Category Archives: General Posts

Multiple Sclerosis & COVID-19

If you didn’t know already, I’ve had Multiple Sclerosis for 18 years. I mention this because so-called news outlets have been downplaying COVID-19 – you know the drill: Democratic plot, the flu is more of a killer (so I guess we should just ignore the hell out of the cornavirus). I am in at “at risk” group because Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease.

Today, I had my monthly infusion, along with some other masked MS patients – at least 6 feet apart. But there were only 3 of us this time. (I think there are 10 chairs.) I don’t know why, but it was chilling.

Being on a disease modifying therapy (DMT), when I walked into the infusion center this morning, I wondered: is my number up? As the MS Society wrote: “Some disease modifying therapies increase your risk of infections, including COVID-19. This must be weighed against other factors including your MS activity, your age, other medical conditions and other potential factors that could impact your DMT. This is a difficult decision and needs a thorough discussion with your MS provider.” (Unfortunately, they don’t tell me what DMTs could increase your risk. However, NOT taking a DMT could destroy an MS patient.)

People have asked me if I’m afraid being in an “at risk” group. My sort of non-answer is that I’m probably not any more afraid than anyone else. I’m just unlucky!

If for a heartbeat you believe that this pandemic is less that what it is, if you believe that what the medical journals and the legitimate press report is bullshit, then take a walk in my shoes – or the shoes of anyone with a condition or disease that puts them in the “at risk” group. Hell, just put yourself in anyone else’s shoes; your neighbor’s, your priest’s, your girlfriend’s, your mailman’s. I’m not special, and I certainly am not writing this for sympathy. I don’t hide the fact that I have MS, but I don’t like to advertise it.

But I hear again and again excuses for the pandemic, explanations for WHAT IT IS NOT. Yes, a bad bout of the flu could kill me. But I’m not all that fearful of the flu, for there is a flu shot. Not 100% effective, but 50-60% effective (according to John Hopkins and the CDC) is better than nothing. But there is no COVID-19 shot, not yet.

There is a very old woman who lives next door to me. I think she might be in almost every “at risk” category one way or another. I don’t want this woman’s life to end with this virus, to end where she is in an isolated hospital room, NOT surrounded by her loved ones, for they are not allowed in. Yes, yes, we all die alone, but it would be nice to have some company when we go.

I don’t want people to believe that this COVID-19 is some kind of hoax. It’s real, it’s here, deal with it or not.

Don’t congregate, always wear a mask in public, just follow whatever the current rules are. Screw Trump and his paranoia – this is about OUR lives, not his (and his re-election concerns are only important to those who worship him as a false god). Let him walk around without a mask because it would mess up his hair or smear his spray tan. I do not care what those people say; let them stew in their own juices. This is about my life and yours. I’ve read more than once about people who didn’t believe the FACTS, but changed their tune when a person they love was diagnosed. If someone has a gun to your head, and there’s a group of people telling you it’s a water pistol, don’t listen, keep on walking, it’s YOUR life – and if you end up getting wet, so be it.

But, hey, the world is SLOWLY coming back on track, which is good news for everyone. I think of the small businesses that I frequent (Siren Records, Brave New Worlds), and I am glad they’re hanging on. Their time will come – as long as WE don’t treat this virus frivolously.

Be safe. Be cautious. Follow the rules, yes, but more importantly, follow your heart. Being in an “at risk” group or not, I have no plans on departing the planet just yet – and certainly not from COVID-19. I have 2 books coming out this year. I adopted a a Lab named Duke this past December. I’m wearing a mask, baby!

To go back to an earlier question, the truth is – I’m afraid.

But we have the best scientists, the best doctors and nurses, we have the greatest first responders, and, most importantly, we have the greatest thinkers.

When this thought pops into my head, I’m a little less afraid.

Stephen Hawking: How to Build a Time Machine – great article!

From The Daily Mail Online:

STEPHEN HAWKING: How to build a time machine

By STEPHEN HAWKING

 

All you need is a wormhole, the Large Hadron Collider or a rocket that goes really, really fast

Stephen Hawking

‘Through the wormhole, the scientist can see himself as he was one minute ago. But what if our scientist uses the wormhole to shoot his earlier self? He’s now dead. So who fired the shot?’

 

Hello. My name is Stephen Hawking. Physicist, cosmologist and something of a dreamer. Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free. Free to explore the universe and ask the big questions, such as: is time travel possible? Can we open a portal to the past or find a shortcut to the future? Can we ultimately use the laws of nature to become masters of time itself?

Time travel was once considered scientific heresy. I used to avoid talking about it for fear of being labelled a crank. But these days I’m not so cautious. In fact, I’m more like the people who built Stonehenge. I’m obsessed by time. If I had a time machine I’d visit Marilyn Monroe in her prime or drop in on Galileo as he turned his telescope to the heavens. Perhaps I’d even travel to the end of the universe to find out how our whole cosmic story ends.

To see how this might be possible, we need to look at time as physicists do – at the fourth dimension. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Every attentive schoolchild knows that all physical objects, even me in my chair, exist in three dimensions. Everything has a width and a height and a length.

But there is another kind of length, a length in time. While a human may survive for 80 years, the stones at Stonehenge, for instance, have stood around for thousands of years. And the solar system will last for billions of years. Everything has a length in time as well as space. Travelling in time means travelling through this fourth dimension.

