Thursday, March 29, 2012

Media and the Supreme Court Case on HealthCare

Social Media has revolutionized how events, ideas, as well as other things get transferred from one place to another or from person to person.  In most cases, social media is a great thing because it allows for people to gain information regarding almost anything.  At the same time, news and media put a political ideology in their reporting which then gives one a biased outlook on the situation.  In my opinion though, as long as you give facts from both sides of the political spectrum, and support your opinion with logic and reasoning, then the article or form of media is acceptable.  When one looks at the Supreme Court case involving the Healthcare Bill, I think of two things:  Why is the media allowed to speak with the Justices, for this is supposed to be a closed and private matter to be discussed with the 9 most intelligent people we have on US law and constitutionality of laws that are to be made that go against previously formed laws, and how can the government give you healthcare, then make it law that you have to buy it after 2 years.  You either make it free, or make everyone buy it, you can't have both.  In America, we are free to express ourselves in any way we want, or do as we please as long as we do not break the law.  How can you make someone buy healthcare?  What Constitutional grounds do you have to make someone buy health insurance?  In the end, healthcare and health insurance is seen as a money making industry, which is true because everyone is trying to make a living, but does everyone deserve the right to care, or just those who can afford it?  Is it a good excuse to say you don't have the means to obtain money or healthcare, or is it the American way to make excuses for things?  Should the government have the power to make you do something, even though it is only helping yourself in the end?  In the end, form your own opinions on this issue because right now this is one of the most important topics in the United States, and the court decision could really affect your future, and how healthcare will be a part of it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Radiation Effects from Nuclear Reaction Meltdowns

Sean Kennedy

March 22, 2011

Radiation Effects

Natural disasters can occur very swiftly, and without warning to those that are in the areas around the affected site.  The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the northeast section of the country of Japan did just that.  Its thirty foot wave traveling at approximately 500 miles per hour brought destruction and devastation to thousands upon thousands of human lives.  Unfortunately, the worst is not over.  The tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant causing the plant to meltdown because of malfunctions with the cooling system.  As a result, radiation of fluctuating degrees is being released in to the air around them.  Now, what are the measures that these engineers and physicists doing to handle the situations? What can radiation do to people exposed to it?  If exposed, what can be done to help treat it?

                The problem in this particular situation is that the reactors cooling system is damaged, so the pressure built up from this excess heat or energy wants to expand outward, which in essence, may cause a nuclear explosion or meltdown.  This can be observed from the excess steam or vapor that is being expelled from the reactors as well as the radiation levels.  Scientists working in the area are experiencing levels of radiation from 0.6 millisievert an hour to 400 millisievert an hour.  Depending on the radiation level effects can be quite dangerous.  For example, radiation sickness and cancer are the two most significant short term and long term effects.

 The different types of elements used in the plant may cause serious issues if the plant experienced meltdown, “but the most worrying are cesium-137 and iodine-131. Both vaporize easily and thus can disperse over large distances.  Cesium-137 mimics potassium inside the body, seeking out muscle. Iodine-131 is rapidly absorbed by the thyroid gland and, in children, increases the risk of thyroid cancer.  Iodine pills—which authorities are giving out in the region—can help protect against the effects of iodine-131 when taken before or within an hour of exposure to fallout.”

 The current measures being done to eliminate meltdown are slow, but working.  Pilots are dropping sea water on the reactors to get the heat to slowly go down to be able to make working conditions better to really fix the problem at hand.  This could be truly a catastrophe if this nuclear plant happens to have a meltdown.

                I found this National Geographic article to be quite helpful, and really lays out the scientific process quite effectively in general terms.  They swiftly located, and acknowledged the problem through observation, and are swiftly and safely experimenting different ways of trying to fix it.  At the same time, they are giving information of what the different types of effects certain chemical reactions that the reactors components can do to the human body.  In this end, this is just another problem that the human race must fix, the ability to progress technologically to find a new, better, and safer means of creating energy.

Works Cited


The Correlation between Kidney and Cardiovascular Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease and Heart Disease

Kidney failure and heart disease are both growing epidemics that are really hitting hard within the United States.  According to the Susan Simmons Holcomb PhD, “the number of patients treated with dialysis or transplantation is projected to increase from 340,000 people in 1999, to an estimated 651,000 in 2010.”(Holcomb page 1)  Chronic Kidney Disease by nature is when your kidneys are not able to filtrate enough harmful fluids during a certain period of time.  The most common causes of CKD(Chronic Kidney Disease)  are hypertension and diabetes, but it can also range from advanced age to family medical history of CKD. “Chronic Kidney Disease is established based on the occurrence of kidney damage as well as your glomerular filtration rate (GFR),” (Holcomb, pg3) which is how much your kidneys are able to filter fluids over a period of time.  If your GFR is below 15 ml/min/1.73m squared then one is in stage four of kidney disease, and your kidneys have failed.  Kidney Disease is also diagnosed by the amount of serum creatinine your body is making.  For women the average level is 0.96 mg/dl and for men the average is 1.17 mg/dl.  By definition, kidney disease occurs when this level reaches higher than 1.5 mg/dl, but it can also be affected by environmental factors such as age, family history, and medications one is taking.  There are many symptoms of CKD, but initially they are asymptomatic, or occur with just one symptom.  Some symptoms include: fatigue, insomnia, change in taste, and metallic taste in the mouth. 

                Now how does kidney disease coincide with cardio-vascular disease?  In many cases, if someone has cardio-vascular problems, they too have kidney problems.  The body’s inability to maintain balance on a chemical level affects both quite harshly.  “According to the charge on page 3 of the “Cardiovascular Disease in Kidney Failure”, there are several areas that affect both the kidneys and the cardio-vascular system such as: Decreased GFR, Proteinuria, malnutrition, and the overactivation of the Renin-angiotensin system.”(McCarley,Salai, pg 3).  A decrease in GFR rate in the kidneys leads to electrolyte and acid-based imbalances, uremia, and extracellular fluid volume.  These can lead to sudden death, left ventricular hypertrophy, and hypertension.  “Proteinuria is a not only a marker of kidney damage, it also seems to be a marker for cardiovascular disease, and can be toxic to the kidney itself.( Holcomb, pg. 7)  Tests are done to check the level of albumin to creatinine, and any harsh variations to this level lead to both CVD and CKD.  Malnutrition is a huge cause of both kidney and cardiovascular disease.  In essence, if you do not fuel your body with the right products you need over a long period of time, your body with basically start to shut down because of your kidneys inability to filter these harmful products, and your cardiovascular system with begin to have problems such as hypertension and blood clots in your arteries due to high sugar diets, and fatty foods such as fast food.  “The overactivation of the renin-angiotensin system causes sodium and water retention and peripheral vascular constriction, resulting in hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy, which is believed to play a role in atherogenesis.”McCarley,Salia, pg.5) 

                There are many things in life that we cannot control such as genes, family history, and where we live for the most part. At the same time there are many things in life that we can control that really effect our cardiovascular system as well as our kidneys.  For example, smoking, binge drinking on a regular basis, and diet are three significant factors that really take a toll over a long period of time, and genetics only speeds up the process.  Things of this nature should only be done in moderation even if at all, so one should take care of their body correctly, so in turn, one can live longer and healthier, but in the end a doctor is only one phone call away!

