Please don’t assume this is an attack on science and progress. Far from it. I love science and the wonders it has given us. I am no luddite. I wouldn’t be using this computer if I were. I look forward to driverless cars which are carbon neutral. I love the fact that relatives and friends across the world can communicate instantly. I like the idea of robots to perform the unpleasant tasks, though I don’t think they will if ever they reach the level of self awareness. However, I do have reservations.
The question in the title is relevant. We have spent a fortune in search of the Higgs-Boson, something which has virtually no relevance to our everyday life. We seek the origins of the big bang. Again not really relevant to me here and now.
One of my favourite scientific thought experiments Scrodingers Cat was designed to show how matter, the cat, could exist in several states (Live, dead or presumably non existent.) until observed. It was in all these states simultaneously until you collapse the possibility waveform and open the box. You can’t actually do this experiment because you would just end up with and angry and frustrated cat which, due to the booby trapped box may also be dead. Common sense tells us that all this is so much rubbish and, again, is only relevant to bloggers who ramble on about weird experiments. Really it was just a way of thinking about the actions of particles on a quantum level and trying to relate them to a macro event. Even the inventor of this experiment used it to express the things he saw as ridiculous in quantum theory of the time.
Space exploration may be necessary to our future but is very expensive.
Internet technology and the devices which are used to access it are very relevant to us but there is a price even to them. There are many who have mental issues due to the social isolation involved in long periods of communication via machine only. They do not develop social skills. I am sure many modern children’s issues are exacerbated by this. There are issues with Pedophilia, scams, crime and radicalization too. Many actually believe everything they see on the net so these things are easier for the perpetrator. You need to develop filters and even a certain cynicism. Some never do.
I love archaeology but we spend large amounts on digs and equipment to tell us tiny details of our ancestors lives.
I guess this is O.K. all the time we have the luxury of the money to pursue these things but some science led theories which are now becoming reality scare me, Fracking is an instance. The idea is to release the gases from the Earth by pumping high pressure water through fissures deep underground. There is no correlation between the two but an increasingly high number of deep holes in the ground are becoming an issue all over the world.
They have appeared in many other places too. Now i am not saying this is a result of fracking, it is not and fracking is only now becoming a reality, but these must be due, in part, to mankind’s need to impose his will on the planet by draining marshland and building in places not suited to it. These are usually deep but fracking is an activity which takes place much deeper.
Now my logic tells me that these fissures are filled with gas and oil for a reason and that removing it will result in either a vacuum or the filling of these fissures with water, which is notorious for eroding rock and earth. So if these collapses are happening already and deep down we create more weaknesses I can only see it getting worse.
You hear people saying we should put the brake on sciences and put the money toward social problems, like feeding the starving and housing the homeless. This is an invalid argument. Stopping all scientific research would NOT solve these problems and some research is essential to food production, health an so on. I do not think throwing money at social issues will ever solve them. I do think we should look at some scientific research and evaluate costs, benefits and relevance to real life. Do we really need to work out exactly how and when the universe began or try to work out when it will end. We cannot do anything about it and both the beginning and the end of the Universe are separated from us by billions of years. We need to have somewhere to go to if our Earth becomes overcrowded so shouldn’t we try to work out ways of making Mars habitable before trying to find a distant Earth ready made.
This all sounds silly and it is a little tongue-in-cheek but I feel a time may come when we will need to address the issues facing us in real life, here and now, before contemplating the topography of our navels and the likely effects on time of a black hole billions of light years away.