Is Unlimited Campaign Spending a Good Thing?
Thanks to the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision, this campaign season will be flush with unprecedented amounts of cash, risking future corruption, says jurist Richard Posner.
What's the Latest Development?
Political action committees, which can now receive unlimited financial donations from individuals and corporations in support of their preferred political candidate, are set to explode previous spending marks in this season's presidential campaign. But jurist Richard Posner doubts the veracity of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, saying that the risks of corruption, one of main reasons campaign spending was previously limited, is no different with super PACs and that politicians will still be tempted to return favors to those who spent big to put them in office.
What's the Big Idea?
Posner regrets the low bar of most radio and TV ads paid for with super PAC donations. Rather than being informative, he says, they spew invective, holding the American voter in very low esteem. And given there is virtually no distinction between super PAC funding and direct campaign funding, the risk of corruption is amplified when larger quantities of money are spent. Posner says that the proliferation of free media, where candidates can reach a vast audience through blogs and social media, changes the equation. We no longer need to allow newcomers to outspend incumbents to make a name.
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- 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.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
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.
- 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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