Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Uniform Code of Military Justice

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ, 64 Stat. 109, 10 U.S.C. §§ 801–946) is the foundation of military law in the United States. It was established by the United States Congress in accordance with the authority given by the United States Constitution in Article I, Section 8, which provides that "The Congress shall have Power....To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces".

On 30 June 1775, the Second Continental Congress established 69 Articles of War to govern the conduct of the Continental Army.

Effective upon its ratification in 1788, Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution provided that Congress has the power to regulate the land and naval forces. On 10 April 1806, the United States Congress enacted 101 Articles of War, which were not significantly revised until over a century later. Discipline in the sea services was provided under the Articles for the Government of the United States Navy (commonly referred to as Rocks and Shoals). While the Articles of War evolved during the first half of the twentieth century, being amended in 1916, 1920, and culminating with the substantial reforms in the 1948 version pursuant to the Selective Service Act of 1948 (a/k/a the Elston Act) (Pub.L. 80-759, 62 Stat. 604), its naval counterpart remained little changed by comparison. The military justice system continued to operate under the Articles of War and Articles for the Government of the Navy until 31 May 1951, when the Uniform Code of Military Justice went into effect.

The UCMJ was passed by Congress on 5 May 1950, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman the next day. It took effect on 31 May 1951. The word uniform in the Code's title refers to its consistent application to all the armed services in place of the earlier Articles of War, Articles of Government, and Disciplinary Laws of the individual services.

The UCMJ, the Rules for Courts-Martial (the military analogue to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure), and the Military Rules of Evidence (the analogue to the Federal Rules of Evidence) have evolved since their implementation, often paralleling the development of the federal civilian criminal justice system. In some ways, the UCMJ has been ahead of changes in the civilian criminal justice system. For example, a rights-warning statement similar to the Miranda warnings (and required in more contexts than in the civilian world where it is applicable only to custodial interrogation) was required by Art. 31 (10 U.S.C. § 831) a decade and a half before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona; Article 38(b) (10 U.S.C. § 838(b)) continued the 1948 Articles of War guarantee that qualified defense counsel be provided to all accused without regard to indigence (and at earlier stages than required in civilian jurisdictions), whereas the U.S. Supreme Court only guaranteed the provision of counsel to indigents in Gideon v. Wainwright. Additionally, the role of what was originally a court-martial's non-voting "law member" developed into the present office of military judge whose capacity is little different from that of an Article III judge in a U.S. district court. At the same time, the "court-martial" itself (the panel of officers hearing the case and weighing the evidence) has converted from being essentially a board of inquiry/review presiding over the trial, into a jury of military service-members. The current version of the UCMJ is printed in latest edition of the Manual for Courts-Martial (2012), incorporating changes made by the President (executive orders) and National Defense Authorization Acts of 2006 and 2007.

Jurisdiction

Courts-martial


Courts-martial are conducted under the UCMJ and the Manual for Courts-Martial United States. If the trial results in a conviction, the case is reviewed by the convening authority – the commanding officer who referred the case for trial by court-martial. The convening authority has discretion to mitigate the findings and sentence, set aside convictions, and/or to remand convictions and/or sentences back to a court-martial for re-hearing.

If the sentence, as approved by the convening authority, includes death, a bad conduct discharge, a dishonorable discharge, dismissal of an officer, or confinement for one year or more, the case is reviewed by an intermediate court. There are four such courts – the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals.

After review by any of these intermediate courts, the next level of appeal is the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). The Supreme Court of the United States has discretion under 28 U.S.C. § 1259 to review cases under the UCMJ on direct appeal where the CAAF has conducted a mandatory review (death penalty and certified cases), granted discretionary review of a petition, or otherwise granted relief. If the CAAF denies a petition for review or a writ appeal, consideration by the Supreme Court may be obtained only through collateral review (e.g., a writ of habeas corpus). Since 2007, several bills have been introduced into Congress to expand the accessibility of service members to the Supreme Court. See also Equal Justice for United States Military Personnel legislation.

Personal jurisdiction


Within the exceptions below, as codified in Article 2 of the UCMJ, personal jurisdiction attaches, regardless of the physical global location of the servicemember, over all members of the uniformed services of the United States: the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, and Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. While the Coast Guard is administered under Title 14 of the United States Code when not operating as part of the U.S. Navy, individuals commissioned or enlisted in the Coast Guard are subject to the UCMJ as an Armed Force. However, commissioned members of the NOAA and PHS, as Uniformed Services, are only subject to the UCMJ when attached or detailed to a military unit or militarized by Presidential executive order during a national emergency or declaration of war.

