Monday, 30 April 2012

Power(Dopamine) Corrupts, and Excess of it Corrupts Excessively!


I came across this news report today. It seems to be in alignment with what we have been thinking ( Here  and  here ) methinks--that power causes  dysfunction in its possessor and that is how it corrupts.


Like baboons, our elected leaders are literally addicted to powerPolitical power has a similar effect on the brain to cocaine - and it's not surprising that, as the Leveson Inquiry shows, our political leaders are hooked on it, says Dr Ian Robertson.
Democracy, the separation of judicial powers and the free press all evolved for essentially one purpose – to reduce the chance of leaders becoming power addicts. Power changes the brain triggering increased testosterone in both men and women. Testosterone and one of its by-products called 3-androstanediol, are addictive, largely because they increase dopamine in a part of the brain’s reward system called the nucleus accumbens. Cocaine has its effects through this system also, and by hijacking our brain’s reward system, it can give short-term extreme pleasure but leads to long-term addiction, with all that that entails.Unfettered power has almost identical effects, but in the light of yesterday’s Leveson Inquiry interchanges in London, there seems to be less chance of British government ministers becoming addicted to power. Why? Because, as it appears from the emails released by James Murdoch yesterday, they appeared to be submissive to the all-powerful Murdoch empire, hugely dependent on the support of this organization for their jobs and status, who could swing hundreds of thousands of votes for or against them.Submissiveness and dominance have their effects on the same reward circuits of the brain as power and cocaine. Baboons low down in the dominance hierarchy have lower levels of dopamine in key brain areas, but if they get ‘promoted’ to a higher position, then dopamine rises accordingly. This makes them more aggressive and sexually active, and in humans similar changes happen when people are given power.What’s more, power also makes people smarter, because dopamine improves the functioning of the brain’s frontal lobes. Conversely, demotion in a hierarchy decreases dopamine levels, increases stress and reduces cognitive function.But too much power - and hence too much dopamine - can disrupt normal cognition and emotion, leading to gross errors of judgment and imperviousness to risk, not to mention huge egocentricity and lack of empathy for others. The Murdoch empire and its acolytes seem to have got carried away by the power they have wielded over the British political system and the unfettered power they have had - unconstrained by any democratic constraints - has led to the quite extraordinary behaviour and arrogance that has been corporately demonstrated.We should all be grateful that two of the three power-constraining elements of democracy - the legal system and a free press - have managed to at last reign in some of the power of the Murdoch empire. But it was a close call for both, given the threat to financial viability of the newspaper industry and to the integrity of the police system through the close links between the Murdoch empire and Scotland Yard.


What do you think?


Image: Here

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Mars in The Labha Bhava












Mars in the 11th house of horoscope is an intriguing combination. On one hand, being a malefic planet placed in most favorable upachaya house, it gives good results, but on the other hand, it might create some grave situations for the native if it's not dignified and has some malefic associations and lacks aspects from benefics.


Mars in the eleventh house casts its aspect on the second, fifth and sixth houses. By its aspect on the second house, it makes native argumentative. If it's debilitated, i. e. in Cancer, it may make a native speak very foul things and argue unnecessarily. If it's exalted, then its aspect will make a native an excellent debater, and aspect of Jupiter or aspect of lord of second house, either to Mars or to the second house will make native a linguist. Second house represents language and speech apart from many other things and aupicious aspects on it or association of Jupiter in various combinations with lord of second house make a native a refined linguist and even a polyglot.




Mars' aspect on the fifth house makes one a logician and a romantic person, especially if it's exalted it gives very sharp intelligence. Debilitated Mars however is more likely to cause psychosis unless some favorable aspects are present for the cancellation of it. Aspect on the sixth house makes one capable of doing well in service and it might cause bulky body which brings in diseases, especially if Mars is not in its own or exaltation signs and has only inauspicious aspects.




Mars in the 11th house increases wealth and material possesions but since Mars is in the 8th from the 4th, it might cause concerns on account of his mother's health if neither of Moon or the lord of the 4th house are favorably disposed. 

Mars in Sixth House of Horoscope


Mars in the sixth house is a good placement. Natural malefics like Saturn, Mars and Rahu, enjoy being placed in houses 3, 6 and 11, which means their placement in such houses gives good results in general. Sixth house is a difficult house, along with eighth and twelfth, but the placement of malefic planets in sixth is considered an auspicious combination.

