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Nootropic – Wikipedia

Posted: October 23, 2016 at 4:24 am

Nootropics (pronunciation: noh–TROP-iks)also called smart drugs or cognitive enhancersare drugs, supplements, or other substances that improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals.[1][2] The use of cognition-enhancing drugs by healthy individuals in the absence of a medical indication is one of the most debated topics among neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and physicians which spans a number of issues, including the ethics and fairness of their use, concerns over adverse effects, and the diversion of prescription drugs for nonmedical uses, among others.[1][3][4] Nonetheless, the international sales of cognition-enhancing supplements exceeded US$1 billion in 2015 and the global demand for these compounds is still growing rapidly.[5]

The word nootropic was coined in 1972 by a Romanian psychologist and chemist, Corneliu E. Giurgea,[6][7] from the Greek words nous, or “mind”, and trepein meaning to bend or turn.[8]

There are only a few drugs that are known to improve some aspect of cognition. Many more are in different stages of development.[9] The most commonly used class of drug is stimulants, such as caffeine.[10]

These drugs are purportedly used primarily to treat cognitive or motor function difficulties attributable to disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and ADHD.[citation needed] Some researchers, however, report more widespread use despite concern for further research.[11] Nevertheless, intense marketing may not correlate with efficacy. While scientific studies support the beneficial effects of some compounds, manufacturer’s marketing claims for dietary supplements are usually not formally tested and verified by independent entities.[12]

Among students, nootropics have been used to increase productivity, despite their long-term effects lacking conclusive research in healthy individuals.[9] The use of prescription stimulants is especially prevalent among students attending academically competitive colleges.[13] Surveys suggest that 0.74.5% of German students have used cognitive enhancers in their lifetime.[14][15][16] Stimulants such as dimethylamylamine and methylphenidate are used on college campuses and by younger groups.[9] Based upon studies of self-reported illicit stimulant use, 535% of college students use diverted ADHD stimulants, which are primarily used for performance enhancement rather than as recreational drugs.[17][18][19]

Several factors positively and negatively influence the use of drugs to increase cognitive performance. Among them are personal characteristics, drug characteristics, and characteristics of the social context.[14][15][20][21]

The main concern with pharmaceutical drugs is adverse effects, and these concerns apply to cognitive-enhancing drugs as well. Long-term safety data is typically unavailable for some types of nootropics[9] (e.g., many non-pharmaceutical cognitive enhancers, newly developed pharmaceuticals and pharmaceuticals with short-term therapeutic use). Racetamspiracetam and other compounds that are structurally related to piracetamhave few serious adverse effects and low toxicity, but there is little evidence that they enhance cognition in individuals without cognitive impairments.[22][23] While addiction to stimulants is sometimes identified as a cause for concern,[24] a very large body of research on the therapeutic use of the “more addictive” psychostimulants indicate that addiction is fairly rare in therapeutic doses.[25][26][27] On their safety profile, a systematic review from June 2015 asserted, “evidence indicates that at low, clinically relevant doses, psychostimulants are devoid of the behavioral and neurochemical actions that define this class of drugs and instead act largely as cognitive enhancers.”[28]

In the United States dietary supplements may be marketed if the manufacturer can show that it can manufacture the supplement safely, that the supplement is indeed generally recognized as safe, and if the manufacturer does not make any claims about the supplement’s use to treat or prevent any disease or condition; supplements that contain drugs or for which treatment or prevention claims are made are illegal under US law.[29]

In 2015, systematic medical reviews and meta-analyses of clinical research in humans established consensus that certain stimulants, only when used at low (therapeutic) concentrations, unambiguously enhance cognition in the general population;[28][30][31][32] in particular, the classes of stimulants that demonstrate cognition-enhancing effects in humans act as direct agonists or indirect agonists of dopamine receptor D1, adrenoceptor A2, or both receptors in the prefrontal cortex.[28][30][32][33] Relatively high doses of stimulants cause cognitive deficits.[32][33]

Racetams, such as piracetam, oxiracetam, and aniracetam, are structurally similar compounds, which are often marketed as cognitive enhancers and sold over-the-counter. Racetams are often referred to as nootropics, but this property of the drug class is not well established.[53] The racetams have poorly understood mechanisms of action; however, piracetam and aniracetam are known to act as positive allosteric modulators of AMPA receptors and appear to modulate cholinergic systems.[54]

According to the FDA, “Piracetam is not a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb or other botanical, or dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake. Further, piracetam is not a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract or combination of any such dietary ingredient. […] Accordingly, these products are drugs, under section 201(g)(1)(C) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(g)(1)(C), because they are not foods and they are intended to affect the structure or any function of the body. Moreover, these products are new drugs as defined by section 201(p) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(p), because they are not generally recognized as safe and effective for use under the conditions prescribed, recommended, or suggested in their labeling.”[55]

The results of this meta-analysis cannot address the important issues of individual differences in stimulant effects or the role of motivational enhancement in helping perform academic or occupational tasks. However, they do confirm the reality of cognitive enhancing effects for normal healthy adults in general, while also indicating that these effects are modest in size.

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Nootropic – Wikipedia

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Futurist – Wikipedia

Posted: at 4:18 am

Futurists or futurologists are scientists and social scientists whose specialty is futurology or the attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or of life on Earth in general.

The term “futurist” most commonly refers to people such as authors, consultants, organizational leaders and others who engage in interdisciplinary and systems thinking to advise private and public organizations on such matters as diverse global trends, possible scenarios, emerging market opportunities and risk management. Futurist is not in the sense of the art movement futurism.

The Oxford English Dictionary identifies the earliest use of the term futurism in English as 1842, to refer, in a theological context, to the Christian eschatological tendency of that time. The next recorded use is the label adopted by the Italian and Russian futurists, the artistic, literary and political movements of the 1920s and 1930s which sought to reject the past and fervently embrace speed, technology and, often violent, change..

Visionary writers such as Jules Verne, Edward Bellamy, and H.G.Wells were not in their day characterized as futurists. The term futurology in its contemporary sense was first coined in the mid1940s by the German Professor Ossip K. Flechtheim, who proposed a new science of probability. Flechtheim argued that even if systematic forecasting did no more than unveil the subset of statistically highly probable processes of change and charted their advance, it would still be of crucial social value.[1]

In the mid1940s the first professional “futurist” consulting institutions like RAND and SRI began to engage in long-range planning, systematic trend watching, scenario development, and visioning, at first under World WarII military and government contract and, beginning in the 1950s, for private institutions and corporations. The period from the late 1940s to the mid1960s laid the conceptual and methodological foundations of the modern futures studies field. Bertrand de Jouvenel’s The Art of Conjecture in 1963 and Dennis Gabor’s Inventing the Future in 1964 are considered key early works, and the first course devoted entirely to the future was taught by the late Alvin Toffler at the The New School in 1966.[2]

More generally, the label includes such disparate lay, professional, and academic groups as visionaries, foresight consultants, corporate strategists, policy analysts, cultural critics, planners, marketers, forecasters, prediction market developers, roadmappers, operations researchers, investment managers, actuaries, and other risk analyzers, and future-oriented individuals educated in every academic discipline, including anthropology, complexity studies, computer science, economics, engineering, Urban design, evolutionary biology, history, management, mathematics, philosophy, physical sciences, political science, psychology, sociology, systems theory, technology studies, and other disciplines.

“Futures studies”sometimes referred to as futurology, futures research, and foresightcan be summarized as being concerned with “three P’s and a W”, i.e. “possible, probable, and preferable” futures, plus “wildcards”, which are low-probability, high-impact events, should they occur. Even with high-profile, probable events, such as the fall of telecommunications costs, the growth of the internet, or the aging demographics of particular countries, there is often significant uncertainty in the rate or continuation of a trend. Thus a key part of futures analysis is the managing of uncertainty and risk.[3]

Not all futurists engage in the practice of futurology as generally defined. Pre-conventional futurists (see below) would generally not. And while religious futurists, astrologers, occultists, New Age divinists, etc. use methodologies that include study, none of their personal revelation or belief-based work would fall within a consensus definition of futurology as used in academics or by futures studies professionals.

Several authors have become recognized as futurists. They research trends, particularly in technology, and write their observations, conclusions, and predictions. In earlier eras, many futurists were at academic institutions. John McHale, author of The Future of the Future, published a ‘Futures Directory’, and directed a think tank called The Centre For Integrative Studies at a university. Futurists have started consulting groups or earn money as speakers, with examples including Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt and Patrick Dixon. Frank Feather is a business speaker that presents himself as a pragmatic futurist. Some futurists have commonalities with science fiction, and some science-fiction writers, such as Arthur C. Clarke, are known as futurists.[citation needed] In the introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin distinguished futurists from novelists, writing of the study as the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurists. In her words, “a novelist’s business is lying”.

A survey of 108 futurists[4] found the following shared assumptions:

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Futurist – Wikipedia

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Immortality – Wikipedia

Posted: October 20, 2016 at 11:35 pm

Immortality is eternal life, the ability to live forever.[2]Natural selection has developed potential biological immortality in at least one species, Turritopsis dohrnii.[3]

Certain scientists, futurists, and philosophers have theorized about the immortality of the human body (either through an immortal cell line researched or else deeper contextual understanding in advanced fields that have certain scope in the proposed long term reality that can be attained such as per mentioned in the reading of an article or scientific documentation of such a proposed idea would lead to), and advocate that human immortality is achievable in the first few decades of the 21st century, whereas other advocates believe that life extension is a more achievable goal in the short term, with immortality awaiting further research breakthroughs into an indefinite future. The absence of aging would provide humans with biological immortality, but not invulnerability to death by physical trauma; although mind uploading could solve that issue if it proved possible. Whether the process of internal endoimmortality would be delivered within the upcoming years depends chiefly on research (and in neuron research in the case of endoimmortality through an immortalized cell line) in the former view and perhaps is an awaited goal in the latter case.[4]

In religious contexts, immortality is often stated to be one of the promises of God (or other deities) to human beings who show goodness or else follow divine law. What form an unending human life would take, or whether an immaterial soul exists and possesses immortality, has been a major point of focus of religion, as well as the subject of speculation, fantasy, and debate.

