Category Archives: Physics

Physicist Stephen Hawking Defended “Socialized” Health Care Over US-style For-Profit System

Prof. Stephen Hawking presenting keynote address before an audience at the Royal Society of Medicine’s “Talk NHS” forum, London, England, 19 August 2017. (Screenshot from RSM video by IWPCHI)

Astrophysicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking was globally renowned as a brilliant scientist and tremendously courageous and heroic human being; and these attributes were expressed through his life-long political activism as well.   A citizen of the UK, he was a supporter of the bourgeois-reformist Labour Party.

His Wikipedia entry lists his political interests as encompassing everything from nuclear disarmament and environmentalism (he supported Al Gore in 2000) to opposing the Gulf War to supporting the academic boycott of Israel.   During the 2016 presidential elections in the US he opposed Donald Trump.  And in the final year of his life he was preparing to participate in a legal case in which he planned to defend the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) against moves by the Tory government of Theresa May to privatize it.

Last August, Hawking gave the keynote address at London’s Royal Society of Medicine  as part of a symposium called “Talk NHS: A Public Debate on the Past, Present and Future of the NHS”.   In it he described the long, debilitating progression of the disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) which robbed him first of his ability to walk, then to feed himself and eventually almost completely paralyzed him and left him unable to talk – and how, thanks to the UK’s NHS, he was able not just to survive but to take a leading role in making the many tremendous discoveries in cosmology that made him famous.

We publish here our own transcription of the last third of his 19 August 2017 Royal Society of Medicine keynote address in which he defends the NHS and states his principled opposition to the privatized health care system of the United States.  (In the video we linked to above, this part of his speech starts at approximately 22:22).

In an effort to “prove” to US workers in favor of it that “socialized medicine doesn’t work”, the US capitalist “Investor’s Business Daily” published an article claiming that Stephen Hawking had denounced the NHS.  The IBD’s plan misfired when Hawking responded angrily and publicly against this falsification of his actual political stand in favor of univesral health care.

At the time of his death he was preparing to defend the NHS against Tory health minister (and serial Hawking nemesis) Jeremy Hunt in a court hearing.

As socialists, we agree with Professor Hawking that a for-profit health care system is inherently less efficient and cost-effective than a “socialized” state-run system, due to the fact that, as he says, “the more profit is extracted from the system, the more private monopolies grow, and the more expensive health care becomes.”  Under a truly socialist system, even greater efficiencies can be obtained as all large-scale enterprises would be democratically run for the benefit of the entire working class, rather than for the financial benefit of a tiny minority of capitalists.  Not only the hospitals need to be “socialized” but the pharmaceutical industry as well as all the companies that manufacture everything needed for patient care, from syringes to MRI machines.  “Universal health care” programs must always exist under capitalism at the mercy of the willingness of the capitalist class to fund them; only while the working class can maintain sufficient political pressure to force the capitalists to do so will those programs remain in existence.  As capitalism goes through its inevitable “boom-and-bust” cycles, workers will be forced by the capitalists to suffer cuts to the health care programs and other vital social programs  in “bad” economic times, and must then fight like hell in “good” economic times to have the cuts restored.  This pointless back-and-forth toying with the vital needs of the working class will continue until it is resolved permanently in favor of the working class majority through a socialist revolution that places the working class permanently in power.

— IWPCHI

********************

Professor Stephen Hawking – ‘Talk NHS’ Keynote Lecture

Transcript starts at 22:22

[…]

So you see that I have had a lot of experience of the NHS; and the care I received has enabled me to live my life as I want, and to contribute to major advances in our understanding of the Universe.

Sometimes I have had to challenge medical opinion to get the care I need; but the important thing is that the principles of the NHS mean that there is good care available and that it is provided at the point of need to everyone without regard for personal circumstance or ability to pay. These are the principles of universal and comprehensive provision on which the NHS was founded.

It is important that care is available without any of the added burdens for people that come with private health insurance. To be able to access that care from doctors in hospitals without having to go through an intermediary in the form of an insurance company, or deal with massive amounts of paperwork – before and after – is crucial to good health. [Applause]

My team and I have had experience of dealing with health insurance companies in the U.S.; and that experience shows that a health insurance company will try its best not to pay.

As well as my direct experiences, I have medically-trained nursing staff in my care team; and so I hear about changes in the NHS through them. I am aware of the increase in private provision of care – and the inefficiency that causes. The huge increase in the use of private agency staff, for example, inevitably means that money is extracted from the system as profit for the agency, and increases costs for the whole country.

Personally, I have had an unhappy experience with an American-owned, profit-driven nursing agency. They were eager for my custom, but made a number of errors and withdrew their service at short notice after eight months.

In September 2016, together with Professor Robert Winston and Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, I co-signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper calling for health care policy to be based on peer-reviewed research and proper evidence. [Applause]

The specific issue on which the letter was based was the so-called “weekend effect”. Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt had claimed that thousands of patients die unnecessarily because of poor hospital care at the weekend. He used this as an argument that we need to implement a “seven-day-a-week NHS”.

I had mixed feelings about the issue. Having spent a lot of time in the hospital, I would like there to be more services available in hospitals at weekends. It has been frustrating for me personally when everything slows down at the weekend in hospital. Also, it seems possible that some patients spend more time in hospital than is necessary because certain diagnostic tests can only be done on weekdays. So, in principle, a seven-day service could be of benefit to patients, and to the NHS as a whole.

However, any change like this must be properly researched, its benefits over the current system must be argued for and evidence for them presented, and the implementation properly planned, costed, and the necessary resources provided. If there are no more doctors and nurses, for example, then a seven-day NHS will necessarily mean fewer staff and a worse service on weekdays.

There has been no proper due diligence done in the case of the so-called “seven-day NHS” – and that was the whole point of our letter and the reason I signed it. Let me quote from the letter, as it illustrates a further point I want to make.  We wrote:

“The evidence for these claims is not supported by reliable research. Of the eight papers cited by Hunt, only four are peer-reviewed […]  Three use data from the same population and are not independent, with just two from the last decade. The remainder are not peer-reviewed medical literature, [and are only] opinion pieces […] Critically, when his claims began, at least 13 independent, peer-reviewed papers were available to the Secretary of State that refute his definition of a ‘weekend effect’.

“Hunt has ‘cherry-picked’ research…”

Speaking as a scientist, “cherry-picking” evidence is unacceptable. [Applause] When public figures abuse scientific argument – citing some studies but suppressing others to justify policies that they want to implement for other reasons – it debases scientific culture. One consequence of this sort of behavior is that it leads ordinary people to not trust science at a time when scientific research and progress is more important than ever given the challenges that we face as a human race.

There are two ways to think about a national health care system: one is that the most humane and civilized system is one in which all people are provided for equally based only on their needs no matter who they are, rich or poor, young or old. I believe this and have made public statements that we must prevent the establishment of a “two-tier” system with the best medicine for the wealthy and an inferior service for the rest.

The other way to think is that a health care system needs to be organized in the most efficient way, so that there is as little waste of labor and resources as possible.

International comparisons indicate that the most efficient way to provide good health care is for services to be publicly-funded and publicly-run. [Applause] The more profit is extracted from the system, the more private monopolies grow, and the more expensive health care becomes. For that reason I have also made public statements that the NHS must be preserved from commercial interests and protected from those who want to privatise it.

So, these two things coincide: the most humane system is the most efficient system. This means that when politicians and private health care industry lobbyists claim that “we can not afford the NHS”, this is the exact inversion of the truth. [Applause] We can not afford not to have the NHS. A publicly-provided, publicly-run system is the most efficient and therefore a more cost-effective way to provide good health care for all.

What is to be done? A physicist like me analyses a system in terms of levels of approximation. The NHS and the question of how to provide good-quality health care to everyone is hugely complex; that doesn’t mean that we can not understand it in broad terms.

To a first approximation, then, one can see the situation facing health care in this country in terms of forces with different interests. The future will be determined by the relative strength of those forces. On the one hand there is the force of the multi-national corporations which are driven by their profit motive. In the U.S., where they are dominant in the health care system, the corporations make enormous profits, health care is not universal, and is hugely more expensive for the outcomes than in the UK. We see that the direction in the UK is towards the U.S.-style insurance system, run by the private companies – and that is because the balance of power right now is with the private companies.

On the other hand, there is the force of the public and of democracy. Opinion polls consistently show that the majority of the public agrees with me and is in favor of a publicly-provided NHS, and opposes privatisation and a “two-tier” system. So the public already supports the core principles of the NHS as the fairest system; and so what the public needs is the knowledge that this is also the most efficient and cost-effective system.

As I understand, many here today – including a group called “Bring Back the NHS” – are part of a growing movement to empower the public with exactly that knowledge as the NHS reaches its seventieth birthday next year.

Thank you for listening.

[Applause. Standing ovation.]

Advertisements

Unions Organize “Get Out the Vote” Campaigns for Racist, Union-hating Democratic Party Owned and Operated by the Capitalist Class

US union membership as pct of total employed 1983-2013 Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Three decades of failure: This is what pro-capitalist AFL-CIO’s support for the Democrats has done for the US working class.  US union membership as pct of total employed 1983-2013 Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the run-up to the elections this November we are seeing more and more Tweets from US trade unions urging workers to “get out the vote” and desperately explaining to their members how critically important it is to support the Democratic Party – the “party of Labor” – or else the Republicans will control Congress and then… what, exactly?

As part of the revolutionary socialist Trotskyist movement we understand that the way to determine whether or not a political party supports or opposes the class interests of the workers is to examine the leadership and program of that party to see which side of the class line that organization lives on.  In the case of the Democratic Party, it’s an easy call: the Democrats are every bit as pro-business and anti-worker as the Republicans.  They actively seek – and receive – the financial support of major US corporations, banks and Wall St. speculators just as the Republicans do.   Pro-Democrat liberal author Gore Vidal described the US political system as a one-party system with two right wings, which is exactly the case.  Both political parties are owned and operated by the same filthy rich members of the US capitalist class, who hedge their investments in politics by purchasing all the politicians from both parties.  What the working class needs in order to effectively operate politically in a capitalist nation state like the US is to have its very own independent party of the working class – financed and led by working class leaders who refuse to take money or accept favors of any kind from the capitalist class.  Of course, this is precisely what the US capitalist class and their political gangsters in the Democratic and Republican parties have always literally killed in order to keep from happening.  What most workers don’t understand is that the so-called leaders of the US trade union movement, the vast majority of whom are themselves pro-capitalist and in the pay of the capitalist class one way or another, have absolutely no intention of ever allowing “their” workers to form a working class political party separate from the Democratic Party.  That is why so many unions have special clauses in their bylaws that specifically ban communists and those who call for the overthrow of the capitalist system from union membership.  You can be a Nazi and be in the union; you can be a Klan member; but you can’t be a commie!  That’s because neither the Klan or the Nazis represent a threat to the class rule of the capitalist class; only the communists do.

By now, any typically brainwashed pro-Democrat worker is probably thinking: “ah, that’s just the same old garbage the commies have always spouted!  Where’s the proof?”  They and you have never seen it, because the pro-capitalist news media – also controlled by the capitalist class – as well as your own union leaders keep this information hidden from you so that they can get you to vote for and continue to profit from the very same capitalist system that forces each and every member of the US working class to remain a loyal, flag-waving debt- and wage-slave.

Who really owns and runs the Democratic Party: the working class or the capitalist class?  Do the leaders of the Democratic Party derive their key support from you, the workers manning their phone banks or do they derive it from the 1% who own most of the wealth in the US and who systematically rob you blind at work, school and everywhere you go?  We’ll get to that shortly – but first here’s a bit of the history of the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party has for decades been trying to shed its rather recently and quite falsely acquired liberal, pro-worker image and to replace it with a more vicious pro-business program so as to successfully compete for national offices against the Republicans.  The idea that the Democratic Party is a “friend of labor” has always been a lie – the Democratic Party was in fact the party not of “labor” but of the slaveholding southern aristocracy that led the Confederate States of America.  After the slaveocracy lost the Civil War, they patched things up with the northern industrialists who led the Union forces against them and quickly led the fight to smash any attempt to allow the newly-freed slaves to attain equal rights with whites.  The men who became the leaders of the Democratic Party  during the short-lived Reconstruction era  were often Ku Klux Klan members or sympathisers who hailed and alibied the torture and murder of  thousands of men and women who had gone South after the war to attempt to build schools and social service organizations to help the emancipated slaves take their rightful place in the political and social life of the nation.  The “Ku Klux Conspiracy” as it was called by the Radical Republican-led Reconstruction Congress that investigated it was a widespread conspiracy of pro-Confederacy southerners (Democrats) who drove freed blacks back into conditions of life just as brutally oppressive as had existed under slavery  – the Jim Crow system.