Members of the military Reserve Components under Title 10 of the United States Code (Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Forces Reserve, and Air Force Reserve), or Title 14 of the United States Code, Coast Guard Reserve when not operating as part of the U.S. Navy, are subject to the UCMJ if they are:

  1. Full-Time Support (FTS) personnel on active duty orders serving pursuant to the authority of 10 USC 10211 or 10 USC 12310, including:
    1. Army/Air Force "Active Guard and Reserve (AGR),"
    2. Navy "Full-time Support (FTS),"
    3. Marine Corps "Active Reserve (AR)," or
    4. Coast Guard "Reserve Program Administrators (RPA)."
  2. "Traditional" reservists performing either:
    1. Full-time active duty service under orders for a specific period, i.e., Annual Training, Active Duty for Training, Active Duty for Operational Support, Active Duty Special Work, Mobilization or Recall to Active Duty, Canvasser Recruiter, etc., or
    2. Performing part-time Inactive Duty, i.e., Inactive Duty Training, Inactive Duty Travel and Training, Unit Training Assembly, Additional Training Periods, Additional Flying Training Periods, Reserve Management Periods, etc., all of which are colloquially known as "drills."
    3. Retired Reservists who are either recalled to active duty pursuant to Secretarial authority, or who are receiving medical treatment in an Armed Forces hospital (see below).

Soldiers and airmen in the National Guard of the United States are subject to the UCMJ only if activated (mobilized or recalled to active duty) in a Federal capacity under Title 10 by an executive order issued by the President, or during their Annual Training periods, which are orders issued under Title 10, during which periods of duty they are federalized into the National Guard of the United States. Otherwise, members of the National Guard are usually exempt from the UCMJ. However, under Title 32 orders, individual members of the Army National Guard and Air Force National Guard are still subject to their respective State codes of Military Justice, which often resemble the UCMJ very closely, and/or their State civil and criminal laws.

Several States also authorize either naval or military organized militia forces. These are collectively known as the State Guard. State Guard organizations are organized, trained, equipped, armed, disciplined, and administered under each State's own sovereign authority, and are not subject to a Federal recall to active duty, nor are the individual members subject to the UCMJ in their capacities as members of the State Guard. State Guard organizations typically are organized similarly to a military force, and usually report to the senior National Guard officer in each State, known as the Adjutant General. In this sense, the State Guard are auxiliaries to each State's Constitutionally authorized organized militia forces, the Army and Air Force National Guard. The State Guard is often specialized, based on each State's requirements, for missions such as wilderness search and rescue, light aviation, forest firefighting, law enforcement, or general emergency management roles. Under each State's own authorities, State Guard members may be ordered to State Active Duty (SAD), in a status similar to National Guard members in a Title 32 status but solely under State authority and discipline, and also may be provided with the training, equipment, and authority to act as law enforcement officers with powers of arrest. Each State sets the requirements to join, remain, be promoted or rewarded, and conditions of employment such as a minimum amount of duty performed in a year, and whether any duty is paid or nonpaid, and whether the individuals are covered by various civil service or retirement pension plans. Most State Guard duty is performed without pay, in a volunteer status. While the State Guard organizations are subject to recall to SAD, or other workforce requirements as imposed by their State, they are not subject to either partial or full mobilization authorities under Title 10. However, the individual State Guard members often have dual-status as both State Guard and a Federally recognized uniformed services member, such as a Texas State Guard officer who is also a retired US military officer. Such an individual could be recalled to active duty under both SAD as a State Guard member, or under one of the various authorities to recall retired or reserve military members to active duty (10 USC 688, various 10 USC 123XX authorities, and others)...but not both because a Federal status trumps a State status. State Guard members could thus be subject to the UCMJ at all times under their Federal status, and under specific State military and civil/criminal codes under their State status.

Cadets and midshipmen at the United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy, United States Merchant Marine Academy, and United States Coast Guard Academy are subject to the UCMJ at all times because they are in an active duty status while at a Military Service Academy. Also, Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadets and midshipmen, as members of the reserve components, are subject to the UCMJ while on inactive or active duty training.

