Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Humanity's extra minute

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Physicist Lawrence Krauss is co-chairman of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the journal which, ever since 1947, has documented how close humanity is to bringing about its own destruction using the Doomsday Clock. It's a simple concept – midnight on the clock means Armageddon, and the sponsors move the time either further from or closer to midnight depending on how close they think we are to Armageddon (of the very secular variety).

In January, the sponsors took the decision to give us an extra minute, moving the time, which since 2007 had stood at five minutes to midnight, back to six minutes to midnight. So, for our March issue, we asked Krauss to explain what we had done to to earn this extra minute. In a fascinating piece he does just that, while also taking time to warn us against complacency by including eight myths that can lead to people thinking the world is safer than it actually is.

Once you've read the piece, please share your thoughts by commenting on this post.


airth10 said...

I don't think it matters if you prove to Sarah Palin that humans have the power to alter nature. She would argue that if we are altering nature it is really God who is doing it through us. According to her it is God's plan if we are polluting the planet.

Christopher Gray said...

There might be another interpretation of Palin's statement: she could have meant that mankind cannot overpower nature to the extent that it breaks. Considering her previous record, I seriously doubt whether she could think even this deeply, but she is a politicians - of sorts.

Here's the interpretation: she might be making reference to the End-of-Days, saying that when nature has had enough of mankind's fooling about with the Earth, she will just throw us off: kill us all and then continue with her work.

But she might also have been trying to throw a bone to the rationalists in agreeing that nature is ultimately stronger than we are (because we could never eradicate all life on this planet), but not going the whole way, and being unable to resist applying some small tincture of her fondness for all things Raptural to keep in with her creotard constituency.

I very much think that attempting to rationalise the blurtings of someone like her is impossible, but she could just be playing the field, and trying to please everyone, and just making a silly mess of it.