Thursday, May 29, 2014

Scientists Report Finding Reliable Way to Teleport Data - NYTimes.com

Scientists Report Finding Reliable Way to Teleport Data - NYTimes.com:



"Scientists in the Netherlands have moved a step closer to overriding one of Albert Einstein’s most famous objections to the implications of quantum mechanics, which he described as “spooky action at a distance.”"



'via Blog this'

Abbas Asks Palestinian Prime Minister to Seek New Government - NYTimes.com

Abbas Asks Palestinian Prime Minister to Seek New Government - NYTimes.com:



 "Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian politician who took part in the reconciliation talks, said in a telephone interview that “the most important thing is that this government will mean the end of this terrible division and it will reactivate the Palestinian democratic system.”"



'via Blog this'

Thomas Piketty Responds to Criticism of His Data - NYTimes.com

Thomas Piketty Responds to Criticism of His Data - NYTimes.com:



 "Six days after The Financial Times launched an attack on the data behind Thomas Piketty’s much-debated tome on inequality, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” Mr. Piketty has offered his first detailed response to the newspaper’s criticism."



'via Blog this'

Constructor Theory

Constructor Theory:



"The basic principle of constructor theory is that all fundamental laws of nature are expressible entirely in terms of statements of which tasks (i.e. classes of physical transformations) are possible and which are impossible, and why. This is a new mode of explanation, intended to supersede the prevailing conception of fundamental physics which seeks to explain the world in terms of its state (describing everything that is there) and laws of motion (describing how the everything changes with time). By regarding counter-factuals ('X is possible' or 'X is impossible') as first-class, exact statements, constructor theory brings all sorts of interesting fields, currently regarded as inherently approximative, potentially into fundamental physics. These include the theories of information, knowledge, thermodynamics, life, and of course the universal constructor."



'via Blog this'

[1402.2827] Harnessing the Complexity of Education with Information Technology

[1402.2827] Harnessing the Complexity of Education with Information Technology:



"Education at all levels is facing several challenges in most countries, such as low quality, high costs, lack of educators, and unsatisfied student demand. Traditional approaches are becoming unable to deliver the required education. Several causes for this inefficiency can be identified. I argue that beyond specific causes, the lack of effective education is related to complexity. However, information technology is helping us overcome this complexity."



'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Judging Spinoza - NYTimes.com

Judging Spinoza - NYTimes.com:



"In February of 1927, the historian Joseph Klausner stood before an audience at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and delivered a lecture on the “Jewish character” of Baruch Spinoza’s philosophy. As he neared the end of his talk, Klausner dropped the usual academic idiom and, with great passion, announced his intention to bring Spinoza, excommunicated in 1656 by the Portuguese-Jewish community in Amsterdam, back into the Jewish fold. “To Spinoza the Jew,” he declared: “The ban is nullified! The sin of Judaism against you is removed and your offense against her atoned for. You are our brother! You are our brother! You are our brother!”"



'via Blog this'

Casimir effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Casimir effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:



 "Alternatively, a 2005 paper by Robert Jaffe of MIT states that "Casimir effects can be formulated and Casimir forces can be computed without reference to zero-point energies. They are relativistic, quantum forces between charges and currents. The Casimir force (per unit area) between parallel plates vanishes as alpha, the fine structure constant, goes to zero, and the standard result, which appears to be independent of alpha, corresponds to the alpha → infinity limit," and that "The Casimir force is simply the (relativistic, retarded) van der Waals force between the metal plates."[15]"



'via Blog this'

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I Lived Here for Seven Years


