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By V. Laxmanan, Sc. D. Summary
Einsteins photoelectric law, K = E W = hf W = h(f f0), which fetched him the Nobel Prize in Physics, is a simple linear law, which can be generalized as y = hx + c = h(x x0). This is the only know law of nature which suggests a movement of our (x, y) observations along a family of parallel lines with a fixed slope h and varying values of the nonzero intercept c. In physics, the nonzero intercept c = - W is called the work function of the metal upon which light (a stream of particles with the discrete energy E = hf) shines to produce electrons (with the maximum energy K). The work function W is a property of the metal and experiments with different metals will yield a family of parallel lines, each with its own value of W. More generally, such a movement of our (x, y) observations, in problems outside physics, along very nearly parallel lines can be taken as a broad generalization of the same idea of a work function. This has been discussed in several recent articles by the present author, which deal with a variety of problems of interest to us in the modern world, including the problem of wealth generation by billionaires.

Email address: The author is a retired research professional, with advanced degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering who has spent his entire professional career in leading US research institutions, in academia ( MIT and CWRU), in government (NASA), and in corporate research labs (Allied Chemical Corporate R & D, now part of Honeywell, and Page 1 of 17

the General Motors Research Labs). He has also published many widely cited scientific articles in leading peer-reviewed international journals in both physics and the materials sciences. His current research interests include the study of business, financial, and economic data using methods commonly used in physics and the hard sciences. This has led him to propose a broad generalization of the Planck-Einstein ideas from quantum physics and their application to financial, economic, business, social, and political, sports and other systems. He has also recently been active in the analysis of the climate data, especially global average temperature data using similar methods (a new physics of global warming) and as recently created a Facebook group called Global Warming for the Layman; see, on January 5, 2014, aimed at discussing global warming data in an easy-to-understand manner, with short posts; see also

Following this general theme, in the present article, we consider the net worth time data for Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Amazingly, without even the need for much analysis, the net worth-time data for Zuckerberg reveals a movement along two nearly perfect parallels, with a period of adjustment thus confirming the existence of a work function, akin to the photoelectric work function. The work function here tells us something about the difficulty of wealth generation. The constant rate of increase of the net worth tells us that a very consistent investment strategy is leading to the growth in the net worth for Zuckerberg and, likewise, Bill Gates, as discussed elsewhere in other related articles. Indeed, an actual discussion by Gates and Zuckerberg of their investment strategies might reveal deeper insights into the fundamental nature of the work function that has been deduced here using mathematical arguments. Introduction My recent successful application of the broad generalization of Einsteins photoelectric work function, to analyze several problems outside physics, see list provided in the Appendix, has finally led me to start questioning my own sanity (sort of, ) and so I decided to take a stab at this. This is an attempt to become my own worst critique. Anyone with some knowledge of recent American political history will recall the famous phrase
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Vodoo Economics, uttered by then GOP Presidential hopeful George H. W. Bush [1], to describe the economic ideas of his opponent for the GOP nomination, Ronald Reagan (who was advocating supply side economics, or what came to be called Reaganomics after the election in November 1980). Cut the top marginal tax rate and government coffers will start swelling with revenues and all the money that is being given to the rich (because of the tax breaks) will just trickle down and rain upon the masses to create jobs and unheard of prosperity, said Reagan, who had supposedly embraced the teachings of Professor Laffer and his now famous Laffer curve, see Figure 1. This curve predicts (with a simple sketch made on a restaurant paper napkin during a dinner conversation [2]) the existence of a maximum point on the graph of revenues collected by the government versus the tax rate.

