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Monday, 28 May 2012

My Heroes (35) James Lovelock
The British scientist James Lovelock is still going strong with a mind as bright as a button at the age of 92. His is a wonderful life story, of which I will relate some interesting aspects. 
He was born in Letchworth Garden City in the English county of Hertfordshire in 1919 into a working class family. His father had been illiterate until an adult and had been jailed for poaching as a young man. Realising the disadvantage he was at, he took the bold step of having elocution lessons in order to advance his career.
He has been a life-long inventor and it was while working on the freezing and thawing of cell-tissues that his distress at seeing frozen rabbits thawed by a hot spoon (which burnt their fur) that he set out to thaw them with radio waves from the inside and thus invented the microwave cooker, although he was not attempting to cook the animals!
His most famous invention is probably the electron capture detector, which measures atoms and molecules in gases. This led to the first detections of CFCs in the atmosphere.
It was the news of this invention that prompted NASA to take him to the United States in 1961 when that organisation was very young. He helped design detectors that would determine the existence or not of life on the Moon and on Mars.
However, he is best known as the proponent of the Gaia Theory which claims that the Earth is a self-regulating environment wherein all of the organic and non-organic material combine to work in harmony and sustain life on our planet. This topic, which continues to divide scientific opinion, is highly controversial and Lovelock has published many books on the subject.
I don't know if it's true or not but I would like it to be! It's rare enough to find any kind of spirituality in science.


dan said...

Hi nice post re Dr Lovelock. he is also my hero. I wonder if you could read my story about being "James Lovelock's Accidental Student" re polar cities and maybe do a blog post about me and how I became this student....? danny in USA, google the title

dan said...

'James Lovelock's Accidental Student' Sees Dead People, 'Lots of Dead
People', by 2500 AD

Before I begin, let me say this: I am an optimist, and I think
everything will work out fine. Eventually. One way or the other.

But as "James Lovelock's Accidental Student", let me also say this: we
are headed to life in polar cities in the next few hundred years, and
time to prepare for this, both in terms of logistics and spirituality,
is now. Polar cities? Google the term and see for yourself where your
descendants will be living, come the Long Emergency, come the Great
Interruption, come the Almost-But-Not-Quite-Apocalypse!

In fact, by 2500 AD, perhaps even earlier, I see dead people, lots of
dead people.

Listen to me and imagine this: The year is 2500 AD, 500 years from
now, and the world's population
has shrunk from 25 million to 200,000 people living in 100 desolate
and isolated "polar cities"
scattered across Alaska, Canada and Russia -- Norway and Greenland,
too. Tasmania and New Zealand, too.

They live, they persevere, against all odds.

They serve as "breeding
pairs" in the Arctic, as British scientist James Lovelock
predicted in 2006. I call myself -- in a serious yet also a hopefully
humorous self-descriptive way --
"James Lovelock's Accidental Student." Again, to repeat: part in jest and part
seriously. I am dead serious about polar cities and the future.

The thing is, nobody will listen to me. Not one single print
newspaper or magazine anywhere in the world will report my polar cities "story".
The New York Times, to its everlasting
credit, did publish a brief news item about polar cities
back in March 2008, but the story only appeared on the Times
blog "Dot Earth" online and was never
allowed to appear in the national print edition of the newspaper.

forbid! Mustn't let such depressing news stories reach the public,
especially when they are about
some goofball who does not have a PHD or any academic
background or sponsorship. A total unknown, a nutcase, a screwball. No news
value there, not at the New York Times or even the Guardian.

I am 62 years old now, with a massive heart attack in 2009 behind me (and
with a stent in my ticking heart keeping me alive for now), and what I
see is this: if not the end of the world, then something
pretty close to it. So close, that by 2500 AD -- or even earlier -- the world
population will have dipped to just 200,000 men and women serving as
''breeding pairs'' in a hundred polar cities.

Believe it or not, I still consider myself an optimist! Just like
James Lovelock, my mentor in all this.

Yes, I'm an optimist, and I hope to see a model polar city built in
Alaska or Norway as
a test run in 2015 or 2020.

