Discovering Fire

One day, when we have mastered quantum computing, discovered the secret of cold fusion and found the principles of Warp Drive, we’ll be able to put these products on the market without unnecessary interference from the attorneys. Then, as Richard Fernandez at the Belmont Club blog has so elegantly said, “for the second time in history, man will have discovered fire.” I have long thought that such things were just around the corner, though sometimes it’s a very long trip to the corner. Quantum physics was discovered by serendipity in 1905, and the work on Quantum Physics and Quantum Mechanics was mostly completed by the 1930s. We know the names: Planck, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Bohr, Dirac, Pauli and many others. What we don’t know yet are the names in the history books for the successor to Quantum Physics, for a successor there will be, just as the Quantum succeeded Newtonian physics. I don’t know what the new physics will look like, but I feel certain it will change everything, just as Quantum physics changed everything. The speed of light will prove to be no stumbling block to interstellar travel, and in a just world each year the graduating class of Harvard Law School will be put on a ship and sent to a cold and distant planet somewhere in the vicinity of Sirius. I spoke of this to my friend Og, and he had some very interesting things to say:

Before his cave mouth streaked with soot
My friend Og sat at ease
A scraggly dog lay by his foot
Untroubled by his fleas
What think you, Og? I smiled and said
The stars are in our reach
And medicine, by what I’ve read
Has marched well past the leech
Og rubbed a fist on stubbled beard
And looked me in the eye
And said, That ain’t what I just heered
Some feller said the sky
Was smaller now with slower light
And here he spat with scorn
Them lawyer fellers just last night
Come back afore they’re born
I knowed inventin’ fire’d lead
To foolery one day
And now dependin’ who you read
There mought be hell to pay
Them lawyers sent to Sirius
They took ‘em faster’n light
And somethin’ real mysterious
Gave everyone a fright
Like Einstein said when you go fast
The clock slows down your time
These lawyer fellers they went past
The speed that light can climb
So when they ended up the trip
And opened up the door
There wan’t no body in the ship
Just clothes there on the floor
They ain’t been born yet, understand
Time winded back the clock
They brought the ship home backwards and
It’s sittin’ in the dock
I never liked this science stuff
No good can come, I fear
The fire, yes, was good enough
And maybe good malt beer
But otherwise we take a chance
Unleashing somethin’ mean
No reason we just got to dance
With atoms and the gene
I left him there, his drinking horn
His club and dog at hand
And dreamed of lawyers never born
And knew that life was grand

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