Europe’s Secret Success

Paul Krugman
SINTRA, Portugal — I’ll be spending the next couple of days at a forum sponsored by the European Central Bank whose de facto topic— whatever it may say on the program — will be the destructive monetary muddle caused by the Continent’s premature adoption of a single currency. What makes the story even sadder is that Europe’s financial and macroeconomic woes have overshadowed its remarkable, unheralded longer-term success in an area in which it used to lag: job creation.
What? You haven’t heard about that? Well, that’s not too surprising. European economies, France in particular, get very bad press in America. Our political discourse is dominated by reverse Robin-Hoodism — the belief that economic success depends on being nice to the rich, who won’t create jobs if they are heavily taxed, and nasty to ordinary workers, who won’t accept jobs unless they have no alternative. And according to this ideology, Europe — with its high taxes and generous welfare states — does everything wrong. So Europe’s economic system must be collapsing, and a lot of reporting simply states the postulated collapse as a fact.
The reality, however, is very different. Yes, Southern Europe is experiencing an economic crisis thanks to that money muddle. But Northern European nations, France included, have done far better than most Americans realize. In particular, here’s a startling, little-known fact: French adults in their prime working years (25 to 54) are substantially more likely to have jobs than their U.S. counterparts.
It wasn’t always that way. Back in the 1990s Europe really did have big problems with job creation; the phenomenon even received a catchy name, “Eurosclerosis.” And it seemed obvious what the problem was: Europe’s social safety net had, as Representative Paul Ryan likes to warn, become a “hammock” that undermined initiative and encouraged dependency.
But then a funny thing happened: Europe started doing much better, while America started doing much worse. France’s prime-age employment rate overtook America’s early in the Bush administration; at this point the gap in employment rates is bigger than it was in the late 1990s, this time in France’s favor. Other European nations with big welfare states, like Sweden and the Netherlands, do even better.
Now, young French citizens are still a lot less likely to have jobs than their American counterparts — but a large part of that difference reflects the fact that France provides much more aid to students, so that they don’t have to work their way through school. Is that a bad thing? Also, the French take more vacations and retire earlier than we do, and you can argue that the incentives for early retirement in particular are too generous. But on the core issue of providing jobs for people who really should be working, at this point old Europe is beating us hands down despite social benefits and regulations that, according to free-market ideologues, should be hugely job-destroying.
Oh, and for those who believe that out-of-work Americans, coddled by government benefits, just aren’t trying to find jobs, we’ve just performed a cruel experiment using the worst victims of our job crisis as subjects. At the end of last year Congress refused to renew extended jobless benefits, cutting off millions of unemployed Americans. Did the long-term unemployed who were thereby placed in dire straits start finding jobs more rapidly than before? No — not at all. Somehow, it seems, the only thing we achieved by making the unemployed more desperate was deepening their desperation.

I’m sure that many people will simply refuse to believe what I’m saying about European strengths. After all, ever since the euro crisis broke out there has been a relentless campaign by American conservatives (and quite a few Europeans too) to portray it as a story of collapsing welfare states, brought low by misguided concerns about social justice. And they keep saying that even though some of the strongest economies in Europe, like Germany, have welfare states whose generosity exceeds the wildest dreams of U.S. liberals.
But macroeconomics, as I keep trying to tell people, isn’t a morality play, where virtue is always rewarded and vice always punished. On the contrary, severe financial crises and depressions can happen to economies that are fundamentally very strong, like the United States in 1929. The policy mistakes that created the euro crisis — mainly creating a unified currency without the kind of banking and fiscal union that a single currency demands — basically had nothing to do with the welfare state, one way or another.
The truth is that European-style welfare states have proved more resilient, more successful at job creation, than is allowed for in America’s prevailing economic philosophy.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day 2050 - NYTimes.com

Memorial Day 2050 - NYTimes.com:



 "OF the many things being said about climate change lately, none was more eloquent than the point made by Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State in the Showtime series “Years of Living Dangerously,” when he observed: “We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”"



'via Blog this'

Elliot Rodger

Elliot Rodger:



'via Blog this'

Hush (comics) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hush (comics) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:



 "Hush is a supervillain who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. He was usually an enemy of Batman. Hush first appeared in Batman #609 (January 2003), as part of the 12-issue storyline, Batman: Hush. Hush resurfaced in Batman: Gotham Knights, and later in Detective Comics and Batman: Streets of Gotham."



'via Blog this'

Elliot Roger

California Gunman’s Drive-By Attack Leaves 7 Dead and 7 Wounded - NYTimes.com

California Gunman’s Drive-By Attack Leaves 7 Dead and 7 Wounded - NYTimes.com:



"GOLETA, Calif. — Seven people were killed and another seven injured on Friday night in a bloody drive-by shooting on the crowded streets of a small college town near Santa Barbara, as what police described as a mentally disturbed gunman methodically opened fire in a 10-minute spasm of terror."