Mars gives good results in the sixth house, more so if it's in one of its own signs, i. e. in Aries or Scorpio or in its exaltation sign, Capricorn. But on the other hand, debilitated Mars( in the sign Cancer) will cause some diseases related to head, which might call for surgical treatments if Saturn is not well placed. Mars exalted in the sixth house gives good career in service( possible only for the Leo ascendant.) Mars in the sixth house aspects 12th, 1st and 9th houses by its 7th, 8th and 4th aspects respectively. That is why it makes native fortunate and vanquishes his enemies and gives success in litigations. Aspect to lagna makes a native quick tempered with subordinates and courageous as well.

Image Source: annu-journal.blogspot.com

Do You Have The Right To Sleep Peacefully?


In India, it seems that there is a certain tradition of creating noise, in the rapture of happiness, to show it off to your neighbors. It's not intentionally done to hurt children and senior citizen and sensitive people but it anyway ends up hurting them miserably. This noise is created in extravagant marriages, by drum-beats, crackers and songs on loud-speakers; in election-campaigns and most vehemently in religious festivals. It's such a core part of The Great Indian Culture now that I find myself an alien when I cannot sleep because of the disturbances.


Is there a certain fraction of mass, in marriages, in election campaigns, in religious ceremonies, which thinks about the right of peaceful sleep of others? Is it too much to ask for a good night's sleep in an independent democracy? I am sure that there is a law which prohibits creating sounds of intensity beyond a decibel limit after a certain time in night, in order to let people retire to their beds, peacefully, so that they may work normally and function efficiently on the next day. But this is, like many other laws a paper-tiger. Nobody seems to abide by it in India.


Marriages, birthday parties, festivals and elections might all be occasions to be happy and to spread your words, but why do you have to be a sado-masochistic-fanatic hurting others in your ecstasy? Just observe people dancing on the drum-beat on such occasions-- a rare rapture takes over them. Religious festivals make them dance all night in such rapture, but why these drum-beats have to be so high in volume? 


Why loud-speakers need to haunt you with cacophonies throughout the night, just because some people are too devoted to some deities and need to show-it-all-off?


In northern part of India, there are various festivals celebrated with enthusiasm and in some of them, some people host reading of scriptures. This is considered to be a very holy thing do because of two reasons: Reading holy scriptures will give you heaven after death, or at least a very good birth and spreading this holy word on cacophonous loud-speakers in your entire colony is even more virtuous and humanitarian a thing to do. More you haunt students preparing for their final examinations, more punya you gain and better your prospects of getting a seat in assembly of heaven besides Indra-the-king-of-Gods. Similarly, hurt senior citizens and infants for seven days incessantly, without stop and you are a candidate for heaven. It has immediate gains as well: Your social stature also increases significantly because people in your neighbourhood are supposed to consider you a religious, righteous and pious person.


Meditative, tranquil, sedative, soothing, harmonious, peaceful, gentle are all words which make no sense for people who are accustomed to these perennial cacophonies. Calm is dead in their opinion. If you're lively and you're a devotee--you must show it, else something is lacking in you--why, life has to be vibrant and vibrant is always loud in their dictionaries. It’s inculcated and ingrained into their consciousness right from their childhood to worship words like mega, loud, highlighted, hard, showing and religious.


I cannot sleep when they're on, I cannot share their religious, cultural or festive trance, I cannot shut myself off from their loud, beat-hell-out-of-the-drum band and ever killing crackers and all that choking smoke. I am a common man, I am not a religious devotee, I am not a fanatic and I love peace. I don't disturb others even with the music as I use head-phones as a rule, I don't even talk loudly and my bike's silencer works remarkably well and I assure you that I am not dead and as vibrant as anyone ever gets.


Be it north or south, east or west in India, it's your right to disturb those trying to meditate. They cannot raise their voice because they're lonely and you are 'the mob.' Haunt students preparing for their exams, senior citizens trying to sleep, choke infants with the gun-powder you stuff into the air and waste money on useless show; nobody is going to stop you because you're a group and you love to show things off.

