Saturday, December 31, 2011

Order

order of nation
order of individual
who's first? who's not?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Dear Papa,

It's been two years.
And I've finally learnt all (or a few) of the lessons you tried to teach me.

Thank you and love you always and forever and ever and ever.

Yours,
Jaya

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nassim Haramein on Sacred Geometry & Unified Fields

Last night, I watched this documentary, which talks of a geometry/pattern as a unified field. Nassim brings up a lot of topics that I've wondered about: role of assumptions in science equations (the build up that's been neglected), the observation/derivation of constants, the hidden patterns, and the mystery of the big and small looking much the same. I need to look into the physics more deeply for comparisons, but I did notice that some of his facts were off by some orders of magnitude. What I'm really interested to know is how different is this from what physics is already chasing. In this particular talk, he too limits himself to the how rather than the why.



This talk gives a great idea for journals like Science and Nature or perhaps publishers like Elsevier to start "Science Talks" at a generalist audience where they feature the breakthrough science discoveries as explained by the discoverers. The talk then can be recorded and put online for the world. It would make a big difference in closing this gap between science and the public.

A major obstacle right now in informal learning is the language and format of scientific literature. To reach a wider audience, and for the wider audience to see the novelty and spark further creation given their own limitations of time, videos and talks have shown to be successful in transmitting complex information in an engaging format. So it could be a start.

A lot of scientists are invited to TED Talks and even Google Talks, but this concept should be tied into the authors more deeply, a step towards bringing Science Shows back into fashion. We may not have the 3D theatrics of the 1800s, but our computers can do a lot :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why is Using Others' Work so Problematic in the Western Academic World?

I've been wondering about this obsession of attribution of ideas (in particular, those of scientific value rather than economic value). I see most pros, especially those related to communication/collaboration on future work, any monetary gains due, validity of the idea in the first place, and so on. However, what are the cons to this system and have we made provisions for minimizing them?

Considering that most humans are so little self and so much influence, more so in today's law-based society, the extent of emphasis paid to individual contributions particularly in science is something non-intuitive to me. On the one hand, science goes out of its way to talk about the science and not the "person/people" behind the science in the publications themselves, and on the other, scientists are always in a race to be acknowledged as the first. Just to clarify, I'm a fan of the individual (to a certain extent) but I fail to fully understand why this attribution is important on a historical timescale (say 100 years) if we aren't going to draw hypotheses or conclusions on the person/people behind the science to advance the process of scientific thought (which we don't really do). For example, the scientific method, "a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses," (Wiki) is still the only method of science. My problem would be the word "systematic" because a lot of the reading that I've been doing on these so-called geniuses in science seem far from systematic in their approach to life.

Today, I came across this super clear explanation, which kind of puts things into perspective for me. But this thought is definitely something I would like to revisit, evaluating if and what you are losing because of this obsession (time, progress?), and what are you gaining from it?

---------------------
Source: http://www.umass.edu/cie/Themes/APARules-3rd%20ed.pdf

There are widely varying cultural assumptions about how knowledge is created and legitimated, and varying norms about the treatment of existing writings by subsequent authors. The Western academic world is highly individualistic and places emphasis on being able to judge and give credit for the work of each student or researcher. "World majority" students from collectivist societies come from nations where one's experiences, thoughts and ideas are interwoven with those of others, both living and dead (Fox, 1994, p. 37). For them, the idea that one must sort out which individual is associated with each idea is both novel and incomprehensible.
In contrast to our [U.S.] emphasis on individual effort and personal success, where children learn to think of themselves as "I" instead of "we," where shades of individual opinion are carefully studied and singled out for praise or criticism, collectivist societies teach that in group harmony lie security, contact, comfort, and identity. (Fox, 1994, p. 36)

Some of you may have been taught that your own words are not important, that scholarship consists of knowing and using the words of well-respected authorities. Others of you may come from cultures where claiming individual credit is inappropriate, where such behavior is seen as putting yourself forward in undesirable ways. For some, writing has always meant finding and using the writings of others. Being a student in a U.S. university may require that you make adjustments in your assumptions about knowledge, ownership and individual work because these may differ from the academic rules for scholarship in U.S. institutions.