'via Blog this'

Friday, May 23, 2014

Gerald M. Edelman, Nobel Laureate and ‘Neural Darwinist,’ Dies at 84 - NYTimes.com

Gerald M. Edelman, Nobel Laureate and ‘Neural Darwinist,’ Dies at 84 - NYTimes.com:



"Dr. Gerald M. Edelman, who shared a 1972 Nobel Prize for a breakthrough in immunology and went on to contribute key findings in neuroscience and other fields, becoming a leading if contentious theorist on the workings of the brain, died on Saturday at his home in the La Jolla section of San Diego. He was 84."



'via Blog this'

Consciousness Might Emerge from a Data Broadcast - Scientific American

Consciousness Might Emerge from a Data Broadcast - Scientific American:



"What is consciousness? A neuroscientist's new book argues that it arises when information is broadcast throughout the brain"



'via Blog this'

My Testy Encounter with the Late, Great Gerald Edelman (RIP) | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network

My Testy Encounter with the Late, Great Gerald Edelman (RIP) | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network:



 "Gerald Edelman’s career, like that of his rival Francis Crick, has been eclectic, and highly successful. While still a graduate student, Edelman helped to determine the structure of a protein molecule crucial to the body’s immune response. In 1972 he shared a Nobel Prize for that work. Edelman moved on to developmental biology, the study of how a single fertilized cell becomes a full-fledged organism. He found a class of proteins, called cell adhesion molecules, thought to play an important role in embryonic development."



'via Blog this'

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kidnapped 10 Years Ago at Age 15, A Victim Leads Police to Her Alleged Captor - The Wire

Kidnapped 10 Years Ago at Age 15, A Victim Leads Police to Her Alleged Captor - The Wire:



 "10 years ago, a 15-year-old girl was reported missing to Santa Ana Police in California. On Wednesday, law enforcement officials announced that they located the victim and have arrested her alleged captor. Isidro Garcia, 41, faces charges of kidnap for rape, lewd act with a minor, and false imprisonment. Garcia was the boyfriend of the victim's mother at the time of the kidnapping. "



'via Blog this'

Kidnapped 10 Years Ago at Age 15, A Victim Leads Police to Her Alleged Captor - The Wire

Kidnapped 10 Years Ago at Age 15, A Victim Leads Police to Her Alleged Captor - The Wire:



 "10 years ago, a 15-year-old girl was reported missing to Santa Ana Police in California. On Wednesday, law enforcement officials announced that they located the victim and have arrested her alleged captor. Isidro Garcia, 41, faces charges of kidnap for rape, lewd act with a minor, and false imprisonment. Garcia was the boyfriend of the victim's mother at the time of the kidnapping. "



'via Blog this'

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mexico Plans to Extract 13,000-Year-Old Skeleton - NYTimes.com

Mexico Plans to Extract 13,000-Year-Old Skeleton - NYTimes.com:



"MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials say they plan to extract the entire skeleton of a teenage girl who nearly 13,000 years ago toppled into a deep hole in a Mexican cave and died."



'via Blog this'

Violence in North Mexico Heats Up; So Do Protests - NYTimes.com

Violence in North Mexico Heats Up; So Do Protests - NYTimes.com:



 "MEXICO CITY — Authorities in a northern Mexico border state say the bodies of four men and three women have been found stuffed inside a sport utility vehicle in the port city of Tampico."



'via Blog this'

Antarctica’s Ice Losses Double, Study Says | TIME.com

Antarctica’s Ice Losses Double, Study Says | TIME.com:



"A European study based on data from Europe's Cryosat satellite shows the continent is now losing an annual total of about 160 billion metric tons of ice, enough to push global sea levels up by 0.43mm a year"



'via Blog this'

Floods Affect over 1 Million People in Balkans, Destruction "Terrifying" - Scientific American

Floods Affect over 1 Million People in Balkans, Destruction "Terrifying" - Scientific American:



 "MAGLAJ Bosnia/KRUPANJ Serbia (Reuters) - Bosnia said on Monday that more than a quarter of its 4 million people had been affected by the worst floods to hit the Balkans in living memory, comparing the "terrifying" destruction to that of the country's 1992-95 war."



