Futures

Nature 458, 250 (12 March 2009) | doi:10.1038/458250a; Published online 11 March 2009

LADeDeDa

Ursula K. Le Guin1 & Vonda N. McIntyre1

LADeDeDa

JACEY

It is a pleasure to announce the first annual LADeDeDa.

Spell-checkers and grammar-checkers have rendered obsolete the quaint fetishes of schoolteachers and dictionaries, liberating writers from the crippling fear of not knowing the difference between its and it's, or there and their, since spell-check doesn't know the difference either. And by preventing the perpetration of any sentence longer than ten words, grammar-check has courageously freed us, at last, from the antiquated convolutions of syntax. Between them, these programs have obviated the need for training in the use of the language. Impossible to imagine that it was once necessary to endure literally years of rigorous study, beginning at the age of six or even younger, and ending only after a decade or more, in order to be able to write English! So gruelling was the training that for centuries it was generally forbidden to girls, lest it interfere with their reproductive capacity. Now, of course, all that drudgery and danger has been done away with. Anyone who can learn to use a letter keyboard has all the freedom of expression he or she can desire, and is free at once to write a masterpiece.

Doomsayers and elitists have proclaimed that the problem of innumeracy may be even greater than that of illiteracy, but all that is behind us too. Just as the pocket calculator freed us from the horrors of the times-tables and the slide rule, now, with RithChek™ installed in every computer, the whole problem of mathematics vanishes. Nothing is required but moderate keyboard proficiency (thumbs will do), the ability to count, and familiarity with a few elementary symbols, such as +, -, times, (), radic-1.

Any calculation, the simplest addition or the most complex computation, from two times two to the billionth place of pi, can be instantly checked for accuracy and corrected. Using RithChek™, powerful but intuitive, millions of people who have been unfairly barred from achievements in theoretical and applied science by a mere lack of interest, ability, or training in mathematics are freed to turn their minds loose on the great problems of physics, astrophysics, cosmology, and engineering.

As a natural development, this week the NGnius Coprolation announced its sponsorship of the first Linear Accelerator Design Development Day, to run from 00:00:01 to 24:00:00 UTC, 31 August 2009.

LADeDeDa is not a competition, and no winners will be selected. But the directors of cyclotrons, superconducting super colliders, and other linear accelerators at Berkeley, CERN, Brookhaven, Fermilab, Oakridge and elsewhere should make ready for the thousands of great new plans and projects that will be pouring in on them at the close of the event.

A middle-school student might revolutionize the principles of the particle accelerator; a soccer mom might crack the secret of the Higgs boson. In the sciences as in literature, the playing field is level now. All any one of us needs to be a Tolstoy or an Einstein is a belief — a dream — and a laptop.

  1. Watch for the gut-wrenching, spin-changing quantum entanglement of Ursula K. Le Guin and Vonda N. McIntyre in the brilliant RithCheck™ infomercial.
    http://www.ursulakleguin.com
    http://www.vondanmcintyre.com