Monday, 17 November 2014

The depths of my mind

This article is long and boring. But if you still want to make it interesting for you, you need to think as I think and feel as I feel. I have written this after putting a lot of thought over the past few weeks. These are some thoughts I have had as a kid and these are also the thoughts that lurk in the back of my mind even now, only to show up when I am alone or when I take my morning shower. This article is also as random as the flow of thoughts in my mind and I have tried to compile them together. I would request you to try to associate every line of this passage with your own life and thoughts. So here goes:

What would we think of when we are old, and we know that our end is imminent? The present moments, days and even years - what would they mean to us in the end? When you are living the final days of your life - when you're about 80 years old - what would you think about life, your days and experiences on this planet? And every cherished moment you had in your life? Would it seem as though you were just 20 years old a while ago, and you woke up one day to find yourself at 80, along with a bunch of memories from your dream? A lot of people whom we consider the most important - our parents, siblings, friends and relatives, every person we thought to be our own - may not exist then, or fate would have taken them far, far away from us.

How about this - we believe only in things that we can see or perceive. We can either see the things that have a corporeal form, which are tangible, or perceive our surroundings using one or more of the six senses we possess. These means allow us to understand our world and comprehend everything around us, which make us believe that they are real. When I see you, I am able to tell if you are cheerful or gloomy today. We perceive something, and then we find out what it is. Take an example, we knew that light is made up of many visible spectrums. We perceived it through our eyes when we saw a rainbow or when we saw the light diverge into seven colors through a prism. We also knew that there is something present in the sunlight that gives us a hot sensation. We conducted experiments, made instruments that detect those rays and found out that light contains an infrared spectrum too, that is 'hidden' to the human eye. From this, we can conclude that there exist things that man doesn't know. Because he can perceive them, he becomes curious and finds out the science behind them.

But wait. What if there are things that exist, but in a way we cannot perceive? There are three dimensions in space that we know - the x, y and z axes. We also know that there exists a 4th dimension that we call spacetime. There are 5th and 6th dimensions as well. But how would we have known the dimension of spacetime before we quantified it? What if there exist other dimensions and objects that we don't even know yet? Furthermore, what if there exist stuff that are not even objects as we know, or fit existing definitions of physics? You must agree that we are made up of two discrete units - the body and the soul. Why is it that the soul can't be perceived separately? We do know that the soul is not a 'thing', but it is for real. So how do we ascertain that for sure? And if it is indeed real, where does it go after a person dies?

There have been times when I have wanted to run away from the world, and also myself. These are the times when I have felt lonely when I was a kid - the few days after my summer holidays when I would return from my cousins' place and would get ready to go back to school. This is also the kind of feeling after watching the last episode of some cartoon series when it came to an end on Cartoon Network. That was the time I really understood the meaning of void or nothingness. This brought me to the question - "What is nothingness?" It is easy to say that an object has nothing inside it, or that the space is nothing but vacuum. My point here is that we assume nothing to be something. The word 'nothing' or 'vacuum' itself is treated as an object. It never gives us the true feeling of emptiness. If I ask the question - "What would exist if there was nothing in the universe?", your answer would again be "Nothing" because you consider the universe itself as an object of reference. So if I rephrase the question to "What would exist if there were no universe at all?" what would you answer?

When I look up at the stars, I realize how insignificant we are. For every grain of sand on Earth, there are more than 10000 stars in the known Universe. Even if each star had two planets revolving around itself, imagine how many planets would exist. And it is estimated that there might be about 11 billion Earth-like planets that are revolving around Sun-like stars. Being insignificant is not all, but we do not even know why, how or where we exist. We know that an atom is the smallest known particle (lets not talk about its constituents here). What if an entire Universe existed inside that atom? And what if the Universe that we live in is itself an atom inside another Universe? Have you ever been into a room with mirrors on all sides? Then you must have seen your reflection inside another reflection which is again inside another one, and so on. That is the kind of effect I am talking about with respect to atoms and the Universe.

