Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Unreality strikes again -- Gingrich and doomsday

Russian people once said "the voice of the people is the voice of God." And so is our election process an opportunity to transcend what we thought was material reality?

It keeps seeming that way.

Last week, the press was full of how Gingrich alienated Palestinians by his remark that
they are a recently invented nationality...

But in fact, Romney substantially alienated space people by attacking Gingrich's interest in the possibility of someday mining the moon, and by putting that right at the top of what he wants to prevent.

Who has more votes in Iowa or New Hampshire? Palestinians or space people?
Let's pass on that. The press is more interested in Palestinians, but some of us actually believe that the rest of the galaxy is bigger than Palestine.

Just this morning, the New York Times had a big article on the "doomsday psychology" of Gingrich, citing a speech where he said that a big electromagnetic pulse (EMP)
might end up killing millions of American (directly or indirectly). They pooh-poohed that very intensely, and suggested it showed some craziness on his part.

But actually, they are the crazies. It reminds me of a lead editorial they printed back around 1970, saying that some scientists actually believe that the burning of fossil fuels results in CO2 emissions... really, I kid you not. Nature is not always politically correct, and if we assume that it is, we lose touch with reality.

The reality is that electromagnetic pulses (EMP) do exist, and do pose a serious threat to life in the US. I looked into this closely when NSF sent me to the last international conference on EMP effects here at DC. (google on empactamerica gives some details.) At the end of the day, there are two main ways that broad EMP poses a risk:

1. Solar flares. ROUGHLY, one in ten "solar peaks" (randomly and unpredictably) result
in shocks to the power severe enough that it really would threaten life these days, now that the whole world has become so much more dependent on electricity than we were a century ago. They call it a "Carrington event," and there are many who believe that the National Academy of Sciences was lowballing it when they estimated that a new Carrington event would cost about $1-2 trillion to the US. Many folks excited by "2012 apocalypse" have been excited by the fact that 2012 was seen as the next solar peak... but this week I received a technical report asserting that the maximum probability time is January 2013.

Is it possible that Gingrich could be elected, only to see the "prophecy" come true on the day of his inauguration? (Or would it be the end of the world in a different way?) Who knows....

2. Nuclear bombs high in the atmosphere. The New York Times article suggests that this is the one Gingrich was emphasizing. (Maybe.) They said -- don't worry, the Ballistic Missile Defense Agency (MDA) assures us we could stop anything like that.

That's nice... but just this last week, I received an email from the real engineer who made the breakthrough in missile defense, and he says that it was liquidated just a couple of years ago, as part of the typical bureaucratic stakeholder adjustment process.

I remember a few years ago a meeting at the Air Force when I was pushing that technology, and got to discuss it with the right people. I was saying "Hey, the Patriot missile was much touted, but reports say it was only able to hit the target 1% of the time. We have a solution."

The response: "Yeah, we know about that problem, of course, but we can't do anything about it. That's because it is an Officially Solved Problem. That means, we have been earmarked to give billions and billions of dollars to certain big companies who officially will solve it. They don't have any new ideas, beyond what they did already with the Patriot, but it would be considered insolent and threatening if mere engineers or military people were to question them, and try to help us solve a problem which is already Officially Solved. After all, that might undermine all the big money we are giving them."

Later, some unique and dedicated people at MDA, who actually cared enough about the security of the US to lift a finger, overcame that barrier. It was amazing what was accomplished, quietly... though I shouldn't get into too many details. But now
it seems we may be back to those old days...

Best of luck,


P.S. But... the "jobs" situation will probably be what defines my vote in November 2012... unless the candidates should appear almost equal on that matter...

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