Saturday, 30 November 2013

Recollecting Freezing To Death: The Snow... First Chill... Stupor... Then Letting Go...

The cold hard facts of freezing to death:

When your Jeep spins lazily off the mountain road and slams backward into a snow bank, you don't worry immediately about the cold. Your first thought is that you've just dented your bumper. Your second is that you've failed to bring a shovel. Your third is that you'll be late for dinner. Friends are expecting you at their cabin around eight for a moonlight ski, a late dinner, a sauna - the hot tub.... Nothing can keep you from that.

Driving out of town, defroster roaring, you barely noted the bank thermometer on the petrol station information board: minus 27 degrees at 6:36. The radio weather report warned of a deep mass of arctic air settling over the region. The man who took your money at the Yllas station shook his head at the register and said he wouldn't be going anywhere tonight if he were you. You smiled. A little chill never hurt anybody with enough fleece and a good four-wheel-drive.

But now you're stuck. Jamming the gearshift into low, you try to muscle out of the drift. The tires whine on ice-slicked snow as headlights dance on the curtain of frosted firs across the road. Shoving the lever back into park, you shoulder open the door and step from your heated capsule. Cold slaps your naked face, squeezes tears from your eyes.

You check your watch: 7:18. You consult your map: A thin, switch backing line snakes up the mountain to the pencilled square that marks the cabin.

Breath rolls from you in short frosted puffs. The Jeep lies cocked sideways in the snow bank like an empty turtle shell. You think of firelight and saunas and warm food and wine. You look again at the map. It's maybe five or six miles more to that pencilled square. You run that far every day before breakfast. You'll just put on your skis. No problem.

There is no precise core temperature at which the human body perishes from cold. At Dachau's cold-water immersion baths, Nazi doctors calculated death to arrive at around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The lowest recorded core temperature in a surviving adult is 60.8 degrees. For a child it's lower: In 1994, a two-year-old girl in Saskatchewan wandered out of her house into a minus-40 night. She was found near her doorstep the next morning, limbs frozen solid, her core temperature 57 degrees. She lived.
Others are less fortunate, even in much milder conditions. One of Europe's worst weather disasters occurred during a 1964 competitive walk on a windy, rainy English moor; three of the racers died from hypothermia, though temperatures never fell below freezing and ranged as high as 45.

But for all scientists and statisticians now know of freezing and its physiology, no one can yet predict exactly how quickly and in whom hypothermia will strike - and whether it will kill when it does. The cold remains a mystery, more prone to fell men than women, more lethal to the thin and well muscled than to those with avoirdupois, and least forgiving to the arrogant and the unaware.

The process begins even before you leave the car, when you remove your gloves to squeeze a loose bail back into one of your ski bindings. The freezing metal bites your flesh. Your skin temperature drops.

Within a few seconds, the palms of your hands are a chilly, painful 60 degrees. Instinctively, the web of surface capillaries on your hands constrict, sending blood coursing away from your skin and deeper into your torso. Your body is allowing your fingers to chill in order to keep its vital organs warm.

You replace your gloves, noticing only that your fingers have numbed slightly. Then you kick boots into bindings and start up the road.

Were you a Norwegian fisherman or Inuit hunter, both of whom frequently work gloveless in the cold, your chilled hands would open their surface capillaries periodically to allow surges of warm blood to pass into them and maintain their flexibility. This phenomenon, known as the hunter's response, can elevate a 35-degree skin temperature to 50 degrees within seven or eight minutes.

Other human adaptations to the cold are more mysterious. Tibetan Buddhist monks can raise the skin temperature of their hands and feet by 15 degrees through meditation. Australian aborigines, who once slept on the ground, unclothed, on near-freezing nights, would slip into a light hypothermic state, suppressing shivering until the rising sun rewarmed them.

You have no such defences, having spent your days at a keyboard in a climate-controlled office. Only after about ten minutes of hard climbing, as your body temperature rises, does blood start seeping back into your fingers. Sweat trickles down your sternum and spine.
By now you've left the road and decided to shortcut up the forested mountainside to the road's next switchback. Treading slowly through deep, soft snow as the full moon hefts over a spiny ridge top, throwing silvery bands of moonlight and shadow, you think your friends were right: It's a beautiful night for skiing--though you admit, feeling the minus-30 air bite at your face, it's also cold.

After an hour, there's still no sign of the switchback, and you've begun to worry. You pause to check the map. At this moment, your core temperature reaches its high: 100.8. Climbing in deep snow, you've generated nearly ten times as much body heat as you do when you are resting.

As you step around to orient map to forest, you hear a metallic pop. You look down. The loose bail has disappeared from your binding. You lift your foot and your ski falls from your boot.

You twist on your flashlight, and its cold-weakened batteries throw a yellowish circle in the snow. It's right around here somewhere, you think, as you sift the snow through gloved fingers. Focused so intently on finding the bail, you hardly notice the frigid air pressing against your tired body and sweat-soaked clothes.

The exertion that warmed you on the way uphill now works against you: Your exercise-dilated capillaries carry the excess heat of your core to your skin, and your wet clothing dispels it rapidly into the night. The lack of insulating fat over your muscles allows the cold to creep that much closer to your warm blood.

Your temperature begins to plummet. Within 17 minutes it reaches the normal 98.6. Then it slips below.

At 97 degrees, hunched over in your slow search, the muscles along your neck and shoulders tighten in what's known as pre-shivering muscle tone. Sensors have signalled the temperature control centre in your hypothalamus, which in turn has ordered the constriction of the entire web of surface capillaries. Your hands and feet begin to ache with cold. Ignoring the pain, you dig carefully through the snow; another ten minutes pass. Without the bail you know you're in deep trouble.

