Max Weber Institute at NewRuskinCollege.com



Home
The Proposal ***
1- Weber and Ludwig von Mises
2-Army Navy Club
3-News to Change You
4-Technical Corrections
5- "Wrong"
6-Clones, 2nd ed.
7-The Biology of Cognition
8-Bio War News
9-Bell Curve Papers
10-Abortion and Crime
11- Anthrax by Ross_Getman
12- Demon in the Freezer
13- Bioweaponeers
14- Water
15 - MILK
16 - Neglected Home Front
Catalog
Judgment Day
4-Technical Corrections

Science news
Headlines provided by Moreover

Max Weber Institute Blog

circes.jpg

 

06-29-2004

Correction Number One:    

Parallel Universes

 

Several people in the media have been making references to “parallel universes” since our publication of Wrong Part II;  most notably Glenn Beck.

 

This is a misinterpretation.  The eleven dimensions are not in another or parallel universe.  They are present in this universe.  This universe appears three dimensional, (or possibly with time, four?), but it is in fact 11 dimensional.

 

You can see the 11 dimensions in the way matter and energy move in this three dimensional space-time world.  We have yet to formulate an explanation of these other dimensions, but they are present in this universe.

 

Counselor:  Oh, I thought Technical Corrections was the page where you corrected errors at this web site.

 

Error?  Here, at New Ruskin College? . . .  well, I suppose you could say that when our students make errors they reflect back on us. . . .  But no, Technical Corrections is where we correct misconceptions about technology, out there,  . .  . in the world.

 

Now, what some of you may have been thinking about is Dr. Young’s thesis from 1979:  the many worlds hypothesis.  He proposed parallel universes.

 

The idea of 11 dimensions is different from this.  For some time physicists proposed that the other dimensions are curled up and do not show themselves in our three dimensions.  More recently they propose the existence of these other dimensions  “outside the ‘brane’" (short for membrane) of our three dimensional universe.  But even here the membrane in which we live is still part of the other proposed dimensions.

 

Or for example, in a Black Hole where we are told that matter the size of the Earth are reduced by gravity to no bigger than a golf ball.  How is this possible?  It is not possible unless matter alters, becomes something other than what we have know it.

 

It seems clear to me that matter must be reduced back, fused back into, the multiple dimensions from which it originated.  Matter which in these three dimensions appears to occupy a given area, space, in the Black Hole is returned to the originating dimensions like a pile of beads being slid back on their string. Yet if so, these dimensions are still a part of our universe, the matter may move from the observed three dimensions back into its constituent dimensions but it remains in this one universe.  

 

The mathematicians who have discussed these dimensions do so as if they were purely imaginary, or mathematical, not real physical (all be it not three dimensional) things, forces.  I propose that this universe moves as a kind of hologram, composed of these dimensions which infuse the world, whose entanglement creates the world,  and  from which our three dimensional universe unfolds or tumbles out of the 11 dimensions.  But these dimensions are present here, not parallel, and real physical facts, just on the other side of the familiar three dimensions, yet all of which is in one universe.  There may be a light dimension which manifests or reveals itself in these three dimensions by the sympathetic movement of light in our three dimensions.  (Light in our three dimensions is probably the result of three of the 11 dimensions as it can be both a wave and a particle.) 

 

For example, light travels at 180,000 miles a second.  Physicists tell you things like that and we nod our heads, ‘yes, of course.’  But think about it.  A second?  Are they mad?  No, we never ask them that.  They have us completely cowed.  But just think about it. 

 

You put two D cell batteries in a flashlight and the energy in those batteries is sufficient to accelerate photons to 180,000 miles a second?  No, not even accelerate, they start from your flashlight at that speed.  At that speed!  Instantaneous as it were.  You stand on a mountain and signal another on another mountain, fifty miles away and you think nothing of it? Light a match and the energy on the match head is sufficient to race across these great distances?  And so fast?

 

I think it impossible.  Yes, even though I have seen it with my own eyes, still, I say it is impossible.  What other explanation can there be?  I propose that light is, if not exactly one of these dimensions, as close an approximation you are likely to find in this universe.  In a since when you switch on your flashlight you are not so much sending photons as tickling the universe, i. e. one of these dimensions.  In a since these photons are already there in the matrix of this world, in the structure of space-time.  The filament only agitates this dimension, or tickles it.  Light is the mirth of the universe.

 

Light waves are perpendicular to the direction of propagation because this dimension interconnects to the others in a certain manner, not yet explained.  Electro magnetic waves form themselves the way they do because of the interconnections of the 11 dimensions.

 

Counselor:  But you do not know what that interconnection is?

 

No.  These dimensions are showing themselves in our familiar three dimensions---

 

Counselor:  But you do know how to demonstrate this?

 

No. For example matter being ejected from a star is traveling we are told at sixty thousand miles per second.  Sirs? A second?  How can this be?  Again it seems fantastic unless, in some sense the matter is already there, in these other dimensions.  All matter and energy in the familiar dimensions are manifestations of these 11 dimensions.  Not parallel but  ---

 

Counselor:  I’m trying to understand . . . why have you taken such an interest in this?  You are not a physicist?

 

No.

 

Counselor:  No training?

 

Well some classes . . . I . . . have read . . .

 

Counselor:  I want to understand.  Why . . .

 

Well perhaps we should change the subject.  I only wanted to clarify  . . . not parallel universes.  One universe.  One turn.  Only.

 

Counselor:  I just want  . . . to understand  . . .

 

No. No, let’s change the subject.

 

Then later.......

 

Oh, did you happen to see this?  It seems Dr. Hawking has come around to my way of thinking. . .  he no longer believes in parallel universes.  

 

Counselor:  What?!

 

Yes, see it,    take a look here: 

 

Sorry, no parallel universe, Hawking says

By Associated Press

Jul 22, 2004 - 07:49:32 am PDT

 

DUBLIN, Ireland -- After 29 years of thinking about it, Stephen Hawking says he was wrong about black holes.

The renowned
Cambridge University physicist formally presented a paper Wednesday arguing that black holes, the celestial vortexes formed from collapsed stars, preserve traces of objects swallowed up and eventually could spit bits out "in a mangled form." Last week, in an interview with the British Broadast Corp., he revealed he had changed his long-held thinking on black holes. 

 

Hawking's radical new theory caps his three-decade struggle to explain a paradox in scientific thinking: How can objects really "disappear" inside a black hole and leave no trace, as he long believed, when subatomic theory says matter can be transformed but never fully destroyed?

Counselor:  This can’t be.  This is some sort of trick!  Let me see that.

 

Hawking's new theory produced waves of skepticism and puzzlement from leading physics professors. Two in the front row -- William Unruh of the University of British Columbia and Robert Wald of the University of Chicago -- shrugged and shook their heads in disbelief as Hawking spoke.

"Hawking is completely revising his prior belief that what goes into a black hole is washed out. Now he believes that anything emitted from a black hole can be identifiable back to its source," said Wald, an expert on black holes. "He's running away from what we still believe."

Unruh said: "Part of the problem is he's providing so few details, so it's impossible to know whether we can believe these calculations. Stephen Hawking's not stupid, so we're going to take what he says seriously ... but the whole theory we're hearing seems extremely speculative."

Not long ago, Hawking was just as certain that black holes destroyed whatever they took in.

In 1997, he and Caltech physics professor Kip Thorne made a well-publicized bet with a particle physicist, John Preskill, that "information swallowed by a black hole is forever hidden from the outside universe and can never be revealed, even as the black hole evaporates and completely disappears."

 

Counselor:  This is some type of trick . . . you have changed the space time continuum haven’t you?  You found out about this then went back in time to post your own theory didn’t you?

 

Yvonne!

 

Counselor:  Tell me the truth!

 

You know it is not very flattering for you to be so surprised ----

 

Counselor:  What?  Surprised!  That a world famous physicist should completely change his theories, theories that he has had for 30 years, after you posted your ----

 

Sweetheart you are getting upset. . . .

 

Counselor:  Upset?  You expect me to believe ----

 

Anyway we haven’t yet discovered how to transform the space time continuum,  Dr. Ho Li Chung hasn’t even been born yet.  He isn’t due until 2121.

 

Counselor:  That’s it.  I’m going for a hike.

 

OK, but do be back for tea . . . dear?  Sweetheart . . . (well she can’t get far. . . )  she does like her little hikes up on Mt. Watts, . . . cloud hidden . . . hmmm . . .

