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Promoting the Planck Club: How Defiant Youth, Irreverent Researchers and Liberated Universities Can Foster Prosperity Indefinitely by Donald Braben

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Science, Technology, and Economic Growth: Can Their Magical Relationships Be Controlled?

It may seem surprising, but in many respects our world is mainly unchanging. To paint a simple panoramic picture, we now know that the Earth and every tangible thing in it consist of atoms and molecules weakly or strongly coupled together that are virtually the same today as they were when our first human ancestors took to the stage a few million years ago. Effectively, therefore, atoms and molecules are immortal, and we are all the products of recycling on the grandest scale. Thus, the elemental ingredients of our bodies and everything we can see, use, or consume are exactly the same today as they were in the fourteenth century, say, as they are for every animal and every living creature; only the details of their arrangement have changed. The Earth as a physical system has been far from unchanging, of course. Continents move and collide, climate is subject to violent excursions as is the protection provided by its magnetic shield against extraterrestrial bombardment, and each species of the vast spectrum of life on Earth must be able to adjust to the effects of these and other upheavals or it becomes extinct. However, the processes of evolution create species designed to take advantage of specific environmental niches (availability of food, predator-prey relationships, etc.). The behavior of each species is adjusted for survival in that niche, and it is therefore largely unchanging as ...

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