In this age of political correctness, we often struggle with what to do with the he/she issue. We used to just write "he" when the sex of the subject was unknown--but that is out--and "hizer" never really caught on. This conundrum left a void in our vernacular, until now. WSJ reports on an article in the NEW SCIENTIST magazine (1-5-08) that kids in Baltimore have come to the rescue with the use of the word YO: "It is 'yo,' as in 'yo put your feet up.' The study showed this usage was different from other uses of 'yo'--as a greeting or as a synonym of 'you'. . .[and] is significant [because] it emerged without politically correct prodding." This story reminds me that language is a living construct of the collective mind and emerges anew in the most unlikely places, something to watch avidly in the future.
How are the forests of the world monitored for general health or compliance with the Kyoto agreement? Satellites would be the obvious answer, but "heavy cloud cover and frequent, heavy rain in these tropical regions make conventional satellite monitoring difficult," says Tom Wright in a WSJ article entitled "Solving Technical Problem for Climate" (1-3-08, p. B3.) He writes of the solution to this vexing problem. Note that the national aerospace agency of Japan is working in cooperation with an established American research institute, which certainly shows an enlightened trend in and of itself:
"Now, scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Woods Hole Research Center, a scientific institute based in Massachusetts, think they might have the answer. Using new technology to analyze radar waves emitting from a surveillance satellite, the scientists say they can accurately assess the state of the world's forests with accuracy that is close to real time, no matter what the weather on Earth."
Which brings us to an old innovation that has been resurrected to help solve one of the problems with solar energy--that of storage. On January 2, 2008, WSJ reported that a "Solar Venture will Draw on Molten Salt" (p. A7.) Molten salt, I asked? Now that is enlightened innovation:
"The solar-plant technology was first demonstrated in the 1980's, using the sun's heat to convert water into steam to drive generators. In 1994, the project was modified to include the use of molten salt for energy storage. In such a system, the molten salt is pumped through a tower, where it is heated by the sun's rays. The salt is then stored in insulated containers until it is needed. It is then turned into steam that drives turbines that generate electricity. . .molten salt only loses about 1% of its heat during the day, making it possible to store energy for long periods of time."
This illuminated use of solar energy technology is a step forward because at least the source of the energy (sun) is free and the storage medium (salt) is cheap and plentiful. It is predicted by some that the unleashing of no-cost energy in the future will free humanity to pursue its divine birthright--something we cannot even fully imagine at the moment, although sharing, cooperation and responsibility will be parts of the framework.
These forward-thinking attitudes have always played a part on the world-wide web with opportunities abounding to download free software of every kind imaginable (including this blog site through Google.) However, getting access to the internet to download the free software has not always been possible for those with no funds. In San Francisco last summer, Meraki Inc. began to change that equation by offering free Wi-Fi internet access to anyone who asked. The WSJ commented that "Meraki, which was founded in 2006 and sells wireless gear and related network services, says it is financing the free San Francisco wireless service itself as a research-and-development expense. . ." (1-4-08, p. B3.) The age of wireless technology has opened a vast area of sharing possibilities, and these advances are worth watching.
And finally, as we all know, global warming has been blamed for climate change. That belief has set off a fire-storm of controversy that has grown rather acrimonious over the last few years. Another theory that has gotten little press is the role that the sun plays in the Earth's climate and is one that is examined by the scientists at the Center for Sun-Climate Research, located in Copenhagen. Rather than being an inert hot ball in the sky, they speculate that the sun influences us in more ways than we can count, including directly affecting the climate.
Another little recognized affect on the climate is that of Earth's magnetism. In 1923, in The Mahatma Letters to AP Sinnett, one of the Masters who sent these letters to Mr. Sinnett explains in abbreviated detail that a mass of magnetized meteoric dust compressing our atmosphere creates climatic changes, not the sun or man:
"Even simple muscular contraction is always accompanied by with electrical and magnetic phenomenon, and there is the strongest connection between the magnetism of the Earth, the changes of weather and man, who is the best barometer living, if he but knew how to decipher it properly;. . .it is an established fact that it is the earth's magnetism that produces wind, storms, and rain. Earth's magnetic attraction of meteoric dust, and the direct influence of the latter upon the sudden changes of temperature especially in the matter of heat and cold."
"High above our earth's surface the air is impregnated and the space filled with magnetic, or meteoric dust, which does not even belong to our solar system. Science having luckily discovered, that, as our earth with all other planets is carried along through space, it receives a greater proportion of that dust matter on its northern than on its southern hemisphere, knows that this is due to the preponderating number of the continents in the former hemisphere, and the greater abundance of snow and moisture. Millions of such meteors and even of the finest particles reach us yearly and daily, and all of our knives are made of this 'heavenly' iron, which reaches us without having undergone any change--"
The matter of climate is a timely topic of discussion and has raised men's awareness to the changes occurring in the Earth's environment. Could it be that in this discussion, like many others, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of the matter? Both sides of the debate might consider that possibility when launching barbs at the other. There is a good chance that neither is completely right and each has something to contribute if done in a spirit of cooperation and sharing. In an atmosphere impregnated by that loving energy, the Masters might be more interested in sharing their knowledge as well.