Limits

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Everywhere we look, we see limits.

The limits of a life, the limit of how long we can hold our breath, the limit of time, the limit of minuteness, our limited ability to truly absorb large just how many grains of sand litter the golden shores around us

Our limited ability to absorb large inconceivable numbers and values; like the number of celestial bodies in the universe and even how many people inhabit this planet. The limits of our mortal understanding is quite frustrating. to not know or to be capable of understanding other dimensions or to not be privy to the baffling secrets of light. to be limited, even, by our own imagination, unable to predict the appearance of extra-terrestrial beings or the impacts and effects of extra, undiscovered forces or energies.

The limit of time. Time is a limiting factor in anything; growth, progress, evolution, entropy. Because it’s so steady and immovable and only a set amount can be done in a certain amount of time,we are its prisoners. Waiting, rushing simultaneously; in different perspectives we could be doing either, all because of Time.

The limit of minuteness. Simply put: Planck’s Length. The absolute limit in how small we can zoom into anything. There’s no going any further than the quantum level.

Biological limits, like so many other innumerable boundaries; untouchable and unsurpassable. Longevity has its limit, as do biological clocks and organs working under wear and tear.

Everything has an end.

Except the Universe.

..for now.

Flames

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Burning room on fire

People never really pay attention to the droning safety procedures of fire protocol, knowing or rather believing that nothing will ever strike them in the strangest of times and the most terrifying of circumstances. I was one of those people.

Sniffing. That’s how I woke up. Sniffing the congesting, clogging, claustrophobic, viscous blanket that poured its way through my respiratory tracts. With a painful burst of clarity, as the dry heat in the room burned up the walls and seared my skin, an ethereal shimmer tainted the solid enclosure that was my room, I knew. There was no grogginess, no sluggishness, only fear. Knowing I had only minutes to get out of this hell trap, I forewent the panic and scrambled in the midst of a mental chaos to recollect the basics of fire procedure, knowing that through no fault of anyone’s but mine, I might cease to exist on this night.

Trickles of information seemed to make a presence in the smoky depths of my mind. Feel the door with the back-? or was it the front of the hand to check if it was warm? To ascertain the proximity of the flames; whether it was waiting like Hades on the other side of that door, or far enough for you to try and make a break for it without making eye contact. Back, I decided hopefully as I stretched a hesitating limb towards the barrier.

The heat that emanated from the door to my hand, near cooked its flesh within an inch of the bone. A profanity that escaped tightly pursed lips was lost in the all-consuming, permeating roar of the inferno that wreaked havoc in the once peaceful, sanctity of my home. Outside the confinement of the chamber, I could only imagine the antagonistic power the fiery reds and oranges held as they obliterated my entire life’s worth of memories and souvenirs in a single devastating event.

It’s amazing what desperation can draw from you in the darkest of hours, my mind seemed to have opened numerous other thinking chambers and capacities to permit me to questioning everything; including why in blazes (no pun intended) did we, the human race, have to let our guard down every single night in order to function the next day which allowed things like this to happen in presence of mental absence, while simultaneously coming up with and eliminating methods of survival, as well as reprimanding the higher powers for any hand they might have had in this cataclysmic end, admonishing them for simply sanctioning the existence of fire, chastising them for allowing the earliest of our ancestors to conceive this deathly threat in the first place and for not helping me now in my most dire hour of need, leaving me to fend for myself in the inescapable doom I seemed to face.

Sweat beaded at my forehead and pooled at every bodily crevice in the steadily sweltering heat that rose in the sealed pot of my bedroom, plastering unruly bed head into damp streaks across my face, and soaking through my clothes. Why could no one see the building on fire, why did no one come to help me?

Ideas of escape and salvation zoomed past me, the barred windows I thought would stop intruders getting in, seemed only to serve in keeping me from getting out. I couldn’t bear to look in to the cool outdoor air that seemed to mock me in silent laughter and so, with my back to the window, I faced the smouldering, shut door as flames licked the edges and danced around the frame, encroaching upon the already searing, sizzling air that encapsulated me within the prison of these walls; my head, at the point of bursting, slowly created for itself a sanctuary of a cool, black cloak within it, and I could feel myself trying to grasp it and cover me with it’s cool, tranquillity as I faded in to unconsciousness; anything was better than the pounding, saturating burn of imprisonment within a blazing ember.

Had I looked out the window I could have felt hope for smallest of moments, as flashing, pulsating red and blue lights turned into the end of the street, willing myself not to perish when help was so near at hand.

*  *  *

Do we really exist?

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Virtual world

Do we really exist?