Finally, nearly 45 minutes later, you find the bail. You even manage to pop it back into its socket and clamp your boot into the binding. But the clammy chill that started around your skin has now wrapped deep into your body's core.

At 95, you've entered the zone of mild hypothermia. You're now trembling violently as your body attains its maximum shivering response, an involuntary condition in which your muscles contract rapidly to generate additional body heat.

It was a mistake, you realise, to come out on a night this cold. You should turn back. Fishing into the front pocket of your shell parka, you fumble out the map. You consulted it to get here; it should be able to guide you back to the warm car. It doesn't occur to you in your increasingly clouded and panicky mental state that you could simply follow your tracks down the way you came.

And after this long stop, the skiing itself has become more difficult. By the time you push off downhill, your muscles have cooled and tightened so dramatically that they no longer contract easily, and once contracted, they won't relax. You're locked into an ungainly, spread-armed, weak-kneed snowplough.

Still, you manage to manoeuvre between stands of fir, swishing down through silvery light and pools of shadow. You're too cold to think of the beautiful night or of the friends you had meant to see. You think only of the warm Jeep that waits for you somewhere at the bottom of the hill. Its gleaming shell is centred in your mind's eye as you come over the crest of a small knoll. You hear the sudden whistle of wind in your ears as you gain speed. Then, before your mind can quite process what the sight means, you notice a lump in the snow ahead.

Recognising, slowly, the danger that you are in, you try to jam your skis to a stop. But in your panic, your balance and judgement are poor. Moments later, your ski tips plough into the buried log and you sail headfirst through the air and belly flop into the snow.

You lie still. There's a dead silence in the forest, broken by the pumping of blood in your ears. Your ankle is throbbing with pain and you've hit your head. You've also lost your hat and a glove. Scratchy snow is packed down your shirt. Melt water trickles down your neck and spine, joined soon by a thin line of blood from a small cut on your head.

This situation, you realise with an immediate sense of panic, is serious. Scrambling to rise, you collapse in pain, your ankle crumpling beneath you.

As you sink back into the snow, shaken, your heat begins to drain away at an alarming rate, your head alone accounting for 50 percent of the loss. The pain of the cold soon pierces your ears so sharply that you root about in the snow until you find your hat and mash it back onto your head.

But even that little activity has been exhausting. You know you should find your glove as well, and yet you're becoming too weary to feel any urgency. You decide to have a short rest before going on.
An hour passes. at one point, a stray thought says you should start being scared, but fear is a concept that floats somewhere beyond your immediate reach, like that numb hand lying naked in the snow.

You've slid into the temperature range at which cold renders the enzymes in your brain less efficient.

With every one-degree drop in body temperature below 95, your cerebral metabolic rate falls off by 3 to 5 percent. When your core temperature reaches 93, amnesia nibbles at your consciousness. You check your watch: 12:58. Maybe someone will come looking for you soon. Moments later, you check again. You can't keep the numbers in your head. You'll remember little of what happens next.

Your head drops back. The snow crunches softly in your ear. In the minus-35-degree air, your core temperature falls about one degree every 30 to 40 minutes, your body heat leaching out into the soft, enveloping snow. Apathy at 91 degrees. Stupor at 90.

You've now crossed the boundary into profound hypothermia. By the time your core temperature has fallen to 88 degrees, your body has abandoned the urge to warm itself by shivering. Your blood is thickening like crankcase oil in a cold engine. Your oxygen consumption, a measure of your metabolic rate, has fallen by more than a quarter. Your kidneys, however, work overtime to process the fluid overload that occurred when the blood vessels in your extremities constricted and squeezed fluids toward your centre. You feel a powerful urge to urinate, the only thing you feel at all.

By 87 degrees you've lost the ability to recognise a familiar face, should one suddenly appear from the woods.

At 86 degrees, your heart, its electrical impulses hampered by chilled nerve tissues, becomes arrhythmic. It now pumps less than two-thirds the normal amount of blood. The lack of oxygen and the slowing metabolism of your brain, meanwhile, begin to trigger visual and auditory hallucinations.

You hear jingle bells. Lifting your face from your snow pillow, you realise with a surge of gladness that they're not sleigh bells; they're welcoming bells hanging from the door of your friends' cabin.

You knew it had to be close by. The jingling is the sound of the cabin door opening, just through the fir trees.

Attempting to stand, you collapse in a tangle of skis and poles. That's OK. You can crawl. It's so close.

Hours later, or maybe it's minutes, you realise the cabin still sits beyond the grove of trees. You've crawled only a few feet. The light on your wristwatch pulses in the darkness: 5:20. Exhausted, you decide to rest your head for a moment.
When you lift it again, you're inside, lying on the floor before the wood stove. The fire throws off a red glow. First it's warm; then it's hot; then it's searing your flesh. Your clothing has caught fire.

At 85 degrees, those freezing to death, in a strange, anguished paroxysm, often rip off their clothes. This phenomenon, known as paradoxical undressing, is common enough that urban hypothermia victims are sometimes initially diagnosed as victims of sexual assault. Though researchers are uncertain of the cause, the most logical explanation is that shortly before loss of consciousness, the constricted blood vessels near the body's surface suddenly dilate and produce a sensation of extreme heat against the skin.

