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James Gordon Dies at 85; Work Paved Way for Laser that help revolutionize modern life with a wide range of practical applications, from long-distance telephone calls to eye surgery, from missile guidance systems to the checkout counter at the supermarket

July 27, 2013

James Gordon Dies at 85; Work Paved Way for Laser

By DOUGLAS MARTIN

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Charles H. Townes, left, with James P. Gordon and the maser they developed.

Distinguished Columbia University physicists, some of them Nobel Prize winners, called it a “harebrained scheme.” But James P. Gordon, principal builder of a refrigerator-size device that would help revolutionize modern life, believed in it enough to bet a bottle of bourbon that it would work. He was a 25-year-old graduate student in December 1953 when he burst into the seminar room where Charles H. Townes, his mentor and the inventor of the device, was teaching. The device, he announced, had succeeded in emitting a narrow beam of intense microwave energy. Dr. Townes’s team named it the maser, for microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, and it would lead to the building of the first laser, which amplified light waves instead of microwaves and became essential to the birth of a new technological age. Lasers have found a wide range of practical applications, from long-distance telephone calls to eye surgery, from missile guidance systems to the checkout counter at the supermarket. Read more of this post

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Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

The life of Jesus

Perhaps Jesus was no pacifist

Jul 27th 2013 |From the print edition

Rebel with a cause

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. By Reza Aslan. Random House; 296 pages; $27. Buy from Amazon.com

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IN HIS earlier book about Islam, Reza Aslan, an Iranian-born American writer, presented a subtle view of the different layers of truth that can be found in sacred writings. For example, he explained that stories about Muhammad’s childhood are not meant to relate to historical events, but rather “to elucidate the mystery of the prophetic experience”. In any case, he added teasingly, myth is always true somehow; if it did not express a powerful truth, it would not last. The sensibility that Mr Aslan brings to his latest book, about the founder of another monotheism, is by comparison rather one-dimensional, although his considerable gifts as a storyteller and populariser of complex religious ideas remain intact. The purpose of “Zealot” is not to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth as a source of ultimate meaning, but to investigate and describe the story of his life. The book’s underlying assumption is that if Jesus has any significance at all, it is to be found in the facts of his earthly existence. And these facts, Mr Aslan maintains, are often diametrically opposed to the story set out in the New Testament—which is one the author himself once embraced as a 15-year-old convert to evangelical Christianity. Read more of this post

The CEO Of Overstock.com Took Out A Full Page Ad In The Wall Street Journal Mocking Steven Cohen

The CEO Of Overstock.com Took Out A Full Page Ad In The Wall Street Journal Mocking Steven Cohen

LINETTE LOPEZ JUL. 27, 2013, 11:56 AM 8,734 14

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Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne took out a full-page ad in this morning’s Wall Street Journal shredding billionaire Steven Cohen for his hedge fund’s indictment by a Federal Grand Jury earlier this week. The firm, SAC Capital, has been charged with insider trading. Byrne’s animosity didn’t come out of nowhere — on a 20o5 conference call the CEO of Overstock.com said that “Sith Lords” were naked short-selling his stock and destroying the company. He later identified them to be SAC’s Steve Cohen and Michael Milken. And indeed, last year a bunch of lawyers for major banks accidentally leaked emails describing how they allegedly short-sold the stock and leaked techniques to hedge fund clients. Now that you know where all the hate comes from, check out the ad below (via Instagram: ognjenglisic) “Congratulations on the indictment, Stevie, and remember: roll early, roll often. You friend Patrick M. Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com,” it reads. Major schadenfreude.

ETF Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: Financial advisors are increasingly using passive, index-tracking ETFs to implement strategies that are just as active as what you’d find in the most aggressive mutual funds

SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2013

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

By CORRIE DRIEBUSCH | MORE ARTICLES BY AUTHOR

Financial advisors are increasingly using passive, index-tracking ETFs to implement strategies that are just as active as what you’d find in the most aggressive mutual funds.

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Some pairings just make sense — Scarlett and Rhett, peanut butter and jelly, exchange-traded funds and index investing. But when the pairing is put into a different context — a campy musical version of Gone with the Wind, or a PB&J-filled breakfast cereal — it becomes a distinctly different thing. And that “different thing” is happening in the world of ETFs. Financial advisors are increasingly using passive, index-tracking ETFs to implement strategies that are just as active as what you’d find in the most aggressive mutual funds. For some investors, it’s a natural fit. But for others, particularly those drawn in by the allure of passive ETFs, it’s going to be stomach-churning. Read more of this post

A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA

July 27, 2013

A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA

By AMY HARMON

CLEWISTON, Fla. — The call Ricke Kress and every other citrus grower in Florida dreaded came while he was driving. “It’s here” was all his grove manager needed to say to force him over to the side of the road. The disease that sours oranges and leaves them half green, already ravaging citrus crops across the world, had reached the state’s storied groves. Mr. Kress, the president of Southern Gardens Citrus, in charge of two and a half million orange trees and a factory that squeezes juice for Tropicana and Florida’s Natural, sat in silence for several long moments. “O.K.,” he said finally on that fall day in 2005, “let’s make a plan.” In the years that followed, he and the 8,000 other Florida growers who supply most of the nation’s orange juice poured everything they had into fighting the disease they call citrus greening. To slow the spread of the bacterium that causes the scourge, they chopped down hundreds of thousands of infected trees and sprayed an expanding array of pesticides on the winged insect that carries it. But the contagion could not be contained. Read more of this post

Volatility Hits Hong Kong Exchange Fund with $3.25 billion investment losses in the second quarter; De facto central bank sees “immense shocks” ahead

July 26, 2013, 8:40 a.m. ET

Volatility Hits Hong Kong Exchange Fund

De facto central bank sees “immense shocks” ahead

CHESTER YUNG

HONG KONG—Hong Kong’s de facto central bank suffered an investment loss of 25.2 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$3.25 billion) in the second quarter, due to declines in the value of its bond holdings and foreign-exchange losses during a period of heightened market volatility. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s Exchange Fund lost 19.6 billion Hong Kong dollars on its bond holdings during the quarter, reversing a gain of 2.8 billion Hong Kong dollars in the first quarter. It also lost 6.1 billion Hong Kong dollars on local equities as the benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 6.7%, while losses from foreign-exchange movements totaled 5.9 billion Hong Kong dollars. The HKMA uses the fund to manage its assets and maintain the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the U.S. dollar, as well as to ensure the territory’s financial stability. Read more of this post

Foreign banks in China dropping out of retail banking

Foreign banks in China dropping out of retail banking

Staff Reporter

2013-07-28

Due to adjustment in business structure and continuing deficits, a number of foreign banks have started closing their retail banking branches in China. In mid-July, Deutsche Bank China folded its last retail banking branch in Huamao, Beijing. According to the Beijing Business Today, the the bank closed the branch, opened on Nov 29, 2007, after deciding to focus on corporate banking, forgoing its original ambition to diversify its services. Deutsche Bank is not the first foreign bank exiting the retail banking market in China. Previously, the Royal Bank of Scotland left the retail banking sector in order to concentrate its resources on corporate and wholesale banking. The Bank of East Asia (China) has also pulled out of the retail banking business for some of its smaller branches, according to Beijing Business Today. Read more of this post

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