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NSA Can Access More Phone Data Than Ever – ABC News

Posted: October 25, 2016 at 7:35 am

One of the reforms designed to rein in the surveillance authorities of the National Security Agency has perhaps inadvertently solved a technical problem for the spy outfit and granted it potential access to much more data than before, a former top official told ABC News.

Before the signing of the USA Freedom Act in June 2015, one of the NSA’s most controversial programs was the mass collection of telephonic metadata from millions of Americans the information about calls, including the telephone numbers involved, the time and the duration but not the calls’ content under a broad interpretation of the Patriot Act’s Section 215. From this large “haystack,” as officials have called it, NSA analysts could get approval to run queries on specific numbers purportedly linked to international terrorism investigations.

The problem for the NSA was that the haystack was only about 30 percent as big as it should’ve been; the NSA database was missing a lot of data. As The Washington Post reported in 2014, the agency was not getting information from all wireless carriers and it also couldn’t handle the deluge of data that was coming in.

On the technical side, Chris Inglis, who served as the NSA’s deputy director until January 2014, recently told ABC News that when major telecommunications companies previously handed over customer records, the NSA “just didn’t ingest all of it.”

“[NSA officials] were trying to make sure they were doing it exactly right,” he said, meaning making sure that the data was being pulled in according to existing privacy policies. The metadata also came in various forms from the different companies, so the NSA had to reformat much of it before loading it into a searchable database.

Both hurdles meant that the NSA couldn’t keep up, and of all the metadata the agency wanted to be available for specific searches internally, only about a third of it actually was.

But then the USA Freedom Act was signed into law, and now Inglis said, all that is “somebody else’s problem.”

The USA Freedom Act ended the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata but charged the telecommunications companies with keeping the data on hand. The NSA and other U.S. government agencies now must request information about specific phone numbers or other identifying elements from the telecommunications companies after going through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court and arguing that there is a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that the number is associated with international terrorism.

As a result, the NSA no longer has to worry about keeping up its own database and, according to Inglis, the percentage of available records has shot up from 30 percent to virtually 100. Rather than one internal, incomplete database, the NSA can now query any of several complete ones.

The new system “guarantees that the NSA can have access to all of it,” Inglis said.

NSA general counsel Glenn Gerstell made a brief reference to the increased capacity in a post for the Lawfare blog in January after terrorist attacks at home and abroad.

“Largely overlooked in the debate that has ensued in the wake of recent attacks is the fact that under the new arrangement, our national security professionals will have access to a greater volume of call records subject to query in a way that is consistent with our regard for civil liberties,” he wrote.

Mark Rumold, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News he doesn’t have much of a problem with the NSA’s wider access to telephone data, since now the agency has to go through a “legitimate” system with “procedural protections” before jumping into the databases.

“Their ability to obtain records has broadened, but by all accounts, they’re collecting a far narrower pool of data than they were initially,” he said, referring to returns on specific searches. “They can use a type of legal process with a broader spectrum of providers than earlier. To me, that isn’t like a strike against it. That’s almost something in favor of it, because we’ve gone through this public process, we’ve had this debate, and this is where we settled on the scope of the authority we were going to give them.”

Rumold said he’s still concerned about the NSA’s ability to get information on phone numbers linked to a number in question up to two “hops” away but he said the USA Freedom Act “remains a step in the right direction.”

The trade-off of the new system, according to Inglis, is in the efficiency of the searches. Whereas in the past the NSA could instantaneously run approved searches of its database, now the agency must approach each telecommunications company to ask about a number and then wait for a response.

In his January post Gerstell acknowledged concerns that the new approach could be “too cumbersome to be effective” and said the NSA will report to Congress on how the arrangement is working. A representative for the NSA declined to tell ABC News if any problems have been encountered so far, and Rumold noted there has been no public evidence of any issues.

Inglis said he isn’t terribly concerned if the searches are a little slower. It’s a small price to pay, he said, for what he called an “additional safeguard” that could increase the public’s confidence in what the NSA is and how it operates.

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Colonization of Titan – Wikipedia

Posted: at 7:34 am

Saturns largest moon Titan is one of several candidates for possible future colonization of the outer Solar System.

According to Cassini data from 2008, Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth. These hydrocarbons rain from the sky and collect in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.[1] “Titan is just covered in carbon-bearing materialit’s a giant factory of organic chemicals”, said Ralph Lorenz, who leads the study of Titan based on radar data from Cassini. “This vast carbon inventory is an important window into the geology and climate history of Titan.” Several hundred lakes and seas have been observed, with several dozen estimated to contain more hydrocarbon liquid than Earth’s oil and gas reserves. The dark dunes that run along the equator contain a volume of organics several hundred times larger than Earth’s coal reserves.[2]

Radar images obtained on July 21, 2006 appear to show lakes of liquid hydrocarbon (such as methane and ethane) in Titan’s northern latitudes. This is the first discovery of currently existing lakes beyond Earth.[3] The lakes range in size from about a kilometer in width to one hundred kilometers across.

On March 13, 2007, Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that it found strong evidence of seas of methane and ethane in the northern hemisphere. At least one of these is larger than any of the Great Lakes in North America.[4]

The American aerospace engineer and author Robert Zubrin identified Saturn as the most important and valuable of the four gas giants in the Solar System, because of its relative proximity, low radiation, and excellent system of moons. He also named Titan as the most important moon on which to establish a base to develop the resources of the Saturn system.[5]

Dr. Robert Zubrin has pointed out that Titan possesses an abundance of all the elements necessary to support life, saying “In certain ways, Titan is the most hospitable extraterrestrial world within our solar system for human colonization.” [6] The atmosphere contains plentiful nitrogen and methane, and strong evidence indicates that liquid methane exists on the surface. Evidence also indicates the presence of liquid water and ammonia under the surface, which are delivered to the surface by volcanic activity. Water can easily be used to generate breathable oxygen and nitrogen is ideal to add buffer gas partial pressure to breathable air (it forms about 78% of Earth’s atmosphere).[7] Nitrogen, methane and ammonia can all be used to produce fertilizer for growing food.

Titan has a surface gravity of 0.138 g, slightly less than that of the Moon. Managing long-term effects of low gravity on human health would therefore be a significant issue for long-term occupation of Titan, more so than on Mars. These effects are still an active field of study. They can include symptoms such as loss of bone density, loss of muscle density, and a weakened immune system. Astronauts in Earth orbit have remained in microgravity for up to a year or more at a time. Effective countermeasures for the negative effects of low gravity are well-established, particularly an aggressive regime of daily physical exercise or weighted clothing. The variation in the negative effects of low gravity as a function of different levels of low gravity are not known, since all research in this area is restricted to humans in zero gravity. The same goes for the potential effects of low gravity on fetal and pediatric development. It has been hypothesized that children born and raised in low gravity such as on Titan would not be well adapted for life under the higher gravity of Earth.[8]

The atmospheric pressure on Titan’s surface is about one and a half times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level, making Titan the only celestial body in the Solar System besides Earth with a surface atmospheric pressure tolerable to humans. To put it into perspective, 1.5 atmospheres is approximately equivalent to the pressure experienced by a scuba diver on Earth at a water depth of only five meters, whereas the typical maximum recommended depth for recreational scuba divers is forty meters (equivalent to about five atmospheres of pressure). Matching the pressure of a habitat on Titan’s surface to the ambient pressure would greatly reduce certain engineering difficulties. Titan’s atmosphere is not toxic to humans, however the methane and hydrogen components are flammable in an oxygen atmosphere and would therefore need to be filtered out of buffer gas made from its atmosphere.