My Penchant For Online Reading






Contrary to what most people have reported, I find it easier to read online news, journals, books or articles compared to those in paper. The reasons are simple: Most of the times The font-size can be manipulated in as many ways as you want, but not always, as some of the sites are edit-proof. But most of the times I am able to adjust font-size and I love this freedom. More than that, I am able to copy the content and paste it on a friendly tool, like Notepad, Worpad or MS Word. I don't really miss not being able to highlight things using markers because this could be done on your computer too.


It also facilitates quoting texts when you're planning desktop-publishing of your content. On one hand, as some people love touch, taste, smell and sight of paper in their hands, I just love the freedom to be able to read and quote things easily.


Image Source: news.cultural-china.com

The Avengers: Action Par Excellence






The Avengers is an action movie worth your time in a cinema hall, on a big screen, in 3D, with friends and popcorns. The Avengers has spell-binding action sequences and three-dimensional special effects make this movie a glamorous phantasmagoria. The bunch of super-heroes doesn't let your 128 bits of attention get any space and that's why in spite of length of the movie you don't feel bored. Even if you're not an action movie buff, you can watch this movie and enjoy. The last time I went to watch 'Wrath of The Titans,' and it was a very bad experience because story was not good and it was not a 3D print. We were told that it's 3D but it was not. The 3-D glasses just made it bit more dark and difficult, but there was nothing three dimensional. You might say that we badly wanted our money back. Story was a rotten tomato and so were performances. I did not like anything at all about the movie. But this time, my apprehension ended as soon as the movie started, because it had a great feel of 3-dimensional space and action sequences were breath-taking.


The story of the movie is not new, especially for the readers of Marvel comics. For me though, some of the superheroes were new, Captain America for example. Iron Man has been one of my favorite superheroes, since I started watching cartoon episodes on Sony Entertainments channel in my childhood, but now Robert Browney Jr. is iron man for me and he is likely to stick with the image of iron man for enough long. He has been a great entertainer in two recent movies, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows and The Avengers. In The Avengers, his character is that of most witty, resourceful and powerful superhero.

Apart from action sequences, there is nothing else in the movie, but what else do you expect in an action movie? There is some 20 minutes of dialogue which is a bit comical for a while but mostly it's petty ego-clashes between superheroes. Movie helps you exercise your imagination to the full and it's as awe-inspiring as it gets in two hours. My verdict is that you must watch it on big screen in a 3-D print, if you have an option available. I have not watched a better action movie in cinema hall. Since Nolan’s Inception, I have not seen any movie better than The Avengers in any genre, it's technically superb, perfectly directed and a perfect entertainer.

  

Friday, 27 April 2012

Myth Of The Rise In The Number Of The Earthquakes!






There has been an increase in the number of earthquakes reported in the last decade. I quoted the same from an article in one of my recent posts.

The next three years saw a far greater increase in such events. The time period corresponds to a boom in natural gas production, made possible by the use of hydraulic fracturing. There were 50 earthquakes in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 last year.


I came across the following article on this website.

Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase?
We continue to be asked by many people throughout the world if earthquakes are on the increase. Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant.
A partial explanation may lie in the fact that in the last twenty years, we have definitely had an increase in the number of earthquakes we have been able to locate each year. This is because of the tremendous increase in the number of seismograph stations in the world and the many improvements in global communications. In 1931, there were about 350 stations operating in the world; today, there are more than 8,000 stations and the data now comes in rapidly from these stations by electronic mail, internet and satellite. This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed us and other seismological centers to locate earthquakes more rapidly and to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years. The NEIC now locates about 20,000 earthquakes each year or approximately 50 per day. Also, because of the improvements in communications and the increased interest in the environment and natural disasters, the public now learns about more earthquakes.
According to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 17 major earthquakes (7.0 - 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) in any given year.



This article makes it clear that even when those who insinuate to the 2012 phenomenon using this increased frequency of locating earthquakes, we should keep an open mind and investigate as long as possible.




But a question which is not yet answered is: Is the rate of increase in the frequency of earthquakes in the years reported( 2009, 2010, 2011) constant and similar to the rate between other years?


Image Source: http://www.geo2all.com/vb/showthread.php?1697-How-Earthquakes-Work

Charisma, Storytellers and Sports


Please see this post for continuity. 