Life extension technologies promise a path to complete rejuvenation. Cryonics holds out the hope that the dead can be revived in the future, following sufficient medical advancements. While, as shown with creatures such as hydra and planarian worms, it is indeed possible for a creature to be biologically immortal, it is not known if it is possible for humans.

Mind uploading is the transference of brain states from a human brain to an alternative medium providing similar functionality. Assuming the process to be possible and repeatable, this would provide immortality to the computation of the original brain, as predicted by futurists such as Ray Kurzweil.[5]

The belief in an afterlife is a fundamental tenet of most religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Judaism, and the Bah’ Faith; however, the concept of an immortal soul is not. The “soul” itself has different meanings and is not used in the same way in different religions and different denominations of a religion. For example, various branches of Christianity have disagreeing views on the soul’s immortality and its relation to the body.

Physical immortality is a state of life that allows a person to avoid death and maintain conscious thought. It can mean the unending existence of a person from a physical source other than organic life, such as a computer. Active pursuit of physical immortality can either be based on scientific trends, such as cryonics, digital immortality, breakthroughs in rejuvenation or predictions of an impending technological singularity, or because of a spiritual belief, such as those held by Rastafarians or Rebirthers.

There are three main causes of death: aging, disease and physical trauma.[6] Such issues can be resolved with the solutions provided in research to any end providing such alternate theories at present that require unification.

Aubrey de Grey, a leading researcher in the field,[7] defines aging as “a collection of cumulative changes to the molecular and cellular structure of an adult organism, which result in essential metabolic processes, but which also, once they progress far enough, increasingly disrupt metabolism, resulting in pathology and death.” The current causes of aging in humans are cell loss (without replacement), DNA damage, oncogenic nuclear mutations and epimutations, cell senescence, mitochondrial mutations, lysosomal aggregates, extracellular aggregates, random extracellular cross-linking, immune system decline, and endocrine changes. Eliminating aging would require finding a solution to each of these causes, a program de Grey calls engineered negligible senescence. There is also a huge body of knowledge indicating that change is characterized by the loss of molecular fidelity.[8]

Disease is theoretically surmountable via technology. In short, it is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism, something the body shouldn’t typically have to deal with its natural make up.[9] Human understanding of genetics is leading to cures and treatments for myriad previously incurable diseases. The mechanisms by which other diseases do their damage are becoming better understood. Sophisticated methods of detecting diseases early are being developed. Preventative medicine is becoming better understood. Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may soon be curable with the use of stem cells. Breakthroughs in cell biology and telomere research are leading to treatments for cancer. Vaccines are being researched for AIDS and tuberculosis. Genes associated with type 1 diabetes and certain types of cancer have been discovered, allowing for new therapies to be developed. Artificial devices attached directly to the nervous system may restore sight to the blind. Drugs are being developed to treat a myriad of other diseases and ailments.

Physical trauma would remain as a threat to perpetual physical life, as an otherwise immortal person would still be subject to unforeseen accidents or catastrophes. The speed and quality of paramedic response remains a determining factor in surviving severe trauma.[10] A body that could automatically repair itself from severe trauma, such as speculated uses for nanotechnology, would mitigate this factor. Being the seat of consciousness, the brain cannot be risked to trauma if a continuous physical life is to be maintained. This aversion to trauma risk to the brain would naturally result in significant behavioral changes that would render physical immortality undesirable.

Organisms otherwise unaffected by these causes of death would still face the problem of obtaining sustenance (whether from currently available agricultural processes or from hypothetical future technological processes) in the face of changing availability of suitable resources as environmental conditions change. After avoiding aging, disease, and trauma, you could still starve to death.

If there is no limitation on the degree of gradual mitigation of risk then it is possible that the cumulative probability of death over an infinite horizon is less than certainty, even when the risk of fatal trauma in any finite period is greater than zero. Mathematically, this is an aspect of achieving “actuarial escape velocity”

Biological immortality is an absence of aging, specifically the absence of a sustained increase in rate of mortality as a function of chronological age. A cell or organism that does not experience aging, or ceases to age at some point, is biologically immortal.

Biologists have chosen the word immortal to designate cells that are not limited by the Hayflick limit, where cells no longer divide because of DNA damage or shortened telomeres. The first and still most widely used immortal cell line is HeLa, developed from cells taken from the malignant cervical tumor of Henrietta Lacks without her consent in 1951. Prior to the 1961 work of Leonard Hayflick, there was the erroneous belief fostered by Alexis Carrel that all normal somatic cells are immortal. By preventing cells from reaching senescence one can achieve biological immortality; telomeres, a “cap” at the end of DNA, are thought to be the cause of cell aging. Every time a cell divides the telomere becomes a bit shorter; when it is finally worn down, the cell is unable to split and dies. Telomerase is an enzyme which rebuilds the telomeres in stem cells and cancer cells, allowing them to replicate an infinite number of times.[11] No definitive work has yet demonstrated that telomerase can be used in human somatic cells to prevent healthy tissues from aging. On the other hand, scientists hope to be able to grow organs with the help of stem cells, allowing organ transplants without the risk of rejection, another step in extending human life expectancy. These technologies are the subject of ongoing research, and are not yet realized.[citation needed]

Life defined as biologically immortal is still susceptible to causes of death besides aging, including disease and trauma, as defined above. Notable immortal species include:

As the existence of biologically immortal species demonstrates, there is no thermodynamic necessity for senescence: a defining feature of life is that it takes in free energy from the environment and unloads its entropy as waste. Living systems can even build themselves up from seed, and routinely repair themselves. Aging is therefore presumed to be a byproduct of evolution, but why mortality should be selected for remains a subject of research and debate. Programmed cell death and the telomere “end replication problem” are found even in the earliest and simplest of organisms.[16] This may be a tradeoff between selecting for cancer and selecting for aging.[17]

Modern theories on the evolution of aging include the following:

There are some known naturally occurring and artificially produced chemicals that may increase the lifetime or life-expectancy of a person or organism, such as resveratrol.[20][21]

Some scientists believe that boosting the amount or proportion of telomerase in the body, a naturally forming enzyme that helps maintain the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes,[22] could prevent cells from dying and so may ultimately lead to extended, healthier lifespans. A team of researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Centre (Madrid) tested the hypothesis on mice. It was found that those mice which were genetically engineered to produce 10 times the normal levels of telomerase lived 50% longer than normal mice.[23]

In normal circumstances, without the presence of telomerase, if a cell divides repeatedly, at some point all the progeny will reach their Hayflick limit. With the presence of telomerase, each dividing cell can replace the lost bit of DNA, and any single cell can then divide unbounded. While this unbounded growth property has excited many researchers, caution is warranted in exploiting this property, as exactly this same unbounded growth is a crucial step in enabling cancerous growth. If an organism can replicate its body cells faster, then it would theoretically stop aging.

Embryonic stem cells express telomerase, which allows them to divide repeatedly and form the individual. In adults, telomerase is highly expressed in cells that need to divide regularly (e.g., in the immune system), whereas most somatic cells express it only at very low levels in a cell-cycle dependent manner.

Technological immortality is the prospect for much longer life spans made possible by scientific advances in a variety of fields: nanotechnology, emergency room procedures, genetics, biological engineering, regenerative medicine, microbiology, and others. Contemporary life spans in the advanced industrial societies are already markedly longer than those of the past because of better nutrition, availability of health care, standard of living and bio-medical scientific advances. Technological immortality predicts further progress for the same reasons over the near term. An important aspect of current scientific thinking about immortality is that some combination of human cloning, cryonics or nanotechnology will play an essential role in extreme life extension. Robert Freitas, a nanorobotics theorist, suggests tiny medical nanorobots could be created to go through human bloodstreams, find dangerous things like cancer cells and bacteria, and destroy them.[24] Freitas anticipates that gene-therapies and nanotechnology will eventually make the human body effectively self-sustainable and capable of living indefinitely in empty space, short of severe brain trauma. This supports the theory that we will be able to continually create biological or synthetic replacement parts to replace damaged or dying ones. Future advances in nanomedicine could give rise to life extension through the repair of many processes thought to be responsible for aging. K. Eric Drexler, one of the founders of nanotechnology, postulated cell repair devices, including ones operating within cells and utilizing as yet hypothetical biological machines, in his 1986 book Engines of Creation. Raymond Kurzweil, a futurist and transhumanist, stated in his book The Singularity Is Near that he believes that advanced medical nanorobotics could completely remedy the effects of aging by 2030.[25] According to Richard Feynman, it was his former graduate student and collaborator Albert Hibbs who originally suggested to him (circa 1959) the idea of a medical use for Feynman’s theoretical micromachines (see nanobiotechnology). Hibbs suggested that certain repair machines might one day be reduced in size to the point that it would, in theory, be possible to (as Feynman put it) “swallow the doctor”. The idea was incorporated into Feynman’s 1959 essay There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.[26]

Cryonics, the practice of preserving organisms (either intact specimens or only their brains) for possible future revival by storing them at cryogenic temperatures where metabolism and decay are almost completely stopped, can be used to ‘pause’ for those who believe that life extension technologies will not develop sufficiently within their lifetime. Ideally, cryonics would allow clinically dead people to be brought back in the future after cures to the patients’ diseases have been discovered and aging is reversible. Modern cryonics procedures use a process called vitrification which creates a glass-like state rather than freezing as the body is brought to low temperatures. This process reduces the risk of ice crystals damaging the cell-structure, which would be especially detrimental to cell structures in the brain, as their minute adjustment evokes the individual’s mind.

