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Ancient practice sans theory

first_imgMove over, Archimedes. A researcher at Harvard University is finding that ancient Greek craftsmen were able to engineer sophisticated machines without necessarily understanding the mathematical theory behind their construction.Recent analysis of technical treatises and literary sources dating back to the fifth century B.C. reveals that technology flourished among practitioners with limited theoretical knowledge.“Craftsmen had their own kind of knowledge that didn’t have to be based on theory,” explains Mark Schiefsky, professor of the classics in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “They didn’t all go to Plato’s Academy to learn geometry, and yet they were able to construct precisely calibrated devices.”The balance, used to measure weight throughout the ancient world, best illustrates Schiefsky’s findings on the distinction between theoretical and practitioner’s knowledge. Working with a group led by Jürgen Renn, director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Schiefsky has found that the steelyard — a balance with unequal arms — was in use as early as the fourth and fifth centuries B.C., before Archimedes and other thinkers of the Hellenistic era gave a mathematical demonstration of its theoretical foundations.“People assume that Archimedes was the first to use the steelyard because they suppose you can’t create one without knowing the law of the lever. In fact, you can — and people did. Craftsmen had their own set of rules for making the scale and calibrating the device,” says Schiefsky.Practical needs, as well as trial and error, led to the development of technologies such as the steelyard.“If someone brings a 100-pound slab of meat to the agora, how do you weigh it?” Schiefsky asks. “It would be nice to have a 10-pound counterweight instead of a 100-pound counterweight, but to do so you need to change the balance point and ostensibly understand the principle of proportionality between weight and distance from the fulcrum. Yet, these craftsmen were able to use and calibrate these devices without understanding the law of the lever.”Craftsmen learned to improve these machines through productive use over the course of their careers, Schiefsky says.With the rise of mathematical knowledge in the Hellenistic era, theory came to exert a greater influence on the development of ancient technologies. The catapult, developed in the third century B.C., provides evidence of the ways in which engineering became systematized.With the help of literary sources and data from archaeological excavations, “We can actually trace when the ancients started to use mathematical methods to construct the catapult,” notes Schiefsky. “The machines were built and calibrated precisely.”Alexandrian kings developed and patronized an active research program to further refine the catapult. Through experimentation and the application of mathematical methods, such as those developed by Archimedes, craftsmen were able to construct highly powerful machines. Twisted animal sinews helped to increase the power of the launching arm, which could hurl stones weighing 50 pounds or more.The catapult had a large impact on the politics of the ancient world.“You could suddenly attack a city that had previously been impenetrable,” Schiefsky explains. “These machines changed the course of history.”According to Schiefsky, the interplay between theoretical knowledge and practical know-how is crucial to the history of Western science.“It’s important to explore what the craftsmen did and didn’t know,” Schiefsky says, “so that we can better understand how their work fits into the arc of scientific development.”Schiefsky’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.last_img read more

Drug based on MGH discovery may significantly improve treatment of dangerous blood disorder