One of my interlocutors pointed to charisma as a key factor about influence of Hollywood or Bollywood on masses. The word 'glamour' literally used to have a meaning 'magical spell' earlier. As far as charisma is concerned, it's not a fact that actors are more charismatic than people in other walks of life. As far as research which has come into my notice goes-spiritual and political leaders are considered to be most charismatic people in society and it has its reasons. Glamourous casting of spells has more to do with embellishments around 'woods' like Holly, Bolly, Tolly and Kolly. Theatre actors, despite having great talent don't cast same spells. If you study the feedback loop, it seems that it's the society which gives Hollywood or Bollywood this feedback of greatness and hence this glamour becomes even more reinforced. The question is: why?






My friend also brought my attention to the storytelling and its vital role in our society since the inception of humanity. I have always wanted to discuss about storytelling. Storytelling is rewarded in our society. There are obvious exaples in our history. The writers who are most celebrated are all storytellers. This is a great topic for discussion, but I think, in case of Hollywood or Bollywood, directors and scriptwriters who are real storytellers are not treated with as much of awe as actors are. Who is more of a storyteller? Actors do describe and enact it for us with vividness but are not directors and scriptwriters the real storytellers?




But storytelling cannot be the only factor in the creation of this monster of celebrities. What about sportpersons? They don't tell stories but do entertain. Sachin Tendulkar or David Beckham or Tiger Woods are almost demi-gods for their followers. They do project that charismatic image about which we have been discussing, but I do want to point to the platform which allowed all of them to do so: Sports. Why sports have so much of appeal? Because it entertains and brings out this hidden hero or warrior within us to the front?


Image Source: This Blog

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Are We Too Bored?


Why most of the celebrities are entertainers?


Heroes might be war heroes, great scientists, social-reformers as well, but more often than not entertainers are heroes in our society. Just try recalling celebrities who were scientists--you will be hard pressed to come up with more than two or three names. Now, try recalling movie stars who are sought after every hour just for a photograph or an autograph. Why? Are we too bored and need a lot of entertainment? People literally die to work in cinema. Anyone connected to film industry or even to television industry is considered to be a star. Why entertainers are considered so important? Why cinema plays such an important role in society. If you take up any newspaper randomly, you will find a substantial percentage devoted to the film stars, sports persons and  the rest of the bit to the politicians. Why is it so? There are supplements with newspapers and most of them publish news related to TV or cinema performers everyday.


People have a very short attention span and that is why most credit is given to actors and then some credit to some of the persons behind the scene. No matter how masterly those craftsmen behind the screen are they are not given much of the credit ever. Why entertainment, especially the big-screen has a such a high reputation in our world?


Scientists, engineers, doctors and various others make our lives easier and so do entertainers but if you go about searching for most important role, in so called 'normal times' of a person's life, it would be the role played by an entertainer. But then again, jokers are not so highly valued, not many magicians or circus artists are as highly paid. [ I must not be misunderstood here; I don't consider prize=value, but then some of us do and that's what is the point I am trying to bring out for the discussion]  Even great artists who act on stage in theatre or in the art films are not considered to be great celebrities. Then, what exactly is so great about the entertainment value of mainstream cinema or most popular sport which makes them go viral?


I would love to hear your ideas as it's very much possible that I am overlooking some sides but I know that I have never given less than enough stress on the role boredom plays in our lives.


See this post for continuity.


Image: Wikipedia

Monday, 23 April 2012

Tao Te Ching


Tao Te Ching is the book of most profound wisdom that has ever dawned upon humanity. Its creator is not clearly known but Laozi, who is also known as Lao-tse is most widely considered to be its author. Laozi was an enlightened master who used to live in ancient China in the times of Confucius. Tao Te Ching means "The Way." It's the foundation of philosophy of Taoism.









I love this book because it's full of most subtle wisdom and seems to be full of paradoxes which cannot be realized unless someone has attained a great degree of realization himself. The book consists of 81 verses pregnant with transcendental wisdom.
The very first verse is exquisite and paradoxical:

Verse 1:

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.


In very few words, this book points towards Truth about life, death, politics, skills and so many things of utmost importance. Its comely verses seem like soothing music in the cacophonies of the world. The book has rare quality of conferring meditative bliss upon its readers.
Look at the Verse 9, which so beautifully points towards importance of moderation:


Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.


This book is indeed for those who like mysticism, philosophy, spiritualism and poetry. This very book is the reason why Laozi is regarded as highly as Buddha or Jesus. This book gives you solace, wisdom and bliss and never ceases to surprise you with its profundity.


