Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Health Care Graph that Speaks a Thousands Words

This graph speaks a thousands words about one of the problems with US health care, the cost and what we get for that cost.  I have nothing against US health care.   I've received wonderful care and owe my life to our health care system.  But we are paying too much for it in comparison to other countries.  Why?

Notice how much we spend  per person on average and the life expectancy.  In the US we are paying too much for what we get.  Why?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Its Hard Living in a Red State if Your a Liberal

Sometimes I can't help it but I get depressed.  I don't think its a mental problem.  Its a problem dealing with living in a world where people don't treat people like they are people.  Whatever happened to "love your fellow man", or as moms says "treat others the way you want to be treated"?  Why is there racism?  Why do people hate gay folks?  Why do people hate some people period?  I'm not talking about the simple use of  the word hate, like you hate your rival sports team.  I'm talking about vile hatred.  The kind of hatred where people want physical harm on other people.  I don't know maybe someone knows. I just don't know what is the answer.  It's not as simple as they are different than you.  I feel embarrassed since I  say I hate many different people, but I didn't want physical harm against them..  I should use a better word.  It's hard to break old habits

Why can't we as humans treat other humans better?

I guess this is related to problems I have living in the red state of Louisiana in which there isn't much tolerance for certain facts,  ideas and philosophy.  A variety of topics come to mind such as what is a good education, abortion, gay rights, racism, science, climate change, healthcare, gun control, pot legalization, treatment of the poor, immigration,  anything liberal.   The plain basic hatred of Obama here.   Basically the conservative republican philosophy.  Its difficult for me to live in this environment. .  I have problems with some of his policies, but I don't hate him.  Don't get me wrong I have friends here and get treated well by them.   I have this theory of people going back to where they grew up.  Its not true for all people of course, but I think I know why this is a trend.  I think of moving all the time back to California or Oregon.  I just might do that. I've lived in my house almost 20 years now.  Longer than any single place where I have ever lived.  I've never lived in a single state for more than 10 years.  I like my house and yard.  I don't like cold and snow.  It just would be nice to live where the majority of folks and I have closer opinions on topics.  I know that people disagree on topics.  I guess sometimes I just don't understand why the differences are so large here.  These are differences along the lines of the following questions.  Why can't we have a better educated population?  Why can't we have an equal school system for all?  Why can't a woman decide what she wants with her body?   Why can't gay folks get married?  Why can't everyone be treated equal?  What's wrong with accepting science and the results of science? The teaching of intelligent design in Louisiana schools is not science its religion.  Its an embarrassment.  This I just had to mention.   Why can't everyone have the same healthcare?  Why can't we have reasonable gun control?  Why all the NSA spying?  Why all the spending on the defense industry?  Why do working people have to live in poverty?  I could go on and on.  But sometimes its just depressing living here.

It's not that I think everyone should agree with me on topics that I have mentioned.  I know that people disagree with other people and they always have.  But not to the point of forcing your views upon how someone has to live their life.  People shouldn't force their religious views on others.  People shouldn't force their world viewpoint on others.  I know that elections should have have results.  But why can't we have fair elections?  No lying, money influence, cheating.  Fair open honest simple elections.   This is for the whole world.  Its just depressing.  

Why can't we as a society treat others as we would like to be treated?  Why do people lie, cheat, steal  to get what they want?

Why can't humans treat humans better?  We all live on this same little blue planet.      

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Employers Who Pay Minimum Wage Should be Ashamed

I shouldn't even think about this topic because its not good for my blood pressure, my mental state and my desire to try to live a calm peaceful life.  But hearing people arguing over the minimum wage just plain really bothers me.  I had a post recently and also asked the following question on Facebook "What is the most precious thing an individual can sell you?"  I didn't get any comments on the post and few if any on Facebook.  My answer to the question is time.  The most precious thing is time.  That is what employers are buying from their employees.  Employers should be ashamed to be buying a persons time at the minimum wage in the US.  Paying minimum wage is immoral.  Particularly if the employer is much better off financially than their employee.    If a person is going to sell their time to an employer that employer should be able to pay a decent livable wage or not be in business. Employers should not take advantage of people for their own personal gain.  Again that is immoral.

A person making the minimum wage of $7.25/hr working 40 hours a week makes $290 per week or $1,160 a month.  Think about that.  A person selling their time gets paid for working full time $1,160 and that before taxes.  So someone works hard and gets that small amount of money every month.  Do you want to live on that amount?  After taxes, that person is making less than $250 a week for working full time!  For selling     to their employer their precious time in order to survive. Survive week after week with possibly  little chance of getting out of that existence.  Humans shouldn't have to live like that.

I hear employers say that their employee should be lucky to have a job.  I think it's the other way around.  The employer should be happy to have the employee. The employer makes his/her money from the work that the employee does.  The employer should be happy to have the employee.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Universal Health Care is the Human Thing to Do!!

I've been meaning to write about this for awhile but as usual with me it took something to really make me bitch about something to make me finally write something up, even though I can't write worth a crap.  I'll write about my inability to write another time.

The event was my finally getting an MRI done on my back.

