Archive for the Science Category

Scientists find first direct evidence of cosmic inflation [Xinhua]

Posted in Science, USA on March 25, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

WASHINGTON, March 17 (Xinhua) — U.S. astronomers announced Monday they have captured the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time described as the “first tremors”” of the Big Bang in which the universe came into existence 14 billion years ago.

The researchers believed that the results represent the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation, a theory that say the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times in less than the blink of an eye in the first fleeting fraction of a second after the Big Bang…

…”These results are not only a smoking gun for inflation, they also tell us when inflation took place and how powerful the process was,” [Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics theorist Avi]…Loeb said.

These groundbreaking results came from observations by the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole of the cosmic microwave background, a faint glow left over from the Big Bang. Tiny fluctuations in this afterglow provide clues to conditions in the early universe. For example, small differences in temperature across the sky show where parts of the universe were denser, eventually condensing into galaxies and galactic clusters.

But as theorized, inflation should also produce gravitational waves, ripples in space-time propagating throughout the universe. Observations from the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole now demonstrate that gravitational waves were created in abundance during the early inflation of the universe…

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Prof. Higgs: God Particle "is a joke"; real name is “God*amn Particle” [Xinhua]

Posted in China, India, Japan, Science on July 9, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

EDINBURGH, July 6 (Xinhua) — Professor Peter Higgs at Edinburgh University is in focus of spotlight after recent finding [sic] about Higgs boson, a particle named after him and often nicknamed God Particle, but can you believe that he just said God Particle "is a joke"?

No, of course he is not saying the scientific finding is a joke, but referring to the name of "God Particle", in a press conference held on Friday at [sic] University of Edinburgh.

When answering questions about the name of God Particle, Professor Higgs said: "It has nothing to do with me. It’s a joke."

He clarified that the name came from a book, whose authors originally used the title "Goddamn particle" because Higgs boson is so hard to find, but the editor didn’t like that and changed it to "God particle".

That name is not used by physicists but fairly eye-catching for the general public, said Professor Higgs.

When asked about if the finding would earn him a Nobel Prize, Professor Higgs said: "I don’t know, because I don’t have friends in the Nobel Committee."

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US atom smasher may have found new force of nature [AFP / Yahoo News]

Posted in Science on April 15, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Kerry Sheridan

April 6, 2011


WASHINGTON (AFP) – Data from a major US atom smasher lab may have revealed a new elementary particle, or potentially a new force of nature, one of the physicists involved in the discovery told AFP on Wednesday.

The physics world was abuzz with excitement over the findings, which could offer clues to the persistent riddle of mass and how objects obtain it — one of the most sought-after answers in all of physics.

But experts cautioned that more analysis was needed to uncover the true nature of the discovery, which comes as part of an ongoing experiment with proton and antiproton collisions to understand the workings of the universe.

"There could be some new force beyond the force that we know," said Giovanni Punzi, a physicist with the international research team that is analyzing the data from the US Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

"If it is confirmed, it could point to a whole new world of interactions," he told AFP.

While much remains a mystery, researchers agree that this is not the "God Particle," or the Higgs-boson, a hypothetical elementary particle which has long eluded physicists who believe it could explain why objects have mass.

"The Higgs-boson is a piece that goes into the puzzle that we already have," said Punzi. "Whereas this is something that goes a little bit beyond that — a new interaction, a new force."

Punzi said the new observation behaves differently than the Higgs-boson, which would be decaying into heavy quarks, or particles.

The new discovery "is decaying in normal quarks," Punzi said. "It has different features," he added…

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U.S. climate scientist calls China ‘hope of the world’ [Workers World]

Posted in Alternative Energy, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, China-bashing, CPC, Energy, Environmental protection, Germany, Obama, Oil consumption, Science, U.K., USA, WTO on February 1, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

~ As Washington sues Beijing over green subsidies ~

Published Jan 26, 2011 4:09 PM

A leading U.S. scientist who deals with global warming and climate change is calling the People’s Republic of China “the best hope” for turning around a looming disaster for the world and “stopping rule by fossil fuel interests.”

