Watchful eyes, thoughtful mind

Earth and us ….. past, present and future ….. connected?

Silicon valley no more? November 19, 2009

Filed under: computer,history,human interference — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

Move over, silicon — it may be time to give the Valley a new name. Physicists at the Department of Energy‘s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have confirmed the existence of a type of material that could one day provide dramatically faster, more efficient computer chips.

Recently-predicted and much-sought, the material allows electrons on its surface to travel with no loss of energy at room temperatures and can be fabricated using existing semiconductor technologies. Such material could provide a leap in microchip speeds, and even become the bedrock of an entirely new kind of computing industry based on spintronics, the next evolution of electronics. Physicists Yulin Chen, Zhi-Xun Shen and their colleagues tested the behaviour of electrons in the compound bismuth telluride. The results, published online June 11 in Science Express, show a clear signature of what is called a topological insulator, a material that enables the free flow of electrons across its surface with no loss of energy.

So now my generation might be the last one to know the computers as we know them today. Of course this is just one among many other things, like the black and white photographs, black and white television, cars with stick-shift gear, hardcopy (not electronic) scrapbooking etc., that the next generation may never know of! Wow, now THAT makes me feel old!

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This time, DON’T vote for “change” October 15, 2009

Filed under: earth,ecology,future,history,human interference — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

Climate change is real … and climate change effects are long term. I want to focus on these two aspects of climate change today. In the past I’ve written about global warming, the tipping points of weather patterns to look out for, importance of replanting the rainforests and many other subjects relating to changing ecology of this planet … changing for worse.

I hope that I do not need to harp too much on the first aspect that the climate change is real. I believe, whether you openly accept it or not, each one of us have realised this by now through our own experiences. There is a debate over whether it is caused by humans or nature. I think the point is moot. Whatever the reason, as the most intelligent and technologically advanced Earthlings, we humans CAN and need to do something about it. If it is caused by us, we definitely need to negate the effects of our deeds on the planet and fellow Earthlings. And for a second if we believe it is natural, as Earthizens (technologically and socially advanced Earthlings) we bear the responsibility of changing the course of this natural phenomenon. After all, it is not going to be the first for us, is it?

The second aspect, however, needs more voice given to it. I do not think enough people realise that climate change is not instantaneous. The results of whatever substances released in the ecosystem that cause these changes are evident only decades later. I believe common people and policy makers alike do not understand this very well. Or the policy makers can mislead common Earthizens due to their ignorance of this fact. The “funny weather” we all are experiencing globally now is caused by emissions 25-30 years ago. And if we cut the emissions now, the effects will show a couple decades later. So we need to be patient and not short-sighted. By the way, ‘emissions’ don’t only mean gases (Green house gases have become synonymous with climate change) but also the liquid and solid forms which are sometimes more detrimental. This is another point on which the general public of the Earth needs to be educated.

To end this post I would say this. We need to do something about climate change because it is real. Whatever the cause the Earthizens have to try their best to slow and possibly revert it, either because we’re responsible for it or because we’re the only ones capable of doing so on Earth. The masses need to be educated about the long term effects of climate change and the power to act lies in their hands rather than a few policy makers.

Take action: http://www.blogactionday.org/en/takeaction

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CO2 is not the only cause of climate change (guardian.co.uk)

Climate Study: Human Beings Pushing Earth’s ‘Boundaries’ (time.com)

Life Style and Global Warming (slideshare.net)

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Sunday Spotlight: Ancient scripts October 4, 2009

Filed under: ancient knowledge,history,linguistics — Radiance @ 10:00 AM
[Image source: AncientScripts.com]
While there are numerous good resources available on the Internet to the student of modern / contemporary languages, same is not the case for someone interested in studying ancient scripts around the world. Given that the number of such people will be very small, this is understandable. However, the creator of the website Ancient Scripts took it onto himself to create first such dedicated website for scripts used by our distant ancestors around the world. The creator, Lawrence Lo, is a software engineer whose spare-time activity involves researching about these ancient scripts and updating the website he created. The website gives comprehensive list of various families of scripts used in ancient and modern times, origins of language and writing, the types of scripts such as syllabic, alphabetic, logophonetic etc. Lawrence has tried to make the website content interesting by making available some fonts as well as games for the visitors of the site to download. The best feature of the website for those interested in further pursuing their own research is the comprehensive listing of references and links to various little sections of websites that talk about ancient scripts. So overall it is a very useful “starting point” for anyone interested in just knowing about or indulging seriously into research about language scripts used thousands of years ago.
From the Internet links section of above site, I came across another website, Omniglot.com, which, as its name suggests, deals with all sorts of languages, not just ancient.
 

