cameras on the ground.
(With a larger helicopter, the entire navigation package could
There is interest
in using autonomous helicopters to search for land mines in war-torn
areas or to map out the hot spots of California wildfires in real
time, allowing firefighters to quickly move toward or away from
them. Firefighters now must often act on information that is several
hours old, Abbeel said.
"In order for
us to trust helicopters in these sort of mission-critical applications,
it's important that we have very robust, very reliable helicopter
controllers that can fly maybe as well as the best human pilots
in the world can," Ng said. Stanford's autonomous helicopters
have taken a large step in that direction, he said.
Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business
by Jeff Howe
The amount of knowledge and talent dispersed
among the human race has always outstripped our capacity to harness
it. Crowdsourcing corrects that -but in doing so, it also
unleashes the forces of creative destruction. - From Crowdsourcing
First identified by
journalist Jeff Howe in a June 2006 Wired article, crowdsourcing
describes the process by which the power of the many can be leveraged
to accomplish feats that were once the province of the specialized
few. Howe reveals that the crowd is more than wise - its talented,
creative, and stunningly productive. Crowdsourcing activates the
transformative power of todays technology, liberating the
latent potential within us all. Its a perfect meritocracy,
where age, gender, race, education, and job history no longer matter;
the quality of work is all that counts; and every field is open
to people of every imaginable background. If you can perform the
service, design the product, or solve the problem, youve got
But crowdsourcing has
also triggered a dramatic shift in the way work is organized, talent
is employed, research is conducted, and products are made and marketed.
As the crowd comes to supplant traditional forms of labor, pain
and disruption are inevitable.
Jeff Howe delves into
both the positive and negative consequences of this intriguing phenomenon.
Through extensive reporting from the front lines of this revolution,
he employs a brilliant array of stories to look at the economic,
cultural, business, and political implications of crowdsourcing.
How were a bunch of part-time dabblers in finance able to help an
investment company consistently beat the market? Why does Procter
& Gamble repeatedly call on enthusiastic amateurs to solve scientific
and technical challenges? How can companies as diverse as iStockphoto
and Threadless employ just a handful of people, yet generate millions
of dollars in revenue every year? The answers lie within these pages.
The blueprint for crowdsourcing
originated from a handful of computer programmers who showed that
a community of like-minded peers could create better products than
a corporate behemoth like Microsoft. Jeff Howe tracks the amazing
migration of this new model of production, showing the potential
of the Internet to create human networks that can divvy up and make
quick work of otherwise overwhelming tasks. One of the most intriguing
ideas of Crowdsourcing is that the knowledge to solve intractable
problems - a cure for cancer, for instance - may already exist within
the warp and weave of this infinite and, as yet, largely untapped
resource. But first, Howe proposes, we need to banish preconceived
notions of how such problems are solved.
The very concept of
crowdsourcing stands at odds with centuries of practice. Yet, for
the digital natives soon to enter the workforce, the technologies
and principles behind crowdsourcing are perfectly intuitive. This
generation collaborates, shares, remixes, and creates with a fluency
and ease the rest of us can hardly understand. Crowdsourcing, just
now starting to emerge, will in a short time simply be the way things
correspondents' day 2008: Weak Signals in Foresight
This year's European Foresight Monitoring Network (EFMN)
correspondents' day takes place in Brussels on the 3rd
- 4th November. The network comprises European policy professionals,
foresight experts and practitioners as well as analysts of
science, technology and innovation related issues. . The aim
of the EFMN correspondent's day is to infuse the so far largely
virtual EFMN community with real life. The event itself strikes
a good balance between presentations of interesting foresight
content and the opportunity to network with like minded professionals.
Attendance is free of charge.
This year's event
theme is weak signals. This topic receives increasing
attention from policy-makers and firms to yield results in
practice. A mix of presentations is planned covering the methodological
challenges of identifying weak signals as well as presentations
of case studies from weak signal studies done for firms and
The event takes
place at the Brussels University Foundation starting at 12:00
on the 3rd and ending the following day the 4th November at
A detailed programme
will be sent to all participants after registration has closed.
