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Demonseed Elite
Just saw this on CNN
Req
...and the scientists actually described them as "hobbit-sized individuals."

Woo for public acceptance of fantasy!
GaiasWrath8
Woot

This is cool. smile.gif Thanks for the report. Please let me know when they find a dragon body. wink.gif
Ecclesiastes
They already have. We call them Dinosaurs.
SubMatrix
Did anyone else notice:

Mini-human find
Michelle Pountney
28oct04

Isn't today the 27th?
Ecclesiastes
Not in Austrailia.
Nath
Did you also notice the site url ends with .au for Australia ? They're already on 28 october.
EDIT: gasp, too slow...
Fortune
Not in my neck of the woods. Time of posting: 4:50 AM October 28th biggrin.gif
JaronK
Nasty Hobbitses.

JaronK
Herald of Verjigorm
12,000 years? That's approximately 1000-ish years before the beginning of the Fourth age. Either those aren't dwarves, or the paleontologists still haven't got their timing right.
Ecclesiastes
I'd go with the second option there. Carbon dating is bunk.
RangerJoe
"Stunned Australian scientists found the skeleton of a fully grown female, which has led to the classification of a new species of ancient human. The presence of a fossilized beard strongly suggests that that the specimen is a 'dwarf' and not a 'hobbit.'"

Well, made that last bit up, but anyhow. Vive la difference == hooray for sexual dimorphism.

Da9iel
It said hairless. Must be some kind of gnome. smile.gif
kryton
My Pigmey brothers will rise up and SMITE YOU ALL!!! They sound like they could be closely related to pigmey's. Probably just a evolutionary nitch or something. Sounds like they made good Komono-dragon food. Maybe they are hobbits after all?
Nomad
*Start Scientific Rant*

While the amount of material I've read on this find is small, I'm willing to bet thats its nothing more than a population of Homo erectus which has undergone some rather serious evolutionary pressures due to living on an island, which generally makes any species inhabiting said island considerably smaller over time. This means we don't need to rewrite the evolutionary history of humans.

*End Scientific Rant*

Now, if I can work this in somehow into my campaign..........
Kremlin KOA
thank you nomad for pointing out the current largest hole in the contemporary use of the scientific method. If some evidence appears that may invalidate a currently accepted theory and design, create excuse as to why it does not so that nobody has to write up new theory.
Eyeless Blond
QUOTE (Kremlin KOA)
thank you nomad for pointing out the current largest hole in the contemporary use of the scientific method. If some evidence appears that may invalidate a currently accepted theory and design, create excuse as to why it does not so that nobody has to write up new theory.

This is certainly a contemporary "problem." In fact it's an application of Occam's Razor, which is hardly a new idea.

In fact in most cases, particularly in evolutionary biology, we kinda the opposite problem: every upstart scientist and researcher, trying to get their name on a new principle or process, tries to "debunk" perfectly valid claims in order to be sensationalistic.
Kremlin KOA
True, but I have always been impressed with the use of the name Razor by Occam to describe his technique, as razors should e handled with care. Remember people the discovery of the new Dwarves does not invalidate evolutionary theory, but does invalidate our CURRENT UNDERSTANDING of history. Now if we test the situation and formulate hypotheses and test them we should learn what these things mean... if we just try to explain them away we will learn nothing... which is true science?
Solstice
QUOTE (Ecclesiastes)
Carbon dating is bunk.

if you could do simple calculus...you would know it is not.
Solstice
I'll believe this find when I see some artifacts. It's not all that strange considering what we already know of island evolution.
Rajaat99
QUOTE (Solstice)
QUOTE (Ecclesiastes @ Oct 27 2004, 01:56 PM)
Carbon dating is bunk.

if you could do simple calculus...you would know it is not.

There's been many instances of Carbon Dating Errors, I think that's what he's getting at.
Nomad
Ok, maybe scietific (lets be honest, in my field, its rarely scientific) is not the best term to use, but I'd like to point out a few things in my defense first.

1. I have a masters degree in anthropology. While my empahsis is in archaeology, I am rather conversent in physical anthro (under which this find falls) so I do have some degree of knowledge of this issue.