Now think about time - if we could somehow get at a distance of 65 million light years away from our planet, with a very, very powerful telescope, we would see dinosaurs walking here on Earth. So what really is time? There is a difference of a few microseconds between us and the International Space Station that orbits the earth. It is because time passes much slower in there than on the Earth. The faster you travel and the closer you get to the speed of light, the slower is the passage of time. So time isn't the same quantity as we measure in seconds or minutes, time is something entirely different. If we could somehow get 1 light year away, we can travel back and forth to create and recreate multiple instances of the Earth in time. If a person dies in an accident, and if you could suddenly travel back in time and save him, he would be alive in one instance of time and dead in the other. What's worse, you could travel back in time and prevent your parents from meeting each other and you wouldn't be born in that time. This would be an anomaly and cause an anachronism in history and time. I sometimes have a thought that there is a snapshot of the state of the Universe for every least division of time. Also, how would it be if there were higher life forms than us - outside the atom of Universe that we live in - how much of our time would constitute a second or a minute for them? If our Universe itself were an atom in their world, then think of how many similar atoms would be present in the world of those higher life forms.

Let us not talk any more mathematics and physics. We know that we have evolved from apes in a process spanning millions of years. The apes themselves evolved from lesser creatures, and the chain goes all the way down to single celled organisms. What if the same single celled organism had thrived in a different planet, and evolved in a different way and in a different time? What if the evolved species do not have a form or their sense organs like anything we know? Now that we know that there are many Earth-like planets, somewhere, in some remote galaxy, some form of life might exist. What's more, we still do not know even if our dear neighbor Mars has/had life forms. We also do not know if we would evolve any further. There is a hypothetical divider in the timeline of evolution that says that the process of evolution cannot go on any further. This line of division is known as The Great Filter. We do not know if we have hit this line yet, or if any civilizations have surpassed us. They might already be around us, but maybe it is just us and our technology that is too backward and primitive to detect their presence. The following is an excerpt from the article in the above link:

"We’re completely wrong about our reality. There are a lot of ways we could just be totally off with everything we think. The universe might appear one way and be something else entirely, like a hologram. Or maybe we’re the aliens and we were planted here as an experiment or as a form of fertilizer. There’s even a chance that we’re all part of a computer simulation by some researcher from another world, and other forms of life simply weren’t programmed into the simulation."

So, why are we all so busy with our lives? Why do we set goals, work our asses off to become and achieve something in our life, when we do not even understand the true meaning of life itself? Is all this - education, work, everything - a distraction from what our lives are all about? We don't even know if reality is indeed real. We choose to ignore the reality and get busy with everything that we have artificially created. If you want me to answer those questions by myself, I would say that the puzzle of life is too mind boggling to solve. Right from high school, I have been dealing with algorithms and programming. In college, I learnt about optimizing code to enhance speed, efficiency and yet solve the problem. So how would you apply optimization to the problem of your life? The problem statement is to attain the highest possible position and garner the greatest amount of money and happiness in the given period of life using the resources you have (money, energy and time among other personal constraints). You need to take decisions in such a way that it satisfies all these conditions and yet takes you to the result. These are the times when you need to make the most important decisions in your life. Take an example - why should you choose one job over the other or who is the right person to marry? And how would that choice take you further in the path of your life? In such times, I project a visual map in my mind about all the events that might take place in my life when I make that decision and pitch both the maps (decisions) against each other. I think that helps me to take better decisions.

P.S: If you could relate parts of this article with the Interstellar movie and question the timing of this post, well, let's just call it a coincidence. Moreover, if you have already watched the movie, you might have a clearer picture of what I am talking about.

If there are any such thoughts that you have and haven't found the answers to them yet, please do share them in the comments section below :)

Monday, 13 January 2014

Why humans must be ashamed of themselves.

Note: I have tried to cover a lot of minute details in this post with a lot of research on this subject. If you find it too long to read, then please do not begin. On the other hand, I assure you that you have a bounty of knowledge to take away by reading this post.

