Friday, September 30, 2016

Invasive Mammals = Extinctions

Which invasive mammals cause the most extinctions?

  • Rodents
  • Cats
  • Dogs

Pigs are in fourth place as invasive mammals that cause extinctions.  These events are particularly notable on islands.  See

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Water Plumes on Europa?

Hubble: Possible Water Plumes
on Jupiter's Moon Europa

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory – September 26, 2016 -- Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes.

The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa's ocean without having to drill through miles of ice.

"Europa's ocean is considered to be one of the most promising places that could potentially harbor life in the solar system," said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "These plumes, if they do indeed exist, may provide another way to sample Europa's subsurface."

The plumes are estimated to rise about 125 miles (200 kilometers) before, presumably, raining material back down onto Europa's surface. Europa has a huge global ocean containing twice as much water as Earth's oceans, but it is protected by a layer of extremely cold and hard ice of unknown thickness. The plumes provide a tantalizing opportunity to gather samples originating from under the surface without having to land or drill through the ice.

The team, led by William Sparks of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore observed these finger-like projections while viewing Europa's limb as the moon passed in front of Jupiter.

The original goal of the team's observing proposal was to determine whether Europa has a thin, extended atmosphere, or exosphere. Using the same observing method that detects atmospheres around planets orbiting other stars, the team realized if there was water vapor venting from Europa's surface, this observation would be an excellent way to see it.

"The atmosphere of an extrasolar planet blocks some of the starlight that is behind it," Sparks explained. "If there is a thin atmosphere around Europa, it has the potential to block some of the light of Jupiter, and we could see it as a silhouette. And so we were looking for absorption features around the limb of Europa as it transited the smooth face of Jupiter."

In 10 separate occurrences spanning 15 months, the team observed Europa passing in front of Jupiter. They saw what could be plumes erupting on three of these occasions.

This work provides supporting evidence for water plumes on Europa. In 2012, a team led by Lorenz Roth of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio detected evidence of water vapor erupting from the frigid south polar region of Europa and reaching more than100 miles (160 kilometers) into space. Although both teams used Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph instrument, each used a totally independent method to arrive at the same conclusion.

"When we calculate in a completely different way the amount of material that would be needed to create these absorption features, it's pretty similar to what Roth and his team found," Sparks said. "The estimates for the mass are similar, the estimates for the height of the plumes are similar. The latitude of two of the plume candidates we see corresponds to their earlier work."

But as of yet, the two teams have not simultaneously detected the plumes using their independent techniques. Observations thus far have suggested the plumes could be highly variable, meaning that they may sporadically erupt for some time and then die down. For example, observations by Roth's team within a week of one of the detections by Sparks' team failed to detect any plumes.

If confirmed, Europa would be the second moon in the solar system known to have water vapor plumes. In 2005, NASA's Cassini orbiter detected jets of water vapor and dust spewing off the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus.

Scientists may use the infrared vision of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2018, to confirm venting or plume activity on Europa. NASA also is formulating a mission to Europa with a payload that could confirm the presence of plumes and study them from close range during multiple flybys.

"Hubble's unique capabilities enabled it to capture these plumes, once again demonstrating Hubble's ability to make observations it was never designed to make," said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This observation opens up a world of possibilities, and we look forward to future missions -- such as the James Webb Space Telescope -- to follow-up on this exciting discovery."

The work by Sparks and his colleagues is published in the Sept. 29 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

Planetary scientist Kevin Hand of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, co-authored the new paper.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (the European Space Agency.) NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, conducts Hubble science operations.

For images and more information about Europa and Hubble, visit:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Field-Programmable Gate Arrays

A field-programmable gate array (FPGA – not to be confused with a flip-chip pin grid array) is an integrated circuit designed to be configured by a customer or a designer after manufacturing – hence "field-programmable". The FPGA configuration is generally specified using a hardware description language (HDL), similar to that used for an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). (Circuit diagrams were previously used to specify the configuration, as they were for ASICs, but this is increasingly rare.)

FPGAs contain an array of programmable logic blocks, and a hierarchy of reconfigurable interconnects that allow the blocks to be "wired together", like many logic gates that can be inter-wired in different configurations. Logic blocks can be configured to perform complex combinational functions, or merely simple logic gates like AND and XOR. In most FPGAs, logic blocks also include memory elements, which may be simple flip-flops or more complete blocks of memory.


The FPGA industry sprouted from programmable read-only memory (PROM) and programmable logic devices (PLDs). PROMs and PLDs both had the option of being programmed in batches in a factory or in the field (field-programmable). However, programmable logic was hard-wired between logic gates.

In the late 1980s, the Naval Surface Warfare Center funded an experiment proposed by Steve Casselman to develop a computer that would implement 600,000 reprogrammable gates. Casselman was successful and a patent related to the system was issued in 1992.

Some of the industry's foundational concepts and technologies for programmable logic arrays, gates, and logic blocks are founded in patents awarded to David W. Page and LuVerne R. Peterson in 1985.

Altera was founded in 1983 and delivered the industry's first reprogrammable logic device in 1984 – the EP300 – which featured a quartz window in the package that allowed users to shine an ultra-violet lamp on the die to erase the EPROM cells that held the device configuration.

Xilinx co-founders Ross Freeman and Bernard Vonderschmitt invented the first commercially viable field-programmable gate array in 1985 – the XC2064. The XC2064 had programmable gates and programmable interconnects between gates, the beginnings of a new technology and market. The XC2064 had 64 configurable logic blocks (CLBs), with two three-input lookup tables (LUTs). More than 20 years later, Freeman was entered into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention.

