X-ray machine from 1896 compared to modern version

Modern image on the right

Scientists have dusted off X-ray equipment dating from shortly after the discovery of the rays in 1895, in order to put it through its paces.

Researchers from the same Dutch town where the system was originally built used it to produce striking images that belie its simplicity and age…

The original system was developed by high school director H J Hoffmans and local hospital director Lambertus Theodorus van Kleef from Maastricht in the Netherlands…Following a publication by X-ray discoverer Wilhelm Roentgen just weeks before, the pair built their device from parts found at the high school and used it for anatomical imaging experiments.

The machine ended up in a warehouse in Maastricht and was unearthed last year for a history programme on television.

Fortunately, no one in Europe ever throws anything away.

Then Gerrit Kemerink of Maastricht University Medical Center decided to put the equipment to the test against a modern system…

Given that a high radiation dose might be required to carry out the tests, the team obtained a hand from a cadaver as their imaging subject – rather than the “young lady’s hand” listed in Hoffmans and van Kleef’s notes…

Using a photographic plate and the same imaging conditions Hoffmans and van Kleef used, a dose 1,500 times higher was required…

“Our experience with this machine, which had a buzzing interruptor, crackling lightning within a spark gap, and a greenish light flashing in a tube, which spread the smell of ozone and which revealed internal structures in the human body was, even today, little less than magical,” they wrote.

Sounds like most early pop movies about science and sci-fi.

Uprising crushed – Gaddafi ‘finishing the job’ in 48 hours

“Whatever the decision, it will be too late”

The Gaddafi regime is taunting the West over its failure to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and said it would “finish the job” of defeating the insurrection against its rule by Friday.

As Col Muammar Gaddafi’s troops advanced towards the rebel capital, Benghazi, Saif al-Islam, his son, told “traitors and mercenaries” to flee the country or face the consequences…

Asked about continuing British and French attempts to persuade the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone, he answered: “Military operations are over. Within 48 hours everything will be finished. Our forces are almost in Benghazi. Whatever the decision, it will be too late.”

The failure on Tuesday by the G8 group of nations to agree military intervention in Libya is said to have “perplexed” Downing Street. An immediate decision was opposed by China and Russia but even the United States failed to come out in support of the idea.

The White House is said to be exploring “other options”, such as using sequestered Libyan assets to fund the opposition. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said she was hopeful the UN Security Council would take a vote on a Libya resolution no later than Thursday.

But Bernard Jenkin, a senior Tory MP, said: “Where are the Americans? We are now in a new, entirely new situation. We have premised our defence and foreign policy for the last 60 years on the principle that if there is an international crisis involving our national interest the Americans would see that as involving their national interests.

“That is not the case under President Obama. He has been dithering and vacillating, his administration is divided and there is considerable concern on the other side of the Atlantic about what the United States should be doing.”

The Gaddafi family meanwhile repeated claims that they had funded the electoral campaign of President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. “We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything,” Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said in his interview, with Euronews.

“The first thing we want this clown to do is to give the money back to the Libyan people. He was given assistance so that he could help them…”

A well-placed government source in Tripoli told The Daily Telegraph it was “common knowledge” that the Gaddafi family had funded Mr Sarkozy “for years”…

The Gaddafi claims were all strenuously denied by President Sarkozy’s office.

I won’t roll through all the contradictions of American politics, the demands of corporate concerns and a public that, frankly, is fed up in general with war as an instrument of foreign policy. Would I have cried crocodile tears over swift, instant air strikes taking out Gaddafi’s air force and tanks right from Day One of the uprising. Hell, no.

Issues were immediate and clear-cut – regardless of whining Republicans and super-patriots in Congress who gasped in disbelief at James Clapper who told them the truth about military capability – and the likelihood of Gaddafi staying in power.

Exactly the opposite of the crap invasions of George W. Bush – still dragging on mercilessly under the aegis of Barack Obama years later.

Innocent man leaves jail – after 20 years

Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bacigalupo posed a question to the slim man wearing blue jailhouse scrubs. Which is worse, the judge asked, an innocent man wrongfully convicted or the real perpetrator remaining free?

“The wrong guy going to prison,” Francisco “Franky” Carrillo replied without hesitation. “For the past 20 years, I’ve lived that experience. And I think it’s the worst predicament any human being can be under.”

Days after the courtroom exchange, Carrillo, 37, was expected to be freed late Tuesday or Wednesday from Los Angeles County Jail, having spent two decades behind bars for a fatal drive-by shooting he insists he did not commit.

Bacigalupo overturned Carrillo’s 1992 murder conviction Monday after witnesses recanted their identification of him as the gunman and a dramatic reconstruction of the shooting raised doubts about whether they could have ever reliably identified the shooter.

The murder case against Carrillo hinged solely on the word of six teenage boys who had been standing with the victim on a Lynwood street when the gunman drove by. One jury deadlocked 7 to 5 in favor of acquitting Carrillo, but a second jury found him guilty. He was sentenced to two life terms in prison.