Figure 1: Schematic illustration of the Laffer curve, which provided the theoretical foundation for Reaganomics, or supply side economics, under President Ronald Reagan, but which was at one time dismissed as Vodoo Economics by then GOP hopeful George H. W. Bush, later Reagans Vice President, and then President. If the economy is operating past the maximum point, during the top tax rate would actually increase government revenues, was the argument made by Professor Laffer, over dinner with some conservative friends, when this graph was supposedly sketched on a paper napkin [2].
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If the tax rate is 0%, government revenues would, obviously, go to zero. If the tax rate were 100%, again government revenues would go to zero. Why would anyone want to work and earn money if the government is going to take away all of that wealth? So, reasoned Professor Laffer, there must be a maximum point on the graph, say around 50%, if one uses a simple parabolic function. This was circa late 1970s, before the 1980 Presidential elections. Never mind that the top tax rate in the US [3] was 77% under President Woodrow Wilson (for incomes over $1,000,000, mainly to fund World War I and build the US Navy into a world power). It was increased to 94% (on incomes over $200,000) under President Franklin D Roosevelt, during 1944 and 1945 (World War II). This is NOT to advocate taxing the rich at such obnoxious rates; just noting that the rich did NOT stop working even when such astronomical tax rates were imposed at times during the last 100 years. (The power to tax incomes was granted to the federal government only in 1913, just before Wilson was elected to his first term, and required a constitutional amendment.) So, now we will turn our attention from Vodoo Economics to Vodoo Physics and attempt a critical test of the idea of a work function that was revealed in the analysis of many different problems. Is it some kind of a voodoo theory or is it really something that is a true and a broader manifestation of Einsteins photoelectric work function [4-15]? Zuckerbergs net worth data and Einsteins work function The net worth data for Mark Zuckerberg can be readily obtained within a few seconds after Googling it. From my study of the Forbes billionaires, I remember Zuckerberg being mentioned as a newcomer to the Forbes billionaires and I wanted to start from there. However, it was much easier than that. All of the pertinent data, and the history of Zuckerbergs Facebook venture could be readily obtained, see Ref. [16]. Similar information is also available at other websites [17, 18], without the numerical details of the

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evolution of the net worth over time. Hence, we will use the Forbes data in our analysis, see Table 1. Table 1: Mark Zuckerberg net worth over time
Date Mar-10 Sep-10 Mar-11 Sep-11 Nov-11 Mar-12 Sep-12 Mar-13 Sep-13 Mar-14 Time t months 0 6 12 18 20 24 30 36 42 48 Net worth $ Billion 4 6.5 13.5 17.5 17.5 17.5 9.4 13.3 19 28.5

Data source: Worlds Billionaires 2014 click on billionaire profile #21 A graphical representation of this net worth data, see Figure 1, reveals an interesting pattern. We can readily see what appears to be a movement along two virtually parallel lines. This is definitely no vodoo science logic. It is an inescapable conclusion that stares us right in the face even without the need for any serious numerical calculations. Notice that there is a clear horizontal movement of the data, with the net worth remaining constant between September 2011 and March 2012 (prior to the IPO, in May 2012, see Table 1). This was followed by a drop in the net worth (post-IPO) and a rising net worth since then [14-16]. A clear acceleration in the rate of increase of the net worth is evident from the higher slope of the line segment joining the two most recent data points. However, if we consider the data from September 2012 to 2013, the straight line labeled I can be drawn through these three points, with the mathematical equation y = 0.8x 14.6 = 0.8(x 18.25), or U = 0.8(t 18.25).

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Net worth, U [$, billions]

30.0 25.0 20.0 15.0

5.0 0.0 0 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60

Time t [months since March 2010]

Figure 1: The net worth-time (U-t) diagram for Zuckerberg with March 2010 being taken as time t = 0. Time t, elapsed in months, is plotted on the horizontal axis and the net worth U on the vertical axis. The net worth seems to be increasing at a fixed rate, which can be described by the simple linear equation y = hx + c, or using the descriptive notation, U = ht + c where x is time t in months and y is the net worth U in billions. The most recent data point, for March 2014, actually falls above the Line I in Figure 2, indicating both a higher net worth and also possibly a higher rate of growth in the net worth in the coming months. However, a different view emerges if we compare the rate indicated by Line I with the rate for the first 12 months. This is illustrated in Figure 3. Between March 2010 and 2011, the net worth increased from $4 billion to $13.5 billion, a rate of increase of $9.5/12 = $0.792 billion per month, which is virtually identical to the rate of $0.8 billion per month observed between September 2012 and 2013, the period following the post-IPO drop.