In the progress of  humanity and technology, computer storage space and processing power is increasing exponentially, doubling every 18 months to 2 years. In the last few years the interval has jumped even further to every 13 months.

I state this fact as a precursor to the idea that we could possibly look back in time.

As our technology develops, we see virtual imagery become increasingly more realistic where whole movies can be faked right from the comfort of a graphics studio in Los Angeles. The graphics develop to be intrinsically detailed and some believe that if this trend were to continue unabated, it would mean computers would get faster and evermore powerful, which means that a future civilisation would possess computers with computing power that would make our current day supercomputers look like feeble abacuses comparatively. The ever-increasing capacities of these future machines would attain an infinite computing capability, and with this infinite capacity  we would be permitted to travel through time, not physically but through virtual reality. The virtual reality would soon be adept enough to project an exact reality so perfect, they would be  identical copies down to the last particle.

What if these systems were then used not only to create images of fictional nature, but rather of our own past, with beings identical to us, that could think for themselves, so indistinguishable from reality, that they would even think they were us.

Our future descendants would have a time machine that wouldn’t take us into the past, but rather bring the past to us. this detailed and realistic simulation of the past would be our key to history and using this infinite computing power we could generate exact copies of the past in which each virtual character was self-aware. What if this hasn’t already happened? What’s there to say we haven’t already been cloned or copied  and are truly original and not one of the billions of simulations who, too, think they truly exist? What would be the distinction between reality and the virtual world?

How do we know we are living in the original real world? The probability of you being the real original rather than a simulated copy is a billion to one, making the chances of you being the real ‘you‘ almost negligible.

Our world may be an illusion.

We could be living in a superposition of possibilities that could become anything we think of. We might be forming the world at this very moment by seeing things in different ways, we may be forming the universe as we look. This may be a sign that we are not in a stable perfect reality, but rather a simulation, one that moulds itself to our theories, malleable to our thoughts. We may be creating for ourselves a reality that isn’t true and we could be one of many virtual realities, insignificant in the bigger picture. Our freewill may be the biggest illusion we have ever succumbed to and this possibility creates a paradox, in the sense that, the purpose of science is to understand and question reality yet there may be no reality for us to question and we in our glass bowl of knowledge and existence may one day run up against the curved walls just fall back down and begin all over again.

The Open Door

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Yellow top with jeans

The steady progress of the sun as it loudly crept its way across the multi-hued sky, trying in vain to catch up with the border of darkness that sped to the unknown. Hesitant, yet determined, the rays of sun gradually found courage enough to poke its long slender fingers through the heavy, interlocking weave of the thick curtains, gently caressing Skye de la Renta, tapping her chin with its brightness and nudging her eyes with their intensity, lighting up the room with a slow glow.

As she blinked away the sleep from her eyes, she saw outside her window, the first sun of a beautiful spring to come. Like any other day, after brushing her teeth and foregoing the detested coffee, Skye dressed up with the care of a celebrity but the bias of a comfort dresser, knowing without a doubt today would be special like any other day. A sunshine yellow top as a tribute to the victorious springtime sun and her favourite pair of jeans, generously accessorised with the topaz of her youth and without further ado, walked out of the house with an oversized bag and her perfectly worn Converse.

With the flair of a well-practised New York City cabbie, she pulled out the tiny hybrid car her parents gave her for her 21st birthday. As a local of New York, she knew she should’ve been using the metro, yet somehow she felt a brighter pleasure in being self-reliant.

With no aim in mind on this beautiful Sunday morning, taking in the same sights of every other Sunday, she drove to the nearest deli for an indispensable bagel with lox, munching away on the halves, as she drove one-handed through the city. Everything was so familiar to her, the bustle of the big city, the apathetic individuals patronising the streets, always believing their needs were more important than everyone else’s, the towering buildings watching over you as you lived in the rut of day-to-day life. She wasn’t like the rich people that plague our world, greedy, self-serving, egotistical, she just wanted different things. Skye wanted to be different, she knew she was different, she could have whatever she wanted, yet she was never satisfied with the monotony of the buzzing city, nor was she ever placated with the quiet, serenity of a cool, mountain or valley where she came from. There was always something more out there, waiting to be found, not just outside the boundaries of this planet and into the universe beyond, but rather right here. She ached to see the unseeable, the intangible, stuff that no one else knows exists.

She seemed to be one of the few who really step back and take a look at their lives and their significance in life, rather than, like some people, just getting swept along with the flow of compliments and material things that define the modern age, so engrossed in driving towards the future, that they forgot to stop and look out the window along the way.

