What have we learned about Pluto so far?

New Horizons has caught our attention, or at least it should have. Pluto is about 5,874,000,000 km from the sun, or 39.26 times as far from the sun as Earth is. The reason I say “about” is that the orbit is eccentric, and sometimes is closer to the sun than Neptune is, but it is an orbital resonance with Neptune, so it will never collide with it (unless something else disturbs the resonance). The space craft flew by Pluto at about 50,000 km, so think of the triumph of getting that accuracy. The cameras can see objects down to about a kilometer in size.

Pluto is actually smaller than our moon, and has only 18% of our moon’s mass, but because it is about 1/3 ice, it has more water than Earth. When Pluto gets closer to the sun, it has a weak atmosphere of nitrogen, and probably some carbon monoxide and maybe methane and argon. As it gets further from the sun, these gases snow out. The surface temperature varies, but is in the order of minus 230 degrees Centigrade. That much we knew.

Pluto has an interesting history, in that it was predicted by Percival Lowell in 1915 based on deviations found in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. Neptune itself was discovered because the orbit of Uranus did not follow Newton’s laws exactly, but it would if there were another giant planet pulling on it. Accordingly, astronomers could predict where Neptune would be, they looked, and there it was. A triumph for physics. However, Neptune’s orbit was still not right, so Lowell predicted a further planet, calculated where it should be, and Clyde Tombaugh found it in 1930. Another triumph! Nevertheless, this shows an important fact, namely just because you can predict something that turns up, that does not mean the basis of the prediction was correct, as Pluto is far too small to account for what Lowell calculated. The discovery was a happy accident.

So, what have we discovered about Pluto? In my opinion, so far, not a lot, but that is mainly because most of the data will not come in for months. We have corrected Pluto’s size, but that is not a huge achievement. However, the images have given us a lot to think about. The one thing that has surprised us is that Pluto is geologically active, and far more so than anyone might have expected. I have seen statements that it must have been essentially resurfaced about a hundred million years ago. I am not too sure about that, as it is based on crater count, and I doubt anyone has any good data on collisions that far out. Furthermore, if the bodies out there are largely icy, and Pluto’s surface is mainly ice, then because collision velocities will be a lot slower out there, it is possible that collisions will not excavate a crater, but rather the energy will melt the ice, it will flow, then re-freeze, thus not forming a crater. Nevertheless, the mountains, canyons, and the flat areas are indicative that there has been significant internal heat. That could come from a number of sources, such as radioactive decay, collisions, one of which may have formed the moon system, and possibly even a little chemistry.

The heat may not have to be intense if it is uneven, because it would volatalise gases such as nitrogen, and that would create a lot of internal stress. Another form of internal stress may come from freezing water. If the outer layers are largely free of rock, that having sunk to the core, then because water expands a little on freezing, that “little” will be magnified into quite a change of length over the circumference even of a dwarf planet, and with nowhere to go, there could be considerable additional warpage. That is unlikely to account for all the mountains, etc, but it may add to the cause and magnify it.

What do we think we know about Pluto? Try this link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/fayeflam/2015/07/21/the-weirdest-reason-pluto-didnt-become-a-real-planet/
Here, they argue Pluto grew in the region of Jupiter/Saturn, and with Uranus and Neptune, were thrown out into the outer solar system, where there is not enough material to grow. I don’t believe that, because I don’t believe the standard theory of planetary formation, which starts off by assuming that the dust accretes into planetesimals by some unknown mechanism, and these collide to form larger objects, and finally, planets. The reason the outer giants had to start in the Jupiter/Saturn region is that collisional probabilities are too low to get giants much further out under this mechanism. In my “Planetary Formation and Biogenesis”, I argue the first step is actually based on physical chemistry, essentially the same mechanism as forming a snowball, and the planets form at temperatiures where the various ices assist. Ion this theory, Pluto, and the other Kuiper Belt objects formed by the same mechanism that Neptune formed, but because the temperatures were starting to get too low, accretion was slow, but because they were far enough away, they did not get “collected” by Neptune.

So, will we find out more? Basically, we now have to wait for more data, but in the meantime we should congratulate NASA on a truly great achievement. They still have “the right stuff”.

Logic, and the premises behind Greece’s decision to accept greater austerity.

