Dr. Philo : Who will guarantee your Life ?

Dr. Abakash Ranjan Kar, teacher of Dr. Philo

1. Your home loan is ultimately guaranteed by the flat / home which will possibly survive you. 2. Your car loan is ultimately guaranteed by the depreciated value of the car + interest and principal paid. 3. Your life is guaranteed by some kind of Life Insurance which continues to guarantee your next generation for some finite time.

But is there anything that directly guarantees your and your only existence on this planet ? Something like this : ” I existed on this planet.” None for which you are working so hard does that as proved above. Your children who only share genetic code with you but are autonomous existences.
Keeping this in mind, look at the two paintings below :
 Left : Death of Socrates by David, 18th century. The painter has captured a moment – a triumph of human spirit, life and death separated within one’s fingers and another finger lifted upwards, beyond Life and Death.

Right : The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Vermeer. 17th century. Everything of the girl is unnatural – her head tilt is anatomically impossible, the pearl is an optical illusion, her dress is also over-sized and a laughter on curved geometry – yet, you do not look at her, you are not looking at her, that is your greatest idiocy, she is measuring in her enigmatic smile what is passing in your innermost state. She is the answer of Art to the greatest Face Recognition software that can be ever designed. I think millions of faces who looked at her were captured by her and would be captured. Just now, when you are looking at her, you are “captured”. The inner you. Tell your children now, nay, teach, what is the fundamental difference between a mobile phone photograph and a painting.

What guarantees your existence is Philosophy and Art in their highest form of achievement.

It is perhaps for such a singular act or moment of experience, one may like to return to this planet again. This wish to return is what is termed as “Guaranteed Future”. The philosopher who grappled with this question most heroically in our times is Friedrich Nietzsche. 
Thus true Philosophers and Artists only guarantee your Future. Everyone else can only make your biological existence either longer or shorter, nasty or pleasant, civilized or brutish.

Dr. Philo : The Beauty Workshop and Internet Pornography

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I shall not behave like a fool and idiot like most of your elders and authority figures that you are not exposed to Internet Pornography. In the age of Instagram, I am well aware, as a human being like all of you, how alluring and wickedly attractive things are. You need not feel guilty. Even if your holiest scriptures and the highest authorities tell you to feel guilty or ashamed. But you are doomed if you do not like to understand and engage with this profound aspect of Existence. Body, its Hunger, its Properties (like “properties of a curve” as Dr. Philo has been teaching you) and its Beauty.


2. In our native tradition, we do not have the theory and practice of exploring Beauty (capital B) in human forms and this has created self-hate and then guilt. You are not responsible for this guilt but you are responsible if you do not question and explore with reason, passion and discrimination.


3. Dr. Philo has introduced you to Plato’s radical concept of “Perfect Forms” and thus we may easily ask – What is the perfect form of the human body ? Man and Woman. Man and Woman without any trace of history, culture, time, geography. What will that be ? To be cleansed of all “local” traces, the Form must be nude. Hence the Nudity. Most of the artists who painted nude could have painted dressed people like a camera. But why did they choose so ? Contemplate.


4. Now, look at these two Forms – David and Venus. One is a sculpture and one is a Painting. Both are some four hundred years old.


5. Ladies – look at both and write a 300 word essay of your feelings. Gents – look at both and write a 300 words essay on both.


Now, I invite you to think as below : Both of them show human bodies without clothes. So does pornography. yes, so how these are different from pornography ? 


Think freely but all the time, look at these works of Art intensely – examine them with the new tool you have learnt – Calculus = static curve + mental slight movement. Apply them for these two forms – apply mental movement to the forms and see how you “see” them.


If you practice this Art, you will surely find something very different feeling coursing through your body (in comparison to pornographic viewing) – your body will respond differently. You shall observe that you find a calmness, a sense of not possessing, yet getting moved  – just observing – you have felt the first hint of Beauty.

Beauty is a visitor in this world of ours  and we cannot possess her but can only feel her presence in our innermost depth.

Do not be guilty about your Body.