2. THERE IS NO UNIFIED THEORY OF HUMAN EVOLUTION. There are, in fact, three major theories. All of the people quoted in the articles which I read subscribe to one theory which states that modern humans developed simultaneously in various parts of the world. I happen to favor a different one. The problem which arises is that the general public does not understand this sort of turf fighting which goes on in the academic community.
Kremlin KOA
Then Nomad I would like to be excluded from the set General Public{}
mfb
carbon dating works just fine, up to about 50k years. the problems start when people try to use it for objects older than that.
Ol' Scratch
QUOTE (mfb)
carbon dating works just fine, up to about 50k years. the problems start when people try to use it for objects older than that.

It fails quite often even then (I remember reading about how a leaf someone plucked from their tree registered as being a few thousand years old). It's only real use is for getting a sorta-kinda guestimate as to what might likely be the object's age.
mfb
yeah, i misspoke. 50k years is about the upper limit of getting a reading in the right neighborhood.

Nikoli
They also have to take into acount the local environment. You take an'artifact' frotm he side of a busy road, it'll probably date as being ancient. But, the problem isn't all that bad, so long as the site frmo which the object is taken from wasn't subjected to too much interference from modern man.
Solstice
unchain your brain:

There are three principal isotopes of carbon which occur naturally - C12, C13 (both stable) and C14 (unstable or radioactive). These isotopes are present in the following amounts C12 - 98.89%, C13 - 1.11% and C14 - 0.00000000010%. Thus, one carbon 14 atom exists in nature for every 1,000,000,000,000 C12 atoms in living material. The radiocarbon method is based on the rate of decay of the radioactive or unstable carbon isotope 14 (14C), which is formed in the upper atmosphere through the effect of cosmic ray neutrons upon nitrogen 14. The reaction is:


14N + n => 14C + p
(Where n is a neutron and p is a proton).
The 14C formed is rapidly oxidised to 14CO2 and enters the earth's plant and animal lifeways through photosynthesis and the food chain. The rapidity of the dispersal of C14 into the atmosphere has been demonstrated by measurements of radioactive carbon produced from thermonuclear bomb testing. 14C also enters the Earth's oceans in an atmospheric exchange and as dissolved carbonate (the entire 14C inventory is termed the carbon exchange reservoir (Aitken, 1990)). Plants and animals which utilise carbon in biological foodchains take up 14C during their lifetimes. They exist in equilibrium with the C14 concentration of the atmosphere, that is, the numbers of C14 atoms and non-radioactive carbon atoms stays approximately the same over time. As soon as a plant or animal dies, they cease the metabolic function of carbon uptake; there is no replenishment of radioactive carbon, only decay.

Libby, Anderson and Arnold (1949) were the first to measure the rate of this decay. They found that after 5568 years, half the C14 in the original sample will have decayed and after another 5568 years, half of that remaining material will have decayed, and so on (see figure 1 below). The half-life (t 1/2) is the name given to this value which Libby measured at 556830 years. This became known as the Libby half-life. After 10 half-lives, there is a very small amount of radioactive carbon present in a sample. At about 50 - 60 000 years, then, the limit of the technique is reached (beyond this time, other radiometric techniques must be used for dating). By measuring the C14 concentration or residual radioactivity of a sample whose age is not known, it is possible to obtain the countrate or number of decay events per gram of Carbon. By comparing this with modern levels of activity (1890 wood corrected for decay to 1950 AD) and using the measured half-life it becomes possible to calculate a date for the death of the sample.

As 14C decays it emits a weak beta particle (b ), or electron, which possesses an average energy of 160keV. The decay can be shown:


14C => 14N + b
Thus, the 14C decays back to 14N. There is a quantitative relationship between the decay of 14C and the production of a beta particle. The decay is constant but spontaneous. That is, the probability of decay for an atom of 14C in a discrete sample is constant, thereby requiring the application of statistical methods for the analysis of counting data.

It follows from this that any material which is composed of carbon may be dated.Herein lies the true advantage of the radiocarbon method, it is able to be uniformly applied throughout the world.


So in theory, if the standard error is + or - 10% then very old samples would have a large interval of error.
mfb
however, it's important to note that the older an object is, the more prone it is to contamination. older objects have much less C14 in them, which means that even a tiny bit can ruin the dating process.
Crimson Jack
QUOTE (Solstice)
unchain your brain:


LOL

Carbon dating is not a definitive nor effective means to date items, Solstice. Do a Google search on the subject. The web is littered with information on it. It's one of the main reasons why geochronologists don't use it as the cornerstone of the theory of evolution any longer.
Espiritu
It wouldn't be used as a "corner" stone, but it does not negate it's use as a tool of perception. Perception even with error is greater to discovery then nothing at all.
Comparative logic.

