Perovskite and Maxima…

The effective mass of the electrons can be derived from the curvature around the maxima of the ARPES measurement data (image, detail). (Courtesy: HZB)

Topics: Alternate Energy, Applied Physics, Battery, Chemistry, Civilization, Climate Change

A longstanding explanation for why perovskite materials make such good solar cells has been cast into doubt thanks to new measurements. Previously, physicists ascribed the favorable optoelectronic properties of lead halide perovskites to the behavior of quasiparticles called polarons within the material’s crystal lattice. Now, however, detailed experiments at Germany’s BESSY II synchrotron revealed that no large polarons are present. The work sheds fresh light on how perovskites can be optimized for real-world applications, including light-emitting diodes, semiconductor lasers, and radiation detectors as well as solar cells.

Lead halide perovskites belong to a family of crystalline materials with an ABXstructure, where A is cesium, methylammonium (MA), or formamidinium (FA); B is lead or tin; and X is chlorine, bromine, or iodine. They are promising candidates for thin-film solar cells and other optoelectronic devices because their tuneable bandgaps enable them to absorb light over a broad range of wavelengths in the solar spectrum. Charge carriers (electrons and holes) also diffuse through them over long distances. These excellent properties give perovskite solar cells a power conversion efficiency of more than 18%, placing them on a par with established solar-cell materials such as silicon, gallium arsenide, and cadmium telluride.

Researchers are still unsure, however, exactly why charge carriers travel so well in perovskites, especially since perovskites contain far more defects than established solar-cell materials. One hypothesis is that polarons – composite particles made up of an electron surrounded by a cloud of ionic phonons, or lattice vibrations – act as screens, preventing charge carriers from interacting with the defects.

Charge-transport mystery deepens in promising solar-cell materials, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

Heart of Darkness…

The first direct image of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole shows an orange glowing ring — gas heated as it falls into the singularity — with the shadow of the black hole at the center. EHT Collaboration

Topics: Astrophysics, Black Holes, Cosmology, Einstein, General Relativity

In a triumph of observation and data processing, astronomers at the Event Horizon Telescope have captured the first-ever picture of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The black hole is named Sagittarius A* (pronounced “A-star”), and the reveal of its image received an international rollout this morning in simultaneous press conferences held by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and the European Southern Observatory headquarters in Garching, Germany.

The image represents 3.5 million gigabytes of data taken at millimeter wavelengths by eight radio telescopes around the world. “It took several years to refine our image and confirm what we had,” said Feryal Özel, an astronomer at the University of Arizona in Tucson, at the NSF press conference. “But we prevailed.”

Blackhole at the center of Milky Way imaged for first time, Mark Zastrow, Astronomy

Shadow of Infinity…

Figure 1: A cartoon showing the “self-lensing” of light by a supermassive black hole binary system. Jordy Davelaar and Zoltán Haiman of Columbia University predict that this effect could be used to study black hole binaries that are too far from Earth to probe with other techniques

Topics: Black Holes, Cosmology, Einstein, General Relativity

When galaxies collide, the central supermassive black holes that they contain begin to orbit each other. This supermassive black hole binary attracts gas, which flows through the system to form two disk-shaped structures, one around each of the supermassive black holes. The gas in these “minidisks” heats as it falls toward the holes and begins to radiate light. Astronomers have detected around 150 galaxies with candidate supermassive black hole binaries. And, as observations become more detailed, they expect the light from the minidisks in those systems to bear recognizable, time-dependent signatures from black hole distortions [1]. Now, Jordy Davelaar and Zoltán Haiman of Columbia University have theoretically tested how one such distortion—the “shadow” of the black hole—affects this light signature, finding that it causes a dip in the signal that should be observable in about 1% of candidate systems [23]. The technique could allow astronomers to study black holes that are currently beyond the reach of conventional imaging methods (Fig. 1).

From gravitational-wave measurements of merging black holes to direct imaging of the plasma circling a black hole, the last decade has seen an explosion of observational evidence for black holes (see Viewpoint: The First Sounds of Merging Black Holes and News Feature: Black Hole Imaging Tests Einstein’s Limits) [46]. Yet despite these achievements, many questions remain about black holes, including a critical one: How do black holes grow to supermassive scales—millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun?

