News Article | May 10, 2017
The origins of space and time are among the most mysterious and contentious topics in science. Our February 2017 article “Pop Goes the Universe” argues against the dominant idea that the early cosmos underwent an extremely rapid expansion called inflation. Its authors instead advocate for another scenario—that our universe began not with a bang but with a bounce from a previously contracting cosmos. In the letter below, a group of 33 physicists who study inflationary cosmology respond to that article. It is followed by a reply from the authors (an extended version of their reply can be found here). In “Pop Goes the Universe,” by Anna Ijjas, Paul J. Steinhardt and Abraham Loeb, the authors (hereafter “IS&L”) make the case for a bouncing cosmology, as was proposed by Steinhardt and others in 2001. They close by making the extraordinary claim that inflationary cosmology “cannot be evaluated using the scientific method” and go on to assert that some scientists who accept inflation have proposed “discarding one of [science’s] defining properties: empirical testability,” thereby “promoting the idea of some kind of nonempirical science.” We have no idea what scientists they are referring to. We disagree with a number of statements in their article, but in this letter, we will focus on our categorical disagreement with these statements about the testability of inflation. There is no disputing the fact that inflation has become the dominant paradigm in cosmology. Many scientists from around the world have been hard at work for years investigating models of cosmic inflation and comparing these predictions with empirical observations. According to the high-energy physics database INSPIRE, there are now more than 14,000 papers in the scientific literature, written by over 9,000 distinct scientists, that use the word “inflation” or “inflationary” in their titles or abstracts. By claiming that inflationary cosmology lies outside the scientific method, IS&L are dismissing the research of not only all the authors of this letter but also that of a substantial contingent of the scientific community. Moreover, as the work of several major, international collaborations has made clear, inflation is not only testable, but it has been subjected to a significant number of tests and so far has passed every one. Inflation is not a unique theory but rather a class of models based on similar principles. Of course, nobody believes that all these models are correct, so the relevant question is whether there exists at least one model of inflation that seems well motivated, in terms of the underlying particle physics assumptions, and that correctly describes the measurable properties of our universe. This is very similar to the early steps in the development of the Standard Model of particle physics, when a variety of quantum field theory models were explored in search of one that fit all the experiments. Although there is in principle a wide space of inflationary models to examine, there is a very simple class of inflationary models (technically, “single-field slow-roll” models) that all give very similar predictions for most observable quantities—predictions that were clearly enunciated decades ago. These “standard” inflationary models form a well-defined class that has been studied extensively. (IS&L have expressed strong opinions about what they consider to be the simplest models within this class, but simplicity is subjective, and we see no reason to restrict attention to such a narrow subclass.) Some of the standard inflationary models have now been ruled out by precise empirical data, and this is part of the desirable process of using observation to thin out the set of viable models. But many models in this class continue to be very successful empirically. The standard inflationary models predict that the universe should have a critical mass density (that is, it should be geometrically flat), and they also predict the statistical properties of the faint ripples that we detect in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). First, the ripples should be nearly “scale-invariant,” meaning that they have nearly the same intensity at all angular scales. Second, the ripples should be “adiabatic,” meaning that the perturbations are the same in all components: the ordinary matter, radiation and dark matter all fluctuate together. Third, they should be “Gaussian,” which is a statement about the statistical patterns of relatively bright and dark regions. Fourth and finally, the models also make predictions for the patterns of polarization in the CMB, which can be divided into two classes, called E-modes and B-modes. The predictions for the E-modes are very similar for all standard inflationary models, whereas the levels of B-modes, which are a measure of gravitational radiation in the early universe, vary significantly within the class of standard models. The remarkable fact is that, starting with the results of the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite in 1992, numerous experiments have confirmed that these predictions (along with several others too technical to discuss here) accurately describe our universe. The average mass density of the universe has now been measured to an accuracy of about half of a percent, and it agrees perfectly with the prediction of inflation. (When inflation was first proposed, the average mass density was uncertain by at least a factor of three, so this is an impressive success.) The ripples of the CMB have been measured carefully by two more satellite experiments, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and the Planck satellite, as well as many ground- and balloon-based experiments—all confirming that the primordial fluctuations are indeed nearly scale-invariant and very accurately adiabatic and Gaussian, precisely as predicted (ahead of time) by standard models of inflation. The B-modes of polarization have not yet been seen, which is consistent with many, though not all, of the standard models, and the E-modes are found to agree with the predictions. In 2016 the Planck satellite team (a collaboration of about 260 authors) summarized its conclusions by saying that “the Planck results offer powerful evidence in favour of simple inflationary models.” So if inflation is untestable, as IS&L would have us believe, why have there been so many tests of it and with such remarkable success? While the successes of inflationary models are unmistakable, IS&L nonetheless make the claim that inflation is untestable. (We are bewildered by IS&L’s assertion that the dramatic observational successes of inflation should be discounted while they accuse the advocates of inflation of abandoning empirical science!) They contend, for example, that inflation is untestable because its predictions can be changed by varying the shape of the inflationary energy density curve or the initial conditions. But the testability of a theory in no way requires that all its predictions be independent of the choice of parameters. If such parameter independence were required, then we would also have to question the status of the Standard Model, with its empirically determined particle content and 19 or more empirically determined parameters. An important point is that standard inflationary models could have failed any of the empirical tests described above, but they did not. IS&L write about how “a failing theory gets increasingly immunized against experiment by attempts to patch it,” insinuating that this has something to do with inflation. But despite IS&L’s rhetoric, it is standard practice in empirical science to modify a theory as new data come to light, as, for example, the