Works Cited

1.       Cardio Vascular Disease in Chronic Kidney Disease, American Journal of Nursing,  Patricia B. McCarley and Patricia B. Salai. April 2005. Volume 105 Number 4.

2.       Evaluating Chronic Kidney Disease Risk, The Nurse Practioner: The American Journal of Ptimary Health Care, Susan Simmons Holcomb PhD. April 2005. Volume 30 Number 4.

The Manhattan Project: A View at a Scientific Project That Changed The World

When looking back at the technological advances in the past century, there is arguable no scientific advance that has affected our lives so deeply then the production and use of nuclear energy, as well as the understanding of the quantum world.  The Manhattan Project, a secret government codename, was a government plan to secretly understand and apply particle physics research to create a fission bomb that could end the war with United States and Allied victory.  The project took place in secret all over the country, but was concentrated in three distinct locations other than D.C.: Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Hanford, Washington, and Los Alamos, New Mexico.  Each distinct location had its significance in developing this world-changing weapon.  How exactly do people from several different backgrounds from physicists, engineers, government officials, military personnel, and contractors work together to come to the end result, the atom bomb, and what process(s) would work in making the material for the bomb in just three short years? The cooperation within the Project was almost impossible to be executed because of the different ideologies of the people involved because of many political, moral, and financial discrepancies.  In the end though, the Project succeeded to create three bombs in total: a test or sample bomb that was tested in Los Alamos, and the latter two that were used in combat in Japan which subsequently ended the war. 

            The Manhattan Project was a joint venture between a variety of different fields of study. Among them, many were professional scientists and engineers as well as government officials and military personnel.  Each group had specific jobs which would culminate in the application of the theory of atomic fission, the production of the enriched uranium/plutonium through different diffusion processes, the design and production of the bomb, and the managerial position to see that each work force worked together to reach the common goal: the atomic bomb.  Some of the scientists that took part in this joint venture include many Nobel Prize winners: Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard, James Franck, Oppenheimer and Otto Frisch, most of whom were emigrants from Europe who fled Nazi oppression.  Thousands of young chemists and physicists all over the United States were employed in this government project because time was of the essence, the virtual time clock was ticking to the hour at which Germany or the United States would effectively have and use the bomb.  The jobs of these scientists included testing the theoretical ideas beyond the fission of the isotope Uranium 235, which was considered quite difficult because it was almost identical to that of Uranium 238, and only made up one percent of the element Uranium.  Other jobs of these scientists were to produce a method of diffusing this isotope properly to separate the two because the isotope 235 was the only fissionable material present at the time.  Scientist, engineers, and overseers of the Project struggled to come together to create such a system that could create a sufficient amount of enriched uranium that would be used to create the bomb.  General Groves of the Army Corp of Engineers was put in charge of the whole project because his great credentials after he was oversaw the construction of the Pentagon, while the production of the bomb was put in the hands of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Groves though, was looked down upon by the scientists for he did not understand atomic physics, which caused great turmoil between the scientists who were only interested in advances in science, while the government, military, and contractors saw the opportunity as a political, economic, and military gain for the United States, but Du Pont which came in as a contractor to help with the production of the need material to make the bombs, did so with only making a single dollar.  They did not wish to be ridiculed again for making excessive capital gains by making military supplies.  Physicists working in laboratories all over the United States work quite different then the government because scientists wish to freely discuss their scientific matters with fellow colleagues. “Szilard sharply criticized Grove’s compartmentalization of scientists and the restraints, of the grounds of security that he placed on the exchange of information.  Szilard insisted that imagination and inventiveness in science required freedom of exchange and exploration. (397)  the government wished to keep this entire endeavor under wraps both foreign and domestic. Just to note. Fermi and Szilard and Fermi were issued a patent at the end of the war for their invention of the nuclear reactor.    

            After the letter from Einstein hit Washington D.C. in early 1939, which urged the development of an atomic research program, the United States took a more serious role in forming a government project in which to undergo such a production process culminating in the atom bomb.  Experimental success in nuclear fission was first made by Enrico Fermi and other physicists at the University of Chicago when they were able to create and control a Nuclear Chain Reaction.  This scientific breakthrough caused a huge chain reaction within the government project, inevitably kick-starting the production of nuclear power plants in remote locations across the United States where different methods of diffusion would take place to help create this enriched 235Uranium.  Nuclear Facilities were created in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Hanford, Washington, as well as later in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the main assembly plant was located. Each site had its own identity towards the culmination of the bomb. The location of Oak Ridge was a significant reason for why the government decided to engage in activities there.  It was an isolated area along a huge river which would help bring electricity to the plant as well as use the water to act as a coolant for the reactors.  The basic purpose of the Oak Ridge plant was to separate the isotopes of Uranium so that 235Uranium could be isolated for it was the main fissionable element that could be used for the bomb.  The main problem at this site was the fact that pure 235Uranium was extremely difficult to produce because less than a percent of the entire element Uranium is made of this isotope 235.  At the time, the Oak Ridge crew of scientists, engineers, and product managers had installed three processes to produce 235Uranium: electromagnetic separation, gaseous diffusion, and thermal diffusion.  The electromagnetic, or Y-12 plant, was put under the operation of Tennessee Eastman Corporation. This plant was finished in November 1943.  This plant at the Clinton Engineering Works site was used to electromagnetic separation to extract the lighter 235 isotope from the 238.  This 184 ton magnet used scientists and engineers used cauldrons to separate the isotopes, which were used in the bomb “Little Boy” which was dropped on the city of Hiroshima.  The design for the electromagnetic process was made by UC Berkley’s physicist Lawrence and his laboratory team.  Also in early 1943, “Groves asked M.W. Kellogg, a large and experienced company in engineering and construction organization, to design a gaseous diffusion plant at Oak Ridge.”(403)  He went to add other corporations to the project such as Carbine and Carbon Chemicals Corporation as well as Chrysler Corporation.  “The general idea of this process was using a porous membrane to separate the lighter isotopes in and an element from the heavier ones.”(411)  In order for this separation to occur, an unprecedented amount of filters and barriers had to be constructed, and was a process well known by chemical engineers.  After a few years of problems with the type of barriers to use within the diffusion system, and a change in directors from Urey to a soft-spoken Southerner by the name of Lauchlin Currie, who was a Union Carbide engineer.  At the height of the project, there were more than 10,000 construction workers, 900 Kellex workers, and seven hundred Columbia people working.  “In the spring of 1945, the gaseous diffusion plant with the sintered nickel powder barrier operated sufficiently well for him to resort to the ingenious plan of using outputs as feeds, or inputs. Uranium, first enriched by a thermal-diffusion plant, was fed into a gaseous-diffusion plant for further enrichment, then finally into the electromagnetic-separation plant for the enrichment needed for use in the bomb.”(414)  the process of gaseous diffusion, in the end, was deemed so efficient that its output could be used without further enriching. 

