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Gagged! UK government brings in full press censorship, pledges death to the internet

Richard Cottrell End the Lie

There is only one thing worse than gutter journalism, and that is gutter politics. The British Government has decided that it knows better what people should or shouldn’t read in their newspapers or on the internet and thus becomes the first European government to endorse a system of full blown censorship.

In part, this is a fall-out from the massive phone-hacking scandal which wracked Rupert Murdoch’s press empire in the UK, provoked the closure of his flagship red top called The News of the World and continues to take a heavy toll among the scribblers of what used to be called Fleet Street.

The other side of the coin is effectively shutting down the Net by imposing penurious penalties on bloggers and web sites that refuse to co-operate with the new word order.

The accounts for the miraculous silence of all but one of the major dailies published in London. With the sole exception of the Daily Mail, buttoned lips are the order of the day. The daily rags cannot believe their luck: their chief enemy leeching readers and influence either takes the proffered keep-out-of-jail co-operation card or face enormous fines.

David Cameron is not a man of exemplary judgment. He is a perfect example of dog-and-bone politics. Once he gets hold of something, he refuses to let go, even though a modicum of common sense would tell him to drop it.

Thus at the height of the phone-hacking of well-known celebrities, he was still exchanging fraternal greetings with the former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brookes. She and her husband, Charlie Brookes, a wealthy stud trainer, have both been charged in connection with the affair.

As it happens, the pair belong to an exceptionally  privileged country mansion set roosting in the PM’s charming Oxfordshire constituency, and unsurprisingly that has been quite sufficient to get the tongues wagging, particularly as some of the e – mails which Cameron sent to La Brookes from Downing Street were, insiders insist, ‘rather salacious.’

To spice matters further, Rupert Murdoch’s daughter, Elizabeth, is another prominent member of the same exclusive country club and horsey circuit.  Quintessentially English.

The prime minister thus has a direct – not to say rather compromised – interest in regulation of the press.

But the real seat of the forthcoming gagging of the media – which also targets, Chinese style,  the content of foreign-registered blogs – dates to Murdoch’s attempt to grab full control of the B-Sky-B satellite platform. The greedy Aussie already owned a slice and wanted to bag the lot, which raised serious monopoly issues.

Cameron’s response was to openly back the Murdoch bid instead of sagely taking a back seat and allowing the monopoly commissioners to come up with a binding judgment. A neat demonstration of fingerprint-free politics.  Not a bit of it. Cameron went to the wicket for the Murdoch team. Hence some of those gooey e-mails exchanged with the flame-haired Brookes, head girl at News International.

Now the nitty gritty.

The ruling Coalition  – supported by the purely token ‘socialist’ opposition – has backed away from parliamentary  legislation for the quite obvious reason that a press law might not escape a serious mauling – not to say defeat –  in the awkwardly independent-minded and invariably cussed House of Lords.

So, using the ancient legislative device of retrieving a Royal Charter from mothballs of centuries, the government will create a complex system of media regulation to which the print media, broadcasters and ‘relevant publishers’ (that means the Net and blogs in particular) will ‘voluntarily submit’.

Both houses of parliament will not be asked to vote on the substance, simply to ‘take note’ of the existence of the Charter.

This is like offering the condemned man in front of the firing squad a see-through blindfold. Here’s what happens if the above organs refuse to co-operate.’

‘No newspaper or blogger would be forced to join the regulator, the Royal Charter system is a system of incentivisation.

However, those ‘relevant publishers’ that choose not to join the regulator would be subject to costs and could be subject to exemplary damages if taken to court. ‘Relevant publishers’ are specifically defined and could include blog sites that are written by multiple authors, have editorial control and are published in the course of business.’

That’s quite some ‘incentivisation’, wouldn’t you agree?

Whether this obvious stitch-up would survive a test case at the European Commission of Human Rights is another matter. Frankly, I think not. Is it any co-incidence therefore that the government recently declared its intention to take the UK out of the commission, patently before a test case lands in front of those famously feisty foreign judges.

Many of the rich and famous who found themselves entangled in the phone bugging affair formed an ad hoc group calling itself Hacked Off, which in yet another display of contumacy, took part in the secret, wee small hours negotiations between government and opposition that resulted in the Royal Charter wheeze. Publishers or journalists were conspicuously not invited.

