Friday, February 18, 2005
1. MISSILE DEFENSE: UNTESTED DEFENSE MEETS NON-EXISTENT THREAT.
In last Sunday's missile defense test, an interceptor missile again refused to leave its silo. Who can blame it? It's crazy out there. A month ago, a "minor software glitch" caused a malfunction (WN 14 Jan 05) This time it was a tiny switch in the silo. The Missile Defense Agency doesn't seem worried; tests don't count if they don't get to "the end game" (WN 13 Feb 02). Does missile defense seem just a little less urgent these days? According to Defense Daily, plans for around-the-clock operation of the system have been dropped in favor of an "emergency alert status" -- no point in turning it on if no one is shooting at us. Maybe North Korea will agree not to launch a surprise attack. At his Tuesday confirmation hearing, Deputy Secretary of State nominee Robert Zoellick said he thinks North Korea is lying about having nukes. President Bush thought Iraq was lying about NOT having nukes.
2. SCIENCE MEETS SOCIETY: IS SCIENCE JUST ANOTHER BELIEF SYSTEM?
The 11 Feb 05 issue of Science has an editorial by Alan Leshner, AAAS CEO, "Where Science Meets Society." That's also the theme of next week's AAAS meeting in Washington. Leshner contends that conflicts between science and "certain human beliefs" are on the increase. He thinks bringing scientists and religious leaders together to discuss the relation of scientific advances to "other belief systems" is helpful, and thinks we should "try diplomacy and discussion for a change." In the first place, conflicts are not increasing. Relations have never been better. Skeptics are no longer forced to recant, nor even denied tenure. And as for diplomacy, we could start by negotiating Intelligent Design Theory. Scientists might concede that God created Adam and Eve in exchange for a concession that the serpent evolved by natural selection.
3. GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS: JUST ASK YOUR RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR.
Did you know that we all sense the future? Did you know that our minds influence the functioning of machines? If you knew both of these things, you will not be surprised to learn that random number generators around the world anticipated both 9/11 and the Indian Ocean tsunami. The Global Consciousness Project, headed by Dean Radin (WN 06 Aug 04) found these events in the output of 65 RNGs in 41 countries. And this is just the start. Once they refine what constitutes an anomaly in a random signal, they'll be able to predict even the most trivial events -- after they happen. But a more ominous interpretation is that the RTGs are causing these horrific events. A sensible precaution would be to ban the use of all such devices.