All you know is that you're burning. You claw off your shell and pile sweater and fling them away.
But then, in a final moment of clarity, you realise there's no stove, no cabin, no friends. You're lying alone in the bitter cold, naked from the waist up. You grasp your terrible misunderstanding, a whole series of misunderstandings, like a dream ratcheting into wrongness. You've shed your clothes, your car, your oil-heated house in town. Without this ingenious technology you're simply a delicate, tropical organism whose range is restricted to a narrow sunlit band that girds the earth at the equator.
And you've now ventured way beyond it.

There's an adage about hypothermia: "You aren't dead until you're warm and dead."

At about 6:00 the next morning, my friends, having discovered the stalled Jeep, find me, still huddled inches from the buried log, my gloveless hand shoved into my armpit. The flesh of my limbs is waxy and stiff as old putty, my pulse non-existent, my pupils unresponsive to light. Dead.

But those who understand cold know that even as it deadens, it offers perverse salvation. Heat is a presence: the rapid vibrating of molecules. Cold is an absence: the damping of the vibrations. At absolute zero, minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit, molecular motion ceases altogether. It is this slowing that converts gases to liquids, liquids to solids, and renders solids harder. It slows bacterial growth and chemical reactions. In the human body, cold shuts down metabolism. The lungs take in less oxygen, the heart pumps less blood. Under normal temperatures, this would produce brain damage. But the chilled brain, having slowed its own metabolism, needs far less oxygen-rich blood and can, under the right circumstances, survive intact.

Setting her ear to my chest, one of my rescuers listens intently. Seconds pass. Then, faintly, she hears a tiny sound - a single thump, so slight that it might be the sound of her own blood. She presses her ear harder to the cold flesh. Another faint thump, then another.

The slowing that accompanies freezing is, in its way, so beneficial that it is even induced at times. Cardiologists today often use deep chilling to slow a patients metabolism in preparation for heart or brain surgery. In this state of near suspension, the patients blood flows slowly, my heart rarely beats - or in the case of those on heart-lung machines, doesn't beat at all; death seems near. But carefully monitored, a patient can remain in this cold stasis, undamaged, for hours.

The rescuers quickly wrap my naked torso with a spare parka, my hands with mittens, my entire body with a bivy sack. They brush snow from my pasty, frozen face. Then one snakes down through the forest to the nearest cabin. The others, left in the pre-dawn darkness, huddle against me as silence closes around them. For a moment, the woman imagines she can hear the scurrying, breathing, snoring of a world of creatures that have taken cover this frigid night beneath the thick quilt of snow.

With a "one, two, three," the doctor and nurses slide my stiff, curled form onto a table fitted with a mattress filled with warm water which will be regularly reheated. They'd been warned that they had a profound hypothermia case coming in. Usually such victims can be straightened from their tortured foetal positions. This one can't.

Technicians scissor with stainless-steel shears at my urine-soaked long underwear and shell pants, frozen together like corrugated cardboard. They attach heart-monitor electrodes to my chest and insert a low-temperature electronic thermometer into my rectum. Digital readings flash: 24 beats per minute and a core temperature of 79.2 degrees.

The doctor shakes his head. He can't remember seeing numbers so low. He's not quite sure how to revive me without killing me.

In fact, many hypothermia victims die each year in the process of being rescued. In "rewarming shock," the constricted capillaries reopen almost all at once, causing a sudden drop in blood pressure.

The slightest movement can send a victim's heart muscle into wild spasms of ventricular fibrillation. In 1980, 16 shipwrecked Danish fishermen were hauled to safety after an hour and a half in the frigid North Sea. They then walked across the deck of the rescue ship, stepped below for a hot drink, and dropped dead, all 16 of them.

"78.9," a technician calls out. "That's three-tenths down."

I'm now experiencing "after drop," in which residual cold close to the body's surface continues to cool the core even after the victim is removed from the outdoors.

The doctor rapidly issues orders to his staff: intravenous administration of warm saline, the bag first heated in the microwave to 110 degrees. Elevating the core temperature of an average-size female one degree requires adding about 60 kilocalories of heat. A kilocalorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one litre of water one degree Celsius. Since a quart of hot soup at 140 degrees offers about 30 kilocalories, the patient curled on the table would need to consume 40 quarts of chicken broth to push his core temperature up to normal. Even the warm saline, infused directly into my blood, will add only 30 kilocalories.

Ideally, the doctor would have access to a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, with which he could pump out the victim's blood, rewarm and oxygenate it, and pump it back in again, safely raising the core temperature as much as one degree every three minutes. But such machines are rarely available outside major urban hospitals. Here, without such equipment, the doctor must rely on other options.
"Let's scrub for surgery," he calls out.

Moments later, he's sliding a large catheter into an incision in my abdominal cavity. Warm fluid begins to flow from a suspended bag, washing through my abdomen, and draining out through another catheter placed in another incision. Prosaically, this lavage operates much like a car radiator in reverse: The solution warms the internal organs, and the warm blood in the organs is then pumped by the heart throughout the body.

My stiff limbs begin to relax. My pulse edges up. But even so the jagged line of my heartbeat flashing across the EKG screen shows the curious dip known as a J wave, common to hypothermia patients.

"Be ready to fibrillate," the doctor warns the EMTs.

For another hour, nurses and EMTs hover around the edges of the table where I lie centred in a warm pool of light, as if offered up to the sun god. They check my heart. They check the heat of the mattress beneath me. They whisper to one another about the foolishness of having gone out alone tonight.

