Science Journal Takes Political Sides

first_imgIt might seem unusual or even improper for a science journal to encourage its readers to vote for a particular presidential candidate, especially for voters in a different country than its publishers’ domicile.  Nature Aug. 5 contained two such articles that could hardly be defended as non-partisan.  An editorial1 said in ostensibly neutral terms, “Researchers should seize an opportunity to make their voices heard, whatever their political persuasion,” but made it abundantly clear what that persuasion should be.  “The Bush administration has been heavily criticized in scientific quarters,” it says, and reports on the Union of Concerned Scientists claiming that Bush has been guilty of “the politicization of science.”  Kerry, however is not so criticized; the editorial quotes a group of scientists that claims “John Kerry will restore science to its appropriate place in government and bring it back into the White House.”  Though trying to appear neutral, the editorial seems clearly tilted left.    That leftward stance is reinforced by a news article in the same issue2 that gives prominent coverage to Nobel laureates who are campaigning for Kerry.  It has nothing positive to say about Bush: just allegations, criticisms and the anger of certain scientists, with no opportunity for rebuttal.  It mentions nothing about Bush’s space initiatives for NASA or any other accomplishments.  Kerry, in contrast, is cast in an entirely positive light: for instance, “Already, science has taken an unusually high profile in the Kerry campaign.  Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, mentioned the Hubble Space Telescope and the Cassini mission to Saturn in her speech at the Democratic National Convention last week.”    Science has been a little more nonpartisan lately.  Last week it gave Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham3 an uncontested column on Bush’s Climate Policy, and this week, it presented a more balanced view of the election campaign as it pertains to science: David Malakoff4 presented both sides of the controversy over stem cell research.  Nevertheless, conservatives will find evidence of bias in certain statements, such as the prominence given to Matthew Nisbet (Ohio State) commenting on Kerry’s making stem cell research a campaign issue.  Malakoff quotes Nisbet: “’It allowed Kerry to highlight a major policy difference between the candidates on a health issue that is relevant to millions of Americans,’ he says.  ‘It also allowed him to reinforce reservations that undecided voters may already have about Bush being ‘an ideologue who doesn’t listen to experts who hold other views.’”  These charges are only weakly rebutted in Malakoff’s article.1Editorial, “On the campaign trail,” Nature 430, 593 (05 August 2004); doi:10.1038/430593a.2Geoff Brumfiel and Emma Marris, “Nobel laureates spearhead effort to put Kerry in the White House,” Nature 430, 595 (05 August 2004); doi:10.1038/430595a.3Spencer Abraham, “The Bush Administration’s Approach to Climate Change,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5684, 616-617, 30 July 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1098630].4David Malakoff, “The Calculus of Making Stem Cells a Campaign Issue,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5685, 760, 6 August 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5685.760].We predicted last year that a survey would find academic scientists to be predominantly liberal Democrats (see 09/22/2003 editorial), and now we have evidence right from Nature’s editorial page: it says plainly, “In the current polarized political climate, it is hardly surprising that some scientists should swing behind Kerry in this way — the research community traditionally votes overwhelmingly Democratic.”  Let no one conclude that this means smart people vote Democrat.  These are the ones that brought us sunbathing fish evolving into humans, remember? (see 08/03/2004 headline).  No; rather, it means two things: the (1) Darwin Party that rules Big Science and the journals cannot tolerate anyone who believes in God and absolute moral standards, and (2) Big Science needs its entitlements to keep its Starving Storytellers welfare state going (see 12/22/2003 commentary).  From day one, Nature was a mouthpiece for Charlie Darwin’s musketeers (see 03/04/2004 commentary).  Since Darwin described himself as “liberal or radical” (see 02/13/2004 headline), it is not surprising his mouthpiece continues to be a propaganda machine for political liberalism as well as the moral relativism that fits leftist ideology and Darwinian theory like hand and glove (see 06/28/2004, 06/07/2004, 06/03/2004 and 05/17/2004 headlines, for instance).(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Enceladus Ocean Means Dating Trouble, Not Life

