Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Music of the Spheres

There's a cool video at New Scientist for all you math types.

Musician Michael Blake has composed a piece of music based on the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is an irrational number whose decimal places go on to infinity. It has fascinated mathematicians, architects, artists, and musicians for two thousand years.

Blake assigned a musical note to each of the first fifteen digits and as the music plays he adds instruments to the composition producing a beautiful melody. Here it is:
Isn't it a rather startling coincidence that the mathematical structure of the universe should be musical? How did that happen?

Dreadful Public Policy

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in the next few days, but economist Robert J. Samuelson at the Washington Post argues that whether the legislation is constitutional or not it's terrible policy. Samuelson writes:
We pay our presidents for judgment, and President Obama committed a colossal error of judgment in making health-care “reform” a centerpiece of his first term. Ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — and regardless of how the court decides — it’s clear that Obama overreached. His attempt to achieve universal health insurance coverage is a massive feat of social engineering that, by its sweeping nature, weakens the economic recovery and antagonizes millions of Americans.
He goes on to list five reasons why the ACA (“Obamacare”) is "dreadful" public policy:
  1. It increases uncertainty and decreases confidence when recovery from the Great Recession requires more confidence and less uncertainty.
  2. The ACA discourages job creation by raising the price of hiring.
  3. Uncontrolled health spending is the U.S. system’s main problem — and the ACA makes it worse.
  4. Obama’s program also worsens the federal budget problem.
  5. The ACA discriminates against the young in favor of the old.
Samuelson fleshes out each of these problems in his column and concludes with this:
To all the ACA’s substantive defects is now added a looming political and constitutional firestorm. Whether the Supreme Court upholds the whole law, strikes it all down or discards only parts, anger and outrage will ensue. The court may be accused of usurping legislative powers or of cowering before White House intimidation. The ACA has become an instrument of the political polarization that the president regularly deplores.

When historians examine Obama’s first term, the irony will be plain. A president bent on burnishing his legacy acted in ways that did the opposite. It’s a case of bad judgment.
It's a very informative piece and causes one to hope that the Supreme Court strikes the whole thing down.