Members of military auxiliaries such as the Civil Air Patrol and the Coast Guard Auxiliary are not subject to the UCMJ, even when participating in missions assigned by the military or other branches of government. However, members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary can be called by the Commandant of the Coast Guard into the Temporary Reserve, in which case they become subject to the UCMJ.

Additionally, the following categories of service members are subject to the UCMJ as indicated:

  1. Retired members of the Regular Component who are entitled to retirement pay, per Article 2(a)(4), regardless of the authority under which retired from active service and transferred to the Retired List of their respective Service's Regular Component,
  2. Retired members of the Reserve Component, whether entitled to retired pay or awaiting retired pay at age 60 as a Grey Area reserve retiree, who are receiving hospital care from an Armed Force, UCMJ, Article 2(a)(5)],
  3. Members of the Fleet Reserve/Fleet Marine Corps Reserve (FR/FMCR), as enlisted retired Navy or Marine Corps personnel who have not served a total of 30 years of combined active, reserve, and retired service. Both Regular Component and Reserve Component enlisted retirees are transferred to the FR/FMCR upon retirement if they have less than 30 total years, and remain subject to the UCMJ in that status until they complete 30 total years and are transferred to their respective original Service Retired List (Regular Component or Retired Component). The FR/FMCR is not applicable to officers, any service member retired for disability and transferred to the Temporary or Permanent Disability Retired Lists, nor any enlisted retirees except those of the Navy and Marine Corps as noted above.
  4. Prisoners of War (POW)/Enemy Prisoners of War (EPW) in the custody of the U.S. Armed Forces,
  5. Detained medical personnel and military chaplains in the custody of the U.S. Armed Forces, and
  6. Persons in custody of the U.S. Armed Forces serving a sentence imposed by a court-martial.

Non-judicial punishment


Under Article 15 of the Code (Subchapter III), military commanders have the authority to exercise non-judicial punishment (NJP) over their subordinates for minor breaches of discipline. These punishments are carried out after a hearing before the commander, but without a judge or jury. Punishments are limited to reduction in rank, loss of pay, restrictions of privileges, extra-duty, reprimands, and, aboard ships, confinement. Guidelines for the imposition of NJP are contained in Part V of the Manual for Courts-Martial United States and the various service regulations.

                     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Code_of_Military_Justice

Saturday, January 20, 2018

2018: Turkish military in Syria

The Turkish military intervention in Syria (January 2018–present), code-named by Turkey as Operation Olive Branch (Turkish: Zeytin Dalı Harekâtı), is an offensive against Syrian Democratic Forces positions surrounding the Syrian city of Afrin. Afrin and the surrounding area is claimed by the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria as the Afrin Region.

Background

The offensive came amid growing tensions between the Turkish and American governments over the latter's support of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are made up primarily of Kurdish fighters of the YPG, which Turkey considers to be a branch of the PKK. In particular, Turkey objected to announced plans by the US to train and equipe a 30,000 strong SDF border force, which Turkey claimed posed a direct threat to their security. “A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders,” Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a speech in Ankara. “What can that terror army target but Turkey? Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”

In days prior to the offensive, Turkish forces had exchanged artillery fire with YPG militiamen along the Turkish-Syrian border near Afrin. The Turkish state-runned Anadolu Agency reported that Russian military observers in the Afrin area began withdrawing on 19 January 2018 in anticipation of a Turkish offensive on YPG positions in Afrin.

2018 Offensive

The Turkish government announced the start of the offensive on 19 January 2018 with Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli stating, "The operation has actually de facto started with cross-border shelling." He added no troops had crossed into Afrin. Turkey intensified its shelling later, while People's Protection Units (YPG) claimed that 70 shells had been fired overnight.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that 14 people in a psychiatric hospital had been wounded due to shelling by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Turkish media reported that 20 buses carrying Turkish-backed Syrian opposition rebels had crossed into Syria through the Öncüpınar border crossing. An AFP [French Press Agency] photographer stated that 30 buses carrying Syrian fighters had also crossed through the Cilvegozu border crossing.

In al-Shahba canton, according to pro-SDF sources, the fighters of the Jaysh al-Thuwar in al-Shahba canton inflicted vast damage to the ranks of the FSA as they killed 4 FSA fighters, and wounded 5 others, and that in response to the recent bombardments with mortars and Obis haphazardly against the civilians’ houses.

