Who's The Smartest Person In The World? You'll Be Disappointed!

Right now we’re in the same old American rivalry between brains and brawn. We admire the brainy, but still covet the brawny. At least according to recent college campus polls. More specifically, most guys were still impressed with athleticism while most gals claim they prefer men with wit more than whack.

Polls aside, lets look at what the smart people are doing these days with all their smarts.

Many, like our astrophysicists and geneticists, are taking great leaps into the future. On the other side of the ledger, most technicians seem to be investing their time simply refining the leaps. My favorites are the guys who came up with heated seats, surround sound, and now self-braking for our pricier cars. [Nice, but hardly leap-sized stuff.]

Then there are the flashy creators in Silicon Valley. Having taken giant leaps with their smartphones and iPads, now they’re busy trying to convince us what we really really need are brighter screens, screens that can fold like the newspapers they told us were outmoded, data that is available 10 seconds faster than the last edition, oh and chips that can someday fit into our skulls so we can contemplate our world with our eyes closed [Tibetan gurus have been doing that for centuries].

Lets not forget all the brainy technicians in the R & D departments of our biggest corporations. Not many giant-leaps-for-mankind here, as instead they keep coming up with such glossy glitter as apps for our phones, creams for our jowls, and another dozen concocted colors and fragrances for our bodies [TV’s popular home shopping networks hustle this stuff night after night as if every woman’s dream can be found in a bottle for $49.99 + shipping].

Sounds cynical…? Well, yeah, when what the world really needs now are meds to cure the common cold …. treatments to stop cancer…enough food to keep one-third of the planet’s population fed at night…. programming really worth watching on those screens….and some of the world’s swords at last turned into those plowshares the Bible dreamed about!

The world had a few smart guys like that over the centuries. Only we killed most of them. Which means the smartest person you know hasn’t been born yet.

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  • I think they are still working and close on cancer. At least there are reports that scientists have figured out the genetics and feeding of tumors.

    On other things, there may be incremental changes, but compare what we have now to what was available in the 1980s (such as Wang computers and paying an extra $1.75/month for a touch tone phone).

    And, if we need enough food to keep 1/3 of the world fed at night, I guess the other 2/3s are going to bed hungry, so maybe you ought to rephrase that one.

    As you are mentioning shopping networks, how about the new government program "If you are on Medicare with Diabetes...?" Must be better than the standard Medicare.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack ~ Your stats are right enough, but they sill leave me with this question: are we really devoting our best talent to our biggest challanges?

  • In reply to Jack Spatafora:

    I would say no, but for a reason you didn't cover. Again, I can mention someone I know who got an engineering scholarship, didn't quite cut at at that, so went to B school and became--a financial engineer. His cousin was a math wiz and went to the Illinois Math & Science Academy and college,and turned out to be a quantitative stock analyst. At least his grandpa was a drug researcher.

    When there is another story yesterday that some computer roiled the stock market, something is goofy.

    You still didn't comment on the new Medicare program.

  • A nation that landed men on the moon and brought them back safely on a tight timetable by using a slide rule and an onboard computer whose memory was 2k and had a clock speed of 1.024 MHz .... The storage 'HD' was just 32k - a digital watch has much more capacity these days.} ... America should be able to do better on many fronts ...

    Two decades before the moon landing the "Manhattan Project" was a display of phenomenal scientific effort put out over just four years ... yes America is capable of much more ... though it is slipping so badly right now on the educational, social and medical care fronts that it is quite discouraging ... some things have to be done without "Profit" as the sole motivator ... who is going to become the champion of the great "Public Endeavours" ... we await ... and we worry....

  • In reply to Geezer:

    Lot of us worry, Barrie. My 23 year old grandson is doing something about HIS worries. He is a field supervisor for Team Obama in Ohio. That's how the NEW generation needs to start acting, while old guys like me are left to worry!

  • In reply to Geezer:

    That reminds me of an exchange I had with Byrne (before I decided to boycott him) where he was lamenting that that was the end of the space shuttle. My reaction was that it was 30 year old technology that had blown up twice, and maybe Pres. Obama was correct that the U.S. could come up with something better.

    The real problem now is even if the U.S. comes up with something, someone else exploits it, we don't. For instance, Zenith came up with digital HD TV, supposedly freezing out the Japanese analog proposal, but the Koreans got control, and now have that market.

    That gives rise to the obvious political question whether the government should be promoting such research (which is what I thought Obama tried and failed to do) or let the descendant of Steve Jobs and whomever in Korea try to spur change and have it manufactured in China.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack ~ My take on R&D is that both government and individuals should make the commitment to progress. This may not be answering your comments, but it is my way of saying today's national debate about Capitalism vs Socialism is absurd. We have been using both ever since FDR...

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