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Firearms-Suicides Stats Are the Only Relevant Stats in the Gun Violence Debate

A Simple Approach to a Quantitative Assessment of the Effectiveness of Gun Laws in Preventing Suicides
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Firearms Suicide rate, y Per 100,000

14.00 12.00 10.00 8.00 6.00 4.00 2.00 0.00

10

20

30

40

50

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70

80

Brady Campaign Score for the State, x


Figure A: The Brady score for the state is plotted on the horizontal axis. The more effective the state gun laws, the higher the score (maximum 100). The firearms-suicides rate per 100,000, y/x, with population x in 100,000 units, and y the number of firearms-suicides is plotted on the vertical axis. The blue diamonds are the data for the states with the 10 states with the Strongest Gun Laws (SGL). The red dots are the data for 10 states with the Weakest Gun Laws (WGL). The effectiveness of gun laws in reducing firearms-suicides is obvious.
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Table of Contents
No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Topic Summary Introduction The National Gun Safety Act a la National Traffic Safety Act Analysis of firearms-suicides data for SGL and WGL states Conclusions Appendix 1: Linear vs. Nonlinear laws Reference List Page No. 2 3 4 6 16 17 23

1. Summary
The analysis of the firearms-suicides data in the recent study America Under Gun (by Arkadi Gerney, Chelsea Parsons, and Charles Posner, of Center for American Progress) is continued in this fifth in a series of article. A linear and nonlinear analysis of the data is presented here to illustrate the wide applicability of the simpler linear law for most situations. While mass murders, like the Newtown elementary school killings, capture our attention, firearms-related suicides have been overlooked. The firearms-suicides data analysis presented here again highlights the need for a National Gun Safety Act, just like the National Traffic Safety Act of 1966, with the reduction of firearms-suicides being the driving force for the change. Seat belts and airbags and seat belt laws, which we now take for granted, were all resisted at one time. The National Gun Safety Act will likewise catalyze many beneficial changes that we consider unthinkable today.

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2. Introduction
In several recent articles, see Refs. [1-5], I have analyzed the gun violence data reported in America Under the Gun by Arkadi Gerney, Chelsea Parsons, and Charles Posner (hereafter the GPP study), Refs. [6,7]. The effectiveness of various state gun laws in reducing key gun violence indicators, such as the overall firearms-related deaths and firearms-related homicides, was also analyzed using the Brady Campaign scores for 2011, see Ref. [8]. The main purpose here is to continue this analysis and address the URGENT but ENTIRELY OVERLOOKED matter of firearms-suicides, see Refs. [9,10], and make a quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of various state gun laws. A comprehensive state gun laws ranking has also been developed by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, see Ref. [11] and was preferred by GPP in their study to compare the aggregate score of each state across the ten gun violence indicators. However, the ranks for the 50 states, similar to the Brady scorecard, are not readily available in a tabular form (at least I have not been to find it). Nonetheless, as in Ref. [3], we will use the Law Centers grading of 10 Strongest Gun Law (SGL) states and 10 Weakest Gun Law (WGL) states. Mass murders, such as the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school killings, grab our attention (click here). Lawmakers, and especially the President, vow to never let it happen again. The pro-gun lobbyists and the NRA lie low and then reemerge and the loudest voices drown any attempts at a reasonable compromise. The gun control, or rather gun violence, debate is usually focused on such extreme events. Overlooked in this national hysteria about quick fix and feel good measures is the most tragic part of the entire gun violence problem the shockingly high levels of firearms-related suicides across all the states that I have slowly become aware of since I got interested in the analysis of the gun violence data. As shown in Ref. [1], in 38 of the 44 states for which suicides and homicides data is available, it can be shown the Suicides/Homicides ratio, hereafter S/H ratio, is greater than one (S/H > 1). The Suicides/Homicides (S/H) ratio varies from 1.10 for Massachusetts (MA) to as high as 15.17 for Idaho (ID). Only six states, Delaware (DL), Louisiana (LA), New York (NY), Illinois (IL), Maryland (MD), and New
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Jersey (NJ) have a S/H ratio of less than 1. Even in these states the S/H ratio varies from a low of 0.72 for NJ to a high of 0.96 for DL. No information (on homicides) is available for six of the remaining states (HI, NH, SD, ND, VT and WY) to determine the S/H ratio. The data for 50 states (for 2010) has been compiled in Table 1 of Ref. [1]. Given these alarming facts, can we afford not to act?

