Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Phony Texas Voter ID Kerfuffle

Colorado College students yell 'Obamanos!' in 2008 as they march to the polls. Being allowed to show just student photo IDs allowed them to vote - though most came from out of state. 

After we moved from Barbados back to the U.S. in January, 1992, my first voting experience in the country was to cast a vote for Bill Clinton as President in November of that year. But first I had to register to vote in the state of Maryland. Since I’d turned in my drivers’ license for good (legally blind) I had to use another form of ID and that became my U.S. passport which I’d had for nearly 21 years (since entering the Peace Corps).

So it was no biggie. Later, I found it more convenient to get a Maryland alternative (non-drivers’) ID featuring my photo and current address. The process to get it was relatively simple, and entailed going down to the DMV and bringing three acceptable forms of preliminary ID which included: 1) My passport, 2) a copy of my birth certificate, and 3) evidence of a bill paid in my name – with address shown. Total cost was $50. The ID was good for 4 years, and could then be renewed.

On moving to Colorado, in 2000, we learned the ID requirements were even lower and only required a form of paid bill (e.g. utility) with one’s name on it. A passport could also be used. Some 8-10 years later, as Repubs grabbed the state legislature, these laws tightened up and you had to have a verifiable drivers license for an ID – or an alternative non-drivers’ ID with photo (like in MD).

The law by 2008 required you to present SIX different previous or preliminary documents, including Passport or military ID, previous drivers’ license or other state ID, birth certificate or stamped (notarized) copy of such, paid bill, and two other forms (e.g. athletic club photo ID, and –or medical, insurance ID). Total cost $100.  The good thing is that student photo IDs were still   allowed, mainly for out-of-state students attending colleges in Colorado but not residing here. This enormous student vote was major in helping Obama take the state in 2008 (after which, student IDs were disallowed).

The issue then becomes: a) Should special photo ID be required to vote, especially given the statistics for voter fraud (meaning one voter impersonating another) are vanishingly small? and b) If such ID is required should it not be such to encourage the greatest voting participation as opposed to the least?

Evidently Texas, supported by a Supreme court take, has answered yes to (a) and no to (b). Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in issuing a stout rebuttal, has noted the Texas law is “discriminatory”

The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.”

I could not agree more – and Texas ought to be ashamed, but I doubt they will be. What does Ginsburg mean by an “unconstitutional poll tax”? She means that, historically, certain segments of the populace were prevented from voting by imposing a tax at the pools – usually in the vicinity of $1.50 per person, but often larger – up to $5  - used to turn away poor black voters in the Jim Crow south. The idea was to suppress the vote, namely the African-American vote.

In the case of the Texas Voter ID law, LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik has pointed out that getting satisfactory ID that meets the state’s criteria could cost $75 to $175, “much higher than the $1.50 poll tax outlawed by the 24th amendment in 1964.”  The reason is because for some reason Texas disallows normative PHOTO IDs such as student IDs (you receive while attending university) or Veteran’s Administration IDs – which most other sane states permit. So this is totally nuts.

It’s also ridiculous given the Supreme Court suspended the Wisconsin Voter ID law which was not terribly different from Texas. So what gives?

I believe the court is simply trying to appease Governor Rick Perry, who will likely be running again for President and they don’t wish to antagonize all his core voters that may be for it.  If Perry's elected (God forbid!)  they'd also welcome to the Court more conservos appointed by him. Why else allow this Texas’ nutso ID law to go through but not Wisconsin’s?

In the real and sane world neither of these absurd laws would be proposed because voter fraud is not of such incidence that a photo ID is needed – and even if it is – then just allow ALL forms to be accepted, including for students and veterans, for god’s sake.

The argument has been made in some quarters that “any idiot can get an ID” but this is not strictly true. I saw many people turned away, for example, when I went to file for my Colorado alternative ID – because they lacked one of the six forms of preliminary documents needed.  Even Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, a conservative, admitted he “has never seen his birth certificate and does not know how he would go about ‘scrounging’ it up.” (This was after court colleagues repeated the canard that “anyone can scrounge one up”).