To see what that means, let’s imagine we’re doing a bit of normal, everyday car travel. Drive in a straight line and you’re travelling in one dimension. Turn right or left and you add the second dimension. Drive up or down a twisty mountain road and that adds height, so that’s travelling in all three dimensions. But how on Earth do we travel in time? How do we find a path through the fourth dimension?

Let’s indulge in a little science fiction for a moment. Time travel movies often feature a vast, energy-hungry machine. The machine creates a path through the fourth dimension, a tunnel through time. A time traveller, a brave, perhaps foolhardy individual, prepared for who knows what, steps into the time tunnel and emerges who knows when. The concept may be far-fetched, and the reality may be very different from this, but the idea itself is not so crazy.

Physicists have been thinking about tunnels in time too, but we come at it from a different angle. We wonder if portals to the past or the future could ever be possible within the laws of nature. As it turns out, we think they are. What’s more, we’ve even given them a name: wormholes. The truth is that wormholes are all around us, only they’re too small to see. Wormholes are very tiny. They occur in nooks and crannies in space and time. You might find it a tough concept, but stay with me.

Time travel through a wormhole

A wormhole is a theoretical ‘tunnel’ or shortcut, predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity, that links two places in space-time – visualised above as the contours of a 3-D map, where negative energy pulls space and time into the mouth of a tunnel, emerging in another universe. They remain only hypothetical, as obviously nobody has ever seen one, but have been used in films as conduits for time travel – in Stargate (1994), for example, involving gated tunnels between universes, and in Time Bandits (1981), where their locations are shown on a celestial map

 

Nothing is flat or solid. If you look closely enough at anything you’ll find holes and wrinkles in it. It’s a basic physical principle, and it even applies to time. Even something as smooth as a pool ball has tiny crevices, wrinkles and voids. Now it’s easy to show that this is true in the first three dimensions. But trust me, it’s also true of the fourth dimension. There are tiny crevices, wrinkles and voids in time. Down at the smallest of scales, smaller even than molecules, smaller than atoms, we get to a place called the quantum foam. This is where wormholes exist. Tiny tunnels or shortcuts through space and time constantly form, disappear, and reform within this quantum world. And they actually link two separate places and two different times.

Unfortunately, these real-life time tunnels are just a billion-trillion-trillionths of a centimetre across. Way too small for a human to pass through – but here’s where the notion of wormhole time machines is leading. Some scientists think it may be possible to capture a wormhole and enlarge it many trillions of times to make it big enough for a human or even a spaceship to enter.

Given enough power and advanced technology, perhaps a giant wormhole could even be constructed in space. I’m not saying it can be done, but if it could be, it would be a truly remarkable device. One end could be here near Earth, and the other far, far away, near some distant planet.

Theoretically, a time tunnel or wormhole could do even more than take us to other planets. If both ends were in the same place, and separated by time instead of distance, a ship could fly in and come out still near Earth, but in the distant past. Maybe dinosaurs would witness the ship coming in for a landing.

The fastest manned vehicle in history was Apollo 10. It reached 25,000mph. But to travel in time we’ll have to go more than 2,000 times faster

Now, I realise that thinking in four dimensions is not easy, and that wormholes are a tricky concept to wrap your head around, but hang in there. I’ve thought up a simple experiment that could reveal if human time travel through a wormhole is possible now, or even in the future. I like simple experiments, and champagne.

So I’ve combined two of my favourite things to see if time travel from the future to the past is possible.

Let’s imagine I’m throwing a party, a welcome reception for future time travellers. But there’s a twist. I’m not letting anyone know about it until after the party has happened. I’ve drawn up an invitation giving the exact coordinates in time and space. I am hoping copies of it, in one form or another, will be around for many thousands of years. Maybe one day someone living in the future will find the information on the invitation and use a wormhole time machine to come back to my party, proving that time travel will, one day, be possible.

In the meantime, my time traveller guests should be arriving any moment now. Five, four, three, two, one. But as I say this, no one has arrived. What a shame. I was hoping at least a future Miss Universe was going to step through the door. So why didn’t the experiment work? One of the reasons might be because of a well-known problem with time travel to the past, the problem of what we call paradoxes.

Paradoxes are fun to think about. The most famous one is usually called the Grandfather paradox. I have a new, simpler version I call the Mad Scientist paradox.

I don’t like the way scientists in movies are often described as mad, but in this case, it’s true. This chap is determined to create a paradox, even if it costs him his life. Imagine, somehow, he’s built a wormhole, a time tunnel that stretches just one minute into the past.

Stephen Hawking in a scene from Star Trek

Hawking in a scene from Star Trek with dinner guests from the past, and future: (from left) Albert Einstein, Data and Isaac Newton

 

Through the wormhole, the scientist can see himself as he was one minute ago. But what if our scientist uses the wormhole to shoot his earlier self? He’s now dead. So who fired the shot? It’s a paradox. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s the sort of situation that gives cosmologists nightmares.

This kind of time machine would violate a fundamental rule that governs the entire universe – that causes happen before effects, and never the other way around. I believe things can’t make themselves impossible. If they could then there’d be nothing to stop the whole universe from descending into chaos. So I think something will always happen that prevents the paradox. Somehow there must be a reason why our scientist will never find himself in a situation where he could shoot himself. And in this case, I’m sorry to say, the wormhole itself is the problem.

