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Mission Background

Energy is essential to life on earth. Plants process sunlight and store some of the captured energy in growing material. Animals extract and recycle energy from plants and other animals to maintain their activity. The sun provides most of the energy that sustains life through a complex interaction between all life forms.

Humans established much knowledge over the centuries of the role energy plays in life-processes. The development of agriculture, enhancing growth of human food sources, was a first groping step toward this wisdom.

Before the emergence of humans, life on earth created vast energy stores trapped beneath the surface of the planet. In the last two centuries, humans developed methods to recover this energy. This energy provided humans with the means to further enhance nature's ability to support prolific life. Humans, in particular, prospered from far - reaching developments based on the use of energy.

Humans now understand the basic processes that enable the sun to provide the energy needed for life. Technology to directly harness this basic energy from atomic matter for the benefit of nature and humans is in the early stages of development and application.

Scientists noted decades ago that human use of some energy sources might have a significant effect on earth's atmosphere. Over the past decade, this possibility developed into concern that an undesirable alteration in earth's climate could occur even catastrophically by the very use of stored fossil energy that led to human prosperity.

Computare is committed to the concept that energy technology developed by human knowledge is a great net benefit to past, present and future life on earth. Human ingenuity recognizes negative as well as positive effects of energy use. Human ingenuity can develop techniques and technology that will moderate and control harmful aspects of energy use. Computare focuses on  understanding of energy use in the context of life on earth.

Anyone, then, who would compare the state of man in the latter half of the twentieth century with that in 1750 and then compare his state in 1750 with that in the Stone Age, might well come to the conclusion that, despite all the changes that took place before 1750, those that took place after 1750 were the more startling and radical.

The conclusion that seems most reasonable is that, of all the technological advances in man's history, those most pregnant of consequences were, first, the discovery of fire and, second, the invention of the steam engine. The first made the energy of combustion available to man, the second bent it to use as prime mover.

The history of man, then, it would seem to me, is much more a history of the development of his uses of energy than it is the story of the vagaries of kings and conquerors. - - - - - - - - - - - - - If man is, and always will be, a slave to the laws of thermodynamics, he need not be an entirely helpless one. If he cannot subvert those laws, he can at least guide himself in such a way as to exact the utmost they will yield.

With the advent of nuclear power, man has taken a step that is comparable to the discovery of fire (with the discussion of which I began this book). Fire made man no longer directly dependent on the sun for energy and the atom may make man no longer even indirectly dependent on the sun. (Isaac Asimov - Life and Energy, 1962, pp. 25 & pp. 365)




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