As drew nearer to 11am, she started mentally preparing herself for her university lecture, but found it hard to work up the excitement of watching Sir Henry Moriarty patiently try to explain the basics of relativity to some unbothered freshmen as their minds wandered to that evening’s frat party or their next shopping spree. All her attempts at involving herself into the menial facets of this life left her with an even greater dissatisfaction of the utter normalcy of and unimaginativity of the people her age and even the others around her. Her yoga class was much the same, people so caught in the mechanical movements they could no longer feel the essence of being alive. Like a room painted grey with, though not a flaw, yet not even a colour in its dreary, depressing expanse that surrounded her, pressing upon her everywhere she turned; where not even her sunshine yellow top was bright enough to elicit a new emotion, a new colour from its destitute dilapidation. Taking a seat at the back of the auditorium, Skye pulled out her folder and struggled to stay in the moment, mind forever wandering, she was limited to only what she had ever seen and ever known, though tempting and testing , pulling on the strings of the edges of the unknown, to no avail. Trapped in the leaden room, trying to go someplace else, but always hitting just another grey wall.

When she was small, she felt so dominated by the vastness of the large chamber, her eyes of opportunity masking the dull, greyness with imagination and creativity, yet as she grew, the room seemed to shrink and the youthful tint of originality faded to reveal what was always the same ashen room. The thought of having to continue like this, every day, like a tape on repeat was the most condemning idea to have never been thought.

She needed a way out of this simplistic and predictable world. Simply knowing there was something to see was never good enough at any time, much less at this moment and never for Skye.

Walking out of the lecture with a determination, she quick-stepped down the stairs and launched herself into the little red hybrid. Today was going to be a special day and she had known it from the moment she opened her eyes that morning. She had finally found the door out of here. Pulling up and parking at a service station nearby, she walked the rest of the way to her door, the Brooklyn Bridge. The eagerness and curiosity at one with her approaching sense of freedom; anticipating the time for adventure, brought on a clarity like never before. She knew this was what she had been waiting for, her whole life of rebounding of smoky walls just to run into another, was a subconscious search for the double doors leading into a new place, where she was no longer lost, no longer reliving each day in the incessant loop of tedium.

She had found a secret door in the even steely confinements of her prison. She wasn’t running from anything, but rather running towards the portal; and that is what made all the difference.

With cold metal cables in either hand, standing on the bridge, a rush of air blowing against her, ruffling her spirit, urging her to take flight, she was drawn. The sounds of traffic, the onlookers, they were never significant in her quest for change. To look below into the glistening, diamond-encrusted river was like looking at the light entering a dark place, the opportunity of a renovation, a new beginning. And then she soared.

Ballet

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En pointePirouettes, grande jetés, arabesques, pliés, en-pointe, battements.

The graceful flow of sweeping movements, flairs and arcs, limbless elegance and fluent poise. Ballet is the epitome of classical dance, as one who has but the barest inkling of its beautiful grandeur will tell you, for it is a dance of the strength of tough, silvery spider-web and the demanding presence of a single rose petal. In beauty and expression, it can compare to no other.

As the music rises, quick steps to center stage follow the impatient build up of the arpeggio and anticipation of what is to come. As the musical vernacular hits the first dramatic chord, ribbon-like appendages in their full admirable glory as they swish like tree branches in a soft autumn wind, intricately making music in the spotlight and the rise and fall of pounding triads speak out the story-line, the climax playing out its fullness before the end brings the curtains down upon a spectacular spectacle and the lights turn up, dispelling the fairytale magic of a phenomenal  evening.

Earworms

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Involuntary musical imagery

‘Shawty’s like a melody in my head that I can’t get out, got me singing like…’

Ever had that one song that weaves itself into the very essence of your brain, haunting your thoughts and bursting forth without command. It plagues the young and the old, the idle and the hardworking, like oxygen or a parasite, ‘Earworms’.

a piece of music or a melody that repeats itself like a broken record on replay, playing the same loop over and over and over until your favourite song turns into the bane of your existence. Earworms are quite a funny phenomenon, though have the capacity to become utterly irritating when the song seems to play over and over right inside your mind with no end.

They are songs or jingles that are catchy, upbeat and on the verge of just plain annoying, and are more common in songs that have a repeated rhythm and probably popular. you seem to hear it wherever you go and sing along even when you don’t know the words.

‘Na, na, na, na everyday, like my iPod stuck on replay (replay)’

Men and women are both just as likely to experience these unexplainable occurrence, but they seem to last longer in women and are more likely to irritate them.

Earworms have made several appearances in novels and TV shows as the main theme, such as books by Mark Twain and Arthur C. Clarke as well as the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants.

Join the cult.

