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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for February, 2009

Subject: Science / Chemistry news

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

The Heaviest Element Yet Known To Science

Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (symbol=Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called more-ons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete. Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2 to 6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more more-ons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of more-on promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever more-ons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass. When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium (symbol=Ad), an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium, since it has half as many peons but twice as many more-ons.

So, Washington is now the largest chemistry lab ever built. Watch out when a new radioactive isodope of Governmentium is discovered and reaches a critical level. Then the whole damn lab will explode. Can we survive to 2010 ?

BAIL EM OUT!

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Back in 1990, the Government seized the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada for  tax evasion and, as required by law, tried to run it. They failed and it closed.

Now we are trusting the economy of our country and our banking system to the same nit-wits who couldn’t make money running a whore house and selling whiskey.

Chicken Littles Taken to Task

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

A corollary of Murphy’s Law (“If something can go wrong, it will”) is: “Things are worse than they can possibly be.”

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, an atomic physicist, seems to embrace that corollary but ignores Gregg Easterbrook’s “Law of Doomsaying”: Predict catastrophe no sooner than five years hence but no later than 10 years away, soon enough to terrify but distant enough that people will forget if you are wrong.

Chu recently told the Los Angeles Times that global warming might melt 90 percent of California’s snowpack, which stores much of the water needed for agriculture. This, Chu said, would mean “no more agriculture in California,” the nation’s leading food producer. Chu added: “I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going.”

No more lettuce or Los Angeles? Chu likes predictions, so here is another: Nine decades hence, our great-great-grandchildren will add the disappearance of California artichokes to the list of predicted planetary calamities that did not happen. Global cooling recently joined that lengthening list.

In the 1970s, “a major cooling of the planet” was “widely considered inevitable” because it was “well established” that the Northern Hemisphere’s climate “has been getting cooler since about 1950″ (The New York Times, May 21, 1975).

Although some disputed that the “cooling trend” could result in “a return to another ice age” (the Times, Sept. 14, 1975), others anticipated “a full-blown 10,000-year ice age” involving “extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation” (Science News, March 1, 1975, and Science magazine, Dec. 10, 1976, respectively).

The “continued rapid cooling of the Earth” (Global Ecology, 1971) meant that “a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery” (International Wildlife, July 1975).

“The world’s climatologists are agreed” that we must “prepare for the next ice age” (Science Digest, February 1973).

Because of “ominous signs” that “the Earth’s climate seems to be cooling down,” meteorologists were “almost unanimous” that “the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century,” perhaps triggering catastrophic famines (Newsweek cover story, “The Cooling World,” April 28, 1975).

Armadillos were fleeing south from Nebraska, heat-seeking snails were retreating from central European forests, the North Atlantic was “cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool,” glaciers had “begun to advance” and “growing seasons in England and Scandinavia are getting shorter” (Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 27, 1974).

Speaking of experts, in 1980 Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford scientist and environmental Cassandra who predicted calamitous food shortages by 1990, accepted a bet with economist Julian Simon. When Ehrlich predicted the imminent exhaustion of many nonrenewable natural resources, Simon challenged him: Pick a “basket” of any five such commodities, and I will wager that in a decade the price of the basket will decline, indicating decreased scarcity.

Ehrlich picked five metals — chrome, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten — that he predicted would become more expensive. Not only did the price of the basket decline, the price of all five declined.

An expert Ehrlich consulted in picking the five was John Holdren, who today is President Obama’s science adviser. Credentialed intellectuals, too — actually, especially — illustrate Montaigne’s axiom: “Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know.”

As global levels of sea ice declined last year, many experts said this was evidence of man-made global warming. Since September, however, the increase in sea ice has been the fastest change, either up or down, since 1979, when satellite record-keeping began. According to the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.

An unstated premise of eco-pessimism is that environmental conditions are, or recently were, optimal. The proclaimed faith of eco-pessimists is weirdly optimistic: These optimal conditions must and can be preserved or restored if government will make us minimize our carbon footprints and if government will “remake” the economy.

