Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This Lion sure is, thirsty! ;-)
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That Lion looks thirsty!?
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Friday, March 11, 2011

Prehistoric Giant Tsunami - Killed EVERYTHING!

(Courtesy NatGeo & Newswise)

Scientists have found traces of an asteroid-collision event that they say would have created a giant tsunami that swept around the Earth several times, inundating everything except the mountains. The coastline of the continents was changed drastically and almost all life on land was exterminated.

This cataclysm some 3.5 billion years ago is the earliest known meteor strike to hit the Earth, and one of at least four that have been identified in a geologically brief 300-million-year period. The strike is the subject of an article published in the current issue of the journal Science by Louisiana State University geologist Gary Byerly and others.

Byerly and Xiaogang Xie, also of LSU, and Donald Lowe and Joseph Wooden of Stanford, identified traces of the event in some of the oldest known rocks on Earth—in South Africa and northwest Australia.

When the asteroid hit, it was vaporized by the extreme energy of the impact. Condensation of this vapor produced droplets of melt, called spherules, which dropped into the roiling sea over the next few days and were deposited in layers on the sea floor.

Byerly said it was not known where the meteor hit, but it was probably some distance from where they found the spherules and probably in water rather than on land. He deduced this because the composition of the spherules lacked the mineral composition that would have been expected from vaporization of the continental crust, and because there was even more water covering the surface of the Earth then than there is today.

Byerly illustrated with a slab of grayish rock about the size of a large hand. In it could be seen layers of spherules interlaced with layers of finer sand or silt. "It would take about 30 hours from impact for the tsunami to travel all the way around the world. Then, of course, it wouldn't stop, but bounce all the way back till it met itself 30 hours later, then bounce the other way again, setting up a harmonic." Several thin layers of mud within the spherule layer represent periods of quiet sedimentation between the arrival of tsunami waves.

The water would likely have inundated everything but the mountains, Byerly said, and drastically eroded the continental land masses, changing their coastlines dramatically. The heat of the impact would have evaporated the upper 30 to 300 feet of water in the oceans. It would also have killed everything, or almost everything, that was alive at that time on land or near the ocean surface.

"There was almost certainly life at this time. Primitive, bacterial life, and if the impacts were made by a meteor 20 miles in diameter, they would have killed everything on the surface of the Earth," he said. First a hot steam of molten rock and water would have withered most life, then the massively destructive tsunamis would have destroyed even more. After that, years of incredibly cold winters, caused by particles in the atmosphere blocking out the sun, would have conspired to kill nearly everything else.

"Anything that survived would have been in deep rocks or below the surface of the Earth," he said.

Byerly first came upon evidence of these impacts by chance in 1984 while he was studying ancient volcanism in Australia and South Africa. He published his first paper on them in 1986. This year alone he and his team will have four papers published on the subject. It is now generally accepted that the inner solar system was battered twice by massive meteor impacts of mysterious origin.

"It is assumed that the solar system was created by a cloud of dust and rocks that condensed into the sun and planets, with larger and larger chunks falling in near the end. This process would have finished about 4.5 billion years ago.

"But about 3.8 billion years ago the inner solar system was torn up by some cataclysmic event. The evidence is found in the crater basins on the moon and Mars and Venus." The Earth was probably heavily battered at that time too, but since the oldest known surface rocks on Earth are about 3.5 billion years old, no evidence of that exists, Byerly said.

A second battering took place 3.5 billion years ago, and it is this event that left the record in the rocks Byerly is studying. This was a smaller series of impacts with a gradual dropoff rate, he said. That the 3.8 billion-year-old event occurred is accepted by most scientists, and Byerly's work is substantiating the existence of the second, which, up to now, has not been as well accepted.

Byerly and his team have been able to date the event very accurately using an instrument at Stanford that measures the decay of uranium into lead. The uranium was found in zircons at both the Australian and South African sites and was dated to within 2 million years of 3.47 billion years ago. The fact that zircons of identical ages were found in impact strata on two continents shows the worldwide effects of the impact, Byerly said.

The zircons were not created by the impact but probably by volcanic action and deposited in the impact layers when the tsunami washed over the land.

These massive, early impacts were similar to the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But, they were hundreds to thousands of times more powerful. Probabilities for a similar impact today are predicted to be about one such strike every 100 million years.

"What that means is, eventually there will be another such event. We know that large asteroids get disturbed by interactions with Jupiter and fall into Earth's orbit. When that happens they will strike the Earth. We can't say when it will happen but we can say for certain that it will happen," Byerly said.

The evidence is on a small, grayish slab of rock on his desk.