Greece has voted against austerity, then in a true example of democracy at work, the government has decided to accept even more austerity from the EU than they rejected. What will happen is anyone’s guess, but there are two interesting developments. The first is the IMF has apparently warned the Eurozone members that what they are imposing on Greece simply will not work. The second is that the European Commission is proposing to use the mothballed European stabilization mechanism to provide the money for the bailout. This means that all EU members have to pay to protect the Euro, irrespective of whether they use it. Great news for Britain, whose objections are being turned away by, as you might guess Wolfgang Schauble, the German finance minister. The mess was caused at least in part by German banks, Germany got the ECB to save them at the expense of Greece, and now Germany wants to spread the consequent price. A vote in the EU will mean all the euro users will vote to minimize their own payments. Truly, democracy at work, where self-interest beats the numerically inferior over the head as often as they can get away with.

The question then is, why did Greece not simply pull out of the Euro? Logically, it should do whatever it can to better its situation, but it seems to have done the opposite. I saw an item on the web by Dimitrios Giokas that claimed there would be twelve devastating consequences if Greece returns to the drachma, and perhaps this sort of reasoning led to this form of stupidity. Let us look at these devastating consequences.
1. Rapid devaluation of the drachma against other currencies. The answer to that is to let it float. Yes, it may drop dramatically at first. In the mid 1980s, a New Zealand government under financial strain (although not as bad as Greece’s) floated the dollar and in an hour or so, it lost over a quarter of its value. Basically, the speculators piled in and shorted it. But, at a later date, they have to cover their bets, so within a month, it started to rise again. Note that none of the speculators will have drachma, so they have to cover quickly.
2. The devaluation will lead to skyrocketing inflation. That is sheer speculation, and it depends on government policy. Hitler defaulted, introduced a new currency, and there was no inflation. On a milder side, when the New Zealand dollar lost a quarter of its value, yes, there was some inflation, but not excessive inflation. On the bad side, as one commentator noted, Greek governments are not very good at doing things, so this one is up in the air. It is not necessary, but it could happen.
3. Capital flight and a sharp increase in non-performing loans. First, there will be no significant capital flight, because it has already flown, and in any case, that can easily be stopped. As for non-performing loans, who owns them? If weak companies go bankrupt, that is sad, but does anyone seriously think that more austerity from Merkel is going to save them?
4. In such an eventuality the wage and pension freeze payment will be inevitable. Not necessarily because the money to pay wages have to come from somewhere, but so what? As for a pension freeze, Merkel the merciless is imposing pension cuts. The author says there will be social unrest. There will be social unrest if there is more austerity. There is no way it would be worse with the drachma, and it might be better. The real danger is with greater austerity the pain level is too great and Greece has a military coup to put in more effective policy implementation. (Whether it will be is beside the point; coups always believe they are the solution, even if they are not.)
5. Gross domestic product will likely shrink to about 2/3 of the current level. Why? Where did this figure come from? I cannot help thinking that this author made up figures to make his case. In any case, bowing to austerity will greatly increase the debt load, and GDP has been calculated to drop by at least 10% of current by respectable economists.
6. The public debt of Greece, totaling 322 billion euros, will increase automatically. Um, if you default, the debt vanishes. Yes, you do not get credit, but so what? The interesting thing about 322 billion euros is, if you are going to default, you do not have the problem: the other banks do. They get nothing if they impose conditions on you that make it impossible to pay back anything.
7. Even if, after bankruptcy, a partial debt restructuring follows, it will not be painless. It will be accompanied by a new rescue package (only from the IMF now) and very burdensome fiscal adjustment measures. Not if you default. Certainly, you get no credit, but remember, you were always in a no-win situation.
8. There will be an equal increase of private debt through the skyrocketing of lending and depositing rates in an effort to control inflation. Interest rates will have to be high, but who is lending? You cannot lend drachma if you haven’t got any, so euros will have to return. There will have to be controls, and some of the regulations will not be pleasant for some, but stamping down on speculators will probably keep this under control.
9 Suffocation of import business due to a weakened market and lack of credit. Certainly, but this is to some extent what is required to get the Greek economy back on its feet, and it is hard to see greater austerity leading to an import boom.
10. Failure of imports will bring shortage of essential items on the market. The “essential items” noted are food, and this is serious. If other countries absolutely refuse to provide Greece with any access to foreign currency, it is in a serious mess, but do countries want to be known as the countries that are starving the Greeks out of spite?
11. Invasion of predatory foreign investors. Not a problem. Prevent them from taking advantage of the situation. Note also that under Merkel’s proposal, 50 billion Euros of Greek assets will be sold. Why is this not a predatory invasion?
12 Diplomatic and economic isolation of Greece, and a problem with defence. Certainly there will be consequences, but defence is not a problem. Greece will remain a member of NATO, and even if Germany would be reluctant to help, can you think of any neighbor that is just aching to take on the US military?