On the other hand, the temperature on Titan is about 94 K (179C, or 290.2F), so insulation and heat generation and management would be significant concerns. However, because of the colder temperature the density of the air is closer to 4.5 times that of Earth sea level. At this density, temperature shifts over time and between one locale and another would be far smaller than comparable types of temperature changes present on Earth. The corresponding narrow range of temperature variation reduces the difficulties in structural engineering.

Relative thickness of the atmosphere combined with extreme cold makes additional troubles for human habitation. Unlike in a vacuum, the high atmospheric density makes thermoinsulation a significant engineering problem.

The engineering considerations for a spacesuit suitable for extravehicular activity on Titan’s surface are radically different compared to a spacesuit designed for use in a vacuum. On the one hand, such a spacesuit would not need to be pressurized, but it would need to protect the wearer from the extreme cold, in addition to providing a breathable atmosphere. Compared to a vacuum, heat would rapidly dissipate in Titan’s thick atmosphere. The degree of difficulty associated with working in such a spacesuit constructed with current technology would probably be at least equivalent to the difficulty associated with using a pressurized spacesuit in a vacuum.

The very high ratio of atmospheric density to surface gravity also greatly reduces the wingspan needed for an aircraft to maintain lift, so much so that a human would be able to strap on wings and easily fly through Titan’s atmosphere while wearing a spacesuit that could be manufactured with current technology.[6] Another theoretically possible means to become airborne on Titan would be to use a hot air balloon-like vehicle filled with an Earth-like atmosphere at Earth-like temperatures (because oxygen is only slightly denser than nitrogen, the atmosphere in a habitat on Titan would be about one third as dense as the surrounding atmosphere), although such a vehicle would need a skin able to keep the extreme cold out in spite of the light weight required. Due to Titan’s extremely low temperatures, heating of any flight-bound vehicle becomes a key obstacle.[9]

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Colonization of Titan – Wikipedia

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Portal:Libertarianism – Wikipedia

Posted: October 20, 2016 at 11:31 pm

The Ludwig von Mises Institute (LvMI), based in Auburn, Alabama, is a libertarian academic organization engaged in research and scholarship in the fields of economics, philosophy and political economy. Its scholarship is inspired by the work of Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises. Anarcho-capitalist thinkers such as Murray Rothbard have also had a strong influence on the Institute’s work. The Institute is funded entirely through private donations.

The Institute does not consider itself a traditional think tank. While it has working relationships with individuals such as U.S. Representative Ron Paul and organizations like the Foundation for Economic Education, it does not seek to implement public policy. It has no formal affiliation with any political party (including the Libertarian Party), nor does it receive funding from any. The Institute also has a formal policy of not accepting contract work from corporations or other organizations.

The Institute’s official motto is Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito, which comes from Virgil’s Aeneid, Book VI; the motto means “do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.” Early in his life, Mises chose this sentence to be his guiding principle in life. It is prominently displayed throughout the Institute’s campus, on their website and on memorabilia.

Lysander Spooner (19 January 1808 14 May 1887) was a libertarian,[1]individualist anarchist, entrepreneur, political philosopher, abolitionist, supporter of the labor movement, and legal theorist of the 19th century. He is also known for competing with the U.S. Post Office with his American Letter Mail Company, which was forced out of business by the United States government. He has been identified by some contemporary writers as an anarcho-capitalist,[2][3] while other writers and activists believe he was anti-capitalist for vocalizing opposition to wage labor.[4]

Later known as an early individualist anarchist, Spooner advocated what he called Natural Law or the “Science of Justice” wherein acts of initiatory coercion against individuals and their property were considered “illegal” but the so-called criminal acts that violated only man-made legislation were not.

He believed that the price of borrowing capital could be brought down by competition of lenders if the government de-regulated banking and money. This he believed would stimulate entrepreneurship. In his Letter to Cleveland, Spooner argued, “All the great establishments, of every kind, now in the hands of a few proprietors, but employing a great number of wage labourers, would be broken up; for few or no persons, who could hire capital and do business for themselves would consent to labour for wages for another.”[5] Spooner took his own advice and started his own business called American Letter Mail Company which competed with the U.S. Post Office.

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Victimless Crimes Liberal Democrats

Posted: October 19, 2016 at 4:16 am

The LDP does not generally support the criminalisation of victimless crimes and seeks to reduce the intrusion of government into these areas.

Victimless crime is a term used to refer to behaviour that is illegal but does not violate or threaten the rights of anyone else. It can include situations where an individual acts alone as well as consensual acts in which two or more persons agree to commit a criminal offence in which no other person is involved.

The issue in situations of victimless crime is the same. Society has created a formal framework of laws to prohibit types of conduct thought to be against the public interest. Laws proscribing homicide, assaults and rape are common to most cultures. Thus, when the supposed victim freely consents to be the victim in one of these crimes, the question is whether the state should make an exception from the law for this situation.

Take assisted suicide as an example. If one person intentionally takes the life of another, this is usually murder. If the motive for this is to collect the inheritance, society has no difficulty in ignoring the motive and convicting the killer. But if the motive is to relieve the suffering of the victim by providing a clean death that would otherwise be denied, can society so quickly reject the motive?

It is a case of balancing the harms. On the one hand, society could impose pain and suffering on the victim by forcing him or her to endure a long decline into death. Or society could permit a system for terminating life under controlled circumstances so that the victims wishes could be respected without exposing others to the criminal system for assisting in realising those wishes.

But victimless crimes are not always so weighty. Some examples of low level victimless activities that may be criminalised include:

Victimless crimes usually regarded more seriously include:

This includes the elderly and seriously ill as well as less obvious scenarios. For example, helping someone such as a celebrity facing exposure for socially unacceptable behaviour who seeks a gun or other means to end life; a driver trapped in a burning tanker full of gasoline who begs a passing armed police officer toshoot him rather than let him burn to death; a person who suffers traumatic injury in a road accident and wishes to avoid the humiliation and pain of a lingering slow death.

These situations are distinguishable from soliciting the cessation of life-sustaining treatment so that an injured or illperson may die a natural death, or leaving instructions not to resuscitate in the event of death.

Consideration of victimless crime involving more than one participant needs to take account of whether all the participants are capable of giving genuine consent. This may not be the case if one or more of the participants are:

Libertarianism focuses on the autonomy of the individual, asserting each persons right to live their lives with the least possible interference from the law. Libertarians do not necessarily approve, sanction or endorse the victimless action that is criminalised. Indeed, they may strongly disapprove.

Where they differ from non-libertarians is their belief that the government should be exceedingly reluctant to intervene. People are entitled to live their lives and make their own choices whether or not those choices are wise or the same as others would make, provided they do so voluntarily and without infringing the rights of others.

Without necessarily supporting, advocating or approving of them, the LDP does not generally support the criminalisation of victimless crimes. Wherever possible it will seek to reduce the intrusion of government into these areas.

It nonetheless recognises that not all victimless crimes are capable of being entirely de-regulated. It acknowledges there may be unintended coercive consequences from re-legalisation and that some regulation may be warranted in specific instances.

The LDP also favours strong sanctions against crimes that infringe the rights of others, whether deliberately or through negligence.

Further information

Mandatory bicycle helmets not only are such laws offensive to liberty, but they do not achieve their aim.

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Victimless Crimes Liberal Democrats

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Human genetics – An Introduction to Genetic Analysis …

Posted: at 4:08 am

In the study of rare disorders, four general patterns of inheritance are distinguishable by pedigree analysis: autosomal recessive, autosomal dominant, X-linked recessive, and X-linked dominant.