The ghost of Sir Oswald Mosley, pre-war leader of the British Fascists, hovers over these proceedings. One of the leading lights in Hacked Off is none other than Max Mosley, son of the old long-gone Blackshirt, widely known as the former boss of the motor racing organization Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA). He is also a tireless champion of those who consider themselves victims of press intrusion, either in print or on the Net, notably himself.

He was apparently present at the grand three-party summit which hatched the Royal Charter cop out. Mosley has had his own run-ins on the reporting of his private life and there can be little doubt that he sees the shackling of the media in general – and the Net in particular – as a personal triumph and the final pay off for all his years of campaigning.

His mother Diana, one of the Famous Five Mitford sisters, used to call her fluent German-speaking offspring der entsschlossener – ‘the determined one.’  This time he has truly lived up to his reputation.

How appropriate. Those who live and breathe the oxygen of publicity and the limelight will in future be protected from anything other than the shoddy tinsel of idol worship.

Charity begins at home, as they say. Members of the House of Commons are paid £65,000 a year yet it seems they cannot resist fiddling their expenses and allowances on a heroic scale. Scarcely a week goes by in which there is no mention of yet another episode of cooking the books, false claims for second homes, inflated invoices for  first class railway travel, money charged out to friends and relatives as ‘consultants’, even in the past building duck ponds on country estates.  Anyone would think Britain’s politicians were scraping a living.

Nothing would suit the self-serving governing class better than having all these inconvenient exposures kept away from cold print.  The Liberal Democrats, junior partner in the Coalition, suffered an especially awkward spectacle in the lead up to the grand censorship summit.  One of their former senior colleagues is now currently detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for lying about some speeding points he transferred to his former wife all of ten years ago.

Applying the new regulations, the commentary leading up to the hearing  of this case might be seriously curtailed and thus deny the public at large the information to make their own judgments, of some importance given the special election in the offing to fill the vacant seat.  The offence itself and the details thereof are trivial but a serious embarrassment nonetheless because the MP concerned was a top flight Liberal Democrat minister in the coalition government.

The disgraced minister was hunted down by a number of bloggers, but none more so than Paul Staines, whose nome-de-plume is Guido Fawkes (after the great 15th century plotter apprehended while trying to blow up parliament and King James I with it).

The political classes quake at the mere mention of Guido and his boisterous widely read Black Hansard of parliamentary scandals.  Small wonder that the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who is a favorite Guido target, was so keen to reach for the press gag.

Staines has given his firm ‘niet’ to co-operating with the new Press Regulator and so has The Spectator, the world’s oldest (1711) continually published magazine of comment. The Speccie, as it is widely known and revered, is staunchly pro Tory and the decision thus poses a serious problem for Cameron. Will he attempt to prosecute and fine such a great tribune of the Right?  The same applies to the demon Staines, who is ordinarily regarded as a scourge of the Left.

It gets worse. The Speccie’s ex editor is Boris Johnson, flamboyant and powerful Mayor of Greater London, who is breathing down the flagging Cameron’s neck for the Number Ten job. This seems be the perfect illustration of unintended blowback, although a more astute mind than Cameron’s would have seen it on the radar.  I certainly see a War of the Words. The Spectator’s battle lines have been clearly set out by editor Frazer Nelson: ‘Readers expect us to hold politicians to account, not dance to their tune.’

So what is it now to be, show trials by a Tory led government of two arch-Tory pulpits? The famous riposte, ‘publish and be damned,’ uttered by the iconic victor of Waterloo, the Iron Duke of Wellington, upon receiving some seditious communication, springs to mind.

The United Kingdom has been moving steadily towards an authoritarian state since the explosions on the London Underground in July 2007, which injured 784 passengers and killed 52.  Blair’s government began an immediate crackdown on civil liberties in order to ‘preserve freedoms’, though his Home Secretary John Reid was curiously on record a full year before the outrage stating that many precious freedoms might have to go because liberty was ‘being abused by terrorists’.

With one per cent of the world’s population, the UK has more than 20% of the planetary roll out of closed circuit cameras. Anyone trundling around London for the day might be spotted up to six thousand times. The militarized police have given over to pursuing thought crime instead of real crime.

A new Kafkaesque Bill winding its way through parliament allows government the power to hold secret Soviet-style secret court hearings at which the accused individual will not appear, nor be told the charges or even allowed legal counsel. The government will appoint a ‘representative’ – who will not however hold any audience with his ‘client.’

