Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Santhal Tribe

The Santhal Tribe - ZarkhandThe Santhals are the largest tribal community in India, found mainly in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. Satars or Santhals are one of the most backward ethnic groups of the neighboring country Nepal. They live in the districts of Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari. There is also a significant Santal minority in neighboring Bangladesh. Santhals also call themselves Hor. They prefer to live in the peripheries of forests and rivers. They have their own unique religion and culture. They are animist. Hunting and fishing are their favourite occupations. Their ancestral deity is Thakurjiu and their paternal guardian deity is Maranburu. Bow and arrows are their traditional weapons. Their favorite meat is pork. Most Santals are engaged in farming and labor. They belong to the Austro-Asiatic group of human families. They have also been called as a subgroup speaking a language belonging to the Munda family (Dahal, BS2051/052). Their language is called Santhali. They have their own script, which was developed by Dr Raghunath Murmu in 1925. It is called Olchiki.

Racially the Santhals belong to the protoastraloid racial group, linguistically they belong to the Mundari group of Austro-Asiatic linguistic family and economically they may be classified as plain agricultural type. The Santhals are very conscious about their identity and heritage. And this is the reason why they have, most probably consciously, built up a sense of solidarity amongst themselves. Their internal solidarity is often based on their principle of likeness, that is a shared cultural characteristic, which binds them together. The Santhals live in peace and harmony among themselves.

The Santhal Tribe - West BengalThe Jhapa district in Nepal has the highest population of Santhals and Morang district has slightly less. Their population, according to the census of 2001, is 42,689. The Southern part of the Bihar is called as `Santhal Praganas` because of the density of the Santhal tibe in this area. They had multiplied from proto - Australoid origin. It is also believed that they had come from the Districts of `Santha` and that is why they are called as `Santan` or men of Santha state. The Munda-Santal of northeastern India and Nepal comprise of nine different, but very closely related people groups. They are distributed politically throughout the states of Bihar, West Bengal, and Orissa, India. Most of the tribes live in the hilly areas of the Chotanagpur Plateau, located in southern Bihar. Others prefer living in the plains. Beyond this region, they have spread widely throughout India as agricultural and industrial laborers.

The seven groups who occupy territory farther north include the Santhal (of India and Nepal), the Bhumij, the Koda, the Mahili, the Ho, and the Agariya. The two remaining groups, the Juango and the Gadaba, are located in the southern portion of India, nearer to the coast of the Bay of Bengal.

The Santhali language is part of the Austro-Asiatic family, distantly related to Vietnamese and Khmer. The history of the Santals may be traced to Africa from where started the human migration. It was found that humans from Africa started to migrate towards the Eastern part of the world or Asia. The Santhali script, or Ol Chiki, is alphabetic, and does not share any of the syllabic properties of the other Indic scripts such as Devanagari. It uses 30 letters and five basic diacritics. It has 6 basic vowels and three additional vowels, generated using the Gahla Tudag.

Santhals did not have a written language until the twentieth century. Therefore the script is a recent development. A distinct script was required to accommodate the Santhali language, combining features of both the Indic and Roman scripts. The modern Ol Chiki script was devised by Pandit Raghunath Murmu in 1925. He wrote over 150 books covering a wide spectrum of subjects. Darege Dhan, Sidhu-Kanhu, Bidu Chandan and Kherwal Bir are among the most acclaimed of his works. Pandit Raghunath Murmu is popularly known as Guru Gomke among the Santhals, a title conferred on him by the Mayurbhanj Adibasi Mahasabh.

Judicial system:
The Santhals traditionally had an organized judicial system for the management and solution of the various problems within the community. They make every effort to solve the social problems arising within their community by themselves. The head of the Santhal community is called Manjhi Hadam. He is the chief of the executive, judicial and all other functions within society. He is assisted by other office bearers like Paranik, Jagmanjhi, Jagparanik, Naike, Gudit, etc, who work in their respective fields to solve various kinds of problems. After the birth of a child, the Jagmanjhi and following the death of a person the Gudit and others are present. Manjhi Hadam undertakes the looking into judicial cases and the dispensing of justice and above him is Disham Manjhi, and above both is Diheri. The Diheri is the highest judicial office bearer of Santhals. The Santhals who generally like to live in concentrated settlements of their own near rivers and forests are divided into 12 thars or groups. As the groups are in accordance with professional specialization, this appears as a form of social system. The Murmu are the priests of Santhals and Murdi the businessmen, while Kisku are the rulers and Hemram judges. Similarly, the Tudu are musicians and Soren soldiers. The organizations of Santhals are village council (Manjhibaisi), Proganna Council (Pramatrabaisi) and the highest council (Labirbaisi).

More about the Santhalies:
The Santhal Rebellion
Art and culture of Santhal Tribe
Beliefs and tales of Santhals
Customs of the Santhal Tribe

Ice cubes melt on volcanoes

Andrew Bolt

Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 02:48pm

It may not be just warmer water that’s caused part of Antarctica - ice sheets on the smaller Western part - to melt, after all. The glaciers there just happen to be sitting close to an underwater volcano:

A powerful volcano erupted under the icesheet of Antarctica around 2,000 years ago and it might still be active today, a finding which raises questions about ice loss from the white continent.... The eruption occurred close to the massive Pine Island Glacier, an area where movement of glacial ice towards the sea has been accelerating alarmingly in recent decades.

“It may be possible that heat from the volcano has caused some of that acceleration,” said co-author David Vaughan, who stresses though that global warming is by far still the most likely culprit.

But of course. Meanwhile most of Antarctica has in fact cooled, and southern hemisphere ice cover has been at record highs.


map making

Cartography or mapmaking (in Greek chartis = map and graphein = write) has been an integral part of the human story for a long time (maybe 8,000 years - nobody knows exactly, but longer than written words). From cave paintings to ancient maps of Babylon, Greece and Asia, through the Age of Exploration, and on into the 21st century, people have created and used maps as the essential tools to help them define, explain and navigate their way through the world (and beyond). According to some scholars,[ mapping represented a significant step forward in the intellectual development of human beings and it serves as a record of the advancing knowledge of the human race.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008


Bhils are a tribal people of central India. They speak Bhil languages, a group of Indic languages.

Bhils are a scheduled tribe in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan in western and central India, as well as in Tripura in far-eastern India, on the border with Bangladesh.

Bhils are also settled in Tharparkar district of Sindh in Pakistan.

The ghoomar dance is one well-known aspect of Bhil culture.

In feudal and colonial times, many Bhil were employed by the ruling Rajput in various capacities, e.g. as shikari because of their knowledge of the terrain. Many had even become warriors in armies. They were in the Mewar army of Maharana Pratap Singh and like Shivaji , were experts in guerilla warfare which the Mughals had trouble with so much. Today, there is a 'Mewar Bhil Corps.

