July 10th, 2014
ABC News / By LIZ NEPORENT
A physicist may have solved string theory. No, not that string theory.
Robert Matthews, a visiting scientist at Aston University in Birmingham, England, has developed a mathematical theory that explains why headphones invariably tangle up into hopeless knots. It’s called the “Murphy's Law of String” or the “Loop Conjecture,” and it’s a phenomenon that has driven headphone users bonkers since before the Walkman was popular.
Matthews’ years of study suggest that clipping the two earbuds together, then attaching them to the end near the audio jack to form a loop, will cause a tenfold reduction in knot formation.
“First, by forming the loop you've effectively reduced the length of string able to explore the 3D space by 50 per cent, which makes a big difference.” Matthews said. “Second, you've also eliminated the two ends, which are the prime movers of knot formation.”
To test his theory, Matthews invited schools across England to participate in “the Great British Knot Experiment.” Participants compared different types of knots to determine which are the easiest to unravel. One school picked away at over 12,000 jumbled strings to provide data for Matthews’ predictions, he said.
Matthews, who has also studied why toast wants to fall butter side down, said he’s particularly satisfied that he was able to tie up the loose ends on headphone tangles.
“I hope it saves people a lot of grief,” he said.
He added that tangles are no trivial question for science. His work may help cast light on why DNA sometimes forms knotty mutations, and how knot formations in cancer cells can be undone with targeted drugs.
July 10th, 2014
(CNSNews.com) – The Saudi government has responded heatedly to British media reports implying that the kingdom has a hand in funding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Instead it laid blame for the growth of terrorist-affiliated groups on “the lack of international involvement” in the Syrian civil war.
A statement released by the Saudi Embassy in London was evidently in response to claims made by a former head of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI6, suggesting that the Sunni-ruled kingdom may be turning a blind eye to funding going to the Sunni jihadists.
The statement said Saudi Arabia “wishes to emphasize, once again, that it does not and has not supported, financially, morally or through any other means, the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic caliphate nor has the kingdom supported any other terrorist network.”
“Despite having clarified this issue on numerous occasions, several inaccurate, misleading and distorted allegations, made by certain media outlets in the U.K., require us to do so again,” it continued.
The statement did not identify the offending reports, but British media outlets this week covered a speech by former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove, in which he pointed to Saudi Arabia as a likely source of funding.
Addressing the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based security think-tank, Dearlove said the Monday that the Saudis were “deeply attracted to any militancy that can effectively challenge Shia-dom.”
(ISIS’ two main enemies right now are Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated government and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who belongs to the Shi’ite Allawite sect.)
“How much Saudi and Qatari money – now I’m not suggesting direct government funding, but I am suggesting maybe a blind eye being turned – is being channeled towards ISIS, and reaching it?” Dearlove asked.
“For ISIS to be able to surge into the Sunni areas of Iraq in the way that it has done recently has to be the consequence of substantial and sustained funding,” he said. “Such things simply do not happen spontaneously.”
July 9th, 2014
As most Fed watchers know, last week was interesting because Janet Yellen, speaking at IMF came out and said something quite surprising. In a nutshell, she said “It’s not the Fed’s job to pop bubbles”. While many market participants immediately took this to mean, “To the moon, Alice!” and started buying equities hand over fist, there’s another possible explanation for Mrs. Yellen’s proclamation of unwillingness: The Fed could be preparing to do exactly what it said it wouldn’t.
Submitted By Tyler Durden
Originally posted at NotQuant.com,
Here’s a quick re-cap of events: In the recently released Annual Report of the BIS: Bank for International Settlements (commonly thought of as the “central bank’s central bank”) the BIS made a rather ominous recommendation to it’s member banks: Pop this bubble now. Their specific language wasn’t quite so direct, but the message was just as clear.
The risk of normalising too late and too gradually should not be underestimated… The trade-off is now between the risk of bringing forward the downward leg of the cycle and that of suffering a bigger bust later on.
Few are ready to curb financial booms that make everyone feel illusively richer. Or to hold back on quick fixes for output slowdowns, even if such measures threaten to add fuel to unsustainable financial booms,” …
“The road ahead may be a long one. All the more reason, then, to start the journey sooner rather than later.”
As we noted last week, there are a couple of fascinating things to note about this recommendation. First, for anyone who thinks that the concept of intentionally crashing the stock market is the stuff of conspiracy theorists, that notion is now dead and buried. It’s extremely clear from the BIS’ language, that the concept of initiating a collapse is openly discussed as a policy measure. This was a direct recommendation to bring on the crash – or as they say so colorfully, to “bring forward the downward leg of the cycle”.
But what else is fascinating is that just days after the BIS report was released, Janet Yellen seemed to counter the BIS in her presentation to the IMF:
“At this point, it should be clear that I think efforts to build resilience in the financial system are critical to minimizing the chance of financial instability and the potential damage from it. This focus on resilience differs from much of the public discussion, which often concerns whether some particular asset class is experiencing a ‘bubble’ and whether policymakers should attempt to pop the bubble. Because a resilient financial system can withstand unexpected developments, identification of bubbles is less critical.”
What Yellen seemed to be saying — quite possibly in direct response to the BIS’s recommendations — is that the Fed isn’t in the business of popping bubbles, nor does it see a reason to intervene in their development.
