Why is Copernicus relevant to our understanding of Globalization?

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We are constantly bombarded with media reports on globalization in terms of its increasing process and potential effects on our lives. What is meant by this concept and why should we be concerned with its impact? The developing countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia should be interested in it because of the opportunities and threats offered by globalization (also known as globalisation).

The mother of this globalization is Science and the activator is her daughter Technology (both affectionately called science and technology). The most visible manifestations of “globalization” are in the economic and communications spheres. And one of the fathers of Science is our friend Copernicus.

In two sentences his contribution to Science and Globalization is:

  • Copernicus broke open the medieval idea of an enclosed, Earth-centered universe.
  • He set the stage for all of modern astronomy.

And why does this matter?

He lived at a time when people believed Earth lay enclosed within crystal spheres at the center of the universe. Can you picture the leap of imagination required for him to conceive of a sun-centered universe? The publication of Copernicus’ book – De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) – just before his death in 1543, set the stage for all of modern astronomy. Today, people speak of his work as the Copernican Revolution.

Post-data: Copernicus wasn’t the first to conceive of a sun-centered universe. Early Greek philosophers also spoke of it. It was the Greek philosopher Aristotle, however, who proposed that the heavens were literally composed of 55 concentric, crystalline spheres to which the celestial objects were attached. In Aristole’s model, Earth lay at the center of these spheres. Thus Earth lay – fixed and enclosed – until Copernicus published his version of a heliocentric universe.

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Satellite images of negative externalities caused by Globalization

I always keep track of the images from space taken by NASA.  They usually have impressive “natural hazards” photographed with the highest technology available.  However, sometimes the natural hazards to humanity are not caused by the natural cycles of Earth.  In those cases, it is humans who have created hazards for themselves and people die.  Now, why would we create things that harm us so much? Why would we support and contribute to such terrible things?  A good explanation is the one given by economists with the complex and difficult term negative externalities.

A negative externality is a spillover of an economic transaction that negatively impacts a party that is not directly involved in the transaction. The first party bears no costs for their impact on society while the second party receives no benefits from being impacted. This occurs when marginal social cost is greater than marginal private cost (MSC > MPC).

The case of pollution in China elucidates very well how the market-driven approach to correcting externalities by “internalizing” third party costs and benefits fails to work in a globalized economy.  For example, by requiring a polluter to repair any damage caused. But, in many cases internalizing costs or benefits is not feasible, especially if the true monetary values cannot be determined.  In fact, our technological gadgets and thousands of products imported from China are the cause of the hazardous health conditions in that country.  We as consumers are part of this chain by buying the products. How can we do something?

I would suggest that the best way to participate in a positive way is to continue creating awareness of the failure of the government of China to protect the lives of the Chinese people.  It is at the end of the day the responsibility of that government to protect the life and property of its citizens, not ours.  We as consumers can only morally sanction them and stop consuming their products whenever possible.

This is a good (and very unfortunate) example of how globalization without an objective code of values becomes a zero sum game.  I share with you the information regarding how dangerous has become the air in the surroundings of Beijing and Tianjin,

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Air Quality Suffering in China

acquired January 14, 2013download large image (7 MB, JPEG, 5000×6400)
acquired January 14, 2013download GeoTIFF file (47 MB, TIFF)
Air Quality Suffering in China

acquired January 3, 2013download large image (8 MB, JPEG, 5000×6400)
acquired January 3, 2013download GeoTIFF file (51 MB, TIFF)
acquired January 3 – 14, 2013download Google Earth file (KMZ)

Residents of Beijing and many other cities in China were warned to stay inside in mid-January 2013 as the nation faced one of the worst periods of air quality in recent history. The Chinese government ordered factories to scale back emissions, while hospitals saw spikes of more than 20 to 30 percent in patients complaining of respiratory issues, according to news reports.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired these natural-color images of northeastern China on January 14 (top) and January 3, 2013. The top image shows extensive haze, low clouds, and fog over the region. The brightest areas tend to be clouds or fog, which have a tinge of gray or yellow from the air pollution. Other cloud-free areas have a pall of gray and brown smog that mostly blots out the cities below. In areas where the ground is visible, some of the landscape is covered with lingering snow from storms in recent weeks. (Snow is more prominent in the January 3 image.)

