Nov 192011

Wide awareness is not enough. We also need to disturb the Universe as little as we can. We are a burden to the Universe and, in our own interests we should minimise the burden.

This is, in part, an obligation echoing the principles of physics. Nature herself works by minimising action: soap bubbles seek a shape of minimum energy, a thrown ball travels the path of least action.

One good reason for following this principle is our limited understanding of the world. If we don’t fully understand what is going on, isn’t it prudent to avoid making waves? Being “green” is one way of sticking to this principle: we should consume as few resources as we can, leave as little waste as possible, avoid wasting energy.

These two principles – wide awareness and minimal burden – are in competition. Acquiring new information – increased awareness – inevitably makes a disturbance.

Our natural desire is to want to know about earlier times and most distant future, about the largest systems and the smallest particles, about the near at hand and about the furthest reaches of space.

But the best way is to gain this knowledge with only the smallest impact on the wider world.

Robin W. Ahlgren

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