So to summarize: The BIS publicly recommended popping the bubble now… and Yellen said no.
So what’s going on?
We could take all of this at face value if we chose: The BIS playing hawk, and the Fed playing dove. And that might well be the case — as to some extent Yellen is still something of an unknown entity.
But there is one more twist to the puzzle: Yellen has openly stated that she would not be offering clear guidance to the market as her predecessor had advocated. The age of Fed-glastnost is apparently coming to an end.
So indulge us for a moment as we present another possibility:
Yellen is going to orchestrate a controlled collapse. Or, at least one which we hope is controlled.
There are political considerations to be made, however: The Fed, which has not only come under intense fire for overt market manipulation, but which is also deeply concerned with market perception, simply cannot afford to be perceived as an instrument of the market’s collapse. To be seen as the instigator of a crash could do irreparable harm to the institution.
So just maybe the Fed fully intends on heeding the advice of the BIS, and is strategically positioning itself as a stalwart dove to shield itself from the public fallout of it’s orchestrated financial calamity. A particularly sound play from a political perspective in the event that things don’t go as smoothly as planned.
One thing is certain at this point: An intentionally orchestrated crash is the direct recommendation of the BIS, per it’s annual report. That this action exists as a potential policy measure is now confirmed.
The remaining question is: Would the Federal Reserve pursue such a policy measure openly, or behind the same curtains from which most of their historic policies were enacted.
As we re-think Mrs. Yellen’s speech to the IMF, we are less certain that the Fed is as unwilling to intervene as Mrs Yellen would have us believe. Bringing forward the next leg of the cycle, may well be on the Fed’s agenda.
More from Notquant
July 8th, 2014
A filmmaker with extensive knowledge of the current border crisis says this chaos is exactly what President Obama wants and planned for, and he says the current media fixation on abandoned children means criminals, drug smugglers and terrorists are coming to the United States without even being noticed.
Dennis Michael Lynch directed and produced “They Come to America” and “They Come to America II” and has extensive, daily contact with U.S. Border Patrol agents about the true state of the U.S.-Mexico border. He said there are essentially four groups of people pouring across the border: families of various sizes, unaccompanied minors, drug smugglers and career criminals and terrorists. Lynch said while the media focus on the kids, really bad people are easily slipping into the country.
“I can tell you from the people I speak to in the Border Patrol who are in the intelligence unit, they have told me that gang members are receiving as much as $50,000 per head to bring a person through. Those people are typically from the Middle East or from China,” said Lynch, who predicts the people waltzing into the country will perpetrate an attack on the U.S. that will rival or exceed Sept. 11.
“You will absolutely see terror attacks. They may not come in the form of airplanes crashing into buildings, but they’re going to come in different ways: water treatment plants, electrical grids. You name it, it is there for the possibility of taking,” he said.
WND recently reported that a top U.S. Defense Department analyst under President Bush warned that ISIS, the Islamic jihadists creating a Muslim caliphate in Iraq and beyond, could use the Mexican border to infiltrate America, and it could happen “sooner rather than later.”
President Obama is urging Congress to approve $3.8 billion in new funding that he says is designed to expedite deportation, while critics contend there’s a lot more about prolonged care for the detainees than there is about deportation in the legislation. Lynch isn’t buying anything Obama is saying at this point.
“This president has no intent of sending anybody home, just like he didn’t intend for you to be able to keep your doctor if you liked your doctor and just like he knew that there was no video that would spur a terrorist attack in Benghazi. If you believe what he says right now, I have a desert to sell you,” he said.
July 8th, 2014
Today in smallpox, apparently: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that employees at the National Institutes of Health found some vials containing smallpox sitting in a laboratory storage room in Bethesda. These vials were labeled “variola,” which the CDC calls “the severe and most common form of smallpox.”
The vials were discovered last week in an unused part of a storage room inside a laboratory operated by the Food and Drug Administration, the CDC said in a news release. They were found by employees preparing to move the lab, which has been operated by the FDA since 1972, over to the main FDA campus.
Authorities said there was no indication that anyone had been exposed to smallpox, and they said no risk to workers or the public has been found. The vials originated in the 1950s, according to the CDC. (The last smallpox case in the United States occurred in 1949.)
The vials were discovered on July 1 by an FDA scientist. There were 16 vials, six of which were labeled “variola.” These vials were immediately placed in a secure containment laboratory in Bethesda and the CDC sent a team to pick them up on July 6, spokesman Tom Skinner said. The vials were transported on a government plane to the CDC’s most secure containment lab in Atlanta, where testing confirmed that the vials did contain smallpox.
Additional tests will be needed to see if the smallpox is viable, after which the samples will be destroyed, authorities said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the CDC’s Division of Select Agents and Toxins, is investigating how these samples came to be stored in the FDA lab. Smallpox can only be kept in two locations on the planet, both of them inspected by the World Health Organization: The CDC in Atlanta and the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Novosibirsk, Russia.
The big question is what the smallpox was doing in the FDA lab. “We’re trying to find out,” said Skinner. “This certainly is an unusual event.”
This discovery came just weeks after dozens of scientists were potentially exposed to live anthrax bacteria, an episode that required as many as 84 employees to get a vaccine or take antibiotics and resulted in the reassignment of the bioterror lab’s director.