First I'm happy that ACA finally arrived and I was able to get health insurance so that I could go to my primary care doctor to get an MRI scheduled.  Finally after what went on to  get an MRI (that  is worth of another ranty post) it got done, which on Wednesday I then got the news what it means.  Anyways the two MRI images cost me $600 out of my pocket.  WOW!  I asked what my insurance paid and was told by the receptionist $2400!!.  "For what?" I said.  "To be analyzed" she said.  The $3000 is another post altogether but what about the $600?  I've had good jobs so I had $600 saved.  What about other folks not so fortunate?  I don't know how to put into words the idea I'm trying to get through. It's wonderful that more people have health insurance.  But what happens when their out pocket costs for tests and treatment become too expensive to pay for?  If I can remember correctly the ACA sets a limit on how much a person has to spend on health care in one year.  Again I think that limit is in the neighborhood of 10%.  Also those last two sentences could be wrong.   But again what if that person can't afford that 10% what happens?  How does that person get the care that they need?  It's unclear to me since I'm ignorant on the subject and should spend more time researching it than studying new results from physics that interest me.

Here's what really get me, and its not just health care, its all over life,  all over the planet.  An example.  Its a professional football game, a player gets injured.  The team physician wants X-rays.  The stadiums have X-ray machines.  They do the necessary X-rays.  From these the Dr. wants an MRI done on the players back and neck.  The player gets that done.  Is the player charged $600?  The Dr. says surgery is needed.  Does the player pay a percentage of the cost?  I'm guessing not,  its in the players contract that the team pays all medical expenses for the player.  Why can't the same be true for the fans in the stands at the game?  For the fans at home watching the game on TV?  Why can't the fans have this same health coverage?  Same question as to why can't the fans have the same health coverage as folks in Congress?  Why are they so special?  We are all humans we all deserve to be treated the same don't we?  I know that people say that's life's not fair.  My answer has always been why not?  Everyone should get the same health care as everyone else.  Its the human thing to do.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Experimental Tests on Dark Energy

Many more experiments in dark energy need to be done, and some are, as listed below.

In case you don't know what dark energy is, its the "stuff" that makes up about 70% of the universe we live in.  Its not matter like you and I, its energy.  I don't know exactly what energy is either, the best answer I heard years ago in my Conceptual Physics class was "its' the stuff that make stuff do stuff".  Anyways a big question in physics is: What is this dark energy?

The idea of dark energy started from results on the measurements of certain type of supernovas that show that space wasn't just expanding it was that this expansion is increasing. The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2011 was given for this experimental work.  This means that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.   For some reason the rate of expansion of empty space was increasing.  The answer to this riddle is that there is some kind of energy in all of space causing this acceleration of the universe.  This has been called dark energy.   I know I'm not saying this correctly, but hopefully you get the idea.  Answers to many questions about dark energy can be obtained from Sean Carroll's blog here.  There are still more questions.  It's interesting that one thing that is being studied is an equation of state for the dark energy.  Equations of state show up in all different areas of physics.  I remember folks talking about them in nuclear physics 30 years ago or so.

The real neat thing is that many more measurements about dark energy need to be done,  So there are a variety of questions. From all the sources I've read it is assumed that the dark energy is constant throughout the universe. This needs to be tested and fortunately some experiments are being done.

One experimental test I've come across is the HETDEX group described here.

 Another experiment is  the Dark Energy survey here  This site is really good and has lots of understandable information about dark energy searches they will be doing.  They will be taking lots of data!!

 I asked the following question at stack exchange and here's some answers.

Is the acceleration of the expansion of the universe (AEU) uniform in direction? Meaning that if a particular direction in the sky is chosen and the AEU is measured and then other directions are chosen and the AEU are measured, do all these measurements agree?
AFAIK, the measurements by Riess et al were originally taken in all directions. –  Kyle Kanos Mar 2 at 20:53
I am fairly sure that all of our experimental evidence is consistent with an isotropic Universe. –  Danu Mar 2 at 21:11
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I don't think we know for sure. For example see this article (the paper is on the Arxiv here) suggesting that the acceleration could be anisotropic. However if there is an anisotropy then it's small, and to a first approximation yes the acceleration is isotropic.
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So the answers I have gotten so far are that dark energy might be anistropic but not by much.  That's the understanding I also get from reading the paper in arxiv given in the answer.  So more data are needed!

Now what about dark energy as a function of the distance from us? I can't locate any measurements of this as such.

The problem seems to be in getting a handle on how to measure the dark energy and what is it exactly?  Since dark energy is related to gravity is the particle for dark energy a graviton?  Probably not since the gravition is the field particle for gravity.  Gravitons are purely theoretical and no direct gravitons have been observed in a manner similar to experiments that have single photons being observed in the lab all the time.  No one really knows what is dark energy.  Is it whats left over from the inflaton field?

To answer what exactly is dark energy and to figure out and perform an experiment to measure it directly is quite a challenge.  I suspect a meeting with the King of Sweden would happen if you can answer these questions.

From reading about dark matter searches going on with a variety of land and space based observatories maybe they can say something about dark energy also.  A good place to look for recent dark matter searches is from a recent Dark Matter meeting at UCLA here.   There are some good talks to examine. Again lots of neat experiments for the future!

An exciting time for physics and astronomy!!!