Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Earth 2100 continued

Earth 2100 (an ABC production)

Some initial comments and questions before the general discussion

What is the difference between science and mathematics?

Math: prove new things based on existing knowledge

Mathematical reasoning is deductive

  • 1+1=2
  • 2+2=4
  • Therefore, 1+1+1+1=4 (proof by substitution)

  • All men are mortal
  • Socrates is a man
  • Therefore, Socrates is mortal (proof by "syllogism")

  • Deduction can prove things
  • Mathematics uses deduction
  • Therefore, mathematics can prove things
  • . . . . . . (proof by syllogism again!)

Science is different from math!

  • Science is based on induction (not deduction)
  • All apples observed to break off the tree, fall down
  • Therefore, if I shake this apple tree and an apple breaks off, it will fall down
  • Not a proof! Can you think of a counterexample?

  • That which goes up has always come down
  • Therefore, if I throw this up, it will come down
  • Not a proof! Can you think of a counterexample?

Science needs more than only induction

Humankind has always sought reasons

Scientists call those reasons "theories" and "hypotheses"

Theories are the big ones
  • relativity
  • evolution
  • continental drift/plate tectonics
Hypotheses are the little ones
  • If the ground gets waterlogged, water will get into my basement
  • IFSC majors learn more marketable things than physics majors

Math proves; science does not prove!

Science explains (using theories)

Science predicts (because the theories predict)

The phrase "scientific proof" makes no sense!
  • Science does not prove things!
  • It explains things and finds evidence
  • If only everyone actually knew that
  • Like reporters, spokespeople, politicians...
Comments on Earth 2100

. . . Worst case scenario consistent with best science available

. . . The main crises were global warming and deadly disease

. . . . . . So it could happen that bad, but might not

Climate science uses theories
implemented as complex
computerized models
  • There are variations among different models
  • They make somewhat varying global warming predictions
Almost all (never all, right?) climate specialists agree:
  • Global warming is happening, will get worse, and is a serious problem
  • That is the consensus among climate scientists
  • Just no math-style proof

Politics and special interests are a different ball game

. . . Some economic interests benefit most if nothing is done

. . . . . . Naturally, they will impede change

. . . . . . . . . That is famous economist Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand"

Your turn: Earth 2100 discussion

Please have your say and let everyone else have theirs!
I reserve the right to take an active role in organizing the discussion.

What technologies are envisioned and what are their plausibilities?

  • We live in Arkansas, which is in the United States, we are Americans and speak English
  • Some people live in Holland - what is the elevation in Holland, what country is it in, what is the nationality of its people, and what language do they speak?
What can we say about its sea wall?

Ever see the doors of the lock of the Big Dam Bridge?

What is the connection between epidemics and global warming?
  • Any diseases already spread to the US?
  • Any that may soon?
What are some tipping points to social stability?

  • Long-term blackouts
  • Transportation network breakdown
  • Where would you want to live if things went bad?
  • How about Arkansas?
  • Little Rock?
What can you do now?

Hyperpowers are historically limited in time
  • Mongolia
  • Rome
  • UK
  • US
We're #1!

But how to stay that way?

What are the natural tendencies that cause hyperpowers to be time-limited?

  • Rigidity
  • Over-confidence from past successes
  • Inner rot

What can be done to prevent it or delay the inevitable?

Why successful societies collapse

Earth 2100 quotes someone asking what the person who cut down the last palm tree on Easter Island could have been thinking

That is straight out of Diamond's book

Diamond appeared several times in the movie!

Easter Island, Rome, the Anasazi, the Mayans, the Greenland Norse, ...

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