The affected phenotype of an autosomal recessive disorder is determined by a recessive allele, and the corresponding unaffected phenotype is determined by a dominant allele. For example, the human disease phenylketonuria is inherited in a simple Mendelian manner as a recessive phenotype, with PKU determined by the allele p and the normal condition by P . Therefore, sufferers from this disease are of genotype p /p , and people who do not have the disease are either P /P or P /p . What patterns in a pedigree would reveal such an inheritance? The two key points are that (1) generally the disease appears in the progeny of unaffected parents and (2) the affected progeny include both males and females. When we know that both male and female progeny are affected, we can assume that we are dealing with simple Mendelian inheritance, not sex-linked inheritance. The following typical pedigree illustrates the key point that affected children are born to unaffected parents:

From this pattern, we can immediately deduce simple Mendelian inheritance of the recessive allele responsible for the exceptional phenotype (indicated in black). Furthermore, we can deduce that the parents are both heterozygotes, say A /a ; both must have an a allele because each contributed an a allele to each affected child, and both must have an A allele because they are phenotypically normal. We can identify the genotypes of the children (in the order shown) as A /, a /a , a /a , and A /. Hence, the pedigree can be rewritten as follows:

Note that this pedigree does not support the hypothesis of X-linked recessive inheritance, because, under that hypothesis, an affected daughter must have a heterozygous mother (possible) and a hemizygous father, which is clearly impossible, because he would have expressed the phenotype of the disorder.

Notice another interesting feature of pedigree analysis: even though Mendelian rules are at work, Mendelian ratios are rarely observed in families, because the sample size is too small. In the preceding example, we see a 1:1 phenotypic ratio in the progeny of a monohybrid cross. If the couple were to have, say, 20 children, the ratio would be something like 15 unaffected children and 5 with PKU (a 3:1 ratio); but, in a sample of 4 children, any ratio is possible, and all ratios are commonly found.

The pedigrees of autosomal recessive disorders tend to look rather bare, with few black symbols. A recessive condition shows up in groups of affected siblings, and the people in earlier and later generations tend not to be affected. To understand why this is so, it is important to have some understanding of the genetic structure of populations underlying such rare conditions. By definition, if the condition is rare, most people do not carry the abnormal allele. Furthermore, most of those people who do carry the abnormal allele are heterozygous for it rather than homozygous. The basic reason that heterozygotes are much more common than recessive homozygotes is that, to be a recessive homozygote, both parents must have had the a allele, but, to be a heterozygote, only one parent must carry the a allele.

Geneticists have a quantitative way of connecting the rareness of an allele with the commonness or rarity of heterozygotes and homozygotes in a population. They obtain the relative frequencies of genotypes in a population by assuming that the population is in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, to be fully discussed in Chapter 24 . Under this simplifying assumption, if the relative proportions of two alleles A and a in a population are p and q , respectively, then the frequencies of the three possible genotypes are given by p 2 for A /A , 2pq for A /a , and q 2 for a /a . A numerical example illustrates this concept. If we assume that the frequency q of a recessive, disease-causing allele is 1/50, then p is 49/50, the frequency of homozygotes with the disease is q 2 =(1/50)2 =1/250, and the frequency of heterozygotes is 2pq =249/501/50 , or approximately 1/25. Hence, for this example, we see that heterozygotes are 100 times as frequent as disease sufferers, and, as this ratio increases, the rarer the allele becomes. The relation between heterozygotes and homozygotes recessive for a rare allele is shown in the following illustration. Note that the allele frequencies p and q can be used as the gamete frequencies in both sexes.

The formation of an affected person usually depends on the chance union of unrelated heterozygotes. However, inbreeding (mating between relatives) increases the chance that a mating will be between two heterozygotes. An example of a marriage between cousins is shown in . Individuals III-5 and III-6 are first cousins and produce two homozygotes for the rare allele. You can see from that an ancestor who is a heterozygote may produce many descendants who also are heterozygotes. Hence two cousins can carry the same rare recessive allele inherited from a common ancestor. For two unrelated persons to be heterozygous, they would have to inherit the rare allele from both their families. Thus matings between relatives generally run a higher risk of producing abnormal phenotypes caused by homozygosity for recessive alleles than do matings between nonrelatives. For this reason, first-cousin marriages contribute a large proportion of the sufferers of recessive diseases in the population.

Pedigree of a rare recessive phenotype determined by a recessive allele a . Gene symbols are normally not included in pedigree charts, but genotypes are inserted here for reference. Note that individuals II-1 and II-5 marry into the family; they are assumed (more…)

What are some examples of human recessive disorders? PKU has already served as an example of pedigree analysis, but what kind of phenotype is it? PKU is a disease of processing of the amino acid phenylalanine, a component of all proteins in the food that we eat. Phenylalanine is normally converted into tyrosine by the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase:

However, if a mutation in the gene encoding this enzyme alters the amino acid sequence in the vicinity of the enzymes active site, the enzyme cannot bind or convert phenylalanine (its substrate). Therefore phenylalanine builds up in the body and is converted instead into phenylpyruvic acid, a compound that interferes with the development of the nervous system, leading to mental retardation.

Babies are now routinely tested for this processing deficiency at birth. If the deficiency is detected, phenylalanine can be withheld by use of a special diet, and the development of the disease can be arrested.

Cystic fibrosis is another disease inherited according to Mendelian rules as a recessive phenotype. The allele that causes cystic fibrosis was isolated in 1989, and the sequence of its DNA was determined. This has led to an understanding of gene function in affected and unaffected persons, giving hope for more effective treatment. Cystic fibrosis is a disease whose most important symptom is the secretion of large amounts of mucus into the lungs, resulting in death from a combination of effects but usually precipitated by upper respiratory infection. The mucus can be dislodged by mechanical chest thumpers, and pulmonary infection can be prevented by antibiotics; so, with treatment, cystic fibrosis patients can live to adulthood. The disorder is caused by a defective protein that transports chloride ions across the cell membrane. The resultant alteration of the salt balance changes the constitution of the lung mucus.

Albinism, which served as a model of allelic determination of contrasting phenotypes in Chapter 1 , also is inherited in the standard autosomal recessive manner. The molecular nature of an albino allele and its inheritance are diagrammed in . This diagram shows a simple autosomal recessive inheritance in a pedigree and shows the molecular nature of the alleles involved. In this example, the recessive allele a is caused by a base pair change that introduces a stop codon into the middle of the gene, resulting in a truncated polypeptide. The mutation, by chance, also introduces a new target site for a restriction enzyme. Hence, a probe for the gene detects two fragments in the case of a and only one in A . (Other types of mutations would produce different effects at the level detected by Southern, Northern, and Western analyses.)

The molecular basis of Mendelian inheritance in a pedigree.

In all the examples heretofore considered, the disorder is caused by an allele for a defective protein. In heterozygotes, the single functional allele provides enough active protein for the cells needs. This situation is called haplosufficiency.

In human pedigrees, an autosomal recessive disorder is revealed by the appearance of the disorder in the male and female progeny of unaffected persons.

Here the normal allele is recessive, and the abnormal allele is dominant. It may seem paradoxical that a rare disorder can be dominant, but remember that dominance and recessiveness are simply properties of how alleles act and are not defined in terms of how common they are in the population. A good example of a rare dominant phenotype with Mendelian inheritance is pseudo-achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism ( ). In regard to this gene, people with normal stature are genotypically d /d , and the dwarf phenotype in principle could be D /d or D /D . However, it is believed that the two doses of the D allele in the D /D genotype produce such a severe effect that this is a lethal genotype. If this is true, all the dwarf individuals are heterozygotes.