Happy birthday, WETM! You’re ONE!!! September 24, 2009

Filed under: ancient knowledge,future,history,human interference,unconventional — Radiance @ 10:00 AM
I’ve been meaning to write a post summarising my blog-writing journey for a while. But I couldn’t find a better occassion than today to do that. WETM (short for Watchful eyes, thoughtful mind) turns one year old today! Yes, I am definitely excited like a new mum whose child turns one. It is a time for her to remenisce about the past one year when she was busy nurturing the baby.
I wrote my first blog post on this same day, exactly 1 year back. If you read that post, you’ll realise my blog has changed directions somewhat from its original plan. YouTube was the starting inspiration but once I plunged into the deep abyss of knowledge (via books, films, internet and more) I found too many interesting ideas that attracted my attention and made me think. Like a little baby enriches the mum with experiences of motherhood, this blog has enriched me with fascinating knowledge and ideas, putting a thinking cap on my head and introducing me to many wonderful human beings.
When I started this blog, I was going through a transformation in my personal life. Traumatic experiences can make your life take a dramatic turn, for better or for worse. In my case, it was definitely for better. As I was trying to understand myself and the inside better, my WETM gave me an opportunity to marvel at the outside, the wonders of nature and also of humankind. With time, I came across films and books and people that showed the direction to connection between the inside and the outside. With my thinking the blog posts changed too. While still sharing the wonderous and fascinating achivements of nature and of mankind with my readers, I looked for a connection between the past and the future, between us and the nature.
I do not know if WETM will grow to a ripe old age along with me or will it die prematurely. Like any mum, I would hope and pray for its long and healthy life, for it to flourish. And more importantly, to be the driving force which would make me think out of the box and let me express those thoughts to others.
Happy birthday, WETM! You’re ONE!!!
 

Decoding antiquity August 20, 2009

Filed under: ancient knowledge,archaeology,history,linguistics,mystery — Radiance @ 10:00 AM
Development of language and writing as means of communication has been one of the most important features of humans that has separated us from all the other creatures on this planet. All earthlings have some form or other of communication, ranging from chemical to acoustic, depending on their position along the evolutionary ladder. the humans are considered the most evolved in this regard with ability of articulating our speech greatly with help of highly developed vocal organs. The highly developed brain and the ability of gripping and manoeuvring objects uniquely with the opposing thumb also lead to us developing writing system, a feature unequivocally unique to our species.
There still some dispute over the very first culture that seems to have used writing as a form of communication. New discoveries made by archaeologists keep pushing the dates of first use of writing more and more backward. Also, out of all the scripts that have been discovered, not all have been deciphered. Recent history has shown us that any time a new script has been deciphered, be it the Egyptian hieroglyphs or Mayan scriptures, it has had a significant impact on our understanding of that culture. More often than not it has awed us by the sophistication in and knowledge of various fields, from sciences to architecture to politics.
In his article in May 2009, Andrew Robinson of New Scientist tells us about 8 scripts that we still haven’t been able to read. The article details the origins of the scripts, their antiquity and why we haven’t been able to read them yet. There are various extents of their mystery to us. In some of the cases, the languages are known in their spoken form but only the script hasn’t been deciphered, like the Zapotec script from the New world cultures. Other instances are the opposite, like the Proto-Elamite script believed to be the earliest script discovered. And then there are the ultimate puzzlers like

The notoriously solitary Phaistos disc from Crete appears to be the world’s oldest “printed” document. The disc, about 15 centimetres in diameter, occupies pride of place at the Heraklion Museum in Crete. Some say it should not be regarded as an undeciphered script because it is in fact a hoax – the Piltdown Man of ancient writing.

