A lone house sites on a hill, some spare shrubs surround it. There’s a white picket fence, cached with dust but still well mended. Its posts echo the hills rolling beneath. Everything is gentle and nothing seems hard. Why there’s a two-story tower in the middle of the plain...wait, maybe it’s not the middle. From where you are, the plain totally surrounds you. It looks like you could walk miles in either direction and still be nowhere nears its edges. The middle then must be somewhere, but you can’t be sure it’s where you are and where this building is. The building appears to have just the one door and two windows and no apparent purpose. Maybe if there were a horse tied up out back, or at least some semblance of people having been here. To find out, you might just have to go in and see for yourself.

Bill Monroe

about

Science in Action

 If there is any one thing that sets us apart from all of our cousins in the animal kingdom, it will have to be our abstract mind. This is our vehicle into science that has pushed our species towards a galactic future.  Yet science is no different to any natural process that evolved by trial and error. Our affair with science started a long time ago but it has recently shot up to a remarkable degree. There are so many factors that have contributed to our success in science, including our enlarged brain size, even though we may not necessarily possess the largest brain size, compared to elephants or whales, which appear to have better memories, though somehow size does not matter but our internal neuron’s connectivity does matter. Among some of the other factors is our physical posture, which has enabled us to stand upright, face each other, communicate better through speech and have dexterous free hands with which we can manipulate the world around us. We are by nature a highly gregarious species, though we are not driven solely by the herd instinct like most grazing animals but we are also hunters, gatherers able to work in small groups, right down to one individual sometimes. We are curious about the world about us to an astonishing degree; from the dawn of history we have been obsessed with the night sky and the gods that control the celestial motions, right up to the one omnipotent god to worship exemplified by the main religious systems practiced in various parts of the world today. However the scientific spirit knows no limitations as it tries to uncover who or what lies beyond our visible world, casting a great deal of doubt on dogmatic beliefs perpetuated by most religions. We are still nowhere near finding where god could be found but one thing is for sure that he is in our hearts but there seems to be a great deal of doubt about the creation of everything we see around us including us. The reason being that evolution is now on firmly solid grounds, especially after we discovered the DNA that connects us to the tree of life on earth through evolution. As for the cosmos itself, it is now strongly believed that it all began some 13.7 billion years ago and has been following a plausible path culminating with our arrival on the scene; that makes us pawns for the evolution of life in the universe as opposed to saints or sinners and through us the universe is advancing its ultimate purpose in life.

Take the case of Lucy, she is a lady, though not quite so, she lived some 3 million years ago and suffered a terrible death as she got crushed deep underground until we managed to unearth what is left of her. Her bones which were all in one spot tell us a great deal about her. Through carbon dating we know her age; surprisingly she bears a great deal of resemblance to us; she is bipedal, shorter than us and had a slightly smaller brain. In short she is a good candidate for the missing link between us and the apes, though not the apes of today but rather a common ancestor from which we and the apes diverged a long time ago. The apes of today have evolved to become dexterous tree dwellers whereas our branch including Lucy moved into the open savannah and slowly became excellent hunters, gatherers. Lucy’s death was not in vein had it not been for our scientific archaeological findings. Lucy is only one of so many other examples of such extinct missing links that litter the archaeological records, giving us a solid proof into the mechanisms of evolution, as the jigsaw puzzle of the creation is being slowly revealed to us.

Take the case of the fruit fly, I am not going to prove that we descended from a fly as such, though this would take an incredible leap of imagination, instead let us consider what scientists have witnessed in their laboratories. A typical fruit fly lives only for a few days; such a short life is packed with so many activities, including random mutations perpetuated by specially controlled environmental conditions, subjected to random shocks, which can induce random mutations into the DNA of the flies, successful mutations will result in permanent adaptations, favoured by a natural selection criteria and passed on to the next generation. This is indeed evolution on steroids, for we can witness changes taking place over a large number of generations in a matter of few weeks or months. Evolution is not a myth or a kind of vague intuition. Evolution is the tool for creating life that takes away the hyped image of god as a creator, for why would a conscious creator bother to create millions of life forms, some of which are so closely related as Darwin has painstakingly noticed while he was at the Galapagos islands cataloguing the minute differences of the beaks of some finches living on scattered adjacent islands and upon returning back to England, he made the bold assumption that we too must have evolved from monkeys, for which he was ridiculed and disgraced but finally vindicated through the discoveries of the DNA and the role of the genes in building our bodies and everything alive, including plants and algae. We are one big happy family and with the help of our science we have managed to work out the map of evolution and in the process climb up to the top of the food chain.