            The Hanford Plant in Washington was designed for the production and stockpile of plutonium, an element later used in the making of atomic weapons.  The plutonium project was a project of two sides: the Chicago Lab and the Du Pont team of engineers and designers.  The man put in charge of being the liason between the two organizations was Greenewalt. The problem such as Du Pont ‘s financial involvement and use of their Chicago lab for an explosives facility caused  uproar with the scientists at the Chicago Lab.    In addition, without telling, Groves and Du Pont Head of Nylon decided to put small-scale plutonium reactors in Tennessee, after promising to keep them near Chicago.  “The unrest at Chicago did not prevent Groves a Du Pont from forging ahead.  In February 1943, Groves acquired 500,000 acres in Hanford, Washington, for plutonium-production piles, plutonium separation plants, and work housing. “(399)  The location of the plant was near the Columbia River, which was key for electric power from  high –voltage transmission line connecting Grand Coulee and Bonneville hydroelectric dams, and well as a source of water for cooling the reactors.  The construction of the facility employed more than 40,000 workers with skills ranging from electricians, welders, carpenters, millwrights, and pipefitters.  Construction came as a result of the experimental data a construction design from Du Pont, which culminated in three giant production piles, or reactors for producing plutonium, and four plants for separating the plutonium from other products of the chain reaction taking place in the production pile.  The young chemist who discovered plutonium in February 1941, Glenn Seaborg, also developed the separation process.  He went on to say that “plutonium was so unusual as to approach the unbelievable.  Under some conditions the material is hard and brittle, while under others it’s as soft and plastic as lead.  In the end though, small amount of it are extremely toxic. (399)  With Arthur Compton, Fermi, Roger Williams and Greenwalt on hand in September 1944, they witnessed the loading of the first completed pile with slugs of uranium, a culmination of research and labor done by thousands of people.  Within weeks, the first pile of uranium was sufficient enough to produce plutonium-producing chain reaction.  Unfortunately, there was a significant problem.  After hours of full power and a successful chain reaction, the pile had shut down, and subsequently did the same after turning back on the next day.  The “poison that had been halting the reaction process was xenon 135, which was absorbing the neurons released to stimulate and continue the reaction process.  This problem was solved by American physicist John Wheeler, who was later called the “favorite scientist.  With learning about this “poisonous” discovery, they were able to make the reaction more effectively leaving them 2 piles in December, while a third was ready six weeks later. 

            In later 1942, General Groves appointed Oppenheimer to lead the search for the design of the bomb and to preside over its assembly.  Together they chose a remote sit in the dessert of New Mexico known as Los Alamos.  “Oppenheimer attracted major theoretical and experimental physicists, chemists, metallurgists, and explosives experts and well as their families to the site.  On waiting for the arrival for the fissionable material, physicists worked out highly complex theory as the basis for the design of the two types of bombs.  They pondered on the ideas of how to fully utilize the explosive potential of the fissionable material.  “Metallurgists explored the exotic properties of laboratory quantities of plutonium and U-235; and explosive experts searched for means of setting off the bomb.”  (417)  The young physicist, Seth Neddermeyer, invented a method of initiating the explosion of plutonium by implosion which caused great controversy between Neddermeyer and Naval Captain William S. Parsons, but his design  was greeted openly by Oppenheimer when mathematician John von Neuman calculated that it would work.    As was the case with scientists elsewhere in the Project, the physicists, chemists, metallurgists at Los Alamos proved themselves inventive.  A 33 year old physicist, Charles Critchfield, conceived the “initiator,” called Urchlin, first received skepticism by Oppenheimer, but ultimately supplied the neurons needed for the chain reaction.  Other work was done such as fixing the blistering on the matching surfaces of the plutonium hemispheres, by filing down te hemispheres and adding gold foil between the facing halves of the bomb’s core to achieve the necessary perfect smooth surface and sit.  Another scientist, Robert F Christy invented a gadget that would increase compression rather than extra size to achieve critical mass. 

            At the completion of the bomb, Groves and his advisors sent the U-235 bomb, also known as “Little Boy” to the Pacific Theatre.  The test bomb that they chose was known as “Fat Man” a  plutonium bomb named after Winston Churchill, which was dropped 210 miles south of Los Alamos.  This government project was known “Project Trinity”.  The site of the bomb that day changed the world forever.  Over 70 scientists petitioned against the use of the bomb militarily because of the damage it would inflict upon the people it was used on.  “Franck Szilard, several other scientists working on the Project prepared a report in 1945, before Hiroshima, recommending that the bombs, if exploded, be used in only uninhabited area in a demonstration designed to persuade Japan to surrender, and to regulate nuclear arms again a nuclear holocaust.  Unfortunately, in on August 6th, 1945, at 8:16 am, the B-29, "Enola Gay", dropped "Little Boy", the uranium bomb, on Hiroshima which killed over 100,000 people, some vaporized if they were too close to the explosion.  On the 9th of August a second bomb was dropped by a B-29, Bock’s Car, onto the city of Nagasaki.  This was a plutonium bomb by the name Fat Man that killed 70,000 by the end of the year, and over 140,000 within the next five years.

            The Nuclear Age is upon us on a global scale.  To me, atomic energy is a good vs. evil battle.  The use of nuclear weapons is extremely dangerous, and has and will kill millions if it were to get into the wrong hands.  On the other hand, nuclear energy gives us more energy and power to keep our every growing modern civilization lit up.  Even though the project has its ups and downs between scientists, military and government workers, the Manhattan Project showed the U.S. and the world that hard-work, ingenuity, perseverance, and cooperation was all that was needed to make this massive project a success. 

The Beginning Of Atomic Energy

The Manhattan Project subsequently put the world into a new age of energy consumption and production.  This new energy source comes as a result of the discovery of nuclear fission.  Nuclear fission is successfully created through the splitting of the uranium isotope, Uranium-235.  When one successfully splits the isotope, the splitting releases pure energy in the form of heat. or radiation.  During the Manhattan Project though, the project was solely for military use only, which culminated in the production of atomic bombs which were then used on Japan to put an end to World War II. Following the war, the government, industrial contractors, and military personnel began to ponder on the idea of using atomic energy for commercial use.  Atomic Energy overall is a cheaper way to produce and maintain electricity than the former way of using gas products, which are subject to rising prices, to create electric power, but there is one major problem.  Although Atomic energy is cheaper to produce than the former ways of creating energy, it does come with downfalls such that come with nuclear fission.  Throughout the 20th century and now into the 21st century, atomic energy has revolutionized the world by helping with the following ways: help make electricity, using radiation for cancer research and therapy, and fueling submarines.

