As I was prowling Huffpost as I sometimes do, I found this quote from Dan Agin, in a book review,
“Quantum physics...would be nothing but an entertaining philosophical idea except that when you formulate the idea quantitatively you can use the equations to predict nearly everything that happens on Earth and in the entire Cosmos to a fabulous degree of accuracy.”
In a recent public radio interview, the physicist Michio Kaku expressed a similar sentiment:
“We physicists can project 10, 15 years into the future with near mathematical precision.”
Agin was lamenting the poor state of awareness in America, about quantum physics. Based on these quotes, I am more inclined to lament the poor state of awareness in quantum physicists. I presume this is a sentiment widely shared among physicists. Please physicists, tell us the outcome of the debt debacle in Europe. What will happen with climate change? What is the arrival of peak oil going to look like? Surely, with such understanding, you can save us in our predicament, in this, our exponential growth on a finite planet?
Without putting too fine a point on it, this is what I despise about science, and scientists, particularly physicists. Their infernal attempt to project perfect understanding, to inject perfectly rational predictability into universal processes. Their desire to deny the irrational, to eliminate the subjective, to refuse what can't be measured. In short, to turn us all into unfeeling machines, to denigrate what makes this life so worth living: love, feeling, connection. Communicating with scientists, particularly physicists, I sometimes feel like my not having the specialized background means I have no sense, that I am somehow less evolved, less than. Is it condescension, or am I projecting?
It is not merely that Agin and Kaku are pretending toward some quasi-mystical ability to predict the future, they are implying that all is well, that there's no need to be concerned about the progress of civilization on Earth. It's not surprising this comes at the same time the federal government has authorized the first nuclear reactor construction in 25 years. The Georgia facility-design is said to be impregnable, entirely self sustaining even without human input. If that doesn't sound like hubris, I keep wondering about the two existing facilities in Minnesota, on the Mississippi river. I can't get anyone to take seriously the idea, that decommissioning the ones we have is going to be a problem, after the credit bubble pops, peak oil kicks in, and climate change takes it's toll. The one thing Americans cannot, will not, shall not abide apparently, is using less energy. The high priests Agin and Kaku assuring us, everything is under control, technology will assure we needn't ever think about it, we can go about being good American consumers with our blinders on. My blinders don't prevent me from contemplating what would happen to the Mississippi river with a disaster at Prairie Island Nuclear Facility. A nuclear facility on an island in the middle of a major river? You tell me we don't worship technology as if it were God.
Everything is under control? I'm inclined to think, whatever control we think we have is an illusion. Claiming to be able to predict the future 'with near mathematical precision' is the epitome of control as illusion. That sense of control (delusion) is pervasive throughout the culture, or at least it was prior to 2008. We are less sure about what control we have now, but you can expect, when the credit bubble pops, our lack of control over the economy is going to shift, to an attempted control over people, authoritarian style.
In the comments section on a piece of propaganda on Huffpost, about the rebirth of nuclear energy in America, I had this to say:
“There is no such thing as clean, safe nuclear power.” Here are three of the responders.
Markkocaldo: Actually the safest form of power there is. No deaths in 50 years of operation.
MrBIgp: Actually it is true there is no perfectly clean, perfectly safe energy source. However, nuclear is the cleanest and the safest we have.
Atom4Peace1: Ask the US Navy.
(My reply) WHD: Mining it isn't clean on the front end, and there's nothing clean about disposing of it. That, and tell me we are going to properly decommission every one of those facilities after the credit bubble pops, peak oil kicks in, and climate change takes it's toll. Two cautionary tales, Chernobyl e Fukushima. No deaths by radiation indeed.
And I presume the depleted uranium from the Navy and elsewhere in the military is used at the end of bullets that have been scattered around the landscape of the Tigris and Euphrates, and in Afghanistan? Atoms4Peace?
Atom4Peace1: DU is off topic. This is about safe reactors which USN has a spotless record of. Thresher was non reactor incident.
WHD: You brought up the Navy. And I would ask every serviceman, would you use such weaponry on American soil?
Atom4Peace1: they use it on San Nicholas island on goats.
If there is anything more pathetic than me picking fights in the Huffpost comments section, I'm not sure what it is. But this particular exchange, somewhat edited for clarity, is emblematic I think of the madness of Americans. First, pretend that nuclear is only for power. Second, act like because we are Americans, we can't do anything wrong. Third, embrace anything that is big, powerful and destructive. Fourth, maintain empire. Check that, there is something more pathetic than me picking fights in the Huffpost comments section. It is me thinking Americans have any real desire to question the path of Empire.
Not questioning Empire, we are likely to be surprised when the collapse comes. And then I wonder, when things go to hell, as they surely will at some point, is our military going to spread nuclear material at the end of bullets across the American landscape? How do you recover depleted uranium, once it is dispersed by bullets? You don't. Do Americans have sense enough not to ruin their own landscape? Clearly not, if you take our suburbs and agriculture as the measure.
Hey Agin and Kaku, sage predictors of the future. Am I wrong?