Standard Model has been modified to account for newly discovered quarks and leptons. For inflationary cosmology, meanwhile, there has so far been no need to go beyond the class of standard inflationary models. IS&L also assert that inflation is untestable because it leads to eternal inflation and a multiverse. Yet although the possibility of a multiverse is an active area of study, this possibility in no way interferes with the empirical testability of inflation. If the multiverse picture is valid, then the Standard Model would be properly understood as a description of the physics in our visible universe, and similarly the models of inflation that are being refined by current observations would describe the ways inflation can happen in our particular part of the universe. Both theories would remain squarely within the domain of empirical science. Scientists would still be able to compare newly obtained data—from astrophysical observations and particle physics experiments—with precise, quantitative predictions of specific inflationary and particle physics models. Note that this issue is separate from the loftier goal of developing a theoretical framework that can predict, without the use of observational data, the specific models of particle physics and inflation that should be expected to describe our visible universe. Like any scientific theory, inflation need not address all conceivable questions. Inflationary models, like all scientific theories, rest on a set of assumptions, and to understand those assumptions we might need to appeal to some deeper theory. This, however, does not undermine the success of inflationary models. The situation is similar to the standard hot big bang cosmology: the fact that it left several questions unresolved, such as the near-critical mass density and the origin of structure (which are solved elegantly by inflation), does not undermine its many successful predictions, including its prediction of the relative abundances of light chemical elements. The fact that our knowledge of the universe is still incomplete is absolutely no reason to ignore the impressive empirical success of the standard inflationary models. During the more than 35 years of its existence, inflationary theory has gradually become the main cosmological paradigm describing the early stages of the evolution of the universe and the formation of its large-scale structure. No one claims that inflation has become certain; scientific theories don’t get proved the way mathematical theorems do, but as time passes, the successful ones become better and better established by improved experimental tests and theoretical advances. This has happened with inflation. Progress continues, supported by the enthusiastic efforts of many scientists who have chosen to participate in this vibrant branch of cosmology. Empirical science is alive and well! »Click here to jump to the authors’ reply Alan H. Guth Victor F. Weisskopf Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology http://web.mit.edu/physics/people/faculty/guth_alan.html David I. Kaiser Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology http://web.mit.edu/physics/people/faculty/kaiser_david.html Andrei D. Linde Harald Trap Friis Professor of Physics, Stanford University https://physics.stanford.edu/people/faculty/andrei-linde Yasunori Nomura Professor of Physics and Director, Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Berkeley http://physics.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/yasunori-nomura Charles L. Bennett Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and Alumni Centennial Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University Principal Investigator, Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) mission Deputy Principal Investigator and Science Working Group member, Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission http://physics-astronomy.jhu.edu/directory/charles-l-bennett/ J. Richard Bond University Professor, University of Toronto and Director, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Cosmology and Gravity Program, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics Member of the Planck collaboration http://www.cita.utoronto.ca/~bond/ François Bouchet Director of Research, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS and Sorbonne Université-UPMC Deputy Principal Investigator, Planck satellite HFI (High Frequency Instrument) Consortium and Member, Planck Science Team http://savoirs.ens.fr/conferencier.php?id=145 Sean Carroll Research Professor of Physics, California Institute of Technology http://www.astro.caltech.edu/people/faculty/Sean_Carroll.html George Efstathiou Professor of Astrophysics, Kavli Institute for Cosmology, University of Cambridge Member, Planck Science Team http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~gpe/ Stephen Hawking Lucasian Professor of Mathematics (Emeritus) and Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/people/s.w.hawking/ Renata Kallosh Professor of Physics, Stanford University https://physics.stanford.edu/people/faculty/renata-kallosh Eiichiro Komatsu Director of the Department of Physical Cosmology, Max-Planck-Institute für Astrophysik, Garching Member, Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) collaboration http://wwwmpa.mpa-garching.mpg.de/~komatsu/ Lawrence Krauss Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Department of Physics, and Director, The Origins Project at Arizona State University http://krauss.faculty.asu.edu David H. Lyth Professor of Physics (Emeritus), Lancaster University http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/physics/about-us/people/david-lyth Juan Maldacena Carl P. Feinberg Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Study https://www.sns.ias.edu/malda John C. Mather Senior Astrophysicist and Goddard Fellow, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics (2006) Project Scientist, Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission and Senior Project Scientist, James Webb Space Telescope https://science.gsfc.nasa.gov/sed/bio/john.c.mather Hiranya Peiris Professor of Astrophysics, University College London and Director, Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmoparticle Physics, Stockholm Member, Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) collaboration and Planck collaboration http://zuserver2.star.ucl.ac.uk/~hiranya/ Malcolm Perry Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/people/m.j.perry/ Lisa Randall Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science, Department of Physics, Harvard University https://www.physics.harvard.edu/people/facpages/randall Martin Rees Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, former President of the Royal Society of London, and Professor (Emeritus) of Cosmology and Astrophysics, University of Cambridge http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~mjr/ Misao Sasaki Professor, Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics, Kyoto University http://www2.yukawa.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~misao.sasaki/ Leonardo Senatore Associate Professor of Physics, Stanford University https://physics.stanford.edu/people/faculty/leonardo-senatore Eva Silverstein Professor of Physics, Stanford University https://physics.stanford.edu/people/faculty/eva-silverstein George F. Smoot III Professor of Physics (Emeritus), Founding Director, Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics (2006) Principal Investigator, Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission http://physics.