Dr. James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, also wrote in the South China Morning Post on Nov. 3, “Fossil fuel interests reign in Washington and other capitals.  Big money forces legislatures to hatch ineffectual schemes such as ‘cap-and-trade-with-offsets,’ a system designed by big banks and fossil fuel interests that assures continued fossil fuel addiction.”  The South China Morning Post is an English-language daily published in Hong Kong.

China last year became the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases on an annual basis, exceeding the U.S. for the first time.  So why is it the world’s “best hope”?  Hansen says, “China leads the world in clean energy investments — nuclear, wind and solar power.”

China is also forging ahead with new technology to improve energy efficiency during the generation and transmission of electricity.

China’s biggest energy source — and biggest problem — is coal, which generates 80 percent of its electricity.  Its abundance has fueled China’s industrial revolution.  It has also contributed to air pollution inside China and to greenhouse gases in the world’s atmosphere.

However, since 2006 it has closed down many inefficient and dangerous small coal mines, cutting annual coal consumption by about 82 million tons and annual carbon dioxide emissions by some 165 million tons.

Most CO2 came from Britain

It takes many years for the impact of greenhouse gases to be felt. The blanket of CO2 and other greenhouse gases now warming Earth ha s been accumulating since the 19th century. Hansen says the largest portion of these gases was generated by Britain, where the industrial revolution in the West started.  Germany is second.  It is followed by the U.S., with responsibility for 27 percent, and China, with only 9.5 percent of the total.

Even looking just at current emissions, China, with its very large population, produces far fewer emissions per capita than any other industrialized country, even though it has now become the “factory to the world.”

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Fidel Castro’s Reflections: The State of the Union [Prensa Latina]

Posted in 9/11, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Currency wars, DPR Korea, Economic crisis & decline, El Salvador, Fascism, Fidel Castro, Haiti, IMF - International Monetary Fund, India, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, NATO, Nobel Peace Prize, Obama, Panama, Pentagon, Russia, Sanctions as weapon of war, Science, south Korea, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on January 30, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“…Who is the President of the United States trying to fool with that speech?…It is difficult for God to bless so many lies.”



(Translation provided by ESTI)

After his January 12 address at the University of Tucson, Arizona, on the massacre that had took place four days earlier, people awaited with interest for the US president’s speech on the same topic.  Six people died and fourteen were injured, including young Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was elected to the United States Congress for the third time and had been opposed to the anti-immigration law in Arizona, a state that was part of the territory snatched from Mexico in the unjust war of 1848.

The Tea Party, the rightwing fascist element of the Republican Party, gained a notable victory of the voters who bothered to come out and vote in the elections.

The people of Arizona, as in the rest of the United States, reacted with indignation.  Their behavior was without a doubt the right thing to do, and that is what I said.

I have never doubted the ethics that usually characterize the people, independent of the policy of governments.

If that address by Obama was lacking, in terms of addressing the incredible demonstration of primitivism reflected in the widespread and practically unrestricted use of lethal firearms, his State of the Union address deserves an ethical and political analysis since, independently of the president and the congress, the United States is a superpower upon which the human species, and several other important factors, depend.

No country on its own should look for or can come up with answers to the problems that the world faces today.

In the first place, Obama is engulfed in an electoral process.  He has to speak for both the democrats and republicans, those who vote, those who don’t vote, multimillionaires and beggars, Protestants and Catholics, Christians and Muslims, believers and nonbelievers, blacks and whites, those who support stem cell research and those who don’t support it, homosexuals and heterosexuals, every citizen and their counterpart, to end by saying that they are all Americans, as if the remaining 95.5%, or 6.9 billion inhabitants on the rest of the planet did not exist.

Obama dives into this subject on the first pages of his address that lasted an hour:

“At stake right now is not who wins the next election – at stake is whether new jobs and industries take root – it’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but the light to the world.

“We are poised for progress – the stock market has come roaring back.  Corporate profits are up.  The economy is growing again.”

Immediately following these words, Obama tried to move us with a passage that seems to be taken straight from a US movie that my generation will remember, Gone with the Wind, about the terrible civil war between the industrialized north and the agrarian and slavery-practicing south, during the time of the exceptional leader, Abraham Lincoln.

