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Friday, 30 November 2018

Ancient human history is being rewritten

Following several recent articles, including this one below, I think feel and believe that ancient human history is - finally - being rewritten.

The Neanderthal are finally being reevaluated to what they have always been: our human predecessors rather than "tall, dumb and non-human". Indeed, it's hard to argue otherwise given the significant inter-breeding between early humans and the Neanderthal (eg, History-2018, Phys-2018, NYPost-2018, Temple University study).

A November 2018 study published in Nature claims the (surprising) find of Levallois advanced stone-tool manufacturing technology in southwest China, dating to 170,000–80,000 years ago (eg, Haaretz, Nature, New Scientist). 

The dating of Levallois stone-tool technology in China supports the - thus far highly controversial - 1981 findings of geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre at the Hueyatlaco archaeological site in Central Mexico. These findings already suggested "human habitation dated to ca. 250,000 years before the present" (Wiki).

There are many more scientific anomalies on which I have written:
- my 2016 blogs on Ancient advanced artefacts and the Piri Reis map;
- my 2016 blogs on the "not invented here" syndrome: (1) Pyramids(2) Sphinx, (3) languages;
- my 2016 blog on underwater discoveries, related to the Great Flood of 11000 BC - 4000 BC;
- my 2016 blogs on History, Legends and Myths: part 1, part 2;
- my 2017 blog: Civilizations before 4,000 BC and Black Death
- my 2018 blogs on the decline in Common Knowledge: part 1, part 2, part 3;
- my 2018 blog on discovering a 4,000 year old Sumerian port in the Iraqi desert;
- my 2016-2018 blogs on the origins of the ancient Sumerian civilization (all related blogs).

The article below suggests that the scientific notion about an absence of advanced societies before 5,000 BC must be wrong. The idea that primitive societies of hunter-gatherers would be able to draw "European Palaeolithic [cave] art [which depicts] extremely ancient knowledge of precession of the equinoxes" would be preposterous.

Please see my blogs Wobbling Earth (2016) and Wobbling Earth (2): climate shift vs climate change (2017), for more information on this astronomical axial precession of planet Earth.

Remarkably, climate change - once again - appears to be the culprit:
- the post-glacial sea level rise "by more than 125 metres (410ft) [] since the last glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago" (Wiki);
- the Great Flood of ca. 11,000 BC to 4,000 BC;
- the transformation of the Green Sahara (ca. 7500 BC-3500 BC) into the Sahara desert;
- climate change as one of the Great Filters in civilizations (my 2018 blog).


Science Daily title: Prehistoric cave art suggests ancient use of complex astronomy

Science Daily subtitle: Some of the world's oldest cave paintings have revealed how ancient people had relatively advanced knowledge of astronomy.

"The artworks, at sites across Europe, are not simply depictions of wild animals, as was previously thought. Instead, the animal symbols represent star constellations in the night sky, and are used to represent dates and mark events such as comet strikes, analysis suggests.

They reveal that, perhaps as far back as 40,000 years ago, humans kept track of time using knowledge of how the position of the stars slowly changes over thousands of years.

The findings suggest that ancient people understood an effect caused by the gradual shift of Earth's rotational axis. Discovery of this phenomenon, called precession of the equinoxes, was previously credited to the ancient Greeks.

Around the time that Neanderthals became extinct, and perhaps before humankind settled in Western Europe, people could define dates to within 250 years, the study shows.

The findings indicate that the astronomical insights of ancient people were far greater than previously believed. Their knowledge may have aided navigation of the open seas, with implications for our understanding of prehistoric human migration.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Kent studied details of Palaeolithic and Neolithic art featuring animal symbols at sites in Turkey, Spain, France and Germany.

They found all the sites used the same method of date-keeping based on sophisticated astronomy, even though the art was separated in time by tens of thousands of years.

Researchers clarified earlier findings from a study of stone carvings at one of these sites -- Gobekli Tepe in modern-day Turkey -- which is interpreted as a memorial to a devastating comet strike around 11,000 BC. This strike was thought to have initiated a mini ice-age known as the Younger Dryas period.

They also decoded what is probably the best known ancient artwork -- the Lascaux Shaft Scene in France. The work, which features a dying man and several animals, may commemorate another comet strike around 15,200 BC, researchers suggest.

The team confirmed their findings by comparing the age of many examples of cave art -- known from chemically dating the paints used -- with the positions of stars in ancient times as predicted by sophisticated software.

The world's oldest sculpture, the Lion-Man of Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave, from 38,000 BC, was also found to conform to this ancient time-keeping system.

This study was published in Athens Journal of History.

Dr Martin Sweatman, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Engineering, who led the study, said: "Early cave art shows that people had advanced knowledge of the night sky within the last ice age. Intellectually, they were hardly any different to us today.

"These findings support a theory of multiple comet impacts over the course of human development, and will probably revolutionise how prehistoric populations are seen." "

Original study on arXiv:

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Why are beliefs stronger than intuition, imagination and even knowledge?

On 31 March 2016, I wrote my blog Why are opinions stronger than facts? A few days ago, I revisited that question in my blog Facts are undisputed. Opinions are not. While writing that blog, a new question entered my mind: Why are beliefs stronger than the three other sources of human intelligence, being intuition, imagination and knowledge?

In order to assist me in my thinking, I prepared a new diagram (see below). For the first time, I realised that the 4 types of human intelligence appear to overlap the 4 stages of human Life. This observation appears to make perfect sense - albeit with the knowledge of hindsight.

The Needs stage of Life can still be witnessed in various parts of our world (eg, Africa). The Wants stage is characterized by persistent consumerism (eg, my 2016 blog). I suppose that the U.S. was the first region that entered the Beliefs stage of Life.

The fourth stage of Awakening seems limited to individuals; see my March blog and my July blog. Human history does not appear to show any society that reached the (final and lasting) stage of Awakening. Most likely, the Beliefs stage tears societies apart (eg, division, military conflict) which may explain the notion of the Rise and Fall of Civilizations (my blogs #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, "#7").