Dr. Philo : The Fatal and Tragic Attraction for Perfection and Full Readiness

READINESS

One is never fully ready. Never. No one, except a few luminous examples, was ready for Death and by reverse extrapolation, for Birth. One is not ready – 100% for romance ever, otherwise there would not have been something called “love at first sight”, “flowing sparks”, “instant chemical bonding”. To be reasonably ready, to be very much prepared is antithesis to the fundamental fabric of Life as we perceive.

Time passes. Time is no one’s slave – no one can have command over Time. Period. Readiness comes from a sense of convenience and putting oneself in the centre of the Universe. The sense of convenience is this : why is this system not designed for my convenience ? Both are false premises and these premises are kept afloat by human folly and self-love. Men wait to find the perfect woman, finally settling for someone no one but they say perfect and women wait for the perfect man and then suddenly take to philosophy when they are somewhat forty years odd. The folly of being 100% being ready is 100% gender neutral.


PERFECTION


Perfection is at the core, a rebellion against the cosmic scheme of things. What is perfection ? A construct of one’s own mind with the collective mind at the background. Then perfection worshipers occasionally deposit layers and layers of ego and self-righteousness. They do not deliver but in solemn peace and satisfaction mock those who at least have something to show for, however “imperfect” it is. They become so conceited that they do not recognize the most fundamental and visible step, the most important step – taking initiative. This is the reason that explains why most perfectionists are found among those who have not faced Life in all its majestic enigma. It is not their grand experience that makes them worship mythical “perfection” but the lack of it.

“BIOLOGICAL LIFE IS SHORT”

I have sat in innumerable meetings and I have always detected the “perfectionists” – most are well-intention-ed and good natured decent and talented people  but lack common sense. They make plans under a false premise that everything will remain the same. No. Nothing will remain the same. And the greatest truth is : Life is short – there is no guarantee, all guarantees are imperfect.

If we look around the world we always observe a great sense of urgency in all significant affairs of Man – be it in any domain. The more profound something is, this will have a great tension with Time, i.e. urgency. On one way of looking, the whole biological creative process, i.e. sexual reproduction is always urgent – the window will close anytime soon, the urge will be “perfectly” balanced, it is always unstable, urgent, tense and thus highly potent.

Nature does not care whether the coitus was very “perfect” for the parties. Nature is only interested whether the process was forceful enough to initiate fertilization.

The great lesson of Evolutionary Biology is this : Life shows a thoughtless and unreasonable urgency for propagation.

Dr. Philo’s: The Creative Fantasy of Differential and Integral Calculus

Wordsmith’s Introduction of Dr. Philo : Dr. Philo studied mathematics in University of Calcutta and University of Cambridge. It was in Cambridge University, sometime 340+ years back, during the plague pandemic, a young student was quarantined in his rural English home (no electricity, no internet, no phone, no zomato, no vaccine) and discovered / invented Calculus. He called this as Fluxion. His name is Issac Newton. So Calculus has some historical relationship with pandemic. Another philosopher in Germany named Leibnitz quite independently discovered / invented the same. We use his signs till today.  Dr. Philo is a non-specialist and he would like to teach the subject in a very different manner and I am sure you  shall enjoy it. It will be definitely not the way it will be taught in your formal classwork. I envy your first collision with one of the greatest intellectual and artistic achievements of Mankind : Calculus.





ACT I

Dr. Philo showed two pages : one was the score of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and another was a page full of the signs and symbols of Differential and Integral Calculus. Then, he asked the pupils to start a fire by a magnifying lens from the dried leaves in the yard. He briefly narrated the legend of Archimedes of Syracuse and asked them to note that his works had seminal ideas of Calculus.   A low fire started. He now played Mozart’s music and pupils listened to. They liked the music. Then he showed the page full of signs and symbols of Calculus and asked them how they feel. No answer. Do they feel the same as listening to the music ? No – a chorus. “So, let this be consumed by the flames – these are useful but lifeless things but not original feel of music nor of Calculus.” He dropped both the pages into the fire and the pages started turning into ashes. He looked at them and said – my challenge, a very serious one is to provide you with a similar experience difference between the actual score and music and that of Calculus and all symbols and jargons. The audience was expectant.