In the end, I think a wormhole like this one can’t exist. And the reason for that is feedback. If you’ve ever been to a rock gig, you’ll probably recognise this screeching noise. It’s feedback. What causes it is simple. Sound enters the microphone. It’s transmitted along the wires, made louder by the amplifier, and comes out at the speakers. But if too much of the sound from the speakers goes back into the mic it goes around and around in a loop getting louder each time. If no one stops it, feedback can destroy the sound system.

The same thing will happen with a wormhole, only with radiation instead of sound. As soon as the wormhole expands, natural radiation will enter it, and end up in a loop. The feedback will become so strong it destroys the wormhole. So although tiny wormholes do exist, and it may be possible to inflate one some day, it won’t last long enough to be of use as a time machine. That’s the real reason no one could come back in time to my party.

Any kind of time travel to the past through wormholes or any other method is probably impossible, otherwise paradoxes would occur. So sadly, it looks like time travel to the past is never going to happen. A disappointment for dinosaur hunters and a relief for historians.

But the story’s not over yet. This doesn’t make all time travel impossible. I do believe in time travel. Time travel to the future. Time flows like a river and it seems as if each of us is carried relentlessly along by time’s current. But time is like a river in another way. It flows at different speeds in different places and that is the key to travelling into the future. This idea was first proposed by Albert Einstein over 100 years ago. He realised that there should be places where time slows down, and others where time speeds up. He was absolutely right. And the proof is right above our heads. Up in space.

This is the Global Positioning System, or GPS. A network of satellites is in orbit around Earth. The satellites make satellite navigation possible. But they also reveal that time runs faster in space than it does down on Earth. Inside each spacecraft is a very precise clock. But despite being so accurate, they all gain around a third of a billionth of a second every day. The system has to correct for the drift, otherwise that tiny difference would upset the whole system, causing every GPS device on Earth to go out by about six miles a day. You can just imagine the mayhem that that would cause.

The problem doesn’t lie with the clocks. They run fast because time itself runs faster in space than it does down below. And the reason for this extraordinary effect is the mass of the Earth. Einstein realised that matter drags on time and slows it down like the slow part of a river. The heavier the object, the more it drags on time. And this startling reality is what opens the door to the possibility of time travel to the future.

Right in the centre of the Milky Way, 26,000 light years from us, lies the heaviest object in the galaxy. It is a supermassive black hole containing the mass of four million suns crushed down into a single point by its own gravity. The closer you get to the black hole, the stronger the gravity. Get really close and not even light can escape. A black hole like this one has a dramatic effect on time, slowing it down far more than anything else in the galaxy. That makes it a natural time machine.

I like to imagine how a spaceship might be able to take advantage of this phenomenon, by orbiting it. If a space agency were controlling the mission from Earth they’d observe that each full orbit took 16 minutes. But for the brave people on board, close to this massive object, time would be slowed down. And here the effect would be far more extreme than the gravitational pull of Earth. The crew’s time would be slowed down by half. For every 16-minute orbit, they’d only experience eight minutes of time.

The Large Hadron Collider

Inside the Large Hadron Collider

 

Around and around they’d go, experiencing just half the time of everyone far away from the black hole. The ship and its crew would be travelling through time. Imagine they circled the black hole for five of their years. Ten years would pass elsewhere. When they got home, everyone on Earth would have aged five years more than they had.

So a supermassive black hole is a time machine. But of course, it’s not exactly practical. It has advantages over wormholes in that it doesn’t provoke paradoxes. Plus it won’t destroy itself in a flash of feedback. But it’s pretty dangerous. It’s a long way away and it doesn’t even take us very far into the future. Fortunately there is another way to travel in time. And this represents our last and best hope of building a real time machine.

You just have to travel very, very fast. Much faster even than the speed required to avoid being sucked into a black hole. This is due to another strange fact about the universe. There’s a cosmic speed limit, 186,000 miles per second, also known as the speed of light. Nothing can exceed that speed. It’s one of the best established principles in science. Believe it or not, travelling at near the speed of light transports you to the future.

To explain why, let’s dream up a science-fiction transportation system. Imagine a track that goes right around Earth, a track for a superfast train. We’re going to use this imaginary train to get as close as possible to the speed of light and see how it becomes a time machine. On board are passengers with a one-way ticket to the future. The train begins to accelerate, faster and faster. Soon it’s circling the Earth over and over again.

To approach the speed of light means circling the Earth pretty fast. Seven times a second. But no matter how much power the train has, it can never quite reach the speed of light, since the laws of physics forbid it. Instead, let’s say it gets close, just shy of that ultimate speed. Now something extraordinary happens. Time starts flowing slowly on board relative to the rest of the world, just like near the black hole, only more so. Everything on the train is in slow motion.

This happens to protect the speed limit, and it’s not hard to see why. Imagine a child running forwards up the train. Her forward speed is added to the speed of the train, so couldn’t she break the speed limit simply by accident? The answer is no. The laws of nature prevent the possibility by slowing down time onboard.

Now she can’t run fast enough to break the limit. Time will always slow down just enough to protect the speed limit. And from that fact comes the possibility of travelling many years into the future.

