Saturday, May 31, 2008

A solidariedade dos pescadores

Os pescadores estão incomodados com a subida do preço do petróleo nos mercados internacionais, sendo que muitos apontam como causa para esta escalada de preços a existência de especulação financeira, o que causa aumentos artificiais dos preços dos combustíveis. Pretendem que os governos se solidarizem com a situação e subsidiem os custos adicionais que este aumento representa na indústria do pescado. Para atingir este objectivo, muitos pescadores europeus optaram por fazer greve em simultâneo, gerando uma escassez artificial de peixe nos mercados europeus que está a ter como consequência o rápido aumento dos preços destes bens.

Daqui a uns dias talvez vejamos nos telejornais retalhistas e proprietários de restaurantes a ameaçar que entrarão em greve (aumentando necessariamente os preços das refeições para o consumidor final) caso os governos não sejam solidários para com as dificuldades destes comerciantes e subsidiem a compra de peixe. A parte mais bonita desta história é como os sectores comerciais de vários países se conseguem organizar espontaneamente para por fim à especulação financeira e fazer tantas demonstrações conjuntas de solidariedade para com os restantes elementos da sociedade que consumem os seus produtos.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Logarithmic Spirals

Image Credit: M101 - NASA, ESA, CFHT, NOAO; Typhoon Rammasun - MODIS, NASA
Comparison: Lawrence Anderson-Huang (Ritter Astrophysical Obs., Univ. Toledo)

Explanation: Uncomfortably close Typhoon Rammasun (right) and 25 million light-year distant galaxy M101 don't seem to have much in common. For starters, Rammasun was only a thousand kilometers or so across while M101 (aka the Pinwheel Galaxy) spans about 170,000 light-years, making them vastly dissimilar in scale, not to mention the different physical environments that control their formation and development. But they do look amazingly alike: each with arms exhibiting the shape of a simple and beautiful mathematical curve known as a logarithmic spiral, a spiral whose separation grows in a geometric way with increasing distance from the center. Also known as the equiangular spiral, growth spiral, and Bernoulli's spiral or spira mirabilis, this curve's rich properties have fascinated mathematicians since its discovery by 17th century philosopher Descartes. Intriguingly, this abstract shape is much more abundant in nature than suggested by the striking visual comparison above. For example, logarithmic spirals can also describe the tracks of subatomic particles in a bubble chamber, the arrangement of sunflower seeds and, of course, cauliflower.

(sub-repticiamente gamado ao António)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Citação do dia

"To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place[d] under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality."

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century