You just sited the most unstable forum of information in the world. Do you realize how many individuals put things to the Internet as "sound" resources that really aren't?

Using the internet as a basis for accuracy is like a contradiction when your saying Carbon Dating itself isn't viable as a perfect answer to a "samples" age.

- hehe, feeling trite and oppositional this morning. At work on a Saturday while someone spends hours changing out the NIC's in my systems.
Nomad
For all practical purposes, the top age of useful carbon dating, even with the newer AMS proceedures is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 years ago. It is theoretically possible to go even further - to about 40,000 but at that point, the level of C-14 is so low that its too hard to detect. The problem is that the next dating method (potassium-argon) only starts working at 200,000 years ago. This leaves a big gap in the dating techniques.

(In my defense, these numbers are from memory. I'll double check them against my notes later.)
blakkie
The problem with it is that it is based on an assumption that the living creature had a given mix of C12 vs. C14 in it when it died, and that any physical loss or addition of carbon after death was of equal portions of C12 and C14. While generally true, it seems that this is not always true.

Then of course you have garden variety sampling and measurement errors.

EDIT: Had my isotopes wrong.
Solstice
That is the underlying assumption of modeling age using that technique yes. The proportions of carbon isotopes contained in organic material under natural conditions is constant thus enabling the technique to be used with some accuracy. If that underlying assumption is violated than the technique is no longer valid. But from my understanding there is little evidence to suggest that the isotopes occur in something other than the proportions presented. If someone has a credible scientific documenton the subject please share I would be very interested in reading it.
Ed Simons
The theory appears to also be based on the assumptions that rate of formation of C14 from N14 is a constant. Do we know enough about the Sun's emmission of cosmic rays to make this assumption?

A further assumption is that the percentage of N14 in the upper atmosphere is a constant. Frankly, I don't know enough about atmospheric composition to know whether this is a reasonable assumption.

Also, based on previous statements it appears that products of combustion can cause notable changes in the data. If I have understood this correctly, could things such as the radical increase in coal burning during the Industrial Revolution affected the data significantly?
Solstice
I don't know. I'll get on my university database and see if there are any papers concerning it.

You would think that since the technique came about somewhere in the 40's or 50's that their data on the rate of decay and proportion of isotopes would be pretty similar to the historical mean. Since human-caused pollution really didn't make a large impact until a few decades later.
Nomad
Its not constant, but they have worked out recalibration curves, which are time and location specific.
Crimson Jack
QUOTE (Espiritu)
You just sited the most unstable forum of information in the world. Do you realize how many individuals put things to the Internet as "sound" resources that really aren't?

Using the internet as a basis for accuracy is like a contradiction when your saying Carbon Dating itself isn't viable as a perfect answer to a "samples" age.

Not citing it for hard information, just the fact that there are numerous problems with the procedure. I was pretty sure that he wasn't going to start a thesis on the subject and that he most likely wasn't going to pay airfare to fly to a bone dig where he could date his own fossils. There are plenty of legitimate sites on the internet for information on the state of things in the scientific community.

If looking it up online is somehow too sketchy, one can find this same information printed in respectible info mags such as Science Journal and Scientific American. However, its much easier to just use the net to find the same information. That's all I was saying. wink.gif
Solstice
QUOTE (Crimson Jack)
If looking it up online is somehow too sketchy, one can find this same information printed in respectible info mags such as Science Journal and Scientific American. However, its much easier to just use the net to find the same information. That's all I was saying. wink.gif

Yes but even those magazines aren't considered respectable among scientists or the educated public. They do have some good articles for entertainment and generally curiosity, they often lack the verifiable data, statistical robustness and cogent hypothesis testing of a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Crimson Jack
Science Journal is not written for your average layman to pick up and read, Solstice. That's like saying the Wall Street Journal is the same thing as a small town local newspaper. Reading, and better yet, understanding the ramifications of what's printed in Science Journal requires a level of understanding that most people do not have. Information that appears in Science Journal is not meant for entertainment. Its meant for reporting results of experimentation and finds around the globe. That's it. Its one of the most respected journals around and has been since the late 1800's. Its reader base has always been those interested in science and the educated public.