Because of today’s economy, another law — call it the Law of Clarifying Calamities — is being (redundantly) confirmed.

On graphs tracking public opinion, two lines are moving in tandem and inversely: The sharply rising line charts public concern about the economy, the plunging line follows concern about the environment. A recent Pew Research Center poll asked which of 20 issues should be the government’s top priorities. Climate change ranked 20th.

Real calamities take our minds off hypothetical ones. Besides, according to the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade — or one-third of the span since the global cooling scare.

By George F. Will Sunday, February 15, 2009

WASHINGTON

Words of Wisdom for Today

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom.  What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.  The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.  When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, will prove the end of any nation.
” You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”
~~~ The late Dr. Adrian Rogers , 1931 to 2005 ~~~

Milestones

Monday, February 9th, 2009

2009 is indeed a special year.  I’ve already noted Darwin’s bicentennial birth.  There are two others, two men quite different in who they were, and how they are regarded in the 21st century.

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston.  His father abandoned him when the boy was two years old.  His mother, a prominent actress, died when he was three.  He was taken in by John Allan in Virginia, but was not adopted.  It is possible that much of Poe’s work was affected by his childhood bereavement, especially his obsession with death.
His personal life was Gothic.He married his thirteen year-old cousin in 1836. He was twenty-seven. He called her “Sis” or “Sissy.” It’s likely he didn’t assume a position as her husband for two years.  He also wanted her mother as part of the household.  Although he had a low tolerance for alcohol, he did drink, was occasionally drunk, although the rumors of his alcoholism were likely exaggerated.
His death was, and still is, a mystery.  He was on his way to a meeting in New York City, disappeared, and was found near death in Baltimore, either because of alcoholism, infection, or both.  He died a week later at the age of forty.
Poe’s short stories are gems of terror and horror.  He is quoted as saying, “Terror belongs to the soul.” He felt that the short story had to truly be ” short,” and must be only long enough to be read at a single sitting, one-half to two hours maximum.  He is quoted as saying, “All high excitements are necessarily transient.  “To him, there had to be a totality of effect––– every word, image, etc. had to contribute to the whole of the story.  Nothing could be accidental.
My favorites are: The Fall of the House of Usher; The Pit and the Pendulum; The Cask of Amontillado; The Black Cat; and the little stories, Ligeia, and Berenice.
Poe reshaped the horror story in a way to investigate the darkest corners of human psychology, and deal with his obsession about death (possibly his mother’s death). Poe left an important mark on American literature, on American Gothic literature.  He created the detective story (The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter).  His stories are also filled with new technologies, and so he was important in establishing the genre of science fiction.
A literary giant, he left behind a group of stories whose Gothic terror and horror still haunt the reader.

Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday falls on February 12, 2009.  He was truly a man for the ages.  Despite the negative rantings of modern iconoclastic writers, pundits, and talking heads, he is recognized by almost all Americans as our greatest president, or at least side by side with George Washington.  He brought this nation out of its greatest maelstrom, the Civil War.  Without him, we would have been a nation permanently torn asunder.  His decisions helped guide us to a successful end to that war.  He is rarely seen as a great military strategist, but he knew when to bring Ulysses S. Grant in as commanding general of the Union armies.in order to win that war.  He saw slavery as an evil that needed to be abolished.  His life, cut short by assassination, has cast a shadow greater than life on this country.
He was a master of the written word.  The Gettysburg Address is a gem of prose–– locking in great thoughts and deep emotional meaning in astonishingly few words.  His Second Inaugural Address, on March 4, 1865 is quite short and succinct, filled with biblical messages and a call to the American people to heal the wounds of war. Thousands of spectators stood in thick mud at the Capitol grounds to hear the President.  Lincoln stood on the East Portico to take the oath. Chief Justice Salmon Chase administered the oath of office. Little more than a month later, Lincoln was dead.  I’d like to quote from the ending of the Second Inaugural:
. . . Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.  Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord our true and righteous altogether ”
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.


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