first_imgTwo clinical trials of the novel drug romiplostim (Nplate) show that it significantly improved platelet levels in patients with chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a hematologic disorder that can cause uncontrolled bleeding.  An international research team reports Phase 3 trial results for the drug, which duplicates the action of a natural hormone discovered by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigator, in the February 2 issue of The Lancet. “Many ITP patients have had to choose between no therapy or a treatment with limited efficacy and potentially serious side effects,” says David Kuter, director of Clinical Hematology at MGH and lead author of the Lancet study.  “The low toxicity and high response to this drug may convert a potentially life-threatening condition to one that can be easily managed with a weekly injection.”  ITP is a chronic disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets, blood cells that help prevent bleeding.  While some ITP patients experience only increased bruising, others may have serious bleeding and occasionally dangerous hemorrhage.  Recent investigations suggest that, in addition to the destruction of existing platelets, ITP also may be due to reduced platelet production.  Currently available treatments for ITP – including steroid drugs, which have significant side effects, and removal of the spleen (splenectomy) – are designed to reduce platelet destruction and may be ineffective in many patients.  Thrombopoietin is the natural regulator of platelet production.  Kuter was one of the original discoverers of the hormone in 1994 and has been active in developing thrombopoietic drugs ever since.  Romiplostim is a unique ‘peptibody’ – a peptide antibody – that stimulates platelet production by mimicking the action of thrombopoietin.  Earlier Phase 1 and 2 trials have shown that romiplostim increases platelet production in healthy volunteers and in short-term treatment of ITP patients.  The double-blinded Phase 3 trials were conducted at 35 sites in the U.S. and Europe.  One trial enrolled 63 splenectomized patients, the other included 62 patients who retained their spleens. Both groups were randomly assigned to receive either romiplostim or a placebo in weekly injections during the 24-week study period. Participants’ platelet levels were monitored during the trial, and dosage was adjusted to achieve a target platelet count of 50,000/ml. Among the 42 splenectomized patients who received romiplostim, nearly 80 percent reached the target platelet count during at least four weeks of the study, and 38 percent achieved a durable response, maintaining a target platelet count during at least six of the last eight weeks of the study.  In the non-splenectomized patients, 88 percent had at least four target platelet count measurements, with 61 percent achieving a durable response.  More than half the patients receiving romiplostim were able to discontinue all other ITP medications they were taking, and 35 percent reduced other therapies.  While over half the participants in the placebo groups of both studies needed rescue medications to treat or prevent bleeding episodes, significantly fewer of those receiving the active medication needed such treatment. “We’re seeing dramatic results for this totally new approach to treating people with ITP,” Kuter says.  “I’ve been working on the development of thrombopoietin since 1983, and it’s very gratifying to participate in its discovery, purification, drug development and now the studies showing its clinical effectiveness.”   He adds that his MGH team and other researchers are conducting other romiplostim trials and will continue to investigate the drug’s usefulness for treating ITP and other conditions of reduced platelet production, such as those caused by cancer or cancer treatment.  Kuter is also director of Hematology for the MGH Cancer Center and an associated professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The Lancet study was designed and supported by Amgen Inc., which developed romiplostim, has applied for FDA approval and plans to market the drug under the brand name Nplate.  Kuter had full access to the study data and overall responsibility for submitting the report for publication.last_img read more

Missouri Woman Gets $6.1 Million From State’s Unclaimed Property Office

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreA Kansas City woman got an early Christmas present when she received a state record $6.1 million from the Missouri unclaimed property fund, which works to return stocks, bonds, bank balances and safe deposit box contents to unknown owners.The Missouri state treasurer says the average payout is about $300 but there are still thirty-eight accounts of more than $100,000 each remaining unclaimed in the state, Reuters reported.The lucky recipient had purchased the obscure financial equity some time ago, and its value had substantially increased in value.(READ the story in reuters)Photo by alvimann via morguefileAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

Development center to hold open house

first_imgThe Early Childhood Development Centers (ECDC) on the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s campus will hold a series of open houses in the next month for prospective parents to gain a better understanding of the program. Saint Mary’s first open house is scheduled for Jan. 20 and Notre Dame’s first is Jan. 27. Kari Alford, program director at Saint Mary’s, said these open houses are a great way for families and children to explore the options and education available at ECDC. “Open houses are designed for families interested in enrolling their child at ECDC,” she said. “Open houses are a time for families to meet some of our staff, have a tour and to find out more information about our program and the registration process.” Senior Annie Root, who works part-time at ECDC on the Saint Mary’s campus as a teacher assistant, said she hopes the open houses are a success. “The open houses are a great way for the parents to see what kind of atmosphere we have at ECDC,” she said. “I think we have a lot to offer and I’m excited for the parents to see that.” According to Alford, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s each have an ECDC on campus that serves different ages. Notre Dame’s ECDC was founded in 1994 and is for children the age of two until they reach kindergarten. Saint Mary’s ECDC, founded in 1971, educates young children ages three to five. Children at both centers can attend preschool schedule for a morning, an afternoon, or an entire day. ECDC also offers summer recreational day camp opportunities for children through age 9, according to Alford. “We are a nonprofit program accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and licensed by the Indiana Bureau of Child Development and staffed with degreed lead teachers,” Alford said. While anyone from the community is encouraged to attend the open houses if they are interested in enrolling their children at either the Saint Mary’s or Notre Dame ECDC, the centers accepts children who are associated with the schools first. “ECDC enrolls families who are affiliated to ND or SMC in the categories of faculty, administration, staff, student, and alum,” Alford said. “If ECDC-SMC has enrollment openings after enrolling affiliated families, non-affiliated families from the community are enrolled.” A complete list of open house times for Saint Mary’s ECDC, located in Havican Hall, and for Notre Dame ECDC, located on Bulla Road, can be found by visiting the website www.nd.edu/~ecdcnd/. Anyone with questions about ECDC or the open houses can contact Alford at [email protected]last_img read more

