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Scientists from the European Space Agency, studying the Earth's magnetic field from orbit, have detected a jet stream within its molten core.

Earth's core, nearly 2,000 miles below the planet's surface, is made primarily of molten iron. The core is split into two regions: the inner core, which is completely solid, and the outer core, which is liquid.

When the liquid iron in the outer core moves around, it generates an electric current, which in turn produces a magnetic field. Because the core is impossible to reach or study directly, this magnetic field is the only window scientists have to learn more about it.

This was why in 2013, the ESA launched a trio of satellites called "Swarm" to measure tiny changes in the Earth's magnetic field. By studying those tiny changes, scientists could track corresponding changes in the movement of iron in the core.

When they did so, they spotted an unusual feature: a jet stream circling the outer core, similar to the one in the atmosphere. Both circle the earth around the mid-latitudes, only one lies 2,000 miles below the surface and the other sits 5 miles above it.

This core jet stream occurs because of two different layers in the outer core that meet at a boundary. When material in both layers are forced toward the boundary, either by buoyant forces or by internal magnetic fields, the material in between is squeezed and pushed outward. This creates the jet stream.

The ESA's Swarm satellites, which made this discovery, still have another year left in their scheduled mission, and may remain operational for much longer. There's still a lot to learn about the planet beneath our feet from the satellites orbiting above our heads.

Author:  Avery Thompson

Source:  https://www.yahoo.com/news/earths-molten-core-own-jet-175038199.html

Categorized in Science & Tech

Over the past few years we have seen a surge in cyber attacks against well-known organizations, each seemingly larger than the last. As cybercriminals look for innovative ways to penetrate corporate infrastructures, the challenges for brand owners to protect their IP has steadily grown. Fraudsters will stop at nothing to profit from a corporate entity’s security vulnerabilities, and the data they steal can fetch a hefty price in underground online marketplaces.

Whether it is a company with a large customer base that accesses and exchanges financial or personal information online, or a small brand that has IP assets to protect, no company is exempt. While banking and finance organizations are the most obvious targets, an increasing number of attacks are taking place on companies in other industries, from healthcare and retail to technology, manufacturing and insurance companies. Data breaches can have a damaging impact on a company’s internal IT infrastructure, financial assets, business partners and customers, to say nothing of the brand equity and customer trust that companies spend years building.

Battlegrounds: Deep Web and Dark Web

A common analogy for the full internet landscape is that of an iceberg, with the section of the iceberg above water level being the surface web, comprised of visible websites that are indexed by standard search engines. It is what most people use every day to find information, shop and interact online, but it accounts for only about four percent of the Internet.

The remaining sites are found in the Deep Web, which includes pages that are unindexed by search engines. A large proportion of this content is legitimate, including corporate intranets or academic resources residing behind a firewall.

However, some sites in the Deep Web also contain potentially illegitimate or suspicious content, such as phishing sites that collect user credentials, sites that disseminate malware that deliberately try to hide their existence, websites and marketplaces that sell counterfeit goods, and peer-to-peer sites where piracy often takes place. Consumers may unknowingly stumble upon these and are at risk of unwittingly releasing personal information or credentials to fraudulent entities.

Deeper still is the Dark Web, a collection of websites and content that exist on overlay networks whose IP addresses are completely hidden and require anonymizer software, such as Tor, to access. While there are a number of legitimate users of Tor, such as privacy advocates, journalists and law enforcement agencies, its anonymity also makes it an ideal foundation for illicit activity. Vast quantities of private information, such as log-in credentials, banking and credit card information, are peddled with impunity on underground marketplaces in the Dark Web.

Waking up to the Threats

The Deep Web and Dark Web have been in the public eye for some time, but in recent years, fraudsters and cybercriminals have been honing their tactics in these hidden channels to strike at their prey more effectively and minimize their own risk of being caught. The anonymity in the Dark Web allows this medium to thrive as a haven for cybercriminals, where corporate network login credentials can be bought and sold to the highest bidder, opening the door to a cyberattack that most companies are unable to detect or prevent.

While Deep Web sites are not indexed, consumers may still stumble upon them, unaware they have been redirected to an illegitimate site. The path to these sites are many: typosquatted pages with names that are close matches to legitimate brands; search engine ads for keywords that resolve to Deep Web sites; email messages with phishing links; or even mobile apps that redirect.

Moreover, as a higher volume of users learn the intricacies of Tor to access and navigate the Dark Web, the greater the scale of anonymity grows. More points in the Dark Web’s distributed network of relays makes it more difficult to identify a single user and track down cybercriminals. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack when the haystack continues to get larger and larger.

The Science and Strategy Behind Protection

Brands can potentially mitigate abuse in the Deep Web, depending on the site. If a website attempts to hide its identity from a search engine, there are technological solutions to uncover and address the abuse. Conventional tools commonly used by companies to protect their brands can also tackle fraudulent activity in the Deep Web, including takedown requests to ISPs, cease and desist notices and, if required, the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP).

As for the Dark Web, where anonymity reigns and the illicit buying and selling of proprietary and personal information are commonplace, companies can arm themselves with the right technology and threat intelligence to gain visibility into imminent threats. Actively monitoring fraudster-to-fraudster social media conversations, for example, enables companies to take necessary security precautions prior to a cyberattack, or to prevent or lessen the impact of a future attack. In the event of a data breach where credit card numbers are stolen, threat intelligence can help limit the financial damage to consumers by revealing stolen numbers before they can be used and have them cancelled by the bank.