The human pseudoachondroplasia phenotype, illustrated by a family of five sisters and two brothers. The phenotype is determined by a dominant allele, which we can call D , that interferes with bone growth during development. Most members of the human population (more…)

In pedigree analysis, the main clues for identifying a dominant disorder with Mendelian inheritance are that the phenotype tends to appear in every generation of the pedigree and that affected fathers and mothers transmit the phenotype to both sons and daughters. Again, the equal representation of both sexes among the affected offspring rules out sex-linked inheritance. The phenotype appears in every generation because generally the abnormal allele carried by a person must have come from a parent in the preceding generation. Abnormal alleles can arise de novo by the process of mutation. This event is relatively rare but must be kept in mind as a possibility. A typical pedigree for a dominant disorder is shown in . Once again, notice that Mendelian ratios are not necessarily observed in families. As with recessive disorders, persons bearing one copy of the rare A allele (A /a ) are much more common than those bearing two copies (A /A ), so most affected people are heterozygotes, and virtually all matings concerning dominant disorders are A /a a /a . Therefore, when the progeny of such matings are totaled, a 1:1 ratio is expected of unaffected (a /a ) to affected (A /a ) persons.

Pedigree of a dominant phenotype determined by a dominant allele A . In this pedigree, all the genotypes have been deduced.

Huntington disease is an example of a disease inherited as a dominant phenotype determined by an allele of a single gene. The phenotype is one of neural degeneration, leading to convulsions and premature death. However, it is a late-onset disease, the symptoms generally not appearing until after the person has begun to have children ( ). Each child of a carrier of the abnormal allele stands a 50 percent chance of inheriting the allele and the associated disease. This tragic pattern has led to a great effort to find ways of identifying people who carry the abnormal allele before they experience the onset of the disease. The application of molecular techniques has resulted in a promising screening procedure.

The age of onset of Huntington disease. The graph shows that people carrying the allele generally do not express the disease until after child-bearing age.

Some other rare dominant conditions are polydactyly (extra digits) and brachydactyly (short digits), shown in , and piebald spotting, shown in .

Some rare dominant phenotypes of the human hand. (a) (right) Polydactyly, a dominant phenotype characterized by extra fingers, toes, or both, determined by an allele P . The numbers in the accompanying pedigree (left) give the number of fingers in the (more…)

Piebald spotting, a rare dominant human phenotype. Although the phenotype is encountered sporadically in all races, the patterns show up best in those with dark skin. (a) The photographs show front and back views of affected persons IV-1, IV-3, III-5, (more…)

Pedigrees of Mendelian autosomal dominant disorders show affected males and females in each generation; they also show that affected men and women transmit the condition to equal proportions of their sons and daughters.

Phenotypes with X-linked recessive inheritance typically show the following patterns in pedigrees:

Many more males than females show the phenotype under study. This is because a female showing the phenotype can result only from a mating in which both the mother and the father bear the allele (for example, XA Xa Xa Y), whereas a male with the phenotype can be produced when only the mother carries the allele. If the recessive allele is very rare, almost all persons showing the phenotype are male.

None of the offspring of an affected male are affected, but all his daughters are carriers, bearing the recessive allele masked in the heterozygous condition. Half of the sons of these carrier daughters are affected ( ). Note that, in common X-linked phenotypes, this pattern might be obscured by inheritance of the recessive allele from a heterozygous mother as well as the father.

None of the sons of an affected male show the phenotype under study, nor will they pass the condition to their offspring. The reason behind this lack of male-to-male transmission is that a son obtains his Y chromosome from his father, so he cannot normally inherit the fathers X chromosome too.

Pedigree showing that X-linked recessive alleles expressed in males are then carried unexpressed by their daughters in the next generation, to be expressed again in their sons. Note that III-3 and III-4 cannot be distinguished phenotypically.

In the pedigree analysis of rare X-linked recessives, a normal female of unknown genotype is assumed to be homo-zygous unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Perhaps the most familiar example of X-linked recessive inheritance is red-green colorblindness. People with this condition are unable to distinguish red from green and see them as the same. The genes for color vision have been characterized at the molecular level. Color vision is based on three different kinds of cone cells in the retina, each sensitive to red, green, or blue wavelengths. The genetic determinants for the red and green cone cells are on the X chromosome. As with any X-linked recessive, there are many more males with the phenotype than females.

Another familiar example is hemophilia, the failure of blood to clot. Many proteins must interact in sequence to make blood clot. The most common type of hemophilia is caused by the absence or malfunction of one of these proteins, called Factor VIII. The most well known cases of hemophilia are found in the pedigree of interrelated royal families in Europe ( ). The original hemophilia allele in the pedigree arose spontaneously (as a mutation) either in the reproductive cells of Queen Victorias parents or of Queen Victoria herself. The son of the last czar of Russia, Alexis, inherited the allele ultimately from Queen Victoria, who was the grandmother of his mother Alexandra. Nowadays, hemophilia can be treated medically, but it was formerly a potentially fatal condition. It is interesting to note that, in the Jewish Talmud, there are rules about exemptions to male circumcision that show clearly that the mode of transmission of the disease through unaffected carrier females was well understood in ancient times. For example, one exemption was for the sons of women whose sisters sons had bled profusely when they were circumcised.

The inheritance of the X-linked recessive condition hemophilia in the royal families of Europe. A recessive allele causing hemophilia (failure of blood clotting) arose in the reproductive cells of Queen Victoria, or one of her parents, through mutation. (more…)

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a fatal X-linked recessive disease. The phenotype is a wasting and atrophy of muscles. Generally the onset is before the age of 6, with confinement to a wheelchair by 12, and death by 20. The gene for Duchenne muscular dystrophy has now been isolated and shown to encode the muscle protein dystrophin. This discovery holds out hope for a better understanding of the physiology of this condition and, ultimately, a therapy.

A rare X-linked recessive phenotype that is interesting from the point of view of sexual differentiation is a condition called testicular feminization syndrome, which has a frequency of about 1 in 65,000 male births. People afflicted with this syndrome are chromosomally males, having 44 autosomes plus an X and a Y, but they develop as females ( ). They have female external genitalia, a blind vagina, and no uterus. Testes may be present either in the labia or in the abdomen. Although many such persons marry, they are sterile. The condition is not reversed by treatment with the male hormone androgen, so it is sometimes called androgen insensitivity syndrome. The reason for the insensitivity is that the androgen receptor malfunctions, so the male hormone can have no effect on the target organs that contribute to maleness. In humans, femaleness results when the male-determining system is not functional.

