Friday, January 6, 2017

When I look, The Universe disappears

That famous astronomer Carl Sagan would begin by telling that the Cosmos is everything that was, everything that is, everything that ever will be.

What is this Universe? Every day each one of us experience an unlimited variety of events, things, people and places. 

At times, we do ask, who really are we? what exactly is the world that we see, perceive, experience, enjoy , love and hate. Natural Philosophers, from the beginning of time have pondered over it. Everything has been investigated, questioned, theorized, explanations attempted, debated till this day. 

There is the infinitesimally small to the infinitely large scale of things in this world. Time and space forms the two dimensions of the infinitely large canvas on which an effervescent world is painted. There seems an infinite past, and an equally infinite future, both seem vague, unsure and misty as we move away from the NOW. 

We somehow come to the conclusion that, what I see and perceive alone exists. But what we perceive is so temporal, so transient. There was a time when none of them existed, there is a time when they exist, and then there is always a time when they no longer exist. 

We investigate the world with our perceptive powers. Perception is our only tool. I look at a thing, a stone maybe, I hold it in my hand, I perceive its weight, its texture, its color, I look deeper, I observe its composition, the patterns, the edges, the cracks, the ridges. 

I now want a closer look, a magnifying glass comes to help. I can see the finer details, I can see engaging patters of a finer degree. It appears as if its been very carefully crafted. the stone's surface is coarser than it appeared. I want to see more. I chisel a piece of the rock into a fine little sheet, now I engage a microscope, there is a whole world in that small piece of the rock. I can even see life, where I thought it was totally inert.

I look deeper, magnifying further, the cracks are really huge, the ridges are real deep, am I looking at a mountain range, or a tiny piece chipped off a stone? hard to tell.  I go deeper, more complex tools, I now take a tiny fraction of the chip, I can hardly see it with my eyes, things become vague, I am not sure what I am really looking at.

For a moment I can’t go any deeper. I realize my most trusted tool for perception, vision has reached its limits, it can no longer discriminate. Light cannot help me see anymore! what’s happening! After all when I see a thing, it’s the light bounced off that thing that I see. In fact I see only the impact of that reflected light in my retina. Actually I see only the impulse the retina sends through the nerves to my brain.

I am now looking at a scale so small, light cannot really help me here! I get innovative, I use tiny particles, smaller than an atom, I shoot them at my tiny object, and capture them behind. Based on what I receive it at the other side, I "guess" what is in my object. I see interesting things, the tiny little object is mostly empty. and at vast distances I see an occasional particle. nothing in between.

I build more powerful, scarily humongous gadgets, to see deeper. the more deeper I look, the more empty the object seems to be. No matter what my object of observation is, the result is the same. I want to know what these tiniest of the tiny little particles are. There is a garden of such particles, scientists give them exotic names, quarks, bosons and what not. Now I forget about the rock totally, I am interested in these particles. I want to "look" at them. I really cannot look at them any more. I can only guess.

My devices can only tell me such and such a particle may exist in a given space. When the particle detector "looks" at "a" particle, its gone! When it doesn't look, then a probability exists! The rock solid world collapses into a probability. It can be seen only as mathematical equations!

Sometimes I think the blind spot is a blessing, it helps me NOT to see, and hence makes the existence a possibility.

Knowing this liberates me from endless conflicts that is the result of me giving reality to this illusion.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


We all need Avatars. An Avatar is more than an identity. It is the very embodiment of existence. It is the entity that matters, An Avatar is the instrument with which we interact, with which we play, with which we experience. There are an infinite number of possibilities when we choose an avatar. Each time we choose a unique one. The Avatar is not only the external appearance, but the whole package of capabilities, likes and dislikes etc. There is a little bit of me in the game, but is highly influenced by the Avatar.