Technology can even help identify and efficiently infiltrate cybercriminal networks in the Dark Web that might otherwise take a considerable amount of manual human effort by a security analyst team. Access to technology can significantly lighten the load for security teams and anchor a more reliable and scalable security strategy.

In light of so many cyber threats, it falls to organizations and their security operations teams to leverage technology to identify criminal activity and limit financial liability to the company and irreparable damage to the brand.

Key Industries at Risk

A growing number of industries are now being targeted by cybercriminals, but there are tangible steps companies can take. For financial institutions, visibility into Dark Web activity yields important benefits. Clues for an impending attack might potentially be uncovered to save millions of dollars and stop the erosion of customer trust. Improved visibility can also help companies identify a person sharing insider or proprietary information and determine the right course of action to reduce the damage.

In the healthcare industry, data breaches can be especially alarming because they expose not only the healthcare organization’s proprietary data, but also a vast number of people’s medical information and associated personal information. This could include images of authorized signatures, email addresses, billing addresses and account numbers. Cybercriminals who use information like this can exploit it to compromise more data, such as social security numbers and private medical records. Credentials could even potentially lead to identities being sold.

Conclusion

Most organizations have implemented stringent security protocols to safeguard their IT infrastructure, but conventional security measures don’t provide the critical intelligence needed to analyze cyberattacks that propagate in the Deep Web and Dark Web. It is fundamentally harder to navigate a medium where web pages are unindexed and anonymity can hide criminal activity.

Meanwhile, cyberattacks on organizations across a wider number of sectors continue to surge, putting proprietary corporate information, trade secrets and employee network access credentials at risk. Businesses need to be aware of all threats to their IP in all areas of the Internet. Leveraging every available tool to monitor, detect and take action where possible is vital in addressing the threats that these hidden regions of the internet pose.

Author:  Charlie Abrahams

Source:  http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/12/14/brand-protection-deep-dark-web/id=75478

Categorized in Deep Web

Just before Thanksgiving this year, a coalition of meteorologists, climatologists, biologists, ecologists, and other researchers took up a new ritual of thankfulness: tweeting the small and large ways NASA data has helped them understand planet Earth, and attaching the hashtag #ThanksNASA.

For the most part, the scientists avoided mentioning politics or political figures. But context is everything. Bob Walker, a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, had just told The Guardian that the incoming administration planned to strip NASA's earth science programs of funding.

"We see NASA in an exploration role, in deep space research," Walker told The Guardian's Oliver Milman. "Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission."

In the past, the Guardian story notes, Walker has described earth science as "politically correct environmental monitoring."

In reality, earth science goes far beyond direct climate change research — and includes everything from the health of oceans to the threat of devastating solar storms in the upper atmosphere.

Dozens of scientists, including the 13 researchers who spoke to Business Insider for this story and many more who reached out on Twitter and by email, said they were rattled and dismayed by the news.

Several said that cutting earth science would represent a radical change from the mission NASA has carried out for nearly six decades.

"If you go to the Space Act that founded NASA in 1958 and then was amended under President Reagan in 1985, the very first responsibility ascribed to NASA is to understand the Earth and the atmosphere," said Waleed Abdalati, who directs the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado and served as chief scientist at NASA from 2011-12.

"It shows up before putting people in space."

Indeed, it does. The beginning of Section 102(c) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 begins to lay out the role of NASA:

"(c) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

"(1) The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;

"(2) The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles;

"(3) The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies and living organisms through space."

So far, NASA has carried out that mission with gusto under six Republican administrations and five Democratic ones. The agency's trove of satellite data and analysis is the largest in the world and, critically, available freely on the internet for any scientist or interested person to access.

Some researchers said they didn't recognize how much NASA data they used until it was threatened they could lose it all.

"I started going back and trying to think about what I use in my day-to-day work," said Peter Gleick, a hydrologist who looks at the movement of water all over the world to understand and predict droughts and flooding. "The truth is, I didn't fully comprehend the incredible diversity of products that I use that originated with a NASA satellite or an observing platform or a data archive."

The notion of losing that, researchers told Business Insider, had seemed impossible — that is, until they read the news.

Just days before the Guardian piece with Walker's statement was published, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, who declined to be interviewed again for this story, told Business Insider that he thought NASA climate research was safe from political tampering because it was too intimately connected to the agency's other critical earth science missions.

It doesn't seem to have occurred to most people that earth science itself might be in jeopardy.

The end of an era?

arctic sea ice melting

The 2015 Arctic sea ice summertime minimum was 699,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average, shown here as a gold line in this visual representation of a NASA analysis. NASA via Reuters

Walker's proposal would ax or redirect more than 34% of NASA's $5.2 billion 2017 science budget request, and almost 10% of its $18 billion overall budget request. This would spell an end to the period that researchers across the world and across a wide range of disciplines refer to simply as "the satellite era" — not the time since Sputnik launched, but the decades of high-quality, consistent, and regular data on the global environment from space.

Marshall Shepherd, who directs the University of Georgia's Department of Atmospheric Sciences and has worked on satellites for NASA in the past, said that the moment a satellite's sensor goes dark without another of the same type to replace it, crucial scientific information will be lost.

An unbroken record is necessary to understand how the past and present fit together, and to make firm judgments about the future.

"If you're trying to detect change in something, you need long and continuous uninterrupted records of things like the sea ice or sea level rise or Greenland's ice sheet," Shepherd said. "By shutting those off, you are literally shutting off your long-term record of the diagnostics of the planet."

goes r_spacecraft_sep

The NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite provides images of storms and helps predict weather forecasts, warnings, and longer-term forecasting. NASA

Julienne Stroeve, a researcher with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said those gaps would undermine our ability to make even basic judgments about the health of the planet.