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/george-smoot-iii Alexei Starobinsky Principal Researcher, Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics, Moscow http://www.itp.ac.ru/en/persons/starobinsky-aleksei-aleksandrovich/ Leonard Susskind Felix Bloch Professor of Physics and Wells Family Director, Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics, Stanford University https://physics.stanford.edu/people/faculty/leonard-susskind Michael S. Turner Bruce. V. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Department of Physics, University of Chicago https://astro.uchicago.edu/people/michael-s-turner.php Alexander Vilenkin L. and J. Bernstein Professor of Evolutionary Science and Director, Institute of Cosmology, Tufts University http://cosmos2.phy.tufts.edu/vilenkin.html Steven Weinberg Jack S. Josey-Welch Foundation Chair and Regental Professor and Director, Theory Research Group, Department of Physics, University of Texas at Austin, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics (1979) https://web2.ph.utexas.edu/~weintech/weinberg.html Rainer Weiss Professor of Physics (Emeritus), Massachusetts Institute of Technology Chair, Science Working Group, Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission Co-Founder, Laser Interferometric Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) http://web.mit.edu/physics/people/faculty/weiss_rainer.html Frank Wilczek Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics (2004) http://web.mit.edu/physics/people/faculty/wilczek_frank.html Edward Witten Charles Simonyi Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Study and recipient of the Fields Medal (1990) https://www.sns.ias.edu/witten Matias Zaldarriaga Professor of Astrophysics, Institute for Advanced Study https://www.sns.ias.edu/matiasz THE AUTHORS REPLY: We have great respect for the scientists who signed the rebuttal to our article, but we are disappointed by their response, which misses our key point: the differences between the inflationary theory once thought to be possible and the theory as understood today. The claim that inflation has been confirmed refers to the outdated theory before we understood its fundamental problems. We firmly believe that in a healthy scientific community, respectful disagreement is possible and hence reject the suggestion that by pointing out problems, we are discarding the work of all of those who developed the theory of inflation and enabled precise measurements of the universe. Historically, the thinking about inflation was based on a series of misunderstandings. It was not understood that the outcome of inflation is highly sensitive to initial conditions. And it was not understood that inflation generically leads to eternal inflation and, consequently, a multiverse—an infinite diversity of outcomes. Papers claiming that inflation predicts this or that ignore these problems. Our point is that we should be talking about the contemporary version of inflation, warts and all, not some defunct relic. Logically, if the outcome of inflation is highly sensitive to initial conditions that are not yet understood, as the respondents concede, the outcome cannot be determined. And if inflation produces a multiverse in which, to quote a previous statement from one of the responding authors (Guth), “anything that can happen will happen”—it makes no sense whatsoever to talk about predictions. Unlike the Standard Model, even after fixing all the parameters, any inflationary model gives an infinite diversity of outcomes with none preferred over any other. This makes inflation immune from any observational test. For more details, see our 2014 paper “Inflationary Schism” (preprint available at https://arxiv.org/abs/1402.6980). We are three independent thinkers representing different generations of scientists. Our article was not intended to revisit old debates but to discuss the implications of recent observations and to point out unresolved issues that present opportunities for a new generation of young cosmologists to make a lasting impact. We hope readers will go back and review our article’s concluding paragraphs. We advocated against invoking authority and for open recognition of the shortcomings of current concepts, a reinvigorated effort to resolve these problems and an open-minded exploration of diverse ideas that avoid them altogether. We stand by these principles.
News Article | May 10, 2017
The ACA and AHCA: Repeal, Replace, and Impact on Employer-Based Health Plans Ron E. Peck Senior Vice President and General Counsel The Phia Group, Braintree, Mass. Healthcare reform continues to be a hot topic, though what that means varies from person to person. Regardless of your view on healthcare, it cannot be denied that the majority of Americans have, and continue to receive, healthcare through their employer. How the cost of healthcare, existing and new laws, and other innovative methodologies impact employer based health plans, and the evolving nature of these plans -- today and in the future -- are topics Peck is available to discuss: "In the United States of America, our lawmakers have and continue to focus entirely on 'who' pays for healthcare. Ensuring every American has health insurance has not, and will not, solve the problem. The issue is that healthcare costs too much in this country. The only solution will come from a combination of consumerism on the part of patients -- who must care about the cost of care they receive -- creative processes implemented by payers, and more efficient, cost-effective providers. The industry must solve the problem of cost, as lawmakers seem unable or unwilling to challenge those who game the system, and dip deeply into what is perceived to be the bottomless pocket that is insurance." ProfNet Profile: http://www.profnetconnect.com/ronpeck Website: www.phiagroup.com Contact: Matthew Painten, email@example.com Immigration and the Trump Administration Juan Carlos Gómez Director of Clinical Programs; Director of the Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic Florida International University, Miami Gómez was recently quoted on NBC 6 in Florida regarding Trump's executive order on immigration (article: http://tinyurl.com/l4dwyrt): "I think the community, while worried, should not panic. They should go get the correct information, understanding that this is only the beginning of a new policy but due process still exists in the United States." Gómez has been defending the rights of individuals in immigration matters for the last 20 years. During this time, he has represented persons before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the United States Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in complex immigration matters. Within the field of immigration law, he has helped thousands of individuals in situations including removal and deportation proceedings, family immigration, and the transfer of professionals and executives to the United States. Gómez counsels international and national corporations on compliance with immigration laws. He also has coordinated teams of attorneys in multi-forum conflicts to effectively resolve clients' problems. As an attorney for a Central American Refugee Project, he coordinated the representation of thousands of individuals in the Southeastern United States in a national class action. He has represented refugees from every part of the world where there have been conflicts over the last two decades. As director of East Little Havana Legal Services, he led a team of attorneys to resolve the series of problems faced by clients in a holistic manner. Gómez is a highly sought-out attorney by other immigration attorneys for consultation on complex matters. In addition to having taught at a law school, he frequently lectures on immigration matters before professional organizations. He