40 Ways to Carve Up England
On 18 September, Scotland voted to stay in the UK by 55% to 45%: a wider margin than most expected, but still close enough to warrant the constitutional re-think promised by Westminster in the run-up to the referendum.
This result will finally require an answer to the famous West Lothian Question (1): With certain matters devolved to separately elected assemblies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, why should Members of Parliament (MPs) elected in those countries to sit in the House of Commons be able to vote on matters that affect only England?
The easy answer is of course that they shouldn't; the difficult one is how to solve that democratic paradox. One solution could be to exclude Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh MPs from debates and votes pertaining to English matters only. Another would be to keep the vote open, but to require England-only legislation to get a majority of English MPs behind it. Either solution would create two classes of MPs - hardly an elegant outcome, let alone a more democratic one.
A third option would be to create an English Parliament, provide it with similar powers as the other three assemblies, and leave residual 'federal' matters to the Westminster Parliament.To give such an assembly a fresh start, it should perhaps convene outside of London – maybe in Winchester, the ancient English capital, or in either Meriden or Fenny Drayton, two villages east of Birmingham disputing each other's claim to be the geographical centre of England.
While this would satisfy those who feel that England itself is the least-recognised, longest-suffering colony of the British Empire, the result would be a bit lopsided. England's 53 million inhabitants represent 83% of the United Kingdom's population. Placing its representative body on a par with the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Irish Assembly would create a constitutional imbalance that would make either the English or the three smaller nations very unhappy (and quite possibly all four of them).
This could be solved by devolving central powers to English regions rather than to England as a whole. That would not just be mathematically opportune. Regionalism is a strong force in England. The attachment to city, county or region often is stronger and more tangible than the more abstract notion of nation. The economic situation is also highly divergent regionally.
But how would you carve up England? Alasdair Gunn – he of the equipopulous EU map (see #668) – explores two avenues of Anglo-fragmentation. One is to transpose the administrative units of other countries on England. The other is to imagine existing, often fairly random subdivisions hardening into political borders after power devolves down from Westminster.
Often, the administrative divisions of foreign countries are mentioned to give examples of what a devolved England might look like. However, few plans for devolution give detail on what these divisions would look like, writes Mr. Gunn in the legend of this collection of maps called If England were...
Each map shows England, subdivided into 'foreign' units of government of approximately equal population. The maps are arranged left to right, top to bottom.
England would be the equivalent of two Indian states (averaging 26 million each), or three Bangladeshi divisions (app. 18 million each). Although Sikkim, the smallest of India's 29 states, has less than a million inhabitants and 8 others have less than 10 million, its largest, Uttar Pradesh, has 200 million. Two other states – Maharashtra and Bihar – have over 100 million inhabitants. Dhaka is the most populous of Bangladesh's 7 divisions, numbering 48 million. The central coastal division of Barisal has less than 9 million.
The average administrative units of Brazil, the US and South America are fairly equipopulous – between 5.8 and 7.5 million inhabitants – with England corresponding to 7 Brazilian states, 8 American ones, or 9 South African provinces. Of course, the actual size of these units varies widely: Sao Paulo (44 million) is almost 100 times more populous than the 27th-ranking Brazilian state, Roraima (less than 0.5 million).
England would be equivalent to 10 German Länder (5.3 million each), 14 Australian states (3.8 million) or 16 Canadian provinces (3.3 million). That would be almost triple the number of states of Australia itself (24 million, 5 states), and considerably more provinces than Canada (36 million, 10 provinces).
Italian regions, Japanese prefectures and Polish voivodeships generally have pretty small circumscriptions, with England the equivalent to 18 regioni (of about 3 million each; Italy itself has 20), 19 todōfuken (circa 2.75 million each; Japan has 45), or 22 województwa (about 2.4 million each; Poland itself only has 16).
Curiously, Russian circumscriptions are even smaller – most are large in area, but thinly populated. England could fit in 30 Russian federal subjects (each counting 1.75 million inhabitants). But Tanzania's administrative divisions are even closer to its citizens. A Tanzanian region on average contains no more than 1.5 million people. Tanzania itself (46 million) counts 30. England would contain 35 Tanzania-sized regions.
Under the title Tortured Geography, Mr. Gunn proposes 27 more ways to carve up England: The administrative boundaries used by government departments, quangos (2) and other public sector authorities vary wildly, with the same names often referring to very different areas.
There is indeed very little overlap between the country's three environment agency regions, 4 public health regions, 4 HMRC (3) valuation office agencies, 5 Arts Council regions, 6 Homes & Communities Agency regions or 6 Forestry Commission areas – and that's just comparing the smallest numbers of subdivisions.