· Keynote speaker: Dr Elina Hiltunen on weak signals
research (Futures Research Finland / Nokia)
· Anssi Tervonen on weak signals at timber firm M-real
· Weak signals identification in policy.
· Key Messages from the EFMN Journal Special published
· Opinion poll and discussion on weak signals
· Results of EFMN mapping and Issue analysis 2008
· Presentation of recent EFMN briefs production and
by Pierre Valette; Head of Unit DG-RTD/L.2: Commission Roadmap
· Opening with lunch buffet
· Informal dinner arranged at the conference location
· Option to present own work and ideas in Pecha Kucha
style at conference
For details see the EFMN
Reguliersdwarsstraat 35, 1017BK Amsterdam
tel. +31 (0)20 626 9327, fax +31 (0)20 627 7281
Open daily from 17.30 to 23.00
star Chinese restaurant in Europe. Top Chinese kitchen and quality
service. The Peking duck is amazing. The restaurant owner is a
member of the Order of Oranje." - Six Star Society
one of the area's top Chinese restaurants, this small venue entertains
a host of adherents. Although it boasts a somewhat formal atmosphere,
it isn't in the least bit off-putting. The cuisine is of good
quality too, judiciously spiced and rife with fresh ingredients.
Peking duck is excellent, and an array of chicken, beef, pork,
and seafood dishes also please local palates. Set menus take care
of those who desire the full dining experience, and the value
is generally quite satisfying." - 10Best Restaurant Reviews
"Not far from
Rembrandtplein, this restaurant (honored several times over by
restaurant guides) prepares authentic Chinese food, most notably
Szechuan specialties as its name indicates. Inside, the Chinese
decor is sombre, drawing attention to a mysteriously blue-lit
aquarium of exotic fish." - Thalys
Portrait: James Lovelock
Dr James Ephraim
Lovelock, CH, CBE, FRS (born 26 July 1919) is an independent
scientist, author, researcher, environmentalist, and futurist
who lives in Cornwall, in the south west of England. He is known
for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, in which he postulates that
the Earth functions as a kind of superorganism.
A lifelong inventor, Lovelock has created and developed many scientific
instruments, some of which have been adopted by NASA in its programme
of planetary exploration. It was while working for NASA that Lovelock
developed the Gaia Hypothesis, for which he is most widely known.
In early 1961, Lovelock
was engaged by NASA to develop sensitive instruments for the analysis
of extraterrestrial atmospheres and planetary surfaces. The Viking
program that visited Mars in the late-1970s was motivated in part
to determining whether Mars supported life, and many of the sensors
and experiments that were ultimately deployed aimed to resolve
this issue. During work towards this program, Lovelock became
interested in the composition of the Martian atmosphere, reasoning
that many life forms on Mars would be obliged to make use of it
(and, thus, alter it). However, the atmosphere was found to be
in a stable condition close to its chemical equilibrium, with
very little oxygen, methane, or hydrogen, but with an overwhelming
abundance of carbon dioxide. To Lovelock, the stark contrast between
the Martian atmosphere and chemically-dynamic mixture of that
of our Earth's biosphere was strongly indicative of the absence
of life on the planet. However, when they were finally launched
to Mars, the Viking probes still searched (unsuccessfully) for
extant life there.
the electron capture detector, which ultimately assisted in discoveries
about the persistence of CFCs and their role in stratospheric
ozone depletion. After studying the operation of the Earth's sulfur
cycle, Lovelock and his colleagues developed the CLAW hypothesis
as a possible example of biological control of the Earth's climate.