 

Preskill said he was pleased to have won the bet with so many witnesses present, but was sad too. "It's been so much fun talking about this issue for such a long time. What are we going to argue about now?" he said to laughter.

Preskill said he was looking forward to seeing Hawking's much more detailed paper on the subject next month. "I'll be honest -- I didn't understand the talk," he said.
 

 

 

october.jpg
**** BOUNTY ***** ABUNDANCE ****

Link to Max Weber Institute Blog

06-29-2004

Correction Number Two:

The enormous benefits of biotechnology: 

Desert Reclamation.

 

We have perhaps spent too much time discussing the dangers of biotechnology.

 

Some may now wonder if it is worth the risk. First of all, for reasons provided elsewhere in New Ruskin College, there is no alternative.  The technology is unavoidable.

 

Secondly, the period of terror risk is greatest now and will decline as our knowledge increases, and that knowledge will allow us to increase our defenses against bio attacks.  (Of course the technology will transform human kind and the world but unlike many commentators we here at New Ruskin College welcome everyone of these changes, we hold no sentimental attachment for the human race as we have known it.  As for Mother Earth, we look forward to improving her.)

 

As an example of what can be done with this new technology consider desert reclamation.  For all of our existence we have had to fight for our survival.  The universe was not engineered for our benefit.  We are about to change this.  Mother Nature proceeds by an entirely different route from our own engineering.  For one thing, Mother Nature, is satisfied, is delighted, by whatever she produces.  We on the other hand have certain standards that our creations must meet.  They must be beneficial for us.  Therefore our creative process is more constrained than is Mother Nature’s.

 

However, we do not have to try a billion different combinations in order to find the desired outcome.  Mother Nature from our perspective is wasteful, where as we can go from step to step just covering what is required to achieve our desired results.  We are more efficient.

 

Deserts are an example of waste.  Mother Nature does not so regard them but we do.  Deserts are just one example of waste in the natural order.  What is the carrying capacity of the planet Earth?  All of our estimates, all of our thinking, is based on our history, our experience.  But this is just the point.  We do not have experience with bio technology.  What we regard as the natural limits are about to be blown away.

 

Nothing has prepared us for the bounty we are about to experience.  What is the carrying capacity of a square mile of South Pacific Ocean?  How much plankton can it contain.  How many fish?  We have no idea.  The Southern Oceans are a kind of desert.  We will very soon be able to engineer the entire biosphere, algae to whales.  There are no limits.

 

Unlike Mother Nature we can skip all the intermediate unwanted states and move directly to the optimal.  For example, recently a Salmon has been designed with a gene that allows it to produce a protein that can be metabolized more efficiently.  The Salmon grows faster.  Same fish, same ocean, same amount of sun light, same inputs (as the engineers say), but a higher output.  We have a word for this:  ef-fi-cien-cy.  

 

Now think, not just one gene in one fish. How much life can a square mile of ocean hold?  There are no limits.

 

Consider the Sahara Desert.  First we design a grass that devotes most of its energy to developing roots. Spread it during the rainy season.  Seed the clouds with it.  We thus develop a matrix of roots.  The seeds go dormant in the summer and start again with the next rain.  A layer of bio material develops, grows on its own,  all across the Sahara.  Each season a newly engineered seed.  For example, tubers that devote their energy to absorbing water and holding it inside far months into the summer.  Other grasses develop stalks and die off in the summer only to regrow from those stalks in the next rains.  Like tree trunks the stalks grow a new ring each rainy season.  All the plants are engineered to live with little or no water for most of the year. 

 

With time, the sand storms subside under this growing blanket of biomass.  Walk on the desert now and it crunches under your feet. Tubers burst with fresh mushy water.  More seasons pass, more grasses are developed, engineered, and behold: savannah.

 

Place the Sahara under a bank of North South oriented artificial clouds, high up in orbit above the atmosphere, and the heat moderates, the rains come sooner and stay longer.  The artificial clouds are a mile wide and 1,000 miles long, each separated from the other by  5 miles, stretching out across the continent of Africa from the Nile to the Atlantic.  They cast shadows down on the desert like a giant venetian blind, alternating sun and shadow, moderating the environment.  Now after 10 years the Sahara has a top soil base of one to eight feet thick.

 

Now tell me what is the carrying capacity of the Sahara Desert?  The planet Earth?

 

We have no idea.  We have no way of judging this.  We have not inhabited such a world since the Garden of Eden.    

 

Next consider man . . .

   

    

Stem Cells discuss their functions. . .
proserpina.jpg
. . . prior to returning to the body.

Max Weber Institute Blog

 

 

 

07-10-2004

Correction Number Three:    

Stem Cells, 3rd ed.

 

The most common misunderstanding about stem cells is the failure to understand that the genetic material in the cells, which are the subject of  study, is not itself compatible with any particular patient.  The current controversy is over research, not medicinal application.

 

Stem cells have an important future role in the new regenerative medicine.  However, these medicinal stem cells will be engineered for the particular patient by inserting the patient’s own DNA into embryonic stem cells or by growing the patient’s own stem cells, so called adult stem cells, in vitro, outside his body in the laboratory, possibly correcting their genetic function, and then reinserting them.

 

Note here that the donated embryonic cells will have their DNA removed, only the cytoplasm, (or the body of the cell that surrounds its nucleus, which is a kind of packaging  of the cell), will remain when the new, i. e. the patient’s DNA, is inserted.  The question may arise whose cell is it?  Is it the patient’s or is it the donor’s cell?  Clearly it is the patient’s as it is the DNA which makes it specific. 

 

The reader may question:  well but what about the donor’s DNA, is it just destroyed?  Did we kill it?  Just to make room for the patient’s DNA?  This is really too silly.

 

Perhaps you should talk over your emotional problems with Yvonne.  If you are going to make a moral issue about this donated DNA,  if you are going to call it life, you are evidencing an emotional attachment, to a molecule, that seems out of place.  Are you really not dealing with some other issue and just transferring these emotions to this question? 

 

Consider just for starters that in the case of embryonic stem cells there has been no conception.  The embryo has not been fertilized.  It is a cell. An egg.  An unfertilized egg.  If not fertilized in two weeks it was going to be discarded.  You want to treat this as a funeral?  Every month a woman is not pregnant you are going to hold a wake?  (Well, wait a minute, this idea may have some merit . . .)

 

The correction of the patient’s genetic material may be for  damage of  congenital origin, damage that existed at birth, (conception), or the repair of damage caused by disease or the environment, for example, radiation or chemical damage.  Or consider the damage caused by age itself.  At the ends of the DNA molecule is telomerase, which binds the ends of the DNA molecule the way the tips on your shoe laces keep them from fraying:

 

“Telomeres are DNA sequences found at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes which maintain the fidelity of genetic information during replication. Under normal circumstances the telomeres become shorter and shorter with each cycle of cell division. A sufficiently short telomere is believed to signal the cells to stop dividing. The telomerase enzyme is a ribonucleic protein that synthesizes telomeric DNA on chromosome ends.” Telomerase Activator Cloned, By Sean Henahan, Access Excellence 

 http://www.accessexcellence.org/WN/SUA11/telomerase897.html 

 

Current research on embryonic stem cells was focused on how telomeres are renewed, and may now have been completed, (without a degree in the field and working in research labs, it is difficult to keep up with the researchers,(plus they have a few IQ points on me)).  Old DNA when put into the embryonic stem cell developed new telomeres.  This is part of the reason embryonic stem cells were studied.  But research is  progressing quickly and from this article it appears their has been some success.

 

I had thought that first stem cells, with the patient’s DNA, (repaired), would be used, to reimplant the corrected DNA into the patient.  For example, with your telomeres rejuvenated your stem cells would be young again and when injected into your heart wall, for example, would improve your heart functioning.  Or when injected into your cranium, a million stem cells per treatment might do, would improve your brain functioning, allowing you to create new neuron networks. 

 

My thinking was that because this repaired DNA would come back to you in its own packaging, the stem cell, the operation of implanting it would be easier.  However, I have recently read a professor of molecular biology say that he thought that insertion of  repaired DNA into the patient’s existing cells, using a viral shell designed for this purpose, would become practical first and engineered stem cells would follow.  As I say it is difficult to keep up with our colleagues in this fast changing field.

 

Counselor:  Colleagues?