And slowly I respond. Another litre of saline is added to the IV. My blood pressure remains far too low, brought down by the blood flowing out to the fast-opening capillaries of my limbs. Fluid lost through perspiration and urination has reduced my blood volume. But every 15 or 20 minutes, my temperature rises another degree. The immediate danger of cardiac fibrillation lessens, as the heart and thinning blood warms. Frostbite could still cost me fingers or an earlobe. But I appeared to have beaten back the worst of the frigidity.

For the next half hour, an EMT quietly calls the readouts of the thermometer, a mantra that marks the progress of this cold-blooded proto-organism toward a state of warmer, higher consciousness.


From somewhere far away in the immense, cold darkness, you hear a faint, insistent hum. Quickly it mushrooms into a ball of sound, like a planet rushing toward you, and then it becomes a stream of words.

A voice is calling your name.

You don't want to open your eyes. You sense heat and light playing against your eyelids, but beneath their warm dance a chill wells up inside you from the sunless ocean bottoms and the farthest depths of space. You are too tired even to shiver. You want only to sleep.

"Can you hear me?"

You force open your eyes. Lights glare overhead. Around the lights faces hover atop uniformed bodies. You try to think: You've been away a very long time, but where have you been?

"You're at the hospital. You got caught in the cold."

You try to nod. Your neck muscles feel rusted shut, unused for years. They respond to your command with only a slight twitch.

"You'll probably have amnesia," the voice says.

You remember the moon rising over the spiky ridge top and skiing up toward it, toward someplace warm beneath the frozen moon. After that, nothing - only that immense coldness lodged inside you.
"We're trying to get a little warmth back into you," the voice says.

You'd nod if you could. But you can't move. All you can feel is throbbing discomfort everywhere.

Glancing down to where the pain is most biting, you notice blisters filled with clear fluid dotting your fingers, once gloveless in the snow. During the long, cold hours the tissue froze and ice crystals formed in the tiny spaces between your cells, sucking water from them, blocking the blood supply.

You stare at them absently.

"I think they'll be fine," a voice from overhead says. "The damage looks superficial. We expect that the blisters will break in a week or so, and the tissue should revive after that."

If not, you know that your fingers will eventually turn black, the colour of bloodless, dead tissue. And then they will be amputated.

But worry slips from you as another wave of exhaustion sweeps in. Slowly you drift off, dreaming of warmth, of tropical ocean wavelets breaking across your chest, of warm sand beneath you.

Hours later, still logy and numb, you surface, as if from deep under water. A warm tide seems to be flooding your midsection. Focusing your eyes down there with difficulty, you see tubes running into you, their heat mingling with your abdomen's depthless cold like a churned-up river. You follow the tubes to the bag that hangs suspended beneath the electric light.

And with a lurch that would be a sob if you could make a sound, you begin to understand: The bag contains all that you had so nearly lost. These people huddled around you have brought you sunlight and warmth, things you once so cavalierly dismissed as constant, available, yours, summoned by the simple twisting of a knob or tossing on of a layer.

But in the hours since you last believed that, you've travelled to a place where there is no sun. You've seen that in the infinite reaches of the universe, heat is as glorious and ephemeral as the light of the stars. Heat exists only where matter exists, where particles can vibrate and jump. In the infinite winter of space, heat is tiny; it is the cold that is huge.

Someone speaks. Your eyes move from bright lights to shadowy forms in the dim outer reaches of the room. You recognise the voice of one of the friends you set out to visit, so long ago now. She's smiling down at you crookedly.

"It's cold out there," she says. "Isn't it?"

Violent history of partners to be disclosed as Clare’s Law rolled out nationwide: The Pro's & Con's.....

Clare’s Law, aimed at protecting women from violent abuse by their partners, will be rolled out across the country by March 2014.

A pilot scheme to protect women from violent partners, known as Clare’s Law, is to be rolled out nationwide.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is expected to announce the full implementation of the law which forces police to disclose details of a person’s violent past if their partner requests it.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:
  • Domestic abuse shatters lives – Clare’s Law provides people with the information they need to escape an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy. 
  • The national scheme will ensure that more people can make informed decisions about their relationship and escape if necessary.
  • This is one of a raft of measures this government has introduced to keep women and girls safe. The systems in place are working better but sadly there are still too many cases where vulnerable people are let down. Today is an important step towards ensuring we do better by women like Clare Wood in the future. 

It has been piloted in Greater Manchester, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire and Gwent since September 2012.

Due to the success of the trials, which has seen 400 women given information, the scheme will be rolled out across England and Wales in March.

The legislation is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton in 2009.

The mother-of-one, who had met Appleton on Facebook, was unaware of his horrific history of violence against women, including repeated harassment, threats and the kidnapping at knifepoint of one of his ex-girlfriends.

He strangled her and set her on fire before taking his own life in Salford, Greater Manchester.

Writing for the Sun Mrs May said that in the past there had been “considerable confusion” about how and when police are able to share information with members of the public.

She said: "Domestic abuse shatters lives - Clare's Law provides people with the information they need to escape an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy.

"The national scheme will ensure that more people can make informed decisions about their relationship and escape if necessary. This is an important step towards ensuring we do better by women like Clare Wood in the future."

Under the law, police can disclose previous convictions for violence and it they think the person is in danger, they will also offer help, in some cases rehousing the person.

Controversially, the scheme can also disclose previous allegations of abuse, even if they were not proven and did not lead to a conviction.

After the death of his daughter, Miss Woods’ father Michael Brown campaigned for a change in the law to protect women .

What Is Clare's Law?