At the time that the January 14 image was taken by satellite, ground-based sensors at the U.S. Embassy in Beijingreported PM2.5 measurements of 291 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Fine, airborne particulate matter (PM) that is smaller than 2.5 microns (about one thirtieth the width of a human hair) is considered dangerous because it is small enough to enter the passages of the human lungs. Most PM2.5 aerosol particles come from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass (wood fires and agricultural burning). The World Health Organization considers PM2.5to be safe when it is below 25.

Also at the time of the image, the air quality index (AQI) in Beijing was 341. An AQI above 300 is considered hazardous to all humans, not just those with heart or lung ailments. AQI below 50 is considered good. On January 12, the peak of the current air crisis, AQI was 775 the U.S Embassy Beijing Air Quality Monitor—off the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scale—and PM2.5 was 886 micrograms per cubic meter.

  1. Resources

  2. Air Pollution in China: Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map. Accessed January 14, 2013.
  3. China Air Daily. Accessed January 14, 2013.
  4. U.S Embassy Beijing Air Quality Monitor. Accessed January 14, 2013.
  1. References

  2. Associated Press, via Yahoo News (2013, January 14) Beijing warns residents after off-the-charts smog . Accessed January 14, 2013.
  3. NASA (2010, September 22) New Map Offers a Global View of Health-Sapping Air Pollution.Accessed January 14, 2013.
  4. NASA Earth Observatory (2012, March 23) Satellites Map Fine Aerosol Pollution Over China.
  5. The New York Times (2013, January 14) China allows media to report alarming air pollution crisis. Accessed January 14, 2013.
  6. Yahoo News (2013, January 14) China’s air pollution problem slideshow. Accessed January 14, 2013.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.

I don’t want a cheaper and weaker iPhone!

I read today’s article”A Low-Priced iPhone Awaits” in the Wall Street Journal with disappointment.  For some reason, it has become widespread for people to think that “successful products = low price” and that “happy costumers = low price“.

While those affirmations are truth I consider them to be only partially truth.

I want to bring into consideration the fact that it is not only “low-price” products what makes customers happy.  As a owner of stores that sell electronic accessories and as a user of cellphones I can tell you this:

  • No matter how expensive a telephone is, the owner of those products is going to be willing to take care of it without caring much for the original price paid for their phone. So, no matter if the phone is a $500 iPhone or a $50 Samsung S 1st Generation.  Both of the owners would consider paying from as little as $10.00 to as much as $75.00 in extra accessories to PROTECT and personalize their phones.
  • The owners of more expensive phones are always willing to invest a little bit extra to protect their phones.  However, the owners of cheaper phones are also going to be willing to pay a little bit extra to “improve” their phones quality and DURABILITY by adding other electronic accessories or gadgets.

That being said, while companies may continue offering lower-price products the overall quality of these items continues decreasing.  It is IMPRESSIVE the amount of customers I used to received in my store with broken screens in their iPhone’s, Samsung’s, and other Smartphone devices.  Those companies are REALLY making a profit by selling products that can be damaged very easily while forcing costumers to buy new ones.

  • When did design became more important than functionality and durability?
  • Why do big screens are so easily to get broken and they are not made with better products?
  • The best example for this is the iPhone that has also what seems to be some type of glass cover in the back! It was impressive to see many of those covers broken and hearing the stories of sad costumers who want to replace it! The behind glass has no functional use rather than just making the product being overall weaker and less resistant…

While the Wall Street Journal article says that “Apple is working on a lower-end iPhone” the only thing I read is “Apple is working on an EVEN LESS DURABLE, WORSE QUALITY and lower-end iPhone”.  This is unfortunate… specially because I still have many of the old generation “black bean” phones that I used to own 10 years ago that are in perfect shape and resistant very hard falls from my pockets when I was younger.

Lets fight this wave of “lower-end products”!  As consumers we should receive the best we can get for our money! Not the worse we can get for it!

On Earth Day 2012

Yesterday, April 22 many people gathered to celebrate “Earth Day” in order to call for a stop of human action and creativity in the process of transforming our planet.  Fortunately, against these destructive minds and philosophy many men and women have been working to show why the transformation of the world is something good, positive and beneficial for all of us.