While rapes, genocides and terrorist attacks are the major issues of concern for us today, this post too talks about something that must make headlines, much more important than the ones aforementioned but brutally ignored and downplayed by governments, organizations and companies. While humans are proud of their technological advancements, a much larger number of life forms that are considered 'lesser' than us wince from the pain of it and it's time we did something about our madness.

Some questions to begin with:
  1. A few years ago, there were a lot of birds on the sky. Whenever I used to look up, there were sparrows, crows, and many other birds that I couldn't even recognize. Where have they disappeared suddenly?
  2. After sunset, the loud sound of crickets on the roadside was very common. What happened to them? Why is it that I hardly hear their sounds these days?
  3. There used to be a lot of insects in my house. In the past few years, they are nowhere to be seen. Where have they gone?

Sometime last year, I and my parents had been to my cousin Anjana's house. She is a professional photographer and she was showing me the photos that she had taken with her DSLR. My dad was particularly interested about the pictures of birds that she had taken. We started talking something about birds, when Anjana told us about how Wi-Fi signals are killing birds and how the aves population was on the decline due to that. I was a bit skeptical regarding her statement and thought that there could be no way this might happen. A few weeks ago, I was telling my dad that I don't see a lot of birds on our terrace these days, when he reminded me of what Anjana had told us last year. I was eager to prove myself that it would be false to blame it on the WiFi. As soon as I reached my office, I Googled on how WiFi and EMFs could affect living organisms. I was shocked when I found this link.

"I have no doubt in my mind that at the present time, the greatest polluting element in the earth's environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields. I consider that to be far greater on a global scale, than warming, and the increase in chemical elements in the environment." - Dr. Robert O. Becker, M.D. twice nominated for the Nobel Prize.

Effect on humans:

In line with the selfish civilization that we have been all this while, let us first look at the effects that these EMF radiations have on us. There are about 80 immune system disorders we didn't have 20 years ago. There are now numerous studies showing that microwave radiation does undeniably affect human fertility. Prolonged exposure to radio frequency and microwave radiation from cell phones, cordless phones, cell phone towers, Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies have been linked to physical symptoms including headache, fatigue, sleeplessness, dizziness, changes in brainwave activity, and impairment of concentration and memory. No, I'm not writing a high school essay on the negative effects of using a cell phone. Read on, as I present you more shocking information on this, with proof.

In September 2007, the German government warned its citizenry not to use mobile phones (only in emergencies) and Wi-Fi. In Italy, children were banned in March of 2007 from bringing cell phones to schools. In November 2007, the city of Paris voted to ban Wi-Fi in Public Libraries. In December 2007, an Australian Democrats commissioned discussion paper found microwave radiation from cell phone towers to very likely be behind the drastic rise in disease states like cancer, diabetes, asthma, allergies, and Alzheimer's disease, etc. The symptoms appearing with the installation of a nearby cell phone tower (mast) or a home Wi-Fi (Wireless Internet) and/or DECT phone system include any or all of the following: 

Headache, Sleep disturbances (Insomnia), Dizziness, Nausea, Heart Palpitations, Heart Pain, Concentration Problems, Fatigue, Listlessness, Indigestion, Reddening of Skin, Tingling Sensations, Anxiety Attacks, Memory Problems, Swollen Lymph Nodes, Excessive Thirst, Frequent Urination, Vision Problems, Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears), Increase in allergies/sensitivities, etc.

A number of researchers have found that while the above symptoms are the initial effects of exposure to radiation emitted by cell phone towers, the long-term effect is indeed a dramatic increase in the risk of cancer. A recent study showed a 23-fold increase in breast cancer and a 121-fold increase in brain tumors for those who lived within 200 meters of a cell-phone base station for five years or longer. It has been found that if a cell-phone mast has been present for five or more years, cancers will start to appear in the areas around the mast where the emissions are strongest. If the mast has been present for close to ten years then cancer clusters clearly emerge.