What you're referring to is a *bit* more in the vein of how Scientific American reports what's happening in the world. It appeals more to those who are curious, however its hardly shim-sham as you're making it seem. Its about as dubious as National Geographic is. Most of their articles are written by people with considerable years of education and experience in their respective fields. The articles are not written by reporters. You'll find the "science lite" stories that you're speaking of in Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News.

My father works as a chemical oceanographer and has long subscribed to both of these magazines, among other periodicals. I've had the opportunity to talk to quite a few of his friends who have considerable experience in this very field. It doesn't sound like you know this, but there are many scientists that use Science Journal for information and reference. Heh, its not really a magazine in the sense that you're probably imagining. Check it out sometime and you'll see what I mean. nyahnyah.gif

The simple fact remains that carbon dating is not a reliable means to date fossils. You may not find this an authoritative source either, but North American Archeologist published the results of a major study done in 1994 or 1995 about the radiocarbon database results of a major archeological dig in Tiahuaneco (sp?). This was one of many inquiries on test results achieved through carbon dating. The results were that while carbon dating tends to hit the mark at times, its also as random as can be at other times. The data is highly unstable for *accuracy*. It gives a ball park, but a large one at that.

You can find the above findings at Warsaw University IIRC.

Regardless, its fairly common knowledge about these types of findings concerning the inaccuracy of carbon dating. I believe an earlier poster referred to the potassium-argon dating method which is much more reliable. Unchain your brain. wink.gif
Solstice
I'm sorry but we have to agree to disagree. I am a scientist. I am a member of professional scientific organizations. Verifiable data with robust hypothesis testing is not reported in magazines very often. It's published in a peer-reviewed (by the world experts) article in a "Scientific Journal" which differs from a "Scientific magazine". Of the countless scientific documents I've read, not a one has cited a periodical for anything other than very basic, general information which would be virtual common knowledge to people in the discipline. If I were to publish a paper citing a magazine to bolster my own findings I would be laughed at.

Magazines will publish findings yes, but I don't base my views on what people conclude. I base them on what I conclude by reviewing their statistical methods and their data. If you want to get your information from a newstand periodical so be it, it's your own disadvantage when talking among academics in Ivory Towers. smile.gif

As for your belief that carbon dating is inaccurate....Accuracy and precision are very different terms when used in the context of modeling, and they have different intervals. One person may think that 4 estimates within 1 year of each other is an acceptable level of accuracy and precision. One person may think another. I can't really speak to how accurate or precise the method is, nor have I voiced any opinion on the subject. I merely stated that, based on the math involved and the assumptions, it makes sense, and based on what little I've read it generally works but to what accuracy or precision I don't know. So please do not infer that I am defending it's accuracy or even it's utility. I hope your not making me out to say that it's the end all know all of dating. I'm definitely not saying that. But as Lokatos engendered in us, it is important to use the best model available until something better is realized.

Alot of my comments come from frustrating discussions with dear friends who are a might too religous for their own good, and much too ignorant so nothing personal.
Ecclesiastes
And I bet those friends feel the exact same way towards you. smile.gif
Solstice
QUOTE (Ecclesiastes)
And I bet those friends feel the exact same way towards you. smile.gif

Yes indeed lol...
Crimson Jack
It's like you're not even reading what I'm typing. Please read the following slowly, word for word: Scientific American is a periodical magazine, the kind I'm guessing you don't read. Science Journal is only a magazine in the sense that it comes out without hard covers until the end of every month. It would seriously help if you would hunt one down and read it. You'll understand that I'm talking about something similar to what you're talking about.

Documents, like the countless you say you read, are compiled for convenience in publications (for lack of wanting to use the word "magazine") like Science Journal. Scientists often cite information found in other journals. Your comments are odd to say the least, but I'm not sure what field you're in, so maybe its true for your particular area of expertise. I tend to read more about earth sciences than say mathematical sciences in Science Journal. Is this what you're talking about? I'm extremely confused by your posts.