Imagine that the train left the station on January 1, 2050. It circles Earth over and over again for 100 years before finally coming to a halt on New Year’s Day, 2150. The passengers will have only lived one week because time is slowed down that much inside the train. When they got out they’d find a very different world from the one they’d left. In one week they’d have travelled 100 years into the future. Of course, building a train that could reach such a speed is quite impossible. But we have built something very like the train at the world’s largest particle accelerator at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

Deep underground, in a circular tunnel 16 miles long, is a stream of trillions of tiny particles. When the power is turned on they accelerate from zero to 60,000mph in a fraction of a second. Increase the power and the particles go faster and faster, until they’re whizzing around the tunnel 11,000 times a second, which is almost the speed of light. But just like the train, they never quite reach that ultimate speed. They can only get to 99.99 per cent of the limit. When that happens, they too start to travel in time. We know this because of some extremely short-lived particles, called pi-mesons. Ordinarily, they disintegrate after just 25 billionths of a second. But when they are accelerated to near-light speed they last 30 times longer.

It really is that simple. If we want to travel into the future, we just need to go fast. Really fast. And I think the only way we’re ever likely to do that is by going into space. The fastest manned vehicle in history was Apollo 10. It reached 25,000mph. But to travel in time we’ll have to go more than 2,000 times faster. And to do that we’d need a much bigger ship, a truly enormous machine. The ship would have to be big enough to carry a huge amount of fuel, enough to accelerate it to nearly the speed of light. Getting to just beneath the cosmic speed limit would require six whole years at full power.

The initial acceleration would be gentle because the ship would be so big and heavy. But gradually it would pick up speed and soon would be covering massive distances. In one week it would have reached the outer planets. After two years it would reach half-light speed and be far outside our solar system. Two years later it would be travelling at 90 per cent of the speed of light. Around 30 trillion miles away from Earth, and four years after launch, the ship would begin to travel in time. For every hour of time on the ship, two would pass on Earth. A similar situation to the spaceship that orbited the massive black hole.

After another two years of full thrust the ship would reach its top speed, 99 per cent of the speed of light. At this speed, a single day on board is a whole year of Earth time. Our ship would be truly flying into the future.

The slowing of time has another benefit. It means we could, in theory, travel extraordinary distances within one lifetime. A trip to the edge of the galaxy would take just 80 years. But the real wonder of our journey is that it reveals just how strange the universe is. It’s a universe where time runs at different rates in different places. Where tiny wormholes exist all around us. And where, ultimately, we might use our understanding of physics to become true voyagers through the fourth dimension.

RIP Stephen Hawking.

RIP Stephen Hawking…I was just re-reading his article on time travel a couple of days ago…inspiring mind….

From CNN.Com:

Stephen Hawking, renowned scientist, dies at 76

(CNN)Stephen Hawking, the brilliant British theoretical physicist who overcame a debilitating disease to publish wildly popular books probing the mysteries of the universe, has died, according to a family spokesman. He was 76.

Considered by many to be the world’s greatest living scientist, Hawking was also a cosmologist, astronomer, mathematician and author of numerous books including the landmark “A Brief History of Time,” which has sold more than 10 million copies.
With fellow physicist Roger Penrose, Hawking merged Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes. Hawking also discovered that black holes were not completely black but emit radiation and would likely eventually evaporate and disappear.
“A star just went out in the cosmos,” Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, wrote on Twitter. “We have lost an amazing human being.”

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Hawking suffered from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which is usually fatal within a few years. He was diagnosed in 1963, when he was 21, and doctors initially gave him only a few years to live.
The disease left Hawking wheelchair-bound and paralyzed. He was able to move only a few fingers on one hand and was completely dependent on others or on technology for virtually everything — bathing, dressing, eating, even speech.
Hawking used a speech synthesizer that allowed him to speak in a computerized voice with an American accent.
“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many,” he wrote on his website.
“I have been lucky that my condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But it shows that one need not lose hope.”
Cosmologist Stephen Hawking on October 10, 1979, in Princeton, New Jersey.

Hawking was married twice. He and his first wife, Jane Wilde, wed when he was still a graduate student and remained together for 30 years before divorcing in 1995. Hawking was later married for 11 years to Elaine Mason, one of his former nurses.
Hawking was born in Oxford, England, on what an auspicious date: January 8, 1942 — the 300th anniversary of the death of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei.
In an exclusive interview with CNN in October 2008, Hawking said that if humans can survive the next 200 years and learn to live in space, then our future will be bright.
Hawking's thesis crashed Cambridge University's website

“I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,” Hawking told CNN’s Becky Anderson.
“It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next 100 years, let alone next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.”
At Cambridge, he held the position of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics — the prestigious post previously held by Sir Isaac Newton, widely considered one of the greatest scientists in modern history — for 30 years until 2009.
Yet Hawking once said if he had the chance to meet either Newton or Marilyn Monroe, he would opt for the movie star.
After stepping down, Hawking continued to work at the university as director of research at the Institute for Theoretical Cosmology. The following year, he co-authored “The Grand Design” with Leonard Mlodinow.
After the book was published in 2010, Hawking told CNN that science can explain the universe without the need for a creator.
“Gravity and quantum theory caused universes to be created spontaneously out of nothing,” Hawking said in 2010. “God may exist, but science can explain the universe without the need for a creator.”
“Science is increasingly answering questions that used to be the province of religion,” he added.
Hawking on the creation of the universe (2010)