Altera and Xilinx continued unchallenged and quickly grew from 1985 to the mid-1990s, when competitors sprouted up, eroding significant market share. By 1993, Actel (now Microsemi) was serving about 18 percent of the market. By 2010, Altera (31 percent), Actel (10 percent) and Xilinx (36 percent) together represented approximately 77 percent of the FPGA market.

The 1990s were an explosive period of time for FPGAs, both in sophistication and the volume of production. In the early 1990s, FPGAs were primarily used in telecommunications and networking. By the end of the decade, FPGAs found their way into consumer, automotive, and industrial applications.

Complex Programmable Logic Devices (CPLD)

The primary differences between CPLDs (complex programmable logic devices) and FPGAs are architectural. A CPLD has a somewhat restrictive structure consisting of one or more programmable sum-of-products logic arrays feeding a relatively small number of clocked registers. The result of this is less flexibility, with the advantage of more predictable timing delays and a higher logic-to-interconnect ratio. The FPGA architectures, on the other hand, are dominated by interconnect. This makes them far more flexible (in terms of the range of designs that are practical for implementation within them) but also far more complex to design for.

In practice, the distinction between FPGAs and CPLDs is often one of size as FPGAs are usually much larger in terms of resources than CPLDs. Typically only FPGAs contain more complex embedded functions such as adders, multipliers, memory, and serdes. Another common distinction is that CPLDs contain embedded flash to store their configuration while FPGAs usually, but not always, require external nonvolatile memory.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Creating Matter from Lasers

Dramatic advances in laser technologies are enabling novel studies to explore laser-matter interactions at ultrahigh intensity. By focusing high-power laser pulses, electric fields (of orders of magnitude greater than found within atoms) are routinely produced and soon may be sufficiently intense to create matter from light.

Now, intriguing calculations from a research team at the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IAP RAS), and reported this week in Physics of Plasmas, from AIP Publishing, explain the production and dynamics of electrons and positrons from ultrahigh-intensity laser-matter interactions. In other words: They've calculated how to create matter and antimatter via lasers.

Strong electric fields cause electrons to undergo huge radiation losses because a significant amount of their energy is converted into gamma rays -- high-energy photons, which are the particles that make up light. The high-energy photons produced by this process interact with the strong laser field and create electron-positron pairs. As a result, a new state of matter emerges: strongly interacting particles, optical fields, and gamma radiation, whose dynamics are governed by the interplay between classical physics phenomena and quantum processes.

A key concept behind the team's work is based on the quantum electrodynamics (QED) prediction that "a strong electric field can, generally speaking, 'boil the vacuum,' which is full of 'virtual particles,' such as electron-positron pairs," explained Igor Kostyukov of IAP RAS. "The field can convert these types of particles from a virtual state, in which the particles aren't directly observable, to a real one."

One impressive manifestation of this type of QED phenomenon is a self-sustained laser-driven QED cascade, which is a grand challenge yet to be observed in a laboratory.

But, what's a QED cascade?

"Think of it as a chain reaction in which each chain link consists of sequential processes," Kostyukov said. "It begins with acceleration of electrons and positrons within the laser field. This is followed by emission of high-energy photons by the accelerated electrons and positrons. Then, the decay of high-energy photons produces electron-positron pairs, which go on to new generations of cascade particles. A QED cascade leads to an avalanche-like production of electron-positron high-energy photon plasmas."

For this work, the researchers explored the interaction of a very intense laser pulse with a foil via numerical simulations.

"We expected to produce a large number of high-energy photons, and that some portion of them would decay and produce electron-positron pairs," Kostyukov continued. "Our first surprise was that the number of high-energy photons produced by the positrons is much greater than that produced by the electrons of the foil. This led to an exponential -- very sharp -- growth of the number of positrons, which means that if we detect a larger number of positrons in a corresponding experiment we can conclude that most of them are generated in a QED cascade."

They were also able to observe a distinct structure of the positron distribution in the simulations -- despite some randomness of the processes of photon emission and decay.

"By analyzing the positron motion in the electromagnetic fields in front of the foil analytically, we discovered that some characteristics of the motion regulate positron distribution and led to helical-like structures being observed in the simulations," he added.

The team's discoveries are of fundamental importance because the phenomenon they explored can accompany the laser-matter interaction at extreme intensities within a wider range of parameters. "It offers new insights into the properties of these types of interactions," Kostyukov said. "More practical applications may include the development of advanced ideas for the laser-plasma sources of high-energy photons and positrons whose brilliance significantly exceeds that of the modern sources."

So far, the researchers have focused on the initial stage of interaction when the electron-positron pairs they produced don't significantly affect the laser-target interaction.

"Next, we're exploring the nonlinear stage when the self-generated electron-positron plasma strongly modifies the interaction," he said. "And we'll also try to expand our results to more general configurations of the laser-matter interactions and other regimes of interactions -- taking a wider range of parameters into consideration."

     American Institute of Physics (AIP). "Creating antimatter via lasers?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2016.

Monday, September 26, 2016

How to Lie and Bluff

The Winning Formula for Becoming an Infallible Legend in Your Own Mind:

1. Lie about anything with a straight face: If you can do that, you’re free to be as inconsistent as you need to be in order to follow the remaining rules stated below.

2. Never apologize, never back down: No cracks in your armor, ever.

3. Project: Whatever they suspect you’re doing wrong, accuse them of doing before and after they get a chance to accuse you. Never let them turn attention to your failings. Keep them focused on theirs, however small in comparison to yours.

4. Feign umbrage, outrage, disappointment and any other shaming emotional response: Never miss an opportunity to make those who disagree with you wrong. Remember, you’re infallible; they’re wrongheaded about everything from beginning to end.

5. Face your choir, never your opposition: Never honor your interviewers with your attention. Grant it only when they support you; otherwise, be dismissive and derisive, sharing a smirk at their idiocy as an inside joke with those who support you.

