Sunday, May 31, 2015

Millenials Least Religious

Researchers led by SDSU's Jean M. Twenge find
millennials are by far the least religious generation.
By Beth Downing Chee, San Diego State University, May 27, 2015

In what may be the largest study ever conducted on changes in Americans’ religious involvement, researchers led by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean M. Twenge found that millennials are the least religious generation of the last six decades, and possibly in the nation’s history.

The researchers — including Ramya Sastry from SDSU, Julie J. Exline and Joshua B. Grubbs from Case Western Reserve University and W. Keith Campbell from the University of Georgia — analyzed data from 11.2 million respondents from four nationally representative surveys of U.S. adolescents ages 13 to 18 taken between 1966 and 2014.

Recent adolescents are less likely to say that religion is important in their lives, report less approval of religious organizations, and report being less spiritual and spending less time praying or meditating. The results were published this month in the journal PLOSOne.

Cultural context 

“Unlike previous studies, ours is able to show that millennials’ lower religious involvement is due to cultural change, not to millennials being young and unsettled,” said Twenge, who is also the author of “Generation Me.” 

“Millennial adolescents are less religious than Boomers and GenX’ers were at the same age," Twenge continued. "We also looked at younger ages than the previous studies. More of today’s adolescents are abandoning religion before they reach adulthood, with an increasing number not raised with religion at all.”

Generational shift 

Compared to the late 1970s, twice as many 12th graders and college students never attend religious services, and 75 percent more 12th graders say religion is “not important at all” in their lives. Compared to the early 1980s, twice as many high school seniors and three times as many college students in the 2010s answered "none" when asked their religion.

Compared to the 1990s, 20 percent fewer college students described themselves as above average in spirituality, suggesting that religion has not been replaced with spirituality.

"These trends are part of a larger cultural context, a context that is often missing in polls about religion,” Twenge said. “One context is rising individualism in U.S. culture. Individualism puts the self first, which doesn't always fit well with the commitment to the institution and other people that religion often requires. As Americans become more individualistic, it makes sense that fewer would commit to religion.”

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rivethead by Ben Hamper

Introduction by the Blog Author

Rivethead, Tales from the Assembly Line is a collection of articles Ben Hamper wrote for Michael Moore’s alternative newspaper in Flint, Michigan, in the 1980s.  It’s a startlingly funny and shocking overview of blue collar America at that time.  Every American with an MBA should be forced to read and ponder this book.  Here are two readers’ reviews from

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5 Stars
GREAT BOOK! Anyone you gives it less than 5 stars is nuts!
By Leticia Y. Lopez on April 10, 1999

I was forced to read this book...against my better wishes, my hellish American History professor assigned this book to our class. As I read the title I remembered thinking: "how in the world is an assembly line job interesting enough to read about?" About the only thing I thought the book had going for it was the forward by Michael Moore. It looked like I was going have to spend another weekend plodding though a boring book when I could have been spending it at the movies or out with my friends. It turned out to be one of the best weekends of my life. The books was hilarious -- It was real, gritty, sharp and wonderfully written. After reading the introduction, I was hooked: I locked myself in my room, unplugged the telephone and didn't put down the book until I was finished. That was ten minutes ago -- now I am online looking to see if he has written any other books...I was disappointed to see that he hasn't. Ben Hamper -- wherever you are -- I have joined the ranks as your loyal fan. Even though you no longer work for GM, I hope you will find another story out there and tell the world about it.

5 Stars
An Invaluable Personal Account of an Americn Way of Life
Byon July 2, 2013

Ben Hamper's 1991 memoir RIVETHEAD: TALES FROM THE ASSEMBLY LINE is both a well-written and a vital piece of social commentary, a companion of sorts to Michael Moore's 1989 doc ROGER & ME. Ben Hamper was a fourth-generation GM "shoprat," aka assembly line worker at the Flint, Michigan plant. Hamper, the oldest of eight children in a Catholic household, sketches his childhood as a promising student that inevitably burns out of high school, forcing him to follow in the families' footsteps and enter the Blazer/Suburban assembly line, where he eventually becomes a talented riveter, one of the more thankless and difficult jobs at the factory. The book is a frank look at what life is like on an assembly line and how the above-average wages become a ball and chain that keep the employees from seeking other employment, and anyone who's seen ROGER & ME know that there was never that much alternative work available in Flint. Ben is laid off five separate times and hired back, so he is able to delve into the life of not only an autoworker but an unemployed autoworker and the struggles with the unemployment office. Eventually he meets Michael Moore, the then-editor of the Flint alternative newspaper, where he becomes a star columnist known as the "Rivethead," where he takes on the tedious life on the assembly line, grimy, noisy, unrelenting work that is always overshadowed by the tick of the clock. Colorful characters abound in the various departments and years that Hamper works, and he happily chronicles them for his column. When Moore takes over MOTHER JONES and puts Hamper on the cover he becomes a minor celebrity, appearing in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, on the TODAY SHOW and even vetted, in an unsuccessful but humorous piece, by 60 MINUTES. There is bit of HS Thompson in the prose, and Hamper isn't shy with sharing his alcohol intake and other vices, which only adds to the realism. My dad was a welder for almost twenty years, and on occasion I went to the plant, and the noise and grime Hamper describes is too real. Hamper is the guy in ROGER & ME who describes having a nervous breakdown, which resulted in a series of panic attacks. It's no surprise in the end that Hamper's panic attacks become increasingly frequent, forcing a dependence on pills, eventually checking himself in as a mental health outpatient. A friend gave me this book, a fellow sociologist who read it for a college course. I think it's an invaluable personal account of an American way of life. The only issue is that the book just stops and doesn't really end; but that's a minor quibble. Even though Hamper never published another book, RIVETHEAD is an important artifact of a time and place.