Lovelock was elected
a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974. He served as the president
of the Marine Biological Association (MBA) from 1986 to 1990,
and has been a Honourary Visiting Fellow of Green College, Oxford
since 1994. He has been awarded a number of prestigious prizes
including the Tswett Medal (1975), an ACS chromatography award
(1980), the WMO Norbert Gerbier Prize (1988), the Dr A.H. Heineken
Prize for the Environment (1990) and the RGS Discovery Lifetime
award (2001). He became a CBE in 1990, and a Companion of Honour
An independent scientist,
inventor, and author, Lovelock works out of a barn-turned-laboratory
After the development of his electron capture detector in the
late 1960s, Lovelock was the first to detect the widespread presence
of CFCs in the atmosphere. He found a concentration of 60 parts
per trillion of CFC-11 over Ireland and, in a partially self-funded
research expedition in 1972, went on to measure the concentration
of CFC-11 from the northern hemisphere to the Antarctic aboard
the research vessel RV Shackleton. He found the gas in each of
the 50 air samples that he collected but, not knowing of the risk
that chlorine posed to the ozone layer, incorrectly concluded
that the level of CFCs constituted "no conceivable hazard".
However, the experiment
did provide the first useful data on the ubiquitous presence of
CFCs in the atmosphere. The damage caused to the ozone layer by
the photolysis of CFCs was later discovered by Frank Rowland and
Mario Molina. After hearing a lecture on the subject of Lovelock's
results, they embarked on research that resulted in the first
published paper that suggested a link between stratospheric CFCs
and ozone depletion in 1974, and later shared the 1995 Nobel Prize
in Chemistry for their work.
First formulated by Lovelock during the 1960s as a result of work
for NASA concerned with detecting life on Mars, the Gaia hypothesis
proposes that living and non-living parts of the earth form a
complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single
organism. Named after the Greek goddess Gaia, the hypothesis postulates
that the biosphere has a regulatory effect on the Earth's environment
that acts to sustain life.
While the Gaia Hypothesis
was readily accepted by many in the environmentalist community,
it has not been fully accepted within the scientific community.
Among its more famous critics are the evolutionary biologists
Richard Dawkins and Ford Doolittle. These (and other) critics
have questioned how natural selection operating on individual
organisms can lead to the evolution of planetary-scale homeostasis
Lovelock has responded
to these criticisms with models such as Daisyworld, that illustrate
how individual-level effects can translate to planetary homeostasis.
However, as Earth Systems Science is still in its infancy, it
is not yet clear how well Daisyworld applies to the full complexity
of the Earth's biosphere and climate. For instance, climatologists
believe that the models used by Lovelock were overly-sensitive
Lovelock has become concerned about the threat of global warming
from the greenhouse effect. In 2004 he caused a media sensation
when he broke with many fellow environmentalists by pronouncing
that "only nuclear power can now halt global warming".
In his view, nuclear energy is the only realistic alternative
to fossil fuels that has the capacity to both fulfill the large
scale energy needs of mankind while also reducing greenhouse emissions.
He is an open member of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy.
In 2005, against
the backdrop of renewed UK government interest in nuclear power,
Lovelock again publicly announced his support for nuclear energy,
stating, "I am a Green, and I entreat my friends in the movement
to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy". Although
these interventions in the public debate on nuclear power are
recent, his views on it are longstanding. In his 1988 book The
Ages of Gaia he states:
"I have never
regarded nuclear radiation or nuclear power as anything other
than a normal and inevitable part of the environment. Our prokaryotic
forebears evolved on a planet-sized lump of fallout from a star-sized
nuclear explosion, a supernova that synthesised the elements that
go to make our planet and ourselves."
In The Revenge of
Gaia (2006), where he puts forward the concept of sustainable
retreat, Lovelock writes:
interviewer once asked me, 'But what about nuclear waste? Will
it not poison the whole biosphere and persist for millions of
years? ' I knew this to be a nightmare fantasy wholly without
substance in the real world... One of the striking things about
places heavily contaminated by radioactive nuclides is the richness
of their wildlife. This is true of the land around Chernobyl,
the bomb test sites of the Pacific, and areas near the United
States' Savannah River nuclear weapons plant of the Second World
War. Wild plants and animals do not perceive radiation as dangerous,
and any slight reduction it may cause in their lifespans is far
less a hazard than is the presence of people and their pets...
