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Breakthrough Listen is a 10-yr initiative to search for signatures of technologies created by extraterrestrial civilisations at radio and optical wavelengths. Here, we detail the digital data recording system deployed for Breakthrough Listen observations at the 64-m aperture CSIRO Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The recording system currently implements two modes: a dual-polarisation, 1.125-GHz bandwidth mode for single-beam observations, and a 26-input, 308-MHz bandwidth mode for the 21-cm multibeam receiver. The system is also designed to support a 3-GHz single-beam mode for the forthcoming Parkes ultra-wideband feed. In this paper, we present details of the system architecture, provide an overview of hardware and software, and present initial performance results.
Does sexual orientation and gender identity matter at election time? While previous literature has explored the effect of candidate gender and ethnicity on electoral results, this is the first study to quantitatively investigate the impact of sexual orientation. We build an original dataset combining individual-level data on more than 3,000 candidates in the 2015 UK election with sociodemographic indicators at the constituency level. In addition to sexual orientation and other demographic characteristics, we include candidate education, political experience, and campaign spending. We find that LGBT candidates generally do not have a negative impact on party vote share. Even in more conservative environments, LGBT candidates perform at least as well as their straight counterparts. This work is important to understand the consequences of descriptive representation and, relatedly, how rapid social change happens.
Satisfiability modulo theories (SMT) solvers have been used successfully as reasoning engines for automated verification and other applications based on automated reasoning. Current techniques for dealing with quantified formulas in SMT are generally incomplete, forcing SMT solvers to report “unknown” when they fail to prove the unsatisfiability of a formula with quantifiers. This inability to return counter models limits their usefulness in applications that produce queries involving quantified formulas. In this paper, we reduce these limitations by integrating finite model finding techniques based on constraint solving into the architecture used by modern SMT solvers. This approach is made possible by a novel solver for cardinality constraints, as well as techniques for on-demand instantiation of quantified formulas. Experiments show that our approach is competitive with the state of the art in SMT, and orthogonal to approaches in automated theorem proving.
One of the mysteries of Joseph Brodsky's biography was that, even as Petersburg continued to haunt many of Brodsky's writings of exile, the poet himself did not return to his native city after being exiled in 1972. In this article, Andrew Reynolds explores the notion of the “Petersburg text” as it applies to Brodsky's work and reveals Brodsky's deep ambivalence toward the kenoticism central to many readings of the “Petersburg text” and the “Russian idea” itself. The article argues that Brodsky's “last” poem, “August,” is both an attempt to exorcise and, ultimately, an acceptance of the fatidic patterns which seem to make a “return to Petersburg” inevitable in art if not in life. The poem is both an elegy for a (still living?) tradition and a self-elegy, and represents Brodsky's final recognition that he is Aleksandr Pushkin's successor in more ways than one: the strongest Russian poets always die “in January,” irrespective of which month or season becomes one's “fate.“
The fourth season of the Fezzan Project continued the interdisciplinary approaches of previous seasons. Geographical and environmental work focused principally in sampling sediments for scientific dating and with integrating ground observation with remote sensing data. Excavations continued at Old Germa, where the site has now reached Garamantian levels. In a separate development, the tentative identification has been made of an early mosque at the site, in an area adjacent to the G1 excavation trench. Substantial results were gained from work aimed at enhancing the important data recorded by Charles Daniels in his earlier excavations and survey in the Wadi al-Hayat. The enhancement of the Daniels' survey archive was integrated with completion of the wider prospection being undertaken by the new project. This survey included fieldwalking, standing building survey, analysis of the foggara irrigation systems and recording of rock art scenes. Finds work comprised the finalisation of a pottery type series for the Germa area, the study of small finds from the recent survey work, botanical analysis and completion of lithics recording. A programme of radiocarbon dating is now being undertaken to improve the phasing of sites and monuments. The first two volumes of final reports are now in preparation.
