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Old 2015-08-24, 06:11   #1
jasong
 
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"Jason Goatcher"
Mar 2005

1101101100112 Posts
Default The human race, magnifier of the improbable

I've been thinking about the human race and how we operate, especially with the scientific method, and I realized something. Most scientific discoveries are viewed as worthless dead ends. But when you find a literal dead end in real life, you just note it down for other people to avoid. So if a Google Street View car finds a dead end, once it's documented it can be avoided from then on, and it's a similar thing with science.

Then, when we discover something that's useful, it tends to be a tiny fraction of everything we know about that area of science. How many roads of research needed to be traveled down to discover highly refined sand, silicon, could be used to process information? Hundreds, maybe thousands, I would guess.

A perfect example is the internal combustion engine, powered from expanding gases. We first used this phenomenon as cave men to keep warm in our probably smokey caves. Then we discovered hot air balloons, and later on, the internal combustion engine. But think of the likelyhood that we could attach wheels to a frame, light a fire somewhere on it and be propelled in the desired direction for even a fraction of a second. We took a truth, heated gases expand, and we magnified it in a way that was useful to us.

I think the same thing will happen in terms of interstellar travel. We'll discover a rare occurrence where a photon travels faster than 186k miles a second for a few Planck lengths and we'll throw billions of dollars at it, maybe trillions, if only because of inflation, and over the course of a few decades, or centuries, we'll discover how to comfortably travel between the stars.

We'll do it because it's only impossible until it isn't.
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