Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The irony of 1945's twin triumphs ...

1945 was , on any account, an extraordinary year, not the least for its twin scientific triumphs.

At the time, it was almost universally held that the Man-made Bomb was the way of an atomic future so bright we'd have to wear shades .

By contrast, 1945's new Microbe-made medicine (natural penicillin) was viewed as but a temporary anomaly, a dusty throw back to the outdated caldron practises of medieval midwives.

But more than a half century later we are no longer so sure of all of this.

Social Darwinism turns Peace into Undeclared War...

The attributes of the Age of the Big (Social Darwinism Mk I) makes the idea of contrasting it with the concept of the War of the Big (Social Darwinism Mk II) a moot point.

This is because the Social Darwin idea of reducing all Life to an unceasing, total, struggle for life or death means that only a formal declaration on paper could separate Darwinian War from Darwinian Peace.

It was always assumed , without much proof, that in this struggle the big would  inevitably triumph over the small and then the ever bigger would do likewise over the merely 'big' .

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wartime Manhattan's Projects : big Little Boy versus the tiny ampoule that saved little Patty Malone

The Little Boy atomic bomb that dropped on Hiroshima was a very Big Bomb indeed : 5000 kilograms , 300 cm long, by 70 cm wide and 70 cm deep.

Long and thin : hence Little Boy.

 Big Science needed tens of thousands of workers to build it.

By contrast, the tiny ampoule of natural penicillin that saved the life of  little baby Patty Malone was only 5 grams in weight, .7cm by .7 cm by 3 cm in size.

Dawson's penicillin 1940-1945 : made in the Public Domain , FOR the Public Domain

Howard Florey's penicillin 1940-1945, by way of pointed contrast, was Pure penicillin for Purely military use only.

He believed that penicillium were tiny ancient life  and so , by definition , linear progressive Evolution's "Yesterday's Men" .

He was sure civilized scientific Man was bound to make penicillin better and cheaper than some slimy mold in a sort of  witch's caldron .

Crude Penicillin and Bacterial Transformation : two neologisms of Henry Dawson

Henry Dawson was far from a wordsmith but he did coin two neologisms that have survived in today's scientific and historical lexicon.

One was "bacterial transformation" (a form of HGT, horizontal gene transfer -- basically non-Darwinian inheritance) and the other was "crude penicillin".

To explain this latter term is is best to recognize it is really a term of scientific and political polemics.

Are the small just a tiny part of the Modern past or a vital part of the Postmodern future ?

Two hundred years from the event, historians will be telling classrooms that when it comes to exam time, they should remember that WWII boiled down to just one issue.

One - scientific - issue.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hating the handicapped isn't a crime in the Canada of Henry Dawson's birth

When an Ontario mom living a few doors away wrote a letter urging a couple euthanize their autistic grandchild, the general public was outraged.

 But not the police ---- or the academics in this area of the law.

Apparently hating the handicapped is not a hate crime in Canada : but hating Jews, Blacks , Orientals, Catholics or Gays definitely is.

Despite this mile-wide gap in current law, it won't hurt to remind Canadians that Hitler started off by killing the handicapped and only moved onto killing Jews and Gypsies later.

Which is why Henry Dawson was so focused on protecting handicapped individuals, deemed "4Fs of the 4Fs",  from the baneful neglect of Allied governments seemingly intent on matching the Nazis' policies in a muted "me too", step by step ......