3. Call for a National Gun Safety Act


America, with its highest gun ownership rate on this planet, Ref. [12], is widely perceived to be a violent nation and mass murder rampages that we have seen over the last few years (mostly by a lone gun man) only exacerbate this perception. But, the sad truth is that Americans are NOT killing each other with their guns. The ready access to guns and the easy availability of guns in almost all American homes has made it possible for the severely depressed and suicidal to simply blow their own brains off with a gunshot. Most of the mentally ill who wish to commit suicide are usually begging for help. Without a gun, such attempts at suicide are often botched up and the person lives to see another day. But, with a gun, there is no second chance. I personally know of a young woman, who I had seen grow up, take her own life in this way when she was a freshman in college. How she was able to acquire a gun to commit this heinous crime upon her own self is something near and dear ones were hard pressed to understand. Every life lost in this way, be it a young life, or an old life, is a precious one. A grandfather or a grandmother is lost, a son or daughter is lost, a husband or wife is lost, a father or a mother is lost, or a dear relative who was dearer than a friend, or a dear friend, more dear than any relative! We simply cannot overlook firearms-related suicide and call them irrelevant as has been done in at least one blog, Ref. [13], where I have posted some comments calling attention to the tragic loss of life from firearms-suicides. I
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have even been invited to present my views on preventing gun suicides, once I earn my points to be called a community pundit! . It is certainly important to be honest in reporting the magnitude of the gun violence problem. However, the mistake we are making as a nation, IMHO, is overlooking the problem of firearms-suicides. This is an unheralded EPIDEMIC, no different from the Carnage on the US Highways witnessed in the 1960s, when highway fatalities were rising year after year (click here and here). The resulting firestorm of protests and the need of improve motor vehicle safety eventually forced Congress to act. Highly publicized hearings were held (click here), which culminated in the passage of The National Traffic Safety Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, on September 9, 1966. Likewise, today we need a National Gun Safety Act and we must all work together in that direction, since the data reveals, unmistakably, that more than 50%, often as much as 70% to 80%, of the firearms-related deaths in many states are suicides. It is your own old mom or dad, or grandpa or grandma, living in Florida who is probably blowing their brains off based on what I find in the numbers for FL (1454 suicides and 767 homicides in 2010). If you can take the car keys away from grandpa, if you can take the car key away from your teenager, or one who has been drinking heavily, surely you can take a gun away from someone who should not be having one. Texans too, who love their guns, the all-hat-and-no-cattle-kind, probably, are blowing their own brains off in true Texan style (1702 suicides and 913 homicides in 2010). And, in the remote and cold Idaho, from where we get our potatoes, the S/H ratio is the highest in the nation - 15.17 only 12 homicides but a big potato size 182 homicides. Please dont think I am trying to be funny here. I do not mean to be disparaging either. I just want someone to pay attention!

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3. Analysis of the Firearms-Suicides Data (SGL vs. WGL)


Now, lets get on with the analysis of the firearms-suicides deaths and what, if any we expect the patch work of various state gun laws, as GPP put it, to be able to do. As we will see shortly, the data compiled by GPP in their study reveals, unmistakably, that the states with the Strongest Gun Laws (the SGL states) have lower firearms-suicides than the states with the Weakest Gun Laws (the WGL states). The Law Center for Prevention of Gun Violence has created such a table of SGL and WGL states, see Refs. [6,11].

Table 1: Firearms-Suicides (2010) for the SGL and the WGL States
Strongest Gun Law (SGL) States Weakest Gun Law (WGL) States State Brady Population Suicides State Brady Population Suicides Score x(100,000) y Score x(100,000) y CA 81 372.462 1492 AZ 0 63.915 620 NJ 72 87.861 187 LA 2 45.331 385 MA 66 65.534 138 KY 2 43.403 404 CT 58 35.726 110 OK 2 37.536 376 HI 50 13.60 37 MS 4 29.667 256 NY 62 193.678 459 KS 4 28.571 210 MD 45 57.725 222 MT 2 9.884 141 IL 35 128.347 442 SD 4 8.150 65 RI 44 10.515 30 VT 6 6.260 66 MI 25 98.806 601 WY 4 5.630 83 Data Sources: America Under the Gun, Table 5, and Brady Campaign Scorecard (2011), see references cited. Table I provides a summary of the data that we will analyze here to assess the effectiveness of various state gun laws. The two-letter US Postal abbreviation is used for each state (click here). The population x for each state can be computed from the reported values of the number of suicides y and the suicide rate, given in Table 5 of the GPP study (click here). For California (CA) y = 1492 and the suicide rate y/x = 4.01 per 100,000 giving population x = 372.462. The suicide rates are not listed in Table 1 and can be obtained from
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the original source. Notice that the WGL states have smaller populations, with Arizona (AZ), the most populous in this list having a population comparable to Massachusetts in the SGL list. Rhode Island (RI) with the smallest population on the SGL side has a population comparable to MT in the WGL side. Just compare the number of suicides for these two states, 30 for RI and 141 for MT. The huge difference is quite telling. Compare also the record of MA and AZ with 138 and 620 suicides respectively.
800

Firearms Suicides, y

700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 0 -100

y = hx + c = h(x x0) = 9.95x - 16.11

10 Weakest Gun Law States (Mathematical line joining SD-AZ pairs)


10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80

State Population, x [in 100,000s]


Figure 1: The firearms suicides data for the 10 Weakest Gun Law (WGL) states reveals a remarkable homogeneity in firearms-suicides outcome which are seen to increase as the population increases. The data for the 10 Weakest Gun Law (WGL) states is plotted in Figure 1 and seems to suggest a remarkable homogeneity of factors that contribute to the firearms-suicides outcomes. The size of the population determines the number of firearms-suicides. The higher the population the higher is the incidence of firearms-suicides. An exactly similar relation is also observed when we consider the county-by-county for a state, such as Michigan, which has been discussed in Ref. [2]. The numerical values of the constants h and c in
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the linear law, y = hx + c, can be determined, as follows, avoiding statistical arguments. This is being emphasized here (as also in Ref. [3]) to illustrate that we can indeed avoid the controversies associated with the use of statistics: lies, damned lies, and statistics, as Mark Twain is reported to have said, and follow the methods used by Millikan to determine the universal constant known as the Planck constant in his Nobel Prize winning experiments on photoelectricity. The slope h and the intercept c can be determined by considering just two points on a (x, y) graph. This is exactly what Millikan did in his analysis of the (x, y) data for lithium and sodium. He simply determines the slopes between several (x, y) pairs on his graph and determines the average slope to fix numerical value of the Planck constant! Millikans x-y graph for lithium, from the first of two papers published in 1916 is reproduced below. In this paper Millikan report only two (x, y) measurements to determine the Planck constant h.