Scientists don’t always go out of their way to explain their findings. Science appeals mainly to those who have the curiosity to find out about the physical and natural world, while keeping an open mind to the results arrived at through unbiased methods of testing and observation. However we all start life as vulnerable children, hopelessly dependant on our parents and during this time we have to rely on some kind of a belief that we are being taken care of by the greater powers of those around us, right up to an overseeing god that takes good care of us and to whom we attribute our uniquely privileged position in the overall scheme of creation. It is very difficult to shake this picture as it is based on trust and loyalty to all those who took care of us. For most people who acknowledge the scientific method, they prefer to keep their feelings separate from their intellectualisation but may eventually find it hard to refute the scientific conclusions, which are invariably based on pure logic as opposed to their beliefs which are held by sheer trust only.

There is no need to give up religious beliefs in order to become a scientist as all we need to do is to make slight modifications to our beliefs. We have to accept that everything in nature is subject to evolution, so why can’t we accept the same for our religious beliefs? There is certainly nothing wrong with the basic tenets upon which religious ideas are based, such as ‘love they neighbour’ and all the obvious good qualities that can make us better human beings but we must realise that god is merely a grand concept that we uphold and cherish as it units us with love to one another. Evolution takes care of the creation though ultimately what drives the wheels of evolution is deeply connected with the forces of the universe at large that erupted out of the big bang, a kind of spontaneous phenomena that lies beyond the scope of our present sphere of knowledge. By all means we can place god outside our own universe bubble in order to be able to adjust the parameters of our universe for the emergence of life but then that is a very remote kind of god compared to the concept of god being in our own hearts, which is a god in the making, propagating itself through us to an eternal destiny. God is not someone we have to appease by any unnecessary sacrifices, for ultimately the universe is driven by some chaotic forces that are oblivious of us. Natural disasters will always happen just as we are blessed by certain good fortunes. At the end of the day we have to take care of ourselves and try to oppose our natural tendency to give in to the evil prejudices that can lead to war. God does not punish us or reward us but the system we create administers our affairs in order to promote a homogeneous social fabric. The success or failure of such a self-governing body depends on the degree of cooperation of everybody, including those at the top of the hierarchy who have the power to make or break the system. This is where science should be employed into the picture in order to remove the dogmatic beliefs of the rulers and replace them with logical, democratic and unbiased strategies to create a fairer system for the welfare of everybody.

You may think that the past is over and gone but not so when it comes to the universe for we live in our own space and time bubble, which has been expanding for a very long time, creating stars and galaxies. Stars tend to attract a lot of dust and debris from other dead stars, which is eventually accreted as a disc around the star and owing to density fluctuations, gravitational forces gradually coalesces the disc into a planet. Our moon was produced as a result of two planets colliding, forcing a small chunk of the outer layers to be ejected and then captured into an orbit around the amalgamated planet earth, which suffered a tilt of its axis that gives us the seasons, while the moon gives us the tides. Such a mindless collision gave us such a wonderful advantage. When we look out at the universe we do not see it as it is now but rather as it was at various points in the past depending on how far it is from us. Everywhere we look there is something happening somewhere at a different phase of evolution to us, which means we can peer into the past and the future by observing different star systems. This is reminiscent to observing people of different ages to see in action aspects of our own birth, growth and death. There are some parts of the universe that are so far away from us that we can see them as they were some 13 billion years ago, owing to the rapid expansion of the universe, which slows down the arrival of their light to us. We are unable to get to see the moment of creation itself as the universe was dark before the first stars lit the universe. However with the help of mathematics we can shine a light on those early moments of the big bang by pushing the equations back in time. Although everything we see today came out of a single infinitesimal point of space and time, the colossal amount of matter that we see today was nothing more than searing energy.  When the temperature dropped down sufficiently, it allowed matter to coalesce from pure energy in the form of minute sub-atomic particles (electrons and quarks mainly), which would have been virtually mass-less particles had it not been for the Higgs field (dubbed as the god particle) that slowed down those particles (which would have been moving at the speed of light similar to the photons) Unable to reach the speed of light they effectively acquire some form of inertia, which is responsible for their mass property, without mass there would be no stars or planets let alone people.