In religion, popular Bhil figures are Shabari, who offered Shri Rama and Shri Laxmana half-eaten 'ber' when they were searching for Sita Devi in the forest. Maharishi Matanga was another Hindu sage that became a Brahmana.

It is noteworthy that Shri Rama appears in a Bhil myth where there has been a flood that wipied out humanity and Rama suggests how it can be repopulated.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tharu People

The Tharu people are indigenous people living in the Surkhet Valley in the west mountain region, Chitwan Valley, Dang Valley,Deukhuri Valley,Sindhuli and Udyapur in Inner Terai Valleys of Nepal and the Terai plains on the border of Nepal and India. The population of Nepal is 28,287,147 (July 2006 est.), of which the Tharu people make up 6.6%. A smaller number of Tharus live in India, mostly in Champaran District of Bihar and in Nainital District of Uttarakhand.[

The Tharu are recognised as an official nationality by the Government of Nepal Plains.They were the primary victims of the Kamaiya system outlawed by the government of Nepal on July 17 of 2000. It is now illegal to contract for labor through debt bondage or indenture. Though democracy has been reinstated in the country, the Tharu community has called for a more inclusive democracy as they are fearful of remaining a backward, underprivileged people.

The Tharu is largest and oldest ethnic group of the Terai region, living in villages near dense malaria-infested jungles in regions that were isolated over the millennia, allowing them to develop a unique culture.They work usually as farmers or peddlers. Although physically the Tharu are similar to other peoples in the area, they speak their own Tharu language that originated in Sanskrit and is now recognised officially.

Recent medical evidence supports the common"
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

GIS News:National Campaign for Nutritional Awareness and Mapping of Malnutritional Areas in India

GIS News:National Campaign for Nutritional Awareness and Mapping of Malnutritional Areas in India: "New Delhi - The Ministry of Women and Child Development will launch a nationwide campaign create nutritional awareness in the country. State level nutritional reviews will be held annually and efforts will be made for district- wise mapping of high malnutritional areas. Briefing the members of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to her Ministry here today, Smt. Renuka Chowdhury, Minister for Women and Child Development said that her Ministry has proposed nutritional education as a part of school curriculum, inclusion of core module on nutrition in the induction training programmes of all the Government officers including Indian Administrative Services. She said that breast-feeding should be recognized as food security for infants and breast-feeding education should be considered as a priority programme like immunization in both health and nutrition sectors.

Expressing concern over prevalence of malnutrition, especially among women and children, Smt. Chowdhury said that the Government is working on a multi-sectoral approach for its prevention and control. Nutritional awareness in the rural and urban slums would be created through the field units of Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) by using local dialects and regional languages. Capacity building and programmes would be run for village workers...
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Beijing Olympic flame lit in ancient Olympia

Special report: 2008 Olympic Games

OLYMPIA, Greece, March 24 (Xinhua) -- The Beijing Olympic flame was ignited in a traditional sun-ray ceremony on 11:45 on Monday at the Hera Temple of Ancient Olympia.

The head priestess, Greece's actress Maria Nafpliotou, raises the torch of Olympic flame during the flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games held in Olympia, Greece, March 24, 2008.

The head priestess, Greece's actress Maria Nafpliotou, raises the torch of Olympic flame during the flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games held in Olympia, Greece, March 24, 2008.

Dark clouds over Olympia troubled Olympic flame lighting rehearsal parted at last Monday with a flawless torch lighting ceremony heralding the unprecedented torch relay.

The High Priestess Maria Nafpliotou lit the flame out of a concave, burnished steel mirror. Then the flame was transported in a replica of an ancient urn to the ancient Olympia stadium where it was to kindle the first Olympic torch.

High Priestess Maria Nafpliotou handed over the torch to the first torchbearer, 2004 Olympic silver medallist in taekwondo (80kg) Alexandros Nikolaidis, who carried it to kick off the relay in Greece, across five continents and China.

Greek actress Maria Nafpliotou (R), playing the role of a high priestess, kindles a pot with the Olympic flame during the Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony in Olympia, Greece, March 24, 2008.

Prior to the lighting, Nafpliotou and 20 female priestesses -- all wearing pleated white dresses and sandals -- performed an ancient ritual. Following a short dancing ceremony on the slope of ancient Olympia stadium, the High Priestess ignited the first Beijing Olympic torch.

The Olympic Anthem, the National Anthem of China, the National Anthem of Greece were played and the Olympic Flag, the Chinese Flag and the Greek Flag were hoisted before the lighting ceremony.

The speeches were given by the mayor of Ancient Olympia Georgios Aidonis, President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Minos Kyriakou as well as the President of the Beijing Organizing Committee of Olympic Games Liu Qi.

"Today will lead to the opening of the first ever Olympic Games in China, where one fifth of the world's population is longing for them," said Rogge.

"By crossing five continents and visiting 21 cities throughout the world, and more than 100 cities in mainland China, the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay prepares the way to Beijing.

"The messengers will be citizens, young or old, able or disabled, athletes and members of the Olympic Movement, who are all eager to promote what each one of us can contribute to a better world."

Among the dignitaries were Prime Minister of Greece Kostas Karamanlis, President of Greece Karolos Papoulias and former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch.

"Let me first express our heartfelt gratitude to their excellencies the President and Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic for their presence at the ceremony, which fully demonstrates the friendly sentiments of the Greek Government and people towards the Chinese people," said Liu Qi.

"China and Greece, standing as ancient civilizations with long histories, have made outstanding contributions to human progress.

"Today, the Olympic flame, representing the transcendent human spirit, will be lit once again. Burning in the torch of the Beijing Olympic Games, the flame will travel over mountains and seas across the globe, our common homeland."

The first torchbearer, Greek taekwondo athlete Alexandros Nikolaidis(R), silver medalist in the Athens Olympics, kindles the torch in hand of former Chinese swimmer Luo Xuejuan(L), Athens Olympics gold medalist, during the torch relay of the Beijing Olympic Games in Olympia of Greece on March 24, 2008. (Xinhua Photo) Photo Gallery>>>

"The Olympic flame will radiate light and happiness, peace and friendship, and hope and dreams to the people of China and the whole world. Its rays will light up the starry skies during the Beijing Olympic Games."

Other prominent torch runners on the first day included 2004 Olympic champion Luo Xuejuan in 100 meters backstroke and double Olympic champion of table tennis in 1996 Atlanta Olympics Deng Yaping. Luo was the first Chinese to hold the Beijing Olympic flame after taking it from Nikolaidis.

According to the schedule, the Olympic flame will be handed over to BOCOG at 3 p.m. at Panathenian Stadium in Athens.