Predicted: Global Cooling for Decades

Global Climate on Verge of Multi-Decadal Change
A new study, by scientists from the University of Southampton and National Oceanography Centre (NOC), implies that the global climate is on the verge of broad-scale change that could last for a number of decades.
University of Southampton, May 28th, 2015

The change to the new set of climatic conditions is associated with a cooling of the Atlantic, and is likely to bring drier summers in Britain and Ireland, accelerated sea-level rise along the northeast coast of the United States, and drought in the developing countries of the Sahel region. Since this new climatic phase could be half a degree cooler, it may well offer a brief reprise from the rise of global temperatures, as well as resulting in fewer hurricanes hitting the United States.

The study, published in Nature, proves that ocean circulation is the link between weather and decadal scale climatic change. It is based on observational evidence of the link between ocean circulation and the decadal variability of sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lead author Dr Gerard McCarthy, from the NOC, said: “Sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic vary between warm and cold over time-scales of many decades. These variations have been shown to influence temperature, rainfall, drought and even the frequency of hurricanes in many regions of the world. This decadal variability, called the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), is a notable feature of the Atlantic Ocean and the climate of the regions it influences.”

These climatic phases, referred to as positive or negative AMO’s, are the result of the movement of heat northwards by a system of ocean currents. This movement of heat changes the temperature of the sea surface, which has a profound impact on climate on timescales of 20-30 years. The strength of these currents is determined by the same atmospheric conditions that control the position of the jet stream. Negative AMO’s occur when the currents are weaker and so less heat is carried northwards towards Europe from the tropics.

The strength of ocean currents has been measured by a network of sensors, called the RAPID array, which have been collecting data on the flow rate of the Atlantic meridonal overturning circulation (AMOC) for a decade.

Dr David Smeed, from the NOC and lead scientist of the RAPID project, adds: “The observations of AMOC from the RAPID array, over the past ten years, show that it is declining. As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative phase, which will result in cooler surface waters. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.”

Since the RAPID array has only been collecting data for last ten years, a longer data set was needed to prove the link between ocean circulation and slow climate variations. Therefore this study instead used 100 years of sea level data, maintained by the National Oceanography Centre’s permanent service for mean sea level. Models of ocean currents based on this data were used to predict how much heat would be transported around the ocean, and the impact this would have on the sea surface temperature in key locations.

Co-author Dr Ivan Haigh, lecturer in coastal oceanography at the University of Southampton, said: “By reconstructing ocean circulation over the last 100 years from tide gauges that measure sea level at the coast, we have been able to show, for the first time, observational evidence of the link between ocean circulation and the AMO.”

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gout and Its Symptoms

Gout (also known as podagra when it involves the big toe) is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint.  The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected (approximately 50% of cases). It may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate nephropathy.  It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood.  The uric acid crystallizes, and the crystals deposit in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.

Clinical diagnosis may be confirmed by seeing the characteristic crystals in joint fluid. Treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, or colchicine improves symptoms. Once the acute attack subsides, levels of uric acid are usually lowered via lifestyle changes, and in those with frequent attacks, allopurinolor probenecid provides long-term prevention.

Gout has become more common in recent decades, affecting about 1 to 2% of the Western population at some point in their lives. The increase is believed to be due to increasing risk factors in the population, such as metabolic syndrome, longer life expectancy, and changes in diet. Gout was historically known as "the disease of kings" or "rich man's disease."

Signs and Symptoms

Gout can present in a number of ways, although the most usual is a recurrent attack of acute inflammatory arthritis (a red, tender, hot, swollen joint).  The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is affected most often, accounting for half of cases.  Other joints, such as the heels, knees, wrists, and fingers, may also be affected.  Joint pain usually begins over 2–4 hours and during the night.  The reason for onset at night is due to the lower body temperature then.  Other symptoms may rarely occur along with the joint pain, including fatigue and a high fever.

Long-standing elevated uric acid levels (hyperuricemia) may result in other symptomatology, including hard, painless deposits of uric acid crystals known as tophi. Extensive tophi may lead to chronic arthritis due to bone erosion.  Elevated levels of uric acid may also lead to crystals precipitating in the kidneys, resulting in stone formation and subsequent urate nephropathy.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Babies Can Think Before They Can Speak

Humans are able to learn abstract relations
even before the first year of life
by Hilary Hurd Anyaso

EVANSTON, Ill. --;May 26, 2015-- Two pennies can be considered the same -- both are pennies, just as two elephants can be considered the same, as both are elephants. Despite the vast difference between pennies and elephants, we easily notice the common relation of sameness that holds for both pairs. 

Analogical ability -- the ability to see common relations between objects, events or ideas -- is a key skill that underlies human intelligence and differentiates humans from other apes.

While there is considerable evidence that preschoolers can learn abstract relations, it remains an open question whether infants can as well. In a new Northwestern University study, researchers found that infants are capable of learning the abstract relations of same and different after only a few examples.

“This suggests that a skill key to human intelligence is present very early in human development, and that language skills are not necessary for learning abstract relations,” said lead author Alissa Ferry, who conducted the research at Northwestern.

To trace the origins of relational thinking in infants, the researchers tested whether 7-month-old infants could understand the simplest and most basic abstract relation -- that of sameness and difference between two things. Infants were shown pairs of items that were either the same -- two Elmo dolls -- or different -- an Elmo doll and a toy camel -- until their looking time declined.

