Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Science/2013 July 12

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July 12[edit]

Heads of State who were also Medical Doctors?[edit]

Hi, does anyone know of any Heads of State (current or former) who were medical doctors? The only one I've been able to find is Ram Baran Yadav, President of Nepal. Thank you for your help. LastPolarBear (talk) 11:24, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

François Duvalier -- Finlay McWalterTalk 11:37, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Mohammad Najibullah (he article says he graduated as a doctor; it doesn't say whether or not he practised as one). -- Finlay McWalterTalk 11:49, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Sun Yat-sen. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 12:57, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Bashar Hafez al-Assad. OsmanRF34 (talk) 17:09, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Not technically a head of state or "real doctor", but Grigori Rasputin's healing powers put him in a place of influence among (or over, some say) the ruling family of Russia. Depending on why you ask, he might count. InedibleHulk (talk) 03:12, July 13, 2013 (UTC)
Gro Harlem Brundtland. --NorwegianBlue talk 22:17, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
More info at List_of_physicians#Physicians_famous_as_politicians, which features among others Salvador Allende and Papa Doc (the latter already mentioned by Finlay McWalter). --NorwegianBlue talk 00:37, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
Added Radovan Karadžić to the list (as politician, he was already on the Physicians famous as criminals list). --NorwegianBlue talk 08:24, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
I've added Sir Earle Page to the list. He wasn't a head of state, but a head of government (Prime Minister) for a short time. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 08:36, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

How soon til the island of stability?[edit]

I am curious if there is anything similar to Moore's Law in regard to the creation of heavier elements? Thanks μηδείς (talk) 22:11, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Are you really curious? Haven't you been paying attention to physics for the last three decades? The Superconducting Supercollider was canceled. The funding at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been diverted to "bio-research." The National Ignition Facility is the last large program at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Stanford Linear Accelerator is dissociated from its parent institution and they turned the beam tube into an X-ray laser for biological research applications. Fermilab shut down the Tevatron. Brookhaven National Laboratory is shutting down their synchrotron. The Spallation Neutron Source is sputtering along at Oak Ridge. The program at Los Alamos has been shifted to theoretical work, "arsenal maintenance," and treaty compliance. No, there is not an accelerating trend in the current state-of-the-art in nuclear, heavy ion, and high energy physics. This field is very rapidly dying, especially in the United States. Nimur (talk) 23:02, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
I didn't realize one needed high-end supercolliders to do that work, does one? I thought, from reading our article, the problem was the lack of precursor. My only knowledge of the subject is from the even more decrepit Scientific American, or Guccione's sci-porn. μηδείς (talk) 23:21, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
SLAC is being used for physics as well, just not particle physics. IRWolfie- (talk) 23:48, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Let me specify I am still confused by the above comments. I have only had enough physics to fullfil an undergrad requirement for the biology major. μηδείς (talk) 00:24, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Moore's law describes a rapidly accelerating pace of technological development, fueled by massive investment and acceleration of technology. Basic science rapidly pushes the frontier; new technology is immediately adopted by industry and put to practical use. Moore's law describes a particular state of affairs that characterized the computer and electronics industry over the last three or four decades; it has taken many forms, from the vague description of a technology "acceleration," to specific claims about technology parameters and durations. If you contrast that to the sorts of theoretical physics and basic science that are related to nuclear research, or to the industrial applications therein, you find no such acceleration or rapid progress. Technological and scientific development is slowing down in the areas of basic science related exotic nuclear physics research. Without a cold war between nuclear-armed states, there is little incentive to pour resources into the field. There is still progress on the edges of the current state-of-the-art, but it is nothing like the electronics industry. Nuclear technology is not "accelerating," and it is certainly not doubling its capabilities every two years.
At best, we can say that there's been a tiny break in the ice - after nearly forty years with no new plants, Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant was approved for a second reactor, four or five years ago; many more nuclear facilities shuttered operations during that timeframe. Existing technology is stagnant; new technology and basic science research are rapidly declining.
This state of affairs for nuclear technology is nothing like Moore's Law. The cutting-edge of nuclear technology is barely funded; existing technology is deployed at new facilities slower than a pitch drop experiment. Contrast this with Moore's Law - corporations and governments pour money and time and manpower to invent new technology; performance doubles every two or three years; existing infrastructure is totally overhauled and replaced every six or ten years. Nimur (talk) 01:07, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, that's an interesting and quite clear response. μηδείς (talk) 01:15, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Nimur is certainly knowledgeable and seems quite cogent here, yet... I wonder. To begin with, I wonder how much is being kept back from us - even as described in the island of stability article - because it has to do with making nuclear initiators. This isn't my field, but my crude understanding is that a nuke works in a way analogous to regular explosives, with a sort of "blasting cap" in the middle to set it off; this cap is made up of these exotic high-numbered isotopes. (As I recall, in the news item that ran in Nature right after India's first nuclear test, the scientists responsible were photographed holding up 2, 5, and 1 fingers respectively... which is right around the top of the public list of stable isotopes, I think) Next, there is the question of whether more and more giant accelerators are really the answer, or if there are other ways - how about "surfatrons" (plasma acceleration), tabletop neutron sources, etc.?) Is there a way to avoid the accelerator, and if not, then do the people who say that the world is better with one giant project than five national ones have a point? And of course, does scientific research really require nuclear power plants be built for routine electric power? Wnt (talk) 04:00, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Here are some nice educational web pages produced on behalf of the Nobel Foundation: on the history of the integrated circuit - the evolution of which is described by Moore's Law; and on making energy from matter - nuclear fusion, the process by which lighter elements are combined into heavier elements. You can decide for yourselves whether these technologies and the basic science that underpins them are trending in the same way. Nimur (talk) 05:41, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure what to make of that. But it seems like new elements are being confirmed at a fairly steady pace - Timeline of chemical elements discoveries seems to indicate this, if I'm correct in assuming that most of the "unconfirmed" discoveries will eventually count as discoveries at the times indicated. This is all the more remarkable considering that most of these things are incredibly not worth discovering in any isotope that has yet been observed, and it is possible that there is simply nothing more worth finding, though I doubt that. Wnt (talk) 06:13, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