“That world has changed.  And for many, the change has been painful.  I’ve seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts on once busy Main Streets.  I’ve heard it in the frustrations of Americans who’ve seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear ‘proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.”

“Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100.”

“Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world – Just recently, China became the home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.”

” – America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world..”

“We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time.  We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.  We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business – And tonight, I’d like to talk about how we get there.”

Obama never talks about the big monopoly businesses that today control and plunder the planet’s resources.  He never mentions the Bretton Woods accord, the system imposed on a world in ruins because of war, where the United States takes over control of the financial institutions and the International Monetary Fund, where they fiercely hold on veto power.  He never says one word about the colossal con by Nixon in 1971 when he unilaterally suspended the conversion of the dollar in gold, printed US dollars without any sort of limits, and acquired uncountable goods and riches in the world, for which he primarily paid with paper, whose value over 40 years has fallen to 2.5% of what it was worth then.

On the other hand, Obama likes to tell poetic tales about small businesses to supposedly dazzle, captivate and move the audience who are not warned about the reality.  His speech, style and tone all seem designed to have the audience listen, like well-behaved children, to his moving stories.

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DNA tests of bones add new species to human genus [People’s Daily]

Posted in Africa, Russia, Science on January 23, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

January 12, 2011

Scientists have discovered remains of a mysterious new species of human being who lived alongside our ancestors 30,000 years ago in a cave in Siberia and named the cavemen “Denisovans,” reported by Beijing Daily.

During the last Ice Age, Denisovans walked the Earth when modern humans were developing sophisticated stone tools, jewelry and art.

According to scientists, the cavemen were identified from DNA extracted from a tooth and finger bone, which belonged to a girl aged around 5 to 7, found in Denisova cave. The girl is nicknamed the X-Woman. Apart from the finger and tooth bone, scientists also found some ornaments and jewelry.

Provisional tests published earlier this year suggested she belonged to an entirely new species. Now a full DNA analysis has confirmed her place on the increasingly complex human family tree.

The discovery follows the controversial discovery of another so-called “new” species of 3-foot-tall human, referred to as “the Hobbit,” on an Indonesian island in 2004.

However, many researchers have dismissed the Hobbit, claiming the bones came from a modern human with a growth disorder.

The Denisovans were physically different from the thickset Neanderthals and modern humans although they also walked upright two legs. The tooth resembles much older human ancestors, such as Homo erectus, pictured, which died out 1 million years ago, and scientists believe the Denisovans were similar in looks. They lived at a time when our ancestors and the Neanderthals were fishing and hunting, wearing jewelry, painting caves and making animal carvings.

A study also found extracts of Denisovan DNA in modern-day inhabitants of Melanesia, the islands to the north and east of Australia, including New Guinea. That suggests the Denisovans interbred with the ancestors of the Melanesians and may have been widespread in Asia.

The new species appears to have been a “sister group” to the Neanderthals and its discovery paints a complicated picture of human evolution and migration out of Africa, the cradle of mankind.

Scientists believe one group of early human ancestors left Africa between 300,000 and 400,000 years ago and quickly split up. One branch evolved into the Neanderthals who spread into Europe, while the other moved east and became Denisovans.

Around 70,000 years ago, there was another wave of migration when modern humans quit Africa. These were our ancestors, and they first encountered and interbred with Neanderthals, leaving traces of Neanderthal DNA in the genetic code of all non-Africans alive today.

One group of modern humans later came into contact with Denisovans, leaving traces of Denisovan DNA in the humans who settled in Melanesia.

David Derbyshire contributed to the story

By Wang Hanlu, People’s Daily Online

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“Why Socialism?” by Albert Einstein [ / Monthly Review / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in Science on January 11, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

This essay is a little longer than what I normally like to post, but I feel Einstein was simultaneously so very concise and very comprehensive that I cannot reduce this historically important and essential essay. – Zuo Shou 左手

This essay was originally published in the first issue of Monthly Review (May 1949).

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the predatory phase” of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: “Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?”

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept “society” means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is “society” which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished—just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time—which, looking back, seems so idyllic—is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.

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