Interstellar Overdrive

September 11, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, World + People + Events | Leave a comment
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Today dawned as another beautiful (*coughnonstopraincough*) day. The furious winds, the cold so deep you can almost feel it under your skin, the the smell of the earth, the vivid, lush green of trees, the cloud-laden sky stretching endlessly overhead, glistening raindrops, umbrellas, thick blankets, crisp toast, a steaming cup of coffee…

…hang on. We’re alive!

The Big Bang 2.0 Experiment certainly created no minor waves. Even a nose-permanently-engrossed-in-some-fat-book-or-the-other-and-totally-immune-to-gossip person like me couldn’t escape the wild anticipation, rumours, hysteria and frenzy all around me.

JB: *fingersfuriouslycrossed* Go CERN go!
CG: Oooh! A baby universe, isn’t that pretty!
SA: Seriously, what is the point of this experiment? Isn’t it quite ridiculous to think that we can artificially recreate the conditions which created the Universe? When will these self-pompous scientists learn?
N: Ah dinniken why they ur daein it, jist fir tae prove at whit a hale lot aff canny folks they ur? Bliddy tubes aw dem. This ain’t gonnae work.
SF: Shair they ken whit they ur daein! Int nae hairm in tryin, is there? Ah hope fir the bes.
GL: Typical right-winged bullshit to make money off some stupid experiment while millions of children continue die of starvation. What a waste.
BBD: They can’t mess with the world like that! God made it. Only God can decide what to do it.
My wee brother: OMGOMG we’re all gonna die!

As for me, *I* find the whole thing incredibly exciting. It’s a huge undertaking all right. On the whole, I think the whole LHC thing is quite…astounding and a wee bit scary at the same time. I must admit, something on a scale as big as this fascinates me and frightens me. We’re treading dangerous grounds here. This is something that cut right to the core. Messing with Nature is a dangerous thing. The answer to the Big Bang – Universe’s biggest riddle – is something we’ve always sought to find. And yet, when (and if) we do find it…would it all be the same?

Whether we materialise the Higgs Boson particle or not, whether we identify the nature of the invisible dark matter that constitutes 25 per cent of the Universe or not, whether we modify the architecture of space-time or not, one thing is clear: we’re getting closer and deeper to an understanding of the Universe all the time. There is something about this whole thing – the whole element of mystery – the endless search, the maddening nature of the questions, and the hunger for answers.

Einstein put it very well in one of his most excellent essays, Physics and Reality:

The very fact that the totality of our sense experiences is such that by means of thinking, it can be put in order, this fact is one which leaves us in awe, but which we shall never understand. One may say that the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.’ It is in the sense of creating some sort of order among sense impressions – by the formation of general concepts and relations between them – that the world is comprehensible. The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle.

The connections of elementary concepts of everyday thinking with complexes of sense experiences can only be comprehended intuitively and is unadaptable to scientifically logical fixation. The totality of these connections – none of which is expressible in conceptual terms – is the only thing which differentiates the great building which is science from a logical but empty scheme of concepts.

Some physicists, among them myself, cannot believe that we must abandon, actually and forever, the idea of direct representation of physical reality in space and time; or that we must accept the view that events in nature are analogous to a game of chance. It is open to every man to choose the direction of his striving; and also every man may draw comfort from Lessing’s fine saying, that the search for truth is more precious than its possession.

Humanity has always been in the search for truth…since the beginning of time. In my opinion, our existence is threatened more by the possibility of giving up this search, than it is by Global Warming or warfare.

On a related note: I was quite taken aback at the number of people who thought that it was their last day on earth. I just hate it when people jump to stupid illogical conclusions concerning the ‘end of the world’. All that talk about the world ending in 2012 is rubbish as well. Weren’t we supposed to die in 2000, or on the of sixth June in 2006? =P It seems that every now and then someone will turn up with their own prediction of the end of the world. Guess I’ll go and make a prediction myself and massively publicise it…I decide to switch on the toaster tomorrow morning and BAM! the world doesn’t exist anymore! People will fall even for that… :roll:

PS. I wonder just what Einstein and Orwell would have said were they to witness this experiment.


The Peace and Power Riddle

June 4, 2008 at 5:25 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, World + People + Events | 3 Comments
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It is entirely possible for tomorrow to not arrive. It is easy, say, for humanity to wipe itself clean off the surface of the earth by nuclear warfare, or get wiped off by one of the natural calamities we have been instrumental in creating ourselves.

Either way, the conclusion is the same.