Millikan graph for lithium with only two data points (see arrows) in the first of two papers on the photoelectric determination of the Planck constant h. The vertical axis is the volts (which is related to the maximum kinetic energy of the electron). The frequency of light f that was used to produce the
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electrons, in plotted on the horizontal axis. The two frequencies chosen were quite far apart to give a measurable separation of the volts. Likewise, the (x, y) pairs we will chose are the two extreme points, the data for SD with the lowest population in this group (8.15, 65) and AZ with the highest population (63.915, 620). Thus, y = hx + c = 9.95x 16.11. There is absolutely no uncertainty associated with the numerical values of h and c. All of the WGL data can be seen to follow this line quite well. The small scatter can be attributed to small variation in c at fixed h. The constant c is like the work function in Millikans experiment (the nonzero intercept for V0 f graph).
1800 1600

The WGL states y = 9.95x - 16.11

Firearms Suicides, y

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The SGL states y = 3.845x 37.4 r2 = 0.908

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State Population, x [in 100,000s]


Figure 2: The firearms suicides data for the 10 Strongest Gun Law (WGL) states also reveals the pattern of increasing firearms-suicides with increasing population. The smaller slope h is also revealing. The method of least squares could also be used since all (x, y) pairs line up approximately on a straight line. Indeed, this is used with the data for SGL states, see Figures 2 and 3, which can also be seen to fall approximately along
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two different straight lines with slightly different slopes. However, the best-fit line through the data is preferred and illustrated in Figure 2.
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Firearms Suicides, y

y = 9.95x - 16.11 Line joining SD-AZ pairs

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State Population, x [in 100,000s]


Figure 3: Composite graph for the SGL and WGL states. All of the firearms suicides data for the SGL states (blue diamonds) fall below the data for the WGL states (red dots), at the same population levels. Once again, the red dots in the composite WGL-SGL graph of Figure 3 are the (x, y) pairs for the WGL states. The blue diamonds are the (x, y) pairs for the SGL states. The (x, y) pair for CA lies outside the scale used for Figure 3 but falls well below the extrapolation of the straight line through the WGL data as already seen in Figure 2. The smaller slope h observed with the SGL states is also revealing. The slope h = y/x is the rate of increase in the number of suicides as the population increases. The number of suicides y = (y2 y1) must increase with an increase in the population x = (x2 x1). However, statistically speaking, the number of suicides always seems to increase by the same fixed amount y = hx. The slope h is reduced for the SGL states compared to the WGL states and this reduced slope can be interpreted as a numerical measure of the effectiveness of various state gun laws.
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Exactly similar conclusions follow if we plot the Brady scores (a measure of the effectiveness of the states gun laws) and the firearms suicide rates the ratio y/x with x being population in units of 100,000.

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Firearms Suicide rate, y Per 100,000

14.00 12.00 10.00 8.00 6.00 4.00 2.00 0.00 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80

Brady Campaign Score for the State, x


Figure 4: The Brady score for the state is plotted on the horizontal axis. The firearms-suicides rate per 100,000, y/x, with population x in 100,000 units, is plotted on the vertical axis. The blue diamonds are the data for the SGL states. The red dots are the data for WGL states. The data for the SGL states reveals a nice downward trend with increasing Brady scores for this group; see also Figure 5. The data for the WGL states reveals a lot more scatter and is clustered close to the origin of this graph. However, this is mainly because of the methodology used for the Brady scores. The 10 WGL states here are awarded a score ranging from a low of zero (0) for AZ, with four states getting a score of 2 (LA, KY, OK and MT), four states a score of 4 (MS, KS, SD and WY) and one state (VT) getting the
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maximum score of 6. A similar negative slope is observed if we consider the WGL data separately, see Figure 6. However, the main point here is the huge difference in the suicides rates observed for the SGL states compared to the WGL states.

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Firearms Suicide rate, y Per 100,000

14.00 12.00 10.00 8.00 6.00 4.00 2.00 0.00 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

Brady Campaign Score for the State, x


Figure 5a: The SGL states reveal a decreasing firearms suicides rate with increasing Brady score, as expected. The same trend is also observed with the WGL states albeit with higher suicide rates. California with the highest Brady score for 81 has a very slow firearms suicide rate (4 per 100,000 population). Michigan, with a Brady score of 25, the lowest among the 10 SGL states, has a higher firearms suicide rate (6.08 per 100,000 population). The solid blue joining these two data points can be taken as the reference line for the SGL states. All the other SGL states are now seen to have a much lower firearms-suicide rate than the CA-MI reference line, after duly accounting for population size.
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Firearms Suicide rate, y Per 100,000

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MI A CA

NY

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Brady Campaign Score for the State, x