I find it sad, but all too human, that there are vast bureaucracies
concerned about nuclear waste, huge organisations devoted to decommissioning
power stations, but nothing comparable to deal with that truly
malign waste, carbon dioxide."
On 30 May 2006, Lovelock
told the Australian Lateline television program: "Modern
nuclear power stations are useless for making bombs". This
view may be based on fact that plutonium-239 from the nuclear
reactor of a power plant is contaminated with a significant amount
of plutonium-240, complicating its use in nuclear weapons. It
is easier to enrich uranium than to separate 240Pu from 239Pu
to produce weapons-grade material, although even reactor-grade
plutonium can in fact be used in weapons eg. dirty bombs. Friends
of the Earth Australia responded: "Lovelock's claim that
nuclear power plants cannot be used for weapons production is
false, irresponsible and dangerous. A typical nuclear power reactor
produces about 300 kilograms of plutonium each year, enough for
30 nuclear weapons"
Climate and mass human mortality
Writing in the British newspaper The Independent in January 2006,
Lovelock argues that, as a result of global warming, "billions
of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive
will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable"
by the end of the 21st century. He has been quoted in The Guardian
that 80% of humans will perish by 2100 AD, and this climate change
will last 100,000 years.
He further predicts,
the average temperature in temperate regions will increase by
as much as 8°C and by up to 5°C in the tropics, leaving
much of the world's land uninhabitable and unsuitable for farming,
with northerly migrations and new cities created in the Arctic.
He predicts much of Europe will become uninhabitable having turned
to desert and Britain will become Europe's "life-raft"
due to Britain's stable temperature from being surrounded by the
ocean. He suggests that "we have to keep in mind the awesome
pace of change and realise how little time is left to act, and
then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources
they have to sustain civilisation for as long as they can".
He partly retreated
from this position in a September 2007 address to the World Nuclear
Association's Annual Symposium, suggesting that climate change
would stabilise and prove survivable, and that the Earth itself
is in "no danger" because it would stabilise in a new
state. Life, however, might be forced to migrate en masse to remain
in habitable climes.
Ocean Pipes proposal
In September 2007, Lovelock and Chris Rapley proposed the construction
of ocean pipes "100 to 200 metres long, 10 metres in diameter
and with a one-way flap valve at the lower end for pumping by
wave movement" to pump water up from below the thermocline
to "fertilize algae in the surface waters and encourage them
to bloom". The intention of this scheme is to accelerate
the transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean
by increasing primary production and enhancing the export of organic
carbon (as marine snow) to the deep ocean. The idea is theoretical,
and the authors note that it "may fail, perhaps on engineering
or economic grounds", and that "the impact on ocean
acidification will need to be taken into account".
The proposal attracted
widespread media attention], although also criticism. Commenting
on the proposal, Corinne Le Quéré, a University
of East Anglia researcher, said "It doesnt make sense.
There is absolutely no evidence that geoengineering options work
or even go in the right direction. Im astonished that they
published this. Before any geoengineering is put to work a massive
amount of research is needed research which will take 20
to 30 years". Other researchers have claimed that "this
scheme would bring water with high natural pCO2
levels (associated with the nutrients) back to the surface, potentially
causing exhalation of CO2".
A similar scheme
to that proposed by Lovelock and Rapley is already being developed
by a commercial company.
next Season Program will be announced soon!
17:00 - 01:o0
First Annual IBC FCPUG SuperMeet
of Amsterdam Open Business Club
of Amsterdam Open Business Club
Are you interested in networking, sharing visions,
ideas about your future, the future of your industry, society, discussing
issues, which are relevant for yourself as well as for the 'global'
community? The future starts now - join our online
comments, ideas, articles are welcome!
Please write to Felix Bopp, Editor-in-Chief:
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