Saturday, May 6, 2017

Theory of Everyone !

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I admire Stephen Hawking for his intellectual abilities and also his strong determination, no matter whatever the odds. It was no wonder then that I bought a book on 'Quest for Theory of Everything", written about him and his theories by Kitty Ferguson. In the first few pages, I read about the difficulty in predicting the position and velocity of an object at the same time. I also read about the expanding universe which implies that the dark matter or space between macro objects keeps on increasing. In other words, the stars, the galaxies are moving moving away from each other. The universe is this 'large', or probably infinite due to this expansion and most likely no forces of attraction to hold these galaxies together.

Compare this with the micro particles which stay together but maintain their distance. For example, protons and neutrons are held together inside the nucleus whereas the electrons are outside the nucleus revolving in fixed orbits. It shows the existence of forces of attraction as well as repulsion, which more or less balance each other. As we probe further, we find that individual atoms may form bonds with other atoms of same or different elements. The force of attraction is maximum in case of such bonds. At micro level, the force of attraction is more easily seen as compared to macro level objects.

These two distinct scenarios, though related to micro physics and astronomy and celestial bodies, convey a deeper meaning for our society too. Whether it is iron age or today's computer age, humans have have always shown a tendency to move away in search of relatively greener pastures; the search for exoplanet is only but natural. The universe and we (human species) as a part of universe, no wonder, always try to expand our horizons. This possibly arises due to strong repulsion and out of our need to eat more than we can digest. We spread because we cannot be contented at one place with one another.

Our social structure though encourages cohesion and coupling, also exhibits intolerance and violence that spills over countries and continents too. Most probably these are balancing forces as long as there is some system in the vast chaos, but there is discord in between which shows repulsion getting stronger. In a society or a section of society, where there is peace and harmony, it probably shows more attraction than repulsion. Interactions between humans has reduced and has got replaced with interaction with hi tech gadgets, but never the less, its attraction between human and gadget. Overall the entropy remains constant.

The funny part is that if energy and mass are constant in nature though interchangeable, then in the case of humans also it is true. Those who consume more mass need to spend so much energy in order to keep their balance. Also the fact that if we take more then we must give back more too. Quantum physics surely holds true for us all.

Reading the book made me think of the similarities in humans and micro physics, and the dissimilarities too. Nevertheless, what if emotions are bosons and quarks, then surely there is an explanation to the human behavior too.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tech Savvy Sherlock Holmes

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[This post is work of fiction.]

It was in the spring of the year 1999 that all IT professionals were interested and IT giants dismayed by the breakdown of the famous operating system under the most unusual and inexplicable circumstances. The public had already suffered because of its problem and a lot many important things lost due to technical ignorance and I simply could not but sympathize with those with heavy financial and data losses. 

The bark of Pluto, our landlady's dog, broke my chain of thoughts and I found myself sitting comfortably, half dozing, half looking at the newspaper advertisements in front of my eyes, in the warm room at 29, Baker Street. Holmes was still busy with his program on Java, that's what I was told, though I have no knowledge of computers and people find me funny to say so rather than do a bit of learning on computers which (computer) I think should not be allocated so much responsibility. I have always relied on my wife with running the house and reminding me of my appointments.

"So Watson", said Holmes suddenly, "You plan to take a personal computer ?"

I gave a start of astonishment. This sudden intrusion into my most intimate thoughts was utterly inexplicable.

"How on earth do you know that ?", I asked.

He clicked on his screen saver and turned around to face me so that I was in his full view. "Well, once I give an explanation, please do not say 'how simple it was!'", said he.

"I am sure I will hardly say such a thing".

"Good", so saying he once again turned to face the screen. "I saw you in the mirror opposite to me. You were holding the bun (bread) in your hand as I hold this mouse which means that you were taking computer classes and surely you won't deny the fact that there is a small advertisement on the front page of the newspaper about a second hand computer. Does it all add up now ?", said Holmes with the sneer on his face.

"How simple ! ", I cried.

"Quite so, but only after I explain it to you", saying this he placed a bill in front of me.

"What's this ?", I asked. The whole thing looked as if I had to pay if I asked for an explanation.

"This is what the dealer gave me when I asked him to load the entire software again as yesterday my PC crashed due to a virus in it and today the newspapers are full of such crashes the world over. The analysts are investigating the problem but have not come up with anything substantial. Here, read the note", said Holmes.

'Help required - Gill Bates', was all that was written on the small piece of paper.

Holmes looked worried. I could well imagine his concern, for the computers the world over had crashed and people were still in the dark about its cause. His brother, Mycroft had also sent him a blank email which meant even the governments were getting alarmed.

"Trrrrrr....", the bell rang and Holmes smiled. "That is Mr. Sam, my dear Watson, whom I had asked to look up the people at Microsoft. He's an excellent help and I hope to get a clear picture of what is happening at Microsoft".