Copyright 2002 Newswise


Monday, February 28, 2011

Why India should not win the World Cup

The Cup that Counts. Cricket World Cup 2011, being played in India. And yeah, Bangladesh plays some games in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka plays a few in Sri Lanka.
So, it's more like a World Cup played in the Indian Subcontinent and the hosts each trying to make sure that they get their fair share of home-advantage - to see their team advance in the Cup and more so to suck up all the advertising revenue that can be generated by invoking patriotic fervor in the fans of the game. Correction, fans of the cricketers belonging from their part of the world. Cricket is a lowly second priority.

Yes, Cricket is not important. Home team winning the games is important. And the organizers (ICC and the boards working for the corporations which paid millions of dollars) know that. Curators stick to the formula too. So, we have a bunch of grounds with dead-flat sponge mats disguised as cricket pitches. That's nothing new to cricket, specially the shorter versions. But this is ridiculous. Hoping to win the 'World' cup through home advantage.

One of my favorite experiences watching an ODI is to see fast bowlers let it rip in the first few overs and the openers battling it out with sheer talent or just plain luck: scoring runs maniacally in boundaries like Jayasuirya, Sehwag, Matt Hayden or scoring runs cleverly by manipulating the field and taking advantage of fielding restrictions like Sachin Tendulkar, Hashim Amla or Inzamam ul Haq or consolidating if wickets were lost like The Wall Rahul Dravid, Younis Khan or Steve Waugh. And the batting teams which would come out of this phase unscathed or as victors would be best placed to dictate the remainder of the innings. And then enter spinners, to slow the things down and use their vile to tie the batsmen down - good batsmen milk the spinners, bad ones wilt and mediocre ones meander towards the slog overs.

And the rubbish pitches for the games played till now in the world cup, have prompted the teams to open bowling with their spinners. West Indies, once an evergreen factory of fast bowlers - opened bowling with their spinner Benn. So did South Africa, opening with Johan Botha when they had players like Steyn and Morkel, arguably the best pace-bowling pair in the world cricket now.

For the last decade, ever since India started taking over as the leading revenue-generator for the World Cricket and thus the financial Power House of cricket, cricket has been gravitating towards being a game featuring batsmen-vs-bowling-machines. And the least useful of those bowling machines are the type called fast bowlers. The grounds have been made artificially smaller by bringing the ropes in, fielding restrictions have been extended, mandatory ball change has been introduced - to ensure teams have a newer cricket ball after 34 overs to prepare for the final assault on the already demoralized bowlers.

This fundamental shift towards a batting-only cricket is due to the way cricket is enjoyed in India. Everybody wants to bat. Bowling is not so important. Fielding is a waste of time. This mindset is alike in Gully cricket (alley cricket), School and College-level cricket, Club cricket and Ranji Trophy - and carries over to the Indian Cricket team. And the same mindset is cultivated by the fans of the game. I mean fans of a few cricketers from their respective parts of the country. No wonder India has so many batting sensations/legends and just about a handful of world-class bowlers, much less legends.

India is a high-quality test team - if the pitch offers some swing and bounce or if the pitch deteriorates so much by the end of the 3rd/4th day that the spinners run through the opposition. It has great batters who can handle spin of any kind and on most surfaces. Otherwise, they are only a decent bowling team. And in the shorter formats where the opposition attack the bowlers, they degrade to a mediocre team. They're a team of great batsmen and one good fast bowler, one spinner and a bunch of sloppy amateurs. And the one good fast bowler, is known to blow hot and cold. More cold than hot in crunch situations.

And so, the groundsmen will try their best to prepare ugly, flat, spongy surfaces to somehow make sure bowling is out of the equation altogether. Home teams trying to maximize on their advantage is nothing new. But a side so hopelessly short on bowling resources, a fan-base so carelessly ignorant about the one-sidedness of the team they support and administration trying to convert a world-stage to an exhibition of batting skills by the host team, is a shame.

Not that the Indian supporters care. I feel it's a misconception that there is huge following for cricket in India. No, we're not bothered about cricket. Cricket is one way of supplying 'stars'. Like movies. Sachin is God. Ganguly "Dada" is the prince of Kolkata (and we boo other players from his team, if required). Harbhajan is a star not because he's a good bowler, but because he's aggressive and arrogant at times. Sreesanth is famous for being Appam Chutiya and the slap-gate and less for his rare bowling-exploits. Dhoni and Yuvraj are famous more for their fashions and the women they date than the cricketing value they contribute.

Sure, there is always a patriotic feeling attached to wanting your country to win. But more so, the idea is to see these 'Batting legends' and 'Stars' win. We can care less about the cricket.

