Friday, June 30, 2006

In the Wake of Katrina: The Wrath of Mother Nature

Author: Jon Bischke

When natural disaster hits there are usually more questions than answers. Why did this happen? Can something like this be prevented from happening again? What does this all mean? In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, people are asking these and many other questions. As people come to grips with what has occurred it is natural for there to be curiosity about previous natural disasters in our planet's past.

There are a number of audio books that deal with the subject of natural disasters and can help give people context and understanding during tragic times. Often the best way to prevent future disaster is to understand what happened in the past and take action to prevent mistakes that might have led to the event or increased its impact. Here are some resources that you may want to consider listening to.

""Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded"" is the incredible story of the 1883 eruption of the volcano and the subsequent tsunami that killed almost 40,000 people. Simon Winchester narrates this tale of disaster and the ramifications of it on the surrounding area. On the other side of the world, a less catastrophic but more recent disaster is detailed in ""Fire on the Mountain"", the tale of a forest fire in Colorado on July 3, 1994. This fire claimed the lives of 14 firefighters and ranks as one of the deadliest days in the history of firefighting.

Blizzards and snowstorms are often tragic causes of death. ""Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America"" recounts the blizzard of 1888 that hit the Eastern Coast of the United States. This blizzard resulted in the death of 400 people, the sinking of 200 ships and snowdrifts that reached 50 feet in height. Climbers that challenge the world's highest peaks often come face to face with Mother Nature as well. Iconic climber Anatoli Boukreev's ""The Climb"" and Jon Krakauer's ""Into Thin Air"" both tell the haunting story of the 1996 attempts to scale Everest during which weather conditions contributed to the death of eight climbers.

There are even podcasts related to natural disasters. The Disaster News Network (DNN) puts out a regular podcast which has covered recent events such as the Indonesian earthquake and of course Hurricane Katrina. Another podcast that has covered the hurricane from a scientific perspective is the Science Friday podcast which is a production of NPR. Both of these podcasts are free to listen to and provide an alternative view of recent events.

Listening to audio books about natural disasters can't take the sting of these disasters away but it can help to give us a better historical perspective and show us the remarkable resilience of human beings even when the worst possible scenario has unfolded.

About the author: Jon Bischke is the Founder of and is passionate about helping you improve your life. He invites you to check out the complete selection of educational and self-development audio and video material at For the HTML version of this article complete with links to the titles that were mentioned, please visit

Features of the Scanning Tunneling Microscope

Author: George Anderson

The scanning tunneling microscope (STM) invented by Heinrich Rohrer and Gerd Binnig in the 1980s still manages to do a great job today and competes with more advanced microscope types.

The scanning tunneling microscope is used for studying the surface atoms that are found on various materials. The device is based on a complex process of ""tunneling"" electrons between the material and the tip of a probe. The tip of the probe is sharp and extremely small and it allows for great precision. However, in order to get the best results, the distance between the tip and the studied material has to be precisely calculated. While the tip is moving on the surface of the material, a constant flow of electrons must be kept so as to get accurate readings. After the scanning tunneling microscope does its job, the researcher is left with a precise bump map of the surface material.

Classified as a scanning probe microscopy instrument, the STM is actually a better version of the atomic force microscope. The scanning tunneling microscope brings higher accuracy and better individual atom separation abilities, providing researchers with high resolution images. Since the size at which experiments can be done is very small (about 0.2 nm) the scanning tunneling microscope offers a lot of versatility in usage. By making the most out of the high resolution images, researchers can manipulate individual atoms on the material surface. This allows for precise chemical and physical reactions to be performed, as well as electron manipulation.

So how does the scanning tunneling microscope work? STMs work by following the guidelines found in quantum mechanics, where the flow of electrons between the surface of the studied material and the tip of the probe is the essence of the experiment. The quantum mechanical effect is represented by the tunneling of electrons, which is, in other words, a transfer of electrons between the surface and the tip of the probe. The jumping motion performed by the electrons and the back and forth motion creates a weak electrical current (which only happens if the studied surface is a conductor). Precise measures of the distance between probe and surface is accomplished by using converse piezoelectricity.

There are many fields of study where a scanning tunneling microscope can come in handy. Researchers use it to get a better understanding of the conductivity level mechanisms found in different molecules. Because it allows for such great precision and individual atom manipulation, the scanning tunneling microscope is often used in labs dealing with nano technology. Other applications where the STM is used include conductivity research as well as analysis of the structural surface of various materials. Electronic device manufacturers use the scanning tunneling microscope as a tool for verifying surface conductivity and improving the size of their electronic devices, and there are numerous other fields where the STM performs accurately.

About the author: George Anderson loves the details that can be learned from microscopic study, especially

scanning tunneling microscopes .

EU's resistance to GMOs hurts the poor

Author: James Wachai

By James Wachai The bitter dispute between the U.S., Canada, and Argentina, on one hand, and the European Union (EU), on the other, over the latter's restrictive policies towards genetically modified foods reaches what is likely to be an acrimonious peak this week when the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules if the EU has violated trade rules by blocking foods produced using modern biotechnology techniques. Acrimonious because the EU is preemptively threatening to dishonor the verdict if it's in favor of the U.S., Canada and Argentina. The EU is keen on blocking genetically modified foods without scientific justification.

The dispute dates back to the spring of 1998 when five EU member states -Denmark, France, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg - issued a declaration to block GMOs approvals unless the European Commission (EC) proposed legislation for traceability and labeling of GMOs. A year later in June 1999, EU environment ministers imposed a six-year de facto moratorium on all GMOs. The official moratorium has since lapsed but EU's recalcitrance towards GMOs and obstruction remains.

EU's ban on GMOs has exasperated the U.S., Canada and Argentina - leading growers of crops with GMO enhancements - to initiate a WTO dispute settlement process against the EU in May 2003, arguing that the moratorium harmed farmers and their export markets, particularly for corn and soybeans, and which are critical sources of revenue for farmers.

Now, the WTO's verdict is due today(February 7, 2006). They have already reported it will be the longest report document of its kind. This suggests that EU political pandering may have seeped into the WTO process complicating what should be a simple trade dispute resolution. This is unfortunate for more than just the two parties involved.

The stakes are too high, not only to the parties in dispute, but to the entire world, and especially developing world. The dispute is not just another transatlantic trade skirmish. At stake are consumers' rights to have real choices with regard to their food, and farmers' freedoms to use approved tools and technologies to safely produce those food choices.

The EU has never justified its restrictive policies towards GMOs, which makes everybody question the motive behind GMOs ban. When it slapped a moratorium on GMOs, the EU cited undefined safety concerns as the reason for the drastic action. Their own scientists and regulators have repeatedly addressed and dismissed the safety issues for these GMO crops. Were similar undefined, precautionary principle standards applied to other growing practices - such as organic - Europe would have to similarly ban all foodstuffs.

In the absence of verifiable scientific justification to block GMOs from its territories, the EU is guilty of violating the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), to which it is a signatory. The SPS, particularly, recognizes that countries are entitled to regulate crops and food products to protect health and environment. The agreement requires, however, ""sufficient scientific evidence"" to support trade-restrictive regulations on crops and food products to protect the environment.

The EU's argument in the WTO dispute is greatly eroded by the fact that various scientific bodies have, repeatedly, vindicated GMOs. For example, the United Kingdom-based Institute for Food Science and Technology (IFT) - an independent body for food scientists and technologists - has declared that ""genetic modification has the potential to offer very significant improvements in the quantity, quality and acceptability of the world's food supply.""

In 2004, the U.S. National Research Council (NRC), a division of the National Academy of Sciences (NAC), issued a report in which it found that genetic engineering is ""not an inherently hazardous process,"" calling fears of the anti-biotech crowd ""scientifically unjustified.""

In June 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report that acknowledged the potential of genetically modified foods to enhance human health and development. The report, Modern Food Biotechnology, Human Health and Development, noted that pre-market assessments done so far have not found any negative health effects from consuming GM foods. Surely, no respectable scientific body would endorse a flawed innovation.

These findings may help to explain why agricultural biotech innovators and product developers continue to thrive. Cropnosis - a leading provider of market research and consultancy services in the crop protection and biotechnology sectors - estimates that the global value of biotech crops stands at $5.25 billion representing 15 percent of the $34.02 billion crop protection market in 2005 and 18 per cent of the $30 billion 2005 global commercial seed market.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), in a report released early this year, reveals that since the commercialization of the first GM crop a decade ago, 1 billion acre of land, in 21 countries, is under biotech crops. In 2005 alone, the global area of approved biotech crops was 222 million hectares, up from 200 million acres in 2004. This translates to annual growth rate of 11 percent.

