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Tech Q&A

Eugene Kaplan

Describe your latest project.
I recently designed and supervised the building of a public aquarium. It is an "aquaculture demonstration center" and contains many fishes/invertebrates cultured commercially on farms in the United States, from catfish and tilapia to salt water fishes like striped bass. Visitors can see in operation the complex equipment required to purify water on farms. In aquaculture the fishes, clams, oysters, abalone, etc., must be raised under very crowded conditions to be economical, necessitating the most sophisticated technology.

What inspires you to sit down and write?
I write for fun. In my job as a professor, I had four months a year off. I needed something to do... or else I might have become an alcoholic, a common ailment of professors. The book that I just wrote was a product of a system (or lifestyle) that I developed: write from 8 a.m. til noon and do physical things thereafter, every day, including some weekends.

What do you do for relaxation?
Travel — read novels on railroad and airline trips. I generally go to the tropics during the winter. I have worked in Jamaica and several African countries. I love to work in foreign places. It allows me to penetrate the culture a little. I try to do a little fishing wherever I go. I need to catch a tarpon to complete the triad in tropical flats fishing.

What new technology do you think may actually have the potential for making people's lives better?
Nanotechnology will become important. Devices at the molecular level will correct physiological deficiencies. Stem cell research has tremendous potential for saving lives.

What was your best subject in high school? Your worst?
I liked English composition. Didn't like physics because I am not quantitative.

Describe the best museum of science and/or industry you've ever visited and what made it great.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Just returned from there and found it a truly dedicated scientific and educational enterprise. It is located on the edge of a huge kelp bed. Sea otters, sea lions, and even whales are visible from terraces. Its unique three-story tank features live five-hundred-pound bluefin tuna. One thousand volunteers teach and assist. Neighboring marine laboratories provide serious research to support the educational aspect.

By the end of your life, where do you think humankind will be in terms of new science and technological advancement? By the end of my life — you mean in ten years. I am hopeful that cures for cancer and mental disease will be developed. These will be the products of molecular genetics. Hydrogen-based technology will appear if the political/industrial opposition is broached. Stem cell research will appear if the political/industrial opposition is broached. The rise of religious fanaticism will be overcome to allow science to function.

Which country do you believe currently leads the world in science and technology? In ten years?
The United States will still dominate. European countries still have the infrastructure to do the most sophisticated research. This includes Israel. China and India will not be able to approach the necessary flexibility to do basic research. They will still be absorbed with applied science.

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