One idea that has been advanced involves uploading an individual’s habits and memories via direct mind-computer interface. The individual’s memory may be loaded to a computer or to a new organic body. Extropian futurists like Moravec and Kurzweil have proposed that, thanks to exponentially growing computing power, it will someday be possible to upload human consciousness onto a computer system, and exist indefinitely in a virtual environment. This could be accomplished via advanced cybernetics, where computer hardware would initially be installed in the brain to help sort memory or accelerate thought processes. Components would be added gradually until the person’s entire brain functions were handled by artificial devices, avoiding sharp transitions that would lead to issues of identity, thus running the risk of the person to be declared dead and thus not be a legitimate owner of his or her property. After this point, the human body could be treated as an optional accessory and the program implementing the person could be transferred to any sufficiently powerful computer. Another possible mechanism for mind upload is to perform a detailed scan of an individual’s original, organic brain and simulate the entire structure in a computer. What level of detail such scans and simulations would need to achieve to emulate awareness, and whether the scanning process would destroy the brain, is still to be determined.[27] Whatever the route to mind upload, persons in this state could then be considered essentially immortal, short of loss or traumatic destruction of the machines that maintained them.[clarification needed]

Transforming a human into a cyborg can include brain implants or extracting a human processing unit and placing it in a robotic life-support system. Even replacing biological organs with robotic ones could increase life span (i.e., pace makers) and depending on the definition, many technological upgrades to the body, like genetic modifications or the addition of nanobots would qualify an individual as a cyborg. Some people believe that such modifications would make one impervious to aging and disease and theoretically immortal unless killed or destroyed.

Another approach, developed by biogerontologist Marios Kyriazis, holds that human biological immortality is an inevitable consequence of evolution. As the natural tendency is to create progressively more complex structures,[28] there will be a time (Kyriazis claims this time is now[29]), when evolution of a more complex human brain will be faster via a process of developmental singularity[30] rather than through Darwinian evolution. In other words, the evolution of the human brain as we know it will cease and there will be no need for individuals to procreate and then die. Instead, a new type of development will take over, in the same individual who will have to live for many centuries in order for the development to take place. This intellectual development will be facilitated by technology such as synthetic biology, artificial intelligence and a technological singularity process.

As late as 1952, the editorial staff of the Syntopicon found in their compilation of the Great Books of the Western World, that “The philosophical issue concerning immortality cannot be separated from issues concerning the existence and nature of man’s soul.”[31] Thus, the vast majority of speculation regarding immortality before the 21st century was regarding the nature of the afterlife.

Immortality in ancient Greek religion originally always included an eternal union of body and soul as can be seen in Homer, Hesiod, and various other ancient texts. The soul was considered to have an eternal existence in Hades, but without the body the soul was considered dead. Although almost everybody had nothing to look forward to but an eternal existence as a disembodied dead soul, a number of men and women were considered to have gained physical immortality and been brought to live forever in either Elysium, the Islands of the Blessed, heaven, the ocean or literally right under the ground. Among these were Amphiaraus, Ganymede, Ino, Iphigenia, Menelaus, Peleus, and a great part of those who fought in the Trojan and Theban wars. Some were considered to have died and been resurrected before they achieved physical immortality. Asclepius was killed by Zeus only to be resurrected and transformed into a major deity. In some versions of the Trojan War myth, Achilles, after being killed, was snatched from his funeral pyre by his divine mother Thetis, resurrected, and brought to an immortal existence in either Leuce, the Elysian plains, or the Islands of the Blessed. Memnon, who was killed by Achilles, seems to have received a similar fate. Alcmene, Castor, Heracles, and Melicertes were also among the figures sometimes considered to have been resurrected to physical immortality. According to Herodotus’ Histories, the 7th century BC sage Aristeas of Proconnesus was first found dead, after which his body disappeared from a locked room. Later he was found not only to have been resurrected but to have gained immortality.

The philosophical idea of an immortal soul was a belief first appearing with either Pherecydes or the Orphics, and most importantly advocated by Plato and his followers. This, however, never became the general norm in Hellenistic thought. As may be witnessed even into the Christian era, not least by the complaints of various philosophers over popular beliefs, many or perhaps most traditional Greeks maintained the conviction that certain individuals were resurrected from the dead and made physically immortal and that others could only look forward to an existence as disembodied and dead, though everlasting, souls. The parallel between these traditional beliefs and the later resurrection of Jesus was not lost on the early Christians, as Justin Martyr argued: “when we say… Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propose nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you consider sons of Zeus.” (1 Apol. 21).

The goal of Hinayana is Arhatship and Nirvana. By contrast, the goal of Mahayana is Buddhahood.

According to one Tibetan Buddhist teaching, Dzogchen, individuals can transform the physical body into an immortal body of light called the rainbow body.

Christian theology holds that Adam and Eve lost physical immortality for themselves and all their descendants in the Fall of Man, although this initial “imperishability of the bodily frame of man” was “a preternatural condition”.[32] Christians who profess the Nicene Creed believe that every dead person (whether they believed in Christ or not) will be resurrected from the dead at the Second Coming, and this belief is known as Universal resurrection.[citation needed]

N.T. Wright, a theologian and former Bishop of Durham, has said many people forget the physical aspect of what Jesus promised. He told Time: “Jesus’ resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return. Part of this will be the resurrection of all the dead, who will ‘awake’, be embodied and participate in the renewal. Wright says John Polkinghorne, a physicist and a priest, has put it this way: ‘God will download our software onto his hardware until the time he gives us new hardware to run the software again for ourselves.’ That gets to two things nicely: that the period after death (the Intermediate state) is a period when we are in God’s presence but not active in our own bodies, and also that the more important transformation will be when we are again embodied and administering Christ’s kingdom.”[33] This kingdom will consist of Heaven and Earth “joined together in a new creation”, he said.

Hindus believe in an immortal soul which is reincarnated after death. According to Hinduism, people repeat a process of life, death, and rebirth in a cycle called samsara. If they live their life well, their karma improves and their station in the next life will be higher, and conversely lower if they live their life poorly. After many life times of perfecting its karma, the soul is freed from the cycle and lives in perpetual bliss. There is no place of eternal torment in Hinduism, although if a soul consistently lives very evil lives, it could work its way down to the very bottom of the cycle.[citation needed]

There are explicit renderings in the Upanishads alluding to a physically immortal state brought about by purification, and sublimation of the 5 elements that make up the body. For example, in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (Chapter 2, Verse 12), it is stated “When earth, water fire, air and akasa arise, that is to say, when the five attributes of the elements, mentioned in the books on yoga, become manifest then the yogi’s body becomes purified by the fire of yoga and he is free from illness, old age and death.” This phenomenon is possible when the soul reaches enlightenment while the body and mind are still intact, an extreme rarity, and can only be achieved upon the highest most dedication, meditation and consciousness.[citation needed]

Another view of immortality is traced to the Vedic tradition by the interpretation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi:

That man indeed whom these (contacts) do not disturb, who is even-minded in pleasure and pain, steadfast, he is fit for immortality, O best of men.[34]

To Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the verse means, “Once a man has become established in the understanding of the permanent reality of life, his mind rises above the influence of pleasure and pain. Such an unshakable man passes beyond the influence of death and in the permanent phase of life: he attains eternal life… A man established in the understanding of the unlimited abundance of absolute existence is naturally free from existence of the relative order. This is what gives him the status of immortal life.”[34]

An Indian Tamil saint known as Vallalar claimed to have achieved immortality before disappearing forever from a locked room in 1874.[35][36]

Many Indian fables and tales include instances of metempsychosisthe ability to jump into another bodyperformed by advanced Yogis in order to live a longer life.[citation needed]

The traditional concept of an immaterial and immortal soul distinct from the body was not found in Judaism before the Babylonian Exile, but developed as a result of interaction with Persian and Hellenistic philosophies. Accordingly, the Hebrew word nephesh, although translated as “soul” in some older English Bibles, actually has a meaning closer to “living being”.[citation needed]Nephesh was rendered in the Septuagint as (psch), the Greek word for soul.[citation needed]

The only Hebrew word traditionally translated “soul” (nephesh) in English language Bibles refers to a living, breathing conscious body, rather than to an immortal soul.[37] In the New Testament, the Greek word traditionally translated “soul” () has substantially the same meaning as the Hebrew, without reference to an immortal soul.[38] Soul may refer to the whole person, the self: three thousand souls were converted in Acts 2:41 (see Acts 3:23).

The Hebrew Bible speaks about Sheol (), originally a synonym of the grave-the repository of the dead or the cessation of existence until the Resurrection. This doctrine of resurrection is mentioned explicitly only in Daniel 12:14 although it may be implied in several other texts. New theories arose concerning Sheol during the intertestamental literature.

The views about immortality in Judaism is perhaps best exemplified by the various references to this in Second Temple Period. The concept of resurrection of the physical body is found in 2 Maccabees, according to which it will happen through recreation of the flesh.[39] Resurrection of the dead also appears in detail in the extra-canonical books of Enoch,[40] and in Apocalypse of Baruch.[41] According to the British scholar in ancient Judaism Philip R. Davies, there is little or no clear reference either to immortality or to resurrection from the dead in the Dead Sea scrolls texts.[42] Both Josephus and the New Testament record that the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife,[43] but the sources vary on the beliefs of the Pharisees. The New Testament claims that the Pharisees believed in the resurrection, but does not specify whether this included the flesh or not.[44] According to Josephus, who himself was a Pharisee, the Pharisees held that only the soul was immortal and the souls of good people will be reincarnated and pass into other bodies, while the souls of the wicked will suffer eternal punishment. [45]Jubilees seems to refer to the resurrection of the soul only, or to a more general idea of an immortal soul.[46]

Rabbinic Judaism claims that the righteous dead will be resurrected in the Messianic age with the coming of the messiah. They will then be granted immortality in a perfect world. The wicked dead, on the other hand, will not be resurrected at all. This is not the only Jewish belief about the afterlife. The Tanakh is not specific about the afterlife, so there are wide differences in views and explanations among believers.[citation needed]

It is repeatedly stated in Lshi Chunqiu that death is unavoidable.[47]Henri Maspero noted that many scholarly works frame Taoism as a school of thought focused on the quest for immortality.[48] Isabelle Robinet asserts that Taoism is better understood as a way of life than as a religion, and that its adherents do not approach or view Taoism the way non-Taoist historians have done.[49] In the Tractate of Actions and their Retributions, a traditional teaching, spiritual immortality can be rewarded to people who do a certain amount of good deeds and live a simple, pure life. A list of good deeds and sins are tallied to determine whether or not a mortal is worthy. Spiritual immortality in this definition allows the soul to leave the earthly realms of afterlife and go to pure realms in the Taoist cosmology.[50]

