A NUCLEAR BOMB WORTH MORE THAN ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD

In the December 2013 issue of Physics Today David Kramer tells us—in an article titled A nuclear bomb worth more than its weight in gold?—that “some critics of the B-61 life extension program question whether the program is necessary.” And, “Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) questioned why the B-83, a newer bomb that officials acknowledge won’t need a life extension for at least 10 years, shouldn’t replace the B-61”. Strangely enough the article omits the principal reason why the administration may think the B-61 is worth more than its weight in gold.

The article appears in Physics & Society 6 Feb 2014.  The link is:

http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/201401/b61.cfm?utm_source=fpsnewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=FPS+News+Jan+14&renderforprint=1

The MS with better quality figures and equations is available here: P&S-EPW-nid

 

Nuclear Policy
Physics
Politics

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HAS THE WHOLE WORLD LOST ITS HEAD?

We surely have the means to deal with the locally rational but globally nuts dilemma, the question is whether we collectively have the will to do so. This perhaps is the most important problem we face in the 21st century.

USA Today Magazine-Nov 2013

General Interest
Politics
USA Today Magazine

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DOES GOD PLAY DICE? CONCEPTUAL QUANTUM PHYSICS FOR THE PERPLEXED

The late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th brought with it a revolution in the scientific understanding of the universe around us, one whose effects are still being felt around the world as it forces people to change their ideas about the universe and the place of human beings within it. Even a conceptual understanding of the early origin of the universe requires an introductory knowledge of quantum mechanics. Unfortunately, the attempt to reconcile quantum mechanics with concepts brought over from classical mechanics has led to  much confusion especially among non-physicists and students of physics.  This essay is an attempt to address some of this wide spread confusion.

DOES GOD PLAY DICE?

Essays in Science
Physics

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SPACE-TIME-MATTER

This essay examines our fundamental conceptions of time, spacetime, the asymmetry of time, and the motion of a quantum mechanical particle. The concept of time has multiple meanings and these are often confused in the literature and must be distinguished if any light is to be thrown on this age-old issue. The asymmetry of time also has different meanings that depend on context—although the fundamental time asymmetry is associated with the expansion of the universe. These and related issues are discussed in both classical and quantum mechanical contexts.

(Reference 4 has been corrected in this version)

SPACE—TIME—MATTER-F (pdf)

Essays in Science
Physics

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Spring Has Sprung, but the Middle East Remains a Muddle

USA Today Magazine (January 2013)

 

The Arab Spring was a dramatic result of a policy failure on the part of Arab countries. For many decades they have used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to divert the attention of their own citizens, the so-called “Arab street”, from their own economic and domestic failure to deliver a decent life to their people.

USA TODAY Jan2013

General Interest
Politics
USA Today Magazine

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GROUPS: NATURE’S “INVISIBLE HAND”: AN ESSAY ON THE STANDARD MODEL

It is the purpose of this essay to take the reader from some elementary ideas about groups to the essence of the Standard Model of particle physics along a relatively straight and intuitive path. The idea is to give an Olympian view of this evolution, one that is often missing when absorbing the detailed subject matter of the Standard Model as presented in an historical approach to the subject.

Groups Natures Hidden Symmetry

Errata:

p.58: First equation should read

p. 59: Line after 2nd equation from the bottom of the page should read, “This corresponds to a right-handed spinor and, for spin 1/2 is designated (1/2, 0).”

The end of the last line should read, ” . . . is designated by (0, 1/2).”

Essays in Science
Physics

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The Challenge to the Enlightenment

USA Today Magazine (November 2012)

“. . . The conflict here and abroad really is between two fundamentally different and mutually exclusive world views; one based on science, reason, and observation; the other on an interpretation of Scripture that dates back to past periods of religious intolerance.”

CHALLENGE TO ENLIGHTENMENT.pdf

Biology
Essays in Science
General Interest
USA Today Magazine

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The Problem of the “Prebiotic and Never Born Proteins”

International Journal of Astrobiology / FirstView Article / October 2012, pp 1- 5
DOI: 10.1017/S1473550412000468, Published online.

International Journal of Astrobiology 12 (1): 94–98 (2013)

It has been argued that the limited set of proteins used by life as we know could not have arisen by the process of Darwinian selection from all possible proteins. This probabilistic argument has a number of implicit assumptions that may not be warranted. A variety of considerations are presented to show that the number of amino acid sequences that need to have been sampled during the evolution of proteins is far smaller than assumed by the argument.

NeverBornProteins-IJAB

Published version: Int.J.Astrobiology12(1)94-98(2013)

How to cite this article:
Gerald E. Marsh The problem of the ‘prebiotic and never born proteins’. International Journal of Astrobiology, Available on
CJO doi:10.1017/S1473550412000468

Biology
Essays in Science
General Interest

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More to Fear than Fear Itself

 

Memo to the 1%: Be Careful What You Wish For

In the late 1960s and early 1970s large swaths of American cities burned. It could happen again, and this time it might not be restricted to poor areas.

USAToday Mag-Sept12

General Interest
Politics
USA Today Magazine

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Deployed Nuclear Weapons and Force Structure-II

Recently, Sir Menzies Campbell wrote in the Financial Times that British nuclear doctrine should be redrawn in ways that might no longer require the Trident submarines that are currently the basis of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.  It was maintained that doing so would require abolishing the so called “Moscow criterion” that presumably drove force level requirements.

This “Nuclear Question” was the subject of the lead editorial of the Financial Times on May 19th.  In response, I submitted the following letter that was published in the 22 May 2012 edition:

Weakening Britain’s nuclear deterrent could come at a cost

Your 19 May editorial Nuclear Question lays the appropriate ground rules for the debate on the future of Britain’s deterrent: ‘First, Britain must not scrap its nuclear arsenal’, and most importantly, it ‘should only do so in multilateral negotiation with other powers. Second, it must stick to a sea-launched deterrent’  But the issue of the ‘Moscow criterion’ is a bit of a red herring.

During the cold war, Soviet ‘sophisticated air defenses’ had no capability against warheads delivered by ballistic missile and were not a factor in U.S. targeting. I doubt that this has changed.  The defense-offense balance would, however, dramatically shift if Britain eliminated its ballistic missile deterrent and relied instead on cruise missiles carried on conventional attack submarines to replace the Trident system.  A deterrent based on cruise missiles could well require higher force levels to compensate for their vulnerability.  Using cruise missiles, because of their range limitations, could also require the attack submarines carrying them to operate in areas where they would be more vulnerable. And last, but not least–and this alone should rule out their use–there is the confusion that would be introduced by any cruise missile launch: is the missile carrying a nuclear or conventional warhead? Bad idea.

While four Trident submarines would still be required for operational reasons (yes, one should always be at sea), the real issue is how many missiles must each submarine carry and how many warheads need be on each missile.  In the end, maintaining the Trident missile system may well be Britain’s most cost effective deterrent for the future.”

General Interest
Nuclear Policy
Politics

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