Well, to be honest, many Americans have drivers’ licenses – which qualify – but 20 million (like me) do not. So what are they supposed to do?  Well, they are obliged to bring the preliminary documents in to their DMV, including birth certificates, passports or other verifying materials. But what if they have no passports, and (like most African Americans) were home-birthed so lack birth certificates? Then they are up the creek, so to speak. Or disenfranchised, certainly in Texas.

Even if they DO have all the documents why the hell should they have to shell out up to $175 each for the ID? This may be money they need for meds or groceries – certainly for many impoverished African-Americans as well as poor seniors. That forced payment (which is what it is if they want to exercise their vote) then indeed amounts to a poll tax  - to use Justice Ginsburg’s term.

If we really want people- citizens to vote in this country, we need to stop with these cynical games that defeat the very foundations of our society which is supposed to be a democracy. (Okay, if you want to be technical, allowing the exercise of democracy in A Republic)

Sadly, states like Texas are more interested in how they can suppress the votes than enable them – which, I guess – kind of makes Texas a fascist dictatorship.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Introduction to Nuclear Physics (2)

Continued from first instalment:

3. Nuclear Reactions

 The energy liberated in nuclear reactions is referred to the Q- value or the “Q of the reaction”. This is the total energy released in the reaction and is usually expressed as:

 Q = [(M + m) – M’ – m’]c2

 Where M + m denotes the sum of masses of the reactants and M’, m’  denotes the masses of the products. Q is obtained by using the atomic masses revealed when the reaction has been fully written out.   Before doing this it’s important to recognize the various kinds of reactions and then how Q is applied, including how to obtain the kinetic energy and the initial energy:

 Decay and Nuclear Fission Reactions:

 We first consider natural decay and also artificial nuclear fission reactions, e.g. produced by bombardment of a nucleus by a smaller one. There are basically two types of decay processes we will look at:

Alpha decay:  Z X A ®  Z-2 X A-4 + 2 He 4

Beta Decay: Z X A + -1 e0 ®  Z-1 X A   + u

Example: Find the Q-Value of the alpha decay for Polonium:

84 Po 210     ®  82 Pb 206     +    2 He 4

If the mass of  84 Po 210   = 209.982u,  the mass of  82 Po 206   = 205.969u, and  2 He 4 = 4.002u.

We confirm that typical for a-decay, the atomic weight A decreases by 4, and the atomic number Z by 2. Then we may write for the Q of the reaction:

Q = [(total rest mass before decay) –

                                (total rest mass after decay )] c2

Q = [(209.982u) –  (205.969u + 4.002u)]c2

Q = [(209.982u) –  (205.969u + 4.002u)]c2

Q = [(209.982u) –  (209. 971u)] 931 MeV/u

Q = [ 0.011u] 931 MeV/u = 10.24 MeV

We next seek to find the Q-value associated with the beta decay: for Beryllium 7

 4 Be 7    +    -1 e0 ®   3 Li 7     +  u

Where the respective atomic masses are:

4 Be 7    = 9.012182 u

3  Li  7   = 7.016004 u

And we use: c2 = 931.5 MeV/u


 Q =   [(total rest mass before decay) –

                                    (total rest mass after decay )] c2

Q = [(9.012182 u - 7.016004] 931.5 MeV/u = 1.996u

Q =  (1.996u) 931.5 MeV/u = 1859 MeV

Compressed notation for nuclear decays:

 An abbreviated, concise notation is often used to represent nuclear reactions.  Consider the case of the beta decay just analyzed. We may write this in concise form:

 4Be 7 (-1 e0  , u) 3 Li 7    

 Note that this is more often employed for the bombardment of a particle than for simple decays. For example, in the illustration above the Beryllium isn’t being bombarded by anything – rather it is emitting an electron! (Though we can still use the concise notation to represent this so long as we understand the electron is a decay particle).

 In general, for bombardment, given a target nucleus X bombarded by a particle a, yielding a nucleus Y and another particle b, e.g.

a + X ®  Y + b

 We have in more concise form:

X (a,b) Y

 The Q-value of the reaction can then be worked out on the basis of:

Q = [Ma + MX  - MY – Mb]c2

 Example Problem:  Write out the nuclear reaction for:

 3 Li 7 (p, a) 2 He 4

And obtain the Q-value.