A black hole is a simple object, described by its mass, angular momentum, and electrical charge. Supermassive black holes are typically electrically neutral, so their mass and angular momentum parameters determine their gravitational fields. The gravitational field determines how the black holes bend light and thus how they appear to an observer on Earth. Light passing near the black hole is deflected by the gravitational field, producing a black hole shadow—a dark region that is often encircled by a bright light ring—whose size and shape come directly from the black hole’s mass and angular momentum.

Measuring a Black Hole Shadow, George N. Wong, APS Physics

Reality Daytraders…

Image source: Facebook, Rick Steves

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Vladimir Putin is a reality daytrader. His invasion of Ukraine is a “special military operation,” not a war, or more accurately, an ongoing war crime. Gaslighting eleven Russian time zones is as easy to him as flatulence. With the GRU and American social media, he can hack American minds with the wildest conspiracy theories almost at will. The ridiculous QAnon claptrap that democrats are “demon-spawned, blood-drinking pedophiles” sounds like a propaganda tactic from the Kremlin:

Putin befriended and supported European politicians who were willing to defend Russian interests. One was Gerhard Schroder, the retired German chancellor, who was in the employ of the Russian gas company Gazprom. A second was Milol Zeman, elected president of the Czech Republic in 2013 after a campaign partly financed by the Russian oil company Lukoil, and reelected in 2018 after an election financed by unknown sources. A third was Silvio Berlusconi, who shared vacations with Putin before and after leaving the office of Italian prime minister in 2011. In 2013, Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud and banned from public office until 2019. Putin suggested that Berlusconi’s true problem was the persecution of heterosexuals. “If he were gay, no one would ever lay a finger on him.” Here Putin was enunciating a basic principle of his Eurasian civilization: when the subject is inequality, change it to sexuality. In 2018, Berlusconi began a political comeback.

The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America,” by Timothy Snyder, page 100 (paperback), author of “On Tyranny.”

Gallop shows the number of adults self-identifying as LGBT ticking up to 7.1% isn’t evidence of lower testosterone any more than it is of mythical cooties. We’ve gone from “Will and Grace,” the sitcom “Soap,” Ellen DeGeneres, and Rachel Maddow on primetime television to legalizing same-sex marriage as a Constitutional Right. At least on the surface, we seem to be more tolerant. Math question: isn’t 7.1% less than 92.9%?

Or, take nonexistent voter fraud. The Brennan Center “found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent.” Red states are making laws over something more infinitesimal than pocket lint.

An election happened in 2020, and the Russian asset (emphasis on the first syllable), lost. He couldn’t even admit the truth to his friend Piers Morgan, telling him “what if you’re not real?” In typical duplicitous snowflake fashion, he stormed out when confronted with the truth: he lost. Did we give this ingrate the nuclear codes?

Vance: Some opposition to Obama ‘comes from the color of his skin’

Vance also previously advanced [a] defense of former President Barack Obama, a Democrat who was the country’s first Black president, and who was falsely labeled a Muslim and was the subject of the racist “birther” conspiracy. Vance said he admired Obama for his personal accomplishments, even though he disagreed with him politically.

J.D. Vance used to admonish Donald Trump’s ‘xenophobic’ appeals to voters. Until he decided to run for Senate.

The “Big Lie” as popularized by Timothy Snyder in “Bloodlands” and executed by Vance and the American “son of perdition” has become less of a loyalty test, and more of a chanted mantra, eerily similar to Orwell’s “two minutes hate” ritual. Yet, part of being in a cult means you curate reality: you daytrade it to avoid pain and steamroll up Maslow’s pyramid to self-actualized pleasure. “Freedom” isn’t the freedom to say two plus two equals four, it’s the ability to troll on Twitter without fact check, or the threat of banning. (That worked out really well on January 6th.) What is painful to admit must be a conspiracy, not the outcome of voter mobilization, or concerns about fascism. “Others” – women, people of color, LGBT, youth – who did not vote for their Gollum avatar are “unpersons,” and therefore since they do not exist, their votes are by definition fraudulent. Dehumanization is the first stage before slaughter and genocide.