International Reactions from UN Members

Germany: The spokesman assistant of the minister of foreign affairs said they understand that Turkey wants to protect their borders, but suggests moderation regarding armed conflict.

Syrian Arab Republic: The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned the Turkish aggression against the town of Afrin, calling it "an inseparable part of Syria.”

The Turkish General Staff: made the announcement in a statement published on its website, saying the objective of the mission is to "establish security and stability on our borders and region, to eliminate terrorists of PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and ISIL.”

United States:  A spokesman for the Pentagon stated: "We encourage all parties to avoid escalation and to focus on the most important task of defeating ISIS." The spokesman then added that the United States understands Turkey's concerns about the PKK, but would like to see a de-escalation of violence and instead focus on fighting ISIS. US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert called on Turkey not to engage in any invasion of Syria's Afrin, reiterating a statement made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who also assured that the US had no intention of building a Syria-Turkey border force, saying the issue, which has incensed Ankara, had been "misportrayed.”

Russian Republic:  The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Moscow was closely following the situation in Syria's Afrin and was concerned by the news about the Turkish military engagement in the city. The Russian Ministry of Defense said that Russia was withdrawing its troops from Syria's Afrin, the target of the Turkish offensive.

Reactions from Regional Actors

Syrian National Coalition:  Syrian Turkmen councilhead Emin Bozoğlan stated "We were informed that the terror group PYD/PKK will transfer its arms to Raqqa, where they used to work with regime forces for years." He also said Turkey should "definitely" take necessary measures in this regard.

The YPG stated that "they will respond to the Turkish provocation since civilians have been attacked".General Command of YPG in Afrin stated: "We know that, without the permission of global forces and mainly Russia, whose troops located in Afrin, Turkey cannot attack civilians using Afrin air space. Therefore we hold Russia as responsible as Turkey and stress that Russia is the crime partner of Turkey in massacring the civilians in the region.”

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Bangladesh Liberation War

The Bangladesh Liberation War (also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence, or simply the Liberation War in Bangladesh), was a revolution and armed conflict sparked by the rise of the Bengali nationalist and self-determination movement in what was then East Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. It resulted in the independence of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. The war began after the Pakistani military junta based in West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight against the people of East Pakistan on the night of 25 March 1971. It pursued the systematic elimination of nationalist Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, religious minorities and armed personnel. The junta annulled the results of the 1970 elections and arrested Prime minister-designate Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The war ended on 16 December 1971 after West Pakistan surrendered.

Rural and urban areas across East Pakistan saw extensive military operations and air strikes to suppress the tide of civil disobedience that formed following the 1970 election stalemate. The Pakistan Army, which had the backing of Islamists, created radical religious militias – the Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams – to assist it during raids on the local populace. Urdu-speaking Biharis in Bangladesh (ethnic minority) were also in support of Pakistani military. Members of the Pakistani military and supporting militias engaged in mass murder, deportation and genocidal rape. The capital Dhaka was the scene of numerous massacres, including the Operation Searchlight and Dhaka University massacre. An estimated 10 million Bengali refugees fled to neighboring India, while 30 million were internally displaced. Sectarian violence broke out between Bengalis and Urdu-speaking immigrants. An academic consensus prevails that the atrocities committed by the Pakistani military were a genocide.

The Bangladeshi Declaration of Independence was proclaimed from Chittagong by members of the Mukti Bahini – the national liberation army formed by Bengali military, paramilitary and civilians. The East Bengal Regiment and the East Pakistan Rifles played a crucial role in the resistance. Led by General M. A. G. Osmani and eleven sector commanders, the Bangladesh Forces waged a mass guerrilla war against the Pakistani military. They liberated numerous towns and cities in the initial months of the conflict. The Pakistan Army regained momentum in the monsoon. Bengali guerrillas carried out widespread sabotage, including Operation Jackpot against the Pakistan Navy. The nascent Bangladesh Air Force flew sorties against Pakistani military bases. By November, the Bangladesh forces restricted the Pakistani military to its barracks during the night. They secured control of most parts of the countryside.