recently participated in a roundtable discussion on this topic: Part 1: http://tinyurl.com/mfeqezz, Part 2: http://tinyurl.com/lcfb53s, Part 3: http://tinyurl.com/mvv7tof Contact: Jessica Drouet, Jdrouet@fiu.edu GOP Reform/Repeal of Dodd-Frank Act Michael Imerman Assistant Professor of Finance Lehigh University Dr. Imerman is available to discuss proposals to reform or repeal the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010 to provide financial regulation: "Both Dodd-Frank and the proposed replacement, the Financial CHOICE Act, seek to end Too-Big-To-Fail, reduce systemic risk, hold Wall Street accountable, improve transparency of complex markets, and protect the American taxpayer from government bailouts. I absolutely do not think that the Dodd-Frank Act needs to be repealed and replaced, and these attempts to do so are purely a matter of partisan politics. Is the Dodd-Frank Act perfect? Certainly not. But the answer would be to refine those areas that are not holding up so well, not eliminate the whole thing. Too-Big-To-Fail still is a real problem. In a soon-to-be-released paper, I show one of the most effective ways to combat TBTF is to require the largest banks to hold more capital. If banks find this to be too expensive, they can sell off assets and scale down their size; otherwise, they should be required to hold disproportionately more capital to reduce the risk of a taxpayer-sponsored bailout." Dr. Imerman's research focuses on credit risk modeling, banking and financial institutions, risk management, and derivatives. Bio: http://cbe.lehigh.edu/faculty/finance/michael-b-imerman Contact: Amy White, firstname.lastname@example.org Following are experts from the ProfNet network who are available for interviews regarding Trump's tax reform plan: Trump's Tax Plan Rebecca Kysar Professor of Law Brooklyn Law School Kysar is available for comment on Trump's tax plan. Here is an excerpt from a January op-ed she wrote for Slate: "It is not realistic to expect the tax code to be set in stone. But the pillars of tax reform should be stable enough to form the basis of long-term investment and growth. Radical, partisan tax reform will prove short-lived and ineffective. Reform that gives the lion's share of its benefits to the wealthy and adds trillions to the debt runs the risk of exacerbating inequality within and between generations, perhaps alienating Trump voters who elevated him to the White House based on his populist rhetoric." Kysar teaches and researches in the areas of federal income tax, international tax, and the federal budget and tax legislative processes. Her recent scholarship examines tax treaties, as well as the tax legislative process. Her articles have appeared in the Cornell Law Review, the Iowa Law Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Washington University Law Review, and the Yale Journal of International Law, among others. Bio: https://www.brooklaw.edu/faculty/directory/facultymember/biography?id=rebecca.kysar Contact: John Mackin, email@example.com President Trump's Tax Reform Proposal Robert Duquette Professor of Practice in Accounting Lehigh University Duquette is available to discuss President Trump's tax reform proposal, as well as the House proposal and the need for tax reform. He can comment on who benefits from these proposals, their projected impact on economic growth and national debt, whether they will pass, and why true tax reform is needed: "President Trump's plan consists of three individual tax brackets: 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent; and a doubling of the standard deduction. That would mean, for example, the first $24,000 of a couple's taxable income would be exempt from taxes. The House's version also provides for new, higher combined exemption deductions of $12,000 for singles ($18,000 with children), and $24,000 for couples filing jointly, and consists of three tax rates: 12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent. Who benefits the most from these plans? The Tax Foundation projects that taxpayers would see an average increase in their after-tax income of between 1 percent and 10 percent in total over 10 years. However, the top 1 percent would benefit the most, with the wealthiest taxpayers seeing an increase in their after-tax income of 5 percent to 20 percent. What is the impact on economic growth and the national debt? A significant part of the cost would be offset by broadening the tax base through elimination of many deductions and credit, loss of business interest deductibility, loss of the domestic manufacturing deduction, and possibly a tax on some type of imports. All independent analyses of the proposals indicate there would probably be trillions of dollars added to the federal debt over the next 10 years. I'm not optimistic of passage of this tax reform in Congress. Even if it does pass, no reputable study has yet suggested it can help mitigate the growth in the national debt from the present $20 million to $30 trillion over the next 10 years." In addition to teaching taxation and accounting, Duquette is a CPA and has worked in tax and audit advising for three decades. Blog: http://cbe.lehigh.edu/blog Bio: http://cbe.lehigh.edu/faculty/accounting/robert-duquette Contact: Amy White, firstname.lastname@example.org Corporate, Trust and Estate Planning-Related Questions Michael Kosnitzky Partner Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP "The Trump tax proposal to reduce rates on business income from flow through entities like S corporations and domestic limited liability companies has the potential to cause tax inequities. However, the Treasury and the IRS have ample tools under existing law to police this unfairness. Taxpayers should look to IRS policy on 'reasonable compensation' and the existing tax regimes under the so-called passive activity rules and net investment income tax rules for guidance on how the government will deal with aggressive taxpayers in similar situations." Bio: https://www.pillsburylaw.com/en/lawyers/michael-kosnitzky.html Contact: Matt Hyams, Matt.email@example.com Tax Rates for Businesses Larry Elkin, CFP, CPA President Palisades Hudson Financial Group, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "President Trump thinks income generated by privately held Palisades Hudson Financial Group should be taxed at the same rate as income generated by Alphabet Inc., Google's publicly traded parent company. And he thinks the rate for both businesses should be an attractively low 15 percent. You might expect me to be delighted by this news. I am a Republican, and we Republicans generally believe tax rates should be as low as possible. I also happen to be the owner of Palisades Hudson Financial Group. And I would be delighted with Trump's proposal, except for one thing: It's a phenomenally bad idea. Trump's proposal that all business income be taxed at the same (low) rate makes rhetorical sense, but not logical sense. To see why, consider the two companies I just mentioned. Alphabet is what tax nerds call a C corporation. It pays its own income taxes and then, when it distributes remaining income to shareholders in the form of dividends, that income is taxed again at the shareholders' rate. This means that by the time a single dollar of Alphabet's pretax income reaches a shareholder, federal taxes have reduced it to as little as 52 cents. But Palisades Hudson is not taxed that way. Like nearly all owner-operated businesses, it does not pay its own taxes as a separate entity. Instead, its net income is included on the owner's tax return and is only taxed once. This is what is meant by a 'pass-through' entity. Cutting my taxes on Palisades Hudson's net income to 15 