This report summarises the work of the third season of the Fezzan project which took place in January 1999. The main environmental findings of the project team of specialist geographers are providing confirmation of dramatic climatic and environmental change over the last 100,000 years and give more precise dates for some of these changes. The excavations in Old Germa (ancient Garama) have continued through Islamic levels, with elements of five main phases of buildings now having been recorded. Additional standing structures, including one of Germa's main mosques, have been surveyed. Field survey around Germa has revealed further new settlement sites of prehistoric, Garamantian and Islamic date. Of particular importance is a series of lithic and pottery scatters relating to neolithic occupation along the edge of the Ubari Sand Sea, to the north of Germa. Further investigation of the irrigation channels (foggaras) has revealed significant new information about their size, construction and probable date. The report concludes with a brief preliminary analysis of changing settlement patterns over time.
The Fezzan Project is investigating the last 10,000 years of human settlement, landscape evolution and climatic change in the Germa region in southern Libya. The second season in February–March 1998 comprised interdisciplinary research in archaeology and geography, centred around excavation and survey work carried out at the site of Old Germa. To date, three phases of mud brick buildings have been partially explored. In addition, wider geomorphological study and archaeological survey and fieldwalking were carried out elsewhere in the Germa/Twesh oasis and around el-Hatiya. Numerous sites were discovered, including a new hillfort of Zinchecra type and several valley centre ‘villages’ of Garamantian/Roman date. Artefactual studies were carried out on pottery and lithics, animal bones and seeds. Further work on the subterranean irrigation features, the foggaras, have confirmed their pre-Islamic origins.
For stakeholders in Myanmar, the 2012 by-elections revealed the potential of the National League for Democracy (NLD) to dominate, once again, winner-take-all elections in Myanmar that are held under credible electoral conditions. Looking towards the 2015 general election, when 75 percent of parliament's seats should be contested, the NLD's landslide victory in 2012 significantly raises the political stakes.
Political actors in Myanmar are now looking ahead to 2015 to assess their prospects under the prevailing electoral system. Assuming the NLD can maintain its levels of popularity, it is possible the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system will deliver the NLD a single-party parliamentary majority in 2015, even if the 25 percent of seats set aside for the military are taken into account. As other analysts have observed, “the ruling USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party] won only one seat in the by-election even though it garnered [close to] 30 per cent of the vote, and leaders are said to be concerned that the party could be wiped out by an NLD landslide in the elections in 2015 unless proportional representation is introduced” (Bower and others 2012). In this light, the tendency of Myanmar's FPTP system to amplify wins and losses can also be seen as a political liability, potentially undermining the fragile political calculus that since 2011 has given the reformers licence to shape Myanmar's politics positively. The NLD may, in fact, have much to gain by changing the electoral system to one that increases the likelihood that powerful political forces in the transition process still feel represented in the future parliament. The debate about electoral systems takes on another important dimension with the legitimate concerns of ethnic minorities about their representation in Myanmar's new political system. An FPTP system with a resurgent NLD poses significant challenges for ethnic minority parties. While the 2012 by-elections included few constituencies in the ethnic states, in those constituencies where ethnic minority parties did compete they only gained political ground in one seat, winning by a narrow margin over the NLD. The 2015 elections are already looming, and both the NLD and USDP are seeking to lead the nation down a path towards peace and national reconciliation. In this context it will be increasingly difficult for the NLD and USDP to ignore the calls for political accommodation by the ethnic minority parties.
Political scientists have contributed to the world of electoral systems as scientists and as engineers. Taking stock of recent scientific research, we show that context modifies the effects of electoral rules on political outcomes in specific and systematic ways. We explore how electoral rules shape the inclusion of women and minorities, the depth and nature of political competition, and patterns of redistribution and regulation, and we consider institutional innovations that could promote political equality. Finally, we describe the diverse ways that political scientists produce an impact on the world by sharing and applying their knowledge of the consequences of electoral rules and global trends in reform.