"You need the [satellites] to consistently be processed with the same type of sensors over and over again to have a long-term data record, otherwise you have these data gaps and these long-term uncertainties, and you have no idea what the long-term changes really are," she said.

Looking for alternatives

It's all well and good that NASA has the most complete sources of earth science data in the world. But what's really important, researchers said, is how easy it is to access.

"This is not politically correct to say in Europe, but the US is much better than Europe about sharing data with the whole world," said Jon Saenz, a professor of applied physics at the University of the Basque Country in Spain.

Other agencies tend to tie up their data behind red tape and bureaucracy, Saenz said. He said that if he had to rely on the European Space Agency's limited, difficult-to-access data for his work checking climate model predictions against reality, he'd be "more or less blind" — particularly in the vast, uninhabited stretches of the globe like the Pacific, which are vital for understanding the world climate.

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Some scientists said that if the satellite era in their field ended, they would still be able to continue their work. Instead of satellites, they said, they would use a combination of often lower-quality, more difficult-to-access data from satellites operated by other countries and increased data collection at the ground level.

But that can be difficult and even dangerous work, often with much weaker and more uncertain results.

Ulyana Nadia Horodyskyj is a glaciologist who operates a scientific outreach program in Nepal and analyzes lakes that form on melting glaciers high in the Himalayas. If those lakes grow too large or their natural dams become too weak, the dams can burst and flow down-mountain, threatening tens of thousands of lives.

Horodyskyj brings together images and measurements from NASA's Landsat satellites with observations taken on long hikes around the edges of glacial lakes to advise the Nepalese government on how to address the threat.

Without Landsat, "we would be flying blind," she told Business Insider. "We need those eyes in the sky to complement our ground efforts."

Juanita van Zyl is the geographic information system manager at a company called Manstrat in South Africa. She provides information to the South African government and other companies about droughts, wildfires, and grazing conditions in the country. She said she uses data from NASA to help her clients understand where to move resources.

"South Africa isn't a big country," she said. "But when we are in a drought situation like we are in now, the government can only give out so much money out to help subsistence farmers and commercial farmers. Remote sensing is tremendously important in telling them where to send money."

She said the state of the US presidential election in the spring led her to look for ways to build redundancy into her data sources.

"It's scary to think that something might happen and you won't have access to the data anymore," she said.

But — unique among scientists interviewed for this story — the data sets she studies happen to be replicated by a European data set called Copernicus. After some preparation efforts over the course of the last year, she said she's confident that if NASA earth science were to go dark tomorrow, she would be able to keep up a similar level of quality in her work.

No other scientist interviewed for this story said the same

'Like poking out your eyes while driving your car at high speed'

hurricane matthew carolina

North Carolina residents wade through floodwaters after Hurricane Matthew. Reuters

Some scientists said that without NASA earth science, it would likely be impossible for them to work. Huge swaths of the planet go entirely unmeasured on the ground. Only satellites have the bird's-eye view to place weather events in their full context.

Researchers said that entire fields of study would be left hobbled or unable to function without NASA earth science research and data. Here's a sampling:

Global rainfall

Steve Nesbitt, a researcher at the University of Illinois who works on a NASA mission to measure rainfall all over the world, said that without NASA data, he'd have nothing to study.

He could try to use ground measurements, he said, but it would be nowhere near as sufficient for the scope of his research.

"If you were to try to measure global precipitation on the ground — I mean currently I can fit all of the rain gauges on the globe in the area of about a basketball court," he said.

Farmers rely on Nesbitt and his colleagues' work to measure and model global rainfall to decide how to plant and water their crops. Businesses rely on it to make decisions about production. ("Things like 'How many snow shovels are we going to sell in Buffalo?'" he said.) The US and global transportation systems rely on a deep understanding of atmospheric conditions and long-term weather patterns.

Arctic sea ice

Stroeve, the NSIDC researcher, said that NASA satellites have been necessary to show how dramatically the Arctic has warmed and melted since the 1990s.

"You have one record-low sea-ice year after another," she said. "It doesn't fit long-term trends."

The work Stroeve and her colleagues have done over the span of decades is critical to understanding the radical transformation underway at the top of the world. And there are major economic and diplomatic consequences of those results, as countries and corporations vie for new shipping routes and exposed resources.

She said her work is to observe and report hard numbers on what's happening in the world, and that she finds it baffling that politicians would declare that task political.

The health of oceans

Ajit Subramaniam is a Columbia University professor who tracks microscopic plant life in the ocean.

Those tiny floating life-forms produce up to 40% of the world's oxygen and form the basis of the aquatic food web. Understand them, and you can make judgments about the health of a whole fishery. Satellites can track those microscopic plants by watching how the colors of the sea surface change. And Subramaniam said a satellite can examine in two minutes an area that a ship moving 10 mph would take 11 years to cover.

Without Subramaniam's research, fishers, governments, and conservation groups would lose necessary information about sea life. And deadly algae blooms, an increasingly serious threat to human life along coastlines, would become harder to spot and predict.

Sea level rise

Jokulsarlon Lagoon iceland glacier

Peter Neff, a glaciologist at the University of Rochester who travels regularly to the Antarctic, said ground observations would never tell you the full story of what's going on with ice sheets in that part of the world.

Unlike Arctic ice, which floats on water, Antarctic ice sits on land. If those ice sheets were to collapse, global sea levels could change dramatically.