Figure 5b: The firearms-suicides rates (per 100,000) for the 10 SGL states is considered here separately using an expanded scale. The data can be envisioned as falling on two parallels. The CA-MI line (the upper line) serves as our reference. The firearms suicides rates decreases as the Brady score increases. Hence, MI gets 2-stars and CA gets 4-stars. The data for 6 of the remaining 8 states falls on a parallel to the CA-MI line, passing through the NY data point (62, 2.37). Moving down this lower line, we go from 2-star states to 3-star states (when the Brady score is greater than 50). Two states CT (58, 3 stars) and MD (45, 2 stars) fall between these two parallels. Can we achieve 5-star ratings soon? This is possible if we can reduce the firearms-suicides rate even further and move down these parallels to Brady scores greater than 90. Then we aim for a 6-star rating with Brady scores of greater than 95 and so one till we achieve the PERFECT 100 score! Cheers! The difference between suicide rates for the individual SGL states could be attributed, mathematically, to the differences in the nonzero intercept c, or what has been suggested as the idea of a work function akin to Einsteins work function in the photoelectric law. This was revealed in Millkans
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experiments with lithium and sodium. (Millikans sodium graph has also been reproduced here for completeness.)
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Firearms Suicide rate, y Per 100,000

14

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y = -0.59x + 9.70 Mathematical Relation Line joining KS-AZ pairs

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6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Brady Campaign Score for the State, x

Figure 6: The cluster of points for the WGL states in Figure 4 is viewed here using an expanded scale. The same negative slope observed with the SGL states is again revealed here. The scatter in the data can be explained by envisioning a series of parallels (as in the photoelectricity experiments with different metals) This has been discussed in detail in Ref. [3]. The Brady scoring methodology is also a factor. (I have NOT been able to find a table of state ranks, similar to the Brady scorecard, for the Law Center ranking scheme.) Millikan does not use linear regression to determine the slope h from his measurements with sodium. There are six points on this graph and therefore a total of 15 slopes can be determined. Millikan does not exhaustively consider all 15 slopes. He chooses a few (V0-f) pairs on his sodium graph and finds several values for the slope h by considering the extreme points and, probably, his most reliable measurements. He thus reports the average as

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these slopes as the most accurate value for the universal constant, the Planck constant h and one of the fundamental constants of nature.

Millikans graph for sodium, taken from his Nobel lecture, delivered on May 23, 1924 (click here) is included here for completeness. He determines the slopes h by considering various (x, y) pairs and determines the average value of these slopes to fix the numerical value of the Planck constant h, one of the fundamental constants of nature. He does not use linear regression analysis (method of least squares) even for this purpose. In other words, no statistical arguments were needed to determine the Planck constant, only the concepts from middle school algebra.

I have called attention to Millikans method, simple and quite unique in the annals of science, mainly to illustrate we can draw far reaching conclusions using simple mathematical arguments without statistics and avoid the curse of lies, damned lies, and statistics. The firearm suicides outcome, our key measurement here, is a complex outcome, similar to the maximum kinetic
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energy of the electron that Millikan was trying to measure. The process of producing an electron from within a metal, by the agency of light, is a complex as discussed in great length by Millikan. The same applies here for the firearms-suicides. However, the mathematical analysis of the data is quite simple and the conclusions that can be drawn equally profound. The effective of various gun laws to reduce the incidence of firearms-related suicides, in both the SGL and WGL states cannot be disputed.

In conclusion, it is clear that the firearms-related suicides and suicide


rates can be reduced dramatically, as we see from the two plots presented here using the state population and the Brady scores as the metrics for comparison of y and y/x. A national consensus must be reached, as it was done in 1966, to enact a National Gun Safety Act. Firearms-suicide is, perhaps, the single most important gun violence indicator that needs the urgent attention of the nation. Once this is addressed, other indicators will also show a dramatic improvement. Imagine cars without seat belts and airbags, or state with no seat belt laws. Imagine smoke-filled rooms where you are breathing second hand smoke. Well no more. These changes, that we now take for granted, did not come easy either. Just as we can take the car keys away from those who should not be having them, we can take guns away too from those who should not be having them. The exclusive focus on sensational gun crimes is taking attention away from the most pressing need in the gun violence problem facing the nation. In this context, perhaps, it is also worth recalling that Australia had a compulsory private firearms buyback program (click here), following a mass killing in 1996 (click here). The Aussie National Firearms Agreement was hammered out within two weeks by opposing parties and it is believed that firearm homicides in Australia have reduced by about 60% since then. The urgent need in the US is the reduction of firearm suicides. Gun buyback programs have indeed been tried in various cities in the US. Where there is the will, there is the way. What we need now is to develop the will. It is hoped that this discussion of the EPIDEMIC levels of firearms-related suicides will raise awareness to address this pressing issue.
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Appendix 1 Linear vs. Nonlinear Analysis : Suicides-Population Law Generalized Work Function of Einstein
State Suicide rate y/x
4 6.77 2.37 7.73 3.44 6 6.28 6.08 7.41 7.41 2.13 7.2 6.9 2.11 7.02 9.7 9.22 8.17 3.85 6.65 5.28 8.49 9.5 8.48 8.49

Population x (100,000s)
373.00 251.40 193.67 188.10 128.49 127.00 115.29 98.85 96.90 95.41 87.79 80.00 67.25 65.40 64.81 63.92 63.45 59.85 57.66 56.84 53.03 50.29 47.79 46.23 45.35

Suicides y
1492 1702 459 1454 442 762 724 601 718 707 187 576 464 138 455 620 585 489 222 378 280 427 454 392 385

State

Suicide rate y/x


9.31 9.81 10.02 3.08 5.81 8.63 9.12 7.36 9.95 10.7 9.91 11.33 5.8 11.61 2.72 7.15 7.75 2.85 14.25 4.79 7.98 15.07 8.33 10.55 14.73

