Now here’s the astonishing thing. The actual hardware necessary for generating or receiving a radio wave is, to borrow modern commercial vernacular, “So simple, a Caveman can do it.” Which makes one really wonder, why didn’t a Caveman do it? Or a Chaldean. Or an Egyptian. Or a Roman. Or a Greek. Or Shakespeare. Or J.S. Bach. Or Gutenberg. Or Michelangelo. Or Leonardo da Vinci? It’s probably a safe assumption that all these people were a lot smarter than Cavemen. And they were even a lot smarter than 99.9999% of us. What gives? For one thing, this demonstrates that knowledge does not always take a logical, progressive path. There are times when one has to take an intuitive leap to the next level. This is the difference between invention and discovery. There are dozens of patents granted every day, and most of the people who are granted patents are pretty doggone smart people. On the other hand, fundamental discoveries are few and far between, and most people who make them end up with Nobel prizes. Discovery takes an entirely different kind of intelligence than just “smarts.” But there’s something else. Most human “smarts” is applied to solving problems. This is where we get the concept that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” But fundamental discovery seldom, if ever, results from trying to solve a particular problem. The laws of the Universe existed long before any problems existed! A law cannot be invented, it can only be discovered. All true science involves discovering the laws that make everything else work. To put it another way...invention addresses the symptoms; discovery addresses the primary causes. To make a fundamental discovery, as opposed to a mere clever invention, requires unmitigated humility, which is one reason why it’s such a rare occurrence. Human beings--especially “smart” human beings--don’t like the prospect of discovering a universal law that they can’t possibly “fix.” But they get a good feeling by being able to fix another problem that some other “smart” human being created in the first place. It’s probably self-evident from this as to why politics and innovation, with a few rare exceptions, are almost always mutually exclusive. Two of these notable exceptions were Ben Franklin, and on the other side of the pond, Antoine Lavoisier. Lavoisier, the discoverer of oxygen among other things, was beheaded during the French Revolution. There were probably as many people in the Colonies who might have desired to do in Mr. Franklin as well; however, since beheading was not the normal domestic way of dealing with political disagreement, he managed to retain a perch for his three-cornered hat until a ripe old age.Be that as it may, Mr. Lavoisier probably could have avoided a lot of problems if he’d just avoided politics. He had apparently made some rather revolutionary public statements, and as a result, lost a lot of face. And cranium. As did his lovely wife.To the best of our knowledge, Lavoisier made very few contributions of either a scientific or political nature, after his beheading. This was much to society’s detriment; not only in France, but anywhere people could have used a good scientist. Guillotines were a dime a dozen; true statesmen like Lavoisier were hard to come by. And still are. Mr. Franklin and Mr. Lavoisier are, of course, fully qualified members of the Dead Hams Society.As a little side-note, another distinguished French Dead Ham was the brilliant mathematician, Joseph Fourier, who was nearly beheaded for not being revolutionary enough. Sheesh! It seems like you can’t please anyone in the middle of a raging civil war! Fourier’s contributions are probably more closely tied to modern amateur radio than those of any other French Dead Ham. He’s definitely in the club. So, for whatever reason, we find that lots of Dead Hams were great discoverers. The best indicator that you are a discoverer is that you have a law named after you. So, we may confidently include such names as Ohm, Faraday, Ampere, Coulomb, Kirchoff, Watt, Volta, and Thevenin, just to name a few. All the above qualify for the Dead Hams Society as well, on two counts. They were amateurs--i.e. most of them died penniless--and they’re all currently dead. The ultimate compliment for any true radio amateur would be to have a scientific phenomenon named after you. If you think you’ve got the goods, go for it. Now, one would ask, what sort of training does it take to become a discoverer? I wish I knew. In fact, I don’t know if there is any. If there is one thing in common with all these Dead Hams Society members, it is, as we mentioned before, genuine humility. And another is insatiable curiosity. I’ve never seen a college course offered in either of these disciplines. Perhaps that’s why we’ve written this book.
Causes Eric Nichols Supports
Free Burma Rangers, Partners Ministries (Thailand), Literacy council of Alaska, Access Alaska.