Every request under Clare’s Law is thoroughly checked by a panel made up of police, probation services and other agencies to ensure information is only passed on where it is lawful, proportionate and necessary. Trained police officers and advisers are then on hand to support victims through the difficult and sometimes dangerous transitional period.

The government also announced today the national extension of Domestic Violence Protection Orders from March 2014, which will provide further protection to vulnerable victims.
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said:
  • This is further proof of the government’s determination to combat a crime that claims two lives every week.
  • Allowing police to ban abusers from contacting victims provides immediate protection in the aftermath of a domestic violence incident and breathing space to a vulnerable person while they consider their next steps. The pilot has shown this is a powerful intervention which can save lives.
Clare’s Law, or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, has two functions:
  • ‘right to ask’ - this enables someone to ask the police about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts. A precedent for such a scheme exists with the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme; and
  • ‘right to know’ - police can proactively disclose information in prescribed circumstances.
The Domestic Violence Protection Orders approach has two stages:
  • Where the police have reasonable grounds for believing that a perpetrator has used or threatened violence towards the victim and the victim is at risk of future violent behaviour, they can issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice on the spot, provided they have the authorisation of an officer at Superintendent rank.
  • The magistrates’ court must then hear the case for the Protection Order itself – which is the second step – within 48 hours of the Notice being made. If granted, the Order may last between a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 28 days. This strikes the right balance between immediate protection for the victim and judicial oversight.

But is Clare’s Law just a sticking plaster on a far more serious problem?

The new legislation is supposed to protect victims of domestic violence, but will it really help? Olivia Goldhill interviews domestic violence charity NIA to find out how much Clare's Law can help prevent abuse.
Clare’s Law has been presented as a ground breaking piece of legislation to help protect victims of domestic violence from their partners.
But technically, the police have always had these powers, and domestic violence charity Refuge has criticised the plans as a waste of money.
Although Clare’s Law sounds like a good thing, the finer details raise questions of just how the legislation will help victims, and whether it will be of any substantive use.
Chief executive of domestic violence charity NIA, Karen Ingala Smith, is concerned that the law will place the onus of preventing violence on the victims, rather than the many agencies which are supposed to help.
Ingala Smith says: “We always hear ‘why didn’t she leave’, rather than 'why didn’t he stop using violence’, and I’m worried that once women are on record about knowing that a man they’re with has a history of violence, if something does then happen to them, it’s going to be a way for agencies to absolve looking at themselves and blaming themselves and place that at the woman’s door. I think that could very easily happen.”
Clare’s Law also carries a serious risk of giving women a false sense of security. Most instances of domestic violence are not reported to the police, and if a woman is told her partner has no record of abuse, she may be lulled into trusting her partner when any previous abuse has not been recorded by the authorities.
Ingala Smith says: “Women are often taught to doubt their own instinct when something isn’t right, and if they get a clear history from the police, I think that just makes them more likely to doubt themselves. But they may get a false negative, and that just means the police don’t have any history on record.”
She says that the biggest challenge for women in an abusive relationship is not acknowledging the violence – "if they’re worried that they need to call the police, it’s because something’s already gone wrong" – but leaving the relationship.
According to the Home Office, last year around 1.2 million women suffered domestic abuse and Mrs May said 88 women were killed by their partner. In the Clare’s Law pilot projects, around 400 women were given information. But Home Office figures show that less than 25 per cent of those who are abused by their partner report it to the police.
Ingala Smith says: “We need to make absolutely sure that she’s going to get support and if she decides she wants to leave, she’s able to do that safely. So many woman are killed at the point where they want to leave a man and they tell him. Unless we keep women safe around that time, we could actually be putting women at risk.”
Ultimately, Ingala Smith says that although Clare’s Law could work well alongside strong support for victims of domestic violence, the issue is too complicated for one simple policy to have any real impact.
“The government goes too quickly for things that look good and sound flashy, for quick fixes, and I think they need to step back and take a much broader way at looking at violence against women if they want to end it. This to me is just another sticking plaster response rather than going to the root of the problem,” she warns.

Legal issues:

Clare’s Law is also more complicated to legally enact than it first sounds. As family law barrister Lucy Reed points out on her blog, police have always had the powers laid out in Clare’s Law.
The government’s 2011 Impact Assessment on Clare’s Law points out: “The police already have common law powers to disclose information relating to previous convictions or charges to the public where there is a pressing need for disclosure of the information concerning an individual’s history in order to prevent further crime. It therefore follows that currently:
• any member of the public can already ask the police for information about a third-party’s violent history;
• the police have discretion on whether to disclose the information if there is a need to prevent a further crime.”
Clare's Law works similarly, and police, probation services and other agencies will check every request to make sure it’s necessary - there’s no automatic disclosure of information.
As Lucy Reed says, this basic legislation failed to help Clare Woods.
She writes: “One of the key issues in the Clare Woods case was that the police had adopted an inconsistent and insufficiently risk aware approach to a pattern of behaviour reported by Clare Woods - the fact that the police already have these powers but don’t appear to exploit their potential seems to me to be highly relevant.”
Lucy also points out that the original Impact Assessment raised high take-up of the scheme as a possible risk. Responding to Clare’s Law will be time-intensive for police, and may limit their ability to respond to concerns in full.
The 2011 report states: “The likely impact is an increased burden on the police ... to find the time and resources required to service the Scheme. Although no targets are planned should the Scheme be introduced, the Scheme may inhibit the police’s ability to redeploy front-line resources. In addition, funding constraints may inhibit the capacity of [officials] to support victims.”
As Lucy writes: “Why aren’t the police using those powers already? What confidence can we have that the police will deploy the resources to make this work in the future?”

