Reactor Team Let Pressure Soar

APRIL 23, 2011 Reactor Team Let Pressure Soar By PHRED DVORAK
TOKYO—The operator of Japan's stricken nuclear plant let pressure in one reactor climb far beyond the level the facility was designed to withstand, a decision that may have worsened the world's most serious nuclear accident in a quarter century.

Japanese nuclear-power companies are so leery of releasing radiation into the atmosphere that their rules call for waiting much longer and obtaining many more sign-offs than U.S. counterparts before venting the potentially dangerous steam that builds up as reactors overheat, a Wall Street Journal inquiry found.

Japan's venting policy got its first real-world test in the chaotic hours after March 11's earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power complex. By the first hours of March 12, an emergency was brewing inside the plant's No. 1 reactor.

By around 2:30 a.m., the pressure inside the vessel that forms a protective b…

The evolution of language: Babel or babble? | The Economist

Languages all have their roots in the same part of the world. But they are not as similar to each other as was once thought

Apr 14th 2011 | from the print edition

WHERE do languages come from? That is a question as old as human beings’ ability to pose it. But it has two sorts of answer. The first is evolutionary: when and where human banter was first heard. The second is ontological: how an individual human acquires the power of speech and understanding. This week, by a neat coincidence, has seen the publication of papers addressing both of these conundrums.

Quentin Atkinson, of the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, has been looking at the evolutionary issue, trying to locate the birthplace of the first language. Michael Dunn, of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, has been examining ontology. Fittingly, they have published their results in the two greatest rivals of scientific journalism. Dr Atkinson’s paper appears in Science, Dr Dunn’s in Nature.


Ten Things to be Learned from JAPAN

Ten Things to be Learned from JAPAN:

Not a single visual of wild shouting displays of grief. Sorrow itself
has been elevated to a new level.

За Гражданството на Демоса и Демокрацията

Ако историята е някакъв показател, скандалите около „туристическия вот” в избори 2009 ще отшумят точно както отшумяха през 2005, както и през 2001 преди това. Ако историята наистина е някакъв показател, проблемът с „туристическия вот” ще се появи отново през следващите избори, независимо кога са те. Манипулирането и фалшифицирането на избори съпътстват трудния демократичен преход на България от 1989 година насам и пречат на консолидацията на демократичните институции в страната. Но човек трябва да прави разлика между „манипулиране” и „фалшифициране”. Първото е част от демократичния процес (независимо, че това нарушава идеалистичната чистота на идеята за демокрация). За това имаме и парадокс – ограничаването на „манипулацията” на демократичния вот (която руши демокрацията) е „недемократично”. Във втория случай няма парадокс – фалшифицирането на избори е недемократично. Въпросът е дали двойното гражданство и съответно правото да се гласува в две държави е фалшификация или манипулация н…

Why North Korea's Nuclear Bullishness Is Good News for US Foreign Policy

North Korea tested a nuclear device this past Memorial Day weekend in attempt to call the US bluff. The Great Powers rushed to condemn the test, which was expected, and the UN's Security Council is expected to deliver a strong resolution against N. Korea. South Korea, frightened and frustrated, agreed to back the US plan to search N. Korea's boats for weapons. Pyongyang has warned that such a move would be considered an open declaration of war. Now South Korea must call the North's bluff.  But the real victims of the Dear Leader's power game will be Russia and China, along with his tacit supporters. Conversely, he US actually stands to benefit from this escalation. Here is why.

Before looking at the implications of this new situation, and the possible ways to respond, we must address: a) why the escalation happened and b) why it happened now. There are at least two possible scenarios as to why Pyongyang tested the nuclear devices, and launched the missiles. The first…

New York Terrorist Plot a Test for Domestic Counterterrorism Strategy

The recently released by FBI information about the arrests of four suspects who allegedly planned to blow up a few synagogues in NYC and shoot down military planes with a ground-to-air Stinger missile system will now become, perhaps, the greatest test for the argument that counterterrorism could be conducted successfully via the traditional court systems, without extrajudicial methods, such as Guantanamo or similar renditions.

[caption id="attachment_148" align="aligncenter" width="249" caption="The targets of the alleged terrorists, courtesy of BBC"][/caption]

To examine this I look into the particulars of each approach.

The Nuclear Ticking Scenario in Pakistan: Deal or No Deal?

Watching Pakistan dealing with the growing menace of extremists inside the country for the past decade or so reminds of the popular game "Deal or No Deal." After every round of political soup opera the stakes are raised, and the Western allies, primarily the US is asked "deal or no deal?" Then the game goes on into a new round. This comparison would have been entertaining had it not been so demonically tragic for the ordinary Pakistani clamped down between corrupt government(s), unpredictable military institution, and blinded religious fanatics-idealists. The latest round is particularly 'entertaining' because of what seems to be at stake – Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. So now we have ever more emboldened, ever more galvanized, and ever more determined Pakistani Taliban movement, a shaky, unpopular, and divided government, a finalist in the form of the US, and a military 'banker.' Do we have a deal?

Before going along with this crude comparison, …