A Dream Dinner With an Unsung Political Hero
John Bruton is a former Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach), who helped transform the Irish economy into the "Celtic Tiger," one of the fastest growing economies in the world. John Bruton was also deeply involved in the Northern Irish Peace Process leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, under whose terms a conflict of allegiances dating back to the seventeenth century was resolved.
While Prime Minister, Ambassador Bruton presided over a successful Irish EU Presidency in 1996 and helped finalize the Stability and Growth Pact, which governs the management of the single European currency, the Euro. Mr. Bruton addressed a joint session of the US Congress on September 11, 1996, as only the 30th head of state or government of an EU country to do so since 1945. He was probably the only President in office of the European Council to have addressed a joint session of Congress. Further, he represented the EU at Summit meetings with the President of the United States and with the Prime Ministers of Canada, Japan, China and Korea.
Before being appointed Ambassador to the United States, John Bruton served as a leading member of the Convention that drafted the proposed European Constitution, which was signed in Rome on October 29, 2004. He strongly supported proposals to give the general public a more direct say in the choice of EU leadership by allowing the public of the 27 EU Member States directly to elect the President of the European Commission.
From 1999 until his appointment as Ambassador, he was one of ten Vice Presidents of the European People's Party, which brings together the leaderships of 74 European political parties, many of whom are in Government in their countries.
Since 2001 he has spoken on world, the European and Irish economic developments to influential business and political audiences in New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and numerous EU Member States.
Since taking up his position in Washington in 2004, John Bruton has met with the President and former Presidents of the United States and visited with governors, mayors, business leaders and students in over 20 US states to explain that the expanding European Union is good for the US economy and good for American jobs. In Washington, DC, Ambassador Bruton has had one-to-one meetings with over 250 Members of Congress to explain major EU developments and discuss the importance of the EU-US relationship in matters of trade, counterterrorism, public health, energy, the environment and the promotion of peace, democracy and human rights around the world.
John Bruton was first elected to the Irish Parliament ("Dáil Éireann") in 1969 at the age of 22 as a member of the Fine Gael Party, becoming Party Leader in 1990 and leading it into government in 1994. He previously served as Ireland’s Minister for Finance (1981-1982 and 1986-1987); Minister for Industry & Energy (1982-1983); Minister for Trade, Commerce & Tourism (1983-1986); and was Parliamentary Secretary (Junior Minister) from 1973-1977. He has also been opposition spokesman on Agriculture and on Education.
As Minister for Finance, he began the task of overcoming a major budget deficit crisis for Ireland in 1981 and made proposals to overhaul budgetary procedures to allow long-term planning and a realistic appraisal of the choices facing legislators.
As Minister for Industry he prepared and had enacted into law the comprehensive industrial development legislation, which underpins Irish growth to this day, and undertook a major overhaul of Irish company law. He resigned his seat effective November 1, 2004 to take up his appointment as EU Commission Head of Delegation in the United States.
John Bruton was born in 1947 and graduated from University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and politics in 1968 before studying to become a barrister. He was called to the Bar of Ireland in 1972. He holds Honorary Degrees from Memorial University of Newfoundland and the National University of Ireland. He is married to Finola Bruton and has 4 adult children.
Question: If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?\r\n
John Bruton: I think I’d like to meet Mr. Gorbachev. I’ve met him, shook hands with him, but I’ve never sat down and talked to him. Because if you think about it, he probably did more to change the world than anybody. Yes, there were these tremendous tensions within the Soviet system, but instead of using force to repress those tensions, he adopted a policy of openness and Perestroika and Glasnost. Glasnost is openness and Perestroika was reform. And he sort of let air in. Now, he didn’t know how it was going to happen, in fact, what happened wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted to preserve the communist system. But he had enough confidence in the Russian people that he let them determine the future and he let the nations that had previously been under Soviet domination determine their own future without militarily interfering, and in that sense, he put his own convictions second to the confidence that he had in the people who previously had been repressed by his predecessors. So, while I think Ronald Reagan deserves credit, a lot of people deserve credit, and of course Václav Havel and Lech Wałęsa and all of these people in Poland, Czech Republic, and so forth, they deserve credit too, but they really wouldn’t have been able to do what they did, to basically reunite Europe and liberate people who had been under communism if Gorbachev wasn’t the man that Gorbachev is. And I think I would like to meet him. I don’t know how the conversation would go, I might be just telling him that I think he is a great guy, and he might be telling me, oh my god, I didn’t intend this, I wish it hadn’t happened the way it had. And I don’t know what would happen after that. But he is the man I would like to meet and would like to shake his hand.\r\n
Recorded on October 1, 2009
John Bruton explains why he would like to shake Mikhail Gorbachev’s hand.
The Spilhaus Projection may be more than 75 years old, but it has never been more relevant than today.
- Athelstan Spilhaus designed an oceanic thermometer to fight the Nazis, and the weather balloon that got mistaken for a UFO in Roswell.
- In 1942, he produced a world map with a unique perspective, presenting the world's oceans as one body of water.
- The Spilhaus Projection could be just what the oceans need to get the attention their problems deserve.
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Through computationally intensive computer simulations, researchers have discovered that "nuclear pasta," found in the crusts of neutron stars, is the strongest material in the universe.
- The strongest material in the universe may be the whimsically named "nuclear pasta."
- You can find this substance in the crust of neutron stars.
- This amazing material is super-dense, and is 10 billion times harder to break than steel.
Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" for his strength and indestructibility. But the discovery of a new material that's 10 billion times harder to break than steel begs the question—is it time for a new superhero known as "Nuclear Pasta"? That's the name of the substance that a team of researchers thinks is the strongest known material in the universe.
Unlike humans, when stars reach a certain age, they do not just wither and die, but they explode, collapsing into a mass of neurons. The resulting space entity, known as a neutron star, is incredibly dense. So much so that previous research showed that the surface of a such a star would feature amazingly strong material. The new research, which involved the largest-ever computer simulations of a neutron star's crust, proposes that "nuclear pasta," the material just under the surface, is actually stronger.
The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.
Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv
Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.
The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.
While they were able to discover just how strong nuclear pasta seems to be, no one is holding their breath that we'll be sending out missions to mine this substance any time soon. Instead, the discovery has other significant applications.
One of the study's co-authors, Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, said the neutron stars would be "a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth." Understanding what's inside them would be valuable for astronomers because now only the outer layer of such starts can be observed.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models," Caplan added. "With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?"
Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.
The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.
Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.
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