Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are Many People This Stupid?

Hahah! Here's some ridiculous stupid. Is this, like, what a humanities major gets when they try to do scientific analysis or sumptin'? From the comments at IOZ:

Leonard said...

It is true tautologically that no system in which there are finite resources supports indefinite growth., at least in terms of resource-consumption. (Wealth is partially information, and therefore not bounded by resource-consumption levels.) But in any case, this proves almost nothing about the current situation of humanity. The average person's metabolism uses about 100W of power; the Sun cranks out roughly 383 yottawatts (3.83×10^26 W); thus, if we do not expand beyond this solar system, and if we continue to have bodies of our current efficiency, then the human population is limited to just 3.83×10^24, that is, only 5x10^15 times our current 6.796 billion.

If we limit ourselves to just living on the earth, then the resource limit is the sunlight hitting the Earth, which is 250 watts per square meter; that is, we can sustain a population of 2.5 million people per square kilometer. The Earth's area is about 510 million km². You can see how it would add up: max sustainable population is only 187000 times what we have. Of course, we'd probably want to expend at least 90% of the insolation maintaining the environment... so perhaps our max numbers are only 18000 times our current numbers. Who knows?

So to speak of "overpopulation" is fallacious, or at best, ignorant. Nobody knows what sustainable population levels are now, much less tomorrow. Whatever they are, they are functions of technology and capital investment. And given time to develop tech and invest, they bear no relationship at all to our current population.
And if we invent hardrives that just write on a single atom, we'd have 10^23 bytes of storage on a single disk!

Also, psst, leonard, information requires a pixel which has to be a finite size, so, yeah, there is a limit to it. Try and completely describe the entire universe on a piece of paper smaller than the entire universe. I fucking DARE you.


shane said...

So we all get a half a square meter to ourselves?

bulbul said...

Is this, like, what a humanities major gets when they try to do scientific analysis or sumptin'?
Whoa, hey!

But to answer your question - yes, they are. Just think of all the times somebody said "Well, logically..." in a situation which had nothing to do with logic. That's where it begins. Then they move on to citing some obscure scientific law to justify/explain something that has absolutely nothing to do with the domain where the law applies. Think physics applied to theology. Or, my favorite, Gödel applied to basically anything.
This Leonard dude is a master of the craft, though.

Clever Pseudonym said...

As a humanities major, am I allowed to at least comment that Leonard writes like shit?

Also, some humanities majors are very much aware that when they know little or nothing about something, they should shut the fuck up about it and try and learn from the people who do.

NutellaonToast said...

Yeah. Just cause I make fun of 'em, doesn't mean I actually disdain all of 'em. It's just that... it fits the cliche so well. Over at IOZ I compared him to a freshmen physics major.