At the level of societies, beliefs thus seem strongest of all. There is theoretical succession (ie, Awakening) but this 4th stage only appears achievable for individuals. The diagram below represents another breakthrough for me.

The future Power dimension of the 7 Belief systems appears (much) stronger than its Knowledge dimension (my July blog). This (anticipated) development is (very) unlikely to bring the final Awakening stage. It's (much) more likely that this development may announce the demise of the Beliefs stage, which should - logically - cause a return to the Needs stage (my March blog).

Breakthru (1989) by Queen

If I could only reach you
If I could make you smile
If I could only reach you
That would really be a breakthru

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Domino stones

Late October, I had a job interview that went from good, to bad to ugly. The 1st (closed) question by the 2nd interview team was: are you willing to give up your writing? My subconscious immediately realised this interview was doomed. My conscious should have replied: are you willing to give up your gardening, hockey, soccer or tennis? Instead, I replied by saying: "No".

A few days later, I had car trouble. The official car dealership tried to force me into buying a new and expensive aluminium radiator for an 11 year old Mercedes. I refused, sold my car and discovered SnappCar, a peer-to-peer ridesharing platform (my November blog). My SnappCar experience makes it unlikely that I’ll buy another car but I'm still tempted by car commercials.

Since several days, I have come to realise that both events were domino stones in a much bigger process. For about 2-3 years, I have been thinking about selling my house and relocating, either abroad or within my country. I was unable to come to any decision. Selling my house seemed easy enough but where to buy next in an overheated real estate market?

Things went fast after both events. Within a week, I decided to sell my house, without having any alternative. Only a few days later, I took an option on an apartment despite my earlier decision not to consider an apartment. Suddenly I realised that I had ignored that apartment for the wrong reasons. Moreover, I didn't want considering an apartment - again - for the wrong reasons.

My (optional) apartment meets my prime 3 real estate criteria: location, location, and location. Nearly everything else is subject to modification (ie, change). My motto is that it's better to have the ugliest house in the best neighbourhood than the best house in the ugliest neighbourhood. 

The two negative events (job, car) turned into two positive decisions (selling, buying). The main reason was that I questioned myself: what are you even waiting for?? I wasn't able to answer my own question anymore. Before, I kept open as many options as possible, and for as long as possible. However, the result was procrastination (my 2015 blog).

Ever since my big decisions on selling and buying, a peaceful easy feeling has returned into my life. Obviously, both major decisions will trigger a cascade of minor practical decisions. To some extent, these practicalities are already causing some stress (eg, what to give/throw away?)

Perhaps the most important of all is that I have faith in both decisions. Hence, I do not feel doubt or fear, just hope and love (for the new location). Faith triggers believing that you do the right thing. Beliefs empower decisions. This is another example of my concept of Faith-Beliefs-Willpower (my related blogs). I'm finally ready to move on.

Peaceful Easy Feeling (1972) by the Eagles

I got a peaceful easy feelin'
And I know you won't let me down
Cause I'm already standin'
On the ground

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Facts are undisputed. Opinions are not.

Several days ago, I had a discussion with another blogger. He claimed that his facts were facts while I said that his alleged facts are/were (extreme) political opinions. At one point, I replied that “facts are undisputed while opinions are not”. I haven’t heard from him since.

My remark made me wonder about which facts are undisputed. I’ve come to the conclusion that (very) many (alleged) facts are often opinions, disguised by a (semi) scientific coating.

Only hard sciences appear to provide universally undisputed facts. Examples of hard sciences are chemistry (eg, formulas), mathematics (eg, a^2 + b^2 = c^2) and physics (eg, E=mc^2).

The field of soft sciences is close to Albert Einstein's (alleged!) definition of insanity: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". This type of "insanity" is the case in many scientific studies:
"Science is facing a "reproducibility crisis" where more than two-thirds of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist's experiments, research suggests." (BBC-2017). Note: bold markings by LO.

The solution to the above is cherry-picking: "the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position". In other words: you pick your own convenient facts and ignore all other controversial facts.

A main reason for the difference between facts and opinions is the Time and Space dimension (Wiki). Depending on your era and location, facts become opinions, while opinions become facts. Historic example: the scientific conflict about heliocentrism between the Catholic Church and Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642).

A current example is Planet Nine (sometimes called Planet X). Some 5,000 years ago, the Sumerians already depicted our Solar system by a Sun and 12 planets (AC). In 1930, Pluto was discovered and "originally considered to be the ninth planet from the Sun". In 2016, two scientists claimed they may have found the tenth planet from the Sun (eg, IndependentNatGeo, Scientias).

On 31 March 2016, I wrote my blog Why are opinions stronger than facts? The reason is that our opinions are the result of our beliefs in Love, Money, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science, and/or the Truth - the 7 Belief systems. We have no problem in ignoring our intuition, our imagination, and even our knowledge, but we almost never ignore our beliefs.

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts". A quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), US Senator, ambassador, and academic.

Undisputed (2008) by Ludacris ft. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

Monday, 26 November 2018

"Je moet goed koffie kunnen zetten" (Trouw)

Titel Trouw: 'Je moet goed koffie kunnen zetten'

Subtitel Trouw: ACCOUNTANT NIEUWE STIJL - Geen focus op jaarrekeningen, maar op een persoonlijk gesprek over de dromen van een ondernemer. Manifesto pakt het allemaal net iets anders aan.

"Hoeveel uren hij per week werkt? Erik Friedeberg (51) haalt zijn schouders op. "Geen idee. Veel." En vakantiedagen. Hoeveel heeft hij er? Een lachje deze keer. "We gaan gewoon op vakantie als we daar zin in hebben. Soms een week. Soms twee." Salaris dan. Hoe zit het daarmee? "Dat hebben we gemaximeerd. We hebben geen winstoogmerk."