On the surface, Antarctica's ice still looks pretty still and stable. But ice-penetrating NASA satellites and airplane-mounted sensors show that far below the surface, some are melting at a rate of hundreds of meters a year and risking collapse.

"We never thought these kinds of changes happen year to year," Neff said. "It's dumbfounding how much data NASA produces and how quickly they release it. They fly over an area and the next day the data is available."

Neff's research helps us understand the health of massive glaciers with behavior we still don't fully understand but that lock up enough water to drive up global sea levels on the order of meters, not inches.

And none of them would be able to do their work without NASA satellite data.

Other agencies can't pick up the slack

Walker, Trump's adviser who wants to shutter NASA earth science, told The Guardian that other US agencies would be able to pick up where NASA leaves off.

"My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing NASA programs," he said. "But future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary, but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr. Trump's decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science."

However, researchers familiar with US science initiatives said such a move wouldn't be feasible without massive expenses or losses in capability.

"You can't just send money over to another agency and expect them to be able to launch satellites," said Abdalati, the former NASA chief scientist. "There's an expertise that exists within NASA that isn't particularly portable. But if it were deemed necessary that the capability to go to some other agency, they'd have to move a lot more than the money."

Shepherd said that the problem has to do with the way institutions like NASA work.

"By shutting off NASA's earth sciences program, you are shutting off expertise, institutional knowledge of the Earth's system that cannot just be spun back up," he said. "It's not like training someone to cook burgers in a fast-food joint. You're talking about years and decades of expertise and technical knowledge. Brainware will be lost, and that is critical."

Tourists take pictures of a NASA sign at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 14, 2010.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Tourists at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Thomson Reuters

Another problem is that NASA earth science is more than people — it's buildings, systems, and machines that are now woven into the framework of the space agency and could not cheaply or efficiently be extracted.

"They'd have to move the people, they'd have to move the systems, the infrastructure, the facilities. And, you know, it currently exists in the framework that supports all the space activities, so to carve out the Earth piece would be inefficient because you would have to build capability twice," said Abdalati.

Another problem is that there isn't another agency within the federal government built for NASA's task.

The closest is probably the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is responsible for the day-to-day tasks of government weather forecasting.

"Certainly NOAA is an organization that provides lifesaving forecasts," Nesbitt said. "I don't want to take anything from NOAA. But they have a different mission and rely on NASA to launch satellites."

The problem, he said, is that NOAA isn't structured for the high-risk, boundary-pushing work NASA does every day.

"It's kind of like if you have a car. Want to fix it? Go to a mechanic (like NOAA). If you want to take it in an auto race, go to someone who is more experimental, and that is NASA. They can develop something that is amazing. It may not work every single day, but then they can scramble and fix things," Nesbitt said. "There's just that cultural divide, and I'm worried that if they take these experimental missions and plug them into NOAA, there's going to be harsh degradation."

A threat to national security?

A pump jack is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

A pump jack. Thomson Reuters

NASA's earth science program, several researchers said, is critical to national security.

There are the obvious ways: building and constantly improving the infrastructure necessary to predict hurricanes and other extreme weather, collecting images of disasters to guide emergency response workers, and tracking sea level changes around the world that affect coastlines and the Navy.

But plenty are less obvious — but no less important — ways NASA helps keep the country safe.

In September, Business Insider published a story about the severe and underreported dangerthat space weather poses to modern society. There's a very real threat that a major solar storm could strike Earth and knock out the electric grid, satellites, navigation systems on airplanes, and any other electrical system not hardened to withstand the blast.

These sorts of events aren't all that rare — the last one happened in 1859.

"We'll almost certainly see a major event in our lifetimes," said Morris Cohen, a researcher who studies electrical events in the upper atmosphere. "It's kind of a game of Russian roulette we're playing. Keep playing forever, and eventually you're going to get hit."

solar eclipse

Reuters

If scientists are on alert, humanity should have a few days to prepare between the start of a solar storm and the moment it reaches Earth, Cohen said. But that prediction will rely on NASA earth science mission data.

"Obviously what's driving the political question of 'Yes to earth science or no to earth science?' is climate change," Cohen said. "That's the motivation behind cutting all this stuff. But what a lot of people don't realize is that earth science data and earth science in general goes way beyond climate change. The same satellite that's capturing data from clouds is also capturing data about what's going on in space and what's coming from the sun."

Cohen said he's working on a project to strengthen the US military that would be impossible without geoscience research of the sort that's threatened at NASA.

Right now, the military relies on satellite GPS systems for navigation, just like civilians. But GPS is remarkably easy to jam. Cohen has worked on an alternative system that would use live data on lightning strikes and the radio waves they emit to build a more resilient navigation system for the military that would be much more difficult to disrupt.

Without geoscience research, he said, the system would never get off the ground.

Researchers resist the idea that their work is politica

Donald Trump

Jacquelyn Gill researches paleoecology and plant ecology — in other words, she studies the history of the global climate over millions of years — at the University of Maine.

She and her students spend their time trying to understand how the atmosphere worked in the ancient world — sometimes finding themselves knee-deep in bogs collecting buried pollen or ash from ancient fires.

"Despite our best efforts, all we see of the Earth's climate is a really narrow snapshot in time," she said. "And to get a more complete and full picture of how Earth operates, we need long-term data."

That long-term data shows that modern climate change is faster and more acute than anything else in Earth's history. But there are also concrete implications for modern-day lobster fishers — and for futuristic endeavors like terraforming Mars.