6. Say anything that revs and flatters your crew: Never disappoint them. Pander relentlessly. Keep them thinking that just you and they are living in a world of fools who don’t see it your way. 

7.  Keep them thinking that a goal is a plan: Eyes on the prize, ignore how you’ll win it. You’ll win it by being winning. That’s all you have to say. “I have a plan. My plan is to win.”

8. Treat oversimplification as bold realism: Ignore consequences. Pretend there’s a straight shot from your bold impulse to assured success. Call it determinism, not shortsightedness.

9. Fasten firmly into your double standards: Dismiss your opposition’s concerns as wimpy overwrought whininess and your concerns as bold clarion calls to urgent action. Dismiss their opinions as inappropriate hearsay, and claim your opinions to be significant as facts regardless of whether they defy facts. Police their moral standards as inappropriate “political correctness” and uphold your standards as sacrosanct principle. Treat their proposals for change as reckless defilement of tradition and your radicalism as visionary and revolutionary. 

10. Across the board, hold them to the highest standard while giving yourself a free pass: You deserve it because you know you’re right and have integrated your righteousness into your gut. So all you have to do is follow your gut.


Use this formula and you’ll get ever-greater affirmation that you’re right about everything. The formula is self-reinforcing. The longer you remain an infallible legend in your own mind, the more convinced you’ll be that you are one in reality.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Positive Quiddity: Klipsch Speakers

Klipsch Audio Technologies /ˈklɪpʃ/ (also referred to as "Klipsch Speakers" or "Klipsch Group, Inc.") is an American loudspeaker company based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Founded in Hope, Arkansas in 1946 as 'Klipsch and Associates' by Paul W. Klipsch, the company produces loudspeaker drivers and enclosures, as well as complete loudspeakers for high end, high fidelity sound systems, public address applications, and personal computers.

On January 6, 2011, Audiovox announced that the company had signed a "term sheet to purchase all the shares of Klipsch Group Inc". The sale was completed March 1, 2011.

Horn Loading

Since its inception, Klipsch has promoted the use of horn-loaded speakers as part of its goal to produce speakers which:

·                                 Are high in efficiency (more formally called "sensitivity"), meaning that they can be driven by relatively low-powered amplifiers

  • Are low in distortion, which Paul Klipsch believed was very important
  • Have wide dynamic range, meaning that they accurately reproduce both soft and loud sounds
  • Exhibit controlled directivity, meaning that the radiation pattern is directional, rather than diffuse
  • Have a flat frequency response, meaning that there is no unnatural emphasis in the bass, mid-range or treble.

The company advocates the superiority of horns for the aforementioned properties, but historically horns have a reputation for a coloring of the sound sometimes described as "honkiness". The exact causes of this coloration are still being researched, but one cause is vibration of the horn material itself. Early Klipsch designs utilizing metal-throated horns whose material could be energized by the sound within and "ring" or "buzz." Klipsch subsequently introduced horns of braced fiberglass which were said to alleviate resonances that colored the earlier, metal designs. Another cause of "honkiness" is acoustic resonances and reflections when the horn shape causes poor transitions in the acoustic wave expanding from the horn driver. In addition to the direct acoustic effects, these resonances and reflections transform into peaks and dips in the electrical impedance, making problems for the passive crossover network. In 1989 Klipsch introduced a midrange horn with a tractrix flare which was said to reduce "honkiness" and create a more open sound quality, compared to earlier designs. Klipsch also moved away from silk diaphragms to different driver-diaphragm materials like phenolic, aluminum and titanium, to inject a purer sound into the horn in the first place. Midrange horns made entirely of formed wood were used into the 1950s.

Historically, Klipsch speakers were designed based on principles originating at Bell Labs in the 1930s. Objectives included wide soundstage and frequency range from about 30 Hz to 15 kHz, and the speakers were designed to be placed in a room with no single dimension a multiple of another. For competitors who disregarded this old research, Klipsch made a special "Bullshit" button, inspired by Paul Klipsch's extensive usage of the word.


The Klipschorn, or K-Horn, loudspeaker is the flagship product of Klipsch Audio Technologies. It was patented by founder Paul W. Klipsch in 1946, and has been in continuous production in the company's Hope, Arkansas, plant since then—the longest run in speaker production history. Although the Klipschorn's basic design is more than sixty years old, it has received periodic minor modifications. It was offered for years in kit form through Seattle kit manufacturer, SpeakerLab.

Other noteworthy Klipsch speakers include:

  • La Scala
  • Belle Klipsch
  • Cornwall
  • Chorus
  • ProMedia
  • Heresy
  • Forte
  • Quartet
  • Legend
  • Reference

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Containment During the Cold War

Containment is a military strategy to stop the expansion of an enemy. It is best known as the Cold War policy of the United States and its allies to prevent the spread of communism abroad. A component of the Cold War, this policy was a response to a series of moves by the Soviet Union to enlarge communist influence in Eastern Europe, China, Korea, Africa, and Vietnam. Containment represented a middle-ground position between detente and rollback, but it let the opponent choose the place and time of any confrontation.

The basis of the doctrine was articulated in a 1946 cable by U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan during the post-WWII administration of U.S. President Harry Truman. As a description of U.S. foreign policy, the word originated in a report Kennan submitted to U.S. Defense Secretary James Forrestal in 1947, a report that was later used in a magazine article. It is a translation of the French cordon sanitaire, used to describe Western policy toward the Soviet Union in the 1920s.

Although the term "containment" was first used for the strategy in the 1940s, there were major historical precedents familiar to Americans and Europeans. In the 1850s anti-slavery forces in the United States developed a containment strategy (they did not use the word) for stopping the expansion of slavery and forcing its collapse. Historian James Oakes explains the strategy:

"The federal government would surround the south with free states, free territories, and free waters, building what they called a 'cordon of freedom' around slavery, hemming it in until the system's own internal weaknesses forced the slave states one by one to abandon slavery."

