Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Things I Do Not Understand, Einstein

Admittedly, there are more things I do not understand than things I do understand. The yawning chasm of ignorance stretches off into infinity for most human beings, myself in particular. I assume that if an amoeba and a tree and an elephant each have what they need to survive as a member of a given species, then I have a reasonable chance to survive my statistically expected lifespan as a human. Even though I am not the smartest person alive, I will survive because most human beings survive. But, if only me and two other people were on the planet right now, our odds of surviving would not be high - especially if the main survival skills of the three remaining humans were heating food in the microwave, watching television, and showing up at the cube farm every day. Those are my main survival skills. If my two companions possessed better skills, they would have to kill me for being an enormous liability to the survival of the human race. I would not like it, but I would understand.

Sometimes I consider what the world would be like if all humans were as smart as Albert Einstein. I do not know if he was the smartest human being who ever lived. Maybe he was just the most original thinker. His journey toward the theory of relativity began when he wondered what it would look like to catch up to a beam of light. Some how human beings evolved from running for their lives across the African savanna to an underachieving university student/patent clerk doing time in the earliest iteration of the cube farm. From hungry lions to the Theory of Relativity. Anyone else think that is downright funny?

Today, I had occasion to visit another modern office building filled with more cubes. Nice people but utterly depressing to find more institutionalized cube farmers. It is true that we can not all grow up to be Einstein or movie stars or professional football players or President or marry the Prince of Wales. In the western world most of us grow up to be cube farmers, staring at computers all day long, tending our data. Is this somehow Einstein's fault? Maybe. If our ancestors had not outrun the lions, the lions would never have evolved to cube farms. That much I do know.


Jackie said...

From Cyberkit:

(I tried to post this comment, but it wouldn't let me. All it did was take me to a google page and ask me to register/sign in)

I can't resist: If we were all as smart as Einstein (and/or each other), how would anyone know?

Nikola Tesla essentially invented alternating current. Without it, life as we know it would not exit. Our cube farms would be lit by candle or torch. Without it, I'd be able to hunt/gather and support myself upon the earth.

My mentor, an electrical engineer, once confessed to me that nobody actually knows why electricity works. I blame Tesla for me being a slave to my dumbputer and TV set.

And for cube farms...

Jackie said...

In addition to not understanding how electricity works, the engineers I know also do not understand why an ice tray of hot water freezes into cubes much faster than an ice tray of cold water in a refrigerator's freezer compartment. When that debate erupted at work, it was the youngest secretary who proved it to those pocket-protected, slide ruled, left brained smarty pants....