The Provisional Government of Bangladesh was formed on 17 April 1971 in Mujibnagar and moved to Calcutta as a government in exile. Bengali members of the Pakistani civil, military and diplomatic corps defected to the Bangladeshi provisional government. Thousands of Bengali families were interned in West Pakistan, from where many escaped to Afghanistan. Bengali cultural activists operated the clandestine Free Bengal Radio Station. The plight of millions of war-ravaged Bengali civilians caused worldwide outrage and alarm. The Indian state led by Indira Gandhi provided substantial diplomatic, economic and military support to Bangladeshi nationalists. British, Indian and American musicians organised the world's first benefit concert in New York City to support the Bangladeshi people. Senator Ted Kennedy in the United States led a congressional campaign for an end to Pakistani military persecution; while US diplomats in East Pakistan strongly dissented with the Nixon administration's close ties to the Pakistani military dictator Yahya Khan.

India joined the war on 3 December 1971, after Pakistan launched preemptive air strikes on North India. The subsequent Indo-Pakistani War witnessed engagements on two war fronts. With air supremacy achieved in the eastern theatre and the rapid advance of the Allied Forces of Bangladesh and India, Pakistan surrendered in Dacca on 16 December 1971.

The war changed the geopolitical landscape of South Asia, with the emergence of Bangladesh as the seventh-most populous country in the world. Due to complex regional alliances, the war was a major episode in Cold War tensions involving the United States, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. The majority of member states in the United Nations recognized Bangladesh as a sovereign nation in 1972.

                                 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_Liberation_War

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Using Fungi to Fix Bridges

Small Cracks in Aging Concrete Can Lead to Costly Repairs
By Rachel Flores

January 8, 2018 -- America’s crumbling infrastructure has been a topic of ongoing discussion in political debates and campaign rallies. The problem of aging bridges and increasingly dangerous roads is one that has been well documented and there seems to be a consensus from both democrats and republicans that something must be done.

However, spending on infrastructure improvement has continually gone down. The New York Times reported in 2016, based on a report for the Bureau of Economic Analysis, that “in the 1950s and ’60s, federal, state and local governments were spending twice as much on the nation’s public infrastructure, relative to the size of the economy, as they are today.”

The hesitancy to invest in America’s infrastructure may come from a number of sources, but the fact remains that most want something to be done before the consequences are too severe.

Binghamton University assistant professor Congrui Jin has been working on this problem since 2013, and recently published her paper “Interactions of fungi with concrete: significant importance for bio-based self-healing concrete” in the academic journal Construction & Building Materials.

This research is the first application of fungi for self-healing concrete, a low-cost, pollution-free and sustainable approach.

Why is infrastructure crumbling?


Jin’s studies have looked specifically at concrete and found that the problem stems from the smallest of cracks in the concrete.

“Without proper treatment, cracks tend to progress further and eventually require costly repair,” said Jin. “If micro-cracks expand and reach the steel reinforcement, not only the concrete will be attacked, but also the reinforcement will be corroded, as it is exposed to water, oxygen, possibly CO2 and chlorides, leading to structural failure.”

These cracks can cause huge and sometimes unseen problems for infrastructure. One potentially critical example is the case of nuclear power plants that may use concrete for radiation shielding.

What can be done?


While remaking a structure would replace the aging concrete, this would only be a short-term fix until more cracks again spring up. Jin wanted to see if there was a way to fix the concrete permanently.

“This idea was originally inspired by the miraculous ability of the human body to heal itself of cuts, bruises and broken bones,” said Jin. “For the damaged skins and tissues, the host will take in nutrients that can produce new substitutes to heal the damaged parts.”

Jin worked with associate professor Ning Zhang from Rutgers University, and professor Guangwen Zhou and associate professor David Davies from Binghamton University with support from the Research Foundation for the State University of New York’s Sustainable Community Transdisciplinary Area of Excellence Program. Together, the team set out to find a way to heal concrete.

The team found an unusual answer, a fungus called Trichoderma reesei.

When this fungus is mixed with concrete, it originally lies dormant — until the first crack appears.

“The fungal spores, together with nutrients, will be placed into the concrete matrix during the mixing process. When cracking occurs, water and oxygen will find their way in. With enough water and oxygen, the dormant fungal spores will germinate, grow and precipitate calcium carbonate to heal the cracks,” explained Jin.

“When the cracks are completely filled and ultimately no more water or oxygen can enter inside, the fungi will again form spores. As the environmental conditions become favorable in later stages, the spores could be wakened again.”

The research is still in fairly early stages with the biggest issue being the survivability of the fungus within the harsh environment of concrete. However, Jin is hopeful that with further adjustments the Trichoderma reesei will be able to effectively fill the cracks.