Following the 1917 communist revolution in Russia, there were calls by Western leaders to isolate the Bolshevik government, which seemed intent on promoting worldwide revolution. In March 1919, French Premier Georges Clemenceau called for a cordon sanitaire, or ring of non-communist states, to isolate the Soviet Union. Translating this phrase, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson called for a "quarantine." Both phrases compare communism to a contagious disease. The U.S. refused to recognize the Soviet Union, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt reversed the policy in 1933, hoping to expand American export markets. The Munich Agreement of 1938 was an attempt to contain Nazi expansion in Europe; it failed. The U.S. tried to contain Japanese expansion in Asia in 1937-41, and Japan reacted with its attack on Pearl Harbor.

After Germany invaded the USSR in 1941 during World War II, the U.S. and the Soviet Union found themselves allied in opposition to Germany. The policy was rollback to defeat Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Origin of Containment 1944-1947

Key State Department personnel grew increasingly frustrated with and suspicious of the Soviets as the war drew to a close. Averell Harriman, U.S. ambassador in Moscow, once a "confirmed optimist" regarding U.S.-Soviet relations, was disillusioned by what he saw as the Soviet betrayal of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising as well as by violations of the February 1945 Yalta Agreement concerning Poland. Harriman would later have a significant influence in forming Truman's views on the Soviet Union.

In February 1946, the U.S. State Department asked George F. Kennan, then at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, why the Russians opposed the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He responded with a wide-ranging analysis of Russian policy now called the Long Telegram:

Soviet power, unlike that of Hitlerite Germany, is neither schematic nor adventuristic. It does not work by fixed plans. It does not take unnecessary risks. Impervious to logic of reason, and it is highly sensitive to logic of force. For this reason it can easily withdraw—and usually does when strong resistance is encountered at any point.

According to Kennan:

  • The Soviets perceived themselves to be in a state of perpetual war with capitalism;
  • The Soviets would use controllable Marxists in the capitalist world as allies;
  • Soviet aggression was not aligned with the views of the Russian people or with economic reality, but with historic Russian xenophobia and paranoia;
  • The Soviet government's structure prevented objective or accurate pictures of internal and external reality.

Kennan's cable was hailed in the State Department as "the appreciation of the situation that had long been needed."  Kennan himself attributed the enthusiastic reception to timing: "Six months earlier the message would probably have been received in the State Department with raised eyebrows and lips pursed in disapproval. Six months later, it would probably have sounded redundant."  Clark Clifford and George Elsey produced a report elaborating on the Long Telegram and proposing concrete policy recommendations based on its analysis. This report, which recommended "restraining and confining" Soviet influence, was presented to Truman on September 24, 1946.

In January 1947, Kennan drafted an essay entitled "The Sources of Soviet Conduct." Navy Secretary James V. Forrestal gave permission for the report to be published in the journal Foreign Affairs under the pseudonym "X." Biographer Douglas Brinkley has dubbed Forrestal "godfather of containment" on account of his work in distributing Kennan's writing. The use of the word "containment" originates from this so-called "X Article": "In these circumstances it is clear that the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies."

Kennan later turned against the containment policy and noted several deficiencies in his X Article. He later said that by containment he meant not the containment of Soviet Power "by military means of a military threat, but the political containment of a political threat."  Second, Kennan admitted a failure in the article to specify the geographical scope of "containment", and that containment was not something he believed the United States could necessarily achieve everywhere successfully.

Alternative Strategies

There were three alternative policies to containment under discussion in the late 1940s. The first was a return to isolationism, minimizing American involvement with the rest of the world. This policy was supported by conservative Republicans, especially from the Midwest, including former President Herbert Hoover and Senator Robert A. Taft. However, many other Republicans, led by Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg, said that policy has helped cause World War II and was thus too dangerous to revive.

A second policy was continuation of the détente policies of friendly relationships, especially trade, with the Soviet Union. Roosevelt himself had been the champion of détente, but he was dead, and most of his inner circle had left the government by 1946. The chief proponent of détente was Henry A. Wallace, a former vice president and the Secretary of Commerce under Truman. Wallace's position was supported by far left elements of the CIO, but they were themselves purged in 1947 and 1948. Wallace ran against Truman on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948, but his campaign was increasingly dominated by Communists and helped détente be discredited.

The third policy was rollback, an aggressive effort to undercut or destroy the Soviet Union itself. Military rollback against the Soviet Union was proposed by James Burnham and other conservative strategists in the late 1940s. After 1954, Burnham and like-minded strategists became editors and regular contributors to William F. Buckley's magazine, the National Review. Truman himself adopted a rollback strategy in the Korean War after the success of the Inchon landings in September 1950, only to reverse himself after the Chinese counterattack two months later and revert to containment. The theater commander, General Douglas MacArthur called on Congress to continue the rollback policy; Truman fired him for insubordination.

Under Dwight Eisenhower, a rollback strategy was considered against communism in Eastern Europe from 1953 to 1956. Eisenhower did agree to a propaganda campaign to psychologically rollback the influence of communism, however, he refused to intervene in the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. The main argument against rollback, was that a Soviet response might trigger World War III. Since 1950, the Soviets had been known to possess nuclear weapons.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Coming: Safer Fracking

ASU-Lead Research Finds
Way to Make Fracking Safer
Study finds that wastewater injections cause man-made earthquakes, but the risk can be reduced through monitoring

Arizona State University – September 22, 2016 -- Injecting wastewater deep underground as a byproduct of oil and gas extraction techniques that include fracking causes man-made earthquakes, the lead author of new research from Arizona State University said Thursday.