first_img(Visited 55 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 News media are jumping over an announcement that Saturn’s moon Enceladus may have a large body of water under its icy crust, but what does it mean?Cassini scientists, publishing in Science Magazine, announced indirect evidence (via Doppler measurements of gravity anomalies during flybys) that Saturn’s little geysering moon Enceladus probably has a sub-surface ocean of liquid.  The data cannot resolve whether the ocean is regional or global, but is probably regional: “Although the gravity data cannot rule out a global ocean, a regional sea is consistent with the gravity, topography, and high local heat fluxes and does not suffer from the thermal problems that a global ocean encounters,” they said.  That’s because keeping water liquid requires a suitable heat source – the more water, the more heat required:The endogenic (nonsolar) power emitted from the south-polar region, derived from Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer data, is 15.8 GW [gigawatts], with a 20% formal uncertainty. This is equivalent to an average surface heat flux of ~20 mW/m2 and is an order of magnitude larger than conventional estimates of tidal heating if Enceladus’ current orbital eccentricity represents a so-called “equilibrium” resonant state with other satellites. It indicates time-variability in its internal properties, in a resonant state with other nearby moons, or in the rate of heat transport. In any or all of these cases, a plausible internal structure is that of a liquid water ocean overlain by a (thermally conductive) crust.It indicates those options, however, only if Enceladus is 4.5 billion years old, as assumed for solar system bodies.  The BBC News coverage mentions that the ocean could only last for tens of millions of years, “maybe 100 million years,” in steady state, unless some unknown cycles, like episodes of higher eccentricity, intervene.Science journalist Richard A. Kerr, commenting on the paper in the same issue of Science, did not pay much attention to the time problem of maintaining heat for billions of years, other than to speculate, “The presence of liquid water remains unexplained, but Saturn’s powerful gravity probably played a role, by tidally kneading the moon and heating its interior.”  Yet the scientists themselves had stated in their paper that the measured heat flux is “an order of magnitude larger than conventional estimates of tidal heating”.Rather than deal with that, Kerr focused on a different subject: “Suspicions that Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus harbors an internal ocean—one that could host life—have hardened into near certainty with exquisitely precise observations from the Cassini spacecraft,” he began.  His ending mentioned life twice: “Such strong support for a sea beneath the spouting plumes of Enceladus should encourage scientists, mostly Cassini team members, who want NASA to send a new mission to Enceladus to explore for life,” he stated, also speaking of the possibility of “life-laden waters” under Enceladus.The popular media, predictably, focused on life:“The findings … will boost the view that the 500km-wide moon would be one of the best places beyond Earth to go look for the existence of microbial life.”  (BBC News)“Saturn Moon Harbors Ocean, Raising Possibility of Life.” (National Geographic)“New gravity readings suggest it hosts a subsurface sea the size of Lake Superior at its south pole – and that this liquid water is in direct contact with the moon’s core, which is rich in nutrients. Both findings boost hopes that the sea hosts life.” (New Scientist)“Will Ocean Discovery On Enceladus Spur Life-Hunting Missions to Icy Moons of Saturn, Jupiter?” ( – Mike Wall uses word “life” six times)Astrobiology Magazine, naturally, mentioned it, since astro-“biology” is their business: “Even if the reservoir is relatively young on the scale of geologic time, there’s still a chance for life,” the article said (oddly pointing out the possibility that the ocean is young; a young ocean would seem to require believing in life on the fast track).  But once the idea of rapid life enters the imagination, why stop there?  “This unexpected finding of an ocean on a small moon so far from the Sun raises a distinct possibility: that there are more oceans on more moons, each with a chance for life.”  A possible pool of liquid water suddenly became evidence for life all over the solar system!The original paper is more reserved in its claims, as befits scientific modesty: “The interpretation of Enceladus gravity presents a greater difficulty and uncertainty than usual, given the strikingly different appearances of the northern and southern hemisphere and the apparent confinement of endogenic activity to the high southern latitudes,” it cautions.  “Still, the deviation of J2/C22 from 10/3 (the value for a laterally homogeneous body) is modest (of order 5%) and the non–degree-2 gravity is small (of order 2% relative to J2), suggesting that there is some prospect of useful inferences.”Science Daily, echoing a press release from Caltech, did not mention life at all.  To its credit, this report was also very modest in its claims, mentioning that a sub-surface ocean is only a reasonable possibility:The suspicion is that the fractures—in some way that is not yet fully understood—connect down to a part of the moon that is being tidally heated by the globe’s repeated flexing as it traces its eccentric orbit. “Presumably the tidal heating is also replenishing the ocean,” Stevenson says, “so it is possible that some of that water is making its way up through the tiger stripes.”JPL’s press release, however, mentioned the L-word life three times (Cassini is an international mission managed by JPL).  Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker likely fueled the speculations of the popular media: “Material from Enceladus’ south polar jets contains salty water and organic molecules, the basic chemical ingredients for life,” she said. “Their discovery expanded our view of the ‘habitable zone’ within our solar system and in planetary systems of other stars.”  Data: gravitational anomalies on a tiny moon.  Conclusion: life abundant in the universe.It would be hard to find a more clear example of hydrobioscopy in action.  Give evolutionists an inch and they take a light year.  They have even less time to play with, using “chemical ingredients” they cannot see, employing processes that are not well understood, but then they turn around and extrapolate their imaginary microbes evolving around the whole universe!  Spilker, of all people, should know better.  She claims to be a Christian but repeats the water-equals-life mantra in a way that would make atheists applaud.  Doesn’t she know that naturalistic origin-of-life theories are in crisis?  (Survey our Origin of Life category for abundant evidence.)But why stop with microbial life?  Since speculation is OK in science now, let’s dream of underwater cities under Enceladus, inhabited by mermaids and mermen.  They can’t see Earth, but they speculate that if such a place exists, it can’t possibly be an abode for intelligent life.  Perhaps they’re right.last_img read more