 

Well, sort of, we are all men of science.

 

However, for our, ah, science, the important thing to understand is that no one foresees baby farms where stem cells are “harvested.”  (Unfortunate it is that this term is occasionally used by our colleagues, who know more about their science than they know about rhetoric.)  Fetal stem cells are of interest for basic research however the field will soon exhaust this area of study, may already have done so, and will move on to using engineered stem cells of our own fabrication.

 

However this may be, our point of concern here is that in any case this is a temporary area of research.  The application of this research will be to use stem cells that are compatible with the patient’s body, i. e. have the patient’s own DNA.  Therefore there is no risk that fetal tissue will be needed in medical application of this technology as the DNA must be removed and the patient’s DNA inserted.

And yet there is a bill before the Senate that would make this removal and insertion of DNA a criminal offence.  Kristen Philipkoski, of WIRED, recently reported, “Dr. Irving Weissman, an adult-stem-cell researcher, outlined some successes he's had with the cells. But he went on to urge for a change in Bush's policy. He also had harsh words for a bill sponsored by Brownback that would outlaw therapeutic cloning, also called somatic cell nuclear transfer, which involves extracting stem cells from the embryonic clone of a patient. Researchers believe it could eliminate potential immune rejection because a clone would be a patient's exact genetic match.”

This is unbelievable.  We propose to make scientific progress criminal?

 Dr. Weissman recently said, "I urge you to think hard whether you wish to overrule good science and medicine and ban some kinds of biomedical research and therapies for the first time in American history.  In my own personal moral view, those in a position of advice or authority who participate in the banning or enforced delays of biomedical research that could lead to the saving of lives and the amelioration of suffering are directly and morally responsible for the lives made worse or lost due the ban." (WIRED, 7-15-04)

Having considered embryonic cells, (unfertilized eggs), let us now question the use of fetal stem cells.  These cells are again of interest for research, not medical application, for reasons already given.  Once the DNA is removed we can say it belongs as much to the patient as the donor.  If you are going to argue that the DNA molecule is itself life, that its removal from the cell is murder, you have strayed far from the common understanding of “life,” and you trivialize murder.  If your moral reason does not allow you to distinguish between a cluster of cells in a Petri dish and a stack of corpses then can it still be called reason?

 

All DNA, embryonic or fetal, comes down to us from our very first mother.  All life on Earth shares a common ancestor.  Our genes are shared across a line of ancestors that connect us with millions of other creatures, our brothers and sisters, swimming in the sea and flying in the sky, all the beasts of the Earth. 

 

This DNA does not belong to anyone species.  Its removal and insertion, even our eventual fabrication of it, is a continuation of this 4 billion year old process called evolution.  At the present moment our researchers are not able to write genetic code one base pair at a time.  They still must borrow the lines of code from Nature.  The DNA they cut and paste, move, yes and remove, is 4 billion years old, handed down to us from our first mother.

 

This tissue, this cell, this molecule, is older than any government, older than all of our human history.  If you would not allow our scientist to examine this tissue, cell and molecule, yes and manipulate it, you would deny them the very substance of their science.  Unlike our science of metaphors and symbols, this messy stuff, is the material of their science.          

 

For our science also note that interfering with the scientists over what is a trivial issue of letting them examine tissue, a practice allowed them for several hundred years since the Enlightenment, only alienates one of the few academic communities not already openly prejudiced against conservatives.    

 

Our President by invoking a rule that allows the practice of examining old tissue, stem cell lines already in existence,  but which forbids funding for the examination of new tissue, new lines of cells, (not babies), has created an utterly confused and indefensible moral distinction.

Says Peter Van Etten, president and CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, "The current policy is based on an arbitrary factor -- a specific cutoff date unrelated to science -- that negates important technical progress that has been made in the field outside of federally funded research.  The truth of the matter is that we need more stem-cell lines in order to provide better models for studying and curing a wider range of human diseases." (WIRED, 7-15-04)

And again, for what end, as the rule only interferes with current research, which is a passing phase?  The President, for no great moral reason, (not great because he does allow funding with the old tissue lines), has thrown an administrative stumbling block in the way of a community of academics with which we would do well to strengthen our ties not exacerbate.  Because there is no great moral issue, if there is he must be consistent, (I do not see it), his action appears capricious and arbitrary. 

 

And, of course, as usual the President has never bothered to provide an explanation.  (He has said that what he likes about being President is that he does not have to explain himself.)   

 

And so we have an example for our next issue of This is What is Wrong with the Republican Party.  For no discernable reason we alienate the most progressive and advanced members of the community, without explanation, in apparent ignorance of the greater issues and strategy.  Wandering around lost, waiting for an ambush.  Ah, yes, to be a Republican. 

 

all-you-can-web.jpg

Link to Max Weber Institute Blog

 

 

07-12-2004

Technical Correction

Number  4:  Biometric  Data Systems

 

 

Several reporters have described how national identity cards can contain the biometric data and this will allow the verification of the person presenting the card, because the bearer’s  identity can be confirmed on the spot by checking his fingerprints, iris, or facial scan to authenticate the card.

 

What is worrying about this is, if they can get this wrong, something seemingly so simple and obvious, how much else have they gotten wrong?

 

The identity system is of no use if the information can not be trusted.  Your driver’s license, your passport, already contain your biometric data, your face, some states, (I think only West Virginia now), have a thumbprint.  In other words there is no advance in identification unless the data can be made more secure.  A “smart card” might pose a momentary difficulty to a counterfeiter  but since it is in the possession of the bearer its authenticity will always be questioned, and therefore offers no advance in security.

 

The key is that the applicant’s claim of identity be checked against a secure data base.  In other words a computer system, a data base, whose security can be trusted is what is needed to advance security not biometrics.

 

Biometric data, analyzed by computer does itself offer advantages and represents an advance in identification but, without the secure data system, biometric data itself is not much of an advance.  It is the secure system which is important.

 

Biometric face data, (or even walking data, a record of your gate, or manner of movement),  allows systems to remotely survey a crowd and look for known suspects.  But, again, the suspects  are “known” because their biometric data has already been acquired and entered into the system.  The advantage of biometric data in general application is not that it allows this automated remote sensing, but because it allows the applicant to appear at a check point without any papers at all.   As long as the secure system is up and operating, the applicant's finger prints, iris, voice, face, etc. serves as his identity document. 

 

Therefore the so called smart card is redundant.  If you read the smart card and do a scan of the applicant  you have not advanced the process unless you can then check the identity with a secure data base.  I would propose instead of a smart card the applicant carry a personal transponder.  Thus when the applicant approaches the checkpoint, when in line for example, the transponder can answer an electronic query from the checkpoint giving the applicant’s identity.  The checkpoint robot can then summon up the record from the secure data base so that it is ready when the applicant gets up to the camera, or finger print reader, or iris scan, or voice analyzer.

 

This is the idea behind “rolling checkpoints.”  No one has to stop in line at a checkpoint unless the identity fails to check, and then only those applicants need be detained, everyone else can roll on through.  This system will then allow a second layer of defenses to be laid on top of the existing system.  Here a virtual monitoring system can be created from the data records.  When someone moves out of the ordinary routine their diversion from the routine can be noted and brought to the attention of authorities.

 

Normally this Palestinian’s car goes from home to the market on Tuesdays but today, this Tuesday, it is approaching an Israeli check point and the driver’s transponder does not match the camera scan.  Warning, duck behind the blast wall!  Also in bio warfare the records of movement can be used to establish a “virtual quarantine”  of those who have been exposed to the threat.

 

The key to these systems is not the smart card but the wireless server.  The mobile units and checkpoints need to be able to access the server wirelessly.  The server itself needs to be kept secure from potential intrusion.  Once the system is set up the information moves both ways, it is not just an inquiry only system.

 

In Iraq for example the troops should have been issued digital cameras, finger print readers, and wireless laptops,  and these could be used to take scans of the people the troops questioned.  Each face would be tied to a name, date, time, place, etc. and sent to the server.  We were told that a census would have to be completed in order to hold elections, however, the entire country could have been photographed and recorded in a few weeks after the end of the war, if such a system were issued to the troops.  All this technology is off the shelf consumer goods. 

