23 setembro 2016
18 setembro 2016
Under weak Emperors, it is torn apart by generals competing for a worthless and surely death bringing throne. Under strong Emperors, the Empire is frozen into a paralytic rigor in which disintegration apparently ceases for the moment, but only at the sacrifice of all possible growth.
Foundation and Empire, Isaac Asimov
‘Wasn’t it wonderful?’ said Fifi Bradlaugh. ‘Wasn’t it simply wonderful?‘ She looked at Bernard with shining eyes, happy, completely satisfied, at peace with the whole world. ‘Yes, I thought it was wonderful,’ he lied and looked away. The sight of Fifi’s happy face only made him feel his own separateness more keenly. He was as miserably alone now as he had been when the service began more alone because of his unsatisfied desire for something that he could not even describe to himself. Separate and unhappy, while the others were being united with the Greater Being; alone even in Morgana’s arms-much more alone, more hopelessly himself than he had ever been in his life before. He had come out from that blood-red glow into the common, cold light of the electric lamps with a feeling of despair. He was utterly miserable. and perhaps (her shining eyes accused him), perhaps it was his own fault. ‘Quite wonderful,‘ he repeated; but the only thing he could think of was Morgana‘s eyebrow‘ ‘
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
16 setembro 2016
A importância do controlo sobre o petróleo foi compreendida pela primeira vez durante a Primeira Guerra Mundial. Nessa época, a Grã-Bretanha era a maior potência mundial e controlava grande parte dessa região. No entanto, depois da Primeira Guerra a Grã-Bretanha não teve suficiente poderio militar para controlar a região mediante uma ocupação militar directa. Havia entrado em declínio, até ao ponto de já não poder fazê-lo. De maneira que recorreu a outros meios. Um foi o uso de poder aéreo, e também dos gases tóxicos, considerados a máxima atrocidade nessa época. O seu adepto mais entusiasta foi Winston Churchill, que apelou para a utilização de gases tóxicos contra os curdos e os afegãos.
Juntamente com a componente militar do controlo, também houve arranjos políticos, que de alguma maneira persistem. Durante a Primeira Guerra Mundial, o Colonial Office britânico propôs e depois aplicou um plano para construir o que apodaram de «fachada árabe»: Estados fracos e acomodatícios que administrariam as populações locais, em última instância sob controlo britânico, no caso de perderem o controlo. Nessa época a França também se envolveu era uma potência bastante importante e da mesma forma que os Estados Unidos que, ainda que não fossem uma potência dominante nos assuntos mundiais, eram suficientemente poderosos para participar de algum modo nessa actividade. Os três concluíram o acordo da Linha Vermelha, em 1928, em que dividiram as reservas de petróleo do Médio Oriente entre as três potências. Quem estava visivelmente ausente eram os povos da região. Mas esta era controlada pela fachada, com a força bruta sempre pronta a entrar em acção. Esse foi o arranjo básico.
Iraque Assalto ao Médio Oriente - Noam Chomsky
In the wild a plant and its pests are continually coevolving, in a dance of resistance and conquest that can have no ultimate victory. But coevolution ceases in an orchard of grafted trees, since they are genetically identical from generation to generation. The problem very simply is that the apple trees no longer reproduce sexually, as they do when they’re grown from seed, and sex is nature’s way of creating fresh genetic combinations. At the same time the viruses, bacteria, fungi, and insects keep very much at it, reproducing sexually and continuing to evolve until eventually they hit on the precise genetic combination that allowsthem to overcome whatever resistance the apples may have once possessed. Suddenly total victory is in the pests’ sight-unless, that is, people come to the tree’s rescue, wielding the tools of modern chemistry.
The Botany of desire - Michael Pollan
08 setembro 2016
Como vêem, é levíssimo. Uma milha quadrada pesa somente uma tonelada e pode recolher cinco libras de pressão de radiação. Portanto, começará a mover-se, e podemos conseguir que nos reboque, se lhe ligarmos o cordoame apropriado. Sem dúvida que a aceleração será pequena, cerca de um milésimo de g. Em todo o caso, vejamos o que significa, independentemente de parecer pouco. No primeiro segundo,mover-nos-emos cerca de um quinto de polegada, velocidade decerto ultrapassável «por um caracol. Mas, passado um minuto, teremos coberto sessenta pés e deslocar-nos-emos a uma milha por hora, o que não se pode considerar mau para algo impelido apenas pelos raios solares., Após uma hora, achar-nos-emos a quarenta milhas do ponto de partida e mover-nos-emos a oitenta milhas horárias, Não esqueçam que no Espaço não há atrito, pelo que assim que começarmos a deslocar-nos já não pararemos, Ficarão surpreendidos quando lhes revelar o que o nosso navio à vela de um milésimo de g conseguirá ao cabo de um dia de corrida. Quase duas mil milhas por hora! Se começar em órbita, como sucederá, sem dúvida, poderá atingir a velocidade de escape em dois dias. E tudo isto sem consumir uma única gota de combustível!