The Avatar tells the world who I am, or rather who I suppose the world wants to believe I am. sometimes I chose to play the King, I am all powerful, I win all the time, some other times I want to play a super hero, I can fly, save the world, sometimes I want to play a celebrity, I am mobbed by the masses, I am hunted for autographs, sometimes I want to take on the Avatar of a hawker, selling bangles on the road. Each Avatar gives me a unique experience. I enjoy role playing. I want to try all possible roles. It gives me different perspective every time.

Some day my Avatar is a leaf, Some other day its a dew drop, some other day I am the Sun, some days I simply don’t play. I am myself. I do get attached with some Avatar, I think I really am the Avatar, funny isn’t it. I soon get over it, and move on to my next Avatar. The Field of play is dynamic. It evolves as I play, no one programs or designs the game, it simply evolves. The next moment is created only at the next moment. An illusion of continuity is maintained to make it all interesting.

The game is neither totally randomized, nor deterministic. It gives an illusion of both. It gives an illusion of hope, and despair. If it doesn't I’ll simply quit the game. The game field is highly engrossing, it becomes more and more entertaining and complex as I keep playing. In the beginning when I am a novice, the game is simple, plain and easy. As long as I am satisfied with that, the game remains the same. Then one day I am bored, I think I have mastered it, and nothing more to do, suddenly there is a twist. A bolt from the blue. I am hooked again. I keep playing. over and over. Avatar after Avatar. A complex series of relationships gets built. A community is formed. Logs are maintained, competitions are held.

I almost forget who I am. I am not sure which Avatar I truly am.

It takes me a long long time to figure out that I am not the Avatar, and that I really don't need to play . But If do play, I do need one!

Knowing this liberates me from being a game addict. I start enjoying the games, I stop worrying about my Avatars.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Theory of Everything

Science is about observation of physical phenomena and provide an logical explanation to it. By Physical phenomena we mean whatever that can be observed. Observation is defined as the ability to sense the presence or absence, and a quantitative measure. These phenomena are entirely available to us through the five senses only. The five senses can be enhanced with apparatus such as microscope, telescope, and more sophisticated devices, but eventually sensed by our five senses.

We observe a multitude of phenomena in the world. from the vastness of outer space and its various objects such as stars and galaxies and black holes etc, which are observed through the eyes, telescopes, radio telescopes and other sensors, to the microscopic and sub atomic realm of particles which are announced by sophisticated devices such as the particle accelerators and particle detectors.

The phenomena that we observe has been steadily increasing over time, and the more we observe the more we discover. The discoveries of new phenomena constantly revises our understanding and results in newer explanations. This has been the history of science. Science has been striving to provide accurate explanation of all such observable phenomenon. There is always enough unexplained phenomena at any given point in time. Such observations results in multiple hypothesis. A hypothesis is an explanation for something but not proved and accepted.

The more sophisticated our ability to observe, the more we observe. This results in newer and newer concepts that needs explanation. science catches up and keeps providing explanations. Science also tries to bring all observable phenomenon into a single unified theory.

The unexplained phenomenon, as well as the elusive unified theory leads to a multitude of hypothesis. 

Can this never ending cycle of discovery and hypothesis and successful explanations ever have an end? Can all phenomenon can be explained and done with once and for all? Science thinks it is possible. Every scientific community thinks it will be eventually possible. It has been the case in all of humanity. When it comes to science, there is no difference in the approaches in the different peoples of the world. East or west, it is always a rational, objective approach. different civilizations have provided different explanations for the as yet unexplained phenomenon, but once it is explained by science the matter is considered settled. some civilizations are poetic and provide very romantic explanations yet scientific, some provide it simply and directly. But the litmus test is that the explanation should be rational, objective and observable.

At any given epoch there will always be phenomenon that is fully explained, some partially explained and some without an explanation. this is not due to any inability or limitation of any kind. It is the design of the universe. If you observe the multitude of phenomenon, it begs a question..'Why?'. Why a million different species ? why so many types of birds, animals, plants? the vastness of things and space exists to provide an almost infinite playground to have a exciting experience that we call life.

