Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Stop energy eco-imperialism
International Policy Network
by Barun Mitra
"Energy poverty is directly related to economic poverty, and
India's national and state governments have engaged in prolonging
both types by inhibiting development of new energy sources,
overregulating existing energy supplies, and unnecessarily
intervening in energy markets." (11/07/02)

Excerpts -

"The immediate need of poor people in India and other poor countries is to consume more energy, in any form. Likewise, India’s economy needs reliable, cheap energy of any kind to fuel economic growth and improved quality of life....India’s economy needs reliable, cheap energy of any kind to fuel economic growth and improved quality of life. "

"The human health, economic, and environmental impact of burning these ‘renewable’ fuels is immense. Young children and women spend hours each day in the drudgery of collecting firewood or collecting, drying, and storing manure for use in cooking, heat, or light – rather than attending school or engaging in more satisfying or productive economic activity."
The poor are not poorer in fact
Centre for Independent Studies
by Peter Saunders
"But the rise in the top incomes does not mean that poverty
got worse. Quite the reverse: those on low incomes also
got better off during the boom years. Households in the
bottom 10 per cent of the income distribution saw their
real-terms spending power go up by nearly $40 per week
through the 1990s -- a rate of increase that matched
that achieved by middle-income earners ..." (10/26/02)
(This was run on this weeks ER. I am a big Chricton fan (he wrote Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park) ER is one of the most popular series on television, so its nice to see some positive comments on scientific progress in it. The comments are from the extropy list - Mike)

Just when I was about to give up on Michael
Crichton, he comes up with a plethora of terrific
scripts this season. First there was Dr. Ramano's
little run-in with the helicopter {which I have been
asked to not talk about}, now a terrific little subplot
about an extropian medical student named Dr. Nathan,
a 40-something medical student with Parkinson's
disease, who is taking a rotation thru the ER.

A 26 year old patient has an incurable and fatal
genetic disease which has destroyed her lungs.
Dr. Carter has given her no hope. She is tired
of being sick and has signed a Do Not Recussitate
order. Dr. Nathan, the Parkinson's aflicted
med student, brings flowers to the dying patient,
then gives her a pep talk. He convinces her to
keep fighting, much to the dismay of Carter, who
is the resident and Nathan's boss. Carter calls
Nathan into an adjoining room for an ass chewing:

Carter: What are you doing?

Nathan: She didn't have all the facts.

Carter: Do you know what it will take just to keep
her alive until transplant? If she even qualifies
for a transplant? And we can find a suitable match?

Nathan: It's not worth it? When there is a shot
at a cure?

Carter: She's suffocating, thet's her reality.

Nathan: There are a lot of realities. Stem cell
research is a reality.

Carter: Stem cells?

Nathan: Its coming. Whether the government approves
it or not, its coming, you know that. Embryonic stem
cells can be used to grow any tissue in the human body.

Carter: What, you told her that we could grow her
a new lung?

Nathan: She's got a genetic disease. Stem cells can
fix the defect at the genetic level.

Carter: Ya, maybe in fifty years.

Nathan: Five years. The science is there in five
years if we get past all the political posturing.

Carter: Do you know what it took for her to face
her mortality?

Nathan: I think I do.

Carter: For me to convince her father to accept it?

Nathan: Oh so this is about YOUR time?

Carter: No, this is about you. Going in there
with your own agenda, and giving her false hope.

Nathan: Its not false hope.

Carter: The flowers were an interesting touch.

Nathan: You gave her ten minutes.

Carter: There is such a thing as dying with dignity.

Nathan: Every time a woman goes for in vitro, harvests
eggs, there are extra blastocysts.

Carter: I know the issues, but shes suffering. She doesn't
care about politics.

Nathan: Its the politics that are killing her. MI in one,
cured, all heart disease gone. Cancer in four, Alzheimers
disease, cured. The spinal cord injury this morning, cured.

Carter: Parkinson's disease?

Nathan: We are out of business, pal.

Carter: I would really like to believe that.

Nathan: Pack up all this crap and haul it away.

Carter: I would really like to believe in miracles. She's
dying, Nathan. The only question is, how well.

Nathan: She's 26 years old. There IS NO dying well.
You're giving up. {Nathan walks away}

- spike
(From the E-Skeptic mailing list, a wonderfull article on Coincidence -

Copyright 2002 Michael Shermer, Skeptics Society, Skeptic magazine,

magazine ( and Permission to print,
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As a follow-up to the piece on 9-1-1 coincidences in the last e-Skeptic,
is a wonderful opinion editorial by Hope College experimental psychologist
David Myers, the author of an important new book entitled Intuition: Powers
and Perils, that I just wrote a column on for Scientific American. More on
intuition later. Enjoy.