An excerpt from Sepp Hasslberger's post in titled "Mobile And Wireless - Largest Biological Experiment"-

"An astronomer once quipped that if Neil Armstrong had taken a cell phone to the Moon in 1969, it would have appeared to be the third most powerful source of microwave radiation in the universe, next only to the Sun and the Milky Way. He was right. Life evolved with negligible levels of microwave radiation (natural electromagnetic field strength of 7.83 Hertz). An increasing number of scientists speculate that our own cells, in fact, use the microwave spectrum to communicate with one another, like children whispering in the dark, and that cell phones, like jackhammers, interfere with their signalling. In any case, it is a fact that we are all being bombarded, day in and day out, whether we use a cell phone or not, by an amount of microwave radiation that is some ten million times as strong as the average natural background. And it is also a fact that most of this radiation is due to technology that has been developed since the 1970s.
 As far as cell phones themselves are concerned, if you put one up to your ear, you are damaging your brain in a number of different ways. First, think of a microwave oven. A cell phone, like a microwave oven and unlike a hot shower, heats you from the inside out, not from the outside in. And there are no sensory nerve endings in the brain to warn you of a rise in temperature because we did not evolve with microwave radiation, and this never happens in nature. Worse, the structure of the head and brain is so complex and non-uniform that “hot spots” are produced, where heating can be tens or hundreds of times what it is nearby. Hot spots can occur both close to the surface of the skull and deep within the brain, and also on a molecular level.
Cell phones are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, and you can find, in the packaging of most new phones, a number called the Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR, which is supposed to indicate the rate at which energy is absorbed by the brain from that particular model. One problem, however, is the arbitrary assumption, upon which the FCC’s regulations are based, that the brain can safely dissipate added heat at a rate of up to 1 degree C per hour. Compounding this is the scandalous procedure used to demonstrate compliance with these limits and give each cell phone its SAR rating. The standard way to measure SAR is on a “phantom” consisting, incredibly, of a homogenous fluid encased in Plexiglas in the shape of a head. Presto, no hot spots! But in reality, people who use cell phones for hours per day are chronically heating places in their brain. The FCC’s safety standard, by the way, was developed by electrical engineers, not doctors."

Let us look at the impact on a few life forms now:

Effect on Birds:

The sparrows have disappeared completely from the cities at least five years ago. There is ample evidence to suggest that it is indeed long-term exposure to microwave radiation especially from 3G GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) digital-phone technology ­that is killing the birds. Scientists at the Research Institute for Nature and Forests in Brussels, Belgium, have produced the first evidence that mobile phone base stations are affecting the reproductive behaviour of wild sparrows. Fewer house sparrow males were seen at locations within relatively high electric field strengths of GSM base stations.

Alfonso Balmori, a conservation biologist in Valladolid, Spain, reported a significantly lower number of white stork fledglings in nests close to mobile phone transmitters compared to nests further away. 
Could the above also be related to the decrease in fertility found in humans living in advanced countries? (There are now numerous research studies supporting this hypothesis.) Balmori also found difference in how the birds behaved close to the phone antennae. Young birds died from unknown causes, and bird couples frequently fought while constructing their nests. Sticks fell to the ground, and the couple failed to make any headway. Some nests were never completed and the storks remained passively in front of the antennae. The bird population is declining by 50 million every year. Mind you, it doesn't mean that 50 million birds die every year, it means that at the end of a year, we are left with 50 million lesser birds than the previous year.

Several million birds of 230 species die each year from collisions with telecommunications masts in the United States during migration. Accidents happen mainly in the night, in fog, or bad weather, when birds might be using the earth's magnetic field for navigation, and could be seriously disoriented by the microwave radiation from telecommunication masts.

Birds (and insects and other small animals) would naturally be the first to obviously be affected by this increase in ambient radiation since naturally they have smaller bodies and hence less flesh to be penetrated by exposure to microwaves. Birds are good candidates as biological indicators for low-intensity electromagnetic radiation (EMR); they have thin skulls, their feathers can act as dielectric receptors of microwave radiation and many species use magnetic navigation. Finally, chicken embryos exposed to microwave radiation from cell phones have shown both deformity and mortality. Some years ago researchers in Russia showed that continuous exposure of the chick embryos during the 21 days of embryonic development resulted in 75 percent of the embryos dying.

