30 years ago, I predicted that the rate at which the universe was expanding was itself increasing, but I forgot to publish it. Consequently I was denied the credit (and the Nobel Prize) when it was discovered in 1998 that the universe is indeed expanding at an accelerating rate.
So, to avoid another debacle like that, here are my scientific predictions for things that will be experimentally verified in the coming years (some of these have already appeared in my published books):
- The velocity of light is increasing by a very small amount over time
- The velocity of light measured over a small local coordinate system will be greater than measured over a large distance (if not for Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, it could tend towards infinity)
- Antimatter possesses no gravity but is subject to the gravity of matter (that’s really two predictions)
- Antimatter decays into photons rapidly even if it does not encounter matter
I will publish the explanations for these predictions later. I may even wait until they are experimentally verified. I will merely provide a hint: they are all linked to the expansion of the universe.
But for now just remember: you read it here first!
Is there no end to government corruption?
In 2008, the government nationalized the bankrupt bank Northern Rock and injected $1.4 Billion of taxpayer’s money to save it. This was in addition to the £25 Billion that Northern Rock owed the Bank of England. The bank had got over-extended by lending too generously, way beyond its deposits, and relying on inter-bank lending, which then dried up when the American banks got caught out by their bad loans to unreliable borrowers.
At the time of the bailout, we were told by the last government that in due course the taxpayers would get their money back. At no stage did Gordon Browns and Alistair Darling – or their cheerleader like Lord Skidelsky – qualify that pledge with the word “some.” They said we would get our money back. Yes it would take time, but in the end we get our money back.
They even said that we would probably make a profit!
But what have they done now? They have sold Northern Rock to Richard Branson’s “Virgin Money” for £747 million, plus a further £50 million within six months. According to press reports “an additional £150 million will be realised in the form of a financial instrument.” Finally the deal promises “up to” an additional £80 million if Northern Rock is sold or publicly floated within five years of the deal. In other words it is being sold for £947 million, with the possibility of a further £80 million.
In other words, we taxpayer’s poured in £1.4 Billion, we assumed the full risk when the bank was going through that critical period and now that the risk is over, Richard Branson is going to get his greasy paws on our property for less than three quarters of the price that we taxpayers paid for it!
What is interesting, is that so far the politicians of the last government haven’t contradicted the claims of the Chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, that this is good deal for the taxpayer. In other words, they do not dispute that Northern Rock is worth less than we taxpayers were forced to pay. By the same token, George Osborne and David Cameron didn’t criticize the bailout at the time on the grounds that we were paying too much for what the asset was actually worth. Although they criticized the incompetence that led to the collapse, they supported the bailout -presumably because they wanted to stay on the right side of their cronies in the banking sector for that rainy day in the future.
This is not the first time Branson tried to buy Northern Rock. he tried when it first got into trouble, but on terms that would give him the profit while the risk would still be with the taxpayer. But now he has got his way. And of course the bank is still some £8.9 BILLION in debt to the Bank of England. They have been repaying this faster than expected – which no doubt explains why Branson is so anxious to get his paws on the bank. It will be a cash cow for him and the British taxpayer will carry the burden.
But that’s no skin off Branson’s nose – most of his companies are registered abroad… IN TAX HAVENS!!!!!!
So with halloween over and Guy Fawkes night almost upon us, we are now entering the Christmas rush, when shops start selling like mad as frantic customers venture out into the cold, dark streets to buy presents for family and friends, big gifts, little gifts, special gifts for that special person and stocking fillers.
A few years ago, a survey showed that the Scots are actually the most generous people in Britain but that Yorkshiremen lived up to their miserly reputation. Then a couple of years later another survey showed that the people of Yorkshire are the most generous but that the Scots lived up to their reputation. So is this just a case of you-can-prove-anything-buy-surveys? Well actually, no. The surveys contained a lot of useful information once you actually looked at their methodology.
The first survey – in which the Scots came out on top – looked at how much people spent on Christmas presents. The Scots led the country at £401 (this was quite a few years ago) whereas our friends from Yorkshire averaged a mere £80. But in the second survey, the basis of comparison was how much they gave to charity. And here the roles were reversed, with the Yorkshire people showing as the most generous and the Scots coming out as misers.
But this all serves to illustrate a very good point made many years ago by James (the amazing) Randi when he dismissed palmists, astrologers, dowsers, tea leaf readers and phrenologists et al over their alleged ability to discern human traits from unscientific and obviously irrelevant “evidence.” He pointed out that it is meaningless to say that some one is “generous” not only because it is what most people want to hear, but also because people can be generous in some respects and mean in others. The same can be said of intelligent, friendly, courageous, introvert, extrovert or any other human characteristic.
But to return to generosity and Christmas, I would venture to suggest that it is a time when lonely people yearn not for others to be generous, but for the kind of human company that would enable them to be generous – i.e. some one to buy Christmas presents for and some one to go Christmas shopping with. Of course one can treat oneself to an iPad, iPod or iPhone or an amazon Kindle or any one of the countless gadgets or celebrity books or cookbooks that flood the shops at this time of year. or even go on a holiday abroad. But it’s not the same as having some one to share it with.
At least if your a Scotsman.
I think I may have been a little two soft on that antisemitic hack Deborah Orr (why is that whenever I say her name I keep thinking I’m dropping my H’s?) .
Her suggestion that Israel showed a lack of regard for human life because of its monumental concession of releasing over a 1000 terrorists for one Israeli, was not merely antisemitic, it also showed what a vile and repugnant human being she is. Indeed her views are so loathsome it is hard to understand how any respectable newspaper could employ her. But then again, no respectable newspaper does.
Professor Alan Johnson wrote a reply to Deborah Orr’s anti-semitic article in the Guardian and offered it to that same publication. Needless to say the Guardian refused to publish it. It was posted on “Harry’s Place” but there appears to be a problem linking to that site. if you cannot follow this link: http://hurryupharry.org/2011/10/24/deborah-orr-should-stop-playing-with-matches/ try the following cached version http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://hurryupharry.org/
Here are some other articles that might interest you:
What is really amazing is that Orr makes no effort to even sound serious. She makes no effort to discuss the issues pertaining to a country’s commitment to its citizens or the extent thereof. She makes no effort to analyze what the released prisoners being released did or didn’t do, or the circumstances of their imprisonment or what would have been their fate if there had been no negotiations, or at least no successful negotiations. She makes no genuine attempt at an analysis of a nation that is ready to release convicted murderers to obtain the release of a hostage. She makes no effort to prove her implied thesis that terrorist violence is the only path open to the Palestinians. She makes no effort to discuss the extent to which the Palestinians (or at least their leaders) are the authors of their own misfortune. She makes no effort to discuss the fact that Shalit was kidnapped after Israel had withdrawn from Gaza. All of these are issues that an intelligent and honest journalist could, should and would discuss are conspicuously absent from her article. But then again Orr has a deeper handicap to her journalistic career than mere antisemitism or ingrained dishonesty: she is is also a very stupid woman.