After the Civil War black workers began to participate for the first time in the political life of the nation – not as Democrats but as Republicans.  Until the late 1930s when the tepidly pro-labor New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was promulgated – solely in order to prevent the rapidly growing, communist-led Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) unions from leading a workers revolution – you couldn’t hardly find a black Democrat in the United States!  The massive union organizing drive of the 1930s, often led by communists, caused the populist northern leaders of the Democratic Party to shift rapidly to the left in order to keep their positions as leaders of the political machines in cities like Chicago, New York and Boston; but they never stopped trying to crush the workers movement.

In 1938 leading Democrats in Congress formed the Dies Committee.  This cabal of red-baiting, worker-hating servants of the capitalist class originally pretended that it would “democratically” hunt down “extremists” of all kinds – reds, Nazis and Klansmen.  But it was run by two virulently racist Dixiecrats  – one from Texas (Congressman Martin Dies, Jr.) and one from Mississippi (Congressman John E. Rankin) – who quickly decided that it wasn’t necessary to go after the Klan after all because, as Rankin later put it: ” “the KKK is an old American institution.”

Having grudgingly tolerated the existence of communist-led unions during WWII when those unions were enforcing a no-strike pledge in the vital (and hugely profitable) war industries, as soon as  the war was brought to a close by Democrat Harry Truman’s repulsive and militarily unnecessary use of the A-bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, these Democratic Party political swindlers undertook to drive the communists out of the unions, eviscerating their militant leadership (this is a major reason why trade union membership peaked as a percentage of the total US working class around 1948).  Changing the name of the Dies Committee to the  “House Un-American Activities Committee” (HUAC), a series of bipartisan anti-communist witchhunts were organized.  This committee, too, was loaded with “pro-labor” Dixiecrats and northern Democrats.  Between 1945 and 1963 when HUAC was most active, 4 out of 5 of its chairmen were Democrats.

Need more information about the fake pro-labor history of the Democrats?  Infamous and widely-hated Wisconsin Republican  Joseph McCarthy, who led a parallel Senate anti-communist witch-hunting committee called the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), found powerful support for his activities among many US Catholics – including an up-and-coming Massachusetts family:

From Wikipedia: “McCarthy established a bond with the powerful Kennedy family, which had high visibility among Catholics. McCarthy became a close friend of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., himself a fervent anti-Communist, and was a frequent guest at the Kennedy compound […] He dated two of Kennedy’s daughters […] and was godfather to Robert F. Kennedy’s first child, Kathleen […] John F. Kennedy, who served in the Senate with McCarthy from 1953 until the latter’s death in 1957, never attacked McCarthy […] When a speaker at a February 1952 Final club dinner stated that he was glad McCarthy had not attended Harvard […] an angry [JFK]  jumped up, denounced the speaker, and left the event.”

Liberal demigod and arch-anticommunist Robert F. Kennedy infamously attacked major trade unions as being “gangster controlled” throughout the late 50s (as chief counsel for McCarthy’s PSI) and early ’60s (as his brother John’s Attorney General), leading attacks especially against the Teamsters union headed at the time by Jimmy Hoffa.  So much for the history of the “pro-labor” Democrats!

Who owns and operates the Democratic Party Today?

Far from being a “party of labor” today’s Democratic Party is more and more nakedly seeking to drive the liberals and pro-union forces out of the party and replace them and their money with cold, hard cash direct from the top capitalists – the one-percenters.

This isn’t something new.   In an article written in 2001 for “The American Prospect” entitled  “How the DLC Does It”,  Robert Dreyfuss exposed the phoniness of the Democratic Party’s pretense of being “the party of labor” by exposing the true nature of what were then called “the Democratic Leadership Council”:

“Freeing Democrats from being, well, Democrats has been the Democratic Leadership Council’s mission since its founding 16 years ago by Al Gore, Chuck Robb, and a handful of other conservative, mostly southern Dems as a rump faction of disaffected elected officials and party activists. Producing and directing the DLC is Al From, its founder and CEO, who’s been the leader, visionary, and energizing force behind the New Democrat movement since Day One. A veteran of the Carter White House and Capitol Hill, where he’d worked for Louisiana Representative Gillis Long and served as executive director of the House Democratic Caucus, From helped build the Committee on Party Effectiveness, a forerunner of the DLC, in the early 1980s. To From, a key rationale for establishing the DLC in those days was to protect the Democrats’ eroding bastion in the South against mounting Republican gains, and indeed one of the DLC’s chief projects in the 1980s was to create and promote the Super Tuesday primary across the South, aimed at enhancing the clout of southern Dems in selecting presidential candidates.

“Privately funded and operating as an extraparty organization without official Democratic sanction, and calling themselves ‘New Democrats,’ the DLC sought nothing less than the miraculous: the transubstantiation of America’s oldest political party. Though the DLC painted itself using the palette of the liberal left–as ‘an effort to revive the Democratic Party’s progressive tradition,’ with New Democrats being the ‘trustees of the real tradition of the Democratic Party’–its mission was far more confrontational. With few resources, and taking heavy flak from the big guns of the Democratic left, the DLC proclaimed its intention, Mighty Mouse–style, to rescue the Democratic Party from the influence of 1960s-era activists and the AFL-CIO, to ease its identification with hot-button social issues, and, perhaps most centrally, to reinvent the party as one pledged to fiscal restraint, less government, and a probusiness, pro–free market outlook.

“It’s hard to argue that they haven’t succeeded.”

Dreyfuss goes on to describe how the DLC worked for Bill Clinton by convincing corporate America that the era of “New Deal Democrats” was over:

“[T]he DLC message of pro-market moderation is just what organized business wants to hear. From its modest beginnings–with a start-up budget of just $400,000 in its first year, cobbled together at fundraisers starring Robb, former President Jimmy Carter, and K Street Democratic eminence Bob Strauss–the DLC patiently cultivated wealthy individuals and corporate backers. By 1990 the combined DLC-PPI operation boasted revenues of $2.2 million, a big chunk of which came from a single source, New York hedge fund operator Michael Steinhardt, who pledged $500,000 a year for three years […]

“One by one, Fortune 500 corporate backers saw the DLC as a good investment. By 1990 major firms like AT&T and Philip Morris were important donors. Indeed, according to Reinventing Democrats, Kenneth S. Baer’s history of the DLC, Al From used the organization’s fundraising prowess as blandishment to attract an ambitious young Arkansas governor to replace Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia as DLC chairman. Drawing heavily on internal memos written by From, Bruce Reed, and other DLCers, Baer says that the DLC offered Clinton not only a national platform for his presidential aspirations but ‘entree into the Washington and New York fundraising communities.’  Early in the 1992 primaries, writes Baer, ‘financially, Clinton’s key Wall Street support was almost exclusively DLC-based,’ especially at firms like New York’s Goldman, Sachs.

“The DLC’s investment in Clinton paid off, of course, after the 1992 election. Not only did the DLC bask in its status as idea factory and influence broker for the White House, but it also reaped immediate financial rewards. One month after the election, Clinton headlined a fundraising dinner for the DLC that drew 2,200 to Washington’s Union Station, where tables went for $15,000 apiece. Corporate officials and lobbyists were lined up to meet the new White House occupant, including 139 trade associations, law firms, and companies who kicked in more than $2 million, for a total of $3.3 million raised in a single evening. The DLC-PPI’s revenues climbed steadily upward, reaching $5 million in 1996 and, according to its most recent available tax returns, $6.3 million for 1999. ‘Our revenues for 2000 will probably end up around $7.2 million,’ says Chuck Alston, the DLC’s executive director.”

 

Today, of course, the Democratic Party’s fundraising from corporate donors far exceeds these paltry numbers.

Want some more proof that the Democratic Party is not the “party of labor”?  OK, check out this more recent analysis of today’s Democratic Party from four years ago:

“As Congress entered the final weeks of its struggle to overhaul regulation of Wall Street in May, several hundred friends and colleagues slipped out of Washington for a private weekend on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Most were lobbyists for large banks, pharmaceutical firms, insurance companies, and big-ticket trade groups. However, 28 were members of Congress, and 29 were legislative staffers, all part of a coalition of House Democrats with a business-friendly agenda.

“The retreat was held in honor of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 69 lawmakers whose close relationship with several hundred Washington lobbyists has made their organization one of the most successful political money machines since the Republican K Street Project collapsed in 2007. In the past year and a half, New Democrats have pulled in more than $18 million in campaign contributions from their lobbyist fundraising network. The lobbyists, in turn, have mingled with lawmakers and their staffers at least 850 times during fundraising events and informal get-togethers.

“When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007 they promised to usher in a new era that would end the excesses of what they labeled a Republican ‘culture of corruption.’ One of their prime targets was the K Street Project, in which the Republican congressional leadership placed political operatives in lobbying jobs so they could direct money from big business to GOP campaigns in exchange for access to lawmakers for their clients. The project collapsed after Democrats assumed power and several Republican congressmen, staffers, and lobbyists were convicted on corruption charges.

[…]

“Today, however, many of the same techniques and tactics that formed the basis of the K Street Project are still in use, this time by Democrats.”

[Source: ProPublica, “The New Democrats: The Coalition Pharma and Wall Street Love” by Sebastian Jones and Marcus Stern, 25 October 2010]

The article helpfully offered readers such multimedia features as  “Is Your Member of Congress a New Democrat?”  and  “Inside the New Democrats’ $18 Million Fundraising Network” (which now sadly returns a 500 error).

Need something more recent?  No problem!  Vice News has this, published just last May:

“Looking for the fight over the heart and soul of the Democratic Party in the waning days of the Obama administration? Next Tuesday morning, take the elevator to the eighth floor of a downtown Washington, DC, building and step into the offices of America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), the premier lobbying group for some of the largest fracking companies in the world.

“While much of the talk about a progressive revival revolves around populist figures like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senator Elizabeth Warren, there are other, better funded efforts afoot. Corporate titans from finance to natural gas to big retail to telecom are attempting to steer the party, and as the midterms shape up, these interests are pushing to ensure they continue to have wide sway over America’s only viable outlet for center-left expression at the polls. Which brings us to the latest venture in corporate-centered party-building and the group hosting a chat in ANGA’s headquarters: The NewDEAL.

[…]

“This NewDEAL has little in common with President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal platform, which pledged to save capitalism from itself by cracking down on predatory banking institutions and restoring workplace rights for Americans. No, this NewDEAL is a 501(c)(4) issue-advocacy nonprofit, a tax vehicle which allows campaign activity without disclosure of donors, and its name is an acronym for ‘Developing Exceptional American Leaders.’

“The group, touted as a platform to ‘highlight rising pro-business progressives,’ is led by Democrats who have made a name for themselves by bucking the populist trend. They include NewDeal co-chair Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, whose zeal for the charterization of public schools and love of Wall Street makes him indistinguishable from many across the aisle. The other co-chair, Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado, has staked a position in his state’s energy wars as a staunch defender of drillers.

“VICE has obtained a ‘supporter list’ showing donors of the NewDEAL, which reads like a who’s who of corporations seeking government access: Comcast, Fluor, Merck, Microsoft, New York Life, Pfizer, Qualcomm, Verizon, Wal-Mart, the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, among others, including, of course, the host of Tuesday’s event, ANGA.”

[Source: Vice News, “The Democratic Party’s Future is Awash in Dark Money”  by Lee Fang, 16 May 2014]   Sadly, Vice did not decide to share that ‘supporter list’ with their readers.

Wow!  Bet those AFL-CIO “get out the vote” organizers didn’t tell you that the “party of labor” was taking big bucks from Wal-Mart!  Say it ain’t so, ghost of Joe McCarthy!