The lucrative nature of GM crops - they yield high and require less pesticides and herbicides - is driving many developing countries to embrace them. However, many, especially in Africa, where agriculture constitutes 30 per cent of the continent's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), have been reluctant cultivate GMOs for fear of losing their European agricultural markets. This is why Europe's accession to GMOs remains critical to Africa's adoption of GMOs. The EU, by default, is preventing many poor countries to benefit from GMOs.

If Europe opens its doors to GMOs, many poor countries stand to gain from this technology and both the economic as well as life-saving benefits it has to offer. Many in poor countries, predominantly, live on agriculture. They must be given a chance to benefit from modern agricultural technologies such as biotechnology. Denying poor countries an opportunity to reap from crop biotechnology, which has proved so successful in other parts of the world, amounts to condemning billions of people who live in poor countries to a slow and painful death.

About the author: Go to to read more about James Wachai

Mars Global Surveyor

Author: David Craig

While Spirit and Opportunity, Nasa's Mars Rovers are getting all the attention, largely overlooked bonanzas of information about the Red Planet are being reaped by the Mars Global Survey.

Originally launched for the first time successfully on September 12 1997, the Mars Global Surveyor has given Nasa much more than its expectations by living beyond its primary mission which was intended to end in January of 2002. Remaining in good condition as of this point, Nasa has extended its mission for a third time through 2006 and believe if funding is allocated the Surveyor could remain in space around Mars' orbit for another five to ten years. On September twelfth of this year, the Global Surveyor passed Viking I as the longest lived spacecraft in Mars space mission history.

Among the discoveries made by the Surveyor, the most dramatic since its mission began was a discovery of a fossilized river delta in a crater known as ""Eberswalde"". This delta proved the existence of water flow among Mars at one time, resulting in the production of sedimentary rock as found by Spirit and Opportunity.

The most exciting recent discovery has been that of the formation of new gullies on Mars. This evidence has changed the estimates of the age of Mars. In addition, the Mars Global Surveyor discovered a shrinking of the southern polar ice cap of three feet a year. This proved to Nasa that Mars is undergoing more frequent changed than previously believed. In addition, the Surveyor has gathered data on the well-known dust storms of Mars, showing them to be seasonal, varying, and covering only part of the planet at a time. The dust storms were found to be higher in the atmosphere than previously suspected. This meant the surface of Mars is calmer than previously believed during these interludes.

New technology has allowed Nasa to increase its utilization of the Surveyor in ways never dreamed of at the onset of its mission. Resolution of its cameras made it possible to determine that boulders no larger than one to two meters exist in ripples caused by a catastrophic flood. This technique, is known as ""compensated pitch and roll targeted observation"". In May of this year, the Surveyor again made history by being the first spacecraft to ever take images of other spacecraft in orbit, taking images of the European Space Agency's Mars Express and NASA's Mars Odyssey.

Nasa - National Mars Exploration Program - :

1) One Mars Orbiter Takes First Photos of Other Orbiters

2) Mars Orbiter Sees Rover Tracks Among Thousands of New Images

3) Nasa Press Releases September 20, 2005 4) Recent Changes on Mars Seen by Mars Global Surveyor Michael C. Malin and Kenneth S. Edgett, Malin Space Science Systems, September 2005

About the author: David Craig Nasa and General Astronomy Inofrmation M.S. Physics - University of Minnesota B.S. Computer Science - University of Oregon

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lagrangian Points and Nasa's Plan to Explore Space

Author: David Craig

October 3, 2005

Nasa is relying on its ability to determine the Lagrangian points between every set of planets, moons, asteroids, etcetera it intends to explore in order to implement its plan of successful interplanetary space exploration. Although this at first may seem to be a vague and mystical concept, foreign to all but the most overeducated of astrophysicists, in fact it is really quite simple to understand.

The Lagrangian in physics is merely nothing more than an alternative set of two equations for Newton's second law; force equals mass times acceleration. A Lagrangian point between two bodies exerting competing forces on a body therefore is a point at which the forces are equal and opposite. According to Newton's third law, if the net force on a body is zero it will stay at rest if at rest and if in motion it will stay in motion.

In mathematical terms, visualize a graph of a big bowl. The Lagrangian point is the point at the very bottom of the bowl. The energy from the very bottom of the bowl to the top represents the maximum energy required to kick a body at the bottom of the bowl out of the bowl and keep it from rolling back to return to its state of minimum energy. Therefore, in this case of a mass under the influence of two competing gravitational forces, the Lagrangian points are the orbits in which the mass in question will have the greatest ability to withstand the biggest change in net force upon it that would disturb it into an unstable orbit.

How this relates to Nasa and its plans for future space travel is that they have the ability to find the solutions of these formulas to determine the Lagrangian points lying between adjacent planetary bodies along the proposed route of space travel. They are planning to put space stations at these locations. This will make it possible to create stepping stones to extend space exploration outwards as far as you want to go. As it would be unrealistic to expect any spacecraft to be able to return to earth from deep space in the case of emergency or the need for repairs, this makes it hypothetically feasible to conduct space travel without limits in the future.

Sources: 1) NASA Reveals New Plan for the Moon, Mars & Outward By Leonard David; Senior Space Writer -

About the author: M.S. Physics - University of Minnesota

B.S. Computer Science - University of Oregon

Visit Nasa and General Astronomy Information for more pertinent Nasa and astronomy articles.

Temperature monitoring systems

Author: Rick Kaestner

Monitoring temperature is a critical element in many different segments of industry and business today. There are several means of measuring temperature, each of which has its own pluses and minuses. In the past you had to use a manual method, where an employee used a thermometer to determine temperature and a piece of paper and a pencil to record. This was time consuming, expensive and of questionable accuracy.

When chart recorders were invented it was used for monitoring temperature twenty-four hours a day. However it still required an employee to change the chart every day or week and because it was mechanical it often broke down requiring even more maintenance.

The Data logger appeared in the late 80s. They were not mechanical, which eliminated the ongoing maintenance and made monitoring temperature easier and less expensive. They recorded temperature in RAM memory and could do their work unattended. They were also rugged so they would be put in places that were inhospitable to humans.

Many businesses began using the data logger for monitoring temperature. This worked fairly well as long as the temperature they were monitoring didn't change frequently or require a response to certain events. The big drawback to the data logger is that the temperature can't be seen until it is downloaded into a computer. The data logger hasn't, until recently, come with a display.

There is now a new type of data logger available which does have a display. This class of instrument, called data viewers collects and stores temperature history, just like a data logger, but it also displays the temperature on an LCD display. This improves the utility of the device immensely. The most useful and low-cost data viewer is the ThermaViewer, manufactured by Two Dimensional Instruments, LLC.

This very useful instrument can be installed in minutes and easily used by every employee. It doesn't require an IT professional to set up or interpret. Once in place, it draws a chart on the large LCD display that is very easy to read. It is being used in laboratories and hospitals for measuring temperature of refrigerators and freezers where drugs and vaccines are stored. It is definitely easy enough for nurses, orderlies, and maintenance personnel to use.

About the author: Rick Kaestner is the President and CEO of Two Dimensional Instruments; the worldwide leader in providing technology to monitor, measure, record and document temperature and humidity. For more information please visit their website at

Nasa's Vomit Comet

Author: David Craig

September 29, 2005

The Vomit Comet is the nickname for Nasa's C-9 airplane used to simulate weightlessness for astronaut training. The C-9 replaced two KC-135's previously used for this function. The Vomit Comet engages in a flight lasting almost three hours entailing 30-40 parabolic loops in which gravity varies from earth's gravitational pull to near weightlessness for a period of 25 seconds. The aircraft flies horizontally for a period of time only to rise in a steep climb followed by the 25 second freefall.

The Vomit Comet received its name from the percentage of its passengers who throw up on its flights. According to John Yaniec, lead test director for NASA's Reduced Gravity Program, roughly one third of its passengers vomit, one third get sick but don't vomit, and the rest don't get sick at all. According to Yaniec, most airsickness is caused by anxiety over the upcoming flight.

The Vomit Comet is used to train future astronauts as well as to carry out microgravity experiments. Many high school and college science experiments have been carried out over the years on the Vomit Comet. One of the original KC-135 Vomit Comets was used to film scenes of the 1995 movie Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks.

About the author: M.S. Physics - University of Minnesota B.S. Computer Science - University of Oregon Owner of Space Stuff - Home of Nasa and General Astronomy Information

Please feel free to visit.

Do Planets Communicate with Living Organisms?

Author: Thomas Herold

Do you feel any difference if the moon if full? A lot of people, including myself, report that their sleep is different and even during the day they feel a shift in their mood that lasts sometimes a few days.

The moon is responsible for making the tides and has therefore a physical influence on the earth. But what about the other 9 major planets?

Astrology is based on the belief that time has quality. Important here is to mention that astrology does not say the planets are making the qualities or energy patterns. The planets are an indicator of these qualities and if you are familiar with these qualities you can see them manifesting in your daily life.