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Net worth, U [$, billions]

40 30 20 10

-10 -20 0 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60

y = 0.8x 14.6 = 0.8(x 18.25) U = 0.8(t 18.25)

Time t [months since March 2010]

Figure 2: The net worth-time (U-t) diagram for Mark Zuckerberg with March 2010 taken as time t = 0. The straight line I, with the equation U = 0.8t 14.6 = 0.8(t 18.25) describes the current rate of increase of the net worth.

Net worth, U [$, billions]

40.0 30.0 20.0 10.0 0.0 -10.0 -20.0 0 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60


Time t [months since March 2010]

Figure 3: The net worth-time (U-t) diagram for Zuckerberg reveals a true movement along parallels I and II with slope h 0.8 and the intercept c = -14.6 for line I (Sep 2012 and 2013) and c = 4 for line II (Mar 2010 and 2011).
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In other words, the net worth data suggests unmistakably a movement along nearly perfect parallel lines, exactly similar to the parallels that would be observed in the photoelectricity experiments [7-9, 12-15]. It is clear that the idea of a work function, which has been discussed in detail with regard to the rise and fall of Bill Gates fortunes [17, 18], the average net worth data for all the worlds billionaires [19] and the net worth data for billionaires in different countries [20], is no voodoo physics but is indeed a very real manifestation of a fundamental law that describes how wealth is generated by the best of investors, business leaders, and deal makers that we can find on this planet.

Net worth, U [$, billions]

30.0 25.0 20.0 15.0 10.0 5.0 0.0 0 10 20






Time t [months since March 2010]

Figure 4: Parallel I has the equation U = 0.8t 14.6 = 0.8(t 18.25) and joins the September 2012 and 2013 data. Parallel II has the same slope h = 0.792 but a slightly different intercept and with U = 0.792t + 3.25 it passes through the November 2011 data point, instead of the March 2010 and 2011 data points.

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Updated here after first publication on March 12, 2014

Zuckerbergs Net Worth at end of year 2013

Month, t
30 36 42 45 48

Net Worth, U ($ B)
9.4 13.3 19 24.5 28.5

Change in months, t
12 6

Change in net worth, U

9.6 9.5

Slope h U/t
0.8 per month 1.583 per month

Data for month 45 obtained from Ref. [26],

Net worth, U [$, billions]

45.0 40.0 35.0

c = 3.1

25.0 20.0 15.0 10.0 5.0 0.0 0 10

c = -14.6
20 30 40 50 60

Time t [months since March 2010]

Figure 5: The arrow indicates the data for month 45 added to this graph. Parallel I has the equation U = 0.8t 14.6 = 0.8(t 18.25) and joins the September 2012 and 2013 data. Parallel II has the same slope h = 0.8 and passes through the November 2011 data point, with the equation U = 0.8t + 3.1. Hence, at the end of 2014, i.e. for t = 57, the predicted net worth U = $51.1B if Zuckerberg moves up to Parallel II. It would be of interest to see where the weekly or monthly net worth data in 2014 would fall on such a U-t diagram.

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According to Seth Fiegerman [26] of, Zuckerberg increased his net worth by $12.5B, as indicated by the Bloomberg Billionaire Index and his current net worth (as of Jan 3, 2014, based on Facebook share price at the end of the year 2013) is $24.5 B. This gives us an additional data point, for month 45 since March 2014, one quarter later, is month 48, when the net worth given by Forbes is $28.5B. The three most recent net worth data, for the months 42 ($19B), 45 ($24.5B), and 48 ($28.5B) can be shown to fall on a straight line with a steeper slope h = 1.583 which is nearly double the slope of h = 0.8 deduced from months 30, 36, and 42. Does this mean the end of the work function? Notice that the data for the months 45 and 48 has deviated from Line I, with the slope h = $0.8 billion per month. However, the data still falls between the parallels I and II of our graph, see Figure 5 with the extra data point, which means that we are now witnessing a period of adjustment in the work function. Even if Zuckerberg has an equally good year in 2014, it is unlikely that the net worth will fall above parallel II. The daily, weekly, or the monthly progress in Zuckerbergs net worth in 2014 can be tracked using the Bloomberg Billionaire Index which updates the values on a daily basis. Also, one can envision additional parallels with values of 3.1 > c > -14.6 between the parallels I and II here to explain the changes. If the net worth data begin to follow a new parallel for a few weeks, or months, during the course of the current year, it would provide additional confirmation for the idea of a work function in the billionaire net worth problem.

