Changes this issue

Posted on February 13, 2012

GalaxiesAs we mentioned with the last issue, there have been changes here at Changed Times for this issue and more yet to come. The main change for this issue willl be the ones very few of our readers will see, although you will notice that our News In Brief section has been moved. This time we have been working on access to the site. While there is still a chance o do it, the pages have been checked on a Symbian “semi-smart” mobile phone to make sure they are readable on Nokia phones.

English: Nokia N8

As you probably know, Nokia have let their own operating system – Symbian – slowly slide off into oblivion and as users upgrade they will have the joys of Windows Mobile to contend with so while there was still a Symbian phone to check it on we have made sure the pages work with them. This means you can now read the magazine on your old-style Nokia phones, although there still appears to be a problem with the menu navigation.

Next up, we shall move on to Android smartphones and test that out plus perhaps building an app for the magazine. Unfortunately we may ot be able to do the same with iPhones and the iPad since finances are very much against us and we can’t get hold of press copies to evaluate.

The end of the world is nigh

In this issue we take a look at a couple of things that could cause serious issues for the planet as a whole. First up is the small mattter of a couple of labs that have created a potential infuenza plague virus in the name of checking what is needed to prevent one in the first place.

It may seem as crazy to you as it does to us but these labs have actualy been playing with minimal mutations to make the H5N1 “bird flu” virus into as lethal a strain as possible. If it were not for the understandable plans of the researchers to publish their work, it would be carrying on without the kind of overall concern that such a dangerous project deserves. Thankfully though, governments and international bodies have stepped into things and demanded certain parts of the results are not published, due to the risk providing a blueprint for a plague would carry.

Flash bang wallop!

Second of our doom and destruction stories concerns the sleepy black hole at the centre of our galaxy which seems to be about to wake up. In this case there is no real danger, at least on the immediate scale, since what is waking our sleeping giant is a drifting meal of interstellar gas that has got itself on a ne-way trip down the monster at the heart of our galaxy.

While this will result in the release of huge amounts of energy as the gas cloud is ripped apart by the greedy maw of our black hole, the energy will not even arrive as visible light so should pass us by almost unnoticed. For now, at least, there is no danger of our galaxy joining the large number of objects out there with a dazzlingly bright quasar at its heart or worry about a gamma ray burst from it. But it does, perhaps, serve to remnd us how fragile a galaxy can be and just how tenuous a grip life might hold.

Cover of "The Limits to growth: A report ...

Citizen science in the 70s

Finally, we take a look at the Limits to Growth published forty years ago this year. In our first named contribution from a specific author, Mark Preston looks back to his teenage years when he took part in the work that led to this book and which was one of the first ever science projects to identify that limited resources available on a planet might limit the growth of civilisation and of population.

Although the original work was massively disputed, especially by the press and the vested interests in a “business as usual” model he shows how its findings have been predominantly proved correct and are now considered to be pretty much accepted. It was not the origin of the ecologica movement but it was, perhaps, the first work to put it on a scientific basis.

To encourage more articles from other authors, we still need to provide a beter system for contributions and will be trying to get this donw along with the testing on Android. It may take su a while, but we shall get there and urge you all to be patient.

Posted in: Editorial