Our world and our beliefs are still so much indoctrinated by the old paradigm that everything is mechanical - including the human nature. This old belief will soon be replaced by new beliefs and new concepts. Quantum physics is already making such a big shift in our view of the word that soon the public will realize that our mechanical concepts of the world needs to be replaced in order to integrate new findings and experiments.

What we will learn sooner or later is that information takes no time at all to get from one place to another and therefore we can not even say anymore that information is traveling. On a quantum level information could be a singularity, meaning that everything is happening at the same time everywhere.

Does Life has Principles? A study done by a swiss scientist some 50 years ago revealed the principles of life itself. These principles are manifesting themselves in every living form as well as in any other material way.

The amazing result of his study shows the outcome of nearly 10 principles that are almost identical with the qualities of the planets. I like to mention that this study was not influenced in any way by astrology facts.

Each planet is associated with a different energy pattern. The names vary slightly as each astrologer interprets them differently. But overall they represent the same energy pattern. The difference is simply caused by the language. When I mention the color red we all agree on it but there are hundreds of variations.

What are these 10 Qualities?

Moon - Feeling Sun - Identity Mercury - Thinking Venus - Harmony Mars - Energy Jupiter - Expansion Saturn - Integration Uranus - Transition Neptune - Mystery Pluto - Metamorphosis

A Short Explanation of these Qualities:

Feeling - Our emotions and our senses. There are days you may more sensitive for light or sound than others.

Sun - What we identify with, our live force.

Mercury - Our capacity to understand, logic, language, talking.

Venus - Harmony means to reach an optimum, a balance.

Mars - Power, the strength to initiate or do something.

Jupiter - Exploring new areas in your life, growing.

Saturn - Learning something new about yourself.

Uranus - Shifting your work area or your life purpose.

Neptune - Quantum physics, beyond what you see and understand.

Pluto - Transformation, changing your way of life.

The names of these qualities are adapted and modified from Thomas Ring, one of the most popular German astrologers. He lived from 1892 until 1983 and Astrodienst Zurich has dedicated a special website for him.

Also there are some other planets like Chiron, but I'd like to concentrate on the major 10 planets. And for all scientist I want to add that the moon of course is a trabant and the sun is a star, but in astrology terms they are planets as well.

What can we do with these 10 Energy Patterns? We can create a chart from our birthday and see our unique energy pattern in it. Go to a good astrologer and you will be amazed on how precisely your birth chart represents your unique abilities and talents.

Now here comes the interesting part. As we know how the planets are moving we can look up the planet positions on a ephemerids. The ephemerids is telling us where the position of a planet is at a certain time. We combine these positions with our birth chart and what we get is a unique energy pattern for each day. We can even look up planet data in the future and can therefore find energy patterns in the future.

The combination of your energy patterns from your birth chart with the energy patterns of the daily planets is called transits. These calculations have been done for thousands of years. But today we have fast and inexpensive computers and calculations can be done in a fraction of a second.

What you will get from this calculation is a long list of relationships between the position of your planets from your birth chart and the position of the planets from a certain day.

The results of this calculation can be shown as a graphic with two circles. The inner circle shows your birth chart and the outer circle the chart from a certain day. Between these two circles you than see lines, which are representing the transits. For someone who understands astrology this graphic is meaningfully - for the rest of us it is meaningless.

How would it look like if we take one quality from our birth chart and combine it with the 10 qualities from a certain date? It would show us all the influences at once. For example I can see my energy (Mars) pattern and therefore may or may not base my decisions. If my energy pattern shows expanding (Jupiter) or shows energy (Mars) as well I know that this would be a good time for actions and starting new projects.

If you pay attention to your feelings and your daily qualities (transits) you may automatically adapt your work or life flow accordingly and you will find yourself having to deal with less resistance.

I am currently working on an application for the Internet, which will be available for free in a few weeks. With this application you will be able to calculate the positions of your planets at your birth time and watch a graphical radar chart of your current transits.

You can see some of the test graphics on my website at:

Quantum Biocommunication Technology

About the author: Thomas Herold is the founder of Quantum Biocommunication Technology, a website dedicated to the exploration of bicommunication.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What are Compound Microscopes?

Author: Peter Emerson

Most of the microscopes used today are compound. A compound microscope features two or more lenses. A hollow cylinder called the tube connects the two lenses. The top lens, the one people look through, is called the eyepiece. The bottom lens is known as the objective lens. Below the two lenses is the stage, with the illuminator below that.

Compound microscopes were among the first magnifying instruments invented. Two Dutch eyeglass makers named Zaccharias and Hans Janssen are credited with making the first compound microscope in 1590 by putting one lens at the top of a tube and another at the bottom of the tube. Their idea was fleshed out by others scientists over the next several centuries, but the basic design remained very similar.

The eyepiece, also known as the ocular lens, is at the top of the compound microscope. It is not adjustable, that is, it only has one strength. Most ocular lenses are 10x, meaning that they magnify objects to ten times their normal size. People look in through the eyepiece through the tube and out through the objective lens.

A compound microscope normally contains several objective lenses. The objective lenses are different lengths, with the longer ones being the strongest. The lenses are situated on a round disk below the tube. Viewers choose which strength lens they want and place it below the tube by turning the disk until the desired lens is in place.

The stage and illuminator are below the objective lens. Specimens are placed over a translucent part of the stage. Light provided by the illuminator shines through the clear part of the stage, making it easier for the viewer to see the magnified details of the specimen. Two adjustment knobs help focus the object on the stage by bringing the lenses and the stage closer together.

Compound microscopes have been around for hundreds of years and are still very useful. A number of scientific disciplines use compound microscopes to discover the wonders of the microscopic world.

About the author: Microscopes Info provides detailed information about electron, compound, stereo, digital, video, and scanning tunneling microscopes, as well as an explanation of the different parts of a microscope, and more. Microscopes Info is affiliated with Business Plans by Growthink .

How Specialty Gases Differ from Industrial Gases

Author: Bob Jefferys

When it comes to compressed gases , there is often confusion over the difference between industrial gases (sometimes referred to as commodity or bulk gases) and specialty gases (sometimes referred to as cylinder gases, although industrial gases can also be supplied in cylinders). The Compressed Gas Association (CGA), who sets standards to which suppliers of all types of compressed gases conform, defines its mission as being ""dedicated to the development and promotion of safety standards and safe practices in the industrial gas industry."" In a broad sense, in that most compressed gases are used for some sort of industrial application, all could be considered to be industrial gases. So to define the true difference between industrial gases and specialty gases, one must look beyond the application to other factors such as complexity, level of purity and certainty of composition.

According to the CGA compressed gases are often grouped into five loosely defined families: atmospheric; fuel; refrigerant; poisonous; and those having no obvious ties to any of the other families. Assignment to these families is somewhat arbitrary and typically based on the origin, use or chemical structure of a gas. Specialty gases can belong to any of these five families. Essentially, they are industrial gases taken to a higher level. The dictionary describes one of the definitions of the word specialty as: an unusual, distinctive, or superior mark or quality. Specialty gases then, can be defined as high-quality gases for specific applications that are prepared using laboratory analysis and other preparation methods in order to quantify, minimize or eliminate unknown or undesirable characteristics within the gas. Regarding specialty gas mixtures, precise blending is also necessary to achieve very specific concentration values for the components contained within the mixture.

Specialty pure gases Pure gases are considered to be specialty gases when they are used as support gases for laboratory instruments such as chromatographs, mass spectrometers and other various types of analyzers and detectors. Manufacturers of these types of highly sensitive instruments normally specify the purity level of pure gases to be used with their instruments. For example, high-purity, moisture-free helium is often used as a carrier gas in these instruments. When unwanted impurities are present, performance of a laboratory instrument may be compromised, or the instrument itself may be damaged. A good rule of thumb is, when purity (sometimes as high as 99.9999%) and/or quantification of trace impurities is an issue, a pure gas is considered to be a specialty pure.

Specialty pure gases are used in the manufacturing of semiconductors and other closely controlled applications as well. They may also be used to assess and monitor the integrity of a bulk pure gas. Carbon dioxide is a good example. Beverage-quality CO2, as used in the manufacture of soft drinks, can be classified as being more of a bulk-type gas because it is used in large quantities. However, because purity is a health concern, a specialty pure CO2, in which all trace impurities have been carefully quantified, is needed to calibrate instruments used to monitor the purity of the bulk CO2.

Specialty gas mixtures Many specialty gases are actually gas mixtures that contain individual components. They are frequently used with various types of analyzers for process control and regulatory compliance. Some specialty mixtures are somewhat ""standard"" and may contain only three or four components, such as nitric oxide and sulfur dioxide mixtures that are used by utility companies to calibrate Continuous Emissions Monitors (CEMs). Others may be quite complex, containing as many as 30 or more components. Usually, a specialty gas mixture is prepared using a Standard Reference Material (SRM) in order to validate accurate measurement of the mixture's components. This provides what is known as traceability to a known measurement standard from a recognized metrology institution such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Specialty mixtures typically have components measured in percentages, parts-per-million and parts-per-billion.

