We truly live in exciting times, where the mysteries of the ages are finally being peeled back and revealed. At present, the acquisition of knowledge is dizzying, quickly outdistancing our ability to assimilate it and apply it to real-world problems. From 1650 through 1750 there was only one scientific journal published. Ever since about 1785 (about 10 generations ago), the number of scientific journals started doubling every 22.5 years consistently. In the early 1900’s there were only 250 journals, with about 7,000 articles published per year, including articles by Albert Einstein and Max Planck that have changed the very world in which we live. In 2009 there were over 12,000 journals and over 1 million articles. Every month, over a 100,000 scientific articles are being published, each representing months of laboratory work, amounting to millions of months of scientific work that is published and available to us each and every month.
In our modern world, it has come to a point where our very survival depends on the ability to utilize these newly discovered technologies for our benefit, we rely on them more and more in order to continue to thrive. We rely on the transportation technologies that carry supplies, the plastics and new materials used to build our cars, containers and houses, the semi-conductor technologies that run our computers, cars, phones, TV’s etc. We also rely on the energy, electricity, oil, nuclear, solar, etc. that is needed to carry on all the activities of life every day. Along with the incredible benefits these technologies bring, there are also some liabilities; with solemn realization we are finding that misuse of these same technologies can also serve toward our destruction. In our pursuit of dominance, we have developed nuclear bombs that can destroy even our most modern and advanced cities in the blink of an eye.
Our journey of discovery is, in every sense, a human journey, embodying the principles of the human equation that we are learning along the way: human struggle and striving, the indomitable human spirit, mixed in with greed, strife and suffering. As our knowledge increases, seemingly without bound, in true exponential fashion, in conjunction with the power it provides us to change our environment, there is a real concomitant need to master the human equation, for with great power comes great responsibility and the stakes are getting much too high to ignore. With the knowledge that we presently have in agricultural sciences, for example, it is within the realm of possibility, given what we have on hand today, to adequately grow and distribute sufficient food to feed all of the people in the world. If it is not lack of technology that prevents us from doing so, then what is it? As knowledge increases past the point where we are able to understand the very nature of life itself, then the really difficult questions will begin to surface. I yearn, with all that is human within me, to believe that we will be ready and willing to face our own humanity as we travel along the journey of life into a promising future.
In the upcoming century, one of the most worthy pursuits, almost to the point of being revered as sacred, is to unravel the mystery of what makes us live. Can we really understand the physical principles upon which life is based well enough to grasp the very nature of our own life? We are already on the pathway and, barring global calamity, we will amass enough knowledge in the next 50 years to get a good picture of the nature of our own being on a physical level. What advantage is this knowledge going to give us? When we have half of the picture, to what end will we use this knowledge? Will it be utilized, even unknowingly, to promote destructive efforts?
I take some comfort in that the evolution of knowledge is based on principles that require constructive efforts and misery and destruction are based on ignorance. Scientists must spend years acquiring the knowledge, which requires development of the strikingly human characteristics; the hunger to know the truth and more importantly the dedication to study and research in unveiling the truth. These same human elements that enable scientific development are those that will help us overcome differences and move toward a bright future. The possession of such a desire leads to knowledge and self-actualization and the lack of such proves self-destructive and must ultimately diminish. These are the very principles and laws that allow for our existence, that allow us to adapt and live, the physical laws that govern how our body works and how we thrive. As we discover these principles, let us not think that we are greater than them, let us not think that we can govern them, let us reverence them and search for greater understanding, let us discover and conform to true principles and enjoy the life that has been given us and that exists in such great harmony and abundance around us.