 

Even though the first contact might not establish an independently confirmed identity, if the applicant points to his home, the GPS location can be recorded, along with his other assertions, i.e. name, date of birth, etc.  If later the same face is identified in another location the story can be checked against the data base, and suspects whose movements are suspicious can be arrested.  Even if only lies were given to our troops on the first encounter, the second, third, etc. scans and recording of information will soon show who has been giving inconsistent information.

 

So  though computer scans of biometric data is more accurate, and versatile, allowing for automated remote sensing, the real key advance is the wireless data base from a secure server.   

 

 

This then would be just one example of the things that were not done in 2002 in preparation for the Second Gulf War.   We did not “staff out” the preparations because the Republican Administration thinks that government is the problem.

 

But this is not a particularly important example of the failure of government.  Far more damning is the failure to properly support basic biological research.  Since the 1970s the path forward in bio-medical research has been clear.  Every dollar invested in research has paid off handsomely in the health of the people.  There is never going to be a time when we do not want to know how our immune system works, why our DNA ages, how we can improve our cognition.  In the technical jargon of Public Administration this type of investment is known as a no brainer.  And yet research facilities sit idle even as the threat of bio attack grows with each passing day.        

     

millpond.jpg

Max Weber Institute Blog

 

 

 

07-20-2004

Technical Correction Number 5:

Vehicle Transponders and Market Allocation of Highways and Roads.

 

The most common misunderstanding is that the tolls or usage charges are necessarily designed to discourage use.  This misunderstanding occurs because the most publicized use of this technology has been to limit traffic in London’s city center.  Here the charges were designed to discourage or limit traffic.  However, this need not be the case for normal use.

 

The charges can be made to vary with the value of the use.  A lane of highway in an urban area is more valuable than a lane of highway in Nebraska.  (No offense Nebraska.)  At rush hour many motorists may have wished for another lane, in there direction, however the cost of providing the extra lane in their urban area would be higher than providing another lane on a highway in Nebraska.  The value of a highway varies with location and time of use and the user is fairly charged for these variables. 

 

However, as simple gas tax is paid at a constant rate depending on the gas mileage of the user’s vehicle.  Whereas the tax charged by metering the transponder can be apportioned to the value consumed or conferred on the user.  Even if the transponder metered “use tax” only replaced the gas tax the consumer would be benefited by having the tax assessed, based on the value derived.

 

Then too, there are larger issues.  Now that a system of payment has been established by the use of transponders, the roadways could be privatized and the capital thus raised used to pay off the national debt of $7.2 trillion.  The balance could be credited to Social Security and invested in biotechnology.  Advances in biotechnology could allow the faster advent of Regenerative Medicine which in its turn could allow us to postpone the retirement age which would improve the fiscal soundness of the Social Security system.  This would allow the Social Security Administration to be more patient with its capital in the hands of the entrepreneurs which would in turn allow for a faster accumulation in the trust funds.

 

All this from eliminating government ownership of highways.  However, if it seems to the reader that we have traveled too far a field from our starting point let us return to transponders, and allow me to demonstrate more clearly why anti market attitudes are holding us back and how this anti market prejudice relates to transponders:

 

You may have noticed that now whenever tanker trucks are stolen there is increased concern on the part of our authorities.  This is, of course, because of terrorism.  Transponders hidden on these vehicles could allow for their rapid location.  Even if the thieves located and removed the transponders vehicles passing checkpoints without leaving their transponder code would be suspect.  Vehicles passing with some other vehicle’s code would be suspect, (license tags can be scanned as confirmation and the vehicle’s transponder history, (movement), can be automatically double checked.)

 

As it happens this system already is in use at many airports for example.  Every time a commercial vehicle enters the airport its transponder is checked and a service charge, (use tax), is recorded.  Bus companies use their own radio system to track their vehicles as do trucking companies, and cab companies.  In fact on examination we discover that wherever there is an ownership, proprietary, interest transponders are already in use to track vehicles.

 

It is only in the public sphere that their use seems new and novel.  In Maine when the pressure became too great for the State bureaucrats to resist they finally agreed to try an “experiment.”  An experiment!?  As if this were some new untested exotic technology which might not work in Maine?  Idiots?  No.  They were trying to protect the jobs of the unionized toll collectors.  Jobs in Maine are hard to come by.  So the government workers and even the managers, (do not count on the government managers to protect you, they sold you out a long time ago),  they all sought to fight (labor saving) technology as long as they could.  

 

Now the fact that scarcity of jobs in Maine might have more to do with the fact that they rank 35th in per capita income but 19th in taxes than it has to do with the merciless pace of technology overtaking toll collectors is never considered when discussing unemployment in Maine.  Government’s mismanagement is not up for discussion.

 

And if the reader is winking at this page in self satisfaction that he understands the deep point being made here, even if the backwoods men of Maine are too stupid to see the obvious, think again.  What if I could demonstrate in the next sentence that the reader, blindingly brilliant knower of the truth he may be, has his whole life passed by even a more obvious fact of government mismanagement without ever remarking on it?

 

Have you never wondered what was in those big refrigerator sized boxes that you see on the corner of every light controlled intersection?  No?  Inside those boxes are electromechanical devices that were originally designed around 1918, the year of the Communist Revolution in Russia.  For nearly a hundred years you have without so much as a “second thought” allowed the state to control, own, operate, regulate traffic on every controlled intersection in America, the land of the free.   Am I impertinent to ask why are you such hypocrites? 

 

If you owned these intersections, if your income was derived from how efficiently you operated these intersections, you would have wanted to know how many people you could move through your system, you would have found ways to speed up traffic, not slow it, certainly not jam it. 

 

For example, in the Bay Area, the Post Liberal Bay Area, government bureaucrats deliberately try to find ways that can impede traffic.  They feel justified as they have been told by their Marxist professors that automobiles are evil and are killing the Earth.  These deliberate policies of sabotage are not limited to traffic.  Sewer charges are now over $20,000.   It is thought fair to the post liberal that new house holds should be made to buy their own sewer system, the older residents having already “paid” for “their” sewers.  That the newer households are also the younger ones, with lower incomes, and less wealth, does not register with the post liberal.  Similar fees and delays, (Washington DC now takes one and a half years to approve a home), are manifestly unfair, unjust, and go unremarked by   the post liberal. 

 

These cost are shifted onto the users, the young households for example, not by the operation of the market but by government fiat.  The government is not raising its price and hoping to see if the consumers are willing to pay, not mutual consent,  the government is using its power of coercion to force payment.

 

Our roads then are just another example of state inefficiency. This is the difference between state ownership and private ownership:  Because everyone owns it, no one owns it, so no one cares to improve it, to make it more efficient.

 

In the normal, (private), operation of the market, contending sectors, individuals, try to shift cost off on to other sectors, while trying to maximize the profits for themselves.  For example in our earlier discussion of taxes we pointed out that taxpayers seek  to raise their prices and avoid other’s attempts to shift their taxes.  As a practical matter even if we can raise our price our feeble attempt to shift costs, like taxes, are quickly swamped by others who are raising their prices also.  But at least we try! There is the constant struggle to efficiency. 

 

The state does not bother. If it requires more money it raises taxes.  End of story.  We of course know that that is not the end of the story.  We know that even so called progressive taxes fall unevenly on the economy and hit hardest on those at the bottom or in sectors that can not raise prices or shift the burden.  But from the government’s point of view this is irrelevant.  Faced with increasing demand for the use of the intersection the government bureaucrat does not think how can I increase efficiency, his role has been narrowly circumscribed to limited areas of action.  Widen the road.  Or, . . . well widening the road is pretty much the only tool in their kit.

 

For thirty years the technology to use transponders and radio signals to switch intersection traffic has been available and ignored by the public sector.  Where have been the politicians?  Look, don’t even start with me.  You know where the politicians have been. (Whenever there are layoffs in municipal governments it is always the young traffic engineers, with the advanced degrees in systems and planning that are let go and the old guys with the orange vests and tape measures that are retained.   This is a standing joke in Public Administration.  (Well, OK, so they are not comedians.))

 

Since the Eighties computer technology could have been added to the systems to make them more efficient by a factor of 10.  During the Olympics in Los Angeles a huge advertising campaign was launched to discourage needless driving to avoid traffic jams during the games.  Measurements showed that traffic was reduced by only 10%.  However, this 10% reduction was enough to eliminate the traffic jams.  People simply changing their schedules by slight margins eliminated the traffic jams.   Use charges could do the same thing.

