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Contemplating Quantum Physics, Bach’s Music and International Affairs in Duvall, WA
Making of 21st Century: View from Physics or Science, and Music (and International Relations) with Exuberance and Humility or Challenge for International Studies or Science and Society: PHYS 216 / SIS 216 orWhat Is To Be Done? Guest Lecture for SIS201, January 29, 2010Vladi Chaloupka, Professor of Physics Adjunct Professor of Music Adjunct Professor of International Studies firstname.lastname@example.org/users/vladi
What I will be talking about • CV of VC and importance (?) of small nations • (but VC himself? The most modest Professor on campus, by far !!! ) • Physics (and Molecular Biology) as a source of a different Worldview • The Basic Problem and the Big Gap • What Is To Be Done, and what I am doing: PHYS 216 / SIS 216 (Spring 2010) • How naïve was Albert Einstein? • Conclusions: Fermi paradox, bonfire metaphor and Homo Sapiens
A test: am I really lecturing to Jackson School? What Is To Be Done? Vladimir Chaloupka  Readers well versed in the history of political philosophy will have recognized my title as identical to that of the most famous piece by my infamous namesake. Well, he was a rebel, and so am I. But the similarity ends there, I hope.
A thinker from a very large nation: “Even more than Vietnam 30 years ago, Iraq constitutes a major strategic setback. There is no getting around this. But Iraq is just that--a setback. What is essential is that the U.S. cut its losses there, contain the consequences and look for new opportunities to advance its interests around the world.” Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations
And now for something completely different: • The modern era has been dominated by the culminating belief, expressed in different forms, that the world and Being as such is a wholly knowable system governed by a finite number of universal laws that man can grasp and rationally direct for his own benefit. … This, in turn, gave rise to the proud belief that man, as the pinnacle of everything that exists, was capable of objectively describing, explaining and controlling everything that exists .... Vaclav Havel former Czech dissident / President / playwright / philosopher
Science Ingredients: • “Physics is Different”: Creation of the Universe, Quantum mechanics, … • “Molecular Biology is (differently) Different”: the “myosin” as an example of a marvelous machine • The phenomenon of “Phase transition”: The Basic Problem and the Big Gap
The Equation everyone knows: E = mc2 E = ma2 E = mb2 E = mc2 Plus conservation of energy: Total energy at the beginning = Total energy at the end
What is the mass of bound system: M -> m1 + m2 Mc2 + E(binding) = m1c2 + m2c2 Therefore M = m1 + m2 – E(binding)/c2 • => For sufficiently strong binding M -> 0 !!! • => (???) Creation of the Universe out of Nothing (???)
Creation of the Universe • Recent Physics Colloquium: “Why is there Something rather than Nothing?” Conclusion: “Maybe there is Nothing, cleverly disguised as Something.”
Physics is Different • Recent decades have taught us that physics is a magic window. It shows us the illusion that lies behind reality - and the reality that lies behind illusion. Its scope is immensely greater than we once realized. We are no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, or fields of force, or geometry, or even space and time. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself. J.A.Wheeler
The Andromeda Galaxy: 2 million light years away. The most distant object visible by naked eye (you have to know where to look, and find a really dark place, but the experience is very much worth it!) Note: for details on when and how to see Andromeda, see http://www.physics.ucla.edu/ ~huffman/m31.html
Fig. 19: Marvelous Molecular machines contd. Left: “spontaneous” assembly and disassembly of a microtubule Above: a kinesin molecule walks[sic] along a microtubule, carrying an organelle See http://multimedia.mcb.harvard.edu/anim_innerlife_hi.html
Einstein as Scientist, Musician and Prophet • Einstein as scientist: In 2005 we celebrated the Centenary of Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis • Einstein as musician: from a review: “Einstein plays excellently. However, his world-wide fame is undeserved. There are many violinists who are just as good.” • Einstein as prophet: “Nuclear weapons changed everything except our way of thinking.”