Al bij binnenkomst is het duidelijk: bij Manifesto gaan de dingen anders. Hier geen receptie of secretaresse van de grote baas die gasten installeert in een strakke zithoek. Nee, oprichter Friedeberg ontvangt gasten bij zijn bar, met verse kruidenthee en een blitse koffiemachine.

"Wil je bij ons komen werken, dan moet je eerst een baristacursus volgen om goede koffie te leren zetten." Friedeberg is bloedserieus. "Ook al loop je stage. Een afstudeerstagiair dacht dat we hem in de zeik namen. Maar koffiezetten is een manier om met mensen in gesprek te komen, hun dromen te achterhalen."

Die dromen zijn nou net waar het vier jaar jonge Manifesto op gestoeld is. Opvallend, want op papier is Manifesto een accountantskantoor. En de stereotiepe accountant- cijfervreter, spaarzaam met woorden - heeft niet veel met het achterhalen van dromen. Friedeberg weet het nog van zijn tijd als coach bij een groot accountantskantoor ruim twintig jaar geleden. Als hij aan een ondernemer vroeg waar zijn interesse lag of waarom hij geld stopte in activiteiten en producten die zo ver van hem af stonden, keken zijn collega's hem vreemd aan. "Dat moet je echt niet meer doen", klonk het na afloop dan. "Zo raken we klanten kwijt."

Niets van waar, kan hij inmiddels zeggen vanuit zijn eigenzinnig ingerichte kantoor in Amsterdam. De aluminium buizen steken hip uit het plafond, inspiratieteksten op de muur, vintagemeubelen en zelfs een antiek telraam en babywagen uit de zestiger jaren. Daar vertellen ondernemers hem juist behoefte te hebben aan dat persoonlijke gesprek. Die zoektocht naar hun dromen. Een behoefte die hij ook al bij zijn vorige bedrijf oppikte. "Ik hielp ondernemers in financiële nood. Uit pure wanhoop stopten die soms alleen ergens geld in om het hoofd boven water te houden. Ondertussen hielden accountants hun mond als ze het mis zagen gaan. Uit vrees hun klant te verliezen."

Samen met collega Monique Piek toont Friedeberg zich de accountant nieuwe stijl. Geen uurtje-factuurtje, maar een vast bedrag voor alle diensten. Geen hoge directieposities die nagestreefd kunnen worden, maar klanten die in een coöperatie van en met elkaar leren. Geen nadruk op jaarrekeningen, maar op coaching, de zoektocht naar de meerwaarde van de ondernemer.

Cijferklussen hebben de twee zoveel mogelijk geautomatiseerd, om tijd te hebben voor persoonlijk contact. Hiermee hoopt Friedeberg de accountancywereld van het grote geld en de vele fraudeschandalen om te turnen. "Tegen automatisering valt uiteindelijk niet op te concurreren. Kantoren moeten dan wel op zoek naar een ander verdienmodel."

Hij herinnert zich de reacties van vier jaar geleden nog. Oud-collega's, kennissen uit de financiële sector lachten hem uit. Van de beroepsorganisatie voor accountants kreeg hij zelfs een bezorgd telefoontje. "We hebben al zoveel klachten over jullie binnengekregen. Volgens andere kantoren kunnen jullie helemaal niet ingeschreven staan als accountantskantoor." Nu noemt diezelfde beroepsorganisatie ze 'dapper'. Krap twee weken geleden won Manifesto zelfs de 'Nieuw Organiseren' prijs. De wisseltrofee, een legoknutselwerk van de vorige winnaar, pronkt nog in het midden van de ruimte.

Nog even over dat omturnen van de sector. "Een dingetje", grapt Friedeberg. Over vijf jaar hoopt hij zover te zijn. Misschien te optimistisch, geeft hij direct toe. Maar hij ziet al een voorzichtige kanteling. Accountants kopiëren termen die Manifesto ook gebruikt. Inspiratiebijeenkomsten, coaching, hij ziet de woorden op allerlei sites verschijnen. "Maar uitvoeren doen ze nog niet. Ik hoop over vijf jaar, nee dan tien jaar, wel. Dan zijn wij niet meer nodig en kunnen we een andere sector verbeteren."


Sunday, 25 November 2018

We’ll all pay for the EU obsession of the right (Times)

Times title: We’ll all pay for the EU obsession of the right

Times subtitle: As the nation wakes up to the Brexit deceptions by Tory fringe figures the door will open for a Corbyn government

"Three years ago any thoughtful citizen could identify the principal problems facing Britain: productivity; Londonification; the flagging education system; a society financially skewed in favour of the old and against the young; Islamist extremism; funding of the NHS and welfare; stagnation of real earnings; job losses to technology.

None had anything to do with the European Union yet a faction of fanatics not only believed, but was successful in convincing millions of voters, that if we could only escape the thraldom of Brussels, a Heineken transformation would overtake the country, miraculously refreshing everything else.

Almost all the principal standard-bearers for Brexit adhere to the Conservative right or Ukip, its bastard offspring. The only constant in my own political life, as a Tory wet save in 1997 and 2001 when I voted Labour, has been a repugnance towards both political extremes. I am old enough to remember MPs of the Conservative Monday Club, lamenting the retreat from Empire and Eden’s failure to follow through at Suez in 1956.

When I became editor of The Daily Telegraph in 1986, some of its principal ideologists remained supporters of the apartheid government in South Africa, as they had earlier been of good old Smithy, white Rhodesia’s rebel leader Ian Smith, a crusader for “civilized values”. Among many reasons that the paper’s veterans deplored the new regime was my insistence that no further leading articles or columns should enthuse about hanging, the Pretoria government or the Ulster Unionists. I strove to make the case for the European Community, even after Boris Johnson became our correspondent in Brussels. I was hostile to EC centralisation, but equally so to Euroscepticism.

