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Environmental Scientist

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Luckovich Toon: Liberty's Blind Spot

Beef offer Tim Tebow a contract

OMAHA, Neb. -- The Omaha Beef have a job waiting for Tim Tebow if he wants it -- and the Nebraska indoor football team will even pay him $75 a game.

A day after Tebow was cut by the New York Jets, the Beef called the office of Tebow agent Jimmy Sexton to offer a standard player contract.

Beef assistant general manager Andrew Mather said Tuesday that he doesn't expect to hear back, but he thought it was worth asking.

The Beef's current quarterback, James McNear, has led the team to a 5-1 start. He's completing 70 percent of his passes and has thrown for 21 touchdowns against just two interceptions.

McNear is anything but insulted by the Beef's wooing of Tebow.

"I think Tim can learn a lot from me," McNear said.


‘Time Crystals’ Could Upend Physicists’ Theory of Time


In February 2012, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek decided to go public with a strange and, he worried, somewhat embarrassing idea. Impossible as it seemed, Wilczek had developed an apparent proof of “time crystals” — physical structures that move in a repeating pattern, like minute hands rounding clocks, without expending energy or ever winding down. Unlike clocks or any other known objects, time crystals derive their movement not from stored energy but from a break in the symmetry of time, enabling a special form of perpetual motion.

“Most research in physics is continuations of things that have gone before,” said Wilczek, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This, he said, was “kind of outside the box.”

Wilczek’s idea met with a muted response from physicists. Here was a brilliant professor known for developing exotic theories that later entered the mainstream, including the existence of particles called axions and anyons, and discovering a property of nuclear forces known as asymptotic freedom (for which he shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 2004). But perpetual motion, deemed impossible by the fundamental laws of physics, was hard to swallow. Did the work constitute a major breakthrough or faulty logic? Jakub Zakrzewski, a professor of physics and head of atomic optics at Jagiellonian University in Poland who wrote a perspective on the research that accompanied Wilczek’s publication, says: “I simply don’t know.”

Now, a technological advance has made it possible for physicists to test the idea. They plan to build a time crystal, not in the hope that this perpetuum mobile will generate an endless supply of energy (as inventors have striven in vain to do for more than a thousand years) but that it will yield a better theory of time itself.


This Indian outsourcing giant is outsourcing its own jobs—to computers

Ailing outsourcing giant Infosys yesterday inked a deal with IPsoft, a New York-based firm that automates IT infrastructure management—the sort of dreadfully dull stuff grunts in Bangalore typically do.

Infrastructure management only accounted for 7% of Infosys sales in the last financial year, according to the Economic Times. That compares to a whopping 28% for HCL, which is doing rather well. But it’s enough (and enough of a drag) to gobble up chunks of Infosys’s manpower. The numbers aren’t public but IPsoft will train 4,500 Infosys employees to run the software, which indicates a many more employees must have done it manually. According to IPsoft, its software can automate up to 60% of the most basic tasks. The freed-up employees can now focus on other projects while Infosys can pitch for more infrastructure management projects without having to expand dramatically. The industry lingo for this is “non-linear growth.”

“The economics are simple—minimal human intervention with services delivered at unparalleled quality, and there are no annual wage increases, too,” IPsoft’s Asia-Pacific head told the Mint newspaper last year. At the time, the paper reported that Infosys competitors Wipro and Cognizant were hoping to tie up with IPsoft, so getting there first represents something of a coup for Infosys

The company certainly needs a morale booster. “The past 3-4 quarterly financial announcements from Indian service providers suggest that many are struggling to conserve their margins in a tough market environment and that their non-linear innovations have not progressed quickly enough,” Fred Giron, an analyst at Forrester, wrote on his blog. Infosys’s profits in the three months to the end of March were up 3.4% on the previous year but its forceast for the coming year was well below what analysts expected. Its stock lost a fifth of its value that day.



Money actually does buy happiness

By Derrick Thompson,
Americans have a peculiar conviction that the one thing money can’t give us is satisfaction. You can’t buy happiness, we’ve all been told. “Mo Money Mo Problems”, Biggie concurred. And while we can all agree that desperate poverty is hideous, there is a broadly held view that after a certain level of income (around $75,000, say), more money doesn’t buy more well-being.

But it’s just not so. Economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers have been arguing for years that, yes, richer families tend to be happier, and no, there is not an automatic cut-off point. In other words: Mo money, fewer problems.

Their elegant and straightforward new paper can be nicely summed up in the two graphs below. The first graph looks at income groups within countries. In all nations surveyed, richer households reported more life satisfaction. (Statistical note: This graph is logarithmic. That means doubling your income from $1,000 to $2,000 raises satisfaction by the same amount as doubling your income from $10,000 to $20,000. You can imagine why this might make a good theoretical case for income redistribution.)

The next graph compares different countries, rather than different households within countries. Here, each circle represents a nation, with the richest ones clustered on the right. If extra income didn’t matter for well-being, you’d expect the line to flatten. Instead, it steepens. More money doesn’t just mean happier families. It means happier countries.


Tuesday Toon Roundup 5- The Rest






Tuesday Toon Roundup 4- War and Bombs




Tuesday Toon Roundup 3- Collins comes out

Tuesday Toon Roundup 2- Sequester

Tuesday Toon Roundup 1- Perry and Bush


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