Actual voter fraud committed during the 2020 election was committed by the followers of Putin’s asset’s personality cult. History has no impact and facts do not matter. Karl Rove opined about “creating realities” and for Putin and Russophiles like Rand Paul, Ukraine doesn’t exist because it never existed. Therefore, uncomfortable histories about “your tribe” in the formation of the US must be banned, and I’m sure eventually, burned.

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

“The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.”

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”

“Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Since the beginning of your life, since the beginning of the Party, since the beginning of history, the war has continued without a break, always the same war.”

-George Orwell, “1984”

Alternative facts. Big lies. Created realities. These things are not the basis for democracy, and two plus two is not five.

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”
― George Orwell, 1984, all quotes in italics from Good Reads

Shields Up…

Ukraine foils Russia-backed cyberattack on the power grid, The Statesman

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Cybersecurity, Existentialism, Fascism


This joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA)—coauthored by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Energy (DOE)—provides information on multiple intrusion campaigns conducted by state-sponsored Russian cyber actors from 2011 to 2018 and targeted the U.S. and international Energy Sector organizations. CISA, the FBI, and DOE responded to these campaigns with appropriate action in and around the time that they occurred. CISA, the FBI, and DOE are sharing this information in order to highlight historical tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by adversaries to target U.S. and international Energy Sector organizations.

On March 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments of three Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers and a Russian Federation Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM) employee for their involvement in the following intrusion campaigns against the U.S. and international oil refineries, nuclear facilities, and energy companies.[1]

  • Global Energy Sector Intrusion Campaign, 2011 to 2018: the FSB conducted a multi-stage campaign in which they gained remote access to U.S. and international Energy Sector networks, deployed ICS-focused malware, and collected and exfiltrated enterprise and ICS-related data. 
    • One of the indicted FSB officers was involved in campaign activity that involved deploying Havex malware to victim networks. 
    • The other two indicted FSB officers were involved in activity targeting U.S. Energy Sector networks from 2016 through 2018.
  • Compromise of Middle East-based Energy Sector organization with TRITON Malware, 2017: Russian cyber actors with ties to the TsNIIKhM gained access to and leveraged TRITON (also known as HatMan) malware to manipulate a foreign oil refinery’s ICS controllers. TRITON was designed to specifically target Schneider Electric’s Triconex Tricon safety systems and is capable of disrupting those systems. Schneider Electric has issued a patch to mitigate the risk of the TRITON malware’s attack vector; however, network defenders should install the patch and remain vigilant against these threat actors’ TTPs.
    • The indicted TsNIIKhM cyber actor is charged with an attempt to access U.S.-protected computer networks and to cause damage to an energy facility.
    • The indicted TsNIIKhM cyber actor was a co-conspirator in the deployment of the TRITON malware in 2017.

Alert (AA22-083A)

Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures of Indicted State-Sponsored Russian Cyber Actors Targeting the Energy Sector, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

So the warning by CISA has some connotations we should think about. Since Nexflix bailed on Russia, they could block streaming services and retaliate rather petty. Another is infrastructure such as public utilities. Yeah, getting your AC turned off when it’s in the eighties outside sucks, but a hospital getting its power cut during an emergency operation, an episiotomy or sinus surgery can cost lives that otherwise wouldn’t be affected. It would affect water and utilities, access to ATMs, and Wall Street trading. Any attack is a move of desperation, not “strength.” Any rat trapped in a corner will strike back, even with its last breath. Sean Hannity tried to give Mango Mussolini a layup question that he couldn’t answer: “is Putin evil?” After bodies stacked like Hurricane Katrina victims, a plethora of war crimes that would embarrass HITLER, he still can’t form his puckered mouth, which strangely looks like an anus, to criticize his handler; he is still the lapdog of a KGB spymaster. I doubt it has anything to do with pee tapes: it’s darker than that. He wants to BE Putin, he wants America to be Russia. He wants Jeff Bezos to bow to him on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in parody to 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Here is a failed businessman, a serial bankruptcy artist, a short-fingered vulgarian whose college professor stated he was the “dumbest student he EVER had,” using more colorful metaphors. He takes a gig as host of a reality show to pay just enough of his crumbling life expenses to keep up the facade, and never admitted to himself that whatever his father had, he never had, and never will have. A person like that constructs fantasies because reality, “real reality,” is too harsh for malignant narcissists. “Great again” in a sick mind is a dystopian nightmare to the sane rest of us, unless you’re QAnon while reading this.