In those days the zealots of the right did not provoke fear because, for all their noise, they had no power. The notion that such people as Iain Duncan Smith and Bill Cash (Jacob Rees-Mogg was still in Chilprufe underwear) might one day dictate the agenda not only of their party, but of the country, would have seemed fantastic. Although Margaret Thatcher is today viewed as a right-wing prime minister, her conduct was often more cautious than her rhetoric. Most thinking Conservatives took it for granted that any modern political party must contest power in the centre ground, or disenfranchise itself.

As an editor, I made a big mistake about Europe to which more important people also succumbed. During the 1991 Maastricht debate, John Major, Douglas Hurd, and the Foreign Office’s mandarins convinced us that our EU partners were not serious about pursuing political integration. Their insouciance about the Jacques Delors, Jean-Claude Juncker school of Europeanism was grievously mistaken, as was Britain’s brief adherence to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, which some of us were also foolish enough to support.

The rest is history. The right-wingers who cried from the rooftops about the threat of sacrificing political authority to Brussels gained credibility as significantly as our side lost it, and has never won it back. Yet the principled issue of sovereignty would never have sufficed to enable the right to seize the reins: immigration, and immigration alone, could do that. The indulgence displayed by the liberal elite towards a vast influx of newcomers licensed by Tony Blair transformed a manic faction into a mass movement.

Amid the maelstrom into which we are now plunged nobody is talking about migrants. Yet this issue seems certain to resume its place near the top of old white Britain’s agenda. I wrote here two months ago that a significant portion of the electorate faces bitter disillusionment when it discovers that Brexit will not, and cannot, deliver the restrictions upon non-EU migration that many people — including me — believe critical to our political and social stability.

If grim projections about 21st-century unemployment in Africa and about the impact of climate change on the southern hemisphere are even partially fulfilled, we are today witnessing the beginnings of a huge movement of people towards the north, which no European government has articulated a credible policy to address.

As long as such paralysis persists, so too will the dark influence of the right upon the fortunes of us all. It will remain impossible for the British Conservative Party to become again what it must be: a movement of the very slightly right-of-centre. While non-EU migration remains stable — almost a quarter of a million net arrivals in the year to March — natural Tory supporters who can agree about nothing else will back those elected representatives who profess themselves eager to “take back control of our borders”.

This country cannot again have an effective and creative government until we restore a consensus that politics is rightfully about many things, on most of which compromise is indispensable, rather than about one thing, deemed by true believers to be an absolute.

Some of Brexit’s principal supporters in and out of parliament are intoxicated by the manner in which, after decades on the margin, they and their ideas have secured centre stage. In the 1990s the “bastards” as John Major dubbed his party’s right-wing MPs, were viewed as ridiculous figures, who secured notice only because of the bother that they caused the whips in close votes. Yet now Iain Duncan Smith, despite failing in every attempt he has made at running anything, is sometimes described as an elder statesman, alongside the likes of Norman Lamont and David Davis.

Play the ball, not the man is often a sound precept. Yet it seems essential to focus attention on the fact that the people leading the movement that is driving Britain to the cliff edge are failures in office, adventurers, oddballs, or all three.

If this story ends in a tragedy which blights the lives of our children, as seems not unlikely, the career nostalgics of the Tory right will bear much of the responsibility. A plausible consequence of their 40-year Eurobsession, at the expense of all the issues which should really matter to 21st-century Britain, is a Corbyn government. This would be elected by a nation rebounding from revelations of Brexit’s stupendous deceits, costs and irrelevance, of which the Conservative Party has insisted upon acquiring sole ownership."

Writer: "Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings FRSL FRHistS (/ˈheɪstɪŋz/; born 28 December 1945) is a British journalist, who has worked as a foreign correspondent for the BBC, editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph, and editor of the Evening Standard. He is also the author of numerous books, chiefly on defence matters, which have won several major awards."

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Geoscientists discover an overlooked source for Earth's water (Phys)

"Where did Earth's global ocean come from? A team of Arizona State University geoscientists led by Peter Buseck, Regents' Professor in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) and School of Molecular Sciences, has found an answer in a previously neglected source. The team has also discovered that our planet contains considerably more hydrogen, a proxy for water, than scientists previously thought.

So where is it? Mostly down in our planet's core, but more about that in a minute. The bigger question is where did all this come from in the first place.

"Comets contain a lot of ices, and in theory could have supplied some water," says Steven Desch, professor of astrophysics in SESE and one of the team scientists. Asteroids, he adds, are a source as well, not as water-rich yet still plentiful.

"But there's another way to think about sources of water in the solar system's formative days," Desch explains. "Because water is hydrogen plus oxygen, and oxygen is abundant, any source of hydrogen could have served as the origin of Earth's water."

In the beginning

Hydrogen gas was the major ingredient in the solar nebula—the gases and dust out of which the Sun and planets formed. If the abundant hydrogen in the nebula could combine with Earth's rocky material as it formed, that could be the ultimate origin of Earth's global ocean.

Jun Wu, the lead author of the paper the team has published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, is an assistant research professor in both SESE and the School of Molecular Sciences. He says, "The solar nebula has been given the least attention among existing theories, although it was the predominant reservoir of hydrogen in our early solar system."

But first, some geochemical detective work.

To distinguish between sources of water, scientists turn to isotope chemistry, measuring the ratio between two kinds of hydrogen. Nearly all hydrogen atoms have a nucleus that's a single proton. But in about one in 7,000 hydrogen atoms, the nucleus has a neutron in addition to the proton. This isotope is called "heavy hydrogen," or deuterium, symbolized as D.

The ratio of the number of D atoms to ordinary H atoms is called the D/H ratio, and it serves as a fingerprint for where that hydrogen came from. For example, asteroidal water has a D/H of about 140 parts per million (ppm), while cometary water runs higher, ranging from 150 ppm to as much as 300 ppm.

