|Isaac Newton had a lot
to do with human beings exploring space. He created calculus,
the ability to map routes to outer space, to break the bonds of earth
and return safely. But when Columbia crashed the other
day, it brought up a more vital issue about calculus--how can it stop
Terrorism in its tracks? Find out in this fascinating look
at "felicific calculus"--the art of putting Terrorism into a formula
so it can be overpowered by Vigilance.
3, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 509
The Felicific Calculus Of The Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb. 3--Over
three centuries ago, between 1665 and 1666, Isaac Newton, was putting
the finishing touches on calculus, the mathematics of space travel.
He shelved his discoveries and did not publish them until 1687.
Another innovator, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was working on the same
principles of how humans could conquer space and published his
findings a year before Newton. Both are responsible, in
part, for hurling human beings and their machines to the far reaches
of the universe. Both have some part in the events of the
Columbia, the space craft that crashed in a fiery ball of flames
yesterday. It was their formulations that helped humankind defy
gravity and reach for the underbelly of God.
one of the first to work on the mathematics of space travel in
Leibniz, along with Newton, opened the door to the possibilities
of space travel in 1686.
has been described as the "celestial breakthrough," for without it
human beings would not be able to calculate orbits to explore the far
reaches of space.
In a sense, the first astronauts--or their "mission control"
planners--were Newton and Leibniz. Both spelled out a language that
opened the door to mapping the universe and controlling objects
leaving and returning to earth.
Battles still rage over who is the "father" of calculus. Some
claim Newton deserves the final honor, while others camp out in
Leibniz's quarters. Leibniz was the first to publish a dissertation
on calculus in 1686. He was given total credit for the discovery
for a number of years. Because he and Newton communicated frequently
while Newton was working on his formulations, Leibniz was later
accused of plagiarism. Historically, Newton was given the credit
as the "father of calculus."
Both men, however, greatly contributed to the field. Each
traveled in slightly different directions but ended up at the same
endpoint--opening the door to the Heavens for exploration.
Today, another form of calculus is being thrashed about in the wake of
the Columbia space shuttle disaster that took the lives of the seven
astronauts killed during their reentry yesterday when their space
craft, hurling through space at 18,000 miles an hour, broke apart and
burned in temperatures equally that of the sun’s surface.
calculus measures good over bad
That variation is called "felicific calculus." It is a
scientific method of determining the rightness of an action by
balancing the probable pleasures and pains that it would produce. In
a sense, it is an advanced method of measuring Vigilance over
Terrorism, "good" versus "bad," and "right" over "wrong." It has come
to light amid accusations that the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) failed in its duty to protect the space
travelers. The undercurrent is they made "decisions" that may result
in either an abandonment of space exploration, or a severe set back
that may threaten its expansion. The man responsible for
creating felicific calculus is also buried in the pages of history.
In 1789 an English utilitarian philosopher and social reformer
named Jeremy Bentham offered humanity his formula for measuring the
"rightness" or "wrongness" of an act in chapter 4 of his
Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.
He proposed humanity should consider the pleasures and pains
resulting from an action in respect of their intensity, duration,
certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity and extent.
In a nutshell, Bentham proposed a formula for measuring the
pleasures and pains of certain acts, and why when the pain of an act
supercedes its pleasure, it should be avoided.
His system is also called “hedonic calculus,” defined as a
method of working out the sum total of pleasure and pain produced
by an act, and thus the total value of its consequences.
The space shuttle issue presents a golden opportunity for
felicific calculus to be applied. One answer the formula can provide
is to the question: What are the consequences of shutting down
space travel over the pleasures of exploration?
Bentham would be in his heyday if he were present.. He could
take his formulations and apply them not only to the Columbia
disaster, but also to North Korea and Iraq, and for that matter, all
the ills that plague the world.
He would, for example, define not just the pleasure of modern
society enjoys when it turns its collective head to the
life-threatening global issues that grow like fungus in these rogue
countries, but he would startle most of us by spelling out the
consequences of those pleasures on the future of humanity. He
would do it with pure science, in stark black and white calculus.
He would make the "smoking gun" appear as bright as the burning pieces
of Columbia streaking across a bright Texas sky.
Examining his calculations, we
might find that agreeing to allow Iraq and North Korea to “do what
they do as long as they don’t bother us” brings us immediate pleasure
because we don’t go to war, we don’t waste American lives, we don't
threaten the security of Europe or Asia. But, as Bentham’s data
reveals the “intended” or “unintended” consequences of our
“head-in-the-sand” policies, we might see the crystal clear reality of
the risk we pass on to our grandchildren’s lives, or their children’s
lives. His answers might well burn the scales from our
eyes, as the 3,000 degree heat burned into the flesh of the Columbia
as it hurled itself at 18,000 miles an hour toward a collision with
We might find that instead of retreating into
shells of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, that we ought to
reinstall heat shields and better manage our attack on space, for if
we don't, we might be condemned to state of earthly Terrorism when we
should be surging upwards to the Heavens of Vigilance.
If Bentham’s formula was plugged into the computers at NASA,
would they have spat out the consequences of seven lives? Would the
formulas have shown that the future of space exploration was a far
greater consequence than that of seven lives—and that the future of
space conquest meant protecting not endangering our children's equity?
Perhaps it would. Calculus is not lineal. It bends and
conforms to the elasticity of the universe, allowing insights and
clarity where superstition and muddiness once existed.
Calculus allows us to predict the journey into the future. And,
under Bentham's ideal, it provides with a way to look at the
consequences of a decision for its "rightness" despite the shadows
that loom upon its "wrongness." His calculus allows for human
error as a part of human evolution, as long as the consequences are to
the benefit of all.