This is not an extract from The Castle or The Trial, but life in a modern nation state of the European Union.

When government creates a system of secret courts, then democracy has vanished out of the window. Secrecy practiced by officialdom always equates with tyranny.  Autocrats rule, they do not govern.  Ask any former inhabitant of the Soviet Empire, like the millions in Eastern Europe who are now free citizens (at least for the time being, allowing for the EU liberty-crushing juggernaut).

Censorship is another turn of the screw in the slow, deliberate extinction of shrinking civil liberties in the United Kingdom, thanks to the sedation of the population on high octane celebrity worship. The Cult of Diana seeps from the grave, as we see with the steady inflation of her successor, Colgate Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, metastasizing into another identikit fairy goddess manufactured to order.

Royal Family PLC has obviously learnt nothing from the last episode.  It means there is no respite from a demure fashion dolly who has nothing better to do than change costumes for the benefit of the paparazzi caravanserai half a dozen times a day.

Further distractions run to all the electronic gadget smog cancelling brain cells, invariably rigged public tournaments such as football and organized Roman games like the ghastly Olympics and the recent ‘royal jubilee.’   When the queen went to hospital the other day with a runny nose, one would have thought the end of the world was nigh, as the combined British media reached for the smelling salts.

The necessity to focus the glare of inquiry on powerful institutions and individuals is one of the key check points in a functioning democracy. There are necessary laws which redress unfair statements and untruths, which is why London’s courts and their generous awards are renowned for libel tourism.

What the suffocating ancient language of the Royal Charter seeks to achieve is a blanket silence wherever and whenever something which is considered demeaning to authority appears in print or the electronic universe.

One of my parliamentary friends calls it ‘the Slap Staines Charter’ because so many of the political elites itch to be rid of the loathsome busy body Guido Fawkes and his endless mischief. Maybe, but what is being done will be hard to undo, given that laws are now made by a cross-party consensus in closed chambers in the witching hours, with carefully invited guests.

The odious Mosley, for example, openly expresses that the government should reach for the kill switch – ‘rip out the wires’ – to castrate the Net.  He is to the Net what Herod was to children’s homes.

The hapless Cameron came to power pledged to roll back the Big Brother boulder. Instead we have been given back door identity cards posing as health entitlements, Nazi-style eugenics practiced in government run hospitals, yet more powers and gear for the utterly over-pampered police,  secret courts and inquests, US drones operating from UK soil, a tax on domestic spare rooms  (there being little else left untaxed) and now full blown censorship.

What is especially depressing is the constant grinding away at personal liberties: the freedom to read what we like, where we like, without monitoring or interference,  to be treated as adults within a society which is supposed to be our common property. These are priceless inheritances and they are almost all gone.

UPDATE: The Economist says No to Big Brother censorship


Planet Earth

Security island: The rich wanted to live in floating cities

The coronavirus pandemic managed to resurrect one of the most famous legends – the myth of Atlantis. The idea of ​​a fertile island with wise rulers and decent citizens got a second chance thanks to Seasteading. This is what they call living in autonomous floating cities, where their own laws apply. 

According to representatives of this movement, communities drifting in the open sea are almost the only chance to save the planet from death. A Floating salvation from all troubles

The regime of self-isolation affected not only ordinary people, but also the rich, who were also forced to wait out quarantine somewhere. Then realtors recorded an unprecedented demand for luxury real estate: luxurious mansions, Scottish castles, uninhabited islands in the Caribbean and even bunkers. Interest in private jets and yachts has also grown : you still need to get to your real estate somehow.

Even inside impregnable bomb shelters, the rich provided for themselves huge pools, gyms and cinemas. Most of these facilities are located in the United States or Europe at the site of abandoned military bases. However, billionaires from Silicon Valley chose New Zealand as their location – a quiet place away from any shocks and external threats.

Hopper Vivos
Hopper Vivos Photo:

“She is not an enemy to anyone. This is not a target for a nuclear strike. This is not a goal for war. This is a place where people seek refuge,” explains Gary Lynch, director of bunker manufacturing company. 

Former Prime Minister John Key also echoes him:

“I know many people who told me that they would like to have housing in New Zealand if the world went to hell.”

The founder of the PayPal payment system and the first investor of Facebook, Peter Thiel, have already acquired a bunker in the country. However, back in 2008, he invested in an organization called The Seasteading Institute, which is now the main company on the market promoting the concept of cities in the middle of the ocean.

