Thursday, April 23, 2009

10 (Science) Things On Which I Have An Opinion

So, I wanted to record for posterity a few things that I've been thinking about lately that are science topics on which I have an opinion. They're kind of out there, but it all depends on your point of view.

-- 1) I believe in global warming. I can't say that it is exclusively caused by human-derived factors, but I think it is a combination of these and the Earth's natural cycles. I believe that we (humanity) have likely exacerbated the natural cycle, and we will pay the price. The Earth, as a System, is far too complex for us to arrogantly assume we're the cause of everything, but certainly, I believe, we have monkeyed with the natural order of things.

-- 2) I believe that global warming will ultimately cause the polar ice caps to melt, and it will be disastrous to us all as the oceans rise. I also believe this will happen much, much faster than anybody thinks.

-- 3) I believe the universe is far too big to contain just us. It's a ridiculously naive assumption to believe that life could have arisen only on this world amongst all the uncounted worlds around us. It may surprise a lot of people to hear that I also believe this jives very well with my religion.

-- 4) I have no opinion about visitors from other worlds. If they have been here in the past, they clearly have very good reasons for keeping themselves hidden. I don't find it likely they've been here, but, as they say, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

-- 5) I believe in something called convergent evolution. You are free to connect this point to any of my previous points, if you choose, but that's a discussion for another day.

-- 6) I believe that true social change in the world will come not from the technologically advanced countries, which have a tendency to be introverted, but rather from the many more people in the poorest of countries. There it is where war and other forms of strife will force changes in the way the world functions, and the "developed world", in all its hubris, will be forced to respond, not the other way around. (Okay, is this "science"? Sure, call it social science.)

-- 7) I believe the biggest threats to humanity come in two forms: death from above, and death from within. The former is my fear of asteroid impacts -- and it would be a crying shame if we could do something about it, but because of our stupidity choose not to put the infrastructure in place soon to do so. The latter is my fear of uncontrolled and/or uncontrollable disease, whether man made or not. Both forms give me the willies.

-- 8) I believe that technological development will continue to accelerate beyond anybody's wildest expectations, but I do not believe that an ultimate singularity where everybody "poofs" into higher intelligences will ever occur.

-- 9) Oddly enough, though, I do not believe that there will be some fundamental breakthrough that will change science as we know it within the next century. I perceive that our technological development will be along three lines: much, much smaller machines; much, much faster computers; and much, much smarter medicine -- the three being intimately connected.

-- 10) When "The Breakthrough" does occur, however, I believe it will be because it has been learned that we (scientists and engineers everywhere) had it all wrong. I believe that all matter and energy is connected in some unknown way. I believe gravity has something to do with it, but we just don't get it at the most fundamental level.

Well, that's my list. My opinions are mine alone, and likely to change.

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