The door opened after a soft knock and Mr Sam came up to Holmes. "I need to talk to you in person", said Mr Sam.

"Oh, that's no problem. Dr Watson is a dear and trust worthy friend of mine", said Holmes and gestured me to sit.

After the discussion when Mr Sam left, Holmes was lost in thought and forgot all about my existence. I thought it best to leave. As I opened the door, Holmes suddenly smiled and turning to me asked "Do you like to surf the internet ? If you do, please look into the information section on 'C'". His habit of using the Encyclopedia continued even with the computer, the thought amused me and at the same time, I was also convinced about my friend's madness, but I decided not to ask him an explanation again and get a bill in return. I instead excused myself and spent the rest of the day at my clinic.

The next morning, I woke up early, had my breakfast and decided to walk down to Baker Street. People were gathered around the paper boy as bees to the beehive and I too joined the group, lest I missed out on some important news.

It was there on the front page : 'The  Chermotyl Virus Mystery Solved'. As I read through the explanation, one sentence caught my eye, 'Mr Sherlock Holmes gave his assistance to .....'. The mention of his name was enough to rest my doubts. 'So Holmes had indeed found an answer when he had smiled. I hurried. My walk was as fast as could be.

"Holmes, Congratulations ! I knew you were up to something', I said.

"Have you browsed the internet ?", he asked. As it is, I had not. "Your face tells me that you did not. If you had, you would have known the cause yesterday itself rather than today through the papers".

"Holmes, don't you think, I'm entitled to your side of the story ?", I asked apologizing for my laziness and haziness.

"To begin with, the date coincided perfectly with the 13th anniversary of the disaster at Chermotyl in Ulraine, which made everybody think of a Prussian hand. But that was not so, Watson. In fact, the virus was introduced by Mr Choooong from Taiwar who is a friend of Mr Bates. He took advantage of Mr Bates and loaded the virus which would be activated on the 26th April. He coincided the date well with the Chermotyl disaster to mislead us. The virus affects only a few versions of the concerned operating system. It erases the computer's hard drive and writes gibberish in the computer's BIOS. On activation, the virus would delete the primary partition on hard drive and create 4 new partitions, confusing the processor".

"Once, I got information about all the people associated with Mr Bates, I narrowed on Mr Choooong as he was the only one who had the access to the codes and taking advantage of Mr Bates' trust. And this way, you have one more chronicle to your collection", so saying he sat down to have his breakfast.

As for me, I was as confused about his analytic prowess as I was about his methodical mind, but happy to be with him, always. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Macbeth's Witches oops Wishes

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(Ref : Wikipedia) Shakespeare's witches are prophets who hail Macbeth, the general, early in the play, and prophesy his ascent to king.  Upon killing the king and ascending the throne of Scotland, Macbeth hears them ambiguously prophesy his eventual downfall. The darkly contradictory witches, their "filthy" trappings and supernatural activities, all set an ominous tone for the play.

Macbeth - a book that I read as a teenager, left me always wondering about the three witches. Do witches really exist ? If yes, will I also meet one? Is it indeed possible to know about one's future ? All these doubts gradually ceased to exist as my personal and professional life grew engrossing, busy and satisfying. I realized that our inner strength and interest drive our life in setting and realizing our goals. Even the journey along the way of goal realization is an experience in itself. Friends and well wishers provide the directional arrows to keep us on our track. We neither need the witches nor their prophecy to realize our dreams, but yes; any wrong intentions surely require the support of witches; for it is the witches who merely provide the fuel to the fire of destruction. In fact, the witches are nothing more than mere wishes.

This fusion of human nature and story telling is also seen in our everyday lives. Every individual is an architect or bearer of his or her life. Both roles ie of architect and bearer; are important for the living and gelling of ones life in the man made society. I recall an incident that confirmed it. 

One day,  over cold glasses of nimbu pani in the hot summer sun, five friends were trying to catch up with the happenings in their life after a gap of about five years as a result of them graduating and moving along their chosen career.  The talk started with individual current happenings then moved to family and their likes and dislikes; their individual career and job aspirations; their individual household problems and so on... Each had their idea of happiness and also had problem areas that were either manageable or out of their control. The regular flow of talk about family and career soon progressed to being just individuals. And no sooner, Macbeth's witches also joined in. The distinction in this personal talk happened as soon as negative emotions took over the friends. The 'witches' oops 'wishes' resided for as long as the group thought fit and no sooner they realized the effect of the 'witches' than the group of friends quickly held their words in check. 

The incident is an example of human nature at its best. It dawned on me that dissatisfaction at times leads to the calling of the witches to vent out the frustration. Macbeth probably did not meet the witches but acknowledged his wishes.