I invite you to watch this wonderful video titled “If I wanted America to fail”

Furthermore, I also invite you to read the essay written by Alex Epstein (Founder and Director of the Center for Industrial Progress) in which he elaborates why human transformation of Earth is the product of our success in being more efficient and productive.  Because as Epstein wonderfully elaborates,

“It is only through technology–transforming the world around us for human purposes–that we eventually lessened that load. Technology, by creating a human environment in which our goals are easier to accomplish, buys us time–time to enjoy ourselves as we please, or time to create more technologies that will buy us even more time by improving our environment even more.” Read his essay here

Earth in Detail. Fantastic high resolution photographies!

The Spanish blog “Pasa la vida” shared these wonderful pictures of Earth in high resolution (11500 x11500)  As mentioned by them, the pictures were taken by the satellite  Suomi NPP with the instrument Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).

Picture 1

Picture 2

by by NASA Goddard Photo and Video in Flickr.com

October 30, 1938: Space invaders By Jon Blackwell / The Trentonian

Original Audio: On Halloween eve in 1938, the power of radio was on full display when a dramatization of the science-fiction novel “The War of the Worlds” scared the daylights out of many of CBS radio’s nighttime listeners.

  Ladies and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem … those strange beings who landed in the Jersey farmlands tonight are the vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars!

The broadcast news that Sunday night, Oct. 30, 1938, sounded real enough to the young man in Plainsboro. Up and down his block he banged on doors, shrieking: “The Martians have landed in Grovers Mill! It’s on the radio!”

Panic struck the youth choir rehearsing within the Plainsboro Presbyterian Church when they heard his message of doom. Grovers Mill was only a few miles south, and, if you believed the bulletins, the Martians with their death rays had already incinerated the place, killed thousands of humans and begun advancing north at a spectacular clip.

But Mabel “Lolly” Dey, a 16-year-old girl playing the piano, kept calm.

“I bowed my head and prayed and thought to myself, ‘If it has to be the end of the world, I couldn’t be in a better place,” Dey, now 76, recalled. “I’m in the house of the Lord.”

Like young Lolly Dey, as many as 2 million other people from coast to coast thought they were under attack from outer space.

If only they had checked carefully against their Sunday paper’s radio section.

There, under the listing for 8 p.m. programs, was the entry for CBS — “Play: ‘War of the Worlds,’ Mercury Theater.”

“War of the Worlds” was a pure Halloween spoof, and the destruction of Grovers Mill was as fake as the alien beings with drooling faces and slimy tentacles. How the radio hoax got believed was largely due to the creative mischief of a single showman: Orson Welles.

At age 23, he was a bad boy of Broadway, prodigious in his drinking, eating and sleeping around. But he was also a “Boy Genius,” a director hailed for innovative stagings: “Macbeth” starring an all-black cast, “Julius Caesar” in modern dress.

His talent for radio drama was in demand, too, as the sinister voice of “The Shadow” on radio, and as the mastermind of CBS’ “Mercury Theater,” a Sunday night show featuring adaptations of classic plays and books.

Welles was fascinated with radio as a powerfully direct medium for entertainment and news. When Hitler threatened war in September 1938, Americans tuned in to hear the chilling news of English schoolchildren donning gas masks for war drills. Then the British prime minister declared he had achieved “peace in our time,” and everyone breathed easier. At least for a time.

By the fall of ’38, Mercury Theater was getting trounced in the ratings. Its competition at 8 p.m. Sunday was NBC’s ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his smart-aleck dummy, Charlie McCarthy. Welles needed an attention-grabber. He found it in “War of the Worlds.”

“War of the Worlds” was an H.G. Wells science fiction novel written 40 years earlier about a Martian invasion of England. It was exciting stuff, but Orson Welles wanted more urgency, more immediacy. He ordered his scriptwriters to update the setting to modern-day America and present it in a novel form — as a news broadcast.

Screenplay writer Howard Koch had only a week, and a $75 paycheck, to write the scenario. For realism, he placed the cosmic battle in what he thought of as the very prosaic state of New Jersey. On a road map, he dropped a pencil to determine the precise landing site: it fell on Grovers Mill, a hamlet in West Windsor Township.

At 7:58 p.m., Oct. 30, Welles slugged down a bottle of pineapple juice, mounted a podium in the center of his New York studio, clamped on a set of headphones, and gave his announcer the signal to start the show.