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Update No. 2 on March 12, 2014: Additional data Net worth, U [$, billions]
45.0 40.0 35.0 30.0 25.0


15.0 10.0 5.0 0.0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60

Time t [months since March 2010]

Figure 6: Updated net worth-time diagram with additional data points.
Date Months Net worth $B 4 6.5 13.5 17.5 17.5 17.5 14.7 9.4 10.7 13.3 19 24.5 24.7 28 27.4 28.5 31.3

Mar-12 5/30/2012 11/15/2012

1/30/2014 1/30/2014 Mar-14 3/11/2014

0 6 12 18 20 24 26 30 31.5 36 42 45 45 46 46 48 48.3

Notice that when additional data points are included, some points do fall, as expected, on or very close to Parallel I, for example. May 30, 2012 data, immediately after the IPO falls between the parallels and Nov 15, 2012 data falls on Parallel I, consistent with the idea of a work function. The cluster for 2014 seems to be evolving into a new parallel. Daily net worth data, including recent data, going back to January 1, 2014 can be obtained from Bloomberg Billionaires, see next page.

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Image of Bloomberg Visual Data (Daily net worth for Billionaires). Notice slider with forward and backward arrows. Moving this slider allows one to get the net worth value for any data. The slider was set for February 26, 2014 in the above image, when Zuckerberg held rank 20 and net worth was $30.9 Billion.

Net worth, U [$, billions]

34.0 32.0 30.0 28.0 26.0 24.0 22.0 20.0 0

y = 0.1115x + 24.061 R = 0.8834

Zuckerberg Jan 3 to Mar 12, 2014 Slope h = $0.11B per day










Time t [Day number in 2014]

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Daily Net Worth Data for Mark Zuckerberg from Bloomberg Billionaires Day Number Jan 2014
3 6 8 10 13 16 18 21 23 25 28 30 31

Net Worth $B

Day Number Feb 2014

34 36 39 43 46 49 52 55 57 59

Net Worth $B

Day Number Mar 2014

60 62 64 67 69 70 71

Net Worth $B

24.7 25.8 26.2 26.1 25.2 25.8 25.4 26.3 25.5 24.6 24.9 27.4 28.1

27.6 27.9 28.8 28.9 30 30.1 30.6 31.6 30.9 30.6

30.6 30.1 31.9 31.1 32.1 31.3 31.6

Data source:

REFERENCES [1] [2] [3] [4] Reaganomics,, see here brief discussion of the Laffer model and the vodoo economics quote. Laffer Curve at Laffer Center at Pacific Research Institute, Income Tax in the Unites States, Einstein, A., On a heuristic point of view about the creation and conversion of light, Annalen der Physik (1905). In Stachel, J. A., (1989), pp. 150-166,


The Photoelectric Effect, Great Experiments in Physics, Edited by Morris H. Shamos (Dover Publications, 1959), pp. 232-237.

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Neuenschwander, D. E., Einsteins Quanta, Entropy, and the Photoelectric Effect, Excellent discussion about how Einstein arrives at his conception of light quanta by considering a property called entropy possessed by radiation in the form light, Photoelectric Effect, The Physic Hyper Textbook, see an illustration of the movement of photoelectric measurements along parallels for different metals. Masters, B. R., Albert Einstein and the Nature of Light, Optics and Photonics New, July-August 2012, _the_nature_of_light/#.Ux7y1LT5a70


Deshmukh, P. C., Venkataraman, S., 100 Years of Einsteins Photoelectric Effect, November 22, 2006, Based on a talk given on April 20, 2005, [10] Stuewer, R. H., Einsteins revolutionary light quantum hypothesis, pp. 15 (pp. 14 to 18 of 374) in Conference on History of Quantum Physics,
Preprint 350 (2008), Christian Joas, Christoph Lehner, and Jrgen Renn (eds).