In Greek leg, the sacred flame will pass through 16 prefectures, 43 municipalities, 12 municipality districts, and 4 communities inthe hands of 605 torchbearers. En route, a total of 29 ceremonies will be held to celebrate the flame.

The torch will roam the island for six days, staying one night each in Mesologi, Ioannina, Vera, Thessaloniki, and Lamia, after which it will reach Athens.

The Olympic flame is to arrive in Beijing on March 31. A welcome ceremony will be held at Tian'anmen Square, heart of the host city of the 2008 Olympic Games.

After the Greek leg, the Beijing Olympic torch relay covers three parts, the relay outside the mainland of China, in the mainland of China and Mt. Qomolangma exhibition.

The Olympic flame will visit 21 cities outside Mainland of China across six continents and travel across 113 cities and regions of all 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in the mainland China until it returns to Beijing on Aug. 6.


Pygmies (singular: Pygmy) refers to various peoples of central Africa whose adults have an average height of 150 centimetres (4 feet 11 inches) or shorter.The term is also sometimes applied to the so-called Negrito peoples of Asia,and occasionally indiscriminately to individuals of unusually short stature. The term is considered by many as derogatory, with many instead preferring to be called by the name of their various ethnic groups. Nevertheless, the term is widely used as no other term has emerged to replace "Pygmy".

The term pygmy as used to refer to diminutive people derives from Greek Pygmaioi via Latin Pygmaei (sing. Pygmaeus), a measure of length corresponding to the distance between the elbow and knuckles. (See also Greek pechua (πεχυα)). In Greek mythology the word describes a tribe of dwarfs, first described by Homer, and reputed to live in Ethiopia.

The term "Pygmy" is often considered pejorative. However, there is no single term to replace it that covers all African Pygmies. The term Bayaka, the plural form of the Aka/Yaka, is sometimes used in the Central African Republic to refer to all local Pygmies. Likewise, the Kongo word Bambenga is used in Congo.

A commonly held view is that the Pygmies are the direct descendents of the Late Stone Age hunter-gatherer peoples of the central African rainforest, who were partially absorbed or displaced by later immigration of agricultural peoples, and adopted their Central Sudanic, Adamawa-Ubangian, and Bantu languages. This view has no archaeological support, and ambiguous support from genetics and linguistics. [ There is some common botanical and honey-collecting vocabulary between the Aka and Baka, who are both western Pygmy populations but speak quite different languages. This has been taken by some as the remnants of an indigenous (western) Pygmy language.

Genetically, the eastern Mbuti pygmies are extremely divergent from other human populations, as well as being the shortest of the Pygmy populations, suggesting they are an ancient indigenous lineage. Their closest relatives appear to be the Hadzabe, who live in the savannas east of the forest and were quite short in stature before heavy recent intermarriage with their taller neighbors. Other Pygmy groups which have been genetically tested are not very distinct from their non-Pygmy neighbors, suggesting either that their indigenous ancestry has been diluted through interbreeding with neighboring agricultural populations, or that they have a different ancestry from the Mbuti. Indeed, the genetic mutations responsible for the short stature of the eastern and western Pygmies are different and unrelated, supporting the view of some scientists that the Pygmies, or at least some Pygmies, are the descendants of the initial waves of Bantu and Adamawa-Ubangi speakers who took up living in the deep forest.[citation needed]

There are a number of southern "Twa" populations in Angola and neighboring countries, living in swamps and deserts far from the forest. They are little studied, and it is not known if they are indigenous to the area or more recent migrants from the forest.

Various theories have been proposed to explain the short stature of pygmies: lack of food in the rainforest environment, low calcium levels in the soil, the need to move through dense jungle, as an adaptation to heat and humidity, and most recently, as an association with rapid reproductive maturation under conditions of early mortality.

Ultraviolet light levels are very low in rainforests. This might mean that relatively little vitamin D can be made in human skin, thereby limiting calcium uptake from the diet for bone growth and maintenance. This could lead to the evolution of small skeletal size, that is to a "pygmy".

During the Congo Civil War, Pygmies were hunted down like game animals and eaten. Both sides of the war regarded them as "subhuman" and some say their flesh can confer magical powers. UN human rights activists reported in 2003 that rebels had carried out acts of cannibalism. Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, has asked the UN Security Council to recognise cannibalism as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide.

Pygmies live in several ethnic groups in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia.Most pygmy communities are hunter-gatherers, living partially but not exclusively on the wild products of their environment. They trade with neighbouring farmers to acquire cultivated foods and other material items.

There are several Pygmy groups, the best known being the Mbenga (Aka and Baka) of the western Congo basin, the Mbuti (Efe etc.) of the Ituri Rainforest, and the Twa of the Great Lakes.

* Mbenga or Bambenga (AKA Ba-Binga [derogatory]) (west Congo basin)
o Aka or Mòáka (AKA (Ba)Yaka, Bayaga, Gbayaka, Biaka, Beká) (Central African Republic, Republic of Congo) speak a Bantu language close to Linguala
+ Mbenzélé or Babenzélé (Western Aka, Central African Republic)
+ Basese (Eastern Aka)
o Baka (AKA Bibaya) (Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo) speak closely related Ubangi languages
+ Baka proper
+ Ganzi
+ Gundi or Ngondi
o Gyele or Ba/Bo-gieli (AKA Bonjiel(i), Bako, Bekoe, Bakola, Bakuele, Likoya) (Cameroon) speak a Bantu language of the Makaa-Njem branch
* Mbuti or Bambuti (Ituri rainforest, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo)
o Efé speak a Central Sudanic language related to Mangbutu
o Asua or Asoa (AKA Aka) speak a Central Sudanic language related to Mangbetu
o Kango or Bakango (AKA Batchua) speak a Bantu language related to Komo
* Twa or Batwa (AKA Gesera) (Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda) speak the Kirundi and Kinyarwanda languages

Negritos in Southeast Asia (including the Batak and Aeta of the Philippines, the Andamanese of the Andaman Islands, and the Semang of the Malay Peninsula), and occasionally Papuans and Melanesians in adjacent Oceania, are sometimes called pygmies (especially in older literature[citation needed]). Some of them are small-statured, dark-skinned and are hunter-gatherers, like many African Pygmies. It has been suggested that they arrived during migrations from Africa to Southeast Asia and Oceania as much as 60,000 years ago[13][14]. On the other hand, there is evidence that they are more closely related to the surrounding Asian populations than to Africans.

The name "Negrito" comes from the Portuguese "little black" and was given by early explorers who assumed the Andamanese they encountered were from Africa. This belief was discarded when anthropologists noted that apart from dark skin and curly hair, they had little in common with any African population, including the African pygmies.