Four siblings with testicular feminization syndrome (congenital insensitivity to androgens). All four subjects in this photograph have 44 autosomes plus an X and a Y chromosome, but they have inherited the recessive X-linked allele conferring insensitivity to (more…)

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Human genetics – An Introduction to Genetic Analysis …

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Human Genome Project – Wikipedia

Posted: at 4:07 am

The Human Genome Project (HGP) is an international scientific research project with the goal of determining the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up human DNA, and of identifying and mapping all of the genes of the human genome from both a physical and a functional standpoint.[1] It remains the world’s largest collaborative biological project.[2] After the idea was picked up in 1984 by the US government when the planning started, with the project formally launched in 1990, and finally declared complete in 2003. Funding came from the US government through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as numerous other groups from around the world. A parallel project was conducted outside of government by the Celera Corporation, or Celera Genomics, which was formally launched in 1998. Most of the government-sponsored sequencing was performed in twenty universities and research centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Canada, and China.[3]

The Human Genome Project originally aimed to map the nucleotides contained in a human haploid reference genome (more than three billion). The “genome” of any given individual is unique; mapping the “human genome” involves sequencing multiple variations of each gene.[4] In May 2016, scientists considered extending the HGP to include creating a synthetic human genome.[5] In June 2016, scientists formally announced HGP-Write, a plan to synthesize the human genome.[6][7]

The Human Genome Project was a 13-year-long, publicly funded project initiated in 1990 with the objective of determining the DNA sequence of the entire euchromatic human genome within 15 years.[8] In May 1985, Robert Sinsheimer organized a workshop to discuss sequencing the human genome,[9] but for a number of reasons the NIH was uninterested in pursuing the proposal. The following March, the Santa Fe Workshop was organized by Charles DeLisi and David Smith of the Department of Energy’s Office of Health and Environmental Research (OHER).[10] At the same time Renato Dulbecco proposed whole genome sequencing in an essay in Science.[11] James Watson followed two months later with a workshop held at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

The fact that the Santa Fe workshop was motivated and supported by a Federal Agency opened a path, albeit a difficult and tortuous one,[12] for converting the idea into public policy. In a memo to the Assistant Secretary for Energy Research (Alvin Trivelpiece), Charles DeLisi, who was then Director of OHER, outlined a broad plan for the project.[13] This started a long and complex chain of events which led to approved reprogramming of funds that enabled OHER to launch the Project in 1986, and to recommend the first line item for the HGP, which was in President Regan’s 1988 budget submission,[12] and ultimately approved by the Congress. Of particular importance in Congressional approval was the advocacy of Senator Peter Domenici, whom DeLisi had befriended.[14] Domenici chaired the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, as well as the Budget Committee, both of which were key in the DOE budget process. Congress added a comparable amount to the NIH budget, thereby beginning official funding by both agencies.

Alvin Trivelpiece sought and obtained the approval of DeLisi’s proposal by Deputy Secretary William Flynn Martin. This chart[15] was used in the spring of 1986 by Trivelpiece, then Director of the Office of Energy Research in the Department of Energy, to brief Martin and Under Secretary Joseph Salgado regarding his intention to reprogram $4 million to initiate the project with the approval of Secretary Herrington. This reprogramming was followed by a line item budget of $16 million in the Reagan Administrations 1987 budget submission to Congress.[16] It subsequently passed both Houses. The Project was planned for 15 years.[17]

Candidate technologies were already being considered for the proposed undertaking at least as early as 1985.[18]

In 1990, the two major funding agencies, DOE and NIH, developed a memorandum of understanding in order to coordinate plans and set the clock for the initiation of the Project to 1990.[19] At that time, David Galas was Director of the renamed Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the U.S. Department of Energys Office of Science and James Watson headed the NIH Genome Program. In 1993, Aristides Patrinos succeeded Galas and Francis Collins succeeded James Watson, assuming the role of overall Project Head as Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Human Genome Research (which would later become the National Human Genome Research Institute). A working draft of the genome was announced in 2000 and the papers describing it were published in February 2001. A more complete draft was published in 2003, and genome “finishing” work continued for more than a decade.

The $3-billion project was formally founded in 1990 by the US Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, and was expected to take 15 years.[20] In addition to the United States, the international consortium comprised geneticists in the United Kingdom, France, Australia, China and myriad other spontaneous relationships.[21]

Due to widespread international cooperation and advances in the field of genomics (especially in sequence analysis), as well as major advances in computing technology, a ‘rough draft’ of the genome was finished in 2000 (announced jointly by U.S. President Bill Clinton and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair on June 26, 2000).[22] This first available rough draft assembly of the genome was completed by the Genome Bioinformatics Group at the University of California, Santa Cruz, primarily led by then graduate student Jim Kent. Ongoing sequencing led to the announcement of the essentially complete genome on April 14, 2003, two years earlier than planned.[23][24] In May 2006, another milestone was passed on the way to completion of the project, when the sequence of the last chromosome was published in Nature.[25]

The project did not aim to sequence all the DNA found in human cells. It sequenced only “euchromatic” regions of the genome, which make up about 90% of the genome. The other regions, called “heterochromatic” are found in centromeres and telomeres, and were not sequenced under the project.[26]

The Human Genome Project was declared complete in April 2003. An initial rough draft of the human genome was available in June 2000 and by February 2001 a working draft had been completed and published followed by the final sequencing mapping of the human genome on April 14, 2003. Although this was reported to be 99% of the euchromatic human genome with 99.99% accuracy a major quality assessment of the human genome sequence was published on May 27, 2004 indicating over 92% of sampling exceeded 99.99% accuracy which was within the intended goal.[27] Further analyses and papers on the HGP continue to occur.[28]

The sequencing of the human genome holds benefits for many fields, from molecular medicine to human evolution. The Human Genome Project, through its sequencing of the DNA, can help us understand diseases including: genotyping of specific viruses to direct appropriate treatment; identification of mutations linked to different forms of cancer; the design of medication and more accurate prediction of their effects; advancement in forensic applied sciences; biofuels and other energy applications; agriculture, animal husbandry, bioprocessing; risk assessment; bioarcheology, anthropology and evolution. Another proposed benefit is the commercial development of genomics research related to DNA based products, a multibillion-dollar industry.

The sequence of the DNA is stored in databases available to anyone on the Internet. The U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information (and sister organizations in Europe and Japan) house the gene sequence in a database known as GenBank, along with sequences of known and hypothetical genes and proteins. Other organizations, such as the UCSC Genome Browser at the University of California, Santa Cruz,[29] and Ensembl[30] present additional data and annotation and powerful tools for visualizing and searching it. Computer programs have been developed to analyze the data, because the data itself is difficult to interpret without such programs. Generally speaking, advances in genome sequencing technology have followed Moores Law, a concept from computer science which states that integrated circuits can increase in complexity at an exponential rate.[31] This means that the speeds at which whole genomes can be sequenced can increase at a similar rate, as was seen during the development of the above-mentioned Human Genome Project.

The process of identifying the boundaries between genes and other features in a raw DNA sequence is called genome annotation and is in the domain of bioinformatics. While expert biologists make the best annotators, their work proceeds slowly, and computer programs are increasingly used to meet the high-throughput demands of genome sequencing projects. Beginning in 2008, a new technology known as RNA-seq was introduced that allowed scientists to directly sequence the messenger RNA in cells. This replaced previous methods of annotation, which relied on inherent properties of the DNA sequence, with direct measurement, which was much more accurate. Today, annotation of the human genome and other genomes relies primarily on deep sequencing of the transcripts in every human tissue using RNA-seq. These experiments have revealed that over 90% of genes contain at least one and usually several alternative splice variants, in which the exons are combined in different ways to produce 2 or more gene products from the same locus.[citation needed]

The genome published by the HGP does not represent the sequence of every individual’s genome. It is the combined mosaic of a small number of anonymous donors, all of European origin. The HGP genome is a scaffold for future work in identifying differences among individuals. Subsequent projects sequenced the genomes of multiple distinct ethnic groups, though as of today there is still only one “reference genome.”[citation needed]

Key findings of the draft (2001) and complete (2004) genome sequences include:

The Human Genome Project was started in 1990 with the goal of sequencing and identifying all three billion chemical units in the human genetic instruction set, finding the genetic roots of disease and then developing treatments. It is considered a Mega Project because the human genome has approximately 3.3 billion base-pairs. With the sequence in hand, the next step was to identify the genetic variants that increase the risk for common diseases like cancer and diabetes.[19][36]

