Physicists have found hints that the asymmetry of life – the fact that most biochemical molecules are ‘left-handed’ or ‘right-handed’ – could have been caused by electrons from nuclear decay in the early days of evolution. In an experiment that took 13 years to perfect1, the researchers have found that these electrons tend to destroy certain organic molecules slightly more often than they destroy their mirror images.
Chiral molecules are “handy” molecules. Here’s how they’re helping us discover where else life might exist and how it originated on Earth.
When nature defies gravity, maybe this can be something you do with your family, drive down to Oklahoma and try and figure out how this works.
In the small town of Springer, Oklahoma (near Ardmore) lies an ordinary hill with a strange phenomena. If you put your vehicle in neutral at the bottom of the hill, it will suddenly appear to defy gravity as it rolls backward, uphill. Many theories exist about why things roll uphill instead of downhill. Whether caused by ghosts, a magnetic force, alien contact or an optical illusion, this is something you have to see for yourself.
“Magnetic Hill” is located on Pitt Rd. in Springer, not far from Ardmore. With caution, position your car at the “bottom” of the hill and put your car in neutral. Take your foot off the brake and you will experience the thrill of your car not only climbing the hill by itself, but gaining speed as it goes.
Other objects get pulled upwards, as well. Many cyclists report this strange phenomena happening with their bikes.
Magnetic Hill is located 1 1/2 miles west of I-35 and Highway 53. Head west to Pioneer/Pitt Road, then turn north and go about 1/2 mile to the bottom of the hill (Pitt Road is NW of Springer, Oklahoma). As you drive to the bottom of the hill you’ll be heading north off Highway 53.
Watch the video below to see Magnetic Hill in action for yourself, and to hear more about it.
Have you ever visited Magnetic Hill in Springer? There is said to be a similar hill near Bartlesville on Gap Road at the Matoaka Switch.
Whistleblowers, Ecocide, top secret trade deals, and shady ties between the Islamic State and the West’s closest allies…here are a few hot topics the mainstream media barely covered in 2015.
1. Any Tragedy That’s Not Western-Centric
The outpouring of fury, despair and grief by the corporate press over the November 13 Paris attacks highlighted the bias of the mainstream media towards western victims of terrorism. There were two suicide bombings in Lebanon the day before the events in Paris, killing 37 and wounding 180, but they were not mentioned much in the sensationalist coverage of France’s tragedy, nor were they mentioned in the minutes’ silences and vigils conducted across the Western world in the aftermath.
From the horrors of the Congo’s bloody civil war to Erdogan’s persecution of Turkish Kurds, from Boko Haram’s ongoing reign of terror in Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon to the plight of Sudanese refugees, the mainstream media seems to pick and choose which human lives deserve ourempathy and which aren’t quite so important.
2. Indonesia Burning
As we previously reported, the Indonesian wildfires that caused devastation to the country’s people and wildlife last year were largely ignored by the mainstream media until several months after the devastating event began. The fires were started by loggers to clear the way for controversial palm oil plantations and caused health problems for over one million people. The World Bank estimatesthat the fires destroyed 2.6 million hectares (6.4m acres) of rainforest between June and October, costing $16.1bn and causing untold loss of life to the endangered animals who depend on the forests for their survival. Terrified orang-utans fleeing the disaster were abused in a sickening way by some Indonesian villagers.
Ecocide on this scale should have been one of the biggest stories of 2015, but with the exception of Guardian columnist and environmental activist George Monbiot (who attacked his industry for censorship of the event), the tragedy was largely ignored to protect corporate interests.
3. France’s Slip Into Martial Law
The terrorist attacks in Paris were used as justification by the French, British and German governments to join military strikes in Syria. They were also used as justification by the French government to severely restrict freedoms at home. As we reported, immediately after the terrible events of November 13, the French government began closing down alternative news sites. The President also declared that anyone’s house could be searched without a warrant, websites could be blocked without warning, and citizens could be put under house arrest without a trial. Activists hoping to march in Paris at last month’s Climate Conference were disappointed to learn that France’s state of emergency also included a ban on protests. Some French politicians are pushing to install GPS trackers in rental cars, re-write the Constitution to allow for martial law, block free wifi and Tor, and combine state databases, which would give the state access to citizens’ personal medical records.