Working class people hustling votes for the Democrats reminds us of the slaves who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War: a tragic reminder of what happens in the absence of revolutionary leadership of the kind that can be found not among the pro-capitalist misleaders of today’s AFL-CIO trade unions but among the ranks of the revolutionary Trotskyist movement.   This is because it is a fact that revolutionary consciousness does not arise spontaneously in the minds of the working class – it has to be brought from without by professional revolutionaries schooled in the history and art of revolutionary theory and tactics, just as workers can’t come to comprehend  advanced physics just by sitting around watching apples fall out of trees:

“The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labor legislation, etc. The theory of socialism […] grew out of the philosophic, historical, and economic theories elaborated by educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals. By their social status the founders of modern scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia. In the very same way, in Russia, the theoretical doctrine of Social-Democracy arose altogether independently of the spontaneous growth of the working-class movement; it arose as a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of thought among the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia […]  [T]here can be no talk of an independent ideology formulated by the working masses themselves in the process of their movement. This does not mean, of course, that the workers have no part in creating such an ideology. They take part, however, not as workers, but as socialist theoreticians […]; in other words, they take part only when they are able, and to the extent that they are able, more or less, to acquire the knowledge of their age and develop that knowledge. But in order that working men may succeed in this more often, every effort must be made to raise the level of the consciousness of the workers in general; it is necessary that the workers do not confine themselves to the artificially restricted limits of ‘literature for workers’ but that they learn to an increasing degree to master general literature. It would be even truer to say ‘are not confined’, instead of ‘do not confine themselves’, because the workers themselves wish to read and do read all that is written for the intelligentsia, and only a few (bad) intellectuals believe that it is enough ‘for workers’ to be told a few things about factory conditions and to have repeated to them over and over again what has long been known.   [T]he only choice is — either bourgeois or socialist ideology. There is no middle course (for mankind has not created a “third” ideology, and, moreover, in a society torn by class antagonisms there can never be a non-class or an above-class ideology). Hence, to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology. There is much talk of spontaneity. But the spontaneous development of the working-class movement leads to its subordination to bourgeois ideology […]  Without a strong organization skilled in waging political struggle under all circumstances and at all times, there can be no question of that systematic plan of action, illumined by firm principles and steadfastly carried out, which alone is worthy of the name of [revolutionary socialist – IWPCHI] tactics”.

[Source:  Lenin, “What is to be Done?” Emphasis in original]

In short: in order to lead the fight for workers rights the working class needs its own party, a revolutionary workers party that fights intransigently for the objective of a post-capitalist socialist workers government.  The Democratic Party is not a “party of labor” – it is a CAPITALIST party dedicated to the cause of sweet-talking the workers into accepting concessions acceptable to their capitalist masters rather than fighting for the overthrow of the capitalist class,  their wholly-owned subsidiary the Democratic Party and the entire capitalist economic system!  It should be obvious to even a dog that any support given by any working woman or man to the Democratic Party is a betrayal of the working class and a gift to the capitalists, who will return the favor back-handedly: with more exploitation, more unemployment, more war and the resulting destruction of our working-class sisters and brothers and eventually the entire planet.  Stop knocking on those doors for the benefit of those who rob you every day!  Stop calling up your fellow wage-slaves and urging them to vote for the paid lackeys of your common slavemasters!  Break forever with the capitalist class and the Democratic Party!  Break away from the capitalist system once and for all and take off your chains and start fighting for your rights as workers!  Stop supporting the mass murder of your brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Gaza and all over the world!  WAKE UP, FELLOW WORKERS AND UNITE AGAINST OUR COMMON ENEMY: THE CAPITALIST CLASS, THEIR POLITICIANS AND THEIR “LABOR LIEUTENANTS”!  FREE YOURSELVES FROM WAGE AND DEBT SLAVERY!

IWPCHI

50th Anniversary of the Day “The Chickens Came Home to Roost”: Lee Harvey Oswald Speaks

Oh, we’ve had about enough of this nauseating tribute to the late-and-not-at-all-great John F. Kennedy’s assassination!  He was a crappy president who was a staunch anticommunist; he tried to drown the Cuban revolution in blood; then he launched the escalation of the Vietnam War into the long-running crime against humanity that it became (again due to his knee-jerk anticommunism); then he and his brother Bobby nearly plunged the planet into World War III over a handful of Soviet nukes in Cuba.  His “Justice” Department was busy trying to crush the civil rights movement (the FBI was unleashed against Martin Luther King and the Freedom Riders while his brother was Attorney General); JFK was a monumental turd!  Malcolm X was right when he stated to the press, who had asked him what he thought about the assassination, that  “President Kennedy never foresaw that the chickens would come home to roost so soon…Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they always made me glad.”

We couldn’t have put it better.

This week we stumbled across a copy of the New York Times’ version of the much-reviled Warren Committee Report on the Kennedy Assassination, published one month less than a year after Kennedy got what was coming to him.

It’s an interesting book in a historical sense, and it has a section that we thought you might find interesting – Appendix XI – a collection of the reports of interviews held by the Dallas cops, the FBI, the Secret Service and the US Postal Inspector with Lee Harvey Oswald.

Of course, everyone knows that Oswald denied that he had anything to do with either the shootings at Dealey Plaza or the killing of the Dallas cop later that day.  But there is a wealth of information in these interviews that make them interesting reading – including the fact that the FBI had been hounding Oswald and his wife for weeks BEFORE the assassination – they had him under close surveillance since his return from Russia after an abortive attempt at defection.

Oswald also states that he had seen several men – his coworkers and bosses – at the Texas School Book Depository handling a rifle in the days before the Kennedy assassination.  He also burst out in indignation when he was presented with the famous photo of himself holding a rifle in one hand and a copy of the Trotskyist newspaper “The Militant” in the other, denouncing the photo as an obvious fake.  It’s well worth taking a look at – and it’s food for thought that the cops immediately pounced on Oswald and never really seemed to bother to look at anyone else as a suspect in this crime, in a city and region of the US that harbored thousands of men and women who hated Kennedy’s guts for a multitude of reasons.

Enjoy!

WarrenreportAppendixXI_OswaldInterrogations

 

Update on the Higgs Boson Search at CERN: Close, Encouraging, But No Cigar – Yet

Jesus in a jumpsuit!  How did we miss CERN’s announcement last week that they are almost certain that they have, in fact, discovered the Higgs Boson with the Large Hadron Collider?

It wasn’t until today that we stumbled across this article from – of all places! – Voice of America news!  “Scientists Confirm Higgs Boson Discovery” it says!  WTF?  How did that pig fly under our radar?

Well, thank the gods, it wasn’t – quite – true.   In fact – while it does appear that a Higgs Boson has been discovered, it is not quite the Higgs Boson predicted by the Standard Model of physics.  In fact, some measurements of the key parameters of this new particle appear to be around 2 standard deviations away from what was predicted by the Standard Model.

Which is both good news and maybe even better news because the exhaustive assessment of the data obtained from the Large Hadron Collider in Europe just presented to a physics conference in Italy –  Recontres de Moriond  – may be indications of either a yet-unspecified type of Higgs or something not predicted by the Standard Model – which would be really cool, too.  But it’s probably the Standard Model Higgs.  Or maybe not.

THIS is why we didn’t hear about this new “confirmation of the discovery of the Higgs Boson” announcement from CERN – they never made such an announcement.  They are scientists – and not just scientists – physicists!   And not just physicists but particle physicists!   These folk do not run around making grandiose claims without solid evidence to back it up;  and the evidence is encouraging but a bit unclear at this point.  If you go to CERN’s website you’ll notice that this “major announcement” isn’t even on their homepage – it’s under “Past Updates”.    Their article, released on 14 March, 2013 was entitled (read this carefully):  “New results indicate that new particle is a Higgs boson”.

Did you see the difference between this headline and the VOA’s headline?  CERN’s saying that the new particle is “a Higgs Boson”  not “the Higgs boson”  predicted by the Standard Model (SM).  Check out the difference between how cautious scientists are in making their world-shaking announcements as opposed to the usual bombast of the capitalist news media:

“At the Moriond Conference today, the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) presented preliminary new results that further elucidate the particle discovered last year. Having analysed two and a half times more data than was available for the discovery announcement in July, they find that the new particle is looking more and more like a Higgs boson, the particle linked to the mechanism that gives mass to elementary particles. It remains an open question, however, whether this is the Higgs boson of the Standard Model of particle physics, or possibly the lightest of several bosons predicted in some theories that go beyond the Standard Model. Finding the answer to this question will take time.”  [Source: CERN]

Got that?  The new discovery doesn’t fit the theoretical predictions of the Standard Model like a “lead-pipe cinch”, so the team has to go back and re-analyze their work again… and maybe even wait for a couple more years to acquire more precise data from the ATLAS experiment in order to determine the exact nature of this new discovery.  THAT’s how the best science works: through painstaking incremental acquisition of new data and then the careful analysis of that data… and then if there’s any doubt at all as to what has been found, the world just has to wait for more research to be done before any major “discoveries” can be announced.  And, somewhat frustratingly, since the LHC is now shut down until 2015 while it is upgraded – that’s right: upgraded! – in order “to correct some flaws in the original design”, it will be no sooner than 2015 that the next “run” of the LHC can take place.  The upgrades are designed to enable the collider to operate at nearly twice the energy it operates at now, and that added precision of this amazing scientific instrument will hopefully lay to rest the ambiguities of the current data set.

In our somewhat hasty and frenzied search to try to figure out how we missed out on the announcement of one of the most important scientific stories of the past million years, we came across some more very interesting articles on this latest information re: the Higgs, which we will  now share with you.

One of the editors at “Scientific American”, Michael Moyer,  had an excellent article on the latest from CERN on his blog:

“It’s Official: We’ve Found the Higgs Boson – But Which One?”

Mr. Moyer also quite nicely pointed his readers in the direction of this slide presentation on the new findings (given to a conference held in February 2013 at the University of Toyama, Japan) from American scientist Howard E. Haber of UC Santa Cruz:

“Alternative futures for the Higgs Data: Are we approaching or receding from the decoupling limit?” by Howard E. Haber of the University of California at Santa Cruz

Now, that little document  – unless you are a theoretical physicist, that is – will probably set your head a-spinning like a… well, like something other than a Higgs Boson, apparently.  At least it did that to us.  But it’s instructive to read this document and try to glean as much information from it as you can with whatever level of  science education you possess.

EXCLUSIVE: Transcript of NASA News Conference Announcing Discovery of ‘Habitable Environment’ on Mars

We present here a transcript of the science presentations delivered  at a March 12, 2013 press conference  at which NASA Mars Science Laboratory (“Curiosity”) scientists announced that they had discovered evidence of what had been – how long ago may not yet be precisely determined –  a “habitable environment” on Mars.

The discovery – which is NOT the discovery of “life on Mars” – is another step forward towards that goal.  Having now found multiple proofs that water both flowed and pooled on Mars for long enough periods of time to have produced mineral-rich clays of a type very similar to those on Earth (in which, some scientists speculate, early multicellular life forms may have evolved on Earth), the NASA team will now search to confirm some of the most intriguing discoveries recently made, which their Principal Investigator team describes below.  These developments have come quite rapidly from this mission; we expect that there will be many more exciting discoveries made by the Curiosity team in the very near future – and as soon as they occur, we will try to bring the news to you.

As always, this transcript was produced by ourselves from the video on NASA’s USTREAM channel.  It’s still a nearly complete, uncorrected partial transcript; we were not able to complete Dr. Grotzinger’s “wrap up” of the press conference, though we do have the entirety of all the four main science presentations made, including the accompanying graphics.  We also have to go back and research the names of several scientists mentioned during the press conference, whose names we render here phonetically.  We also have not yet been able to listen to or transcribe the highlights of the “question-and-answer” session which took place at the end of these presentations, which you can see by watching the video.  We’ll try to get to that in the next couple of days.  Someday, the working class of the US will see the value in having a political party of their own and will be willing to properly fund such a party, at which time we will be able to do this work full-time for the benefit of the working class.  Until that glorious day dawns upon these United States, we have to continue to work other – far less important – jobs for a living!  All errors of transcription are our own.

