Warp Drive & Government Subsidies

From: Robert Bradbury (bradbury@genebee.msu.su)
Date: Sun Jan 23 2000 - 05:10:07 MST

On Sat, 22 Jan 2000, Technotranscendence wrote:

> A few of you probably already know that sometime last year, there was a news
> report that some form of faster than light travel was possible. The source
> material for the story was in some technical journal, but now the latest
> issue (January 2000) of _Scientific American_ has a lay level article on the
> subject.

Daniel wanted some discussion on this...

First, S.A. with their annoying policies doesn't have the article online.
See: http://www.scientificamerican.com/2000/0100issue/0100quicksummary.html
Since I will not see that physical issue of S.A. for a few more days,
I can't comment on their article.

Second, I believe that the technical journals have pretty much ruled
out FTL travel on the basis of time paradox. The ability to go FTL
also gives you the ability to go back in time and I believe that
possibility has been strongly constrained by the physicists.

Finally, I believe the S.A. summary got it right with:
  "...by harnessing the *elusive* force of negative energy..."

They ought to have the "We believe in Magic Physics" warning
in front of that article!

In response to Daniel's commentary on environmentalism & government
subsidies, I agree with much of what was said. The problem we have
in most circumstances is the discontinuities that would result in
the radical shifts in the current system he seems to propose.
The people who don't own homes, who want to buy them would scream
fairly loudly if the cost of wood were to jump due to an elimination
of the subsidies. Looking at it another way, our taxes are going
to decrease the cost of home buying or fresh fish.

Should it be that way? Probably not. The question becomes where
to draw the line. Should we eliminate the "subsidies" to the
NIH and NSF as well, so private industry can take over those areas
as well? If I believed that would occur, I would argue for this
but given the reality of current economic markets that focus on
short term ROI, I would have to say that this would greatly slow
down the rate of technological innovation. Celera would *not* be
in the position it is in today if the government hadn't invested
millions of dollars in developing the technologies required to speed
up DNA sequencing.

One thing is for sure, if the government didn't supprt physics research
to the degree that they do, we wouldn't have as many clever people
thinking about stuff like "negative energy".


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