 

In addition transponders can also relay information to a smart grid of traffic controls so that the system can change, minute by minute, as the consumer demand changes.  Since the Nineties radio systems in the cars could have given the system a two way ability to communicate with the users.  To days systems could be even more advanced.

 

But none of this has been done because no one owns the roads.  No one is trying to make this sector of the economy keep up with the ever changing advances in the other sectors of the economy.  Why?  Selfishness.  If you owned the airport you would figure out how to increase profits, increase efficiency and they have.  Bus companies, taxis, trucking companies.  But not the government.  Even when huge tanker trucks go missing, when we are engaged in World War IV,  we shrug our shoulders, ‘what can you do?’  Stupid.

 

So when that stolen tanker truck is filled with explosives, or bio agent, and driven to your child’s school there is no one who has an “ownership interest.”  When that truck, loaded with explosives, moves down the public road it is traveling through a no man’s land.  No one owns it so no one cares.  This is just the same highway most of us, the bottom 75%, travel, our needs unnoticed and without the protection of the public sector.  The economist can not advise you because this behavior is not “economic.”  Why would someone do such a thing?  There is no “economic” incentive, therefore, as far as Economics is concerned, this is human action that falls outside their science.

 

And just so the total system, the traffic, the roads, and how they interrelate are the government’s responsibility:  meaning no one’s responsibility.  This is not just a problem of Maine bureaucrat’s reluctance to utilize technology to make the toll roads more efficient.   All of these seemingly different things are manifestations of how we live.  How we relate to one another.  Selfishness.

 

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

 

You have certain systems of thought within which you live, just as the buss, trucking, cab companies exist within the larger system.  The inefficiencies of the state controlled traffic system are outside their scope:  a fact of life.  Something about which they may complain, but about which they can do nothing.  So too war is outside the scope of the economists.  They can advise on how to administer the war, but as for why it is fought, this is out side their science.  The tax tables look objectively fair, in that everyone within a band of income pays the same tax, yet, by the operation of the market the burden is shifted from the more efficient sectors who have greater ability to raise prices onto those sectors with less ability to shift the burden and avoid taxes. 

 

Chances are that the reader, if he is in one of these privileged market sectors, does not spend much time ruminating about the fate of those in the less fortunate sectors.  Nor do the readers with the more privileged genetic combinations spend much time thinking about those whose “God given gifts” have been less generous.  At our page,  “The Biology of Cognition,” we have some recent press releases about the molecular biology of cognition.  The first one compares the thought process of a squid at the bottom of the sea and a squirrel dancing through the branches of a tree.  Both share a common structure, yet the squid, who presumably has time to pause and refresh between thoughts operates much more slowly than the squirrel’s brain which is ready to update on a second’s notice.   But like you the squirrels do not spend much time on pity for the slow footed, or, ah, slow pawed,  and unlike you there is no market to act as intermediary between them, to connect them.  

 

Markets allow all of the different views to be presented, all the costs, those that have been directly incurred by the market, and those that have been forced on it by taxes are all consolidated, and all of this information is then given to the consumer, who is free to exercise his choice with the full knowledge of all that has been done, this information being conveyed to him by the simple device of the price.

 

By removing the roads and highways from the market important concerns, like location and time of use, are currently omitted from the calculation.  This failure of accounting results from a failure of vision or perception.  Your thinking is that roads are “public” and . . . and well that has pretty much been your thinking on this subject.

 

You work for NPR and you do not much think about those not so fortunate to be in  possession  of a $200 million hamburger fortune or 50% Federal subsidies to keep up with the other sectors of the economy.  You have a $30 million fortune piling up from your Fox TV employer and you bitterly complain about having to reach down into the stream of commerce a little further to pull out the 34% more to pay the taxman.  Have you ever considered who paid your $30 million? You write your columns for the New York Times and sell your books and use your PBS airtime to promote your speaking engagements but you do not have to stay up at night worrying about those in sectors of the economy in competition with  foreign products or even actual illegal workers here in this country.  

 

And when you are all flying first class do you ever reflect how the cost of your tickets are redistributed through the economy?  Who ends up paying?  To the extent these cost are redistributed by the free action of the market mutual consent can be our excuse.  The consumers were willing to pay.  But when, for example, you add a multimillion dollar anti missile system to the tail of your airplane at taxpayer’s expense, their can be no claim of  mutual assent.  Selfishness.  Such is life.

 

So something as seemingly simple as transponders is entangled in a series of judgments that extend back in time to our earliest beginnings.  We think of ourselves first.  Then our children.  Perhaps a mate.  Etc.

 

Yet in public policy we should try to extend ourselves just a little further.

 

When you look at the sectors with the highest inflation it is difficult not to see the hand of government imposing itself and stifling advances:  medicine, housing, education, transportation.  As Moynihan said there is a migration to the public sector from the less efficient sectors.   This is not, as the entertainment conservatives in the mass media claim, because the doctors are lazy, or that tenants are to stupid to use their “God given abilities” to buy a home, or because teachers are stupid and lazy, etc., etc.

 

All of these sectors have their individual circumstances that cause them to lay claim for government assistance no doubt.  Yet I am asking the reader to consider all the ways that the reader, acting en mass with the polity, through the state, has allowed these sectors to limit and restrict the innovations that might increase their efficiency?  In Medicine: allowing greater ease of entrance into medical services; in Housing:  allowing factory methods of construction, (see Dwell), and greater access to the market; in Education applying technology and flexible work rules; and in Transportation: allowing metering of use with transponders. 

 

In all of these areas there is a prejudice against the market.  Yet, without market forces exercising their influence there is no way of overcoming the selfishness that is naturally the human condition.  The elite, secure in their privileged positions are perhaps no more selfish than the rest of us, yet removed from the exigencies of circumstance, they exercise the veto over all proposal for change, in all of these areas, and freed from having to suffer the consequences of their veto, they exercise power without responsibility.    Selfishness   

 

          

         

 

Golden Gate Suspension Bridge
ggbridge.jpg
Cables are Anchored at each end.

x

 

09-08-2004

Technical Correction Number 6:

Oakland San Francisco Bay Bridge

 

The greatest misunderstanding about the California Department of Transportation’s (CalTran’s) proposed design to replace the existing earthquake vulnerable Bay Bridge is not, (1), just that the proposal would used a Cable Stayed Bridge, which is itself vulnerable to earthquake damage, that such a design has never been attempted to span 2,000 feet, (if built it would be the largest such bridge in the world), not that CalTran has failed to test their design for damage caused by even a “small car bomb,” (see Lecture Notes 09-04-04);  the greatest misunderstanding is not these merely technical issues, nor is it, (2), the fact that this proposal is itself a change from the original CalTran design which DID NOT include a Cable Stayed span, this span being added because the conventional original proposal was thought by local politicians (e.g. Jerry “moon beam” Brown, Mayor of Oakland), to be too plain;  No not even this aspect which adds an element of the San Francisco Bay Area’s frivolousness, an example of how Post Liberalism will spend billions, (the bridge is now $4 billion over budget), on decorations for a bridge while failing to allow the construction of housing in the metropolitan area which has resulted in the current  $600,000 median home price, the legendary commutes, the “couch surfing,” homelessness:   No, though all of these things are involved in this issue, the most misunderstood aspect of the project is that, (3), this affair provides us with yet another example of how the American elite, here the Bay Area Post Liberal Elite, use government to take money from the people, to exploit them, in order to advance their own interests, while still using the rhetoric of the “New Deal” and “equality” and “opportunity” and “The People,”  and though this is hard to judge, seemingly actually believing their own lies and unaware of their hypocrisy, degeneracy, and final corruption.  

 

 

The visitor may find outline of interest.  $2 billion cost over run no longer seems as important to me.  There are so many examples of corruption why pick out this one?  I now doubt that we are able to communicate with one another. 

 

1

a.  Suspension bridges have anchors at either end to hold the cables.  Cable stayed bridges anchor one end of the cable in the road deck itself.  If the road deck is damaged the structures geometry is changed and “progressive collapse” occurs.

 

b.  Road deck can be damaged by earthquakes or by even a “small car bomb.”

 

c.  No experience with such a large bridge of this type.  Contractors working on other projects at this time.

 

2

a.  Aesthetics elevated by political elite.

 

b.  CalTrans responded to political pressure with new design but still claims that the change made for technical reasons, i.e. to span the 2,000 feet distance, even though this distance was spanned by original design.  Must have a “functional” reason.