Imagine a world where there was only one kind of animal, say the humans, and one kind of plant, say the mango tree. and one kind of matter say iron and so on.. will that be an exciting world to live? It is the variety of things, and variety within things that causes experiences of interest. Similarly a completely known universe will fail to provide any excitement. It is the unknown element in everything that sustains interest in life. The moment we know exactly everything, it will become a dull world. So the Universe keeps generating newer and newer things.

Imagine a Cinema hall. The screen is blank to begin with. We go to a movie. we go there for the experience. and it is exciting based on the surprises and the unknown and the newness of what we see. and as time goes by we see hundreds of movies on the very same screen in the cinema hall. If someone begins to think, that they can figure out all the movies that will ever be screened in the hall, it may be an interesting thought, but if he eventually does, then he would have killed cinema. 

Same is the pursuit of the unified theory in Science. While it results in wonderful knowledge that eventually gets utilized for increasing our comforts, a pursuit towards understanding and explaining all phenomenon will always be eluding. 

When we understand that it is not a limitation but a design for entertainment, we experience a joyful existence.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Difficulties of Knowledge

Knowing is a difficult process. 

To know that everything is made of atoms does not happen intuitively. A long painful process of observations, contemplation, looking deep, building sophisticated equipment, and accidental discovery and many more things are involved in arriving at this knowledge.

Understanding life, the world, the Universe is a very unnatural process. No living being spends so much time and energy as the human in the process of accumulating knowledge. Most of our knowledge serves the basic purpose of existence or living such as eating, sleeping, procreating and entertaining. We gather more and more knowledge that will eventually aid us in these basic needs.

As vast amounts of time passes, our knowledge has sophisticated beyond the ordinary. Abstractions such as mathematics and computer instructions dominate a large part of our world. Our probes into every aspect of this physical world, has resulted in vast amount of complex structures of information.

In this day and age defined as the information era, it is obvious we are building a behemoth called knowledge. We want an explanation for everything, want to know the reason behind things, we are relentlessly pursuing the control of everything, an ability to be able to manage life at the most atomic level.

In all of this, we do get disconnected with our primary self, a simple body and a simple mind, that simply craves to exist without sophistication.

Letting go of this necessity to know, the need for explanations, the craving for a 'cause and effect' relationship and an endless pursuit to control our lives is liberation and enables us to get back to our original state of joyful existence.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Authenticity of Information

In the pursuit of knowledge, and deeper understanding of life and the world around us, there comes many a times a situation where we need to stop and think about validity of things.

Whether it is a new scientific knowledge, or a philosophical viewpoint, or an explanation about certain events, the information that we get needs authentication. 

Laws of nature as discovered by scientists from time to time, create a stir in the minds of the curious. They are often validated through experiments and observations, and independently verified by many sources. 

Everything is made of Atoms. Speed of Light is constant. Some of angles within a triangle is 180 degrees. Fermat's Last Theorem. Godel's incompleteness Theorem. Theories, Theorems, Conjectures, proofs and disproofs. Often times we are never a direct participant in any of these. It is mostly hearsay. I have personally never seen an atom, whether through my nakes eye, nor through a cloud chamber, nor observed particles in a collider. 

The validity of most of the information seems to be from its use and application. We are able to do several things as a result of using these theories. Hence we conclude these must be true. As long as we have a framework in which we can test and validate information, we are comfortable, and with our faculty of thinking using Logic as its main tool we are able to navigate true and false in this ever changing world.

Then there are those strange situations, where we do not have the luxury of observation and experimentation. Where was I before I was born, what is death, where will I go after I die? We are stuck here.

Many theories exist, many religions have been created for this purpose, many texts, scriptures, philosophies.. but how do we authenticate such information? How do we travel those mysteries, if we get stuck at the very begin at this apparent inability to accept or reject?

This leads us to a very interesting process of finding out, what is Authentication? Does authenticity really exist? A deep questioning will reveal that we simply 'trust', 'believe' or 'accept' every single piece of information. No single piece of information can ever be authenticated to the absolute extent. All information is built one on top of the other, and as we go deeper and deeper, each begins to fall apart from the real of authenticity and move into assumptions, and belief. Be it the Atomic theory , or Gravitational Waves.