Because Western culture is individualistic, it places value on being clear about which individuals created an idea or wrote about it. Similarly, written words are viewed in some sense as belonging to the individual who wrote them.
---------------------

(and I'm from the latter school of thought)

Baby Gone

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ahem

So I went for a haircut today and the stylist asked me if I was from India.

So I said yes and was generally chatting. Then she said: Isn't India very poor and dirty? So I clarified the situation of how to imagine India when your world view is that of a typical closed-minded Dutch-e. She went on to ask me bordering-on-racism questions like whether I intend to live in the Netherlands blah blah.

What I would like to say to her:

Netherlands: For a population of 16 million
Gross external debt$373.3 billion (31 December 2009)

India: For a population of 1.2 billion
Gross external debt$238 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

PS: And the hair cut wasn't great either :)

"Mr. Attila"

Source: Haynes: From alchemy to artificial intelligence
Public Understand. Sci. 12 (2003) 243-253

Albert Einstein so successfully cast himself in the role of benign, absent-minded genius that his involvement at a theoretical level in the development of nuclear weapons was glossed over, overshadowed by the one formula that everyone remembers. But the poet Carl Sandburg was not deceived. In his black poem dated, significantly, August 1945 he presented a seemingly harmless, absent-minded atomic physicist, Mr. Attila.
They made a myth of you, professor,
you of the gentle voice,
the books, the specs,
the furitive rabbit manners
in the mortar-board cap
and the medieval gown.

They didn’t think it, eh professor?
On account of you’re so absent-minded,
you bumping into the tree and saying,
“Excuse me, I thought you were a tree,”
passing on again black and absent-minded.

Now it’s “Mr. Attila, how do you do?”
Do you pack wallops of wholesale death?
Are you the practical dynamic son-of-a-gun?
Have you come through with a few abstractions?
Is it you Mr. Attila we hear saying,
“I beg your pardon but we believe we have made
some degree of progress on the residual
qualities of the atom”?
Carl Sandburg
[August, 1945]

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thought of the Day

Science is something special that stems from curiosity. Philosophy is science’s mother. Science was first (and still is) at unrest with religion and now it’s at unrest again, or steered by economics (sort of losing itself in the process). Science should wear a different attitude that’s more “why” seeking and not just “how” seeking.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"VCR"



You, you used to have all the answers
And you, you still have them too.
And we, we live half in the day time
And we, we live half at night

Watch things on VCRs with me and talk about big love.
I think we're superstars,
you say you think we are the best thing,
but you, you just know. You just do

When i find myself by the sea, in another's company by the sea,
want to go out to the pier, gonna dive and have no fear,
because you, you just know, you just do

Watch things on VCRs with me and talk about big love.
I think we're superstars,
you say you think we are the best thing,
but you, you just know. You just do
~The XX

Must Understand!

"Nurse Cat"

Medical science
Does not recognize
The warm soothing properties
Of your light
Furry body,
Now stretched gently
Over my incision.
Your throaty
Purr
Is part of the
Healing,
Millenniums older than
"Electrical Nerve Stimulation."


Your unblinking
Yellow eyes are gentle
Sedative.
At an occasional
Night sound
Your whiskers
Brush my chin
In reassuring
Communication.
The periodic light
Kneading
Of you snowy
Fore paws
Is indeed the
Laying on of hands.
~Mary Peat McDonald

Surya Namaskar



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Purpose Behind the Science: Nikola Tesla |1 Tesla = 100 Gauss ;)

In physics, we study Tesla in the context of someone who contributed to discovering the harnessing of electricity and as the master of magnetic flux. Let's start with a basic understanding of magnetic flux. Magnetic flux can be seen as the amount of magnetic energy flowing into a surface. A magnetic field, in turn, is a mathematical description of a particular field pattern created by electric currents in a material or environment. The environment can be as large as the Earth (and has no bounds) and the pattern of the Earth's magnetic field is shown below.