 

c.  Frivolity of powerful Post Liberal elite.  Housing policies.  Workers forced into campers.  Photos of campers at local prisons, hospitals, police stations, factories, etc.  San Jose airport’s rental of spaces to campers.  Deaths due to exhausted workers falling asleep at wheel while the disco beat goes on at Oz nightclub etc.

 

d.  Marxist professors indoctrinate zoning policies, transportation policies, etc.  to “heighten the contradictions” of “Post Capitalist”  societies.  Contradiction of conservative platitudes about “free enterprise.”  Collusion of Left and Right.  Conspiracy of   elite.

 

e.  Post Liberal elite public policies similar to business i.e. private policies.  “Administrative solutions.”  World view.  Elite vs. the rest of us.

 

3

a.  Marin Ship.  War effort.  Period of growth during after war.  War and “trust” mutual support and identification.  G. I. Bill. 

 

b.  Golden Gate Bridge example of government powers to foster growth.

 

c.  Corruption.  Elite.  Down zoning.  Anti growth.  Bridge Directors plum political jobs.  Unions and perversion of public policy.  New bridge in this pattern.  Bridges of Corruption.

 

A UC Berkeley professor believes the unique new Bay Bridge design is fatally flawed
BY RON RUSSELL  originally published: March 17, 2004
ron.russell@sfweekly.com

If only Abolhassan Astaneh were a flake he could be dismissed. But as an internationally recognized authority on the design of steel structures, the UC Berkeley engineering professor and his jeremiads against one of the most expensive public works projects in Caltrans history aren't so easily ignored.

It isn't just that he considers the state's plans to replace the east span of the Bay Bridge -- with its colossal $2.9 billion price tag -- to be a boondoggle. Although that might seem reason enough to apply the brakes to a project enormously over budget and years behind schedule, especially considering that California is nearly broke, Astaneh's chief concern has little to do with dollars and cents.

Instead, the principal expert to whom Caltrans turned for advice on how to bolster Bay Area toll bridges after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake believes that the "signature" segment of the planned new eastern crossing between Yerba Buena Island and Oakland -- a "self-anchored" span suspended from a single, 525-foot-tall tower -- could be a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Neither he nor anyone else denies that the existing east portion, opened in 1936 and exposed as unsafe after part of the upper deck collapsed during the deadly 1989 quake, is long overdue for replacement or major retrofitting. But Astaneh argues that the novel design of the suspension section of the bridge -- to be the longest of its kind in the world and comprising roughly 14 percent of the entire new east span -- is inherently unsafe in an earthquake, sandwiched as it is between the San Andreas and Hayward faults.

While careful not to appear unconcerned about Astaneh, Caltrans officials reject his view. "We appreciate what Professor Astaneh has to say, but we don't share the same level of concern [about seismic vulnerability]," says Caltrans Chief Deputy Director Dan McElhinney, who is overseeing the new bridge project. "A good many engineers and others have looked at the design and have determined that the bridge will be safe."

Astaneh has spent the last six years telling anyone who will listen that a major quake with an epicenter near the bridge could cause the 1,850-foot-long suspension segment of the planned 1.5-mile crossing to crumble into the bay like a giant Erector set. After years of delay, work on the rest of the eastern bridge, a long causeway officially referred to as a "skyway" but derided by critics as a "freeway on stilts," began in 2002. In the last year, huge cranes hauled in to drive pilings deep into the bay's muddy bottom have become a familiar part of the landscape.

Even with the skyway construction under way, the project remains problematic. Caltrans is rudderless after Jeff Morales, an appointee of former Gov. Gray Davis and a driving force behind the bridge project, resigned as director earlier this month after three years on the job to make way for someone of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's choosing.

Amid little fanfare, Caltrans in January once again pushed back the opening of bids on construction of the suspension span's tower and cables until late May. Caltrans now says it will be 2010 -- or 21 years after the Loma Prieta quake served notice about the vulnerability of the existing bridge -- before the new one is complete. Only three years ago officials were saying it would be ready by 2006 or 2007. Since then costs have soared, more than doubling original estimates. Citing the enormous challenge associated with building the one-of-a-kind suspension span, key contractors continue to balk at Caltrans' construction timetable, making Astaneh's design critique appear to be more relevant than ever.

But the professor's misgivings about the span's seismic characteristics are only part of the bad news from someone whose advice about steel bridges has long been in high demand and who was part of the research team called upon to help pinpoint the cause of the World Trade Center collapse after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He insists the new bridge, too, is vulnerable to a potential terrorist bombing.

Astaneh says that a limited analysis based on computer modeling suggests that even a relatively small car bomb at the right spot could cause the entire suspension span to collapse, something that experts say is next to impossible with the Golden Gate Bridge or either of the Bay Bridge's existing spans. He says Caltrans should get independent security consultants to conduct extensive blast resistance tests, which he believes the agency has neglected to do, and determine once and for all whether the bridge will be capable of absorbing the explosion of a terrorist bomb. "It is ironic," says Astaneh, "that after all these years and so much money the new bridge in my view will be more, not less, vulnerable than the span we now have."

Caltrans' McElhinney says the matter "has been looked at by a variety of federal agencies." Caltrans, he says, is "doing all that we can to provide a structure that considers possible attacks on the bridge," including creating plans for the U.S. Coast Guard and the California Highway Patrol to monitor the span. He declines to specify what sort of blast tests may have been conducted or by whom. But Herb Rothman, the New York-based principal design engineer of the suspension segment, is less circumspect when asked if the design has been examined for vulnerability to a car bomb.

"We didn't design for blast," he says.


There is little disagreement about one thing: Building the curved suspension span is a huge challenge, requiring engineering methods never before attempted in a seismic zone.

With a typical straight-decked suspension structure, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, towers are erected first, the main cables are hung between them, and the deck is attached to the cables. That process is reversed with a self-anchored suspension bridge. Because the suspension cables are anchored in the deck, rather than in the ground at either end of the bridge, the deck must be placed high above the water on a temporary edifice known as "falsework." Then the cables attaching it to the tower are connected.

This means building two bridges -- one temporary and the other permanent. Seismic issues aside, the method required to construct such a bridge makes it enormously costly compared to other design alternatives. That is why two engineers with international stature, who served on an advisory panel entrusted with recommending a winner among several competing designs deemed less aesthetic, opposed the self-anchored concept.

"[It] is simply not an efficient and rational structure," says Manabu Ito, a professor emeritus at Tokyo University who is among Japan's most renowned structural engineers. Ito was part of the 36-member advisory panel assembled by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in 1997 to help decide what kind of bridge to build after political winds prompted a shift in Caltrans' original aim of merely retrofitting the existing east span.

Critics complained that the competition was hardly that at all, and describe the MTC's deliberations as rife with conflicts of interest, noting that several of the advisory panelists were connected to contractors whose designs they were responsible for judging.

Besides Ito, another notable dissenter was T.Y. Lin, a professor emeritus at UC Berkeley whose pioneering work in prestressed concrete had a profound influence on modern structural design. After the MTC's 1998 final approval of the self-anchored suspension span, Lin denigrated the choice as a "monument to engineering stupidity" and predicted that if built, the bridge would become a "laughingstock."

Lin, who died recently, said little publicly about the new bridge after those blistering remarks. His critique might have attracted more attention had he not been in the awkward position of having promoted his own design for the east span while a member of the MTC advisory group. In the end, the winning concept was submitted by a consortium that included the company Lin founded half a century ago and later sold, T.Y. Lin International of San Francisco.

Several people close to Lin during the 16 months that the advisory committee held its hearings say the legendary engineer harbored some of the same safety concerns about the self-anchored design that Astaneh expresses. "There's no question that he had misgivings about it," says Steve C. Thompson, a Mill Valley architect who also served on the panel.

 

 

R. Gary Black, a UC Berkeley professor of architecture (who, partnering with Astaneh, promoted his own bridge design for a time), agrees. "I talked to T.Y. extensively during that time, and he had two issues with [the chosen] design. One was cost. He just thought it was a needless waste to build a bridge that way. And the other was potential safety. He hadn't done the kind of work that Professor Astaneh had done, but he felt it didn't really make sense to build [that type of bridge] in a seismic zone."

