Sunday, January 20, 2013

Kumbha Mela

As large as New York, London and Paris combined... Harvard team trying to seek answers to the "question 'How on earth is an event of this size possible!'

http://mappingthemela.wordpress.com/
http://southasiainitiative.harvard.edu/kumbh-mela/


Here is another interesting article from PLOS ONE on Magh-mela, a mini annual Kumbh. If well-being can be increased just like this... go India go :)


There is lot more to write, but later...



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hitchhiker's guide to this life or the universe...

I was going through some quotes from this famous book series 'Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' and some of them really struck a chord with me, so I'm quoting them here... :) One of my favorite is: 

“We apologize for the inconvenience” - God's Final Message to His Creation.

On life
Life, as many people have spotted, is, of course, terribly unfair. 

Funny, how just when you think life can’t possibly get any worse it suddenly does.

Will everything tie up neatly or will it be just like life: quite interesting in parts, but no substitute for the real thing?

Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?

On Suffering
I ache, therefore I am.

In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn't cope with, and that terrible listlessness that starts to set in about 2:55, when you know you've taken all the baths that you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.

They were not the same eyes with which he had last looked out at this particular scene, and the brain which interpreted the images the eyes resolved, was not the same brain. There had been no surgery involved, just the continual wrenching of experience.

So much time, oh so much time. And pain as well, so much of that, and so much time to suffer it in too. One or the other on its own I could probably manage. It's the two together that really get me down.

For a being of light, gazing even for a moment into the heart of dark space has an effect equivalent to a dozen near-death experiences. It's the Universe's way of telling you to get on with your life. Which is a good thing, if the feeling budding in a person's heart is a good feeling.

A tremendous feeling of peace came over him. He knew that at last, for once and for ever, it was now all, finally, over.

On Humans 
Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner.

This planet (earth) has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time... Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.

On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.

‘The chances of finding out what's really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied … Look at me: I design coastlines... I'd far rather be happy than right, any day.’
‘And are you?’
‘No, that's where it all falls down, of course.’
‘Pity, it sounded like quite a good lifestyle otherwise.’

'You mean, you can see into my mind?' (Arthur)
'Yes' (Marvin).
Arthur stared in astonishment. 'And ...?' Arthur. 
'It amazes me how you can manage to live in anything that small.'

Marvin: Do you want me to sit in a corner and rust or just fall apart where I'm standing?

On Universe
Looking up into the night sky is looking into infinity — distance is incomprehensible and therefore meaningless.

Space, is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space...

The alien ship was already thundering toward the upper reaches of the atmosphere, on its way out into the appalling void that separates the very few things there are in the Universe from one another.

He was wrong to think he could now forget that the big, hard, oily, dirty, rainbow-hung Earth on which he lived, was a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, lost in the unimaginable infinity of the Universe.

All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it's pretty damn complicated in the first place.

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

The story so far :
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

On God
'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith and without faith I am nothing’.

Your universe is vast to you. Vast in time, vast in space. That's because of the filters through which you perceive it. But I was built with no filters at all, which means I perceive the Mish-Mash which contains all possible universes but which has, itself, no size at all. For me, anything is possible. I am omniscient and omnipotent, extremely vain and, what is more, I come in a handy self-carrying package.
You have to work out how much of the above is true.

On having a perspective 
The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.

If life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.

The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question how can we eat? The second by the question why do we eat? And the third, by the question where shall we have lunch?"

I'm afraid that the Question and the Answer are mutually exclusive. Knowledge of one logically precludes knowledge of the other. It is impossible that both can ever be known about the same Universe.

‘There's nothing there that wasn't there before. I'm just using light to draw your attention to certain drops at certain moments. Now what do you see?’
‘So what's the point of showing me something I can't see?’
So that you understand that just because you see something, it doesn't mean to say it's there. And if you don't see something, it doesn't mean to say it's not there. It's only what your senses bring to your attention.’

And as they drifted up, their minds sang with the ecstatic knowledge that either what they were doing was completely and utterly and totally impossible, or that physics had a lot of catching up to do.

She was mostly immensely relieved to think that virtually everything that anybody had ever told her was wrong.

Murphy's laws & other funnies ;)
The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong, goes wrong, it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.

There was a point to this story, but it has temporarily escaped the chronicler's mind.

One of the problems has to do with the speed of light and the difficulties involved in trying to exceed it. You can't. Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.

The thing they wouldn't be expecting him to do was to be there in the first place. Only an absolute idiot would be sitting where he was, so he was winning already. A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

It wasn't merely that their left hand didn't always know what their right hand was doing, so to speak; quite often their right hand had a pretty hazy notion as well.

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. … Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.

In Relativity, Matter tells Space how to curve, and Space tells Matter how to move.

It is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of them (machines), by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all.

Many elevators imbued with intelligence and precognition became terribly frustrated with the mindless business of going up and down, up and down, experimented briefly with the notion of going sideways, as a sort of existential protest, demanded participation in the decision-making process and finally took to squatting in basements sulking.
An impoverished hitchhiker visiting any planets in the Sirius star system these days can pick up easy money working as a counselor for neurotic elevators.

‘Protect me from knowing what I don't need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don't know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.’
There's another prayer that goes with it that's very important. … 'Lord, lord, lord. Protect me from the consequences of the above prayer. Amen' and that's it. Most of the trouble people get into in life comes from leaving out that last part.’

Philosophical tips for living & dying & more...
There is a moment in every dawn when light floats, there is the possibility of magic. Creation holds its breath.

Anything can be real. Every imaginable thing is happening somewhere along the dimensional axis. These things happen a billion times over with exactly the same outcome and no one learns anything. Whatever a person can think, imagine, wish for, or believe has already come to pass. Dreams come true all the time, just not for the dreamers.

Reverse engineering enables us to shortcut all the business of waiting for one of those horribly few spaceships that passes through your galactic sector every year or so to make up its mind about whether or not it feels like giving you a lift. You want a lift, a ship arrives and gives you one. The pilot may think he has any one of a million reasons why he has decided to stop and pick you up. The real reason is that I have determined that he will.
 ‘This is you being extremely vain, isn't it, little bird?’

When the Guide moved on, taking its building with it, it left a little like a thief in the night. Exactly like a thief in the night in fact. It usually left in the very early hours of the morning, and the following day there always turned out to be a very great deal of stuff missing. Whole cultures and economies would collapse in its wake, often within a week, leaving once-thriving planets desolate and shell-shocked but still somehow feeling they had been part of some great adventure.

R is a velocity measure, defined as a reasonable speed of travel that is consistent with health, mental well-being and not being more than say five minutes late. It is therefore clearly an almost infinitely variable figure according to circumstances, since the first two factors vary not only with speed taken as an absolute, but also with awareness of the third factor. Unless handled with tranquility, this equation can result in considerable stress, ulcers and even death.

Once you know what it is you want to be true, instinct is a very useful device for enabling you to know that it is.