IWPCHI

***********************************

[NASA Briefing on Curiosity’s Analysis of Mars Rock – 12 March, 2013.  NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.]

Moderator: Dwayne Brown, NASA Office of Communications

Dr. John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate

Dr. Michael Meyer: Lead Scientist, Mars Exploration Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.

Dr. John Grotzinger: Curiosity Project Scientist, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, California

Dr. David Blake: Principal Investigator, Curiosity’s Chemistry/Mineralogy Instrument (CheMin), NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

Dr. Paul Mahaffy: Principal Investigator, Curiosity’s “Sample Analysis at Mars” (SAM) Instruments, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Dr. Meyer:  “The NASA Mars Exploration Program has progressively approached the red planet from a global perspective to focus exploration of regions, past and present, that exhibit the potential for life.  Every successive mission has boosted our expectations that Mars could have been a ‘habitable planet’: a place that could have supported life.  This program of orbiters and landers have brought us to the point of seeking a habitable environment on Mars.  This is what brought the rover ‘Curiosity’ to Gale Crater.  Mineralogical, and geomorphological evidence from orbit showing that the area had significant amount of water in its’ past.

“As John mentioned, on August 6th, Curiosity landed spectacularly where we wanted in Gale Crater.  Within two months the team found an ancient riverbed: evidence of flowing water.  And we followed that downhill to ‘Yellowknife Bay’.  At the same time, we exercised the rover’s capabilities, tested the instruments for the first time, and doing science along the way.   We have now completed all the ‘first-time’ activities including the first sample drilled on another planet.

“This mission has been a fantastic team effort of engineers and scientists to deliver a highly capable exploration rover to Mars.  The rover is now fully commissioned for science; all the instruments are working; and the ‘keys to the rover’ have been turned over to the science team.  Woo hoo! [sic – lol]  [laughter]

“So, Mars has written the autobiography – its autobiography – in the rocks of Gale Crater; and we have just started deciphering that story.

“So, ‘Chapter One: Yellowknife Bay’:  This was an ancient environment with the right elements (minerals indicating a near-neutral environment) and slightly salty liquid water – all the prerequisites to support life; a habitable environment.  And so for the rest of the story, I’ll turn this over to John.”

Dr. Grotzinger: “Good.  Thanks, Michael. It’s a great science story, as Michael was saying; and I need to start first with acknowledging our colleagues that came before us, and also the entire planetary community that supported this mission.  As you know, developing MSL [Mars Science Laboratory – ed.] was a tremendous challenge and we had plenty of adventures there, but we got the support from our community and we really appreciate that.

I’d also like to thank the ‘Mars community’ and through the leadership of [Mack Donaldbeck?] and John Grant which led to the final selection of landing sites that ulimately led us to Gale, where we have had a terrific time so far – that’s been great.  And also, in particular, the MER mission; ‘Spirit’ and ‘Opportunity’; ‘Mars Express’ and also ‘Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’.  ‘If we have looked farther it’s because we have stood on the shoulders of giants.’  And those missions allowed us to fine-tune our exploration campaign that led us to this place.

Finally, those of us that get to sit up here today are joined by our colleagues back at JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory – ed.] and elsewhere – the other P.I.’s [Principal Investigators – ed.] of the mission, including Ken [Edgett?], Ralph [Gellaert?], Don [Hassler?], Mike Malin, Igor [Mitrofanoff?] and Roger [Wiens?] and Javier [Gomelsavira?].  Every one of the instruments has led into the discovery that we have made here.  Some of those instruments presented back in January when we first talked about the geology and that ChemCam discovered the first evidence for sulfates in this area here.  You’ll hear more results coming out next week at LPSC [?] and then at EGU [European Geophysical Union?] over in Europe, in April, you’ll get to hear more still.

So this has been a very comprehensive exercise and we didn’t just stumble into this area; this is something that took a lot of planning.

O.K.  So let me go to the first display item and bring you back to where we were the night of landing, when we as a community first looked at this slide.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU
Location of John Klein Drill Site

“We had selected as landing site; and the landing ellipse in particular was close to Mt. Sharp, which was considered to be our primary objective.  And so you can think about drilling an oil well here: you don’t just go in with one objective; you need primary objectives and you want secondary objectives.  And we had a secondary objective which was a distal part of this alluvial fan that you see here in the landing ellipse.  And we needed this in the back pocket in order to have the landing site confirmed by the review board, and then eventually accepted by headquarters.  And in case something happened to the rover we needed to make sure we had science to do in that landing ellipse.

“But that was sort of a… you can think of it as a back-up or a secondary objective and it turns out now, in fact, that it had become our primary objective at this point.

“We landed at the… there where it says ‘Curiosity Landing Site’ and we drove just a few hundred meters in the opposite direction.  We did this deliberately.  And this was based on the mapping that the science team did in advance of landing, and based on the previous mapping that came from ‘Odyssey’ and ‘MRO’ and all those great missions before us.  And in this particular case it led to the deliberate discovery.  So it wasn’t ‘serendipity’ or ‘luck’ that got us here; it was the result of planning.

“Now, what Paul and Dave will tell you about is the part that we do consider serendipitous: we had no idea that we were gonna go into the aqueous environment that we were predicting to exist here and also find sulfates and also find clays – and those guys will tell you about it.

“So that’s one of the reasons that we’re gonna be spending some time here.  So let me turn it over to Dave and he can tell you about ChemMin.”

Dr. Blake:  “Well thanks, John.  And, uh, you know, we got really excited when we first saw these uh… bedrock at ‘John Klein’ and saw these concretions and the reason is concretions are evidence of a water-soaked sediment – a soft sediment.  But what kind of an environment was it?  Was it ever habitable for life and if it was, would it preserve the organics for literally billions of years until we came here to take a look, to see if we could see what was there?

If you turn to the first graphic, you can see what made us think we really found something special.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
First Curiosity Drilling Sample in the Scoop

“O.K.: well, this is what we call ‘paydirt’.  This powder in the scoop here is from ‘John Klein’ – the drill powder – and it’s gray-green, meaning that it wasn’t highly oxidized.  And you can see in the back of the scoop there, there’s a little bit of reddish material – this is from the ‘Rocknest’ – and this is highly oxidized.  So anyway what it shows you is that this material was never highly oxidized and therefore if there was organic material present there, it could have been preserved.

The second graphic shows a comparison of the two x-ray diffraction patterns that ChemMin has collected so far.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ames
Minerals at ‘Rocknest’ and ‘John Klein’

“On the left is ‘Rocknest’ soil; and on the right is the pattern we got recently from ‘John Klein’.  You can see they look very similar; and from our analyses we can tell you they both have igneous minerals – feldspar, pyroxine, olivine and magnetite.  What’s different: if you look at the ‘John Klein’ diffraction pattern – down close to the central point there – the intensity is due to clay minerals.  And you see they are labeled ‘Phyllosilicates’.  And we can tell you from our analysis there’s between twenty and thirty percent of a phyllosilicate called ‘smectite’; and that smectite forms in the presence of water – we know that.

In addition, we have evidence of salts like halite and calcium sulfates rather than iron or magnesium sulfates that were found at Meridiani [Crater – ed.].  And this suggests that the water was a relatively neutral pH and, in other words, it was a potential habitable environment.

So all of this is what mineralogy can tell you from an ancient surface that’s billions of years old.

So the next graphic shows you what we think a good terrestrial analogue is for this material we found in ‘Yellowknife Bay’:

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ames
An Earth Analog to Mars’ Yellowknife Bay

The left image shows a clay-bearing sediment deposited in a lake bed in southern Australia; and on the right you see a core of this sediment.  And the different layers in the core represent different changes in mineral composition as the lake sediment was deposited.  And with that, I’ll let Paul talk about what the SAM instrument found.”

Dr. Mahaffy: “Thanks, Dave.  Just delighted to show you some results from SAM.  And I’m gonna explain a little bit about how we did this fairly complex experiment; but I thought it would be fun to bring along what’s a full-sized scale model of SAM – the ‘Sample Analysis at Mars’ experiment.

SAM and ChemMin are both very deep inside of Curiosity, so in these kind of beautiful ‘self-portraits’ that Ken [Enge’s?] camera takes of Curiosity, you don’t see much of SAM and ChemMin.  We have a test bed up at Goddard; you don’t see much of it either because it’s in an environmental chamber – it’s buried deep inside an environment that represents Mars.  So here [gestures towards model of SAM sitting to his left on conference table – ed.] we’ve kind of taken away the aluminum paneling and put on plexiglass and made a model.  And where the experiment starts that I’m gonna describe, we have just a little bit of sample located inside a SAM cup.  And I went last night into Amy [McAdams’?] lab up at Goddard and dug around and found some nontronite, which is a clay mineral of the type that we’re gonna be talking about today.  And I – there was a scale in there and I weighed out forty-five thousandths of a gram of that stuff because that’s about the amount that was in our SAM cup when we analyzed it.

So that’s where the story of this analysis that I’m gonna tell you starts; [begins demonstration, approximately 14:28 in the video – ed.] we have the sample in the cup in SAM – we have loaded it the previous ‘Sol’ (the previous day) – and we’re ready to do our analysis.

So, it’s night on Mars – the rover’s ‘gone to sleep’.  SAM’s kind of a night owl – we like to operate at night and – nobody else there to bother us – but’s it’s also a good thermal environment for some of the intstruments to operate.

And so, we had put the sample in the cup, through this little inlet tube – this vibrates as the sample’s going into the cup.  And then the sample manipulation system developed by our collaborators at Honeybee Robotics is, uh… can be seen down here.  And it turns out that the way the sample gets to the oven is: this little carousel rotates; the sample is dropped into the cup; the oven… the [corret?] cup moves over; and then it raises into
the oven – a very small oven where we take the sample up to the maximum temperature that I’ll show you.

And what we do then is that we start heating up the oven; we get a flow of helium going over the sample; we heat up the oven and then with the mass spectrometer (which is right in this area) we sniff a little bit of that gas and we measure the chemical constituents that come off.  And as we do that we  capture a little bit of gas in our tuneable laser spectrometer that was developed by Chris Webster’s team out at JPL; and we capture a little bit more of the gas in a ‘hydrocarbon trap’ because one of our objectives of this experiment really is to search for organic compounds on Mars.  And we, later, will send this gas to the gas chromatograph… I think I have a button here that will make one of the columns light up… and then the gas goes through those columns and the individual constituents come out one-by-one and then back into the mass spectrometer through a back door, and again we analyze what Mars is made of.

And so, if you go to the first graphic, we’ll show you some of the data.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC
Major Gases Released from Drilled Samples of the “John Klein” Rock

“And this really is just picking out the five major gases that were evolved from the sample.  And let’s start with what’s labeled ‘Water’ on top… but the mass that we’re monitoring – that is ‘mass 18’ (that’s the signature of water).  And you see the temperature scale on the bottom (going all the way up to fifteen hundred degrees Fahrenheit in this case).  And that water is coming off at really high temperature.  And that’s exactly characteristic of the smectite clays and it’s very good confirmation of what the ChemMin saw – we really do have clays here; and about thirty percent of the water that’s coming off is that… is that high-temperature water.

Go down to the lower left: you’ll see a blue trace; that’s oxygen.  We’ve blown it up by about a factor of ten in this case for illustration.  And we did see some oxygen at our ‘Rocknest’ dust pile; and we attribute that to the decomposition of a perchlorate, which is pretty interesting.  It looks like there’s very likely some perchlorate here as well.

The red peak is, likewise, carbon dioxide.  The carbon dioxide is produced either from oxygen reacting with carbon in the sample and making this carbon dioxide, or really the other alternative is the decomposition of carbonate.  And both of those possibilities are just fascinating, so that’s what  we’ll be pursuing as we progress with new samples and so on.

And then, finally, in the bottom right, at higher temperatures, you see masses labeled ’64’ and ’34’.  And those represent an oxidized and a reduced form of sulphur; they represent, respectively, sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide.  And so, that’s just fascinating: we have both oxidized and – much more than in this atmospheric dust – much more reduced sulphur there as well.