ACT II

Calculus, according to one of my favourite scientists and text-book writers Richard P Feynman is “the language God talks”. Feynman did not believe in God or gods. I strongly recommend you to read his books as a leisure read. Calculus deals with shapes, change and change of shapes. It is one way a hidden link between Geometry and Time. I have decided to demonstrate my argument by using a master-piece of Art. He then opens a painting – Rembrandt’s Nightwatch and asks : isn’t this painting full of geometric shapes – curves, lines, rectangles, ovals, cones and many such forms ? Yes. Are not these forms combined with paint, light, shade ? Yes, but look closely and don’t you observe a great dramatic moment in the picture ? Yes – as if the picture is moving in your mind – the characters are taking the next step or time pushed ahead or back ? Yes… Observe : geometry – flat 2D geometry is moving, changing in your mind – not in the canvass. Geometry + Mental Change = Calculus.


ACT III

Once you have intuitively felt this : geometry and mental change can create time frames, in the past and in the future, the only question we need to ask is how much ? How small or how large ? As soon as we ask “how much”, we are becoming exact in our argument. This is the power and weakness of mathematics. Now, again see Nightwatch. Now, suppose, someone asks you : Draw the painting after 10 mins from the time the artist “clicked” his camera switch. What will you do ? How shall you tackle the problem ? In what way, the characters have moved, what they might have thought ? Did they move left, did they all come to the centre ? Did they disperse ? Very knotty problem. In short, how do you know their “MOTION” from the only information we have now : position of them at a certain instant of time. What is that instant – when the painter stopped painting. That moment.

NEXT CLASS

In our next Adda  (আড্ডা), we shall continue in the same manner and delve deeper into our core intuitive feeling : Geometry changes or Geometry is Change with Mind. Please note the germ of the mind’s push : x in algebra comes from your mind when x is found out – you have “imagined” that you have the solution already : x

CLOSING REMARKS – SESSION I

I may also relieve you that doing calculations quickly or scoring 100% in Maths paper is not necessarily  the sign of having a mathematical mind. These are arithmetic capabilities and sign of aptitude.
Mathematics starts with creative fantasy, a wish, a desire, playing with ideas and a search and everything comes later.
We shall discuss this creative fantasy of Calculus, the core ideas and how they shaped the methods and the language of it. The signs and symbols that we have consigned to flames during the start of the lecture.
Thank you for your time and attention.

Dr. Philo : Consciousness, Art, Artificial Intelligence – the Case of India

Consciousness, Art, Artificial Intelligence – the Case of India

Consciousness and Machines 


Indian Tradition can easily claim to have made  seminal and singularly unique contributions to the theoretical and practical aspects of Consciousness. On the theoretical front, there have been treatises on these themes since antiquity and on the practical front, one will be simply inundated by the practices one can choose from, depending on one’s taste and temperament. We can group them under two very broad heads – Yoga & Meditation.

As the Age of Machines dawned – both as things to be designed and things being used, there was a way of thinking when human consciousness was considered like a Giant Machine – note the Newtonian Mechanical Universe. It is this thinking that transformed into making machines that will mimic human intelligence, the so called Artificial Intelligence. However, intelligence (or what AI – hardcore, softcore people are after) is only a part, possibly minor part of Consciousness.

It was in Calcutta, in 2002, I was awakened to this grand question while transcribing a Lecture by Sir Roger Penrose who delivered a lecture, organized by British Council, Calcutta – entitled – “Is Consciousness a result of computational complexity or something fundamentally different ?” Dr. Penrose’s conclusion was : Consciousness is fundamentally different from computational complexity.

Dialogue with a novice violin player

My elder son, sixteen years old, is learning violin and I had once asked him what the difference will be between a piece played by a computer while manipulating strings through an algorithm and a maestro playing. The difference will be judged by someone who doesn’t know anything and by a connoisseur of that music. He said that a human player, among other things, will have distinct signatures of his individuality – various performances will be different, it will be very different to express the difference. He made another comment to the effect that even the “inaccuracy / mistake/deviation”  of a maestro is infinitely more valuable than the accuracy and consistency of a machine. I was very surprised by this line of reasoning.

Wordsmith’s unsolicited advice to Indian Policy makers – for the next 50 years 

I will first state three self-evident facts that I have heard and have direct experience about and did not find  any instance so far that has invalidated them :

1.   As communication technology intersected social communication to a considerable degree, many in India, honourable men and women, thought of our number (billions) and populousness (billion) as a priori strength and advantage. I disagree with the a priori part.