percent would mean my income would be taxed at half the rate of the wages I pay many of my employees, or even less. And this would be the case for many firms nationwide under the proposed rules, including some much larger than mine." Website: www.palisadeshudson.com Contact: Henry Stimpson, firstname.lastname@example.org 'Pass-Through Rate' and 'One-Time Repatriation Tax' Michael Faulkender Professor of Finance and Associate Dean of Master's Programs University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business On the pass-through rate: "President Trump's 'pass-through' proposal asks for abuse. Small-business owners could easily reclassify expenses to be net income and vice versa. If one mechanism has a lower tax rate than the other, the reclassifications will take place. Ideally, all income is subject to the same rate at the personal level, thus eliminating the incentive to reclassify the income." On the one-time repatriation tax: "A one-time tax on accumulated foreign earnings rewards corporations that have moved operations to foreign jurisdictions for gaming the tax system. Firms in position to move profits abroad (by transfer pricing of intellectual capital), and that anticipated being subject to the tax on the differential, would see that tax liability fall from as high as 35 percent to perhaps 5-8 percent." Faulkender's "Taxes and Leverage at Multinational Corporations" is published in the Journal of Financial Economics (summarized here: http://tinyurl.com/n3bgpkt). Bio: https://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/directory/michael-faulkender Contact: Greg Muraski, email@example.com Eliminating State-Local Deductions Albert "Pete" Kyle Professor of Finance University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business "Eliminating the tax deductibility of state income taxes, while preserving the tax deductibility of property taxes, would encourage states like California and New York to lower income taxes and increase property taxes. In particular, I would expect property tax caps in California to be phased out over time if these changes are made." Kyle has served as an economic advisor to NASDAQ, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Bio: https://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/directory/albert-pete-kyle Contact: Greg Muraski, firstname.lastname@example.org Trump's Tax Reform Proposals and the GOP Blueprint Stephen M. Breitstone Partner and Vice Chairman Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone, Mineola, N.Y. A tax attorney, Breitstone can readily discuss how Trump's tax reform proposals and the GOP blueprint could affect business in general, and especially the real estate industry, from commercial, office and rental owners and investors to individuals. Among other issues, Breitstone can discuss the implications of: standard and itemized deductions; repeal of the deductions for state and local taxes and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT); tax on business; Immediate expensing of capital expenditures and elimination of interest deduction; estate and gift taxes. Says Breitstone: "It is likely that any tax reform would also include 'immediate expensing.' The GOP blueprint proposes 'immediate expensing' of capital expenditures, including machinery and buildings, but not land. This is coupled with the elimination of the deduction for interest (all interest, except interest on personal mortgages, which hardly anyone would claim due to the increased standard deduction). For businesses that make investments in buildings and machinery (and probably for the owners of pass-through entities as well), the tax rate of 15% is mostly for show. The actual tax rate, at least for the next few years, will be zero. Immediate expensing will wipe out all income tax liabilities, at least in the short run. This may result in an increased flow of liquidity to these businesses to invest and to grow. But this will be short-lived. After the deduction for immediate expensing is used up, there will be no depreciation deduction and no interest deduction on the debt incurred to fund these investments. That means the effective tax rate on these businesses will soar." Breitstone further questions immediate expensing as proposed, as it doesn't target growth in areas where we really need it, such as education, technology and infrastructure. If you throw money at dying industries, it may only accelerate the further layoff of employees by encouraging increased automation. Bio: http://www.meltzerlippe.com/attorneys/stephen-breitstone/ Website: http://www.meltzerlippe.com Contact: Peggy Kalia, email@example.com Impact of Trump's Plan Adnan Mahmud Founder LiveStories LiveStories is a civic data intelligence platform used by local, state, and federal governments to make massive data stores easier to understand for the general public. The company released a report called, "Five Facts: State Taxes and Spending" that includes findings on state and local expenditures based on the most recent U.S. Census. Mahmud is available to explain what this data can tell us about how Trump's tax reform plan will impact Americans. He can use these findings to illuminate opportunities and challenges that need to be considered in light of these policy changes. Contact: Rosie Gillam, firstname.lastname@example.org How Reform Will Impact Citizens at Different Tax Levels Jinette Chiappetta, CPA Wealth Manager Equity Concepts Chiappetta can discuss how reform will impact citizens at different tax levels, as well as the overall economy. She is a wealth manager at Equity Concepts, a Richmond, Va.-based wealth management firm that serves more than 2,000 households and oversees approximately $875+ million in assets. Prior to joining Equity Concepts, Chiappetta spent 20 years in the tax field, with 15 years of public accounting experience and five years of corporate tax experiences. As a CPA, she places an emphasis on analyzing the impact of investment strategies on tax situations. Website: http://www.equity-concepts.com Contact: Kelly Holcombe, Kelly@flackable.com Impacts on Individuals and Business Owners Bill Smith Managing Director, National Tax Office CBIZ MHM Smith is available to address the impacts of the plan on both individuals and business owners, the feasibility of the plan, and how it may evolve over time. He has more than 30 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, including five years in the office of General Counsel at Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he was responsible for all aspects of the firm's tax practice; five years as a tax lawyer for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.; and 12 years in private practice in San Francisco, representing businesses of all sizes and high-wealth individuals in developing and implementing tax strategies or negotiating with the IRS in Tax Court or administratively. Smith assumed his current position more than 15 years ago and is based in Bethesda, Md. In this role, he consults nationally on a broad range of tax services, including foreign and domestic transactional tax planning for corporations, partnerships, LLCs and individuals, such as mergers and acquisitions, domestic and international restructuring of businesses and investments, and negotiating partnership and other transactions. He is a frequent speaker at national conferences, and serves as a testifying expert in the area of accountants' professional duties and ethical obligations. Smith is well-versed on Trump's tax plan, having authored the following blog posts/columns: "Key takeaways of Trump's tax plan for business owners" (http://tinyurl.com/le365om), "The votes are in: Introducing the new president's