The above description of the creation of our world is highly sketchy but it has taken some of the best minds of our time to put it together on solid grounds. It is indeed a testament to the power of science to explain what lies beyond visual inspection or testing by pure thought processes formulated in precise mathematical equations. There are still a few unknowns owing to the fact the very laws of the universe must necessarily breakdown when we reach the singularity (the point at which we reach zero). We encounter the same problem when we get to the heart of a black-hole and the laws that govern everything in the universe cease to exist. Such ignorance may or may not be conquered in time, depending on whom or what is limiting our knowledge. I wouldn’t like to rush to conclusions by invoking the hand of god beyond the singularities that challenge our understanding at the moment. If such a hypothetical god did not wish us to know more about what lies beyond our universe then why did he allow us to get that far? Why give us abstract minds at all that can dabble in science, instead of making us oblivious as animals are? What lies outside our universe is completely different in nature to what lies inside our world; that much we know for sure. What we need is a break-through, perhaps something similar to what lies beneath our feet, a quantum world of ghostly existence, where even the laws of cause and effect break down, giving us a fairy tale kind of existence in multiple locations at once; yet we appear to have power over it, as we can force it to de-cohere or collapse under our conscious thoughts, as it impinges upon our own world’s reality. The universe in its infancy was incredibly small and therefore should be described by the same laws that govern the sub-atomic particles, namely; quantum mechanics. Somehow we should find a way of merging quantum mechanics with the laws of the theory of relativity, which describes large scale gravitational forces. There are already some tantalising theories that are on the trail of such quest.

I somehow believe that our own reality is the only meaningful reality that can allow life to exist and flourish. Outside our universe there is no space, no time and no matter; this is the real definition of a bleak nothing, yet out of nothing came everything, including us, living on borrowed time, before returning back to the same nothing but in the mean time we have managed to create something beautiful, perhaps our own set of laws and parameters could surpass the realms of nothing and materialise into other new budding worlds, as laws are immortal by their very definition and that would be the essence of god permeating through us, a far cry from the omnipotent creator performing miracles to impress us in order to coerce us into submission through blind obsessive worship. It is up to us to develop the science of how to be kind, loving and benevolent to one another and learn about the pitfalls of greed, hatred and evil, in order to create the perfect scientific religion. This is what an advanced extra-terrestrial civilisation may have already achieved, if we ever come across one. Our religions were never meant to open up our eyes to the real power of science, partly because they are archaic in conception and should have been allowed to evolve along with our scientific knowledge.

One of the most endemic problems that face most people today is failure of imagination, though we may be good at imagining all kinds of weird and wonderful science fiction scenarios but when it comes to how we project our own image into the future, we feel that we are at the mercy of the more easily projectable forces of nature, implying that we don’t stand a chance as the fear of extinction looms over the horizon.  As a species we are certainly evolving even though we may end up becoming a two tier society of the optimists versus the pessimists. The future that is gleaned from the natural forces of the universe is much easier to extrapolate than our own future gleaned from our own potential. Our real future is more steeped into our scientific achievements rather than into short-sighted mythical beliefs. Science has already transformed our lives, though not so much by what sort of gadgets we own but through the elevated new horizons achieved.  For some people the universe is a potentially dangerous place, full of so many unexpected nasty surprises, against which we are clueless if not helpless. The truth of the matter is that the arena in which we are fighting our own demons does not take sides and therefore our chances of scoring are as high as our expectation to succeed and that is not just an optimistic slogan but a real scientific statistical outcome. The problems we have to confront are more logical than mythical, therefore armed with the right tools we should have nothing to fear.   

