Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On the pursuit of happiness

It was a hunt for happiness that I started,
And I searched in every corner and nook.
Every tool did I use, and every technique did I try,
but I was overwhelmed by the effort it took.

I felt like my  whole life was a lie,
And my head swelled with pain and sorrow.
The future felt flustering, and the present, perplexing,
and I thought I was trapped, with no hope for tomorrow.

Everything around me seemed dark and dull,
And the only hue left in the world was gray.
With all my strength, I tried to flee,
but I could not get far,try as I may.

And then, an epiphany emerged from within,
It felt bright, like a lamp that illuminates a shade.
I had finally realized that happiness was not to be found,
but it was simply a choice to be made.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fear,the monster.

Fear renders one motionless,
and causes one to shake and shear.
It paralyses one from within,
and makes all joy disappear.

Fear clouds one's mind up,
leaving confusion and nausea in it's wake.
It  brings forth gloom and helplessness,
and causes the world around one to break.

Fear can seem insurmountable,
and drain all hope away.
It can seem like ages left,
before one can even sway.

What can defeat fear, then ?
Nothing but joy and hope and acceptance.
One shall learn to be joyous,
and learn to live a live that's less tense.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Birthdays on Mars

The measurement of the passage of time is important to us, as sentinent living inhabitants of earth. Of all the methods available to us, the day-night cycle, based on the earth's rotation and the annual cycle, based on the earth's revolution around the sun are probably the most important.

Almost all organisms on Earth have evolved what can be described as 'biological clocks', calibrated by the solar cycle, but this is food for discussion for another day.

Here, we ponder about the effects of cultural implications of a different 'diurnal cycle'(The day-night cycle) on lives of people. Let us consider, for instance, the act of celebrating birthdays. One's birthday is obviously an annual occurence, providing a marker for the passage of each year. And as the Earth's rotational period and revolution period is fairly constant, one is justified in using it as such. Now, we assume an hypothetical situation in which there exists a settlement of humans on a different planetary body, either a different planet or a moon:

If, for instance, a colony of humans made a settlement on Mars, they would initially 'suffer' the interplanetary equivalent of 'jet-lag', in this case being 'confused' about the diurnal cycle on Mars, as opposed to Earth. i.e, all life on Earth is adapted to living on Earth, with the 'biological clocks' or 'circadian rythm' being calibrated to the diurnal cycle on Earth. Thus, when faced with a different cycle length, the human body will be 'confused'. But of course, the length of a Martian day is almost equal to the length of an Earthly day, so this problem is somewhat rendered 'solved'. The other 'cycle' that impacts life is the annual cycle, or the length of the Earth's revolution aorund the sun. This cycle is responsible for bringing different seasons, and this calibrates the biological clock in other ways too. The duration of a Martian year is almost twice the duration of an Earthly year, and this would make the seasons on Mars longer too. Thus, the initial settlers on Mars , if they decide to celebrate their birthdays based on 'Earth-time', they would be celebrating it at almost halfway through the Martian year. Perhaps, over a few generations, the descendants of the 'original' settlers would have bodies that are adapted to the Martian cycle rather than the Earthly cycle (Apart from the gravitational difference etc).

If the settlement were made on the moon of a planet, the problem is further compounded as the revolution of the moon around the planet would further change the day-night cycle, and the annual cycle etc.

It is certainly interesting to think about how life evolves in accordance with it's environment. I certainly do hope that mankind sets foot on other planets, someday, in the spirit of exploration and learning.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Alternate universes - Sherlock

Fictional settings are obviously placed in alternate universes whose 'histories' diverge from our universe in ways, both big and small. In this post, I'll attempt the 'analysis' of one such fictional universe - That of the British television show 'Sherlock', which  presents a contemporary version of the Sherlock Holmes stories, originally authored by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The show primarily stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson, among others, and each 'incident' that happens within the show, is essentially a mirrored version of the original stories, obviously updated with cultural and technological references that are relevant in the modern day.

So, apart from the obvious deviations, such as the existence of the characters, and unfolding of certain events etc, the other , not so evident differences in that universe are :

->  The non-existence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle : Arthur Conan Doyle did not obviously exist even in the original stories, and even if he did, he certainly was not the famous author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, that he was in the real world.