I think of Edward Snowden at this time. He’s probably a valuable asset to Vladimir Putin and the GRU, despite his rock star status in exposing corruption: he broke the law and fled the country before it could prosecute him. Funny how he ends up in Russia; funny how the malware the GRU started using in 2016 suddenly “sprang up” spontaneously. I’m surprised no one is discussing this as a possibility. If you look at the link that I’ve provided, he boasted a top salary of $200,000 working at the NSA, as he put it, as a “computer Guru,” without the benefit of a college degree. His paint job and privilege greased the skids to his ascension in the intelligence community (an oxymoron if there ever was one) and his six-figure salary. One thinks of the idioms “blowback” and “chicken’s coming home to roost” the second made famous first by Chaucer of The Canterberry Tales before Malcolm X used the idiom to comment on President Kennedy’s demise.

As Ukraine goes further in the crapper for the Russian bear, and Putin gets desperate to pull off a “win” in time for the May 9th festivities (the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in WWII), cyber warfare is his best option to damage, deter the West, and save “face” at home. Moscow’s Flagship sunk: either from Ukrainian armaments, or Russian naval incompetence. Social media is making it difficult to blame the “special military operation” on ghost Nazis. Since American billionaires hide their money in the Caymans, and Russian oligarchs (tomato, to-MAH-toe) hide their grand theft in western countries, “nuking the joint” just because you’re pissed at looking bad doesn’t make financial sense. Neither does the use of chemical weapons because the optics of killing babies in a majority white country can’t endear you to the crowd that thinks white people are being “replaced.” Free trade after Ukraine is going to have a cost for Vladimir: it’s not going to be free, and like Finland and Sweden considering NATO membership, he may have sparked a global “Green New Deal” revolution that mere logic, and the absolutely sane desire to save the planet couldn’t. The veneer of invincibility so-called strongmen like to exude can’t be as shiny as it was when W “looked into his eyes, and saw his soul.” At least the 46th president called “malarky” on that google-eyed tyrant worship, proto the fascism the right is exhibiting daily.

CPAC stands for “conservative political action committee,” and the action you would THINK they would like to be politically responsible for is the election of conservative lawmakers to enact a platform and state an agenda. As of 2020, there is none, except supporting the American Orange Fuhrer. CPAC is meeting in Hungary, home of authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán, who has packed the courts, squelched the news down to a cheerleading outlet, attacked the LGBT in his country (guilty of the crime of EXISTING), rigged elections to where he cannot lose, demonized minorities and added to that antisemitism. Just the kind of country American Conservatives cum fascists (prior to WWII, there was a German American Bund that openly supported Hitler and the Nazis) would love to form in the US.

The Growth and Opportunity Project stated things that the right has thus far refused to do: change, evolve, give up the “Southern Strategy,” start sounding less racist and appeal to more minorities, and young people. In other words, a functional political party would have taken the 2012 election loss as a wake-up call to course-correct.

What we are currently experiencing isn’t a functional party. The party went from GOP to INGSOC, from Mitt Romney to a Boy From Brazil that had a copy of Hitler’s speeches on his nightstand, that he obviously read. What he leads is more a Congress of sociopaths, people fearful of the changes their hubris wouldn’t let them make. The percentage of black republicans has dwindled steadily since the 2000 RNC convention, but the New York Times managed to cobble a few together to make a point that fascists somehow have “inroads” with the African American community after Associate-Designate Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson survived what amounted to a Klan coven. Yeah: inroads.

If the DNC isn’t making attack ads with the material the insurrection party gave during her marathon, disrespectful confirmation hearings, it amounts to bringing a butter knife to a bazooka fight. It is political malpractice. Batman doesn’t negotiate with the Joker: he pummels him and sends him back to Arkham. He does it as many times as necessary.

Racists could care less about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and fascists ONLY care about their “superiority” and making sure the necks they stamp on never shift from their places. Put on your flack jackets and gear up for piles of manure dressed up as political discourse. Get ready for malware blackouts and excuses that this direct attack on our homeland is somehow “our fault” because a psychopath believed his yes men, and got out over his skis. Like Dumbo Gambino, we’re finding out the “stable geniuses” are all flatulence and hype.

In the words of Star Trek (any version): “red alert. Shields up!”

