Isaac Newton had a lot to do with human beings exploring space.  He created calculus, the ability to map routes to outer space, to break the bonds of earth and return safely.   But when Columbia crashed the other day, it brought up a more vital issue about calculus--how can it stop Terrorism in its tracks?   Find out in this fascinating look at "felicific calculus"--the art of putting Terrorism into a formula so it can be overpowered by Vigilance.


Monday--February 3, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 509
 The Felicific Calculus Of The Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb. 3--Over three centuries ago, between 1665 and 1666, Isaac Newton, was putting the finishing touches on calculus, the mathematics of space travel.    He shelved his discoveries and did not publish them until 1687.    Another innovator, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was working on the same principles of how humans could conquer space and published his findings a year before Newton.   Both are responsible, in part, for hurling human beings and their machines to the far reaches of the universe.   Both have some part in the events of the Columbia, the space craft that crashed in a fiery ball of flames yesterday.  It was their formulations that helped humankind defy gravity and reach for the underbelly of God.

Isaac Newton  one of the first to work on the mathematics of space travel in 1665.

Gottfried  Leibniz, along with Newton, opened the door to the possibilities of space travel in 1686.

    Calculus has been described as the "celestial breakthrough," for without it human beings would not be able to calculate orbits to explore the far reaches of space.
      In a sense, the first astronauts--or their "mission control" planners--were Newton and Leibniz.   Both spelled out a language that opened the door to mapping the universe and controlling objects leaving and returning to earth.
      Battles still rage over who is the "father" of calculus.  Some claim Newton deserves the final honor, while others camp out in Leibniz's quarters.  Leibniz was the first to publish a dissertation on calculus in 1686.  He was given total credit for the discovery for a number of years.   Because he and Newton communicated frequently while Newton was working on his formulations, Leibniz was later accused of plagiarism.  Historically, Newton was given the credit as the "father of calculus."
      Both men, however, greatly contributed to the field.  Each traveled in slightly different directions but ended up at the same endpoint--opening the door to the Heavens for exploration.

      Today, another form of calculus is being thrashed about in the wake of the Columbia space shuttle disaster that took the lives of the seven astronauts killed during their reentry yesterday when their space craft, hurling through space at 18,000 miles an hour, broke apart and burned in temperatures equally that of the sun’s surface.

Felicific calculus measures good over bad

      That variation is called "felicific calculus." It is a scientific method of determining the rightness of an action by balancing the probable pleasures and pains that it would produce.  In a sense, it is an advanced method of measuring Vigilance over Terrorism, "good" versus "bad," and "right" over "wrong." It has come to light amid accusations that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) failed in its duty to protect the space travelers.  The undercurrent is they made "decisions" that may result in either an abandonment of space exploration, or a severe set back that may threaten its expansion.   The man responsible for creating felicific calculus is also buried in the pages of history.
       In 1789 an English utilitarian philosopher and social reformer named Jeremy Bentham offered humanity his formula for measuring the "rightness" or "wrongness" of an act in chapter 4 of his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. 
       He proposed humanity should consider the pleasures and pains resulting from an action in respect of their intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity and extent.  
       In a nutshell, Bentham proposed a formula for measuring the pleasures and pains of certain acts, and why when the pain of an act supercedes its pleasure, it should be avoided. 
       His system is also called “hedonic calculus,” defined as a method of working out the sum total of pleasure and pain produced by an act, and thus the total value of its consequences.
       The space shuttle issue presents a golden opportunity for felicific calculus to be applied.   One answer the formula can provide is to the question: What are the consequences of shutting down space travel over the pleasures of exploration?
        Bentham would be in his heyday if he were present..  He could take his formulations and apply them not only to the Columbia disaster, but also to North Korea and Iraq, and for that matter, all the ills that plague the world.
         He would, for example, define not just the pleasure of modern society enjoys when it turns its collective head to the life-threatening global issues that grow like fungus in these rogue countries, but he would startle most of us by spelling out the consequences of those pleasures on the future of humanity.  He would do it with pure science, in stark black and white calculus.  He would make the "smoking gun" appear as bright as the burning pieces of Columbia streaking across a bright Texas sky.
          Examining his calculations, we might find that agreeing to allow Iraq and North Korea to “do what they do as long as they don’t bother us” brings us immediate pleasure because we don’t go to war, we don’t waste American lives, we don't threaten the security of Europe or Asia.  But, as Bentham’s data reveals the “intended” or “unintended” consequences of our “head-in-the-sand” policies, we might see the crystal clear reality of the risk we pass on to our grandchildren’s lives, or their children’s lives.   His answers might well burn the scales from our eyes, as the 3,000 degree heat burned into the flesh of the Columbia as it hurled itself at 18,000 miles an hour toward a collision with Complacency.
      We might find that instead of retreating into shells of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, that we ought to reinstall heat shields and better manage our attack on space, for if we don't, we might be condemned to state of earthly Terrorism when we should be surging upwards to the Heavens of Vigilance.
        If Bentham’s formula was plugged into the computers at NASA, would they have spat out the consequences of seven lives?   Would the formulas have shown that the future of space exploration was a far greater consequence than that of seven lives—and that the future of space conquest meant protecting not endangering our children's equity?