            In 1946, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was passed by means of the Atomic Energy Act, which replaced the Manhattan Project.  The Commission was put in charge of overseeing the use of nuclear technology in the postwar era.  The authors of the Atomic Energy Act establishing the AEC called it radical, observing that, “The Act creates a government monopoly of the sources of atomic energy and buttresses this position with a variety of broad governmental powers and prohibitions on private activity.  The field of atomic energy is made an island of socialism in the midst of a free enterprise economy.”( Hughes, 422)  This new government Commission was headed by Truman appointees such as Lilienthal who headed the TVA project, Sumner a former member of the SE, Lewis Strauss who was a partner in the investment firm Kuhn, Loeb & Co., William Waymack who was the editor of Des Moines newspaper and a public director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and the one lone scientist, Robert F. Bacher.  The Truman appointees all show one commonality between them, and that is considerable experience and influence in the world of finance.  This points out that the monopoly of atomic energy would be put in the hands of the corporate world, which its fuel would be regulated by the government.  By the beginning of 1946, the Hanford Reactors were taken over by General Electric and other corporations with interest and disposable capital would promote and execute the change of nuclear power to commercial usage in the form of electrical output, and the same occurred in Oak Ridge plant as well the many university and government owned laboratories across the country.  A man by the name of Admiral Rickover made use of atomic energy for means other than bomb production with the creation of the first nuclear-powered submarine, the Nautilus, which was ready for sea trials in 1955.  The submarine had great reviews and provided the U.S. government and other interested corporations with a prime example of creative system building. He led to the nation into the atomic age in which reactors, and presided over the design and construction of America’s first public-utility nuclear-power plant.  On the civilian side, the AEA provides for both the development and the regulation of the uses on nuclear materials and facilities in the U.S., declaring the policy that the development and utilization of atomic energy shall, “be directed toward improving the public welfare, increasing the standard of living, strengthening free competition in private enterprise, and promoting world peace.”  “In 1953, Eisenhower’s administration called for a non-military power reactor that could be used by utilities throughout the world.”(Hughes, 435)  Because electricity cost more in Europe than it the States, nuclear proponents believed that Europe would have a high demand for these reactors which would be constructed in the U.S., and the foreign allies would come back to the original producer for maintenance work and other issues when needed.  This idea came at the beginning of the Cold War when the U.S. feared that the Soviet’s would introduce their reactor to the neighboring European nations first.  The possibility of selling off the newly constructed reactor plans would be a considered a major triumph or victory over the Soviet Union.  The first non-military reactor was made in Shippingport, Pennsylvania where Rickover was to modify the design for an aircraft carrier reactor into a civilian-reactor project.  Rickover used the help of Westinghouse for addition design, and other additional subcontractors for construction.  “The AEC chose the Duquesne Light Company of Pittsburgh to provide the site, build the turbogenerator plant, assume $5 million of the cost of developing and building the reactor, and operate and maintain the facility, but the AEC would own the reactor and sell the steam to the company.”(Hughes,437)  Other huge corporations were involved in the planning, designing, and construction of the plant such as Stone & Webster, Dravo Company of Pittsburgh, as well as many of the naval officers put in place to monitor and control the temperature within the reactor core itself.  On December 23rd, 1957, after long hours over a course of several years, the reactor reached full power, and operated by Duquesne Light Power Company personnel.  Ten of the next twelve reactors made within the decade were based on the design of the Shippingport with light water as a moderator-coolant along with using slightly enriched uranium.  The AEA passed in 1954  greatly accelerated the growth of the nuclear industry.  “It allowed private corporations to build and own nuclear-power plants, but the government continued to build and control the fuel necessary to run the facilities.  This Act basically enforced the idea of the military-industrial complex.  This new, and possibly evolutionary idea of atomic energy was at the forefront of science and technology, but it was only financially open to the corporations that could afford to construct these plants and hire the people necessary to maintain the facility.    General Electric, Westinghouse, Babock and Wilcox, and Combustion Engineering established reactor-manufacturing facilities.  They were supported and encouraged by government subsidies for domestic research and development, as well as the Eisenhower administration’s offer of subsidies to foreign governments who would buy U.S. experimental reactors.”(Hughes, 439)  By the 1960’s, the reactor business was booming as more and more companies bought into this new field of energy producing systems.  Members of the AEC even went on to say that companies went blindly into this field giving huge investments into exotic and sometimes unsound developments with hope to get government contracts and to advertise their business.  Mark Hertsgaard, author, of Nuclear Inc., refers to an “atomic brotherhood,” which defines as a conglomeration and an interconnection between corporations in the nuclear-energy business and their government sponsors.  By the 1980’s, the brotherhood, involving twenty-four large international corporations, had become a large and powerful complex, perhaps the largest and powerful enterprise in the world.”(Hughes, 441)  Many people in the field saw the global expansion of atomic energy as a way of strengthening ties between allies throughout the world by giving them a new more efficient way of creating energy, as well supplying them with the fuel to do so, but in my opinion it only strengthened the power of the government and the corporate world against the people it says it is there to help. 

            In today’s society, nuclear energy is used in many different ways both good and bad.  In medicine, the radioactive material is used in all different aspects of the medical field.  It is used in helping cancer patients fight their disease with the use of chemo-therapy and radiation treatments which was first started in Oak Ridge in 1948.  It is also used in MRI’s and CT scans as well as in other medical apparatuses.  Atomic Energy, as previously stated, is used in making electricity in the nuclear reactors throughout the world by helping produce steam to run powerful generators.  Other military uses as already explained are nuclear-powered submarines as well as atomic bombs that are powered to travel across the globe in minutes.  None of these options would be possible without the scientific and engineering breakthroughs of the mid-20th century. 

Before one form their opinion on the use of atomic energy, one must look at how it affects the world economy.  Because it is cost effective, where most of the money is poured in to create the facility, the cost to run the plant at full power is self-sustaining once it is up in operation.  Unlike the oil and gas we use to run our cars and other products, atomic energy is a lot more environmentally friendly if experts take the right precautions in ensuring that problems do not occur.  The energy efficiency is much greater than any other product besides helium-3 which is used in nuclear-fusion, the only element in the universe that can provide more energy than nuclear fission within the reactors.  Nuclear Energy supplies nearly 14% of the world’s electricity, more than the world used from all the sources in 1960.  There are now 440 reactors in over thirty countries, with 377,000 MWe of total capacity.  France, for example, gets three-quarters of its power from nuclear energy while many other developed European nations use this energy source for over one-third of their energy needs.  As the world grows as does our energy needs, and with the atomic age now upon us, we are capable of meeting those energy needs with atomic energy, and within the next fifty years, fusion power, which will give us the energy capacity of the stars.   

Oil:How it all Started In America?

In today’s world, oil is the most important source of energy across the globe.  Some may say that oil is the most efficient energy resource this planet has ever seen.  Refined oil is used in things from the cars we drive, to the kerosene in our gas powered lanterns.  Before the Great Oil Rush began, Edwin Drake’s ambition and determination proved to be the laughing stock of the small town of Titusville, but that great day in late August of 1859 changed not only the view of Drake, but essentially the world as we know it.  Edwin Drake will always go down in history as the first person to perfect the oil drilling process, but some say that it was only a matter of time before someone took the bold step and pioneered the oil drilling industry.            

            Drake was an intelligent man, whose knowledge and social ability was beyond that of someone with regular schooling.  Even though he shared the looks and character of President Abraham Lincoln, the people of Titusville, Pennsylvania poked fun at his arrival to their town to investigate the insignificant oil seep leased by the Brewer and Watson sawmill to the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company.  Before Drake struck oil in this small town, the local sawmills were only to extract small quantities of oil to lubricate their saw, and provide a source of light.  The only person to make anything of the oil was Samuel Kier, who used it as a natural remedy for ailments such as rheumatism, cough, neuralgia, and liver problems.  The oil drilling industry began to take shape when part owner, Mr. Ebenezer of the sawmill gave his son, Francis, the remedy, who subsequently started the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, with two lawyers from New York, George Bissell and Jonathan G. Eveleth, who his father saw as villains.  The problem at hand was not the effectiveness of the oil, but whether it was possible to drill it effectively from beneath the surface, and with this issue the entrapaneurs could not find anyone to buy stock in their young company.  As a result, the men were forced to the hand of James Townsend, who was the President of City Savings Bank in New Haven, who raised the money, and soon after took over the management of the company.  Drake was brought into the picture when he realized Mrs. Ebenezer Brewer and Mrs. James Rynd did not sign the title deed, effectively giving the Company rights to exploit the land, and so Townsend persuaded Drake to go to Titusville to get the signatures, and also persuaded him to invest his life savings of $200 in the company.  On return, “Townsend used Drakes position as a stockholder to carry out a complicated coup that ended Bissell and his partners management role, gave Townsend control via a new entity called Seneca Oil, and made Drake GM at an annual salary of $1,000.”(104)  the property in Titusville was leased to Drake for fifteen years, but Drake would give Townsend royalties of twelve cents for every gallon of oil they produced. 

