Archive for March 2012

American diplomacy: What Hillary did next | The Economist   Leave a comment

Very enlightening read on the USA Secretary of State Hillary Clinton…..

 

” “WHY extremists always focus on women is a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they want to control everything about us.” So said Hillary Clinton last month to a young Arab woman who had asked her at a public meeting about wearing the hijab. This encounter was in Tunis, where Mrs Clinton had just taken part in an international summit on Syria. She had come straight from London, where she attended a meeting on Somalia, and went on to Algeria and Morocco before making the nine-hour hop back to Washington, DC.

If Barack Obama is re-elected in November, one big thing is going to be different in his second term. He will no longer have his relentlessly globe-trotting former presidential rival at his side. As the frazzled aides and reporters who travel regularly in the back of her converted Boeing 757 attest, the job is punishing, especially the way she has chosen to do it.

Since taking office, Mrs Clinton has visited 95 countries (see map) and logged some 730,000 miles, sometimes cramming more than a dozen meetings into a single day. This marathon came hard after the titanic Democratic presidential campaign of 2008. “I’ve had an extraordinary 20 years. I’ve been really at the highest levels of American political life,” she told The Economist in a recent interview, “I need a little time to reflect, step off the fast track I’ve been on.”

Evaluating her record is a complicated business. The job of a secretary of state has at least three parts: implementing foreign policy, acting as America’s global ambassador and running the behemoth that is the State Department. “

 

via American diplomacy: What Hillary did next | The Economist.

Posted March 29, 2012 by arnoneumann in Diplomacy, Politics, USA

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Left-Handedness Loses Its Stigma but Retains Its Mystery – NYTimes.com   Leave a comment

“Hand dominance (whether left or right) is related to brain asymmetry. And that, Dr. Francks said, “is not at all understood; we’re really at the very beginning of understanding what makes the brain asymmetrical.”

Though brain asymmetries exist in our closest primate relatives, there seems to be general consensus that the human brain is more profoundly asymmetric, and that understanding that asymmetry will show us much about who we are and how our brains work.

Brain lateralization, the distribution of function into right and left hemispheres, is crucial for understanding language, thought memory and perhaps even creativity. For many years, handedness has been seen as a possible proxy, an external clue to the balance in the brain between left and right.

For right-handed people, language activity is predominantly on the left side. Many left-handers also have left-side language dominance, but a significant number have language either more evenly distributed in both hemispheres or else predominantly on the right side of the brain.

via Left-Handedness Loses Its Stigma but Retains Its Mystery – NYTimes.com.

Posted March 29, 2012 by arnoneumann in Science

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Interview: it’s time to drop consensus | Environment | DW.DE | 27.03.2012   Leave a comment

“In an interview with DW, the head of an effort to reform the way the UN deals with environmental problems outlines his suggestions for how the world could move from countless talk shops to action.

Frank Biermann is the chair of the Earth System Governance Project and a professor at Amsterdam’s Free University. He is leading an effort to radically overhaul international institutions like the UN, to make them more effective in their response to global environmental problems like climate change, species loss and pollution.

DW spoke to him at this week’s Planet under Pressure conference in London, where he presented his team’s proposals to be considered at the Rio Earth Summit later this year.

DW: ……. ” ( click the link

for the interview)

via Interview: it’s time to drop consensus | Environment | DW.DE | 27.03.2012.

Posted March 27, 2012 by arnoneumann in Environment, UN

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The Case for Skyscrapers Made of Wood – Design – The Atlantic Cities   Leave a comment

“Since the invention and development of steel and concrete, the combination of which would spawn the birth of the skyscraper, wood as a building material has been marginalized as simple construction ephemera, used to form concrete or to structure building frames advanced with the expressed purpose of producing single family homes or large estates and to furnishing their plush interiors.

Wood fell out of vogue in a large part because of its vulnerability to fire, probably the single greatest factor in restricting use of the material to smaller structures. But change is coming, writes CNN, as wood has become transformed by a handful of dedicated engineers and architects – Shigeru Ban most notable among them – and put to use in the service of large-scale structures like Michael Green‘s proposed “Tallwood” skyscraper in Vancouver. ”

The plans for the 30-story tower are among a small group of “woodscrapers” being proposed throughout the world, which all had to overcome stringent building codes. Explaining the motivation behind his design, Green says that wood construction at such scales is decidedly cheaper than standard-industry methods and, more importantly, much more energy efficient, given the large amounts of CO2 expended in the manufacturing of steel and concrete and the extent of their large carbon footprints. Conversely, wood traps carbon dioxide throughout a building’s life cycle, and, if sustainably harvested from controlled and well-managed forests, can prove to be a renewable resource.