Short statured aboriginal tribes inhabited the rainforests of North Queensland, Australia, of which the best known group is probably the Tjapukai of the Cairns area.These rainforest people, collectively referred to as Barrineans, were once considered to be a relict of the earliest wave of migration to the Australian continent, but this theory no longer finds much favour.The Rainforest People tended to live in the first variety of Jykabita, a wood and mud structure renowned for incubation of plants.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Water Cycle

The Earth's water is always in circulation. It has been recycled for the last 3 billion years. This process is called the water cycle.

The cycle starts when the sun's heat evaporates water from the oceans into the atmosphere to form clouds. When the conditions are just right, the clouds release water as rain or snow. Most of the rain falls in the oceans, but the rest falls onto land. Rivers and streams collect water from the ground and return it to the ocean so the whole cycle can start all over again. The water cycle never ends because the salty ocean water constantly supplies fresh water to the continents
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Currents of Ocean

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Dan Pangburn Analysis of Global Climate Data - Global Warming

Dan Pangburn Analysis of Global Climate Data - Global Warming: "Historical Data on Global Warming
provided by U.S. Government Agencies"

Middle East: Etymology

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"The Physical Ocean

Physical oceanography is the study of the physical properties and dynamic processes of the oceans. Physical oceanographers study the interaction of the ocean with the atmosphere, how the ocean stores and releases heat, the physical properties (or chemical content) of water throughout the ocean, and the formation and movement of currents and coastal dynamics. In order to understand these phenomena, researchers at NASA measure ocean surface topography, sea surface temperature, the speed and direction of the winds over the ocean, and soon, sea surface salinity (salt content). From these data, scientists can further study ocean currents, and sea ice."
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NASA - Earthquake

NASA - Earthquake: "Earthquake

Earthquake is a shaking of the ground caused by the sudden breaking and shifting of large sections of Earth's rocky outer shell. Earthquakes are among the most powerful events on earth, and their results can be terrifying. A severe earthquake may release energy 10,000 times as great as that of the first atomic bomb. Rock movements during an earthquake can make rivers change their course. Earthquakes can trigger landslides that cause great damage and loss of life. Large earthquakes beneath the ocean can create a series of huge, destructive waves called tsunamis (tsoo NAH meez)that flood coasts for many miles.

Earthquakes almost never kill people directly. Instead, many deaths and injuries result from falling objects and the collapse of buildings, bridges, and other structures. Fire resulting from broken gas or power lines is another major danger during a quake. Spills of hazardous chemicals are also a concern during an earthquake.

The force of an earthquake depends on how much rock breaks and how far it shifts. Powerful earthquakes can shake firm ground violently for great distances. During minor earthquakes, the vibration may be no greater than the vibration caused by a passing truck.

On average, a powerful earthquake occurs less than once every two years. At least 40 moderate earthquakes cause damage somewhere in the world each year. Scientists estimate that"
courtsey :nasa website
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Coordinates: A resource on positioning, navigation and beyond

Coordinates: A resource on positioning, navigation and beyond: "Unconventional applications with single frequency DGPS
CURRENTLY the trend is that more and more project authorities are mandating use of GPS for control work and private surveyors have to comply with this requirement. Dual frequency DGPS have been beyond the financial reach of these surveyors as such most prefer to invest in single frequency DGPS, which cost almost one third the cost of dual frequency DGPS.

Conventionally DGPS have been used so far for horizontal control. Recently however there have been a number of articles on using GPS for leveling. All the authors have used a dual frequency DGPS. These authors belong to national mapping agencies or academic institutions as such had access to leveling Bench Marks (BMs) of their countries. However, India being a very price sensitive market compounded with the fact, that private surveyors have no access to spirit level height BMs. Even if they work for govt. agencies, obtaining height data involves lot of hassles, security implications, takes unviable time frames and is quite expensive. Finally, when height data is made available, there is no certainty that the BM’s would be found intact on ground. Therefore, the general practice by private surveyors is to make do with alternatives such as commencing leveling from an arbitrary p"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Global Warming Bringing Spring Earlier

"Global Warming Bringing Spring Earlier"
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more information

Population and Migration

Population and Migration: "Population and Migration


The world is facing many complex population and migration dynamics over the next 50 years. The current world population of 6.5 billion is estimated to be growing by 1.2% annually, reaching over nine billion by 2050, according to the United Nations. The planet will soon experience the largest generation of youth in human history. Yet in some parts of the world, population growth rates are declining, with some countries experiencing negative growth rates. Many societies are aging, and in some nations the increasing proportion of elderly in the population is placing pressure on existing public sector pension systems and social welfare programs. These dynamics pose challenges for governments. International migration may help to mitigate the effects of population aging in some countries, but cannot completely compensate for it.

The goal of U.S. policy in this field is to promote healthy and educated populations. The U.S. does not endorse population 'stabilization' or 'control.' The 'ideal' family size should be determined by the desires of couples, not governments. All decisions on the number, spacing, and timing of children should be made without coercion; the U.S. strongly opposes coercive population programs. The United States, with the support of the Congress, is the world's largest donor of maternal and reproductive health assistance, providing approxi"

Tom Nelson: Another Characteristic of ‘Global Warming’: Reduced Heat

Tom Nelson: Another Characteristic of ‘Global Warming’: Reduced Heat: "Another Characteristic of ‘Global Warming’: Reduced Heat"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula

This is the Crab Nebula. It is probably the most famous known SNR there is, the SN having occured in 1054 CE. It is home to the Crab pulsar which rotates once every 33ms. The charming nebula also has the distinction of looking like Ireland … well at least I think so. Please comment if you are checking out this post and let me know what you think!

The Crab NebulaIreland


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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

"Reciting Salawath on our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is an activity that will be accepted by Allah, even if we don't have Ikhlas (piety)".

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Internet is a worldwide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP). It is a "network of networks" that consists of millions of smaller domestic, academic, business, and government networks, which together carry various information and services, such as electronic mail, online chat, file transfer, and the interlinked web pages and other resources of the World Wide Web (WWW).

Visualization of the various routes through a portion of the Internet

The Internet and the World Wide Web are not synonymous. The Internet is a collection of interconnected computer networks, linked by copper wires, fiber-optic cables, wireless connections, etc. In contrast, the Web is a collection of interconnected documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. The World Wide Web is one of the services accessible via the Internet, along with various others including e-mail, file sharing, online gaming and others described below.

Creation of Internet

The USSR's launch of Sputnik spurred the United States to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as ARPA, in February 1958 to regain a technological lead. ARPA created the Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) to further the research of the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) program, which had networked country-wide radar systems together for the first time. J. C. R. Licklider was selected to head the IPTO and saw universal networking as a potential unifying human revolution.

Licklider moved from the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory at Harvard University to MIT in 1950, after becoming interested in information technology. At MIT, he served on a committee that established Lincoln Laboratory and worked on the SAGE project. In 1957 he became a Vice President at BBN, where he bought the first production PDP-1 computer and conducted the first public demonstration of time-sharing.