I hope I am alive to see the first model polar city in action, but I
am resigned to the fact that most likely I will be dead
before that happens. Still, I hope that others will carry on where I
leave off. James Lovelock started this off, and others will carry on,
I am sure. So I am doing my utmost now, in this lifetime, to get my
message out.

So what are polar cities all about?

Polar cities will save mankind from extinction. I feel that these
polar cities, as an
adaptation idea, an adaptation strategy,
might save the human species from extinction. I know we should focus
on the here and now. Mitigation now.
Adaptation later. But this idea came into my head and I can't get rid
of it. I am obsessed. Polar cities is my
life's work now. It's my gift to the future. If nobody wants this
gift, that's okay. It might too early to be talking
about these things. I understand.

bazza said...

Hi Danny, thanks for your very interesting comments. I think anyone wishing to follow up now has all the info that they require.
Unfortunately I've had a vasectomy so won't be eligible for the breeding pairs!

Anonymous said...

Hot from the desk of Sir Tom Eagerly:
Bazza old boy, I do believe that Dan fellow who commented above has been drinking. Personally I don't touch a drop until after half-past-seven. AM of course.
I'm afraid Bazza I don't think you are the right type to become part of a breeding pair. I put this topic to Lady Eagerly and she was, well let's say unimpressed. Ho hum.

Dixie said...

Well bazza, this has been quite the read. Definitely, some of Lovelock's work is over my head, I am, after all just a non-scholar-lay person. And yet even being that humble layer/thinker that I am, cannot qualify me either... for a breeder. No deep freeze for me.

Lovelock is a great 'hero' choice! His writings that I can understand are amazing; certainly hopeful.

Take care.

dan said...

Hi Bazza

Aint the internet fun? by the way, you guys in UK lowercase internet as "internet" but the yanks in USA still uppercase it a "Internet." I am a Yank but last year i saw the light and realzied UK style is correct. We no longer capitalzie words like Radio or Television or Cinema or Motion Pictures or even Telephone. So why does USA still insist on cappping INTERNET? stubborn that's all. they will change in 10 years.

re you wrote: "Danny. Thanks for finding my blog and commenting. This is very interesting and I will return when I have more time!''

Do return and i don't mind criticism either but really TOm Eagerly is wrong: i have NOT been drinking. I am dead serious, as is Lovelock. we humans are really headed for mass exticntion as a species in 500 to 1000 years IF we do not stop the CO2 mess we are in. REALLY. it's not a joke anymore. Do blog abotu me one day and i don't mind comments pro and con...

and Bazza, my father was a urologist and i once helped him performa a vasectomy when i was 16, he wanted me to see how it is done and maybe become a doctor too and it was an amazing experiecne. but i did not choose medicine, i chose journalism.....but also see myself as a healer. now the big Vasectomy is going to be on the entire Human Species if we do not get this Co2 mess under control, mark me word...i even produced a novel fiction this year titled POLAR CITY RED, written by sci fi writer Jim Laughter, reall name. google it too.

bazza said...

Sir Tom: I'm sorry that Lady Eagerly does not want to breed with you. However, the rest of the population my be quite relieved!

bazza said...

Hi Dixie: James Lovelock is a lifetime professional scientist and most of us would feel inferior to him. It would be ungentlemanly for me to comment on your suitability as a breeder but you certainly have some qualities worth preserving!

bazza said...

Dan: I think it's just me who doesn't capitalise 'internet'! I know English was only our language at one time but the greater number of American users gives you some kind of rights to do whatever you like. (However the country with the greatest number of English speakers is China!)
Don't worry about Sir Tom; he's a boozy fantasist and was being (in his own mind at least) 'humorous'.

David said...

Dear bazza,
Science is not usually my bag, but this is very interesting. I hadn't heard of Lovelock before (shame on me!), so this, once again, was educational.
Thanks, bazza.
Very Best Wishes,

bazza said...

David: It's especially rewarding when someone new is introduced to a 'Hero' of mine!

klahanie said...

Hi bazza,
I have much respect and admiration for James Lovelock. Indeed, another fascinating and informative article by your good self.
Of course, you are on of my heroes, bazza!

bazza said...

Gary: I am deeply touched. Or so I have been told!