Sail away from the problems

In general, the very idea of ​​a floating island is not fundamentally new – it exists in nature and is found. Very often, a strong wind rips out coastal plants in a pond, cattail or reed, knocks them into a heap and “sends them on a trip.” It happens that a large piece of peat floats to the surface of the swamp. Sometimes such a moving part of the land can stop in place, grow and become a full-fledged island.

People often populated this land or used it for economic activities (they grew rice or wheat). So, it is known about the tribe of Uru Indians living on the shores of Lake Titicaca. They hid on the floating islands from their warlike Inca neighbors, who could make them slaves. On a piece of land, where the whole village was easily located, the Uru tribe completely created the entire infrastructure. The Indians even had a watchtower.

Floating Village on Lake Titicaca
Floating Village on Lake Titicaca Photo: CHROMORANGE / Legion

Subsequently, designers and architects repeatedly beat decisions like “house + water”. Private residences were built near the water, in the water, above the water on the supports, they even simply rafted someone’s mansion along the river. However, all these findings are still integrated into the urban environment and have nothing to do with independence and the Seasteading philosophy. His ideologist was American partner Thiel Patri Friedman.

He has a remarkable pedigree. His father is David Friedman , the libertarian economist , the author of the original model of anarcho-capitalism, where everything, including the law, is created solely thanks to the free market. Grandfather – Nobel Prize winner in economics Milton Friedman , who received an award for research in the field of consumer economics. His theory was at the heart of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) action plan during the 2007-2008 global financial crisis.

Patri, an engineer and former employee at Google, left the corporation on his birthday to devote his time to developing Seasteading-building. The term comes from English homesteading , which can be translated as “creating a home for yourself in new, uninhabited places.” When replacing home with the sea , it turns out that you need to look for housing somewhere in the vast expanses of the ocean. As they say in the organization, experiments are the engine of progress: to find something better, you must try something new.

Patry friedman
Patry friedman Frame: TEDx Talks / Youtube video

Quarantine and work on a remote site showed that it is not necessary to constantly be in the office to be effective. Just during the lockdown, it was reported that billionaires from Silicon Valley considered floating cities to be promising and wanted to reserve a place there. The same is true for the seasteading – they are convinced that independent communities on the high seas will become the dwelling of a new generation.

Wave house

Autonomous communities are positioned as a way to solve many problems, and not just as a refuge for the rich who want to hide from infection. Firstly, the system tries to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The island’s life is based on the concept of sustainable development, which provides for the principle of zero waste. As for energy consumption, at the initial stages of the development of the project, when life is just getting better, a certain part of the resources will be received by mariners from the country in whose territorial waters they are located.

In the future, it is planned to use biofuels, solar, wind and wave energy. On vertical farms they will grow fresh products, and receive seafood – doing aquaculture. Surplus food and energy can be sold to the host country or even exported.

Another problem that floating cities come in handy for is raising the world’s oceans, which is due to global warming. Some island countries will need solutions very soon, say the Institute of Seasteading. They are already preparing a plan to save important infrastructure facilities of different states in the event of a threat of flooding.

Over time, systeders become more autonomous and go further into the ocean, the Blue21 floating city development concept says.
Over time, seasteaders become more autonomous and go further into the ocean, the Blue21 floating city development concept says. Image: www.blue21

Also, according to the creators of the floating cities, they will help with the overpopulation of megacities, the safety of citizens and a poor management system in the country (people will independently manage what is happening around, and not through intermediary officials). The threat of tsunamis or pirates is not frightening for seasteading- objects will be built from reliable materials and in quiet areas.

It would seem that becoming a resident of a floating city is like enrolling in space tourists. However, future sailors do not have any special requirements. Nevertheless, it is important to be a responsible and sociable person – on the territory of the island, if he is in neutral waters, only those rules apply that the participants of the trip will develop on their own. The seasteading rules are still subject to international law, but the internal charter will carry weight.

“We expect that the first communities will primarily attract adventurers, innovators and pioneers by nature. Building on the ocean is not easy and not cheap. Our first inland settlements should be accessible to the middle class of developed countries, and we hope that new materials and technologies will help lower prices so that in the end everyone can become a seasteader,” the authors of the project say.

The functioning of the first floating cities will be run off the coast, and after all the checks, the community will go further into the sea. “Building for the open ocean is technically possible, but at present it is extremely expensive and complicated. Establishing partnerships with host countries solves both of these problems and allows us to quickly open the sea space to more people,” the Institute explains.