The study, which also showed that the risk can be mitigated, has the potential to transform oil and gas industry practices, ASU geophysicist Manoochehr Shirzaei said, calling the findings “very groundbreaking” and “very new.”

“It’s a hot topic” because “injection and fracking is extremely important in terms of jobs, money and independence,” Shirzaei, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, said.

The technique to extract oil and gas from rock using a high-pressure mix of water, sand or gravel and chemicals produces lots of wastewater, he said. This wastewater is disposed of through underground injections that “have led to an increase in earthquakes across the United States,” he said.

“So now the goal, the scope of every scientist across the U.S.A., and maybe abroad, is to make that injection safer” by “reducing the number of earthquakes as much as we can,” he said, explaining why the research was done.  

Shirzaei was careful to say that the injection of wastewater can come from processes associated with oil and gas extraction other than hydraulic fracturing. 

He said the study, published in the journal Science, shows that researchers can estimate how much pressure is increasing underground, providing a chance for wastewater injections to be halted before the buildup reaches a critical stage. The pressure, he said, eventually returns to normal, allowing the injections to resume. 

Shirzaei said he already has plans to present the findings to state and industry leaders in Texas and Colorado. He said that no one from the oil and gas industry has seen the work because researchers wanted to maintain their independence. 

The research could help reduce quakes like those felt recently in east Texas, which hasn’t experienced such seismic activity historically. In May 2012, a 4.8 magnitude quake hit Timpson — the largest ever monitored in the region. Several more temblors hit the area over the next 16 months.

The quakes marked a significant increase in east Texas and in areas of the U.S. where unprecedented volumes of wastewater are being shot into deep geological formations.

About 2 billion gallons of wastewater get injected underground every day into about 180,000 disposal wells in the U.S., mainly in Texas, California, Oklahoma and Kansas, according to the official news release.

For the study, Shirzaei and co-authors William Ellsworth of Stanford University, Kristy Tiampo of the University of Colorado Boulder, Pablo González of the University of Liverpool (UK), and Michael Manga of UC Berkeley focused on four high-volume wells used for disposing wastewater near the epicenter for the Timpson, Texas, earthquake, the release said. 

The researchers used space-borne Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), a remote satellite-based sensing technique, to measure the surface uplift of the area near the wells, the release said.

“Monitoring surface deformation using these remote sensing techniques is a proactive approach to managing the hazards associated with fluid injection, and can help in earthquake forecasting,” Shirzaei said, according to the release. “Our study reports on the first observations of surface uplift associated with wastewater injection.”

The researchers then calculated the strain and pore pressure underneath the wells that resulted in the uplift and, in turn, triggered the earthquakes, the release said. The research found that seismic activity increased, even when water injection rates declined, due to pore pressure continuing to diffuse throughout the area from earlier injections, the release said.


Satellites measuring surface uplift near the injection wells.  Colored circles show pore pressure increase at the location of the earthquake.  Injection wells are shown in red with injection depth indicated in blue bars.

InSAR uses a highly accurate radar to measure the change in distance between the satellite and ground surface, allowing the team to show that injecting water into the wells at high pressure caused ground uplift near the shallower wells, the release said.

In addition, the data show less seismic activity in denser rock where pore pressure was prevented from disseminating into basement rock, helping to explain why injection can, but does not always, cause earthquakes, the release said.

By integrating seismic data, injected water histories, and geological and hydrogeological information with surface deformation observations, the researchers have provided a definitive link between wastewater injection and earthquake activity in Texas, helping explain why injection causes earthquakes in some places and not others, the release said.

“This research opens new possibilities for the operation of wastewater disposal wells in ways that could reduce earthquake hazards,” Shirzaei said, in the release.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Primer on Joy

Joy is an emotion in response to a pleasant observation or a remembrance thereof. The reason for a joyful reaction is usually that some expectation or need has been satisfied. Joy is usually expressed as a smile, a laugh or exclamation of joy.

Joy differs from happiness in that it is an emotion. Happiness, on the other hand, is what we might think of as a feeling, which is more fleeting. Joy may be thought of as "the emotional dimension of the good life, of a life that is both going well and is being lived well."

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Euphrosyne (Goddess of Merriment)

Euphrosyne, in ancient Greek religion, was one of the Charites, known in English as the "Three Graces". She was usually called Euthymia.

Greek Mythology

According to Greek myth, Euphrosyne and the two other Charites were daughters of Zeus and the Oceanid Eurynome. The Greek poet Pindar states that these goddesses were created to fill the world with pleasant moments and good will. Usually the Graces attended the goddess of beauty Aphrodite and her companion Eros and loved dancing around in a circle to Apollo's divine music, together with the Nymphs and the Muses. She is usually depicted with her sisters.

Euphrosyne is a Goddess of Joy or Mirth, and the incarnation of grace and beauty. The other two Charites are Thalia (Good Cheer) and Aglaea (Beauty or Splendor). Her half-brother is Hephaistos, or Hephaestus, the god of metalworking and volcanoes. Her name is the female version of a Greek word euphrosynos, which means "merriment".

In Roman myths the Graces where known as the Gratia.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Joie de Vivre

Joie de vivre, joy of living) is a French phrase often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit.

It "can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do… And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life, a Weltanschauung. Robert's Dictionnaire says joie is sentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience, that is, involves one's whole being."

Origins and Development

Casual use of the phrase in French can be dated back at least as far as Fénelon in the late 17th century, but it was only brought into literary prominence in the 19th century, first by Michelet (1857) in his pantheistic work Insecte, to contrast the passive life of plants with animal joie de vivre, and then by Émile Zola in his book of that name from 1883–84.