Any object with a flow of current (or electron motion relative to an observer) has a magnetic field.  Too much physics?

Coming back to Tesla, his claim to fame was for proposing "the" method to produce electricity on a large scale, and several other inventions. But Tesla was much more than his discoveries. He had vision. And this documentary will tell you all about it:



Sadly, Tesla was born in unreasonable times and it's strange that we're still living in the same sort of unreasonable times. Wake up science, expand your horizons to encourage and guide and be guided by men like Tesla.

"Fragments of Olympian Gossip"

While listening on my cosmic phone
I caught words from the Olympus blown.
A newcomer was shown around;
That much I could guess, aided by sound.
"There's Archimedes with his lever
Still busy on problems as ever.
Says: matter and force are transmutable
And wrong the laws you thought immutable."
"Below, on Earth, they work at full blast
And news are coming in thick and fast.
The latest tells of a cosmic gun.
To be pelted is very poor fun.
We are wary with so much at stake,
Those beggars are a pest—no mistake."
"Too bad, Sir Isaac, they dimmed your renown
And turned your great science upside down.
Now a long haired crank, Einstein by name,
Puts on your high teaching all the blame.
Says: matter and force are transmutable
And wrong the laws you thought immutable."
"I am much too ignorant, my son,
For grasping schemes so finely spun.
My followers are of stronger mind
And I am content to stay behind,
Perhaps I failed, but I did my best,
These masters of mine may do the rest.
Come, Kelvin, I have finished my cup.
When is your friend Tesla coming up."
"Oh, quoth Kelvin, he is always late,
It would be useless to remonstrate."
Then silence—shuffle of soft slippered feet—
I knock and—the bedlam of the street.
~Nikola Tesla

Monday, December 12, 2011

Who Defines Progress?

While researching science centers and museums, I read the following on under the heading "Who Defines Progress?" in the book Museums in Motion by Edward P Alexander and Mary Alexander. The question of defining progress also came up in my last Science and the Public class and it intrigues me.

In his book Museums of Influence, Kenneth Hudson closes his chapter on science, technology, and industry museums with this admonition: "In today's world, a museum of science and technology which does not encourage its visitors to think of the human and social consequences of new developments is acting in a singular irresponsible and out-of-date fashion. To worship Progress uncritically may suit the manufacturers and advertisers but it is not in the best interests of humanity." Environmental advocacy is not within the missions of most science and technology museums or centers, so how does an institution confront the impact of science and technology on the earth? What are the boundaries between representation of current environmental conditions and advocacy? And, who sets them?


Misleading

I recently read two things about the Netherlands via a newsletter from IamExpat-NL.

First, the Netherlands ranks 3rd in the 2011 Human Development Index (HDI) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Study, but with an open mind and make studies across countries flexible and fluid. Otherwise, you are creating a false ego, and ego is the direction you'll move in. The Dutch are amazing, but to be bound by indexes like these is sad.

To understand what they mean by "human development", I looked into their criteria.
"The 2011 HDI covers a record 187 countries and territories. To enable cross-country comparisons, the HDI is calculated based on data from leading international data agencies and other credible data sources.
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of human development and measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions:
› A long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth
› Knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate and the combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio
› A decent standard of living, as measured by Gross Domestic Product per capita (Purchasing Parity Power in US dollars)"

How can UNDP be so narrow in their criteria for measuring "human development." What about all the aspects that make us human?