The following is a letter on a Google Group from a former telecommunication industry field employee:

"Hi group,
As my username name indicates, I do tower work. and I can assure you that there's more to the things in this article than anyone wants to believe. I've seen an egg cooked between two old Nextel phones when they are at 800 to 900 Mhz, which is their frequency range. I've been on towers where thousands of bees were swarming around me fighting each other. This happens mostly in the fall it seems, and it seems to affect hornets and wasps mostly. I've seen pigeons cooked to death in front of panel antennas and microwave dishes. I don't let my young kids use cell phones. Time will prove that this whole article is true. If anyone here wants to do a good dead rally to rid our earth of cell phones try the towers".

Effect on Insects:
Colony Collapse Syndrome (CCS) poses a serious risk to bees as well as to global agriculture. Bees are critical not only in producing honey, but also serve as the main crop pollinators for one third to one half of the agricultural produce in this country. Bees are pivotal in their role as plant pollinators. Many of the crops that depend on bees are many of the berries and fruits, as well as citrus crops. Additionally bees are critical to maintaining the viability of many of the nut crops that are produced, i.e. cashews, pecans, almonds etc. Another role is that bees are necessary also in pollinating many of the crops that are necessary to establish many of the crops that are used to restore the soil, i.e. clover and other species. There has recently been noticed an epidemic of die-off of bees, or perhaps more correctly the total disappearance of bees from their hives. What is noticed in many of the hives that are put out is that after a certain period of time, is that the hives become vacant or empty. There are no bees to be found. Also what has been noticed is that other opportunistic insects will avoid the hives as well.

Bees use the electromagnetic fields of the earth as a force for orientation. The bees have a gland that is called the mushroom gland, located in the abdomen, which functions much like a compass. The difference is that is relays constant data back to the brain as to where the bee is, much like the function of a flight recorder. This ability to navigate tells the bee where they are in time and space. Research has shown that the mushroom gland is sensitive to the same frequencies that are emitted by cell phones, mast towers or satellites. In essence artificial microwave frequencies jam this mechanism and the bees become disoriented. They cannot figure out where they are, lay down memory tracts and become lost.

So how is the declining population of birds and insects going to affect us? 
  1. Birds and bats are nature’s ‘pest control agents’ - bats can eat their body weight in insects, and birds eat untold quantities weed seeds and noxious insects. 
  2. Birds, bats, and bees are critical pollinators – involved in > $18 billion/yr. global food and forest products industry pollination. 
  3. Birds alone fuel ~ $28 B/yr. bird watching industry in U.S (1 in 4 Americans partake). 
  4. 1/3 of all our fruits and vegetables would not exist without pollinators visiting flowers. 
  5. Pollinators play fundamental role in food security. As pollinator numbers decline, price of groceries goes up. 
  6. Birds and bats already under assault from communication tower collision mortality – some impacts already having effect at their population level.

An experiment to demonstrate:

Hobbyist bee-keeper Sigfried Vogel after retiring, and now at the age of 76, has enjoyed 15 successful years of honey production. He was housing his bee colonies inside an old wooden truck and until a year ago the beekeeper had four bee colonies in hives behind wooden planks on the truck. This winter Mr. Vogel witnessed the disappearance of all four of his bee hives. The bees had met a tragic and mysterious fate. Vogel offers as evidence - that mobile phone masts have caused the demise of his bee colonies - the fact that his son's colonies, which were placed behind aluminum shielding, have survived. (Aluminum is known to block microwave radiation). More on it here.


What kind of social life are we living without letting other creatures live on this planet, while they have the same rights to live as much as we do? Having said this, the life that we lead is inevitable without mobile phones, Wi-Fi and other devices that cause damage to the environment. What kind of mess has humanity got itself into? From here on, our lives are only going to be more and more dependent wireless technologies, for such is the increasing greed for faster and faster means of communication. What an ironical world we live in - while we are destroying life forms on earth, we're spending billions of dollars trying to find traces of life on Mars!

If you have something to say regarding the impact of EMF in our lives or would like to share your views on this article, do leave a comment below.