Science, Industry, and Economy

Science did it. In less than a century science: took us from discovery of vaccines and antibiotics to eradication of smallpox; from the first heavier than air flight to a rocket to the moon; from invention of the lightbulb to smartphones and the world wide web; from the discovery of the structure of DNA to sequencing genomes; from food shortages to food abundance; from discovery of radio waves to geosynchronous satellites.

Industry did it. In less than a century industry: mass produced lightbulbs, pencils, paper, cars, radios, TV, computers, vaccines, and virtually everything else imaginable; made air travel accessible to nearly everyone; developed multiple ways to clean and deliver mass quantities of water and store, process, and ship food; made communication nearly instant, cheap, and reliable.

Science and industry did their part. Imagine an alien in a little ship orbiting the Earth watching all of this unfold. Imagine a kindergartener learning about what science and industry have recently done. How do you explain to the alien or the child why all the ills that science and industry created technological solutions for (hunger, poverty, preventable diseases, etc.) still exist?

The answer invariably is: economy. “We can’t afford it!” How can this be?

Making a lightbulb—tungsten, florescent, LED— requires that we work with what exists in the universe, the raw elements, and combine them in a fashion agreeable to the rules of the universe. Efficiently mass producing lightbulbs requires that we develop techniques to work with materials, energy, and processes on a large scale. Both science and industry experience real constraints placed on them by the rules of the universe and reality of the available resources here on Earth.

Economics, however, is less constrained. It is a human construct, a delusion, a fantasy that exists in our own minds. Human delusions can be good. The shapes=letters=words=concepts you’re reading now only work in the light of the delusional aspect of our minds. Borders and laws are delusions as well, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. There are some real “economic” constraints. Not everyone can have all the water they want to fill pools and water lawns in the Desert Southwest of the United States. That constraint is placed on us by external forces (nature if you will). But everyone there could have one reliable car, adequate housing, health care, education, and appropriate nutrition. In fact, everyone on Earth could have have that. The reason they don’t is because the constraints created by our own delusions = economics.

Science and industry work, “economy” has failed. It is time for us to come up with a better economic system.




The Book Exception

The second most notorious bug in Universe 42 was known as the Book Exception. The Book Exception was a joke entered by an anonymous programmer (probably Kevin) that altered space-time (gravity) on the exposed side of a book creating what is most easily described as a “gravitational vacuum”. The book, or really any printed material, experienced an otherwise imperceptible increase in gravity on the exposed side and would be sucked in that direction*. The result was not just an increased tendency to fall over when standing straight, but in special circumstances, the book, if it were say leaning to the left, could actually rotate up to the vertical and then fall to the right. If books or papers were stacked lying on their sides the Book Effect caused the top book to very slightly raise, reducing friction. Then the second book or paper would begin to experience a reduced, but present, Book Exception field, and so on. The result was that stacked books or papers had a tendency to autonomously slump to one side or slide wildly when being moved.

The most fiendish aspect of the Book Exception is that it applied to books and papers. Unlike other artifacts, paper products are:  1) inherently bendy; 2) generally have an asymmetrical architecture (spine and tail); 3) are often placed on shelves where half the book was protected from observation; and 4) are found in the company of either people who want nothing to do with them (office workers) or people who are more fascinated by the information they contain than how they behave. Thus, despite millions of people witnessing effects of the Book Exception daily, there were a myriad of reasonable excuses to ignore it.

The first person to discover the Book Effect was Hito Higawa, a Japanese architect who was convinced the universe was out to get him. Interestingly it was that paranoia that simultaneously drove him to study why his books kept falling over, and once he had discovered the Book Exception, the reason why no one believed him. Higawa’s work was only accidentally discovered after his death when a Twitter meme #BBFOMHY (“Books be falling on my head, yo.”), went viral.

It was, of course, the Book Exception that allowed inhabitants of Universe 42 to definitively show that they existed in an entirely simulated Universe, and, if appropriately applied, made a barn raising that much easier.


*Note: the gravity fluctuation was created by weakening the separation of the membranes of the multiverse, therefore the orientation of the increased gravity was independent of the region’s dominate gravity body, for example the Earth.