Scientists know that Earth has one global ocean of water on its surface and about two more oceans of water dissolved in its mantle rocks. That water has a D/H ratio of about 150 ppm, making an asteroidal source a good match.

Comets? With their higher D/H ratios, comets are mostly not good sources. And what's worse, the D/H of hydrogen gas in the solar nebula was only 21 ppm, far too low to supply large quantities of Earth's water. In fact, asteroidal material is such a good match that previous researchers have discounted the other sources.

But, say Wu and co-workers, other factors and processes have changed the D/H of Earth's hydrogen, starting back when the planet was first beginning to form. Wu says, "This means we shouldn't ignore the dissolved solar nebula gas."

Concentrating hydrogen
The key lies in a process combining physics and geochemistry, which the team found acted to concentrate hydrogen in the core while raising the relative amount of deuterium in Earth's mantle.

The process began quite early as the Sun's planets were starting to form and grow through the merger of primitive building blocks called planetary embryos. These Moon-to-Mars-size objects grew very quickly in the early solar system, colliding and accreting material from the solar nebula.

Within the embryos, decaying radioactive elements melted iron, which grabbed asteroidal hydrogen and sank to form a core. The largest embryo experienced collisional energy which melted its entire surface, making what scientists call a magma ocean. Molten iron in the magma snatched hydrogen out of the developing primitive atmosphere, which derived from the solar nebula. The iron carried this hydrogen, along with hydrogen from other sources, down into the embryo's mantle. Eventually the hydrogen became concentrated in the embryo's core.

Meanwhile another important process was going on between molten iron and hydrogen. Deuterium atoms (D) do not like iron as much as their H counterparts, thus causing a slight enrichment of H in the molten iron and leaving relatively more D behind in the magma. In this way, the core gradually developed a lower D/H ratio than the silicate mantle, which formed after the magma ocean cooled.

All this was stage one.

Stage two followed as embryos collided and merged to become the proto-Earth. Once again a magma ocean developed on the surface, and once more, leftover iron and hydrogen may have undergone similar processes as in stage one, thus completing the delivery of the two elements to the core of the proto-Earth.

Wu adds, "Besides the hydrogen that the embryos captured, we expect they also caught some carbon, nitrogen, and noble gases from the early solar nebula. These should have left some isotope traces in the chemistry of the deepest rocks, which we can look for."

The team modeled the process and checked its predictions against samples of mantle rocks, which are rare today at Earth's surface.

"We calculated how much hydrogen dissolved in these bodies' mantles could have ended up in their cores," says Desch. "Then we compared this to recent measurements of the D/H ratio in samples from Earth's deep mantle." This let the team set limits on how much hydrogen is in Earth's core and mantle.

"The end result," says Desch, "is that Earth likely formed with seven or eight global oceans' worth of hydrogen. The majority of this indeed came from asteroidal sources. But a few tenths of an ocean's worth of hydrogen came from the solar nebula gas."

Adding up the quantities cached in several places, Wu says, "Our planet hides the majority of its hydrogen inside, with roughly two global oceans' worth in the mantle, four to five in the core, and of course, one global ocean at the surface."

Not just for our solar system

The new finding, says the team, fits neatly into current theories for how the Sun and planets formed. It also has implications for habitable planets beyond the solar system. Astronomers have discovered more than 3,800 planets orbiting other stars, and many appear to be rocky bodies not greatly different from our own.

Many of these exoplanets might have formed far from the zones where water-rich asteroids and other building blocks might have arisen. Yet they still could have collected hydrogen gas from their own stars' solar nebulas in the way that Earth did.

The team concludes, "Our results suggest that forming water is likely inevitable on sufficiently large rocky planets in extrasolar systems."

More information: Jun Wu et al, Origin of Earth's Water: Chondritic Inheritance Plus Nebular Ingassing and Storage of Hydrogen in the Core, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (2018). DOI: 10.1029/2018JE005698 "


Friday, 23 November 2018

Trump’s dangerous message to tyrants: Flash money and get away with murder (WaPo)

"A clear and dangerous message has been sent to tyrants around the world: Flash enough money in front of the president of the United States, and you can literally get away with murder.

In a bizarre, inaccurate and rambling statement — one offering a good reminder why Twitter has character limits — President Trump whitewashed the Saudi government’s brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In the process, the president maligned a good and innocent man, tarring Khashoggi as an “enemy of the state” — a label the Saudis themselves have not used publicly — while proclaiming to the world that Trump’s relationship with Saudi Arabia’s 33-year-old crown prince was too important to risk over the murder of a journalist. Whatever objections people may have to our turning a blind eye to Khashoggi’s assassination, the president argued, they do not outweigh the (grossly inflated) revenue we can expect from U.S.-Saudi arms deals.

For many at The Post, Khashoggi’s murder is personal. He was a well-respected colleague, and his loss is deeply felt. But we are also mindful of our mission of public service. When officials here in Washington abandon the principles that the people elected them to uphold, it is our duty to call attention to it. For our part, we will continue to do everything possible to expose the truth — asking tough questions and relentlessly chasing down facts to bring crucial evidence to light.

Throughout this crisis, the president has maintained that he’s looking after our “national interests.” But Trump’s response doesn’t advance the United States’ interests — it betrays them. It places the dollar values of commercial deals above the long-cherished American values of respecting liberty and human rights. And it places personal relationships above the United States’ strategic relationships. For more than 60 years, the U.S.-Saudi partnership has been an important one based on trust and respect; Trump has determined that the United States no longer requires honesty and shared values from its global partners.

Security, as Trump noted in his statement, is an important U.S. interest. But we do not make the world safer by setting a double standard for diplomacy under which the United States abandons our values for anyone who offers to buy enough of our weapons.