Population x (100,000s)
43.39 38.33 37.52 35.71 30.46 29.66 29.17 28.53 27.64 27.01 20.59 18.53 18.28 15.68 13.60 13.29 13.16 10.53 9.89 8.98 8.15 7.10 6.72 6.26 5.63

Suicides y
404 376 376 110 177 256 266 210 275 289 204 210 106 182 37 95 102 30 141 43 65 107 56 66 83

CA TX NY FL IL PA OH MI GA NC NJ VA WA MA IN AZ TN MO MD WI MN CO AL SC LA

KY OR OK CT IO MS AR KS UT NV NM WV NE ID HI ME NH RI MT DL SD AK ND VT WY

Data Source: Table 5 in America Under the Gun, by Arkadi Gerney, Chelsea Parsons, and Charles Posner (click here). The US Postal abbreviation is used for each state. Among the four largest states, the BIG Four, Texas (TX) with a lower population recorded significantly more suicides than California (CA). Also, Florida (FL) with a significantly lower population than CA reported comparable number of suicides. A graphical representation of the data for all the 50 states reveals some nonlinearity which can be modeled using the power law equation y = mxn + c
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where the power-law index n can be either greater than 1 or less than 1. For the special case of n = 1, this reduces to the linear law y = mx + c. For the more general case, the changing slope of the curve, is given by the derivative of the function, dy/dx = m (nxn-1) = n(mxn/x) = n(y c)/x. For we take the intercept c to zero, for simplicity, the slope dy/dx = n(y/x) is seen to depend on the numerical value of the power law index n and the ratio (y/x) which keeps on changing as x increases. The same behavior is also observed with the linear law, y = hx + c, when the intercept c is nonzero, and hence y/x = h + (c/x).
2000 1800

y = mxn = 43.3 x0.667

Firearms Suicides, y

1600 1400
1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500

y = mxn = 28.737 x0.667

State Population, x [in 100,000s]


Figure A1: Nonlinearity in the firearms-suicides-population relation. This nonlinearity means that the slope dy/dx, the rate of increase of suicides with increasing population, is decreasing continuously as we move to higher populations. Two power-law curves are illustrated in Figure A1. The lower curve passes through the CA data point. Since it is obvious from an examination of the data that the rate of increase of firearm suicides, with increasing population, is
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decreasing, the exponent n < 1. Based on previous experience and knowledge of such nonlinear processes, I decided to choose n = 0.667 2/3. This yields the value of m that matches the (x, y) values for CA and so the entire curve can be readily generated using Microsoft Excel graphing routine. (The power law was also used in my doctoral thesis work at MIT, click here and here, to model the deformation behavior of a novel material with a unique microstructure. Amazingly, a similar value of n was observed even in this problem! Essentially, we are dealing with the behavior of a complex system, and nature has a way of keeping things simple.) The upper curve was generated to fit the (x, y) pairs for both Texas and Florida. After choosing a slightly higher value of m, while holding n constant, the deviation (y yp) and the square of the deviation (y yp)2 of each point from the actual y and the value yp predicted by the power curve was computed. The numerical value of m was varied to minimize the sum of the squares of the two deviations. If one deviation is negative, the other is positive and the value m = 43.3 indeed leads to the minimization of the squares of the errors, as described by Legendre in his famous 1805 paper, on the Method of Least Squares, see Refs. [14-18]. Here is a simple example of the application of the same method, which can also be extended to more complex problems, such as the computation of the trajectory of an asteroid, see discovery of Ceres, Refs. [16-18]. The German mathematician Carl Gauss applied this method to predict the trajectory of the asteroid Ceres (based on observations over 41 days starting date of discovery of Jan 1, 1801) after it went missing and astronomers could not locate it. The more rigorous method of determining the constant m and n in the power law is to prepare a plot of log x versus log y. Taking logarithms of the power law equation, logy = log m + n log x. Hence, the slope of the log x logy plot is equal to the exponent n and the intercept of the plot gives log m and hence m. However, given the scatter here, such a method is deemed unnecessary and would constitute an abuse of statistical methods. The simpler method described here, of a local application of least squares errors principle is more meaningful.

