X-Message-Number: 11322
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: Some replies 
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 23:06:41 +1100 (EST)

Hi everyone!

To John de Rivaz:
I would actually include the case of reactors launched from Earth. As you
say, this can be done so that the fuel remains subcritical until
brought together in orbit. Moreover as we gain skill in launching
payloads, the risk becomes less. Even now when a radioactive payload is
launched it is first put into a thick lead container such that it will not
burn up in the atmosphere, even if the launch fails. There are plenty of
protections we can put on such a cargo --- even more than we do now.
(I am not speaking about Russian launches: they seem to have less fear
of nuclear material, and do not take simple precautions that Americans
or Europeans would take). 

To Mike Perry:
Basically, you believe it will someday become possible to exactly
duplicate anyone or any creature that has died in the past. I do not. I 
doubt that these beliefs can be argued on on their merits unless we're
both VERY patient. When you blithely assume that it will someday be
possible to make an EXACT reconstruction of a past person or creature,
you are making an assumption with which I disagree. Sure, we could 
(using what we know about Lucy) reconstruct a creature which resembled 
her in all those parameters we know, but that is hardly an exact 
reconstruction. Given what we know, there are many possible
reconstructions of Lucy, and we'll not have any means to choosing the one
which might be Lucy --- or even working out that the millions of versions
we've made still does not contain Lucy.

And we are NOT quantum DEVICES. Just like all matter, we obey the laws of
quantum mechanics (assuming that quantum mechanics is approximately
correct; as you know, we still haven't unified QM and General Relativity,
a fact which casts doubt on them both). But that does not make us into 
DEVICES, nor for that matter does it mean that the laws of quantum
mechanics play a major (or even minor) role in how we work. A DEVICE is
not just something which obeys some set of laws: are we then also 
gravitational devices, thermodynamic devices, etc? A DEVICE is designed
specifically to use some set of laws to achieve a goal of its designer.
(I assume that you are not referring to any God here?).

An electrical DEVICE uses the laws of electricity; a gravitational device
uses laws of gravity. But everything we currently know about the working
of our brain tells me that quantum mechanics plays very little direct
role in how we think. Sure, our brain uses lots of chemistry, and
chemistry depends on the activity of electrons belonging to the atoms 
involved, and electrons (given their mass) show quantum effects in cases
in which no other common form of matter does. But at the level of
chemistry occurring in our brain, that quantum mechanics is restricted 
solely to explaining how the chemistry works --- as it works in other
nonorganic cases, in the entire world. That is what I mean by saying that
it plays very little direct role.

As for the Bekenstein bounds, please explain them or give a reference. I
am not familiar with them. I do know about differential equations and
the effects of nonlinearity, and given that predictions of quantum
mechanics reduce to complicated partial differential equations, I in turn
think that your ideas seem unlikely.

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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