I highly recommend this book for everyone.

Let me end with the Verse 2:

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn't possess,
acts but doesn't expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

The translations of verses have been taken from S. Mitchell's work. Today is the International Day of The Book.


See other book reviews here: 
                                                    The Einstein Factor
                                                    The Power of Now
                                                     Guru Nanak--Jairam Mishra 

Image Source : nondual-design.com

2012 Doomsday Potpourri!

2012 Phenomenon, as we know it, is a potpourri of most amusing type, bound by something inherent to humans: Fear of extinction. The same fear drives us to look for escapes from death.

There are many factors which have contributed to the creation of this great 2012 Phenomenon. Any of the following factors and possibilities or many of them together might have contributed to this crisis. It's not an exhaustive list.







1. Some people want to take advantage of unique situation, which was not so unique but made to appear so by their painstaking and meticulous efforts. 2012 Phenomenon has made some people rich, especially doomsday prophets, Astrologers, Conspiracy Theorists and Psychics. More the fear such people can induce in the psyches of incredulous people, more the sales of stuffs like books, gems and amulets. This has been proven true by doomsday predictions in past. Pralaya, apocalypse, extinction is predicted to happen in next 4, 5 or 10 years and until then you can prepare by buying a lot of books, gems, articles, memberships and charms in order to try to save yourself and make these self-proclaimed messiahs and prophets rich.

The subconscious part of human mind has played a role in supporting this market. Had it not been for fear of unknown, humans would not have started worshipping deities. Much of what has been part of culture in form of superstitions has translated into the Doomsday market, no matter how scholarly and scientific minded subscribers seem to be.

2. There indeed is an imminent danger to our survival and we are all going to die and there is no escape for anyone as inevitable doom waits in dark. In that case, most perceptive individuals are just warning us to wake up from our sleeps and do best possible in the time which is left. It's similar to the situation in which you have 6 months left before you die and you try to make most of those six months and live to the fullest.
3. There is going to be an apocalypse but it will not annihilate humanity. Only a few would be left. In that case, just try to figure out what makes you 'qualified' for survival. Another rat race, but of most peculiar nature.

4. Dramatically, some new-age self-proclaimed gurus never get exhausted with use of frequency of vibration and ascension. This seems to be an interpretation with most intriguing catch-22. According to them, there will be an ascension of planet earth on Dec 21, 2012, exactly at 11:11 A.M. ( EST, IST, PST, I really don't know what!), in which earth will move to another plane of higher vibration frequency which will be divine. Those who are not prepared will feel no change because there will also be this earth, this old solid earth which is a nightmare. This earth will become more and more nightmarish after the ascension because all left here will be persons who are vibrating with a very low frequency. Those who would attain ascension will live in harmony forever in a 5-dimensional world. Looks like a Sci-fi script? Yes, it does.
How to increase your frequency of vibration? Well, surrender to new-age gurus. Increase their bank balances and follow what they say. The catch-22 is--if you meet these so called experts and gurus after the event, they will tell you that their higher selves have already ascended and so have yours and what is left is lower selves on this low frequency earth. There is absolutely no way to verify except that there might be more and more catastrophes.

5. There are some conspiracy theorists who suggest that Illuminati wants to overtake the world and create 'New World Order' in the name of 2012 Phenomenon. They will somehow create catastrophes and then try to solve problems by inviting all governments under one umbrella. That umbrella will be one world government and there will be just two classes: Illuminati, the rulers and all others, slaves--the ruled ones.

There might be many other factors and I would like to hear what you have to say.


[ Image Source: http://www.theregister.co.uk ]

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Mars in the ascendant in a horoscope


Mars in the ascendant is a distinct feature in any horoscope. It gives a bold nature with a propensity towards competition. It generally tends to make a person a non-vegetarian and alcoholic. It also gives some negative karmic energy related to marriage and partnership as Mars casts its 100% full aspect on the seventh house of marriage and partnerships.


The best results are conferred when Mars is in Capricorn ascendant. Even in this case ascendant should be strong, i.e. it should be 10 to 20 degrees rising, ideally. Mars gets its exaltation in the sign of Capricorn, therefore this combination is best type of Ruchak Yoga, a type of Panch-Mahapurusha Yoga(which is formed when any one of the planets among Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Mercury or Venus is situated in Kendra( 1st, 4th, 7th or 10th houses) in a sign which is owned by it or where it gets exalted.)