            The next series of events put Drake’s financial and social honor on the line in the small Pennsylvania city of Titusville.  His first moves of his new venture were to rent a hotel room, buy supplies, and hire workers at $1 a day.  “Drake’s first contribution to the future was his early conviction was that the skeptics were wrong, that oil lay trapped in the rocky reservoirs beneath the ground and the only way to get at it was to drill a hole, exactly the way people mine for salt.”(104)  It is said that within ten minutes of being on the site, Drake knew that oil would be something that would be exploited from the ground, and that he would be the one to do it.  His determination and intuitive thought gave him the driving force to prove the skeptics wrong.  The only problem was he was missing an engine to the drilling process, and a driller because most of them were drunks and believed the 1,000 feet Drake wanted to drill was impossible.  The first problem was laid to rest when Drake bought a six-horsepower engine for $500, as well as when Drake received a letter from a salt well operator, recommended the blacksmith William Smith to drill the well.  Up to this point, there was no progress, and Drake resorted to borrowing money from locals, as well $500 from his lone supporter from the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, Mr. Townsend, even though his contract ended on April 1st, 1859.  With the help of William Smith and his other workers, Mr. Drake designed and built a 30-foot high derrick all the while being criticized by Mr. Brewer.  By this time, Drake used his capital to cover the expenses.  “Once again, his intuition came to the rescue.  His idea was that they should stop digging beyond 16 feet already done, but try to drive an iron pipe through the quicksand and clay to the underlying rock.”(106)  He began this endeavor with a cast-iron pipe, but broke at 10 feet, so he decided to give it a second effort with soft iron.  He saw great success with this new soft iron pipe fixture when he hit rock at thirty-two feet, and drilled three feet that day as well as the next few.  Without knowing that Townsend sent a letter to close down the operation because of lack of efficient communication, Drake began to prove skeptics wrong when he reached 69 feet on August 28th, 1859.  “According to Smith, Drake was in the derrick on the Saturday when at 69 feet the drill slipped and the jars stopped working.  I noticed fluid rising in the drive pipe and called Drake’s attention and said, “that’s your fortune coming,” and lifted about a half a gallon of oil.”(106)  Soon after Drake was drawing 400 gallons of pure oil every day.  His unwillingness to give up hope on this venture in which he invested his own credit and name on the line, brought on a new age to the region, The Great Oil Rush.  Within days of getting the word of Drake’s success, people from all over the region put their careers to the side for this lucrative business.  “Merchants abandoned their stores, farmers dropped their plows, lawyers deserted their offices and preachers their pulpits.”(107)  While others such as Bissell and local friends bought stock and leased land in the surrounding area, Drake concentrated on making the well more efficient.  Before long, Townsend and his fellow directors took Drake’s title of president of the company and made him an agent because of his lack of business savvy, and eventually fired him in 1863.  Edwin Drake, the man who pioneered the oil well, finally was given credit and acknowledgement by the local people, who put him on salary of $3,000, while his own company kicked him to the curb and others stole his idea and patented it.  After losing all his money and growing sicker every day, Edwin Drake died in 1880 at the age of seventy-two.   “Standard Oil donated a bronze sculpture of Drake engraved with the story of how this one man, enriched the state, benefited mankind, stimulated the mechanical arts, and enlarged the pharmacopoeia.”(107)  Other pay tribute by saying that the man did not wish to gain anything financially nor socially, but was content in revolutionizing the industry with the fruits of his hard labor.  Edwin Drake brought the world to the age of petroleum which thereby transformed the world as we know it.

            Oil has arguably become the most important resource on Earth besides the presence of oxygen and water.  Oil has transformed and revolutionized the world, and has led to the rise of huge oil tycoons throughout the world, where the business has produced many billionaires.  Drake’s determination made oil drilling possible, and for the first time significant quantities of oil were produced and refined.  Oil, which was first used as an illuminant and lubricant, is now used by everyone every day in cars, jet engines, as well the gas we used in our home grills and stoves.  Some say that even if Drake gave up on his venture and did not discover the oil in the bedrock in that small Pennsylvania town, someone else would have, but his ability to overlook the skeptics and follow his own intuition, leaves us with this efficient energy sources and the legacy of a man who made this all happen. 

The Uranium Bomb: The Beginning

E=MC2 is the most famous equation in the modern day world.  According to Albert Einstein’s grand equation mass could be converted to energy, and energy could be converted to mass.   This very equation gave atomic physicists hope that their theoretical work on the uranium and plutonium could produce a bomb.  The bomb would create a blast so powerful that it would be equivalent to 20,000 pounds of TNT or dynamite, and effectively end World War Two.  The journey to the culmination of this grand project of creating these world changing weapons of mass destruction did not come without its problems and painstaking questions that for some time boggled the minds of even the brightest scientists and engineers.  Not only was purifying the stock piles of uranium and creating the new metal plutonium a daunting task, but creating a bomb that would explode in the most effective and deadly manner was of the utmost importance.  Because of the hard work and dedication of the thousands of scientists, engineers, management officials, and other workers, the bomb was made, and effectively changed the world as we knew it. 

            This grand equation Einstein discovered during his many years of laboring brought to life a new kind of physics to the world of science.  His theory of energy and mass gave physicists across the globe the background work into the realm of nuclear or atomic physics.  Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman were the two scientists who were able to make a breakthrough on nuclear fission in December of 1938.  Their work in a broad prospective stated that when one bombards the nucleus of a uranium atom with neutrons, it causes the atom to fission or split releasing pure energy.  The problem facing scientists during the production of the bomb was this: Uranium consisted of 99 percent Uranium-238 which was a much more stable mass than the Uranium-235 isotope that made up less than 1 percent of the entire element.  “ A more humdrum way of remembering the difference between the two types of Uranium is by focusing on the nature of the even and off numbers.  Since U238 had 238 particles in its nucleus, everything was paired off; but since U235 has an odd number of particles in its nucleus, that means there are 46 pairs of protons and 71 pairs of neutrons- and one extra neutron.”(Bodanis, 281)  When a slow moving neutron from the outside world or from a controlled environment reaches the nucleus of the uranium atom, the neutron causes the nucleus to oscillate or vibrate leading to the splitting of the atom, which can cause a reaction when neutrons from each affected atom cause a chain reaction culminating in the release of pure energy in the form of gamma rays.  This theory and application that took decades to understand and use in real life circumstances came at the most opportune time.  The Manhattan Project brought together the work of thousands of people to produce a sufficient amount of uranium to use to build a bomb of such destructive force to subsequently end the war, but how in the world could a bomb be made that could unleash such devastating amounts of energy. 