Incentive scheme for the poor

first_imgA participant in the Broccoli Project incentive scheme with his reward for having an HIV test. Men wait in the Tutu Tester mobile facility for their turn at the test. Biometric identification helps keep track of people who have been tested at the Tutu Tester. (Images: MarcAnthony Zimmermann)Jennifer SternDespite the efforts of governments, charitable foundations, NGOs and individuals, half of the world’s population remains in poverty, with 3.9-billion people living on less than US$2 a day. It’s even biblical – the poor will always be with us.But it’s only recently that the poor have ever been seen as anything other than a problem that needs to be swept under the carpet, shipped off across an ocean or dealt with in some way. The most notable of the people proposing a different way of viewing the poor is CK Prahalad, author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid.Prahalad suggests that we stop thinking of the poor as a problem, or a burden, and start thinking of them as creative entrepreneurs and valuable consumers. These people “at the bottom of the pyramid” may not have much individual spending power but, because there are so many of them, collectively they represent Prahalad’s eponymous fortune.This realisation has not necessarily always been to the advantage of the poor, as it has opened them up to exploitation by ruthless corporations prepared to chase profit by any means. But there are also creative ways to make a profit from the bottom of the pyramid while offering a service that people actually need and want.So it was with all this in mind that MarcAnthony Zimmermann hit on the idea of an artist-endorsed starter pack for mobile phones. A joint collaboration with cellular operator Cell C, South African kwaito musician Zola and Zimmermann’s company Punq saw the launch of the Hola 7 starter pack in May 2008.Endorsed by an iconic local musician, the package offered real benefits to the users – allowing them reasonably priced access to the benefits of mobile phone technology. And one thing Zimmermann does like is technology.“But I really want to use my knowledge and creativity to do something with meaning,” Zimmermann says. “To do something good – while using cool technology, of course.”One of the most inequitable facts of modern life is that everything is cheaper for the rich. The more you have, the more you get given – a phenomenon graphically illustrated by loyalty programmes. Be it airlines, life insurance, coffee shops or credit cards, the more you spend, the more you are given. And that got Zimmermann thinking.“How,” he wondered, “could the poor benefit from incentive programmes without being made to spend more?”And what kind of incentives should they be offered? He is rather scathing of the rewards offered to the rich by most loyalty programmes, calling them “all sorts of junk you didn’t know you didn’t need, or stupidly valued voyager miles”.For Zimmermann, the one incentive scheme that stood out was Discovery Vitality. While it is still aimed at relatively affluent people, it offers rewards for positive life-enhancing behaviour. You get points every time you go to the gym, if you give up smoking (or have never started), if you lose weight (or don’t have to) and for routine preventive health checks like cholesterol tests and pap smears.“If the wealthy can be rewarded for healthy life choices with cheaper movies, holidays and aeroplane flights,” he thought, “why can’t the poor be rewarded for similar behaviour with more appropriate incentives?”And so the Broccoli Project was born. The basic idea is simple. Poor people are encouraged to take preventive health measures, keep their children in school and try to find work if they are unemployed. With families at the bottom of the pyramid, the incentives for these positive efforts are cash or vouchers for food, clothing and/or building materials.The pilot project was run in conjunction with the Tutu Tester, a mobile clinic run by the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. The Tutu Tester travels from community to community offering free HIV, blood pressure and diabetes testing, along with comprehensive counselling services. If anyone is found to be HIV positive, or otherwise at risk, they are referred to primary health facilities.The Broccoli Project started off giving R75 cash as an incentive to take an HIV test, but they have since teamed up with retailer Pick n Pay and will be giving grocery vouchers in the future.The project is still in an early phase, but there are plans for expansion. They intend to add tuberculosis to the list of tests on offer, as well as sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV.All participants will be kept on a biometric database (this is where the cool technology comes in) and will be rewarded for, for example, taking an HIV test every three months, as well as remaining HIV-negative. Those who test positive will be given incentives to take their antiretrovirals. This is an important factor in ongoing treatment, as many of those receiving free antiretrovirals can’t afford to buy the nutritious food they need to maintain health.Other plans include incentivising people to keep their children in school, and unemployed people to seek work. But there is no limit to the life-enhancing activities that can be added to the programme.Future plans include a rollout whereby individuals or companies can buy Broccoli vouchers as incentives for employees, or just to give away to destitute people as an alternative to giving them money. The Broccoli Project is a registered Section 18a company, so vouchers will be tax deductable.The Broccoli Project is currently funded almost entirely from the profits of Hola 7, so Zimmermann is using the profits of selling mobile phone packages to (mostly) the poor to fund an incentive programme to better the lives of the poor. That’s really harnessing the power that resides at the bottom of the income pyramid.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at articlesLow-cost phones for Africa Mobile HIV testing in KZN HIV/Aids in South Africa Social Development in South AfricaUseful linksThe Broccolli Project Sinethemba Technology Cell Clast_img read more

