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Sunday, May 16, 2004

Another PhD chimes in

Two condensed matter physics heavy-weights have chimed in on peak oil issues.

I have followed both David Goodstein and Richard Smalley for quite some time now.

I picked up and still own Goodstein's "States of Matter" text when I was taking graduate courses on Quantum and Statistical Mechanics. It did not quite jar my ways of thinking that Richard Feynman's highly readable lecture notes did, but the book did help.

I know a little bit more about Richard Smalley. A former post-doc co-worker of mine graduated from Rice (where Smalley resides) and said he was arrogant (pre-Nobel prize days) and tough. This could have been comments born out of competition between Rice research groups, but after seeing Smalley in action giving a keynote speech on energy issues, I am in his camp. Questions from the audience which included government scientists did not phase him even slightly. We need tough leadership on these issues.

See Senate Hearings of Energy and Natural Resources Committe for Smalley in action last month.

See ref: D. Goodstein, "Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil" (W.W. Norton, 2004) for Goodstein's book.

Editorial comments on Amazon and elsewhere say Goodstein's book reads a bit too pedantically and does not set too high a bar in challenging the audience. I find this unfortunate since Goodstein teaches Real Geniuses how to think at Cal Tech. Imagine how Goodstein's late CalTech colleague Feynman would have reacted to an Energy shortage challenge?

I am certain he would not say "Surely you're joking?"


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