And none of it would be possible, she said, without NASA data creating a baseline for how the climate works.

"A lot of the work we do in the past is motivated by the world we have in the present," Gill said. "If we don't have that information then [the past data] becomes a kind of novelty. It loses its grounding."

Without NASA's earth science programs, many researchers say they expect to see the American scientific enterprise to become less singular and less great, and to fall into decline.

"It's unfortunate that the politics of climate change have evolved to the point in this country where really serious games of chicken are being played with major agencies in our federal government," Nesbitt said. "These are agencies that have absolutely no political agenda, just collections of scientists that are doing work to better society. And it's really sad that these political forces are trying to exploit this issue."

"Is there a line you can draw between understanding how the Earth works and the so-called politically incorrect environmental monitoring?" Subramaniam said. "If you think of the Earth as a being, knowing how well it's doing is a good thing is how I see it. Why would we not want to do it?

"It's a head-scratcher for me. I simply don't understand what the issue would be."

Giving up on part of what makes us human

international space station iss nasa

Chanda Hsu Prescod-Weinstein is an early-universe cosmologist. That means she works on understanding what happened in the moments after the Big Bang, when the whole universe was hot and physics was bent to the point of breaking.

Her work relies on data from NASA's spaceward missions, and a shift from earth science toward even more space data might offer new opportunities for her research. But she said the idea of a NASA that no longer examines the Earth scares her.

"You know, I am not a parent, but I have a niece who just turned 8, and many of my close friends have children right now. And I want those children to have a beautiful life," she said. "I think that trumps any interest in early-universe cosmology. The work that I do on dark matter, I'm not sure it will have a lot of meaning if those kids don't have an opportunity to learn about it because society has been devastated by global warming. So that's, for me, the priority."

Abdalati said that losing half of NASA's mission would mean giving up on part of what makes us human.

"As human beings, throughout time, we have explored our surroundings, and we have worked to understand our environment, and we looked as far beyond as we could," he said.

And NASA fulfills both drives — to understand and to explore.

"I think both are critical. Both are essential. I wouldn't want to see human space zeroed out to support a whole bunch of earth science" either, he added. "I may differ from some of my colleagues in that, but I think we need it all."

Lori Janjigian contributed to this story.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Walker's proposal would ax or redirect 40% of NASA's budget and operations. This was based on past numbers, and referred only to NASA's science budget, not the agency's total budget. In fact, Walker's proposal would ax or redirect more than 34% of NASA's $5.2 billion 2017 science budget request, andalmost 10% of its $18 billion overall budget request. Thanks to Loren Grush of The Verge for spotting the error.

Author:  Rafi Letzter

Source:  http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-nasa-earth-science-thanksnasa-2016-12

Categorized in Science & Tech

THE HAGUE: A British-Dutch project aiming to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2018 has announced that the shareholders of a Swiss financial services company have agreed a takeover bid.

“The acquisition is now only pending approval by the board of Mars One Ventures,” the company said in a joint statement with InFin Innovative Finance AG, adding approval from the Mars board would come “as soon as possible.”

“The takeover provides a solid path to funding the next steps of Mars One’s mission to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars,” the statement added.

Mars One consists of two entities: the Dutch not-for-profit Mars One Foundation and a British public limited company Mars One Ventures.

Mars One aims to establish a permanent human settlement on the Red Planet, and is currently “in the early mission concept phase,” the company says, adding securing funding is one of its major challenges.

Some 200,000 hopefuls from 140 countries initially signed up for the Mars One project, which is to be partly funded by a television reality show about the endeavour.

Those have now been whittled down to just 100, out of which 24 will be selected for one-way trips to Mars due to start in 2026 after several unmanned missions have been completed.

“Once this deal is completed, we’ll be in a much stronger financial position as we begin the next phase of our mission. Very exciting times,” said Mars One chief executive Bas Lansdorp.

NASA is currently working on three Mars missions with the European Space Agency and plans to send another rover to Mars in 2020. NASA has no plans for a manned mission to Mars until the 2030s.

Source : http://arynews.tv/

Auhtor : AFP

Categorized in Science & Tech

We can’t go on ignoring inequality, because we have the means to destroy our world but not to escape it

LONDON: As a theoretical physicist based in Cambridge, I have lived my life in an extraordinarily privileged bubble. Cambridge is an unusual town, centred around one of the world’s great universities. Within that town, the scientific community that I became part of in my 20s is even more rarefied.

And within that scientific community, the small group of international theoretical physicists with whom I have spent my working life might sometimes be tempted to regard themselves as the pinnacle. In addition to this, with the celebrity that has come with my books, and the isolation imposed by my illness, I feel as though my ivory tower is getting taller

So the recent apparent rejection of the elites in both America and Britain is surely aimed at me, as much as anyone. Whatever we might think about the decision by the British electorate to reject membership of the European Union and by the American public to embrace Donald Trump as their next president, there is no doubt in the minds of commentators that this was a cry of anger by people who felt they had been abandoned by their leaders.

It was, everyone seems to agree, the moment when the forgotten spoke, finding their voices to reject the advice and guidance of experts and the elite everywhere. I am no exception to this rule. I warned before the Brexit vote that it would damage scientific research in Britain, that a vote to leave would be a step backward, and the electorate – or at least a sufficiently significant proportion of it – took no more notice of me than any of the other political leaders, trade unionists, artists, scientists, businessmen and celebrities who all gave the same unheeded advice to the rest of the country.