Last week, five of the six witnesses testified at the Compton Courthouse that they had not clearly seen the gunman. Among them was the victim’s son, who said he made his identification because one of his friends at the scene said he recognized Carrillo as the shooter. That friend also recanted.

The case underscores what legal experts say is the danger of eyewitness testimony. Studies have shown that faulty identifications are the biggest factor in wrongful convictions and that witnesses are particularly unreliable when identifying someone of a different race. The witnesses who identified Carrillo are black, while he is Latino.

Yes, the case could still have moved differently with any number of variables. RTFA and come to your own conclusions.

I recall personal eyewitness testimony I’ve offered on trial – when I had been bright enough to write down my experience right after events happened. When I went back to those notes during an interview with a defense attorney, I had to admit surprise at the faultiness of my recollection vs. the notes I made that day.

Blood money frees CIA flunky – business as usual in Pakistan

Prearations for a lynching fair trial in Pakistan

Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor accused of murdering two men in Lahore, Pakistan, has been released after the families to the two men he killed were given “blood money” and the case was dropped, Pakistani officials said.

While Davis, who had earlier admitted to the killings but said he was acting in “self-defence”, was indicted for the murders earlier on Wednesday, Rana Sanaullah, the Punjab law minister, said he was immediately pardoned by the families of the victims in exchange for compensation or “blood money”.

The practice of pardoning those accused of murder under such an arrangement is permitted under Pakistani law…

The amount of money agreed to has not been made clear.

Davis had been arrested on January 27, after having killed the two men on a street in Lahore. He said that the two men were attempting to rob him, and that he acted in self-defence.

Chaudhry Mushtaq, superintendent at Kot Lakhpat jail, said Davis left the jail with US consulate officials…

Law, reason, accepted judicial procedures in Pakistan don’t mean a whole boatload to modern nations. Money is more important than justice. Clear and definitive.

Not that it isn’t disproportionately higher in Western esteem. But, a little subtlety might be nice. Har.

Egypt’s hated state security police disbanded

Egypt’s interior minister has disbanded the country’s feared state security agency, which was accused of torture and human rights abuses during the 30-year rule of former president Hosni Mubarak.

Major General Mansour el-Essawy, a former Cairo security chief and the new interior minister, announced the dissolution of the security apparatus…He said a new agency in charge of keeping national security and combatting terrorism will be formed “in line with the constitution and principles of human rights”.

Officers for the new agency will be chosen in the coming few days, the statement said, adding that the new agency will “serve the country without intervening in the lives of citizens while they practice their rights and political life”…

The security branch, which was empowered to conduct emergency trials, was widely hated and its officers accused of committing torture.

The move was announced as Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, visited the capital, Cairo in a bid to lend support to Egypt during its transition. Speaking at a joint news conference with the Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Elaraby during a visit to Cairo on Tuesday, Clinton welcomed the announcment.

RTFA. Overdue.

Think we’ll ever get round to the NSA and FBI?

Asha Bhosle – the voice of Bollywood

‘In the old days all the movie songs were recorded right there on set,” remembers Asha Bhosle, the quintessential Bollywood singer. Now 77, Bhosle was just 11 when she performed her first song on a movie soundtrack, Chala Chala Nav Bala from Majha Bal in 1943. In the 68 years since, she has provided the on-screen singing voice for generations of actresses unable to capture and deliver a song as brilliantly as she could, singing around 20,000 tunes in 14 languages, as well as recording with Robbie Williams, Michael Stipe and the Kronos Quartet, and lending her name to Cornershop’s Brimful of Asha, one of the landmark No 1 hits of the 1990s.

“My son Anand first heard that song in San Francisco and told me all about it,” she says, via a friend and translator, from Australia where she is appearing in concert. “I was at the immigration counter at Heathrow Airport once and the young officer read the profession listed in my passport as ‘singer’. He was intrigued, so I told him I was the Asha from Brimful of Asha, and he was so excited he left his post and called his friends over to meet me. So I guess, at the very least, that song helped me clear UK immigration faster than usual.”

When Bhosle thinks back to the start of her career she remembers dusty movie sets, people running around, lights and cameras. “And there was little me,” she says, “falling asleep and being woken up to sing my part. I think of that time fondly – it was pre-independence India. Only my sister Lata [Mangeshkar, a hugely popular singer in her own right], Manna Dey [the 91-year old Bengali singer] and I are left from those who began their careers in what was British India…”

Bhosle became particularly well known for her ability to change her voice for each role and a huge amount of film work, alongside established male singing stars such as Dey, Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi, followed…

“Rahul Dev’s music was way ahead of its time,” she says. “He had so many different styles and rhythms in his music. You can hear jazz, Latin, that John Barry, super-spy sound, some blues, calypso and pop in there; 17 years after he died, he’s more popular than ever.”

RTFA. Learn to love some of the best pop music ever to reach out to the whole world.