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International Pi Day

Albert Einstein

3/14 is Albert’s birthday and

Π Day.

PiI assume you have all shopped for the perfect gift.

To start: Π ≅ 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399


1 JuanitaM { 03.14.18 at 10:46 am }

Now it’s also the day that Stephen Hawking died. Sad, but it’s amazing that he survived so long with his illness. ALS is usually unrelenting and short lived.

2 Bryan { 03.14.18 at 11:33 am }

His survival shows the benefit of “socialized medicine”. He got the help he needed to add an half century to his expected life span when he was diagnosed with ALS. If he had been in the US he would have been fortunate to have lasted the two years he was initially given.

He wasn’t just an astrophysicist & mathematician, he was a teacher in the real sense of the word. He was featured on the Simpsons, appeared on The Big Bang Theory & Star Trek – The Next Generation, he was able to interest people in science even more than Carl Sagan.

3 Shirt { 03.14.18 at 3:55 pm }

His survival was more than socialized medicine (although he probably would have died in the USA) My sister and I both marveled about it because his survival is virtually unprecedented. Read http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/how-stephen-hawking-is-still-alive-defying-als-and-the-worst-expectations-10074974.html.

My sister died of ALS (AKA Motor Neuron disease) 18 months ago and she had top notch insurance for she worked for a world famous medical firm. They paid for everything, including her 5 figure salary until she passed. She donated her body to UC Irvine in the (forlorn) hope it may do someone some good.

The point of all this is to say Hawkins long term survival, 55 years from diagnoses to death, as opposed to my sisters 3 years survival, wasn’t due to the medical care each received. I hope both await my arrival at the eschaton.

4 Bryan { 03.14.18 at 7:51 pm }

Every case is different, but the fact that he was a student and later professor at Cambridge University in Britain, he had resources available to him and his care that almost no one else has access to, including experimental treatments and drugs. When you realized that he got one of the earliest voice synthesizers and computer-assisted speech programs, as well as the modifications that were made at Cambridge to facilitate his movement. This was done as people really expected him to die almost any time.

My Mother was diagnosed with stage 4 renal failure and had a dialysis port installed in 2005. She died in 2014 having never used the port. Every case is different, no matter what the disease. I have a cousin with MND in her 70s. Her sister died of the same disease just after high school. There are a lot of variables, but access to health care is a big indicator of life span.

The problem is determining the root cause of these diseases. Until we can figure that out we can’t figure out how to cure them.

5 Badtux { 03.16.18 at 3:26 am }

50 years ago was 1968. Wow. Hard to believe it’s been that long. In the United States, Stephen Hawking would have hit his lifetime limits on private health insurance 50 years ago and become uninsurable, even through his university. He would have died shortly afterwards, because GhettoAid whoops MediCaid is ghetto care that sucks at dealing with any complex diseases. Cancer patients with Medi-Cal actually have a higher mortality rate than *uninsured* cancer patients. That’s how bad Medicaid is, it’s intended to keep 90% of poor people who become sick from dying, and focuses on the easy stuff. The complicated stuff? Well, you’re just dead then.

So yeah, Stephen Hawking lived fifty years longer than he would have in the United States thanks to the National Health Service.

6 Bryan { 03.16.18 at 8:40 pm }

In 1968 few people had medical insurance and they certainly didn’t have all of the facilities we have today. Even today, where you live can be more important than your insurance coverage in determining what kind of care you will receive.

A US hospital has more bookkeepers than RNs. It really is sad.

7 Badtux { 03.19.18 at 2:32 am }

Treatment for ALS really hasn’t changed since 1968 though. There’s still no cure, just supportive care, and the supportive care is basically stuff that was developed for the polio epidemics of the early 1950’s. It’s not difficult and it doesn’t require facilities that didn’t exist in 1968, it’s just very manpower intensive since the sufferer has to be monitored almost religiously for possible bedsores, repositioned regularly to prevent them, if catheterized due to loss of bladder control the catheter area must be regularly inspected for signs of infection, etc. As well as physical therapy to maintain whatever range of motion is still available, supportive oxygen therapy if breathing is compromised, and so forth. None of this is brain surgery, none of this requires high technology, it’s just continuous year after year and that’s what the U.S. system fails at — until recently, you hit lifetime limits (or ran out of money) and end up on ghetto care, which also does very poorly at these things, concentrating on the cheap things and letting people with complex conditions just die.

That’s the society we are, though. If it’s viewed you can’t contribute to society… well. It’s like the old mule that’s put down in the back pasture once no longer able to pull a plow. Except we are the mules.

8 Bryan { 03.19.18 at 12:14 pm }

Well, in the case of the mule, or any other animal, the end is scheduled and usually relatively painless, while people are expect to die a “natural death”, no matter how painful or prolonged the process is.

Hawking benefited a great deal from being a university professor with grad students to cater to his every whim in pursuit of advanced degrees. When I was in the hospital for pneumonia I got great care from student nurses because I agreed to let let them train on my case. When they gave me shots or anything else considered ‘medical practice’, they had an instructor nurse and the nurse assigned to my room supervising. There is nothing like student slaves.

The for-profit health system in the US doesn’t want to provide the staffing to deal with long-term/nursing home patients. The management of insurance companies won’t pay for it, and you hit the cap quickly.