Another kind of spike

selfAdjoint

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The amount of energy that can be released by a small number of people without national support has increased steadily. From the truck bomb that wrecked the federal building to the airplanes that destroyed the WTC is a ΔE of orders of magnitude. If we imagine this trend to continue into the rest of the century, what social changes will we see as a result? Are we already seeing the start of long range changes in the Patriot Act and Guantanamo?
 
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As the possible amount of damage increases steadily, we can only hope that our abilities to combat the risk increase at the same (or better) rate. Not to mention (in the case of the WTC) our building methods, materials, and etc. I was thinking about this not too long ago actually, and started wondering if this was perhaps the point of greatest risk of humanity. Our entire species could actually be wiped out by individuals at this point in time. As we grow off our planet, this risk becomes significantly less.

So perhaps, what we're now experiencing is the maximium possible risk for us as a species. As total amount of possible damage, that will have to increase steadily, one would assume.

Here's hoping the good guys keep up with the bad. :wink:
 

selfAdjoint

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We can hope...

I am concerned that eventually thermonuclear technology will be available to small groups (~100 or so).

Jim posted on the Hydrogen Bomb thread the following breakthrough in the early 1950s:

The little pellet that earlier,pre-1951, was filled with Polonium/Beryllium, was replaced with DD and/or DT salts that were squeezed at pressures in excess of 6 megabars. The upshot of the change was: with the Po-Be iniator, only 6 neutrons were typically avaiable in the 5 microsecond reflected decompression wave window after which criticallity dropped below "one"; the new pellet produced up to 10^10 neutrons during the same window
He may correct me if I'm wrong, but my impression is that after a deliverable weapon was attained, there wasn't that much attention to wild and crazy ideas in the official community. But the present situation, with the web, and widespread terrorism, seems to be a fertile seedbed for further breakthroughs in making nuclei do tricks.
 

Njorl

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Perhaps a socialogist will come up with some new law of society - the upper limit of personal freedom is inversely proportional to the potential harm one person can do. If this is so, the generally increasing trend world wide will be reversed.

All societies limit freedom. It is a good thing. It is good that people are not free to murder or steal or harm. As society progressed, these limitations naturally expanded to the point where they became questionable, as we try to find the happiest medium between repression and chaos. Some people like to delude themselves that there is some absolute morality that dictates this medium, independent of changeable modifiers; that there are natural rights that should be allowed, and natural restrictions that should be observed. That is just conditioning. I fear that technology is taking us down a path in which the happiest medium is moving toward more repression, not more freedom. That would be tragic.

Njorl
 

selfAdjoint

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Well the US Bill of Rights has a list that are agreed upon and cultural icons, rather that innate or God-given, but the ones on freedome of speech and religion are the most respected. The Second Amendment, on the right to bear arms, is the most constroversial. Aside from the usual arguments - does it empower the people or the states - there is the question of what constitutes an arm. A gun? A rocket? An H-bomb?

Seriously, of course if some atomic-for-the-people breakthrough is found, it won't be implemented by any legal group. I don't think regulation could stop it. Could it stop drugs?
 

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