What Sales Winners Do Differently with Mike Schultz – Episode 13

first_imgPodcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 31:41 — 14.8MB)Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | RSSThere are almost as many theories about how the sales climate has changed as there are studies done about the sales process. But Mike Schultz decided to take a different approach when he wanted to know what made the biggest difference between sales winners and their closest competitors – he went to the customers. On this episode Mike shares the results of his survey of 900 customers about their experience with a winning salesperson and gives some simple, actionable things that sales professionals can and should do to become winners in sales.Those who win in sales do things differently, find out what it is on this episode of In The ArenaClick To TweetWhat has changed in solution selling over the years?Contrary to articles that have been published lately about the end of solution sales, solution sales is very much alive and well. But it doesn’t work like it used to. Those who still use a solution sales model effectively combine their SS approach with relationship sales that is focused around value. The point is that relationships alone are not the core of what will get you the sale, but if you don’t have an established relationship with your prospect you’re much less likely to gain the trust needed for your solution selling approach to work. You can hear the details from today’s guest, Mike Schultz, on this episode.Does your buyer believe that you get what they are trying to do?Sellers who consistently win are able to do what it takes to understand the goals of their prospects, communicate that understanding, and come alongside the prospect to help them figure out how to get what they want. That’s an approach that doesn’t contain near as many pitches, it’s a consultative approach where the salesperson is a trusted advisor rather than an adversary who’s trying to “sell” them something. If you’re in need of a fresh boost of inspiration about where to improve your sales approach, this is the episode for you!Candor is the sales conversation is how you become a trusted advisor, on this episodeClick To TweetSales winners are pros at collaborating with their prospects.In many ways the type of relationship you are able to establish with your prospect will determine how successful you are at getting the sale. If you’re seen as a collaborator, someone who is helping them achieve their goals, you have a great deal more influence not only over their buying decision (from you) but over the course of their business as well. How do you build a relationship that is one of collaboration? The main tool you can use toward that end is questions. Find out who they are, what they do, what they’re hoping to accomplish, and truly come to understand why it’s so important to them. When you do, you’ll be able to see more clearly how your service or product can help them accomplish their goals.Becoming a collaborator with your prospects helps them make better decisions.Naturally, as a salesperson you want to get the sale from your prospect. But you should never want the sale more than you want to help your prospect make the best decision for their situation and need. Building trust is key in doing that. You need to communicate to your prospect that you are committed to helping them succeed in their goals, that you are eager to lend them your expertise to help them make better decisions. It’s about your virtue of purpose, the belief that your prospect develops that you are truly FOR them. That requires candor and straight shooting even if it’s not something the prospect wants to hear. Find out more from Anthony’s guest, Mike Schultz, on this episode.If you don’t bring candor to the sales conversation you’re of no value to a C level executive at allClick To TweetOutline of this great episode Anthony’s introduction to this episode! Why Mike decided to do a survey about those who win in sales. What has changed in solution selling over the years. What kind of relationship selling makes a difference? Winning sellers drive their own demand. Establishing trust and helping clients make better decisions. Using collaboration with the prospect in the sales process. What salespeople should do differently in order to win. How you can connect with Mike Schultz.Resources & Links mentioned in this episodewww.RainGroup.comMike’s report – What Sales Winners Do DifferentlyMike on TwitterMSchultzATraingroup.comThe theme song “Into the Arena” is written and produced by Chris Sernel. You can find it on SoundcloudConnect with AnthonyWebsite: www.TheSalesBlog.comYoutube: Plus: you can use to share this episodeHow sales is a zero sum game – you win or you don’t. Learn how to win on this episodeClick To TweetA good relationship doesn’t WIN the sale, but if you don’t have it, you’ll lose more than you winClick To TweetSubscribe toIn the ArenaApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsAndroidby EmailRSSOr subscribe with your favorite app by using the address belowlast_img read more