What the tuneable laser spectrometer was doing in the meantime in this experiment was measuring the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio in water.  And it… very interesting observation.  We had measured very high deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio in water evolved from the dust; and we understand that as being a signature of a good fraction of water having been lost from the Mars atmosphere over geological time.  And in this sample we see just the lowest deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio that we’ve seen in evolved gas so far; and  so that’s something that we’re gonna definitely be pursuing as we go forward with other samples.

So go to the next slide.  And here’s what the search for organics is looking like.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Chlorinated Forms of Methane at “John Klein” Site

The data looks like… uh… signatures of mass-to-charge, just as I showed in the previous time; but here these compounds are coming out of the end of the gas chromatograph column.  And here we see two compounds that we actually had also detected at ‘Rocknest’: very simple chloromethane and dichloromethane compounds.  And it looks like they’re above the background level; it looks like they’re there.

Uh, we have to be very careful at this point in interpretation.  This was the very first sample that had gone through the Curiosity drill; and so there’s always the possibility that some residual carbon that was on the drill bit made its way into this sample.  So we’re really looking forward to repeating this experiment and seeing if these signatures of simple chloromethane compounds persist.

So, the really good news is the instrument is just working beautifully; it’s a credit to the very talented team that worked hard on not only making this stuff but making it robust and making it work in this very difficult environment on Mars.

So, with that I’ll turn it back to John for some additional comments.”

Dr. Grotzinger:  “Great. Thanks, Paul.  So, what I’d like to do now is sort of set the stage a little bit for what we view in this mission as the transition from the original goal, a decade ago, from the search for water on Mars to, now, the search for habitable environments on Mars.  And if we go to the first display item there…

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/MSSS
Two Different Aqueous Environments

“…what we can see are two rocks separated by a decade of research: the one on the left is from the ‘Opportunity’ rover back in 2004 (a rock called “Wotney”).  And what you see here is a rock – these images have been processed by Mike Malin and Jim Bell with what’s called ‘white balance’ – and it helps bring out our terrestrial intuition to sort of get a sense of what these rocks would look like if they were on Earth.  The one on the left is basically from the sequence of rocks at Meridiani Planum: a rock that is reasonably fine-grained; the particles were either formed in water or transported in water; it was then cemented in water (converted from sediment into rock); and then after that it was fractured and then some of the fractures were filled in with what looks like a relatively thin material (in this particular rock) but then you see all the bumps sticking out.  Those are the famous ‘blueberries’; these things we know are concretions.

“Well it turns out these things are turning up on Mars; and here on the right is our rock in the ‘Yellowknife Bay’ area called ‘Sheepbed’… uh, unit, we’ve named it.  And again you can see it approximately has the same color on the surface; it’s laced with these features that look like concretions to us; and the big difference is, is that you can see in that rock that it has a white veinfill running through it.  That’s the thing that ChemCam first hit; and told us that there were probably sulfates here.  So texturally, you see rocks that were transported in water, formed in water, cemented in water, altered in water and, uh… but that’s what you get on the surface.  And so what we need to do is scratch below the surface and if you go to the next one…

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/MSSS
Studying Habitability in Ancient Martian Environments

“…uh… this is what a decade of engineering gives you.  On the left, there’s a rock that was one of the first rocks that we ever interacted with at Meridiani with the RAT (Rock Abrasion Tool); and on the right we have the drill hole from Curiosity.  And the drill hole’s about one third of the size of  the RAT hole there on the left.

“But the big story is in the powder that’s generated.  And so, as we learned at Meridiani, we have a rock that is composed significantly of hematite in addition to the sulfates – iron-bearing sulfates – that indicate very acidic waters.   On the right, we get to see the ‘new Mars’: the gray Mars, that one that suggests habitability, that has these clays and other minerals present.

“So what, then, do we mean by habitability?  The key thing here is an environment that a microbe could have lived in – and maybe even prospered in.  So there’s three things that we want to point out today that Dave and Paul have shown you. And the first issue comes down to acidity. We don’t see any of the evidence that we have here – the rock on the left; the one from Meridiani?  It’s totally different in the subsurface in this rock on the right: we have the clay minerals (which form in neutral pH); we don’t see the iron sulfates (which indicate acid pH); instead we see calcium sulfate.  This rock, quite frankly, looks like a typical thing that we would get on Earth.  And it’s a neutral pH environment; and I think everybody has a sense of what ‘acidity’ means, but… there are some microbes that exist at very, very low pH’s… ‘but wait, there’s more!’

“And the second point is water activity: this is ‘how much available water there was for a microorganism to live in its environment?’  So with that, I’m gonna pull out a prop here [produces familiar plastic ‘Teddy Bear” container of honey – ed.]: it’s a jar of honey.  Everybody always wonders why it is that a solution of water and sugar can last on the shelf for ever and ever without spoiling.  And the reason why is that even though there’s a lot of water in this honey, there’s not enough that’s available for a microorganism.  And if a microorganism ends up in here, all the water will be sucked out of the cell – it’s this thing called ‘osmosis’ – and the organism won’t be able to live.

Turns out, the rock on the left there?  That’s what we think happened at Meridiani, but instead of sugar we had a salt called ‘magnesium sulfate’.  And there was so much of it that it would have inhibited microorganism[s] that lived there.  That was not a habitable environment.

And then there’s one more thing that we’re really excited about that we found at Meridiani – sorry; at Gale: and, uh… it’s a battery [holds up a typical dry cell battery – ed.].  And basically these minerals that Dave and Paul were telling you about – they’re effectively like batteries.  Some of them are negatively charged and they have various oxidation states; and what we have learned in the last twenty years of modern microbiology is that, very primitive organisms, they can derive energy just by feeding on rocks.  So when Paul talks about ‘sulfate versus sulfide’ and Dave talks about clays and magnetite, these are the kind of things that tell you that there could have been a flow of electrons in the environment, just like on this battery: you hook up the wires and it goes to the light bulb and the light bulb turns on… that’s kinda what a microorganism wouldv’e done in this environment if life had ever evolved on Mars and if it was present here.

So that’s what we mean by ‘habitability’: you take all three of those factors… and to really understand that, that’s what we built this payload for, and that’s what we feel that we have succeeded at.

[Question and answer session]

Q: “NBC in Los Angeles. Can you talk to me a little bit about the area where the rock was found? What would it have been like in ancient times? What would we have seen there?

A: [Dr. Grotzinger]:  OK… so, what we imagined it would have looked like was the picture that Dave showed [“An Earth Analog to Mars’ Yellowknife Bay”, above] we feel is a pretty good representation.  It’s conservative in the sense that it shows a lakebed that’s dry; the lakebed was filled by sediment that’s derived from streams… but we don’t know how long-lived it was; and so that’s always a challenge we’ve got on Mars.  It’s not like the rocks come with numbers on them that tell you how long the water was there, or how much there was there, ultimately.  But we believe that we wound up in this ‘Sheepbed’ unit at a place that was wet for a relatively long period of time – enough for all these chemical reactions to occur.

[…]

Q:  “Irene” from Reuters:  “Congratulations! This is pretty exciting stuff you guys are reporting today.  I have two questions: first is ‘What else needs to be done for analysis of the organics to… you mentioned a little bit about “the assessments were preliminary”; and the second question probably is for John: I know this is not a ‘life detection’ mission but given that you’ve scored a ‘hole-in-one’ so early, how much farther can you push this through the remaining eighteen months of the primary mission?”

[…]

A: [Dr. Grotzinger]:  I guess, Irene, the answer to the second half of the question is to underscore what you said, which is that we’re not a ‘life detection’ mission; if there was microbial metabolism going on, we really wouldn’t have the ability to measure that.  And if there were ancient microfossils in the rock, as good as MAHLI [Mars Hand Lens Imager – ed.] is… I mean it can tell us definitively that ‘we have a mudstone here’ but it would not be able to resolve individual fossil microbes.

What we can do is to survey additional targets that we have picked out; and we still want to go to Mt. Sharp and we hope to get there.  And there are different combinations of minerals that we see fron orbit that give us different prospects, and what I hope will become a burgeoning new field of ‘comparative planetary habitability’.  And what that means is that if you look at how we’ve studied the ancient Earth, and you look at the minerals and compounds and substances that are available, and you look at the ways that different prokaryotic microorganisms can do their metabolism… they use different materials; it’s almost like an organism has evolved to exploit every one of these little ‘rock batteries’ that exist in the record.  And so the question is: how many of these different kinds of ‘batteries’ can we find at Gale Crater?  And I think that really becomes our mission, along with the search for organic compounds.”

[…]

A: [Dr. Meyer (in response to follow-up question)]:  “[…] And as you mentioned, solar conjunction…we’re headed toward that.  Basically, we can’t talk to the rover and the rover talk to us for most of the month of April.  And so, what’s gonna happen is we’ll do some more science activities now – through the end of this month – permitting, with the engineers, confirming that things are safe for us to do those operations, but we will not do another drilling – the second drill hole – until after solar conjunction.  So that… we’re not gonna start that activity until May.”

Moderator: “Our next caller, from the Wall St. Journal, Robert Lee [Huntz?].

Q: ” […] So, gentlemen: in a simple, straightforward declarative sentence… or two, please tell my readers what you have found here and why it is significant.”

A: [general laughter] Dr. Grotzinger: “I can take a… I’ll take a swipe at that. I think we had a … we have found a habitable environment that is so benign and supportive of life that, probably, if this water was around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it.”

[Long pause – ed.]

Moderator: “I think that did it for him.”

[Laughter]

Moderator: “[…] let me take another question from Twitter: ‘The Opportunity rover: ‘three months’ and it’s going on for many, many years.  How long do you think Curiosity could last?’ ”

A: Dr. Meyer: “The half-life of its power is on the order of 84 years.  So I expect the rover to be there to shake the first astronaut’s hand… if the astronaut goes to Gale Crater.”  [laughter]

Moderator: “Next up: New York Times… Kenneth Chang. Ken?”

Q: “[…] I was wondering… given that [these rocks?] had good preservation, was there hope or expectation that they actually would have a stronger organic signal? And what does it mean that you don’t have a stronger signal?”

A: Dr. Mahaffy: […]

A: Dr. Grotzinger: “Kenneth, if I can I’ll just add a little bit to that. Paul’s reference to the early Earth is… you know in our history of exploration there… you have to have a search paradigm.  And that paradigm gets built on your understanding of the processes that result in the preservation of organics in the rock record.  And one of the big things on Earth is that because of plate techtonics we have a lot of heat that exists… that, of course, exists today.  So, a lot of organic compounds are degraded in the presence of that heat.

“On Mars, we actually think the planet cools with time, and so it may not be that heat’s the problem, it may be that radiation is the problem – something that we’re not so affected by on Earth.  So we have these three factors, as I said before.  To reiterate them (I think we’re all gonna have to learn these): the first is the primary concentration mechanism; the second is that all that ‘cool chemistry’ that creates the habitable environment – including the presence of water itself – is not necessarily a good thing for the preservation of organics.  And then the third thing is the radiation environment.  And so our ‘trick’ is to find a place where all three of those things ‘went right’ – and that could take the entire length of this mission… but we’re gonna give it our best.”

[…]

Q: Dr. Jim Green, Director, Planetary Systems Division SMD: “The one question I have, then: based on the observations, uh… what you’ve found out today is, would you say that Mars was habitable before or about the same time as Earth was in the history of the Solar System?”

A: [general chuckling on the panel] Dr. Grotzinger: “That’s a good question, Jim.” [laughter] “I’m not sure we’ll ever really be able to address that with our payload but, uh… you know, we’ve got a couple of different options here for the age of… of… just relative to Mars, how old these things are.  And right now, quite frankly, they go between being as ‘young’ as that alluvial fan lobe that comes down – which I think would be relatively young in the history of Mars – and it could be quite old.  Maybe these rocks are somehow related to the base of Mt. Sharp.  We can’t rule out that we’re looking at the base of Mt. Sharp right now – in a way?  So we’ve got a lot of options open before us… but I think, in any one of those versions, we’re talking about older than three billion years ago; and we’re probably looking at a situation where – plus or minus a couple hundred million years – it’s about the time that we start seeing the first record of life preserved on Earth.  It’s a great comparative planetary question.”

