Posted in history, Science, tagged Benny Thomas, Brobdingnag, coincidences, Gulliver''s travels, Jonathan Swift, luck, probability, random, uncertainty principle, werner hsienberg on December 13, 2011 |
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In Jonathan Swift’s immortal tale the central character Gulliver is brought to the land of Brobdingnag. It is written that he was repelled by the women of that land. They were monstrous in size compared to him. Their faces when magnified so much skin pores seemed to his scrutiny as moon craters! Matter of size brought about this change naturally. If we were to see as an eagle our eyes would require the size of an orange. To sum view of our world is limited by our human-ness. As a result our sense of beauty is affected; so must our understanding.
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that it is impossible to know both the exact position and the exact velocity of an object at the same time. However, the effect is tiny and so is only noticeable on a subatomic scale.
Light can be considered as being made up of packets of energy called photons. To measure the position and velocity of any particle, you would first shine a light on it, then detect the reflection. On a macroscopic scale, the effect of photons on an object is insignificant. Unfortunately, on subatomic scales, the photons that hit the subatomic particle will cause it to move significantly, so although the position has been measured accurately, the velocity of the particle will have been altered. By learning the position, you have rendered any information you previously had on the velocity useless. In other words, the observer affects the observed.
Here also we see the size affects our perception. Our visible universe has a set of rules while at the sub-atomic level another set of rules is equally admissible! In human terms it may explain we all have our pubic persona that is dusted up version of our real selves. Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde is an extreme case.
No wonder we require an uncertainty principle to underpin our finite nature. We cannot say for certain which Party shall win the 2012 USA elections. History constantly points to this principle running through the events and men.
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Can Science solve the riddle of our cosmos?
There was a time when man believed the earth was flat but when it was shown to be round came another problem. What holds it up? Newton of course came up with some answers and these threw up more questions. Simple gravity showed science to look into electricity and magnetism- weak force and strong force etc.,
It is plain to see on a basic idea Mr.science works without knowing where it is going to land him. Merely by formulating theories that can stand a scientific inquiry do not make our cosmos any more simpler. Understanding cosmos in essentials till 20th century did not account for quantum world of atom. So for more than two millennia we were merely skirting the issue as it were. It is impossible to say Mr. science can go like knight in shining armor in a straight and narrow path, and will fetch a grand unified theory to keep us for ever happy. Mr. science is more like a knight in a labyrinth. He has not even laid sight on minotaur.
Science shall keep on working its way through. And science shall indeed go on widening our panoramic view of the cosmos without knowing one crucial fact. It has widened the level of our understanding by what answers we have but thereby increased the the depth tremendously. There is a certain uncertainty principle at work here. More we uncover the mechanics of cosmos in certain areas its clarity will be diffused in other areas. We have string theory to explain M-theory and another theory to latch on to something else. It is like neighbors in my hometown asking the farmer about his missing cow. Having heard hundred of theories how they would track her and what ingenious tools they are taking along the farmer replied, ‘That is all fine folks. Just bring me back my Daisy home.’ Theories are fine as long as they make a long rope. Only that the cow must be found.
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Uncertainty principle ought to teach every life the importance of making a stand even where there is nothing to hope for. Moses was a timid man by nature and it was on him God had entrusted the children of Israel. Consider him stuck between the Red Sea and the chariots of the Pharaoh and his army. Each of us is like Moses in one sense. We are hemmed in by circumstances. The vital point to remember is that circumstances are always on uncertain mode while how we make a stand is on certain mode.
Just because of recession and economic meltdown do we throw down the towel? Do we give up our lives as of no consequence? Do we leave our wives and children in the lurch because some crooks have made off with our life savings?
Circumstances are of uncertain mode while our actions have certainty: energy spent in one sense is part of our energy profile. In addition our options are progressively narrowed according to what choices we make. Our actions after we have finished whether good or bad have a life of their own.
Look at history: At the close of WWII the Allies dropped bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It ushered in the atomic age. What was its effect? The Allies won the war but created a condition for a nuclear war between the USA and USSR. Now the world’s biggest worry is that rogue nations may decide to use one in order to score a point. It may be to prove the devil’s ideology or it may be sheer out of malice. The effect is a no man’s land and makes a mockery of cause for which a nation would make a stand. The WWI was a war to make an end of all wars. We are living still from the hangover of that war.
Tailspin: Circumstance that Moses faced was uncertain but his certainty of God’s promise was rooted in something else. What is our certainty in our everyday lives, (leaving aside connotations of God,) but our character?
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If the earth is reduced to the size of a golf ball it will be smoother than the ball; what one misses in the process are the marvels which take our breath away. Does not the earth lose much by way of its ‘personality’ if an observer from far above couldn’t pick out the Himalayan ranges or Grand canyon? Facts have disappeared under a Bermuda Triangle so to speak.
How badly we simplify what is beyond comprehension! Truth is absolute while our yardstick is finite. God is beyond time and space. He is omnipotent Being.
So let us not fly off our handle to get to each other’s throat because one’s conception of God is not same as your idea.
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“…for all wives and children were to be in common, to the intent that no one should ever know his own child, but they were to imagine that they were all one family; those who were within a suitable limit of age were to be brothers and sisters, those who were of an elder generation parents and grandparents, and those of a younger children and grandchildren…”(Plato-Timaeus)
The quote is from Timaeus in which Plato using Socrates as his mouthpiece advocates his views on the upbringing of children. In order to bring up a perfect state he would strike at the very idea of a family. Instead he argues for a communal living which is not alien to us. In the turbulent 70s it was in vogue. Looking at the history of Sparta we know that such a state came to ruin in a matter of 3 centuries.. There were many reasons but it suffices to say that bringing up a child under every citizen’s charge was not to have any, as illustrated in the story of Working Within Limits. (note: In Sparta a boy on reaching the age of seven was sent for military training which was run by the state. Women had far greater freedom than of Athens and could bear children from other men within marriage.) With so many fathers doing the office, which one has failed in the upbringing in any particular case? No one father in particular. But the fact remains the child failed in achieving the goal since Sparta was anything but perfect. It fact it was a failed state.
Who is to blame? None. So there is a fuzzy area by which anyone can escape blame.
Now let us look into recent crisis in consumer confidence. Who is to blame for the economic meltdown? Pundits may cite so many reasons but aren’t we all part of the cause since we played the game while stocks went higher and higher?
In our lives we interact with others where uncertainty is part of the deal and in falling with the general trends we give that uncertainty more mileage.
The only way we can be certain is in the way we conduct ourselves. Our actions should dispel whatever uncertainty others may have about us.
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