Unlike regular suspension bridges, where the main cables are connected to large concrete anchor blocks firmly buried in solid ground, the self-anchored bridge's cables will be hooked directly to the deck. The cables will run from beneath the deck on one side, up to the tower and down to beneath the deck on the other side, before looping back up and over the tower in the opposite direction.

"Think of a tower holding up a tray," Astaneh says. "Instead of being anchored in the ground, as is traditionally the case, the bridge is essentially holding itself up. That means if there is a sufficient rupture, all or part of the span could unravel."

An aspect of the design that Astaneh finds particularly troublesome is the tonguelike connector joints linking the suspension portion of the bridge with the skyway. A quake powerful enough to cause the earth beneath the bridge to shift, a phenomenon known as permanent displacement, could make the suspension span and skyway break apart, he says.

In the Loma Prieta quake, connector joints were the culprit when ground motion triggered a partial collapse of the existing bridge. Land beneath the span moved about 12 inches, snapping bolts that held segments of the bridge together. The result: A 50-foot-long section of the upper roadway collapsed at one end and fell onto the lower roadway at the ninth pier from the East Bay shore.

Given the steel truss design of the existing span at the break point, even if the lower deck had given way the worst that would have happened is that the bridge would have been severed at Pier E-9, like a gap in a row of teeth, says Astaneh. "But with a self-anchored suspension span, permanent displacement could cause a completely different story," he says. "Because the suspension cables are anchored into the deck, should the deck give way and lose compression, there's nothing to hold the cables. The entire [suspension] span could unravel."

Herb Rothman, the bridge's chief design engineer, discounts that scenario. "This bridge will be very well suited to a high seismic area," says Rothman, 79, whose professional credits include having been project engineer during construction of New York's Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the 1960s. "As far as we're concerned, the bridge has ideal earthquake characteristics, and meets all the standards that the state mandated for it."


Although a few smaller self-anchoring spans using two towers have been built in the last 20 years, including one in Japan and another in South Korea, the Bay Bridge crossing will be by far the world's longest self-anchored structure borne by a single tower. As a result, Astaneh notes, there are no seismic performance data available for this type of bridge. "If they build this bridge and the Hayward fault ruptures, there is a high probability that the resulting earthquake would severely damage the bridge, and possibly cause a partial or catastrophic failure of the main span," he says.

Astaneh shared his concerns with MTC officials before the advisory panel approved the design in 1998. He did so again in 1999 after then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, with help from the Navy, succeeded in delaying final state and federal approvals following a brouhaha over the span's alignment across Yerba Buena Island property owned by the Navy. (The federal land has since been turned over to the city of San Francisco.) Alarmed that little was happening to replace the unsafe existing bridge more than a decade after the Loma Prieta quake, the Clinton administration intervened in 2000 to help settle the dispute.

After hearing a lengthy presentation from Astaneh in 1999, Brown held a news conference the next day to announce his opposition to the single-tower design, saying he was convinced it was unsafe. Although critics accused him of posturing, suggesting that Brown's agenda was to torpedo any design that might interfere with plans by politically connected friends to develop part of Yerba Buena Island, the mayor never recanted his safety concerns.

With a boost from Brown, Astaneh was dispatched to Washington, D.C., where he gained an audience with Clinton administration staffers including a high-level assistant to then-Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater. With Brown and the Navy resisting the self-anchored design on one side, and Caltrans, the MTC, and Gov. Davis pushing for the bridge project to move forward on the other, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was called in to study the issue.

Although the Army engineers gave their seal of approval to the bridge design, a voluminous Corps report issued in October 2000 can hardly be classified as a ringing endorsement. About the best the engineers could say about the seismic concerns Astaneh had raised was that "the design team is moving along a path to design a bridge that meets the seismic performance criteria" established by the MTC.

The Army Corps concluded that the bridge was not designed for a "maximum credible earthquake," or MCE, along either of the two nearby fault lines. An MCE denotes the most severe ground motion considered possible at a given location. Scientists say the San Andreas fault, which runs beneath the peninsula on which San Francisco rests, is capable of producing an MCE of 8.0 on the Richter scale, and that the Hayward fault, which passes beneath the Oakland hills within five miles of the bridge, could produce a 7.25 shaker. By comparison, the Loma Prieta quake, which, among other things, collapsed the Cypress Freeway in West Oakland, killing 42 people, and killed another person on the Bay Bridge, measured 7.1. But its epicenter was 60 miles south of the bridge; experts say damage to the span would have been worse had the epicenter been closer.

Caltrans and the new Bay Bridge's designers say their plan incorporates the highest seismic safeguards. But they based their calculations on a different model, called the "safety evaluation earthquake." SEE places more emphasis on the probability of a major quake occurring during the bridge's anticipated 150-year life span.

The Army engineers didn't take a position on which is the better approach. Neither did they pass judgment on the self-anchored bridge's seismic characteristics compared to other designs.

"On a scale of A to F weighing seismic safety reliability and cost efficiency, where A is the best system and F is unacceptable, how would you rate the standard anchored suspension bridge and the proposed self-anchored, asymmetric single tower, pile-supported East Span replacement?" reads a question posed in an appendix to the Army Corps report. The engineers' response: "The rating requested in this question is outside the current scope of work."

The MTC board voted 11-1 in favor of the self-anchored design recommended by its advisory panel. Then-Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris was the lone dissenter, at the time citing cost and aesthetics as his primary objections. His successor, Jerry Brown, took a similar position. Looking back, Harris now says, "I think [the MTC] was too eager to get on with it. And it was too dismissive of Astaneh."


Although his expertise remains highly sought-after by others, Astaneh says he has paid a price as the bridge's chief naysayer.

After he spoke out, Caltrans halted payments on a $500,000 grant to the university's engineering department for work being done under Astaneh's supervision. "Caltrans is not good at tolerating dissent," he says. Caltrans denies any retaliation, saying budget cuts forced it to scale back spending for academic research.

Inevitably, Astaneh's stance has been labeled as sour grapes by some who note that a competing bridge design that he and R. Gary Black submitted was among those that the MTC panel rejected. The suggestion draws a chuckle from the professor. "Oh, come on," he says. "More than 275,000 people a day cross that bridge. We're talking about people's lives." As for his design, he insists, "We were very proud of it, but from my perspective it was as much an exercise for my students as anything. I never expected that it would be chosen, and I certainly wasn't heartbroken over it when it wasn't."

Even now, he says, if the governor or someone else were to ask, he would recommend scrapping the self-anchored span and finding another way to link Yerba Buena Island and the East Bay, even if it meant merely extending the skyway. But he isn't on a crusade.

"My friends and my wife have said, 'Why not just be quiet about the bridge?' But it's very simple. If, God forbid, a tragedy should occur on that span someday, I don't want anyone to say I didn't do enough to speak up."


 R. Gary Black, a UC Berkeley professor of architecture (who, partnering with Astaneh, promoted his own bridge design for a time), agrees. "I talked to T.Y. extensively during that time, and he had two issues with [the chosen] design. One was cost. He just thought it was a needless waste to build a bridge that way. And the other was potential safety. He hadn't done the kind of work that Professor Astaneh had done, but he felt it didn't really make sense to build [that type of bridge] in a seismic zone."

Unlike regular suspension bridges, where the main cables are connected to large concrete anchor blocks firmly buried in solid ground, the self-anchored bridge's cables will be hooked directly to the deck. The cables will run from beneath the deck on one side, up to the tower and down to beneath the deck on the other side, before looping back up and over the tower in the opposite direction.

"Think of a tower holding up a tray," Astaneh says. "Instead of being anchored in the ground, as is traditionally the case, the bridge is essentially holding itself up. That means if there is a sufficient rupture, all or part of the span could unravel."

An aspect of the design that Astaneh finds particularly troublesome is the tonguelike connector joints linking the suspension portion of the bridge with the skyway. A quake powerful enough to cause the earth beneath the bridge to shift, a phenomenon known as permanent displacement, could make the suspension span and skyway break apart, he says.

In the Loma Prieta quake, connector joints were the culprit when ground motion triggered a partial collapse of the existing bridge. Land beneath the span moved about 12 inches, snapping bolts that held segments of the bridge together. The result: A 50-foot-long section of the upper roadway collapsed at one end and fell onto the lower roadway at the ninth pier from the East Bay shore.

