Bulletin 9

Bull. 09. Sept, 12 1997. Paradox: To be (known) or not to be (known)

This is a bull. to the world. The problem is whether the topic is TV sitcom or great drama. Students will have to make their own judgment.

1. Homeokinetic science is important. Not because this ‘free university’ faculty says it and does it, but because its topics – the physical science of complexity, of nature, life, humankind, mind, and society – are subjects of real importance to people, as individuals, as a collective of people, as a sentient, sapient species.

2. The particular task that this group is trying to solve now is to develop a quantitative model for running a modern human society, wherever and whenever that society exists. The prospectus for that task was laid out in an invited chapter on social mechanics for graduate students in the book H. Ruel et al (eds.), Perspectives in Biomechanics, vol. I, Part A, “Homeokinetic Physics of Societies – a New Discipline. Autonomous Groups, Cultures, Polities”, Harwood Academic, NY, 1980.
The expectation was that experts in the social sciences would take the clues offered in that chapter and create the model. When time passed, and no one took up the challenge, the physicist members of this faculty took on the task themselves. It goes on now, for the past 2-1/2 years, but it isn’t easy. It would be helpful if some patron support were made available. Eighteen chapters have already been written, and are in a second round of review. From a homeokinetic point of view, a physically complete model begins to emerge.

3. Is that the rub – the support? Yes and no. The real rub is that the work being done has to be known, has to be attended to, has to become part of the current human scene. That task this group does not know how to accomplish, at least at the required public level. So why this bull.?

4. Because at this time, it is possible to show the things and issues that the group has been involved in which are now the subject of daily headlines, to indicate some sort of pertinent track record on knowing, on achieving. If such a demonstration can have no effect, then one might draw the inference that any attention to logical scientific endeavor is a complete waste of time. This group believes that such an issue has to be put to the test. So here goes: via contributions to the current scene.

5. A great deal of public attention is devoted to reporting the successes of the Mars Lander project. Relevant scientific-technical material provided by this group may be found in “Mineral Remains of Early Life on Earth? On Mars?” Geomicrobiology J. vol. 9, pp. 51-66, 1991. A more extensive discussion may be found in a number of chapters in Iberall, Wilkinson, White, Foundations for Social and Biological Evolution, Cri-de-Coeur Press, Laguna Hills, CA, 92653, 1993. These chapters were published in the period, 1984-1992.

6. August and September 1997 has seen quite a bit published on a space suit art, indicating difficulties (in the Mir maintenance), the wizardry of its current manufacturers, the great successes that Naval aviators had in creating the engineering achievements of putting the human into space in the 60s. The origins of the scientific art for the Government services, and introduction of its art and science from what is this year a 50th anniversary (from a 1947 start within a Government agency) may be found in “The Experimental Design of a Mobile Pressure Suit,” J. Basic Engineering, Trans. ASME, pp. 251-264, June 1970.

7. Within the past few days, a public outcry has emerged in the Simi Valley over a UCLA Public Health School epidemiological study, claiming excessive deaths from cancer to former employees of a secret nuclear testing Rocketdyne laboratory (formerly Atomics International),.whose workers were exposed to ionizing radiation during the period of 1950-1984, with additional cleanup of their site until 1994. The company had run 10 reactors on contract to the AEC, later DOE, for the generation of steam power. The issue involves what UCLA claims is excessive mortality in a test population of 4,563 people for which data from photographic monitoring badges are available. The issue studied was just the number of deaths found in that group from cancers, and a comparison with expected number of deaths. Experts on both sides are involved in the arguments, and here now the press pundits are getting into the act. Having started such studies some time in the past for the U.S. Army, support was sought at AEC to finish the task, and a study was reported publicly from a homeokinetic point of view as “Quantitative Modeling of the Physiological Factors in Radiation Lethality”, Ann. NY Acad. Sci., 147, pp. 1-81, 1967. A number of years later, when a rather definitive experimental study on the result of cancers at low level dosages came out, another overview was prepared from a UCLA base as “The Problem of Low-dosage Radiation Toxicity,” Amer. J. Physiol., 244, Regulative Integrative Comparative Physiol. vol.13, R7-R13, 1983.
Any reader of the last reference will clearly understand that its author has no desire to make public policy, nor to be paid from one side or the other to judge the case. The study has to speak for itself. It is clear that the three sides (Public, company, press) are so polarized that it will be very difficult for pure scientific reason to govern. The I983 paper took issue with the National Academy of Science Committee of that time. The rudimentary facts have hardly changed. They are that the nominal USA death rate is about 1 % per year of the population; that at present about 16 % of that death rate results from cancers. However that level does fluctuate from region to region, and time to time. For example in the 1920s, it was more like 8 % of the death rate. Complete the demographic numbers and you can estimate what might be the fluctuating number of cancer deaths you might expect from a small population of about 5,000 people. Be our guest, we leave it as an exercise for the student of this university (The demographic issues are dealt with in depth in the current studies. It is a course worth registering for).
You may be amused-astounded to find a letter to the editor in the LATimes Magazine section on Diana’s day and Teresa’s day. Its crafted message was chopped out by the editor, but the intent was clear. It was a plaint that the media pundits offer only bar talk versions of serious science, or play the game of overattention to the notorious. If you disregard their talk, as was received / not received at the time of Chernobyl, and the like, you may grasp that the letter’s message was precisely the same as Diana’s brother Spencer’s, omitting the then and since then hogwash of the media on what it reports.
Unfortunately, this note seems to be in the mode, in the groove, as the following remark will show. Having not mounted this piece until Sept. 14th, it was possible to find Sally Quinn’s piece in the LATimes. She concludes – on being known – that “the perfect kind of celebrity is the kind where everyone knows your name but not your face.” But the desire of this group is that thoughtful people should know the ideas of the homeokinetics of complex systems and their divergences, but not particularly this faculty’s faces or names.Really, truly. No brief exhilarating moment of seduction by the fates, human or otherwise, is required, only an acknowledgement of existence and of the pertinence of ideas.