Hawking became a hero to math and science geeks and a pop-culture figure, guest-starring as himself on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “The Simpsons.” His life was dramatized in the 2014 movie, “The Theory of Everything.”
He had at least 12 honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. A CBE, or Commander in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, is considered a major honor for a British citizen and is one rank below knighthood.
Despite being a British citizen he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US’s highest civilian honor, in 2009 by President Barack Obama.
In September 2016, Hawking joined 375 “concerned” scientists in penning an open letter criticizing then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, citing the threat of climate change and blasting his push for the US to leave the Paris accord.
Fellow scientists hailed Hawking for his work and influence in the field.
“His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake,” tweeted Neil deGrasse Tyson. “But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure.”
Hawking leaves behind three children and three grandchildren. “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement. “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world.”
“He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

A US soldier, an Immigrant, and a Hero

From CNN.Com:

 

Medic who documented Nazi camp horror dies at 93

Story highlights

  • Anthony Acevedo was the first Mexican-American to register as a Holocaust survivor
  • “Never repay evil with evil. Remember what my buddies and I went through.”

Riverside, California (CNN)Two dozen veterans held US flags and stood at attention as they and dozens of family and friends bid farewell to one of the nation’s great war heroes.

Anthony C. Acevedo’s four children and two grandchildren escorted his flag-draped coffin as he came to rest at Riverside National Cemetery before the Prisoner of War Missing in Action Memorial.
Acevedo was a World War II medic and one of 350 US soldiers held in a Nazi slave labor camp. His journal proved critical in documenting the deaths and atrocities inside the camp.
He would become the first Mexican-American ever recognized as a Holocaust survivor. He kept one brutality secret, though, until the final months of his life.
At 93, his final words were: “How life tells a story.”
Anthony C. Acevedo documented the horrors inside a Nazi slave camp.

“Not only is he a great American, but he’s also an icon,” Col. Dan Forden, a chaplain at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, told the crowd. “He’s the real measure of a man — this is the man we want to be.”
Three rifle volleys echoed across the hushed crowd. A bugler played “Taps” as veterans gave Acevedo one final salute. Each of Acevedo’s children were presented with folded flags, including the one from his coffin, before a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”
“If I can describe my father with one word, it would be heart,” Acevedo’s daughter, Rebeca Acevedo-Carlin, said at an earlier memorial service.
“What an incredible, genuine man he was,” said his son, Fernando Acevedo. “He would always say have faith, care for others and, more importantly, love one another. I saw my father act with love toward everyone.”
His story is one of bravery, honor and heroism — one forever etched in American history.

Among the ‘undesirables’

Anthony Claude Acevedo was born July 31, 1924, in San Bernardino, California, to parents who had entered the country illegally from Mexico. The young family moved to nearby Pasadena, where Acevedo attended segregated schools with blacks, Asians and other Latinos. When his parents were deported back to Mexico in 1937, he went with them.
Acevedo said he had an undying love for his country beginning at an early age, and that he was determined to serve his homeland after Pearl Harbor.

But his love for America never wavered. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Acevedo was determined to defend his homeland. At age 17, he crossed back into the United States and enlisted in the Army. He received medical training in Illinois and eventually landed in the European theater in October 1944, where he served as a medic.
“Was captured the 6th of January 1945,” he wrote in his first journal entry after being taken prisoner at the Battle of the Bulge.
The next month, 350 US soldiers — Jews and “undesirables,” including Acevedo — were separated from other prisoners of war. They were told they were going to a beautiful camp with live shows and a theater. Instead, they were put on cattle cars and transported to Berga, a slave labor subcamp of the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany where tens of thousands of Jews died.
The US soldiers worked 12-hour days in the final weeks of the war, digging tunnels for a sophisticated V-2 rocket factory. Soldiers were starved and brutalized with rubber hoses and bayonets. Some were fatally shot in the head with wooden bullets. The Nazis forced Acevedo to fill the holes in the heads of his fellow soldiers with wax to cover up the killings.
Acevedo used a fountain pen to record the atrocities in a diary, noting every US sol
dier’s death that he saw. About half of the soldiers sent to Berga survived, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Acevedo kept his medic's band, cross and prayer book after the war. He donated the items to the US National Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2010.

During the next six decades, the US government never acknowledged its soldiers were held in a slave labor camp. But after Acevedo shared his account with CNN in 2008, the story went viral and the public demanded answers. Then-US Reps. Joe Baca of California and Spencer Bachus of Alabama pressed then-Army Secretary Pete Geren to recognize the soldiers.
Within months, Army Maj. Gen. Vincent Boles met with six Berga survivors at a POW event in Orlando, presenting them with flags flown over the Pentagon and honoring them for their sacrifice. One soldier received the Bronze Star, one of the nation’s highest medals.
“It wasn’t a prison camp. It was a slave labor camp,” Boles told them. “You were good soldiers and you were there for your nation.”
Acevedo boycotted the ceremony, saying he felt it should have been held in Washington.

