In the first half, former member of the Columbo crime family, Sal Polisi, shared updates on organized crime, and talked about how he reinvented his life. Working with a TV production company, Polisi said he'll be covering the upcoming Whitey Bulger trial in Boston. Bulger, 83, a notorious gangster, is charged in a federal racketeering case, and for participating in 19 murders from the 1970s and 80s. When Bulger was a fugitive, the FBI said he served as a longtime informant. Polisi also acted as an FBI informant and went into the witness protection program.
In recent years the Mob has moved into more sophisticated white collar-type crimes such as computer and credit card frauds, Polisi noted. Perhaps supplanting the Mafia are organizations within different ethnic groups such as the Russians, Colombians, Mexicans, and Chinese, who are moving into crime in a serious way, and fighting over turf, he reported. Polisi recalled how back when he was working for the Columbo family in the 1970s, he would travel from NY to Las Vegas casinos, and be given $100,000 in chips to deliberately lose as a kind of money laundering scheme. He also opined that the war on drugs is a failure, and that drugs should be legalized and taxed, and this could also greatly reduce the burden on prisons.
In the latter half, lecturer at UCLA, Dr. Robert Piccioni, discussed the extraordinary odds required to form a universe by chance, and also covered the numerous contributions of Albert Einstein beyond the Theory of Relativity. The fact that there is so much order in our universe is absolutely astonishing-- there are about 20 different major properties of the universe that could have been different, he noted. "Each of these [properties] is like a knob on the oven. You can turn the knob to more or less any value you want, and you'd get a universe that meets all the laws of physics...but none of those universes would be capable of supporting life. Only if the knobs are tuned to almost exactly the right value do you get a universe that has any chance at all of supporting life," he said. Further, the claim that all of life could have happened by random chance is "the most absurd thing that science has ever said," he commented.
Back in his day, many of Einstein's ideas were questionable when he first proposed them. But in today's academic climate, he might not have even gotten them published, Piccioni remarked. Yet Einstein's contributions to physics were so influential, he continued, that the following products and technologies all depend on his discoveries in one way or another: television, CDs, DVDs, GPS, solar cells, computers, telephones, laser printers, nuclear weapons, barcode scanners, digital electronics (plus many others). Einstein lacked certain credentials (he didn't have a PhD) and was turned down by many universities, but without his contributions we could be somewhere between 20-50 years behind in various technologies, and even more in the field of physics, Piccioni pointed out.
On April 11th, a large solar flare erupted-- not as big as an X-class flare, but the most powerful so far of 2013. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the event in detail (pictured). More at Space.com.
Bumper music from Thursday April 11, 2013