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With this background, now let us examine the efficacy of the linear law that has been used here (and in many other problems, see bibliography, Ref. [19]). The (x, y) pairs for Texas and the Florida, yield the following linear equation, y = 3.918x + 717.12. This can now be superimposed on the power-law graph. Notice how closely the linear law follows the nonlinear curve locally here. The slope h = 3.918 matches closes the slopes computed from the expression for the derivative dy/dx = n(y/x) at the TX and FL points. Likewise, we can envision line joining the (x, y) pairs for California and Virginia (VA). The CA-VA line has the equation y = 3.13x + 325.9 and is roughly parallel to the TX-FL line. Also, remarkably, with the small difference in the slope, we find this linear law serves as good approximation for the data for several smaller states which fall on the same line passing through the CA point. It is now clear why the linear model works and often serves as a good approximation for the more general nonlinear law. Indeed, Einsteins photoelectric law, a linear law, was also deduced as a special case from a more general nonlinear law of the type y = mxne-ax, see Refs. [20-27]. This law, with the exponential term e-ax, is a simplified version of the law derived by Planck to describe blackbody radiation. Plancks law can be written as y = mxn [e-ax /(1 + be-ax)]. For b = 0, we get the simpler law used by Einstein, which is also know to physicists by the name Wiens law. Before Planck developed the quantum physics arguments, Wien had proposed the law that bears his name as an empirical fit to the radiation data. (Wien received the Nobel Prize in 1911 for this contribution, click here.) Starting with Wiens law, Einsteins shows that light can be considered to be a stream of particles (now called photons, Millikan calls this localization of electromagnetic disturbance in space, in his 1916 papers), see Ref. [27] for a nice simplified explanation. Each particle has the elementary energy quantum = hf envisioned by Planck, where f is the frequency of light and h is the Planck constant. Then, Einstein applies this idea to explain the photoelectric observations of Lenard (who also received the Nobel Prize, in 1905, for his contribution, click here). When the photon strikes the surface of a metal, an electron will be
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liberated (and can be made to flow in an external circuit, as in Millikans experiments, see description in Millikans paper and simple discussion in Ref. [3]). However, the energy of the photon must exceed a minimum value 0 = hf0 in order to the work necessary to overcome the forces that bind the electron within the metal. This minimum energy will vary from one metal to another, in a complex way, and depends on the environment within which the photon-electron interaction and exchange of energies takes place. Einstein decides to keep things simple and calls this the work function W. The maximum kinetic energy of the electron K (which Millikan determines experimentally with a great deal of care as discussed in the 1916 papers and also in his 1924 Nobel lecture) must be less than since the energy W = hf0 must be given up. Thus, Einstein arrives at the remarkable linear law, K = 0 = W = hf W = h(f f0) ..(1)

The puzzling cut-off frequency (which could be explained on the basis of the wave view of light, the intensity of light does not change the emission characteristics, as noted by Millikan in the introduction to the second 1916 paper) is thus a manifestation of the nonzero intercept, or the work function W in the photoelectric law. Einstein law is a linear law of the type y = hx + c = h(x x0). Often our (x, y) observations reveals this type of linearity, with a nonzero intercept c, as in the firearms-suicides problem of current interest. The nonzero c in the simpler linear law for suicides-population can also be thought of like a work function. Nonlinearity, a special case of Plancks law is also evident if we consider the data over all population ranges. However, as discussed here, the linear law, coupled with the idea of a generalized work function, can be extended to understand many complex problems outside physics. Several examples, from economics, financial data analysis, quality rating studies, and the social sciences, have been discussed in the various articles listed, Ref. [19] and also Ref. [32], Money in Economics is Just like Energy in Physics.

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Huffington Post: May 15, 2013 and May 14, 2013


Vj Laxmanan 3 hours ago ( 3:23 PM) on May 15, 2013 I have continued my analysis of the firearms-suicides data in the recent study America Under Gun (by Arkadi Gerney, Chelsea Parsons, and Charles Posner, of Center for American Progress) and uploaded the following article today. http://www.scribd.com/doc/141576001/Firearms-Suicides-Stats-Are-the-Only-Relevant-Stats-in-theGun-Violence-Debate A nonlinear analysis of the same data will be added shortly. As noted in my post yesterday, while mass murders, like Newtown killings, capture our attention, firearms-related suicides have been overlooked. The firearms-suicides data analysis presented here again highlights the need for a National Gun Safety Act, just like the National Traffic Safety Act of 1966, with the reduction of firearms-suicides being the driving force for the change. Seat belts and airbags and seat belt laws, which we now take for granted, were all resisted at one time. The National Gun Safety Act will likewise catalyze changes that we consider unthinkable today. Favorite (0) Flag as Abusive Permalink | Share it

Vj Laxmanan 16 hours ago ( 2:37 AM) I have emphasized the URGENT need to address the high incidence of firearms-suicides in an article I have just uploaded, see link below. Please note that the Suicides/Homicides ratio is greater than one in 36 out of 44 states for which data is available and in the remaining state the S/H ratio varies from 0.72 to 0.96. In other words, suicides, rather than homicides and (the occasional) mass killings, should be the focus to pass a National Gun Safety Act, like the National Traffic Safety Act passed in 1966. There were no seat belts or airbags before that and no seat belt laws. The Australian (compulsory) guns buyback program is also worth considering at the national level for precisely this reason - the reduction of firearms-suicides. http://www.scribd.com/doc/141451669/Gun-Violence-in-America-Americans-Are-Killing-ThemselvesNOT-Each-Other-Across-State

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Reference List
1. Alert!!! Gun Violence in America: The Suicides/Homicides Ratio Reveals that Americans are Killing Themselves Not Each Other Across States, Published May 14, 2013, http://www.scribd.com/doc/141451669/Gun-Violence-in-AmericaAmericans-Are-Killing-Themselves-NOT-Each-Other-Across-States 2. Michigan Firearms Related Suicides: The Linear Suicides-Population Law, Published May 14, 2013, http://www.scribd.com/doc/141334599/Michigan-Firearms-RelatedSuicides-The-Suicides-County-Population-Law 3. Brady Campaign State Rankings and the Firearms-related Death Rates: Einsteins Work Function Reappears, Published May 13, 2013, http://www.scribd.com/doc/141292101/The-Brady-Campaign-StateRanking-and-the-Firearms-Death-Rates-Einstein-s-Work-FunctionReappears 4. Comparison of the Strong and Weak Gun Law States and the Ten States with Highest Level of Gun Violence: Least Squares Analysis of the Data, Published May 10, 2013, http://www.scribd.com/doc/140536622/Comparison-of-the-Strong-andWeak-Gun-law-States-and-the-Ten-States-With-Highest-Levels-of-GunViolence-Least-Squares-Analysis-of-the-Data 5. Gun Death Statistics and the Method of Least Squares and the Forgotten Property of a Straight Line, Published May 8, 2013, http://www.scribd.com/doc/140152581/Gun-Death-Statistics-and-theMethod-of-Least-Squares-and-the-Forgotten-Property-of-a-Straight-line 6. American Under the Gun, http://www.americanprogress.org/wpcontent/uploads/2013/03/AmericaUnderTheGun.pdf Full report here. 7. A 50 State Analysis of Gun Violence and its Link to Weak State Gun Laws, by Arkadi Gerney, Chelsea Parsons, and Charles Posner, April 4, 2013, Center for American Progress Report, Brief discussion here, http://truth-out.org/news/item/15524

