Friday, August 12, 2016

My Son the Astrophysicist and Yes Our Standard of Living is Exploding

By Don Boudreaux
With this post I achieve two ends with one stroke: I boast about my son, Thomas, while pointing to further evidence of the continuing innovation that keeps the material wealth of ordinary Americans growing.
A few moments ago Thomas gave a short presentation at Johns Hopkins’s Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) on research that he and his mentor there, Dr. Scott Fleming, are doing on locating celestial objects called “hot subdwarfs” in (very far) outer space.  (Thomas has a two-month-long internship at STScI.)
I watched and listened to Thomas’s presentation, live, on my computer in Fairfax.  And I took this photo of it with my telephone  – the same phone that I just used to text Thomas to congratulate him on his poised, smooth, and impressive delivery, and that I’ll use later today to talk to him on his drive back to Fairfax from Baltimore.  (I confess that 98 percent of the astrophysics and computer-science talk zooms well over my head, but judging from the audience’s questions and reaction afterward, Thomas’s talk was successful.)
No ordinary American in the mid-1970s – that halcyon time when ordinary Americans’ living standards allegedly peaked, never to rise again – had a laptop computer, cellphone (much less a smartphone), or a device that took pictures that could be shared instantly with dozens or hundreds or millions of people around the world.  No ordinary – or even superrich – American’s college-age children were using PowerPoint to aid their presentations.  And no ordinary Americans were tuning in live – at zero-marginal-monetary cost, I add – to watch non-broadcast, streamed events.
The above originally appeared at Cafe Hayek.


  1. Too bad the majority of what his son learned is inaccurate...

  2. Apparently the thunderbolts website is about people who believe craters are caused by electrical arcs not meteor impacts, the sun glows because of electricity not nuclear fusion, orbits are not caused by get gravity but by electricity, etc.
    Basically they are the hollow earthers of physics.

  3. You can't eat your phone or computer, can't live in it, can't health care except a bit of advice from it. Digital stuff is great but it's just a small part of what one consumes. I like most of what Don writes, but gushing over electronics is not economics. And this from a guy who makes a living programming the damn things.