Nanotubes and Nitro…

Stored energy: a rendition of a system that combines polymeric nitrogen (blue chain) and carbon nanotube (clear spheres). (Courtesy: Heba Megahd)

Topics: Carbon Nanotubes, Materials Science, Nanotechnology

From TNT to nitro-glycerine, nitrogen-rich compounds are known for packing an explosive punch. When these materials explode, bonds between atoms in the compounds are broken, which gives a chance for two nitrogen atoms to form very strong triple bonds with each other. This releases an enormous amount of chemical energy due to the high strength of the triple bond, which is almost six times stronger than its single-band counterpart. In fact, the strength of nitrogen-nitrogen triple bonds is one of the reasons that the stable nitrogen gas dominates Earth’s atmosphere.

This chemical property of nitrogen is encouraging scientists to develop new nitrogen-rich compounds for use as high-energy-density materials that can be used as explosives or propellants. Polymeric nitrogen exists in the form of chains and tubes of linked nitrogen atoms with a high number of single or double bonds that can break and form triple bonds, releasing a large amount of energy and no dangerous by-products.

Several types of these polymers have been made at high temperatures and pressures, but they have been notoriously difficult to stabilize under ambient conditions. However, the electrochemical pressure inside the confined walls of carbon nanotubes may be the key to realizing these structures under more practical conditions. In a paper, published in Chinese Physics Letters, a team of scientists led by Jian Sun at Nanjing University provides a theoretical map of the process and the resulting compounds.

Carbon nanotubes could stabilize energy-rich nitrogen chains, Heba Megahd, Physics World

Rogue Singularity…

A lone black hole gives off no light – but its gravity does distort the path of light traveling around it. Ute Kraus (background Milky Way panorama: Axel Mellinger), Institute of Physics, Universität Hildesheim

Topics: Astrophysics, Black Holes, Cosmology, Einstein, General Relativity

Each second, a brand new baby black hole is born somewhere in the cosmos as a massive star collapses under its own weight.

But black holes themselves are invisible. Historically, astronomers have only been able to detect these stellar-mass black holes when they are acting on a companion.

Now, a team of scientists has made the first-ever confirmed detection of a stellar-mass black hole that’s completely alone. The discovery opens up the possibility of finding even more — an exciting prospect, considering there should be around 100 million such “rogue” black holes drifting through our galaxy unseen.

Relying on the neighbors

Black holes are difficult to find because they don’t shine like stars. Anything with mass warps the fabric of space-time, and the greater the mass, the more extreme the warp. Black holes pack so much mass into such a tiny area that space folds back in on itself. That means that if anything, even light, gets too close, its path will always bend back toward the center of the black hole.

Astronomers have found a couple hundred of these ghostly goliaths indirectly, by seeing how they influence their surroundings. They’ve identified around 20 black holes of the small, stellar-mass variety in our galaxy by watching as stars are devoured by invisible companions. As the black hole pulls matter from its neighbor, the material forms a swirling, glowing accretion disk that signals the black hole’s presence.

Astronomers detect the first potential ‘rogue’ black hole, Ashley Balzer, Astronomy Magazine

Caveat Colonizing…

(Credit: Evgeniyqw/Shutterstock)

Topics: Astronautics, Climate Change, Environment, Futurism, Global Warming, Mars, Spaceflight

When Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002, he envisioned a greenhouse on Mars, not unlike the one later depicted in the 2015 blockbuster The Martian. Soon, his fantasy grew from a small-scale botanical experiment into a vision for a self-sustaining Martian city. In a speech at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in 2016, he argued his point. “History is going to bifurcate along with two directions. One path is we stay on earth forever and then there will be some eventual extinction event,” Musk says. “The alternative is to become a space-faring civilization and a multi-planet species, which, I hope you would agree, is the right way to go.”

Though Musk later clarified that the extinction event he referenced may take place millennia (or even eons) in the future, the conditions on earth today are becoming increasingly dangerous for human beings. Deadly heatwaves, food insecurity, and catastrophic natural disasters are a few of the hazards that we face as the planet continues to warm. Unfortunately, the Red Planet is a very long way from becoming a viable alternative home. While we measure carbon dioxide concentrations in parts per million on earth, Mars’ atmosphere contains 96% CO2, just one of a litany of logistical nightmares that Martian colonists would have to overcome.

