Every little carbon, hydrogen, oxygen atom coursing through your body came from a star’s death. The cycle of life rolls on, and in death comes not only our birth, but also the birth of new, baby stars. What grand epochs these atoms have lived through–the singularity, the Big Bang, the rapid expansion of our almost 14 billion year old universe, the irreversible increasing entropy of the cosmos, and the death of huge stars in a final fire show of exploding gases and fanfare. And the pinpricks of light receding into the black background, the cold static of microwave radiation, the fatal, elegant dance of binary galaxy systems. And the unseen terror of supermassive black holes and the veiled, mysterious “center” of the universe from which we all radiate outwards. And the cacophonous muteness of the ancient night sky.
And the strings. Everywhere.
According to superstring theory, the little atoms we are made of are made of subatomic particles like protons and neutrons which in turn are made up of quarks, which in turn are posited as strings of energy (electrons are strings as well). So why in the world would scientists make up this crazy theory about little strings of energy vibrating all around us?
It starts with our man, Sir Isaac Newton. He was a pretty cool guy. You know, just invented calculus, discovered the law of universal gravitation, and created classical mechanics, all before the age of 26. Yeah, he was alright.
Then comes along another guy named Albert Einstein. He thought that Newton’s ideas were pretty cool, but they just needed a bit of tweaking. Voilà, theory of special and general relativity. Now both Newton and Einstein were scientists of the macroverse–that which can be easily seen, measured, and quantified. They sought to unravel the inner designs of our waking world.
Enter Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Born, de Broglie, Fermi, Planck, and a whole slew of other quantum physicists who turned the physics world upside down. They were the ones who shook their heads when the naive classical physicists of their time said, “That’s all, folks.” And so, they discovered the marvelous, unseen world of quantum mechanics, the elusive electrons, and the very core of reality as we know it today. Who knew that our own arm was mostly just empty space? That parts of it flit in and out of existence?
So the question becomes, how do you reconcile the theory of horrible immensities with the theory of the unthinkable minutiae? How do you fit gravity into the quantum world, and how do you fit wave function collapse into the fabric of the planets? Einstein spent the good beginning of his career fitting together Newtonian physics with electromagnetic physics in his theory of special relativity. Einstein shifted his attention to particles and developed a theory for photons called the photoelectric effect, giving wings to the fledgling quantum physicists who then explored deeper than ever before in the land of the atoms. The one thing that bothered him until the end of his life was the diametrically opposed nature of the laws of the big and the laws of the small. If he could just unify it all into one elegant mathematical equation to calculate the universe on any level…that was his dream.
This was the theory of everything, lost to Einstein and still lost to us today, and it still remains the question to answer. In the true spirit of Einstein’s originality, scientists now declare that string theory is the answer.
Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere. – Carl Sagan
– Beyond Apathy
It’s a new year, 2012, and I’m behind on the whole New Year resolutions thing–it’s already almost February!
Time to get cracking. Also, don’t forget to check out my literary compadre, On the Brink of Chink. We’re both preening our feathers, preparing for our flight into the grand, old world of writing once more, a journey of unknowns and great discovery. JOIN US!
I welcome you aboard my ship, my soul, free of the stench of not living, never dying.
– Beyond Apathy
I know that a lot of you out there are bilingual, whether you speak Dutch, German, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, any other language, or 1337 (HAH, TAKE THAT). Have you ever come across a word in that language that just doesn’t translate to English perfectly? Of course you have. All languages, obviously, are not descendants of one sole language, nor do they share the same, exact words. Many languages used today came about through the Indo-European tongue spoken in early times, but how close are Urdu (APWH?!) and Spanish? Or French and Russian? And to compare the Mayan writing system and language with East Asian languages is just ridiculous (they are completely separate and evolved separately).
Now, even if you did have the same word meaning in English and another language, the connotation is something that just can’t be learned except through usage. Learn as much vocab as you want, simply memorizing vocab will never let you understand the minute difference between horrendous and terrible. And there IS a difference.
Now, I’ve been complaining about words in different languages and how they don’t mean the exact same thing, but I haven’t hit exactly on my point yet. Ever heard of the phrase “lost in translation”? Very true.
Going from one language to another, a word often loses so much of its original connotation that it really doesn’t mean the same thing anymore. Take the idiom: 고래 싸움에 새우 등 터진다 . Literally translated from Korean, it reads, “In a whale fight, the shrimp’s back explodes/bursts.” In Korean, it really doesn’t sound this awkward because translation screws up the original intent of this idiom. Really, this idiom should be translated to more like “When whales fight, the shrimp’s back is broken,” meaning that when powerful people/countries fight, many innocent lives are lost in the process. The idiom also derives from the fact that Korea, a small country, is located between two powerhouses: China and Japan. Explains much.