Thereafter, it took on increasing weight as a mode of life, evolving at times almost into a secular religion in the early 20th century; and subsequently fed into Lacanian emphasis on "a jouissance beyond the pleasure principle" in the latter half of the century – a time when its emphasis on enthusiasm, energy and spontaneity gave it a global prominence with the rise of hippie culture.


20th century proponents of self-actualization such as Abraham Maslow or Carl Rogers saw, as one of the by-products, the rediscovery of what the latter called "the quiet joy in being one's self...a spontaneous relaxed enjoyment, a primitive joie de vivre".

Joie de vivre has also been linked to D. W. Winnicott's concept of a sense of play, and of access to the true self.

See Also

  • Bon viveur
  • Carpe diem
  • Élan vital
  • Epicurus
  • Flow (psychology)
  • Happiness
  • Joy
  • Quality of life
  • François Rabelais

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Afterword by the Blog Author

It is the philosophical position of the blog author not to chase happiness; instead, “let it chase you.”  This is especially true since modern pharmacology has revealed concoctions that induce happiness.  Since they are addictive, they also create a cyclone of unhappiness in the long run.

It may serve as an instructive warning that joy is mirth and thus a goddess, Euphrosyne, one of the three Graces.  This is a serious force that should not be dallied with or teased.

Finally, there is a consuming trance of joy known by its scientific name “flow.”  This was the subject of the February 8, 2012, Daily Quiddity blog entry.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Surreal Start-Up Workplace

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble
By Dan Lyons
Book Reviews on

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

5 Stars
Sobering, Shocking and Hilarious Look at a Utopian Hellhole Rings True on Every Page
By Charlie White on April 9, 2016

This book affected me at a profound level. I was the oldest employee at various startups for a decade, and Dan Lyons accurately described the absurdity and frustration I encountered at all of them. He crafted his story so well that I felt transported back to that special hell of a fifty-something writer toiling away for years in a frat-house sweatshop with a "team" of ill-prepared (yet oh-so-special) snowflakes.

If you find yourself considering employment at a similar company, and if you're "old" (over 40 and certainly over 50), please read this book before you sign anything or accept any job offers. It's a cautionary tale that is the most perfect description of the current startup "culture" I've ever read. It made my blood boil while reading it, and at the same time I found myself laughing out loud throughout.

The book is a remarkable achievement, giving both prospective employees and investors a razor-sharp look inside a hellhole that seems so pleasant from its exterior. I loved this book and hope all my former, present and future colleagues take the time to read it.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

5 Stars
Wildly entertaining AND important
By Social Science Reader on April 5, 2016

Disrupted not only wildly entertains; it also sheds light on some troubling issues in the startup and tech cultures.

Entertainment: Disrupted caused me to laugh out loud more often than any other book has ever caused me to laugh out loud. Would you expect less from a writer for the TV show Silicon Valley? Reading Disrupted is like binge-watching SV, only this company is a REAL place, which makes it even better.

Important social issues: Disrupted also raises a couple of troubling issues that surely extend far beyond the culture of this one company. The first is what appears to be a false promise of meaningful work to young people who desperately want to be doing meaningful work, but who are really just making a couple of people very, very wealthy. There's a smoke-and-mirrors quality to the ways in which employees are recruited, trained, treated, and then "graduated" (Hubspot's term for "fired"). They're told that the work they'll be doing is changing the world (when really what they're doing is online advertising), that Hubspot is more selective than Harvard (when this is actually a severe distortion of the data), and so on. The perks used to attract employees include an 'awesome!!!' candy wall, shower pods, beer, nerf gun battles, etc. You quickly get the sense that the work is empty, meaningless, even soulless -- and that what it's really about is making a couple of guys very, very rich (which I would be okay with IF the work truly were meaningful and IF the employees truly were being treated as individual humans, not as hypnotized sheep.)

Second, Dan is brave enough to bring up another important issue in startup culture: ageism. Older people are seen as having nothing to contribute. The age discrimination is actually shockingly overt. Imagine saying, "I want to run a company that really attracts people with blue eyes, because people with brown eyes just aren't creative." You'd (probably) never say something like that. But people who run this company openly say that about young people versus older people. I'm glad Dan is talking about it, because someone needed to start that conversation.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

5 Stars
If your company considers this a "banned book," you should probably find a new job
By JS77 on April 5, 2016

Really good. It's like the movie "Office Space" but not a parody. I suggest not showing this book cover if you work at a company where you have no independence and have to drink the Kool-Aid or Else. Grab the audible version and commit subversion with your headphones.

Disrupted is but isn't about HubSpot; it's about work culture gone awry and it has in so many ways. We've traded factory floors making things for a factory of cubicles sending junk to people. To be clear, every job has a level of "salute the flag" which is totally understandable. However when you have a company that doesn't understand you have a personal life, that doesn't understand that your family is important, then you have a company that's going to churn through folks and isn't a place to stay. I also appreciate his clear call-out of tech culture's lack of diversity and the fact that these held-up cultures by breathless writers aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Enjoy the book and watch out for the Bozo Explosion.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

High Tech = Age Discrimination

No One in Tech Will Admit that They're Old
Caroline Fairchild Interviews Dan Lyons

September 18, 2016 -- Dan Lyons knew his book would put him at risk. A former tech journalist and author, he’d written plenty of things that had made people angry at him — this was the guy, after all, who famously authored a blog that mocked Steve Jobs  — but this was the first time he’d do something that had the power to really change his own prospects.

The book was “Disrupted” and it was a hilarious take on his 20 months working as a marketing fellow at startup Hubspot. Specifically, he focused on the fact that everyone seemed and acted so young, which is exactly what the company banked on. The difference in age between his new colleagues — Dan was 52 when he took the job — would lead to a series of ridiculous stories that propelled the book into a New York Times best-seller. A reviewer at the Los Angeles Times called it  "the best book about Silicon Valley today." (Hubspot CEO Dharmesh Shah challenged Lyons’ take on the company in a LinkedIn post titled, Undisrupted.)

