Koyal Group InfoMag – Science, fiction and fact

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A week or so ago, I watched an old sci-fi movie, circa 1958, with my wife. It featured horrible special effects and an unrealistic story line about manned missions to Mars. Of course, it was made 55 years ago, so it should come as no surprise that the science was outdated, but we also noted that on the flight back to earth, from Mars, all the meals were served by the female scientists. The women were clearly treated as equals, scientifically, but still expected to clean up after dinner and serve the men coffee.

 

I also recently read a Smithsonian article about Carl Sagan, in anticipation of the new Cosmos series.

 

It dawned on me, that Sagan spent a considerable amount of his time in an attempt to bring the study of space, as well as an understanding of the vastness of the universe to the common man, especially the children of the 70’s and 80’s.

 

Additionally, I recently watched the HBO special called Questioning Darwin which included interviews from scientists defending evolution, as well as discussions with people who believe in the bible as scientific fact.

 

The 50’s science fiction movie made me think about how far our technology has come. While we have not landed a man on Mars, we did make it to the moon. More importantly, the advances in communication, whether it be via cell phones, the internet, twitter or the other various social media, have changed our world in ways we are still coping with and understanding. The Carl Sagan piece made me think how upset Sagan would be at the state of science in America today. From climate change deniers to bible-as-science-fact supporters there seems to be an attack on the research and accomplishments of science. The HBO series about Darwin made me wonder if those who would take us back to the 1800’s as regards to evolution, are as willing to do the same in the area of communication and medicine. Do those who believe the bible is a science book, eschew cell phones and computers because they are not in the bible? Do they seek cures for cancer and heart disease in Genesis as well or seek out the best medical advice of the day?

 

Fortunately, I watched the second part of the new Cosmos series last night. The new host, a man with a clear and personal memory of Carl Sagan’s passion for science, presented a wonderful defense of evolution as fact. The episode made me think that Sagan would have been proud of this episode, and that I was wrong it my initial thought that Carl would be demoralized at the attacks of science. He would have doubled his efforts! And perhaps he wouldn’t have waited so long to do it.

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Osborne in warning over SNP plans for oil fund | Sulia

http://sulia.com/drietchesmith/f/d2e96c1f-82df-4603-acfb-90a2ae4944d9/

the koyal group, Osborne in warning over SNP plans for oil fund

ALEX Salmond’s hope of ­establishing a Norwegian-style oil fund in an independent Scotland would result in £12.5 billion of spending cuts or tax rises, George Osborne has warned.

The Chancellor, launching the Treasury’s fifth analysis paper on independence, also rubbished the First Minister’s assertion that there was £1.5 trillion worth of revenues still in the North Sea, noting how the Office for National Statistics valued it at £120bn.

Speaking to the Offshore Europe oil and gas conference in Aberdeen, the Chancellor argued Britain’s integrated economic union worked well for Scotland.

The SNP hit back, saying the UK Government’s mismanagement of the oil and gas industry showed it could not be trusted.

John Swinney, the Scottish Finance Secretary, claimed the Treasury paper actually showed “there is no doubt Scotland can not only afford to be an independent country but has the means to thrive” after independence.

Stressing how oil and gas ­revenues were the most volatile that existed, Mr Osborne in his speech warned the SNP on overstating its case for independence on black gold.

He said: “To suggest that ­spending can be increased, tax bills cut, an oil fund established, household energy bills kept down and investment in renewables increased simply doesn’t add up.”

The analysis paper points out that, if oil revenues are excluded, then public spending in Scotland since the start of devolution in 1999 was around 10% higher, £1200 per person, than the UK average.

Had Scotland received its ­population share of spending over this period, the paper states, then it would have received £74bn less, or £6bn a year.

But it then notes that if oil ­revenues are included, Scotland’s contribution to UK tax revenues increases substantially, with Scotland’s fiscal balance being “very similar” to that of the UK as a whole and, while Scottish spending would still be 10% higher, its revenues to the Exchequer would be 10% higher too.

The paper’s central attack is on creating a Norwegian-style oil fund in an independent Scotland, which the SNP has long championed. The Scottish Government has said it plans to establish one “when fiscal conditions allow”.

Since 1990, Norway has invested profits from its oil industry into coffers for the nation’s future when its budget has been in surplus. It contains £475bn – 40% bigger than the value of the Norwegian economy – making it the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.

The Treasury paper stresses how setting one up post-independence might not be straightforward, noting how production was due to decline and projected returns might be over-optimistic.

The analysis points out if an independent Scotland wanted to set up a Norwegian-style oil fund, then in 2016/17 it would need to find £8.4bn to balance its books, implying 13% spending cuts or 18% tax rises.

If Scotland received its geographic share of oil revenues on independence, £4.1bn, putting it into the new fund, then this would mean the fiscal consolidation would rise to £12.5bn with spending cuts of 19% or tax rises of 27%.