Denotation, of course, remains the same. But what if a word in one language doesn’t even have a matching word in another language? The best that we can do is take a shot in the dark and hope for the best. And now a snippet of my reader response from last year on The Republic by Plato.
Through translation, some of the original meaning and exact wording of any book is lost, and The Republic is no exception. For example, take the word thumos, the Greek word roughly translating to “indignation” or “self-preservation”. Depending on how one translates thumos, Plato’s whole argument on the three parts of a human’s soul is changed. Like Leontion whose appetite/desire compels him to view the corpses, even though he does not want to, “we often see other instances of a man whose desires are trying to force him to do something his reason disapproves of, cursing himself and getting indignant at their violence” (148, 440a-b). In this case, indignation makes sense because “indignation” as one of the parts of the soul disapproves when “appetite” overpowers “reason”. Since a just person “will be just and perform his proper function only if each part of him is performing its proper function,” a person will be just when “appetite”, a wild animal, is subservient to “reason”, the tamer, and “indignation”, the tamer’s sense of duty, is ingrained within “reason” (150, 441d-e). In using thumos as indignation, however, there is a flaw. If one were starving and on the verge of death, “appetite” would compel one to eat, but if “indignation” were against the dominance of “appetite”, eating to survive would be considered unjust. Changing the meaning of thumos to “self-preservation” makes the last scenario work, for eating food would be complying with “reason” and “self-preservation”, not “appetite” since it is just facilitating “self-preservation”. Insert “self-preservation” into Plato’s perfect society, however, and it makes no sense. If the driving force of the Guardians was self-preservation, it would not be in the best interest of the community to have such people as leaders, for they would act in the interest of themselves, not the state, going against Plato’s assertion that the Guardians would act for the best of the state. Thumos is neither “indignation” nor “self-preservation”, but they are the best parallels that English can offer.
Yes, I know that was confusing, but try reading through it again, and you might get a clue as to what I’m saying. If you still don’t, leave questions in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer them.
If you really think about it, it’s quite sad that people of different languages will never understand each other fully. But I suppose that’s the problem of humanity as well. How wonderful a Babel fish would be…Douglas Adams had it right.
The Babel Fish […] is small, yellow and leechlike, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. […] The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. – Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
– Beyond Apathy
*Quote theme: witty, hilarious, funny, sarcastic.*
An evil genius is like a guy who builds an amazing car then drives it into a lake. Amazing in theory, moronic in execution. – Anonymous
He is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death. – Saki
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’ – Isaac Asimov
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. – Hanlon’s razor
Ahhh. A man with a sharp wit. Someone ought to take it away from him before he cuts himself. – Peter da Silva
My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry ’til a more convenient season. – Mary Todd Lincoln
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and is widely regarded as a bad move. – Douglas Adams
If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me. – Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Give a man a match, and he’ll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. – Anonymous
House Guarded By Shotgun 3 Days A Week. Guess Which Days. – Sign
If my calculations are correct SLINKY + ESCULATOR = EVERLASTING FUN. – Anonymous
Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. – Mark Twain
I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens. – Woody Allen
Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Give a fish a man, and he’ll eat for weeks! – Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. – Saying
Some mornings it just doesn’t seem worth it to gnaw through the leather straps. – Emo Phillips
Lead, follow, or get out of the way. – Thomas Paine
Hope this was slightly entertaining at least!
– Beyond Apathy
I didn’t realize that there were some of you out there that still check my blog from time to time. I thought that your thirst for my writing had all but been quenched with incoming school work…
Anyways, what’s coming up in the coming week or so is a compilation of some of my favorite funny/witty quotes. Excited? I AM.
I FREAKING LOVE QUOTES.
Yes, so keep watching for that…also…my blog will probably go back up as public in the next few weeks…and I’m going to hope that my paranoia wasn’t warranted.
Imagine a thousand more such daily intrusions in your life, every hour and minute of every day, and you can grasp the source of this paranoia, this anger that could consume me at any moment if I lost control. – Jack Henry Abbott
– Beyond Apathy
When FALCON PAWNCH Fails
So you’ve all seen this video…but…really AUTO-TUNE EVERYTHING, IT’S AWESOME.
Dost thou knoweth this meme?
There’s an awesome website that has all of these memes. It’s pretty good.
…ROFL. Ok, sorry.
Sorry, you’ll need to follow this link. It’s worth it though…only if you do a barrel roll.