I'm not trying to flame you here, but I don't consider you an academic in Ivory Towers if you aren't even aware of the current state of things in the scientific world. Just saying that you're a scientist doesn't make you anything than a person who can type that sentence. Same goes for claiming that you're an academic. Perhaps that was just a gentle joke, but you don't strike me as a educated person if you aren't aware of some of the basic fallacies of the carbon dating method. Seriously, there's a cubic butt ton of information out there on this subject. Argue with the method on how to learn of this all day, it still exists.

I do agree with you that the theory makes sense, the results do not. You refer to accuracy and precision and to an extent, I do agree with you. It does allow a certain "window," but it is far from being anywhere close to accurate.
QUOTE
I'm definitely not saying that. But as Lokatos engendered in us, it is important to use the best model available until something better is realized.

Potassium Argon. You can read about it in both university archives and... ahem... journal publications.
QUOTE
Alot of my comments come from frustrating discussions with dear friends who are a might too religous for their own good, and much too ignorant so nothing personal.

I can understand the frustrations you may have over defending Science vs. God. I've had many a good debate on the issues of geochronology with religious lots. Its very hard to get through to them. However, I don't feel that its cause to ignore information, no matter where you find it. I guess if you feel the need to poo-poo Science Journal, do your own research on the matter in whichever way you deem worthy of your Ivory intellect.
Solstice
QUOTE (Crimson Jack @ Nov 1 2004, 08:34 PM)
It's like you're not even reading what I'm typing.  Please read the following slowly, word for word: Scientific American is a periodical magazine, the kind I'm guessing you don't read.  Science Journal is only a magazine in the sense that it comes out without hard covers until the end of every month.  It would seriously help if you would hunt one down and read it.  You'll understand that I'm talking about something similar to what you're talking about.

Documents, like the countless you say you read, are compiled for convenience in publications (for lack of wanting to use the word "magazine") like Science Journal.  Scientists often cite information found in other journals.  Your comments are odd to say the least, but I'm not sure what field you're in, so maybe its true for your particular area of expertise.  I tend to read more about earth sciences than say mathematical sciences in Science Journal.  Is this what you're talking about?  I'm extremely confused by your posts.

I'm not trying to flame you here, but I don't consider you an academic in Ivory Towers if you aren't even aware of the current state of things in the scientific world.  Just saying that you're a scientist doesn't make you anything than a person who can type that sentence.  Same goes for claiming that you're an academic.  Perhaps that was just a gentle joke, but you don't strike me as a educated person if you aren't aware of some of the basic fallacies of the carbon dating method.  Seriously, there's a cubic butt ton of information out there on this subject.  Argue with the method on how to learn of this all day, it still exists.

I do agree with you that the theory makes sense, the results do not.  You refer to accuracy and precision and to an extent, I do agree with you.  It does allow a certain "window," but it is far from being anywhere close to accurate.
QUOTE
I'm definitely not saying that. But as Lokatos engendered in us, it is important to use the best model available until something better is realized.

Potassium Argon. You can read about it in both university archives and... ahem... journal publications.
QUOTE
Alot of my comments come from frustrating discussions with dear friends who are a might too religous for their own good, and much too ignorant so nothing personal.

I can understand the frustrations you may have over defending Science vs. God. I've had many a good debate on the issues of geochronology with religious lots. Its very hard to get through to them. However, I don't feel that its cause to ignore information, no matter where you find it. I guess if you feel the need to poo-poo Science Journal, do your own research on the matter in whichever way you deem worthy of your Ivory intellect.

I think I understand what your saying and I've seen the publications you speak of. They are (sometimes) condensed versions of what I would deem a legitimate paper. In general however, they do not discuss thier methods in detail nor do they often present the full amount of data, which is essential to good hypothesis testing because it allows others to understand how you came the conclusions you did and to replicate the experiment if needed. It is more of a matter of preference really, there isn't essentially anything WRONG with them they just aren't considered "real".

I simply prefer to "audit" if you will, how they came to said conclusions, rather than just hear their conclusions and take their word for it. While time consuming, it generally leads to better understanding of the process and at times, chinks in the hypothetical armor...which is also important to the overall understanding and ongoing discussion of competing theories and ideas.