Well, after reading the article, being the optimist I am, I chose to focus on the fact that humanity still has 8 more chances of being amazed and humbled by the antiquity. And I hope at least one of that comes true in my lifetime.
 

Sunday Spotlight: CPAK 2009 August 16, 2009

Filed under: ancient knowledge,history,science,technology — Radiance @ 10:00 AM
CPAK (Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge) began in 2004 as a means of bringing together scientists from various disciplines together; scientists who were truly open-minded and were ready to think unconventionally; scientists who didn’t believe all of what the text books tell us and wanted to consider what the so called legends and myths of cultures worldwide say; scientists who wanted to know what really happened on this planet in the past. According to CPAK website,
Over the last five years CPAK has become the premiere gathering place for those interested in ancient cultures, lost knowledge and the cycle of the ages. Leading explorers, authors, professors and scientists make presentations and examine the latest archaeological finds, astronomical research and new interpretations of structures, myth and folklore that shed light on the true history of mankind. The result is an epiphany of awareness as we collectively begin to understand where we came from and where we are going in this ascending age.

I thought of sharing this event with my readers as I feel at least some of you will find it interesting like I do. This year’s conference is on October 10th at the University of California’s Irvine campus in CA, USA. If you are truly interested, I’ll leave it up to you to visit the website, read, watch and listen more. There are some samples of past presentations at the conference to whet your appetite. Happy “knowledging”!

 

Sunday Spotlight: Genographic Project August 2, 2009

Filed under: genetics,history,unconventional — Radiance @ 10:00 AM
 [This image is a screen shot from the Genographic Project’s website]
From an article in the New Scientist, I found out about National Geographic’s endeavour to chart the migratory history of humans. It’s called ‘The Genographic Project’ and it involves collecting DNA samples from a vast array of humans (especially indigenous and traditional people) and using sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis to establish the migratory history of as many human beings on this planet as possible. This unprecedented, mammoth, real-time research effort is lead by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells and his team involves renowned international scientists. As creditable and important this project in itself is, I was also very impressed with the website the project has created and maintained.

The ‘Atlas of human journey’ allows you to select an era (from 200,000 to 5000 BC, pre-historic period) and then gives the details of milestones of human migration and evolution in it. On the world map, various routes of human migration are shown which have been ascertained based on the Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA analysis. The ‘Globe of human history’ is a section spanning 5000 BC to 2000 AD, the era of recorded human history. A revolving Earth globe can be spun to a desired position and the historical milestones in that geographical region can be read about.

My most favourite and probably the most “information-studded” section of the website is the ‘Genetics overview’. It describes the ideology and methodology behind the DNA analysis and how it actually leads to finding out ones migratory history in a very easy-to-understand, graphics-aided manner. I will not go into too much detail of all the information it shares with the reader and those interested can visit the website if so inclined. But what I learned from this section was that while the Y-chromosome is passed down from father to son, the mitochondrial DNA is passed down from the mother to both son and daughter. Therefore, to track genetic lineage, Y-chromosome acts as the unique “tracking agent” in males whereas mitochondrial DNA serves the same purpose in females. Mutations are random changes in one’s DNA sequence that occur very rarely. But once it has occurred it is carried forward to following generations and therefore can act as “genetic markers” in backtracking the genetic lineage.

The field researchers involved in this project go out to various parts of the world and collect DNA samples from indigenous and traditional people as the main interest is in tracking their migration route out of Africa. However, the project welcomes and encourages general public to send in their DNA samples (which are just a couple of cheek-swabs inside your mouth) as the ultimate goal is to find out migration patterns and history of as many humans as possible. Males have a choice of getting a paternal (Y-chromosome) or a maternal (mitochondrial) DNA tracking done. Female’s DNA can only get them their maternal DNA tracking. But a male member from father’s side of family can send in their sample and that can determine the female’s paternal DNA lineage. For little over a 100 USD, you can find out where all did your ancestors wander before coming to your town where you were born! A REALLY good deal, I’d say. If you’re not convinced, have a look at the website and I’m sure you’ll be a convert. I’m going to get mine done and find out where I really come from. So when are you doing yours?