Brainy Quote of the Day

Sunday, July 20, 2014


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Today is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Despite what the naysayers and conspiracy theorists insist on with You Tube embed videos ad nauseum, I counter that with the memory of initially disappointed 6-year-old eyes as my Saturday cartoons had been preempted. Those eyes - mine - were soon delighted, sitting on my father's lap filled with wonder and hope. Post Dr. King's assassination, our continued involvement in the Vietnam conflict (of which I had several older friends fighting) and the turbulence of the 1960's, nationally we all needed a lift of our collective spirits.

2014: We appear to be losing it - spirit, mind, wonder...hope.

Ground forces advance in Gaza...The Malaysian airlines downed in the Ukraine...Fires raging in Washington State and drought in California...The border crisis of Central American refugees fleeing the drug wars and violence we helped foster...

Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D.): born when the former Soviet Union achieved parity with the US in nuclear weapons. The research of the weapons of our extinction was birthed during the Second World War, and the fear Nazi scientists would beat the Americans to the atomic bomb punch. Destructiveness became measured in "Hiroshima's": ~ 100,000 souls perished in a flash of nightmare, an instant of atomizing. We comforted, compensated and deluded ourselves with moribund, useless drills of "duck and cover." The follow-on "improvement" - thermonuclear bombs - generated the following gradients:
  • 1 November 1952 ("Mike" - US): 800 Hiroshima's.
  • 12 August 1953 ("Joe-4" - USSR): 30 Hiroshima's.
  • 1 March 1954 ("Bravo" - US): 1,300 Hiroshima's.
  • 23 November 1955 (No code name - USSR): 300 Hiroshima's.
  • No date given ("Behemoth" - USSR): 5,000 Hiroshima's.
Most US and Russian yields are around 30 Hiroshima's currently. (Source: "Black Holes and Time Warps-Einstein's Outrageous Legacy," Kip Thorne, pages 231-232, paperback).

Science and power

Unfortunately, it would be naive to say science has been strictly harnessed for the benefit of mankind. Part of the reason you have 3% of climate scientists "doubt" the conclusions of 97% of their colleagues on climate change is science costs money. Money comes from benefactors who typically have agendas; those being obviously amassing more power and wealth to themselves. A large part of the tools developed to analyse the density, mass and electric charge of black holes were developed during the Manhattan Project; many things we take for granted were developed initially for the Apollo program. This is called "spin-off": a peaceful commercial application to an otherwise warfare-born idea. The Internet is another example.

We are at a tinderbox moment of history. Our publicly elected political leaders parrot apocalyptic worldviews from the once extreme, now mainstreamed portions of society. Our motivations as a species must change if we are to solve difficult problems and survive our own hubris. Our current understanding of five previous mass extinction events makes our balance in the Drake Equation not look so favorably for us. The world will keep spinning, and it's instructive to note dinosaurs are "technically" still around us (counter to creationists' envision): as fossil fuels, lower reptiles and consumed chickens. J. Robert Oppenheimer - America's Prometheus - is an example of what happens when genius is employed in the service of sociopaths.

M.A.D. is the acronym of the unthinkable; the "doomsday scenario," the outcome succinctly summed in the 80's classic "War Games" and that life sadly, doesn't always conclude in the neatly-packaged Hollywood ending:

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