At the IPTO, Licklider recruited Lawrence Roberts to head a project to implement a network, and Roberts based the technology on the work of Paul Baran, who had written an exhaustive study for the U.S. Air Force that recommended packet switching (as opposed to circuit switching) to make a network highly robust and survivable. After much work, the first two nodes of what would become the ARPANET were interconnected between UCLA and SRI International in Menlo Park, California, on October 29, 1969. The ARPANET was one of the "eve" networks of today's Internet. Following on from the demonstration that packet switching worked on the ARPANET, the British Post Office, Telenet, DATAPAC and TRANSPAC collaborated to create the first international packet-switched network service. In the UK, this was referred to as the International Packet Stream Service (IPSS), in 1978. The collection of X.25-based networks grew from Europe and the US to cover Canada, Hong Kong and Australia by 1981. The X.25 packet switching standard was developed in the CCITT (now called ITU-T) around 1976. X.25 was independent of the TCP/IP protocols that arose from the experimental work of DARPA on the ARPANET, Packet Radio Net and Packet Satellite Net during the same time period. Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn developed the first description of the TCP protocols during 1973 and published a paper on the subject in May 1974. Use of the term "Internet" to describe a single global TCP/IP network originated in December 1974 with the publication of RFC 674, the first full specification of TCP that was written by Vinton Cerf, Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine, then at Stanford University. During the next nine years, work proceeded to refine the protocols and to implement them on a wide range of operating systems.

The first TCP/IP-wide area network was made operational by January 1, 1983 when all hosts on the ARPANET were switched over from the older NCP protocols to TCP/IP. In 1985, the United States' National Science Foundation (NSF) commissioned the construction of a university 56 kilobit/second network backbone using computers called "fuzzballs" by their inventor, David L. Mills. The following year, NSF sponsored the development of a higher-speed 1.5 megabit/second backbone that became the NSFNet. A key decision to use the DARPA TCP/IP protocols was made by Dennis Jennings, then in charge of the Supercomputer program at NSF.

The opening of the network to commercial interests began in 1988. The US Federal Networking Council approved the interconnection of the NSFNET to the commercial MCI Mail system in that year and the link was made in the summer of 1989. Other commercial electronic e-mail services were soon connected, including OnTyme, Telemail and Compuserve. In that same year, three commercial Internet Service Providers were created: UUNET, PSINET and CERFNET. Important, separate networks that offered gateways into, and then later merged with, the Internet include Usenet and BITNET. Various other commercial and educational networks, such as Telenet, Tymnet, Compuserve and JANET were interconnected with the growing Internet. Telenet (later called Sprintnet) was a large privately funded national computer network with free dial-up access in cities throughout the U.S. that had been in operation since the 1970s. This network was eventually interconnected with the others in the 1980s as the TCP/IP protocol became increasingly popular. The ability of TCP/IP to work over virtually any pre-existing communication networks allowed for a great ease of growth, although the rapid growth of the Internet was due primarily to the availability of commercial routers from companies such as Cisco Systems, Proteon and Juniper, the availability of commercial Ethernet equipment for local-area networking and the widespread implementation of TCP/IP on the UNIX operating system.


Although the basic applications and guidelines that make the Internet possible had existed for almost a decade, the network did not gain a public face until the 1990s. On August 6, 1991, CERN, which straddles the border between France and Switzerland, publicized the new World Wide Web project. The Web was invented by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989.

An early popular web browser was ViolaWWW, based upon HyperCard. It was eventually replaced in popularity by the Mosaic web browser. In 1993, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois released version 1.0 of Mosaic, and by late 1994 there was growing public interest in the previously academic, technical Internet. By 1996 usage of the word Internet had become commonplace, and consequently, so had its misuse as a reference to the World Wide Web.

Meanwhile, over the course of the decade, the Internet successfully accommodated the majority of previously existing public computer networks (although some networks, such as FidoNet, have remained separate). During the 1990s, it was estimated that the Internet grew by 100% per year, with a brief period of explosive growth in 1996 and 1997. This growth is often attributed to the lack of central administration, which allows organic growth of the network, as well as the non-proprietary open nature of the Internet protocols, which encourages vendor interoperability and prevents any one company from exerting too much control over the network.

University students' appreciation and contributions

New findings in the field of communications during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were quickly adopted by universities across North America.

Examples of early university Internet communities are Cleveland FreeNet, Blacksburg Electronic Village and NSTN in Nova Scotia. Students took up the opportunity of free communications and saw this new phenomenon as a tool of liberation. Personal computers and the Internet would free them from corporations and governments (Nelson, Jennings, Stallman).

Graduate students played a huge part in the creation of ARPANET. In the 1960s, the network working group, which did most of the design for ARPANET's protocols, was composed mainly of graduate students.

The Opera Community rack.

From the top, user file storage (content of, "bigma" (the master MySQL database server), and two IBM blade centers containing multi-purpose machines (Apache front ends, Apache back ends, slave MySQL database servers, load balancers, file servers, cache servers and sync masters)

Today's Internet

Aside from the complex physical connections that make up its infrastructure, the Internet is facilitated by bi- or multi-lateral commercial contracts (e.g., peering agreements), and by technical specifications or protocols that describe how to exchange data over the network. Indeed, the Internet is essentially defined by its interconnections and routing policies.

As of December 30, 2007, 1.319 billion people use the Internet according to Internet World Stats. Writing in the Harvard International Review, philosopher N.J. Slabbert, a writer on policy issues for the Washington, D.C.–based Urban Land Institute, has asserted that the Internet is fast becoming a basic feature of global civilization, so that what has traditionally been called "civil society" is now becoming identical with information technology society as defined by Internet use.

Internet protocols

In this context, there are three layers of protocols:

  • At the lower level (OSI layer 3) is IP (Internet Protocol), which defines the datagrams or packets that carry blocks of data from one node to another. The vast majority of today's Internet uses version four of the IP protocol (i.e. IPv4), and, although IPv6 is standardized, it exists only as "islands" of connectivity, and there are many ISPs without any IPv6 connectivity. ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) also exists at this level. ICMP is connectionless; it is used for control, signaling, and error reporting purposes.

  • TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) exist at the next layer up (OSI layer 4); these are the protocols by which data is transmitted. TCP makes a virtual "connection", which gives some level of guarantee of reliability. UDP is a best-effort, connectionless transport, in which data packets that are lost in transit will not be re-sent.

  • The application protocols sit on top of TCP and UDP and occupy layers 5, 6, and 7 of the OSI model. These define the specific messages and data formats sent and understood by the applications running at each end of the communication. Examples of these protocols are HTTP, FTP, and SMTP.