To summarize, in my opinion, people who think like Giokas are stuck in thinking that Greece has to follow their rules. That does not have to be the case. Recall that Germany defaulted several times in the 1920s, then Hitler stabilized it. Quite simply, foreign predators were told to leave, now. Repayments of debt were not paid. Inflation did not go rampant, in fact rather dramatic inflation was stopped. There was no capital flight, and no businesses were allowed to suffocate. Capital flight did not occur, fraud stopped, speculation more or less stopped, and everyone played by the rules to stabilize the country. Of course, this was in part because there was Oranienburg for those who refused to cooperate, and that might be a step too far for Greece, but even under lighter enforcement of rules, you can get out of this. Argentina did. It is not easy, and if the Greeks want to live well, then they will have to accept work and taxes, but there will also be new opportunities. The Greeks have to take them when they arise.

The real problem for Greece is that it has to persuade the Greeks to work competitively and to pay their taxes. There has to be a stop to consumption based on borrowing, and replaced with consumption based on work. There has to be investment and Greece has to develop a more education-based economy. That is the real problem for Greece, but austerity is not going to help in the slightest.

Greece votes, and now what?

As the Greek economic crisis continues, it might be worth pausing to consider another downside, which is the world is not quite as robust economically as some might think. We have now had record low interest rates for quite some time, and only too many have become used to them. In New Zealand, the problem is housing and businesses carrying too much debt. Yes, debt looks very enticing when interest rates are low, but if the person is fully committed and is carrying as much debt as he can afford, then if income drops, or interest rates rise, then they cannot pay. Greece is in this situation now. It had far too much debt in 2008, and by 2010 it was in trouble. The Europeans, and particularly Germany, insisted on austerity. They paid the interest through advances that were added to the debt, which did Greece no good, but the GDP also contracted by something like 25%. Now, as an example of the problem, suppose both your debt and your total income (or GDP) is 100 units, and let us say you repay 5% interest. Now, someone gives you 20 units to repay the 5% over the next four years, at which point you owe 120 units, and at 5%, that requires 6 units per annum. You may notice you are three units short from the initial loan. Now, suppose out of the nation’s 100 units, your tax collects 25 units per annum, where before 20% of your income went on interest, now it is 24%. But, now, thanks to austerity, your GDP has collapsed by 25%, so now your tax collects only 18.75 units, and interest repayments are now 32% of your income. But a large number of your costs are the same. So, how can you get off this death spiral? The figures are very favourable, as the interest being charged on Greece is probably closer to 10% and the debt is a much higher fraction of GDP.

There is another important point behind these figures. As represented, above, the real debt total has not increased, other than through the money offered as “help”. In other words, the “help” coupled with these austerity conditions inevitably lead to economic death. It is just simple mathematics.

But Greece could grow its economy, you say. They should get to work and stop being lazy. Anyone who says that should specify what work they should do. Youth unemployment in Greece is currently running at up to 60%, and that is not because the young are lazy, but nobody can afford to hire them. Productivity is too low, and the reason lies in the nature of the Greek economy. Unfortunately, Greece has few natural resources and it has a relatively poor educational system. The net result is that it lacks technological advances, and with few resources, it has few exports. Even agriculture has its problems because the Greek terrain is not exactly the best. So any exit plan from this crisis has to either write off a lot of debt, or get a number of new industries or means of earning money externally.

Some say, sell assets. Greece still has some islands and ancient monuments. My view on that is, if you have a severe case of typhoid, it does you no good to cut off your legs. If you are ever going to get back on your feet, you need feet to get back on. As for the German case that the Greeks should pay their debts, it should be recalled that Germany has defaulted seven times since 1800. Even if they bleat and say (correctly) that at least some were due to the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles, and was imposed on them by rapacious foreign governments, then they might recall that now as they deal with Greece. They might also recall that in 1950 Greece was one of the countries that let Germany off its latest default. They might also recall that some of Greece’s current debt was incurred to save German banks from the consequences of their follies. But don’t bet on a generous outcome.

Greece has voted to avoid increased austerity. Greece has argued the only way to repay its debt is to increase its GDP. It cannot do any more; it needs help, or it needs to exit the Euro, straight away. In my opinion, the best option is for Greece to exit the Euro, but stay within the EU, and the sooner they get on with it, the better.