2. Many honourable men and women of India, policy makers among them are bamboozled and they have no counter argument against the prophets of doom – Singularity etc, coming mostly from old men of the West – the seminal fathers of these technologies. Surprisingly, Indian tradition has potent material to debate on this. Uncritical acceptance of anything is dangerous – both for natural and artificial intelligence.

3. Another misguided and opportunistic, less articulated yet comforting way of thinking in India is this : Artificial Intelligence will be another IT arbitrage boom of some thirty years back and an army of people ( Western seminal thinking, little from China and Indian labour force) will be deployed like the olden days, the golden days. This is not going to happen.

Rx by Wordsmith

I. Scrap the artificial, mechanical and reductionist Art Science Commerce System after 10th class in our Education System. Life is Art + Science + Commerce + X all combined. Life does not care for such divisions.

II. Make Music, Art of all forms, Sports mandatory till the formative age – especially Music.  Otherwise, we shall have MCQ champions in examinations, trained in the hallowed streets of Kota and other locales but with little original and rounded thinking to tackle the changing world – whether full of AI or something else. Art has survived Al-Tamira to till date and will survive AI as well.

III. Create within our young minds a balance between two world-views : custodian of tradition vis-a-vis creating new knowledge. The assimilative genius of India is more suitable to such an approach instead of either one of the extremes, i.e. we had done everything in some hoary antiquity and have nothing else to do now and just parrot these “glories”  or all the past tradition are worthless and we have to start history from this date, i.e. when some Manifesto by some great has been published.

Both are follies and we must be aware of these two follies.

The Concluding Line

“Know Thyself” – through Art, Science, Commerce and anything that helps in this Grand Mission of Existenc

Dr. Philo : Blaise Pascal – Our Contemporary





Dr. Philo while young

Why is Pascal not as famous and talked about nowadays as Vinci, Edison or Einstein ?

Pascal who lived in the 17th century and died when he was just 39 years old has been an unique person in the whole History of civilized mankind. His posthumous fame is much lesser compared to other luminaries like Vinci, Edison or Einstein and this is also because of the general decline of philosophical thought in the West. The decline of France in the world stage as an intellectual powerhouse is also something we must not discount. Finally, our increasing secular age cannot condone Pascal’s wager to all humanity of all time. His faith and belief, his Christianity – childlike and heart-based yet expressed in reason, has been too deep, synthetic and profound to be felt by an increasingly cerebral age that is finding itself insecure from artificially intelligent computers.

Pascal’s core Legacy : Transcendental Faith

Pascal invented the famous triangle, discovered syringe, omnibus, atmospheric pressure and the first computer called Pascaline. He is also the father of Theory of Probability. Anyone of these inventions / discoveries is enough to make a life worthy. But thanks to God, Pascal’s God, who made him feel that these are not enough – There is a reason for the Heart. One of the finest, subtlest and keenest intellects Big Bang (or God) has been able to produce in all these years, known to Man, has also been one of the profoundest observers of human heart and human condition. He is simply peerless in finding extraordinary miracles in these ordinariness of Life.  And in the old sense, since his heart was pure, his classical French prose has a magnetic, almost mystical beauty and had his genius expressed in Music, he would have been a French Bach.  
Why is Pascal our Contemporary ?

Pascal, a citizen and architect of the Age of Enlightenment, remains its most critical observer – in all the senses of the term.  He was not a slave of that age and nor of any age. He is our Contemporary simply because we do not feel that as much as we should do.  The increasing noise of our age makes us, at least some of the scientists and thinkers of our age, more like hustlers chasing fame. Pascal saw through human vanity  and who can say except him – “the greatness of man comes from his realization that he is wretched” and on the Age of antidepressants, anticipated three hundred and fifty years back – “Trifles uplift us because trifles upset us”  and then the glory of Reason but not as a victor over Nature, for he knew that one problem Reason solves, two more opens up and it is human vanity that propels the foolish pursuit which is anti-reason. Reason does not solve anything, there is no resolution in Reason.

I read his  Pensées as a very young man and I thank myself for it. It has cured me from any uncritical acceptance of the present and future and unqualified praise or repulsion of the past. His work, in a certain sense, has freed me from the shackles of the fashions, trends and  temperaments of any specific age, especially of my age.