[…]

Q: Craig [Kovalt?] [Space Rep/ Curious Mars?]:  “The question on the clays: it’s one of the more significant findings is that you [had?] abundant water flow through the clay.  Uh… how does that relate to meteorite findings where they had also identified significant water [unintelligible] clays found in Martian meteorites? […]”

A: Dr. Blake: “Well, I think… you know, the clays in Martian meteorites were just… almost trace quantities and… probably… and the Martian meteorites that we’ve seen are mostly purely igneous rocks.  The clays in this rock – which is a mudstone (which was something deposited in a shallow aqueous environment) – are really a major percentage of the rock; and so they really represent a significant process.  Plus… I guess you could call meteorites the ultimate – what we call ‘float rock’: it came from someplace else and we don’t know where it came from.  We know where theis stuff came from: it came from this bedrock in Yellowknife Bay, and so we know that this environment existed in Yellowknife Bay with plenty of water.”

[To be Continued – IWPCHI]

UPDATED: Transcript of NASA 15 February Teleconference on Russian “tiny asteroid” Explosion

[This article is under construction.  We’ll complete it later today eventually; it will hopefully, even in this partially completed form,  answer some questions our readers might have regarding the spectacular explosion of a “tiny asteroid” over Chelyabinsk, Russia yesterday.   The transcript was produced by us from the audio recording; all errors are ours.  UPDATE:  For more information:

This website is the online repository for the conference taking place in Vienna, Austria this week that is discussing future plans to discover, track and possibly intercept Near-Earth Objects, which is mentioned in the teleconference transcript below.  Love the name of this UN program…  the tinfoil-hat crowd will go crazy over this!  And it sounds like a double- or triple- entendre from a James Bond movie; you should always wink and wiggle your eyebrows when you say the name of this UN agency:

UN Office for Outer Space Affairs – Scientific and Technical Subcommittee: 2013 – Fiftieth Session – 11-22 February 2013

– IWPCHI]

[Later on the 15th, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory issued the following update on the Russian meteorite explosion:

Update: February 15, 2013 7pm PST

New information provided by a worldwide network of sensors has allowed scientists to refine their estimates for the size of the object that entered that atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at 7:20:26 p.m. PST, or 10:20:26 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (3:20:26 UTC on Feb. 15).

The estimated size of the object, prior to entering Earth’s atmosphere, has been revised upward from 49 feet (15 meters) to 55 feet (17 meters), and its estimated mass has increased from 7,000 to 10,000 tons. Also, the estimate for energy released during the event has increased by 30 kilotons to nearly 500 kilotons of energy released. These new estimates were generated using new data that had been collected by five additional infrasound stations located around the world – the first recording of the event being in Alaska, over 6,500 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk. The infrasound data indicates that the event, from atmospheric entry to the meteor’s airborne disintegration took 32.5 seconds. The calculations using the infrasound data were performed by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

“We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average,” said Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “When you have a fireball of this size we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface and in this case there were probably some large ones.”

The trajectory of the Russia meteor was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, which hours later made its flyby of Earth, making it a completely unrelated object. The Russia meteor is the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia.

[Source: JPL/NASA, http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-061%5D

We have also come across a white paper published in August of 2012 [actually, it was published in 2009; we were misled by the name of the .pdf file – IWPCHI] by the “Committee to Review Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies, National Research Council”, entitled:  “Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Interim Report”.  In it . you can immediately see that the US effort is being wrong-headedly directed by the US capitalist class’ bought-and-paid-for ignoramuses in the US Congress at only larger asteroids.  They plan to “phase in” technology in future decades that could detect smaller asteroids, but so far their plans would not include any attempts to detect objects of the size of the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk on 15 February 2013.  Unless something is “profitable” in the eyes of the greedy capitalist class, it will not receive funding, or will receive the bare minimum necessary to cover the politicians’ butts.  Our assertion is that the defense of the planet from NEOs is far too important to be left up to the capitalist class and their penny-pinching “bottom-line” “what’s in it for us?” stupidity.  Unless we abolish the capitalist system, we will almost assuredly have to suffer a major calamity many times worse than the Chelyabinsk explosion before the greeedhead capitalists find the defense of Earth from NEOs to be within the range of affordability”.   Sticking with the capitalist system basically condemns the inhabitants of the planet to inevitable multiple natural disasters due to the inherent inability of a greed-based economic system to properly place global needs over those of the competing nation-states and their eternally warring capitalist castes seeking to increase their personal wealth at the expense of billions of their fellow men – and even their own children and grand-children.  The sad fact is: they just don’t care about anything except filling their own personal bank accounts with as much money as they can, for as long as they can.  The longer we allow them to continue to run the world as if it was their own personal piggy bank, the greater the calamity that mankind will have to face as a result.   The overthrow of the capitalist system and its replacement with an egalitarian, global, socialist economic model, we believe, is a prerequisite to the continued existence of the human race here on planet Earth, which is continually imperiled by the never-ending competition between capitalist nation-states, leading to low-level conflicts that grow into global ones, threatening the man-made disaster of worldwide nuclear war.  The future can move in two basic directions: toward international cooperation of egalitarian socialist workers republics or towards world war III.  We know which outcome we would prefer; “all we have to do” is give up our allegiance to the personal greed-based system of capitalism.  It’s a small price to pay in order to ensure the continued existence of the human race.  Workers of the World, Unite!

IWPCHI

****************************************************

“What a day for near-Earth objects!”

That comment, made during a teleconference held on the afternoon of 15 February, 2013 by NASA scientists  – who had intended to be discussing a close fly-by of asteroid 2012 DA14, but who ended up talking about an actual impact on Earth of a previously unobserved mini-asteroid coming from the other direction – perfectly summed up the feelings of everyone in the audience.

These are our notes and a partial transcript of the news conference held yesterday afternoon, US Central Time, by NASA.  Thanks to NASA and its scientists for this timely clarification as to the nature of the amazing event in Chelyabinsk yesterday.  The names of the participants in the press conference are spelled phonetically and are undoubtedly WRONG in many cases; we haven’t had time to go look up everyone’s names yet. – IWPCHI

***

http://www.nasa.gov/news/media/newsaudio/index.html

NASA News Audio Live Streaming

LIVE NOW: NASA Experts Discuss Russia Meteor in Media Teleconference

Scientists have determined the Russia meteor is not related to asteroid 2012 DA14 that will pass safely pass Earth today at a distance of more than 17,000 miles. Early assessments of the Russia meteor indicate it was about one-third the size of 2012 DA14 and traveling in a different direction.

Panelists for the teleconference are:
— [Dr.]Bill Cooke, lead for the Meteoroid Environments Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
— [Dr.]Paul Chodas, research scientist in the Near Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Notes:

Bill Cooke:  Okay; my comments are gonna be with regard to the Russian meteor over, uh, Chelyabinsk – I’ll get it right in a minute – Russia that occurred approximately
9:20AM Russian time this morning.  What we know is at this time is as follows: a rock – a small asteroid or large meteoroid, depending on how you want to define it – entered the atmosphere.  This rock was about 15 meters in diameter, and was a weight of about 7000 metric tons;  It was moving at 18km per second.  And for those of you who deal with normal units that’s about 40,000 miles per hour. So it hit the atmosphere above Russia moving at that speed; it penetrated at a shallow angle less than 20 degrees; it lasted over 30 seconds in our atmosphere before breaking apart about 20-25 kilometers – which is 12-15 miles – above Earth’s surface.  When it broke apart, this produced a violent explosion, and there may have been several smaller events as well.  In the vicinity of 300 kilotons of energy, which produced a shock wave which propagated down as well as through the atmosphere; and when it propagated down this shock wave struck the city below, causing large numbers of windows to be broken, some walls to collapse and  minor damage throughout the city.  So, when you hear about injuries, those are undoubtedly due to the effects of the shock wave striking the city and causing walls to collapse and glass to fly, not due to fragments striking the ground.  There are undoubtedly fragments on the ground but as of this time I know of no fragments that have been recovered that we can verify with certainty.

A preliminary orbit for this object indicates it originated in the asteroid belt with a farthest distance from the Sun about two and a half times Earth’s distance and it does appear to be an asteroid in nature.

We are asked the question: “Well, why wasn’t it detected before?” And, based on this preliminary orbit,  the reason it wasn’t detected by telescopes on Earth was because it literally came out of the “day side” of our planet.  It was in the daylight sky; and as you know telescopes can’t see things in the day time.  So this object came out of the daylight sky, and as a result was not detected by any Earth-based telescopes.  So, that’s what we know at this time, and I’m gonna pass it over to Paul Chodas and let him talk about the asteroid 2012 DA-14 plus anything he might care to add about this event over Russia this morning.

Chodas:  Well, good afternoon. What an amazing day for near-Earth objects!  By an incredible coincidence we have two rare events happening on this very same day, with asteroid 2012 DA-14 passing very close to the Earth for an asteroid of that size (150 meters or a half-a-football-field in size); AND we have a small, 15-meter object – which I would call a tiny asteroid – actually hitting the Earth at a shallow angle and creating a significant explosion.  This is the largest recorded event since the Tunguska explosion in 1908.  This was very large for a meteor, a meteorite hit or fireball.

But let me talk a little bit about the DA-14.  It has already passed close approach; we are continuing to track it; in fact, I believe we have a live feed from this La Sagra Observatory, which is the place where it was discovered just about a year ago.  So we can see the object on the screen, as you can see right now; it’s moving; it’s a little streak because of the exposure that’s being taken; and it’s moving quite rapidly for an asteroid.  This is very unusual.  And the reason for that is that it’s passing so close to the Earth.  And it is passing the Earth at 17,500 miles an hour, but it’s on its way out now.

I should mention that USTREAM TV, USTREAM dot TV slash NASA dot JPL. JPL 2, excuse me.  So that’s where you can take a look and see a live shot of the asteroid.  The asteroid has passed the Earth, it’s on its way out, and it won’t return this close for many, many years.

Regarding the Russian explosion: there was a shock wave.  Why is there a shock wave from something coming in like this?  I have to say: an asteroid… asteroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a tremendous speed: 40,000 miles per hour, which, by the way, is actually much faster than the DA-14 is passing the Earth.  It’s an incredible speed; and in order for the tiny asteroid to slow down, the atmosphere will absorb that energy, O.K.?  So that it’s emitting the energy as heat and it’s emitting the energy as light.  The event must have been brighter than the Sun, if you were there to watch it.  It’s just incredible.  Asteroids… tiny asteroids the size of this one that hit over Russia this morning hit the Earth on average about once every hundred years.  So as you can see, the last recorded one that was of this size was a 1908, Tunguska explosion.  These are rare events  and its an incredible coincidence to have them happening on the same day; the Russians’ event – the fireball – is not related to the DA-14 asteroid in any way.  And that’s the end of my report.

Media questions:

Leonard Davis:  Space.com/Aerospace America; everybody calls this a wakeup call, what action should be taken by the Congress?

Paul Chodas: These are rare events, once every 100 years; I would say asteroid that hit over Russia was a very tiny asteroid; one like this from daystime sky virtual impossible to detect; NASA knows about 95% of asteroids but tiny ones like this are very hard to find

NBC News:  (Alan Boyle?)  DA14: On basis of observations that have come in is there anything new to say about this asteroid or is it what you expected?

It is too early to say; brightness profile close to estimates; most important immediate data Goldstone [radar?] measurements; [we hope to] release a picture of the asteroid tomorrow.

[Brian Asab] Wash Post: Paul; Colleagues in Vienna [meeting today] talking about international cooperation on international deflection efforts;

Paul: Yes there is meeting, this is international problem that has international implications; if asteroid hit it could hit anywhere; could we deflect? These questions being asked.  These are questions being addressed on intl stage.

Mariam Kramer Space.com:  How this blast ovr russia compares to Indonesia 2009?  How long trail from meteor over Russia was?

Bill:  The blast over Russia 4-5 times more powerful than Indonesia maybe more.  Meteor was abt 30 seconds, 10/mps, trail 300 miles long.

Irene Klaz Reuters;  When you said [an object the size of the] meteor over Russia could be found; what about if there was any observatory that could sense infrared was it too small to be detected by that?  If Congress says “what could we do about that” what would you say?

