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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

An Unusual, But Fitting Ending

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Antimatter/ Carl Anderson

Physicists began speculating in the late 19th century that there may exist particles and matter that are exact opposites of the matter that surrounds us, mirror-image anti-atoms and perhaps even whole anti-solar systems where matter and antimatter might meet and annihilate one another. But in 1932, American physicist Carl Anderson discovered the first physical evidence that antimatter was more than just an idea.

Anderson was photographing and tracking the passage of cosmic rays through a cloud chamber, a cylindrical container filled with dense water vapor, lit from the outside, and built with a viewing window for observers. When individual particles passed through the sides of the container and into the saturated air, they would leave spiderweb tracks of condensation, like the vapor trails of miniscule airplanes, each type of particle forming a uniquely shaped trail. Anderson noticed a curious pattern – a trail like that of an electron, with an exactly identical, but opposite curve – an electron’s mirror image and evidence of an anti-electron. Anderson named the antimatter particle the positron and won a Nobel Prize for his discovery four years later.

Around 1940, biochemist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov took up the newly discovered particle, using it as the basis for his fictional “positronic brain,” a structure made of platinum and iridium and his means for imparting humanlike consciousness to the robots in his story collection I, Robot.

The fictional uses of antimatter and the positronic brain have since spread throughout literature and popular entertainment, from the writing of Robert Heinlein to the classic British television series Doctor Who to propulsion systems and the sentient android, Data, in the American science fiction series Star Trek – even to Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, the sequel to his wildly popular DaVinci Code, in which the Illuminati intend to destroy Vatican City using the explosive power of a canister of pure antimatter.
NB: Perhaps this is the way our universe will end, i.e. a sudden flood of positrons from a nearby mirror universe, meeting up with all our negative electrons, which will blow blow up both of them. Certainly a neat way to end everything. See my short story: “What in the World Matters.”

North Korea, An EMP Attack, and Armagedden

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Well, if you think the present state of the world is going to “Hell in a handbasket,” the following article will convince you that “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” An EMP (Electromagnetic pulse) attack is the very heart of utter destruction of civilization. Let us hope that not even the North Koreans would proceed with this kind of utter madness.

North Korea Prepping EMP Catastrophe Aimed At U.S. Homefront
Aaron Klein 8 May 2017

 

TEL AVIV – While the international community and news media focus on North Korean missile tests and the country’s nuclear program, one expert warned on Sunday that North Korea may be secretly assembling the capability to take out significant parts of the U.S. homeland via an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and is the chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission.

Speaking on this reporter’s talk radio program, Pry pointed to two North Korean satellites that are currently orbiting the U.S. at trajectories he says are optimized for a surprised EMP attack. “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” is broadcast on terrestrial radio on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and NewsTalk 990 AM in Philadelphia and online.

Pry was referring to the KMS 3-2 and KMS-4 earth observation satellites launched by North Korea in April 2012 and February 2016 respectively.
He warned: “They are positioning themselves as sort of a nuclear missile age, cyberage version of the battleship diplomacy in my view. So that they can always have one of them (satellites) very close to being over the United States or over the United States.

“Then if a crisis comes up and if we decide to attack North Korea, Kim Jong Un can threaten our president and say, ‘Well, don’t do that because we are going to burn your whole country down.’ Which is basically what he said. I mean, he has made threats about turning the United States into ashes and he connected the satellite program to this in public statements to deter us from attacking.”

“If you wanted to win a New Korean war,” added Pry, “one of the things you would certainly consider doing is taking out the United States homeland itself.”

Pry surmised the North Koreans may be taking the idea from a Soviet plan during the Cold War to attack the U.S. with an EMP as part of a larger surprise assault aimed at crippling the U.S. military.

“During the Cold War, the Russians had a secret weapon they called a fractional orbital bombardment system,” he explained. “And the idea was to do a surprise EMP attack against the United States by disguising a warhead as a satellite. Because a satellite trajectory is different from an ICBM trajectory that is aiming to go into a city. You know, for accuracy on an ICBM you launch it on a lower energy, 45-degree angle that follows a classic ballistic trajectory. Like a rifle. To land your missile on a city.”

Pry continued of the original Russian plan:
But if you put a satellite in orbit it follows a different trajectory. It doesn’t have accuracy but it puts the satellite up there so that it stays in permanent orbit so it looks different in terms of the trajectory. And guys watching their radar screens tend not to get alarmed when they see a missile being launched on that satellite trajectory. Because they assume it is for peaceful purposes. …

So, the idea was to put a nuclear weapon on a satellite. Launch it on a satellite trajectory toward the south so it is also flying away from the United States. Orbit it over the South Pole and come up on the other side of the earth so that it approaches us from the south.

