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Piqued my interest

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on April 16, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
April 16, 2010 5:34 pm

Some tidbits I ran across today:

Washington Post
By Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell
Friday, April 16

We are Democratic pollsters who argued against the health-care that the Obama administration chose to pursue. Instead, we advocated incremental health-care reform. With the passage of health reform, some harsh political realities have emerged.

Recent polling shows that despite lofty predictions that a broad-based Democratic constituency would be activated by the bill’s passage, the bill has been an incontrovertible disaster. The most recent Rasmussen Reports poll, released on April 12, shows that 58 percent of the electorate supports a repeal of the health-care reform bill – up from 54 percent two weeks earlier. Fueling this backlash is concern that health-care reform will drive up health costs and expand the role of government, and the belief that passage was achieved by fundamentally anti-democratic means. …

Put simply, there has been no bounce, for the president or his party, from passing health care. …

Democrats can avoid the electoral bloodbath we predicted before passage of the health-care bill, but in one way: through a bold commitment to fiscal discipline and targeted fiscal stimulus of the private sector and entrepreneurship.

And (this is about a lawsuit against the University of California headed for the Supreme Court):

Washington Post
By Newt Gingrich and Jim Garlow
Friday, April 16

Americans like to think of their college campuses as marketplaces of ideas where students have the opportunity to freely browse a host of competing beliefs, attitudes and philosophies. Unfortunately, today’s academic marketplace is more like a company store. A single, humanistic, decidedly leftist worldview is sold in too many classrooms . . . and the customer refuses delivery at his or her own risk.

And I found it fascinating that this discovery was based on the observation of six atoms:

Physics Today
April 6 (excerpts)

According to sources at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, element number 117 has been successfully synthesized. …

Only 6 atoms of element 117 were created.

For each atom, the team observed the alpha decay from element 117 to 115 to 113 and so on until the nucleus fissioned, splitting into two lighter elements. In total, 11 new “neutron-rich” isotopes were produced, bringing researchers closer to the presumed “island of stability” of superheavy elements.

The island of stability is a term in nuclear physics that refers to the possible existence of a region beyond the current periodic table where new superheavy elements with special numbers of neutrons and protons would exhibit increased stability.

Such an island would extend the periodic table to even heavier elements and support longer isotopic lifetimes to enable chemistry experiments.

The observed decay patterns in the new isotopes from this experiment, as close as researchers have ever approached the island of stability, continue a general trend of increasing stability for superheavy elements with increasing numbers of neutrons in the nucleus. This provides strong evidence for the existence of the island of stability.

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