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8. Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 2011 Scorecards, http://www.bradycampaign.me/sites/default/files/2011_Brady_Campaig n_State_Scorecard_Rankings.pdf 9. Guns and Suicide: A fatal link, Spring 2008, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/guns-and-suicide/ Study by the Harvard School of Public Health, of all the 50 U.S. states, reveals a powerful link between rates of firearm ownership and suicides. 10. Means Matter, Suicides, Guns and Public Health, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/ Reducing access to lethal means saves lives. 11. Grading State Gun Laws, Gun Laws Matter, by Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence http://smartgunlaws.org/gun-laws-matter-2012understanding-the-link-between-weak-laws-and-gun-violence/ 12. Gun crime statistics by US state: latest data, Datablog, Posted by Simon Rogers, December 17, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/10/gun-crime-usstate Total firearm murders and the firearm murder rates (per 100,000 population) for all states is given here. 13. Gun Control 2013: Suicide Stats Irrelevant to Gun Control Policy, Matt MacBradaigh, in Politics, May 6, 2013, http://www.policymic.com/articles/38391/gun-control-2013-suicidestats-are-irrelevant-to-gun-control-policy 14. Legendre, On Least Squares, English Translation of the original paper http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/maths/histstat/legendre.pdf 15. Line of Best-Fit, Least Squares Method, see worked example given http://hotmath.com/hotmath_help/topics/line-of-best-fit.html The formula for h used in this example is an actually approximate one and was used, before the advent of modern computers, since it only involves the determination of x2 and xy and the sum of all the values of x, y, x2 and xy. The exact formula, is given below, with xm and ym denoting the mean or average values of x and y in the data set, and ym = hxm + c since the bestfit line always passes through the point (xm , ym). h = (x xm)(y ym)/ (x xm)2
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Determine the deviations of the individual x and y values from the mean, or average, (x xm) and (y ym). Determine the product (x xm)(y ym) and their sum. This gives the numerator in the expression for h. Determine the square (x xm)2 and the sum. This gives the denominator in the expression for h. This also fixes the intercept c via ym = hxm = c . Then, using the regression equation, determine the predicted value yb on the best-fit line and the vertical deviation (y yb) and the squares (y- yb)2. The sum of these squares is a minimum. This can be checked by assigning other values for h (using any two points) and allowing the graph to pivot around (xm, ym). The regression coefficient r2 = 1 - { (y- yb)2 / (y- ym)2 } is a measure of the strength of the correlation between x and y (or y/x versus x). For a perfect correlation, when all points lie exactly on the graph, r2 = +1.000. 16. The Discovery of Ceres, Johannes Kepler and the door to science, http://www.keplersdiscovery.com/Asteroid.html 17. How Gauss determined the orbit of Ceres, by Jonathan Tennenbaum and Bruce Director, http://www.schillerinstitute.org/fid_9701/982_orbit_ceres.pdf The discussion starting with page 79 on the method used by Gauss is noteworthy. 18. Asteroids at Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013, by Professor Robert Miller, http://mpe2013.org/2013/02/20/asteroids/ 19. Bibliography, Articles on Extension of Plancks Ideas and Einsteins Ideas beyond physics, Compiled on April 16, 2013, http://www.scribd.com/doc/136492067/Bibliography-Articles-on-theExtension-of-Planck-s-Ideas-and-Einstein-s-Ideas-on-Energy-Quantum-totopics-Outside-Physics-by-V-Laxmanan 20. Einsteins Photoelectric Equation and the Electromotive Force, by R. A. Millikan, Phys. Rev. 1916, Vol. VII, No. 1, Second Series, pp. 18-32. http://www.ffn.ub.es/luisnavarro/nuevo_maletin/Millikan_1916_1.pdf 21. A Direct Photoelectric Determination of Plancks h, R. A. Millikan, Phys. Rev. 1916, vol. VII, No. 3, pp. 355-390. http://mapageweb.umontreal.ca/leonelli/PHY3320/millikan.pdf

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22. The Electron and the Light Quanta from the Experimental Point of View, by Robert A. Millikan, Nobel lecture, May 23, 1924, see pages 61 to 63. The graph for sodium is on page 63. The oil drop experiment is discussed in the first part of the lecture. An analysis of the experiment described in Table 1 (page 57) shows that in this experiment, which Millikan must obviously be very proud of, there was only ONE SINGLE ELEMENTARY UNIT OF ELECTRICAL CHARGE attached to the drop. In other experiments, many units of charge were attached (Nq where N is the number of units). Millikan correlated the differences in the velocities of the drop (as it rises or falls under the combined action of gravity and electric fields) to the sudden changes in N, from N1 to N2. Millikan gives a fascinating account of this discovery and the analysis that follows is indeed remarkable and insightful. Everyone who wants to under science, and apply scientific methods, must study Millikans 1909, 1911, and 1913 papers on this subject. 23. On a heuristic point of view about the creation and conversion of light, by A. Einstein, this is the translation of Einsteins original paper on light quanta.
http://hermes.ffn.ub.es/luisnavarro/nuevo_maletin/Einstein_1905_heuristic.pdf

