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PEOPLE Make a world of difference ! Were proud of our employees and their contributions to your success and ours. Call us for quality printing, binding, mailing and data processing services. Get to know the people at Futura. FUTURA P.O. Box 17427 Austin, TX 78760-7427 389-1500 COMMUNICATIONS, INC still, as Weinberg gallantly concedes, “No one knows how galaxies formed or how the genetic mechanism got started or how memories are stored in the brain.” “What about God?” \(That’s the title of guesses. He thinks we will not find any signs of “an interested God” in the final theory: After the demystification of both the heavens and the person, our experience has tended “toward a chilling impersonality in the laws of nature. … As we have discovered more and more fundamental physical’ principles, they seem to have less and less to do with us. … No one has ever discovered any correlation between the importance of anything to us and its importance in the laws of nature.” As a lobbyist for the Super Collider this fellow is too honest. He is going to convince the congresspersons elected by the citizens that they should spend $32 per capita on a search that won’t show us God and won’t be important to us, either? That’s what he says. But it cannot be quite what he means. I care, don’t you, where the universe is, and how it’s put together, and whether there are other universes, and whether they run on other laws, or the final laws of ours. Anyone who stands under the canopy of the night sky, or lonely at the edge of the ocean, thinks, wonders, and cares about these things. I care to know these answers whether they disillusion or comfort me, whether they directly affect me or don’t. Weinberg has overlooked the fact naked as a babe at birth that the final laws of nature are important to each one of us because they will help us to know who we are. Why has all this cosmic sturm and drang come smashing down on the outback of longsuffering Cretaceous Texas? Well, it has to do with chalk. “Running north from Austin to Dallas is an 80-million-year-old geological formation known as the Austin Chalk,” Weinberg explains. “Chalk is impervious to water, soft enough for easy digging, and yet strong enough so that it is unnecessary to reinforce the tunnel walls. One could hardly hope for better material through which to dig the Super Collider tunnel.” Weinberg explains God help the Super Collider if thereby the author is trying to make the case for it more compelling that the 54-mile ring-around-the-proton can answer “the question that particle physicists most desperately [need] to be answered: the question of how the symmetry that relates the weak and electromagnetic interactions is broken.” We need the Super Collider, he says, to generate two beams of 20-trillion-volt protons that collide head-on to settle whether, when electroweak symmetry breaks, either a Higgs particle which may be a new elementary particle that has not yet been observed or evidence of new strong forces, will be found. And beyond that: “Experiments at high energy accelerators like the Super Collider may even solve the most important problem facing modern cosmology: the problem of the missing dark matter,” which constitutes most of the mass of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. The missing dark matter of this issue in Congress is the eight billion dollars. Reagan, Stockman, Baker, Darman, and Bentsen so violently gutted the government’s tax revenues in 1981 that nothing has been the same in Washington or the United States since. How can we expect congresspersons who don’t much understand science themselves to appropriate this money when there is no chance that most of the citizens will be able to understand what it’s for? Steven Weinberg seems to have sensed that he would be foolish to oversell his case. He makes some scientific promises, but not that the $8 billion [the original cost esiimate] will buy us the final theory. The physicists want the project paid for, he says, because “without it we may not be able to continue with the great intellectual adventure of discovering the final laws of nature. …. No one can say whether any one accelerator will let us make the last step to a final theory. I do know that these machines are necessary successors to a historical progression of great scientific instruments. …. Whether or not the final laws of nature are discovered in our lifetime, it is a great thing for us to carry on the tradition of holding nature up to examination, of asking again and again why it is the way it is.” I am afraid that Dr. Weinberg’s salad-like case for the Super Collider, when re-tossed with a small dollop of irreverence, comes out tasting like this: “We particle physicists are the most fundamental scientists and we want the people to spend eight billion dollars so we can continue our intellectual adventure.” Wat then, if there is one, is the larger political issue raised within these noble aspirations to understand where we are and why? Once a person achieves, with Weinberg’s guidance, a some what abstract understanding of the question of the eight-billion-dollar test tube, one may also descry that larger issue. The question, which no rational advocate of the Super Collider would press on a Congress controlled by corporate money, is whether the power to control the exploitation of the final laws of nature the power that will adhere, at least for a goodly time, to whoever pays for dis should belong to people through their governments or to international corporations. If the American government, or alternately the governments of Europe, do not pay for this research, the international corporations well may, and when they find the final theory they will patent it and corner its lucrative applications, enormously engorging themselves. We the earth people can hardly claim title to the final knowledge of space and time if our species ever acquires it, but we can at least keep it out of the hands of the most irresponsible form of social power we have permitted to organize and get loose among us on earth. Then, too, we are a species, a kind of life unto ourselves, together as one on this planet in the universe, and we want to know where we are, that is, who we are. Religions have been telling us for millenia that they know the answers to these questions and perchance some of them may have guessed some of them but they do not know them. Whether this year, or a little later, whether in Ellis County or under the Jura Mountains near Geneva, we should act together to pay for the inquiry to know. We went to the moon for mixed and mostly military reasons, but now we are sending messages to other civilizations if there are any. As Steven Weinberg tells us and as Einstein knew before him, we may be able to find out where and what the universe is. I’ll pay my $32 for the Super Collider if you will. It sure beats paying half the income tax for the albatross Pentagon or the sales tax for the Alamodome or the energy tax to spare the superrich a true wealth tax. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17 VFW srovr.T.,,,11701 ,k