In a perfect world, Musks’ dreams of extraterrestrial civilization could coexist with the eco-forward values that have driven ventures like Tesla’s solar program. But while SpaceX’s aspirations are in space, its operations have an undeniable impact at home. Unlike a Tesla sports car, SpaceX’s rockets aren’t propelled by electricity — they burn kerosene. 

Carbon emissions from space launches are dwarfed by other sources of greenhouse gasses, but they could have an outsized impact on climate. The reason for this stems from one particular product of rocket propulsion: black carbon. These tiny chunks of crystalline carbon atoms are short-lived in the atmosphere, but highly absorptive of sunlight. On the Earth’s surface, black carbon from diesel, coal, and wood combustion poses a threat to environmental and public health, particularly in developing countries. But in the upper atmosphere, rocket engines are the sole source of black carbon. For years, scientists have warned that these emissions could have unpredictable effects on climate. Still, research on the topic has been frustratingly slow.

“We identified the issue with black carbon in 2010,” says Darin Toohey, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder. “The story comes and goes, but the basic players remain the same.”

Efforts to Colonize Mars Could Have a Negative Impact on Global Health, Gabe Allen, Discover Magazine

Weighty W…

Living on: data taken by the now-defunct CDF experiment has revealed a surprising mass for the W boson. (Courtesy: Fermilab)

Topics: Fermilab, High Energy Physics, Modern Physics, Particle Physics, Steven Weinberg

The most precise measurement to date of the mass of the W boson has yielded a result seven standard deviations away from that predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics. The stunning result was obtained by a painstaking analysis of data taken at the Fermilab Tevatron collider in the US before it closed in 2011. The particle physics community must now study the results carefully to work out whether it is an incredible statistical fluke, an unknown experimental error, a flaw in the Standard Model, or a genuine indication of physics beyond the Standard Model.

The W boson is one of the most intriguing particles described by the Standard Model. Together with the neutral Z boson, the charged W boson mediates the weak interaction, which causes beta decay and several other important processes in particle physics. The weak interaction has long intrigued scientists searching for physics beyond the Standard Model, partly because it is the only force known to violate charge-parity symmetry. If particles in a process are exchanged for their antiparticles and the spatial coordinates are inverted, the weak interaction in this mirror image process is not always identical. This puzzle is not explained in the Standard Model.

W boson mass measurement surprises physicists, Tim Wogan, Physics World

Leverage and Looting…

Image Source: Storytelling for Everyone

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Democracy, Fascism, Politics

In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of doors, gates, and transitions. Janus represented the middle ground between both concrete and abstract dualities such as life/death, beginning/end, youth/adulthood, rural/urban, war/peace, and barbarism/civilization.

Source: Anderson Lock Blog (they’re apparently locksmiths and historians on the side)

Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression runs on the money Russia gets by selling fossil fuels to Europe. And while Ukraine has, incredibly, repelled Russia’s attempt to seize Kyiv, Putin won’t be definitively stopped until Europe ends its energy dependence.

This means that Germany — whose political and business leaders insist that they can’t do without Russian natural gas, even though many of its own economists disagree — has in effect become Putin’s prime enabler. This is shameful; it is also incredibly hypocritical given recent German history.

The background: Germany has been warned for decades about the risks of becoming dependent on Russian gas. But its leaders focused on the short-run benefits of cheap energy and ignored those warnings. On the eve of the Ukraine war, 55 percent of German gas came from Russia.

There’s no question that quickly cutting off, or even greatly reducing, this gas flow would be painful. But multiple economic analyses — from the Brussels-based Bruegel Institute, the International Energy Agency, and ECONtribute, a think tank sponsored by the Universities of Bonn and Cologne — have found that the effects of drastically reducing gas imports from Russia would be far from catastrophic to Germany.

How Germany Became Putin’s Enabler, Paul Krugman, New York Times Opinion

Humans are the only obstacle to enacting renewable energy, and it is because of the secular gods we worship.