Given the steel truss design of the existing span at the break point, even if the lower deck had given way the worst that would have happened is that the bridge would have been severed at Pier E-9, like a gap in a row of teeth, says Astaneh. "But with a self-anchored suspension span, permanent displacement could cause a completely different story," he says. "Because the suspension cables are anchored into the deck, should the deck give way and lose compression, there's nothing to hold the cables. The entire [suspension] span could unravel."

Herb Rothman, the bridge's chief design engineer, discounts that scenario. "This bridge will be very well suited to a high seismic area," says Rothman, 79, whose professional credits include having been project engineer during construction of New York's Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the 1960s. "As far as we're concerned, the bridge has ideal earthquake characteristics, and meets all the standards that the state mandated for it."


Although a few smaller self-anchoring spans using two towers have been built in the last 20 years, including one in Japan and another in South Korea, the Bay Bridge crossing will be by far the world's longest self-anchored structure borne by a single tower. As a result, Astaneh notes, there are no seismic performance data available for this type of bridge. "If they build this bridge and the Hayward fault ruptures, there is a high probability that the resulting earthquake would severely damage the bridge, and possibly cause a partial or catastrophic failure of the main span," he says.

Astaneh shared his concerns with MTC officials before the advisory panel approved the design in 1998. He did so again in 1999 after then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, with help from the Navy, succeeded in delaying final state and federal approvals following a brouhaha over the span's alignment across Yerba Buena Island property owned by the Navy. (The federal land has since been turned over to the city of San Francisco.) Alarmed that little was happening to replace the unsafe existing bridge more than a decade after the Loma Prieta quake, the Clinton administration intervened in 2000 to help settle the dispute.

After hearing a lengthy presentation from Astaneh in 1999, Brown held a news conference the next day to announce his opposition to the single-tower design, saying he was convinced it was unsafe. Although critics accused him of posturing, suggesting that Brown's agenda was to torpedo any design that might interfere with plans by politically connected friends to develop part of Yerba Buena Island, the mayor never recanted his safety concerns.

With a boost from Brown, Astaneh was dispatched to Washington, D.C., where he gained an audience with Clinton administration staffers including a high-level assistant to then-Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater. With Brown and the Navy resisting the self-anchored design on one side, and Caltrans, the MTC, and Gov. Davis pushing for the bridge project to move forward on the other, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was called in to study the issue.

Although the Army engineers gave their seal of approval to the bridge design, a voluminous Corps report issued in October 2000 can hardly be classified as a ringing endorsement. About the best the engineers could say about the seismic concerns Astaneh had raised was that "the design team is moving along a path to design a bridge that meets the seismic performance criteria" established by the MTC.

The Army Corps concluded that the bridge was not designed for a "maximum credible earthquake," or MCE, along either of the two nearby fault lines. An MCE denotes the most severe ground motion considered possible at a given location. Scientists say the San Andreas fault, which runs beneath the peninsula on which San Francisco rests, is capable of producing an MCE of 8.0 on the Richter scale, and that the Hayward fault, which passes beneath the Oakland hills within five miles of the bridge, could produce a 7.25 shaker. By comparison, the Loma Prieta quake, which, among other things, collapsed the Cypress Freeway in West Oakland, killing 42 people, and killed another person on the Bay Bridge, measured 7.1. But its epicenter was 60 miles south of the bridge; experts say damage to the span would have been worse had the epicenter been closer.

Caltrans and the new Bay Bridge's designers say their plan incorporates the highest seismic safeguards. But they based their calculations on a different model, called the "safety evaluation earthquake." SEE places more emphasis on the probability of a major quake occurring during the bridge's anticipated 150-year life span.

The Army engineers didn't take a position on which is the better approach. Neither did they pass judgment on the self-anchored bridge's seismic characteristics compared to other designs.

"On a scale of A to F weighing seismic safety reliability and cost efficiency, where A is the best system and F is unacceptable, how would you rate the standard anchored suspension bridge and the proposed self-anchored, asymmetric single tower, pile-supported East Span replacement?" reads a question posed in an appendix to the Army Corps report. The engineers' response: "The rating requested in this question is outside the current scope of work."

The MTC board voted 11-1 in favor of the self-anchored design recommended by its advisory panel. Then-Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris was the lone dissenter, at the time citing cost and aesthetics as his primary objections. His successor, Jerry Brown, took a similar position. Looking back, Harris now says, "I think [the MTC] was too eager to get on with it. And it was too dismissive of Astaneh."


Although his expertise remains highly sought-after by others, Astaneh says he has paid a price as the bridge's chief naysayer.

After he spoke out, Caltrans halted payments on a $500,000 grant to the university's engineering department for work being done under Astaneh's supervision. "Caltrans is not good at tolerating dissent," he says. Caltrans denies any retaliation, saying budget cuts forced it to scale back spending for academic research.

Inevitably, Astaneh's stance has been labeled as sour grapes by some who note that a competing bridge design that he and R. Gary Black submitted was among those that the MTC panel rejected. The suggestion draws a chuckle from the professor. "Oh, come on," he says. "More than 275,000 people a day cross that bridge. We're talking about people's lives." As for his design, he insists, "We were very proud of it, but from my perspective it was as much an exercise for my students as anything. I never expected that it would be chosen, and I certainly wasn't heartbroken over it when it wasn't."

Even now, he says, if the governor or someone else were to ask, he would recommend scrapping the self-anchored span and finding another way to link Yerba Buena Island and the East Bay, even if it meant merely extending the skyway. But he isn't on a crusade.

"My friends and my wife have said, 'Why not just be quiet about the bridge?' But it's very simple. If, God forbid, a tragedy should occur on that span someday, I don't want anyone to say I didn't do enough to speak up."


1926a.jpg

 

 

12-23-2004

Technical Correction:  Number Seven

 Biotechnology Now!

 

 

The single biggest mistake people make about biotechnology is the belief  that biotechnology will affect our children or grandchildren but that it will not affect us.

 

The thought is that unborn children or at least young children will live long enough, or at least that one must be young for biotechnology to change you, change your cells.

 

This is the big mistake.  That only young tissue or young cells can be changed but our old bodies, we are too set in our ways, we can not be changed.

 

This mistake results from a fundamental misunderstanding about time and existence.

 

What you are, this moment in time, is taking place right now.  You are not your memory.  Your psychology may be your memory, psychologically we exist in memory.  Some teach that we live in the now, the present moment.  Psychologically this is not possible.   Psychologically we must process information, compare it to our memory, we live over time, in the construction of our memory.  Thoughts do take time.   The present moment is so short that you can not even say your name. 

 

But physically we live now, in an unimaginably short moment of time.  In the present moment there is no movement the universe is frozen in a static instant. 

 

This is not merely a hypothetical proposition.  The whole universe exists in a moment of time measured by Dr. Max Plank as 10-43 seconds.  All of history is only 10-43 seconds in the past.  The future only 10-43 seconds from now.  The universe suspended in this moment of time.  We have the sense of time only because we have memory.  Mountains have no memory, they exists in this moment, this instant in time, 10-43 seconds in duration. (This moment is not a single moment for all observers in the universe, which depends on relative motion and position of the observers.  Time and space are strangely intertwined in a way not yet explained.  There is not a single moment, but each observer’s moment is only 10-43 seconds in duration.)

 

Our memory allows us to reconstruct this moment and compare it to our memory and see the changes that have taken place.  But in the moment of the now, nothing changes, nothing moves, there is absolute stillness.

 

This is were our cells exist.  They have no individual memory.  They simply exist in a moment of time.  Change them and they are instantly changed.  They do not say, ‘No, stop, this is not who I am.’  There is no resistance. 

 

As soon as your cells are changed, they are changed, there is no need for a ‘period of adjustment.’

 

This error in thinking may also explain why the dangers of bio-warfare are not fully accepted.  People understand in principle that at virus might enter their bodies and kill them in a matter of hours yet modern medicine has protected them for the most part and so they have become complacent.  However, just as a damaging virus can take control of your DNA and cause damage, we will soon be able to design new DNA for you, which when injected will also, again, within hours change you, for the better.      

 

For example, as soon as we learn how to increase oxygen uptake in our neurons, as soon as we change the genetic code, it is changed.  Immediately your brain responds to that change.  Immediately you are changed.

 

We are not talking about something in the far off future that only concerns your children or grand children.

 

As soon as your cells are changed, they are changed instantly.

 

Now.    

 
 
 

COPYRIGHT 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, by NewRuskinCollege.com

All Rights Reserved.