It has also taught me, when I was getting trained in science, how rare a combination Pascal had and shared its immortal fruits with us with a humility that nothing can give, not science, but something transcendental. Here is an immortal Frenchman, who sounds more like Indian to me when he observes and says something, almost unheard today, a grand sympathy of the heart, while observing why people believe in God, and I paraphrase with this caution – the best flavour comes from original French :

“… It is God who has touched their heart for without his touch, one is not able to believe in Him. When he touches one’s heart, then only the power to believe dawns on him.”

Pascal, as I am growing old appears more and more like someone whom our Scripture honours with the epithet : স্থিতপ্রজ্ঞ – an unwavering, pure, penetrative state of being.

In my native Scripture, the Kathopanishad, there is a line that says, when true knowledge dawns, what happens :
“ভিদ্যতে হ্রদয়গ্রন্থি, ছিদ্যন্তে সর্বসংশয়া” – it explicitly says “the knots of the heart  gets penetrated” and “all doubts are resolved.”

Dr. Philo : The Need of Philosophy in the Age of Untruth and Imposter Syndrome

Introducing Imposter Syndrome

Ms. Mallika Chatterjee, a native-bidushi (scholar, feminine)  of Calcutta observes that in the professional social networking site called LinkedIn, there is some kind of smoke and mirror show going on with so many Coaches, Life-Coaches, Mentors, Trainers and so on with so much jobs being spoken of designations changing. Strangely, when many of such Coaches, Gurus, Mentors, Trainers are asked to send a proposal by email, the actual quality appears to be so far off from the “self” advertised. This is a very subtle observation by our native scholar and less spoken because we have started to live in a world of Untruth and of Semantic Deception. Our age shows an insatiable thirst to rate and be rated.  Why ? Because of Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome, as my friend Wordsmith defines, is most of the time a harmless, non-action based behaviour where the doctrine – “if you cannot make it, fake it” loses its shock component and becomes normalized. This is so prevalent that those who do not have any need to be an imposter are also doing so, pushed by the force of competition and not to be left behind. How to treat this syndrome ?

The Need of Philosophy

One of the misfortunes of philosophy as a discipline is that many first order philosophers of the world, truth be told, were and are second or third rate communicators. In the Western world, one of the greatest thinkers of all time, Immanuel Kant can be considered a representative example. In India, we had brilliant communicators but very few true philosophers in the sense I understand, i.e. eternally and vigorously critical. This had implications as the most effective antidotes of Untruth and Imposter Syndrome, i.e. the light of true philosophy gets dimmed because of the medium through which it passes – language and communication media.

Untruth and Imposter Syndrome both draw their existence from Truth and Reality. The best way to dispel shadows and darkness is not to fight with the shadow and darkness but to arrange, by hook or by crook, beg-borrow-steal, a true source of true illumination. Either Dominus Illuminatio Mea or Be a Light Unto Yourself.
First Contact of Western Philosophy and Geographical India

This happened in Bengal and in a remarkable coincidence of History, brilliant communicators met Enlightenment Philosophy. Bengal’s Gallic-like genius shone in Literature. Some became compulsive communicators and what a day it was to be alive and young then.

Young Bengal started asking questions of such originality and with such critical attitude that it created the momentum to push the ancient juggernaut of a civilization called India into Modern Age.  Bengali young men and few women, the seminal fathers and mothers of Modern India, read Hume and Locke, Rousseau and Burke and the first stirrings of Bengal Renaissance is felt and heard – an event which is still felt by the provinces of India, consciously or unconsciously.


What is Philosophy ?

Philosophy is a habit of mind. Philosophy does not discover or invent anything. It is not a specialism. However, the closest thing to specialism it has is Omniscience.

The world of Untruth and victims of Imposter Syndrome are not separate things – they are connected and nothing but the pure, direct and self-luminous light of Philosophy can redeem us.

Dr. Philo : Space – Planetary Exploration or Planetary Imperialism ?