Amnesty International, along with many French bloggers, expressed concern that the Government had imposed martial law in response to the terrorist attack. They have a point: Isn’t a restriction of freedoms at home exactly what extremists would want? John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of Europe and Central Asia, said in November: “It is a paradox to suspend human rights in order to defend them.”
Many bloggers agreed and said they were scared about the situation in France. One wrote:
“I’m currently living in Paris, the city where some fanatics killed people because they were listening to music, watching a football match, or simply enjoy beers in a bar. I was living in the neighbourhood of where those tragic event happened. Now I’m scared. I’m not scared of terrorists. I’m scared of my own country. I’m scared because different is now starting to mean dangerous.”
The anonymous man goes on:
“It seems that being an ecologist is enough to get house arrest. Before its 20th November reform, this sentence was reserved to people ‘whose activity is dangerous’, now it’s ‘serious reason to believe that his behaviour constitutes a threat’. We’re almost at the thought crime.”
France’s emergency measures were reported by the mainstream media, but there was little analysis or debate about whether they are justified: the myth we have to trade in our freedoms to get security has become a normal part of everyday life.
4. The Truth About ISIS
In 2015, True Activist reported on a growing body of evidence that strongly suggests the Islamic State:
Would not exist at all if it weren’t for the Pentagon’s terrible handling of the illegal 2003 Iraq invasion
Is funded and armed by Western allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia
The mainstream media continues to peddle the tired old narrative that the Western coalition are in Syria specifically to fight the I.S. If this were true, it would be logical for these countries to support Russia in its war against the terrorist organization. Yet coverage of VladimirPutin in the corporate press continues to be entirely negative, despite the fact Russia single-handedly took out 40% of the Islamic State’s infrastructure in just one week. The revelations above have been completely censored by the corporate press, which is becoming less credible by the day.
5. The British Parliament Voted Against Democracy
Last month, an English politician stood up in the Houses of Parliament and gave a speech calling for electoral reform. His request, backed by thousands of citizens, was blocked. The UK has an archaic system of voting which is unfit for purpose and entirely undemocratic: after unpopular Prime Minister David Cameron won the 2015 election with just 36% of the vote, millions of British people felt cheated. A petition was launched to demand proportional representation rather than the co-called ‘first past the post’ system, which benefits the major political parties but never the alternatives. In short, Britain is not the fair, democratic nation it pretends to be. News that Jonathan Reynold’s request (video here) for a fairer system was rejected should have been a big story in the UK, but the British media barely covered it.
6. The Reality Of Top-Secret Free Trade Deals
The TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Partnership Agreement) TISA, (Trade in Services Agreement) andTPP (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) are highly controversial and top secret deals that will affect the lives of every citizen of the planet, yet we apparently have no right to decide whether we want them- or even to know the exact details of the draft legislation.
TTIP, in particular, is of huge concern. As we have reported, the deal threatens to allow corporations to sue governments who don’t do as they are told, kill online privacy, make frackingstandard procedure across 28 countries, privatise European health systems, force GMO food on unwilling citizens, strip us of our civil liberties, and ensure that corporations have control over the European parliament.
JulianAssange called TTIP “The most important thing happening in Europe right now,” which is why Wikileaks is raising a 100,000 euro reward for any information relating to the deal. The site says of TTIP:
“It remains secret almost in its entirety, closely guarded by the negotiators, and only big corporations are given special access to its terms. The TTIP covers half of global GDP and is one of the largest agreements of its kind in history. The TTIP aims to create a global economic bloc outside of the WTO framework, as part of a geopolitical economic strategy against the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.”
Considering the impact all three of these trade deals will have on democracy, human rights, food safety and the environment, public awareness should be widespread. Worryingly, a huge number of people know next to nothing about TTIP, TISA and TPP.
Far from questioning the secrecy of such important agreements or inciting a crucial public debate about whether these deals are ethical and democratic, mainstream coverage has glossed over the negatives and generally provided a biased view of the benefits of this corporate take-over of the world.
Did we miss anything? Please share this article and let us know your comments below!
Editor’s note: Original article can be found here.
I’m still looked at strange when I ask for a water with no straw when ordering a drink at a restaurant. I can’t wait for the day when asking for a straw garners that same response.