 We know the p denotes the proton of hydrogen nucleus and a  is an alpha particle given off. We list the nuclear masses as follows:

3 Li  7   = 7.016004 u

p =  1H 1 = 1.007825 u

a  =  2 He 4  =  4.002603u


Q = [Ma + MX  - MY – Mb]c2   =

[7.016004 u + 1.007825 u - 4.002603u - 4.002603u] c2

= [8.023829 u -  8.005206 u] 931.5 MeV/u

So: Q = (0.018623 u) 931.5 MeV/u =17.3 MeV


1.Write out the full nuclear reaction for:

13 Al 27 (a, n) 15 P 30

Thence, or otherwise, find the Q of the reaction.

2. Identify the missing ‘X’ in each of the following:

a) 84 Po 215   ®  X + a

b)   N 14 (a, X)  O 17

c) 48 Cd 109    +   X ®   47  Ag 109     +  u

3. Consider a process of neutron removal whereby:

20 Ca 43    ®   20 Ca 42     + 0 n 1    

We wish to find the “separation energyS n associated with the neutron.  Estimate the value of this energy if the atomic mass of Ca 43     = 42.98780u, and  Ca 42  = 41.958625u, and take the neutron mass = 1.008665u.

4. For each of the following reactions, write out the full nuclear equation and find the Q of the reaction:

a) H 2 (d, p)  H 3    (Note: d is for deuterium or 1 H 2 )

b) Li 7 (p, n) Be 7

5. Refer to the example of the fission of U 235 illustrated (Fig. 1)  at the outset of Part 1. This fission reaction may be written:

92U 235   +  0 n 1     ®  42 Mo 95     +    57 La 139 + 2 (0 n 1)

Find the Q-value of this reaction, given these atomic masses:

   0 n 1     = 1.009u

92U 235   = 235.123u

42 Mo 95   =  94.945u

57 La 139   =  138.955u


POLITICO Followers - Are They Serious or Serious Morons?

Stupidity of Politico followers
The results of the latest polls in Politico raised eyebrows this morning even from conservative Joe Scarbrough. On his 'Morning Joe' show he looked at the poll results including one - I kid you not -that showed 64 percent believe "the country is totally out of control".  Do these numb nuts even know what "totally out of control" means? Iraq may be "totally out of control" with the ISIS vermin running amuck and pretty much doing what they want. The U.S. is not totally out of control, which shows to me the extent to which certain Americans' minds have been gutted by the Repuke PR machinery.

Even Joe Scarbrough, smiled and blurted:

"Wait! America, you really believe the country is a runaway beer truck? A runaway beer truck!?"

Yes, but please don't generalize this to all Americans. It appears to be instead a deranged subset that follows the hack blog called 'Politico'.  And given just the response here one must question whether these people are even qualified to vote in any objective manner. It instead discloses they have lost touch with reality, and we shouldn't trust those apart from reality to cast a realistic vote.

In another example, a survey showed 38 percent believed Obama to be "less effective" than Bush Jr. Seriously? The only conclusion one can draw here, is these people have short memories - very short! They obviously forgot how Bushie boy suckered us into the Iraq war by putting on a dog and pony show at the UN to try to show the Iraqis had aluminum tubes (for chemical warfare delivery systems) and oh yeah, even the 'yellowcake' showing they were likely making nuclear weapons.

All this huff and puff led to an invasion which many warned against because it would take out the sole secular force keeping the Shia and Sunni factions at bay. No, he was no angel - but let's also recall we armed this guy (Saddam) during the 1980s so he could fight against our then enemy, Iran. When you create a 'monster' you have to take ownership for it, and this was under Reagan.

The instability that followed Saddam's fall at the hands of the U.S. invaders ultimately could be said to have led to the ISIS  upheaval now. (Bear in mind ISIS emerged after the Shia took over the Iraqi government, assisted by the U.S.- via orchestrated "elections", and kept Sunnis excluded.)