[11] Philipp Lenard Biographical, Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 23 Feb 2014. It is stated here that Lenard never forgave Einstein for discovering and attaching his own name to the photoelectric law < > [12] Lenard, P. E., Nobel lecture, delivered on May 28, 1906, rd-lecture.pdf It is, perhaps, of interest to note that Lenard does not cite Plancks December 1900 paper on blackbody radiation or the young and unknown Einsteins explanation for the cut-off frequency, published in 1905. Lenard provides an exhaustive list of the relevant literature in his Nobel lecture, through 1906. Perhaps, Lenard did not want to associate himself with the idea of light being discrete particles with an energy equal to the Planck quanta. [13] Millikan, R. A., The electron and light quanta from experimental point of
view, Nobel lecture, May 23, 1924, Einstein, A., On a heuristic point of view about the creation and conversion of light, Annalen der Physik (1905)

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[14] Millikan, R. A., Einsteins Photoelectric Equation and Contact Electromotive Force, Phys. Rev. 7, 18-32, (1916). This is the first of two papers on photoelectricity published in 1916; see Figure 2 with only two measurements with lithium. [15] Millikan, R. A., Direct Photoelectric Determination of Plancks h, Phys. Rev. pp. 355-88 (1916) df Interestingly, Millikan does not present the sodium and lithium data on a single graph probably because the slopes are slightly different. The following linear regression equations were obtained using his data. For lithium V0 = 0.4126 f 3.593, from 1st paper published in 1916 For lithium V0 = 0.4223 f 3.922, from 2nd paper published in 1916 [16] Mark Zuckerberg, Forbes Billionaires 2014 List, Click on billionaire profiles, Click on the bar graph to get the month, year, and the net worth values. [17] Blodget, H., Mark Zuckerberg has Made $31 Billion in the last 10 Years, Business Insider Tech, January 30, 2014, [18] Warner, B., Mark Zuckerbergs Net Worth, Celebrity Net Worth, [19] Mac, R., How Much are Facebooks Billionaires Worth now that the IPO has Been Priced? May 17, 2012, [20] Solomon, B., Youngest billionaires in the world led by the Facebook four, Mar 7, 2012. [21] The Worlds Billionaires, 25th Anniversary Timeline, Mark Zuckerberg appears as the newcomer to the list in 2008,

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[22] Laxmanan, V., Bill Gates Personal Fortune and Einsteins Photoelectric Work Function, Published on March 7, 2014, [23] Laxmanan, V., We can all learn from Bill Gates, Published March 7, 2014,

[24] Laxmanan, V., Limits to the Growth of the Average Net Worth of Billionaires: Significance of the Generalized Photoelectric Work Function, Published March 11, 2014, [25] Laxmanan, V., On Billionaires and Wealth Generation: A Broad Generalization of Einsteins Photoelectric work function outside Physics, [26] Fiegerman, S., Mark Zuckerbergs Net Worth Increased by $12.4 Billion Last Year, January 3, 2014, According to Bloomberg Billionaire Index, Zuckerberg was worth $24.5 billion with Facebook shares doubling in value from $27.44 a share to $54.65 a share by the end of the year 2013. [27] Fiegerman, S., Mark Zuckerbergs Net Worth Doubled Last year, September 16, 2013, Mashable, Went up from $9.4 B to $19B, this data already included, [28] Matthews, C. Billionaire Rankings: Bloomberg Launches Daily List of Worlds Richest People, Time Business & Money, March 6, 2012 Index launches on March 5, 2012 [29] Summers, N., Chart: In the Billionaire Case, Zuckerberg Closes in on Page, Brin, and Bezos, February 3, 2014,
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On January 30, 2014, net worth is $28B, following the first quarter results for Facebook. [30] Huffington Post, Mark Zuckerberg Net Worth No Longer on Bloomberg Billionaires List After Facebook Slide, May 30, 2012 (IPO date Friday May 18, 2012). [31] Goodkind, N., Bloombergs Billionaire Index, Biggest Winners and Losers, November 15, 2012, The Daily Ticker, Yahoo Finance, Before Facebook's IPO, Zuckerberg
was estimated to be worth up to $20 billion. The social network's stock has underperformed since its May th stock market debut Zuckerberg's net worth has dropped by $10.7 billion. But he's still the world's 88 richest person.

[32] De Jong, D., Zuckerberg Gains $3.2 Billion as Facebook Soars on Mobile,

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