The same place could be in the North & East for one agency, in the East for another, and in the Midlands for a third. Even the most obviously standalone unit, Metropolitan London, is separate only half of the time, and otherwise attached to three different regions.The smallest set of subdivision are the counties, but even these are not confusion-free.
There are, in fact, three different types of counties, only two of which are shown here. England's historical counties, first established in Saxon times, officially haven't been abolished, but on most maps they've been replaced by either the administrative counties (as introduced by the 1972 Local Government Act) or the ceremonial counties (as defined by the 1997 Lieutenancy Act).
Some historical counties have disappeared off the map entirely. Middlesex, for instance, has been subsumed by Greater London and clings to life as a post code reference and in the names of a university and a cricket club, among others (see also #605).
And even if the name survives, the administrative and/or ceremonial county may have little overlap with the historical one. The continued confusion between these three types of county means that some places can belong to two or even three different counties, depending on which definition is used.
Administrative counties date from the 19th century but were reorganised by the 1972 Act. They reflect the altered demographic reality, re-dividing the ancient counties into local government areas more adapted to modern times and often taking non-historical names and shapes. Quite a few of these counties have already been renamed or reshaped.
The 1997 Act provided for the appointment of lord-lieutenants (i.e. the Queen's regional representatives) to what were consequently called ceremonial counties – the basis for which in most cases are the unaltered (but sometimes conjoined) administrative counties of the 1972 act. The ceremonial county of Bedfordshire, for example, also includes the administrative county of Luton.
So – what will be the face of post-West Lothian England? Will economics be the deciding factor, and will it look like the map of the 39 LEPs (4)? Or perhaps the institutional factor will decide, and it will resemble the 7 local government association regions. God forbid it should come out as the 10 European Regional Development Fund Programme areas.
Perhaps the smartest move of all might be to add another configuration to the already saturated mix and in a carefully choreographed confusion of change ensure that everything stays exactly as it was.
Strange Maps #683
 So called because it was first raised in 1977 by Tam Dalyell, Member of Parliament for West Lothian, a constituency in Scotland.
 A quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation, which exercises certain powers that have been devolved to it from central government.
 Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, a.k.a. the taxman.
 Local Enterprise Partnerships, which a few years ago replaced the Regional Development Authorities.
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.
- Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
- The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
- The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
What are they?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDA0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTM1ODc0Mn0.NH33LuauIo__sUBi4tvhwxDcsvhflDFD-Nhx9FjlSNk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=148%2C0%2C149%2C0&height=700" id="cec96" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="acb78abe2ab46a17e419ad30906751d6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Artist's impression of the Kordylewski cloud in the night sky (with its brightness greatly enhanced) at the time of the observations.
G. Horváth<p>The<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kordylewski_cloud" target="_blank"> Kordylewski clouds</a> are two dust clouds first observed by Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski in 1961. They are situated at two of the <a href="https://www.space.com/30302-lagrange-points.html" target="_blank">Lagrange points</a> in Earth's orbit. These points are locations where the gravity of two objects, such as the Earth and the Moon or a planet and the Sun, equals the centripetal required to orbit the objects while staying in the same relative position. There are five of these spots between the Earth and Moon. The clouds rest at what are called points four and five, forming a triangle with the clouds and the Earth at the three corners.</p><p>The clouds are enormous, taking up the same space in the night sky as twenty lunar discs; covering an area of 45,000 miles. They are roughly 250,000 miles away, about the same distance from us as the Moon. They are entirely comprised of specks of dust which reflect the light of the sun so faintly most astronomers that looked for them were unable to see them at all. </p><p>The clouds themselves are probably ancient, but the model that the scientists created to learn about them suggests that the individual dust particles that comprise them can be blown away by solar wind and replaced by the dust from other cosmic sources like comet tails. This means that the clouds hardly move but are <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/11/news-earth-moon-dust-clouds-satellites-planets-space/" target="_blank">eternally changing</a>. </p>
How did they discover this?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Nzc4MjQ4MX0.7uU9OqmQcWw5Ll1UXAav0PCu4nTg-GdJdAWADHanC7c/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C180%2C0%2C181&height=700" id="952fb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a778280a20f1c54cd2c14c8313224be2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"In this picture the central region of the Kordylewski dust cloud is visible (bright red pixels). The straight tilted lines are traces of satellites."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>In their study published in the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/mnras" target="_blank">Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society</a>, Hungarian astronomers Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, and Gábor Horváth described how they were able to find the dust clouds using polarized lenses.</p><p>Since the clouds were expected to polarize the light that bounces off of them, by configuring the telescopes to look for this kind of light the clouds were much easier to spot. What the scientists observed, polarized light in patterns that extended outside the view of the telescope lens, was in line with the predictions of their mathematical model and ruled out other possible sources. </p>