Space Projects

During the Cold War, two opposing ideological camps – America and Soviet Russia were having no disagreement over dominance over Space. Had Space been a country, in other words, both had intention, reason, rationalization to colonize it. Thus, I remember an oft quoted statement of Karl Marx, a  critic of Capitalism, and rephrase it to say “Planetary Imperialism is the advanced form of Planetary Exploration.” In other words, one does not explore because one is an imperialist, one explores because one is a living being. And if imperialism follows from being a living being, then we cannot blame either ourselves within the planet earth or someone from another galaxy for colonizing us.

DNA Imperialism

UFOs and such phenomena have been reported all over the world and interestingly, since very early times. As we prepare to colonize planets and exo-planets, now private money and resources are in the game, we hear very interesting reports as ultra-secret reports being made public with the “mystery factor” retained and our more advanced probes and watchtowers in space like Hubble, Kepler, Planck detecting objects that many people believe to be objects made by alien civilization.  For a change, let us recount a story depicted in the Mahabharata and I am trying to translate from Sanskrit as best as I can :

“..the princess Kunti looked at the sun from her palace balcony and something extra-ordinary gripped her and she recalled that she was granted a boon by the sage and half-heartedly she chanted the mantra and a ray of sun fell near her and from the ray emerged the sun-god with his shining visage and individual insignia.”
The sun-god “impregnated” her – the process was not clear but what was clear was that the sun-god or the governing deity of the Sun bore her a son whose genetic code matched him and hers. 

A Calcutta doctor and researcher, not an ordinary one on both counts once told me that what is called “junk DNA” in our genetic material may not be “junk” – there may be design purposes that we are not able to know now. What if, these junk DNAs are actually the same as done in any communication protocol design where some bits are left “for future use”. Nothing can be told for certain but Nature appears to have a Design Principle.

Carbon and Water bias

While imagining or designing processes to detect extraterrestrial Life, many hardcore scientists forget the distinction, a profound distinction between “Life” and “Life as we know it so far”, i.e. carbon and water based life forms. As crass yet snobbish materialism pervaded highest scientific circles since 1930s till date (also a period of general decline in seminal, bold and cognitively breakthrough works in pure science) – Dr. Carl Sagan, a luminous and lonely exception among the general decline in this aspect, every alternative approach was either called “hoax”, “myth”, “religious superstition”, “fantasy” irrespective of exploring them using the standard scientific method. Instead, the method used was “silence the dissent”. This is part ideological and part self-preservation.

The Ethics of Space Exploration / Space Imperialism

Anti-imperialists, especially those whose focus is on economics alone, now have to deal, if they have anything to say, on a different type of imperialism. If we colonize a planet where only microbes live, are we doing microaggressions ? Or if a few orders of more advanced civilization tries to colonize us – genetically also, what will be our anti-imperial stand ?

If History teaches us anything on this, we observe that when two Civilizations meet and clash, the defining factors are few and small and sometimes unknown to both the parties. In the case of India, horse and gun appear to have tilted the balance in favour of the conquerors. In the case of the Aztec / Maya, guns and smallpox appear to be the defining elements. 

But one thing is certain : we are going to hear many more news on this front – our advanced eyes and ears in the space and ground will bring hitherto unknown news about space – near and far and a new Ethics need to be developed and that Ethics cannot be built if we do not leave some of our strongest biases and prejudices and some of these are in circulation with a veneer of being “scientific”.

Concluding Note : There is a fundamental distinction between Science and Technology. To me : Science is a habit of the Mind, a subtle and intangible method. Technology is a way of doing – this may or may not serve Science.

Dr. Philo : Super Computer and Dark Matters and Black Holes Cosmology

Dr. Philo

Universe, Data and Universe as Data
If you have an intelligent (and not expert’s) interest on this subject, what you are most likely to hear are three things – a) very complex mathematical systems and b) very large (and expensive) machines and detectors and c) simulation, models, super computers. We shall discuss the last one by successively becoming a philosopher, a society member and then a taxpayer. 

Universe as Data

First of all, we should not take this “Universe as Data” or by crunching data we shall extract the secrets of the universe very seriously. Most of the people, including scientists, are prisoners of their own time. Thus when machines came for the first time, very top scientists thought that the Universe is like a machine. Then when computers came, many started thinking along the same line. This is reaching its peak when doing science appears to be more and more “data work”. This has implications.