      Science in Action

 If there is any one thing that sets us apart from all of our cousins in the animal kingdom, it will have to be our abstract mind. This is our vehicle into science that has pushed our species towards a galactic future.  Yet science is no different to any natural process that evolved by trial and error. Our affair with science started a long time ago but it has recently shot up to a remarkable degree. There are so many factors that have contributed to our success in science, including our enlarged brain size, even though we may not necessarily possess the largest brain size, compared to elephants or whales, which appear to have better memories, though somehow size does not matter but our internal neuron’s connectivity does matter. Among some of the other factors is our physical posture, which has enabled us to stand upright, face each other, communicate better through speech and have dexterous free hands with which we can manipulate the world around us. We are by nature a highly gregarious species, though we are not driven solely by the herd instinct like most grazing animals but we are also hunters, gatherers able to work in small groups, right down to one individual sometimes. We are curious about the world about us to an astonishing degree; from the dawn of history we have been obsessed with the night sky and the gods that control the celestial motions, right up to the one omnipotent god to worship exemplified by the main religious systems practiced in various parts of the world today. However the scientific spirit knows no limitations as it tries to uncover who or what lies beyond our visible world, casting a great deal of doubt on dogmatic beliefs perpetuated by most religions. We are still nowhere near finding where god could be found but one thing is for sure that he is in our hearts but there seems to be a great deal of doubt about the creation of everything we see around us including us. The reason being that evolution is now on firmly solid grounds, especially after we discovered the DNA that connects us to the tree of life on earth through evolution. As for the cosmos itself, it is now strongly believed that it all began some 13.7 billion years ago and has been following a plausible path culminating with our arrival on the scene; that makes us pawns for the evolution of life in the universe as opposed to saints or sinners and through us the universe is advancing its ultimate purpose in life.

Take the case of Lucy, she is a lady, though not quite so, she lived some 3 million years ago and suffered a terrible death as she got crushed deep underground until we managed to unearth what is left of her. Her bones which were all in one spot tell us a great deal about her. Through carbon dating we know her age; surprisingly she bears a great deal of resemblance to us; she is bipedal, shorter than us and had a slightly smaller brain. In short she is a good candidate for the missing link between us and the apes, though not the apes of today but rather a common ancestor from which we and the apes diverged a long time ago. The apes of today have evolved to become dexterous tree dwellers whereas our branch including Lucy moved into the open savannah and slowly became excellent hunters, gatherers. Lucy’s death was not in vein had it not been for our scientific archaeological findings. Lucy is only one of so many other examples of such extinct missing links that litter the archaeological records, giving us a solid proof into the mechanisms of evolution, as the jigsaw puzzle of the creation is being slowly revealed to us.

Take the case of the fruit fly, I am not going to prove that we descended from a fly as such, though this would take an incredible leap of imagination, instead let us consider what scientists have witnessed in their laboratories. A typical fruit fly lives only for a few days; such a short life is packed with so many activities, including random mutations perpetuated by specially controlled environmental conditions, subjected to random shocks, which can induce random mutations into the DNA of the flies, successful mutations will result in permanent adaptations, favoured by a natural selection criteria and passed on to the next generation. This is indeed evolution on steroids, for we can witness changes taking place over a large number of generations in a matter of few weeks or months. Evolution is not a myth or a kind of vague intuition. Evolution is the tool for creating life that takes away the hyped image of god as a creator, for why would a conscious creator bother to create millions of life forms, some of which are so closely related as Darwin has painstakingly noticed while he was at the Galapagos islands cataloguing the minute differences of the beaks of some finches living on scattered adjacent islands and upon returning back to England, he made the bold assumption that we too must have evolved from monkeys, for which he was ridiculed and disgraced but finally vindicated through the discoveries of the DNA and the role of the genes in building our bodies and everything alive, including plants and algae. We are one big happy family and with the help of our science we have managed to work out the map of evolution and in the process climb up to the top of the food chain.

