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The End-of-Everything Watchdogs


It's good to know these guys are on the watchtower:


The money that Google and Sun Microsystems are giving show they are troubled, too:  Google gave $450 to the organization.

And I take the point that chairman Eric Klein makes:

“I also realized that there is no sign of intelligent life out there in the universe. You wonder what happened to all those intelligent civilizations, and one of my potential theories is they all self-destruct. I think it is a data point that is hard to skip over.”

I myself do not skip over that data point. I have always thought that the enemy is not out there but right here. And ib that connection I can suggest that aluminum, in triangular or pyramidal form, might be considered when designing the Personality Preserver. Mine has protected me for years.


Jul. 21st, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Anyone who would buy a Personality Preserver neglects the fact that the worst personality destroyer is, in fact, aluminum (if that Alzheimer's theory is correct...I gave up on aluminum cookware years ago as a result of it).

I still like the theory (and it isn't mine, nor the occultists') that we don't see intelligent life in the universe because we don't know where or how to look for anything that didn't follow the same course of evolution that we did.

Eric Klein, of course, overlooks the fact that he isn't any more likely than anybody else to discern the real hazards that will inevitably come.

The statistically improbable gets us every time, though sometimes the statistically probable is enough. I've been re-reading Czeslaw Milosz's account of how everybody with any common sense in Poland between the wars knew that Europe was fated for complete catastrophe within their lifetimes...and responded by burrowing ever more deeply into their meaningless jobs at Polish Radio, polishing further the practice of the avant-garde theatre, or spending 1939 looking for the perfect apartment.

Maybe they should have been devising Personality Protectors.

Edited at 2010-07-21 05:12 pm (UTC)
Jul. 21st, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
I think the Mad Hatter might have an argument against that, but point taken.
Jul. 21st, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
I'm missing the joke, or you missed mine. Remind me why the mercury-poisoned Mad Hatter (a real one, not Lewis Carroll's) would argue that refraining from ingesting aluminum doesn't help. Or being aware that we are hit by the statistically improbable more often than we think and clueless when we ought not to be doesn't help. Or at least that such awareness would help a great deal more than wearing any kind of Personality Protector would.

I know I'm being dense. But I don't get the joke. And this bothers me.
Jul. 21st, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
Just the "worst personality destroyer" part. Both might do you in, but mercury is well-known as being bad for sanity.
Jul. 21st, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
In fact, the real problem with fears about aluminum is its very nature as an incredibly slow reactant. It oxidizes so slowly that you're very unlikely to get any in your system, much less have any accumulate after even a lifetime of use. An aluminum can might take thousands of years to oxidize, as opposed to dozens for tin or steel. It may be quite toxic, but it has to actually get in you first, and it's one of the least reactant metals (which is one reason why it's used for cans and cooking).

Edited at 2010-07-21 06:14 pm (UTC)
Jul. 21st, 2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
So all that don't-cook-tomaotes-in-aluminum stuff I grew up with -- ancient bad science, aka superstition?
Jul. 21st, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
I've never heard that in particular, so there might be something in it about chemical reactions that lift aluminum from the cookery. On the face of it, though, it sounds more like a wive's tale. Why not worry more about iron goods that rust and corrode far more easily, or copper?
Jul. 21st, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
I was reminded as I read this that in fact there are several common antacids that use aluminum, or aluminum hydroxide, as a main ingredient. Di-Gel, e.g.
Jul. 21st, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
Guess what? All of the well-known gemstones besides (purified) diamonds contain aluminum. Rubies are in fact a form of aluminum rust.
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Jul. 23rd, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
alzheimer's #1 cause - terryminer - Jul. 24th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 22nd, 2010 09:44 am (UTC)
I think the theory of it is that cooking highly acidic foodstuffs such as tomatoes (or rhubarb) directly in an aluminium pan will react with the metal, to an appreciably greater degree than just boiling stuff in water in it.

This seems to make chemical sense as an argument, although how significant the effect is I couldn't say.
Jul. 21st, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
Jul. 23rd, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
"[W]e don't see intelligent life in the universe because we don't know where or how to look for anything that didn't follow the same course of evolution that we did."

Also applicable to cetaceans and cephalopods? RC
Jul. 23rd, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)
I've always thought that intelligent life developing in an extraterrestrial ocean would be undetectable by us. It wouldn't put out the radio waves that the SETI people believe MUST be produced by any highly developed intelligent species.

Also -- intelligence evolving under permanent cloud cover, being unable to see and entirely uninterested in What's Out There. To say nothing of intelligence arriving at Zen renunciation before evolving its first engineer. I think the SETI people can;t really imagine that intelligent life need not produce engineers.
Jul. 23rd, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
True. I was thinking, though, of our own terrestrial species, some of which seem to have remarkable mental powers that are only taken seriously by fringe types. RC
Jul. 23rd, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
I can't resist noting that my posting was interrupted by an ad for Clearasil followed by a captcha, "the watcher." Hmm. RC