This Ruchak-Yoga makes a native possess great athletic vigor and charming qualities. Even when Mars is in one of its own signs, i.e. in Scorpio or Aries, it gives rise to this combination of Ruchak-Yoga. The difference between these three Ruchak Yogas is obvious, based on the nature of signs which are causing them. For example: Aries is a fiery sign and Scorpio is a watery sign, that is why the Aries ascendant will make a native a quick tempered leader with the Ruchak Yoga, whereas Scorpio ascendant will make him a mysterious native with capabilities for healing.


Mars in ascendant might hint that a native needs to cultivate qualities of patience, tolerance and contemplation through practice and meditation. Such natives can do great in military, athletics and in leadership positions, but need to be careful with stunts. They might get benefitted by wearing a red coral but a suggestion should be made based on the thorough analysis of the nativity. 


Image Source: ganesha-speaks.blogspot.com

Human Activity Related to Earthquakes?

In my previous post  I expressed a doubt about the Web-Bot project's methods because I did not see a way in which human behavior was related to natural catastrophes. Now I have second thoughts.







I wrote:
Ure and High hypothesize that changes in language precede changes in behavior. This is the basis for attempting to use ALTA as a form of future viewing. The authors have repeatedly asserted in interviews that the predictions made in the ALTA report have an inherent bias toward events of a negative nature and tend to be framed in catastrophic terms. However, the reports have also indicated positive events such as the development of new technology and increased social awareness.


It's beyond my understanding how change in language over the web could predict natural catastrophes, even if you could prove that change in language is associated with change in behavior, because there is no proof that human behaviour affects nature to bring natural catastrophes.


Today, I came across a news article(http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/18/us-earthquakes-fracking-gas) related to seismology experiment which points towards a possibility of correlation between oil-drills and seismic ways. This article gives me second thoughts and now I think that there might be a relation between human behaviour and natural catastrophes.


The entire article:

America's oil and natural gas boom has led to a "remarkable" rise in earthquakes in the middle of the country, the US Geological Survey said on Wednesday. But scientists said the man-made quakes were not directly caused by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves pumping chemicals and water deep into underground rock formations.
"We don't find any evidence that fracking is related to any of these magnitude 3 earthquakes that we have been studying," Bill Ellsworth, the USGS seismologist leading the study of man-made quakes, told a conference call with reporters. "We simply don't see any evidence that fracking is related to earthquakes that are of concern to people."
However, he said there were a few instances when waste water wells, in which chemicals used in fracking are injected deep underground, had triggered seismic activity.
Ellsworth set off a man-made quake of his own a few days ago in a report on NPR about his forthcoming study, to be presented at the annual meeting of seismologists in San Diego on Wednesday evening.
The study found a sixfold increase in man-made quakes in an area including Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas against the 20th century average, the increase taking place over a 10-year period starting in 2001. The quakes were small, a magnitude just over 3.0, but there were even more of them after 2009, which corresponded with a sharp rise in natural gas drilling around the country.
"A remarkable increase in the rate of (magnitude 3) and greater earthquakes is currently in progress," Ellsworth and his colleagues wrote in a summary of the study.
"While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production," the abstract said.
The next three years saw a far greater increase in such events. The time period corresponds to a boom in natural gas production, made possible by the use of hydraulic fracturing. There were 50 earthquakes in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 last year.
The USGS dispatched scientists to look for links between the quakes and drilling activity after a swarm of earthquakes in 2009.
Steve Horton of the University of Memphis Center for Earthquake Research and Information, who was on Wednesday's call, said it was difficult to prove a connection between those waste wells and earthquakes.
Scientists were only able to establish a clear link between a waste water well in Arkansas because the quake was actually triggered by its construction.
"It is very difficult to prove that earthquake are related to fluid injection or triggered by it. In the case of Arkansas, the injection started and then very soon after the earthquake started. After the injection stopped the earthquake stopped, so there is a strong association," he said.
In other cases, there were seismic changes only several years after the wells were injected.
Waste water wells have been in use for decades as a disposal method. Ellsworth noted there were more than 140,000 around the country, and very few had triggered earthquakes. "It's only a small fraction of wells that can be problematic," he said.
Does this mean that Web-Bot Project has some validity in relating human endeavors to natural calamities? It's possible in my opinion, however, it's not to suggest that it approves in any way, all of what they have been prophesied because that has not come to be true.  


