Friday, August 17, 2007

A Confidence of Toys

I love stuff like this.

The only two magazines I still subscribe to are Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. I do so because both make a regular effort to cover unusual developments similar to the example Al Fin links to.

I should explain that my interest isn't focused on the technology especially. I do try to understand the physical principle(s) involved, but the growth of personal opportunity is what excites me at least as much. Even for items I'm personally unlikely to ever directly experience.

So much of our individual attitude toward life and it's inherent challenges is modulated by our perception of our personal capability. Our confidence, our willingness to rely upon our as-yet untested resourcefulness, is influenced in often unappreciated ways by our acceptance of the capabilities our technology proffers us.

It isn't even especially necessary that we personally own the technology. Our potential capability is often enough to allow us to overcome the self-imposed limitations that arise from our ignorance. The knowledge that something is in fact possible, has been done by others, moves a doubt from being a question of scientific possibility to a question of engineering capability.

For me, it's a question of confidence more than anything else. I am able to maintain a confident outlook towards life because I know just how capable we humans are at creating the means to our own salvation. The fact that we have made so much stuff that's often rather dangerous in it's own right is the most reassuring thing of all. Dangerous as something might be, we can and do use it safely to achieve a desired end. If I can only just carry on for long enough, someone, somewhere - maybe me, right here - will create the tool I need to solve the problem I confront.

Will I ever own a flying boat? Probably not. But I know where to get one if I ever change my mind and I think I could even build one if need be. I know it's possible after all; it's just a matter of figuring out how all the different bits go together, isn't it?

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