'via Blog this'

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Capital in the Twenty First Century

Thomas Piketty is fun to read. The economics discipline seems more of a science now. Just like in the 1700s Michael Faraday continued the scientific work of Gilbert, on a firmer basis; now Piketty takes over from where Marx left off. We need a real science to lead us, society is becoming complex. Clear thinking is a must.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Information

After studying Communication Theory in the late sixties, I decided to search for the Fundamental Laws of Information. Ludwig Boltzmann, John von Neumann, and Claude Shannon, had taken the ideas ahead: From Chemistry to Computer Science, going through Francis Crick and Thomas Watson discovery of the first non-trivial natural Information Engine; DNA.

Now I believe that before we can know the objective character of Information, we first have to understand the objective character of Consciousness.

Who will pay?

[1405.3259] Algorithms for finite Projected Entangled Pair States

[1405.3259] Algorithms for finite Projected Entangled Pair States:



 "Projected Entangled Pair States (PEPS) are a promising ansatz for the study of strongly correlated quantum many-body systems in two dimensions. But due to their high computational cost, developing and improving PEPS algorithms is necessary to make the ansatz widely usable in practice. Here we analyze several algorithmic aspects of the method. On the one hand, we uncover new insight on the connection between the correlation length of the PEPS and the accuracy of its approximate contraction, and discuss how purifications can be used in the latter. On the other, we present algorithmic improvements for the update of the tensor that introduce drastic gains in the numerical conditioning and the efficiency of the algorithms. Finally, the state-of-the-art general PEPS code is benchmarked with the Heisenberg and quantum Ising models on lattices of up to 21×21 sites."



'via Blog this'

[1302.1864] Quantum Information Science: Emerging No More

[1302.1864] Quantum Information Science: Emerging No More:



 "Short history of quantum information science. The chief message is that the field is no longer emerging. It has arrived."



'via Blog this'

Thursday, May 15, 2014

[0811.3877] Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics: a critical survey

[0811.3877] Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics: a critical survey:



"This brief survey analyzes the epistemological implications about the role of observer in the interpretations of Quantum Mechanics. As we know, the goal of most interpretations of quantum mechanics is to avoid the apparent intrusion of the observer into the measurement process. In the same time, there are implicit and hidden assumptions about his role. In fact, most interpretations taking as ontic level one of these fundamental concepts as information, physical law and matter bring us to new problematical questions. We think, that no interpretation of the quantum theory can avoid this intrusion until we do not clarify the nature of observer."



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Quantum Bayesianism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quantum Bayesianism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:



 "Quantum Bayesianism most often refers to a "subjective Bayesian account of quantum probability",[1] that has evolved primarily from the work of Carlton M. Caves, Christopher Fuchs and Rüdiger Schack, and draws from the fields of quantum information and Bayesian probability. It may sometimes refer more generically to approaches to quantum theory that use a Bayesian or personalist (aka "subjective") probabilistic approach to the probabilities that appear in quantum theory. The approach associated with Caves, Fuchs, and Schack has been referred to as the radical Bayesian interpretation.[2] It attempts to provide an understanding of quantum mechanics and to derive modern quantum mechanics from informational considerations. The remainder of this article concerns primarily the Caves-Fuchs-Schack Bayesian approach to quantum theory."



'via Blog this'

[1311.5253] An Introduction to QBism with an Application to the Locality of Quantum Mechanics

[1311.5253] An Introduction to QBism with an Application to the Locality of Quantum Mechanics:



 "We give an introduction to the QBist interpretation of quantum mechanics. We note that it removes the paradoxes, conundra, and pseudo-problems that have plagued quantum foundations for the past nine decades. As an example, we show in detail how it eliminates quantum "nonlocality"."



'via Blog this'

Carlton M. Caves - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carlton M. Caves - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:



"Carlton Morris Caves holds the position of Distinguished Professor in physics at the University of New Mexico.[1] He is notable for his work in the areas of physics of information; information,[2] entropy, and complexity; quantum information theory; quantum chaos, quantum optics; theory of non-classical light; theory of quantum noise; and the quantum theory of measurement."