Lately, every major political leader, in every country of the world, has been screaming from the rooftops for World Peace. World what? Peace, you say? Well, you’re fooling yourselves, folks, for you’re as near towards getting world peace as My Chemical Romance are towards being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

What right do people in power have to demand peace, anyway? It’s them who demand peace while plotting to wage wars, who keep on babbling away about human rights while violating them from the first day of assuming office themselves, who don’t see any difference between making speeches and making weapons. It’s easy enough for them to talk peace, demand peace, propagate peace, market peace, while peace is something that they’ve never had and never wanted. While the Darfur conflict gets keeping worse and worse, the people who are in position to stop it continue to sit and close their eyes. US still hasn’t drawn troops out of Iraq. Suicide-bombers are being manufactured like packets of cereals. You show me one of these politicos who want peace who are prepared for it.

What about people who do care? Who, truly and genuinely, want the world to be a better place? Are they seeking an ideal that doesn’t exist? Are they being optimistic and foolish? If optimism if foolish, how does pessimism make things better? If you’re an optimist, you obviously want things to get better and hate the current mess it is in; if you’re a pessimist, you still hate it. So whether optimistic or pessimistic, we all agree on one thing: the world’s current situation sucks. (Oh yes, even the optimists, for being an optimist doesn’t mean that you have to see the bright side and ignore the dark side altogether.) That much is certain.

The 1960s saw the peace movement in various parts of the world, but half a century later, we’re no better off. Where does the problem lie? Is it illogical for peace to be possible at all? Okay, hang on, we’re not talking about something abstract here, we’re talking about our lives, for fuck’s sake. Then is it to do with the framework of international policy? Partly, so ably outlined by George Bush: If you’re not with us, you’re against us.

Oh, then there’s this bloody religion business. My God is better than yours. How convenient! Brainwash the masses into hating each other for having a faith different than their own. Religious fanatics will do anything for proclaiming superiority of their respective religions; they’ll kill for it, die for it, anything but live and let live for it.

But when you take it all together, it all boils down to one single thing. Power. It’s power what drives politicians and policies, religions and races. The two World Wars were wars over power. The holocaust and Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ were the direct outcomes of his thirst for power. The Cold War, the gold rush, the dot com burst, you name it. Aren’t they all to do with humanity’s never-ending quest for power?

The ruthless force that makes men shine like stars, or crushes them to dust. Isn’t it strange, when Nature had already made us the most powerful species from the start? There’s power and there’s money, that loom over the earth as bullies, making people commit stupid, cowardly things. Power is a bully that creeps in and intimidates us in every decision or choice: even the choice of survival, for natural selection itself is a fight for power.

And there you have it. There’s nothing you can do about it – hunger for power is hardwired into our brains. And power isn’t a bad thing in itself – it’s its handling that plays the devil. So as long as there’s fighting over power, there’ll never be world peace. So the question facing folks everywhere today – politicians, economists, philosophers – is how to control the balance of power and guarantee lasting peace. Marx asked the same question and said the solution was a classless society where the Power was to the People. But hey, the Soviet Union didn’t work out, did it?

Dictatorship, democracy, anarchy…what really is the best way of making power make way for peace? The solution seems elusive…one hundred and ninety-five countries, various cultures, and contradictory socio-economic conditions. Dictatorship is definitely off the list. Democracy is reckoned to be the best way of governance so far but then what is to account for bureaucratic selfishness and shortsightedness?

And anarchy…I’m not sure that it’s the best way – indeed, even if it is a good way at all – but it seems to me that anarchy is the only system which puts faith in humans’ capability to govern themselves, not by a bunch of people that supposedly represent them. It trusts them enough for them to practise freedom – but then just where do we draw the line between the required and excessive freedom? And would that freedom be preserved at all and not be culminated into another dictatorship? Is it possible to eliminate the element of power after all?

Ah, maybe I’ll just leave it to the economists until I can work out a theory of my own ;]

Death of a Daughter

December 28, 2007 at 9:42 am | Posted in World + People + Events | Leave a comment
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Benazir Bhutto’s death came as a shock to me. It wasn’t as thought it was totally unexpected but, it was still a shock. She knew she was putting herself in danger the moment she decided to return to Pakistan. But she also knew that she wanted to secure her country’s future.

I can’t help but marvel at what a brave woman Benazir was. On the day of her arrival in Pakistan itself, there had been a suicide bombing which killed and injured several people. But she remained steadfast. Death had been familiar enough to her – I had read about how they hanged her father, and killed two of her brothers. And now herself.

