Alain Coetmeur


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What should science cost?

I would agree with you about growing costs for equipment in trendy "big science" (dark mater, hot fusion, gravity waves, accelerators), and I see this trend in military domain, like in IT in old-fashioned companies, like in nuclear industry... It is aggravated by a growing increase of regulation.
It seems that some domains push providers to improves performances to the point nobody can buy the product, but it is really perfect. I've heard that for nuclear reactors (they can resist to anything, but nobody can afford them), for tanks (they are smart, agile, powerful, robust), for military drones (they can work in civil air zone, do any mission, transport much, but cost like a helicopter)...

Meanwhile, in IT I've seen the trend to RAID disks, to Cloud, to SaaS, while Ukraine war showed the efficiency of simpler drones, not so overengineered canons, old tanks and old planes, tinkered by motivated staffs...

Here I've caught an article about the cross-pollination of AI and new experimental methods, reducing costs by 10x.

It makes me think about the exponential learning curve drawn by piling S-curves... As if the end of an S curves goes to unaffordable perfect technology, and that a revolution make you start again the exponential phase of a new S-curve...

See how quickly African labs have used Crispr-CAS technology for their own needs, to fight emerging diseases or climate change in their agriculture. It was done for much cheaper than for transgenic GMOs.

AMA: Jason Crawford, The Roots of Progress

There are some analysis about why democracy, modernity appeared in Europe, earlier in Greece, and there are two related analysis.

One is by  David Cosandey, "Le secret de l’Occident. Vers une théorie générale du progrès
scientifique, "

You can translate this related presentation to have a quick vision:

He proposes 2 concepts, one is "articulated thalassography", a measurement I've seen in fractal theory, comparing the length of the coast with surface of the country that can be reasonably defended...
Another is "Mereuporia", the capacity in a zone to have stable "realms" that compete strongly but can never win totally on the whole zone...

Both ideas push countries to stay stable, exchange much, innovate much, and prevent the  creation of a sterile centralized empire.

The second author, cited David Cosande (and Isaac Asimov, and many others, including a post-Roman historian) : Philippe Fabry

In English there is  only: "history of next century", and "Rome from libertarianism to socialism: Ancient lessons for our time"

He has a more comprehensive theory of history (Historionomy), proposing that there have been 3 ages, with Mycenian empire, Roman Empire, and US Empire, evolving in spiraling cycles...

What he calls Civilization A was Greece, and now is Europe (before it was Cretan "palaces"), with dynamic states that from medieval period, move to a Renaissance, with each country making a national transition from medieval to monarchy then parliamentary democracy.

However, this transition is frozen during wars when the country is troubled... Britain with 100 years war, delayed French Revolution by 100 years, while it's own process was not... it became the "thalassocracy" , having control over the commerce... WW1&WW2 (German national transition, which triggered Russian transition halted by Staline unexpected victory) propelled USA as the new Thalassocracy...

Being the Thalassocracy make you connected to many civilizations, attractive to innovators, demanding in innovation, and not afraid of innovations.

In Antiquity, Athens was the thalassocracy.

There is much more to say, but yes, geography, because of commerce and capacity to protect your land are key.

One of the reason of Russian psychology is that they were on the road of nomad warlords from Mongolia, regularly invaded... France on the opposite is a crossing but have good natural borders to hale. and England is an island. Ukraine was the door to Europe, where Polish empire installed Cossacks horsemen to block eastern invasions... guess what happened when someone attached them from the east ? (Note that the mass of fighter against nazis were Ukrainians and Belarussians)...


What is depressive with Fabry is that he predict the fate of US Empire is like Roman Empire, move from democracy to autoritarianism, then alone in his empire, with no competition, it will collapse like USSR, leading to a new middle age, allowing a new Renaissance, but with bigger-size civilization (guess à which scale)... risky colonization far from Civilization A... a new Thalassocracia...

The only things to do would be to store Alexandria Library in a very safe place, and promote a new Bysance
Interesting theory...

AMA: Jason Crawford, The Roots of Progress

I have a very technical question about the history of semiconductors.
I've read long ago, that in the 20s Germanium conductance was a mystery, because of parasitic PN junctions caused by contamination and various metallurgical uncontrolled differences...

It seems that some researchers had observed PN diode effects, but also, unable to explain it, have kept the measurement in their drawer... Is there any serious report about that dark age of germanium PN junction ?

More generally, I would like to understand the really underground story of early semiconductors research, when it was an anomaly, impossible to repeat reliably because of missing theory and technology, not the final phase when theory and experiments had connected in the 40s.


Best regards.