– Beyond Apathy
Suddenly, this has become a very quiet, lonely blog. To those of you reading, I am truly sorry that you now have to put up with the hassle of either 1) Logging in everytime you want to read my blog or 2) Making a wordpress account just to read my blog.
But who knows, maybe something good will come from this! Maybe you will make and follow-through with a blog of your own! If you do, please do inform me, I love reading other people’s thoughts and ideas on anything.
So let’s get down to the topic of today: karma. Basically, does what you do now come back to you in the future?
Does it really exist? Or is it just an ingrained instinct of humans to see patterns?
So taking sides now…let’s explore a little.
Karma does exist
Karma exists when humans admit that there is such thing as fate. You may not be a determinist, but you sure do believe in some kind of natural justice that exists in this world. You believe that “an eye for an eye” occurs naturally during the course of life because it was just supposed to happen. And when you do good things, you believe that good things will happen to you because fate is quite pleased by all this justice making.
When you really get down to it, karma is in almost every religion. For those of you that believe in a heaven and a hell, karma is most definitely ingrained in your *cough* dogma (pardon the terrible joke). The determination of whether or not you go to heaven or hell not just rests on your adherence to your dogma, but also on your acts that you do in your lifetime. If you were good person, and you helped the old lady cross the street, and generally lived a “good” life, then you will most likely go to heaven. If you were an evil person, and commited great atrocities against all of humankind, and set into motion WWIII, you’re probably going to get sent to hell. I suppose that it is this incentive of the reward of a happy afterlife that pushes some people to lead good lives. Of course, not all people are like this, but there are always some out there that need some kind of motivation like utopia to jolt them into religiously based morals. The “if I play nice now, I will always get a cookie later” way of thinking.
Personally, I don’t think that is the best way of parenting.
Karma does not exist
Karma does not exist when the human sees no reason in life. Well that sounds depressing. What I meant to say was something more along the lines of…life is just events that happen and there is no apparent justice guiding the fate of our world. What we perceive as “karma” is nothing more than a good deed followed by a good event or a bad deed followed by a bad event. Moral justice then, is nothing but a mirage in our heads. Oddly enough, this type of thinking requires so much more faith in humans themselves because what people do is not then a precedence to a reward or punishment, but a choice that they make to be either “good” or “bad”. Not believing in karma is more like believing in people rather than a higher force, whether you believe them to be intrinsically “good” or “bad”.
Of course, it is impossible to tell whether events are connected or just a part of the beautiful chaos of our universe. No one will ever know whether our good action today foretells a good day in the future. No one will ever know how long it takes for karma to kick in. A person may give up a kidney today to save the life of a stranger. Ten years later, will he consider the $100 bill he found on the ground a retribution from fate from so long ago or a random lucky find?
I myself do not believe in karma. I find it refreshingly startling to think that humans have the ability to choose between so called good and evil, just for the sake of being good or evil. What I do believe in is the astonishing power of the human brain to perceive differently. Humans are instinctively inclined to continue a line of sight once seen. So karma to me, is doing something nice and seeing the other nice things in life, and doing a bad thing and seeing other bad things in life. To me, we just perceive a pattern in the mess of events.
Worthless people blame their karma. ~Burmese Proverb
KARMA STRIKES AGAIN.
– Beyond Apathy
What is forgiveness, but another way to better our own existence?
Thinking back to ancient times, for what reason did man stick with fellow humans? True, it provided company, something alive in a harsh world, but above all, it was much more efficient. With a two man team, you could alternate tracking an animal to hunt, and you had double the manpower. This led to the discovery that one no longer starves to death during the winter if one works in a team. So if 2 people are good, then why wouldn’t 3 people be great? And 10 people? And a tribe? A village? A city? A nation?
In numbers, even the most incapable of animals find strength. It is because of this strength that the word “society” evolved.
Forgiveness then, has always been beside man since he joined forces with another being. Forgiveness, perhaps I sound too positive right now. A better phrasing would perhaps be the “power to pardon”. Imagine that in a team of two people, there is the stronger, more skilled dominant figure, and the lesser, slightly less skilled subordinate. The subordinate, being less skilled than the alpha, screws up and lets prey get away. The alpha now has to make a choice–a choice that probably flits through our minds at trivial acts, but nevertheless, a choice. Does he let the subordinate stay with him, or does he make him leave? By logical reasoning, he should be asking himself another question that determines his choice: Will my hunting be better without him? In other words, does the subordinate’s hunting outweigh the fact that there is another mouth to feed? If he decides that the subordinate is indeed an asset, then he has “pardoned” him.