Laboratory analysis to quantify all components and impurities in a specialty mixture is nearly always critical. A formal document known as a Certificate of Accuracy or Certificate of Analysis is provided for each cylinder containing a specialty mixture, and also for some specialty pure gases. This certificate specifies the concentration values for all contents, as well as other important information such the method of blending, type of laboratory analysis and reference standard used to prepare the mixture and expiration date. Expiration date refers to the length of time the components of a mixture remain at their certified concentrations within the specified tolerances. Depending on the stability of the components, shelf life can vary from as little as six months to two years or more. Special cylinder preparation processes, such as Scott's Aculife cylinder inerting treatments, can be used to condition cylinder interior walls in order to extend a mixture's shelf life.

Specialty gases are typically not used in nearly as large a quantity as industrial gases and are supplied in steel or aluminum high-pressure cylinders containing up to 3000 pounds of pressure per square inch/gauge (psig). Hence, they are sometimes referred to as cylinder gases or bottled gases. The cylinder itself is typically not included in the price of the specialty gas it contains and must be returned to the gas supplier when the gas has been depleted. A nominal monthly cylinder rental is usually charged until the cylinder is returned. Many specialty gases are also available in small, portable and non-returnable cylinders such as Scott's SCOTTY Transportables. Other specialized containers include lecture bottles that are often used in laboratories and floating piston-type cylinders that are used to contain volatile liquid phase mixtures.

The cost of specialization Due to blending technology, cylinder preparation, laboratory analysis and statistical quality control necessary to produce specialty gases, cost is much higher than for lower grade industrial gases. An A-size cylinder containing 218 cubic feet of a low grade of helium suitable for filling party balloons might cost little more than $50. The same cylinder containing 99.9999% pure research grade helium, with a total impurity of less than one part-per-million (1 ppm), would cost about $500. That's still a bargain considering 144 cubic feet of a three-component EPA Protocol mixture having an analytical accuracy of 1% may cost as much as $1,500. As with any other specialized product, the end cost of a particular specialty pure or gas mixture is largely determined by the degree of difficulty and complexity involved in its preparation.

Considerations when purchasing specialty gases Purchasing specialty gases can be a daunting task. Because of today's bottom line-oriented business climate, one might consider selecting a specialty gas product based strictly on price. Be careful! While in some cases organizations such as the EPA may dictate minimum accuracy and manufacturing processes for certain gas mixtures, there are few industry-wide standards for specialty gas quality. Blending, analytical and cylinder preparation procedures vary between suppliers of specialty gases. Moreover, suppliers do not always use common nomenclature when describing their products. Even when product names are the same, the characteristics of the gases can be quite different. The best advice is to carefully evaluate your application needs before purchasing. Then talk with a specialty gas expert to be sure you fully understand how the characteristics of a particular pure gas or gas mixture will either meet or possibly compromise your application. Remember also that most specialty gases require the use of specialized delivery equipment that is constructed of materials that will protect gas purity and integrity.

This article is copyrighted by Scott Gases . It may not be reproduced in whole or in part and may not be posted on other websites, without the express written permission of the author who may be contacted via email at

About the author: Bob Jefferys is the Senior Corporate Communications Manager at Scott Specialty Gases.

EPA Regulations Raise the Bar for Industrial Air Quality Testing

Author: Kenneth Eichleman

Far-reaching environmental legislation continues to change the way Americans live, work, and run their businesses. For the past decade and a half, companies have worked toward meeting the latest air quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In 2005, regulations introduced by the Clean Air Act of 1990 came into full effect with the goal of reducing harmful emissions by 57-billion pounds per year. The act continues to have a huge impact both economically and environmentally as it targets the sources of urban air pollution, acid rain, and stratospheric ozone depletion.

Air pollution is not a new problem in the United States. During the 1940s, a series of pollution-related disasters forced Americans to acknowledge the need for clean air standards. The worst of those incidents took place during a five day period in 1948, when smog caused by industrial emissions and coal-burning furnaces killed 20 people and sickened nearly 7,000 others in the small town of Donora, Pennsylvania.

The tragedy spurred the federal government to take control of air quality management. In 1955, the Air Pollution Control Act was introduced to mandate the national investigation of air pollution. More stringent air quality controls were later established with the creation of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the formation of the EPA. In 1990, the Clean Air Act was revised to include the following amendments:

* Title I - strengthens measures for attaining national air quality standards

* Title II - sets forth provisions relating to mobile sources

* Title III - expands the regulation of hazardous air pollutants

* Title IV - requires substantial reductions in emissions for control of acid rain

* Title V - establishes operating permits for all major sources of air pollution

* Title VI - establishes provisions for stratospheric ozone protection * Title VII - expands enforcement powers and penalties

The legislation not only provides the EPA with innovative regulatory procedures, but allows for a variety of supportive research and enforcement measures. Individuals may face fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment up to 15 years, with each day of violation counted as a separate offense. Businesses may face fines of up to $500,000 for each negligent violation and up to $1 million per day for knowing endangerment. Many corporations must apply for national operating permits because of the emissions released by their processes.

Current industrial

air quality testing is driven by the latest amendments. A major focus for manufacturers under the new provisions can be found in Title III, which identifies and lists 189 HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) to be reduced within a ten-year period. This is a tremendous increase since the EPA had previously established standards for only seven HAPs out of only eight listed. These pollutants can result in serious health effects, such as cancer, birth defects, immediate death, or catastrophic accidents.

Among the air pollutants the act pinpoints for monitoring are VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These chemicals are identified as organic because of the presence of carbon, but many are synthetically created. VOCs include gasoline, industrial chemicals such as benzene, solvents such as toluene and xylene, and tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene, the principal dry cleaning solvent). Many VOCs, such as benzene, are present on the HAP list because of the threat they pose to human health. These pollutants may cause death, disease, or birth defects in organisms that ingest or absorb them.

There are a variety of methods for the determination of TO (toxic organic) compounds in ambient air at parts-per-million (ppm) and parts-per-billion (ppb) concentration levels. Following the EPA's TO-14, TO-14A, or TO-15 Methods, VOCs in air are collected in specially prepared canisters and analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) instruments.

To test air quality using these methods, a sample of ambient air from a source must be drawn into a pre-evacuated specially prepared canister. After the sample is collected, the canister valve is closed, an identification tag is attached to the canister, a chain-of-custody (COC) form completed, and the canister is transported to a laboratory for analysis.

Upon receipt at the lab, the proper documentation is completed and the canister is attached to the analytical system. Water vapor is reduced in the gas stream by a dryer (if applicable), and the VOCs are then concentrated by collection in a cryogenically cooled trap. The refrigerant, typically liquid nitrogen or liquid argon, is then removed and the temperature of the trap is raised. The VOCs originally collected in the trap are revolatilized, separated on a GC column, and then run through one or more detectors to identify the components and concentrations in each sample. Findings are thoroughly documented in a written report which is presented to the client.

The qualitative and quantitative accuracy of these analyses is of the utmost importance. Difficulty arises in part because of the wide variety of TO substances and the lack of standardized sampling and analysis procedures.

To facilitate the improvement of laboratory

air quality testing and analysis, one proactive company, Scott Specialty Gases, offers a cross-reference program for labs. Now laboratories can evaluate their own proficiency by comparing their results against Scott Specialty Gases' as well as the blind results from other participating labs. By employing the highly accurate and stable gas mixtures manufactured by Scott Specialty Gases, laboratories can also calibrate their GC/MS instruments to achieve more precise readings of samples.

Chemical manufacturing plants, oil refineries, toxic waste sites or land fills, and solid waste incinerators are just a few of the many sources of hazardous air pollutants. The financial cost to install state-of-the-art controls is great.

Thanks to the services offered by companies like Scott Specialty Gases and to the more stringent requirements of the Clean Air Act of 1990, the environment is on the mend. The impact of industry compliance with the Clean Air Act of 1990 has been astounding. Careful testing has already shown a significant improvement in national air quality thanks to anti-pollution efforts. According to studies conducted by the Foundation for Clean Air Progress, exposure levels for ozone and particulates have decreased and four of the six most serious pollutants identified by the Clean Air Act of 1970 are no longer being released into the air at unhealthy levels. These improvements fly in the face of data that shows increased population growth and energy usage in the United States. Regulatory vigilance and technological advances in environmental monitoring have made cleaner air a reality.

This article is provided by Scott Specialty Gases. Scott Specialty Gases, a leading global manufacturer of specialty gases located in Plumsteadville, PA. More information on the company can be found at .

This article is copyrighted by Scott Gases. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part and may not be posted on other websites, without the express written permission of the author who may be contacted via email at


""Clean Air Act."" Jan. 25, 1996. DOE Environmental Policy and Guidance. US Department of Energy.