            In Los Alamos, New Mexico, after sufficient amounts of uranium-235 was produced in the nuclear reactors in Tennessee, the job of Oppenheimer and his crew was to devise a plan on how the bomb was going to work.  For an extended period of time, scientists and engineers quarreled over concepts on how to detonate the bomb.  The final decision was implosion, and this decision was complimented by the mathematic computations of the world’s greatest mathematician, John von Neumann of Hungary.  So exactly how was the bomb going to work you may ask?  When the bomb was dropped, there were two small holes around the middle where wires had been tugged out of it as it dropped away, which was the first arming system.  When the bomb reached 7,000 feet above the ground, a barometric switch was turned, priming the second arming system.  The bomb was just ten feet long and two and a half feet wide, but what was inside this small speck in the sky was the power of the sun.  Radio waves bounce off the ground detailing how far from the ground the bomb was.  At just under 2,000 feet Neumann calculated that this was the ideal height at which to detonate the uranium bomb.  “ An electric impulse lit cordite sacs, producing a conventional artillery blast.  A small part of the purified uranium was now pushed forward down a gun barrel that was actually inside the bomb.”(Bodanis,164)  The gun was a scaled-down model of the U.S. Navy weapon which was just one-fifth the weight of the conventional weapon.  The first uranium segment traveled about four feet within the gun barrel, and then impacted the remaining bulk of uranium.  There were a number of stray neutrons loose inside it, which helped induce the beginning of the chain reaction.  Because neutrons have no charge, they were not affected by the electrons of the outer casing of the atoms, and were able to freely enter the nucleus of the uranium atom.  “The nucleus normally blocked outside particles from entering, for it was seething with positively charged protons.  But since neutrons have no electric charge their invisible to the protons as well.  The arriving neutrons pushed into the nucleus, overbalancing it; causing it to oscillate and subsequently split.”(Bodanis, 165)  This reaction broke what we called the nucleus force.  Gluons which hold together the nucleus of an atom is ripped apart, causing a chain reaction in which mass was disappearing and being replaced by pure energy.  The entire chain reaction sequence was over within a few millionths of a second.  The bomb took 43 seconds to descend from 31,000 feet to 1,900, but the reaction triggered by nuclear fission took all but a fraction of a second.  “The chain reaction went through 80 “generations” of doubling before it ended.  By the last few moments of this, the segments of broken uranium nuclei were so abundant, and moving so fast, that they started heating up the metal around them.”(Bodanis,166)  Once there was no more matter to be converted over to energy, this energy was being transformed into heat energy because the speed of the uranium nuclei were moving at speeds close to the speed of light and were rubbing against resting metal.  This heat energy reaches temperatures equivalent to that of the sun.  As the heat moves up and goes through the steel around the uranium, as well the several thousand pound casing of the bomb, but then it pauses.  The energy of the explosion must be released, so x-rays push themselves outwards in all directions.  As the energy is used, and the fragments try to cool themselves, and the x-ray bombardment is over, the heat ball resumes its outward spread. This is now a site to see, as normal photons fill the sky, seeming as though a new star has been created just above the surface of the earth, and the bomb burns for a fraction of a second, taking a few more to empty itself out.  This new destructive force kills tens of thousands of Japanese citizens instantaneously.  “And when that great mushroom cloud appeared, E=MC2’s first work on planet Earth was done.”(Bodanis,169) 

            After the destructive force of the bomb was unleashed on Hiroshima on that sunny, 80 degree day, the world was changed forever.  The work of many scientists, engineers, and explosive experts was put to use to end the war, but the moral character of each person involved was questioned.  The bomb that they’ve created has now killed nearly 100,000 people most of whom died almost instantly.  The theory of mass and energy conversion and its first use in nuclear fission was born on this Earth, and has led the world into the Nuclear Age.  The idea of nuclear fallout lies in the back of every intelligent being on this Earth, for man now has the power of the sun, the power to kill hundreds of thousands and even millions of innocent people within a fraction of a second. 

Gas Prices: Are They Really Relative To The Barrel?

The recent past has seen gas prices fluctuate greatly, sending the United States and the rest of the world going bananas over the amount they are paying at the pump.  I don't see much of a dent in the pockets of the oil tycoons who still continue to make huge profits while the public is losing more and more at the tank.  I remember when I was a child of about 10 years old or so, $20 used to get you a full tank of gas, so what has changed about the composition of crude oil that it has caused the prices to inflate so rapidly.  Why is it that Israel can have a nuclear program in such a hostile area with nuclear weapons, while Iran cannot have a nuclear program to create energy?  In my opinion, if you take out a country's only export commodity, then it will only provoke the country to want to use force.  Look at the Civil War; the north was nervous about the South's relationship with the English over the production and distribution of cotton to England's textile mills.  How far can a world go to strangle a countries way of life, unless of course Iran does not want to play the part.  In that case, there are only so many things you can say or do to help bring peace and understanding to an area, so in the end, Iran controls its own future.  So where am I going with this:

Many do not know that oil makes up a significant amount of what makes up this world from plastic, your asphalt roads, petroleum jelly, and lip balms etc...  During the refining process, each is made from refining the crude to a certain point to be able to make products like these.  As I go to the grocery store or any consumer marketplace, I do not understand why the only price that has been affected by the rise of the barrel which is about $106, is the gas at the pumps.  The product that causes the most bodily harm is the most expensive; I guess that makes more sense?  At the same, the price of my water bottle has stayed the same; my petroleum jelly has not changed a cent, so how does that make sense?  If the price of crude oil goes up, then I’d assume that every product that is made of oil would go up as well.  Watch, after this blog is published, the cost of the all the products just mentioned will go up!

How far will the problems with oil go before something is done about it?  If capitalism is successful in a free and competitive market, than why is oil the only means used to create combustion to fuel our vehicles and other means of transportation.  If it’s so hard to transfer our vehicles to other means because of monetary reasons than I can say this:  You bailed out the banks who ruined their own system because of greed and horrible government laws, you gave money to GM who'd rather pay out dividends to their employees rather than pay back their loans (sorry you have your job be grateful not greedy), and the list goes on.  If you want Americans spending money in other places besides to big business for their bills and gas, then give us a means of travel that will allow the people to be able to spend money elsewhere!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What does the title "Knowledge is Power:The Deciding Generation" Mean To Me?

Throughout my Twenty-two years on this great Earth, I have seen the United States go through peaks and valleys both socially, economically, and technologically.  My life though, as I knew it, all changed on September 11th, 2001.  When I watched those towers fall over and over again on television and in my mind at night during my dreams, I knew the world would never be the same again.  Hate, terror, anxiety, and remorse flowed through the mind of every American or any person in this world that morning as the world stopped dead in its tracks.  I've seen the tech bubble burst in the early 2000's because of investment bank giving IPO's to almost any internet company they could, basically without warning the public that the company was worth less than a pile of poop.  I've seen the Food and Drug Administration play a blind eye in the 1980's until recently about food and drug products because the industry brought so much money to the United States that it did not matter.  I've seen the collapse of the almost the entire world market because the U.S. government, the financial system, and the insurance business play monopoly with the debt of its American and foreign constituents, yet there unsustainable capitalism fell right on their faces in 2008 with the collapse of the housing bubble.  I've seen science and technology bring us to a whole new endless boundary of possibility and opportunity for advancement as a society.  But why do I say "Knowledge is Power: The Deciding Generation?"