In the test phase, the infants looked longer at pairs showing the novel relation, even when the test pairs were composed of new objects. That is, infants who had learned the same relation looked longer at test pairs showing the different relation during test, and vice versa. This suggests that the infants had encoded the abstract relation and detected when the relation changed. 

“We found that infants are capable of learning these relations,” said Ferry, now doing post-doctoral research at the International School for Advanced Studies in Italy. “Additionally, infants exhibit the same patterns of learning as older children and adults -- relational learning benefits from seeing multiple examples of the relation and is impeded when attention is drawn to the individual objects composing the relation.”

Susan Hespos, a co-author of the study, and associate professor of psychology at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences said, “We show that infants can form abstract relations before they learn the words that describe relations, meaning that relational learning in humans does not require language and is a fundamental human skill of its own.”

Dedre Gentner, a co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Weinberg, said, “The infants in our study were able to form an abstract same or different relation after seeing only 6-9 examples. It appears that relational learning is something that humans, even very young humans, are much better at than other primates.” 

For example, she noted that in a recent study using baboons, those animals that succeeded in matching same and different relations required over 15,000 trials.

“Prelinguistic Relational Concepts: Investigating Analogical Processing in Infants” published online in the journal Child Development.

-- See more at:


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Blood Morphed to Nerve Cells

Blood to Feeling: McMaster
Scientists Turn  Blood into Neural Cells
Hamilton, Ontario – May 21, 2015 -- Scientists at McMaster University have discovered how to make adult sensory neurons from human patients simply by having them roll up their sleeve and providing a blood sample.
Specifically, stem cell scientists at McMaster can now directly convert adult human blood cells to both central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) neurons as well as neurons in the peripheral nervous system (rest of the body) that are responsible for pain, temperature and itch perception. This means that how a person’s nervous system cells react and respond to stimuli, can be determined from his blood.
The breakthrough, published online today and featured on the cover of the journal Cell Reports, was led by Mick Bhatia, director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Human Stem Cell Biology and is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. Also playing a key role was Karun Singh, a co-author in the study and holder of the David Braley Chair in Human Stem Cell Research.
Currently, scientists and physicians have a limited understanding of the complex issue of pain and how to treat it. The peripheral nervous system is made up of different types of nerves – some are mechanical (feel pressure) and others detect temperature (heat). In extreme conditions, pain or numbness is perceived by the brain using signals sent by these peripheral nerves.
“The problem is that unlike blood, a skin sample or even a tissue biopsy, you can’t take a piece of a patient’s neural system. It runs like complex wiring throughout the body and portions cannot be sampled for study,” said Bhatia.
“Now we can take easy to obtain blood samples, and make the main cell types of neurological systems – the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system – in a dish that is specialized for each patient,” said Bhatia. “Nobody has ever done this with adult blood. Ever.

“We can actually take a patient’s blood sample, as routinely performed in a doctor’s office, and with it we can produce one million sensory neurons, that make up the peripheral nerves in short order with this new approach. We can also make central nervous system cells, as the blood to neural conversion technology we developed creates neural stem cells during the process of conversion.”

His team’s revolutionary, patented direct conversion technology has “broad and immediate applications,” said Bhatia, adding that it allows researchers to start asking questions about understanding disease and improving treatments such as: Why is it that certain people feel pain versus numbness? Is this something genetic? Can the neuropathy that diabetic patients experience be mimicked in a dish?

It also paves the way for the discovery of new pain drugs that don’t just numb the perception of pain. Bhatia said non-specific opioids used for decades are still being used today.

“If I was a patient and I was feeling pain or experiencing neuropathy, the prized pain drug for me would target the peripheral nervous system neurons, but do nothing to the central nervous system, thus avoiding non-addictive drug side effects,” said Bhatia.

“You don’t want to feel sleepy or unaware, you just want your pain to go away. But, up until now, no one’s had the ability and required technology to actually test different drugs to find something that targets the peripheral nervous system and not the central nervous system in a patient specific, or personalized manner.”

Bhatia’s team successfully tested their process using fresh blood, but also cryopreserved (frozen) blood. Since blood samples are taken and frozen with many clinical trials, this allows them “almost a bit of a time machine” to go back and explore questions around pain or neuropathy to run tests on neurons created from blood samples of patients taken in past clinical trials where responses and outcomes have already been recorded”.

In the future, the process may have prognostic potential, explained Bhatia, in that one might be able to look at a patient with Type 2 Diabetes and predict whether they will experience neuropathy by running tests in the lab using their own neural cells derived from their blood sample.

“This bench to bedside research is very exciting and will have a major impact on the management of neurological diseases, particularly neuropathic pain,” said Akbar Panju, medical director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care, a clinician and professor of medicine.

“This research will help us understand the response of cells to different drugs and different stimulation responses, and allow us to provide individualized or personalized medical therapy for patients suffering with neuropathic pain.” This research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Ontario Institute of Regenerative Medicine, Marta and Owen Boris Foundation, J.P. Bickell Foundation, and the Ontario Brain Institute and Brain Canada.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A New Phase of Matter?

Computer Simulations Have Predicted a New Phase of Matter: Atomically Thin Two-Dimensional Liquid.

This prediction pushes the boundaries of possible phases of materials further than ever before. Two-dimensional materials themselves were considered impossible until the discovery of graphene around ten years ago. However, they have been observed only in the solid phase, because the thermal atomic motion required for molten materials easily breaks the thin and fragile membrane. Therefore, the possible existence of an atomically thin flat liquid was considered impossible.