Faletto, John S. ""1990 Clean Air Act Amendments - Impact on Small Businesses."" March 1994. Illinois Municipal Review. Illinois Periodicals Online (IPO).

""History of the Clean Air Act."" Environmental Resources for Teachers. Foundation for Clean Air Progress. 2002-2004.

McIntosh, Hugh. ""Catching Up on the Clean Air Act."" August 1993. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 101, No. 3. Sept. 11, 1998.

""Compendium of Methods for the Determination of Toxic Organic Chemicals in Ambient Air."" Cincinnati, OH: 1999. US Environmental Protection Agency. ""The Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act."" April 1993. Air Quality Planning and Standards. Updated: May 13, 2002. US Environmental Protection Agency.

Scott Specialty Gases. ""Toxic Organic mixtures come in returnable cylander."" Feb. 12, 2004. Managing Automation. 2004.

About the author: Ken Eichelmann earned his BS in Commerce & Engineering in 1977 from Drexel University. Ken joined Scott Specialty Gases in September 2001 as the SCOTTY Product Manager, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience in marketing, product management, sales, management, and the process industries.

Several types of hearing aids

Author: Michael Sanford

A hearing aid is an electronic, battery-operated device that amplifies and changes sound to allow for improved communication. Hearing aids receive sound through a microphone, which then converts the sound waves to electrical signals. The amplifier increases the loudness of the signals and then sends the sound to the ear through a speaker. Different kinds of hearing aids There are several types of hearing aids. Each type offers different advantages, depending on its design, levels of amplification, and size. Before purchasing any hearing aid, ask whether it has a warranty that will allow you to try it out. Most manufacturers allow a 30- to 60-day trial period during which aids can be returned for a refund. There are four basic styles of hearing aids for people with sensorineural hearing loss: In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely in the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss. The case, which holds the components, is made of hard plastic. ITE aids can accommodate added technical mechanisms such as a telecoil, a small magnetic coil contained in the hearing aid that improves sound transmission during telephone calls. ITE aids can be damaged by earwax and ear drainage, and their small size can cause adjustment problems and feedback. They are not usually worn by children because the casings need to be replaced as the ear grows. Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids are worn behind the ear and are connected to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear. The components are held in a case behind the ear. Sound travels through the earmold into the ear. BTE aids are used by people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss. Poorly fitting BTE earmolds may cause feedback, a whistle sound caused by the fit of the hearing aid or by buildup of earwax or fluid. Canal Aids fit into the ear canal and are available in two sizes. The In-the-Canal (ITC) hearing aid is customized to fit the size and shape of the ear canal and is used for mild or moderately severe hearing loss. A Completely-in-Canal (CIC) hearing aid is largely concealed in the ear canal and is used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. Because of their small size, canal aids may be difficult for the user to adjust and remove, and may not be able to hold additional devices, such as a telecoil. Canal aids can also be damaged by earwax and ear drainage. They are not typically recommended for children. Body Aids are used by people with profound hearing loss. The aid is attached to a belt or a pocket and connected to the ear by a wire. Because of its large size, it is able to incorporate many signal processing options, but it is usually used only when other types of aids cannot be used.

On the basis of the hearing test results, the audiologist can determine whether hearing aids will help. Hearing aids are particularly useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people with sensorineural hearing loss. When choosing a hearing aid, the audiologist will consider your hearing ability, work and home activities, physical limitations, medical conditions, and cosmetic preferences. For many people, cost is also an important factor. You and your audiologist must decide whether one or two hearing aids will be best for you. Wearing two hearing aids may help balance sounds, improve your understanding of words in noisy situations, and make it easier to locate the source of sounds.

Problems while adjusting to hearing aids Become familiar with your hearing aid. Your audiologist will teach you to use and care for your hearing aids. Also, be sure to practice putting in and taking out the aids, adjusting volume control, cleaning, identifying right and left aids, and replacing the batteries with the audiologist present. The hearing aids may be uncomfortable. Ask the audiologist how long you should wear your hearing aids during the adjustment period. Also, ask how to test them in situations where you have problems hearing, and how to adjust the volume and/or program for sounds that are too loud or too soft. Your own voice may sound too loud. This is called the occlusion effect and is very common for new hearing aid users. Your audiologist may or may not be able to correct this problem; however, most people get used to it over time. Your hearing aid may ""whistle."" When this happens, you are experiencing feedback, which is caused by the fit of the hearing aid or by the buildup of earwax or fluid. See your audiologist for adjustments. You may hear background noise. Keep in mind that a hearing aid does not completely separate the sounds you want to hear from the ones you do not want to hear, but there may also be a problem with the hearing aid. Discuss this with your audiologist.

For more information on hearing aids please visit the

Hearing aids resource center.

About the author: None

What's In Your Beverage? How to Ensure Quality Control with CO2 Analytical Support

Author: Leanne Merz

Calibration standards, performance audits, and the FDA's never-ending safety, labeling, and inspection requirements are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dealing with the increasingly stringent quality control standards of the beverage industry. As these quality standards become stricter, beverage producers are increasingly called upon to get products to market faster using fewer resources, while simultaneously managing ingredient quality, and ultimately, risk.

Mix rigorous regulations and mounting market challenges with exploding competition and the opportunity for enormous economic reward, and it becomes obvious that products must be perfect the first time around to fulfill production requirements, comply with distribution standards, and ultimately provide each consumer with the exact same exceptional product every time.

All of which makes quality control more necessary than ever.

Quality Assurance in the beverage industry starts by ensuring that top quality gases are used to perform the carbonation process and continues through the bottling and distributing process with a high-tech quality control examination.

On the top of the list of gases regulated in the world of drink is carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the main components of many of the beverages produced today, including soda, beer, sparkling water, and sports drinks. CO2 has also become a major constituent of orange juice through supercritical CO2 processing during pasteurization and has even entered the world of dairy with the addition of ""Refreshing Power Milk,"" a new carbonated milk hybrid, to the refreshments market.

Leading beverage manufacturers in this $700 billion industry are taking the critical step to ensure purity of beverage-grade CO2 by using analytical support gases and quality assurance services. Since ensuring purity of CO2 is such a crucial factor in the beverage production process, choosing a specialty gas company to provide purification, calibration, and cross-reference services for your products should be a priority.

Keep in mind that specialty gas companies outside of the beverage industry hold a uniquely favorable position as authoritative and neutral third-party qualifiers. These companies provide experience in developing trace contaminant calibration standards as well as independence from the supply and certification of beverage grade CO2, which helps to ensure unbiased statistical and graphical reporting.

Regardless of the industry from which the service company originates, it is vital that it provides specialized service in the CO2 industry and adheres to industry standards on commercial quality with regard to CO2.

Some more guidelines to consider when choosing a Quality Control Specialty Gas Service: * Your CO2 supplier should provide certification and analysis indicating compliance with commercial quality standards, such as ISBT, the International Society of Beverage Technologists

* Your quality assurance service company should have the resources available to create custom gas mixtures for CO2 ingredient quality control. Typical components include (but are not limited to) the following:

Methane Ethane Ethanol Dimethyl Ether Ethyl Acetate Methanol Ammonia Nitric Oxide Nitrogen Dioxide Carbonyl Sulfide Acetaldehyde Benzene Cyclohexane Ethylbenzene Diethyl Ether Toluene m-Xylene p-Xylene o-Xylene

* Preparing two sets of gas mixtures should be standard procedure for your chosen service company, with double analysis of each set to check for minor component stability, and guarantee a shelf life for the components.

* To further assure accurate results, your service company should identify inaccuracies and verify analytical processes by having participant labs analyze blind internal audit standards.

* Your service company should furnish a report to your company's quality control department detailing analytical results, including a statistical representation of the performance of each participant laboratory.

* Membership in the International Society of Beverage Technologists (ISBT) Quality Committee, Carbon Dioxide Subcommittee, should be maintained in order to keep abreast of emerging analytical methods and technologies within the beverage industry.

* Top of the line service companies will provide CO2 Cross-Referencing Services to confirm the accuracy of critical analytical processes. These programs provide beverage manufacturers with a reliable and objective method of monitoring the performance of multiple laboratories who qualify carbon dioxide used in carbonated beverages as well as confirm ingredient quality. Cross-Referencing Service should be considered in order to:

o Achieve the highest degree of confidence in the accuracy of analyses; o Confidentially identify inconsistencies or other problems in analytical processes; and o Maintain reliable and accurate intra-company quality assurance.

* Most importantly, make sure the service company has top rate Internal CO2 Audit Standards to meet the most demanding accuracy requirements for virtually any type of customized mixture and that a Certificate of Accuracy is provided for each cylinder.

By choosing a Quality Control Specialty Gas Service carefully, your company can be sure to keep pace with the ever-expanding list of regulations -- and quite possibly gain an even larger piece of this multi-billion dollar pie.