Zoroastrians believe that on the fourth day after death, the human soul leaves the body and the body remains as an empty shell. Souls would go to either heaven or hell; these concepts of the afterlife in Zoroastrianism may have influenced Abrahamic religions. The Persian word for “immortal” is associated with the month “Amurdad”, meaning “deathless” in Persian, in the Iranian calendar (near the end of July). The month of Amurdad or Ameretat is celebrated in Persian culture as ancient Persians believed the “Angel of Immortality” won over the “Angel of Death” in this month.[51]

The possibility of clinical immortality raises a host of medical, philosophical, and religious issues and ethical questions. These include persistent vegetative states, the nature of personality over time, technology to mimic or copy the mind or its processes, social and economic disparities created by longevity, and survival of the heat death of the universe.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the first literary works, is primarily a quest of a hero seeking to become immortal.[7]

Physical immortality has also been imagined as a form of eternal torment, as in Mary Shelley’s short story “The Mortal Immortal”, the protagonist of which witnesses everyone he cares about dying around him. Jorge Luis Borges explored the idea that life gets its meaning from death in the short story “The Immortal”; an entire society having achieved immortality, they found time becoming infinite, and so found no motivation for any action. In his book “Thursday’s Fictions”, and the stage and film adaptations of it, Richard James Allen tells the story of a woman named Thursday who tries to cheat the cycle of reincarnation to get a form of eternal life. At the end of this fantastical tale, her son, Wednesday, who has witnessed the havoc his mother’s quest has caused, forgoes the opportunity for immortality when it is offered to him.[52] Likewise, the novel Tuck Everlasting depicts immortality as “falling off the wheel of life” and is viewed as a curse as opposed to a blessing. In the anime Casshern Sins humanity achieves immortality due to advances in medical technology, however the inability of the human race to die causes Luna, a Messianic figure, to come forth and offer normal lifespans because she had believed that without death, humans could not live. Ultimately, Casshern takes up the cause of death for humanity when Luna begins to restore humanity’s immortality. In Anne Rice’s book series “The Vampire Chronicles”, vampires are portrayed as immortal and ageless, but their inability to cope with the changes in the world around them means that few vampires live for much more than a century, and those who do often view their changeless form as a curse.

Although some scientists state that radical life extension, delaying and stopping aging are achievable,[53] there are no international or national programs focused on stopping aging or on radical life extension. In 2012 in Russia, and then in the United States, Israel and the Netherlands, pro-immortality political parties were launched. They aimed to provide political support to anti-aging and radical life extension research and technologies and at the same time transition to the next step, radical life extension, life without aging, and finally, immortality and aim to make possible access to such technologies to most currently living people.[54]

There are numerous symbols representing immortality. The ankh is an Egyptian symbol of life that holds connotations of immortality when depicted in the hands of the gods and pharaohs, who were seen as having control over the journey of life. The Mbius strip in the shape of a trefoil knot is another symbol of immortality. Most symbolic representations of infinity or the life cycle are often used to represent immortality depending on the context they are placed in. Other examples include the Ouroboros, the Chinese fungus of longevity, the ten kanji, the phoenix, the peacock in Christianity,[55] and the colors amaranth (in Western culture) and peach (in Chinese culture).

Immortal species abound in fiction, especially in fantasy literature.

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Dermatitis – Wikipedia

Posted: at 11:31 pm

Dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a group of diseases that results in inflammation of the skin.[1] These diseases are characterized by itchiness, red skin, and a rash.[1] In cases of short duration there may be small blisters while in long term cases the skin may become thickened.[1] The area of skin involved can vary from small to the entire body.[1][2]

Dermatitis is a group of skin conditions that includes atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis.[1][2] The exact cause of dermatitis is often unclear.[2] Cases are believed to often involve a combination of irritation, allergy, and poor venous return. The type of dermatitis is generally determined by the person’s history and the location of the rash. For example, irritant dermatitis often occurs on the hands of people who frequently get them wet. Allergic contact dermatitis; however, can occur following brief exposures to specific substances to which a person is sensitive.[1]

Treatment of atopic dermatitis is typically with moisturizers and steroid creams.[3] The steroid creams should generally be of mid to high strength and used for less than two weeks at a time as side effects can occur.[4]Antibiotics may be required if there are signs of skin infection.[2] Contact dermatitis is typically treated by avoiding the allergen or irritant.[5][6]Antihistamines may be used to help with sleep and to decrease nighttime scratching.[2]

Dermatitis was estimated to affect 334 million people globally in 2013.[7] Atopic dermatitis is the most common type and generally starts in childhood.[1][2] In the United States it affects about 10-30% of people.[2] Contact dermatitis is two times more common in females than males.[8] Allergic contact dermatitis affects about 7% of people at some point in time.[9] Irritant contact dermatitis is common, especially among people who do certain jobs, however exact rates are unclear.[10]

Dermatitis symptoms vary with all different forms of the condition. They range from skin rashes to bumpy rashes or including blisters. Although every type of dermatitis has different symptoms, there are certain signs that are common for all of them, including redness of the skin, swelling, itching and skin lesions with sometimes oozing and scarring. Also, the area of the skin on which the symptoms appear tends to be different with every type of dermatitis, whether on the neck, wrist, forearm, thigh or ankle. Although the location may vary, the primary symptom of this condition is itchy skin. More rarely, it may appear on the genital area, such as the vulva or scrotum.[11] Symptoms of this type of dermatitis may be very intense and may come and go. Irritant contact dermatitis is usually more painful than itchy.

Although the symptoms of atopic dermatitis vary from person to person, the most common symptoms are dry, itchy, red skin. Typical affected skin areas include the folds of the arms, the back of the knees, wrists, face and hands.

Dermatitis herpetiformis symptoms include itching, stinging and a burning sensation. Papules and vesicles are commonly present. The small red bumps experienced in this type of dermatitis are usually about 1cm in size, red in color and may be found symmetrically grouped or distributed on the upper or lower back, buttocks, elbows, knees, neck, shoulders, and scalp.[12] Less frequently, the rash may appear inside the mouth or near the hairline.

The symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis on the other hand, tend to appear gradually, from dry or greasy scaling of the scalp (dandruff) to hair loss. In severe cases, pimples may appear along the hairline, behind the ears, on the eyebrows, on the bridge of the nose, around the nose, on the chest, and on the upper back.[13] In newborns, the condition causes a thick and yellowish scalp rash, often accompanied by a diaper rash.

Perioral dermatitis refers to a red bumpy rash around the mouth.[14]

A patch of dermatitis that has been scratched

The cause of dermatitis is unknown but is presumed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.[2]

The hygiene hypothesis postulates that the cause of asthma, eczema, and other allergic diseases is an unusually clean environment. It is supported by epidemiologic studies for asthma.[15] The hypothesis states that exposure to bacteria and other immune system modulators is important during development, and missing out on this exposure increases risk for asthma and allergy.

While it has been suggested that eczema may sometimes be an allergic reaction to the excrement from house dust mites,[16] with up to 5% of people showing antibodies to the mites,[17] the overall role this plays awaits further corroboration.[18]

A number of genes have been associated with eczema, one of which is filaggrin.[3] Genome-wide studies found three new genetic variants associated with eczema: OVOL1, ACTL9 and IL4-KIF3A.[19]

Eczema occurs about three times more frequently in individuals with celiac disease and about two times more frequently in relatives of those with celiac disease, potentially indicating a genetic link between the two conditions.[20][21]

Diagnosis of eczema is based mostly on the history and physical examination.[3] However, in uncertain cases, skin biopsy may be useful.[22] Those with eczema may be especially prone to misdiagnosis of food allergies.[23]

Patch tests are used in the diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis.[24][25]

The term “eczema” refers to a set of clinical characteristics. Classification of the underlying diseases has been haphazard and unsystematic, with many synonyms being used to describe the same condition.

A type of dermatitis may be described by location (e.g. hand eczema), by specific appearance (eczema craquele or discoid), or by possible cause (varicose eczema). Further adding to the confusion, many sources use the term eczema interchangeably for the most common type of eczema (atopic dermatitis) .

The European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) published a position paper in 2001, which simplifies the nomenclature of allergy-related diseases, including atopic and allergic contact eczemas.[26] Non-allergic eczemas are not affected by this proposal.

There are several different types of dermatitis including atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, and seborrheic eczema.[2] Many use the term dermatitis and eczema synonymously.[1]

Others use the term eczema to specifically mean atopic dermatitis.[27][28][29] Atopic dermatitis is also known as atopic eczema.[3] In some languages, dermatitis and eczema mean the same thing, while in other languages dermatitis implies an acute condition and eczema a chronic one.[30]

There is no good evidence that a mother’s diet during pregnancy, the formula used, or breastfeeding changes the risk.[32] There is tentative evidence that probiotics in infancy may reduce rates but it is insufficient to recommend its use.[33]

People with eczema should not get the smallpox vaccination due to risk of developing eczema vaccinatum, a potentially severe and sometimes fatal complication.[34]

There is no known cure for some types of dermatitis, with treatment aiming to control symptoms by reducing inflammation and relieving itching. Contact dermatitis is treated by avoiding what is causing it.

Bathing once or more a day is recommended.[3] It is a misconception that bathing dries the skin in people with eczema.[35]Soaps should be avoided as they tend to strip the skin of natural oils and lead to excessive dryness.[36] It is not clear whether dust mite reduction helps with eczema.