Internet structure

There have been many analyses of the Internet and its structure. For example, it has been determined that the Internet IP routing structure and hypertext links of the World Wide Web are examples of scale-free networks.

Similar to the way the commercial Internet providers connect via Internet exchange points, research networks tend to interconnect into large subnetworks such as:

  • The Internet2 Network (formally known as the Abilene Network)
  • JANET (the UK's national research and education network)

These in turn are built around relatively smaller networks. See also the list of academic computer network organizations.

In network diagrams, the Internet is often represented by a cloud symbol, into and out of which network communications can pass.


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the authority that coordinates the assignment of unique identifiers on the Internet, including domain names, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and protocol port and parameter numbers. A globally unified namespace (i.e., a system of names in which there is at most one holder for each possible name) is essential for the Internet to function. ICANN is headquartered in Marina del Rey, California, but is overseen by an international board of directors drawn from across the Internet technical, business, academic, and non-commercial communities. The US government continues to have the primary role in approving changes to the root zone file that lies at the heart of the domain name system. Because the Internet is a distributed network comprising many voluntarily interconnected networks, the Internet, as such, has no governing body. ICANN's role in coordinating the assignment of unique identifiers distinguishes it as perhaps the only central coordinating body on the global Internet, but the scope of its authority extends only to the Internet's systems of domain names, IP addresses, protocol ports and parameter numbers.

On November 16, 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society, held in Tunis, established the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to discuss Internet-related issues.


The prevalent language for communication on the Internet is English. This may be a result of the Internet's origins, as well as English's role as the lingua franca. It may also be related to the poor capability of early computers, largely originating in the United States, to handle characters other than those in the English variant of the Latin alphabet.

After English (31% of Web visitors) the most requested languages on the World Wide Web are Chinese (16%), Spanish (9%), Japanese (7%), German (5%) and French (5%).

By continent, 37% of the world's Internet users are based in Asia, 27% in Europe, 19% in North America, and 9% in Latin America and the Carribean.

The Internet's technologies have developed enough in recent years, especially in the use of Unicode, that good facilities are available for development and communication in most widely used languages. However, some glitches such as mojibake (incorrect display of foreign language characters, also known as kryakozyabry) still remain.

Internet and the workplace

The Internet is allowing greater flexibility in working hours and location, especially with the spread of unmetered high-speed connections and Web applications.

The Internet viewed on mobile devices

The Internet can now be accessed virtually anywhere by numerous means. Mobile phones, datacards, handheld game consoles and cellular routers allow users to connect to the Internet from anywhere there is a cellular network supporting that device's technology.

Common uses of the Internet


The concept of sending electronic text messages between parties in a way analogous to mailing letters or memos predates the creation of the Internet. Even today it can be important to distinguish between Internet and internal e-mail systems. Internet e-mail may travel and be stored unencrypted on many other networks and machines out of both the sender's and the recipient's control. During this time it is quite possible for the content to be read and even tampered with by third parties, if anyone considers it important enough. Purely internal or intranet mail systems, where the information never leaves the corporate or organization's network, are much more secure, although in any organization there will be IT and other personnel whose job may involve monitoring, and occasionally accessing, the e-mail of other employees not addressed to them.

The World Wide Web

Graphic representation of a minute fraction of the WWW, demonstrating hyperlinks

Many people use the terms Internet and World Wide Web (or just the Web) interchangeably, but, as discussed above, the two terms are not synonymous.

The World Wide Web is a huge set of interlinked documents, images and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. These hyperlinks and URLs allow the web servers and other machines that store originals, and cached copies, of these resources to deliver them as required using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). HTTP is only one of the communication protocols used on the Internet.

Web services also use HTTP to allow software systems to communicate in order to share and exchange business logic and data.

Software products that can access the resources of the Web are correctly termed user agents. In normal use, web browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Firefox, access web pages and allow users to navigate from one to another via hyperlinks. Web documents may contain almost any combination of computer data including photographs, graphics, sounds, text, video, multimedia and interactive content including games, office applications and scientific demonstrations.

Through keyword-driven Internet research using search engines like Yahoo! and Google, millions of people worldwide have easy, instant access to a vast and diverse amount of online information. Compared to encyclopedias and traditional libraries, the World Wide Web has enabled a sudden and extreme decentralization of information and data.

It is also easier, using the Web, than ever before for individuals and organizations to publish ideas and information to an extremely large audience. Anyone can find ways to publish a web page or build a website for very little initial cost. Publishing and maintaining large, professional websites full of attractive, diverse and up-to-date information is still a difficult and expensive proposition, however.

Many individuals and some companies and groups use "web logs" or blogs, which are largely used as easily updatable online diaries. Some commercial organizations encourage staff to fill them with advice on their areas of specialization in the hope that visitors will be impressed by the expert knowledge and free information, and be attracted to the corporation as a result. One example of this practice is Microsoft, whose product developers publish their personal blogs in order to pique the public's interest in their work.

Collections of personal web pages published by large service providers remain popular, and have become increasingly sophisticated. Whereas operations such as Angelfire and GeoCities have existed since the early days of the Web, newer offerings from, for example, Facebook and MySpace currently have large followings. These operations often brand themselves as social network services rather than simply as web page hosts.

Advertising on popular web pages can be lucrative, and e-commerce or the sale of products and services directly via the Web continues to grow.

In the early days, web pages were usually created as sets of complete and isolated HTML text files stored on a web server. More recently, websites are more often created using content management system (CMS) or wiki software with, initially, very little content. Contributors to these systems, who may be paid staff, members of a club or other organisation or members of the public, fill underlying databases with content using editing pages designed for that purpose, while casual visitors view and read this content in its final HTML form. There may or may not be editorial, approval and security systems built into the process of taking newly entered content and making it available to the target visitors.

Remote access

The Internet allows computer users to connect to other computers and information stores easily, wherever they may be across the world. They may do this with or without the use of security, authentication and encryption technologies, depending on the requirements.

This is encouraging new ways of working from home, collaboration and information sharing in many industries. An accountant sitting at home can audit the books of a company based in another country, on a server situated in a third country that is remotely maintained by IT specialists in a fourth. These accounts could have been created by home-working bookkeepers, in other remote locations, based on information e-mailed to them from offices all over the world. Some of these things were possible before the widespread use of the Internet, but the cost of private leased lines would have made many of them infeasible in practice.

An office worker away from his desk, perhaps on the other side of the world on a business trip or a holiday, can open a remote desktop session into his normal office PC using a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection via the Internet. This gives the worker complete access to all of his or her normal files and data, including e-mail and other applications, while away from the office.

This concept is also referred to by some network security people as the Virtual Private Nightmare, because it extends the secure perimeter of a corporate network into its employees' homes; this has been the source of some notable security breaches, but also provides security for the workers.