What about the men?

One of the most controversial aspects of Clare’s Law is that allegations of domestic violence will be made available to those who request it. This means in cases where allegations were not proven and did not lead to a conviction, people - largely men accused - could still be named.
The belief in innocence until proven guilty is a key tenant of our legal system, and for unproven claims to be released to the public raises concerns about the rights of the accused.
Lucy writes: “Any wrongly made findings could be revisited on the poor unfortunate every time s/he tries to make a fresh start.”
Some people, including the general Twitterati, have also raised concerns that Clare's Law does not make it clear that the victims, or potential victims, could be men: some cases of domestic violence involve women abusing men.

In Conclusion:

Clare's Law is for both sexes but perhaps the authorities should make that clearer.
The idea behind Clare’s law - the right to view your partner’s criminal history - is catchy and memorable, and the Government wants to give the impression that its new legislation will help protect victims of domestic violence.
But victims of domestic violence require networks of support, and a subtle understanding of the dangers they face.
Police protection and assistance can be an important ally in the fight against an abusive partner, but Clare’s Law may not be the whole answer.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Looking to Up Your Air Time? Jump On the Trampoline.....

Elevate your ski-season skills with these four trampoline exercises...

Since the early days of freestyle skiing, trampolines have been key training tools for elite athletes looking to develop new aerial tricks. More recently, as terrain parks have become standard fare at mountain resorts, trampoline training has become more popular—and more accessible. A cadre of facilities now offer classes that guide amateurs through skills progressions for building strength, flexibility, and aerial awareness, even if you're only looking to add a little pop to your powder turns. Among them, San Francisco's House of Air ( is the most sophisticated, with a huge octagonal trampoline designed for bouncing while strapped into skis or a snowboard, time-delay cameras that capture your jumps for display on a large screen, and a trampoline wall for halfpipe-style tricks. Here, program manager Andreas Apostol details four basic, foundational moves that can be mastered on a simple gym trampoline or even the living room carpet. Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps of each exercise a few times per week.


This is the most stable position for skiers in the air. Proper form here will serve as a base for advanced jumps and park tricks.

1. Hold a straight jump as your feet leave the trampoline.
2. Bring your knees up to your chest and grab your shins with your arms.
3. As you come down, release your legs to a straight landing position and bring your hands up toward your ears.


Nailing this will increase your mobility and flexibility. It's also great exercise for strengthening your hips, which will help you carve more easily.

1. Once you're in the air, kick your legs out to the side and slightly in front of you, similar to the splits.
2. Reach your arms out toward your feet, but don't worry about touching your toes. The goal is to feel an easy stretch.


With this exercise, you'll develop the proprioceptive signals that tell your body how to react to certain motions, such as losing your balance after catching an edge and over- or under-rotating during a jump.

1. Once in the air, lift your legs straight out in front of you, keeping them together, and extend your arms toward your feet. If you feel like you're falling forward, lift up more with your legs. If you're falling backward, extend farther forward with your arms.
2. The goal is to reach your toes.


This is the first spin trick, and it will help you learn how to rotate in the air and land confidently.

1. As you sink into the trampoline, with your feet just wider than shoulder width apart, bend your knees slightly and cock your arms to one side.
2. As you take off, hold your chest and core -upright. Lead with your head, and initiate the 360 by rotating your arms from one side of your body to the other.
3. When you come around and see the landing, release your arms to slow the spin.
4. Position your legs shoulder width apart for
a stable landing.

'The era of neutrino astronomy has begun'....

Astrophysicists using a telescope embedded in Antarctic ice have succeeded in a quest to detect and record the mysterious phenomena known as cosmic neutrinos -- nearly massless particles that stream to Earth at the speed of light from outside our solar system, striking the surface in a burst of energy that can be as powerful as a baseball pitcher's fastball. Next, they hope to build on the early success of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory to detect the source of these high-energy particles, said Physics Professor Gregory Sullivan, who led the University of Maryland's 12-person team of contributors to the IceCube Collaboration. "The era of neutrino astronomy has begun," Sullivan said as the IceCube Collaboration announced the observation of 28 very high-energy particle events that constitute the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from cosmic sources.

By studying the neutrinos that IceCube detects, scientists can learn about the nature of astrophysical phenomena occurring millions, or even billions of light years from Earth, Sullivan said. "The sources of neutrinos, and the question of what could accelerate these particles, has been a mystery for more than 100 years. Now we have an instrument that can detect astrophysical neutrinos. It's working beautifully, and we expect it to run for another 20 years."

The collaboration's report on the first cosmic neutrino records from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, collected from instruments embedded in one cubic kilometer of ice at the South Pole, was published Nov. 22 in the journal Science.

"This is the first indication of very high-energy neutrinos coming from outside our solar system," said University of Wisconsin-Madison Physics Professor Francis Halzen, principal investigator of IceCube. "It is gratifying to finally see what we have been looking for. This is the dawn of a new age of astronomy."

"Neutrinos are one of the basic building blocks of our universe," said UMD Physics Associate Professor Kara Hoffman, an IceCube team member. Billions of them pass through our bodies unnoticed every second. These extremely high-energy particles maintain their speed and direction unaffected by magnetic fields. The vast majority of neutrinos originate either in the sun or in Earth's own atmosphere. Far more rare are astrophysical neutrinos, which come from the outer reaches of our galaxy or beyond.

