20090625

Almost new content

This is a different model that my adviser invented ( he does all the math ). it looks about the same as the old model.





20090621

... and the reason no one ever does anything to fix things is that they haven't got a clue what to do. There is a lack of ideas, a lack of leadership, and a lack of useful social innovation. Sure there are forces actively delaying progress, but those can be ignored and overwhelmed by superior innovation. I am using innovation in a broad sense, which includes lifestyle changes that result in less waste. Forget the culture war, its not my problem, I'll just try to think of new ideas.


I am often struck with the absurdity of certain academic pursuits. For instance, when I encounter natural beauty I usually think how amusing it would be to model the growth of plants. I then realize that it is already rendered perfectly for me right now, and really why would I want anything less? Does mathematical modeling of phenomena actually provide deeper understanding? The only thing I'd say for certain is that a correct mathematical model often affords greater control over the modeled system.


20090618

The Structure of Religion

I've been thinking a little on the nature of religion, both for my own personal reasons and to formulate a wider policy. No decision can be made in the presence of inaccurate observations, and I think religions can be characterized by three elements.


1) Gnosis: Human beings have religious experiences, this is an undeniable fact. We are on a very basic neurochemical level capable of experiencing sensations of the presence of supernatural beings and of a deep connectedness to the universe. There is a physiogical basis to these feelings, for example epilepsy and various entheogenic drugs, but their physical nature renders these experiences no less meaningful. If you feel like you're talking to God, I cannot invalidate your personal experience of the divine. The presence or absence of supernatural beings has no bearing on the existence of the sensation of gnosis.

2) Community: If a successful meme against Christianity were developed, people would still go the church on Sunday for the social aspects. As a community, you're either a member of not, but just because We Alone didn't have a church upbringing, and parent/elderly focused communities have little personal relevance, doesn't mean that others do not find these communities valuable. As long as communities don't violate the UN Charter on Human Rights, I don't believe we have a right to interfere with their existence. Even if we disagree, we must get along.

3) Memeplex: As this blog has stated in the past, religion is a collection of memes. Some are these are mythical, like Genesis, others are ethical. Religious mythology gets a bad rap here, because many of its adherents believe they can't follow both it, and the scientific explanation of the universe, hence Young Earth Creationism in school, and teaching the controversy. Here, we must make a stand. I don't like state supported meme-myths, but the scientific memeplex is required for an understanding of scientific fact, and we have to promote scientific fact in school.

As for ethics, religious values are a good enough operating system for society. Logical philosophical ethics, like utilitarianism and Kantian ethics, break down in boundary cases. I feel that the ad hoc nature of religious ethics actually leads to a more resilient social structure. The problem is when these ethics also call for denying gay people basic human rights, or advocate stoning women for insane offenses a la fundamentalist Islam. Again, here we must make a stand.

The problem with trying to alter religious memeplexes is that religions, as self perpetuation memes, demand rigid adherence to orthodoxy. for example, the Koran states that it is eternally true. I don't know if there's a good way to encourage social and memetic flexibility without knocking the heart out of the rest of the system. Reform Judaism and mainline Protestantism are fairly moribund.

If there is an answer, it lies in gnosis. The direct experience of God revitalizes religions, and causes a questioning of pre-existing doctrine. Ironically, by bringing people closer to god, we might be able to ameliorate the more damaging aspects of religion.


20090601

Pro Nuclear Propoganda

I'm not going to get into the technical details of why fast breeder reactors are the best solution to the energy/climate crisis here, but nuclear power faces one major implementation problem, public image.


When people think nuclear, they think Chernobyl, Hiroshima, Three Mile Island. Radiation sickness, cancer children, irradiated wastelands. The reality is the that nuclear power is inherently unfriendly and dangerous. It's a classic Big Science field with military applications and hefty health risks. We are right to be concerned.

I doubt people will ever like nuclear power, but we must promote credibility in America's nuclear complex. This means moving it from the shadow of military secrecy. Familiarity will make people less nervous. Nuclear power should be directly compared to coal, in terms of local impact. Numbers and facts may help, but the image of a nuclear plant on a green field with a blue sky, compared to black skies full of coal smoke is what we're aiming for.

One killer app is nuclear power for disaster aid. A Russian group is planning to building floating nuclear power plants. These could be used to run desalination plants to provide clean water in Africa and SE Asia. Of course, the problem is that one security breach and you have Somali pirates with nukes, but we must run risks.

As for our larger project, the biggest danger is that all science may be again tarred with the nuclear brush. Failure here could affect fusion, nanotech, and other convergent technologies.

As time permits, I may turn my hand to doing some propaganda.