Your ideas on this subject are most welcome. Feel free to comment and engage in discussion. 


Image Source: http://chunhau98499.web.officelive.com

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Web Bot Project


Web-Bot project intends to predict future events based on the information available on internet. Its creators sell predictions but keep algorithms a secret. The tool was developed to predict trends in stock market but later on they started to use to predict virtually everything.


This tool works based on the assumption that if you can sense 'the mood' of the public on internet, you can predict the future. What it does is-to monitor, quantify, assess, analyze and then predict based on various feeds into the internet stream, be they various chats, blog-posts, forums or articles.  


An excerpt from Wikipedia article on its methodology:

Internet bots monitor news articles, blogs, forums, and other forms of Internet chatter. Words in the lexicon are assigned numeric values for emotional quantifiers such as duration, impact, immediacy, intensity, and others. The lexicon is dynamic, and changes according to shifts in emotional tension, and how humans communicate those changes using the Internet. As of 2008, there were about 300,000 keywords in the lexicon, along with emotional context indicators which are fed into a computer-generated modelspace. They then use a technique called Asymmetric Language Trend Analysis (ALTA) developed by Clif High to generate a predictive report from a fully populated modelspace. These predictive reports are known as ALTA or Web Bot reports. The 2010/2011 report underwent a formatting change and is titled The Shape of Things to Come – Volume Zero.


It has been insinuated by experts that the predictions by Web-Bot consistently tend to be negative in nature. This was admitted by its creators as well. Why?


An excerpt from Wikipedia article:

Ure and High hypothesize that changes in language precede changes in behavior. This is the basis for attempting to use ALTA as a form of future viewing. The authors have repeatedly asserted in interviews that the predictions made in the ALTA report have an inherent bias toward events of a negative nature and tend to be framed in catastrophic terms. However, the reports have also indicated positive events such as the development of new technology and increased social awareness.

It's beyond my understanding how change in language over the web could predict natural catastrophes, even if you could prove that change in language is associated with change in behavior, because there is no proof that human behaviour affects nature to bring natural catastrophes. 

Even when Web-Bot has claimed some hits as their predictions, they have mostly been failures and pseudo-scientific.


Image Source: www.aqnb.com

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Energy Crisis, Technology versus Energy!


I am really not well-informed on the role of energy in the technological advancement, because I have not given it much thought, but lets take a few examples: Internet is one of the most powerful group of technologies working together: Computers, Networking, Writing, Multimedia etc. You might say that it's working only because you're burning a lot of coal to keep servers up and running, therefore you need a lot of energy to support such a powerful technology.  But just think about it: Is it possible to enjoy this conversation without these technologies, even if you have at your disposal, say, a lot of coal to burn? What I am trying to say is: It's a combination of technology and energy which makes life easier for mankind. But yes, as I am writing this I am realizing that we might question the importance of one over the other. it's energy which made implementation of great ideas possible. I think I have to agree upon it.


Lets take example of E = mc^2. Einstein's ideas which built on other thinkers of past made it possible for us to untap most powerful resources for energy. Forget about the misuse it was put to as it's not in the scope of present discussion, but had it not been for Science and technology, this energy which was always present before us would not have been uncovered and made obvious for use.


Energy has always been there in untapped form. you might say that untapping of energy made it possible for us to get such a rapid advancement in technology, but I think it's only one side of the picture. I think that there is a feedback loop: Technology and Science work together to get more energy and this energy in turn makes further research and innovation possible and this is a loop in which both Technology and Energy improve with mutual cooperation.


Take another example: Lets take evolution also into the account. As I have come to know, by reading and watching TV and movies; our ancestors were most benefitted by 1. Weapons to get food. 2. Fire to make it tastier and digestible. 3. Wheel. 4. Farming and organized living. 


Now, what might good food have done for them? It might have given our ancestors more energy to get more food and hence might have helped in getting adapted for their survival against forces of nature. Weapons, Fire, Wheel were all technology and Science and so were farming and organized living. They all were needed in the first place to get more energy. But wait, I think that at any given point of time in history you cannot pin-point if it was only Technology or Energy which contributed into the advancement of humanity. 


