Category: UncateGorizeable


Understanding

It would be possible to describe everything scientifically,
but it would make no sense;
it would be without meaning,
as if you described a Beethoven symphony
as a variation of wave pressure. A.E
 

Does knowing something mean understanding it? We can explain a lot of things (more than I could ever know or imagine) but I wonder and question many things, now. I can see people of a bygone era (when one could sit peacefully under a tree at night), thinking about the world they lived in. One can feel how these thinkers ( I won’t say philosophers) once felt, looking at the starry night, musing and mesmerizing about the beauty of it all. It seems like we have treaded so long in the path of “how” that we have forgotten that a “why” also exists. Today I wonder. We know how our body functions, but do we understand anything about it? We have probed the tiniest of places, but can we stack it all up to something? Do we understand something…anything about us or the world that we live in?

There are two ways to live :
You can live as if nothing is a miracle;
You can live as if everything is a miracle. A.E
 
 

 


 

The Bird Hierarchy

I do not pretend to be a “bird-ologist”(the fact that I don’t know how a person who studies birds is called further proves this point). But I do happen to have a rather good observational ability so as to detect patterns when I see them. And I happen to have noticed the strangest  patterns at a nature preserve that I stayed at for a few days. Again, I am just an amateur “bird-ologist” who noticed certain “things”.

What strikes me is the hierarchy that exists among birds – both in the  different  species as well as in their sizes. I would first like to talk about the “species-hierarchy”. Whenever you throw food anywhere on the ground in the  preserve, birds of myriad colors and sizes quickly reach for them, sometimes fighting their way through. What I observed is the hierarchy that exists among the different species – red-colored ones are among the highest in the pyramid, then comes the grey ones and finally the scavengers, who come when everything that should happen happened.

There is also a hierarchy among sizes of birds. It is quite obvious that the bigger the size, the higher up the pyramid would the bird be. Another interesting aspect is the “hierarchy-within-a-hierarchy”(I found no better name). Big birds of, say, the “grey-species” are higher up the hierarchy than the “tad-smaller” red ones. So it’s a “hierarchy-of-size” mixed with the “hierarchy-of-species.” I drew a small mathematical diagram to make this a bit clearer.

 

     There was a small bucket of water that the birds liked to flap their wings in. I observed that the birds, in fact, followed the hierarchy as pointed out earlier – the higher up were the first ones to enter. Of course, these observations have been made in a rather restricted sense because we are talking here about a small preserve. What happens in other preserves may be very different from my observations. That does not mean, however, that we cannot speculate a bit:) So, until next time, that’s all folks!

– An Amateur “Bird-ologist”

 

The Underlying Beauty

The Underlying Beauty

  This post will be unlike the previous ones I’ve published. Unlike the previous ones, it will not have the scientific explanations. Contrarily, it will be filled with assumptions and speculations. And unlike the previous ones, it will lack the organization that must necessarily characterize any post that is found on a blog. For this, I ask for forgiveness. This post will be about a flow of ideas that “clicked” in my mind at a certain time while I was thinking. Thus, I must present these in a rather crude way.

       During my small time off blogging, I happen to have had the most enriching experiences. Science is often said to be the result of a sequence of thought logically followed and strongly tested with experiment. However, it so happens, just very rarely, when one has to shut the eye of reason to appreciate the underlying verities that just require a discerning eye to see. It is the feeling of the mysterious. For this purpose, I’ll term it “the underlying beauty.”

       Have you ever wondered why water, arguably the most important substance on the planet, behaves abnormally. Abnormally meaning unlike any other known substances. And apart from the fact that we would probably not be able to enjoy an ice tea if this was not the case, life-form would be very much jeopardised. See, it is this peculiar fact that ice floats on water that helps life thrive at bearable temperatures below the ice. Had ice been denser than(meaning it sunk in) its liquid form(like normal substances), life in such waters would have been impossible. Nature has a way of doing things that transcends our normal reasoning abilities. If I may not have been able to make you see what I wanted to here, I assure you, the fault lies in my inability to “convey this way of doing things” by nature rather than the “way of doing things” as it happens in nature.

       Perhaps another example is appropriate here. It has been found that there is a certain “peak”, if I may say, in the way we see(known as our visual sensitivity) the spectrum of colors(i.e red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). And guess where in the spectrum does this peak appear? What exactly is the color that nature depicts so profusely in front of our eyes? Whatever the reason for this “peak”, I have no idea why it’s there. It just is and I doubt that it’s a coincidence.

       Scientists are strange characters. We consider them as authoritative figures in whatever is concerned with explaning nature. If we ask them why the sky is possibly blue or how the earth rotates or how this happens or that, they will readily answer with their complex explanations for refraction, curvature of space-time and so on. Yet if we said, “that’s very nice what you just explained but why?”, that they cannot possibly answer.

       Nature does things in a way only she understands. And that we can explain the how of some of her depictions should make us humble enough to acknowledge her beauty as a whole. She uses only the longest threads to weave her pattern so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.

     Mauritius may be well known for its extinct Dodos, sun, seas and sand but when it comes to scientific research, not much is said to be done. Did I say it’s said? Fact is, there is a centre of astronomical research in Mauritius little known to the general Mauritian. Its name is the Mauritius Radio Telescope(MRT for short) and this comes as close to research as anything.

      MRT is one of those few places that one can call “isolated”- no sign of life for kilometres at end(except for some of the researchers, the nasty dogs, and yes…the birds- it is found in a natural bird reserve). I am one of those lucky few who have had the honor to visit the place and also one of the fewer few who is able to be part of the centre.

      MRT is currently participating in the Callisto Project, whose aim is to collect astronomical data from solar flares and send these to participating countries.(Sounds pretty exciting…believe me, exciting is an understatement).

      I’ve uploaded some pics. But I have to say: do not be deceived by the appearance of the place; as they say “there are more to some things than what meets the eye”

An aerial view(not taken by me, though)

The Start

In which some of the residents are dozing off after a hard day’s work.

The entrance

 This one’s just for show-off; the real thing is in the next pics

Here

That goes on for one kilometer to the right.

And to the left

Another Crazy kilometer.

Some of the native residents(very welcoming)

Sorry for the fuzziness in this pic but that’s when the mother of the native residents saw the strange being who was doing strange things with a camera in its hands and started chasing it.

(Now I know what fight or flight means-I prefer not to elaborate..)

Some insider pics

Room X: Where it all happens!

 THAT’S ALL FOLKS…FOR NOW, OF COURSE!