The life of the seasteading-manager, as planned, will not be different from the life of any developed country. On the territory there will be all the usual types of real estate: condominiums, apartments, offices. Housing can be rented, sold and bought. It will not do without schools, shops, restaurants and medical facilities. There are opportunities for work in the field of agriculture, aquaculture, as well as ecology, wave energy, nanotechnology and computer science. The inhabitants of the island do not pay taxes, but periodic fees for maintaining the infrastructure are possible (depends on the internal charter).

At the same time, the seasteading managers do not consider themselves crazy hermits and say that they are “interested in a peaceful exchange of ideas and trade with other countries at the local, regional and international levels. We want to be good neighbors for those around us. We value openness, choice and transparency as a blessing to all. ”

Agree on the shore

Such stories really sound promising, although in practice it is much more difficult to implement. But any projects of the Institute of Seasteading are carried out taking into account the Eight Great Moral Imperatives – the internal code of ethics. It sounds like this: enrich the poor, cure the sick, feed the hungry, clean the air, restore the oceans, live in harmony with nature, restore stability to the world and stop fighting. This is what the representatives of the movement are trying to achieve with the help of independent communities on the water.

Floating Island Project - Concept 1
Floating Island Project – Concept 1Image:
The project of a floating island in the waters of French Polynesia, which was never realized due to the political struggle in the country.

The organization’s first project, Ocean Builders, is deployed in Panama. It represents the production of “ocean mushrooms” – double modules in shallow water with all amenities, called SeaPod. Such housing impresses with its compactness, chamberness and gorgeous ocean view. However, so far this model is only being developed.

Ventive Floathouse in California, specializes in modular capsule dwellings. Thanks to the special design, it can be either a single house-float, or an entire community, united in a “snowflake”. Several of these communities can be turned into a whole city. Information on the value of the property is disclosed upon request.

The company Blue Frontiers, is currently negotiating the creation of a special economic zone for Seasteading, but so far they have not led to any results. It was with this company that in 2017 was associated both a major success, and at the same time a serious failure in the creation of floating islands. Then the government of French Polynesia (controlled by France, located in the South Pacific) gave the green light to the project, but because of the tense political situation in the country, it had to be curtailed.

Terraces - bird's eye view
Terraces – bird’s eye view Image:

No less ambitious undertaking is the Blueseed cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco. A business incubator was supposed to appear here. To take part in the project, beginning entrepreneurs would not even have to apply for a work visa. It was planned that successful startups “descend” from the ship to the shore and are implemented directly in the Silicon Valley, located nearby. But in 2014, after repeated attempts to attract financing, the project had to be curtailed.

At the moment, not a single seasteading-project has been fully implemented. Basically, everything depends on financing. In order to build even a single module on the ocean, a significant investment is required. Not every “representative of the middle class of a developed country” can pay such an amount. This whole story, in spite of convincing arguments and good goals, for the time being remains a utopian and beautiful fairy tale.

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Planet Earth

By supporting India in a border conflict, Moscow pissed Beijing off which in turn declared Vladivostok its city

China, which is already trying to change the status quo through de facto control in East Ladakh, has now begun a territorial dispute with Russia.

According to the Chinese resource WION , after Russian officials published a video dedicated to the celebration of the 160th anniversary of the founding of Vladivostok on Weibo, Chinese officials quickly corrected their partners, reminding them that Vladivostok was the territory of China in the 19th century.

This is a tweet from the Russian Embassy in China, where Chinese officials write:

“The history of Vladivostok began in 1860, when Russia built a military port there. Previously, this city was called Haishenvai. It has always been Chinese territory before Russia annexed it through the unjust Beijing Treaty.

It should be noted that in addition to India, China is now also involved in a territorial dispute with Japan and is invading its sea territory. 

Moscow pissed Beijing off

According to Asia Times Financial, it seems that China is very upset that its “ally” Putin is selling fighter jets to India, the contract for the supply of which was signed with the Minister of Defense of India, who attended the Victory Day parade last week.

President Xi Jinping did not go well in 2020, and here, in addition, he received a sharp reminder of real politics when Russia expressed support for India in connection with its border conflict with China. And although Russia, India and China are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, relations between Moscow and Delhi have deeper roots than the recent warming of relations with President Putin Xi Jinping.

