Final journey : Endeavour ….. Weekend distraction

Endeavour’s 26th Mission. I could not resist watching this again and again. We need catalysts like this to create an awareness about scientific adventures which needs to be undertaken irrespective of the popular opinion in general electorate. The opinion is still being created, it will take a while but when it becomes part of your culture and your day to day being, it becomes who you are – an identity to reckon with. Space exploration is not an amateur enthusiasts’ indulgence, its a way forward for our kind, Human-kind !!!

adios mi gente !!

 

 

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Naturalism : a debate worth having ….

“Over four centuries of scientific progress have convinced most professional philosophers and scientists of the validity of naturalism: the view that there is only one realm of existence, the natural world, whose behavior can be studied through reason and empirical investigation. The basic operating principles of the natural world appear to be impersonal and inviolable; microscopic constituents of inanimate matter obeying the laws of physics fit together in complex structures to form intelligent, emotive, conscious human beings.”, describes Dr.Carroll while introducing an interdisciplinary workshop on Philosophy of Naturalism (It indeed touches many aspects of being an atheist).

Moving Naturalism Forward‘  workshop will take place  at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts from 25th till 29th in October this year. You just have to visit the participants’ page to get your calender marked way in advance for this debate.

 

Dr.Hilary Bok, Dr.Richard Dawkins, Dr.Steven Weinberg and Dr. Lisa Randall – Just  to name a few among them. This is going to be a fiery debate on these (mentioned below) very topics described by Dr.Carroll in an introductory excerpt as ‘meaningful constructs around human life’.

Some specific questions included are —-

  • Free will. If people are collections of atoms obeying the laws of physics, is it sensible to say that they make choices?
  • Morality. What is the origin of right and wrong? Are there objective standards?
  • Meaning. Why live? Is there a rational justification for finding meaning in human existence?
  • Purpose. Do teleological concepts play a useful role in our description of natural phenomena?
  • Epistemology. Is science unique as a method for discovering true knowledge?
  • Emergence. Does reductionism provide the best path to understanding complex systems, or do different levels of description have autonomous existence?
  • Consciousness. How do the phenomena of consciousness arise from the collective behavior of inanimate matter?
  • Evolution. Can the ideas of natural selection be usefully extended to areas outside of biology, or can evolution be subsumed within a more general theory of complex systems?
  • Determinism. To what extent is the future determined given quantum uncertainty and chaos theory, and does it matter?

These are not just head scratchers folks, these are the quintessential factors which are grappling our own understanding of the universe in many ways. Did they start making you think again ? Well, I am just thinking how to plan my trip to Stockbridge, MA on October 25th. If you cant make it there, we have a good place to ponder on their thoughts and see these stalwarts battling it out with each other. Looks like a worth every penny isn’t it ?

 

You know what you want see …..

Absolutely stunning time lapse  —  Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder

Photographer:  Alex Cherney

Golden lads and girls all must …… as chimney-sweepers, come to dust

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,                                                                                        Nor the furious winter’s rages;                                                                                           Thou thy worldly task hast done,                                                                                       Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:                                                                              Golden lads and girls all must,                                                                                               As chimney-sweepers, come to dust

—-  William Shakespeare (The Tragedy of Cymbeline )

Just like what these words suggest, the more we know about the nature, we tend to thing that all of this is ‘Pointless’. Knowing more about the nature has not given us a motive or a purpose to live our lives happily, but actually it has given us a reason to introspect more closely why it is immaterial to think in that way.

The illusion of an organized lie (often known as a belief or mass hysteria) is so infectious among us that it is almost impossible to run away from it –  Religion. Yet, everyone has experienced ‘indifferent nature of the Nature’. Sometimes it gets on our nerves when someone try to touch upon our beliefs by questioning them, like one may be invading our privacy without our consent. It is so personal, its pristine for everyone. Whatever may be the reason, the different belief systems are there in different parts of the world, with twenty odd prominent ones. None of them make sense if you test them rationally. Yet, everyone try to defend their own by enlisting the positive influences of it. Its like a weird obsession but with an acceptable social conduct.

Not so long ago, Shakespeare was just an another poet for me who lived a long time ago and probably it will not matter whether I should be knowing about him or not. Instead, there was a sense of urgency to know more about what this journey of understanding the universe is. There is no better way to pursue it other than opting for the tools of science. Things start to fall in places, stupid things start to get ignored. Then, comes a sense of righteousness. But also, it comes with an awe of observing something more than what one has experienced. Calling it a creation is going further than you can understand and making it a simple and cyclic conundrum (For example, if there is an architect, then is he thinking about his own existence ? and so on) calling it an accident is ignoring the coherent events involving this journey perhaps belittling that fact for a purpose or to avoid the other conclusion. There is no satisfying answer to that, yet. This particular feeling is a tragic stroke in the canvass of life. Shakespeare’s sonnets are a get away drug to satisfy that curiosity and sometimes knowing different shades of a ‘tragedy’ in real life.

When I visited Austin, TX in 2010, there was a banner at the entrance of convention center at the capitol,  saying ‘Curiosity is the authentic Happiness’. It seems that ‘Curiosity’ is the half the truth. Satisfaction which comes from knowing something profound is the other half of it. Its not weird that the phrase ‘pursuit of happiness’ exist rather than just ‘happiness’. But, How long will this journey last ? Certainly, not in my lifetime ! Perhaps not for many generations to come, or Perhaps, never ? Saying ‘never’ has a very unsatisfying/ unsettling experience to have. But, nonetheless a good possibility to consider. This is something similar to what Spinoza’s “Deus sive Natura” or in other words, ‘indifferent Nature’ says.

Everyone has their personal journey to complete and everyone want it to make it special or worth remembering. But, the mere indifference of the Nature does not seem to bother us. This humongous ego with which we carry ourselves during the journey often betrays the reality in many ways. Still, the journey is worth enjoying. I have tried and failed to maintain the curiosity driven attitude towards this journey. Yet, ‘something’ makes me want to pursue it often than not. And I want to know what that ‘something’ is !

  “Corona Australis” Courtesy : APOD