We do not make the world safer by abandoning our commitment to basic freedoms and human rights. Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has committed atrocities that, if perpetrated by other countries, would draw a strong rebuke from the United States. Its intervention in Yemen has created a humanitarian disaster. Female activists have been imprisoned and brutalized simply for demanding the right to drive. Inconvenient Saudi business leaders were tortured inside a Ritz-Carlton hotel. Lebanon’s prime minister was kidnapped. The crown prince, in the role for barely 17 months, has led a reign of terror and has already established a dark legacy of opposing press freedom.

Failing to demand accountability for these crimes does not make the United States more secure. Stable, peaceful societies, governed by leaders who respect the rights of their people, need journalists who can expose wrongdoing and hold the powerful to account. It is no mere coincidence that many of the worst abusers of press freedom are also some of the world’s most dangerous actors.

The CIA has thoroughly investigated Khashoggi’s murder and concluded with high confidence that it was directed by the crown prince. If there is reason to ignore the CIA’s findings, the president should immediately make that evidence public.

In the absence of such evidence, and given this failure of leadership from Trump, it now falls to Congress to truly put America first by standing up for America’s sacred values and lasting interests. As we’ve seen from the strong support of both Republicans and Democrats, this is not a partisan or political interest; it is an American interest. Congress should demand more than scapegoating and slaps on the wrist. Instead, it should use its investigative and subpoena powers to press for an independent, thorough inquiry — no matter where it leads. It should use its power of the purse and authority to regulate foreign commerce to impose effective penalties on Khashoggi’s murderers and suspend the sale of U.S.-made weapons to the Saudis.

Presidents from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan — and many before and after — took courageous stands for human rights and press freedom when much more than weapons sales were at risk. Through these acts of presidential leadership, the world has come to know that America’s power is derived from America’s principles.

On Thanksgiving Day, Americans can be grateful that we live under a Constitution that ensures the rule of law rather than the rule of one capricious man, and that it enables one branch of government to correct the failure of another. We are eternally thankful for the brave men and women whose military service has long preserved those rights, and for the courage of first responders who are there to protect us when disasters strike at home.

We can also be thankful that we have a vibrant press, protected by the First Amendment, that relentlessly seeks to hold the powerful to account. We can trust that they will fulfill this mission in the case of Jamal Khashoggi. This pursuit of truth and justice is what an innocent man, brutally slain, deserves — and what America’s real values demand."

By Fred Ryan, publisher and chief executive of The Washington Post. He served as assistant to President Ronald Reagan.


Thursday, 22 November 2018

Scientists acknowledge key errors in study of how fast the oceans are warming (WaPo)

On 5 November 2018, I published my blog: Global warming is really ocean warming, relating to a "high-profile" study published in the journal Nature on 31 October 2018. 

The authors expect that "these problems [] do not invalidate the study’s methodology or the new insights into ocean biogeochemistry on which it is based. We expect the combined effect of these two corrections to have a small impact on our calculations of overall heat uptake, but with larger margins of error." (Scripps). Note LO: italic markings are mine.

Essentially, the 31 October statements were (too) bold but (so far) not inaccurate. Excerpt from my 5 November blog: A similar Wired article was more nuanced: "The sea may be absorbing way more heat than we thought".

Climate science is (extremely) complicated as there are several interacting and even conflicting factors that contribute to the overall outcome. 

My diagram shows 12 causes of which 10 (but previously 8) are mentioned by the British Geological Survey

Climate change has been around for 4.5 billion years. Human climate science is still in its early stages. We can expect more overzealous findings when speed is more important than quality. Applying our common sense is always a must.


Washington Post title: Scientists acknowledge key errors in study of how fast the oceans are warming

WaPo subtitle: A major study claimed the oceans were warming much faster than previously thought. But researchers now say they can’t necessarily make that claim.

"Scientists behind a major study that claimed the Earth’s oceans are warming faster than previously thought now say their work contained inadvertent errors that made their conclusions seem more certain than they actually are.

Two weeks after the high-profile study was published in the journal Nature, its authors have submitted corrections to the publication. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, home to several of the researchers involved, also noted the problems in the scientists' work and corrected a news release on its website, which previously had asserted that the study detailed how the Earth’s oceans “have absorbed 60 percent more heat than previously thought.”

“Unfortunately, we made mistakes here,” said Ralph Keeling, a climate scientist at Scripps, who was a co-author of the study. “I think the main lesson is that you work as fast as you can to fix mistakes when you find them.”

The central problem, according to Keeling, came in how the researchers dealt with the uncertainty in their measurements. As a result, the findings suffer from too much doubt to definitively support the paper’s conclusion about how much heat the oceans have absorbed over time.

The central conclusion of the study — that oceans are retaining ever more energy as more heat is being trapped within Earth’s climate system each year — is in line with other studies that have drawn similar conclusions. And it hasn’t changed much despite the errors. But Keeling said the authors' miscalculations mean there is a much larger margin of error in the findings, which means researchers can weigh in with less certainty than they thought.

“I accept responsibility for what happened because it’s my role to make sure that those kind of details got conveyed,” Keeling said. (He has published a more detailed explanation of what happened here.)

The study’s lead author was Laure Resplandy of Princeton University. Other researchers were with institutions in China, Paris, Germany and the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

“Maintaining the accuracy of the scientific record is of primary importance to us as publishers and we recognize our responsibility to correct errors in papers that we have published,” Nature said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Issues relating to this paper have been brought to Nature’s attention and we are looking into them carefully. We take all concerns related to papers we have published very seriously and will issue an update once further information is available.”

The original study, which appeared Oct. 31, derived a new method for measuring how much heat is being absorbed by the oceans. Essentially, the authors measured the volume of gases, specifically oxygen and carbon dioxide, that have escaped the ocean in recent decades and headed into the atmosphere as it heats up. They found that the warming “is at the high end of previous estimates” and suggested that as a result, the rate of global warming itself could be more accelerated.

The results, wrote the authors, may suggest there is less time than previously thought to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The study drew considerable media attention, including from The Post.