Watch this video and you’ll see why:
According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)‚ garbage that washes into sewers or flies from beaches or landfills into the ocean can easily injure or entangle sensitive marine animals. On land, discarded plastic soda rings, bottles, cans and even straws can kill wildlife as well as cats and dogs. Thankfully there are many ways to prevent damage caused by everyday trash items.
What can you do about it? Read this article on “22 Facts About Plastic Pollution and 10 Things You Can Do About It.”
The history of human experiments often focuses on biomedical research and the gradual changes in acceptable practice and ethical considerations. But another class of human experiments that has had its own share of controversies is the study of human behaviour.
Internet Mediate Human Behaviour Research (IMHBR) is primarily defined by its use of the internet to obtain data about participants. While some of the research involves active participation with research subjects directly engaging with the research, for example through online surveys or experimental tasks, many studies take advantage of “found text” in blogs, discussion forums or other online spaces, analyses of hits on websites, or observation of other types of online activity such as search engine histories or logs of actions in online games.
It’s big business and the pervasive use of these methodologies is not only by academics but also corporations and governments seeking to support evidence-based policy decisions or to nudge societal behaviour.
Even though the basic principles of “respect for the autonomy and dignity of persons”, “scientific value”, “social responsibility” and “maximising benefits and minimising harm” are the same for this type of research method as for any other, the following issues often pose particular challenges for internet-mediated research: the distinction between public and private information, confidentiality, and informed consent. There is an urgently need to establish clear codes of ethical conduct for IMHBR.
Whose information is it?
The distinction between public and private domains is vitally important since this greatly affects the level of responsibility and obligation of the researcher. For human behaviour research online, however, it is often difficult to determine if participants perceive an online forum as “private” or “public”. While almost all internet communication is recorded and accessible to the mediating platform, such as Facebook and Twitter, and much of it even publicly accessible, users of these platforms may nevertheless consider those communications to be private, despite click-signing the terms and conditions of the service provider.
People treat social media a bit like they treat the pub. They feel that if they go into a pub and have a private conversation, it does not belong to the pub; it is their conversation. They interpret Twitter or Facebook in the same way – as a place to have a conversation.
On your website you [Samaritans] say that ‘all the data is public, so user privacy is not an issue. Samaritans Radar analyses the tweets of people you follow, which are public tweets. It does not look at private tweets.’ It is our view that if organisations collect information from the internet and use it in a way that’s unfair, they could still breach the data protection principles even though the information was obtained from a publicly available source.
Anonymisation is one of the most basic steps for maintaining confidentiality and showing respect for the dignity of research participants. It is also a requirement imposed by the Data Protection Act 1998 when dealing with personal data. The need to protect the anonymity of participants is even more pressing when the research uses data from online sources where access to the raw data cannot be controlled by the researcher.
At the same time, the wealth of secondary information sources that can be mined in connection to any hint at the identity of a participant is making it increasingly easy to de-anonymise data. This was publicly shown by journalists for the New York Times who followed the web tail of user No. 4417749 in the AOL Search Log in 2006 and were able to identify her – and also by the lawsuit against Netflix for insufficient anonymisation of information disclosed in a prize competition database.
Terms and conditions that no one reads
In order for informed consent to take place, it is vital that the participant is fully aware of what is being consented to. Unfortunately, current online business practice has heavily eroded the concept of informed consent by habituating people to click-sign terms and conditions forms that are too long and unintelligible to understand.
Sometimes driven by social pressure to join the network their peers are using, people readily skip over the details and give their consent for allowing corporations to access their data for a wide range of purposes. A hint at the dangers of normalising such attitudes towards the concept of informed consent was given by the statement in the controversial 2014 “Facebook news feed manipulation experiment” – a secret study on “emotional contagion” that involved changing what 689,000 users saw from their friends’ feeds to see if it influenced mood.
One of the researchers attempted to defend the study, saying that participants had provided consent because “it was consistent with Facebook’s data use policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research”. The data use policy, however, does not provide any information about the nature of that specific study, instead speaking only of “research” in general terms.
As part of this work we are currently running a survey to ask citizens which conditions they would like to impose on researchers for making their social media data available to research studies. Ultimately, without clear guidelines and transparency, we’re hiving out decisions about us and our information to companies, governments and researchers, without us knowing what it will be used for.