Because we didn’t during the Cold War and even today we still don’t have ballistic missile early radar warnings looking south. We don’t have any national missile defenses to the south. We are blind and defenseless to the south. We can’t see anything coming from that direction. Then when this gets over the United States you light it off so that it does an EMP attack.

Pry stated that in the Soviet plan, “They were mainly interested in paralyzing our strategic forces, our strategic command and control and communications so that we couldn’t talk to our forces. Maybe take out some of the forces themselves. And that would give them time to then launch their mass attack across the North Pole to blow up our ICBMs. So, kill them once with the EMP. Kill them twice by blasting our bases by using their long-range missiles. That was the Russian plan. But the cutting edge of the plan was this surprise EMP attack.”

North Korea, by contrast, “doesn’t have enough missiles or sophisticated missiles to blow up our missile bases and bomber bases. What they seem to be doing with the satellites is the EMP part of the Soviet plan.”

“I think what they are mainly going for is the unhardened electric grid,” Pry surmised. “Transportation, communications, all of the other civilian critical infrastructure that we depend upon to keep our population alive.”

Pry spotlighted recent North Korean nuclear and missile tests minimized by the news media for reported failures. When viewed through the lens of potential preparations for an EMP attack, Pry warned, the tests were actually successes.

Pry wrote about some of those tests in a Newsmax piece last week:
I am looking at an unclassified U.S. Government chart that shows a 10-kiloton warhead (the power of the Hiroshima A-Bomb) detonated at an altitude of 70 kilometers will generate an EMP field inflicting upset and damage on unprotected electronics. …

On April 30, South Korean officials told The Korea Times and YTN TV that North Korea’s test of a medium-range missile on April 29 was not a failure, as widely reported in the world press, because it was deliberately detonated at 72 kilometers altitude. 72 kilometers is the optimum burst height for a 10-Kt warhead making an EMP attack. …

According to South Korean officials, “It’s believed the explosion was a test to develop a nuclear weapon different from existing ones.” Japan’s Tetsuro Kosaka writes in Nikkei, “Pyongyang could be saying, ‘We could launch an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack if things get really ugly.’”
“The April 29 missile launch looks suspiciously like practice for an EMP attack,” Pry wrote. “The missile was fired on a lofted trajectory, to maximize, not range, but climbing to high-altitude as quickly as possible, where it was successfully fused and detonated — testing everything but an actual nuclear warhead.”

This weekend, an editorial published in the North Korean state-run media agency KNCA threatened the White House would be “reduced to ashes.”
The same news agency warned last week that “any military provocation against the DPRK will precisely mean a total war which will lead to the final doom of the US.” DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

Dr. Gottlieb for FDA

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

This is a great story and Trump is to be commended in his selection to run the FDA. Scott Gottlieb is a fine physician who knows this area well and can sharply articulate efforts to alter the problems in this agency.

Scott Gottlieb, Trump pick for FDA, is on the side of the little guy

WASHINGTON EXAMINER

March 14,2017

 

President Trump’s pick for the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, is qualified and capable. He will do great work if confirmed, but his nomination provides a great opportunity to lay out a crucial lesson that regulation often serves to protect big business from competition, harming the consumer.

The Democrats’ attack on Gottlieb is easy to predict. Reporters have already provided the template. “He is seen as a strong supporter of [the pharmaceutical] industry and has championed deregulation,” NPR wrote in a story.

NPR also cited Gottlieb’s lucrative consulting for drug companies, and quoted a liberal critic saying, “He has spent most of his career dedicated to promoting the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry, and the U.S. Senate must reject him.”

This is standard stuff from Democrats and Left-liberal media, of which NPR is a leading member. They always simplistically see arguments against regulation as helping corporate interests.

Gottlieb’s scholarly work, however, shows the truth is different. He is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute — disclosure: so are Washington Examiner writers Michael Barone and Tim Carney — and has chronicled consolidation in the hospital and insurance industry, and argues that regulation has contributed to the trend. He’s also shown how regulations dampen competition in pharmaceutical industry.

Obamacare regulations, for instance, prevent new entrants into the health insurance markets, thus protecting incumbent insurers from competition, Gottlieb argues. He points out that the law regulations governing how much an insurer may spend on overhead and marketing penalize a new company for its start-up costs. “Spending on things like marketing a new plan to consumers, developing provider networks, and credentialing doctors” are effectively punished by these regulations because they don’t count as “medical” spending.

Further, “new carriers also have a hard time bearing the fixed costs of compliance.” Smarter and lighter regulation would allow more competition. Incumbent insurers might not like this, but customers would.