However, not long after publication, an independent Britain-based researcher named Nicholas Lewis published a lengthy blog post saying he had found a “major problem” with the research.

“So far as I can see, their method vastly underestimates the uncertainty,” Lewis said in an interview Tuesday, “as well as biasing up significantly, nearly 30 percent, the central estimate.”

Lewis added that he tends “to read a large number of papers, and, having a mathematics as well as a physics background, I tend to look at them quite carefully, and see if they make sense. And where they don’t make sense — with this one, it’s fairly obvious it didn’t make sense — I look into them more deeply.”

Lewis has argued in past studies and commentaries that climate scientists are predicting too much warming because of their reliance on computer simulations, and that current data from the planet itself suggests global warming will be less severe than feared.

It isn’t clear whether the authors agree with all of Lewis’s criticisms, but Keeling said “we agree there were problems along the lines he identified.”

Paul Durack, a research scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, said that promptly acknowledging the errors in the study “is the right approach in the interests of transparency.”

But he added in an email, “This study, although there are additional questions that are arising now, confirms the long known result that the oceans have been warming over the observed record, and the rate of warming has been increasing,” he said.

Gavin Schmidt, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, followed the growing debate over the study closely on Twitter and said that measurements about the uptake of heat in the oceans have been bedeviled with data problems for some time — and that debuting new research in this area is hard.

“Obviously you rely on your co-authors and the reviewers to catch most problems, but things still sometimes slip through,” Schmidt wrote in an email.

Schmidt and Keeling agreed that other studies also support a higher level of ocean heat content than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, saw in a landmark 2013 report.

Overall, Schmidt said, the episode can be seen as a positive one.

“The key is not whether mistakes are made, but how they are dealt with — and the response from Laure and Ralph here is exemplary. No panic, but a careful reexamination of their working — despite a somewhat hostile environment,” he wrote.

“So, plus one for some post-publication review, and plus one to the authors for reexamining the whole calculation in a constructive way. We will all end up wiser.” "


Wednesday, 21 November 2018

CEO fraud

Recently, a French cinema chain fired its Dutch management following a CEO fraud of some 19 million Euro (source). The term CEO fraud is relatively new although such fraud has existed for decades. Today's version often uses the CEO's hacked email account for ordering fraudulent payments. The perpetrators rely on the fear of subordinates to verbally question the CEO.

Fear towards CEO's is more common than one might assume. Several articles point to the CEO as the #1 psychopath in the workplace, like CNET-2013Independent-2016Psychology Today-2014Time-2014Wiki, and WT-2014. These articles were based on a 2012 book by British psychologist Kevin Dutton, who has specialised in the study of psychopathy.

Moreover, the social distance between employees and top management is (very) large in work cultures like France and Germany. In France, the CEO acts like a demi-god. Germany is known for a workplace culture of fear. Excerpt from my 2015 blog on the VW Audi diesel scandal:
"Mr. Müller also said he wanted to change the company’s culture so that there was better communication among employees and more willingness to discuss problems. His predecessor, Martin Winterkorn, who resigned after the scandal, was criticized for creating a climate of fear that made managers afraid to admit mistakes." (NYT)

Early 2000, I was confronted with a CEO fraud. In the early morning, we received a phone call from our bank liaison to verify some large foreign payments outside the group's operational territories. Without hesitation, I killed the money transfers, which were due in 15-30 minutes. Being CFO, I should have known these large money transfers. Hence, I preferred being safe and one day late than being sorry.

In retrospect, the CEO signed payment orders were unusual in several aspects: urgent, large amounts, foreign destination, outside the group's operational territories, amounts just below a certain threshold, use of an exotic / obscure type of payment instrument, no CFO involvement, and (obviously) a forged CEO signature. It's difficult finding more fraud criteria.

I must admit that I learned a lot of this near fraud. Every cloud has a silver lining, including this one. No one objected when I updated the payment authorities shortly afterwards. One person asked if my revoking of his single payment authority implied distrust. The answer was difficult as he had indeed been a suspect. Despite our efforts, we never found the culprit(s).

Ever since that event, a review of the payment authorities was one of my first activities in a new job. Remarkably, dual payment authority is often considered not "efficient" by (Business Unit) managers. A drive for efficiency is often the reason for a deterioration in Internal Controls.

The Boss (1979) by Diana Ross

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Ebony and Ivory

I really thought that I finally understood all of these discrimination terms: ableism (disabilities), ageism (age), anti-semitism (anti-Judaism), classism (social class), heterosexism (same sex), racism (skin colour), and sexism (gender). My first confusion was about anti-semitism, which word is (very) misleading. See my 2016 blog: The origin of antisemitism.

My current confusion is about the stretching of the meaning of racism. Originally, the term was rather clear: discrimination based upon having a minority skin colour (eg, education, housing, jobs). This also explains why white people in countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe claim that they experience racist treatment.

Nowadays, the term racism also includes any majority activity that includes skin colour, which is not appreciated by minorities. In the 20th century, black-facing by white entertainers, like Al Jolson, caused (minor) controversies. Black-facing in the 21st century is considered a racist expression, albeit by minority activists (eg, Dutch Sinterklaas celebration for kids).

Activists claim that black-facing during Sinterklaas is a reference to slavery (ie, Black Pete). They conveniently ignore its historical roots: the celebration of the death of Saint Nicholas (270– 6 December 343), a Greek bishop of the (now Turkish) city of Myra, giving presents to children together with his (Muslim black) Moor helpers.

If black-facing is racism then how about skin whitening? Excerpt from my 2015 blog "Out of Africa - skin colour": "The global market for skin lighteners is projected to reach $19.8 billion in 2018, driven by the growing desire for light coloured skin amongst men and women primarily from the Asian, African and Middle East regions." (cosmetics).

If black-facing is racism then how about sun tanning by white people? When will the next majority activity be considered an insult to minority activists?