-> The non-existence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle implies the non-existence of his other works - The Lost World, and other works featuring the character of Professor Challenger etc. This would also mean that the Micahel Crichton novel , 'Lost World', if it existed in this universe, would be called by a differnt name.

-> The abscence of works by other authors, and other fictional works that were originally inspired by Conan Doyle's original books. For example, Agatha Christie's character Hercule Poirot was at least partially influenced by the popularity of the detective genre initiated by the original Sherlock Holmes stories, and he would probably not exist too. Also, the character of Dr.House on the television series House M.D is based on Holmes, and this would also be rendered moot. Another instance that I can think of is the Marvel comics character Destiny, who in the Marvel universe, is supposed to be Irene Adler - A character from the Sherlock Holmes canon.

There are obviously a lot more differences than just he ones that I have written about here, and I leave that to the speculation of anyone who might be reading this. And of course, if you haven't watched the show, do so soon, for it is indeed quite good.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sorry, wrong planet .

This post is dedicated to all those who feel, or at some point of time in their lives,have felt that they're stuck on the wrong world.

There are many reasons why one might feel that way - Not being able to fit in well with conventional social situations is one possible reason. Disagreement with certain courses of action, and reactions expected of people is another possible reason. And of course, there is always the possibility of not being able to follow up with conventional expectations of what one should or should not do, with conformism to 'conventional ideals' being a universally asked-for conjecture.

We, the other 'earth-born-aliens' are many more in number than what you can imagine. We are very much real, and you are not alone in your bemusement with the world and it's workings. We are unique in our own ways, and yet tied together by the common-thread of not being bogged down by unnecessary daily rituals or by redundant protocols that serve no discernible purpose.

So, fellow 'other'-worlder, do not fret, for we are here to live our lives in our own way, and no one can oppose our methods and our means. Our idiosyncrasies define us all, and our consuetudes are what gives color,to an otherwise drab world.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

'Now' matters

Life keeps happening, whether one wants it or not. Time keeps moving forward , beyond our control. Nothing seems to matter in the long term, but it is not so. Our emotions , our thoughts and our actions are our own. We can be stripped of everything material that we own, everything that is tangible yet, no one can rob us of those. We think , we live , we feel and we create , not because it leads to tangible rewards, but because it drives us. We are alive only as we have the power to do these things,and we , as a species have thrived for so long because of our abilities to do so.

Nothing may seem to matter in the long term, including our individual existences , and while this may be true,to an extent, we exist in the present moment, and we ought to live in this moment, exist simply because it is joyous to do so, contemplate things around us, feel awed by existence itself.

Our moment is now, and we ought to seize it. Purpose is momentous and wide-spread, rather than a localized entity that we ought to trace. Carpe Diem !

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hate and all his friends

I'm revulsed by People with prejudices,
who seldom pause to ponder;
I dislike conceited chaps,
with egos stretching from here to yonder.

I loathe the compulsive dominant ones,
who are ever ready to gloat;
I despise those who mock other folk,
in attempts to self-promote.

I abhor those who falsely claim to be,
what they are and can be not;
I'm scornful to those who claim other's chefdoeuvres,
either in whole or in part.

I detest all those persons,
who can be described as I've said;
I hate them all with a passion,
and I'd rather have them dead.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Existential despair

If there is one thing that is both awe-inspiring and suicidally depressing at the same time , it is the attempt to understand the magnitude at which the universe exists - Spatially and temporally.

The universe is one huge entity, and we are very insignificant indeed. It is one thing to talk about millions of miles and billions of years, yet another to truly comprehend it. Thousands of people have lived before us, and and have lived lives, accomplished great deeds , performed shocking acts of atrocity , contemplated the workings of the cosmos , wondered about the future etc before a lot of us were even conceived. Entire nations have formed and withered away and many more shall join their ranks in the times to come. Entire planets and celestial objects shall be part of this cycle of birth , growth and death, and the universe will still be there. We are all but results of random perturbations in the universe - mere statistical anomalies in a great bubble of uniformity.

I look around the world and am awe-struck by the magnitude of existence,and depressed by the fact that in the end, I shall amount to nothing , just like everyone and everything else that was,that is and that will be. I desperately seek out for understanding it all, to remain significant for all time to come , and grudgingly accept that I can never be that way.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We,the thinkers.