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 Science Plasma lamp

“Nothing is so fatal to the progress of the human mind as to suppose our views of science are ultimate; that there are no mysteries in nature; that our triumphs are complete; and  that there are no new worlds to conquer.”

-Humphrey Davy, British chemist and inventor-

A completely on the spot and beautifully expressed motto that the intelligent should live by and the ignorant, memorise, for there is no greater disaster than the curtain, falling upon the eternal quest for knowledge. The day we cease searching for answers is the first of days to follow of the reversion back to the Age of Neanderthals, though ultimately worse for we stopped looking whilst they had just begun.

Science

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Bungee jumping

It takes you to distant lands and dear though not-so-near ones in the far reaches of our planet.

The food’s not great, the air is stale and you’re constantly risking E.Coli and Deep Vein Thrombosis, yet travelling by airplanes is almost a normal part of our lives. We think nothing of getting onto a plane, but we are trusting our lives in the hands of people just like us and technology. It’s a great leap of faith, the sort of leap we’re not always willing to take at the best of times.

Not many people are ready to try some slightly peculiar cultural foods when they come across them, sometimes denying them a flavour-filled utopia, even if for just the moment. Not a very life-threatening leap if you consider it. In regards to choices, we as a race seem to have a slightly convoluted decision-making sense. One would jump of a bridge while only connected to a cord for an adrenaline rush, yet we hesitate when buying a phone or speaking our minds.

We need to put everything into perspective before making life-changing decisions, because our reality is a mental disorder on its own.

Flying and a little other stuff

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Atomic clock
Leap year. The day that comes once every four year, which is unlucky for those born on the 29th of February. Tagged on to the every fourth February, the additional day is a compensation for the365  and a quarter days that it takes the Earth to do a complete orbit around the Sun.

Old news. But have you heard about the leap second?

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) in Paris — the grand arbiters of time on our big blue marble — has declared that a leap second will be introduced on 30 June, 2012. […]

We used to use the Earth’s dutiful rotation as a way of measuring time. It pirouettes on its axis once every 24 hours, which can then be divided into minutes and seconds. But the Earth’s rotation is annoyingly irregular, with some days ending up being a tiny bit longer or shorter than others.

There’s nothing science hates more than unpredictability, so in the 1950s atomic clocks were introduced to keep time.

By measuring the regular atomic vibration in the element cesium (which oscillates exactly 9,192,631,770 times a second), we ended up with a clock that can be used to score off seconds with remarkable accuracy. Multiple atomic clocks work in unison to precisely calculate world time.

But that leaves a problem. If we lived on atomic time it’d very slowly gravitate away from the Earth’s actual time. In a few years we’d be a second out of sync, in hundreds of years we’d be a minute out and after several hundred thousand years we could be eating lunch in the middle of the night.

So time-keepers introduced the leap second. As the atomic clock’s perfect accuracy (known as International Atomic Time, or TAI, from the French name Temps Atomique International) veers farther and farther away from the Earth’s clumsy rotation (called Solar Time), the IERS introduces a leap second to bring them back into perfect parity (known as Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC).

 

via Tumblr.

Leap Second

Space exploration

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Crystallised White Dwarf of Solid diamond

Should we spend so much money on space exploration?

Constant debates and arguments are prevalent on a massive scale on the benefits and negative impacts of space exploration and the  hundreds of billions of dollars spent on experimenting, developing and launching these missions into the unknown where it could be a hit or miss chance of actually being beneficial to our quest for information or just ending up another  piece of pricey junk floating around in the Earth’ s gravitational field.

All the colossal extravagances that go into this industry could be used to even out the hunger imbalances in third world countries or used to offset our all-consuming emissions and save us from global warming, as some anti cosmos-probing parties put forward. Or possibly utilised in a way that can make our ideas of a flying-car future materialise.

These magnificent redirection of the funds seem fantastic and possibly even more worthy than looking for something out there where nothing exists. That’s true isn’t it? Then why do we continue to pay for these ‘wild-goose chases’?

Brian Cox, a prominent physicist in the CERN labs, Geneva, makes a truly mind-baffling statement when he points out that taking the Apollo mission in 1968 as a case study, for every $1 that went into the Apollo project, $14 was poured back into the economy, in the form of inspiration, engineering, achievements motivating promising new individuals in that field, including physicists, engineers, scientists and astronomers fourteen times over, essentially paying for itself and more.

This, in addition to the potential our universe hold, hidden around invisible corners, limiting us only by our aspirations and imagination, virtually endless energy source, a possible second home, resources to increase our economy such as a highly implausible, yet perfectly existing, crytallised, white dwarf of solid diamond in the constellation Centaurus.

The possibilities are endless, we just need to go out there and make them our reality.