The European term “oligarch” has come into vogue because of Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine. “Oligarchy: a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes,” Merriam-Webster. The Austin Chronicle wrote a prescient piece in 2010: “Letters at 3 AM: ‘O’ is for Oligarchy,” and the 2014 essay by professors Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page: “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” (Cambridge University Press). The end of the abstract:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

In what follows, we briefly review the four theoretical traditions that form the framework for our analyses and highlight some of the most prominent empirical research associated with each. We then describe our data and measures and present our results. We conclude by discussing the implications of our work for understanding American democracy and by identifying some of the directions for future research that our findings suggest.

Neither 2010 nor 2014 targeted Russian oligarchs. Our versions are called billionaires.

Investopedia definition of “billionaire”:

The term billionaire refers to an individual with assets or a net worth of at least one billion currency units in their native currency such as dollars, euros, or pounds. Billionaires are extremely rich, with assets ranging from cash and cash equivalents, real estate, as well as business and personal property.

Subtracting liabilities from assets results in an individual’s net worth. A billionaire’s assets generally include things like cash and liquid investments, personal property such as real estate, jewelry, cars and other vehicles, and furniture. Business interests such as equipment and commercial properties are also included if the individual has a personal stake in a corporation.

Billionaires make up a small and very elite club of powerful individuals—both men and women—in the world. These people control enormous sums of money and the power and influence that comes with it.

Russian oligarchs steal their monies from Russian citizens and hide their gain in America, England, France: anywhere other than the places and eleven time zones that they live.

The Pandora Papers revealed the offshore shell game our plucky, Ayn Rand billionaire class (as well as some millionnaire celebrities we may LIKE) use to shield their money from taxes: the British Virgin Island, Belize, Samoa. American oligarchs own politicians, mostly in the Republican Party, but then there’s Joe Manchin and Kristen Senema. The Democratic Leadership Council once embraced a “third way,” ostensibly to siphon a lot of that American oligarch blood money to their election coffers, just like their Republican colleagues. It just meant they couldn’t pay that much attention to African Americans, Hispanics, the LGBT, Women, and their concerns. Blue-collar workers, feeling rightly abandoned, fled to the former Grand Old Party, fed a steady forty-year diet of white grievance minstrelsy through AM talk radio, Fox Propaganda, and its myriad clones on sponsored networks and Internet cult personalities. After forty years of gaslighting, the minstrelsy has produced performance artists masquerading as politicians.

Gregg Abbott wants to bus immigrants at the border to Washington. He hasn’t done anything since the deep freeze in Texas revealed their independent, libertarian ERCOT grid wasn’t ready for the impact of climate change. Speaking of that, Texas climatologists are warning conditions are favoring a long drought this summer, summers that routinely hover around triple digits on the regular. Droughts mean fires, and evacuations like the ones we’ve seen in California are more likely. But no matter. Book banning. Bounties on women that exercise their rights to abortion (for now). Busing immigrants that I assume he’ll have to “round up” (I doubt that, nor fighting drought fires is cheap, and he can’t just stick the blue Texans with the bill). Book banning. Bounties. Critical Race Theory. Priorities.

A single individual making $100,000 per year will make a million in a decade. That same person would need 10,000 years to make their first billion dollars, or storage places for the monies in countries that they don’t live in, and pliable politicians and banks to hide the theft.

Fossil fuels give American and Russian oligarchs leverage over the rest of the planet. Whether your grocers are Cosco, Harris Teeter, HEB, Kroger, Sam’s Club, or Stop and Shop, the cost of food is directly proportional to the price of gas the truck driver has to pay at the pump to deliver it. The cost of gas is directly in your face at the pump. Students are paying legal loan sharks for the cost of education in America, more than in any other similar industrialized nation. Thus homeownership is falling among young Americans. Five-thirty-eight says they’re leaving organized religion, and that might have a direct correlation to student loan payments that prevent them from moving out of their parent’s house, settling down, and paying tithes and offerings as well as the aforementioned grievance minstrelsy. Churches without young people become museums. But the cost of living is leverage oligarchs execute over the populations of their countries. As many misgivings as I have for Elon Musk, we need SpaceX and other launch systems to get to the International Space Station or any other endeavor we pursue. Soyez isn’t a space program: it’s leverage.

Janus represented the middle ground between both concrete and abstract dualities such as life/death, beginning/end, youth/adulthood, rural/urban, war/peace, and barbarism/civilization.

Or, clean energy and extortion, existence and extinction, authoritarianism and democracy.