The origin and cause of astrophysical neutrinos are unknown, though gamma ray bursts, active galactic nuclei and black holes are potential sources. Better understanding of these neutrinos is critically important in particle physics, astrophysics and astronomy, and scientists have worked for more than 50 years to design and build a high-energy neutrino detector of this type.

IceCube was designed to accomplish two major scientific goals: measure the flux, or rate, of high-energy neutrinos and try to identify some of their sources. The neutrino observatory was built and is operated by an international collaboration of more than 250 physicists and engineers. UMD physicists have been key collaborators on IceCube since 2002, when its unique design was devised and construction began.

IceCube is made up of 5,160 digital optical modules suspended along 86 strings embedded in ice beneath the South Pole. The National Science Foundation-supported observatory detects neutrinos through the tiny flashes of blue light, called Cherenkov light, produced when neutrinos interact in the ice. Computers at the IceCube laboratory collect near-real-time data from the optical sensors and send information about interesting events north via satellite. The UMD team designed the data collection system and much of IceCube's analytic software. Construction took nearly a decade, and the completed detector began gathering data in May 2011.

"IceCube is a wonderful and unique astrophysical telescope -- it is deployed deep in the Antarctic ice but looks over the entire Universe, detecting neutrinos coming through the Earth from the northern skies, as well as from around the southern skies," said Vladimir Papitashvili of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Polar Programs.

In April 2012 IceCube detected two high-energy events above 1 petaelectronvolt (PeV), nicknamed Bert and Ernie, the first astrophysical neutrinos definitively recorded by a terrestrial detector. After Bert and Ernie were discovered, the IceCube team searched their records from May 2010 to May 2012 of events that fell slightly below the energy level of their original search. They discovered 26 more high-energy events, all at levels of 30 teraelectronvolts (TeV) or higher, indicative of astrophysical neutrinos. Preliminary results of this analysis were presented May 15 at the IceCube Particle Astrophysics Symposium at UW-Madison. The analysis presented in Science reveals a highly statistically significant signal (more than 4 sigma), providing solid evidence that IceCube has successfully detected high-energy extra-terrestrial neutrinos, said UMD's Sullivan.

Since astrophysical neutrinos move in straight lines unimpeded by outside forces, they can act as pointers to the place in the galaxy where they originated. The 28 events recorded so far are too few to point to any one location, Sullivan said. Over the coming years, the IceCube team will watch, "like waiting for a long exposure photograph," as more measurements fill in a picture that may reveal the point of origin of these intriguing phenomena.

New detection systems for astrophysical neutrinos are also in the works. Hoffman is leading the development of the Askaryan Radio Array, a neutrino telescope that uses radio frequency, which transmits best through very cold ice, to detect the particles. Plans are underway for 37 subsurface clusters of radio antennae.

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory was built under a NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction grant, with assistance from partner funding agencies around the world. The NSF's Division of Polar Programs and Physics Division continue to support the project with a Maintenance and Operations grant, along with international support from participating institutes and their funding agencies.

UMD contributors to the IceCube collaboration include Sullivan and Hoffman; UMD faculty and staff members Erik Blaufuss, John Felde, Henrike Wissing, Alex Olivas, Donald La Dieu, and Torsten Schmidt; and graduate students Elim Cheung, Robert Hellauer, Ryan Maunu, and Michael Richman.

"The Great Surprise" Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins....

Oldest human genome reveals less of an East Asian ancestry than thought....

Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome.

Based on the arm bone of a 24,000-year-old Siberian youth, the research could uncover new origins for America's indigenous peoples, as well as stir up fresh debate on Native American identities, experts say.

The study authors believe the new study could also help resolve some long-standing puzzles on the peopling of the New World, which include genetic oddities and archaeological inconsistencies.

"These results were a great surprise to us," said study co-author and ancient-DNA specialist Eske Willerslev, of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

"I hadn't expected anything like this. A genome related to present-day western Eurasian populations and modern Native Americans as well was really puzzling in the beginning. How could this happen?"
So what's new?

The arm bone of a three-year-old boy from the Mal'ta site near the shores of Lake Baikal in south-central Siberia yielded what may be the oldest genome of modern humans ever sequenced.

DNA from the remains revealed genes found today in western Eurasians in the Middle East and Europe, as well as other aspects unique to Native Americans, but no evidence of any relation to modern East Asians.
A second individual genome sequenced from material found at the site and dated to 17,000 years ago revealed a similar genetic structure.

It also provided evidence that humans occupied this region of Siberia throughout the entire brutally cold period of the Last Glacial Maximum, which ended about 13,000 years ago.
Why is it important?

Prevailing theories suggest that Native Americans are descended from a group of East Asians who crossed the Bering Sea via a land bridge perhaps 16,500 years ago, though some sites may evidence an earlier arrival.

"This study changes this idea because it shows that a significant minority of Native American ancestry actually derives not from East Asia but from a people related to present-day western Eurasians," Willerslev said.

"It's approximately one-third of the genome, and that is a lot," he added. "So in that regard I think it's changing quite a bit of the history."
While the land bridge still formed the gateway to America, the study now portrays Native Americans as a group derived from the meeting of two different populations, one ancestral to East Asians and the other related to western Eurasians, explained Willerslev, whose research was published in the November 20 edition of the journal Nature.

"The meeting of those two groups is what formed Native Americans as we know them."
What does this mean?

Willerslev believes the discovery provides simpler and more likely explanations to long-standing controversies related to the peopling of the Americas.
"Although we know that North Americans are related to East Asians, it's striking that no contemporary East Asian populations really resemble Native Americans," he said.