Paul: This object… IR detections from space is an option to detect these objects…

Bill:  NASA has recognized that asteroids that meteoroids and asteroid debris pose much greater problem than was previously thought.

Peter Speck, Christian Sci Monitor:: Paul; how do you work backwards from observation of event to estimate of size and mass; what was composition of this?

Paul:  The fact it broke up gives us some information on [the] composition; probably not iron-nickel like Chikoti-Malin 1947 over USSR

The principal source of info is by infrasound detectors on ground which measure pressure waves; give rough idea of amt of energy released.

Bill Harwood, CBS News;  What is infrasound network?

Bill: was established to monitor for nuclear explosions [after international] ban of surface explosions.  Detect big explosions in atmos; 300 kilotons, this is similar to nuke explosion in magnitude.

Naomi Sect, AFP: Can you sketch trajectory?

Bill:  Asteroid over Russia orbit indicates 2.1 yrs to go around sun once; out at farthest dist from Sun 1 yr ago in main belt 1 yr ago.

Paul: It was in orbit that crossed Earth’s orbit.  Asteroid belt is source of near-earth objects.  The asteroid belt would have formed a planet but large planets like Jupiter kept asteroid belt from forming [into] planet.

Leo Enreid, Irish TV;  Shock wave: was this “the shock heard ’round the world”? Was it a shock picked up by infrasound networks at great distances around world?  I heard 5 maybe 6 distinct explosions  I’ve heard about things like “pancaking”, what could have cause 5 or 6 distinct explosions?

Bill: As far as to 4 infrasound stations detections; haven’t polled all the infrasound stations; Early data from 4 infr stations nearest to event, whether it was heard on all we dont know

Paul:  I believe that [what happens is that the] atmosphere protects us so it disrupts asteroid as it comes in, divides [it] into multiple meteor[ites] so that is one possible source of multiple shock waves

Bill Dennison 21st Century Science and Technology:

Is there discussion of operation to defend planet?  Not looking for objects this small?

Russian Deputy Prime Minister responded to event by saying that the US and Russia should cooperate to stop impacts like this happening

Paul: Defending Earth from objects like this one is challenging, not currently our goal.  NASA is not looking 4 these; even DA14 is [borderline] too small for NASA search at this time;  In order to defend earth, the problem there would be to find these things early enough to do something; even though smaller ones [like this one are] easier to divert they are harder to detect; we are focusing on larger asteroids first, they are most hazardous.  One today was moderate destructive power.

Roxanne Palmer, Intl Business Times:  Is this just coincidence that these happen in Russia or is it because [Russia has] such a large land mass?

Paul: You hit the nail on the head, Russia is a large landmass, Tunguska, 1908, Malin 1947, and [again] today it is an amazing coincidence.

Ken Chang, NY Times;

Number of asteroids weight-wise per year?

Bill: 80 tons of meteoritic material per day; millions of very small meteors striking earth per day, big ones like this every 50-100 yrs

Paul: Small objects of basketball size every day, car-sized every month or two.

Paul Fraze , The Verge:  When it comes to detect an object like the one today, you require spacecraft we don’t have currently orbiting right now.  Private companies say they can do a better job of detecting.  Is private sector something you look to to do this?

Paul: Im not personally involved in these private efforts, they have potential, but funding is a question, an issue to discuss.  As far as getting resources from asteroids, is that viable? I can’t really speak to that.

Q: In spite of it being small, it caused a lot of damage on ground, so for purposes of detecting, not mining, the smaller size objects, what would the spacecraft need to be in order to pick up these things in terms of detection?  Is there any role private ssector could play?

Paul: I cant really speak to, its a challenging problem to find [something the size of] DA14 let alone the one over Ural Mountains.

Q: What kind of craft would be necessary?

Paul:  I believe a good way is to search for them in infrared, I can’t say what is the best way, [if you]call me later [we could discuss this in more detail].

Carolyn Johnson, Bost Globe:  [I just came in to the conference so this may have been answered already:] How much energy was released [in the explosion over Russia]? What would happen if something like this exploded over a densely populated area?

Bill: It was 300… I’m getting estimates now that it was up to 500 kilotons and it WAS over densely pop city.. 12 to 15 miles above ground

Jackie Goddard, Times of London;  Clarify 95% of meteors detected that have come through vs total number of meteors out there?  Is there an official search for this [Russian] object?

Paul:  When we talk of 95% completion rate Spaceguard Survey has been going on for 15 years, our original goal was to find 90% we have found 95% of large asteroids.  Near-Earth objects [are not objects that are going to hit the earth], [their orbits take them through the inner solar system as close as] 1.3 times the Earth’s distance to the Sun.

When we talk about near-Earth objects they are not all headed toward Earth.  “There are no asteroids that we know of that are headed towards the Earth for certain.”

Bill:  This meteor was not an iron meteor, it was a stony.  Its not a Martian meteorite, my guess this would be stony meteorite, maybe a chondrite, but we dont have the info to say what type this was, it’as probably going to be common, stony meteorite, 95% of meteorites found are common stony [type]

Andy Shostak ELS; How do you know there’s no relationship between DA 14 and the one that hit Earth today?

Paul: [In the event in Russia today] direction of approach was north-to-south [as best as we can tell from watching the videos] from YouTube; velocity was much greater than DA14.  [Russian meteorite] orbit was from asteroid belt; DA14 orbit is very Earth-like, orbits are very different.

[Source: NASA, USTREAM, http://www.nasa.gov/news/media/newsaudio/index.html%5D

US Government Panics, Wall St. Shuts Down, Capitalist News Media Freaks Out Over Category 1 Hurricane

The onslaught of governmental panic and capitalist news media frenzy over a strong tropical cyclone which barely makes the cut as a category one hurricane continues unabated.  The vast depths of scientific illiteracy in the United States even at the highest levels of government, coupled with deliberate panic-mongering by a capitalist press that is struggling to survive financially and is nakedly using the storm to make money by scaring the bejeezus out of a hundred million people on the east coast – is something to behold.  They’ve been so effective at scaring the crap out of everyone that even the greedy swine on Wall St. essentially canceled trading for a whole day, and maybe even for the next two days!  Normally, it takes something big to keep those pigs’ mouths out of the trough.  And the storm isn’t even going to come ashore anywhere near New York City!

“Tone turns ominous at the Weather Channel” was the headline of a hilarious (intentionally?) Associated Press report by one of their television reviewers, David Bauder.   He reported that on Sunday, the Weather Channel had already been doing ’round-the-clock features on the hurricane for three solid days; not surprisingly, the Weather Channel’s own special computer forecasts of the storm showed it to be gaining more strength over time, in contradiction to the much slower pace of storm development reported by the National Weather Service (who were themselves overhyping the severity of the storm).

From Bauder’s article: “‘We want you to know we are not hyping this storm, OK?’ on-air meteorologist Vivian Brown said. ‘We don’t do that at The Weather Channel…’ ” !  Riiiiiiiiiight!

Bauder also relates that on Sunday the Weather Channel’s on-air and behind-the-scenes mediarologists – perhaps due to lack of sleep – were just plain losing it: “Bryan Norcross, the network’s senior hurricane specialist [our emphasis, lol! – IWPCHI], explained in an interview that the network tries to keep its tone serious yet urgent. The network’s computer models have been consistent in their forecasts of the storm and it has been acting as anticipated, perhaps with even more strength.

” ‘Our goal has been to get people to appreciate the magnitude of the storm and try to prove to them that, based on everything we know, that this is going to be a system that is outside of their experience,’ Norcross said.

Wow!  So this hurricane is going to be the worst hurricane anyone’s ever even heard of – a “frankenstorm” of unprecedented severity!  Bigger than even any of the other hurricanes that we’ve all come to learn about from the Weather Channel’s very own documentaries on previous killer hurricanes, then?  Bigger than the Galveston hurricane of 1900, a category 4 storm that killed 8000 people?  Bigger than the 1928 Florida hurricane, also a category 4 storm,  that killed 2500 people?  Bigger than Katrina, which was a category 3 and killed 1200 people?  Knock it off, Weather Channel!  You’re not just hyping the storm for cold, hard cash. you’re doing it so brazenly and outrageously that some of your directors and owners should be arrested for panic-mongering!  In fact, out of the 30 largest and most deadly hurricanes to ever hit the US mainland, only 2 were category 1 hurricanes.  [Source: “Deadliest U.S. Hurricanes of All Time“, Weather Underground website]

This nonsense being spewed by the Weather Channel – for absolutely no other reason other than to make themselves huge piles of money – is causing an even greater disruption of U.S. domestic life than the famous 1938 Orson Welles radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”:

“As it listened to this simulation of a news broadcast, created with voice acting and sound effects, a portion of the audience concluded that it was hearing an actual news account of an invasion from Mars. People packed the roads, hid in cellars, loaded guns, even wrapped their heads in wet towels as protection from Martian poison gas, in an attempt to defend themselves against aliens, oblivious to the fact that they were acting out the role of the panic-stricken public that actually belonged in a radio play. Not unlike Stanislaw Lem’s deluded populace, people were stuck in a kind of virtual world in which fiction was confused for fact.”

That’s good!  Tell us more!

“In a prescient column, in the New York Tribune, Dorothy Thompson foresaw that the broadcast revealed the way politicians could use the power of mass communications to create theatrical illusions, to manipulate the public.

” ‘All unwittingly, Mr. Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater of the Air have made one of the most fascinating and important demonstrations of all time,’ she wrote. ‘They have proved that a few effective voices, accompanied by sound effects, can convince masses of people of a totally unreasonable, completely fantastic proposition as to create a nation-wide panic.

” ‘They have demonstrated more potently than any argument, demonstrated beyond a question of a doubt, the appalling dangers and enormous effectiveness of popular and theatrical demagoguery….’ ” [Source: Transparency at transparencynow.com by Ken Sanes: “War of the Worlds, Orson Welles And The Invasion From Mars”]

The Associated Press article says that, after seeing the Weather Channel’s on-air staff hyperventilating over what they were essentially calling the storm of, not just the century, but of all human experience ever (“the Weather Channel sent a message via Twitter calling it ‘an extraordinary storm, an extremely serious threat’ and urged followers to re-tweet it. The storm ‘will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States’ the network tweeted”),  a staffer at Business Insider tweeted: ” ‘WHOA. The Weather Channel meteorologist just completely freaked out.’ “!

The capitalist politicians – those twin shills for Wall Street scumbaggery, Barack Obama and Mormon Bishop Mitt Romney – both threw some gasoline on the fire, cancelling their scheduled election campaign appearances so that they could focus their full attention on posturing in a competition to see who “looks more ‘presidential'” in the face of a major national [non-] emergency.

Today, we watched as far outlying clouds from the northwestern edge of this very large storm slowly moved across the sky in northern Illinois.

Chicago enjoys a beautiful sunset courtesy of outlying clouds from western ‘arm’ of ‘Hurricane’ Sandy, 29 October, 2012. Credit: IWPCHI

It’s a big storm, but its extent really isn’t any greater than any of the big weather systems that routinely cross the continental US.  We just had a couple of those large, comma-shaped low-pressure systems that crossed the country in the past few weeks; the rain front in those storms was hundreds of miles across, just like this one.  It’s not at all unusual to have major anticyclonic storms crossing the continental U.S. that extend from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.  Sandy is a big, slightly unusual category one hurricane, period.  Nothing more or less.  If it kills anyone at all in the US, it will likely be people who try to cross flooded streams in their cars, people killed by falling trees or who step on downed electrical wires and those folks, like we said yesterday, who are dumb enough to frolic in front of the big waves at the seashore and who get clobbered by a rogue 20-foot wave and dragged out to sea.