Therefore, despite the growing interdependence between Russia and China, when it comes to energy, weapons and other transactions, including negotiations to create a digital currency system, Moscow has confirmed that it supports India’s position in the Sino-Indian border dispute. To slightly sweeten the pill, Moscow expressed support for China’s new national security law in Hong Kong, but it had little effect on Beijing. 

This decision of Russia has great commercial motives, as well as, possibly, historical geostrategic ties. India buys about 60% of its weapons from Russia. Moscow and Delhi have had strong diplomatic relations since the Cold War. Both countries signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation for a Strategic Partnership in 1971. This was a departure from India’s previous position, which during the Cold War followed a non-aligned policy.

A week after the deadly clash on the Indian-Chinese border, Indian Defense Minister Rajnat Singh visited Moscow to take part in the 75th Victory Day parade on Red Square, which marked the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II. Singh said that India is going to buy as much military equipment as possible from Russia. 

According to Indian media reports, the Minister of Defense bought 33 fighters in one package: 21 MiG-29 and 12 Su-30 MKI, and also ordered the modernization of another 59 aircraft. The total amount of orders amounted to almost 2.4 billion dollars. India also approved a deal to supply the Russian S-400 missile system, which cost $ 5.4 billion. Although the contract was signed back in 2018, India was in no hurry to fulfill it, fearing US sanctions. 

In addition, according to Chinese media reports, India also bought 600 of the latest air-to-air missiles and cruise missiles in an unknown quantity. At the same time, Russia announced that it could provide India with even more weapons in a short time.

This move by Moscow infuriated Beijing, which is not surprising: on the eve, China asked Russia not to respond to India’s requests for weapons systems, but Moscow ignored this request.

Professor Harsh Pant from Royal Imperial College London said in an interview with Live Mint that “With this step, Russia wanted to show its independence from China, because, after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, only China recognized the legality of this step, declaring itself an older brother in exchange “.

As a result, many Chinese news agencies began to flog over Russia. So the Jiabao Business newspaper  noted that Putin has lifted Russia from its knees for 20 years, but so far Russia’s GDP is equivalent to only one Guangdong province. “What happened to Russia?” – asks Jiabao Business.

The IMF report “Prospects for the Development of the World Economy” recently predicted that Russian GDP will fall by 6.6% this year, so by the end of 2020, Guangdong will even surpass Russia in terms of GDP. 

Why does Russia want to sell weapons? According to the latest data, Russian oil reserves are in eighth place in the world, amounting to 80,000 million barrels. Rich oil resources brought Russia a steady stream of profits, but the recent fall in oil prices, for which Moscow was partially responsible, hit the country hard. Russia, which lives earning money lying on the couch, has completely turned into a typical commodity country.

The country’s second problem is unthinkable corruption, and even Putin admits that the efficiency of industrial production in Russia is lower than that of Western countries. Therefore Jiabao Business further recommends, before meddling in other people’s border disputes, Moscow is necessary to modernize its industrial structure, punish bribe takers and improve international relations.

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Planet Earth

Giant mountains discovered inside the Earth

Studying the boundary between the Earth’s core and mantle, geophysicists have found that it is not as smooth as previously thought. Surfaces separating the inner layers also have a complex relief. It turns out that our planet is not at all like a set of spheres nested into each other, as is customary to portray it.

Reading the waves. Earth’s crust

The deep bowels of geophysics are judged by seismic waves generated by earthquakes. There are longitudinal P-waves – when elastic mechanical vibrations occur along the propagation direction and transverse S-waves – the vibrations in them are perpendicular.At the boundary of layers with different densities, the wave velocity changes dramatically. In the transition from a solid crust to a more plastic upper mantle, it increases. This border is called the surface of Mokhorovichich. The lower mantle is harder than the upper. The outer core, in which transverse seismic waves do not propagate, is liquid, and the inner core is again solid, but slightly plastic.

While the network of seismographs was rare, the sections between the inner shells with a certain degree of conventionality were depicted as spheres. As the data accumulated, it became clear that each of these boundaries is a complex surface with its relief and internal “mountains” even higher than on the Earth’s surface, and the “troughs” are deeper. From the top of Everest to the bottom of the Mariana Trench about 20 kilometers, and, for example, the differences of the border of Mokhorovichich, dividing the crust and upper mantle, reach 40 kilometers. And all this at a depth of five to 70 kilometers.