Others have held opposite viewpoints.
Niccolo Machiavelli scribed in 1513 the famous claim that the
"end justifies the means." It was contained in his book, The
Under the scrutiny of felicific
calculus, Machiavelli's formula for human effort would not hold water,
for the consequences of the act, however noble, tend to depreciate the
result. Getting into space at any cost does not justify the end.
Neither does allowing Saddam Hussein
or Kim Jong Il the right to build weapons of mass destruction that are
clearly designed for purposes far more insidious than self-defense.
As the world tries to find fault in
reasons to destroy or inhibit Terrorism before it grows larger and
uglier, so does the need for felicific calculus grow to counter the
insanity of Complacency, to alert us to the intended and unintended
consequences of turning our backs on the safety and security of the
tile--The Shield of Vigilance corrupted by Complacency
NASA is under attack for that reason
today. Critics are suggesting NASA failed as a Parent of
Vigilance in its duty-bound parental role to protect its siblings, who
ride its crafts into space, from the Beast of Terror's most powerful
weapon--Complacency. If NASA hadn't "turned its head" and
attacked the problems before lift off, all this might not have
happened, they claim.
The same is true of Iraq and North
Korea. If either of those nations are not stopped, and
their monster glut is not starved, they can both pose disasters at
some point in the future. Felicific calculus would reveal the
smoking gun. It would pull the heads out of the sand of the
Parents of Vigilance and burn the scales from their eyes so they could
see what Newton and Leibniz saw hundreds of years ago.
Not everyone is into calculus.
Our meager mathematical attempt to formulize Vigilance--Courage
minus Fear, plus Conviction minus Intimidation, plus Right Action for
the Children's Children's Children sake minus Complacency equal
Vigilance--is crude by all intellectual standards.
But, we believe it fits the formula that Bentham
proposed. It measure the pleasure and pain of decisions, and it
considers both intended and unintended consequences.
Formula is elastic in nature--it expands human potential.
Our Vigilance Formula is elastic in nature. It recognizes that
Terrorism cannot be destroyed, only overpowered, leashed, constrained.
It is fecund because it seeks to grow the human condition into one
bonded unit, Global Parents of Vigilance first, citizens of the world
Bentham's formulation says: "We should consider the
pleasures and pains resulting from an action in respect of their
intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity and
simple Vigilance Formula has propinquity. It suggests a kinship
between all cultures, all races, all creeds. This kinship is
defined by our roles as Parents of Vigilance, reminding us we must be
concerned not solely for our own children's security, but for the
security of all children. No true parent can justly
suggest the demise of other children, for if he or she does, all
children become potential targets of Terrorism. Children are the
hope of any world, of any species, for they contain the innocence of
us all. We count on the children to bring harmony rather discord
when we could not, to find avenues of unity rather than bloody
divisions between people's and nations when we, the Parents, stumbled
and fell in our attempts.
Children are also examples of purity. They
have yet to be afflicted by the prejudices and bigotries of cultural
walls created by adults, or political prejudices, or religious
bigotries carried over and passed down in form of hate and anger
toward others. We need to protect the purity of our children so
they can rise above the selfishness we so often exhibit in our
eagerness to fault others, to build borders and barriers between the
human heart and soul.
The duration Bentham includes in his
formula is incorporated in the Vigilance Formula. We ask that
Right Actions to the benefit of the Children's Children's Children be
the key to driving Complacency from the king's throne. We
ask that Parents of Vigilance look out three generations ahead, and
build into the offspring the duty to pass the Sword of Vigilance
forward so that Terrorism--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--has no
way to burn its way through the child's heat shields.
As far as intensity and certainty are concerned,
we ask the Parents of Vigilance to love their children as a teacher
would a student, always on guard to counterbalance Fear with Courage,
Intimidation with Conviction, and Complacency with Right Action for
the Children's Children's Children.
We have reduced this battle to the distance
between a thought, where it may spark initially as a Terroristic
Thought, by forcing One Percent more Courage or One Percent more
Conviction, or One Percent more Right Action, such Beast of Terror
Thinking can be quelled. The child's orbit can be corrected, and
instead of crashing into the bowels of earth, the child can rise above
the limitations of Fear to evolve upward in strength and Conviction.
Today, mud slings.
The Beast of
Terror delights in our Mudslinging
future of the children is not the key subject of any discussions by
world leaders--not regarding Iraq, North Korea or the Columbia.
Instead, we hear only about the
dangers of acting, or, in the case of NASA, the "unintended
consequences" of inaction, or inept action.
Calculus was designed to thrust our
thinking and actions beyond ourselves. Yet we wallow in
the selfish desire to fault those things that we should right without
argument or debate, for they stand as clear as the answer to formula,
undisputable in their naked truth.
Iraq and North Korea both are
Beasts of Terror waiting to sink their fangs in the flesh of the
innocent. The seven astronauts who died the other day were
symbols of "felicific calculus." They were the unintended
consequences of the lack of foresight, of lack of vision to the
future. They were the innocent, the pure, who died because of a
Complacent system that put the risk above the return.
If Iraq and North Korea were
put to the felicific calculus formula, they would fail its test.
And, if we who do not pledge
our Vigilance to protect our children from the Beast of Terror ignore
the Principles of Vigilance, we will be like the NASA that overlooked
the heat shield problem, and let our children fly into space without
the Shield of Vigilance to protect them.
it is time for all of us to apply the Calculus of Vigilance
and protect our children from the dangers both on earth
and beyond it.
start that journey by taking the Pledge of Vigilance and
posting on our refrigerators the Formula of Vigilance.
Feb 2.--Columbia Crew Touches The
Hand Of Vigilance
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