Titans cash in on Jaguar errors

first_img The biggest story of the game was the fumbles that cost Central yards. The Jaguars ended the game with minus-48 yards rushing because of five botched snaps. The Jags turned the ball over four times (three fumbles lost and one interception).The Titans capped off their first drive with a 36-yard run by Elijah Hines and didn’t look back. Central fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Memorial recovered on the Jags’ 19. A few plays later, Hines found the end zone again off a 9-yard run to make the score 14-0 with 8:02 left in the first quarter. The Jaguars answered on the following drive that was completed with an 11-yard run by running back Theo Foster, bringing the score to 14-6 after the PAT was missed. By Chris MooreSpecial to The NewsBEAUMONT — Bad snaps plagued Central’s offense as the Titans of Port Arthur Memorial rolled past the Jaguars 35-6 at the Thomas Center on Wednesday.“We had a lot of mental mistakes,” Memorial head coach Kenny Harrison said. “It’s expected. We hadn’t played a game. We have a lot of things to correct, but I would rather correct them after a win than after a loss.” “Offense is always behind the defense in the beginning of the season,” he said. “We have a lot of jelling to do for the offense. Usually you get better in non-district (games). Unfortunately, we started off the season in district. You usually have an opportunity to jell. We have to improve through district.”Neither team earned a first down in the second half until fourth quarter. In the fourth, Memorial’s offense found some life again with a 7-yard run from Jones. The Titans were able to cap off the game with a 36-yard passing touchdown form Jones to Tariq Malik with 7:37 left in the game.Even with the sloppy play, the Titans are happy to start the season off with a win. “It feels great,” Jones said. “After everything that happened, to comeback and win a game, it’s a blessing to still be playing and 1-0. We were so anxious to come out and play. Now (the season) is here and we’re going to run with it.”Next on the Titans’ schedule is Ozen at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Stadium.center_img Memorial closed the quarter with an 11-yard touchdown run by quarterback Keitha Jones. The ground game for the Titans picked up the slack for the air attack. The Titans amassed 169 yards on 35 carries, the bulk of which came form Jones, who had 81 yards on 17 carries.“We’re a run-first team,” Jones said. “That’s our strong point, so we have to go back to practice and work on passing. We’ll get there.”Harrison said he expected the offense to struggle a bit, being the first game of the season.last_img read more

Port Neches Police blotter & arrests from Aug. 26–Sept. 1

first_img Aug. 31Failure to stop and give information was reported in the 1400 block of Merriman.A person was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest/search or transport in the 700 block of Magnolia.Sept. 1Theft was reported in the 1900 block of Sixth Street.Found property was reported in the 900 block of Avenue B. Port Neches police responded to the following calls from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1Aug. 26An assault was reported in the 2100 block of 10th Street.A person was arrested for other agency warrant(s) in the 1200 block of Port Neches AvenueTheft was reported in the 600 block of Lee Street.Aug. 27A person was arrested for other agency warrant(s) in the intersection of Magnolia and 15th Street. Aug. 28Burglary of a habitation was reported in the 1000 block of Marion.Harassment was reported in the 1500 block of Dieu.Aug. 29An assault was reported and a person was arrested for other agency warrant(s) in the 300 block of Twin City Highway.Two people were arrested for other agency warrant(s) in the intersection of Spur 136 and FM 366.Aug. 30Robbery was reported in the 200 block of Grigsby.center_img ArrestsSeth Ryan, 30, other agency warrant(s)Corlon Tate, 22, other agency warrant(s)Gauge Smith, 24, other agency warrant(s)Amberly Domingue-Griffis, 20, other agency warrant(s)Shyreen Goodman, 35, other agency warrant(s)Brandon Camp, 34, possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrestlast_img read more