What matters now, far more than the choices made by these two electorates, is how the elites react. Should we, in turn, reject these votes as outpourings of crude populism that fail to take account of the facts, and attempt to circumvent or circumscribe the choices that they represent? I would argue that this would be a terrible mistake.

The concerns underlying these votes about the economic consequences of globalisation and accelerating technological change are absolutely understandable. The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.

This in turn will accelerate the already widening economic inequality around the world. The internet and the platforms that it makes possible allow very small groups of individuals to make enormous profits while employing very few people. This is inevitable, it is progress, but it is also socially destructive.

We need to put this alongside the financial crash, which brought home to people that a very few individuals working in the financial sector can accrue huge rewards and that the rest of us underwrite that success and pick up the bill when their greed leads us astray. So taken together we are living in a world of widening, not diminishing, financial inequality, in which many people can see not just their standard of living, but their ability to earn a living at all, disappearing. It is no wonder then that they are searching for a new deal, which Trump and Brexit might have appeared to represent.

It is also the case that another unintended consequence of the global spread of the internet and social media is that the stark nature of these inequalities is far more apparent than it has been in the past. For me, the ability to use technology to communicate has been a liberating and positive experience. Without it, I would not have been able to continue working these many years past.

But it also means that the lives of the richest people in the most prosperous parts of the world are agonisingly visible to anyone, however poor, who has access to a phone. And since there are now more people with a telephone than access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa, this will shortly mean nearly everyone on our increasingly crowded planet will not be able to escape the inequality.

The consequences of this are plain to see: the rural poor flock to cities, to shanty towns, driven by hope. And then often, finding that the Instagram nirvana is not available there, they seek it overseas, joining the ever greater numbers of economic migrants in search of a better life. These migrants in turn place new demands on the infrastructures and economies of the countries in which they arrive, undermining tolerance and further fuelling political populism.

For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.

Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it. Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.

To do that, we need to break down, not build up, barriers within and between nations. If we are to stand a chance of doing that, the world’s leaders need to acknowledge that they have failed and are failing the many. With resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, we are going to have to learn to share far more than at present.

With not only jobs but entire industries disappearing, we must help people to retrain for a new world and support them financially while they do so. If communities and economies cannot cope with current levels of migration, we must do more to encourage global development, as that is the only way that the migratory millions will be persuaded to seek their future at home.

We can do this, I am an enormous optimist for my species; but it will require the elites, from London to Harvard, from Cambridge to Hollywood, to learn the lessons of the past year. To learn above all a measure of humility. — Courtesy: The Guardian

Author:  Stephen Hawking

Source:  https://www.thenews.com.pk

Categorized in Science & Tech

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.comsaid: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.”

When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

As Herman Melville once wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.

Silence relieves stress and tension.

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It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech.

“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.

Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.

Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise. 

Summation

Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

Source:  lifehack.org

Categorized in Others

Academic researchers study many aspects of business, but business practitioners rarely make use of that research. A multi-university research team reports that researchers and practitioners share more interests than either group realizes and outlines ways that the two groups can collaborate more effectively to address shared challenges.

"There's a big gap between science and practice, and our goal with this study was to look at both why that gap exists and how we can eliminate it," says Jeff Pollack, co-author of a paper on the work and an assistant professor of management, innovation and entrepreneurship at North Carolina State University.

Fundamentally, the researchers found that there are two key issues that contribute to the gap between researchers and practitioners -- and those two issues are essentially two sides of the same coin. First, there is a perception that there is little overlap in the interests of researchers and practitioners, which acts as a disincentive for them to work together. Second, generally speaking, the two groups know very little about each other -- meaning that neither group has a clear understanding of what the other group thinks is important.

To address these issues in detail, a team of researchers from NC State, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Iowa conducted surveys of 929 business practitioners and 828 active researchers in business disciplines. The researchers also conducted in-depth interviews with 16 academics in the business field and 22 practitioners, ranging from "C-suite" executives and managers to government officials and legal advisors. The surveys and interviews focused on the needs and goals of the study participants.

The interview and survey data were consistent with each other, and identified clear areas of overlap.

"There are many more areas of common interest than either researchers or practitioners were aware of," says George Banks, lead author of the paper and an assistant professor of management at UNC-Charlotte. Specifically, both groups expressed significant interest in eight particular business challenges:

  • Reducing or eliminating pay inequality.
  • Reducing or eliminating workplace discrimination.
  • Reducing or eliminating unethical business practices.
  • Expanding opportunities for continuing education.
  • Leveraging technological innovation to improve job availability and quality.
  • Improving employee morale.
  • Reducing the carbon footprint of businesses and products.
  • And enhancing the quality of customer service.

"To be clear, we didn't give people a list of topics to choose from," says Brad Kirkman, co-author of the paper, General (Ret.) H. Hugh Shelton Distinguished Professor of Leadership and head of the Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in NC State's Poole College of Management.

"These shared interests are subjects that researchers and practitioners brought up independently again and again when asked what they felt were the biggest challenges facing their fields."

"Interestingly, many of these challenges aren't focused on gaining a competitive advantage, but rather on addressing fundamental business practices that apply to multiple stakeholders in the domain of management," Pollack says.

The researchers also outlined four steps that could be taken by business schools to improve collaboration on these shared areas of interest.

First, the researchers urge the academic community to promote research findings. For example, faculty can work with university media offices to disseminate findings to reporters and the public.

Second, the researchers call for the creation of a new journal that is specifically focused on providing management professionals with practical advice they can actually use.

"We argue that peer-reviewed research can be both academically rigorous and relevant to practitioners - and we need a new journal that appreciates this," Pollack says.