There has not been adequate evaluation of changing the diet to reduce eczema.[37][38] There is some evidence that infants with an established egg allergy may have a reduction in symptoms if eggs are eliminated from their diets.[37] Benefits have not been shown for other elimination diets, though the studies are small and poorly executed.[37][38] Establishing that there is a food allergy before dietary change could avoid unnecessary lifestyle changes.[37]

People can also wear clothing designed to manage the itching, scratching and peeling.[39]

Moisturizing agents (also known as emollients) are recommended at least once or twice a day.[3] Oilier formulations appear to be better and water-based formulations are not recommended.[3] It is unclear if moisturizers that contain ceramides are more or less effective than others.[40] Products that contain dyes, perfumes, or peanuts should not be used.[3]Occlusive dressings at night may be useful.[3]

There is little evidence for antihistamine and they are thus not generally recommended.[3] Sedative antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, may be tried in those who are unable to sleep due to eczema.[3]

If symptoms are well controlled with moisturizers, steroids may only be required when flares occur.[3]Corticosteroids are effective in controlling and suppressing symptoms in most cases.[41] Once daily use is generally enough.[3] For mild-moderate eczema a weak steroid may be used (e.g. hydrocortisone), while in more severe cases a higher-potency steroid (e.g. clobetasol propionate) may be used. In severe cases, oral or injectable corticosteroids may be used. While these usually bring about rapid improvements, they have greater side effects.

Long term use of topical steroids may result in skin atrophy, stria, telangiectasia.[3] Their use on delicate skin (face or groin) is therefore typically with caution.[3] They are, however, generally well tolerated.[42]Red burning skin, where the skin turns red upon stopping steroid use, has been reported among adults who use topical steroids at least daily for more than a year.[43]

Topical immunosuppressants like pimecrolimus and tacrolimus may be better in the short term and appear equal to steroids after a year of use.[44] Their use is reasonable in those who do not respond to or are not tolerant of steroids.[45] Treatments are typically recommended for short or fixed periods of time rather than indefinitely.[3] Tacrolimus 0.1% has generally proved more effective than picrolimus, and equal in effect to mid-potency topical steroids.[32]

The United States Food and Drug Administration has issued a health advisory a possible risk of lymph node or skin cancer from these products,[46] however subsequent research has not supported these concerns.[45] A major debate, in the UK, has been about the cost of these medications and, given only finite NHS resources, when they are most appropriate to use.[47]

When eczema is severe and does not respond to other forms of treatment, systemic immunosuppressants are sometimes used. Immunosuppressants can cause significant side effects and some require regular blood tests. The most commonly used are ciclosporin, azathioprine, and methotrexate.

Light therapy using ultraviolet light has tentative support but the quality of the evidence is not very good.[48] A number of different types of light may be used including UVA and UVB;[49] in some forms of treatment, light sensitive chemicals such as psoralen are also used. Overexposure to ultraviolet light carries its own risks, particularly that of skin cancer.[50]

There is currently no scientific evidence for the claim that sulfur treatment relieves eczema.[51] It is unclear whether Chinese herbs help or harm.[52] Dietary supplements are commonly used by people with eczema.[53] Neither evening primrose oil nor borage seed oil taken orally have been shown to be effective.[54] Both are associated with gastrointestinal upset.[54]Probiotics do not appear to be effective.[55] There is insufficient evidence to support the use of zinc, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin E, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), sea buckthorn oil, hempseed oil, sunflower oil, or fish oil as dietary supplements.[53]

Other remedies lacking evidence to support them include chiropractic spinal manipulation and acupuncture.[56] There is little evidence supporting the use of psychological treatments.[57][needs update] While dilute bleach baths have been used for infected dermatitis there is little evidence for this practice.[58]

Most cases are well managed with topical treatments and ultraviolet light.[3] About 2% of cases however are not.[3] In more than 60% the condition goes away by adolescence.[3]

Globally dermatitis affected approximately 230million people as of 2010 (3.5% of the population).[59] Dermatitis is most commonly seen in infancy, with female predominance of eczema presentations occurring during the reproductive period of 1549 years.[60] In the UK about 20% of children have the condition, while in the United States about 10% are affected.[3]

Although little data on the rates of eczema over time exists prior to the 1940s, the rate of eczema has been found to have increased substantially in the latter half of the 20th Century, with eczema in school-aged children being found to increase between the late 1940s and 2000.[61] In the developed world there has been rise in the rate of eczema over time. The incidence and lifetime prevalence of eczema in England has been seen to increase in recent times.[3][62]

Dermatitis affected about 10% of U.S. workers in 2010, representing over 15 million workers with dermatitis. Prevalence rates were higher among females than among males, and among those with some college education or a college degree compared to those with a high school diploma or less. Workers employed in healthcare and social assistance industries and life, physical, and social science occupations had the highest rates of reported dermatitis. About 6% of dermatitis cases among U.S. workers were attributed to work by a healthcare professional, indicating that the prevalence rate of work-related dermatitis among workers was at least 0.6%.[63]

from Ancient Greek kzema,[64] from – ekz-ein, from ek “out” + – z-ein “to boil”

The term “atopic dermatitis” was coined in 1933 by Wise and Sulzberger.[65]Sulfur as a topical treatment for eczema was fashionable in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.[51]

The word dermatitis is from the Greek derma “skin” and – -itis “inflammation” and eczema is from Greek: ekzema “eruption”.[66]

The terms “hypoallergenic” and “doctor tested” are not regulated,[67] and no research has been done showing that products labeled “hypoallergenic” are in fact less problematic than any others.

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Chesterfield Islands – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: October 17, 2016 at 1:28 am

Chesterfield Islands (les Chesterfield in French) is a French archipelago of New Caledonia located in the Coral Sea, 550km northwest of Grande Terre, the main island of New Caledonia. The archipelago is 120km long and 70km broad, made up of 11 islets and many reefs. The land area of the islands is less than 10km.[citation needed]

During periods of lowered sea level during the Pleistocene ice ages an island of considerable size (Greater Chesterfield Island) occupied the location of the archipelago.

Bellona Reef, 164km south-southeast of Chesterfield, is geologically separated from the Chesterfield archipelago but commonly included.

The reef complex is named after the ship Chesterfield, commanded by Matthew Bowes Alt, which explored the Coral Sea in the 1790s.[1]

The Chesterfield Islands, sometimes referred to as the Chesterfield Reefs or Chesterfield Group, are the most important of a number of uninhabited coral sand cays. Some are awash and liable to shift with the wind while others are stabilized by the growth of grass, creepers and low trees. The reefs extend from 19 to 22S between 158160E in the southern Coral Sea halfway between Australia and New Caledonia. The Chesterfield Reefs are now part of the territory of New Caledonia while the islands farther west are part of the Australian Coral Sea Islands Territory.

Chesterfield lagoon, located between 1900′ and 2030′ S and 15810′ and 159E covers an area of approximately 3500km2. A barrier reef surrounds the lagoon, interrupted by wide passes except on its eastern side where it is open for over 20 nautical miles (37km). The major part of the lagoon is exposed to trade winds and to the southeastern oceanic swell. The lagoon is relatively deep with a mean depth of 51 m. The depth increases from south to north.[2]

Chesterfield Reefs complex consists of the Bellona Reef complex to the south (South, Middle and Northwest Bellona Reef) and the Bampton Reef complex.

Captain Matthew Boyd of Bellona named the reefs for his ship. He had delivered convicts to New South Wales in 1793 and was on his way to China to pick up a cargo at Canton to take back to Britain for the British East India Company when he passed the reefs in FebruaryMarch 1793.

South Bellona Reef or West Point 2152S 15925E / 21.867S 159.417E / -21.867; 159.417 (Bellona Reefs – West Point), Approximately 3 m tall sand islet. Lieutenant John Lamb, R.N., Commander of the ship Baring, spent three days in the neighborhood of Booby and Bellona Shoals and reefs. Lamb took soundings between nineteen and forty-five fathoms (114270ft), and frequently passed shoals, upon which the sea was breaking. Lamb defined the limits of the rocky ground as the parallels of 2040 and 2150 and the meridians of 15815 and 15930. He also saw a sandy islet, surrounded by a chain of rocks, at 2124 south and 15830 east. The ship Minerva measured the water’s depth as eight fathoms (48ft), with the appearance of shallower water to the southwest; this last danger is in a line between the two shoals at about longitude 15920 east, as described by James Horsburgh.[3]

Observatory Cay 2124S 15851E / 21.400S 158.850E / -21.400; 158.850 (Bellona Reefs – Observatory Cay), 800 m long and 2 m high, lies on the Middle Bellona Reefs at the southern end of the Chesterfield Reefs and 180nm east of Kenn Reef.

The Chesterfield Reefs is a loose collection of elongated reefs that enclose a deep, semi-sheltered, lagoon. The reefs on the west and northwest are known as the Chesterfield Reefs; those on the east and north being the Bampton Reefs. The Chesterfield Reefs form a structure measuring 120km in length (northeast to southwest) and 70km across (east to west).

There are numerous cays occurring amongst the reefs of both the Chesterfield and Bampton Reefs. These include: Loop Islet, Renard Cay, Skeleton Cay, Bennett Island, Passage Islet, Long Island, the Avon Isles, the Anchorage Islets and Bampton Island.

Long Island 1953S 15819E / 19.883S 158.317E / -19.883; 158.317 (Chesterfield Reefs – Long Island), 10nm NW of Loop Islet, is the largest of the Chesterfield Islands, and is 1400 to 1800 m long but no more than 100 m across and 9 m high. In May 1859 Henry Mangles Denham found Long Island was a heap of ‘foraminifera’ densely covered with stunted bushtrees with leaves as large as cabbage plants, spreading 12 feet (3.7 m) and reaching as high, upon trunks 9 inches (23cm) diameter… The trees around the margin of this island were leafless, as if from the seafowl.”[citation needed] Although wooded in the 1850s, it was stripped during guano extraction in the 1870s and was said to be covered in grass with only two coconut trees and some ruins at the south end early in the 20th century. The vegetation was growing again by 1957 when the remaining ruins were confused with those of a temporary automatic meteorological station established in the same area by the Americans between 1944 and 1948. Terry Walker reported that by 1990 there was a ring of low Tournefortia trees growing around the margin, herbs, grass and shrubs in the interior, and still a few exotic species including coconuts.

South of Long Island and Loop Islet there are three small low islets up to 400 m across followed, after a narrow channel, by Passage or Bennett Island, which is 12 m high and was a whaling station in the first half of the 20th century. Several sand cays lie on the reef southeast of the islet.