Those accolades go far, but there’s also been a darker side.

“I knew I would just be seen as the old guy after it published,” he said. “That’s the hole I put myself in. Now, people see stories about depressed older workers, and they immediately think of me.”

Lyons might be the voice of tech’s older worker, but he’s definitely not alone in his worries. While the median age in the U.S. workforce is 42, it’s closer to 31 in the tech industry. As Bloomberg recently reported, more older workers are speaking out about what they see as inherent bias against them. While the discussion on both racial and gender bias in tech has become mainstream, age bias is just beginning to emerge as the next hot topic for workplace equality.

“You never want to think you’re old,” said Lyons. “If you are female, you know you are female. If you are black, you know you are black. But if you are old, well, what is old?”

Lyons and I ran into each other at the CED Tech Venture Conference in North Carolina. After working for more than a year as a co-producer and writer on HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” Lyons is now touring the country speaking out about age bias as well as other topics that are important to the tech industry. In an interview, we talked about why companies alone can’t fix the age issue — and I couldn’t help but grill him on his Silicon Valley (the show) work.

Edited excerpts:

Caroline Fairchild: Bloomberg just came out with a feature on ageism in tech. After your book, how are you continuing to think about the issue?

Dan Lyons: I don’t know how to continue talking about the problem without sounding like a broken record. I get frustrated with the coverage of diversity issues. Every year Apple, Google and Facebook put out these diversity reports and show that they haven’t made any progress. [Editor’s note: You can find LinkedIn’s here.] I don’t know how the media could cover that in different ways to move the ball forward. We are all aware of it, but you risk getting into the realm of cheesiness if you write a story about that company that took a bet on an older worker and things went great. Then you feel like you are doing infomercials.

CF: Why is covering age in tech challenging, but we have reporters covering gender and race in tech for many publications?

DL:Age bias just gets treated differently than the others. Nobody even bothers to lie about it. It is just taken for granted and accepted: “You are 50. You suck. You can’t do tech stuff.” You see all these people doing things like only putting their last 10 years of work on their resume or coloring their hair. I think there is a stigma around age and our culture. I think there is an element of shame about it. People won’t even join the AARP because of the stigma attached to it.

CF: Do you think that stigma associated with age is strongest in the tech industry?

DL: Yes. Mark Zuckerberg said that young people are smarter. Now, he said that a long time ago, he probably would be more diplomatic and discreet about it now, but I bet he still believes it. I think in tech there is a plentiful supply of people in their twenties and they are all looking for work. It may be that we are in this period where technology is erasing jobs faster than we are creating them, so we have a net loss of jobs. So that means that you have a surplus of workers. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t you just hire people in their twenties who are cheaper and younger and don’t have distractions?

CF: Do you think different generations inherently like working with one another?

DL: I like working with younger people, I don’t know if they like working with me. There are some older people who probably hate working with younger workers. I think younger people don’t want to boss you around because you remind them of their parents. That is awkward. They also assume you don’t know how to do things. There is almost an awkwardness, because people don’t even want to have the conversation. If you and I were working together, it would likely be hard for us to have a conversation about what it’s like for me to work with you and what it’s like for you to work with me. But I think we have been sold this big bag of bullshit about millennials. I don’t think they are so different. I think we are all pretty alike. We are in different life stages, but I don’t think at the end of the day that we have different DNA. But millennials get described as a different species.

CF: So do you think that young workers in tech should be afraid about what will happen to them when they get older?

DL: Yes. You should read [LinkedIn Co-Founder] Reid Hoffman’s book The Alliance. The message is that you are going to have a new job every two years. For employers, it is a good thing to have a dial-up and dial-down workforce that allows them to hire for immediate needs. It offers much more flexibility. It could work, but not with the way companies are structured now. Companies have this 20th-century infrastructure around them. Employers are trying to create a better world, but transitions are painful. [Editor's note: Reid and his co-authors responded to Dan's critique in their April 2016 article, "Un-Disrupted: What 'The Alliance' Actually Says About Employment."]

People in my age came to the workforce with these expectations for how the workforce would be and it changed halfway through our careers. We will get to a point where we can act as freelancers at a company on an engagement basis almost like consultants do. But right now, the problem is that physically plugging and unplugging into a job is such a pain. Our benefits are tied to our employer. We need societal and structural changes so that changing jobs doesn’t interrupt your benefits. When you have children, that disruption of having a new health insurance company is a pain of the ass.

CF: I’m interested in your thoughts about the debate raging around Facebook’s responsibility as a news provider.

DL: I think Facebook’s role in the news is huge. I’ve noticed in this election cycle that I get a lot of my news from Facebook. I think there is this flattening effect where the source of the story is small or not there. Then you click on the story, and it is clearly just partisan politics, not objective news. Some random site that didn’t do any reporting is promoted on Facebook with equal weight as The Washington Post or The New York Times. It is all the same, but they are getting worked up over not credible news. It is very hard as a reader to then decide what sources he or she should give credibility to. I find myself getting halfway down the rabbit hole and then realizing that the story isn’t good.

CF: Speaking of politics, what are your thoughts on tech leaders like Peter Thiel and Meg Whitman talking openly about politics?

DL: I think if you have a lot of money, you think you should be able to run the world. People in Silicon Valley are like people everywhere. They have feelings about politics. Most people think Silicon Valley leaders lean left in most ways, but not every way. Apple not paying its taxes is not a left-wing thing. I think it is normal. These leaders have a big megaphone and a lot of money – it makes sense.

