Setting the Bar

This just in: Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Let’s start with this – I absolutely believe that it is physically impossible for anything to accelerate to a speed that is faster than light. Einstein said so and countless others that followed him agree.

Having said that, if the government announced that it was funding a massive research project to find a way to accelerate to a speed faster than that of light…I would stand up and applaud.

Why would I do that? Why would I want to “waste” time and money on a task I believe is doomed to fail?

There are a few reasons; the first being…maybe Einstein was wrong. If he was, then the universe suddenly becomes our playground. We could fling ourselves to the stars and live to see new worlds opened up. The prize would be fantastic beyond imagination.

Another reason is that the offshoots of such a program could also provide benefits beyond our imagination. Do a Google Search for “Things discovered by accident” and you’ll see what I mean.

And finally, there is the hope that it brings. I would love to read daily updates on this type of research instead of daily updates on indictments of Trump’s “best people”. Even if it was hopeless, I would still find hope. I know this because I still buy the occasional lottery ticket even while I’m well aware that I’m more likely to be eaten by a polar bear while shopping in Safeway than winning the lottery.

This same attitude makes me inclined to often say “Don’t tell me that we can’t do this or that.”

For Example:

  • Don’t tell me we can’t have the same level of healthcare at the same costs as other industrialized nations.
  • Don’t tell me we can’t get money out of politics.
  • Don’t tell me we can’t find a way to improve our national security without spending $750 billion a year on tanks and such.
  • Don’t tell me we can’t solve Global Warming.
  • Don’t tell me that we can’t educate or feed our children.
  • Don’t tell me that solving addiction is hopeless.
  • Don’t tell me that we can’t solve racism.
  • Don’t tell me that “truth in all things” is not possible.
  • Don’t tell me that we can’t build affordable housing, effective mass transportation and eliminate poverty.

Yes, these types of things are seemingly unattainable so…I refer you back to Henry Ford’s quote.

I’ll finish with a short story. This was mandatory reading for officers newly reporting to a cruiser I served on while in the Navy.

The USS Yorktown limped into Pearl Harbor after a battle in WWII. This was an aircraft carrier that was so damaged, it had a list that looked like it would turn over in a strong breeze.

The Admiral in charge (I am not sure of his name…Halsey?) asked the base commander how long wit would take before the carrier could go back to sea and launch aircraft. The answer was “6 months, Sir.”

The Admiral responded with, “You have 96 hours.”

Four days later, the Yorktown left port, ready for duty. It’s presence in the Pacific confused the Japanese who thought they had sunk this ship. It played a key role in the U.S. victory in the Battle of Midway.

The lesson here is…you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

Perhaps this even applies to passing through the speed of light.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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