Monday, September 04, 2017

Casual space travel

Maybe this is finally the generation that gets the chance--they'll need it.

In the 1960s, with all the Apollo launches going around and to the moon, it was thought that casual space travel was right around corner, much like today where we see travel by jet plane as trivial.  With new advances in quantum computers, and even some big recent strides in fusion energy, maybe this is the generation that finally will see space travel as trivial, such as routes between here and the the moon, or even Mars.

I hope so, for as Stephen Hawking has often said, we need to get off this planet before we destroy ourselves as a species.   I tend to think he's right, since now even minor league, poorer nations can acquire enough technical information to build nuclear weapons, as North Korea has done.  Even if the fast lane extinction plan doesn't come to pass, the slow lane one, global warming, is still a massively under-appreciated threat.

Given all these issues, the next generation definitely needs to underwrite research which would speed the process of the human species leaving the planet.


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Brint molecule

Dear Mr. Supposed Philosopher:

I note at the end of your blogs, you often place this little symbol: " .O. " I don't recognize this as any sort of "chat smiley", so what is that symbol? Perhaps, as were some early Greek philosophers, you are a member of secret cult?

[Suspicious in America]

Dear careless-cult-mongerer, if the late musician now-and-then known as Prince can have a symbol, then so can I. Nevertheless, if this isn't sufficient justification, there are several other good reasons why this is my personal symbol. First, it turns out that I do fancy myself somewhat of a Pythagorian, having a great appreciation for both philosophy and math. And this early group of classic philosophers was well-attested as being a cult, or least a cross between a math-club and a religious sect. Second, the most direct meaning behind the symbol is that my name, "Brint", means "Hydrogen" in Danish. Finally, history shows that Thales, the first recorded philosopher, said that everything is water, and in some way this gives me reassurance that at least one other philosopher in history thinks it's all about Brint, and maybe a little oxygen too. So one of these, " O ", in addition to one of these, ".", gives me a convenient symbol for signing my name.