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Newton self-isolates

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As a way of putting enforced seclusion to good use, it’s hard to beat Newton’s optics.

You all know the story in outline. In 1665 the bubonic plague that devastated London reached Cambridge, where Newton was a freshly minted B.A. (Cantab.) He fled to his uncle’s farm in Lincolnshire. This is now called Woolsthorpe Manor, though it’s more the farmhouse of a prosperous yeoman. He took with him a pair of prisms, with which he destroyed the prevailing theory of colour with a devastating experiment. We all know that Newton discovered, or rediscovered, the colour spectrum using a glass prism placed in a beam of light. But the real breakthrough came from the second prism.

Brief flashback. This prevailing theory was a common-sense one. White sunlight passes through a stained-glass window. It becomes blue or red or yellow. It’s the medium, the stained glass, that gives the colour, right?  As Shelley wrote, 150 years later:

Life, like a dome of many-colored glass,
Stains the white radiance of eternity.

Wrong.

The usual story is that Newton hid out in a barn. His own sketch of the experiment disproves this.

Barns don’t have small, square, high windows. Bedrooms do – like those on the first floor of the house. Glazed windows were gradually adopted in England in the course of the 17th century. As like as not, the bedrooms in the Newton farmhouse still only had stout wooden shutters to keep out the cold Lincolnshire winds: shutters with cracks in them.

The sketch clearly shows what Newton did. He placed prism 1 in a beam of sunlight passing through a crack or hole in the shutter, producing the familiar spectrum. Where did these colours spring from? Perhaps it was the medium again, the prism glass, as Descartes had proposed. Newton constructed a screen with a ladder of more holes to allow him to isolate the different colours. He placed prism 2 in the red, blue, .. light – and it stayed put. Schematically:

It doesn’t make sense that prism 1 would create colours and identical prism 2 do nothing to them. (To be quite sure you would need to replicate with prisms made from different sources of glass, but that was quickly done.) So the colours were in the light to begin with.

The illusion is white light, really a bundle of different colours. More disturbingly to our intuition, a perceived colour is a negative property. The stained glass absorbs all the other colours than the blue we see. Leaves are green because that wavelength is not absorbed by chlorophyll, which is tuned to blue and red.

It took Newton five years to write this all up into a full theory of optics. It was his 1672 paper on this that made him deservedly famous. Gravity came later (1687), though he started on that in the farmhouse too.

Go on. Crack string theory.

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DGA51
5 days ago
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Colors
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Low-Income People Must Be Eligible for Stimulus Payments — and Actually Receive Them

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Lawmakers must not only make low- and moderate-income people eligible for the full payments; they must also ensure that the government delivers the payments without imposing new requirements on individuals to file tax returns or fill out and submit other complex paperwork.

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DGA51
10 days ago
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Going Viral

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When the wellness industry was all about selling useless shit to rich people, I didn’t care that much, I just enjoyed poking fun. The reason I dedicated so much of my time to debunking dietary fuckery was that I felt it to be representative of a darker, deeper malaise. The undermining of expertise. The retrograde idolisation of the past. The false conflation of natural with good. The rejection of scientific advance in favour of home spun truth. Over the years writing this blog, I have dropped
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DGA51
11 days ago
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Crises and the case for socialism

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The coronavirus crisis is very different, at least in its origins, from the Global Financial Crisis. Both differ in crucial respects from other crises in living memory, notably including the Great Depression and World War II, as well a string of severe but not catastrophic crises that have affected the global economy and society. But thinking about them all together brings home the point that major crises are quite common events. The crisis of the past took each took between five and ten years to resolve. Even if the current crisis is shorter, we can draw the conclusion that crisis of one kind or another is not an aberration, but a regular occurrence in a complex modern society.

What they have in common is that they result in a need for urgent government action. The greater the capacity and willingness of governments to act to protect society from the economic damage associated with such crises the better, in general, the outcome has been.

The most immediate requirements for dealing with a crisis are

  • a strong and comprehensive welfare state, protecting everyone against falling into poverty through sickness, old age and unemployment
  • strong protections for workers, protecting them against arbitrary dismissal, and with a public commitment to restore and maintain full employment
    These will have to be made up as we go along, plastered over the existing patchwork, then properly integrated into the welfare and industrial relations system
    In the aftermath, we need a substantially expanded economic role for government, including control over infrastructure and financial enterprises and increased public provision of health, education and other services. All of this will require a substantial increase in the public share of national income, which can only be financed by reducing the share going to high income earners, and particularly the top 1 per cent. In short, we need socialism.

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DGA51
11 days ago
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A crisis comes every few years. That's why a strong safety net is important.
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cjheinz
11 days ago
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The aftermath of crises is the easiest time for major system reform.

Senate GOP Response to Pandemic, Recession Is Seriously Inadequate

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The Senate Republican proposal for a third bill to address the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis is woefully inadequate to meet the extraordinary challenges now facing the nation.

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DGA51
11 days ago
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Why Trump, the Radical Republicans and Fox News Are Calling It the ‘Chinese Virus’

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It’s All Spin, a Deliberate Effort to Use the Deaths of Americans to Protect Trump and Attack Democrats and the Media… And It’s Working.