A ‘moral obligation’

In 2010, Acevedo became the first Mexican-American to register as a Holocaust survivor at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, out of 225,000 registered there. Acevedo donated his diary, Red Cross medic’s band, cross and prayer book to the museum.
The museum recorded his oral history in English and Spanish. After Acevedo came forward, other Berga survivors did the same, recording their testimonies and donating historical artifacts. Previously, the museum only had a handful of testimonies from Berga; now it could add their stories to its permanent collection.
“We were able to finally tell their story in our exhibition for the first time because we now had physical evidence that we could show our visitors,” said Kyra Schuster, a museum curator.
Acevedo’s story also allowed Mexican-Americans to connect to the Holocaust in a way they never had before. Schuster still travels the country telling the story of Berga, and she says it’s always incredible when Latinos learn of Acevedo’s survival and courage.
When asked why he put his own life at risk by keeping a diary of every US soldier’s death he witnessed, Acevedo told the museum, “It was my moral obligation to do so.”
“That’s always stuck with me,” Schuster says, “because I think that defines who he is.
“He was this man who, despite the odds against him, despite what he was going through and experiencing, it was still important for him to take care of others, to document what was happening, to make sure the world knew what had happened to them.
“That’s why he spoke out later in life. He was always putting other people ahead of himself. That’s how I see him, and that is so admirable.”
Curator Kyra Schuster said Acevedo's story allowed Mexican-Americans to connect to the Holocaust in ways they never had before.

Proud of his heritage, Acevedo listened with dismay over the last year as the nation’s leaders took a hardened stance toward immigrants.
“They don’t know shit from Shinola,” Fernando Acevedo recalled his father saying.
His son said Acevedo, a lifelong conservative, would shake his head and change the TV channel from politics to Westerns. He’d then tell Fernando: “Always remember: Never repay evil with evil. Remember what my buddies and I went through. Never treat anybody like they’re below you. We can’t turn a blind eye.”
After the war, Acevedo, then 20, returned home and worked as a surgical technician in an ear, nose and throat clinic in Pasadena. Around that time, he took a trip to Durango, Mexico to visit his father — who didn’t believe his account of being held in a slave labor camp. “You’re a coward for allowing yourself to be captured,” his father told him. “You should’ve killed yourself.”
Acevedo left his father’s home the next day with only a duffel bag and set off on his own. The two didn’t speak for years. On the train ride back to California he met the woman of his dreams. Eight months later, he and Amparo Martinez were married. Together, they had four children: Tony, Rebeca, Fernando and Ernesto.
Acevedo settled into a successful aerospace engineering career, working for North American Aviation, McDonnell Douglas and Hughes Space and Communications, where he retired in 1987 after 35 years as a design engineer.
In retirement, the demons of war resurfaced. He would break into a sweat four to five times a day, shaking and trembling as he relived his captivity. At night, he was haunted by nightmares so intense his muscles would constrict and he’d wake up screaming.
He’d relive seeing a fellow medic killed by machine gun fire. Germans would shove him with bayonets. A dead comrade would suddenly flash into his mind.
To help cope, he volunteered at the VA hospital in Loma Linda. He said he liked spending time with the veterans there because so many died alone. He would share his story with local high school students and was buoyed by his work with the Holocaust museum.
“He was the epitome of kindness,” Fernando said. “We should all be that way for fellow man — this power of strength yet gentleness to give to others. That was my dad’s mission.”

‘Many of our men died’

A corporal, Acevedo served as a medic for the 275th Infantry Regiment of the 70th Infantry Division. Surrounded by Nazis at the Battle of the Bulge, he was captured after days of brutal firefights. He saw one of his fellow medics, Murray Pruzan, gunned down.
Acevedo said it was his moral obligation to keep a diary cataloguing the atrocities against US soldiers.

“When I saw him stretched out there in the snow, frozen, God, that’s the only time I cried,” Acevedo once told CNN. “He was stretched out, just massacred by a machine gun with his Red Cross band.
“You see all of them dying out there in the fields. You have to build a thick wall.”
Acevedo was first taken to a prison camp known as Stalag IX-B in Bad Orb, Germany, where thousands of American, French, Italian and Russian soldiers were held as prisoners of war. He would be known by the Germans as Prisoner No. 27016.
One day, he said, a German commander gathered the US prisoners and asked all Jews “to take one step forward.” Few willingly did so. Jewish soldiers wearing Star of David necklaces began yanking them off.
About 90 Jewish soldiers and another 260 US soldiers deemed “undesirables” — those who “looked like Jews” — were selected. Acevedo, who was Catholic, was among them.
“They put us on a train, and we traveled six days and six nights. It was a boxcar that would fit heads of cattle,” he said. “They had us 80 to a boxcar.”
Acevedo toured the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2010. He broke down after stepping into this train car, saying it brought back memories of being shipped to Berga.