“There are still significant challenges to bring an efficient self-healing product to the concrete market. In my opinion, further investigation in alternative microorganisms such as fungi and yeasts for the application of self-healing concrete becomes of great potential importance,” said Jin.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Vanishing European Forests

Europe’s Lost Forests – Study Shows
Coverage Has Halved over Six Millennia
Academics in Sweden, Germany, France, Estonia and Switzerland sought to establish how the nature of Europe’s forests has changed over 11,000 years
By Alan Williams, University of Plymouth

January 15, 2018 -- More than half of Europe’s forests have disappeared over the past 6,000 years thanks to increasing demand for agricultural land and the use of wood as a source of fuel, new research led by the University of Plymouth suggests.

Using pollen analysis from more than 1,000 sites, scientists showed that more than two thirds of central and northern Europe would once have been covered by trees.

Today, that is down to around a third, although in more western and coastal regions, including the UK and Republic of Ireland, the decline has been far greater with forest coverage in some areas dropping below 10 per cent.

However, those downward trends have begun to reverse, through the discovery of new types of fuel and building techniques, but also through ecological initiatives such as the ongoing National Forest project and the new Northern Forest, announced by the UK Government in January 2018.

The study is published in Nature’s Scientific Reports and lead author Neil Roberts, Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Plymouth, said:

“Most countries go through a forest transition and the UK and Ireland reached their forest minimum around 200 years ago. Other countries in Europe have yet to reach that point, and some parts of Scandinavia – where there is not such a reliance on agriculture – are still predominantly forest. But generally, forest loss has been a dominant feature of Europe’s landscape ecology in the second half of the current interglacial, with consequences for carbon cycling, ecosystem functioning and biodiversity.”

The research, which also involved academics in Sweden, Germany, France, Estonia and Switzerland, sought to establish precisely how the nature of Europe’s forests has changed over the past 11,000 years.

It combined three different methods of analysing pollen data, taken from the European Pollen Database, and showed that forest coverage actually increased from around 60 per cent 11,000 years ago up to as much as 80 per cent 6,000 years ago.

However, the introduction of modern farming practices during the Neolithic period sparked a gradual decline which accelerated towards the end of the Bronze Age and has largely continued until the present day.

Professor Roberts said this was one of the more surprising elements of the research because while forest clearance might be assumed to be a relatively recent phenomena, 20 per cent of Britain’s forests had actually gone by the end of the Bronze Age 3,000 years ago. He added:

“Around 8,000 years ago, a squirrel could have swung tree to tree from Lisbon to Moscow without touching the ground. Some may see that loss as a negative but some of our most valued habitats have come about through forests being opened up to create grass and heathland. Up until around 1940, a lot of traditional farming practices were also wildlife friendly and created habitats many of our most loved creatures. This data could then potentially be used to understand how future forestry initiatives might also influence habitat change.”

The full study – Europe’s lost forests: a pollen-based synthesis for the last 11,000 years – can be viewed in Scientific Reports doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18646-7.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Ugly Duckling Parable


"The Ugly Duckling" (Danish: Den grimme ælling) is a literary fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875). The story tells of a homely little bird born in a barnyard who suffers abuse from the others around him until, much to his delight (and to the surprise of others), he matures into a beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird of all. The story is beloved around the world as a tale about personal transformation for the better. “The Ugly Duckling” was first published 11 November 1843, with three other tales by Andersen in Copenhagen, Denmark to great critical acclaim. The tale has been adapted to various media including opera, musical, and animated film. The tale is completely Andersen's invention and owes no debt to fairy tales or folklore.

                                                        Ugly Duckling illustration
                                                            by Wilhelm Pedersen

Plot Summary

When the tale begins, a mother [duck's eggs hatch. One of the little birds is perceived by the other birds and animals on the farm as a homely little creature and suffers much verbal and physical abuse from them. He wanders sadly from the barnyard and lives with wild ducks and geese until hunters slaughter the flocks. He finds a home with an old woman, but her cat and hen tease and taunt him mercilessly and once again he sets off alone.

The duckling sees a flock of migrating wild swans. He is delighted and excited, but he cannot join them, for he is too young and cannot fly. Winter arrives. A farmer finds and carries the freezing little duckling home, but the foundling is frightened by the farmer’s noisy children and flees the house. He spends a miserable winter alone in the outdoors, mostly hiding in a cave on the lake that partly freezes over. When spring arrives a flock of swans descends on the now thawing lake.