Why are we just learning this now?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjUyNDMyMH0.Zl8GmQ_rJHiL4b7hN0r_YBmgb6_ZqIRvqOVuko2ubpw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C141%2C0%2C185&height=700" id="87afe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd4c0b5088e601d7279cc5eb226f8b7b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"Mosaic pattern of the angle of polarization around the L5 point (white dot) of the Earth-Moon system. The five rectangular windows correspond to the imaging telescope with which the patterns of the Kordylewski cloud were measured."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>The objects, being dust clouds, are very faint and hard to see. While Kordylewski observed them in 1961, other astronomers have looked there and given mixed reports over the following decades. This discouraged many astronomers from joining the search, as study co-author Judit Slíz-Balogh <a href="https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/research-highlights/earths-dust-cloud-satellites-confirmed" target="_blank">explained</a>, <em>"The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the Moon are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy. It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor."</em></p>
Will this have any impact on space travel?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c3d797fff5430c64afcb5a49bddc3616"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ou8N3v9SFPE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lagrange points have been put forward as excellent locations for a space station or satellites like the <a href="https://jwst.nasa.gov/about.html" target="_blank">James Webb Telescope</a> to be put into orbit, as they would require little fuel to stay in place. Knowing about a massive dust cloud that could damage sensitive equipment already being there could save money and lives in the future. While we only know about the clouds at Lagrange points four and five right now, the study's authors suggest there could be more at the other points.</p><p>While the discovery of a couple of dust clouds might not seem all that impressive, it is the result of a half-century of astronomical and mathematical work and reminds us that wonders are still hidden in our cosmic backyard. While you might never need to worry about these clouds again, there is nothing wrong with looking at the sky with wonder at the strange and fantastic things we can discover. </p>
New cancer-scanning technology reveals a previously unknown detail of human anatomy.
- Scientists using new scanning technology and hunting for prostate tumors get a surprise.
- Behind the nasopharynx is a set of salivary glands that no one knew about.
- Finding the glands may allow for more complication-free radiation therapies.
PSMA PET/CT technology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="676e611b970c9b516cace0870447b325"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RHAyoQF09X4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>PSMA PET/CT is a new combination of <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pet-scan/about/pac-20385078" target="_blank">PET scans</a> and <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ct-scan/about/pac-20393675" target="_blank">CT scans</a> that is believed to offer a more reliable means of locating prostate cancer metastasis. A <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/prostate-cancer-psma-pet-ct-metastasis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> published last spring suggests it may be the most accurate way to diagnose prostate cancer metastasis than any method previously available.</p><p>Prior to PSMA PET/CT, the primary way to look for metastatic prostate cancer was to image the body using x-ray-based CT scans and to perform bone scans, since bone is where prostate cancer often spreads. CT scans, however, often miss small tumors, and bone scans can generate false positives as a result of other damage or abnormalities that have nothing to do with prostate cancer.</p><p>PSMA PET/CT scans track the travels of an intravenously administered radioactive glucose tracer throughout the body. For hunting down prostate cancer, this tracer contains a molecule that binds to the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472940/" target="_blank">PSMA</a> protein that's present in large amounts in prostate tumors. The molecule is linked to a radioisotope, <a href="https://netrf.org/2018/11/13/gallium-68-scan-for-neuroendocrine-tumors/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gallium-68</a> (Ga-68).</p><p>In last spring's research, PSAM PET/CT was shown to be 27 percent more accurate than previous methods at finding metastases (92 percent accuracy as opposed to 65 percent). In addition, it was found to be much less likely to produce false positives, and it was particularly good at detecting tumors far removed from the prostate.</p>
A good kind of avoidance behavior<p>"Radiation therapy can damage the salivary glands," says Vogel, "which may lead to complications. Patients may have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, which can be a real burden."</p><p>The researchers looked back through the cases of 723 patients who had undergone radiation treatment, interested in seeing if inadvertent radiation of the tubarial glands was associated with the complications experienced by the patients. It turned out that this <em>was</em> the case: In cases where more radiation had been delivered to this area, patients did indeed report more in the way of complications of the type one would expect when salivary glands are radiated.</p><p>Now that we know the tubarial salivary glands exist, therapists can stay out of their way. Vogel says, "For most patients, it should technically be possible to avoid delivering radiation to this newly discovered location of the salivary gland system in the same way we try to spare known glands."</p><p>He's hopeful that that things may be about to get at least a bit better for cancer patients: "Our next step is to find out how we can best spare these new glands and in which patients. If we can do this, patients may experience less side effects which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment."</p>
A new survey found that 27 percent of millennials are saving more money due to the pandemic, but most can't stay within their budgets.