This was proved by scientists from China and the United States . They analyzed the results of observations of hundreds of seismic stations obtained from the same events: the earthquakes in Bolivia of 1994 and the Sea of ​​Okhotsk in 2008 and 2012, as well as archival records of seismographs of the National Center for Information on Earthquakes of the US Geological Survey.

The authors of the study found that for the boundary between the upper and lower mantle, located at a depth of about 660-670 kilometers, the data of the various stations almost completely coincide. That is, she has a stable relief, which she even managed to map. Signal processing of the Bolivian earthquake made it possible to literally create a “topographic map” of the surface of the lower mantle for an entire region in Southeast Asia .

The most dynamic area. Mantle and core

When talking about the dynamics of the Earth, they usually mean large-scale surface processes associated with the movement of lithospheric plates. In the zones of mid-ocean ridges and rifts, the lithosphere moves apart, and in subduction zones on the outskirts of the continents, oceanic plates sink under the continental.

But no less dynamic processes and surface movements occur inside the Earth – only their reflection. First of all, we are talking about mantle convection, which arises due to the temperature difference in the bowels and on the surface of the planet. 

Upward flows of convection cells stretch the lithosphere, downward flows drag it into the mantle. Moreover, in the upper parts of the cells, the substance flows in a horizontal plane and these flows cause lithospheric plates to move.The most dynamic region of the Earth is located on the border of the core and mantle, at a depth of about 2900 kilometers.

It is believed that its heterogeneity affects many geological processes, in particular, the oscillation of the axis of rotation of the Earth and the characteristics of the geomagnetic field. In addition, convection itself is a consequence of what happens in the D ”layer at the boundary with the core.On its surface, scientists discovered arrays of unusually dense, hot rocks – zones of abnormally low seismic wave velocities (ULVZ – Ultra-low velocity zones). They stretch for hundreds of kilometers, and their “height” – tens of kilometers.Above them are hot spots with volcanoes: Hawaiian, Marquesas, Galapagos Islands and the Samoa archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, Canary Islands and Azores , Iceland in the Atlantic, Kerguelen archipelago in the Indian, Afar volcanism zone in the Great African Rift.

Using the new machine learning algorithm, American scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland at College Park together with their Israeli colleagues from Tel Aviv University performed a parallel analysis of seven thousand seismograms covering hundreds of earthquakes from 1990 to 2018, and for the first time compiled a detailed section map the core and mantle of the Pacific region, on which all ULVZ zones were applied.It turned out that ULVZ are only separate protrusions within the larger, low-shear-velocity provinces (LLSVP) provinces, which are also called superplumes. Their branches penetrate up into the mantle for thousands of kilometers. Now scientists distinguish two such provinces – African and Pacific.

Superplumes (provinces with a low shear rate) at the boundary of the core and mantle look like they look from the North (a) and South (b) poles. The center shows the core of the Earth with the projection onto it of the contours of the continents; outer contour - conditional border of the lower mantle
© Sanne Cottaar, Vedran Lekic / Geophysical Journal International, 2016Superplumes (provinces with a low shear rate) at the boundary of the core and mantle look like they look from the North (a) and South (b) poles. The center shows the core of the Earth with the projection onto it of the contours of the continents; outer contour – conditional border of the lower mantle

The circulation of matter in the mantle

Australian scientists from the University of Curtin suggested that the periods when all the land of the Earth united into single supercontinents – Pangea, Rodinia, Colombia and others, coincided with activity in the deep LLSVP provinces. They built a dynamic model linking the evolution of superplumes to the assembly and decay of supercontinent. According to this model, LLSVP arrays are formed from lithospheric plates, which, as it turned out, sinking, does not dissolve in the mantle, as previously thought, but descend to the very boundary of the core. Here they melt, and giant drops of preheated matter – mantle plumes – coming off from LLSVP, float to the surface, giving rise to a new geodynamic cycle. The lithosphere rises above the plumes, forming a dome, and then cracks and diverges.

Inside the core

Researchers from the US and China have analyzed how seismic waves passing through the boundary between the outer and inner core change. For this, we used signals from doublets – repeated earthquakes with the same epicenter.

It turned out that these changes have a certain periodicity, which can be explained by two mechanisms: either the inner core rotates by about 0.05-0.1 degrees per year, or high “mountains” and deep “canyons” appear on its surface. So, a dynamically changing relief can also be at the deepest boundary between the earth’s shells.

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