tax plan" (http://tinyurl.com/nxja73y), "Comparing presidential candidates' tax reform plans" (http://tinyurl.com/k2tytgu), and "Trump's tax plan could help businesses, but questions remain (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/293576). Contact: Lauren Davis, email@example.com Retirement Planning Ed Slott, CPA Founder, Ed Slott & Company Creator, IRAhelp.com Slott is a New York-based nationally recognized IRA expert, television personality, and best-selling author who has dedicated his life to educating Americans on saving for retirement and the intricacies of IRAs. He was named "The Best Source for IRA Advice" by The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today wrote, "It would be tough to find anyone who knows more about IRAs than CPA Slott." He is the author of "The Retirement Savings Time Bomb … And How to Defuse It" and "Parlay Your IRA into a Family Fortune." His most recent books include "Fund Your Future: A Tax-Smart Savings Plan in Your 20s and 30s" and "The Retirement Decisions Guide: 125 Ways to Save and Stretch Your Wealth." He is the host of the 2015 public television show "Ed Slott's Retirement Road Map," which airs in markets nationwide. He is a frequent columnist and resource for national media and has hosted many best-selling public television specials. Through his firm, Slott provides the highest level of IRA training to financial professionals, CPAs and attorneys; and through his website, he offers free resources to consumers. Website: http://irahelp.com Contact: Mindy Eras, firstname.lastname@example.org Tax Planning Greg Hammer Tax and Wealth Advisor Hammer Financial Group, Inc. Hammer specializes in coordinated, holistic financial planning for Lake County, Ind., and Chicago-area residents who are approaching retirement or currently retired. Bringing tax preparation and planning, Medicare supplements, estate planning, insurance and investments all under one roof, he aims to provide complete and convenient financial solutions for the best interest of the clients he serves. Hammer trains and coaches independent financial advisors nationwide on how to build their business to better serve the holistic financial needs of American families. In particular, he has helped develop and refine processes to integrate tax preparation and Medicare supplement services into a financial advisory practice -- a unique addition within the financial industry designed for the ultimate convenience and benefit of clients at and near retirement. He earned a B.A. in Applied Mathematics with a focus in economics from Yale University and has more than 23 years of experience in the financial services industry. In addition to his series 6, 63, 65 and 26 and life and health licenses, Hammer maintains Master Elite Membership with Ed Slott's Elite IRA Advisor Group for continued study and mastery of IRAs and applicable tax laws. Contact: Mindy Eras, email@example.com Retirement Planning Jeff Warnkin, CPA and CFP The JL Smith Group Warnkin specializes in holistic financial planning for the pre-retired and retired residents of Ohio. As a holistic planner, he incorporates investments, insurance, taxes and estate planning when building financial plans in order create an optimal solution for the retirement years. Warnkin has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, Series 7 and 24 securities licensed, has a Master of Taxation (MT) degree, and is life and health insurance licensed. He has also been personally trained by nationally acclaimed IRA expert Ed Slott, CPA, as a member of the exclusive Ed Slott's Elite IRA Advisor Group. Website: www.JLSmithGroup.com Contact: Mindy Eras, firstname.lastname@example.org Impact on Families and Investors Bijan Golkar CEO, Senior Advisor FPC Investment Advisory Golkar is a Northern California investment advisor that has been a licensed tax preparer since 2007 and earned the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification in 2013. He is frequently quoted in national media as an expert on investing and financial planning topics. In addition to his duties as the firm's CEO, Golkar provides comprehensive advice to high-net-worth individuals and families. He often creates and leads teams of legal, accounting and insurance experts to help these clients meet their goals. He also consults with small businesses on buyouts, employee benefits and other matters. ProfNet Profile: http://www.profnetconnect.com/bijan_golkar LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bgolkar/ Expert Contact: email@example.com Following are links to job listings for staff and freelance writers, editors and producers. You can view these and more job listings on our Job Board: https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/community/jobs/ Following are links to other news and resources we think you might find useful. If you have an item you think other reporters would be interested in and would like us to include in a future alert, please drop us a line. PROFNET is an exclusive service of PR Newswire. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/profnet-experts-available-on-tax-reform-dodd-frank-ahca-more-300455385.html
News Article | May 13, 2017
HUNTSVILLE, AL, May 13, 2017-- The law firm of Morris, King & Hodge P.C. is pleased to congratulate the three students who are winners of our 2017 Driver Safety Scholarships.The car accident attorneys at Morris, King & Hodge represent injured people whose lives have been turned upside down by distracted driving. To help prevent these accidents, our firm is proud to sponsor the Distracted Driver Scholarship Program for the third straight year. Our attorneys recognize the importance of being actively engaged in the community and making a positive impact in the lives of others. We are committed to helping our fellow Alabamians, whether that entails delivering exceptional legal representation, raising awareness of distracted driving or providing college scholarships to students.Applicants for the scholarship submitted essays discussing the topic of distracted driving and offering practical steps to address this growing problem. The law firm selected three winning essays from nearly 90 applications for the Driver Safety Scholarships The law firm awarded the scholarships to seniors graduating from high schools in Alabama who are planning to attend college. The three scholarship winners are:First Place-- Michael McMeen , a senior at Grissom High School in Huntsville. Michael plans to attend Auburn University in the fall and pursue a degree in Applied Mathematics.Second Place-- Bethaney Jackson , a senior at Sparkman High School in Harvest. Bethaney plans to study biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.Third Place-- Tyler Behrens , a senior at Buckhorn High School in New Market. Tyler plans to attend Mississippi State University and study civil engineering.Click on the names of the winners to read their essays."Congratulations to the winners and to all those who participated," said Joe A. King, a partner at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. "We recognize that obtaining a college education provides opportunities to young people to pursue fulfilling careers and achieve their dreams. We are delighted to assist these deserving young people."The Driver Safety Scholarships are simply our latest effort to serve our community and pay forward the success we have been blessed to achieve. Morris, King and Hodge, P.C. has spent more than $100,000 to date on public initiatives targeting distracted driving and traffic safety including WHNT's Distracted Driving Project, the Madison County Sheriff's free Distracted Driving classes, the Taxi & Tow Service and MADD's Victim Help Line.