It was far too expensive at that time to think of sequencing patients whole genomes. So the National Institutes of Health embraced the idea for a “shortcut”, which was to look just at sites on the genome where many people have a variant DNA unit. The theory behind the shortcut was that, since the major diseases are common, so too would be the genetic variants that caused them. Natural selection keeps the human genome free of variants that damage health before children are grown, the theory held, but fails against variants that strike later in life, allowing them to become quite common. (In 2002 the National Institutes of Health started a $138 million dollar project called the HapMap to catalog the common variants in European, East Asian and African genomes.)[37]

The genome was broken into smaller pieces; approximately 150,000 base pairs in length.[36] These pieces were then ligated into a type of vector known as “bacterial artificial chromosomes”, or BACs, which are derived from bacterial chromosomes which have been genetically engineered. The vectors containing the genes can be inserted into bacteria where they are copied by the bacterial DNA replication machinery. Each of these pieces was then sequenced separately as a small “shotgun” project and then assembled. The larger, 150,000 base pairs go together to create chromosomes. This is known as the “hierarchical shotgun” approach, because the genome is first broken into relatively large chunks, which are then mapped to chromosomes before being selected for sequencing.[38][39]

Funding came from the US government through the National Institutes of Health in the United States, and a UK charity organization, the Wellcome Trust, as well as numerous other groups from around the world. The funding supported a number of large sequencing centers including those at Whitehead Institute, the Sanger Centre, Washington University in St. Louis, and Baylor College of Medicine.[20][40]

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) served as an important channel for the involvement of developing countries in the Human Genome Project.[41]

In 1998, a similar, privately funded quest was launched by the American researcher Craig Venter, and his firm Celera Genomics. Venter was a scientist at the NIH during the early 1990s when the project was initiated. The $300,000,000 Celera effort was intended to proceed at a faster pace and at a fraction of the cost of the roughly $3 billion publicly funded project. The Celera approach was able to proceed at a much more rapid rate, and at a lower cost than the public project because it relied upon data made available by the publicly funded project.[42]

Celera used a technique called whole genome shotgun sequencing, employing pairwise end sequencing,[43] which had been used to sequence bacterial genomes of up to six million base pairs in length, but not for anything nearly as large as the three billion base pair human genome.

Celera initially announced that it would seek patent protection on “only 200300” genes, but later amended this to seeking “intellectual property protection” on “fully-characterized important structures” amounting to 100300 targets. The firm eventually filed preliminary (“place-holder”) patent applications on 6,500 whole or partial genes. Celera also promised to publish their findings in accordance with the terms of the 1996 “Bermuda Statement”, by releasing new data annually (the HGP released its new data daily), although, unlike the publicly funded project, they would not permit free redistribution or scientific use of the data. The publicly funded competitors were compelled to release the first draft of the human genome before Celera for this reason. On July 7, 2000, the UCSC Genome Bioinformatics Group released a first working draft on the web. The scientific community downloaded about 500 GB of information from the UCSC genome server in the first 24 hours of free and unrestricted access.[44]

In March 2000, President Clinton announced that the genome sequence could not be patented, and should be made freely available to all researchers. The statement sent Celera’s stock plummeting and dragged down the biotechnology-heavy Nasdaq. The biotechnology sector lost about $50 billion in market capitalization in two days.

Although the working draft was announced in June 2000, it was not until February 2001 that Celera and the HGP scientists published details of their drafts. Special issues of Nature (which published the publicly funded project’s scientific paper)[45] and Science (which published Celera’s paper[46]) described the methods used to produce the draft sequence and offered analysis of the sequence. These drafts covered about 83% of the genome (90% of the euchromatic regions with 150,000 gaps and the order and orientation of many segments not yet established). In February 2001, at the time of the joint publications, press releases announced that the project had been completed by both groups. Improved drafts were announced in 2003 and 2005, filling in to approximately 92% of the sequence currently.

In the IHGSC international public-sector Human Genome Project (HGP), researchers collected blood (female) or sperm (male) samples from a large number of donors. Only a few of many collected samples were processed as DNA resources. Thus the donor identities were protected so neither donors nor scientists could know whose DNA was sequenced. DNA clones from many different libraries were used in the overall project, with most of those libraries being created by Pieter J. de Jong’s lab. Much of the sequence (>70%) of the reference genome produced by the public HGP came from a single anonymous male donor from Buffalo, New York (code name RP11).[47][48]

HGP scientists used white blood cells from the blood of two male and two female donors (randomly selected from 20 of each) each donor yielding a separate DNA library. One of these libraries (RP11) was used considerably more than others, due to quality considerations. One minor technical issue is that male samples contain just over half as much DNA from the sex chromosomes (one X chromosome and one Y chromosome) compared to female samples (which contain two X chromosomes). The other 22 chromosomes (the autosomes) are the same for both sexes.

Although the main sequencing phase of the HGP has been completed, studies of DNA variation continue in the International HapMap Project, whose goal is to identify patterns of single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) groups (called haplotypes, or haps). The DNA samples for the HapMap came from a total of 270 individuals: Yoruba people in Ibadan, Nigeria; Japanese people in Tokyo; Han Chinese in Beijing; and the French Centre dEtude du Polymorphisme Humain (CEPH) resource, which consisted of residents of the United States having ancestry from Western and Northern Europe.

In the Celera Genomics private-sector project, DNA from five different individuals were used for sequencing. The lead scientist of Celera Genomics at that time, Craig Venter, later acknowledged (in a public letter to the journal Science) that his DNA was one of 21 samples in the pool, five of which were selected for use.[49][50]

In 2007, a team led by Jonathan Rothberg published James Watson’s entire genome, unveiling the six-billion-nucleotide genome of a single individual for the first time.[51]

The work on interpretation and analysis of genome data is still in its initial stages. It is anticipated that detailed knowledge of the human genome will provide new avenues for advances in medicine and biotechnology. Clear practical results of the project emerged even before the work was finished. For example, a number of companies, such as Myriad Genetics, started offering easy ways to administer genetic tests that can show predisposition to a variety of illnesses, including breast cancer, hemostasis disorders, cystic fibrosis, liver diseases and many others. Also, the etiologies for cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and other areas of clinical interest are considered likely to benefit from genome information and possibly may lead in the long term to significant advances in their management.[37][52]

There are also many tangible benefits for biologists. For example, a researcher investigating a certain form of cancer may have narrowed down his/her search to a particular gene. By visiting the human genome database on the World Wide Web, this researcher can examine what other scientists have written about this gene, including (potentially) the three-dimensional structure of its product, its function(s), its evolutionary relationships to other human genes, or to genes in mice or yeast or fruit flies, possible detrimental mutations, interactions with other genes, body tissues in which this gene is activated, and diseases associated with this gene or other datatypes. Further, deeper understanding of the disease processes at the level of molecular biology may determine new therapeutic procedures. Given the established importance of DNA in molecular biology and its central role in determining the fundamental operation of cellular processes, it is likely that expanded knowledge in this area will facilitate medical advances in numerous areas of clinical interest that may not have been possible without them.[53]

The analysis of similarities between DNA sequences from different organisms is also opening new avenues in the study of evolution. In many cases, evolutionary questions can now be framed in terms of molecular biology; indeed, many major evolutionary milestones (the emergence of the ribosome and organelles, the development of embryos with body plans, the vertebrate immune system) can be related to the molecular level. Many questions about the similarities and differences between humans and our closest relatives (the primates, and indeed the other mammals) are expected to be illuminated by the data in this project.[37][54]

The project inspired and paved the way for genomic work in other fields, such as agriculture. For example, by studying the genetic composition of Tritium aestivum, the worlds most commonly used bread wheat, great insight has been gained into the ways that domestication has impacted the evolution of the plant.[55] Which loci are most susceptible to manipulation, and how does this play out in evolutionary terms? Genetic sequencing has allowed these questions to be addressed for the first time, as specific loci can be compared in wild and domesticated strains of the plant. This will allow for advances in genetic modification in the future which could yield healthier, more disease-resistant wheat crops.