This article is copyrighted by Scott Gases. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part and may not be posted on other websites, without the express written permission of the author who may be contacted via email at

About the author: Leanne Merz is Director of e-Commerce and Technical Services of Scott Specialty Gases, a leading global manufacturer of specialty gases located in Plumsteadville, PA. More information on the company can be found at .

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Top 10 Tips for Safely Handling and Using Gas Cylinders

Author: R.L. Fielding

Not every one needs to know that fluorine will violently ignite many substances, that silane burns on contact with air, or that ammonia will decompose thermally into twice its volume. But if you work with specialty gases , this information is essential. Safety must always be a primary goal when working with specialty gases -safety and knowledge go hand-in-hand.

To improve your chances of preventing hazardous accidents, follow these Top 10 Tips for safely handling and using gas cylinders :

1. Appropriate firefighting, personnel safety and first aid equipment should always be available in case of emergencies. Ensure adequate personnel are trained in the use of this equipment.

2. Obtain a copy of the MSDS for the gases being used. Read the MSDS thoroughly and become familiar with the gas properties and hazards prior to use.

3. Follow all federal, state and local regulations concerning the storage of compressed gas cylinders. Store gas cylinders in a ventilated and well lit area away from combustible materials. Separate gases by type and store in assigned locations that can be readily identified. Store cylinders containing flammable gases separately from oxygen cylinders and other oxidants by a fire-resistant barrier (having a fire-resistance rating of at least 30 minutes) or locate them at least 20 feet apart from each other. Store poison, cryogenic and inert gases separately. If a cylinder's contents are not clearly identified by the proper cylinder markings labels, do NOT accept for use.

4. Storage areas should be located away from sources of excess heat, open flame or ignition, and not located in closed or sub-surface areas. The area should be dry, cool and well ventilated. Outdoor storage should be above grade, dry and protected from the extremes of weather. While in storage, cylinder valve protection caps MUST be firmly in place.

5. Arrange the cylinder storage area so that old stock is used first. Empty cylinders should be stored separately and identified with clear markings. Return empty cylinders promptly. Some pressure should be left in a depleted cylinder to prevent air suck-back that would allow moisture and contaminants to enter the cylinder

6. Do not apply any heating device that will heat any part of a cylinder above 125°F (52°C). Overheating can cause the cylinder to rupture. Neither steel nor aluminum cylinder temperatures should be permitted to exceed 125°F (52°C).

7. Safety glasses, gloves and safety shoes should be worn at all times when handling cylinders. Always move cylinders by hand trucks or carts that are designed for this purpose. During transportation, keep both hands on the cylinder cart and secure cylinders properly to prevent them from falling, dropping or striking each other. Never use a cylinder cart without a chain or transport a gas cylinder without its valve protection cap firmly in place.

8. To begin service from a cylinder, first secure the cylinder and then remove the valve protection cap. Inspect the cylinder valve for damaged threads, dirt, oil or grease. Remove any dust or dirt with a clean cloth. If oil or grease is present on the valve of a cylinder which contains oxygen or another oxidant, do NOT attempt to use it. Such combustible substances in contact with an oxidant are explosive. Always disconnect equipment from the cylinder when not in use and return the cylinder valve protection cap to the cylinder.

9. Be sure all fittings and connection threads meet properly - never force. Dedicate your regulator to a single valve connection even if it is designed for different gases. NEVER cross thread or use adapters between non-mating equipment and cylinders. Use washers only if indicated. Never use pipe dope on pipe threads, turn the threads the wrong way, or use Teflon® tape on the valve threads to prevent leaking

10. When a cylinder is in use, it must be secured with some form of fastener. Floor or wall brackets are ideal for stationary use. Portable bench brackets are recommended for when a cylinder must be moved around. Smaller stands function well for lecture bottle use.

For more information on Gas Handling and Safety, and to download a comprehensive free Design & Safety Handbook, visit . Scott Specialty Gases ( is an international producer and supplier of specialty gas products and equipment for all types of scientific, industrial and medical applications.

This article is provided by Scott Specialty Gases. Scott Specialty Gases, a leading global manufacturer of specialty gases located in Plumsteadville, PA. More information on the company can be found at .

This article is copyrighted by Scott Gases. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part and may not be posted on other websites, without the express written permission of the author who may be contacted via email at

About the author: About the Author R.L. Fielding has been a freelance writer for 10 years, offering her expertise and skills to a variety of major organizations in the education, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing industries. She lives in New Jersey with her dog and two cats and enjoys rock climbing and ornamental gardening.

Unlocking the Mystery of Life


Review of the Intelligent Design video

""Unlocking the Mystery of Life""

Do molecular machines such as the incredible flagellar motor prove an intelligent designer?

How could DNA evolve?

Are the claims of this video valid or just another form of pseudoscience?

This review investigates the claims of this popular video and puts them to the test.

Often called the most researched and documented case for Intelligent Design, ""Unlocking the Mystery of Life"" features state-of-the-art computer animation to question the origins of life. The speakers are a who's who in the Intelligent Design movement such as Phillip Johnson, Paul Nelson, Dean H. Kenyon, Michael J. Behe, Stephen C. Meyer, William Dembski, and Jonathan Wells.

Read the full review at .htm

The conclusions might surprise you.

About the author: None

Satellite Orbits

Author: Frank Johnson

A Dish Network satellite TV system is based off signals transmitted and received by multiple satellites. But, the main satellites in space are constantly moving in what is called an orbit.

Any object that moves around the earth has an orbit. The orbit is defined by 3 factors. The first is the shape of the orbit, which can be circular or elliptical. The second is the altitude of the orbit. The altitude is constant for a circular orbit but changes constantly for an elliptical orbit. The third factor is the angle the orbit makes with the equator. An orbit that brings the satellite over the poles or close to it has a large angle. An orbit that makes the satellite stay close to the equator has a small angle. Orbits depend on the mission the satellite was built for. The following orbits can be defined:

Low Earth Orbit Satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) orbit the earth at altitudes of less than 2000 km (1242 miles). Satellites in LEO can get much clearer surveillance images and require much less power to transmit their data to the earth.

Medium Earth Orbit At an altitude of around 10.000 km (6.000 miles) a satellite is in medium earth orbit (MEO). This altitude balances the advantages and disadvantages of LEO and GEO. MEO's are used generally for navigational satellites and communications satellites Geostationary Orbit.

A satellite in geostationary orbit orbits the earth in exactly 1 day and is placed above the equator. The angle with the equator is 0 degrees. As a result the satellite seems to stand still as seen from the earth. These satellites are used for communications and Satellite TV.

Polar Orbit An orbit that goes over both the North and the South Pole is called a Polar Orbit. The angle with the equator is 90 degrees. The advantage of these orbits is that they go over the poles. This may sound funny, but in reality most satellites never ""see"" the poles. Most polar orbits are in LEO, but any altitude can be used for a polar orbit.

Polar orbits are used a lot by navigation satellites which have to provide navigational information all over the world, including the poles.

Sun Synchronous Orbit This is a very interesting type of orbit. Satellites in Sun Synchronous Orbit pass over the same locations on earth at the same time each day. Suppose a satellite in sun synchronous orbit passes over your house at 3 pm. The next time the satellite will pass over your house is 24 hours later at the same time the next day. In order to do this the satellite has a very special orbit. Not only does it orbit the earth, but the plane of the orbit changes as well. It has to do this because each day the earth moves a bit through space around. After 3 months, the earth has moved 90 degrees of its orbit around the sun. If the satellites orbit wouldn't have moved with it, it would show up 6 hours later than planned. (Actually the earth spins around its axis in approx. 23 hours, 56 minutes and 3 seconds and not in 24 hours. Because of the earth's orbit around the sun, 1 day lasts 24 hours. A star day however is approx. 23 hours, 56 minutes and 3 seconds long.)

However, there is no need to actively change the plane of the orbit. The earth is not a perfect sphere but is a little bit wider around the equator. This is caused by the spinning of the earth. The gravitational difference this causes changes the orbit of a satellite. When the angle with the equator is chosen correctly (approx. 8 degrees of a polar orbit), an orbit is a sun synchronous orbit.

A very special type of sun synchronous orbit is called the dawn-to-dusk orbit. This orbit is above the earth where the sun comes up or goes down. A satellite in this orbit never enters the shadow of the earth but always receives sunlight.

Orbit Decay and Reentry The earth's atmosphere doesn't stop at a certain altitude but really fades out into space. The higher you get the less thick it is until eventually there is no more atmosphere. Generally we say that the atmosphere is about 100 km (62 miles) thick, but in reality it extends much further out into space. Satellites experience friction from the atmosphere up to altitudes of 1000 km (620 miles). Due to the friction, a satellite will loose speed and with that the altitude will decrease until eventually the satellite will fall out of orbit back to the earth. Depending on the altitude this happens sooner or later. A satellite at an altitude of 200 km (124 miles) will stay in orbit for just a couple of months. At 300 km (186 miles) a satellite can stay in orbit for a couple of years. Above 1000 km (620 miles) a satellite can stay in orbit for thousands of years.

