One of which is simply the desire to build a web page that lots of people want to see. Nothing more, noting less. The capture of Ted Kaczynski simply provided a convenient premise. All of the news stories at the time were saying that Kaczynski published several articles in mathematics journals, but none said which ones. There was no web site that listed them, so I found my niche. I'm not a mathematician and I haven't followed the Unabomber saga closely. Sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping I was a rabid pro- or anti-Kaczynski fanatic--I'm not.
However, when we saw a scraggly, unshaven, wild-eyed Ted Kaczynski being led out of the Montana wilderness, didn't we all, if even for a brief moment, just assume that someone so unkempt, so dirty, so *crazy* looking just HAD to be the Unabomber? I mean, he looked like he hadn't seen another human being in eons. Seemed like an open-and-shut case to many of us.
But still, is that really all there is to this guy? Is he *just* a loner living in a shack in the middle of nowhere, ranting about the evils of technology? Certainly, in his former career as a mathematician he had to be familiar with technology and computers. But he left behind a series of papers dealing with "boundary functions," equations that describe esoteric mathematical concepts. Don't ask me what they mean--I have no idea--but here's something to think about:
What if a mechanical engineer somewhere could use Kaczynski's equations in a real-life problem? What if she could use them to design a more efficient airplane with a larger payload? What if we could then use those planes to airlift food and medicine to people all over the world who really need them? Might that change our perceptions of Ted Kaczynski, just a little bit?
Certainly, even if the above scenario were true (and to my knowledge, it's not), we shouldn't expect it to balance out the destruction of human life that the Unabomber caused. And he should be punished for that destruction. But shouldn't people know a little bit more about him than simply that he was a hermit who shunned the rest of the world and its technology to live what was probably a most uncomfortable lifestyle in the woods? Does it help to know that he wasn't always a hermit, but had a promising though brief career and contributed to the field of mathematics through his work? At the very least, does it HURT to know these things? Probably not.
- John Bullough
What do you think?