Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Element Discovered

Geoff emailed through this thought-provoking scientific breakthrough:

‘New Element Discovered’

‘The Nuclear Physics Department at the University of Ottawa has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.’

‘These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete.’

‘Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2 - 6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each re-organisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration.’

‘This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.’

‘When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.’

‘The collective noun for Governmentium has been decided - it is to be a Parliament of Governmentium.’

I enjoyed the piece. Parody always carries enough element of truth to have a bite. And there are times when I curse government and all its lackeys. But as scientists do I want to challenge some assumptions of this piece.

Governance is an essential component of human society. And as soon as the group gets larger than the tribe or local community it needs administrators, public servants, bureaucrats, call them what you will. Even an army needs its commissariat. The chief wallah, male or female, cannot govern on their own.

Interesting the research comes from Ottawa. Aha, North America. Unusual governance there. South of the border there is the present rage of the Tea Party against the so-called erosion of ancient liberties and freedoms. Just for the record, the frontier was reached over a century ago. Life in the USA has meant even before that time a co-existence between state and individual, a zig-zag process. And when things go wrong as in the Gulf of Mexico the clamour is for the state to fix it.

Governors can be fools, rogues or good people. My experience is that they are mainly sincere, trying to do their best according to their lights, and at the mercy of forces beyond their control. This ranges from Obama to the Capital Coast Health Board.

Likewise administrators. I know rules and regulations can be infuriating. That’s why some bright spark suggested we didn’t need so many in the building industry. Oops, sorry, leaky homes. Under Bush and Cheney similar trigger-happy artillery suggested loosening drilling regulations. Oops, sorry, a deep sea rogue well. Even a class-room needs management. Why not a nation? To what degree - 'that is the question'. 

‘Gv’ is like ‘H2O’. Elemental. There is a difference. We can attempt to make 'Gv' better. Oops, sorry, more effective and efficient. We must get the jargon right. Anyway thanks Geoff.

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