 

For Tallwood, Green has created a system of laminated strand lumber beams which are load-bearing and fire-resistant. Where the structural capacity of steel rapidly degrades when exposed to flames, the large beams, which are comprised of strips of wood fibers glued together, develop an exterior layer of char that insulates the wood’s structural core. Innovative designs such as Tallwood, when coupled with  may propel wood at the forefront of future construction advancements.

 

As Green says, “Really we’re at the stage where we’re able to start to show what’s possible, a bit like that Eiffel Tower moment. That was built when no one was used or understood tall structures, but it showed what could be done and just as importantly stretched the imagination.”

via The Case for Skyscrapers Made of Wood – Design – The Atlantic Cities.

Posted March 24, 2012 by arnoneumann in architecture

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Google’s Doodle: Akira Yoshizawa   Leave a comment

” The Google Doodle for March 14, 2012, honored Akira Yoshizawa, the father of modern origami, on his 101st birthday. The Doodle featured the Google logo, folded from origami (each letter folded from a single uncut sheet), decorated with origami butterflies folded from one of Yoshizawa’s most famous and iconic designs. In the week or so prior to its appearance, I helped Google put this together, by designing the logo, folding the butterflies, and a few other bits and pieces of assistance. This article tells the story: of the man, and the Doodle! ”

via Google’s Doodle: Akira Yoshizawa.

Posted March 20, 2012 by arnoneumann in Origami

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Akira Yoshizawa: Why origami matters – CSMonitor.com   Leave a comment

In 2000, when the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory wanted to design a telescope whose football-field sized lens could be folded into a small rocket, they approached an expert in a discipline not traditionally associated with aerospace and engineering: origami.

To be sure, Robert Lang, who has published 13 books on origami, also has degrees in engineering and physics and an extensive background in optics, but it was his expertise in folding paper that inspired the Eyeglass Telescope, whose thin plastic lens, designed to be forty times larger than that of the Hubble Space Telescope, would open like an umbrella in space.

Funding for the Eyeglass Telescope was discontinued before a full-scale version could be built, but the prototypes worked as predicted, showing that the Japanese art of paper folding has applications that go well beyond making paper cranes.

RELATED: Are you scientifically literate? Take our quiz!

As noted on Google’s home page, Wednesday marks the 101st birthday of Akira Yoshizawa, who is widely considered the grandfather of origami. He did not invent the practice – origami emerged as a pastime during Japan’s Heian period (794-1185). But in his lifetime, Yoshizawa did more than anyone else to elevate it into an art form. Equally important, Yoshizawa created a wordless notation consisting of lines, dashes, arrows, and diagrams that allowed people all over the world, regardless of their native language, to learn origami.    

And in doing so, he inspired generations of scientists and engineers to use origami principles for everything from noodle containers to domed stadium roofs. Look into the folds and creases of objects all around you and you’ll see origami everywhere……

via Akira Yoshizawa: Why origami matters – CSMonitor.com.

Posted March 19, 2012 by arnoneumann in Engineering, Origami

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Chinas rich hit by racing pigeon craze   Leave a comment

“KORTRIJK, BELGIUM – Rich Chinese pigeon fanciers are offering tens of thousands of euros to buy Belgian champions, to the despair of local pigeon-lovers unable to compete in such sky-high auction bids.Pigeon-breeding is an old Chinese passion, even though long-distance pigeon-racing has never caught on the way it has in northern Europe.In Belgium, the Netherlands, northern France, and Britain pigeon-racing can take place over distances of over 1,000 kilometres 660 miles with birds vying to return as quickly as possible to their home roost, their homing instinct allowing them to find the way.Champion racing pigeons can win large sums in prize money for their owners.In Belgium, pigeon-fancying had been on the decline in recent years, but the arrival of Chinese aficionados has changed the markets dynamic.Pigeon racing in China goes back to the Ming dynasty, when they were used as carrier pigeons. Banned during the Cultural Revolution, it made a comeback in the 1970s.According to Chinese state media, there are about 300,000 people in the country involved in the sport.In late January, a rich Chinese industrialist Hun Zhen Yu came to Europe and paid 250,000 euros S$328,000 for “Special Blue”, a world record for a champion.The birds former owner, Pieter Veenstra from Holland, has sold 245 pigeons over the past few years for more than two million euros, according to the specialised Pigeon Paradise PIPA website which claims that half its customers are from China.Rich Chinese fanciers will pay very large amounts “if the pigeon has won several prizes and is of good lineage,” said Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, the head of PIPA, speaking on the sidelines of the second world pigeon fair in Kortrijk, Belgium.”I think Belgium is the kingdom of homing pigeons,” said one of the fairs visitors, Johnson Kiang from Taiwan.But not everyone is pleased with the Chinese invasion.”

via Chinas rich hit by racing pigeon craze.

Posted March 11, 2012 by arnoneumann in China, sport

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