We don't have quality fast bowlers!?
OK - lets have a few spinners in the team and a LOT of Star batsmen and let us prepare flat wickets.
Hmmm - but our players are slow and can't field well.
OK - don't worry. Our Star batsmen will score a few more runs and the stars can win.
Well, other teams have good bowlers and great fielders.
OK - don't worry. We'll bring the ropes in and our Star batsmen will hit out of the ground, so that they cant field.
But, the other teams have good batters too and what if they take advantage of the flat pitches and small grounds?
..... SH*T

Cricket world cup should be about cricket. Leave patriotism to espionage and wars.
Cricket world cup should be about batting, bowling and fielding.
Cricket world cup should be about good all-rounded teams and not about Stars, even if they're Gods or fading legends.

Two last pieces of evidence before I end this:
1. During the game between England and India, Sachin hit a SIX against Swan and even before the ball landed beyond the boundary, the camera landed on Deepika Padukone, a Bollywood actor. And later at different points during the game, the camera focused on Business Tycoons, random movie actors, Politicians and a lot of Unknown Importants.
2. After the game was over, one great Indian Cricket Fan commented on his twitter feed:
'Between Rahul Bose and Siddharth Malya, someone shoud F*ck Deepika tonight. India deserves this'

It's not about cricket. It's about Stars. Some Sachin, some Dhoni, some Deepika and some Kingfisher.

This India doesn't bother cricket. If the team doesn't win, they'll pelt stones at the cricketers houses and sling the proverbial mud and then get back to following their 'stars'. After all, IPL starts within a week after the World Cup.

But, it might at least enlighten a smaller percentage of the followers of the game in the country, if the team doesn't win the World Cup. In fact, the team doesnt deserve to reach Semi Finals - surely, they aren't among the top 4 sides in the world cricket. At least the team they selected for this event. They don't deserve to win.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Letter to the Cup that Counts

All I wanna watch is a game of cricket
Turns out I couldn't get one ticket
We're told The Cup is all about the masses
But all who can watch Live are the ones with passes
Sponsors, boards make bucks off us 'fans'
But when it comes to treating well, we dont figure in their plans
Ohh wait there are a thousand tix for us you know
On that zoonga boonga site, I don't know

Crash they say they had, it was unforeseen
Ohh is it? I say 'Forget You' à la Cee Lo Green

Had enuf of you ICC and you Pawar clown,
If I could, I'ld boot you and your jokers out of town

But I'm just a faceless powerless fan
Puking stuff on the Net is all I can
I'll get back to the 'coverage' on TV
With fancy voices of Sunny and Raavi
And Russel Aawrnowld or Tony Grieg
Or Rameeez, EM Bang Wa or some other fag

And spare us the torture with that "De Ghuma Ke"
Dude, Shankar, drop those shades you look so gay
This shit's no Waka-Waka no Un Dos Tres
Somebody please tell the editors and the DJ's
The last I checked it's 'World' Cup of cricket
Dont blow this hot air every shot, every wicket
Come on you sponsors, we're all here
Yes, your stuff's great - we can all hear
Please don't smear the ground with all those logos
Common leave us some cricket, you MoFos
You know what I do, I mute you all
And follow cricinfo's Ball-by-Ball

I feel for you, you guys who been insulted, ill-treated lathi-charged at the grounds...
But please know that we have it no better,
And that's why this love letter,
from a faceless Fan to the Cup that Counts...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Time and Perception of Time

How do you define movement? Moving from one point to the other.
"Point" in space. A 3-dimensional space. The way we feel it is through sense - perception - vision. Light reaches us 'in time' from different 'Points' and we make a mental image of the characteristics of the light we received to construct things and associate that image with the enormous knowledge we have gathered over 'time' . Also note that whatever we might be 'holding' from the point of origin, say A, will probably be with us at the point of end of travel, say B - unless someone snatches it, of course.

Now what's important is not if someone will snatch stuff from us during our travels, we all need to be careful about that though. What's imporant is that for this movement, there needs to be a force. Muscles, Engine, Wind or Gravity (well, surely you wont probably be carrying stuff till the end in the last 2 scenarios). So some force, moves us from A to B - that is, the force makes us take a lot of different positions over space from A to B. 'How many?' depends on the distance from A to B and how small our perception of 'position' or 'point' is. But somehow, magically, we end up at point B. And we all know that process very well. We know the forces very well. We know the dimensions very well.