Letting Satellites fall back to earth and burn up in the atmosphere is also a way of disposing of satellites. However, if you're a Dish Network customer, you don't need to worry about the Dish Network satellite falling to earth and disintegrating into nothing. Unless a space alien shoots it down, the Dish Network satellites are there to stay.

If you're interested in learning more about Dish Network and satellite TV, go to

About the author: None

My Trip to Argentina and My Views

Author: Bill Hirst

An Educational and Dove Hunting Trip in Argentina Feb. 2006 Pa has a limit of 12 Doves per day. So you can imagine that this is not where you will find me. I took my son Jamie and went to Argentina where there is no limit. We were accompanied by several friends from our Philadelphia Pa. area. We spent a week on this trip. We were able to see some of this finest Dove hunting areas in the world. There are millions of doves in this region of Argentina near Cordoba. Over the last two decades, Cordoba province has become synonymous with the phrase ""High-volume dove hunting."" The region has a delightful climate that allows grain crops such as corn, sorghum, wheat and peanuts to flourish most of the year. This enormous food supply is bordered and interspersed with density hillside roosting cover, and the combination of food source and roost has produced a population of Zenaida Auriculata estimated to be over 20 million birds -- Argentina doves that do not migrate, reproduce up to four times annually and provide literally year-round shooting. These birds have been estimated to consume up to one third of the grain crops in the area. Dove hunting in Argentina is an activity that must be experienced rather than explained. Dove and Pigeon are considered to be plague in the area, so there are no bag limits or seasons for hunting them. One can only imagine that when bird flu arrives in Argentina, how big and terrible will the bird flu distrupt this ecosystem. I perdict that bird flu will mutate first to humans in a form that is transmissable from human to humnan in this area of the world. I believe that the quantity of birds and their droppings will allow for the transfer of the disease quickly in Argentina. After seeing the vast numbers of wild birds and knowing that they will be present with a large presence durring the harvesting of grain, a cross contamination will likly result in this habitat.

With such vast numbers of birds present, hunters regularly use two guns and a reloader to prevent barrel overheating, as they may go through 1,000 ( a thousand) rounds in a morning. Because of this last reason and the fact that they are considered a plague, the local authorities have not established any bag limits or special seasons for dove hunting.

This trip to Argentina also provided us with information and ideas for on our ranchs and farms in the USA. Soils in Argentina can grow good crops with little fertilizer and have fewer pest and disease problems. Farm laborers work cheap, and chemical costs are low. This will make our farms less competitive. There is no doubt that Argentina has made great advances in ag production and will be real competition to crops that are grown on our farms. The lands around Cordoba that we visited are flat and very fertile with a long growing season. There will be low cost soil erosion controls needed. Easily making it a bread basket for the world. We can be competitive. We can must expand on our altnernative use for our American farmlands. We must increase the recreational oportunities for our farms to help them stay competitive. Our transportation infrastructure is much better in the United States. Most roads outside the major urban areas are poor quality dusty, potholed, and rough. Our farms have easier access to capital for growth and markets for sales and urban areas. Our markets are better and more established. Our dollars is also more stable than the Argentine Pesos. This gives us better funding advantages. I also suspect that American Ag extension agencies and colleges are better and more available to educate our rural population. Afterall, education is the real key to our future in successful farm management and operations.

About the author: Bill Has been raising and selling trees for 25 years near Doylestown Pa. and has two web sites and This article was published 02/19/2006

Genetic Genealogy Research

Author: Garon Yoakum

One of the first

genetic genealogy studies was conducted in the late 1980s by scientists with the Department of Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. These scientists Rebecca L. Cann, Mark Stoneking and Allan C. Wilson studied a newly discovered kind of DNA. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is contained not in the nucleus of our cell, but in the mitochondria organelles of our cells. These scientists chose to study Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) because of its three unique properties which they explain as:

First, mtDNA gives a magnified view of the diversity present in the human gene pool, because mutations accumulate in this DNA several times faster than in the nucleus. Second, because mtDNA is inherited maternally and does not recombine, it is a tool for relating individuals to one another. Third, there are about 1016 mtDNA molecules within a typical human and they are usually identical to one another (Cann 31).

They extracted and compared mtDNA from ""147 people, drawn from five geographic populations"" (Cann 31). The researchers discovered that ""All these mitochondrial DNAs stem from one woman who is postulated to have lived about 200,000 years ago, probably in Africa"" (Cann 31). Their findings also agree with the archaeology record as Cann explains ""Studies of mtDNA suggest a view of how, where and when modern humans arose that fits with one interpretation of evidence from ancient human bones and tools"" (36).

Swedish researchers Max Ingman, Henrik Kaessmann, Svante Paabo and Ulf Gyllensten critical of these findings conducted their own study in 2000. They claimed that ""almost all studies of human evolution based on mtDNA sequencing have been confined to the control region, which constitutes less than 7% of the mitochondrial genome"" (Ingman 708). Further they argued that the prior methods of analysis where ""providing data that are ill suited to estimations of mutation rate and therefore the timing of evolutionary events"" (Ingman 708). So they decided to study the complete mtDNA sequence from 53 people of various races.

Surprisingly their attempt to discredit the previous research failed as they also came to roughly the same conclusions. They conceded to the likely hood of a common ancestor shared by all the subjects despite being ""geographically unrelated"" (Ingman 712). They estimated ""The age of the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for mtDNA, on the basis of the maximum distance between two be 171,500"" (Ingman 712) instead of the earlier estimate of 200,000 years ago. But they refused to align their findings with archeologists by stating ""Whether the ancestors of these six extant lineages originally came from a specific geographic region is not possible to determine"" (Ingman 712). Lastly they agreed on the potential of

genetic genealogy by summarizing:

Our results indicate that the field of mitochondrial population genomics will provide a rich source of genetic information for evolutionary studies. Nevertheless, mtDNA is only one locus and only reflects the genetic history of females. For a balanced view, a combination of genetic systems is required. With the human genome project reaching fruition, the ease by which such data may be generated will increase, providing us with an evermore detailed understanding of our genetic history (Ingman 712).

Their call for a more balanced view was shortly answered because in 2000 a team of researchers from the Department of Genetics at Stanford University lead by Peter A. Underhill published their results of studying Y-chromosome DNA. Only males have the Y-chromosome which has unique properties as explained by Underhill:

Binary polymorphisms associated with the non-recombining region of the human Y chromosome (NRY) preserve the paternal genetic legacy of our species that has persisted to the present, permitting inference of human evolution, population affinity and demographic history (358).

Their report was based upon ""the analysis of 1062 globally representative individuals"" (Underhill 358). They concluded that the subjects ""represent the descendants of the most ancestral patrilineages of anatomically modern humans that left Africa between 35,000 and 89,000 years ago"" (Underhill 358).

So far

genetic genealogy research has focused on these two kinds of DNA. As mentioned previously mtDNA is passed along the maternal line and Y-Chromosome DNA is passed along the paternal line. These two kinds of DNA effectively encompass all of our ancestors. Yet they provide no information about our ancestors inside the encompassed area. For example our maternal grandfather (mother's father) couldn't contribute any mtDNA or Y-Chromosome DNA to our mother. Yet he did contribute a third type of DNA called autosomal DNA. This type of DNA has yet to be studied for Genetic Genealogy purposes because of its inherent difficulties.

The main reason autosomal DNA is just now being studied is because scientists aren't sure how to determine which autosomal DNA came from mom and which came from dad without testing one or both of our parents. This situation is illustrated by the mathematical equation X = Xm/2 + Xd/2 where our autosomal DNA (X) is half of our mom's (Xm/2) and half of our dad's (Xd/2). By testing ourselves we identify our autosomal DNA but can't determine which part came from mom or dad. Additionally testing one of our parents is necessary to determine exactly which parent contributed which part of our autosomal DNA. This type of testing is currently used for Paternity and near relationship testing. But quickly becomes impractical after a few generations because of the difficulty of obtaining DNA samples from probably deceased ancestors.


Genetic Genealogy is the science of analyzing DNA for genealogical purposes. Studies have shown that we all stem from a common female and male ancestor. Because this emerging science is so new, benefits of this research are still being identified. Currently I believe Genetic Genealogy offers three categories of benefits. First is entertainment value. Finding out you're related to famous people like George Washington, Julius Caesar or Genghis Khan is just plain fun. Imagine the bragging rights and small-talk fodder this provides at social gatherings. Second is scientific value. Current studies have corroborated other scientific findings such as the human archaeological record. Medical sciences will benefit from correlating DNA studies with family genealogies to isolate hereditary diseases. Third is relatedness value. Finding out you're related to a wealthy individual like Bill Gates may entail a financial windfall. Most importantly of all is the ability to reunite families. Millions of displaced war torn families and adopted children can now turn to Genetic Genealogy to find their relatives.