Third, the researchers call on members of the business research community to use social media and other online platforms to reach out directly to business professionals.

Finally, the researchers suggest that business schools change the way they evaluate their faculty.

"Currently, evaluations of professors look at research, teaching and service," Kirkman says. "We propose that faculty also be evaluated based on 'practical impact.' That term may be defined differently in different places, but we think of it broadly as encompassing actions that researchers have made to reach business audiences -- whether that is by publishing books for a popular audience or working with businesses to help them craft business plans."

The researchers have already identified more than 160 businesses that are interested in working with the research community. "And that number is growing all the time," Pollack says. More information about these potential business/research partners is available from the authors.

"We are in the early stages of using these findings to implement change," Pollack says. "But we have every reason to believe that this change is inevitable, and that it will benefit both researchers and the business community."

The paper, "Management's Science-Practice Gap: A Grand Challenge for All Stakeholders," is published online in the Academy of Management Journal. Co-authors include Jaime Bochantin of UNC-Charlotte, Christopher Whelpley of VCU, and Ernest O'Boyle of the University of Iowa. The work was done with support from the Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in NC State's Poole College of Management.

Source : http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/ncsu-siw072116.php 

Categorized in Business Research

ABSTRACT

This article attempts to convey the joys and frustrations of skimming the Internet trying to find relevant
information concerning an academic’s work as a scientist, a student or an instructor. A brief overview of
the Internet and the “do’s and don’ts” for the neophyte as well for the more seasoned “navigator” are given.
Some guidelines of “what works and what does not” and “what is out there” are provided for the scientist
with specific emphasis for biologists, as well as for all others having an interest in science but with little
interest in spending countless hours “surfing the net”. An extensive but not exhaustive list of related
websites is provided.

INTRODUCTION

In the past few years the Internet has expanded to every aspect of human endeavor, especially since the
appearance of user-friendly browsers such as Netscape, Microsoft Internet Explorer and others. Browsers
allow easy access from anywhere in the world to the World Wide Web (WWW), which is a collection of
electronic files that are the fastest growing segment of the Internet. Correspondingly, we are drowning in
a sea of information while starving for knowledge. Can we manage this wealth of information into digestible
knowledge? Yes! With help and perseverance. However, given the magnitude and rate at which the Internet
changes, this article cannot provide a comprehensive guide to available resources; rather, it serves primarily
as a starting-point in the individual quest for knowledge.


WHAT IS THE INTERNET?

The Internet is a worldwide computer network started by the US government primarily to support education
and research. Many books and reviews exist that detail the Internet in almost every aspect. Among these,
“The World Wide Web–Beneath the Surf” by Handley and Crowcroft (1) gives basic information and
history. A succinct overview in a tutorial format has been set up by the University of California at Berkeley
Library (2). It provides a quick start to finding information through the Internet. Information about teaching
and learning through the “Web” can also be found in study modules set up by Widener University’s
Wofgram Memorial Library (3). For the science aficionado, concise information containing a primer to the Internet for the biotechnologist can be found in a recent review by Lee at al., 1998 (4).

For more in-depth knowledge, two books of interest to the biologist are Swindell et al., 1996 (5) and by Peruski and Peruski,
1997 (6). However, given the scope and the rate of growth of the Internet, estimated at 40 million servers
and predicted to reach over 100 million servers by the year 2000 (7), any review can become obsolete within
months of publication. (Table 1 illustrates growth estimates of the Internet).


IMPORTANT INTERNET TERMINOLOGY

What are URLs?

URL stands for Universal (or Uniform) Resource Locator and is analogous to the address protocol used
in sending and receiving regular mail. The first portion usually refers to the protocol type, for example:

• HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) allows users to access the information in hypertext format, namely
clickable sites and multimedia (sound, graphics, video).
• FTP (file transfer protocol) permits transfer of files, whether these are text files, image files or
software programs.
• GOPHER is an obsolete text transfer protocol without multimedia access that preceded HTTP.
The next portion of the URL is a set of letters or numbers that indicate website address and files. For a more
detailed explanation see “Understanding and decoding URLs” by Kirk, 1997 (8).

STARTING-POINTS FOR INTERNET RESEARCH

Due to the size of the Internet, one needs to rely on various software, called search engines, to find
appropriate information. A common start-up site that can provide quick subject catalogs by topic area is
Yahoo (11). Many single or multiple database search engines perform broad searches on a topic by keyword. Links to these can be found through the Internet Public Library (IPL) (12). The most popular engines include: Lycos (13), Excite (14), Infoseek (15), Dogpile (16), and Metacrawler (17). A recent addition that allows for one-step searching of web-pages and full-text journals is Northern Light (18). This engine is recommended for scientists, but access to its full text articles requires payment. A comparison of various search engines’ performance with overall tips for Internet searching can be found at the Okanagan University College Library (19).

Other sites containing links to sites of scientific relevance include SciCentral (20), SciWeb (21), BioMed
Net (22) and Science Channel (23), among others. A comprehensive list cataloguing selected sites for
biomedical sciences can be found at Biosites (24) and at the IPL Biological Sciences Reference (25).
Timely topics in science are provided by Scientific American (26). Abstracts of scientific articles catalogued
by the National Library of Medicine can be searched for free using Medline (27), and those catalogued by
the National Agricultural Library, using Agricola (28). Some sites allow for free perusal of full text but few
such journals exist. A good site for development, cell science and experimental biology can be found at the
Company of Biologists (29). Some free online magazines that may be of interest include: In Scight (30)
produced by Academic Press in partnership with Science Magazine, ScienceNow (31) sponsored by the
American Association for the Advancement of Science, UniSci (32), HMSBeagle (33) from BioMedNet.
As well as Network Science (34).