Politico people also forget, evidently, how the financial system crashed with the credit crisis on Bush's watch and many are still working to make up for the mammoth chunk lost from their 401ks. (One of our friends lost nearly 50 % of her portfolio).  By contrast, while the economic situation is not totally rosy, we have seen nearly all the jobs lost under Bush (15.8 million) come back, and at least growth (3 percent per annum) as opposed to recession. In addition the stock market has reached all time highs by contrast to the 580+ point drop in the last months of Bush's watch.

The final insult in the Politico polls was the result giving Republicans preference for taking the Senate - by at least 5 percentage points. Really?  A bunch of austerity fetishists responsible not only for inadequately funding the VA, but also the CDC - and who also imposed an insurmountable debt burden on the Post Office - by insisting it fund pensions for 75 years into the future.

These losers have also done nothing, nada. They have consistently blocked most legislation and have been acknowledged as the most do nothing congress ever in history. So why in the hell would any sane and sober person want them in charge of BOTH houses of congress? Perhaps because these people want to see more chaos and gridlock.

Maybe, just maybe, they even have a boner to see the country even more "out of control" - because obviously that is the objective of the GOP.

Create havoc and total gridlock in the process of governance, by using fake filibusters, shut downs and other tactics, then try to convince people that "government can't work".

And yet, they want to hold public office and be in charge of it! Go figure!.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ebola- The Biggest Threat Is Human Hubris (And Bill Maher Is Right To Be Enraged!)

Bill Maher went apoplectic on Real Time - recounting the miscues that led to two Dallas RNs getting infected

Now that 3 weeks has passed since Patient Zero – Thomas Eric Duncan – made his 2nd appearance at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, we have learned many things. Nearly all have disclosed a disturbing degree of hubris – and we know it is hubris that has brought humans down from the beginning of civilization.

It started even as patient zero  arrived in Dallas, with the CDC's sundry assurances that there was "no need to worry", the U.S. health care system "could handle any problems" that emerged can quash them – because, after all, this wasn’t Liberia. Well, we found out how that worked out and also how many of Murphy’s laws were ignored or dismissed out of an abundance of hubris.

It contiued with Texas Health  Presbyterian itself which – as disclosed via his nephew’s letter on Melissa Harris Perry yesterday – showed that Duncan was basically given antibiotics and shown the door because: 1) he wasn’t an American, and 2) lacked health insurance. Thereby he put the whole rest of the Dallas community at risk for at least two days.

Then, when he did appear with pronounced symptoms – by now having spread the virus far beyond what would have been – the hospital did finally take him in, but still blew it by not immediately putting him into an isolation area. Instead, according to whistle-blowing RN, we learned how many CDC “protocols” were utterly violated how and the hospital literally didn’t know whether to shit or go blind.

Nurse Briana Aguirre (who ought to be commended for her courage) described scenes of “chaos” at the hospital, with staff having no idea how to tackle the virus and having been given no credible insight or training by the honchos .  Far from  the hazmat suits one saw actual CDC workers wearing (as they transported two Texas nurses – one to Bethesda, the other to Atlanta)  the Texas RNs were issued pathetic imitations which had large gaps in the neck. There was no taping of the gaps – leaving the Nurses exposed to possible contamination –that order only came from the CDC in retrospect.

Worse, Aguirre repeated to Matt Lauer in an NBC interview that the patient (Duncan) in the midst of all his bodily fluid expulsions – was left out in a public access area and that the soiled materials as well as the implements used to treat him were left festering in corridors for days.  Worse yet, samples of his virus-laden blood were dispatched for testing using the regular hospital system – along with ordinary blood, urine, stool samples – if you can believe it.

Aguirre  also claimed that doctors were told it was acceptable to move between rooms without disinfecting.

No wonder Bill Maher on Real Time Friday  night went apoplectic even as a soothsaying Brit guest tried to calm him down by some reference to having thought Bill was a bastion of “liberal rationality as opposed to right wing hysteria”. Bill’s reply was blunt, to the point: "This is not about the right wing. Germs do not have a political party/". Bill's outrage was also understandable as he observed this was "personal" to him, as his own mother had worked as a nurse.