The low cost and nearly instantaneous sharing of ideas, knowledge, and skills has made collaborative work dramatically easier. Not only can a group cheaply communicate and test, but the wide reach of the Internet allows such groups to easily form in the first place, even among niche interests. An example of this is the free software movement in software development, which produced GNU and Linux from scratch and has taken over development of Mozilla and (formerly known as Netscape Communicator and Star Office). Films such as Zeitgeist, Loose Change and Endgame have had extensive coverage on the Internet, while being virtually ignored in the mainstream media.

Internet "chat", whether in the form of IRC "chat rooms" or channels, or via instant messaging systems, allow colleagues to stay in touch in a very convenient way when working at their computers during the day. Messages can be sent and viewed even more quickly and conveniently than via e-mail. Extension to these systems may allow files to be exchanged, "whiteboard" drawings to be shared as well as voice and video contact between team members.

Version control systems allow collaborating teams to work on shared sets of documents without either accidentally overwriting each other's work or having members wait until they get "sent" documents to be able to add their thoughts and changes.

File sharing

A computer file can be e-mailed to customers, colleagues and friends as an attachment. It can be uploaded to a website or FTP server for easy download by others. It can be put into a "shared location" or onto a file server for instant use by colleagues. The load of bulk downloads to many users can be eased by the use of "mirror" servers or peer-to-peer networks.

In any of these cases, access to the file may be controlled by user authentication; the transit of the file over the Internet may be obscured by encryption, and money may change hands before or after access to the file is given. The price can be paid by the remote charging of funds from, for example, a credit card whose details are also passed—hopefully fully encrypted—across the Internet. The origin and authenticity of the file received may be checked by digital signatures or by MD5 or other message digests.

These simple features of the Internet, over a worldwide basis, are changing the basis for the production, sale, and distribution of anything that can be reduced to a computer file for transmission. This includes all manner of print publications, software products, news, music, film, video, photography, graphics and the other arts. This in turn has caused seismic shifts in each of the existing industries that previously controlled the production and distribution of these products.

Internet collaboration technology enables business and project teams to share documents, calendars and other information. Such collaboration occurs in a wide variety of areas including scientific research, software development, conference planning, political activism and creative writing.

Streaming media

Many existing radio and television broadcasters provide Internet "feeds" of their live audio and video streams (for example, the BBC). They may also allow time-shift viewing or listening such as Preview, Classic Clips and Listen Again features. These providers have been joined by a range of pure Internet "broadcasters" who never had on-air licenses. This means that an Internet-connected device, such as a computer or something more specific, can be used to access on-line media in much the same way as was previously possible only with a television or radio receiver. The range of material is much wider, from pornography to highly specialized, technical webcasts. Podcasting is a variation on this theme, where—usually audio—material is first downloaded in full and then may be played back on a computer or shifted to a digital audio player to be listened to on the move. These techniques using simple equipment allow anybody, with little censorship or licensing control, to broadcast audio-visual material on a worldwide basis.

Webcams can be seen as an even lower-budget extension of this phenomenon. While some webcams can give full-frame-rate video, the picture is usually either small or updates slowly. Internet users can watch animals around an African waterhole, ships in the Panama Canal, the traffic at a local roundabout or their own premises, live and in real time. Video chat rooms, video conferencing, and remote controllable webcams are also popular. Many uses can be found for personal webcams in and around the home, with and without two-way sound.

YouTube, sometimes described as an Internet phenomenon because of the vast amount of users and how rapidly the site's popularity has grown, was founded on February 15, 2005. It is now the leading website for free streaming video. It uses a flash-based web player which streams video files in the format FLV. Users are able to watch videos without signing up; however, if users do sign up they are able to upload an unlimited amount of videos and they are given their own personal profile. It is currently estimated that there are 64,000,000 videos on YouTube, and it is also currently estimated that 825,000 new videos are uploaded every day.

Voice telephony (VoIP)

VoIP stands for Voice over IP, where IP refers to the Internet Protocol that underlies all Internet communication. This phenomenon began as an optional two-way voice extension to some of the instant messaging systems that took off around the year 2000. In recent years many VoIP systems have become as easy to use and as convenient as a normal telephone. The benefit is that, as the Internet carries the actual voice traffic, VoIP can be free or cost much less than a normal telephone call, especially over long distances and especially for those with always-on Internet connections such as cable or ADSL.

Thus, VoIP is maturing into a viable alternative to traditional telephones. Interoperability between different providers has improved and the ability to call or receive a call from a traditional telephone is available. Simple, inexpensive VoIP modems are now available that eliminate the need for a PC.

Voice quality can still vary from call to call but is often equal to and can even exceed that of traditional calls.

Remaining problems for VoIP include emergency telephone number dialling and reliability. Currently, a few VoIP providers provide an emergency service, but it is not universally available. Traditional phones are line-powered and operate during a power failure; VoIP does not do so without a backup power source for the electronics.

Most VoIP providers offer unlimited national calling, but the direction in VoIP is clearly toward global coverage with unlimited minutes for a low monthly fee.

VoIP has also become increasingly popular within the gaming world, as a form of communication between players. Popular gaming VoIP clients include Ventrilo and Teamspeak, and there are others available also. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 also offer VoIP chat features.

Internet access

Common methods of home access include dial-up, landline broadband (over coaxial cable, fiber optic or copper wires), Wi-Fi, satellite and 3G technology cell phones.

Public places to use the Internet include libraries and Internet cafes, where computers with Internet connections are available. There are also Internet access points in many public places such as airport halls and coffee shops, in some cases just for brief use while standing. Various terms are used, such as "public Internet kiosk", "public access terminal", and "Web payphone". Many hotels now also have public terminals, though these are usually fee-based. These terminals are widely accessed for various usage like ticket booking, bank deposit, online payment etc. Wi-Fi provides wireless access to computer networks, and therefore can do so to the Internet itself. Hotspots providing such access include Wi-Fi cafes, where would-be users need to bring their own wireless-enabled devices such as a laptop or PDA. These services may be free to all, free to customers only, or fee-based. A hotspot need not be limited to a confined location. A whole campus or park, or even an entire city can be enabled. Grassroots efforts have led to wireless community networks. Commercial Wi-Fi services covering large city areas are in place in London, Vienna, Toronto, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago and Pittsburgh. The Internet can then be accessed from such places as a park bench.

Apart from Wi-Fi, there have been experiments with proprietary mobile wireless networks like Ricochet, various high-speed data services over cellular phone networks, and fixed wireless services.

High-end mobile phones such as smartphones generally come with Internet access through the phone network. Web browsers such as Opera are available on these advanced handsets, which can also run a wide variety of other Internet software. More mobile phones have Internet access than PCs, though this is not as widely used. An Internet access provider and protocol matrix differentiates the methods used to get online.