Now researchers from the Nanoscience Center at the University of Jyväskylä, led by Academy Research Fellow Pekka Koskinen, have conducted computer simulations that predict a liquid phase in atomically thin golden islands that patch small pores of graphene. According to the simulations, gold atoms flow and change places in the plane, while the surrounding graphene template retains the planarity of liquid membrane.

"Here the role of graphene is similar to circular rings through which children blow soap bubbles. The liquid state is possible when the edge of graphene pore stretches the metallic membrane and keeps it steady," Koskinen says.

The liquid phase was predicted by computer simulations using quantum-mechanical models and nanostructures with tens or hundreds of gold atoms. The prediction was published recently in the  journal Nanoscale. Currently the liquid state exists only in computers and is still waiting for experimental confirmation.

"Unfortunately, simulations suggest that the flat liquid is volatile. In experiments the liquid membrane might burst too early, like a soap bubble that bursts before one gets a proper look at it. But again, even graphene was previously considered too unstable to exist," Koskinen says.

The research was funded by the Academy of Finland and used the computing infrastructure provided by CSC.

Academy of Finland. "Simulations predict flat liquid." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2015.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

John Nash Dies

John Forbes Nash, Jr. (June 13, 1928 – May 23, 2015) was an American mathematician whose works in game theory, differential geometry and partial differential equations have provided insight into the factors that govern chance and events inside complex systems in daily life.

His theories are used in economics, computing, evolutionary biology, artificil intelligence, accounting, politics and military theory.  Serving as a Senior Research Mathematician at Princeton University during the latter part of his life, he shared the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with game theorists Reinhard Selten and John Harsanyi.  In 2015, he was awarded the Abel Prize (along with Louis Nirenberg) for his work on nonlinear partial differential equations.

In 1959, Nash began showing clear signs of mental illness, and spent several years at psychiatric hospitals being treated for paranoid schizophrenia.  After 1970, his condition slowly improved, allowing him to return to academic work by the mid-1980s.  His struggles with his illness and his recovery became the basis for Sylvia Nasar's biography A Beautiful Mind as well as a feature film [of the same name] starring Russell Crowe.

On May 23, 2015, Nash and his wife were killed in an automobile accident in New Jersey.


Nash was born on June 13, 1928, in Bluefield, West Virginia, United States. His father, also named John Forbes Nash, was an electrical engineer for the Appalachian Electric Power Company.  His mother, born Margaret Virginia Martin and known as Virginia, had been a schoolteacher before she married. He was baptized in the Episcopal Church directly opposite the Martin house on Tazewell Street.  He had a younger sister, Martha, who was born on November 16, 1930.


Nash attended kindergarten and public school. His parents and grandparents provided books and encyclopedias that he learned from. Nash's grandmother played piano at home, and Nash had positive memories of listening to her when he visited. Nash's parents pursued opportunities to supplement their son's education, and arranged for him to take advanced mathematics courses at a local community college during his final year of high school. Nash attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT; now Carnegie Mellon University) with a full scholarship, the George Westinghouse Scholarship, and initially majored in chemicak engineering.  He switched to chemistry, and eventually to mathematics. After graduating in 1948 with a B.S. degree and an M.S. degree, both in mathematics, he accepted a scholarship to Princeton University, where he pursued graduate studies in mathematics.

Nash's adviser and former CIT professor Richard Duffin wrote a letter of recommendation for graduate school consisting of a single sentence: "This man is a genius."  Nash was accepted by Harvard University, but the chairman of the mathematics department of Princeton, Solomon Lefschetz, offered him the John S. Kennedy fellowship, which was enough to convince Nash that Princeton valued him more.  Nash also considered Princeton more favorably because of its location closer to his family in Bluefield.  He went to Princeton, where he worked on his equilibrium theory, later known as the Nash equilibrium.

Major contributions

           Game theory

Nash earned a Ph.D. degree in 1950 with a 28-page dissertation on non-cooperative games.  The thesis, which was written under the supervision of doctoral advisor Albert W. Tucker, contained the definition and properties of the Nash equilibrium. A crucial concept in non-cooperative games, it won Nash the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994.

Nash's major publications relating to this concept are in the following papers:

  • Nash, JF (1950). “Equilibreum Points in N-person Games”.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 36 (36): 48–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.36.1.48 PMC 1063129l  PMID 16588946.  MR 0041701.
  • "The Bargaining Problem". Econometrica (18): 155–62. 1950.  MR0035977.
  • Nash, J. (1951). "Non-cooperative Games". Annals of Mathematics 54 (54): 286–95. doi:10.2307/1969529. JSTOR 1969529. 
  • "Two-person Cooperative Games". Econometrica (21): 128–40. 1953. MR 0053471.
          Other mathematics

Nash did groundbreaking work in the area of real algebraic geometry:

  • "Real algebraic manifolds". Annals of Mathematics (56): 405–21. 1952. , MR 0050928. See "Proc. Internat. Congr. Math". AMS. 1952. pp. 516–17. 

His work in mathematics includes the Nash embedding theorem, which shows that every abstract Riemannian manifold can be isometrically realized as a submanifold of Euclidean space.  He also made significant contributions to the theory of nonlinear parabolic partial differential equations and to singularity theory.

Personal life

In 1951, Nash was hired by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a C. L. Moore instructor in the mathematics faculty. About a year later, Nash began a relationship in Massachusetts with Eleanor Stier, a nurse he met while she cared for him as a patient. They had a son, John David Stier, but Nash left Stier when she told him of her pregnancy.  The film based on Nash's life, A Beautiful Mind, was criticized during the run-up to the 2002 Oscars for omitting this aspect of his life. He was said to have abandoned her based on her social status, which he thought to have been beneath his.