              The flow of money has made this world work for as long as I can remember, yet the flow of knowledge has been suppressed for once again as long I can remember I happen to think knowledge is the most important thing anyone can have.  Knowledge is not a physical entity, and once you have it, it is very hard to take it away.  What is the point of having knowledge about something if you’re not going to share it with everyone?  Why keep ideas and thought cooped up inside your head, for you are the only person who will know the idea?  I honestly don't care about what people think of my ideas, because ideas are only a figment of my imagination until I get them out for everyone to read and see, so ideas and knowledge are transferred on a global scale, so I can work with many others thoughts and ideas to see if my own even make sense. 

               We are in a place in time where everything is rapidly changing.  Technology reaches new limits every day, week, month, and year.  In the recent future, we are going to go into an age of knowledge and understanding of reality or what makes up reality that will forever change our view on the world, and to be honest it has already began.  At the same time, humans have complete control over everything that we create, and most of the time it is not equally fair for everyone in the game.  As we grow as a society, many without the resources and advances that many of us have, will be left in the dust just because of money.  Money drives this world forward through time, but sometimes regress the human mind backwards for it is all we think about.  In reality though, I understand that that is just life on this place we call Earth.  At the same time, we are supposed to be moral beings for each and every one of us knows right from wrong no matter what our parents taught us.  We are in a part of the United States growing period where we will do just about anything for money in all socio-economic position, and I find that rather appalling.  The government makes laws that should not be made, but then goes and denies laws that should be made.  My generation will be the deciding factor in what direction the United States will go in.  Will we head in a direction where we have sustainable capitalism for all to enjoy, and so our children and grandchildren can live in a world where greed and manipulation do not exist, and everyone works together to promote the welfare of all or will we still live in a world that's cut-throat, and everyone is out to get there's no matter the foreseeable consequences of the future.  Will we lead the world into a generation where we use energy sources that help build a sustainable energy infrastructure that is less detrimental to the atmospheric composition that has allowed us to thrive as a society to get to this point, or will we drive the temperature up, as politicians drive their anger and resentment button through the roof.  Will our two political parties join together to promote the existence of one supreme party that looks out for the interests of any one man or woman who is willing to work hard to make their dreams reality?  I guess only in time we will know the answers to these fundamental questions.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Micro-Lending Banking of Muhammad Yunis: A Banking System for Everyone

"Chapter 5 opens with Muhammad Yunus devising a way to establish an independent bank. Through trial and error he outlines loan policies, such as spreading the repayment over a long period of time in small increments. He also required no collateral, baseline income, or business plan to receive the loan. Instead, he formulated a group-based plan whereby all members must join a group of 5, pass an exam and attend meetings. There were many other standards implemented in this system and I’ll make a point to write a separate blog post on the details of the Grameen banking system. However, the program was successful enough that it generates a 98 percent repayment rate with the vast majority of borrowers being women. The Grameen system encountered a number of hurdles on account of religious and cultural differences; just convincing women to borrow money was a challenge.  In the end, the Grameen Banking System allows people of impoverished communities to work together with the help of a banking system that allows residents of communties to be self-employed, and allow groups to work together to allow the flow of money to be exchanged for people from all walks of life."(All About Microfinance, 2011)

In developing nations or nations of great poverty, there is still gender inequality which dampers the progression of society has a whole.  Yunus expresses how women in these countries have never dealt with financial business decisions of a family let alone a business entity of their own.  In this case, women may seem nervous about taking up such a project.  He then educated them on business ideas, to help promote self-thought, and visions of a future that would be prosperous for them with a little hard work and ingenuity of their own.  He gave them the knowledge and tools to help kick-start of movement where the banks comes to you asking if you need loans to help promote small businesses, and to allow those to start their entrepreneurial adventures of their own.

Ammajan Amina is the epitome of a loving and determined mother and person should be.  Never in my life have a read and felt the struggle of another person’s life so deep in my heart and mind.  Dealing with the adversity she did, yet never giving up give me as lucky individual in this country the motivation to never give up on my dreams no matter how hard or tedious they may be, because hard work and determination to succeed with always lead one to a chance at a better life in the future.  In this woman’s life, she had all but one of her children pass away, she lost her husband and their limited wealth to disease, her home to the weather and a family-in-law who only cared about money, yet she did whatever it took to make sure her children or in the end child to never went hungry.  In the eyes of adversity, she never gave up on the dream of getting out of poverty and making something of herself.  Microfinance through the help of the Grameen bank has allowed her, and now her lone daughter to better their stance in society.  Her daughter now works for Grameen bank, which helps people all over the world. 

                When comparing Microfinance of Grameen Bank, and the banking done by the World Bank, one can see both advantages and disadvantages to both respective lending techniques.  First, we will start off with micro-financing.  In micro-financing, there are great advantages in this method because the banker now goes straight to the people of a said community, city, or country and asks them if they want a loan to start a business, and help promote a positive progression a healthy financial lifestyle in the future.  I believe getting to know the people you are going to lend money to be a great thing because you can educate them on finance, and help spark a fire within individuals to control their own destiny.  At the same time, it may be difficult because many people who are left unwatched can and will sometimes use the money for a short-term binge rather than a planned financial forecast on helping themselves, families, and communities.  At the same time, I like the IMF’s banking system as well.  By allowing governments to handle lending to the people, you can assume that the government will do what is in the best interest of the people of the country to promote and increase economic prosperity for all.  At the same time, governments will sometimes allocate the money to a few individuals or companies to keep the economic growth to a small portion of society rather than the nation as a whole entity. 

                In Chapter 8, Yunis gives criticisms of the World Bank’s system of banking.  One of the criticism’s he had on the World Bank is the idea that the World Bank focuses exclusively on large-scale economic growth rather than help those in poverty lead a better life by self-employment.   According to Yunus, “the essence of development is changing the quality of life of the bottom half of the population,” which includes an “enabling environment that lets individuals explore their creative potential” (p. 56). The World Bank and others focus on measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), per capita income, consumption per capita, or job creation—measures which can only be moved through large scale projects based upon the theoretical assumptions of mainstream economics.

Yunus, Muhammad. 2008. Creating a World without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism. New York, New York: Public Affairs

Yunus, Muhammad. 1999. Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle against World Poverty. New York, New York: Public Relations.

Why is Apple The Most Success Public Company In The World

Corporations, which were created during and following the American Industrial Revolution have changed the world of big business.  Corporations are now one of the most powerful and influential economic operating systems that exist in the business world today.  Over time though, corporations in a capitalist society can and will use that power and financial superiority to help further their capital assets in any way possible.  Corporate Governance is a mechanism put in place to make sure that to the best of the government and societies ability, that are kept in check to make sure they do what is in the best interest of the stakeholders and of society as a whole.  Societal views and satisfaction on corporations and big business from the consumer standpoint has slowly dwindled after the crash of the Stock Market in 2008.  The players involved in this abrupt destruction of the U.S. and world economy did not do their job to see the long-term picture, only focusing on the short term goals.  The banks, the government, the investors, and the people of the United States were blinded by the money that was rolling in, but never thought about what might happen.  In this paper I am going to take the biggest corporation in the world right now, which is Apple, and discuss the role of each stakeholder, and how good ethical behavior throughout the company would only increase profitability because consumer trust is almost as important as the product you are selling.  Having a steady balance of short-term and long-term goals as a company can only improve the company’s performance today, tomorrow, a year, and ten years down the road.  In my personal perception of the world after the information technology boom as well as the housing boom and crash, has left me with a thinking and ideology of the do not’s in the economic world.  People in America and all over the world are blinded by the idea of quick money.  Quick money is a great way to get rich, but not having a steady and future forecasting approach to making it and keeping it, the corporation or commodity you invested in may not always be as healthy as you may think.  In the end, Apple, in my opinion, is the epitome of what a good corporation is, but at the same time everyone and everything has its flaws for we humans have created this system and we are by no means perfect.