ASU showcases sustainable pavement methods

first_imgThe 13th Annual Arizona Pavements/Materials Conference took place on Arizona State University’s Campus Tuesday morning to demonstrate six different types of sustainable pavement.Demonstrations took place on Orange Street and McAllister Avenue where folks from ASU, the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration showcased the sustainable pavement types.“What we have here are six to eight different ways of maintaining a roadway,” said Tom Buick, a retired consultant. “The fantastic part about this is that ASU had some streets that they could use some help on, and these guys from the industry came out voluntarily with their equipment and are putting down, as we speak, some really fine repairs.”The demonstrations are the result of a collaboration between the Arizona Association of General Contractors, Arizona Pavements/Materials Conference and ASU Advanced Pavement Research Group. Demonstrations included, in order: Wide Crack, Mastic Patching, High Float Chip Seal, PMA Chip Seal, S-92 Chip Seal, PMAR Chip Seal, Nova Chip and a wrap up.The major benefit of the pavements shown at the demonstration is durability, Buick said.“For one, they’re very careful about the emissions associated with the process and the products,” Buick said. “The other thing is that it’s not so expensive and yet it lasts a long time.”ASU civil engineering Professor Kamil Kaloush said that he likes to think of the pavements as “cost-effective” as opposed to less expensive. However, these pavements aren’t easily implemented on every street.Good roads and infrastructure are crucial for developments and growing the economy. Currently, Arizona is looking at an infrastructure problem. According to the State of Arizona Office of Auditor General, ADOT’s long-term plan for the state’s roads need $88.9 billion between 2010 and 2035, but the state road agency is expected to = receive $26.2 billion during that time frame, which is a $62.7 billion shortfall.“Usually the limiting factor is the budget,” Buick said. “The truth is that there’s an awful lot in our communities that’s in need of repair and is not yet being touched simply because of the limiting budgets.”After experiencing poor weather at last year’s conference, speaker Jeff Smith with Cactus Asphalt said that there are ambient and surface requirements they must consider.“Those environmental conditions weren’t very much fun to work in,” Smith said. “And certainly the end result of some of the applications weren’t as good as we had hoped.”Deciding which type of pavement to use depends on the situation, according to Smith.“When you look at choosing your materials, there’s a lot of factors to consider,” Smith said. “We definitely want to talk about and look at best practice every time. So no matter what material you choose you want to make sure that the construction procedures are correct and that the specifications are followed.”The lifetime of these pavements ranges anywhere from five to 12 years, depending on what type of pavement is used, how much traffic occurs on the road and other conditions, according to Smith.Kaloush said that pavement demonstrations haven’t always been included in the annual conference.“In the last couple years, we started adding this pavement demonstration component to it,” Kaloush said. “We just felt that to have these real life applications for local agencies and students and faculty to see the applications will be an important part of the program.”Since Kaloush specializes in teaching about pavements, he brought a class of students to the demonstrations.“We talk about these activities in class, so for the students to come over and take a look at that, what a wonderful education for them to do this,” Kaloush said.Aside from the demonstrations being an educational tool, Kaloush believes anyone can benefit from attending.“It’s really a great networking event, so we like to have this on campus just because of the student body and the activity that goes on,” Kaloush said.last_img read more

Complex jobs ‘may protect memory’

first_imgBBC:A study of more than 1,000 Scottish 70-year-olds found that those who had had complex jobs scored better on memory and thinking tests.One theory is a more stimulating environment helps build up a “cognitive reserve” to help buffer the brain against age-related decline,The research was reported in Neurology.The team, from Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, is now planning more work to look at how lifestyle and work interact to affect memory loss.Those taking part in the study took tests designed to assess memory, processing speed and general thinking ability, as well as filling in a questionnaire about their working life.The analysis showed that those whose jobs had required complex skills in dealing with data or people, such as management and teaching, had better scores on memory and thinking tests than those who had done less mentally intense jobs such as factory workers, bookbinders, or carpet layers.Read the whole story: BBC More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