         Perhaps it would.  Calculus is not lineal.   It bends and conforms to the elasticity of the universe, allowing insights and clarity where superstition and muddiness once existed.   Calculus allows us to predict the journey into the future.  And, under Bentham's ideal, it provides with a way to look at the consequences of a decision for its "rightness" despite the shadows that loom upon its "wrongness."  His calculus allows for human error as a part of human evolution, as long as the consequences are to the benefit of all.
      Others have held opposite viewpoints.  Niccolo Machiavelli scribed in 1513  the famous claim that the
"end justifies the means."  It was contained in his book, The Prince.
 Under the scrutiny of felicific calculus, Machiavelli's formula for human effort would not hold water, for the consequences of the act, however noble, tend to depreciate the result.  Getting into space at any cost does not justify the end. 
        Neither does allowing Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Il the right to build weapons of mass destruction that are clearly designed for purposes far more insidious than self-defense.
        As the world tries to find fault in reasons to destroy or inhibit Terrorism before it grows larger and uglier, so does the need for felicific calculus grow to counter the insanity of Complacency, to alert us to the intended and unintended consequences of turning our backs on the safety and security of the future.

Columbia heat tile--The Shield of Vigilance corrupted by Complacency

        NASA is under attack for that reason today.   Critics are suggesting NASA failed as a Parent of Vigilance in its duty-bound parental role to protect its siblings, who ride its crafts into space, from the Beast of Terror's most powerful weapon--Complacency.  If NASA hadn't "turned its head" and attacked the problems before lift off, all this might not have happened, they claim.
        The same is true of Iraq and North Korea.   If either of those nations are not stopped, and their monster glut is not starved, they can both pose disasters at some point in the future.  Felicific calculus would reveal the smoking gun.  It would pull the heads out of the sand of the Parents of Vigilance and burn the scales from their eyes so they could see what Newton and Leibniz saw hundreds of years ago.
       Not everyone is into calculus.   Our meager mathematical attempt to formulize Vigilance--Courage minus Fear, plus Conviction minus Intimidation, plus Right Action for the Children's Children's Children sake minus Complacency equal Vigilance--is crude by all intellectual standards.
      But, we believe it fits the formula that Bentham proposed. It measure the pleasure and pain of decisions, and it considers both intended and unintended consequences.

Our Vigilance Formula is elastic in nature--it expands human potential.

      Our Vigilance Formula is elastic in nature.  It recognizes that Terrorism cannot be destroyed, only overpowered, leashed, constrained.   It is fecund because it seeks to grow the human condition into one bonded unit, Global Parents of Vigilance first, citizens of the world second.  
     Bentham's formulation says: "We should consider the pleasures and pains resulting from an action in respect of their intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity and extent.

      Our simple Vigilance Formula has propinquity.  It suggests a kinship between all cultures, all races, all creeds.  This kinship is defined by our roles as Parents of Vigilance, reminding us we must be concerned not solely for our own children's security, but for the security of all children.   No true parent can justly suggest the demise of other children, for if he or she does, all children become potential targets of Terrorism.  Children are the hope of any world, of any species, for they contain the innocence of us all.  We count on the children to bring harmony rather discord when we could not, to find avenues of unity rather than bloody divisions between people's and nations when we, the Parents, stumbled and fell in our attempts.
       Children are also examples of purity. They have yet to be afflicted by the prejudices and bigotries of cultural walls created by adults, or political prejudices, or religious bigotries carried over and passed down in form of hate and anger toward others.  We need to protect the purity of our children so they can rise above the selfishness we so often exhibit in our eagerness to fault others, to build borders and barriers between the human heart and soul.
       The duration Bentham includes in his formula is incorporated in the Vigilance Formula.  We ask that Right Actions to the benefit of the Children's Children's Children be the key to driving Complacency from the king's throne.   We ask that Parents of Vigilance look out three generations ahead, and build into the offspring the duty to pass the Sword of Vigilance forward so that Terrorism--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--has no way to burn its way through the child's heat shields.
      As far as intensity and certainty are concerned, we ask the Parents of Vigilance to love their children as a teacher would a student, always on guard to counterbalance Fear with Courage, Intimidation with Conviction, and Complacency with Right Action for the Children's Children's Children.
      We have reduced this battle to the distance between a thought, where it may spark initially as a Terroristic Thought, by forcing One Percent more Courage or One Percent more Conviction, or One Percent more Right Action, such Beast of Terror Thinking can be quelled.  The child's orbit can be corrected, and instead of crashing into the bowels of earth, the child can rise above the limitations of Fear to evolve upward in strength and Conviction.
       Today, mud slings.

The Beast of Terror delights in our Mudslinging

      The future of the children is not the key subject of any discussions by world leaders--not regarding Iraq, North Korea or the Columbia.
        Instead, we hear only about the dangers of acting, or, in the case of NASA, the "unintended consequences" of inaction, or inept action.
        Calculus was designed to thrust our thinking and actions beyond ourselves.   Yet we wallow in the selfish desire to fault those things that we should right without argument or debate, for they stand as clear as the answer to formula, undisputable in their naked truth.
         Iraq and North Korea both are Beasts of Terror waiting to sink their fangs in the flesh of the innocent.   The seven astronauts who died the other day were symbols of "felicific calculus."   They were the unintended consequences of the lack of foresight, of lack of vision to the future.  They were the innocent, the pure, who died because of a Complacent system that put the risk above the return.
         If Iraq and North Korea were put to the felicific calculus formula, they would fail its test. 
         And, if we who do not pledge our Vigilance to protect our children from the Beast of Terror ignore the Principles of Vigilance, we will be like the NASA that overlooked the heat shield problem, and let our children fly into space without the Shield of Vigilance to protect them.

           Perhaps it is time for all of us to apply the Calculus of Vigilance and protect our children from the dangers both on earth and beyond it.
         We can start that journey by taking the Pledge of Vigilance and posting on our refrigerators the Formula of Vigilance.

Feb 2.--Columbia Crew Touches The Hand Of Vigilance

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