The two Avon Isles 1932S 15815E / 19.533S 158.250E / -19.533; 158.250 (Avon Isles), some 188 m in diameter and 5 m high to the top of the dense vegetation, are situated 21 n.m. north of Long Island. They were seen by Mr. Sumner, Master of the ship Avon, on 18 September 1823, and are described by him as being three-quarters of a mile in circumference, twenty feet high, and the sea between them twenty fathoms deep. At four miles (7km) northeast by north from them the water was twelve fathoms (72 feet) deep, and at the same time they saw a reef ten or fifteen miles (2030km) to the southeast, with deep water between it and the islets. A boat landed on the south-westernmost islet, and found it inhabited only by birds, but clothed with shrubs and wild grapes. By observation, these islands were found to lie in latitude 19 degrees 40 minutes, and longitude 158 degrees 6 minutes. The Avon Isles are described by Denham in 1859 as densely covered with stunted trees and creeping plants and grass, and… crowded with the like species of birds.”[citation needed]

Renard Island North Bampton Reef 1914S 15858E / 19.233S 158.967E / -19.233; 158.967 (Bampton Reefs – Renard Island), Approximately 6m (20ft) tall sand islet lies 45nmi (83km) northeast of the Avon Isles and is 273m (896ft) long, 180m (590ft) across and also 6m (20ft) high to the top of the bushes.

Southeast Bampton Reef 1908S 15840E / 19.133S 158.667E / -19.133; 158.667 (Southeast Bampton Reef) Sand Cay 5m (16ft) elevation

Loop Islet 1959S 15828E / 19.983S 158.467E / -19.983; 158.467 (Loop Islet), which lies 85nm farther north near the south end of the central islands of Chesterfield Reefs, is a small, flat, bushy islet 3 m high where a permanent automatic weather station was established by the Service Mtorologique de Nouma in October 1968. Terry Walker reported the presence of a grove of Casuarinas in 1990.

Anchorage Islets are a group of islets five nautical miles (9km) north of Loop Islet. The third from the north, about 400 m long and 12 m high, shelters the best anchorage.

Passage (Bonnet) Island reaches a vegetative height of 12 m

Bampton Island 1907S 15836E / 19.117S 158.600E / -19.117; 158.600 (Bampton Island), lies on Bampton Reefs 20nm NW of Renard Island. It is 180 m long, 110 m across and 5 m high. It had trees when discovered in 1793, but has seldom been visited since then except by castaways.

The reefs and islands west of the Chesterfield Islands, the closest being Mellish Reef with Herald’s Beacon Islet at 1725S 15552E / 17.417S 155.867E / -17.417; 155.867 (Herald’s Beacon Islet), at a distance of 180 nm northwest of Bampton Island, belong to the Coral Sea Islands Territory.

Booby Reef in the center of the eastern chain of reefs and islets comprising Chesterfield Reefs appears to have been discovered first by Lt. Henry Lidgbird Ball in HMS Supply on the way from Sydney to Batavia (modern day Jakarta) in 1790. The reefs to the south were found next by Mathew Boyd in the convict ship Bellona on his way from Sydney to Canton (modern day Guangzhou) in February or March 1793.[4] The following June, William Wright Bampton became embayed for five days at the north end of Chesterfield Reefs in the Indiaman Shah Hormuzeer, together with Mathew Bowes Alt in the whaler Chesterfield.[5] Bampton reported two islets with trees and a number of birds of different species around the ships, several of them the same kind as at Norfolk Island.[6]

The reefs continued to present a hazard to shipping plying between Australia and Canton or India (where cargo was collected on the way home to Europe). The southern reefs were surveyed by Captain Henry Mangles Denham in the Herald from 1858 to 1860.[7] He made the natural history notes discussed below. The northern reefs were charted by Lieutenant G.E.Richards in HMS Renard in 1878 and the French the following year. Denham’s conclusions are engraved on British Admiralty Chart 349:

These Plans and a masthead Lookout will enable a Ship to round to under the lee of the Reefs where she may caulk topsides, set up rigging, rate Chronometers, [and] obtain turtle, fish and seafowl eggs. On some of the more salient reefs, beacons were erected by Capt. Denham, and for the sake of castaways, cocoanuts, shrubs, grasses & every description of seed likely to grow, were sown in the way to promote the superstructure; and it is most desirable that these Refuge spots should be held sacred for universal benefit and not ruthlessly destroyed by the Guanoseeker.[8]

The area is a wintering ground for numerous Humpback whales and smaller numbers of Sperm whales. During the 19th century the Chesterfield Islands were visited by increasing numbers of whalers during the off season in New Zealand. L. Thiercelin reported that in July 1863 the islets only had two or three plants, including a bush 34 m high, and were frequented by turtles weighing 60 to 100kg.[9] Many eggs were being taken regularly by several English, two French and one American whaler. On another occasion there were no less than eight American whalers.[10] A collection of birds said to have been made by Surgeon Jourde of the French whaler Gnral dHautpoul on the Brampton Shoals in July 1861 was subsequently brought by Gerard Krefft (1862) to the Australian Museum, but clearly not all the specimens came from there.

On 27 October 1862, the British Government granted an exclusive concession to exploit the guano on Lady Elliot Island, Wreck Reef, Swain Reefs, Raine Island, Bramble Cay, Brampton Shoal, and Pilgrim Island to the Anglo Australian Guano Company organized by the whaler Dr. William Crowther in Hobart, Tasmania. They were apparently most active on Bird Islet (Wreck Reef) and Lady Elliot and Raine Islands (Hutchinson, 1950),[citation needed] losing five ships at Bird Islet between 1861 and 1882 (Crowther 1939).[citation needed] It is not clear that they ever took much guano from the Chesterfield Islands unless it was obtained from Higginson, Desmazures et Cie, discussed below.

When in 1877 Joshua William North also found guano on the Chesterfield Reefs, Alcide Jean Desmazures persuaded Governor Orly of New Caledonia to send the warship La Seudre to annex them. There were estimated to be about 185,000 cu m of guano on Long Island and a few hundred tons elsewhere, and 40% to 62% phosphate (Chevron, 1880),[citation needed] which was extracted between 1879 and 1888 by Higginson, Desmazures et Cie of Nouma (Godard, nd),[citation needed] leaving Long Island stripped bare for a time (Anon., 1916).[citation needed]

Apparently the islands were then abandoned until Commander Arzur in the French warship Dumont dUrville surveyed the Chesterfield Reefs and erected a plaque in 1939. In September 1944, American forces installed a temporary automatic meteorological station at the south end of Long Island, which was abandoned again at the end of World War II. The first biological survey was made of Long Island by Cohic during four hours ashore on 26 September 1957.[11] It revealed, among other things, a variety of avian parasites including a widespread Ornithodoros tick belonging to a genus carrying arboviruses capable of causing illness in humans. This island and the Anchorage Islets were also visited briefly during a survey of New Caledonian coral reefs in 1960 and 1962.

An aerial magnetic survey was made of the Chesterfield area in 1966, and a seismic survey in 1972, which apparently have not been followed up yet. In November 1968 another automatic meteorological station was installed on Loop Islet where 10 plants were collected by A.E. Ferr.[citation needed] Since then the Centre de Nouma of the Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre Mer has arranged for periodic surveys and others when this installation is serviced.

From 1982-1992 Terry Walker carried out methodical surveys of the Coral Sea islets with the intention of producing a seabird atlas. He visited the central islands of the Chesterfield Reefs in December 1990.[12]

An amateur radio DX-pedition (TX3X) was conducted on one of the islands in October 2015.

Unless otherwise noted, information in this section is from Coral Sea and Northern Great Barrier Reef Shipwrecks.[13]

Coordinates: 1921S 15840E / 19.350S 158.667E / -19.350; 158.667

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SeaLand Toilets – Motorhome, RV & Marine – PPL Motor Homes

Posted: October 15, 2016 at 5:31 am

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SeaLand Toilets – Motorhome, RV & Marine – PPL Motor Homes

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What Is Bitcoin Cryptocurrency? Webopedia Definition

Posted: at 5:21 am


By Vangie Beal

Bitcoin is a digital payment currency that utilizes cryptocurrency (a digital medium of exchange) and peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to create and manage monetary transactions as opposed to a central authority. The open source Bitcoin P2P network creates the bitcoins and manages all the bitcoin transactions.

Often referred to as “cash for the Internet,” Bitcoin is one of several popular digital payment currencies along with Litecoin, Peercoin and Namecoin. When the word Bitcoin is capitalized, it usually refers to the software and systems used for bitcoin (in lowercase it means the actual currency).

Bitcoin is considered the biggest cryptocurrency. It was first introduced in 2009 and is the most widely-traded cryptocurrency. Bitcoin as an implementation of the cryptocurrency concept was described by Wei Dai in 1998 on the cypherpunks mailing list. Dai suggested a new form of money that uses cryptography to control its creation and transactions, rather than a central authority. In 2009, the Bitcoin specification and proof of concept was published in a cryptography mailing list by Satoshi Nakamoto. As noted in the Official Bitcoin FAQ, Satoshi Nakamoto left the project in late 2010 without revealing much about himself.

Payments are made via a Bitcoin wallet application that resides on a user’s computer or mobile device, and a person only needs to enter the recipient’s Bitcoin address information and payment amount before pressing send to complete payment.

New bitcoins are created by a competitive and decentralized process called “mining”. Bitcoin miners are processing transactions and securing the network using specialized hardware and are collecting new bitcoins in exchange. The Bitcoin protocol ensures new bitcoins are created at a fixed rate, making the process of bitcoin mining a very competitive business.

According to eWeek, efforts to improve Bitcoin mining are now under way, working under the basic assumption that the cheaper you can mine Bitcoins, the more money you can make.

While attackers are going after Bitcoin-related sites, there is an important distinction between the security of the Bitcoin network and the Bitcoin exchanges. According to, no one has ever found a critical vulnerability within the Bitcoin protocol itself that would allow a user within the Bitcoin network to fraudulently create coins or forge transactions. That said, there have been compromises of various Bitcoin exchanges throughout the virtual currency’s lifetime, and as the value of a Bitcoin increases, so does the risk in using exchanges.