In any case, the moot point seems to be 20th century scene. But can we really isolate 20th century from all past centuries, as my friend has suggested? I think no. Even if it was unique in a way because we came to know about some huge powerful resources for energy, I think technology played a great part and there will be many such discoveries. But wait: I am sure about fossil fuel resources: You say that it was basically oil which made this great advancement(compared to previous centuries) possible. Has any fuel, more powerful than this been discovered in last two hundred years? Yes, nuclear energy, fission and fusion is the answer. But has it been put to as much of use as fossil fuels? No. What are the reasons? Perhaps technology is yet not robust enough. Why? I don't know. May be technology is already in place but its implementation requires vast amounts of energy which we cannot afford as energy deficiency is already threatening. Which means that we need energy to get more energy! Or are we missing something? Is it that we just need more innovation and there would be easier ways of untapping and implementing nuclear resources? I am confused.


Image Courtesy: rcit.com

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Energy Crisis


Energy is not a directly observable entity in Physics. Since energy is a general ability of a system to work upon another system, it's measured by measuring changes like pushes or pulls on other systems. Just a few days ago I read somewhere "Whoever controls energy, controls economy." Or may be it was Prison Break. I don't remember clearly.




Very recently, in a discussion, an interlocutor pointed to a perspicuous but often overlooked relationship between the advancement in technology and untapping of some of the most valuable energy resources in the history of mankind. My learned interlocutor seems to be of opinion that since it was unique twenteith century which caused unearthing of some of the most powerful energy resources, it was also the century which saw some of the most radical transformations in the way we humans live, communicate and think.


I saw a mail from Greenpeace India to sign a petition to urge Microsoft, Amazon and Apple to switch to more efficient ways to run the internet. This mail reads:


Microsoft, Amazon and Apple are dirtying your data. Ask their CEOs to clean-up and quit coal.
http://act.gp/cleanourcloud-india
Every day, tonnes of asthma-inducing, climate destroying coal pollution is thrown in the air to keep the internet humming. Tech-giants like Microsoft, Amazon and Apple use coal to power the cloud, which stores our data.
Millions of people across the world got Facebook off coal. Now the CEOs of these companies need our help. In the next 48 hours we need to send 100,000 messages to these companies.
You should send a quick note to the CEOs of Microsoft, Amazon and Apple, asking them to quit coal.
http://act.gp/cleanourcloud-india
Microsoft, Amazon and Apple are the most cutting-edge in the world and they are still using 19th century power sources. They don’t want customers associating their brand with poisoning the air and wrecking the climate.
Technology behind renewable energy sources is available at the scale required. Greenpeace is helping Facebook to make the switch, and we’d be happy to work with Microsoft, Amazon and Apple, too.
These companies need to know their customers are informed, and demand change. Write to the tech giant CEOs and join thousands of Greenpeace supporters around the world, to tell them you want a coal-free cloud.




Situation looks grave from the viewpoint of my aforementioned friend. Many go-green advocates voice and implore in a similar way. I wonder if situation is really so bad. My interlocutor suggested that contrary to what most of the people think about indefinite technological advancement, it's not going to be advancement in this century, but rather a compensation for all the over-expenditure we have done in the past century. I think I am more of an optimist in this regard. I have not given much thought to energy-crisi and I really appreciate my interlocutor and go-green advocates for bringing this into my attention, because in spite of all go-green-save-energy campaigns-missions-movements, I was hitherto given to the belief(perhaps because I am prey to optimism) that energy-crisis is a problem much like any other in the history of mankind and we're going to solve it and it's just a matter of time. I keep on hearing about fusion, solar energy, hydrogen and other stuffs and I wonder if it's not just power elite or Illuminati who are hiding the advancements from masses. But it could make for a good discussion. I really don't feel from within that the twenty first century is going to pose very serious energy problems and humans will not be able to address them. Take for example nuclear energy: Before Einstein's era it was almost impossible to imagine about any such source and now it seems to be part of every Science student's knowledge. What I am trying to say is--to sign-off human problem solving capacity should not be so easy. Why not be optimistic? May be it's just me!  


Image Source: http://essaysandarticles.com/science/energy-crisis/