Many people don't even believe that white people were once black people too. Excerpt from my 2016 blog "Identity and skin colour": "A gene mutation of some 5,000 years ago was responsible for developing white skin to adapt to a lack of UV sunlight in Northern European countries. The success of this gene mutation was overwhelming in human evolution."

I think, feel and believe that most white people are proud of their skin colour. I assume and suppose that most black people are also proud of their skin colour (eg, 1960's Black is beautiful movement). Activists and extremists at both racial sides are turning races against each other (eg, Black Lives Matter, White Supremacy). That also qualifies as racism.

Ebony and Ivory (1982) by Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

Monday, 19 November 2018

Mrs May's Machiavellian Moves (11) - choices

I'm impressed by Mrs May’s Machiavellian Moves. She knows she has a job that nobody wants - yet. This will change almost immediately after the "ratification of the withdrawal agreement by the UK Parliament and the European Parliament" (BBC). Then several people will be desperate to reap the fruits of her labour.

Mrs May has offered UK Parliament a simple choice: "The choice is clear. We can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated." (NYT). Essentially, this means "my deal, no deal or no Brexit" (Qz).

Many articles claim that her position has become even more fragile. I disagree. Her position has - most likely - strengthened as she was able to reach a deal with the EU despite Conservative and DUP efforts to make her fail. Several English newspapers, which are usually against her, have already expressed admiration for Mrs May's perseverance (eg, Daily Mailthe Sun).

I think, feel and believe that recent Conservative Brexiteer efforts to topple Mrs May's leadership are doomed to fail. The reason is simple: there is no majority support whatsoever for a "no deal" or "no Brexit" in UK Parliament. Only Mrs May's Brexit deal has a majority chance.

Labour's position on Brexit is far from clear. On the one side, Labour refuses to support Mrs May's Brexit deal because Labour could make a better Brexit deal. On the other side, it keeps open the option to "stop Brexit". In the words of Mrs May, "Labour is playing politics [while she] delivers".

Indeed it seems that Mr Corbyn is only interested in toppling Mrs May and in new general elections, while having no (clear) Brexit strategy for Labour and/or himself. 

Although I'm not a supporter of any Labour party, the UK might benefit from a Labour government. A reason for my view is the November 2018 report of the United Nations on poverty in Britain (eg, Guardian). UK poverty was already painfully clear during my 1998 UK road trip.

Furthermore, the Conservative party's Brexit plans have ignored the interests of international businesses in the UK, which the Conservative party is supposed to represent. Labour's "Inclusive Ownership Fund" might even cause less harm to businesses than Brexit will.

I admire Theresa May for making the (very) best out of a (very) bad situation. Her Rowan Atkinson-like clumsiness (eg, Mr Bean, Johnny English) was/is probably one of her key strengths, apart from her perseverance. Consequently, most people have underestimated her. Unfortunately, it may make decades before her achievements will be understood and appreciated. 

Safe From Harm (1991) by Massive Attack

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Silicone breast implant patients face greatly increased risk of autoimmune disease (Medical Xpress)

"Women with breast implants mostly only had to worry about leaks, but a large-scale Israeli study performed in collaboration with researchers from the University of Alberta confirmed almost one in four implantation patients is at risk of a serious autoimmune disorder.

"The risk of women with breast implantation developing an autoimmune disease was 45 per cent higher compared to women without implants," said Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, director of the Division of Rheumatology at the U of A.

"While some previous studies have shown similar risks, their results were criticized because the diagnoses were self-reported. Our study used a physician-based registration so it's the first to confirm the relationship exists between implants and autoimmune disorders based on diagnoses made by doctors."

The International Journal of Epidemiology study, which compared nearly 25,000 Israeli women with breast implants with nearly 100,000 women without an implant, will be discussed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Cohen Tervaert.

"The U.S. health regulators say they'll convene a public meeting of medical advisers next year to discuss new science on breast implant safety, including an independent analysis that suggests certain rare health problems might be more common with silicone gel implants.

"Bottom line, there is clear evidence that implantation of foreign bodies in humans is not without risks in patients who are genetically predisposed to an autoimmune disorder. This is why screening measures, such as warning women who already have pre-existing autoimmune diseases or allergies of the increased risk, need to be put in place before surgery," he added.

Previous research conducted by Cohen Tervaert showed that surgical mesh implants, often used for hernia or gynecological repair, may be the reason so many patients report symptoms of an autoimmune disorder. Specifically, he found that 45 per cent of patients developed an autoimmune disorder such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis after a mesh implantation, and patients who had allergies before the implant were significantly worse after.

The new study also showed the strongest association between silicone breast implants and Sjögren's syndrome (autoimmune disorder of the salivary and tear glands), systemic sclerosis (autoimmune disorder of the connective tissue affecting the skin, arteries and visceral organs such as lungs and kidneys) and sarcoidosis (autoimmune disorder of the lung, skin and lymph nodes), said Cohen Tervaert.

The causal theory behind both breast and mesh implants and autoimmune disorders is that there's an instant activation of the body's immune system when a foreign material is put in it.

"It continues to fight the foreign body and eventually, over time, fatigues and may become dysfunctional," explained Cohen Tervaert.

Concerned patients should discuss risks with their physicians about existing or future breast or mesh implants, he said.

The United Kingdom, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand have already put holds on mesh implantation, said Cohen Tervaert.

"In addition, patients in the Netherlands who are planning a breast implant are warned about the increased risks of developing autoimmune disorders if they already have allergies. In Canada, there are no rules (yet) in place."

More information: Abdulla Watad et al. Silicone breast implants and the risk of autoimmune/rheumatic disorders: a real-world analysis, International Journal of Epidemiology (2018). DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyy217 "

Note LO:
Several URL's have been added to this article (eg, names, workplaces).

Silicone breast implants and the risk of autoimmune/rheumatic disorders: a real-world analysis