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Holidays to the Caribbean 2016 / 2017 |

Posted: October 6, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Top Hotels Caribbean Treasures

Think Caribbean and you think beach holiday. And you certainly wont find a better destination for lounging in the sand, preferably with something rum-based nearby. That isnt nearly all that these islands have to offer though. Rain forests and mountains for starters; distinctive island cultures that only have providing a good time in common; and exciting towns and cities with some fascinating history.

Youve got a picture of the perfect Caribbean island in your head already the palm tree-fringed, white-sand beach, the funky little beach bar under the trees, yachts sailing by on the deep blue sea. The good news is that youve got it just right; the Caribbean more than lives up to the most demanding expectations.

You might want to replace that tin-shack bar in your fantasy with a big, luxurious, all-inclusive resort hotel. And thats easily enough done. The islands of the Caribbean are very used to welcoming guests, and they do it style. High quality customer service and endless pampering is top of the agenda here.

But if youre worried about the effect all that good living is going to have on the beach body you spent months working to perfect, you can throw in a very healthy dose of activities while youre at it. The islands all have excellent water sports on tap. Divings a particular favourite because the underwater picture here is as colourful as the one above the waves. There are also inland adventures to be had, from off-roading or zip-wiring through unspoiled jungle to climbing extinct volcanoes and canyoning in mountain streams.

The Caribbeans far from being one-dimensional. There are more than 7,000 islands in the group. Though only 13 of them are inhabited island nations, they are a colourful cocktail of distinctive cultures, unique environments, and long, storied histories.

The Dominican Republic is the most popular island with visitors. Its a perfect mix of beach resort luxury, tropical rainforest paradise, and pretty colonial towns. Trinidad is the capital of carnival, where a party of some sort is never far from breaking out. To Jamaicas beautiful beaches are added a super-laid-back attitude and the rich musical culture. Antigua fits the desert island dream to a tee.

Cuba just opening up to America again is the Caribbeans biggest, most populated island, an intriguing cultural stew of cuisines, cultures and rhythms that along with the rum will leave you intoxicated.

As holiday destinations the islands of the Caribbean offer something for everyone. Theyre a brilliant family destination with loads of attractions and days out for kids. For romantic souls theres nothing like a Caribbean sunset to tick the box. You might want to return for your honeymoon or even to get married on the beach. But if a beach towel, a book and a planters punch is all you need, youll never find anywhere better to lie back and soak in relaxation.

What a lot of choices this diverse little box of treasures hold. The beaches and resort hotels at the likes of Punta Cana are all-inclusive paradises. Kick off your sandals for a pair of boots and you could be hiking through rain forest or up Pico Duarte, the Caribbeans tallest mountain. Historic rum factories are uncorked around Puerto Plata. Santo Domingo, the islands capital, was the first port of call for Christopher Columbus on his way to the New World and is a beautiful UNESCO-protected historic town.

The Dominican Republic is made for family or his-and-her beach breaks, with big resort hotels offering brilliant value and all-inclusive facilities with perfect sands and crystal-clear waters.

Jungle tumbles down the dramatic mountains in the interior. Head for the hills and get ready to explore an unspoiled new world and release your inner Bear Grylls with rainforest adventure sports.

Get ready to change your desert island preconceptions in beautiful Santo Domingo, where modern high rises stand side-by-side with the oldest European buildings in the Caribbean. Its lively, laid-back, and enormous fun.

Food is an obsession with the Dominican locals, and if youre a visitor you should be no different. Super-fresh fish, spicy meat stews, straight-from-the-tree fruit juice and some of the best rum and coffee in the world are highlights.

The big beach resorts around Punta Cana, La Romana, Samana and Puerto Plata offer great value all-inclusive access to some of the best beaches in the world.

Santo Domingo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 16th-century churches, plazas and forts, standing over a beautiful port. There are good museums to explain the islands place in world history too.

Theres more UNESCO protection for the pristine Eastern National Park (Parque Nacional del Este), an internationally important land and sea wildlife reserve full of colourful species from pelicans to dolphins.

With its long-established British links, Jamaicas a top destination for UK sun seekers. Theyve got good reason to love it. The beaches are classically Caribbean with white sand, palm trees, coral reefs and blue waters. Then there are the forests, mountains, waterfalls and banana plantations pure beauty. Finally, the people, the music, the food, the culture; theyre all as wonderful, welcoming and worth exploring as youve been led to believe.

Lying back on a perfect island beach. Seven Mile Beach in Negril has room to spread out. Montego Bay is busy with beach bars and water sports. You can surf at Boston Bay Beach in Port Antonio, or lose yourself on Winnifred Beach, a favourite with the locals as well as seclusion-seeking visitors.

Climbing the Blue Mountain Peak is just one inland adventure to experience on this stunningly beautiful island. The Blue Hole springs at Ocho Rios, the Dunns River Falls, the cliffs at Negril – Jamaica is packed with natural wonders to discover.

Dancing the night away is expected in the home of reggae. Theres more to Jamaican musical and party culture than Bob Marley though. But from African-inspired folk songs or church gospel to booming dancehall beats and street sound systems, everythings got passion and rhythm.

Eating like royalty is every Jamaicans birth right! The cuisine is spicy and international mixing African, European and Latin American flavours. With fantastic local produce yam, plantain, fish, goat, fruit to conjure with, Jamaican food is as rich and diverse as the islands landscapes.

From jumping Montego Bay to fashionable Seven Mile Beach or isolated Treasure Beach, Jamaicas coastline is one of the best for sun and sand in the world. And guess what youll find at Reggae Beach?

Jamaica has a proud cultural heritage with music just the best known of its exports. Historic houses and capital-city museums celebrate everyone from Noel Coward to Bob Marley. The best way to understand it all is just to dive in and immerse yourself.

The twin islands of Antigua and smaller Barbuda are as beautiful as any in the Caribbean. The reefs around the shore make the islands diving really rewarding. Smaller and less-developed than some of the islands but with 365 beaches, Antigua has room for everyone on its sands.

Everything that makes the Caribbean great a good choice of top-quality resorts; party people; beaches and jungles; a beautiful historic capital can be found in spades in Barbados. Bridgetown has UNESCO World Heritage Status, but the beaches and wild interior dont need any certification to confirm their timeless beauty.

The times are changing in Cuba. But its the years of time standing relatively still that give the crumbling, colourful facades and classic American motors of Havana much of its charm. Elsewhere there are resorts and beaches to match any in the region, and a rum, a cigar and some Afro-Cuban beats are the icing on a colourful cake.

Trinidad (busy and relatively built up) and Tobago (chilled and empty) are a beautiful contrast. Party in Port of Spain or zip wire through Tobagos protected forests before lying back on the pink tinged sands.

St Lucia is a supremely romantic island, its mountains and waterfalls stealing the hearts of many a visitor. Brilliant beach-front resorts include the famous Sandals brand. A party can always be found in Gros Islet, and peace and quiet is the hallmark or Choc Bay.

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Caribbean Sea | sea, Atlantic Ocean |

Posted: at 2:58 pm

Alternative Title: Antillean-Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea, suboceanic basin of the western Atlantic Ocean, lying between latitudes 9 and 22 N and longitudes 89 and 60 W. It is approximately 1,063,000 square miles (2,753,000 square km) in extent. To the south it is bounded by the coasts of Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama; to the west by Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and the Yucatn Peninsula of Mexico; to the north by the Greater Antilles islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico; and to the east by the north-south chain of the Lesser Antilles, consisting of the island arc that extends from the Virgin Islands in the northeast to Trinidad, off the Venezuelan coast, in the southeast. Within the boundaries of the Caribbean itself, Jamaica, to the south of Cuba, is the largest of a number of islands.

Together with the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea has been erroneously termed the American Mediterranean, owing to the fact that, like the Mediterranean Sea, it is located between two continental landmasses. In neither hydrology nor climate, however, does the Caribbean resemble the Mediterranean. The preferred oceanographic term for the Caribbean is the Antillean-Caribbean Sea, which, together with the Gulf of Mexico, forms the Central American Sea. The Caribbeans greatest known depth is Cayman Trench (Bartlett Deep) between Cuba and Jamaica, approximately 25,216 feet (7,686 metres) below sea level.

The geologic age of the Caribbean is not known with certainty. As part of the Central American Sea, it is presumed to have been connected with the Mediterranean during Paleozoic times (i.e., about 541 to 252 million years ago) and then gradually to have separated from it as the Atlantic Ocean was formed. The ancient sediments overlying the seafloor of the Caribbean, as well as of the Gulf of Mexico, are about a half mile (about one kilometre) in thickness, with the upper strata representing sediments from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras (from about 252 million years ago to the present) and the lower strata presumably representing sediments of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras (from about 541 to 66 million years ago). Three phases of sedimentation have been identified. During the first and second phases the basin was free of deformation. The Central American Sea apparently became separated from the Atlantic before the end of the first phase. Near the end of the second phase, gentle warping and faulting occurred, forming the Aves and Beata ridges. Forces producing the Panamanian isthmus and the Antillean arc were vertical, resulting in no ultimate horizontal movement. The sediment beds tend to arch in the middle of the basins and to dip as landmasses are approached. The younger Cenozoic beds (formed during the last 65 million years) are generally horizontal, having been laid down after the deformations occurred. Connections were established with the Pacific Ocean during the Cretaceous Period (from about 145 to 66 million years ago) but were broken when the land bridges that permitted mammals to cross between North and South America were formed in the Miocene and Pliocene epochs (about 23 to 2.6 million years ago).

The existing sediment cover of the seabed consists of red clay in the deep basins and trenches, globigerina ooze (a calcareous marine deposit) on the rises, and pteropod ooze on the ridges and continental slopes. Clay minerals appear to have been washed down by the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, as well as by the Magdalena River in Colombia. Coral reefs fringe most of the islands.