I also read: The Netherlands ranked 7th in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2011. The survey was conducted by Transparency International, who broadly define corruption as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This can happen anywhere, and can be classified as grand or petty, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs." Ahem. I really don't know about the public sector in the Netherlands but sure I can see how corruption is less in countries where "everything" is very expensive limiting the opportunities for corruption.

I think if you're holistic in your definition of "human development" and really want to make a good index that helps people to create models for bettering their society rather than feeding egos, then such indexes are a relevant spending of money, otherwise such a study is a form of corruption isn't it?

I don't know, but both these results don't seem to be particularly true to me about the Netherlands; within the constraints of the definition and criteria used to arrive at these conclusions, the situation changes.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Skinny Love


Come on skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salt we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right in the moment this order's tall

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
In the morning I'll be with you
But it will be a different "kind"
I'll be holding all the tickets
And you'll be owning all the fines

Come on skinny love what happened here
Suckle on the hope in lite brassiere
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Sullen load is full; so slow on the split

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
Now all your love is wasted?
Then who the hell was I?
Now I'm breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines

Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind?

Voice chilling in my head

Long Time No Hear

Slavoj Zizek in Examined Life on Nature and Ecology

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Lost Pyramids of Caral

The lost pyramids of Caral, Peru, are one of the largest in the world, covering an area of 15 football fields. The magnificent ancient city was discovered in 2001. The site is a thousand years older than the earliest known civilization in the Americas and, at 2,627 BC, is as old as the pyramids of Egypt. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Monday, December 05, 2011

More on the Truth Languages by Marta

As far as the "truth" languages are concerned, the ones I've heard of are Amazonian. These languages are constructed to keep very good track of what is and has happened; who owns or owned what (there is the famous "past for nouns", translated like "ex", so my ex-house for instance, but they also change the meaning so an ex-person is a corpse) and they keep track of what changes to what (that's the so-called "transformation morpheme" - since everything is constantly transforming in the amazons).

Also, there is something which is not only found in these languages, but in a lot of languages of the world, and is called evidentiality. Evidentiality means that when you report information, you have to mark it grammatically for the source. So, if you have witnessed something with your own eyes, you will use one construction, and if you have heard it, you will use a different marked construction. That helps keeping track of who said what and weather you can guarantee the information.

Such aspects when combined make the language more "explicit", and by that I mean, that it is difficult to be vague when speaking these languages. That's why all newer cultures appear as liars, because they do not specify enough when they speak. The "truth-telling" tribes can also lie, I'm sure, but probably not in the way of "omitting" the truth. For instance, imagine if I were showing you where I lived last semester, and I would say "This is my house"; well, these people would probably consider this a lie, because it actually "used to be my house", right? While we don't think it's such a big problem saying something like that.
Or even if I wanted you to think this is actually my house now, and then you found out it wasn't, I could say it was just a way of expression when I said "This is my house". I don't think the "truth-tellers" tolerate this. But the fact is that our languages are constructed in a way that there is much more room for manipulation, since it is not expected that you always give every detail about anything.

Lets just say these people are much more thorough when speaking.
~Marta

A Full Liver

Yesterday a philosopher-linguist friend was telling me about how in the Tupi Gurani language family, they refer to the liver and not the heart for matters of emotion, or of the heart. So, they'd say: My liver is full of joy :)

I also learnt that some older languages were geared towards "truth" telling. For example, in some language, there is no generalization like "a liver", just "my liver" or "his/her liver". Because everyones liver is unique. So limited generalizations need a limited set of words. Hmmm, tough concept to digest ;)

The heart-liver fun fact of the day led me to refresh my memory about the human body and its functions.
We'll start with a photograph of where the (general) liver and heart are.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Mayan View of Consciousness

The Mayan story talks about the evolution of consciousness through nine eras running parallel to each other. So for example, something that started in the cellular cycle is still going on:
Source: Tadeja Jere Lazanski, PhD | upr.si

For a complete explanation of this theory, it may be worth your while to watch a video series by Ian Xel Lungold: