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Sci Tech    H4'ed 1/3/21

Con Fusion Reigns

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Big Bang / Cold Fusion
Big Bang / Cold Fusion
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The reality glares coldly and harshly upon any of those who can wrench their minds from the comforting delusions of normality to face the unsparing question that has overwhelmed the writer. They discover a frightful queerness has come into life. Even quite unobservant people now are betraying, by fits and starts, a certain wonder, a shrinking and fugitive sense that something is happening so that life will never be quite the same again.

- H.G.Wells, Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945)

As we fast approach the Singularity, we are nearing that point in the paradigm shift ahead where we will need to change language horses in midstream soon. Whoa, Nelly!

It always seems to be about language, some genius nincompoop comes along and brings us through a concept that was always there, but unseen, until our hero (usually a guy; I guess girls can't do the math; imagine the kind of world it would be if they could) talks us through it with tweaked words that we reader-respond to in sufficient numbers that we go, 'yeah, okay, why not?' and next thing you know Earth's not flat anymore but mindblowingly round.

Soon, very soon, Google, hard at work on a quantum computer, combined with Moore's Law, will announce another linguistic breakthrough that will bring us through the concept of being One and Zero, On and Off -- at the same time. Currently, we're (guys and gals) calling that state a qubit. Why a qubit? I wondered. Does the qu refer to queer bit -- you know, like a Bradley/Chelsea particle, giving up the secrets of its physics, jailed either way off-and-on whether On-or-Off, to set the rest of us free from the molecular bigotry of our collective digi-stim culture? Then I read further, found it was nothing that deep, and intuited that the qu referred to quantum, which is further evidence of my political erosion under the Lesser Evil regime, but at least I'm no longer living a life of illusion (as Bogie would say it.) Oh, wait.

Anyway, speaking of no longer stimulating digital illusions, recently, while casually reading various mainstream publications, I came across worrisome signs of nincompoopery without the attendant genius required for the piece to make sense. Often, if it's not a qubit, or double entendre, there's a risk that we're looking at quackery. Take, for instance, the Guardian Environment piece a few of days ago. "Is nuclear fusion the answer to the climate crisis?" by Oscar Schwartz. Nuclear fusion? Huh? I was nonplussed because just last week I reviewed Daniel Ellsberg's new book here, The Doomsday Machine (highly recommended), and one section of it -- the development and testing of the H-Bomb -- was so f*cking scary I needed helium gas after reading it just to lift my spirits.

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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Oceania.

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