Thursday, November 24, 2011

An interdisciplinary view of higher education

Yesterday I attended a talk by Avi Loeb on the future of research for young astronomers. A copy of a similar talk can be found here: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/itc/events/Loeb.Future_Frontiers.mov

I was very inspired about what he had to say about the current state of scientific research, and spoke to him about his views on introspection and intuition in the scientific method, as well as looking for clues in ancient texts.

His view was that not (m)any researchers are looking into that area, and it could be a possible area of research after acquiring a PhD in astrophysics and moving forward with the connections and clue digging.

I also sent him this email, summing up most of my thoughts:


Dear Avi,

Thank you for taking the time out to talk today.

I've only started thinking about the philosophies of Hinduism and Buddhism (since 2009), but immediately get the feeling that they have a lot to offer science. I imagine other cultures have similar warehouses of information and knowledge that should be explored in a scientific and coordinated manner.

Personally, I see disciplines of cosmology, spirituality, and philosophy as languages that employ completely different methods and approaches but all work towards the same goal: explaining life and consciousness and the role of humans (if any) in the universe.

What's happening in the world today is people and scientists in particular tend to disconnect the two worlds: that of intuition and knowing with that of knowledge and discovery. This disconnect and much larger political and economic forces have divided spirituality (the intangible and not yet explained by science) and science (the tangible and proved within reason) to the extent that a person feels scared to very honestly accept both as real or explore two thoughts (or two methods) in parallel.

My intent (and of this email) is of an information propagator and inter-connector, in the hope of sparking thought and creation.

Regarding Sagittarius, it is considered as the abode of Yamraj (who is the carrier of death), not of Brahma, who is considered the creator, which makes better sense relating to the black hole at the centre of our milky way. What is also interesting is the texts talk of forces, and not "beings"; and it acknowledges that "beings" are the face for comprehension and imagination. And regarding the source of the universe, I couldn't find an online account of "initial" creation, just one of creation involving darkness and emptiness, a state of sleep, and a golden egg, out of which Brahma emerges and creates the universe dividing light and matter (in Sanskrit, the root "bṛh" means to swell, grow, enlarge). I am also fascinated by the Hindu cosmological time cycles as they deal with timescales of 10^-7 s to 10^22 s.

What I try to constantly take away from most of the literature is the essence rather than concentrating on the known inaccuracies in the schematics (with regard to the positions, time scales, distance scales, nomenclature etc.). As you said, those were different times with different limitations, and clearly a different thought process. I think the coincidences in scientific findings and ancient pursuits is undeniable. It could also be a chicken or the egg effect: where our current pursuits lead to future coincidences based on past knowledge.

At this present time and with our current technology, I would really like to see science combine its methods with "all" existing knowledge to make a newer, stronger framework, without bias. Such a line of thought may help answer questions that are neither being explained by science, nor philosophy, nor spirituality. So far, no one discipline has been able to show the whole picture and I believe that it's because we are failing to see the interconnectedness of it all.

As one approach, I propose literally digging through all the cultures and using the main scientific ideas as data to develop new possible theories or areas of investigation. I am sure that this has been done in part through our history, but I believe never in a coordinated manner. (Similarly, astrophysics, molecular genetics, neuroscience, and psychology need to start cracking their heads on consciousness).

Regarding a direction of innovation in terms of gigantic leaps rather than incremental steps, mixing knowledge and interdisciplinary studies are definitely a gateway. For example, interdisciplinary astronomy could look at:
> comparative studies between ancient cosmologies and modern cosmologies
> whether there is any legitimacy in the energy vortexes of planet earth (also called earth's chakras -- similar to energy chakras in Hinduism/Buddhism or the Chi in the orient)
> the accuracy of the Mayan calendar and evaluating it in their contextual knowledge framework (for example, according to the Mayan calendar, which speaks of the evolution of consciousness, the birth of the universe was 16.4 billion years ago)
> evolution of energy and human culture (where energy encompasses all the energy that falls on humans, so extending the SED)

If you meet thinkers or groups that have similar views, I would greatly appreciate being put in touch with them to take these thoughts further.

Thank you once again for your time and attention.

Kind regards,
Jaya

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Jaya Ramchandani
MS Astronomy and Science Based Business (2012)
e. jayar@strw.leidenuniv.nl
p. +31 646 208 017
w. http://www.strw.leidenuniv.nl/~jayar/

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