October 18, 2013

Do Advanced Civilizations Self-Destruct?

I think it's quite possible or likely. With reference to our own civilization, I think of the near future, say a hundred years from now. I think we'll master the technology of nuclear fusion. There's no greater panacea for all our energy needs than fusion. So, we'll be tempted to build that ultimate fusion reactor, the ultimate power source that'll power an entire continent.

These reactors will of course generate enormous amounts of power. The major challenge lies in how to tame this suddenly generated energy and use it in a controlled fashion.

The margin for error in these endeavors will be very small. Something might go wrong in how the lasers are calibrated or the hydrogen fuel is measured or assembled and a catastrophic fusion reaction might ensue generating enough energy to blow a continent-sized hole on one side of planet Earth.

Here's a report about the latest advances in laser fusion at the NIF. Interestingly, here's another article which trashes the BBC story. It seems the ongoing U.S. government shutdown meant there was no Public Affairs officer at the NIF belonging to the LLNL to 'clarify' what those results meant. So, BBC went on a merry joyride of its own making.

Seems we are quite a long, long distance away from realizing true nuclear fusion or harnessing it for our use. It is most probably not going to happen in my lifetime.

Oh well. Many things won't happen in my lifetime. Above all, detecting extraterrestrial life or making contact as a 'successful' result of SETI.

October 14, 2013

Global Debt Clock

Why is everyone in the world living beyond their means? I do not know.

Was it Mahatma Gandhi who said 'there is enough to meet everyone's needs but not enough to meet everyone's greeds'? Also, often many famous well-known quotes are 'attributed' to various persons but they have really never actually said them.

Also, many quotes are 'mis-understood' intentionally or otherwise. For example, people like to claim that Einstein believed in God because he sometimes referred to 'nature' metaphorically using the word 'God.' Of course, in his detailed writings and correspondence, Einstein made it abundantly clear he did NOT in fact believe in God but well ...

Anyway, here's the alarming graphic about the "ever rising" global debt of nations from The Economist:

October 13, 2013

When Jerry Coyne Met James Watson

Of course they talked about Sex During The Time of Watson And Crick but they talk about a lot else.

They talk about how their joint papers came to be written by Watson and Crick' and not the other way round.

And OF COURSE both were atheists and Crick was a 'militant atheist' who once joked "Christianity may be OK between consenting adults in private but should not be taught to young children."

October 10, 2013

What Is Wrong With The Modern World

How can I "NOT" agree with the apocalyptic vision of Jonathan Franzen.

This is also of course the article that led to a response from Salman Rushdie.

October 08, 2013

Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman sure appears to be a curious character.

No wonder, Mr. Stallman was NO FAN of Steve Jobs. Here's what he wrote when Mr. Jobs died:

Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.
As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone." Nobody deserves to have to die—not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs' malign influence on people's computing.
Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective.

Here's what you need to keep in mind if you intend to invite him as a speaker.

Here's an article in The Guardian about the free software movement that Mr. Stallman pioneered.

The wiki page.

October 07, 2013

Such A Shame For India And Pakistan

Former ISS Commander Chris Hadfield tweeted this picture.

October 06, 2013

Shameless Shenanigans of Manmohan Singh

Put this comment on MJ Akbar's latest Sunday Guardian article.

Well, mostly *facepalm* at all the "praise" MJ has heaped on Chamcha Mukherjee. After all, the Prez is merely enjoying the 'fruits' today of more than 40 years of 'faithful' service to The Family. Pranab-da would be the first to accept that.

If you say 'but he is nowhere as disreputable as other ministers of MMS such as oily minister Moily or Sanjay's sidekicks like Kamal Nath (oh, what a long list of 'infamy' this man can lay claim to)' well, that would be a low bar. I thought Mr. Mukheree was the 'prime' culprit responsible for this government's mis-handling of the economy by taking two steps forward and 2.5 steps back. Although on the 'positive' side, President PM is surely an 'improvement' over his globe-trotting predecessor. And, well, also this: who, if not Pranab?

As to MMS, I don't know how shameless a person has to be to continue to be PM despite all the opprobrium being heaped upon him from all sides ... Does that Beemer one gets for free beckon one so strongly? Are the seats on those BMWs and Air India Ones so soft and cushy? I don't know. It's quite something that two of the closest ministerial 'colleagues' of MMS are Kamal Nath and Rajiv Shulka. I don't even know enough about that guy to think of an appropriate adjective for him.

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