Cann, Rebecca L. et al. ""Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution."" Nature 325 (1987): 31-36

Carmichael, Terrence and Alexander Kuklin. How to DNA Test our Family Relationships? California: AceN Press, 2000

Cavalli-Sforza, L. Luca et al. The History and Geography of Human Genes. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994

Ingman, Max et al. ""Mitochondrial genome variation and the origin of modern humans."" Nature 408 (2000): 708-713

Tooker, Elisabeth. An Ethnography of the Huron Indians, 1615-1649. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1991

Underhill, Peter A. et al. ""Y chromosome sequence variation and the history of human populations."" Nature Genetics 26 (2000): 358-361

Walsh, Bruce. ""Estimating the Time to the Most Recent Common Ancestor for the Y chromosome or Mitochondrial DNA for a Pair of Individuals."" Genetics 158 (2001): 897-912

Zimmer, Carl. ""After You, Eve."" Natural History 3 (2001): 32-35

About the author: Garon Yoakum is a representative for Relative Genetics .

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Human Evolution | Timeline Chart Tree theory

Author: Vijay Kumar

Human Evolution... A. to Z. How and when did human evolve!

Human evolution is not a chance happening... human evolution has occurred owing to a premeditated cause. It was only through human evolution that God could have completed the cosmic life cycle resulting in the continuing of the whole Cosmos.

No human evolution... the whole world nay the whole Cosmos itself would have collapsed. Why?

In the cosmic life cycle the human evolution plays a very vital part. As was decided by God Almighty... it was only after human evolution that the soul (atman) within a human being could have realized its full potential and finally liberated for ever. In other words it was only after human evolution that one could have gained salvation... the final stage in the cosmic life cycle!

The evolution of a human being signifies the end of the cosmic journey. It is only as a human being that one can realize God in ones lifetime (reach the stage of enlightenment and finally salvation). Having achieved salvation the life comes to a full circle. Our soul (the atman within) liberates for ever from the cycle of birth and death.

In the series of cosmic evolution... the first organism to manifest life is the form of an amoeba (single cell formation). As life evolves further this single cell formation evolves into the next higher stage of multi-cell formation. Subsequently this being evolves into insect life.

This insect life is far from the stage of human evolution. As time passes by this insect life further evolves into plant life. After a series of various manifestations as various species of plant... this plant life itself steps into the next sage of evolution and further evolves into animal life. This animal life is one step before the stage of human evolution.

Compared to the human evolution the insect life is bound by many limitations... it does not have the power to think and discriminate. Life is as it is. Life is got to be lived as it was meant to be for there was no choice in the life of an insect as in the case after human evolution. Every human being enjoys unlimited power of discrimination. One can live life as one wants to be. It is only after human evolution that one can live the life of choice.

Seeing from the point of view of every insect... we shall find that this species of insect life looks forward to reaching the stage of human evolution for they learn from experience that the form of a human being is much superior to them. In the series of human evolution the stage of insect life is exactly the same as when we see a small plant compared to a full-grown tree.

Every human being had at a certain stage in cosmic life lived through the span of insect life. One could not have managed without it. The process of evolution is self-contained. Whether we desire it or not we keep on going up the ladder of cosmic evolution until we reach the stage of human evolution.

The plant life itself is completely static in nature. It cannot move on its own. It has very serious limitations and has to face the fury of nature quite often. This limitation can only be overcome unless the plant life switches over to the next stage of evolution... the animal evolution stage. It is only as an animal that one can run about and take shelter whenever one faces danger or a natural calamity.

Evolving into an animal form announces that in the cosmic hierarchy one is only one step lower than the stage of human evolution. Even an animal looks forward to the form of a human being; the highest stage in the series of evolution for it knows that only as a human being can one live a life of choice. Even animals have restrictive thinking powers.

The final stage in the human evolution... the form of a human being is the stage of practicing full control over all the cosmic powers that be. It is only as a human being that one can remain a laborer, become a King or finally reach the status of man God like Mahavira, Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed.

Human evolution can never be perceived upon as something which has been forced upon us unwittingly. Human evolution announces the beginning of a life of choice. Every human being has been given the power of discrimination and choice inherently. One may practice it or not... the power of thinking and discrimination are the highest powers available to one in the cosmic system created by God the Almighty.

Human evolution is the last cosmic stage in the life of a soul (the atman within). For it knows that only after every life form evolves into a human being can it liberate forever from the cycle of birth and death. Every soul (the atman within) looks forward to reaching the stage of human evolution.

While passing through the stage of insect life the soul (the atman within) knows very well that the ultimate goal shall be achieved only after reaching the stage of human evolution.

Having reached the stage of animal life... the soul (the atman within) again realizes that it is nearing the end of journey for the animal life has to evolve into the human stage... it has no other alternative. And it is only as a human being one can realize God and attain the stage of salvation.

Human evolution is not a journey for the insect, the plant life or the animal life. The journey right from the stage of amoeba and until the stage of human evolution is for our soul (the atman within). It is this soul (our atman within) which is on a cosmic journey and in order to purify itself it has to pass through a series of manifestations before it can liberate itself for ever.

The life of soul (the atman within) from the beginning to the end of the journey is similar to the stages a piece of metal passes through in its lifetime. Right from the stage of being sandwiched in the metal ore and until the last stage of purification when the metal gains absolute purity... it is a total of 8.4 million manifestations in the life of a soul (the atman within).

Right from the stage of amoeba to the stage of gaining enlightenment by a human being... the cosmic life cycle is governed by the process of evolution as put forward by Charles Darwin in his famous theory of Evolution. Every human being reaches the human form having crossed a total of 7.3 million lives either in the form of insect, plant or an animal.

Human evolution is the last stage in the process of evolution envisaged by God. Even as a human being one cannot just do away with life. We have unlimited choices and the power of absolute discrimination, yet every human being is governed by the laws of nature and God the Almighty himself.

No human being can ever tread upon the fixed laws of nature. The moment we do so... we face the fury of nature as has been experienced by the mankind in the tornadoes, the hurricanes and the tsunamis which cause irreparable damage and loss to the mankind as a whole.

To reach the stage of salvation as a human being is the prime purpose of every human... having reached the stage of human evolution. The journey is long yet one does not have any other choice. It is our soul (the atman within) which is on the cosmic journey and every human being has to bid by its choice.

Whenever the ego of a human being prompts one to differ with the choice of our soul (the atman within)... it is a series of stress and strains primarily in the workplace one has to go through. To avoid passing the stage of unhealthy stresses and strains every human being must abide by the wishes of our soul (the atman within).

The ultimate goal... the final destination for the soul (the atman within) is fixed... but every human being has been given the power to choose his own path. As many human beings... as many paths are there for one to realise God and reach the end of the cosmic journey. No human being can ever be a loser in the end. Realizing God in this very life and reaching the stage of salvation is something which can never be described in words.

The end of the cosmic journey signifies the completion of a long journey... a total of 96.4 million earthly years. The life Mahavira, Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ and prophet Mohammed lived cannot be described in mere words. It was purely a journey by choice... even death did not matter to them all. They had all in the last leg of their earthly journey even defeated death on its face.

All these enlightened souls like Mahavira, Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed had transcended life itself. They had become immortal in the true sense that they would not have to indulge again in manifesting life thereafter. Life had truly come full circle for these godly souls.

We must always remember that human evolution being the highest stage in the series of evolution was primarily meant for our soul (the atman within). It is only after reaching the stage of a human being that our soul (the atman within) can complete its cosmic journey. And as no human being has ever been given the power to undo the happenings in the life of our soul (the atman within)... we must always try to expedite the journey of our soul (the one within).

We must also remember that even as human beings there are a total of 1.1 million types of manifestations every human can evolve into. The life as a human being is not as simple. It does not take a life span of 70 to 80 years to decide but a total of 12.1 million earthly years which can be spent in the form of a human being before one can reach the stage of enlightenment and finally salvation.

Ape to Human Evolution is the last step in the journey of human evolution itself. It is only after reaching the stage of our ancestors... the Ape family did human being come into the scene.

Human evolution... the last in the city of cosmic evolution is the best form of manifestation that can be... we are not supposed to while away our life doing nothing. Why wait for the destiny to make it happen. Why not take the destiny into our control and cut short the cosmic journey!

About the author: Vijay Kumar started in search of God at the age of 13 years. It was in 1993 that he was graced with the vision of God, the Almighty. Since then the hidden truths of all Scriptures of all Religions of the World have become like ABCD to him. Providing Free Spiritual counseling to the World Community through the medium of internet through websites Human Evolution Timeline and