Scientists don’t always go out of their way to explain their findings. Science appeals mainly to those who have the curiosity to find out about the physical and natural world, while keeping an open mind to the results arrived at through unbiased methods of testing and observation. However we all start life as vulnerable children, hopelessly dependant on our parents and during this time we have to rely on some kind of a belief that we are being taken care of by the greater powers of those around us, right up to an overseeing god that takes good care of us and to whom we attribute our uniquely privileged position in the overall scheme of creation. It is very difficult to shake this picture as it is based on trust and loyalty to all those who took care of us. For most people who acknowledge the scientific method, they prefer to keep their feelings separate from their intellectualisation but may eventually find it hard to refute the scientific conclusions, which are invariably based on pure logic as opposed to their beliefs which are held by sheer trust only.

There is no need to give up religious beliefs in order to become a scientist as all we need to do is to make slight modifications to our beliefs. We have to accept that everything in nature is subject to evolution, so why can’t we accept the same for our religious beliefs? There is certainly nothing wrong with the basic tenets upon which religious ideas are based, such as ‘love they neighbour’ and all the obvious good qualities that can make us better human beings but we must realise that god is merely a grand concept that we uphold and cherish as it units us with love to one another. Evolution takes care of the creation though ultimately what drives the wheels of evolution is deeply connected with the forces of the universe at large that erupted out of the big bang, a kind of spontaneous phenomena that lies beyond the scope of our present sphere of knowledge. By all means we can place god outside our own universe bubble in order to be able to adjust the parameters of our universe for the emergence of life but then that is a very remote kind of god compared to the concept of god being in our own hearts, which is a god in the making, propagating itself through us to an eternal destiny. God is not someone we have to appease by any unnecessary sacrifices, for ultimately the universe is driven by some chaotic forces that are oblivious of us. Natural disasters will always happen just as we are blessed by certain good fortunes. At the end of the day we have to take care of ourselves and try to oppose our natural tendency to give in to the evil prejudices that can lead to war. God does not punish us or reward us but the system we create administers our affairs in order to promote a homogeneous social fabric. The success or failure of such a self-governing body depends on the degree of cooperation of everybody, including those at the top of the hierarchy who have the power to make or break the system. This is where science should be employed into the picture in order to remove the dogmatic beliefs of the rulers and replace them with logical, democratic and unbiased strategies to create a fairer system for the welfare of everybody.

You may think that the past is over and gone but not so when it comes to the universe for we live in our own space and time bubble, which has been expanding for a very long time, creating stars and galaxies. Stars tend to attract a lot of dust and debris from other dead stars, which is eventually accreted as a disc around the star and owing to density fluctuations, gravitational forces gradually coalesces the disc into a planet. Our moon was produced as a result of two planets colliding, forcing a small chunk of the outer layers to be ejected and then captured into an orbit around the amalgamated planet earth, which suffered a tilt of its axis that gives us the seasons, while the moon gives us the tides. Such a mindless collision gave us such a wonderful advantage. When we look out at the universe we do not see it as it is now but rather as it was at various points in the past depending on how far it is from us. Everywhere we look there is something happening somewhere at a different phase of evolution to us, which means we can peer into the past and the future by observing different star systems. This is reminiscent to observing people of different ages to see in action aspects of our own birth, growth and death. There are some parts of the universe that are so far away from us that we can see them as they were some 13 billion years ago, owing to the rapid expansion of the universe, which slows down the arrival of their light to us. We are unable to get to see the moment of creation itself as the universe was dark before the first stars lit the universe. However with the help of mathematics we can shine a light on those early moments of the big bang by pushing the equations back in time. Although everything we see today came out of a single infinitesimal point of space and time, the colossal amount of matter that we see today was nothing more than searing energy.  When the temperature dropped down sufficiently, it allowed matter to coalesce from pure energy in the form of minute sub-atomic particles (electrons and quarks mainly), which would have been virtually mass-less particles had it not been for the Higgs field (dubbed as the god particle) that slowed down those particles (which would have been moving at the speed of light similar to the photons) Unable to reach the speed of light they effectively acquire some form of inertia, which is responsible for their mass property, without mass there would be no stars or planets let alone people.