Social impact

The Internet has made possible entirely new forms of social interaction, activities and organizing, thanks to its basic features such as widespread usability and access.

Social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace have created a new form of socialization and interaction. Users of these sites are able to add a wide variety of items to their personal pages, to indicate common interests, and to connect with others. It is also possible to find a large circle of existing acquaintances, especially if a site allows users to utilize their real names, and to allow communication among large existing groups of people.

Sites like exist to allow wider announcement of groups which may exist mainly for face-to-face meetings, but which may have a variety of minor interactions over their group's site at, or other similar sites.

Political organization and censorship

In democratic societies, the Internet has achieved new relevance as a political tool. The presidential campaign of Howard Dean in 2004 in the United States became famous for its ability to generate donations via the Internet. Many political groups use the Internet to achieve a whole new method of organizing, in order to carry out Internet activism.

Some governments, such as those of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, the People's Republic of China, and Saudi Arabia, restrict what people in their countries can access on the Internet, especially political and religious content. This is accomplished through software that filters domains and content so that they may not be easily accessed or obtained without elaborate circumvention.

In Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, major Internet service providers have voluntarily (possibly to avoid such an arrangement being turned into law) agreed to restrict access to sites listed by police. While this list of forbidden URLs is only supposed to contain addresses of known child pornography sites, the content of the list is secret.

Many countries, including the United States, have enacted laws making the possession or distribution of certain material, such as child pornography, illegal, but do not use filtering software.

There are many free and commercially available software programs with which a user can choose to block offensive websites on individual computers or networks, such as to limit a child's access to pornography or violence. See Content-control software.

Leisure activities

The Internet has been a major source of leisure since before the World Wide Web, with entertaining social experiments such as MUDs and MOOs being conducted on university servers, and humor-related Usenet groups receiving much of the main traffic. Today, many Internet forums have sections devoted to games and funny videos; short cartoons in the form of Flash movies are also popular. Over 6 million people use blogs or message boards as a means of communication and for the sharing of ideas.

The pornography and gambling industries have both taken full advantage of the World Wide Web, and often provide a significant source of advertising revenue for other websites. Although many governments have attempted to put restrictions on both industries' use of the Internet, this has generally failed to stop their widespread popularity.

One main area of leisure on the Internet is multiplayer gaming. This form of leisure creates communities, bringing people of all ages and origins to enjoy the fast-paced world of multiplayer games. These range from MMORPG to first-person shooters, from role-playing games to online gambling. This has revolutionized the way many people interact and spend their free time on the Internet.

While online gaming has been around since the 1970s, modern modes of online gaming began with services such as GameSpy and MPlayer, to which players of games would typically subscribe. Non-subscribers were limited to certain types of gameplay or certain games.

Many use the Internet to access and download music, movies and other works for their enjoyment and relaxation. As discussed above, there are paid and unpaid sources for all of these, using centralized servers and distributed peer-to-peer technologies. Discretion is needed as some of these sources take more care over the original artists' rights and over copyright laws than others.

Many use the World Wide Web to access news, weather and sports reports, to plan and book holidays and to find out more about their random ideas and casual interests.

People use chat, messaging and e-mail to make and stay in touch with friends worldwide, sometimes in the same way as some previously had pen pals. Social networking websites like MySpace, Facebook and many others like them also put and keep people in contact for their enjoyment.

The Internet has seen a growing number of Internet operating systems, where users can access their files, folders, and settings via the Internet. An example of an opensource webOS is Eyeos.

Cyberslacking has become a serious drain on corporate resources; the average UK employee spends 57 minutes a day surfing the Web at work, according to a study by Peninsula Business Services.

Complex architecture

Many computer scientists see the Internet as a "prime example of a large-scale, highly engineered, yet highly complex system". The Internet is extremely heterogeneous. (For instance, data transfer rates and physical characteristics of connections vary widely.) The Internet exhibits "emergent phenomena" that depend on its large-scale organization. For example, data transfer rates exhibit temporal self-similarity. Further adding to the complexity of the Internet is the ability of more than one computer to use the Internet through only one node, thus creating the possibility for a very deep and hierarchal sub-network that can theoretically be extended infinitely (disregarding the programmatic limitations of the IPv4 protocol). However, since principles of this architecture date back to the 1960s, it might not be a solution best suited to modern needs, and thus the possibility of developing alternative structures is currently being looked into.

According to a June 2007 article in Discover magazine, the combined weight of all the electrons moved within the Internet in a day is 0.2 millionths of an ounce. Others have estimated this at nearer 2 ounces (50 grams).


The Internet has also become a large market for companies; some of the biggest companies today have grown by taking advantage of the efficient nature of low-cost advertising and commerce through the Internet, also known as e-commerce. It is the fastest way to spread information to a vast number of people simultaneously. The Internet has also subsequently revolutionized shopping—for example; a person can order a CD online and receive it in the mail within a couple of days, or download it directly in some cases. The Internet has also greatly facilitated personalized marketing which allows a company to market a product to a specific person or a specific group of people more so than any other advertising medium.

Examples of personalized marketing include online communities such as MySpace, Friendster, Orkut, Facebook and others which thousands of Internet users join to advertise themselves and make friends online. Many of these users are young teens and adolescents ranging from 13 to 25 years old. In turn, when they advertise themselves they advertise interests and hobbies, which online marketing companies can use as information as to what those users will purchase online, and advertise their own companies' products to those users.

The name Internet

Internet is traditionally written with a capital first letter, as it is a proper noun. The Internet Society, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the World Wide Web Consortium, and several other Internet-related organizations use this convention in their publications.

Many newspapers, newswires, periodicals, and technical journals capitalize the term (Internet). Examples include The New York Times, the Associated Press, Time, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, and Communications of the ACM.

Others assert that the first letter should be in lower case (internet), and that the specific article the is sufficient to distinguish "the internet" from other internets. A significant number of publications use this form, including The Economist, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, and The Sydney Morning Herald. As of 2005, many publications using internet appear to be located outside of North America—although one U.S. news source, Wired News, has adopted the lower-case spelling.

Historically, Internet and internet have had different meanings, with internet meaning "an interconnected set of distinct networks", and Internet referring to the worldwide, publicly available IP internet. Under this distinction, the Internet is the familiar network through which websites exist; however, an internet can exist between any two remote locations. Any group of distinct networks connected together is an internet; each of these networks may or may not be part of the Internet. The distinction was evident in many RFCs, books, and articles from the 1980s and early 1990s (some of which, such as RFC 1918, refer to "internets" in the plural), but has recently fallen into disuse. Instead, the term intranet is generally used for private networks, whether they are connected to the Internet or not.

Some people use the lower-case term as a medium (like radio or newspaper, e.g. I've found it on the internet), and first letter capitalized as the global network.