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USA Uranium Production
#1
I was looking at the chart for uranium production in the US of A when it hit me. The chart followed a bell curve I recognized from a book on peak oil I'd read a while ago, exponentially increasing, capping, and then exponentially decreasing, yadda yadda. But all of a sudden it sunk in, what I was looking at.

That, I realized, was a quadratic.

I'd learned the quadratic equation, memorized it because they told me it was important, and smeared a lot of graphite on a lot of paper in a manner not dissimilar from everyone else in the class, because of the beauty of mathematics. But I'd never known what it was for.

Quadratics are just bell graphs.

Why didn't they ever tell me?

Tell me that quadratics have a reason to exist. That they're useful for things like measuring population, and resources, and bacteria in a jar. Why didn't they so much as tell me that they're used whenever exponential functions hit hard environmental limits.

And I'm here having this epiphany when my younger (by 3 years) brother [ESFP] walks into the room where I'm reading my book about economics and he's looking for a book with swords and magic but it has to be within his lexile so not actually anything good.

Neither of us adresses the other. I think maybe he can't see me because I'm under a desk. (Hoping to not be found on cursory examination.)

And he's looking at the shelf for books and I'm hoping he'll go away and then I wonder if maybe I can share my epiphany with him. He doesn't know anything about bell curves or quadratics or humans in a world with limited energy to live on, so I flip through the book I was reading for something simple and immediately useful and I tell him.

"If you divide a percentage into the number 70, it'll tell you how long it'll take for the percentage's base number to double."

And he looks at me like I just said the dumbest thing he'd heard and he says, "Ok?"

So I explain, "Say something's increasing by ten percent a year. Divide 10 into 70 and it'll double in 7 years."

"Whatever."

"Did . . . what I just said make sense?" I'm worried that I didn't put it simply enough.

"Math. School stuff. Work."

"Not at all," I know I won't get anywhere but I keep talking anyway even though it's like talking to a dog or a wall, "it's the opposite of work. Math makes your life easier. You just haven't learned any math in school."

"I've learned math in school." He's bored and a little angry. He gets angry easily, takes everything as an attack . . .

"You've learned how to take numbers and put them a different way. You've learned some numeric synonyms. Real math is used in" economics springs to mind, since that's what I'm reading, "economics, and biology, but most of all for probability." But he got bored and dropped the most basic book on thinking that I could find him, there's no way I could ever force Yudkowsky down his unwilling mind. "They haven't taught you anything useful." Trying to deflect blame from him. It's ridiculous, really. It's not like anyone is blameworthy for anything at all . . .

"I've learned useful things." Belligerent.

"Such as? When's the last time you've done math anywhere besides a worksheet?"

And the answer surprises me. "Minecraft. I used math to make a circle building."

That's . . . that's good. "So, you see? You see how math makes things easier? How could you have built a circle if you didn-"

"But I'm done with that now. So I'm not doing any more work. It's summer break. I'm not doing more school."

And then he was gone. He really hadn't ever been there, and I had no business trying to make him.

So. Curtains on that conversation and suchlike, but I'm left with two questions to pose. The one: assuming that one had complete control over the education system, what could be done to fix it?
And the other: it really isn't looking like nuclear power is going to be able to step up and take petroleum's place as premier energy source of humanity. We're already dismantling missiles to keep plants running. (Not that I have anything against dismantling warheads . . . you'd think that enough firepower to end life on earth once would be enough but noooo) Despite it's high fuel concentration, there just isn't enough of the stuff (Science tip: log scales are for quitters who can't find enough paper to make their point properly. Big Grin ) and building a Dyson Sphere sounds like too much work and I'm on summer break.

So what do we do?
I came up with a very clever signature, as a matter of fact it's cleveritude was so clever that merely listening it would cause you to ascend to godhood. But then I forgot it, so instead you can listen to my gibbering inanities. I'm sorry.
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