            Management is the most important part of the company because they are the individuals at the top of the company that handle the everyday business activities of the company.  When looking at Apple over the past decade or so, I’ve come to the realization that Steve Jobs was one of the most brilliant business minds to every come on this Earth.  He took the idea of Macintosh and created a corporate empire that has surpassed the $500 billion plateau.  Management has done a great job in developing and promoting a product that is arguable the best computer technology that we have available.  At the same time, being able to make a few great products like the MacBook, the Iphone, the Ipod, Itunes, and the Ipad has proven to be much better approach than to come out with an abundance of products that are new and innovative, but sometimes coming out with new things without perfecting them can be very costly in terms of consumer backing and support.  At the same time though, it was proven on the news that Steve Jobs made more money that he claimed he did as CEO.  Instead of accepting his base salary, he asked for a mere $1 a year but hedged his way to astronomical amounts of money which has been proven.  Apple’s management though, has done a great deal to go out of its way to increase stakeholder and customer satisfaction throughout the years by giving society a product that is long lasting and efficient and continues to innovate on new concepts and ideas into the future such as the Ipad 3, and the up and coming Apple TV. 

            Apple has a strong, but small group on their Board of Directors that are highly educated in their area of expertise in progressing the company to where it is now.  In all, Apple has eight members on its Board of Directors.  Each one has a background in their respective role in the company which in my opinion helps create a positive trickle-down effect throughout the company by playing a role as a positive role model to those in and out of the company.  In many cases, each one of them worked at many different companies before joining the Apple team.  For example, Tim Cook is now the current CEO of the company, used to hold the position of Chief Operating Officer.  His ability to handle that job as COO, allowed for a better and smoother transition to that of CEO of Apple.  Another good example of a knowledgeable Board member is that of Scott Forstall.  Mr Forstall is the Senior VP of the company, and is charge of the IOS software that you find in Apple computer products and systems.  He received a Bachelor’s Degree of Science and Symbolic Systems and a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Stanford University.  In the end, having a great management team who’s small, but highly educated has proven to be a key success for Apple as time has progressed.  The ability to have a management team that works together to promote and maintain a great product has made Apple the biggest and most profitable corporation of Earth. 

            Regulators are people and government agencies that promote and maintain a good legal standing in the company.  Apple, even though sometimes they may seem to be greedy individuals, have taken to the needs of their customers.  Apple has led the way in decreasing the amount of harmful chemicals in their products after consumer concern arose in the mid-2000’s.   “It is generally not Apple’s policy to trumpet our plans for the future; we tend to talk about the things we have just accomplished. Unfortunately this policy has left our customers, shareholders, employees and the industry in the dark about Apple’s desires and plans to become greener. Our stakeholders deserve and expect more from us, and they’re right to do so. They want us to be a leader in this area, just as we are in the other areas of our business. So today we’re changing our policy.”(Jobs, Steve)  Problems have also emerged because of working conditions in China with their manufacturers who make the phones.  Apple’s products are manufactured in factories all over China, and workers exceed almost half a million people.  Because of concerns in working conditions, Apple was forced to have their manufacturing companies look into unhealthy working conditions such as excessive hours, child labor, and use of products that are detrimental to the health and well-being of the employees.  I find it hard to believe though that Apple did not know about the problem before hand, but played a blind eye to the well-being of their Chinese employees because business for some is more about making money than taking care of those who help one increase your stance as a profitable corporation.  The news and shareholders can even play a role as regulators of the firm for they spoke out about Apple’s excess cash reserves.  As a result, Apple was going to pay out dividends to its stock holder’s who’s loyalty and vested capital interest in seeing the company progress should be rewarded since Apple as a company has soared to new economic heights as of recently.  In the end regulators internally and externally have proven to be very important to the growth and regulation of Apple Inc. 

            Analysts for Apple Incorporated according to Yahoo finance says according to statistics according to 46 brokers, that almost all them say that Apple is a strong “buy” or “hold” as of the last month.  Apple’s growth has now peaked at over $500 billion in the last few weeks.  This capital climb has led many to think about Apple’s Future financial forecast.  In my opinion, Apple is a stock that I would not necessarily buy, but hold onto.  There have been rumors going around the financial world of the possibility of Apple exceeding $1,000 a share in the coming future.  If this is true, and only time will tell, than analyst predictions of the increased profitable of the company would leave to believe that holding onto or buying company stock is a smart plan.  In the end though, since Apple stock is already quite expensive, that I only find it worth purchasing if you are willing to invest large sums of capital if one wishes to make a substantial return in the future.  In the end though, analyst projections will only take them as far as Apple innovation will let them.  The past has proven to analysts that Apple’s consumer base and profitable innovation leaves them with the idea that the sky is the limit. 

            Creditors are people or firms that give Apple usable capital to help increase the profitability.  The more money that is borrowed by Apple, the more they must profit off of the sales of their items to pay back their creditors.  As of 2009, Apple’s Debt to Equity ratio was around 50%.  On the other hand, Apple’s profit margin in that year was almost 20% meaning that the risk of insolvency was not an issue whatsoever.  Apple seems to not have any problem with paying its creditors in the short-term for they are the largest corporation in the entire world.

            Ernest and Young and KGMP are two of the biggest and most prestigious accounting firms in the country, and they happen to represent Apple Inc.  According to their accounting records, Apple’s Shareholder equity as of 2009 was $31.6 billion.  As a result of this auditing, consulting, and accounting, this leads one to believe that Apple’s behavior is leaning towards improving the capital revenue of their shareholders.  Over the past few years, Apple’s stock has risen immensely from the final 10k statement to present times.  As a result, a shareholder of Apple who has remained faithful to the company in the long hall has made a huge capital gain.  Apple had the biggest IPO in 1980 since Ford Motor Company went public.  As a result of this shareholder optimism, investment banks play a key role in promoting the purchasing of Apple Stock on the buy side over the past few decades as a result of their increase in stock price and capital position. 

            Apple has seen great financial and worldwide growth over the past three decades since going public.  Apple has more than 500,000 employees worldwide and has become the most profitable corporations in the world.  As a result of their continued innovation of a few brilliant products, they have been able to continue to promote growth in retail stores as well as manufacturing overseas even though some may say they are wrong for taking their jobs overseas, but they only do so to increase profitability for their shareholders, creditors, and for future investors.  Steve Jobs has turned a great company into a corporate empire over the past few decades, and leads me to believe that Apple is unlimited potential looking into the future as long as they adhere to the issues presented to them from an internal and external prospective.  The future of Apple has set their sights on reaching $1,000 a share, and I think they will not stop at anything to reach that goal unless consumer trust is lost, but I personally do not see that happening. 
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