= = = = = = = = = = dynamite comment to the above discussion: = = = = = = = = = =

It's not just a bias, it's becoming a requirement for some companies as I've recently learned. In my recent job search I've learned that many companies actually make it a job REQUIREMENT in their job descriptions for a candidate to have earned his/her degree "recently" ie. within the last 1 to 2 years. To me, that seems like much more than a bias ... verging on the border of discrimination. The days of continuous self improvement have been replaced with the need for self re-invention or self re-generation which requires the need to attain another degree half way through one's career to meet newly implemented job "requirements". For most, this will require, either eliminating the prospect of having a family or abandoning family time and devotion in order to pursue self-renewal. The days of loyalty and long term careers have been replaced by the world's elite with short term return on investment. The humanity of work has been replaced with a mentality of using people as monitory assets that are more easily traded on the job market much like a stock is traded on wall street, rather than nurtured and developed to their full potential. Case in point ... I continuously attempted to utilize in-house training to rejuvenate and improve my skill set to match the needed skills I perceived over the past 3 years ... what my company markets to recently graduating prospective employees as a fringed benefit ... only to have said training "opportunities" cancelled over and over again due to "low enrollment". Unfortunately, these skills were obviously being exploited from new hires who had been trained while they were working on their degrees. Given the fact that the skills in these courses have been listed alongside the "recent graduate" job requirement on the latest job postings, I perceive this as a major contributor to the lack of enrollment in, and elimination of said "continuous improvement training opportunities". My advice to recent grads ... demand the monetary value for these "benefits" in your salary compensation that your employers would rather taut as indirect "total compensation value" of your employment "benefits package" ... chances of actually receiving these ghost incentives are dwindling further and further. Unfortunately, until the government protects against such "age biases" and treats them for what they truly are, which is more like discrimination, then no one is safe from being exploited in this way.

--Thomas Stratton
Engineer at Caterpillar
Actively Seeking New Opportunities

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Hard Currency" Explained

Hard currency, safe-haven currency or strong currency is any globally traded currency that serves as a reliable and stable store of value.

Factors contributing to a currency's hard status might include the long-term stability of its purchasing power, the associated country's political and fiscal condition and outlook, and the policy posture of the issuing central bank.

Conversely, a soft currency indicates a currency which is expected to fluctuate erratically or depreciate against other currencies. Such softness is typically the result of political or fiscal instability within the associated country.


The paper currencies of some developed countries have earned recognition as hard currencies at various times, including the United States dollar, Euro, Swiss franc, British pound sterling, Japanese yen, and to a lesser extent, the Canadian dollar and Australian dollar. As times change, a currency that is considered weak at one time may become stronger, or vice versa. However, countries that consistently run large trade surpluses tend to have hard currencies.


The US dollar (USD) has been considered a strong currency for much of its history. Despite the Nixon Shock of 1971, and the United States' growing fiscal and trade deficits, most of the world's monetary systems have been tied to the US dollar due to the Bretton Woods System and dollarization. Countries have thus been compelled to purchase dollars for their foreign exchange reserves, denominate their commodities in dollars for foreign trade, or even use dollars domestically, thus buoying the currency's value.

The euro (EUR) has also been considered a hard currency for much of its short history, however the European sovereign debt crisis has eroded that confidence.

The Swiss franc (CHF) has long been considered a hard currency, and in fact was the last paper currency in the world to terminate its convertibility to gold. In the summer of 2011, the European sovereign debt crisis lead to rapid flows out of the euro and into the franc by those seeking hard currency, causing the latter to appreciate rapidly. On September 6, 2011, the Swiss National Bank announced that it would buy an "unlimited" number of euros to fix an exchange rate at 1.00 EUR = 1.20 CHF, to protect its trade. This action temporarily eliminated the franc's hard currency advantage over the euro but was abandoned in January 2015.


Investors as well as ordinary people generally prefer hard currencies to soft currencies at times of increased inflation (or, more precisely, times of increased inflation differentials between countries), at times of heightened political or military risk, or when they feel that one or more government-imposed exchange rates are unrealistic. There may be regulatory reasons for preferring to invest outside one's home currency, e.g. the local currency may be subject to capital controls which makes it difficult to spend it outside the host nation.

For example, during the Cold War, the ruble in the Soviet Union was not a hard currency because it could not be easily spent outside the Soviet Union and because the exchange rates were fixed at artificially high levels for persons with hard currency, such as Western tourists. (The Soviet government also imposed severe limits on how many rubles could be exchanged by Soviet citizens for hard currencies.) After the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the ruble depreciated rapidly, while the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar was more stable, making it a harder currency than the ruble. A tourist could get 200 rubles per U.S. dollar in June 1992, and 500 rubles per USD in November 1992.

In some economies, which may be either planned economies or market economies using a soft currency, there are special stores that accept only hard currency. Examples have included Tuzex stores in the former Czechoslovakia, Intershops in East Germany or Friendship stores in China in the early 1990s. These stores offer a wider variety of goods – many of which are scarce or imported – than standard stores.

Mixed Currencies

Because hard currencies may be subject to legal restrictions, the desire for transactions in hard currency may lead to a black market. In some cases, a central bank may attempt to increase confidence in the local currency by pegging it against a hard currency, as is this case with the Hong Kong dollar or the Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark. This may lead to problems if economic conditions force the government to break the currency peg (and either appreciate or depreciate sharply) as occurred in the 1998–2002 Argentine great depression.

In some cases, an economy may choose to abandon local currency altogether and adopt another Fiat money as legal tender in a process known as dollarization. Examples include the adoption of the US dollar in Panama, Ecuador, El Salvador and Zimbabwe and the adoption of the German mark and later the euro in Kosovo and Montenegro.