The Basic Problem • For the first time in human history, the capability of causing extreme harm is, or will soon be, in the hands of individuals or small groups. This is the 'Basic Problem'. The actual manifestation of the problem will come as an intentional or accidental misuse of our new powers. • Illustration: knowledge of nuclear physics is not sufficient to actually build a nuclear weapon (expense, detectability). • Contrast with molecular biology (which I love !!!)
the Basic Problem is a reflection of the Big Gap: the ever-increasing gap between the cumulative, exponential progress in science and technology on the one hand, and on the other hand, the lack of comparable progress in our ability to use our new technological tools thoughtfully and responsibly.
Aristotle as a case study: Aristotle Physics: F = m times v F = m times a Aristotle Philosophy: "of the above mentioned forms, the perversions are as follows: of monarchy, tyranny; of aristocracy, oligarchy; of constitutional government, democracy."
What Is To Be Done? • Education • Risk Assessment (instead of “relinquishment”) • Defensive and Preventive measures (intentional acts / accidents / natural ) • Coping with the aftermath • Strengthening / Reform of International Law see http://www.phys.washington.edu/users/vladi/bp.doc for an essay on these issues and a Research Proposal NOTE: “we” as in “we Americans” vs. “we” as in “we, the citizens of the world”
Implications for International Studies • As argued in “What Is To Be Done”, the unrestricted national sovereignty is not compatible with modern science and technology • In particular, the idea of the USA as a benevolent hegemon is not applicable • Restricting national sovereignty is NOT equivalent to a “World Government”: in fact, some decentralization may be necessary, and even the US itself may be have become too big for a central government (cf. the California experiment of Gov. Schwarzenegger) • If this difficult but well-defined problem is addressed (as our Founding Fathers did two hundred years ago) then perhaps the even more difficult problems of Human Security can be solved
What I do about it, and what can you do: • PHYS 216 / SIS 216 in Spring quarter: NW or I&S; SIS core course • SIS Qualifying projects (SIS 494) and Task Force • Independent Study (PHYS 400 or SIS 499) • The Bristol adventure: expectations, upheaval and Proposal • Student Pugwash USA at UW: http://students.washington.edu/pugwash/ “SPUSA was founded based on a conviction that young people can and should “play a vital role in determining the socially responsible application of science and technology … While examining all sides of an issue, SPUSA increases students' ability to think independently about the issues that affect society -- issues that range from international conflict to environmental protection, from genetics research to civil rights. SPUSA focuses on the interplay that lies at the juncture of science, technology, and public policy. ”
PHYS216 / SIS216: • Science and non-science students in the same class, as microcosm of society • Learning not just from Instructor but also from each other • BOTH PHYS 216 and SIS 216 satisfy EITHER NW or I&S requirement (your choice) • Counts as SIS core course • Eligible for Qualifying Paper (SIS 494) • Average grade (science) = ave. grade (non-science) • Syllabus: • 0) Introduction • Nuclear physics: E=mc2 • Molecular Biology: DNA • Discussions and Debates • J.S.Bach on pipe organ in Walker Ames • Grand Finale
Was Einstein a naïve scientist? • `When Kansas and Colorado have a quarrel over the water in the Arkansas River, they don't call out the National Guard in each state and go to war over it. They bring a suit in the Supreme Court of the United States and abide by the decision. There isn't a reason in the world why we cannot do that internationally.' Harry Truman see www.phys.washington.edu/users/vladi/naive.doc
Do we, occasionally, and temporarily, stumble upon the Truth? We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. … . Now, we can see a new world coming into view. … A world where the United Nations, freed from cold war stalemate, is poised to fulfill the historic vision of its founders. The (former) US President George H.W.Bush, reacting to the 1st Gulf War “The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology.” National Security Strategy 2002
And what about J.S.Bach? “what is the value of Elementary Particle Physics for National Defense?” “none, except it makes the Nation more worthy of defending” ------- “what is the value of Art of Fugue” “none, except it (or something equivalent for you) makes the Civilization more worthy of preserving”
Summary: Fermi paradox Big Bang as Bonfire Homo Sapiens