In 1954, while in his 20s, Nash was arrested for indecent exposure in an entrapment of homosexuals in Santa Monica, California.  Although the charges were dropped, he was stripped of his top-secret security clearance and fired from RAND Corporation, where he had spent a few summers as a consultant.

Not long after breaking up with Eleanor, he met Alicia Lopez-Harrison de Lardé (born January 1, 1933), a naturalized U.S. citizen from El Salvador. De Lardé graduated from MIT, having majored in physics.  They married in February 1957 at a Roman Catholic ceremony, although Nash was an atheist.

In 1958, he was given a tenured position at MIT, but Nash had his first symptoms of mental illness in early 1959. Alicia was pregnant with their first child. He resigned his position as a member of the MIT mathematics faculty in the spring of 1959 and Alicia had him admitted to the McLean Hospital for treatment of schizophrenia that year. Their son, John Charles Martin Nash, was born soon afterward. The boy was not named for a year because Alicia felt that her husband should have a say in the name. Due to the stress of dealing with his illness, Nash and de Lardé divorced in 1963. After his final hospital discharge in 1970, Nash lived in de Lardé's house as a boarder. This stability seemed to help him, and he learned how to consciously discard his paranoid delusions.  He stopped taking psychiatric medication and was allowed by Princeton to audit classes. He continued to work on mathematics and eventually he was allowed to teach again. In the 1990s, Alicia and Nash resumed their relationship, and remarried in 2001.

Recognition and later career

In 1978, Nash was awarded the John von Neumann Theory Prize for his discovery of non-cooperative equilibria, now called Nash equilibria. He won the Leroy P. Steele Prize in 1999.

In 1994, he received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (along with John Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten) as a result of his game theory work as a Princeton graduate student. In the late 1980s, Nash had begun to use email to gradually link with working mathematicians who realized that he was the John Nash and that his new work had value. They formed part of the nucleus of a group that contacted the Bank of Sweden's Nobel award committee and were able to vouch for Nash's mental health ability to receive the award in recognition of his early work.

As of 2011 Nash's recent work involved ventures in advanced game theory, including partial agency, which show that, as in his early career, he preferred to select his own path and problems. Between 1945 and 1996, he published 23 scientific studies.

Nash has suggested hypotheses on mental illness. He has compared not thinking in an acceptable manner, or being "insane" and not fitting into a usual social function, to being "on strike" from an economic point of view. He has advanced views in evolutionary psychology about the value of human diversity and the potential benefits of apparently nonstandard behaviors or roles.

Nash has developed work on the role of money in society. Within the framing theorem that people can be so controlled and motivated by money that they may not be able to reason rationally about it, he has criticized interest groups that promote quasi-doctrines based on Keynesian economics that permit manipulative short-term inflation and debt tactics that ultimately undermine currencies. He has suggested a global "industrial consumption price index" system that would support the development of more "ideal money" that people could trust rather than more unstable "bad money". He notes that some of his thinking parallels economist and political philosopher Friedrich Hayek’s thinking regarding money and a nontypical viewpoint of the function of the authorities.

Nash received an honorary degree, Doctor of Science and Technology, from Carnegie Mellon University in 1999, an honorary degree in economics from the University of Naples Federico II on March 19, 2003, an honorary doctorate in economics from the University of Antwerp in April 2007, and was keynote speaker at a conference on game theory. He has also been a prolific guest speaker at a number of world-class events, such as the Warwick Economics Summit in 2005 held at the University of Warwick.  In 2012 he was elected as a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.  On May 19, 2015, he and Louis Nirenberg were presented with the 2015 Abel Prize by King Harald V of Norway at a ceremony in Oslo.


On May 23, 2015, Nash and his wife Alicia were killed in an automobile accident on the New Jersey Turnpike near Monroe Township.  The driver of the taxi they were riding in lost control as he tried to overtake another vehicle and struck a guard rail; the couple were thrown out of the car.  A police spokesman declined to comment on media reports that they were not wearing seat belts.

Russell Crowe, who played Nash in the film version of A Beautiful Mind, took to Twitter to pay tribute.

Representation in culture

At Princeton, campus legend Nash became known as "The Phantom of Fine Hall" (Princeton's mathematics center), a shadowy figure who would scribble arcane equations on blackboards in the middle of the night. He is referred to in a novel set at Princeton, The Mind-Body Problem, 1998, by Rebecca Goldstein.

Sylvia Nasar’s biography of Nash, A Beautiful Mind, was published in 1998.  A film by the same name was released in 2001, directed by Ron Howard with Russell Crowe playing Nash.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Patriot Act Violates 4th Amendment

Judge Andrew Napolitano was on Fox News yesterday talking about the renewal of the Patriot Act and its reliance on “general warrants,” which are used extensively with telephone communications.  Here is a transcript of his comments [emphasis added]:

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO: “I do say that Senator Paul is the only person who announced for president who is faithful to the constitution. I think he demonstrated that just moments to go. yesterday in 11 hours of speaking on the floor of the Senate. Which you just so nicely summarized for us. The Fourth Amendment absolutely prohibits general warrants. A general warrant is a piece of paper in which a court says admit the bearer to listen to whatever he wants, to go wherever he wants to go and to seize whatever he finds.

 Because the Fourth Amendment says search warrants can only come about when the government has probable cause to believe that someone is committing a crime and then the warrant, Senator Paul is correct, must specifically describe the person or place to be seized or the thing to be searched. And these general warrants that the secret FISA court gives out do not do that.

 “Instead they say you may seize all the phone calls in an area code, in a zip code, or from a particular telecom like Verizon. That is more information than the NSA can possibly go through. And it is a profound violation of the Fourth Amendment and, therefore, the civil liberties of everyone whose records have been seized...”

 JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO: “When General Keith Alexander who ran the NSA for four years was asked how many plots your spying on all people, all the time, has stopped and asked under oath, he said, 53. The next day he amended that to 3. When asked to asked to explain his reduction from 53 to 3 or describe the 3, he declined to answer.

 “The problem with this, Andrea, is not only that it violates our freedom by invading the privacy. It doesn't work. It's far too much information for the NSA to sift through. The framers were right when they said if you present some evidence to a court first you already have an idea who the bad guy is. So if they follow the constitution, they'll find more bad guys and find them sooner than if they gather all information from everybody all the time.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

Glass Chemist Donald Stookey

Stanley Donald Stookey (May 23, 1915 – November 4, 2014) was an American inventor. He had 60 patents in his name related to glass and ceramics, some solely his while others are jointly with others. His discoveries and inventions have affected considerably the development of ceramics, eyeglasses, sunglasses, cookware, defense systems, and electronics.

He was a research director at Corning Glass Works for 47 years doing R & D in glass and ceramic development. His inventions include Fotoform, CorningWare, Cercor, Pyrocram and Photochromic Ophthalmic glass eyewear.


Stookey went to Coe College from 1934 to 1936 where he graduated with his first degree, a liberal arts degree in chemistry and mathematics. Stookey’s grandfather (Stephen Stookey) was previously a professor of botany and geology at that same college.  After graduation from Coe College Stookey then went to Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1937.  He received a $1000 fellowship to cover living expenses and as a teaching laboratory assistant in the chemistry lab.  In 1938 he earned his Master of Science degree in chemistry from Lafayette College.  Stookey then went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge where he received a doctorate in chemistry in 1940.  He received an honorary degree from Alfred University in 1984.  The same year he married his wife Ruth.

Stookey took his career job at Corning Glass Works in 1940. He carried out research on glass and ceramics, which led to several inventions. Stookey studied and experimented with opal glass and glass ceramics.

          FotoForm Glass

One of Stookey's earliest innovations was FotoForm glass. The scientific community recognized its value around 1948. FotoForm glass is used in computer manufacturing and communications technology. A serendipitous invention made by Stookey in 1953 was when he took a piece of FotoForm glass and mistakenly heated it to 900 °C when he meant to heat it to 600 °C. When an oven thermometer was stuck on the higher temperature Stookey had accidentally created the first glass-ceramic, Fotoceram.  It was later known also as Pyroceram. This was the first glass-ceramic and eventually led to the development of CorningWare in 1957. CorningWare went to the consumer marketplace the next year in 1958 for cookware by Corning Glass Works and became just one of Stookey's multi-million dollar inventions. It influenced the development of VisionWare, which is transparent cookware.  VisionWare was patented by Corning Glass Works in 1966.

Pyroceramic glass has the necessary properties to be used by the military for the nose cones of supersonic radar domes in guided missiles applied in defense.  It has the special properties of extreme hardness, super strength, resistance to high heat and transparency to radar waves.  It is the basis for Gorilla Glass, used in iPhones and other LCD screens.

Stookey also developed photochromic glass.  Photochromic glass is a glass that is used to make ophthalmic lenses that darken in bright light. These lenses were first available to consumers in the 1960s as sunglasses made by Corning Glass Works.  It was a joint discovery and development of Stookey with William Armistead. Stookey also invented photosensitive glasses using gold in which permanent colored photographs can be produced.

Later Life

Stookey retired from Corning Glass Works in 1987 after a career of 47 years.  He died at the age of 99 in 2014.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Absolute Hot temperature

Absolute hot is a concept of temperature that postulates the existence of a highest attainable temperature of matter. The concept has been popularized by the television series Nova.  In this presentation, absolute hot is assumed to be the high end of a temperature scale starting at absolute zero, which is the temperature at which entropy is minimal and classical thermal energy is zero.

Contemporary models of physical cosmology postulate that the highest possible temperature is the Planck temperature, which has the value 7032141678500000000♠1.416785(71)×1032  kelvin.  Above ~1032 K, particle energies become so large that gravitational forces between them would become as strong as other fundamental forces according to current theories. There is no existing scientific theory for the behavior of matter at these energies. A quantum theory of gravity would be required.  The models of the origin of the universe based on the Big Bang theory assume that the universe has passed through this temperature about 10−42 seconds after the Big Bang as a result of enormous entropy expansion.

Another theory of absolute hot is based on the Hagedorn temperature, where the thermal energies of the particles exceed the mass-energy of a hadron particle-antiparticle pair. Instead of temperature rising, at the Hagedorn temperature more and heavier particles are produced by pair production, thus preventing effective further heating, given that only hadrons are produced. However, further heating is possible (with pressure) if the matter undergoes a phase change into a quark-gluon plasma.  For hadrons, the Hagedorn temperature is 2 × 1012 K, which has been reached and exceeded in LHC and RHIC experiments. However, in string theory, a separate Hagedorn temperature can be defined, where strings similarly provide the extra degrees of freedom. However, it is so high (1030 K) that no current or foreseeable experiment can reach it.

Quantum physics formally assumes infinitely positive or negative temperatures in descriptions of spin system undergoing population inversion from the ground state to a higher energy state by excitation with electromagnetic radiation. The temperature function in these systems exhibits a singularity, meaning the temperature tends to positive infinity, before discontinuously switching to negative infinity.  However, this applies only to specific degrees of freedom in the system, while others would have normal temperature dependency. If equipartitioning were possible, such formalisms ignore the fact that the spin system would be destroyed by the decomposition of ordinary matter before infinite temperature could be reached uniformly in the sample.[

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Evolution of Snakes

by Jim Shelton, Yale News, May 19, 2015

The ancestral snakes in the grass actually lived in the forest, according to the most detailed look yet at the iconic reptiles.