The Power of Coincidence

David G. Myers

People around me have been both amused and aghast at the news that on 9-11
the New York State Lottery's evening number game popped up the numbers
9-1-1. Is this a paranormal happening? A wink from God? Is there a message

It's hardly the first improbable lottery event. "We print winning numbers in

advance!" headlined Oregon's Columbian on July 3, 2000. State lottery
officials were incredulous when the newspaper announced their 6-8-5-5
winning Pick 4 numbers for June 28 in advance. Actually, the Columbian's
had crashed. In the scramble to re-create a news page, a copyeditor
accidently included Virginia's Pick 4 numbers, which were the exact numbers
that Oregon was about to draw.

We've all marveled at such coincidences in our own lives. Checking out a
photocopy counter from the Hope College library desk, I confused the clerk
when giving my six-digit department charge number-which just happened at
that moment to be identical to the counter's six-digit number on which the
user had finished. Shortly after my daughter, Laura Myers, bought two pairs
of shoes, we were astounded to discover that the two brand names on the
boxes were "Laura" and "Myers."

And then there are those remarkable coincidences that, with added digging,
have been embellished into really fun stories, such as the familiar
Lincoln-Kennedy coincidences (both with seven letters in their last names,
elected 100 years apart, assassinated on a Friday while beside their wives,
one in Ford's theater, the other in a Ford Motor Co. car, and so forth). We
also have enjoyed newspaper accounts of astonishing happenings, such as when
twins Lorraine and Levinia Christmas, driving to deliver Christmas presents
to each other near Flitcham, England, collided.

My favorite is this little known fact: In Psalm 46 of the King James Bible,
published in the year that Shakespeare turned 46, the 46th word is "shake"
and the 46th word from the end is "spear." (More remarkable than this
coincidence is that someone should have noted this!)

What shall we make of these weird coincidences? Was James Redfield right to
suppose, in The Celestine Prophecy, that we should attend closely to
"strange occurrences that feel like they were meant to happen"? Is he right
suppose that "They are actually synchronistic events, and following them
will start
you on your path to spiritual truth"? Without wanting to rob us of our
delight in these serendipities, much less of our spirituality, statisticians
assure us that the coincidences tell us nothing of spiritual significance.

"In reality," says mathematician John Allen Paulos, " the most astonishingly

incredible coincidence imaginable would be the complete absence of all
coincidences." When Evelyn Marie Adams won the New Jersey lottery twice,
newspapers reported the odds of her feat as 1 in 17 trillion-the odds that a
given person buying a single ticket for two New Jersey lotteries would win
both. But statisticians Stephen Samuels and George McCabe report that, given
the millions of people who buy U.S. state lottery tickets, it was
"practically a sure thing" that someday, somewhere, someone would hit a
state jackpot twice. Consider: An event that happens to but one in a billion
people in a day happens 2000 times a year. A day when nothing weird happened
actually be the weirdest day of all.

Our intuition, as I explain in Intuition: Its Powers and Perils, fails to
appreciate the streaky nature of random data. Batting slumps, hot hand
shooters, and stock market patterns may behave like streak-prone random
data, but our pattern-seeking minds demand explanations. Yet even the random
digits of pi, which form what many mathematicians believe is a true random
sequence, have some odd streaks that likely include your birth date. Mine,
appears beginning at the 131,564th decimal place. (To find yours, visit

The moral: That a particular specified event or coincidence will occur is
very unlikely. That some astonishing unspecified events will occur is
certain. That is why remarkable coincidences are noted in hindsight, not
predicted with foresight. And that is why even those of us who believe in
God don't need God's special intervention, or psychic powers, to expect, yet
also delight in, improbable happenings.

Social psychologist David G. Myers is author of Intuition: Its Powers and
Perils, just published by Yale University Press. For information and
excerpts, see
(In September a favorite author and intellectual inspiration of mine Dr.
Robert L Forward passed away. Forward was one of the premiere popularizes
of cutting edge physics and published columns frequently in Analog science
fiction magazine explaining time travel, wormholes, quantum mechanics and
vacuum energy. He was a first rate phycisist and an excellent writer. His
death was expected and he prepared his own obituaries, which follows. -

Subject: RIP: Robert L. Forward

> This was posted on
> Robert P. Hoyt, Ph.D, President, CEO, & Chief Scientist
> Friends,
> It is my sad duty to inform you that Dr. Robert L. Forward has left
> this mortal Earth.
> Bob passed away early in the morning on September 21, 2002. A
> memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, September 28th, at 1 p.m.
> at the Westwood Hills Congregational Church in Westwood, CA (Los
> Angeles area).
> Bob Forward leaves behind a truly astounding legacy. In addition to
> his pioneering work on solar sails, space tethers, antimatter
> propulsion, and other advanced space propulsion technologies, Bob also
> performed seminal work in several other areas, including smart
> structures and gravitational astronomy.
> In addition to his technical work, Bob also strove -- through his
> popular science writings, science fiction books, and countless
> lectures -- to educate and inspire the next generations of scientists.
> The many letters and emails that people sent to him over the past
> several months are testament to the fact that his work had a strong
> influence on the careers of many of us. Those letters meant a great
> deal to him.
> Bob prepared several obituaries for the various professional
> organizations to which he belonged. One of them is given below:
> Robert Lull Forward
> The intelligent pattern of protoplasm that had been Robert L. Forward
> ceased coherent operation on September 21, 2002.
> Robert Lull Forward died at home of brain cancer at the age of 70.
> Forward was born 15 August 1932 in Geneva, New York. After graduation
> from the University of Maryland in 1954 with a BS degree in Physics
> and a Second Lieutenant commission in the Air Force, he married Martha
> Neil Dodson and served two years stateside during the closing years of
> the Korean War. Upon leaving the service Forward was awarded a Hughes
> Aircraft Company Graduate Research Fellowship, which he used to obtain
> a MS in Applied Physics from UCLA in 1958 and a PhD in Physics from
> the University of Maryland in 1965. Forward was one of the early
> pioneers in the field of experimental gravitational radiation
> astronomy. For his PhD thesis he built and operated the first bar
> antenna for the detection of gravitational radiation under the
> direction of Profs. Weber and Zipoy. The antenna is now in the
> Smithsonian Museum.
> Forward worked for 31 years at the Hughes Aircraft Company Corporate
> Research Laboratories in Malibu, CA in positions of increasing
> responsibility until he took early retirement in 1987 to spend more
> time on writing novels and his aerospace consulting company business -
> Forward Unlimited . During his tenure at Hughes, he received 18
> patents, and published numerous papers on experimental gravity
> instruments and measurements, including the first paper on using the
> normal modes of the Earth to set an upper limit on interstellar
> millicycle gravitational radiation; a paper on the details of the
> wideband "chirp" signal to be expected from the gravitational collapse
> of a binary neutron star pair; and a method for "flattening" spacetime
> over a hatbox-sized region in an orbiting microgravity space lab to
> the picogravity level.
> Forward also published the first paper showing that it was possible to
> build and operate a laser interferometer gravitational radiation
> antenna that was photon noise limited over the band from 1-20 kHz, and
> that further improvements in gravitational strain sensitivity needed
> only more laser power and longer lengths in the interferometer arms.
> The broadband gravitational strain sensitivity his laser
> interferometer antenna reached in 1972 was not bettered for over a
> decade. Forward also invented the multidirectional spherical bar
> antenna for gravitational radiation, and the rotating cruciform
> gravity gradiometer Mass Detector for Lunar Mascon measurements (which
> Misner, Wheeler & Thorne pointed out can detect the curvature of
> spacetime produced by a fist).
> From the time of his retirement from Hughes in 1987 onward, Forward
> was a consultant for the Air Force and NASA on advanced space
> propulsion concepts, with an emphasis on propulsion methods
> (lightsail, antimatter, electrodynamic tether, etc.), that use
> physical principles other than chemical or nuclear rockets. In 1992
> he formed the company, Tethers Unlimited, with Dr. Robert P. Hoyt.
> When he reached 70 he "retired" to part time consulting and writing.
> In addition to over 200 papers and articles, Forward published 11
> "hard" science fiction novels, where the science is as accurate as
> possible-consistent with telling a good story. Forward "taught"
> science through his novels. His first book, DRAGON'S EGG, expanded
> upon Frank Drake's idea of tiny fast-living creatures living on the
> surface of a neutron star. Forward called it, "A textbook on neutron
> star physics disguised as a novel." The book is often assigned as
> "extra credit reading" in beginning astronomy courses. The science in
> his books has often been novel enough that many of his fiction books
> have been referenced in journal publications as "prior art
> publications".
> Downloads of many of Forward's papers can be obtained by visiting his
> web site at: .