While I am trying to decide which of my favorite physics conference memories to share, I’m going to briefly address a couple of the ideas left yesterday.
Myutopia was kidding when she said I should discuss universal health care and global warming. I don’t have a whole lot to say about either topics, but in light of Monday’s YouTube debate, I would like to make just couple of quick comments. While I don’t love John Edwards, I do think he is dead on about universal health care. Health care should not just be affordable it should be mandatory. We got into a good discussion on this blog a few months back when I discussed Dean’s health problems, our generally messed up health care system, and the importance of insurance companies paying for preventative health care measures. I haven’t the faintest idea how to go about reforming health care in this country to make absolutely certain that everyone has quality health care, get the prescriptions drugs they need, and feel compelled to care for themselves enough to never need treatment for completely preventable diseases. I dealt with Dean’s issues head on which thank God were relatively minor. Even so, that whole fiasco was bullshit. And I will be seeing Sicko soon.
Rather than talking specifically about global warming, I just want to say a few words about the energy crisis. I hope as a country we are finally starting to get past the global warming “debate” and dealing with the facts. The facts about what were are doing to this planet coupled with our frightening dependence on foreign oil without a doubt point to the fact that we need to turn to alternative energy. I hear people touting ethanol and hydrogen as the energies of the future. Honestly, I don’t really trust any form of energy that still relies on breaking chemical bonds and forming new ones. I see ethanol as a transition energy source to wean us off of oil but it can’t be much more than that without severely disrupting the agricultural economy and who knows what unforeseen dangers lurk (I am mostly referring to scientists worrying that a spike in corn growth could lead to a spike in fertilizer runoff into our oceans). And I’ve never been on board with hydrogen because it is an energy carrier and not a source. Since pure hydrogen doesn’t occur naturally on Earth, it needs to be extracted first in order to be stored. This extraction requires energy. From where? What I don’t see any politician discussing enough is exactly what most scientists agree to be the only viable solution to the energy crisis: we need a patchwork approach that mostly takes advantage of multiple renewable energy sources (wind, solar) and supplements it with other sources whether chemical or nuclear. Politicians still want to put all the eggs in one basket because that is easiest. It is easy to throw money at researchers for the specific purpose of developing a technology to go with a specific energy source and then forget about it for another hundred years. Wrong. We know from other types of technology that evolution and innovation is key. I firmly believe this about energy as well.
Speaking of evolution, yes my mom had to bring to the table that when I was very little I thought I started life out as a kitten, then a puppy and then a human baby. I have no idea where I came up with this or how I could have so grossly misunderstood basic human development and still turned out to be a scientist. Maybe I was trying to communicate my own toddler Buddhist philosophy. Who knows? But it does explain why I am often plagued by dreams of being pregnant with kittens.
Lastly Harry Potter. Harry, Harry, Harry. My lovely fellow female physicist friend wants nothing more in this world than to turn me into a Harry fan. Let me try to explain why I resist so. I think it is fantastic that the richest woman in England is a children’s book author. It says maybe hope isn’t lost for our youth. But when the hype is so thick I can hardly breath without hearing about it, it is an utter turnoff to me. I love that kids are reading. I love that parents are reading to their kids. But I’m not a child or a parent right now, so I’m in absolutely no hurry. I know, I know that childless women in their mid twenties fully enjoy these books (labwench) but I’d prefer to let the wind die down and read the books when I’m good and damn ready. Right now, between my official book group, my “unofficial book group” (composed of the other readers in my family and circle of friends), my magazine subscriptions and my school reading I have enough on my plate.
Stay tuned for more discussions based on your suggestions!