Amateur Naturalist: A Study In Lichen

first_imgThe vertical canyon walls and a stream in Hidden Valley in the Valles Caldera together provide and hold water vapor, which can then support plants that are different than in more open areas. Photo by Robert DryjaBy ROBERT DRYJALos AlamosThink about a pot of boiling water on a stove. Bubbles of water vapor can be easily seen rising in the pot to surface. Vapor then cools just enough to appear as steam saturating the adjacent clear air. Temperatures are in the range of 200 degrees at this point. Now observe a cup of warm coffee or tea. The cup may feel warm when held and steam may not be visible. However, the air just above the surface of the coffee or tea also may feel warm it you hold your finger close to it. Temperatures now are in the range of 100 degrees with water now in a form of invisible vapor.Now consider plants. Plants need water to live. Do you suppose plants can benefit when water vapor is cool enough? Can a plant somehow drink water vapor? How could we observe such a thing?” There are places where it is possible to see this. This involves going to a canyon with a particular shape. The canyon may be shaped somewhat like an elongated pot. It should have openings at two ends and a small stream flowing through it. The walls of the canyon on each side of the stream ideally will be from fifty to one hundred feet apart. The walls also should rise vertically for sixty or more feet while the stream bubbles along in between.A canyon like this exists in the Valles Caldera. In effect it is like a huge pot that is stretched out for half a mile. The stream flowing through it provides cool vapor but the vapor only can escape at the ends of the canyon. The air in the canyon is cool for most of day and so does not raise up over the tops of the canyon walls.The plants in the canyon are different from elsewhere and the change is immediately apparent when entering the canyon. Whereas ponderosa pine trees are the more common tree outside of the entrance of the canyon, other kinds of conifer trees become common inside. The conifer trees can live comfortably where there is more shade and cooler compared to the ponderosa. This difference also can be seen when going up the side of a mountain. Ponderosa are the dominant tree at lower, warmer elevations while conifer replace them at cooler, higher elevations.Something startling happens with other plants in the canyon. What looks like Spanish moss appears everywhere, hanging from the trees. But where does Spanish moss normally grow? It is found in the southern states closer to the ocean. But this canyon is high the mountains and far from the ocean. Are we really looking at Spanish moss or at something else? (Spanish moss is not from Spain and is not a moss by the way.)It is easy to look closely at these mystery plants. It is hanging everywhere from the conifer tree branches. The plants are like batches of string hanging down and the strings have small threads growing out of their sides. These whitish, stringy plants may remind a person of an old man’s beard. They are not at all like a plant with leaves.The shape provides a clue. There is a type of lichen called old man’s beard. The trees are covered with lichens, not a regular type of plant. A lichen is composed of a fungus and algae living together. The  fungus provides the structure to hold the algae and the algae grows food for the fungus. These lichens do not have any roots growing into the branches of the trees. The trees only provide support for the lichens to hang on.All of the lichen is growing on trees close to the stream. They stop growing on the trees that are toward the top of the canyon walls. The lichens at the stream side are receiving needed moisture from the water evaporating from the stream. This moisture becomes disbursed at the top of the canyon walls and no longer available.The canyon therefore is like a very large pot that provides air moisture from the stream flowing through. The more commonly seen lichen grows like a small piece of flat paper on a boulder or other large rocks. Even when shaded there is not as much water vapor present. The stringy type of lichen in in the canyon in contrast lives successfully by hanging from trees where it is moister, shadier and cooler. ‘Old Man’s Beard’ is a type of lichen hanging from tree branches in a Valles Caldera canyon. Photo by Robert Dryja Flat, paper-like, colorful lichen on a boulder away from stream water in the Valles Caldera. Photo by Robert Dryjalast_img read more

Shedding light on why Toronto and Aberdeen are recession-proof

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img