'via Blog this'

[quant-ph/0608190] Subjective probability and quantum certainty

[quant-ph/0608190] Subjective probability and quantum certainty:



In the Bayesian approach to quantum mechanics, probabilities--and thus quantum states--represent an agent's degrees of belief, rather than corresponding to objective properties of physical systems. In this paper we investigate the concept of certainty in quantum mechanics. Particularly, we show how the probability-1 predictions derived from pure quantum states highlight a fundamental difference between our Bayesian approach, on the one hand, and Copenhagen and similar interpretations on the other. We first review the main arguments for the general claim that probabilities always represent degrees of belief. We then argue that a quantum state prepared by some physical device always depends on an agent's prior beliefs, implying that the probability-1 predictions derived from that state also depend on the agent's prior beliefs. Quantum certainty is therefore always some agent's certainty. Conversely, if facts about an experimental setup could imply agent-independent certainty for a measurement outcome, as in many Copenhagen-like interpretations, that outcome would effectively correspond to a preexisting system property. The idea that measurement outcomes occurring with certainty correspond to preexisting system properties is, however, in conflict with locality. We emphasize this by giving a version of an argument of Stairs [A. Stairs, Phil. Sci. 50, 578 (1983)], which applies the Kochen-Specker theorem to an entangled bipartite system.



'via Blog this'

Prehistoric Skeleton in Mexico Is Said to Link Modern Native Americans to Siberians - NYTimes.com

Prehistoric Skeleton in Mexico Is Said to Link Modern Native Americans to Siberians - NYTimes.com:



 "Most geneticists agree that Native Americans are descended from Siberians who crossed into America 26,000 to 18,000 years ago via a land bridge over the Bering Strait. But while genetic analysis of modern Native Americans lends support to this idea, strong fossil evidence has been lacking."



'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Citigroup Says It Has Fired 12 in Mexico Over Fraud - NYTimes.com

Citigroup Says It Has Fired 12 in Mexico Over Fraud - NYTimes.com:



 "Citigroup disclosed on Wednesday that it had fired a total of 12 employees in Mexico, including some senior executives, in connection with a $400 million fraud involving a Mexican oil services company."



'via Blog this'

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

[1405.2334] The Legacy of M. P. Bronstein: on relativistic wave equations for spin 2 fields and some comments

[1405.2334] The Legacy of M. P. Bronstein: on relativistic wave equations for spin 2 fields and some comments:



 "We briefly give a very simple picture about one of the most remarkable results of Matvej Petrovich Bronstein concerning the quantization of the gravitational waves showing also that the linearized Einstein equations of the paper: Phys.Rev. D65 (2002) 104005 are the same Bronstein's equations given 66 years before."



'via Blog this'

[1309.2623] Improved Determination of the Neutron Lifetime

[1309.2623] Improved Determination of the Neutron Lifetime:



The most precise determination of the neutron lifetime using the beam method was completed in 2005 and reported a result of τn=(886.3±1.2[stat]±3.2[syst]) s. The dominant uncertainties were attributed to the absolute determination of the fluence of the neutron beam (2.7 s). The fluence was measured with a neutron monitor that counted the neutron-induced charged particles from absorption in a thin, well-characterized 6Li deposit. The detection efficiency of the monitor was calculated from the areal density of the deposit, the detector solid angle, and the evaluated nuclear data file, ENDF/B-VI 6Li(n,t)4He thermal neutron cross section. In the current work, we have measured the detection efficiency of the same monitor used in the neutron lifetime measurement with a second, totally-absorbing neutron detector. This direct approach does not rely on the 6Li(n,t)4He cross section or any other nuclear data. The detection efficiency is consistent with the value used in 2005 but was measured with a precision of 0.057 %, which represents a five-fold improvement in the uncertainty. We have verified the temporal stability of the neutron monitor through ancillary measurements, allowing us to apply the measured neutron monitor efficiency to the lifetime result from the 2005 experiment. The updated lifetime is τn=(887.7±1.2[stat]±1.9[syst])