Regata no espaço - Arthur C. Clarke - Uma infinidade de estrelas
07 setembro 2016
The open Southern Ocean is 8 million square miles of nutrient. rich water, fed by the most Vigorous upwelling currents in the world, with temperatures no colder and sunlight no fainter than near the coast, but for lack of iron the phytoplankton do not bloom. Yet as Martin soon found out, that was not always true in the past. Not long before Martin had gotten interested in the subject, French and Russian researchers had extracted a two-kilometre-deep core from the Antarctic ice a frozen record of Earth’s atmosphere through the last ice age and beyond. That core showed, as had previous ice cores, that the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere had been much lower at the peak of the last glaciation, 18,000 years ago: only 200 parts per million, compared with 280 parts per million in the preindustrial nineteenth century and 360 parts per million today. At the same time, though, the amount of dust falling onto Antarctica was between 10 and 20 times greater. The world was drier during the ice age, with vast tropical deserts and stronger winds that carried dust off the deserts and out over the sea. Along the whole length of the ice core, Martin noticed, atmospheric carbon dioxide and atmospheric dust fluctuated in counterpoint; one went up when the other went down.
For Martin the explanation was simple: whenever a lot of ironrich dust had fallen out of the atmosphere, the Southern Ocean phytoplankton had been cured of their anaemia, and the massive blooms that ensued had drawn carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. That is what made the world colder during the ice age: the phytoplankton did it. By blooming to their full potential and converting all the available nitrate into organic matter, they drew two billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the surface water, which drew it out of the atmosphere.
Mapping the Deep - Robert Kunzig
The fact, simply, is this: apples don’t “come true” from seeds-that is, an apple tree grown from a seed will be a wildling bearing little resemblance to its parent. Anyone who wants edible apples plants grafted trees, for the fruit of seedling apples is almost always inedible-“sour enoug ,” Thoreau once wrote, “to set a squirrel’s teeth on edge and make a jay scream.” Thoreau claimed to like the taste of such apples, but most of his countrymen judged them good for little but hard cider-and hard cider was the fate of most apples grown in America up until Prohibition. Apples were something people drank. The reason people in Brilliant wanted John Chapman to stay and plant a nursery was the same reason he would soon be welcome in every cabin in Ohio: Johnny Appleseed was bringing the gift of alcohol to the frontier.
The Botany of desire - Michael Pollan
05 setembro 2016
Mr. Sen’s major finding is striking: The world’s worst famines are not caused by crop failure; they are caused by faulty political systems that prevent the market from correcting itself. Relatively minor agricultural disturbances become catastrophes because imports are not allowed, or prices are not allowed to rise, or farmers are not allowed to grow alternative crops, or politics in some other way interferes with the market’s normal ability to correct itself. He writes, “[Famines] have never materialized in any country that is independent, that goes to elections regularly, that has opposition parties to voice criticisms and that permits newspapers to report freely and question the wisdom of government policies without extensive censorship.” China had the largest recorded famine in history; thirty million people died as the result of the failed Great Leap Forward in 1958-61. India has not had a famine since independence in 1947.
Naked Economics - Charles Wheelan
04 setembro 2016
“There is an old fable,” said Hardin, “as old perhaps as humanity, for the oldest records containing it are merely copies of other records still older, that might interest you. It runs as follows:
“A horse having a wolf as a poWerful and dangerous enemy lived in constant fear of his life. Being driven to desperation, it occurred to him to seek a strong ally. Whereupon he approached a man, and offered an alliance, pointing out that the wolf was likewise an enemy of the man. The man accepted the partnership at once and offered to kill the wolf immediately, if his new partner would only co-operate by placing his greater speed at the man’s disposal. The horse was willing, and allowed the man to place bridle and saddle upon him. The man mounted, hunted down the wolf, and killed him.
“The horse, joyful and relieved, thanked the man, and said: ‘Now that our enemy is dead, remove your bridle and saddle and restore my freedom.’
“Whereupon the man laughed loudly and replied, ‘Never!’ and applied the spurs with a will.”
Foundation - Isaac Asimov