Comets found to be sissies

The recent comet shooting mission of Deep Impact crashing into Tempel 1 has garnered a lot of popular interest. I suspect in no small part because it evokes the image of meteorites and comets bringing cataclysm down on Homo sapiens sapiens. Perhaps this mission makes us feel hopeful of interceding in such a debacle (a la Bruce Willis)? I have no idea whether or not that is a well founded feeling.

Regardless, this chain of thought reminds me of our principle beliefs in the meliorative properties of modeling and simulation in the social sciences. Surely understanding why we do the things we do (i.e. wage war), is the first step to really doing something about it. And we are a far greater threat to ourselves than is any comet or other celestial spoiler.

A living species has two possible destinies: survival or death. Let our work in the sciences be an agent of human survival. A manifesto of such a survival could evolve on the internet. A living, public, and participatory document written on the internet could study the past of human survival, and foster future human survival. That is something to work on, and is a retrospective aspect of this work.

I really believe that emerging modeling and simulation techniques will provide a prospective component for addressing our most vexing social questions.

So, we all agree being vaporized by a significant meteorite strike is a bad thing. We can happily spend lots of money on shooting one on the Fourth of July. Me too: I am all for it! I realize a lot of crucial basic science is being done with this mission, and kudos to NASA for encouraging that with a show. But we should also be calculating the ingress of the next world war, for its arrival will occur inside the scale of human history, not inside a geological time frame.

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