But the misplaced assurances about U.S. hospitals weren’t the worst of CD lapses. Several days later one of those exposed RNs (Amber Joy Vinson) - who treated Duncan – and actually reported a 99.5F fever at the time, called CDC asking if she could board a flight to Cleveland. (Mind you, technically she shouldn’t have even had to ask anyone this question, it ought to have been common sense not to go given her close contact with Duncan – catheterizing him and all, and wearing one of those flimsy protective suits Aguirre  referenced)

The CDC person at the other end, as opposed to going by the principle that NO health worker who treated Duncan should board a commercial flight, instead went by the ‘letter’ of the rules – saying it was okay because Vinson’s temperature hadn’t reached 100.4 F. Can we say dumb? Yes we can.

The result has been consternation amongst the 750 or so people who'd taken the five flights that left Cleveland after Vinson had taken her flight (2402) from Dallas to Cleveland. These included: Flight 1104, Cleveland to Ft. Lauderdale; Flight 1105, Ft. Lauderdale to Cleveland; Flight 1101, Cleveland to Atlanta; and Flight 1100, Atlanta to Cleveland. All as reported in yesterday’s Denver Post (p. 10A).

 Passengers on all seven flights did receive notification from the CDC or Frontier, and the six person crew was placed on a 21-day leave, as well as a number of people (including at a school in Cleveland) with whom Vinson came into proximity. But passengers have been left guessing as what to do – as reported in yesterday’s Denver Post. According to this news (p. 1A):

A Florida lawyer who Tuesday flew on the Frontier Airlines plane that a day earlier carried Ebola patient Amber Joy Vinson, said he placed precautionary calls to his doctor and the Ohio health department after he realized he was seated close to where Vinson had been seated but was referred to the CDC.”

 But the “expert” at CDC  told him: “I don’t have an answer for you.”


At 8.30 p.m. Wednesday he was told “someone would be in touch” but according to the press report, “on Friday he was still waiting”.

And this is how it likely begins......or not. We don’t know. We’ve had so many soothe- saying idiots paraded on the tube and trying desperately to allay fears it’s hard to keep track. Including one doctor who actually said on one news piece yesterday that “Even if I’d been seated right next to Ms. Vinson I wouldn’t be worried!”

Really, Bozo? And you can assert that bollocks with 100 percent confidence given how CDC workers themselves are decked out in full HAZMAT suits when they even come within 3 feet of an Ebola-infected patient and those suits have their own oxygen supplies? (Oh, but of course, it is impossible the Ebola virus could be airborne, never mind Canadian experiments that show it is possible for the virus to spread along that route from one animal to another. But maybe the CDC doesn’t accept that humans are animals, eh?)

In the wake of the pathetic CDC non-response to the inquiring Airbus passenger, Wendy Aiello from Aeillo Public Relations of Denver had this to say (Denver Post, p. 13A):

This is one of the saddest examples of poor communications I’ve seen in 25 years of public relations. On a scale of ‘fantastic’ to ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ this weighs heavily to the side of ‘What in God’s name is going on?’

Well, incompetence is going on, and it’s not just the CDC, it’s the World Health Organization (WHO) as well. As The Post also reported (p. 12A, ‘WHO Failed on Ebola’):

Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall. A perfect storm was brewing, ready to burst open in full force.”


Meanwhile, the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus, Dr. Peter Piot, wondered why it took WHO five months and 1,000 deaths before  declaring an international health emergency in August.

All of which points up that the calls for calm are only credible if we the people (the non-experts) can expect competence on the part of the health authorities and experts – whether in CDC, or WHO or our hospitals. It is not sufficient to tell us to “stay calm” or “don’t get hysterical”, if in fact the experts themselves don’t know their asses from holes on the ground and are literally learning on the fly. If they don’t know that a health worker with a 99.5F temperature – who cared for the “index patient” – shouldn’t board a plane, then they are learning on the fly.

