Rivals Work in Famed Groundhog's Shadow
|Justice Department May Investigate BCS For Antitrust Violations|
|WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in...|
January 28, 2010 12:10 PM PST
This is an interesting piece on the fragility of the relationship between Google and the open-source community. The question, though, goes far beyond Google.
With Oracle's acquisition of Sun being completed in this past week, there is quite a lot of uncertainty in the market and the community about the future of one of the most popular and widely-used open-source products - MySQL (which was owned by Sun, and for which Oracle - seeing it as a clear and direct competitor - has expressed significant disdain).
It also raises a question we've been asking for more than a decade: How important is an ecosystem to the success of a product, platform or company?
It was just about three years ago when you couldn't talk with anyone in the tech industry without hearing about their platform. 2007 and 2008 were the years of the platform. Maybe everyone was trying to mimic Google and Salesforce.com and others who were succeeding with platforms.
We don't hear that over-used word as much anymore, but the reality is that ecosystems are still critical to the success of most up-and-coming (and to a large extent, established) technologies and companies, and in open-source it's not formal agreements and established structure that makes the ecosystem, rather it's trust in the participants, both corporate and individual.
I'm not convinced that if Mozilla makes something else the default search tool for FireFox that it will kill Google (it will have an effect, but the degree maybe smaller than we'd like to hope).
But this points out one of the things that has is true about all businesses: without the partners and the ecosystem to make your offerings useful, you will not make it in the market.
Which leads to the question: did Google consider this - or if they did, did they get it right - when they made these decisions? And when you make seemingly-little decisions, are you considering the effect it will have on your ecosystem?
Water vapour caused one-third of global warming in 1990s, study reveals
Experts say their research does not undermine the scientific consensus on man-made climate change, but call for 'closer examination' of the way computer models consider water vapourDavid Adam, environment correspondent
The Guardian, Friday 29 January 2010
The research, led by one of the world's top climate scientists, suggests that almost one-third of the global warming recorded during the 1990s was due to an increase in water vapour in the high atmosphere, not human emissions of greenhouse gases. A subsequent decline in water vapour after 2000 could explain a recent slowdown in global temperature rise, the scientists add.
The experts say their research does not undermine the scientific consensus that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activity drive global warming, but they call for "closer examination" of the way climate computer models consider water vapour.
The new research comes at a difficult time for climate scientists, who have been forced to defend their predictions in the face of an embarrassing mistake in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which included false claims that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035. There has also been heavy criticism over the way climate scientists at the University of East Anglia apparently tried to prevent the release of data requested under Freedom of Information laws.
The new research, led by Susan Solomon, at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who co-chaired the 2007 IPCC report on the science of global warming, is published today in the journal Science, one of the most respected in the world.
Solomon said the new finding does not challenge the conclusion that human activity drives climate change. "Not to my mind it doesn't," she said. "It shows that we shouldn't over-interpret the results from a few years one way or another."
She would not comment on the mistake in the IPCC report - which was published in a separate section on likely impacts - or on calls for Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, to step down.
"What I will say, is that this [new study] shows there are climate scientists round the world who are trying very hard to understand and to explain to people openly and honestly what has happened over the last decade."
The new study analysed water vapour in the stratosphere, about 10 miles up, where it acts as a potent greenhouse gas and traps heat at the Earth's surface.
Satellite measurements were used to show that water vapour levels in the stratosphere have dropped about 10% since 2000. When the scientists fed this change into a climate model, they found it could have reduced, by about 25% over the last decade, the amount of warming expected to be caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
They conclude: "The decline in stratospheric water vapour after 2000 should be expected to have significantly contributed to the flattening of the global warming trend in the last decade."
Solomon said: "We call this the 10, 10, 10 problem. A 10% drop in water vapour, 10 miles up has had an effect on global warming over the last 10 years." Until now, scientists have struggled to explain the temperature slowdown in the years since 2000, a problem climate sceptics have exploited.
The scientists also looked at the earlier period, from 1980 to 2000, though cautioned this was based on observations of the atmosphere made by a single weather balloon. They found likely increases in water vapour in the stratosphere, enough to enhance the rate of global warming by about 30% above what would have been expected.
"These findings show that stratospheric water vapour represents an important driver of decadal global surface climate change," the scientists say. They say it should lead to a "closer examination of the representation of stratospheric water vapour changes in climate models".
Solomon said it was not clear why the water vapour levels had swung up and down, but suggested it could be down to changes in sea surface temperature, which drives convection currents and can move air around in the high atmosphere.
She said it was not clear if the water vapour decrease after 2000 reflects a natural shift, or if it was a consequence of a warming world. If the latter is true, then more warming could see greater decreases in water vapour, acting as a negative feedback to apply the brakes on future temperature rise.
Certainly a different, and possibly more populist, if disturbing, approach.
CAIRO — Osama bin Laden sought to draw a wider public into his fight against the United States in a new message Friday, dropping his usual talk of religion and holy war and focusing instead on an unexpected topic: global warming.
The al-Qaida leader blamed the United States and other industrialized nations for climate change and said the only way to prevent disaster was to break the American economy, calling on the world to boycott U.S. goods and stop using the dollar.
"The effects of global warming have touched every continent. Drought and deserts are spreading, while from the other floods and hurricanes unseen before the previous decades have now become frequent," bin Laden said in the audiotape, aired on the Arab TV network Al-Jazeera.
The terror leader noted Washington's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and painted the United States as in the thrall of major corporations that he said "are the true criminals against the global climate" and are to blame for the global economic crisis, driving "tens of millions into poverty and unemployment."
Bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders have mentioned global warming and struck an anti-globalization tone in previous tapes and videos. But the latest was the first message by bin Laden solely dedicated to the topic. It was also nearly entirely empty of the Islamic militant rhetoric that usually fills his declarations.
The change in rhetoric aims to give al-Qaida's message an appeal beyond hardcore Islamic militants, said Evan Kohlmann, of globalterroralert.com, a private, U.S.-based terrorism analysis group.
"It's a bridge issue," Kohlmann said. "They are looking to appeal to people who don't necessarily love al-Qaida but who are angry at the U.S. and the West, to galvanize them against the West" and make them more receptive to "alternative solutions like adopting violence for the cause."
"If you're looking to draw people who are disenchanted or disillusioned, what better issue to use than global warming," he said. While the focus on climate may be new, the tactic itself is not, he said: Al-Qaida used issues like the abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay to reach out to Muslims who might not be drawn to al-Qaida's ideology but are angry over the injustices.
Bin Laden "looks to see the issues that are the most cogent and more likely to get popular support," Kohlmann said.
The al-Qaida leader's call for an economic boycott helps in the appeal – providing a nonviolent way to participate in opposing the United States.
"People of the world, it's not right for the burden to be left on the mujahedeen (holy warriors) in an issue that causes harm to everyone," he said. "Boycott them to save yourselves and your possessions and your children from climate change and to live proud and free."
Al-Jazeera aired excerpts of the message and posted a transcript on its Web site. The tape's authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but the voice resembled that of bin Laden on messages known to be from him. The new message comes after a bin Laden tape released last week in which he endorsed a failed attempt to blow up an American airliner on Christmas Day.
In the new tape, bin Laden refers to the Dec. 18 climate conference in Copenhagen – indicated the message was made recently.
The message – whose length Al-Jazeera did not specify – makes only brief passing mentions of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine and instead hits on issues that could resonate at a time of widespread economic woes.
"The world is held hostage by major corporations, which are pushing it to the brink," he said. "World politics are not governed by reason but by the force and greed of oil thieves and warmongers and the cruel beasts of capitalism."
To stop global warming, he called for the "wheels of the American economy" to be brought to a halt. "This is possible ... if the peoples of the world stop consuming American goods."
"We must also stop dealings in the dollar and get rid of it as soon as possible," he said. "I know that this has great consequences and grave ramifications, but it is the only means to liberate humanity from slavery and dependence on America."
He also called for the "punishing and holding to account" of corporation chiefs, adding, "this should be easy for the American people to do, particularly those who were effected by Hurricane Katrina or those who lost their jobs, since these criminals live among them, particularly in Washington, New York and Texas."
The message represents a honing of al-Qaida's rhetoric. In 2007, bin Laden issued a tape in which he warned that human life is endangered by global warning, and he blamed democratic systems for seeking the interests of major corporations, said the U.S.-based Site Intelligence Group, which monitors Islamic militant message traffic.
But in Friday's message, the anti-democracy rhetoric is dropped.
"It's populism, pure and simple," Kohlmann said.
Not only a very interesting theory, but they used the word "cleaved"
Was the Moon created by a nuclear explosion on Earth?
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:51 PM on 29th January 2010
How the Moon was created and came to orbit the Earth has long puzzled scientists.
The most commonly held theory is that when the solar system was first formed, an object collided with Earth, knocking off a chunk of rock that fell into orbit around it.
But now two scientists have come up with a new explanation. They believe the Moon did not break away from the Earth because of an impact or an explosion in space, but because of a nuclear explosion on Earth itself.
Similarities: Lunar samples from moon landings have shown that the material of the moon is nearly identical to Earth's
Their idea is based on the fission theory which was first outlined in the 19th century.
The fission theory suggested that the Earth and Moon were both created out of the same blob of spinning molten rock - with a part becoming separated which later became the moon.
However, aside from an impact, scientists couldn't explain how the blob which became the moon spun off.
Rob de Meijer at University of the Western Cape and Wim van Westrenen at VU University in Amsterdam believe the Moon was blasted out of the Earth by a nuclear explosion on our planet.
In their research paper, 'An alternative hypothesis for the origin of the Moon', they explain that if the moon had been separated from the Earth by an impacting external force, the moon would be composed of whatever knocked into it and the Earth.
'Models of solar system evolution show that it is highly unlikely for the chemical composition of the Earth and impactor to be identical,' they state.
Yet recent lunar samples show that the moon is almost identical in chemical composition to the Earth - suggesting there was no impactor involved.
'A more likely possibility for the large degree of compositional similarity... is that the moon derives directly from terrestrial material,' the research paper states.
Full moon: Look to the skies tonight for a lunar spectacle
They believe that the energy that caused the moon to break into orbit around Earth was
'supplied by a supercritical georeactor in Earth’s core-mantle boundary producing sufficient heat to vaporize and eject part of the bulk silicate earth'.
Clay Dillow from Popular Science supports the theory. He states: 'According to their explanation, the centrifugal forces on Earth concentrated heavier elements like uranium and thorium near the surface around the equatorial plane.
'Enough of these elements in high enough concentrations could set off a runaway nuclear chain reaction, similar to the kind that cause nuke plant meltdowns.
'In this way, a natural-born nuclear georeactor was pushed to supercritical levels and: BOOM! The moon was cleaved from the Earth and rocketed into orbit by a massive nuclear explosion.
'It’s a tough theory to test, but we do know that nuclear georeactors existed, their legacy left behind in the uranium we mine from the Earth today. '
De Meijer and van Westrenan conclude that proving their theories will depend on future moon missions returning lunar samples from greater depths.