'via Blog this'

Neutron Death Mystery Has Physicists Stymied - Scientific American

Neutron Death Mystery Has Physicists Stymied - Scientific American:



 "Beam experiments have been going on for more than 30 years, with the leaders in the field located at NIST. Their best, latest beam results, published in 2013, measured the neutron lifetime at 887.7 seconds, plus or minus 3.1 seconds. Bottle experiments, in contrast, go back only about 15 years but have already posted results with higher precision than beam findings. The best result to date from a bottle experiment came in 2008 from a collaboration between the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia, along with the Institut Max von Laue Paul Langevin (ILL) in France. That team measured the neutron lifetime at 878.5 seconds, plus or minus one second."



'via Blog this'

Finder of New Worlds - NYTimes.com

Finder of New Worlds - NYTimes.com:



 "“Kepler taught us that planets are common. We didn’t know that.”"



'via Blog this'

Looks Like Rain Again. And Again. - NYTimes.com

Looks Like Rain Again. And Again. - NYTimes.com:



"The future, it would seem, has arrived."



'via Blog this'

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Crazy Climate Economics

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Continue reading the main story
Everywhere you look these days, you see Marxism on the rise. Well, O.K., maybe you don’t — but conservatives do. If you so much as mention income inequality, you’ll be denounced as the second coming of Joseph Stalin; Rick Santorum has declared that any use of the word “class” is “Marxism talk.” In the right’s eyes, sinister motives lurk everywhere — for example, George Will says the only reason progressives favor trains is their goal of “diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.”
So it goes without saying that Obamacare, based on ideas originally developed at the Heritage Foundation, is a Marxist scheme — why, requiring that people purchase insurance is practically the same as sending them to gulags.
And just wait until the Environmental Protection Agency announces rules intended to slow the pace of climate change.
Until now, the right’s climate craziness has mainly been focused on attacking the science. And it has been quite a spectacle: At this point almost all card-carrying conservatives endorse the view that climate change is a gigantic hoax, that thousands of research papers showing a warming planet — 97 percent of the literature — are the product of a vast international conspiracy. But as the Obama administration moves toward actually doing something based on that science, crazy climate economics will come into its own.
You can already get a taste of what’s coming in the dissenting opinions from a recent Supreme Court ruling on power-plant pollution. A majority of the justices agreed that the E.P.A. has the right to regulate smog from coal-fired power plants, which drifts across state lines. But Justice Scalia didn’t just dissent; he suggested that the E.P.A.’s proposed rule — which would tie the size of required smog reductions to cost — reflected the Marxist concept of “from each according to his ability.” Taking cost into consideration is Marxist? Who knew?
And you can just imagine what will happen when the E.P.A., buoyed by the smog ruling, moves on to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
What do I mean by crazy climate economics?
First, we’ll see any effort to limit pollution denounced as a tyrannical act. Pollution wasn’t always a deeply partisan issue: Economists in the George W. Bush administration wrote paeans to “market based” pollution controls, and in 2008 John McCain made proposals for cap-and-trade limits on greenhouse gases part of his presidential campaign. But when House Democrats actually passed a cap-and-trade bill in 2009, it was attacked as, you guessed it, Marxist. And these days Republicans come out in force to oppose even the most obviously needed regulations, like the plan to reduce the pollution that’s killing Chesapeake Bay.
Second, we’ll see claims that any effort to limit emissions will have what Senator Marco Rubio is already calling “a devastating impact on our economy.”
Why is this crazy? Normally, conservatives extol the magic of markets and the adaptability of the private sector, which is supposedly able to transcend with ease any constraints posed by, say, limited supplies of natural resources. But as soon as anyone proposes adding a few limits to reflect environmental issues — such as a cap on carbon emissions — those all-capable corporations supposedly lose any ability to cope with change.
Now, the rules the E.P.A. is likely to impose won’t give the private sector as much flexibility as it would have had in dealing with an economywide carbon cap or emissions tax. But Republicans have only themselves to blame: Their scorched-earth opposition to any kind of climate policy has left executive action by the White House as the only route forward.