It was February 8, 1945, when they arrived. The camp was known as Berga an der Elster. The soldiers, Acevedo said, were given 100 grams of bread per week made of redwood sawdust, ground glass and barley. Soup was made from cats and rats.
If soldiers tried to escape, they would be shot and killed. Any who were captured alive would be executed with gunshots to their foreheads, Acevedo said.
“Many of our men died, and I tried keeping track of who they were and how they died,” he said. “I’m glad I did it.”
The names and dates of death were logged in his diary as the days wore on.
32. Hamilton 4-5-45
33. Young 4-5-45
34. Smith 4-9-45
35. Vogel 4-9-45
36. Wagner 4-9-45
The main Buchenwald camp was officially liberated on April 11, 1945. But as US troops neared, Nazis emptied the camp and its subcamps of tens of thousands of prisoners and forced them to march. The soldiers held at Berga were no exception.
“Very definite that we are moving away from here and on foot,” Acevedo wrote in his diary on April 4, 1945. “This isn’t very good for our sick men. No drinking water and no latrines.”
The soldiers’ death march would last three weeks and stretch 217 miles. Acevedo pushed a wooden cart with the bodies of the dead and sick stacked on top of each other. Toward the end of the march, there were as many as 20 bodies on the cart.
“We saw massacres of people being slaughtered off the highway. Women, children,” he said. “You could see people of all ages hanging on barbed wire.”
On April 13, 1945, Acevedo wrote of the soldiers’ patriotism, even as they were being marched to their graves. “Bad news for us. President Roosevelt’s death. We all felt bad about it. We held a prayer service for the repose of his soul.”
His entry that day ended with: “Burdeski died today.”
Acevedo said it was worth the risk to document what he witnessed, saying, "I'm glad I did it."

Acevedo kept his diary hidden in his pants. He mixed snow or urine with the ink in his fountain pen to make it last.
US troops liberated Acevedo and the remaining prisoners from the Nazis on April 23, 1945. Before returning home, Acevedo signed a US government document that haunted him for decades:
“You must give no account of your experience in books, newspapers, periodicals, or in broadcasts or in lectures,” it said. “I understand that disclosure to anyone else will make me liable to disciplinary action.”
He had shared his story with students locally for years and had spoken to a couple of authors who wrote books on the Berga soldiers. He decided to speak with CNN in 2008 to make sure the story was preserved in the internet age. “Let it be known,” he said. “People have to know what happened.”
The government said the document wasn’t meant to keep the men silent — that it was meant to protect sources in Germany who helped aid liberating troops. Acevedo had a one-word response to that explanation: “Hullabaloo.”

‘This is how low man can get’

The Nazi camp commanders at Berga — Erwin Metz and his superior, Hauptmann Ludwig Merz — were tried for war crimes in Germany in 1946.
They gave a much different account of treatment at Berga. They said US prisoners ate better than the guards, had comfortable accommodations and that the Nazis tried to help the Americans as best they could. Surviving US soldiers were not called to testify.
Merz described inspecting the soldiers on April 19, 1945, two weeks into the death march. “Roughly 200 prisoners were there, all of whom gave the appearance of being well-rested,” Merz told the court. “I noticed one sick, who was sitting on the ground, because he could not stand up the entire time it took me to make my inspection.”
US soldiers had been starved and abused by Nazis inside the slave labor camp known as Berga.

Pressed further, he said, “Among those that I saw, there were no sick except the one I mentioned.”
Acevedo’s diary entry from that same day painted a different picture: “More of our men died today, so fast that you couldn’t keep track of their numbers.”
Merz and Metz were found guilty and sentenced to die by hanging. But in 1948, the US government commuted their death sentences, and in the 1950s, the men were set free.
In explaining its decision, the War Department said, “Metz, though guilty of a generally cruel course of conduct toward prisoners, was not directly responsible for the death of any prisoners except one who was killed during the course of an attempt to escape.”
I once asked Acevedo about his feelings toward Metz. He wept for 10 minutes as his muscles tightened and his breathing grew strained, the throes of post-traumatic stress overtaking him. I held him in my arms and told him how much his country loved him.
“I’m sorry,” he said, gasping. “I’m sorry. I want to say more, but I can’t.”
This past December, Acevedo was hospitalized with heart problems. His son, Fernando, was searching through his father’s military records when he found a psychiatric evaluation from 1996. Fernando’s heart sank as he read through the file. Suddenly, everything made sense — his father’s tremors, his waking in the middle of the night, his screams.
The evaluation detailed a war crime his father could not speak about with his son:
“He was raped while the Germans laughed and became sexually aroused,” the file said. “He was humiliated and felt violated and infinitesimal, like a toy, not a human being. Veteran had extremely traumatic experiences in combat and in the hands of the Gestapo who were ruthless in their methods.”
When his father returned from the hospital, Fernando sat him down and showed him the file.
“Oh,” his father said. “I’m glad you found it.”
Fernando said his father paused before continuing: “I want you to tell everyone what I went through and how I struggled with the nightmares. I want you to tell everybody.”
Acevedo told his son to include the rape in his obituary so the world can understand: “This is how low man can get.”

Filled hallways and one final salute

Acevedo took his final breath at 6:28 p.m. on February 11, in the same VA hospital where he’d spent the last two decades volunteering.
Acevedo spent his final years preaching a message of peace and love: "You only live once. Let's keep trucking."