On a darker note, if he decides that having the subordinate by his side is, in fact, bringing him down and making his existence less efficient, then he has refused to pardon him. If you think that our society is now beyond this stage, then think again. Why do students have new teachers every year? It is because they have taught students to the best of their abilities, and there is nothing more or quality that they can give them. In businesses, why do people get fired or laid off? It is because their pay has outweighed their work, and it is worse for the company’s income to keep them. Livelihoods depend on efficiency and the determination of what is beneficial and what is detrimental.
There is a saying that says that everyone has something to teach if you pay attention. In the human conquest to know, to fully live up to our name Homo sapiens sapiens, we have found that the quickest way to gauge profit is to see who a person really is. Observe how they react to different environments and situations, and see what their true face is. If a person is truly bad, it has been found through many centuries of society that said person is most likely to cause damage to our existence, therefore, making a bad person somewhat like loose baggage. If it is found that a human is with mostly good intentions, one has a greater chance of reaping a better reward, a better existence. Oftentimes, it takes years before a person “knows”. But in that instant, what will you choose?
When there is nothing more for me to gain, when I have seen the core of your existence, when the detrimental effects simply outweigh the benefits–it is then that you will become nothing to me.
– Beyond Apathy
This part is going to take a slightly different, more, dare I say, philosophical view on quantum mechanics and how this applies to the world.
Warning–the following paragraphs contain a staggering amount of mind-bogglement. If you like having a sense of sanity, some semblance of self-worth, and a cozy, dark, little hole in the ground to live in, do not read on.
The universe as a whole, the Existence as a whole, it’s a thought that nobody likes to think about. And deep inside, each of us know why. From a purely scientific standpoint, we don’t matter. From a philosophical standpoint, it is impossible to comprehend it. From a religious standpoint, there is so much to doubt and so little to believe in. From a normal standpoint, it is a sense of loneliness and cold, and we as humans tend to stay away from that. And to think about it all is overwhelming. If you don’t think it’s overwhelming, you’re not thinking about it. When these thoughts flood your brain, there is little else that can function, so this is why we keep it locked away, deep in the crevices of our mind so we don’t have to deal with it.
So you never have to think about it if you don’t want to. But one must, for it is the question that has haunted all life since its beginning.
“Why do we exist?”
Mind bogglement: What if there were others, just like us, but not in our plane of existence? What if there was a different me or you going, “Why do we exist?”
Would you like a cold cup of perspective? http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/java/scienceopticsu/powersof10/
It’s an amazing, beautiful universe, and if you don’t think so, that’s pretty short-sighted and narrow-minded of you. The Existence is a terrible/awe-inspiring, both at the same time, and it transcends every thought that you thought you knew.
Now getting to the point, there is a different interpretation of quantum mechanics that allows for a whole different type of reality, philosophy, time, and choice. That very interpretation is the Many-Worlds Interpretation. Its implications are staggering. If it were proved to be true, then for every moment in our lives, there is an infinite number of different universes that spring from that moment, and the choice we make at the moment is the reality that we live in. The other infinite choices that we possibly could have made are actual realities in parallel universes. Sounds sci-fi, right?
Well, put into scientific terms, what happens at the point at which we observe electrons is the key. The Copenhagen interpretation asserts that electrons undergo wavefunction collapse and become what we see. Many-worlds interpretation states that electrons do NOT undergo wavefunction collapse and instead split into separate realities.
Each of these realities is as real as the next. There is another you and another me in another universe, exactly the same except for a minor change in the flow of our lives. And another you and me in another universe. And a universe in which we never existed in the first place. There is a reality for everything.
This is like the equivalent of freaking Sparta in science.
So this universe…it could very well be that it is unremarkable. Indistinguishable. One among infinite. One universe in the entire multiverse.
Many-worlds interpretation tries to explain Schrödinger’s Cat with the idea that in our universe, the cat is dead, but the alternate reality of it living splits off into another universe. We’d never know because we only exist in one plane of reality.
Most people perceive the flow of life as one continuous river, and maybe determinists see it as the only river. The introduction of this interpretation means that time and reality is more like an infinitely forked road at every moment in our lives. So what is time? Just a bunch of choices that we make that keeps reality in motion? Does this affirm the existence of free will and choice? Are those separate universes impossible to reach? What does this mean for what’s beyond us?
These questions are some that should address the implications of this theory. Yes, it is a little spine-chilling, yet awesome at the same time.
Well, thanks for reading! Yes, this is what I read about in my free time.
Everything you’ve learned in school as “obvious” becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There’s not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines.— R. Buckminster Fuller – Beyond Apathy