The only self evident truth being that 'I exist', all other information can never ever be verified. This startling revelation will allow us to travel thoughts and ideas which otherwise appear not to have the ability to be authenticated and probe this world deeper and ultimately realize the truth.  This liberates us from the need for authentication and also from the clutches of a single reality.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Information vs Knowledge

We undoubtedly live in an information era. All activities revolve around gathering and using information. This is an era of rapid communication, and connectivity driven by information. People around the world are becoming more and more informed. Getting information and understanding it seems to be very natural and at ease. This has been the culmination of a long evolution of intelligence, and ability to use logic to build information structures, one on top of the other.

We have reached a stage where we have an enormous amount of information as well as it being very complex in nature. Advances in science as well as any field of endeavor is presented for laymen and comprehended relatively easily. Analogies and pedagogical tools help us understand complex topics such as relativity and light year.

While our ability to gather and understand information has increased to a great extent, converting information to Knowledge is a different matter altogether. Knowledge is internalized information, where one begins to live life in sync with what one has understood.

For example, the information that 'Everything is made up of atoms' is reasonably understandable. Through logic , and primitive axioms, one can arrive at this information. But this stays as mere information. It stays at a intellectual level, and available for discussions and contemplations. Converting such a fundamental piece of information into Knowledge will liberate one from the miseries of life.

If everything is made of atoms,(here by atom we can mean the most fundamental particle, such as a Higgs-Boson) then whatever we see is made of atoms. A blade of grass, a cloud, a waterfall, a sun, dirt, food, our body, each and every organ in our body, and so on.. are all made of the exact same atom.

Atoms are clean, they are pristine. There are no ugly atoms, no dirty atoms, no good atoms, or bad ones. Even the cancer cell contains the very same atoms as  that of life giving oxygen. The irritating neighbor is made of the exact same atom as myself. If one searches the body all one finds is the atom. The individual self is never to be found. The identify claiming to be the self is not to be seen. only billions and billions of the very same atom. Everywhere. All over the Universe, the very same thing.

A deep and sustained contemplation on this fundamental idea becomes profound Knowledge. A world made entirely of atoms, without any idea of good or bad, likes and dislikes cannot be the cause of any kind of trouble. All emotions, thoughts, ideas and stories happen in an illusory layer over and above the atomic realm.That extra step to Knowing something from it being mere information transforms life, and in this case results in Joy.
If everything is made up of atoms and nothing but atoms, then it is indeed easy to 'Imagine'.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Thanks John Lennon for such a profound song.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Past or Present

It is amazing how sometimes the most mundane of things can be incredibly interesting. The other day I was watching the Sunrise on the shores of the ancient seaport of Mamallapuram. With the beautiful Shore Temple on my side, I was pondering how we are witnessing the past in the form of this timeless sixth Century wonder. A few moments later the Sun rose above the sea, a beautiful orange ball of fire, making the sea and the waves glow like fire.

As I kept watching the sea, the reflections , the waves, the people swimming and the fishing boats near the horizon, it dawned on me that the picture I was witnessing had multiple samples of time. The sea and the waves and the boat were from the present time. The shining Sun however was from the past. It was about eight and a half minutes old. I was witnessing the past and the present at the same time. An incredibly miraculous thing isn't it?  

A friend further elaborated me that in fact it was not just two, but infinitely many. Light from each of the objects reaches my eye at the same time, after bouncing off from them at different times. so it was an infinitely many continuous  frames from different times. All from the past.

Indeed you can only see the past!! time would have past however small between when it bounced from the object and hit your eye. So we can never really observe anything in the present! So what we seem to see never existed! the reality that we seem to think of is in fact an illusion. 

Parmenides and Zeno used the argument of the impossibility of movement to the same conclusion of the illusory nature of reality.

Realizing that nothing is real, and what we see is not  what you get, we can enjoy this absurdly inexplicable life.