What makes us worth defending

Discuss

27 Responses to “What makes us worth defending”

  1. Lobster says:

    These days if you said something like that they’d crucify you for daring to imply that America could ever not be worth defending.

    • Sean Xavier Torres says:

      How very sad and true.   But unfortunately accurate.   A society is what we make of it and the one rapped around us at the moment is one constructed of commercial gain and not of the betterment of humanity or at very least our society…

  2. xzzy says:

    Fortunately the overall mood around Fermilab seems to be upbeat.. we’re having parties on the 30th to send the Tevatron off. There’s a little uncertainty about job security for some people, but the lab itself is going to stick around for a long time. 

    There’s other experiments going on here, which will keep it relevant for years. Fermi has close ties with CERN which also help, and a number of construction projects have begun in the last several months to provide facilities for accelerator research.

  3. Stefan Jones says:

    Can we use the Tevatron to see in neutrinos can penetrate something as thick as Grover Norquist’s skull?

  4. Mark Dow says:

    Particle accelerators can lead to cool gadgets, bigger bombs and cures for cancer, although what and when is unknowable.

    For example synchrotrons turned out to be excellent x-ray sources, used for a variety of medical and biomolecular purposes. Among many practical uses, synchrotrons are routinely used to infer protein structure (crystallography), vital to many aspects of cancer research.

    • Lobster says:

      Plus you can use them to kill the Terminator.

    • Sean Xavier Torres says:

      Yes for you, I and many intellectuals who know that new research will always lead to “cool gadgets, bigger bombs and cures for cancer.”  But unfortunately “sheeple” don’t and definitely not some air head politician who only cares about getting reelected and satisfying his obligations for the “contributions” made by corporations.  So there is the majority of the population and any person who can do anything to help, in America at least.     

  5. grandmapucker says:

    ” It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. ”

    What magical era is he talking about? That said, next time I crank out a good piece of writing, I intend to run down the street waving a flag.

    • What are you talking about? I do that every day. I blog for AMERICA, dammit. 

    • Thorzdad says:

      I know it’s hard to believe, in this age of vilifying teachers, using the bible as the basis of “science”, and dismissing anything that doesn’t add to a corporation’s bottom-line, but there was, indeed, a time in the US as described in the Robert Wilson quote. The arts ans ciences were, indeed, revered as much as for the open-ended curiosity and exploration as for any actual problem solving.

  6. B A says:

    It has more to do with the simple understanding of what we are and where we came from.

  7. Palomino says:

    Growing up, my town’s High schools shared facilities. One had the Olympic pools, the other a stadium, the other a Olympic track, etc….

    My point: Isn’t a newer generation of one of these opening in a European country, one we have shared scientific knowledge with for years? So couldn’t that quote be changed a little:

    Wilson: “It has only to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of man, our love of culture. It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate about our planet and are passionate about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our planet, except to make it worth defending.”

  8. The Chemist says:

    This is the part where we excuse ourselves for not having decent broadband because we have more landmass than Europe.

  9. millie fink says:

    If only “Department of Defense” in the U.S. actually meant defense.

  10. Avram Grumer says:

    Now where will the research come from to shape the next generation of high-end sport and hiking sandals? 

  11. xenphilos says:

    “Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.”
    I love this quote because the common assumption (or more like general subliminal feeling) that science is passionless and purely practical, which is proven untrue if you talk to any scientist. I think scientists share a deep feeling of curiosity and passion for learning more about the universe we live in, and ends up enriching our lives when the results of science gives us technology that makes our lives better.

  12. tinyinkling says:

    I’ve been really sad about how willing my parent’s generation is to sit back and say, “that’s enough”. That’s enough poor people helped. That’s enough technology discovered. That’s enough kids graduating from college. That’s enough trips to the moon. That’s enough spaceships. I grew up reading my dad’s collection of James Bond and Robert A. Heinlein and hearing him talk about the Feynman lectures. I really miss having the sense that there’s always something more to invent or discover. He used to talk about research as the work of “inchthroughs” which become breakthroughs when you stumble across the one that brings them together. 

  13. blissfulight says:

    Much better to spend our money on symbolic fighter planes that cost hundreds of millions of dollar each, that are grounded frequently because of shoddy workmanship, and are being used to fight the  last war that we fought before the war we’re currently fighting (the Taliban don’t have planes).  Much better.  

  14. fnc says:

    Excellent quote.

    Are we defending a plot of land, or a country?

  15. Haha. I LIVE in Batavia. :D Town of about 30,000 people. Been there for field trips. Don’t shut it down!!! D: 

    • flosofl says:

      I grew up just north of there. In the late 80s I was privileged to be selected by my high school’s science dept. to take part in 10 weeks of Sat. classes held by the scientists there. Week 1 was General Relativity, week 2 was Special Relativity, and so on. We’d have about 3 to 4 hour seminars on theory, and then 2 hours in a lab being briefed on an in flight experiment. There was a palpable sense of excitement because at the time they were on the verge of accelerated to 1TeV for the first time. Although that meant we didn’t actually get to see the ring up close.

      That ranks in my top ten of one of the great experiences in my life. A truly mind expanding experience.

      I almost accepted positions there a couple of times, but even nostalgia couldn’t counter the much bet offers from other places.

      That experience

  16. But rather that the willingness to fund curiosity-driven research is one
    of our better angels. Humanity benefits from knowledge, even if that
    knowledge doesn’t immediately and directly lead to cool gadgets, bigger
    bombs, or a cure for cancer.”

    I think the concern, for me at least, is of throwing a lot of time and energy into things that we have little knowledge of. I know that that is the point of it, but, building things to “see what will happen and hope we can use it” is fine for bottle rockets in garbarge cans and whatnot, but when we move into projects that could end in, say, creating a black hole and therefore plunging the known universe into well, a black hole just seems irresponsible at best. At worst, we could use this money and time to fix existing problems and learn more about the possibilities of these projects. I admit my ignorance on issues like this, but as a “layperson” I have a certain amount of fear of what we will find or what could happen.

    Fear is both the great motivator and limiter I guess.

    Kelly

    • ckesegi says:

      “I know that that is the point of it, but, building things to “see what will happen and hope we can use it” is fine for bottle rockets in garbarge cans and whatnot, but when we move into projects that could end in, say, creating a black hole and therefore plunging the known universe into well, a black hole just seems irresponsible at best.”

      OK. If that’s the case then I suppose we should refrain from conducting any further scientific research out of concern that a black hole may swallow us whole and send us into Dimension-X.

      I don’t mean to sound callous or intolerant at all but I must ask whether or not you are familiar with the scientific method and if you mistrust scientists that much that you feel they would place us in the way of imminent danger that could potentially destroy all of creation?

      I mean, how could they possibly record the results afterwards? ;) 

  17. teapot says:

    The cool thing about the quote is that at first the physicist presumes the senator understands the intrinsic value of knowledge, but after such a dry line of questioning he realises that the senator doesn’t have a clue and has to spell it out for him. In any case if they wanted to use it for defense they could’ve just put a big sign out the front saying ‘HAARP 2′ and let the nutballs do the rest.

  18. EarthtoGeoff says:

    If I’m ever asked a question like this that’s being transcribed, I just hope I’ll be able to answer as eloquently as this radical dude. Won’t be able to. But that’s cool, we’re still bros.

  19. jhertzli says:

    Some people disagree.

    Please also note that others can use the “this makes us worth defending” argument and you might not agree with them.

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