24. A. Einstein: (A B Arons @+& M B Peppered) Am.J.phys.(1965) 33,4,367374. 25. The Photoelectric Effect, by Albert Einstein, in Great Experiments in Physics, Edited by Morris H. Shamos, Dover Publications (1959), Toronto, Ontario, pp. 232-237. Nice explanation citing Einsteins original paper. 26. The Quantum Hypothesis, by Max Planck, in Great Experiments in Physics, Edited by Morris H. Shamos, Dover Publications (1959), Toronto, Ontario, pp. 301-314. English translation of Plancks paper with his derivation of the radiation law using concepts of entropy and energy. 27. Einsteins Quanta, Entropy, and the Photoelectric Effect, by Dwight. E. Neuenschwander, Nice explanation of Einsteins original paper. http://www.sigmapisigma.org/radiations/2004/elegant_connections_f04.pdf 28. Focus: Centennial focus on Millikans Measurement of the Planck constant, by Gerald Holton, Phys. Rev. Focus, published April 22, 1999 http://physics.aps.org/story/v3/st23 This article provides a brief and
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29.

30.

31. 32.

excellent review, citing Millikans own statements, about the philosophical issues regarding the meaning of the Planck constant h and the views about a photon with an elementary quantum of energy = hf. Einstein, Millikan and the Photoelectric Effect, by Richard Keesing, http://www.nhn.ou.edu/~johnson/Education/Juniorlab/Photo_Electric/2 002-Photo-E-FusionNewsWinter01.pdf or see also, http://www.oufusion.org.uk/index.php/features/2-einstein-millikan-andthe-photoelectric-effect Plancks Blackbody Radiation law rederived for more general case, May 30, 2012, http://www.scribd.com/doc/95329905/Planck-sBlackbody-Radiation-Law-Rederived-for-more-General-Case What is Entropy? June 3, 2012, Discussion of example given by Boltzmann in 1877 http://www.scribd.com/doc/95728457/What-is-Entropy Money in Economics is Just like Energy in Physics: Extending Plancks Law Beyond Physics, Published Jan 14, 2013, Introduction to the generalized statement of Plancks radiation law and application to describe the maximum point on the profits-revenues graph of a company (the old, GM, Ford, Yahoo), http://www.scribd.com/doc/120324960/Money-inEconomics-is-Just-like-Energy-in-Physics-Extending-Planck-s-law-beyondPhysics

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About the author V. Laxmanan, Sc. D.


The author obtained his Bachelors degree (B. E.) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Poona and his Masters degree (M. E.), also in Mechanical Engineering, from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, followed by a Masters (S. M.) and Doctoral (Sc. D.) degrees in Materials Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA. He then spent his entire professional career at leading US research institutions (MIT, Allied Chemical Corporate R & D, now part of Honeywell, NASA, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), and General Motors Research and Development Center in Warren, MI). He holds four patents in materials processing, has co-authored two books and published several scientific papers in leading peer-reviewed international journals. His expertise includes developing simple mathematical models to explain the behavior of complex systems. While at NASA and CWRU, he was responsible for developing material processing experiments to be performed aboard the space shuttle and developed a simple mathematical model to explain the growth Christmas-tree, or snowflake, like structures (called dendrites) widely observed in many types of liquid-to-solid phase transformations (e.g., freezing of all commercial metals and alloys, freezing of water, and, yes, production of snowflakes!). This led to a simple model to explain the growth of dendritic structures in both the groundbased experiments and in the space shuttle experiments. More recently, he has been interested in the analysis of the large volumes of data from financial and economic systems and has developed what may be called the Quantum Business Model (QBM). This extends (to financial and economic systems) the mathematical arguments used by Max Planck to develop quantum physics using the analogy Energy = Money, i.e., energy in physics is like money in economics. Einstein applied Plancks ideas to describe the photoelectric effect (by treating light as being composed of particles called photons, each with the fixed quantum of energy conceived by Planck). The mathematical law deduced by Planck, referred to here as the generalized power-exponential law, might
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actually have many applications far beyond blackbody radiation studies where it was first conceived. Einsteins photoelectric law is a simple linear law and was deduced from Plancks non-linear law for describing blackbody radiation. It appears that financial and economic systems can be modeled using a similar approach. Finance, business, economics and management sciences now essentially seem to operate like astronomy and physics before the advent of Kepler and Newton. Finally, during my professional career, I also twice had the opportunity and great honor to make presentations to two Nobel laureates: first at NASA to Prof. Robert Schrieffer (1972 Physics Nobel Prize), who was the Chairman of the Schrieffer Committee appointed to review NASAs space flight experiments (following the loss of the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986) and second at GM Research Labs to Prof. Robert Solow (1987 Nobel Prize in economics), who was Chairman of Corporate Research Review Committee, appointed by GM corporate management.

Cover page of AirTran 2000 Annual Report


Can you see that plane flying above the tall tree tops that make a nearly perfect circle? It requires a great deal of imagination to see and to photograph it.

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