Detector and Models Part I

Consider you are going to test a theory that says that “when in some million light years away, such an event happens, such and such signal is detected by the detector”. First, in-site investigation is impossible because the site is million light years away. Second, this signal is translated into data and then you need to test your detector. This is no easy task because then you need to calibrate / simulate. These giant supercomputers are so complex that another layer of experts are added. Physical signal from the million light year > Detector > Detector Technicians > Super Computer Technicians > Data Representation Experts > Artists and Communicators > Scientists –> Taxpayers / Citizens. Or in other words, the scientific paper that announced detection of Gravitational Waves had 1000+ authors – the first 3 pages of that paper had author’s names only. An extra-terrestrial advanced civilization, if happen to read this paper, with knowledge of our affairs, will conclude whether this is a scientific paper or a Municipal Election report !  This is because of the layering as mentioned above. Now, the question : Who owns this paper ? 1000 people collaboration is  consensus equilibrium. No one owns it fully.

Detector and Models Part II

Why do we have detectors and models ? To test competing theories and ideas regarding a phenomenon. What is the process by which we select which theories we choose to test ? This is not a scientific question but sociological, economic, political and “dark matters” affairs. Many of these testing needs very high cost and very hard incentives are embedded. For example, suppose a theory predicts some Event A -> Signal X by the detector. Now just consider, there are 1000 scientists who have been trained on this theory since their student days and now employed (with decent salaries and perks provided by the state or the state partnered consortium). What way will incentives work ?  Simple : the incentives make the discovery of Signal X almost a necessity, nay, almost a duty. Taxpayers, unfortunately, can’t say much on this. Who wants to argue with lambda, theta, mu, muon, baryon on a Friday weekend ?

Detector and Models – Part III

How these incentives can  potentially lead to “claims of detection” in a “scientific”manner ? Here is a possible scenario : you feed your theory into a super computer and create a simulation, i.e. write an algorithm (human made).  This simulation produces, say a curve, as how the signal should look like as the theory predicts. Now you process the actual signal. Note the word process. Now, you find, wonder of wonder, lo, behold – a match, a detection. They rush to announce – a discovery but some minor “irritations” are not stated. First, any theory that presupposes a simulation to predict anything substantial about a subject like physics dealing with matter and energy is little embarrassing, Second, with some 1000+ people involved of so many different types of skills and ingenuity (I accept in good faith that all are paragons of virtue and integrity), who will guarantee (and who will understand that guarantee – remember font face 5 of credit card companies legal agreement) that the theory simulation process did not influence the evidence detection process ? Oh… the damned process.

Further Damnation

The history of scientific theories teaches us something : all great theories of science, predict, ab initio, without anything else, new phenomena with great accuracy and detail. The classic is Maxwell’s Electromagnetic theory. His theory, without any other assumption, simulation, modeling, supercomputer predicts that there is some kind of electromagnetic wave that travels at a speed of c, i.e. the speed of light. His theory said : a) Light is an electromagnetic wave and b) Its speed in vacuum is approx 3,00,000 km / sec and as a bonus this constant c reduces two constants into one by establishing a relationship between electric permeability and magnetic permeability.

Having perused current literature of Cosmology, someone will have a feeling that these detectors and machines will not take a NO to the validity of the following in any way or form : Standard Model, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Gravitational Waves, Black Holes. It is dangerous to argue even. Didn’t we see the doughnut shaped “black hole” picture in all the newspapers and media ?

I shall end this by gifting my patient readers two lessons from the life and works of two famous characters of detective works – one from the realm of imagined crimes and one from real science :

” Do not try to fit data with the theory.”  – Sherlock Holmes
“Any science with a hyphen before is most likely not science” and “..it is easy to fool oneself but Nature cannot be fooled”  –   Richard Feynman.

Dr. Philo & Wordsmith : Empire, Freedom. Utopia and Contemporary “Battle for Bengal”

[Wordsmith was away from Calcutta for almost seven weeks. This is extract of a conversation in Wordsmith Ashram between Dr. Philo and Wordsmith. Dr. Philo’s political stand is that of a statenlos person and Wordsmith is a dedicated imperialist. Though contemporary politics was never discussed but a chance remark by a very accomplished guest in the form of “Battle for Bengal”, i.e. the coming elections triggered a conversation touching philosophy of history and how one should conduct oneself, i.e. Ethics.. Extract ]

Three Historical Landmarks of Bengal || 180 years cycle

Renaissance, Freedom Struggle and Communist Utopia – after three ideological landmarks, spanning 180 years, Bengal has no grand mission now – no Higher Dreams and no Higher Call to Action. Bengal, like France is always great when it aspires for, sometimes hilariously, thoughtlessly – Greatness. The seminal ideas of modernity that emerged from Bengal, in course of time, devoured its greatness. A race or a culture pays for its tremendous fertility within a short period of time. It is like a mother whose womb has produced prodigal sons and daughters in quick successions but she has become weak in this birthing process.

1. Last 10 years was an interregnum  – It was not anything permanent or a finished version. The  “kicking out” of the communists remained a singularly successful event when one removes all bias and prejudices. The achievement was thought highly by the achievers and their opponents. But, being a culture not having a keen sense of history,  both the parties failed to see the broader historical pattern.

2. This interregnum is going to enter its climax in coming years – irrespective of election results, which is important but not significant. Considering the current quality of human stock in Bengal and in absence of a vigorous foreign power (Bengal has always been like a feminine womb – her creative impetus came from the interaction of vigorous and masculine foreign powers throughout the centuries), any change will be for the worse only. Or in other words, in my analysis, things need to be far worse to be better.
As a dedicated imperialist of Bengal, I remain an observer devoid of any emotion – either of optimism or pessimism or identification. I have told about what I mean by “dedicated imperialist” in other places in detail.

Decline of the Indo-European Peoples

I may also add that India is also undergoing, like most of the Indo-European peoples, a cycle of devolution – a decline of civilization. One of the symptoms of such a decline is this : governance is becoming so complex and so technical, so experts and expertise driven that how to count votes is not an operational issue but a technological issue and it has to be because of democracies of such sizes. Greeks – the inventors of polis and democracy were very suspicious of sophists, demagogues and tyrants – both benevolent and malefic.  Hence, people – common people – the voting engines of the democracies look for messiahs, Caesar, a semi-divine man or woman who will relieve them from the pressure of Life and Living in such a time in which they are condemned.

Mahatma Gandhi was such a man once upon a time and fulfilled the psychological needs of the vast majority of Indians while going anti-science, anti-technology, anti-West, anti-future exactly at a time when the Industrial Revolution felt itself in India for the first time. This is at the foundation of the great departure between Gandhi and Tagore, although both having deep personal respect and admiration for each other.

Today, such essential opposites in personalities or world-view of such deep implications are missing. For the current leaders, of all parties and factions,  the psychological appeal of the leadership is to a specific kind of psychology and is to relieve the existential pressure for a  people with primitive mental make-up being thrust into the current situation. Ancient Greeks even predicted a de-evolutionary cycle in politics two thousand years back : Democracy > Tyranny > Oligarchy > Monarchy -> Oligarchy  > Democracy.

Philosophy of History

This primitive mental make up I do not say lightly. I have spent ten years writing an observer’s history of Bengal with a make-belief role of an “imperial envoy” of an imaginary Empire and tried to retain that absurd position very sincerely. Those who argue that such a position is untenable, then I may say that the whole of Art is a controlled process in making, especially film where light, air, sound – everything is controlled and manipulated and yet, they appear to capture Life completely. In this way, the only way to approach the grand questions of Life is through the route of Absurdity.

I have come to realize in my old days that most of the people of the world, in all historical ages and in all geographies,  except in some circles of exception, in their core mental make up are no different than primitive people. This is the reason behind the follies of History repeating itself. This is the only reason behind some kind of repetitions of stupidities in History as otherwise there is no known law that mandates such a cyclic nature. 

My residency in Bengal is to remain a witness just an imperial envoy does. I have no faith in any human groups and crowd of any time but have tremendous faith in individuals. Such a philosophy of history will snuff most of so called optimism about human destiny as a group and crushes all Utopias. As a corollary of this philosophy of Life and History, the ethics (“What to do”) follows naturally – since I cannot govern anything outside, I try to govern myself as best as I can. 
If in some cataclysm – either cosmic or man-made, when such self-governance is also not possible, one should follow the Maxim Maximus : If you cannot live nobly, die nobly.

Wordsmith