The same goes for hospitals. Obamacare “favor[s] the consolidation of previously independent doctors into salaried roles inside larger institutions,” Gottlieb wrote in 2014, “usually tied to a central hospital, in effect ending independent medical practices.”

Gottlieb argued against the hospitals’ dominance: “A true legislative alternative to Obamacare would support physician ownership of independent medical practices, and preserve local competition between doctors and choice for patients.”
Obamacare’s regulations and subsidies dampened such competition.

And drugmakers? The largest drug lobby, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America supported Obamacare, as did the American Hospital Association. So Gottlieb and the drug lobby are not of the same mind on major issues.

Second, Gottlieb’s proposed reforms of the drug industry generally aim at getting more competition, often in the form of generic drugs, to drive down prices and profit margins.

In August 2016, Gottlieb wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “a flurry of new regulations is raising production costs and reducing competition for branded drugs. The key to the generic-drug economic model is to keep entry prices low enough to attract multiple competitors.”

Gottlieb’s central goal in policy prescriptions has been more competition in a sector where it is scarce. A major barrier to entry and a major cause of consolidation has been regulation.

This is true not only in the health sector, of course. Banking has consolidated further under Dodd-Frank regulations. Major tax preparers such as H&R Block supported Obama-administration regulations on their industry in order to crowd out smaller practitioners. Mattel supported federal toy regulations and Philip Morris supported regulation of tobacco.

But no sector needs an injection of market competition as badly as healthcare does. Republicans would do well to remember that when fighting for market reform of healthcare, industry is not a reliable ally.

Gottlieb deserves rapid confirmation to head this crucial agency. We hope the Trump administration can learn from this that more regulation often means less competition, protecting the big guys instead of everyone else.

Travel Ban is Revealing ––––but Does Not Threaten American Medicine

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

This essay is a response to the hand wringing of many academic and corporate medical workers lamenting the potential effect of the recent travel ban, which was blocked in a most absurd and unconstitutional manner by           a 3-judge panel of the 9th circuit court of appeals.

 

Travel Ban is Revealing ––––but Does Not Threaten American Medicine

 

Jane Orient, M.D.

2/9/2017

 

A 90-day ban on travel from seven countries has sparked tremendous outpourings of “worry” or outright opposition by some 33 medical organizations.

 

“The community is reeling over the order, fearing that it will have devastating repercussions for research and advances in science and medicine,” states an article in Modern Healthcare.

 

Certainly the order is disrupting the lives of individual physicians who have won coveted positions in American medical institutions and were not already in the U.S. when the order was issued. Also their employers have a gap in the work schedule to fill. War tears people’s lives apart, however innocent they may be. And countries that sponsor terrorism have effectively declared war on the U.S.

 

But is American medicine so fragile that it can’t survive a 90-day delay in the arrival of physicians, most of them trainees, from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan? After all, every year more than a thousand seniors in U.S. medical schools do not land a position in a post-graduate training program through the annual computerized “Match” of graduates with internships. After another chance through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, or SOAP, hundreds of seniors are still without a job. This means that they cannot get a license to practice in the U.S., however desperate rural communities or inner-city hospitals are to find a physician, and their four years of rigorous, costly post-college education are wasted. Yet James Madara, CEO of the American Medical Association (AMA), is worried about vacant residency slots, according to a Feb 3 article in MedScape by Robert Lowes.

Entry to medical school is highly competitive, so presumably all the students are well-qualified. Can it be that graduates from Sudan are better trained? Does the U.S. have so few young people capable of and interested in a medical career that we have to depend on a brain drain from countries that are themselves desperately short of physicians?

 

For all the emphasis on “cultural competence” in American medical schools, and onerous regulations regarding interpreters for non-English speakers, what about familiarity with American culture and ability to communicate effectively with American English speakers? Some foreign-born graduates are doubtless excellent, but many American patients do complain about a communication gap. So why do some big institutions seem to prefer foreigners? Could it be that they want cheap, and above all compliant labor? Physicians here on an employment-related visa dare not object to hospital policy.

 

Whatever the reasons for them, here are some facts about the American medical work force:

  • One-fourth of practicing physicians in this country are international medical graduates (IMGs), who are more likely to work in underserved areas, especially in primary care, according to Madara.
  • According to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), 10,000 IMGs licensed in the United States graduated from medical schools in the seven countries affected by the ban.
  • Immigrants account for 28% of U.S. physicians and surgeons, 40% of medical scientists in manufacturing research and development, and 15% of registered nurses, according to the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University. More than 60,000 of the 14 million workers in health-related fields were from the seven countries affected by the ban.