Maisy Curtis was just settling into the couch of her living room in Merchantville. She had kissed her fiance goodnight about 7:45 and saw him off as he drove back to his home in Hightstown, where he taught school. Now she, her mom and two sisters tuned into the radio and stopped the dial when they heard some breezy Spanish-style dance music.

Breaking into the music, an authoritative voice announced:

  Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin … several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring in regular intervals on the planet Mars … moving towards the earth with tremendous velocity.

What did it mean? Well, here was “Professor Richard Pierson, famous Princeton astronomer,” a man with a voice very similar to Orson Welles, to explain it. Nothing to worry about, he said, since there’s no life on Mars.

But another bulletin crackled through, something about a meteorite landing with the force of an earthquake 20 miles north of Trenton. Live from the Wilmuth farm, there was reporter “Carl Phillips.”

   The object doesn’t look very much like a meteor … It looks more like a huge cylinder … the metal casing is definitely extraterrestrial … Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed! Someone’s crawling out of the hollow top!

In her living room, Maisy Curtis’ father stirred uneasily. Someone mentioned something about Maisy’s boyfriend passing near Grovers Mill. Would this delay his trip home?

Driving with his girlfriend near Newark, a gas-station operator named Archie Burbank pulled over to listen, uncertain what it meant. And at Princeton, where there was no such person as a Prof. Pierson on the faculty, a group of geology students thought it sounded like the adventure of the lifetime — so they drove off for Grovers Mill, two miles away.

   Something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a grey snake! Now it’s another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me … The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips … There’s a jet of flame! It’s coming this way!

For an excruciating few seconds, silence. Then, another bulletin: 40 people dead! All of Mercer and Middlesex counties under martial law!

Desperate phone calls poured into Trenton police. Overwhelmed dispatchers tried to calm the men and women on the other line, telling them there was no sign of emergency. One woman in Grovers Mill was inconsolable. “You can’t imagine the horror of it!” she shrieked. “It’s hell!”

The Associated Press flashed a bulletin to all member papers: Reports of an emergency in New Jersey are false.

   Ladies and gentleman, I have a grave announcement to make. The battle which took place at Grovers Mill has ended in one of the most startling defeats ever suffered by an army in modern times.

One hundred and twenty known survivors. The rest strewn over the battle area from Grovers Mill to Plainsboro crushed and trampled to death under the metal feet of the monster, or burned to death by its heat ray.

The young geology students from Princeton arrived at Grovers Mill to see dark sky, twinkling stars and dead silence — in short, no sign of cosmic warfare.

But already, a makeshift posse of farmers with squirrel guns and shotguns were forming around the mill pond off Cranbury Road. One legend has them blasting away at what they thought was a craft from Mars, only to discover in daylight they had been shooting at a water tower.

“I was crying,” recalled Maisy Curtis. “I was frantic for my fiancee and I was hearing all about these strange invaders destroying everything. My father disappeared into the bedroom and came back with some rosary beads. We just knelt and prayed.”

In her church in Plainsboro, Lolly Dey was praying too, and pondering what was causing this great catastrophe. “I had been learning in high school about Hitler and his plans to take over the world,” she said. “And it just made sense that maybe these Martians were Hitler’s allies.”

  The enemy now turns east, crossing Passaic River into the Jersey marshes. … Their apparent objective is to crush resistance, paralyze communication, and disorganize human society.

Warning! Poisonous black smoke pouring in from Jersey marshes!

Gas! Radio listeners who had followed the European crisis knew what to do: filter the air with a wet fabric. All over New York, damp towels hung from tenement windows. A woman in Pittsburgh tried to swallow poison and was stopped by her husband. “I’d rather die this way!” she screamed.

Near Newark, Archie Burbank and his girlfriend ran to a man’s house, asking to be let into his cellar. “I don’t have any cellar! Get away!” he yelled back. They drove to a gas station to fill up the tank and drive off as far as they could … then realized they might want to call the Newark Evening News for information. The man at the newspaper told them it was a radio play.

Welles was still directing from his center podium, furiously cueing actors and sound effects and trying to ignore the cops banging on the studio’s front door. CBS executive Taylor Davidson demanded he break into the program to calm down all the scared listeners.

“They’re scared?” Welles shot back. “Good! They’re supposed to be scared!”

   No more defenses! Our army wiped out! This is the end now.

