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Detent

August 3, 2011

“I have to understand the world, you see.” -Richard Feynman

My mind is going a million miles an hour.  Have to write down random crap.

The current routine of my life does not lend itself to learning new and cool things.  I do my best to read and practice things in my free time at work, but it’s tough to concentrate the way I want.  And it’s hard to pick just one thing to be interested in.

It’s not only true with me, either.  Everyone’s wasting away.  With the resources we have, I can’t think of a bigger waste of human capital than the modern US.  We have all this knowledge available at a moment’s notice–we should be in a second renaissance.  We should be moving forward.

Not that things are terrible for us in the first world.  But I think (I hope) that justice compels us to find better goals.  I think we should rise and fall as a species.  I think if we have the means to eradicate a disease in the United States, it should be eradicated everywhere.  If we have enough to eat, every day for our whole lives, the rest of the world ought to have enough too.  I know we don’t have any practical reason to do this but again, I think (I hope) it’s part of becoming better, moving forward as a species.

 

Whenever people ask Stephen Hawking about the future, he says the same thing: because of the aggressive instincts of humans and the limited resources of the earth, we need to spread out into space so that even with the most powerful weapons we have, we can’t destroy ourselves all at once.

I’m inclined to defer to the smartest man alive, and if it worries him, I am kinda concerned too.

To the modern man, it appears our rate of learning and understanding is decreasing.  Even though we have more free time than anyone has ever had, for some reason we believe science is only for professionals.

I read that it takes 10,000 hours for the average person to become an expert in something. So, pick a thing, do it four hours a week for half your life, and by the other half you will have achieved a greater level of understanding.  It will be ingrained in you; your brain will think about it even when you don’t.  The brain, they say, dedicates a lot more machinery to storing information and working out problems when one is idle, and especially when one is asleep.

I can’t think of a single person that doesn’t have far more than four hours of free time per week.

People are never taught how great it is to learn though.  People have left science to the professionals.  I think that’s horrible.  A scientist’s perspective is so limited.  People can do research and make observations in their daily lives that a scientist never could.  An amateur sociologist in an office making careful observations about co-workers has a whole different set of values and experiences than someone who has spent their whole adult life at a university.

And that’s just one example.  Problems are solved by diverse approaches and creativity.

 

Time to go home!  I will continue ranting at a later date.

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