Methods for estimating vaccine effectiveness (VE) against severe influenza are not well established. We used the screening method to estimate VE against influenza resulting in intensive care unit (ICU) admission in England and Scotland in 2011/2012. We extracted data on confirmed influenza ICU cases from severe influenza surveillance systems, and obtained their 2011/2012 trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) status from primary care. We compared case vaccine uptake with population vaccine uptake obtained from routine monitoring systems, adjusting for age group, specific risk group, region and week. Of 60 influenza ICU cases reported, vaccination status was available for 56 (93%). Adjusted VE against ICU admission for those aged ⩾65 years was −10% [95% confidence interval (CI) −207 to 60], consistent with evidence of poor protection from the 2011/2012 TIV in 2011/2012. Adjusted VE for those aged <65 years in risk groups was −296% (95% CI −930 to −52), suggesting significant residual confounding using the screening method in those subject to selective vaccination.
This article focuses on the link between the representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in national legislatures and the existence of equality laws focused on sexual orientation. It addresses three interrelated questions: how many “out” LGBT legislators have served in national parliaments, what explains the cross-national variation in their legislative presence, and what is the relationship between the presence of gay legislators and the enactment of laws that treat gay and straight citizens equally? There is an established literature arguing that the representation of women and ethnic minorities “descriptively” in national legislatures improves the realization of their policy preferences and the position of the group within the society as a whole. This article draws on that literature and extends the analysis to LGBT communities. It finds that the presence of even a small number of openly gay legislators is associated significantly with the future passage of enhanced gay rights, even after including controls for social values, democracy, government ideology, and electoral system design. Once openly gay legislators are in office they have a transformative effect on the views and voting behavior of their straight colleagues. This “familiarity through presence” effect is echoed in studies of U.S. state legislatures and levels of social tolerance of homosexuality in the population at large.
Several European countries have timely all-cause mortality monitoring. However, small changes in mortality may not give rise to signals at the national level. Pooling data across countries may overcome this, particularly if changes in mortality occur simultaneously. Additionally, pooling may increase the power of monitoring populations with small numbers of expected deaths, e.g. younger age groups or fertile women. Finally, pooled analyses may reveal patterns of diseases across Europe. We describe a pooled analysis of all-cause mortality across 16 European countries. Two approaches were explored. In the ‘summarized’ approach, data across countries were summarized and analysed as one overall country. In the ‘stratified’ approach, heterogeneities between countries were taken into account. Pooling using the ‘stratified’ approach was the most appropriate as it reflects variations in mortality. Excess mortality was observed in all winter seasons albeit slightly higher in 2008/09 than 2009/10 and 2010/11. In the 2008/09 season, excess mortality was mainly in elderly adults. In 2009/10, when pandemic influenza A(H1N1) dominated, excess mortality was mainly in children. The 2010/11 season reflected a similar pattern, although increased mortality in children came later. These patterns were less clear in analyses based on data from individual countries. We have demonstrated that with stratified pooling we can combine local mortality monitoring systems and enhance monitoring of mortality across Europe.
The palaeoenvironments associated with Australopithecus (Paranthropus) robustus have generally been reconstructed as habitat mosaics; typically open, arid grasslands in the vicinity of woodlands or forests with a nearby source of permanent water. Disentangling which aspect(s) of these mosaics might have been preferred by the hominins presents a significant challenge. The aim of this study is to enhance our resolution of animal palaeocommunity structure in the Bloubank river valley of South Africa in order to test which ecological conditions might have been favoured or avoided by A. robustus. Faunal assemblage data were collected from a series of hominin-bearing deposits including Kromdraai, Swartkrans, Sterkfontein and Coopers (locality D). Taphonomic data revealed the presence of a potential bias resulting from depositional matrix, though our analysis demonstrated there was no association between taphonomic conditions and taxonomic composition. A selection of environmentally sensitive taxa was assigned to a series of ecological categories based on isotopic, ecomorphological and taxonomic evidence. Correspondence analysis was used to assess changes in faunal composition between assemblages. Results indicate that the more open, arid-adapted taxa there are in a given assemblage, the fewer hominins there tend to be. Rather than reflecting the habitat preference of A. robustus, these data indicate a pattern of habitat avoidance that is inconsistent with a reconstruction of this hominin as an open, arid specialist. We conclude that the hominins were capable of subsisting in sub-optimal habitats as a result of their capacity to significantly alter their dietary patterns in favour of less preferred food items when conditions dictated.