Grexit? More on the Greek crisis

The Greeks are having a hard time right now. Yes, in the past their governments have made some fairly poor decisions, and from what one gathers, the wealthy Greeks made an art form of tax avoidance. However, their main problem arose on entering the Euro zone, when their economic problems were significantly massaged by major US banks, which put the problems off balance sheet for the moment. Now the government at the time was clearly at fault, but the banks that did the massaging must hold equal or more blame, and the European community was not blameless either, because they should have checked things for themselves. If the Brussels bureaucrats could not work out the true financial status of Greece, why were they getting those high salaries?

In 2010 and 2012, Greece accepted hundreds of billions of euros from European creditors. This was not the gift you might imagine, as its major purpose was to pay back the major northern European banks that held the debt. Greece got very little, but the banks had their hides saved. My question is, why did the banks make such loans in the first place? Nevertheless, the banks were protected, and the money used was added to the Greek debt. The economic wizards within the IMF and in northern Europe presumably predicted that austerity would lead to substantial growth, and the debts would be repaid, despite interest rates approaching 10% when the same economic organizations were seeing central banks issuing loans approaching 0% interest.

What eventuated was a tragedy for Greece. According to Time magazine, Greece lost 26% of its GDP through austerity, child poverty rate is over 40%, about 20% of Greeks cannot afford proper food, while their attempts at improving their situation through austerity has led to spending cuts and tax increases of 30%. Pension qualification has risen to 67. Yet thanks to the very high interest rates and the collapse of the Greek economy, the debt problem has risen by 75% or thereabouts since 2008. That austerity simply has not worked.

So, what now? Had Greece received the 7.2 billion euros, that money will be added to Greece’s debt, and almost all of it would have been used to repay the IMF in June, and the ECB paynments due in July and August, at which time the same problem will re-emerge, but 7.2 billion euros bigger.

So, what could Greece do? They proposed some reforms that included raising taxes on the rich. Brussels rejected that immediately. You can’t tax the rich! Why not? The official answer is, it would suppress growth, but there is no evidence of any growth arising from investments by the rich, so that hardly counts. I suppose there is an argument that it would not do much good anyway, because the rich probably don’t pay taxes in Greece. If they are really rich, no doubt they are registered in the Caymans, or somewhere else.

But for me, I am still of the opinion that Greece should default and leave the euro zone. It does not export all that much to Europe anyway, and its major industries are shipping and tourism, neither of which is likely to be affected. Agriculture is only about 3% of its economy, and this is probably largely consumed internally. There is no doubt there would be acute problems for Greece then, but right now they have severe problems. I support the first law of holes: if in a deep one, quit digging. If the problem is nearly twice as bad after 6 years of austerity, how is more austerity going to help? Any move made must lead to an improvement in the longer term. And it is not as if the rest of Europe will invest in Greece and start new business. Nope, they go to Asia, for cheaper labour and no Brussels imposed regulations.

If they do this, there is no doubt it will go badly for Greece. The real question is, if they don’t, will it be better or worse? The mathematics are quite clear. The debt is growing exponentially, and it is almost certainly past the point of possible repayment. Greece has not got the capacity to support such loans, so the only question is, what medicine will it take, and when.

Having written that, I have just seen an article written by the Nobel laureate in economics, Joseph Stiglitz. You may say, what do I know about economics, but you cannot say that about him. Three quotes from the article follow:
(1) “The Greek economy has been undergoing unconscionable torture at the hands of its European creditors.”
(2) “The economics behind the program that the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) foisted on Greece five years ago has been abysmal, resulting in a 25% decline in the country’s GDP. I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and has had such catastrophic consequences.
(3) “It’s not about money. It’s about using “deadlines” to fore Greece to knuckle under, and to accept the unacceptable – not only austerity measures, but other regressive and punitive policies.”
I rest my case. At least for a week.