 The other thing that keeps getting repeated by the assorted medical elites, as if on auto-play, is it’s so very, very, very hard to get this disease because it requires direct contact with body fluids (saliva, sweat, blood, semen, breast milk etc.). That is supposed to comfort us, but that repeated formula may also be our downfall. The reason is that the ‘low risk without direct contact’ meme can encourage too many to let their guards down as it has. It also takes no cognizance of the fact that: a) once a person is infected all his/her contact points must be immediately traced and this is bloody difficult work, and b) Actually caring for a symptomatic person requires an isolation room and – as Rachel Maddow pointed out two nights ago- there are only 9 in all at all the specialized facilities (including in Nebraska, at Emory, and at NIH) and 2 are already occupied.

Are we really going to entrust regular hospitals to care for the infected and symptomatic patients? Especially after Repuke state budget cuts from two years ago have left many operating on shoestrings? (Not to mention the CDC, which has experienced a real budget cut of 21% owing to inflation)

So no, I am not leaving out the hard right austerity fetishists by any means. Everyone literally, from our bought out politicos to the health authorities are to blame for letting this thing reach a stage it never should have.

In that respect, I damned sure share with Bill Maher the disposition to become apoplectic- and you should too!

See also:


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Florida's "FANGATE" - A Case of Political BLOW-VIATION

Often in the course of observing American politics, the deep politics maven must stand in awe at the lack of perception, and the willingness to be blinded and bamboozled by bullshit as well as misled on priorities. Such has been the case with the ludicrous Florida "Fangate" brouhaha - which transpired before the planned recent debate between Charlie Crist (former FLA Gov.) and Rick Scott - the current one.

According to Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reporter Rosemary Goudreau, one of the debate panelists - appearing on Steve Kornacki's 'UP' this morning, a Scott advisor jumped before the question panel minutes before the debate start, and began barking questions like: "Are you going to permit this? Are you going to allow Crist to break the rules?"

He was referring to Crist being allowed to bring his trademark fan in with him. Note: the fan - from the images presented on UP in various venues where Crist appeared-  had no secret compartments from which hidden lasers might pop out by which to blind the eyes of the opponent, unnerve him or otherwise throw him off his game.  In other words, the whole kerfuffle literally appeared to be the proverbial storm in a teacup.

Anyway, Ms. Goudreau expressed shock since according to her, "The rules as we knew them were just one minute each, and thirty seconds for each response. This made sense because,  believe me, Florida mid-term voters have more hot potatoes on their plate, including their health care and educational systems, perils to the environment from climate change (eroding beaches) and pollutants than fretting over whether one of the debaters brings a fan along with him.

As for Rick Scott, most readers will have seen from my Nov. 4, 2012 blog post that he is not held in much esteem by yours truly. Scott, for those unaware,  once headed the notorious  healthcare outfit, Columbia HCA - which was once found guilty of overcharging Medicare over $600m while Scott was CEO. Scott himself had admitted:

 "As I have said repeatedly Columbia HCA made mistakes, and I take responsibility for what happened on my watch as CEO." 

What were those 'mistakes'?

The Miami Herald in an expose (June 27, 2010)of Scott's Columbia HCA and the aftermath  noted, despite Scott denying that he knew a fraud was taking place:

"Federal investigators found that Scott took part in business practices at Columbia/HCA that were later found to be illegal -- specifically, that Scott and other executives offered financial incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals, in violation of federal law, according to lawsuits the Justice Department filed against the company in 2001.

The doctor payments were among 10 different kinds of fraud identified by the Justice Department in its 10-year probe of the company, records show. Three years after Scott left Columbia/HCA, the company admitted wrongdoing, pleading guilty to 14 felonies -- most committed during Scott's tenure -- in addition to paying two sets of fines totaling $1.7 billion.

Then prior to the general election in 2012, Scott gained further  notoriety by failing to do diddly  about extending early voting times, thereby causing unconscionable voting line waits of up to 6 HOURS as reported in The Miami Herald on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012. This followed a stream of complaints from voters (mostly African-American, Hispanic) who reported voting line waits of up to SEVEN hours Saturday, Nov. 3.  As a number of outside observers were quoted in the Herald:: "The extraordinarily long lines and extreme delays created unjustifiably burdened the right to vote"

That was putting it mildly! Think of the oldsters, pregnant women, disabled and others who simply physically would not be able to withstand such rigors, and hence would have to give up their franchise in the interests of their own health and well being. 