So, how much did L Ron Hubbard actually get right...[edit] terms of his theories on the human mind and mental illness? Are there any good online resources that discuss this in layman's terms? I'm looking more for things written by people who understand the subject matter they're discussing - not random haters who're all like 'bleh, the guy was an asshole... and fat - and his followers suck', etc. -- (talk) 23:37, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Perhaps it would make sense if you looked at the current state of the art with regards to the human mind and mental illness become familiar with it, and then look at his claims? IRWolfie- (talk) 23:56, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
And it should be stated, with regard to anything he may have gotten right, "even a blind dog hits the tree once in a while". --Jayron32 00:05, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Note that much of the "engrams" bit is, according to many sources, based on Freud's idea of repressed trauma. Bear in mind that Dianetics was initially an offshoot of psychology, but as the professional racket got organized Hubbard wasn't invited, so in order to remain legal he had to brand his practice as a "religion". Wnt (talk) 06:16, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
There are many conflicting stories about how Hubbard got into the religion business. One that I heard from another science fiction writer was that he initially did it to win a bet with some other writers that he could start up his own religion. If that's true then clearly things got a bit out of hand! But there are *many* "origins" stories for Dianetics. SteveBaker (talk) 14:23, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
Whatever you say about it, it's a real religion now. It has several groups that all claim to have the only True and Real version of Scientology and all hate each other utterly, for example. :) --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 21:10, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

Natural human lifespan in the wild, without modern medicine[edit]

How long is the lifespan of a human in the wild? If someone has a minor heart attack, they just go to the hospital to get treated. But if we didn't have hospitals or any other form of modern medicine, we would no longer be artificially prolonging our lives. So how long would a human's lifespan be, then? Rebel Yeh (talk) 23:55, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

To be specific, 32 years. Mattdillon87 (talk) 03:10, 16 July 2013 (UTC)