I'm not an archeologist or an anthropologist...I'm a biologist. But I do understand (I feel) the basics of science and hypothesis testing which is why I do not base my opinions on a periodical or canned conclusions. A "hard" science paper in a peer reviewed journal would only rarely if ever cite a paper in a periodical for these reasons exactly. I subscribe to peer reviewed journals that follow a rigorous format, and they are the only types of references that are acceptable to cite, in my discipline and others I'm aquainted with.

As a consequence I'm not familiar with the method of which you speak. But I look forward to looking into it. While these publications you speak of do not have a place in academia as such they do play an important role in allowing someone who may not have the grasp on mathematics needed to be a discerning reader of a full on scientific paper or to critique the authors hypothesis testing or allowing a person to stay abreast of current ideas that they may want to research further. This is not a jab at you or anyone just an observation.

I'm not advocating that you ignore anything. I am advocating being a dicerning reader and a scientist. I find it perfectly sensible to criticize and possibly disregard a plethora of information from sources like the internet and certain magazines simply because alot of it is dubious and probably not verifiable. I've not said once that ignoring information is advisable.

So as I was mentioning about Lokatos, we will have to decide for ourselves with the best data available, which model is the most accurate and precise.
Crimson Jack
QUOTE
It is more of a matter of preference really, there isn't essentially anything WRONG with them they just aren't considered "real".


Alright. Well, whatever helps you sleep at night.

QUOTE
I simply prefer to "audit" if you will, how they came to said conclusions, rather than just hear their conclusions and take their word for it.


Marius Polowski, an authority on carbon dating procedures and professor at Warsaw University, recently did a study on exactly what we're talking about. He and his team of scientists were funded in their research of testing test results. The project took over a year and a half, cost more money than any of them made in a year, and resulted in a 604 page report on the subject of dating errors using this *particular* method. Believe me, I'm not telling you that you have to just accept what anyone reports, but you have to admit that its a helluvalot of work to do the audit yourself when you can use journals to easily read about this information. I guess I understand what you're saying. It just seems a little crazy to want to test every theory yourself before you buy into it. How do you find the time to do all of this and still play Shadowrun? wink.gif

QUOTE
As a consequence I'm not familiar with the method of which you speak. But I look forward to looking into it. While these publications you speak of do not have a place in academia as such they do play an important role in allowing someone who may not have the grasp on mathematics needed to be a discerning reader of a full on scientific paper or to critique the authors hypothesis testing or allowing a person to stay abreast of current ideas that they may want to research further. This is not a jab at you or anyone just an observation.


The methods I'm referring to are the methods in which you're now stating that you approve of, so long as they are peer-reviewed. It's funny that you mention your field of study is biology. I took 18 credits of biology courses in college, including 9 credits of marine biology. A lot of my interest in this particular field of science came from my dad's work. While a large portion of our work was done in group lab, where we conducted our own projects, our study groups focused on papers published largely in scientific journals. Our text books were littered with references to them. Littered.

And I don't take this as a jab. Its just an observation which isn't true for the college that I went to. Again, perhaps its in some misunderstanding that I have of what you're trying to say, but it baffles me to think that you don't believe that your peers read what other scientists have reported in their findings. I haven't heard of a scientist (until now) who challenges all information until his own personal tests are in. I suppose that's your perogative. It just seems so insanely time consuming.

Perhaps you have teams of biologists working under you to continually prove the works of those who came before you? I don't know. The Ivory Towers must be a nice place to live. wink.gif
Modesitt
The reason scientists get twitchy every time someone starts arguing against carbon dating has to do with the fact that they generally follow up with "Darwin recanted on his deathbed!" or similar rubbish.

Carbon-14 dating gives unreliable results -From Index to Creationist Claims. Also closely related to this, this, and this.
the_dunner
Uh, just another scientist stepping in here to try and moderate between Crimson Jack and Solstice. Solstice, I think the problem in the conversation is that Crimson Jack is using the wrong name for the journal he's thinking of. When he's typing "Science Journal" he actually means "Science Magazine." As in www.sciencemag.org, which is, ironically enough, the Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and, incidentally, perhaps the most prestigious journal to publish scientific findings. This is, of course, a legitimate, peer-reviewed research journal.

Scientific American, OTOH, would go in the same category as Popular Mechanics or OMNI. It's science for the lay-person, and not particularly meaningful.
Crimson Jack
Ah, thanks for the clarification. It's been several years since I read through a lot of those periodicals.
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