Furthermore, it turns out that focusing climate policy on coal-fired power plants isn’t bad as a first step. Such plants aren’t the only source of greenhouse gas emissions, but they’re a large part of the problem — and the best estimates we have of the path forward suggest that reducing power-plant emissions will be a large part of any solution.
What about the argument that unilateral U.S. action won’t work, because China is the real problem? It’s true that we’re no longer No. 1 in greenhouse gases — but we’re still a strong No. 2. Furthermore, U.S. action on climate is a necessary first step toward a broader international agreement, which will surely include sanctions on countries that don’t participate.
So the coming firestorm over new power-plant regulations won’t be a genuine debate — just as there isn’t a genuine debate about climate science. Instead, the airwaves will be filled with conspiracy theories and wild claims about costs, all of which should be ignored. Climate policy may finally be getting somewhere; let’s not let crazy climate economics get in the way.

Crazy Climate Economics - NYTimes.com

Crazy Climate Economics - NYTimes.com:



 "Everywhere you look these days, you see Marxism on the rise. Well, O.K., maybe you don’t — but conservatives do. If you so much as mention income inequality, you’ll be denounced as the second coming of Joseph Stalin; Rick Santorum has declared that any use of the word “class” is “Marxism talk.” In the right’s eyes, sinister motives lurk everywhere — for example, George Will says the only reason progressives favor trains is their goal of “diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.”"



'via Blog this'

Krugman on Physics

 

Already in the Lowflation Trap

Dean Baker, reacting to Neil Irwin, feels that he needs to make the perennial point that zero inflation is not some kind of economic Rubicon. Below-target inflation is already a problem, and a very serious problem if you don’t have an easy way to provide economic stimulus.
Think about it. Suppose that you have a 2 percent inflation target, but you’ve cut interest rates close to zero and the inflation rate is 1 percent and falling. Then you’re already experiencing a cumulative process that will pull you deeper into the trap unless you get lucky.
How so? Actually, a couple of mechanisms. As inflation falls, real interest rates will rise, tending to depress the economy further. Also, debtors will find their debt growing because inflation isn’t as high as they expected, so that you have a debt-deflation cycle even if you don’t yet have deflation.
So Europe’s low and falling inflation isn’t a problem because it might turn into deflation — it’s a problem because of what it’s doing right now.
Oh, and a word on Sweden, where the central bank is indeed on the edge of deflation but say never mind because output is currently growing. Um, does the bank have an inflation target or doesn’t it? Yes, the economy can expand some of the time even if inflation is below target — but because the inflation rate is low, there isn’t as much room to respond to adverse shocks. So missing the target is a policy failure whatever the current output indicators.
Anyway, back to Europe: it’s not that something could go wrong, but the fact that it already has gone wrong.
And remember, above all, that the risks aren’t symmetric. Controlling inflation may be painful, but we do know how to do it. Exiting deflation or lowflation is really, really hard, which is why you never want to go there.

Abusing Relativity

Jonathan Chait has an extended discussion and takedown of the Fox News All-Star Panel reaction to the National Climate Assessment, which I won’t try to summarize. But I do want to delve a bit more into one point. Chait quotes Charles Krauthammer dismissing the scientific consensus because
99 percent of physicists were convinced that space and time were fixed until Einstein working in a patent office wrote a paper in which he showed that they are not.
As Chait notes, this logic would lead you to dismiss all science — hey, maybe tomorrow someone will write a paper showing that the germ theory of disease is all wrong, so why bother with sterilized instruments in the hospital? But there’s something else wrong here — the complete misunderstanding of what Einstein did.
Yes, Einstein showed that space and time were relative concepts. But did he show that everything physicists had been doing up to that point was all wrong? Of course not — classical physics was an incredibly useful and successful field, and almost none of what it said had to change in light of relativity. True, Einstein showed that it was a special case — but one that applied almost perfectly at the speeds and accelerations we encounter in normal conditions.
So if we had an Einstein equivalent in climate science, he or she would find that existing models were right in 99.9% of what they assert, even though under extreme conditions they might be misleading.
Or maybe the simpler way to put it is, Dr. Krauthammer, you’re no Einstein.

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