The world is a wondrous place,
and the greatest thing one can do,is wonder -
We wonder why things are the way they are;
About Our existences,we do ponder.

We seek to find the world's workings,
and We look for answers,wherever they lie -
We think,we reason,we analyse and we understand;
For the greater thing ever asked, is the question 'Why?'

We dare to look beyond the facade of faith,
and steadily seek the truth unfurled -
We are not driven by promises of a life beyond;
But by the joy of thought,and the dreams for a better world.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Life as a set of Phd comics.

This is about my life as graduate student,and I will not mince words when I say this - Graduate student life is very,very hard. I have been more cheery so far than some of my peers , but there are indeed some moments when I feel like I'm at the end of an alley,with no discernible place to turn to. One thing I would like to clarify at this point is this - I'm not advocating against graduate life or the possibilities and opportunities that come with it. I clearly have learnt a lot more in an year and a half of Graduate school so far than I did in four years of getting a bachelor's degree in Engineering,but to quote up a cliche, the path to a successful graduate degree is not strewn with roses,and has more than a fair share of thorns.

These are some points that one always needs to remember while in Graduate school :
1. You are not alone - This is an especially interesting point - One only needs to look at any of the various rants/posts/message-board support about life in graduate school,and academia to understand that there are a lot of other people in various stages of graduate life,experiencing the same problem that one is.
2. This too,shall pass - One needs to remember that grad school eventually does end,and with the passage of time,all will be left are bittersweet memories (Maybe just slightly more bitter than sweet,for some folks =) ).
3. Do not be afraid to seek help - Depression is not uncommon among graduate students, thanks to the sheer work that it demands,coupled with other things in life,and one should not be afraid to seek professional help about it. Most universities tend to have a free counseling center,and they can help with combating depression,anxiety and general stress. And besides,they're free!
4. Staying motivated is important - It doesn't take a great leap of analysis to understand that one's interest and focus towards a certain task/set of tasks are not necessarily the same at all times,especially with the stress involved,and it important that one does not lose a considerable amount of motivation that may hinder his/her progress in the research being done. Having said that, if the loss of motivation is due to realizing that the research is not something that doesn't stimulate one,or pique's one's interest anymore, it may be a good idea to attempt moving away to seek inspiration elsewhere.
5. There is life outside the lab - It is especially easy to forget this,but one's life need not should not be limited to one's research or work in the lab etc, and it is important to not let go off the little things that define oneself as a person. It also might be a good idea to find other such avocations. Of course,the key to it all ,like in any other situation, is moderation.

My experience as a graduate student so far has been nothing short of a saga - It has had it's share of happy moments, emotional upheavals , fast-paced moments, ridiculously slow-paced ones , and a lot of waiting. And when I graduate , I will be a better version of what I was when I came in,for like they say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".

Saturday, January 7, 2012

No true Scotsman.

The most common type of argument that I tend to encounter when talking about the inherent fallacies of religious systems is the 'No true Scotsman' argument. Firstly,let me define what this is : Wikipedia describes it as such -

'No true Scotsman is an informal logical fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion. When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim, rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule.'.

Let me transcribe a conversation that I sometimes am a part of, that also serves to make clear what fallacy that I'm talking about -

Me: I do not self-identify as a Hindu,but rather as a non-religious person. Other Person: Why? Me: Hinduism ,as a religion,has certain things that I don't agree with,including the caste system Other Person: But,the caste system is not part of True Hinduism.

Essentially,what is happening here is that the other person agrees that the subject (In this case,Hinduism)'s negative trait (In this case,the caste system) being pointed out is indeed negative,but argues for the subject by indicating that 'True Hinduism' does not include the caste system.

As an ex-Hindu,most of my attempts at demystifying religion tend to involve Hindus , and so,I described a conversation referencing Hinduism, but indeed,this logical fallacy is quite common by people of any other religion ,as well.

An important thing about the scientific method is that it does not support the 'No true Scotsman' logical fallacy - a counterexample to an existing notion simply results in the rejection of the existing notion,to make way for a new notion.Thus,in my opinion,the scientific method is the more reliable way to contemplate the cosmos.