Something about me

I recently released my latest ebook (Miranda’s Demons) which is a little like my effort at writing a “War and Peace” and I thought I should give some background somewhere as to where the series I have been writing came from, and why. At first sight it looks like a culmination of some of my previous ebooks, and in particular, my two trilogies, but oddly enough, Miranda was written first (although it has had a lot of revision since then). What had happened was that I had been involved in a major commercial deal that involved making the first chemical to permit low-cost high-temperature plastics, but the supply agreement from the New Zealand government for the raw material turned sour and on top of that there was the late 1980s crash, and as the dust settled, I was rather cash-poor and I had plenty of spare time. This supply agreement arose because the New Zealand government had arranged for a plant to convert natural gas to petrol through the Mobil process, and this made a byproduct called durene (1,2,4,5-tetramethylbenzene) in large amounts. This was a one-off opportunity because the conversion plant was built and it was large. While we had been trying to get the supply agreement in the first place, I had spent quite a lot of time in the presence of very senior politicians, and I also got to be a Director of two ICI companies, so I became aware of quite a lot of the good and the bad of both. So, I decided to write, and obviously it had to be other than “close to home”, but I wanted to take advantage of what I had seen. That also applied to the settings. I had been to all of them, except one, and, of course, the rest of the solar system. The reason for picking on Miranda was that it is a really weird place, and it had just been visited by Voyager 2. In a sense, this was my effort at offering a tribute to NASA and JPL.

I needed a plot, so I picked an alien invasion at the end of the 23rd century. Earth had to be technically primitive compared with them, but to make everything a bit easier, I decided they should be a reasonably small number, and battered from a previous war. I also wanted to get away from the obvious stereotype alien, because I wanted the reader to have some empathy for them. The next step was to have some traitorous humans, and it is these that are the cause of the war. Then the next step was to invent an economic future, and also a political structure to replace our republic-type systems. What I did was to take some comments from J K Galbraith, and extrapolate them so far that he might not even recognize them! The idea was, corporations start behaving like countries, except they have “what they do” type boundaries rather than geographical boundaries. Originally, these corporations were supposed to have behaved reasonably, but they had degraded. I must also add that under no circumstances should the antics of the characters in this book (or any other I have written) be takes as examples of what happens. Some of these people are really bad; that is what is needed for a story, but they are completely imagined.

So I wrote, and eventually had something resembling a monster. I sent it off, got rejected, and about the third rejection I realized that at least some revision was required. In some back-story, I had the end of the Soviet Union at 2018. (I thought 30 years in the future was safe. It never occurred to me it was going to fall when it did.) What I eventually did was pull a lot of back-story from it and this provided material for the two trilogies. Even so, it is still a long book. Given publishers will not consider anything significantly over 100,000 words from a new author, this could never have been published the traditional way.

For those interested in me, here is a link to the latest bio I have written: http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2015/06/20/32000/comment-page-1/#comment-52647

Assisted death

In New Zealand, unlike some other places, assisted death has some probability of the assistant being charged with homicide, and recently the question of assisted dying was raised by a legal case initiated by a lawyer Lecretia Seales, who was dying as a consequence of an inoperable and untreatable brain tumour. Her case was, she wanted to be permitted to have a doctor assist her death when the pain became intolerable without the doctor being liable for being charged with homicide, and her case was based on the Bill of Rights. In the end, Justice Collins refused her case, based, correctly in my opinion, on the fact that the Courts are there to implement the law, and not to change it. Justice Collins argued that it is the role of the politicians to change the law. As it happens, the politicians have had this issue raised many times, but they invariably ignore it. Lecretia happened to be known by relations of mine by marriage, and I have written letters to papers on this issue, and this post summarizes the arguments I believe are relevant.

To be clear here, the arguments I am putting forward apply only to the case of people with terminal illness that cannot be cured, there is pain that cannot be avoided, and no improvement is reasonably in sight.

First, why do the politicians duck the issue? In my opinion, because they fear losing votes from the minority that hold life sacred and are prepared to vote on that single issue alone. That is the curse of our form of government, which is in fact, if not in name, a Republic. A republic form of government is where the people elect their representatives; a democracy is where the people vote on the issues. More on politicians and governance in later posts. However, one comment here: the government is prepared to spend $26 million on a referendum on whether we should have a new flag. Why cannot a question be included where polls suggest 70% of the population would approve of a change? Is not letting the people vote an example of the democracy we claim to have?

The case for assisted death is simple: why should people have to put up with insufferable pain? The counter argument that there is palliative care does not apply because if that works, there is no pain. A recent survey of doctors carrying out palliative care showed that in a few per cent of the patients there was clear and intense pain, no matter what, and for some of the others, pain was avoided only by putting the person into such a sedated state that they were unaware of their surroundings. Exactly what is the point of that? What is the real difference between death and being totally unaware of your surroundings, from the point of view of the patient. The problem arises when the palliative care no longer works, and the evidence is incontrovertible that this happens for the unfortunate few. Exactly how many examples of “insufferable pain” there are is unclear because only the clearly worst cases will be acknowledged. That is because it requires a confession that palliative care has failed, and doctors are usually unwilling to admit they have failed. I believe the solution is simple: it is the person suffering the pain that determines whether it is sufferable, and not someone else, who really has no standing in the specific death.