Seeing no sign of the apocalypse outside her church window, Lolly Dey walked the six houses back home. “I told my mom about the Martians,” Dey recalled. “But by then, she had the radio on too and we figured out it was all a show.”

Orson Welles and his crew sneaked out the back of their studio to avoid the crush of reporters and lawmen who wanted a word with them. The next day, however, he put on as ingenuous a face as possible and apologized. “We are deeply shocked and deeply regretful,” he said. Hadn’t he known about the panic he was creating? “Oh, no, no, no, no.”

The notoriety of “War of the Worlds” gave the boy genius the capital he needed to make his debut movie, “Citizen Kane” — an epic that was named the greatest American film of all time last year in an American Film Institute poll. Scriptwriter Howard Koch would write “Casablanca,” the No. 2 movie on the list.

For a long time, the people of Grovers Mill grumbled about “War of the Worlds” as a mean-spirited joke. With time, however, the legend of the Martian invasion grew more remote, humorous, and worthy of commemoration. For the 50th anniversary of the infamous broadcast in 1988, West Windsor erected a bronze plaque at Van Nest Park depicting Welles, his fictional aliens and a frightened family huddled around a radio set.

The guest speaker was Koch, who was hailed not as a hoaxer but as a sci-fi pioneer. Koch, in turn, gracefully said he did the men from Mars “an injustice” by depicting them as earth-destroyers.

“I believe,” he said, “if ever living beings arrive at Grovers Mill from another planet, they will have the wisdom to come in peace and friendship.”

Article via: Capital Century

Concorde’s last day in Global History

Video: Concorde’s last flight.

There are moments in history in which the World Order changed and historians are always trying to get them accepted and applauded by their colleagues. Those specific moments in history may be not seen immediately but until enough time has passed to understand the direct and indirect effects that shaped the course of History.

Many of these moments are the product of technological innovations that changed the way humans lived. One of them could be October 24, 2003 when three BA Concordes made the last commercial flights in history: G-BOAG flew from New York to London; G-BOAE made a return flight to Edinburgh; and G-BOAF flew around the Bay of Biscay. All three circled over London before landing within minutes of each other at Heathrow Airport.

The relevance of this event may not yet be so evident. However, we can be certain that the impact that had the catastrophe of a Concorde near Paris in July 2000 is going to determine the future of space flights. Specially after the last flight of Atlantis (the last Space Shuttle of the United States) in July 21, 2011.

The blog The Modern Historian posted a great/short overview of Concorde’s history and here is it:

During the late 1950s, aircraft manufacturers around the world started working on designs for supersonic passenger jets. The costs for such projects were so prohibitive that few of them progressed beyond the design stage. In the early 1960s, the British Aircraft Corporation, which had inherited the Type 223 supersonic transport (SST) project from the Bristol Aeroplane approached the French Sud Aviation, who were working on the Super-Caravelle SST, with an offer to co-operate on a joint project.The result of this co-operation was Concorde, which made its maiden flight in 1969. By this time, Concorde only had one compettitor, the Russian Tupolev Tu-144, but cold war tensions and the crash of a Tu-144 at the 1973 Paris Air show meant that it was Concorde that attracted orders from the major airlines. Nevertheless, the oil crisis of late 1973, environmental concerns about nervousness about sonic booms (the noise the aircraft made as it broke the sound barrier) resulted in the cancellation of all the orders except those from the national airlines of France and the United Kingdom. These orders for ten aircraft each still required substantial government subsidies to keep the project alive.In spite of these setbacks, Air Franceand British Airways (BA) started scheduled flights using Concorde in 1976. Although other airlines occasionally leased the aircraft, the high operation costs meant that supersonic travel was only feasible for the most profitible routes. Nevertheless, to continue running the services required high ticket prices, the continued government funding in the case of Air France and the sale of the British fleet of aircraft to BA at a knock-down price.All this changed following the crash of a Concorde near Paris in July 2000. The year long grounding of all the Concordes contributed to the decision taken by both airlines to withdraw the aircraft. On 27th June 2003, an Air France Concorde flew for the last time and on 24th October that same year three BA Concordes made the last commercial flights by the aircraft: G-BOAG flew from New York to London; G-BOAE made a return flight to Edinburgh; G-BOAF flew around the Bay of Biscay. All three circled over London before landing within minutes of each other at Heathrow Airport.