Is medicine, like agriculture, now filled with “jobs that Americans won’t do”? Actually, we have more than enough Americans who love medical work. But some of best doctors are being driven out by endless bureaucratic requirements, including costly “Maintenance of Certification™” programs that line the pockets of self-accredited “experts” but contribute nothing to patient care. They are being replaced (substituted for) by “mid-levels” with far less training. Then there are thousands of independent physicians having to retire or become employees because they can’t afford the regulatory requirements—soon to be greatly worsened by MACRA, the new Medicare payment system. Physician “burnout” is becoming so bad that we lose up to 400 physicians—the equivalent of a large medical school class—to suicide every year.

 

The U.S. should be a beacon to attract the best and brightest, and it should welcome those who want to become Americans. Unfortunately, the lives of Americans, as well as the opportunities of aspiring foreign-born doctors, are threatened by those who desire to kill Americans and destroy our culture. These must be screened out.

Meanwhile, the reaction of organized medical groups to the travel ban is spotlighting serious problems in American medicine.

 

 

Jane M. Orient, M.D.obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989.  Dr. Orient is the 2017 recipient of The Edward Annis award for medical leadership.

EXTINCTION

Friday, January 27th, 2017

A most interesting article attempting to explain the destruction of the dinosaurs. If correct, we better hurry up and build all those space ships necessary to get us out of here soon, or in the far future, when the next asteroid comes our way.

Lights Out:Asteroid Triggered Freezing Darkness That Killed       Dinos
By:Laura Geggel, Senior Writer
1/20/17
The study was published online Jan. 13 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Original article on Live Science.
When a giant asteroid careened into Earth about 66 million years ago, the enormous collision led to the formation of an airborne “curtain” of sulfate molecules that blocked the sun’s light and led to years of freezing cold and darkness, a new study finds.

The finding shows how these droplets, or aerosols, of sulfuric acid formed high in the atmosphere, and likely contributed to the deaths of 75 percent of all animals on Earth, including nonavian dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex and long-necked sauropods, the researchers said.
Earlier studies suggested that the dino-killing asteroid kicked up dust and debris that hung in the air and blocked sunlight in the short term. But by using computer simulations, the researchers of the new study showed how droplets of sulfuric acid contributed to long-term cooling. [Wipe Out: History’s Most Mysterious Extinctions]

Moreover, the sudden, drastic drop in temperature likely caused the surface of the oceans to cool, which would have massively disturbed the marine ecosystems, the researchers said.
“The big chill following the impact of the asteroid that formed the Chicxulub crater in Mexico is a turning point in Earth history,” the study’s lead researcher Julia Brugger, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, said in a statement. “We can now contribute new insights for understanding the much debated ultimate cause for the demise of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous era.”
Brugger and her colleagues employed a type of computer simulation typically used for climate modeling. The model showed that gases containing sulfur evaporated during the violent impact. These sulfuric molecules were the main ingredients that blocked the sun’s light on Earth and led to plummeting temperatures, they said.

For instance, before the asteroid hit, the tropics were an average temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). But after the massive impact, the average temperature was 41 F (5 C), the researchers said,”It became cold, I mean, really cold,” Brugger said. Globally, temperatures fell at least 47 F (26 C). For at least three years following the asteroid’s crash, the average annual temperature fell below freezing, and the polar ice caps grew in size.

“The long-term cooling caused by the sulfate aerosols was much more important for the mass extinction than the dust that stays in the atmosphere for only a relatively short time,” study co-researcher Georg Feulner, a climate scientist at PIK, said in the statement. “It was also more important than local events like the extreme heat close to the impact, wildfires or tsunamis.”

In all, it took 30 years for Earth’s climate to recover, the researchers said.
As the air cooled, so did the ocean’s surface waters. This cold water became denser and thus heavier, and sank into the depths of the ocean. Meanwhile, warmer water from the deeper ocean rose, bringing up nutrients that likely led to giant algal blooms, the researchers said.
It’s possible these algal blooms produced toxic substances that affected life along the coasts, the researchers said. But regardless of whether they were toxic or not, the ocean’s massive mixing would have disrupted the marine ecosystem, and likely contributed to the extinction of its species, including the ammonites and the reptilian sea beasts known as plesiosaurs.

The new research illustrates what might happen to Earth if another asteroid were to cross its path, the researchers said.“It is fascinating to see how evolution is partly driven by an accident like an asteroid’s impact — mass extinctions show that life on Earth is vulnerable,” Feulner said. “It also illustrates how important the climate is for all life-forms on our planet. Ironically today, the most immediate threat is not from natural cooling but from human-made global warming.”


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