At the onset of the Human Genome Project several ethical, legal, and social concerns were raised in regards to how increased knowledge of the human genome could be used to discriminate against people. One of the main concerns of most individuals was the fear that both employers and health insurance companies would refuse to hire individuals or refuse to provide insurance to people because of a health concern indicated by someone’s genes.[56] In 1996 the United States passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which protects against the unauthorized and non-consensual release of individually identifiable health information to any entity not actively engaged in the provision of healthcare services to a patient.[57]

Along with identifying all of the approximately 20,00025,000 genes in the human genome, the Human Genome Project also sought to address the ethical, legal, and social issues that were created by the onset of the project. For that the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) program was founded in 1990. Five percent of the annual budget was allocated to address the ELSI arising from the project.[20][58] This budget started at approximately $1.57 million in the year 1990, but increased to approximately $18 million in the year 2014. [59]

Whilst the project may offer significant benefits to medicine and scientific research, some authors have emphasised the need to address the potential social consequences of mapping the human genome. “Molecularising disease and their possible cure will have a profound impact on what patients expect from medical help and the new generation of doctors’ perception of illness.”[60]

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En Route to Mars, The Moon | Science Mission Directorate

Posted: October 17, 2016 at 1:20 am

En route to Mars, the Moon

Why colonize the Moon before going to Mars? NASA scientists give their reasons.

March 18, 2005: NASA has a new Vision for Space Exploration: in the decades ahead, humans will land on Mars and explore the red planet. Brief visits will lead to longer stays and, maybe one day, to colonies.

Why the Moon before Mars?

“The Moon is a natural first step,” explains Philip Metzger, a physicist at NASA Kennedy Space Center. “It’s nearby. We can practice living, working and doing science there before taking longer and riskier trips to Mars.”

Right: The Moon, an alien world in Earth’s backyard. Photo credit: International Space Station astronaut Leroy Chiao. [More]

The Moon and Mars have a lot in common. The Moon has only one-sixth Earth’s gravity; Mars has one-third. The Moon has no atmosphere; the Martian atmosphere is highly rarefied. The Moon can get very cold, as low as -240o C in shadows; Mars varies between -20o and -100o C.

Even more important, both planets are covered with silt-fine dust, called “regolith.” The Moon’s regolith was created by the ceaseless bombardment of micrometeorites, cosmic rays and particles of solar wind breaking down rocks for billions of years. Martian regolith resulted from the impacts of more massive meteorites and even asteroids, plus ages of daily erosion from water and wind. There are places on both worlds where the regolith is 10+ meters deep.

Answering these questions on Earth isn’t easy. Moondust and Mars dust is so … alien.

Try this: Run your finger across the screen of your computer. You’ll get a little residue of dust clinging to your fingertip. It’s soft and fuzzy–that’s Earth dust.

Lunar dust is different: “It’s almost like fragments of glass or coral–odd shapes that are very sharp and interlocking,” says Metzger. (

“Even after short moon walks, Apollo 17 astronauts found dust particles had jammed the shoulder joints of their spacesuits,” says Masami Nakagawa, associate professor in the mining engineering department of the Colorado School of Mines. “Moondust penetrated into seals, causing the spacesuits to leak some air pressure.”

Above: Dust flies from the tires of a moon buggy, driven by Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan. These “rooster-tails” of dust caused problems, which the astronauts solved using duct tape. [More]

In sunlit areas, adds Nakagawa, fine dust levitated above the Apollo astronauts’ knees and even above their heads, because individual particles were electrostatically charged by the Sun’s ultraviolet light. Such dust particles, when tracked into the astronauts’ habitat where they would become airborne, irritated their eyes and lungs. “It’s a potentially serious problem.”

Dust is also ubiquitous on Mars, although Mars dust is probably not as sharp as moondust. Weathering smooths the edges. Nevertheless, Martian duststorms whip these particles 50 m/s (100+ mph), scouring and wearing every exposed surface. As the rovers Spirit and Opportunity have revealed, Mars dust (like moondust) is probably electrically charged. It clings to solar panels, blocks sunlight and reduces the amount of power that can be generated for a surface mission.

For these reasons, NASA is funding Nakagawa’s Project Dust, a four-year study dedicated to finding ways of mitigating the effects of dust on robotic and human exploration, ranging from designs of air filters to thin-film coatings that repel dust from spacesuits and machinery.

The Moon is also a good testing ground for what mission planners call “in-situ resource utilization” (ISRU)–a.k.a. “living off the land.” Astronauts on Mars are going to want to mine certain raw materials locally: oxygen for breathing, water for drinking and rocket fuel (essentially hydrogen and oxygen) for the journey home. “We can try this on the Moon first,” says Metzger.

Both the Moon and Mars are thought to harbor water frozen in the ground. The evidence for this is indirect. NASA and ESA spacecraft have detected hydrogen–presumably the H in H2O–in Martian soil. Putative icy deposits range from the Martian poles almost to the equator. Lunar ice, on the other hand, is localized near the Moon’s north and south poles deep inside craters where the Sun never shines, according to similar data from Lunar Prospector and Clementine, two spacecraft that mapped the Moon in the mid-1990s.

If this ice could be excavated, thawed out and broken apart into hydrogen and oxygen … Voila! Instant supplies. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, due to launch in 2008, will use modern sensors to search for deposits and pinpoint possible mining sites.

“The lunar poles are a cold place, so we’ve been working with people who specialize in cold places to figure out how to land on the soils and dig into the permafrost to excavate water,” Metzger says. Prime among NASA’s partners are investigators from the Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). Key challenges include ways of landing rockets or building habitats on ice-rich soils without having their heat melt the ground so it collapses under their weight.

Testing all this technology on the Moon, which is only 2 or 3 days away from Earth, is going to be much easier than testing it on Mars, six months away.

So … to Mars! But first, the Moon.

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liberal – definition of liberal in English | Oxford Dictionaries

Posted: October 15, 2016 at 5:31 am


1Willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own; open to new ideas.

liberal views towards divorce

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unbiased, unprejudiced, prejudice-free, accepting, non-partisan, neutral, non-aligned, non-judgemental, non-discriminatory, anti-discrimination, objective, disinterested, dispassionate, detached

liberal citizenship laws

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tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened, forbearing

a liberal democratic state

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progressive, advanced, modern, forward-looking, forward-thinking, progressivist, go-ahead, enlightened, reformist, radical

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2[attributive] (of education) concerned with broadening a person’s general knowledge and experience, rather than with technical or professional training.

the provision of liberal adult education

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3(especially of an interpretation of a law) broadly construed or understood; not strictly literal.

they could have given the 1968 Act a more liberal interpretation

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flexible, broad, loose, rough, non-restrictive, free, general, non-literal, non-specific, not literal, not strict, not close

4Given, used, or occurring in generous amounts.

liberal amounts of wine had been consumed

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abundant, copious, ample, plentiful, generous, lavish, luxuriant, profuse, considerable, prolific, rich

Sam was too liberal with the wine

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generous, magnanimous, open-handed, unsparing, unstinting, ungrudging, lavish, free, munificent, bountiful, beneficent, benevolent, big-hearted, kind-hearted, kind, philanthropic, charitable, altruistic, unselfish

1A person of liberal views.

a concern among liberals about the relation of the citizen to the state

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Middle English: via Old French from Latin liberalis, from liber free (man). The original sense was suitable for a free man, hence suitable for a gentleman (one not tied to a trade), surviving in liberal arts. Another early sense generous(compare with liberal) gave rise to an obsolete meaning free from restraint, leading to liberal (late 18th century).