"It's not like you can say that they are really closely related to Japanese, Chinese, or Koreans, so there seems to be something missing. But this result makes a lot of sense regarding why they don't fit so well genetically with contemporary East Asians—because one-third of their genome is derived from another population."
The findings could also allow reinterpretation of archaeological and anthropological evidence, like the famed Kennewick Man, whose remains don't look much like modern-day Native American or East Asian populations, according to some interpretations.

"Maybe, if he looks like something else, it's because a third of his ancestry isn't coming from East Asia but from something like the western Eurasians."
What's next?

Many questions remain unanswered, including where and when the mixing of west Eurasian and East Asian populations occurred.

"It could have been somewhere in Siberia or potentially in the New World," Willerslev said.

"I think it's much more likely that it occurred in the Old World. But the only way to address that question would be to sequence more ancient skeletons of Native Americans and also Siberians."
Intriguing questions also exist about the nature of the advanced Upper Paleolithic Mal'ta society that now appears to figure in Native American genomes.
The Siberian child "was found buried with all kinds of cultural items, including Venus figurines, which have been found from Lake Baikal west all the way to Europe.
"So now we know that the individual represented with this culture is a western Eurasian, even though he was found very far east. It's an interesting question how closely related this individual might have been to the individuals carving these figurines at the same time in Europe and elsewhere."

Just In Time For Christmas - Product Of The Day: Classic Penguin Book Covers Clock

Treat someone you love this Christmas with this unique, handmade in the UK clock.

This is your chance to own an original Classic Penguin Book Covers Clock.

This clock is made from genuine copies of Original Penguin Book Covers. The clock is a brand new Quartz ticking movement and comes with a one year guarantee. The movement has a hanger on the back for easy wall hanging, or if you prefer you could use a plate stand and create a desk clock. The clock requires a single AA battery to operate (not included). Due to the delicate nature of the hands and to help ensure safe transportation, we remove the hands (Easy assembly and instructions included). If you would like the hands left on, please leave a message upon purchase.

The clock is made from sustainable Latvian birch, and has several layers of varnish to give a quality finish. Please note that as these clocks are individually handmade they may differ slightly from the one shown. Please allow up to a week for your clock to be completed as they are all individually handmade.

The size of the Clock is 20 x 20cm.

This clock is a one-off, collectable and stylish gift for any lover of books.

If you would like a clock but haven't seen a record, book or subject that you like, please ask and I will try to source and make the clock for you. Please message me for a quote.
All of our products are handmade with love in Devon. I hope you enjoy your clock.

All artwork and gifts sold by Starfish Quay are handmade and painted with love in Devon. We design everything ourselves. If you have any questions about the products we sell, please feel free to ask us.

Get this in time for Christmas in our ETSY SHOP!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Sea Temperature Rise: Warmer Oceans Have Far-Reaching Effects

As climate change has warmed the Earth, oceans have responded more slowly than land environments. But scientific research is finding that marine ecosystems can be far more sensitive to even the most modest temperature change.

Global warming caused by human activities that emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide has raised the average global temperature by about 1°F (0.6°C) over the past century. In the oceans, this change has only been about 0.18°F (0.1°C). This warming has occurred from the surface to a depth of about 2,300 feet (700 meters), where most marine life thrives.

Perhaps the ocean organism most vulnerable to temperature change is coral. There is evidence that reefs will bleach (eject their symbiotic algae) at even a slight persistent temperature rise. Bleaching slows coral growth, makes them susceptible to disease, and can lead to large-scale reef die-off.

Other organisms affected by temperature change include krill, an extremely important link at the base of the food chain. Research has shown that krill reproduce in significantly smaller numbers when ocean temperatures rise. This can have a cascading effect by disrupting the life cycle of krill eaters, such as penguins and seals—which in turn causes food shortages for higher predators.

Higher Sea Levels

When water heats up, it expands. Thus, the most readily apparent consequence of higher sea temperatures is a rapid rise in sea level. Sea level rise causes inundation of coastal habitats for humans as well as plants and animals, shoreline erosion, and more powerful storm surges that can devastate low-lying areas.

Stronger Storms

Many weather experts say we are already seeing the effects of higher ocean temperatures in the form of stronger and more frequent tropical storms and hurricanes/cyclones. Warmer surface water dissipates more readily into vapor, making it easier for small ocean storms to escalate into larger, more powerful systems.

These stronger storms can increase damage to human structures when they make landfall. They can also harm marine ecosystems like coral reefs and kelp forests. And an increase in storm frequency means less time for these sensitive habitats to recover.

Other Consequences

Warmer sea temperatures are also associated with the spread of invasive species and marine diseases. The evolution of a stable marine habitat is dependent upon myriad factors, including water temperature. If an ecosystem becomes warmer, it can create an opportunity where outside species or bacteria can suddenly thrive where they were once excluded. This can lead to forced migrations and even species extinctions.

Warmer seas also lead to melting from below of polar ice shelves, compromising their structural integrity and leading to spectacular shelf collapses. Scientists also worry that warmer water could interrupt the so-called ocean conveyor belt, the system of global currents that is largely responsible for regulating Earth's temperature. Its collapse could trigger catastrophically rapid climate changes.

Will It Continue?

The only way to reduce ocean temperatures is to dramatically reign in our emission of greenhouse gases. However, even if we immediately dropped carbon dioxide emissions to zero, the gases we've already released would take decades or longer to dissipate.