The above description of the creation of our world is highly sketchy but it has taken some of the best minds of our time to put it together on solid grounds. It is indeed a testament to the power of science to explain what lies beyond visual inspection or testing by pure thought processes formulated in precise mathematical equations. There are still a few unknowns owing to the fact the very laws of the universe must necessarily breakdown when we reach the singularity (the point at which we reach zero). We encounter the same problem when we get to the heart of a black-hole and the laws that govern everything in the universe cease to exist. Such ignorance may or may not be conquered in time, depending on whom or what is limiting our knowledge. I wouldn’t like to rush to conclusions by invoking the hand of god beyond the singularities that challenge our understanding at the moment. If such a hypothetical god did not wish us to know more about what lies beyond our universe then why did he allow us to get that far? Why give us abstract minds at all that can dabble in science, instead of making us oblivious as animals are? What lies outside our universe is completely different in nature to what lies inside our world; that much we know for sure. What we need is a break-through, perhaps something similar to what lies beneath our feet, a quantum world of ghostly existence, where even the laws of cause and effect break down, giving us a fairy tale kind of existence in multiple locations at once; yet we appear to have power over it, as we can force it to de-cohere or collapse under our conscious thoughts, as it impinges upon our own world’s reality. The universe in its infancy was incredibly small and therefore should be described by the same laws that govern the sub-atomic particles, namely; quantum mechanics. Somehow we should find a way of merging quantum mechanics with the laws of the theory of relativity, which describes large scale gravitational forces. There are already some tantalising theories that are on the trail of such quest.

I somehow believe that our own reality is the only meaningful reality that can allow life to exist and flourish. Outside our universe there is no space, no time and no matter; this is the real definition of a bleak nothing, yet out of nothing came everything, including us, living on borrowed time, before returning back to the same nothing but in the mean time we have managed to create something beautiful, perhaps our own set of laws and parameters could surpass the realms of nothing and materialise into other new budding worlds, as laws are immortal by their very definition and that would be the essence of god permeating through us, a far cry from the omnipotent creator performing miracles to impress us in order to coerce us into submission through blind obsessive worship. It is up to us to develop the science of how to be kind, loving and benevolent to one another and learn about the pitfalls of greed, hatred and evil, in order to create the perfect scientific religion. This is what an advanced extra-terrestrial civilisation may have already achieved, if we ever come across one. Our religions were never meant to open up our eyes to the real power of science, partly because they are archaic in conception and should have been allowed to evolve along with our scientific knowledge.

One of the most endemic problems that face most people today is failure of imagination, though we may be good at imagining all kinds of weird and wonderful science fiction scenarios but when it comes to how we project our own image into the future, we feel that we are at the mercy of the more easily projectable forces of nature, implying that we don’t stand a chance as the fear of extinction looms over the horizon.  As a species we are certainly evolving even though we may end up becoming a two tier society of the optimists versus the pessimists. The future that is gleaned from the natural forces of the universe is much easier to extrapolate than our own future gleaned from our own potential. Our real future is more steeped into our scientific achievements rather than into short-sighted mythical beliefs. Science has already transformed our lives, though not so much by what sort of gadgets we own but through the elevated new horizons achieved.  For some people the universe is a potentially dangerous place, full of so many unexpected nasty surprises, against which we are clueless if not helpless. The truth of the matter is that the arena in which we are fighting our own demons does not take sides and therefore our chances of scoring are as high as our expectation to succeed and that is not just an optimistic slogan but a real scientific statistical outcome. The problems we have to confront are more logical than mythical, therefore armed with the right tools we should have nothing to fear.