How about Time? We pass time. We kill time. We spend time. We measure time, well, kinda. We think we 'feel' time. But we don't know how it happens. How we pass through time. In our example, while moving from A to B, we actually have 'spent' time. We moved from time T1 to time T2. How short the difference, t, is - determines how strong the force was that moved us from A to B. But the force that moved from T1 to T2 is, as always, constant. At least that's how we feel it. But if you see through the elaborate and boring prologue, you can understand what I'm getting to. We pass a lot of points of time. We may call them moments,
vaguely. Precisely? We think - Seconds. Hours. Days. We express - Hours that 'feel' like days and days that 'feel' like hours.

But we don't know time.

Does time exist? That is - is this experience of time real? The answer depends directly on how you define the other 3 dimensions. How you define your perception of objects and world around you in those 3 dimensions.

If you feel 'that'world is real, then time is real too. But - time is Past, Present and Future. Past is gone, and doesnt exist anymore. Present, we feel, exists. Future has yet to be created, so never exists. But Present is what once was Future and would in a 'space' of time become Past. So, if Past and Future do not exist, then Present cannot exist. Or it must be created out of nowhere and disappear to nowhere. Or probably Past, Present and Future all exist. We just move from one time to the other, through different points of time. What we call moments. May be smaller points. Planck Time? Maybe, maybe smaller.

More like frames in a video. We just see all the frames. There is some force that pushes us through the frames in a specific direction so that we see frames in some order. How is it any different from the points we observe when traveling from A to B? Time can be the 4th of the many dimensions that can exist. We feel or can perceive the 4. We can act upon the 'matter' or properties of 'space' in the 3 dimensions. Not so much about the 'space' in the 4th dimension. We are constantly moving along this dimension. Time. Goes on.

Could there be beings who live where time is a dimension they can control the space in? Could they be able to control more than 1 (time) dimension? And if so could they share one or more dimensions as we do? Those are natural questions that we may not be able to answer till we find another being that can perceive properties of objects that we can affect and be able to affect those properties of objects that we can perceive. That's the only way one 'being', however observant it may be, can perceive another.

This brings 2 very odd possibilities.

1. There can be more beings sharing the same space. So, we may notice them as points if we share 1 dimension. But as long as we can not impact any property of space in those other dimensions, we may not be able interact with or perceive those beings. And we may not know if such beings exist unless such beings have the capability of affecting properties that we can perceive. Imagine a One-Dimensional monster creature that can change or alter time dimension. God?

2. Free-Will is only an illusion. Brain/Mind is probably a being extended in time long enough to understand connection between each frames. Understand Why. That's probably what we call consciousness. The explanation, to some extent, of why. To find reason. Not to take decisions.

More musings in a later post, if Time permits!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Of Nations and Patriotism

What people often call patriotism is in my opinion, a wasted feeling. It's probably as wasted as religious fanaticism. Patriotism is based no boundaries, rules, books (read constitution) written over decades or centuries ago. Rules, you had no control upon. Rules most people of the country know nothing about and worse yet understand nothing of. Rules that were made for the year and day they were written and are obsolete. Borders that were drawn based on loose political ideas.

When you say 'Great India' do you refer to the India that's drawn by India? Or by China? (which doesn’t represent some areas of India that India call's its states) Or that based on the International LOC? (which chops off portions of India/Pakistan on however you see it, and confused represents it as a shaded area – PoK)

Why is Alaska a part of United States of America? Why isn’t the rest of Canada? And why is no other country/state from South 'America' not a part of 'United States' of America? Doesn’t all that sound like one big mess? How about Common Wealth? Why would a country like Fiji, so far away in the Pacific – be ruled-over by the 'Royal' family in Northern Europe?

The answer is – that was what was politically 'acquired' or logically concluded by a few people who were supposed to be 'ruling'. Don’t get me wrong. There were thousands upon thousands of lives lost, still many more lives dedicated to establish/retain those lands – but all at the whims and fancies of the 'ruling'.

One's nationality is a throw of dice. It's not a choice, but something one is born into. And at one point, a few made it up. Then onwards others were born 'into' it. There never was a U.S.A till the late 1700s. Natives living in the Americas were never fond of NFL or NBA, nor did they play Ice Hockey. But, there still were tribes. Algonquin, Cherokee, Hopi etc. India had tribes too. USA calls those who still remain as 'aboriginals' or 'Natives'. India calls them 'Adivasis' (read Original People). So, most those who are 'Proud of America' never belonged to 'America'. Most of those who say 'I Love India' never belonged to 'India'.

People have been moving across the land and overseas for ever. All animals do so. That is nature's way of ensuring dispersion. Plants have dispersion mechanisms too. It's nature's way of 'experimenting' the mutations/variations. Some who migrate to a new place, may not survive because they cannot adapt. Most of the seeds that land from a plant in water would not survive. But, some do. Like probably the first few of the monkeys who wandered into colder areas of what we now call 'China'. Only those that were 'awkward' and were 'hairy' survived the cold. And eventually became this:

And anyway all the terrestrial life, plants and animals, evolved from once marine life that was 'awkward' or 'unique' and whose ancestors decided to live on the land and were actually capable of doing so.