A comprehensive analysis by Yale University paleontologists reveals new insights into the origin and early history of snakes. For one thing, they kept late hours; for another, they also kept their hind legs.

“We generated the first comprehensive reconstruction of what the ancestral snake was like,” said Allison Hsiang, lead author the study published online May 19 in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. Hsiang is a postdoctoral researcher in Yale’s Department of Geology and Geophysics.

“We infer that the most recent common ancestor of all snakes was a nocturnal, stealth-hunting predator targeting relatively large prey, and most likely would have lived in forested ecosystems in the Southern Hemisphere,” Hsiang said.

Snakes have always captured the imagination of humans. Their long and sinuous body, fearsome reputation, and great diversity — with more than 3,400 living species — make them one of the most recognizable groups of living vertebrate animals. Yet little has been known about how, where, and when modern snakes emerged.

The Yale team analyzed snake genomes, modern snake anatomy, and new information from the fossil record to find answers. In doing so, the researchers generated a family tree for both living and extinct snakes, illuminating major evolutionary patterns that have played out across snake evolutionary history.

“Our analyses suggest that the most recent common ancestor of all living snakes would have already lost its forelimbs, but would still have had tiny hind limbs, with complete ankles and toes. It would have first evolved on land, instead of in the sea,” said co-author Daniel Field, a Yale Ph.D. candidate. “Both of those insights resolve longstanding debates on the origin of snakes.”

The researchers said ancestral snakes were non-constricting, wide-ranging foragers that seized their prey with needle-like hooked teeth and swallowed them whole. They originated about 128.5 million years ago, during the middle Early Cretaceous period.

“Primate brains, including those of humans, are hard-wired to attend to serpents, and with good reason,” said Jacques Gauthier, senior author of the study, a Yale professor of geology and geophysics, and curator of fossil vertebrates at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. “Our natural and adaptive attention to snakes makes the question of their evolutionary origin especially intriguing.”

Support for the research came from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

Additional authors of the study are Timothy Webster, Adam Behlke, Matthew Davis, and Rachel Racicot, all of Yale.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ugliest Statue in Washington, D.C.

The Temperance Fountain is a fountain and statue located in Washington D.C., donated to the city in 1882 by Henry D. Cogswell, a dentist from San Francisco, California, who was a crusader in the temperance movement.  This fountain was one of a series of temperance fountains he designed and commissioned in a belief that easy access to cool drinking water would keep people from consuming alcoholic beverages.

                                            The hideous Temperance Fountain and Statue


 The fountain has four stone columns supporting a canopy on whose sides the words "Faith," "Hope," "Charity," and "Temperance" are chiseled. Atop this canopy is a life-sized heron, and the centerpiece is a pair of entwined heraldic scaly dolphins. Originally, visitors were supposed to freely drink ice water flowing from the dolphins' snouts with a brass cup attached to the fountain and the overflow was collected by a trough for horses, but the city tired of having to replenish the ice in a reservoir underneath the base and disconnected the supply pipes. 

The inscription reads:
(Base of fish:)
(Top of temple:)


In 1987, it was relocated about 100 feet north [backing it away from Seventh and Pennsylvania Avenue to approximately Seventh and Indiana Avenue] during the renewal by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, since the statue was regarded as undesirable from the start.  The PADC created Indiana Plaza, and the Temperance Fountain swapped locations with the monument to the Grand Army of the Republic, which was considered historically more significant.

Today the fountain sits at the corner of Seventh Street and Indiana Avenue, NW, across from [701 Pennsylvania Avenue, a METRO subway entrance and] the National Archives and Navy Memorial, where thousands of tourists and workers walk past daily without noticing it.  The Temperance Fountain has been called "the city's ugliest statue" [in writing by the Washington Post in 2003]. The late NBC correspondent Bryson Rash, writing in Footnote Washington, a 1981 book of capital lore, reported that "these unusual and awkward structures spurred the movement across the country for city fine arts commissions to screen such gifts" prior to funding.  In April 1945, Sen. Sheridan Downey of California introduced a Senate resolution to remove the fountain, but, preoccupied with World War II, Congress ignored the resolution and it died in committee.[

Monday, May 18, 2015

Catallactics versus Economics

Catallactics is a theory of the way the free market system reaches exchange ratios and prices. It aims to analyse all actions based on monetary calculation and trace the formation of prices back to the point where an agent makes his or her choices. It explains prices as they are, rather than as they "should" be. The laws of catallactics are not valyue judtgments, but aim to be exact, objective and of universal validity. It was first used extensively by the Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises.

Cattallactics is a praxeological theory, the term catallaxy being used by Friedrich Hayek to describe "the order brought about by the mutual adjustment of many individual economies in a market."  Hayek was dissatisfied with the usage of the word "economy" because its Greek root, which translates as "household management", implies that economic agents in a market economy possess shared goals. He derived the word "Catallaxy" (Hayek's suggested Greek construction would be rendered καταλλαξία) from the Greek verb katallasso (καταλλάσσω) which meant not only "to exchange" but also "to admit in the community" and "to change from enemy into friend."