Did she know that the same fate awaited her? In one of her interviews on BBC, she said that whatever happens, happens. It’s not in her hands. When her time comes, it will come and she will have to go. And she did. But she didn’t deserve to go like this. She was their only hope for a stable and secure future, a true democratic government.

What terrorism has demonstrated time and again is that humans will stop at nothing to secure their interests. How many lives are slaughtered in the effort, how many families ripped apart, it doesn’t matter to them. No, what matters is their goal. Their goal is as terrible as the means they employ to attain it. What do they attain? Violence breeds violence. Hatred breeds more hatred. Nothing can be achieved this way.

But what is Benazir’s legacy? I’d say that it is her willingness of self sacrifice. One of her friends recalls how she could switch from being the bubbly, pretty Asian girl of her Oxford years to the Prime Minister of a nation laden down with the gravitas of her office. The Benazir who refused to cry in front of the guards when led away from her father’s cell. She was a remarkable woman in many ways, being the first woman leader of an Islamic nation not the least of them.

In its obituary The Times said: ‘Pakistan’s most charismatic leader, the daughter of Pakistan, daughter of the Muslim world, championing modernity, a mix of east and west, rest in peace.’

The Perils of Indifference

December 6, 2007 at 2:43 pm | Posted in World + People + Events | Leave a comment
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Sometimes I begin to lose faith in the human race. Well, anyone would, if they were living in the 21st century and experiencing things that make it look like the 6th century BC.

Iran, one of the deepest concerns of the civilised (note I said civilised – the Iranian politicians are certainly not included in it) world, can be bad on so many levels. Just how much, I’m not sure.

The Times reported that the Iranian government is cracking down on women who supposedly sport “western” clothing. This means, that women wearing jeans – Jesus fuck, jeans – have to be punished under the Iranian law. What the fuck?!

I can’t believe that people are letting this happen. I can’t imagine how I would be able to survive if I had to live covered in a bloody veil all the time. Punishment for wearing trousers, that is fucking insane! But that’s only the half of it. Discrimination against women has always been a part of the Islamic ideology, but Christ, I didn’t know the fucktards had some male-inclined policies too. Iranian men sporting long hair are also to be punishable under law.

I don’t know what the worst part of this whole business is:

1. The implementation of such policies in the first place
2. The plight of the people who have to put up with this shite, through no fault of theirs
3. The world’s apathy to such policies, and their continuation in the 21st century

George W. Bush, surely the dumbest politician the world has ever seen – invaded Iraq on the grounds of possession of weapons of mass destruction, and is concerned over Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons – wouldn’t his time have been better devoted if he’d just done something to stop all this crazy shite?

Why is the world silent? Why don’t the people in power do something? What does the United Nations stand for? What are Amnesty International doing? What is our talk of human rights worth?

Elie Wiesel said in his speech, ‘The perils of indifference’ that when the holocaust took place and they were forced into concentration camps, the Jews were convinced that apart from Hitler and his faithful lapdogs, nobody else had wind of this business. He talks about the shock they went through when the discovered that the rest of the world governments knew about the Holocaust. The governments were silent, they let it happen, they didn’t intervene. Wiesel said that this was terrible, the indifference to so many people on such a large scale. In this speech that he made in December of 1999 – just at the dawn of a new millennium – Wiesel expressed hope that the new millennium would not witness such a disaster; that whatever happens, people wouldn’t tolerate an event like that ever again. That this time, people would intervene.

The holocaust, one of the worst events in modern history – was more that half a century ago. And today, all these years later, where do we stand? Have we become wiser? I think not. If there are things like guns being handed over to minors, religion-influenced government policies, suicide bombings by teenagers, if these are all the crazy things happening again and again, and being tolerated by the world all over again, I don’t think we’re much better off than we were a thousand years ago.

The world has so many problems. Will they never end? Is it impossible to even make an attempt? All of them can be dealt with one by one, if only both the world governments, and the people, come together and decide to fight them – not for the sake of their own families, religions or for their countries – but for the human race, and other creatures – as a whole.

Oh, and as for the Iranian people…honestly I’m so mad that they have to bear with this. It isn’t their bloody fault. Religion is evil enough on its own, but when it is allied with greedy and hungry politicians, all hell is sure to be unleashed. The worst part is, if you try to protest or so much as voice your opinion in the country – you and your family will be hunted down and shot down cold, by the state itself.

I wish I could knock some sense into the sleeping politicians and ‘leaders’ (retards, more like) out there. I hate the indifferent people as much as the supporters themselves. This can be ended! Talibanism and extremist religious policies can be curbed. It will take time, but at least we can try! If only people weren’t so selfish, so indifferent, we would have less that half the suffering in the world.

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