The ugly duckling, now having fully grown and matured, unable to endure a life of solitude and hardship any more and decides to throw himself at the flock of swans deciding that it is better to be killed by such beautiful birds than to live a life of ugliness and misery. He is shocked when the swans welcome and accept him, only to realize by looking at his reflection in the water that he has grown into one of them. The flock takes to the air, and the now beautiful swan spreads his gorgeous large wings and takes flight with the rest of his new kind family.

Commentaries and Criticism

In reviewing Hans Christian Andersen: A New Life by biographer Jens Andersen, British journalist Anne Chisholm writes “Andersen himself was a tall, ugly boy with a big nose and big feet, and when he grew up with a beautiful singing voice and a passion for the theater he was cruelly teased and mocked by other children". The ugly duckling is the child of a swan whose egg accidentally rolled into a duck's nest.

Speculation suggests that Andersen was the illegitimate son of Prince Christian Frederik (later King Christian VIII of Denmark), and found this out some time before he wrote the book, and then that being a swan in the story was a metaphor not just for inner beauty and talent but also for secret royal lineage.

Bruno Bettelheim observes in The Uses of Enchantment that the Ugly Duckling is not confronted with the tasks, tests, or trials of the typical fairy tale hero. “No need to accomplish anything is expressed in “The Ugly Duckling”. Things are simply fated and unfold accordingly, whether or not the hero takes some action.” In conjunction with Bettelheim’s assessment, Maria Tatar notes in ’’The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen’’ that Andersen suggests the Ugly Duckling‘s superiority resides in the fact that he is of a breed different from the barnyard rabble, and that dignity and worth, moral and aesthetic superiority are determined by nature rather than accomplishment.

According to Carole Rosen, the story was inspired in part by Andersen's friend Jenny Lind.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Improved Schrodinger Equation

Quantum Leap: Novel Computational Approach Launches
New Paradigm in Electronic Structure Theory

Michigan State University – January 12, 2018 -- A group of Michigan State University researchers specializing in quantum calculations has proposed a radically new computational approach to solving the complex many-particle Schrödinger equation, which holds the key to explaining the motion of electrons in atoms and molecules.

By understanding the details of this motion, one can determine the amount of energy needed to transform reactants into products in a chemical reaction, or the color of light absorbed by a molecule, and ultimately accelerate the design of new drugs and materials, better catalysts and more efficient energy sources.

The work, led by Piotr Piecuch, university distinguished professor in the Department of Chemistry and adjunct professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Natural Science, was published recently in  Physical Review Letters. Also involved in the work are fourth-year graduate student J. Emiliano Deustua and senior postdoctoral associate Jun Shen. The group provides details for a new way of obtaining highly accurate electronic energies by merging the deterministic coupled-cluster approaches and stochastic sampling using probability concepts.

“Instead of insisting on a single philosophy when solving the electronic Schrödinger equation, which has historically been either deterministic or stochastic, we have chosen a third way,” Piecuch said. “As one of the reviewers noted, the essence of it is remarkably simple: use the stochastic approach to determine what is important and the deterministic approach to determine the important, while correcting for the information missed by stochastic sampling.”

Solving the Schrödinger equation for the many-electron wave function has been a key challenge in quantum chemistry for decades. Anything other than a one-electron problem, such as a hydrogen atom, requires resorting to numerical methods, converted into sophisticated computer programs, such as those developed by Piecuch and his group. The main difficulty has been the intrinsic complexity of the electronic motion, which quantum chemists and physicists call “electron correlation.”

The new idea is to use the stochastic methods to identify the leading wave function components and the deterministic coupled-cluster computations, combined with suitable energy corrections, to provide the missing information. The merging of deterministic and stochastic approaches as a general method of solving the many-particle Schrödinger equation may also impact other areas, such as nuclear physics.

“In the case of nuclei, instead of being concerned with electrons, one would use our new approach to solve the Schrödinger equation for protons and neutrons,” Piecuch said. “The mathematical and computational issues are similar. Just like chemists want to understand the electronic structure of a molecule, nuclear physicists want to unravel the structure of the atomic nucleus. Once again, solving the many-particle Schrödinger equation holds the key.”