We spent a couple of hours looking at what we believe are some of the most compelling and factual reports on the storm, which come not from highly-paid entertainers on the profit-at-any-cost Weather Channel, or from the feckless, vicious and scientifically illiterate, bought-and-paid-for US bourgeois political class, but from non-humans, not subject to hysteria or greed: the hundreds of weather buoys moored along the east coast of the United States, which anyone can monitor using the National Data Buoy Center website.  Here’s what we found, as of this afternoon (Monday, October 29):

The National Data Buoy Center was reporting as of 2007 GMT (2:07PM Chicago time) that, out of  614 buoy observations taken over the previous 3 hours from buoys located within 150 English nautical miles of the center of Hurricane Sandy (that is, those ocean buoys closest to the storm), the highest sustained winds observed were:

46.6 knots (53.63 MPH) with gusts as high as 58.3 knots (67.1mph) from 50 degrees (ENE) with wave heights of 28.9 feet at buoy Station 44025 (LLNR 830) 30 NM South of Islip, NY off Long Island, NY.  The anemometer height of this buoy is 5 meters above sea level. Buoy at 1900 hours was approx. 117 miles from the storm center.

(http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=44025);

48.6 knots (55.93 MPH) with wind gusts as high as 64.1 knots  (73.76 mph) from 50 degrees (ENE) at buoy Station 44025 (LLNR 830) – (same buoy);

Highest reported wind gusts from these same 600 or so observations made in the previous 3 hours (as of 20:07 GMT, or 2 PM Chicago time) were:

62.0 knots (71.35 MPH) reported at Station ROBN4 – 8530973

(http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=ROBN4) located at Robins Reef, NJ, 149 NM from the center of the storm;

66.0 knots (75.95 mph) also at ROBN4.

This is to be compared with the National Hysteria [Hurricane] Center’s reported observations of winds as high as 90 MPH reported from Coast Guard airplane flights across the eye of the storm.  Those observations, obviously, are taken at higher altitudes and include observations in the actual center of the storm where the winds are the highest.  Ground-level observations as close as 75 miles from Sandy’s eye are not indicating that winds are anywhere near hurricane force once you get outside the immediate center of the storm.

The closest buoy to the storm, Buoy Station 44009 (LLNR168) located in Delaware Bay, 26 NM southeast of Cape May, NJ, [http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=44009] which is only 76 NM from the center of the storm reported (1900 hrs GMT) sustained winds of just 44.7 knots (51.44 mph) and gusts of 58.3 knots (67.1 mph) with wave heights of 17.4 feet.
[Sources: as listed, including the National Data Buoy Center (http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/) and an online “knots to miles per hour” calculator at  http://www.calculateme.com/Speed/Knots/ToMilesperHour.htm%5D

So, none of the data buoys have yet reported sustained winds of hurricane force – that is, around 74 miles per hour or greater.  This is because, first, they are not at several thousand feet above sea level but are just a few meters above sea level; and they are not in the actual eye of the storm, where the hurricane force winds will and do exist.  This area is just some tens of miles across in diameter and will rapidly lose power the minute it hits land, which will be somewhere along the Delaware/Maryland or southern New Jersey coast this evening.  Look at the latest graphic illustrating the wind speed probabilities and likely locations of the highest winds of Tropical Storm Sandy  issued by the National Weather Service:

Hurricane Wind Speed Probabilities chart for ‘Hurricane’ Sandy. Only the area in red and purple will see actual hurricane force winds of around 75 miles per hour, with wind gusts somewhat higher. Lighter orange, yellow and green-colored areas have a 50% or less chance of seeing hurricane force winds.  Credit: NOAA/National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center

As you can see from this graphic, the area of landfall that Sandy will impact most severely is relatively small and will not include New York City or Philadelphia and will – sadly – only barely scrape Washington, D.C.   Also, the inland areas affected by the highest sustained winds will not extend beyond the boundaries of Delaware and Maryland and limited areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia and Virginia.

And we’re talking about 75 mile-an-hour winds here; houses built along the coast are – or damned well should be! – built to withstand sustained winds of much higher intensity that are found in category 1 hurricanes.  Building houses  that are located on the seashore and not building them to withstand sustained winds of 100 MPH or greater should be – and would be in a Socialist United States – ILLEGAL.   Any house that can’t stand up to 75 mph winds shouldn’t be in existence anywhere within 200 miles of the ocean.

So, to wrap up:  If you live along the coast of New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware or northeastern Virginia, don’t go swimming in the ocean tonight!  And stop watching those asshats on the Weather Channel, who are just trying to scare you into watching their channel so they can sell some more soap and get an enormous pile of cash and a ratings boost out of this storm.

We’ll leave the final word on this phenomenon to the folks at Transparency Now, from the concluding paragraph of their excellent article on the phenomenon of media and government manipulation of mass psychology cited above:

“…[W]e live in a time in which the ability to create deceptive simulations, especially for television, has become essential to the exercise of power. And the inability to see through these deceptions has become a form of powerlessness. Those who let themselves be taken in by the multiple deceptions of politics, news, advertising and public relations, are doomed, like the more gullible members of the radio audience in 1938, to play a role in other people’s dramas, while mistakenly believing that they are reacting to something genuine.”

IWPCHI

Workers of the World, Unite!

Watch NASA’s “Curiosity” Rover Landing Live from Mars Sunday and Monday, August 5th/6th

Once again, intelligent life forms on Earth will have an opportunity to watch a “live” broadcast from the surface of Mars as NASA’s latest Mars mission, the Mars Science Laboratory aboard the “Curiosity” rover touches down (hopefully!) on the surface of Mars inside Gale Crater.  The landing is scheduled to take place at approximately 05:31 UTC August 6th (12:31 AM US Central Time August 6th; 1:31 AM US Eastern Time August 6th; 10:31 PM US Pacific Time August 5th; 11:31 PM US Mountain Time August 5th).  The broadcast will be available on NASA TV (http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html) and on USTREAM (http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl).  We advise our readers to check out these websites well ahead of time in order to make sure that you have the software installed on your computer in order to be able to see the broadcasts.  Familiarize yourself with the sites at least a couple of hours before the event, and make sure that you have the web feed running long before the site gets blasted with hundreds of thousands of “hits” in the minutes before the scheduled landing.

This phase of the mission should be very interesting due to the extremely complex engineering solution created in order to land the “Curiosity” rover on Mars in one piece.  Unlike the previous two rovers, “Spirit” and “Opportunity”, which were packed inside a bundle of inflatable air bags and bounced across the Martian surface before successfully being deployed, this much heavier (1 metric ton) rover’s descent craft will be required to make a series of highly complex operations within a very tight timeframe in order for this craft to deploy to the surface of the Red Planet.  The most difficult aspect of the landing will take place as the descent craft, using retro rockets to stabilize itself above the landing site at Gale Crater, will attempt to utilize a device called a “sky crane” to gently lower the rover on cables down to the surface.  At the time that the rover touches down, the rocket-propelled landing craft will be too close to the rover momentarily; the blast from the landing craft’s rockets against the surface of the planet as it hovers during the “sky crane” operation will threaten to cover the rover with dust and perhaps small rocks that could damage it severely; so the cables will need to be immediately severed and then the landing craft will fly away to crash a safe distance from the lander.

NASA has produced an excellent video which describes the Mars atmosphere entry sequence to touchdown in Gale Crater, which has become something of an Internet sensation itself.  Dubbed “Seven Minutes of Terror” the video shows graphically how daunting the engineering challenges are facing anyone attempting to land a spacecraft on Mars.  The “solution” to this series of potentially spacecraft-killing problems selected by NASA will be, if successful, one of the most astounding achievements by any team of engineers involved in space exploration to date.  The video is absolutely a must-watch video.  It is designed to inspire a healthy respect for science and engineering in everyone who watches it; if you haven’t seen it, click on the blue link above and enjoy!  It is superbly done.

Speaking in the “Seven Minutes” video of the intricate series of planned maneuvers necessary in order to place the rover on Mars, Dr. Adam Steltzner of the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) team says: “When people look at it, uh… it looks crazy.  That’s a very natural thing.  Sometimes when we look at it, it looks crazy.  It is the result of reasoned engineering thought.  But it still looks crazy.”

To say that it would be a minor miracle for all this to happen flawlessly would be a vast understatement;  but NASA’s engineers appear confident that they can pull this off.

[The NASA website has a really amazing application with which you can track the spacecraft in real time as it lands on Mars.  It’s called “Eyes on the Solar System” and with it, you can use your mouse to zoom in on the craft as it approaches mars, view the landing site and zoom throughout the solar system.  It will give you the precise real-time distance between the spacecraft and Mars and there are buttons you can click on which will show you a preview of the Entry, Descent and Landing sequence!]

As fascinating as the scientific discoveries this rover can make will undoubtedly be (providing that it survives the descent to the surface intact) Curiosity will not, however, have the capability to confirm or disprove whether there has ever been life on Mars.  It will be able to perform several kinds of experiments that will provide tantalizing clues as to whether or not liquid water ever flowed in Gale Crater and it may perhaps be able to discern whether or not various types of organic matter were produced there.

The previous two rovers, “Spirit” and “Opportunity” were deployed perfectly and vastly exceeded their originally expected 90-day lifespan, providing amazing images of the Martian surface and scouring away surface dust from rocks in order to analyze their composition.   The two rovers made major scientific discoveries, including the confirmation that there was a period or perhaps periods where liquid water definitely flowed on Mars.  Clear evidence of serial deposition of sediment by water was seen in the geologic layers of  rock formations.  Late last year it was announced that the “Opportunity” rover had discovered unambiguous evidence that water had flowed on Mars: a vein of gypsum was discovered coursing through a rock deposit in Endeavour crater.

“This is the single most powerful piece of evidence for liquid water at Mars that has been discovered by the Opportunity rover… there was a fracture in the rock, water flowed through it, gypsum was precipitated from the water. End of story” Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Opportunity’s principal investigator, told the 2011 winter meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

This color view of a mineral vein called “Homestake” comes from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU

Gale Crater, the landing site for the “Curiosity” rover, was chosen because it has one of the lowest elevations on the surface of Mars and is right on the border of a transitional boundary from the “southern highlands” to the “northern lowlands”.  At this boundary scientists believe that, billions of years ago, water flowed.  The object that crashed into Mars creating Gale Crater scooped out a tremendous amount of rock and soil, digging a hole, essentially, into which water was able to flow freely.  By landing “Curiosity” at the bottom of Gale Crater, scientists hope to be placing the craft smack in the middle of one of the best locations on Mars for finding proof of this theory.

Speaking at a press conference held by NASA on July 16, MSL Project Scientist John Grotzinger described the landing site: Gale Crater is “the width of the Los Angeles basin… and in the middle of it, we have a mountain called ‘Mount Sharpe’ [which has] 5 kilometers of relief on it.”  The scientists intend to spend a couple of months readying Curiosity for a trip to the base of Mt. Sharpe to take a close look at the exposed geologic layers of this huge mountain, “larger than any mountain in the lower 48 states” according to Dr. Grotzinger.  On the way, a number of instruments on board the rover will undertake experiments to determine the mineralogy of the crater and will analyze and photograph the region.

The NASA scientists had a number of landing sites to choose from that promised to contain interesting and varied topography and mineral deposits.  They narrowed down their search to just 4 sites and then selected Gale Crater for its unique combination of mineralogical, apparent depositional and geological characteristics.   The “landing ellipse” plotted out by NASA engineers – the rough location of where Curiosity will touch down – places it very close to the base of Mt. Sharpe, and in a relatively smooth plain where several different intriguing features of the Martian surface are within a very short distance of the rover’s landing site.   If all goes well, Curiosity will find itself at the edge of what appears very much to be an “alluvial fan”;  on Earth, this type of deposit of sediment occurs at the mouth of rivers. The potential for scientific discovery here is tremendous.

This project is an excellent example of the kind of work that the talents of the entire human race should be gathered together for.  That even such a chaotic and destructive economic system as capitalism has been able to achieve such amazing feats of engineering skill and scientific endeavor in spite of the fact that hundreds of millions of human beings living under the system all over the world will never get to see the inside of a school is both a tribute to capitalism and condemns it.

Under a workers government, under a democratically planned socialist system, every single child on Earth will have the opportunity to go to school and study science.  Under capitalism hundreds of millions of young children will never get that opportunity, and their unique talents will never be given the chance to develop and to contribute to the solution of the many complex problems facing human society.  By abolishing the capitalist system and replacing it with an egalitarian socialist economic system, we will reap the amazing harvest of talent that now languishes in poverty all over the world.  Only then will we be able to find out what amazing things humanity living in universal peace and harmony can achieve.

IWPCHI