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Freedom of Speech Essay – 2160 Words – StudyMode

Posted: at 5:23 am

Freedom of Speech

With varying opinions and beliefs, our society needs to have unlimited freedom to speak about any and everything that concerns us in order to continually improve our society. Those free speech variables would be speech that creates a positive, and not negative, scenario in both long-terms and short-terms. defines Freedom of Speech as, the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc. Freedom of speech is also known as free speech or freedom of expression. Freedom of speech is also known as freedom of expression because a persons beliefs and thoughts can also be expressed in other ways other than speech. These ways could be art, writings, songs, and other forms of expression. If speaking freely and expressing ourselves freely is supposed to be without any consequence, then why are there constant law suits and consequences for people who do. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression should be exactly what they mean. Although most people believe that they can speak about anything without there being consequences, this is very untrue. One of those spoken things that have consequences is speaking about the president in such a negative way that it sends red flags about your intentions. Because of the high terrorist alerts, people have to limit what they say about bombs, 9/11, and anything they may say out of anger about our government or country. In the documentary called Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore spoke of a man who went to his gym and had a conversation with some of his gym buddies in a joking way. He made a joke about George W. Bush bombing us in oil profits. The next morning the FBI was at his front door because someone had reported what he freely spoke. Although the statements might have been derogatory, they were still his opinion, and he had a right to say whatever he wanted to about the president. In the past seven years there have been laws made that have obstructed our freedom of speech, and our right to privacy. Many of us have paused in the recent years when having a conversation because we are afraid that we are eavesdropped on. Even the eavesdropping would not be a problem if it were not for fear that there would be some legal action taken because of what you say. As mentioned in TalkLeft about the awkwardness in our current day conversations, We stop suddenly, momentarily afraid that our words might be taken out of context, then we laugh at our paranoia and go on. But our demeanor has changed, and our words are subtly altered. This is the loss of freedom we face when our privacy is taken from us. This is life in former East Germany, or life in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. And it’s our future as we allow an ever-intrusive eye into our personal, private lives. Because of tighter security and defense by the United States there have been visible and invisible changes to the meaning of freedom of speech and expression. One wrong word or thing could lead to a disastrous consequence.

Another topic that has been limited for a long period of time is religion. Speaking about religion in certain places is severely frowned upon. One of those places is schools. Since I could remember, schools have always had a rule that certain things could not be spoken of related to religion. If they were, that person could receive consequences. As a young child I could never understand why students and staff members could not openly express their love for God. I also thought that prayer was not permitted in schools when they are. Prayers are permitted in school, but not in classrooms during class time. Also wearing religious symbols or clothing is banned in schools. If we are free to speak our thoughts and feelings, then how are we banned to do these things? It is like saying that we are free to speak whatever we want, but we may not say anything. In the article A…

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Gambling Addiction: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Posted: October 13, 2016 at 5:36 am

What is gambling addiction?

For the most part, gambling in moderation is a socially acceptable behavior. Gambling addiction is another story. If left untreated, a gambling addiction can negatively affect your financial situation, relationships, and other aspects of your life.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, problem gambling affects more than 2 percent of Americans. If you have a gambling addiction, you may feel an uncontrollable urge to buy lottery tickets, visit casinos, play slot machines, bet on sports, or gamble online. The specific type and frequency of your gambling behavior may vary. But in general, you will be unable to control that behavior. You will continue gambling, even in the face of negative social, financial, or legal consequences.

The majority of people with gambling addictions are men. But this type of addiction can also affect women.

People with addictions often try to hide their condition, but a gambling addiction can be difficult to conceal. You may need frequent access to casinos or online gambling pools. Even if you gamble at home when no one is around, your addiction may begin to show itself in other areas of your life.

If you have a gambling addiction, you may display some or all of the following behaviors:

You may also experience the following consequences from your gambling addiction:

People with gambling addiction dont always gamble frequently. But when they do start gambling, they may be unable to stop.

When you have a gambling addiction, an area of your brain called the insula may be overactive. This hyperactive region may lead to distorted thinking. This can cause you to see patterns in random sequences and continue gambling after near misses.

Your brain may respond to the act of gambling in the same way that an alcoholics brain responds to a drink. The more you feed your habit, the worse it will become.

With the right treatment, gambling addiction is manageable. Unlike someone with a food addiction, you dont need the object of your addiction to survive. You simply need to learn how to develop a healthy and balanced relationship with money.

Its important for you to quit gambling completely, since even occasional gambling can lead to a relapse. A program of recovery can help you develop impulse control. In general, gambling addiction is treated with similar methods as other addictions.

Although not frequently required, some people find that they need the structure afforded by an inpatient program at a treatment center to overcome a gambling addiction. This type of program may be especially helpful if youre unable to avoid casinos or other gambling venues without help. You will need to stay in the treatment facility for a set amount of time, anywhere from 30 days to an entire year.

Outpatient treatment programs are more commonly used by people with gambling addictions. In this type of program, you will attend classes at a facility. You may also attend group sessions and one-on-one therapy. You will continue to live at home and participate in school, work, or other daily activities.

Gamblers Anonymous (GA), or other 12-step programs, may also help you overcome your gambling addiction. This type of program may be especially helpful if you cant afford more intensive rehabilitation options. It follows the same model as Alcoholics Anonymous, helping you build a support network of other recovered gambling addicts. You may meet with group members one or more times per week.

In addition to group counseling or support sessions, you may also benefit from one-on-one therapy. Gambling addiction can stem from deeper emotional or avoidance issues. You will need to deal with these underlying issues in order to change self-destructive patterns, including your gambling addiction. Counseling gives you a place to open up and address these problems.

In some cases, you may need medication to help you overcome your gambling urges. Your gambling addiction might result from an underlying mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder. In these cases, you must learn to manage the underlying condition to develop better impulse control.

Dealing with the financial consequences of gambling is sometimes the hardest part of the recovery process. In the beginning, you may need to turn over financial responsibilities to a spouse or trusted friend. You may also need to avoid places and situations that can trigger your urge to gamble, such as casinos or sporting events.

If you suspect you or someone you love has a gambling addiction, talk to your doctor or mental health professional. They can help you find the information and support you need. Several organizations also provide information about gambling addiction and treatment options. They can help guide you to local or online support services.

You may find the following organizations and resources helpful:

Like any addiction, compulsive gambling can be difficult to stop. You may find it embarrassing to admit that you have a problem, especially since many people gamble socially without developing an addiction. Overcoming the shame or embarrassment that you feel will be a big step on the road to recovery.

A recovery program, one-on-one counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes may help you overcome your gambling addiction. If you dont treat your gambling problem, it can lead to serious financial issues. It can also negatively affect your relationships with family members, friends, and others. Effective treatment can help you avoid these consequences and mend your relationships through recovery.

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If you’re facing a medical emergency, call your local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.

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Gambling Addiction: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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