Anyway, given the background of this trickster, why would anyone not believe he's capable of gaming any scenario or venue he wanted? Including a debate format - hence interjecting a stupid non-issue like his opponent bringing along a fan which even Scott had to know he carried everywhere.  So why all the huff and puff? Well, because it served Scott's interest in distracting voters from the real issues affecting the state.

Look, even for me Crist's fan is hilarious. But hey - it's also innocuous! The sign of a serious debater or politician is in discerning the truly threatening from the non-threatening and Rick Scott failed that test, unless - again- he was intent on gaming the debates and turning them into a laughing stock. Because he was the one that made a 'federal case' out of the stupid fan. A serious politician, by contrast, would have ignored it, taken the stage and proceeded with the debate accepting the basic rules without trying to finagle new ones based on having a fan or not. Talk about stupid!

Aside: Much of this whole issue emerged out of the "no electronic devices" rule bunkum which Scott also used  against Dem Alex Sink in 2010 - for the gubernatorial election. Evidently, Sink pulled out her smart phone at one point and Scott went ballistic believing she was "cheating" or something. (What? She needed her notes forwarded to her phone?)  The ploy worked and Scott won the election. Clearly, having succeeded with this initial stagecraft, Rick Scott believed he could use it again - now with Crist's fan - despite there being no way to cheat using a fan. Never mind, it's an "electronic device".

Anyway, now that the dust has cleared both sides have agreed to hold the debate again next week - minus the fan.

Let us hope that there will be no further untoward issues interjected based on imaginary pseudo "rules" - such as maybe Charlie Crist parting his hair on the "wrong" side of his head.

Florida's voters have bigger fish to fry than to allow themselves to be distracted by errant twaddle!

See also:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Selected Solutions: Intro. to Nuclear Physics (Pt. 1)

1.  Evaluate the terms of the semi-empirical mass formula for the U 238 nucleus, if A = 238 and Z = 92. Use this information to find the total mass in atomic mass units (u) and compare it to the standard mass expression. Thence or otherwise, obtain the mass defect and the binding energy as well as the binding energy per nucleon.


First term:

fo(Z, A) = 1.008142Z + 1.008982 (A – Z)

= 1.008142(92) + 1.008982 (238 – 92) = 240.060

Second term:

f1 (Z, A) = -a1 A = - (0.01692) (238) = -4.02696

Third term:

f2 (Z, A) = +a2 A2/3 =  (0.01912) (238)2/3= 0.734298

Fourth term:

f3 (Z, A) = + a3 (Z2/ A1/3 ) =  (0.00763)[(92)2/(238)1/3 ] =


Fifth term:

f4 (Z, A) = + a4 (Z  -  A/2)2/ A = (0.010178) [92 – 119]2/ 238

= 0.311754

Sixth term (e.g. –f(A) since A = 238 is even, and (A – Z) = (238 – 92) is even):

-a5 A– 1/2 = 0.012 (238)– 1/2    =  7.778 x 10-4

Summing these terms up yields: 238.12000 u, but we note the mass of the constituents by the regular mass addition formula for nuclei is:

92 (1.008142) + (238 – 92) [1.008982] = 240. 060436 u

Leading to a mass deficiency of:

DM = 240. 060436 – 238.12000 = 1.94 u

The binding energy is then: Eb = DM c2     = (931 MeV/u)(1.94) = 1806.1  MeV

Note here that MeV like eV denotes an energy which is equivalent to 1 million electron volts or:

1 MeV = 10 6 (1.6 x 10-19 J)  =   1.6 x 10-13 J

From this, the binding energy per nucleon can also be obtained:

Eb / A =   1806.1 MeV/ 238 = 7.58 MeV / nucleon

2.The sketch graph shown  (See Blog Post – Questions, for reference) plots the mass number A vs. the binding energy per nucleon (BE/nucleon) on the vertical axis.

 Using any models or other explanations, account for the region of greatest stability indicated. 