How To Be the Scribe in a Sales Meeting

first_imgThe scribe is a critical role in sales meetings.If you make team sales calls, it’s important that each person knows their role. Someone needs to lead the sales call, and the rest of the team needs to know what their role is in creating value in support of the lead salesperson.But someone on the team needs to play the role of the scribe. Someone needs to take notes on who says what.How to Take NotesThe scribe’s role is critically important. What your dream client says is a clue that it is important to them. So the scribe needs to write the person’s name and what they said. The scribe should also write any questions the stakeholder asked, as well as any comments or remarks they made in response to something somebody else on their team said. Later on these notes are to be critically important to you.The notes you take our record of what stakeholder believes is important. It shares with you some idea it provides you with some idea of what they believe is important why they believe it’s important and what they need. Their questions provide an even greater insight into what your prospective client believes is important, and even more what they’re concerned about.Later, when you are planning future sales meetings with this prospective client, developing a solution, or strategizing on how to win, you will find these notes extremely useful.When You Get Back to the OfficeWhen you get back to the office, review your notes. Write additional notes that capture your thoughts, ideas, and comments. Adding your thoughts to your notes will solidify your memory and help you develop an even greater strategy for winning.But equally as important, these notes, especially the questions, give you an opportunity to communicate your interest in their business and your attention to detail.By writing an email summarizing what you heard in the meeting and providing additional information to the responses to your dream clients questions, you prove that you were laser focused on what they needed, that you were listening, and that you understood the nature of their question and the underlying concern. Sending an email establishes you as someone who can be trusted, because you cared enough to listen, because you paid attention to details, and because you followed up.What Note-Taking CommunicatesI’ve seen salespeople in meetings with no pen or paper. I’ve seen salespeople in meetings with paper and pen without taking notes. I’ve seen these same salespeople struggle to remember the details of meetings and fail to follow-up on important points. But even more importantly, I’ve seen salespeople lose an opportunity to establish relationships with multi-million dollar prospective clients.The role of the scribe is critically important. Sales interactions are too important not to capture.last_img read more

NF Railway gears up for monsoon

first_imgThe Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) had placed ‘boulder wagons’ strategically near 32 vulnerable stretches ahead of monsoon.Officials said 184 wagon loads of boulders, or ‘on-wheel’ boulder reserves, had been kept ready to be rolled out at the slightest hint of danger such as abnormal rise of water level and breaches under the tracks.In addition, 80,000 cubic metres of boulders had also beeb stocked at approaches of major rivers and at locations that were traditionally known for being vulnerable. About 5,000 pre-fabricated had also kept handy for erecting temporary supports in water for bridging gaps caused by washouts.Apart from eight north-eastern states, NFR serviced parts of Bihar and West Bengal. Much of the zone, with tracks criss-crossing many rivers, was flood-prone.Sections not known to be vulnerable to floods had been affected too. Two breaches near Telta and Sudhani stations (between Kishanganj in Bihar and Malda in West Bengal) on August 13 hadt cut off railway link to the North east for almost a month in 2017.Lessons from Bihar floods“The damage caused by Bihar floods was unexpected. We have learnt to be prepared for the worst this time, at least in stretches we know that are prone to flood-induced track damage,” a senior officer of NFR’s construction wing said.Boulders, NFR officials said, were generally the first line of defence when flood waters hit a railway embankment or caused abnormal scour around bridge pillars.“Of 32 locations under NFR designated as vulnerable, 14 are in Lumding Division, nine in Rangiya, eight in Tinsukia (all in Assam) and one in Alipurduar, West Bengal. These sites are being monitored 24×7 for any signs of distress,” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, NFR Spokesperson, said.Watchmen posted on these vulnerable sections were armed with walkie-talkie sets and high-power torches besides GPS sets for better real-time planning and quick response.“The railway has also stock piled 271 rolled steel joists for construction of temporary bridges for quick restoration of track connectivity during breaches,” Mr. Sharma said.last_img read more