Invited_talk abstract details

Think Cosmically, Act Globally
Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel R. Primack

Abstract

Many of humanityís most dangerous problems arise from our 17th century way of looking at the universe, which is at odds with the principles of modern science that we blithely use in countless technologies. There is an almost total disjunction between the power of our technologies and the wisdom required to use them over the almost unimaginably long periods during which their effects will last. People canít recognize threats that donít make sense in their cosmology, and this is why the new cosmology is such an important contribution to the world at this moment and must be presented to the public in ways they can appreciate. We can learn to do this from earlier culturesí cosmologies, which were presented through stories, images, symbols, and rituals. Those cosmologies were scientifically wrong, but they nevertheless provided a mental homeland that defined a shared reality for their people. The challenge today is to take the new universe picture and present it not just as physics but as a mental homeland for our time Ė a homeland where cosmological time is the normal perspective and where global threats that may not get out of hand for another generation or two are as real as a hurricane coming tonight.