 Appeal may be made to the “liquid drop” nuclear model. The diagram shown actually shows a constancy of Eb / A  beyond the A  »22 value and beyond. I.e. if a correction is made at smaller A of this range for surface effects – analogous to the surface tension in a water droplet – and a correction is also made at larger A for Coulomb repulsion (of protons) then the main portion of the binding energy per nucleon curve (Eb / A    vs. A) is found to be nearly constant.

Minus the liquid drop and Coulombic repulsion corrections noted above, the region of highest stability shown is simply the region for which Eb / A = max is effectively constant over:
»  50 < A <  75

Without applying either of the corrections.

3. A quantum square well potential is defined according to (see 'square well' displayed in question (3) in Intro. To Nuclear Physics post): 

It is found that the Schrodinger equation to solve becomes:

2/ 2m ( d
y2/dx2 ) = Ey


y2/dx2 + 2m/ ħ2 (Ey) = 0

And the quantized energy is found to be:

E n = (h2/ 8m L2) n2

This can be modified to yield a simplified Fermi energy in one dimension by using instead:

E n = (h2  p2/ 8m L2) (N/2)2

Where all the Fermi shell energy levels are presumed occupied up to N/2.  Use this to obtain a simplified estimate of the energy associated with the oxygen nucleus if we assume its shells filled up to N =4 and use an estimate for L as  R = r o A 1/3

(Take m = 1.7 x 10 -27 kg)


We have:   E n = (h2  p-2/ 8m L2) (N/2)2

=  4[(6.62 x 10-34 J-s)2 (3.14) 2  /  (8m L2)

Where L is obtained from: R = r o A 1/3

=  (1.2 x 10-15 m) (16) 1/3   =   (1.2 x 10-15 m) 2.5 = 3.0  x 10-15 m


E n  = 

4[(6.62 x 10-34 J-s)2 (3.14) 2  / [ (8 (1.7 x 10 -27 kg)( 3.0  x 10-15 m)2]

E n  =     1.4 x 10 -10 J 

5.(a) Find the ratio of the helium nucleus radius to that of the uranium 238 nucleus.


The ratio of the radii is given by:

R1/ R2  =  [r o A1 1/3] /  [r o A2  1/3]

Or:    R1/ R2 = (A1/ A2) 1/3

Where: A1 = 4  and A2 = 292


R1/ R2 = (4 / 292) 1/3  

=  0.239

(b) Estimate, using any technique you can think of, the ratio of the nuclear densities for part (a).


The expression for the nuclear density, as a function of the Fermi energy is given by:

r  =  [2M EF /  3 2/3 p 4/3 ħ2] 3/2

Then the ratio of densities, i.e. r1 / r2  would be:

r1/r2   =

 [2M1 E1F /  3 2/3 p 4/3 ħ2] 3/2/  [2M2 E2F /  3 2/3 p 4/3 ħ2] 3/2


r1/r2   =   [M1 E1F / M2 E2F ]

Thus, an estimate of the density ratio can be obtained by taking the ratio of the nucleon masses M1 to M2, and multiplying it  by the ratio of the Fermi energies.

6. An element has mass number A = 202 and atomic number Z = 80.

a) Find the diameter of the nucleus and how many times it is greater than that of hydrogen.


R = r o A 1/3

Where:  r o  =  1.2 x 10 -15 m, so D = 2 R

Then: D2  =  2 (1.2 x 10 -15 m) (202) 1/3  =  1.4 x 10 -14 m

And the diameter of hydrogen’s nucleus is:

D1  =  2 (1.2 x 10 -15 m) (1) 1/3  =  1.2 x 10 -15 m

So the ratio (which yields how many times the element’s nucleus is larger) is:

D2/ D1 =  11.6

b) Find the mass defect D M for this nucleus.


By the regular mass addition formula for nuclei:

80 (1.008142) + (202 – 80) [1.008982] =  203.747 u

DM = 201. 970* – 203.747 = - 1.77 u

(* From table of atomic masses)

c)  Solution:

The binding energy is then: Eb = DM c2     = (931 MeV/u)(1.77) = 1647.8  MeV

From this, the binding energy per nucleon is:

Eb / A =   1647.8   MeV/ 202 = 8.15 MeV / nucleon