Kurt Eichenwald

In early March, an angry, longtime Republican source contacted me to vent. A dedicated conservative, he was furious not only about the Trump administration’s dealing with COVID-19, but also the endless lies told by GOPers to persuade the party faithful that the scientific warnings about the virus were a scam.

Now, he fumed, as the infection rate and death toll rose, his colleagues realized they could not maintain the “COVID-19 is a fictional thing being used to hurt Trump” charade. Rather than backing off and consulting with scientists, their decision of what to do was horrific: Reach out to a political consultant to find a spin that would allow them to attack Democrats and the media, distracting everyone from Trump’s abject failure to protect the country.

The consultant came up with an answer: Change the name of the virus. Don’t say “coronavirus” or it’s real designation, SARS-CoV-2. Instead, call it “the China Virus” or “the Chinese Virus.”

The president would say ‘Chinese Virus’ or ‘China Virus.’ So would GOP members of Congress. And Fox News. And conservative talk radio. It would be repeated again and again until it was drilled in the heads of the base that might be wondering whether Trump really had messed up everything.

I didn’t understand how that would change much, but my source told me the plan was much more diabolical. Even though the name was wrong and stupid – like calling other viruses “Netherlands Virus” or “Britain Virus” – the consultant, who my source refused to name, predicted that Democrats and the media would respond to the name by proclaiming “racism.” (Which, of course, it was.)

Still, I didn’t get it. Why would that help?

Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford took this photo of Trump’s news conference notes, in which he crossed our ‘corona’ and inserted ‘Chinese.’

Because then, my source said, Republicans could attack Democrats the media with outrage and self-righteousness. They would never to admit the name they were using was false. Instead, when the “yellow peril” racism of “Chinese Virus” was called out, the plot was for Republicans to win. Democrats were playing the racism card! Democrats refuse to even call the virus its true name because of their left-wing nuttiness! They don’t care about a crisis, all they care about is politicizing everything!

I found the whole idea amusing. That couldn’t possibly work, I said. First, who calls a disease the name of its virus? No one says Rubeola virus instead of measles. And everybody knows the name of the disease – COVID-19. And while most people don’t know the real name of SARS-CoV-2, everybody has heard the partially accurate “coronavirus.”

‘Just Want to Be Accurate’

My source told me I was naive. The president would say “Chinese Virus” or “China Virus.” So would GOP members of Congress. And Fox News. And conservative talk radio. It would be repeated again and again until it was drilled in the heads of the base that might be wondering whether Trump really had messed up everything. And whenever anyone called it racist or challenged its use, the Republicans would just say “We just want to be accurate,” or “We’re not going to avoid its real name just because Democrats are absurdly sensitive.”

The consultant’s plan was to push the base away from possibly getting angry at Trump and instead push them to focus their rage against Democrats and the media.

But doing that would damage everything even more, I replied. The Chinese have the most scientific information about COVID-19. They have had success in attacking the spread. They are helping every country affected by the pandemic – with information, science and resources. Why would the GOP risk angering the Chinese just for political spin?

Like a Cornered Dog

That, my source said, was why he was so angry. His colleagues were behaving like a cornered dog, and lashing out without thinking. They had spent so much time denying science that now all they could think about was politics.

My skepticism lasted for a day until the Tucker Carlson show on Fox. Out of nowhere, Carlson used the words “China Virus.” I saw what was coming and went on my Twitter feed to warn my followers – which included many members of the media – of everything I had been told. “Chinese Virus” and “China Virus” was coming. I explained why. I explained, if no one reacted with anything but shaming GOPers for not even knowing the name of the disease or the virus, this political scam would probably end quickly.

Bogus Term Spreads

A day or so later, I heard a member of Congress use “Chinese Virus.” Then another one. And another one. And another Fox News commentator. The use of the bogus term was spreading, well, like a virus. Finally, with the groundwork laid, the term came out of Trump’s mouth.

Everything played out exactly how the GOP political consultant predicted. Democrats – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – called out the racism of the words. Republican politicians – including Senator John Cornyn – shot back with the “They’re playing the racism card! Democrats are politicizing a health crisis.”

Trump used it again and again. Reporters pressed – why are they saying that? Isn’t that racist? Trump and his acolytes – including Kellyanne Conway – replied just as expected: They are just being precise and using the accurate name.

‘Real Name’

And it was working. On my Twitter feed, some of my followers told me that their parents – avid Fox News addicts – had started ranting about Democrats and their refusal to call the virus its real name of “Chinese Virus.”

As I watched this language spread, knowing the GOP was engaging in PR spin to tear the country further apart during a health crisis, was willing to damage our scientists’ key relationship with the Chinese, was willing to make this outbreak worse simply to “own the libs.”

And then I knew my source was right. The GOP was engaged in something evil, was damaging out country, to likely increase the deaths we suffer by cutting off cooperation from the Chinese.

And all for a scheme to distract from their failures that are already killing us.

The post Why Trump, the Radical Republicans and Fox News Are Calling It the ‘Chinese Virus’ appeared first on DCReport.org.

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DGA51
11 days ago
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It really IS a political spin move
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