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The Caribbean Sea is divided into five submarine basins, each roughly elliptical in shape, which are separated from one another by submerged ridges and rises. These are the Yucatn, Cayman, Colombian, Venezuelan, and Grenada basins. The northernmost of these, the Yucatn Basin, is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by the Yucatn Channel, which runs between Cuba and the Yucatn Peninsula and has a sill depth (i.e., the depth of the submarine ridge between basins) of about 5,250 feet (1,600 metres). The Cayman Basin, to the south, is partially separated from the Yucatn Basin by Cayman Ridge, an incomplete fingerlike ridge that extends from the southern part of Cuba toward Guatemala, rising above the surface at one point to form the Cayman Islands. The Nicaraguan Rise, a wide triangular ridge with a sill depth of about 4,000 feet (1,200 metres), extends from Honduras and Nicaragua to Hispaniola, bearing the island of Jamaica and separating the Cayman Basin from the Colombian Basin. The Colombian Basin is partly separated from the Venezuelan Basin by the Beata Ridge. The basins are connected by the submerged Aruba Gap at depths greater than 13,000 feet (4,000 metres). The Aves Ridge, incomplete at its southern extremity, separates the Venezuelan Basin from the small Grenada Basin, which is bounded to the east by the Antillean arc of islands.

Subsurface water enters the Caribbean Sea across two sills. These sills are located below the Anegada Passage, which runs between the Virgin Islands and the Lesser Antilles, and the Windward Passage, which stretches between Cuba and Hispaniola. The sill depth of Anegada Passage is between 6,400 and 7,700 feet (1,950 and 2,350 metres), whereas that of the Windward Passage is between 5,250 and 5,350 feet (1,600 and 1,630 metres).

North Atlantic deep water enters the Caribbean beneath the Windward Passage and is characterized by its rich oxygen content and by a salinity of slightly less than 35 parts per thousand. From there it divides to fill the Yucatn, Cayman, and Colombian basins at depths near 6,500 feet (2,000 metres). This Caribbean bottom water also enters the Venezuelan Basin, thus introducing high-oxygen water at depths of 5,900 to 9,800 feet (1,800 to 3,000 metres). Subantarctic intermediate water (i.e., water differing in several characteristics from the surface and bottom layers of water that it separates) enters the Caribbean below the Anegada Passage at depths of 1,600 to 3,300 feet (500 to 1,000 metres). Above this water, the subtropical undercurrent and surface water enter. The shallow sill depths of the Antillean arc block the entry of Antarctic bottom water, so that the bottom temperature of the Caribbean Sea is close to 39 F (4 C), as compared with the Atlantic bottom temperature of less than 36 F (2 C).

Surface currents, bearing both high- and low-salinity water depending on the source, enter the Caribbean mainly through the channels and passages of the southern Antilles. These waters are then forced by the trade winds through the narrow Yucatn Channel into the Gulf of Mexico. The wind-driven surface water accumulates in the Yucatn Basin and the Gulf of Mexico, where it results in a higher average sea level than in the Atlantic, forming a hydrostatic head that is believed to constitute the main driving force of the Gulf Stream. Of the water passing through the Yucatn Channel each second, only about one-fourth represents the deeper Subantarctic intermediate water. The remainder is the surface water that passed over the Antillean arc at depths of less than 2,600 feet (800 metres).

The climate of the Caribbean generally is tropical, but there are great local variations, depending on mountain elevation, water currents, and the trade winds. Rainfall varies from about 10 inches (25 cm) per year on the island of Bonaire off the coast of Venezuela to some 350 inches (900 cm) annually in parts of Dominica. The northeast trade winds dominate the region with an average velocity of 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 km) per hour. Tropical storms reaching a hurricane velocity of more than 75 miles (120 km) per hour are seasonally common in the northern Caribbean as well as in the Gulf of Mexico; they are almost nonexistent in the far south. The hurricane season is from June to November, but hurricanes occur most frequently in September. The yearly average is about eight such storms. The Caribbean has fewer hurricanes than either the western Pacific (where these storms are called typhoons) or the Gulf of Mexico. Most hurricanes form in the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands and follow the path of the trade winds into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, although the exact path of any hurricane is unpredictable. In 1963 one of the deadliest hurricanes on record, Flora, caused the loss of more than 7,000 lives and extensive property damage in the Caribbean alone. Such storms also have been a major cause of crop failure in the region.

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While the vegetation of the Caribbean region is generally tropical, variations in topography, soils, rainfall, humidity, and soil nutrients have made it diverse. The porous limestone terraces of the islands are generally nutrient-poor. Near the seashore, black and red mangroves form dense forests around lagoons and estuaries, and coconut palms typify the sandy vegetation of the littoral. Both the Central American region and the Antillean islands are on the routes of birds migrating to or from North America, so that large seasonal variations occur in the bird populations. Parrots, bananaquits, and toucans are typical resident Caribbean birds, while frigate birds, boobies, and tropic birds can be seen over the open ocean.

The shallow-water marine fauna and flora of the Caribbean centres around the submerged fringing coral reefs, which support diverse assemblages of fishes and other forms of marine life. The marine biota is derived from the Indian and western Pacific oceans via the Panamanic Seaway, which was closed by the rise of the Isthmus of Panama some four million years ago. Coral reef growth throughout the Antillean region is favoured by uniformly warm temperatures, clear water, and little change in salinity. Submerged fields of turtle grass are found in the lagoons on the leeward sides of reefs. Sea turtles of several species, the manatee, and the manta (devil) ray (Manta birostris) are also characteristic of the region. The spiny lobster is harvested throughout the Caribbean and is sold mainly to restaurants and tourist hotels, while the queen conch and reef fishes are local staples.

Fishes of commerce are sardines from Yucatn and species of tuna. Among common game fish are the bonefishes of the Bahamian reefs, barracuda, dolphin, marlin, and wahoo.

Since the signing of the Law of the Sea Treaty in the early 1980s, no part of the Caribbean remains outside the extended mineral, fishing, and territorial zones of the seas bordering countries. Explosive human population growth and the overexploitation of marine resources in the region have stimulated international initiatives toward managing and preserving the environment. The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartegena Convention) was adopted officially by about half of the countries of the Caribbean in 1983, but its measures have since been implemented more broadly across the Caribbean community. The Cartegena Convention calls for its signatories to provideindividually and jointlyprotection, development, and management of the common waters of the wider Caribbean. Three protocols have been developed and launched under the framework of the convention: cooperation on combating oil spills (1983); establishment of specially protected areas and wildlife (1990); and prevention, reduction, and control of land-based marine pollution (1999).

Tourism is an important part of the Caribbean economy, serving primarily the populations of the United States and Canada to the north and Brazil and Argentina to the south. Connections by air and sea between the Caribbean and North America are generally more developed than are interisland connections. With its typically sunny climate and recreational resources, the Caribbean has become one of the worlds principal winter vacation resort areas.

The Caribbean has a complex pattern of trade and communications. The volume of trade per capita is high, but most of this trade is conducted with countries outside the region. Each Caribbean country tends to trade with countries elsewhere that share a common language. Cuba, an exception, trades with a variety of countries, trade with former communist-bloc countries accounting for much of the total. Intra-Caribbean trade is small, owing to limited industrial resources and the monocultural economic pattern. Goods and commodities exchanged within the Caribbean economy are relatively fewrice from Guyana; lumber from Belize; refined petroleum from Trinidad and Curaao; salt, fertilizer, vegetable oils, and fats from the eastern islands; and a few manufactured products. A lack of capital and limited natural resources generally have discouraged industrial development, although low labour costs and tax incentives have attracted some industry. Markets for most Caribbean products are in the United States and Canada, which import bananas, sugar, coffee, bauxite, rum, and oil. All Atlantic-Pacific shipping via the Panama Canal passes through the Caribbean.

The first European to enter the Caribbean Sea was Christopher Columbus, who made landfall in the Bahamas in 1492 convinced that he had discovered a new route to Asia. He continued south to found a key Spanish colony on the island of Hispaniola (now divided politically between Haiti and the Dominican Republic). In his subsequent three voyages, Columbus discovered the major features of the region.

The study of Caribbean natural history began with observations published by early voyagers, notably those of the English buccaneer and explorer William Dampier in the late 17th century. The British Challenger Expedition briefly passed through the Caribbean in 1873, followed by more-extensive American expeditions (187789) on the Blake. Danish and American expeditions from 1913 to the late 1930s initiated the systematic research of the basin that has continued to the present day, with periodic expeditions mounted by various countries.

The invention of scuba equipment, the development of research submarines, and the establishment of marine research laboratories in a number of countries in the Caribbean region led to a rapid increase in the level of scientific activity in the second half of the 20th century. One of the more-recent areas of research has focused on coral “bleaching” events, including those in 1995 and 1998 off the coast of Belize (on the largest coral barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere) and in 2005 on the reefs near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Coral bleaching occurs when the animals that constitute the reef expel associated algae in response to changes in water chemistry (temperature, salinity, acidity, or increases in silt or pollution). The process ultimately kills those animals. One of the leading hypotheses for this phenomenon has been that Caribbean waters have increased in temperature, perhaps as a result of global climate change.

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In Defence of Freedom of Speech: from Ancient Greece to …

Posted: at 2:48 pm

Freedom of speech is at the heart of individual liberty and democracy. Yet, in Australia and around the Western world, it is under attack on all sides: from regulations to force balance on the press, to new human rights like the right not to be offended.

In this important new book, Chris Berg offers a bold reinterpretation of why freedom of speech matters. Only by understanding how the right to free expression and freedom of conscience arose can we understand the magnitude of the threats we now face.

The liberty to express our thoughts and opinions is one of the central foundations of Western Civilisation. When governments threaten that freedom of speech, they threaten the foundations of liberty and the democratic system.

Chris Berg is a Research Fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs, and a columnist with the Sunday Age and Sun-Herald, and ABCs The Drum. He is an award-winning former editor of the IPA Review.

Other books by Chris Berg:

To read articles and newspaper columns by Chris Berg, visit the IPA website.

For more Institute of Public Affairs work on freedom of speech, click here.

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