His body was draped in a US flag and prepared for a traditional honor walk, a way to treat a veteran’s death with dignity. Word spread throughout the hospital that the beloved Acevedo — whose warmth and love cheered up veterans, doctors and nurses alike — was gone.
Hallways overflowed with people standing at attention as Acevedo was accompanied by his four children.
“They saluted my dad all the way up and down the hallway as we were walking. Four floors like that,” Fernando said. “Nurses, doctors, patients who were able to stand — everyone was standing at attention saluting my dad.”
“I tell you, that was really heavy.”
Acevedo died with a clear conscience, having told the world about the treatment he and his fellow soldiers at Berga faced. His message was one of love and peace.
As he was put to rest Thursday, I couldn’t help but think of his giant smile and gentle voice. “You only live once. Let’s keep trucking. If we don’t do that, who’s going to do it for us? We have to be happy. Why hate?” he once told me.
A true national treasure.

The fingerprint…

From CNN.Com:

Scientists detect ‘fingerprint’ of first light ever in the universe

By Ben Westcott, CNN
Updated 9:55 AM ET, Thu March 1, 2018

(CNN) Scientists have detected traces of the earliest light in the universe thought to emanate from the first stars formed after the Big Bang, billions of years ago. The new report, published in Nature on February 28, said researchers found the “fingerprint” of the universe’s first light as background radiation left on hydrogen.

“This is the first time we’ve seen any signal from this early in the Universe, aside from the afterglow of the Big Bang,” Judd Bowman, an astronomer at Arizona State University who led the work, said in a statement.

Following the Big Bang, physicists believe there was only darkness in the universe for about 180 million years, a period known by scientists as Cosmic “Dark Ages.”

As the universe expanded, the soup of ionized plasma created by the Big Bang slowly began to cool and form neutral hydrogen atoms, say physicists. Eventually these were pulled together by gravity and ignited to form stars.

The new discovery is the closest scientists have ever come to observing that moment of “cosmic dawn.”

“It’s very exciting to see our baby stars being born,” Keith Bannister, astronomer at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), told CNN.

“(Although) we can’t see the stars themselves, we’re seeing the effect they have on the gas around them.”

The discovery was made at a radio telescope in Western Australia, the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, operated by the CSIRO.

EDGES ground-based radio spectrometer, CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia.

The telescope’s remote location in rural Australia, inside a legislated “radio quiet zone,” kept interference from other human-made devices to a minimum, CSIRO said in a statement.

In their statement, CSIRO said Bowman and his team have been working to detect the signals for 12 years.

Bannister said there would still need to be additional work done to confirm the findings of Bowman’s team but the discovery was still a milestone.

“This is the very beginning of a very long journey. There’s been a lot of work to prepare for this point and now its been confirmed, everyone gets excited and more work will happen,” Bannister said.

“There’s a whole bunch of different times in the universe which are still inaccessible to use with our current telescopes … there’s a lot more to explore.”

I have 2 new online businesses!

 

I am pleased to announce the launch of 2 new online businesses!

The first is an Etsy shop, Hourglass Spills. This shop offers a curated selection of fun vintage stuff, such as comic books, sports cards, vinyl records, toys, memorabilia, & collectibles!
To visit the shop, go here: HourglassSpills.Etsy.com
There is also a Facebook page: facebook.com/HourglassSpills

Also, I have started a copy editing and writing service, the Inky Fingerprint!
Visit the Inky Fingerprint Facebook page: facebook.com/inkyfingerprint

Let me help you with your copy editing and business writing needs. No project too big or too small. My resume is available upon request.

I offer copy editing and content editing for fiction, creative non-fiction, catalogs, and more. I read for accuracy, and I’m time conscious.

For businesses, I can assist with many kinds of business writing projects including manuals, web site content, newsletters, and more.

Please don’t forget my other online ventures!

Mondauk Music’s Amazon store – thousands of CDs, plus DVDs, Blu-rays, books, & more!
To visit my Amazon store, click here: www.amazon.com/shops/MondaukMusic

Mondauk Music’s E-Bay store – tons of comic books, collectibles, sports cards, toys, & more!
To visit my E-Bay store, click here: http://stores.shop.ebay.com/Mondauk-Music

Mondauk Music’s Facebook page. “Like” the page for the latest sale info for both stores!
To visit Mondauk Music’s Facebook page, click here: facebook.com/Mondauk

And let’s not forget my Facebook page. “Like” my page for info on my books & more!
Go here: facebook.com/michael.patrick.harrington.author

 

 

Go to my official Facebook page for the latest blog entries!

Hello!

As you can see, I haven’t been blogging much on my site – but I have been posting almost daily on my official Facebook page: facebook.com/michael.patrick.harrington.author.

To follow my posts, just click on the link above and Like me. That’s all there is to it!

Even if you follow me on my personal Facebook page, you can Like me on facebook.com/michael.patrick.harrington.author and read all my latest blog entries.

So come join me at facebook.com/michael.patrick.harrington.authorThis site’s blog will become active again in a little bit (hopefully). But for now, my official Facebook page will keep you up to date!

Thank you!

 

Please check out my Amazon. E-Bay, and Half.Com mail order stores!

Hello!

I have a small mail order company called Mondauk Music. If you like looking for CDs & vinyl records (used and new), comic books, back issue magazines, books, collectibles, and more, please check out my Internet mail order stores:

My Amazon.com Store: http://www.amazon.com/shops/mondaukmusic

My E-Bay Store: http://stores.shop.ebay.com/Mondauk-Music

My Half.com Store: http://shops.half.com/mondaukmusic

Mondauk Music Facebook: facebook.com/Mondauk

Thank you!

beatles meet