1,017 research outputs found

    Postcards from the cosmos: Cosmic spaces in alternative religion and conspiracy theories.

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    If conspiracy theory is the narration of fears of existential dread, of a potentially apocalyptical plot against ‘us’, then we can understand alien conspiracies as a dread of the coming of ‘cosmological humanity’ and the end of ‘geostationary man’. In escaping gravity’s hold a terminal velocity is achieved by a species ready to mythologize, even sacralise, its achievements and to enchant the Heavens once again in terms more suited to the technological age. Virgiliu Pop’s astrosociology will provide a means for framing the uniqueness of post-Gagarin conspiracist spiritualities within the particular religious cultures of cosmic humanity whilst Raymond Williams’ concept of structures of feeling will be drawn upon to understand the cultural significance of these spiritualities.N/

    #whitegenocide, the alt-right and conspiracy theory: How secrecy and suspicion contributed to the mainstreaming of hate.

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    This article considers the relationship between “hashtag activism” as it is currently being used by the alt-right and the tendency to draw on conspiracy theory that Richard Hofstadter identified as being prevalent among what he termed “pseudo-conservatives” half a century earlier. Both the alt-right and Hofstadter’s “pseudo-conservatives” can be characterised by a pronounced populist nationalism that understands its aims as protecting a particular way of life whilst drawing on an aggrieved sense of injustice at being conspired against by an unseen enemy. That this “enemy” is typically foreign in actuality or in spirit confirms the cultural dimension on which their politics is played out. It is argued here that this paranoid populist nationalism has been figuratively drawn upon in the rhetoric of Donald Trump and that this apparent openness to the “pseudo-conservative” discourse on nationalism has provided a bridging effect via which far right elements are seeking to normalize extremist viewpoints.N/

    Conspiracy Theories, MIllennialism, and the Nation: Understanding the collective voice in improvisational millennialism

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    The following critical appraisal presents eight interlinked works that apply and extend Michael Barkun’s (2003) concept of ‘improvisational millennialism’. This body of work demonstrates that, as Barkun suggests, the concept is widely applicable to the online communities in which stigmatized knowledge is widely accepted. Moreover, it extends the definition to consider how improvisational millennialism provides ill-defined or dispossessed communities a means of articulating a collective relationship to historical time as well as a crude means of shoring up basic assumptions of group membership. Mythical pasts and millennial expectation provide the opportunity for shared eschatological orientation whilst the dualism of conspiracy theories demarcates between the communities and their outsiders. This critical review demonstrates how the journal articles and book chapters collected in the appendices provide specific examples of the application and extension of improvisational millennialism. The examples chosen are varied but a persistent theme drawn out through analysis is the role that national cultures – official and official – are articulated through improvisational millennialism. The examples include consideration of how the depiction of millennial beliefs in the mass media contribute to national cultural constructs but more typically focus on the use of improvisational millennialism in online communities. Of the latter, the greater number of examples are concerned with improvisational millennialism within the neo-fascist milieu. Mobilised by conspiracy theories with apocalyptic subtexts, the far right reliance on improvisational millennialism demonstrates the implicit danger of the increased incursion of stigmatized knowledge into the cultural mainstream. This critical review serves to show that despite being typified by a syncretic bricolage of unconnected ideas and traditions, improvisational millennialism is reflective of both social and political realities.N/

    Accurate crop yield predictions from modelling tree-crop interactions in gliricidia-maize agroforestry

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    Agroforestry systems, containing mixtures of trees and crops, are often promoted because the net effect of interactions between woody and herbaceous components is thought to be positive if evaluated over the long term. From a modelling perspective, agroforestry has received much less attention than monocultures. However, for the potential of agroforestry to impact food security in Africa to be fully evaluated, models are required that accurately predict crop yields in the presence of trees. The positive effects of the fertiliser tree gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium) on maize (Zea mays) are well documented and use of this tree-crop combination to increase crop production is expanding in several African countries. Simulation of gliricidia-maize interactions can complement field trials by predicting crop response across a broader range of contexts than can be achieved by experimentation alone. We tested a model developed within the APSIM framework. APSIM models are widely used for one dimensional (1D), process-based simulation of crops such as maize and wheat in monoculture. The Next Generation version of APSIM was used here to test a 2D agroforestry model where maize growth and yield varied spatially in response to interactions with gliricidia. The simulations were done using data for gliricidia-maize interactions over two years (short-term) in Kenya and 11 years (long-term) in Malawi, with differing proportions of trees and crops and contrasting management. Predictions were compared with observations for maize grain yield, and soil water content. Simulations in Kenya were in agreement with observed yields reflecting lower observed maize germination in rows close to gliricidia. Soil water content was also adequately simulated, except for a tendency for slower simulated drying of the soil profile each season. Simulated maize yields in Malawi were also in agreement with observations. Trends in soil carbon over a decade were similar to those measured, but could not be statistically evaluated. These results show that the agroforestry model in APSIM Next Generation adequately represented tree-crop interactions in these two contrasting agro-ecological conditions and agroforestry practices. Further testing of the model is warranted to explore tree-crop interactions under a wider range of environmental conditions

    Diastolic Ventricular Interaction in Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction

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    Background Exercise‐induced pulmonary hypertension is common in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). We hypothesized that this could result in pericardial constraint and diastolic ventricular interaction in some patients during exercise. Methods and Results Contrast stress echocardiography was performed in 30 HFpEF patients, 17 hypertensive controls, and 17 normotensive controls (healthy). Cardiac volumes, and normalized radius of curvature (NRC) of the interventricular septum at end‐diastole and end‐systole, were measured at rest and peak‐exercise, and compared between the groups. The septum was circular at rest in all 3 groups at end‐diastole. At peak‐exercise, end‐systolic NRC increased to 1.47±0.05 (P<0.001) in HFpEF patients, confirming development of pulmonary hypertension. End‐diastolic NRC also increased to 1.54±0.07 (P<0.001) in HFpEF patients, indicating septal flattening, and this correlated significantly with end‐systolic NRC (ρ=0.51, P=0.007). In hypertensive controls and healthy controls, peak‐exercise end‐systolic NRC increased, but this was significantly less than observed in HFpEF patients (HFpEF, P=0.02 versus hypertensive controls; P<0.001 versus healthy). There were also small, non‐significant increases in end‐diastolic NRC in both groups (hypertensive controls, +0.17±0.05, P=0.38; healthy, +0.06±0.03, P=0.93). In HFpEF patients, peak‐exercise end‐diastolic NRC also negatively correlated (r=−0.40, P<0.05) with the change in left ventricular end‐diastolic volume with exercise (ie, the Frank‐Starling mechanism), and a trend was noted towards a negative correlation with change in stroke volume (r=−0.36, P=0.08). Conclusions Exercise pulmonary hypertension causes substantial diastolic ventricular interaction on exercise in some patients with HFpEF, and this restriction to left ventricular filling by the right ventricle exacerbates the pre‐existing impaired Frank‐Starling response in these patients

    Using e-learning to support international students' dissertation preparation

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    Purpose: A research paper on the design and implementation of an e-learning resource responding to the globalisation of education. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the challenges presented in learning and teaching on how to support international postgraduate (PG) students undertaking the specific task of a dissertation. Design/methodology/approach: Using findings from 250 PG students, 40 supervisors and two module tutors the research identified the content and language issues faced by students and recognised the need to design an enabler supporting the latter as independent learners and the academic staff delivering support. Findings: The e-learning tool provides an independent learning tool which addresses student concerns relating to the process and content of structuring a dissertation and the function of language. Initial responses have been positive from both staff and students in respect to providing a source of student support and feedback. Originality/value: The research shows how the Dissertation Game Model (DGM), evolved into an e-learning resource supporting student understanding of the content, structure, planning and writing of a dissertation. The e-learning tool focuses on helping international students understand what the generic contents of each chapter of a dissertation should contain and supports them in engaging in research as a transferable skill

    Accuracy of identifying incident stroke cases from linked healthcare data in UK Biobank

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    Objective In UK Biobank (UKB), a large population-based prospective study, cases of many diseases are ascertained through linkage to routinely collected, coded national health datasets. We assessed the accuracy of these for identifying incident strokes. Methods In a regional UKB subpopulation (n = 17,249), we identified all participants with ≄1 code signifying a first stroke after recruitment (incident stroke-coded cases) in linked hospital admission, primary care, or death record data. Stroke physicians reviewed their full electronic patient records (EPRs) and generated reference standard diagnoses. We evaluated the number and proportion of cases that were true-positives (i.e., positive predictive value [PPV]) for all codes combined and by code source and type. Results Of 232 incident stroke-coded cases, 97% had EPR information available. Data sources were 30% hospital admission only, 39% primary care only, 28% hospital and primary care, and 3% death records only. While 42% of cases were coded as unspecified stroke type, review of EPRs enabled a pathologic type to be assigned in >99%. PPVs (95% confidence intervals) were 79% (73%–84%) for any stroke (89% for hospital admission codes, 80% for primary care codes) and 83% (74%–90%) for ischemic stroke. PPVs for small numbers of death record and hemorrhagic stroke codes were low but imprecise. Conclusions Stroke and ischemic stroke cases in UKB can be ascertained through linked health datasets with sufficient accuracy for many research studies. Further work is needed to understand the accuracy of death record and hemorrhagic stroke codes and to develop scalable approaches for better identifying stroke types

    BBF RFC 106: A Standard Type IIS Syntax for Plants

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    Here we define a standard syntax for assembling standard parts for expression in plant cells, extensible to all other eukaryotes. Variations of the Type IIS mediated cloning method known as Golden Gate Cloning, most notably Golden Braid (GB2.0) and Golden Gate Modular Cloning (MoClo) are in common use, particularly for the assembly of plasmids for delivery to plant cells. Many characterised plant parts compatible with Type IIS mediated assembly are available outside of the Registry of Standard Parts, as well as plasmids with the features necessary for delivery of DNA to plants cells via the shuttle chassis, Agrobacterium tumefaciens. This RFC describes a consensus Type IIS syntax for plant parts to allow assembly into complete eukaryotic transcriptional units in plasmid vectors that contain the necessary features for transfection of plant chassis. We use Marchantia polymorpha, a primitive and easy-to-engineer liverwort and Nicotiana benthamiana a model plant as exemplar chassis

    Present and Future CP Measurements

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    We review theoretical and experimental results on CP violation summarizing the discussions in the working group on CP violation at the UK phenomenology workshop 2000 in Durham.Comment: 104 pages, Latex, to appear in Journal of Physics