News Article | May 24, 2017
IRVINE, CA--(Marketwired - May 24, 2017) - Signature Devices, Inc. ( : SDVI) today announced that the board of directors has appointed Inas Azzam as CEO and President. Mr. Azzam is a veteran of the technology space and his most recent start-up MorpheusAV was part of the merger with Innovo. Innovo Technology, a leading software and hardware development company focused on the Internet of Things. Mr. Azzam is a solutions-driven and results-based professional with proven IT development and management skills in the US and international markets. He has an entrepreneurial background with strong management skills and an effective ability to deliver targeted solutions backed by over 27 years of technical, management and teaching experiences. Mr. Azzam graduated from UCLA with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Differential Equations, and received his MBA in International Business from SDSU. "I am excited to take on this challenge, and work diligently to drive value for our shareholders," said Mr. Azzam. "Mr. Azzam is the ideal person to lead the company towards the goal of becoming one of the leaders in the development of Internet of Things," said Charles Townsend, Chairman and Interim CEO. "The board felt that Inas has the technical background mixed with years of operations experience to grow the company and build shareholder value," he concluded. You can also follow the company on Twitter for small updates and announcements, https://twitter.com/SignatureDevice Based in Irvine, California, Innovo Technology combines the best of the technologies underpinning the popular Morpheus media server, Tazerwear's AI Software, Truck IT's beacon platform with Knoton's hardware, infrastructure and software. The result is a company that blends custom software and powerful hardware IoT-interconnected devices. Learn more by visiting: http://innovotech.io/about/ Based in Sheridan, Wyoming, Signature Devices, Inc. (www.signaturedevices.com) ( : SDVI) is a holding company with subsidiaries that develop Internet of Things (IOT) products through its subsidiary Innovo Technologies, Inc., and publishes diverse media products including video games and mobile applications through its subsidiary Graffiti Entertainment, Inc. The information in this press release includes certain "forward-looking" statements within the meaning of the Safe Harbor provisions of Federal Securities Laws. Investors are cautioned that such statements are based upon assumptions that in the future may prove not to have been accurate and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties, including the future financial performance of the Company. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in its forward-looking statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such expectations or any of its forward-looking statements will prove to be correct. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements that speak only as of the date of this release, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, events, or circumstances after the date of this release except as required by law.
News Article | May 24, 2017
Researchers have shown how singularities – which are normally only found at the centre of black holes and hidden from view – could exist in highly curved three-dimensional space. CAMBRIDGE, 24-May-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, have used computer simulations to predict the existence of a so-called naked singularity, which interferes with Einstein’s general theory of relativity. This is the first time that a naked singularity, which causes the laws of physics to break down, has been predicted in three-dimensional space. The findings are reported in the journal Physical Review Letters. Einstein’s general theory of relativity underpins our current understanding of gravity: everything from the estimation of the age of the stars in the universe, to the GPS signals we rely on to help us navigate, is based on his equations. In part, the theory tells us that matter warps its surrounding spacetime, and what we call gravity is the effect of that warp. In the 100 years since it was published, general relativity has passed every test that has been thrown at it, but one of its limitations is the existence of singularities. A singularity is a point where gravity is so intense that space, time, and the laws of physics, break down. General relativity predicts that singularities exist at the centre of black holes, and that they are surrounded by an event horizon – the ‘point of no return’, where the gravitational pull becomes so strong that escape is impossible, meaning that they cannot be observed from the outside. For more than 40 years, mathematicians have proposed that whenever singularities form, they will always be hidden from view in this way – this is known as the ‘cosmic censorship conjecture.’ If true, cosmic censorship means that outside of black holes, these singularities have no measurable effect on anything, and the predictions of general relativity remain valid. In recent years, researchers have used computer simulations to predict the existence of ‘naked singularities’ – that is, singularities which exist outside an event horizon. Naked singularities would invalidate the cosmic censorship conjecture and, by extension, general relativity’s ability to explain the universe as a standalone theory. However, all of these predictions have been modelled on universes which exist in higher dimensions. For example, in 2016, two Cambridge PhD students predicted the existence of a naked singularity, but their predictions were based on a five-dimensional universe. The new research, by Toby Crisford and Jorge Santos from Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, has predicted the existence of a naked singularity in a four-dimensional universe – three spatial dimensions, plus time – for the first time. Their predictions show that a naked singularity can form in a special kind of curved space known as anti-de Sitter space, in which the universe has a distinctive ‘saddle’ shape. According to general relativity, universes can have various shapes, and anti-de Sitter space is one of these possible shapes. Anti-de Sitter space has a very different structure to flat space. In particular it has a boundary which light can reach, at which point it is reflected back. “It’s a bit like having a spacetime in a box,” said Crisford. “At the boundary, the walls of the box, we have the freedom to specify what the various fields are doing, and we use this freedom to add energy to the system and eventually force the formation of a singularity.” While the results are not directly applicable to our universe, as ‘forcing’ a singularity is not a procedure which is possible to simulate in flat space, they do open up new opportunities to study other theories to understand the universe. One such theory could involve quantum gravity, which provides new equations close to a singularity. “The naked singularity we see is likely to disappear if we were to include charged particles in our simulation – this is something we are currently investigating,” said Santos. “If true, it could imply a connection between the cosmic censorship conjecture and the weak gravity conjecture, which says that any consistent theory of quantum gravity must contain sufficiently charged particles. In anti-de Sitter space, the cosmic censorship conjecture might be saved by the weak gravity
News Article | May 12, 2017
Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have helped develop a new computer model of plasma stability in doughnut-shaped fusion machines known as tokamaks. The new model incorporates recent findings gathered from related research efforts and simplifies the physics involved so computers can process the program more quickly. The model could help scientists predict when a plasma might become unstable and then avoid the underlying conditions. This research was reported in a paper published in Physics of Plasmas in February 2017, and received funding from the DOE's Office of Science (Fusion Energy Sciences). The plasma stability code was written in part by Jack Berkery, a research scientist in the Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics Department at Columbia University who has been associated with PPPL for almost 10 years. He is working on this project with Steve Sabbagh, a senior research scientist and adjunct professor of applied physics at Columbia who has collaborated with PPPL for almost three decades. Both Berkery and Sabbagh are part of the Columbia group at PPPL. The new research is the latest in the physicists' combined effort to develop a larger and more capable plasma-stabilizing computer program known as the Disruption Event Characterization and Forecasting (DECAF) code that will predict and help avoid disruptions. Within tokamak plasmas, many forces balance to create a stable equilibrium. One force is an expanding pressure created by the intrinsic properties of the plasma -- a soup of electrically charged particles. Another force is produced by magnets that confine the plasma, preventing it from touching the tokamak's inner walls and cooling down. Plasma physicists and engineers want the plasma to be under as much magnetic pressure as possible, because high pressure means that the plasma particles are interacting more frequently, increasing both the chances that fusion reactions will occur and the amount of heat produced by the tokamak. Past research by Berkery and Sabbagh on machines including the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) at PPPL has shown that high plasma pressure can be contained in a stable way if other properties of the plasma, like the way in which it rotates, have particular characteristics. "Ideally, you want to operate tokamaks at high pressure because to get good fusion performance, you want to have the highest pressure you can," Berkery continued. "Unfortunately, when you do that, instabilities can arise. So if you can find a way to stabilize the plasma, then you can operate your tokamak at a higher pressure." The updated program was written to predict the conditions that would best contain the high-pressure plasma. The program, though, is only one component of the DECAF code, which includes many modules that each monitor different aspects of a plasma in an effort to determine when the plasma is becoming unstable. "For years, we've been investigating which conditions lead to instability and how we can try to avoid those conditions," Berkery said. The code gathers information that includes the plasma's density, temperature, and the shape of the plasma's rotation. It then calculates which combinations of these conditions produce a stable plasma, simultaneously uncovering which combinations of conditions produce an unstable plasma. The new code specifically looks for signs of an oncoming unstable state known as a resistive wall mode. A plasma enters this state when forces causing the plasma to expand are stronger than the forces confining the plasma. The plasma's intrinsic magnetic fields then expand outward and strike the interior of the tokamak's walls.
News Article | May 10, 2017
Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have helped develop a new computer model of plasma stability in doughnut-shaped fusion machines known as tokamaks. The new model incorporates recent findings gathered from related research efforts and simplifies the physics involved so computers can process the program more quickly. The model could help scientists predict when a plasma might become unstable and then avoid the underlying conditions. This research was reported in a paper published in Physics of Plasmas in February 2017, and received funding from the DOE's Office of Science (Fusion Energy Sciences). The plasma stability code was written in part by Jack Berkery, a research scientist in the Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics Department at Columbia University who has been associated with PPPL for almost 10 years. He is working on this project with Steve Sabbagh, a senior research scientist and adjunct professor of applied physics at Columbia who has collaborated with PPPL for almost three decades. Both Berkery and Sabbagh are part of the Columbia group at PPPL. The new research is the latest in the physicists' combined effort to develop a larger and more capable plasma-stabilizing computer program known as the Disruption Event Characterization and Forecasting (DECAF) code that will predict and help avoid disruptions. Within tokamak plasmas, many forces balance to create a stable equilibrium. One force is an expanding pressure created by the intrinsic properties of the plasma -- a soup of electrically charged particles. Another force is produced by magnets that confine the plasma, preventing it from touching the tokamak's inner walls and cooling down. Plasma physicists and engineers want the plasma to be under as much magnetic pressure as possible, because high pressure means that the plasma particles are interacting more frequently, increasing both the chances that fusion reactions will occur and the amount of heat produced by the tokamak. Past research by Berkery and Sabbagh on machines including the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) at PPPL has shown that high plasma pressure can be contained in a stable way if other properties of the plasma, like the way in which it rotates, have particular characteristics. "Ideally, you want to operate tokamaks at high pressure because to get good fusion performance, you want to have the highest pressure you can," Berkery continued. "Unfortunately, when you do that, instabilities can arise. So if you can find a way to stabilize the plasma, then you can operate your tokamak at a higher pressure." The updated program was written to predict the conditions that would best contain the high-pressure plasma. The program, though, is only one component of the DECAF code, which includes many modules that each monitor different aspects of a plasma in an effort to determine when the plasma is becoming unstable. "For years, we've been investigating which conditions lead to instability and how we can try to avoid those conditions," Berkery said. The code gathers information that includes the plasma's density, temperature, and the shape of the plasma's rotation. It then calculates which combinations of these conditions produce a stable plasma, simultaneously uncovering which combinations of conditions produce an unstable plasma. The new code specifically looks for signs of an oncoming unstable state known as a resistive wall mode. A plasma enters this state when forces causing the plasma to expand are stronger than the forces confining the plasma. The plasma's intrinsic magnetic fields then expand outward and strike the interior of the tokamak's walls. Sabbagh, Berkery, and other researchers are now in the process of adding more modules to DECAF, increasing its ability to predict instabilities. They are also planning to use DECAF to help guide a rotation-control system on a tokamak like NSTX-U. The system would prevent the plasma from becoming unstable by producing stability-conducive plasma rotation profiles. PPPL, on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas -- ultra-hot, charged gases -- and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov