Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Stoic Path: Stoicism and Nuclear Fusion

The Stoics regard nature as sacred. This is the basis for the Stoic mantra: we ought to live "according to nature." While this mantra is designed for us to uncover the moral imperative embedded in the Law of nature, we can deduce that this is also intended as a technological mandate. Our technologies ought also to mimic or be inspired by nature. An example offered in my book (p. 163) discusses the contrast between the heat engine (i.e. internal combustion engine) and the fuel cell as approaches which highlight these differences. The heat engine is not a natural approach - it opposes nature and we are as a consequence living through a period of global warming as a result. The fuel cell in contrast is based upon a paradigm which mimics photosynthesis and if developed in this spirit will conform with nature's intent.

By the same token we might offer a comparison between nuclear fission (contrary to nature) and nuclear fusion (according to nature). The first approach which is used to power the conventional reactor is not generally seen in nature's design - the stars however are powered by fusion, and might therefore be seen to conform with the Stoic ideal. For more background on the progress toward fusion (ref. "The Next Really Cool Thing" Thomas L. Friedman, NYT, March 14, 2009) go to:

The Lawrence Livermore National Ignition Facility

“If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it”

Russell McNeil, PhD, is the author of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained by Skylight Paths Publishing.

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