December 04, 2007

The Thing About Knowledge Is... *Updated*

...It doesn't go away.

Reading biographies of scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, a few of them mention what happened when they told friends and/or coworkers that they had to leave town for a while: they got the reply: "Oh, are you working on the nuclear bomb project?"

That for the most secretive project in military history, with the possible exception of the Ultra project.

This wasn't proof of a leak in the high offices of government or army; it was a proof that physicists of the time knew what the hell was going on. Building an atomic bomb was not just theory at that point, but was something that could be put onto a blueprint. The math was already done. And when an atomic theorist friend of yours says he's leaving suddenly and can't say where to, and is joined in absence by several other leaders in the same field, it's a pretty safe guess something big is going down.

Why am I babbling on about this? Because knowledge is unstoppable. This is a basic truth of life. When humans used perspective in painting for the first time, the very way we think was changed forever. Show someone who had never seen a body of water before a boat, and they'll come up with their own design for something that floats, displaces water and carries people. They may have to work out the details on their own, and it will look different from the original idea, but eventually it will work. Granted, sometimes it takes a special sort of mind to manage it, but minds we have.

Once we know an idea is possible, we'll wedge it in to reality somehow. It's what we do.

The catch is this: once knowledge gets out there, it's available to anyone and everyone. Especially if the math is already done. Which makes the just-released NIE report so damning.

Which is why anyone who wants to go to war to stop knowledge is fighting a losing cause.


*Updated: H-H-H-Help Me, Doctor Zaius!*


posted by Thursday at 9:42 pm


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