There seems to be an argument, Let nature take its course. Well, we do not do that in general. The people that make this argument presumably die young with the pain of rotten teeth, but I suspect, hypocrites that they are, they go to the dentist. Similarly, I expect they will have surgery when an appendix flares, and take various pharmaceuticals to alleviate various troubles. We interfere with nature frequently to make our lives better, so why not improve them by stopping things that make lives worse?

There are a number of other arguments against assisted death, such as people will rush to it. As far as I know, there is no evidence of that, and in any case, it should be available only to people for whom there is no reasonable possibility of a cure. There is the argument that relatives will push for it. Again, there is no evidence, but again the assistance should only be available for people who are lucid enough to ask for it, or to set down the conditions in a living will. One of the more callous arguments that turned up in the Seales case was that if granted, more people with insufferable pain would request it. Why should a person bear insufferable pain? We do not allow our pets to. There are also examples of patients who do what they can to kill themselves rather than suffer, and, perforce, make a rather more unpleasant ending of it. There is one other point. If the patient knows he can pull the plug anytime, he can stop worrying about future pain and better enjoy what time he has left. Is that not desirable?

To me, there are two questions. Why should the views of others, of religious, “moral” or whatever origin, be imposed on those who are suffering? Why should not the purpose of medicine be to maximize the quality of life, including the quality of the end of life? We all die; why not make it avoid long and unnecessary torture? What do you think?

As a final comment, Lecretia died within 24 hours of hearing of the failure of her case. I am writing this to give her final case perhaps a little more meaning.

The Greek Economic Crisis

A recent short item in the journal Nature (vol 321, p6) described the Greek government raiding any spare cash in Greek research institutes and universities to stave off financial collapse. All cash reserves must be transferred to the Greek central bank. Part of what is of interest is that Nature apparently regards science as somewhat different from everything else. It is not, and the only claim it has on the public purse is that countries with a strong science sector have stronger economies, although of course there is the question, which is the horse and which is the cart? Leaving that issue aside, why has this happened? Basically, it seems the problems that the Greek government faces has persuaded only too many Greeks with cash to ship it out and put it in some bank other than a Greek one, so Greece has simply run out of cash. They must be really desperate if they have to resort to raiding the spare cash of research institutes, though, as characteristically they are invariably cash-strapped and only keep cash to pay the various bills.

The most obvious act that Greece should take is to immediately withdraw from the Euro zone and default. Yes, the default is basically dishonest, nevertheless Greece has no possibility of paying back its debts, and to stay on course it has to borrow more to pay back the interest. In short, the prescription from the Euro zone is nothing less than a pyramid scheme to favour their banks. Greece should get out now. As it stands, everything that Greece earns will go to overseas banks. Greeks are no longer working for themselves, unless they default. Apart from death, when something is inevitable, it is invariably better to face it rather than to let it make the problem so much worse.

So, who is responsible for this? The first and obvious culprit is the Greek government, which has persistently spent more than it earns. Actually, this disease is common to most countries, but Greece has taken this to extremes. Moreover, everyone has known about it. But there are other villains. Greece should never have joined the Euro zone, and as I understand, the only reason it was admitted was that one of the big New York banking institutes produced documentation that was at best overly optimistic, and at worst, fraudulent, that let Greece in. In any case, overly optimistic is a pale description compared with what eventuated. The second set of villains was the European banks, who lent all this money. Either they had to know it was impossible for Greece to repay it, or they were negligent and did not do the work a banker should do.

Whatever the reasons, I rather doubt that Greek research institutes are holding enough money to make a significant contribution to the problem. This act is a little like taking a penny to buy the cartridge to shoot yourself in the foot. What apparently is going to happen is the research institutes will be unable to pay their power bills. Whether Greek science can help Greece get out of their bind is a unclear, but what is clear is that unless Greece can improve its economy, it is always going to be in this bind. But it also must get out of the Euro zone. The likes of Greece keeps the Euro lower, which strongly helps Germany and other more powerful economies, but at the expense of the Greeks.