The point is that migration is a very natural thing. Picking up some specific traits always helps in adapting to the new circumstances. Those are the natural traits of individual species.

And then there is culture. Culture is an artificial trait, unique to humans (and some other social creatures like ants and bees) but mostly all other animals are individualistic. Social behavior was evolved by different species at different phases of evolution. First primitive components like cell nucleus, mitochondria, RNA all decided to live under one other component – the cell membrane. And then cells decided to group together to perform different functions, like stinging cells in Hydra – one of the most primitive known multi cellular organisms. Yet more evolved species, specially mammal and birds, have the tendency to live in packs or herds or flocks or parliament or whatever we may call it. Bees and Ants in tightly regulated social communities – so much so that they're sometimes considered super-organisms, as in the entire community behaves as if it's one single 'being'.

The same behavior extended to humans. Tribes, Kingdoms, Czardoms were formed. Ideas were the same – regulation, division of labor, one point of control. But humans had also evolved more analytical abilities. They wanted more 'territory' than they had. More than what was sufficient or sometimes more territory as their community was growing in numbers. Wars ensued – actually they were always there, between herds, between tribes and between empires. Nations.

Some individuals tended to identify themselves as being unique and not part of the 'empire'. They were called rebels. They were outcast or executed - they were a threat to the 'community'. And then there were those who were 'rulers'. Soon, the community was no longer about the members of the community and was more about the ruler. Some rebels became 'leaders' themselves and dethroned the 'Kings' – and became 'Kings' themselves. And at some point people tended to think 'we don’t need kings, we can rule us ourselves' – then came democracy. But surprisingly, there is still a 'ruler' – a 'govern'ment.

So Nations still remained, only in a different flavor. In the dynastic era, the ruler were chosen by the family he was born into, even if many in a nation would not approve of him as their ruler. Rebels. In the Age of Conquerors, people had new ruler if their old 'ruler' and their 'army' were ineffective. They still had no say on who 'ruled' over them. In the Age of democracies, even if, say, 40% of the nation do not approve of a person to 'rule' over them – he could yet be their 'ruler'. One still doesn’t have a choice.

And these rulers and their team of generals decide what a country is. Some 'elders' at some point decided to adopt some 'traditions'. Which are now considered a part of a "Nation"'s heritage.

So, what's expected of individuals is to be photocopies of those 'elders'; to be photocopies of each other; to lose their individuality. If you insist on not being a photocopy, you're a rebel. You're 'not one of us'. One of the responsibilities of being a photocopy is that you 'respect' and 'love' the otherwise non-existent being called a Nation. And you have to 'hate' some other such 'Nations'. You have to keep the secrets of your 'Nation', however lame and pointless they may be. Nobody is allowed to ask why. Some Nations have stricter rules. Some are more lenient. Yet, effectively, you are supposed to belong to some Nation. Have some Nationality. Otherwise, you have no identity. Nobody knows where his/her ancestors originally came from and why. Nobody knows why the rules were framed thus, in the part of the world they live in. Yet, they are supposed to obey those rules. Yet, you are supposed to love your Nation.

If there is any entity that truly represents all humanity, it is the Planet – Earth. Mother India? Don’t know. Uncle Sam? Who's that? Mother Earth – please drop the word 'Mother' and yeah look around.

If there is one tradition that binds all the humans, that is life. Actually it binds all the living beings together - the struggle to survive. Our commitment, our ultimate purpose is to let life prosper. If ever there was God, it couldn't be much different from the living force. The sole urge of even simple DNA to replicate itself. Virus? Life!

Imagine if there were no nations, no countries. Imagine if all the energy we spend on 'arms and ammunition', on 'guns and missiles', on 'nuclear technology' – on all sorts of new ways of 'taking life' – imagine if all that energy were spent on letting life prosper. To let live and to live better. Imagine if we were in a compassionate world where life was valuable. Not just a human. Not just a kid. Every life. No wars. If there is suffering, the community would suffer as a whole. If there were prosperity, the community would prosper as a whole. A global community. That's what my loyalty is towards. I don’t love India, I don’t love the USA, neither do I subscribe to Hitler nor do I consider myself a part of Commonwealth. I am an individual, a human, a living being - on one thriving planet Earth.

Any association of me to a country/nation, religion, culture – is false and not an accurate representation of whom I am.