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A one thousand-year-old history lesson awaits those who would deem the cutting edge wicked

Damascus steel was forged using a process of carbon doping iron in a smelting and quenching process.  This steel became famous almost a thousand years ago; it was said a Damascus sword would cut through falling silk, a rock, and then another piece of silk while still keeping its razor sharp edge. 

The ability to make the Damascus steel was lost with the ages.   Blademasters would often take the secret of the forging process to the grave rather than reveal its mysteries. Many were persecuted as heretics, others heralded as deities.

A study by a University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that more than 70% of 1,015 surveyed Americans deem nanotechnology morally repulsive.  Professor Dietram Scheufele attributes this repugnance for technology to American reliance on religion. 

It's easy to say that perhaps the 1,000 Americans surveyed are just not that bright.  Scheufele disagrees, stating, "They are rejecting it based on religious beliefs. The issue isn't about informing these people. They are informed."

Scheufele believes that Americans who disprove of nanotechnology do not want humans "playing God."  That is, man manipulating structures of one nanometer, one billionth of a meter, is akin to God manipulating the forces of the universe.

In 2006 German researcher Peter Paufler discovered (with the aid of a sub-nanotechnology, the electron microscope) that a four hundred-year-old Damascus steel sword gained its incredible properties from carbon nanotube structures within the blade's edge.  Fifteen years earlier NEC created the world's first synthetic nanotube. One year later it was awarded the patent for one of the sharpest materials on earth, a plasma polished carbon nanotube blade.

Science has always bordered on the fence of terrifying and mysterious.  Civilization lost the secrets of Damascus steel making when then modern thinkers deemed it a practice of deus ex hominis.

Attempting to describe the morality of natural phenomena leads to an exercise in natural fallacy. Not once, in the history of mankind, has science ever been proven immoral -- and conversely -- nor has it ever been proven moral either. 

Will society deitize nano-researchers as modern day Damascus blademasters, or will it learn to look beyond the meta-ethics of natural phenomena for a change?

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RE: Whatever
By masher2 on 2/25/2008 10:19:17 AM , Rating: 2
> "If you think any airport personnel has the capacity to memorize this many codes at near minimum wage"

Oops - airline personnel are NOT required to memorize the whole database, only those codes to which their own airline flies (a few dozen to a couple hundred codes in most cases).

As for "near-minimum wage", the median salary for flight attendants in 2005 was $53,700/year, The lowest paid job at my airport is customer service agent, and the median salary even there is about 2.5X minimum wage, plus extensive benefits.

RE: Whatever
By MaulBall789 on 2/25/2008 11:21:00 AM , Rating: 1
This is exactly what Kris said:

the company has a policy that every employee must learn the world airport codes.

At first glance it doesn't say some or most of the codes. If it's just the routes the specific carrier flies, you're right, that's not too much to ask. I know about 30 off the top of my head and I only fly about twice a year.

Where I work there are a good number of things I have memorized but even more are written down. Just can't remember every last little thing especially if it's an infrequently used bit of info.

And even at 2.5x minimum wage plus extensive benefits, a very few of the CSA's I've come across would be doing well to know the code of their own airport. But I would guess this new rule should be weeding them out.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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