Story 3a - Here Begins a New World.
Erica pointed out to me that nuclear fission might play a temporary role in the development of our boundless economy, and may possibly continue to do so in the form of small scale modular applications, but the vastly greater energy flux density of nuclear fusion would have to carry the day in the long run.
Erica also pointed out that nuclear fusion development had once been far advanced around the world, almost to the point of practicality, before funding had been cut that shut down many promising projects. She pointed out, further, that the super hot plasma from nuclear fusion would,
of course, be required as a necessity to separate the orthosilicates of the mantle of the earth into their constituent
elements. Naturally, this new type of energy resource would totally obsolete
that smog filled stinking air that we breath today, that comes with sulfur laden smoke stacks and automobile exhausts. All of these terrible things would become a thing of history.
"And it all but an implementational step away," said Erica.
Erica's most favorite subject, however, was still organic chemistry engineering. This too, hadn't changed since the day we had met in Leipzig. It had been her first love in those days, when the university in Leipzig was still facilitating a variety of advanced research projects in this field. I remembered how she had glowed with excitement when she had pointed out its near infinite potential when we first met. None of this glow and excitement had faded when she brought the subject up again in Caracas. She pointed out that according to the cosmic abundance table, there exists over three times as much carbon in the universe than there exists silicon bound into rocks. She suggested that huge stores of carbon may exist deep inside the earth, or on other planets, which could become the feed stock for all kind's of useful products through various processes of biological conversion. She spoke about the possibility of setting up chemical manufacturing platforms in orbit around Jupiter or on other planets.
In the way Erica looked at the real world, one had the distinct feeling that the age of large scale chemical development and engineering, hadn't even begun. She said that with the vast resources of the universe, existing so close within our reach, mankind has the potential to enrich the earth beyond anything we have yet dreamed of.
Naturally, we were dreaming. We all realized that, but we weren't dreaming with our eyes closed. We were dreaming about a reality that lay close at hand, that we, as human being, have the potential to realize once we determine to make the necessary efforts towards utilizing it. Still, I felt that something was missing in our tall dreaming, something that was an essential element for inspiring the people of the world to make the necessary efforts. I couldn't figure out, though, what it was that was lacking, that was holding us back.
Here, Anton saved the day once more. She suggested that we should get our bathing suite on and meet at the pool. She reminded us that the pool was being kept open all night during the days of the conference. She suggested
that we could debate the issues in the hot tub as we had done many times before, and go swimming, and have fun on the water slide.
Surprisingly, the answer to my question came from Fred, whose background in diplomacy had nothing to do with what we were aiming to find an answer for. Nor did it take him long to come up with the answer.
"The future that you are talking about requires demographic changes in humanity," Fred announced. "Humanity has to adapt itself to its expanding needs."
Fred explained that the more complex the technologies and processes become, the greater must be the life-expectancy of the people who create and operate the technologies and
the processes. He pointed out that the educational cycle will need to be extended for people to master the new technologies and the science that stands behind them.
"The self-development of an individual person, therefore, may not be completed until the age of thirty,"
he said, "or maybe even forty, so that society will have to develop an interest in protecting its dearest and most valuable resource, which its people, its human potential, the very potential that society is carelessly squandering away,"
as he put it, "in our "present world."