Baffling Complaint?

The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait observes that one of the most baffling complaints about health care reform is that the financing is phoney because it doesn’t cover wage increases.

"Of all the conservative complaints about health care reform, the one I find most baffling is the notion that the financing is phoney because it fails to account for physician pay increases. The complaint is 100% phoney. And yet it continues to be repeated over and over in the conservative media, recycling through a misinformation feedback loop. The complaint gained new momentum and publicity last week, when right-wing icon Paul Ryan requested that the Congressional Budget Office calculate the cost of health care reform combined with physician pay increases. The result was cited as proof of the ‘true’ cost of Obamacare. Let me explain this again. In 1997, Congress changed the formula for reimbursing doctors under Medicare. Due to poor design, they created a formula that would impose massive reimbursement cuts that were never intended by Congress. As a result Congress has regularly restored the unintended cuts. Yet because the law remains on the books, the budget assumes the cut will go into effect every year even though it won't. In other words, the budget baseline is off by about $200 billion a year, which is the rough cost of filling in this hole."

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

Videos
  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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