According to Mises (Human Action, page 3) and Hayek it was Richard Whately who coined the term "catallactics". Whately's Introductory Lectures on Political Economy (1831) reads:

“It is with a view to put you on your guard against prejudices thus created, (and you will meet probably with many instances of persons influenced by them,) that I have stated my objections to the name of Political-Economy. It is now, I conceive, too late to think of changing it. A. Smith, indeed, has designated his work a treatise on the "Wealth of Nations;" but this supplies a name only for the subject-matter, not for the science itself. The name I should have preferred as the most descriptive, and on the whole least objectionable, is that of CATALLACTICS, or the "Science of Exchanges."

Also, in a footnote to these sentences, he continues:

“It is perhaps hardly necessary to observe, that I do not pretend to have classical authority for this use of the word Catallactics; nor do I deem it necessary to make any apology for using it without such authority. It would be thought, I conceive, an absurd pedantry to find fault with such words as "thermometer," "telescope," "pneumatics," "hydraulics," "geology," &c. on the ground that classical Greek writers have not employed them, or have taken them in a different sense. In the present instance, however, I am not sure that, if Aristotle had had occasion to express my meaning, he would not have used the very same word. In fact I may say he has used another part of the same verb in the sense of "exchanging;" (for the Verbals in are, to all practical purposes, to be regarded as parts of the verbs they are formed from) in the third book of the Nicom. Ethics he speaks of men who hold their lives so cheap, that they risked them in exchange for the most trifling gain []. The employment of this and kindred words in the sense of "reconcilement," is evidently secondary, reconciliation being commonly effected by a compensation; something accepted as an equivalent for loss or injury.”

It has also been cited that Whately first coined the term in commentary during his Oxford lectures.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Psychiatrist Mark Goulston

Mark Goulston (born February 21, 1948) is a prominent psychiatrist and consultant to major organizations. His book, Just Listen, ranked #1 in six Amazon/Kindle categories, has been translated into 14 languages, reached #1 in Munich and Shanghai, and became the basis of a 2010 PBS special. The Consumers Research Council three times named him one of America's Top Psychiatrists, including in 2011. For over 20 years, he has been Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute. Goulston has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, The Phil Donohue Show, CNN, and hosted a PBS pledge drive special. His column Solve Anything with Dr. Mark is nationally syndicated by Tribune Media Services.  He blogs for the Huffington Post, Psychology Today, Fast Company, and Business Insider, and he contributes to the Harvard Business Review.  He frequently gives keynote speeches at women's conferences.  Dr. Goulston lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.


Goulston started a private practice. It specialized in suicide, death, and dying, including making house calls, and working with families and couples. After doing psychiatric house calls to dying patients and their family members, he was sought out to work with the surviving family and their businesses.

That expanded to his being a consultant, speaker, trainer and coach to such organizations as IBM, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Xerox, Deutsche Bank, Hyatt, Accenture, Astra Zeneca, British Airways, Sodexo, ESPN, Kodak, Federal Express, YPO, YPOWPO India, Association for Corporate Growth, FBI, Los Angeles District Attorney, White & Case, Seyfarth Shaw, UCLA Anderson School of Management, USC, and Pepperdine University.

He has been interviewed, appeared in and/or and written for hundreds of major media, including: the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, Los Angeles Times, CNN, MSNBC, and HLN.  He also co-hosts the Zo Williams Morning Radio Show.

In addition to the aforementioned Just Listen, Goulston's five books include Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior, Get Out of Your Own Way at Work…and Help Others Do the Same, The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Dummies.  His sixth book, Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In, co-authored with Dr. John Ullment to be published in 2013 [available now in 2015], has been selected as the lead book for the American Management Association and has also been selected as one of the 30 Best Business Books for 2013 by Soundview Executive Summaries.

Goulston sits on the Board of Advisors at Health Corps (Dr. Mehmet Oz’s foundation) and American Women Veterans, and he is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.  He is also the Co-Founder, Co-Curator and Co-Guardian of Heartfelt Leadership, an effort to bring more humanity and ultimately more profit to the workplace.

Dr. Goulston is also Co-Developer of The Exam Performance Program (R), an eLearning course which teaches students how to be calm, confident and focused so they can perform better and score better on academic exams and standardized tests. The course has been developed to (I) improve student cognitive performance and test scores on academic exams and standardized tests, (II) improve student mindset, self-confidence, self-efficacy, motivation, engagement, retention and academic trajectory, (III) eliminate/prevent test-anxiety and "stereotype-threat", and (IV) motivate STEM achievement, especially in low-income/minority/female/foster-care student groups. The Exam Performance company website and information about the Development Team is at

Link for the above posting:

The Carnival of Venice (song)

The Carnival of Venice is a folk tune popularly associated with the words "My hat, it has three corners" (or in German, Mein Hut, der hat drei Ecken).  A series of theme and variations has been written for solo trumpet, as "show off" pieces that contain virtuoso displays of double and triple tonguing, and fast tempos.

Many variations on the theme have been written, most notably those by Jean-Baptiste Arban, Del Staigers, Herbert L. Clarke for the cornet, trumpet, and euphonium, Francisco Tarrege and Johann Kaspar Mertz for classical guitar, Ignace Gibsone for piano, and –Giovanni Bottesini for double bass.  Chopin’s "Souvenir de Paganini", dedicated to the composer and violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini, is another variation on this theme. The popular novelty song, “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?”, written and recorded in 1952, is based on the tune. A more recent piece making use of the theme, by Allen Vizzutti, called "The Carnival of Venus," is regarded as one of the most difficult trumpet pieces ever written due to range and technical demands.

The piece has also been arranged for tuba, notably played by John Fletcher and available on the CD The Best of Fletch. Also Roger Bobo on Tuba Libera (cd). Another tubist whose performance of the piece is noteworthy is Oystein Baadsvik, a Norwegian tubist.