Despite the abundance of websites, effective and efficient searching can be frustrating when a query results
in over 100,000 hits. Successful search strategies are typically through experience and discipline, although
following the guidelines indicated by (2, 3) and the comprehensive basic guide for general researching and
writing from the IPL (35), can be most helpful. Nonetheless, searching through the Internet has become
a common and convenient feature, necessitating one to approach each WWW site with caution. Some
guidelines are given below.

GUIDELINES FOR DETERMINING RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY OF WEBSITES

The Internet changes daily as resources are added, changed, moved or deleted. Millions of people, young
and old, as individuals or within organizations create resources ranging from basic information about
themselves, their interests or their products, to complex lists of funding resources, multimedia textbooks,
full-text journals, clinical information systems, epidemiological and statistical databases, and the like. One
of the most pressing needs is to evaluate these resources for accuracy and completeness. All information
should be received with skepticism, unless an evaluation of a site can be performed.

Relevant question in evaluating a site include the following: Is the site affiliated with a reputable institution
or organization such as a University, government or research institution? URL’s may reveal this information:
“edu” includes most educational institutions, “gov” indicates government affiliated sites, and “com” refers
to commercial enterprises, while “org” suffixes are used by many non-profit organizations. The two-letter
suffix on non-USA sites indicates the country of origin (8). Is there a tilde (~) in the site address? Usually
personal webpages are indicated with a tilde, and although not necessarily bad, one should be particularly
careful when evaluating such sites. Other questions to keep in mind: Is there a particular bias? Who is the
author? What are their credentials? How current is this site? Many sites have been abandoned and sit as
“junkyards” of old information. How stable is the site? Is the general style of the site reliable? Consider
grammar and spelling

Critical evaluation of websites

Many websites provide strategies for the critical evaluation of webpages. The University of Florida with
a list of short tips (36), Purdue University provides a step by step checklist (37), and Widener University
has page-specific checklists (38). Another list of evaluating resources posted by many librarians can be
found through the University of Washington Libraries site (39).

The following are some points to consider when visiting sites:
1. Content: is real information provided? Is content original or does it contain just links? Is the
information unique or is it a review? How accurate is it? What is the depth of content?
2. Authority: who or what is the source of the information? What are the qualifications?
3. Organization: how is the site organized? Can you move easily through the site? Is the information
presented logically? Is the coverage adequate? Can you explore the links easily? Is there a search
engine for the site?
4. Accessibility: can you access the server dependably? Does the site require registration? If so, is it
billed? Can it be accessed through a variety of connections and browsers? Is it friendly for text
viewers? How current is it? Is it updated regularly?
5. Ratings: is the site rated? By whom? Using what criteria? How objective is it? If the site is a rating
service itself, does it state its criteria?

CITING WEBSITES

Information from any source should be properly referenced whenever possible as intellectual property and
copyright laws usually apply. Electronically stored information presents new challenges since no method
exists to easily monitor this vast “global library”. However, scholarly activity should maintain a high
standard of conduct by following appropriate citation protocols.

Several citation formats exist for referencing webpages. Two common citing conventions are the MLA style
from the Modern Language Association of America (40), and the APA style from the American
Psychological Association (41). The latter acknowledges a guide by Li and Crane, 1996 (42) to its style
for citing electronic documents. Slight variations exist, depending on whether the citation is from individual
works, parts of works, electronic journal articles, magazine articles, or discussion list messages. Detailed
information for these can be found in Crane’s webpages (43), for APA style and for the MLA style (44).
A proposed Web extension to the APA style has recently been reported by Land (45). Consider however,
that there are many citation style guides for electronic sources. Some of these sites are listed at the
University of Alberta Libraries (46).

All references should generally contain the same information that would be provided from a printed source
(or as much of that information as possible). If author of the site is given, their last name and initials are placed first, followed by the date that the file was created or modified (full date in day/month/year format or year, month/date if feasible) and the title of the site in quotations. If affiliation to organization is known, this should be indicated. The date the resource was accessed is placed next (day/month/year or year, month/date), and finally the complete URL within angle brackets. Care should be taken not to give

authorship to webmasters who are responsible for posting or maintaining information on webpages and are
not the originators of the contents. However, they can be referenced as editors with the generic Ed.
abbreviation. Finally, in some instances, Internet resources are also published on hard copies, in those cases,
the appropriate citation format should be followed and the URL address should also be indicated.

Organization of Bibliography

Bibliographic format varies according to the preference of the publisher, institution, or journal. In general, include authors in alphabetical or in numerical order of appearance. Some prefer separate bibliographies for paper-based “hardcopy” references and for “softcopy” electronic sources. Others permit intermixing (as in the present article). If the author is unknown, site names are listed in appropriate order. Should some information be missing, it is acceptable to omit this information and still cite the reference. For example, some sites may not show authors or dates or have any indication of affiliation. However, the URLs should always be indicated.

CONCLUSION

The Internet holds vast and exciting possibilities for the scientific community and for society as a whole.
The power of the individual can be multiplied by the “click of a mouse” as new capabilities are provided
by linking various computing systems to the global village. Nevertheless, the Internet as seen through the
WWW can be addictive. One “click” effortlessly from one site to another in a seemingly endless and aimless
loop. Enjoy or despair, at your own risk!

Written By: E. Misser

Source:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC140117/

Categorized in Online Research
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