Mantrik, you wrote:
The science behind all this leaves me cold, but it amuses and saddens me a little that such a wondrous mind was used on such a trivial pursuit, and even he couldn't make up his mind.
The title of this thread should have been "Mantrik has last laugh".
Your basic thesis is that unless a "wondrous mind" is applied to practical pursuits, like "solving the world energy crisis", it only deserves bemusement and rather inspires sadness (though I'm skeptical that it actually makes you sad.)
And you further ridicule someone who showed throughout his career that he was willing to change his mind in the face of new information. To me, that is an admirable person. There is nothing more pathetic than a dogmatist digging in against overwhelming evidence.
The underlying assumptions of your approach are difficult to accept. This is the same kind of utilitarian thinking that is leading to the dismantling of liberal arts faculties throughout higher education. "Who needs Shakespeare? Who needs fine arts? Who needs musicians? We need scientists, but not just any scientist, only scientists who do something practical."
Most of what's beautiful and makes life worth living is impractical, pointless. Inquiries about the origin of the universe, as futile and practically useless as they may be, go to our natural curiosity about life.
Sure, we need more engineers, biologists, neurologists... to develop clean energy, cure cancer, cure alzheimers... we also need people who stare at a piece of paper until the structure of atoms and the universe make sense. We also need painters and musicians, chefs, actors, filmmakers, magicians, and all sorts of people to inspire wonder and entertain us. They make the road so much more interesting.