Wednesday, February 8

A House for Mr. Ghost; Part 7: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

“Only time will forever remain to bear our memories when we’re all gone”

Imagine a band of brothers, a group of rag tag scientists, who march bravely into a mystifying future, grasping knowledge understood only by a few but ultimately describes the dynamics of the universe, and then imagine them to be real. Life has always been a journey of discovery and enlightenment. To know what tomorrow is made up and to value what yesterday taught us is the definite goal of physicists. This small group of friends forever locked in a love hate relationship to answer and reveal the mind of God. And behind them, guiding them and also leading them are a few special personalities, whose character and determination solidly puts them as the greatest ever to walk the earth. This is the story of how this few scientists have peered deeper into the universe as none before and how it affected our lives forever.

The beauty of the night sky is more than that of the twinkling stars scattered, entwined on that canvas; it holds answers and tells stories of moments in our existence. It’s an open invitation for us to observe and explore. The decades of the 20th century heralded a cultural flare-up that threw open the doors of science and humanity to yet again mingle in ways never before imagined. The unstoppable march of information exchange managed to highlight the lives and passion of scientists on their journey to the edge of the universe. It can be viewed as a new beginning, a chance that we humans were given as being a part of the universe to explain and discover our existence. Behind this amazing awareness stood giants who in turn still, stood on the shoulders of their forefathers. They are the ultimate visionaries who choose to do what they thought would be the unmasking of the mysteries of the cosmos. In a world under intense conflict, these people stood as beacons providing paths to the ones whose were determined to lead a lonely life and carry their lonely hearts in turning science into a culture and a religion.

What significance does this revolution have? These are the people and scientist that not many know, or listen to. They seem to be working in the shadows of greater Gods. To believe in something and to achieve its full potentials has always been a struggle between truth and false. The Gods of science such as Newton and Einstein bridged these far extremes and discovered new realms that made it possible for us to ascertain that there is no truth or false but ultimately only reality and non-existence.

Einstein probably was the first ever science superstar. If we look at it from the modern perspective of media, then he’s the first to actually receive much wanted mass media attention and made his diligent followers appreciate the works of physicist and scientist at large. Before him many more legends played equal parts in discovering the very basic pillars of science but rarely became popular cult figures. What Einstein provided was an outlook of genuine interest, a savant of physics, its goals he approached single mindedly, and to the rest of the world, that proved to be a vision of a genius scientist. He worked on ideas discovered by others such as Maxwell and Newton in bringing the universe to us and showing us that we are connected to it in many ways. Never before did humanity feel more comfortable with the infinities of cosmological ideas and also the vastness of the universe with its astrophysical phenomenon’s. When it mattered most and when we direly needed a breakthrough that would lead us confidently into the future, Einstein was there to lead us. Years later after his discoveries and when his master class touch still worked miracles in the fields of science and cosmology, he became the relentless warrior against the very weapon his theories gave birth too. His famous letters to the president to stop the handling of nuclear weapons presented an inspiring character that encompassed so much more than physics. No one can explain why Einstein still adore the rooms of millions of students around the world, maybe its his eccentric looks, but many can indeed understand that he discovered the holy grail of science that seeded the works of millions to come.

On the 300th anniversary of the death of Galileo Galilee, Stephen Hawking was born. By that time, the popularity of Einstein overshadowed nearly all other scientists and the world was at war. And science did not stop for war. Hawking is a living legend, commanding the attention that was once given to Einstein himself. In the science-biography of Stephen Hawking, A Life in Science, we get to learn of a scientific genius that rivaled Einstein in the cosmological front. Growing up he listened to classical music, read science books and did everything against the norms of the days (rock n roll was making waves back then). He was the eccentric figure among his close band of friends, both displaying an affinity towards inventing stuff, the occasional philosophical burst and also looked far into the future. He loved to engage in religious conversations with everyone who showed interest and often left them shocked as he will display later in life an image of intense atheist. In his early 20’s he was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease, ALS or the Lou Gehrig’s disease. The initial clumsiness in movements ultimately made him paralyzed and wheel chaired for the rest of his life. In an interesting twist of events, he was at that time studying theoretical physics and that would not need much movement at all. He overcame the initial depression of which would continue to haunt him from time to time, but amazingly still he faced the world with a new determination that would change the landscape of cosmology forever. The world silently started to learn of this genius scientist who lectured important scientific works from his wheelchair and in the 80’s his fame reached new heights with the release of his bestseller ‘A Brief History Of Time’. For Hawking, nothing in the world mattered more that to preach what the world needs rather than what it wants. He knew what was important back then, and he did everything exactly his way. He had many critics, a colorful life marred with disease, shortcomings and divorce, but he also taught us how to live. Towards the end of the book A Life in Science, there is a philosophy from Hawking that remains true for all of us. To all his critics and fans alike he said “One has to be grown up enough to realize that life is not fair. You have to the best you can in the situation you are.”

Science has always been the communication of ideas, the sharing of experiences and inspiring lives. This is the path less taken, the journey into the unknown for some of us. Devotion to science and to find the illusive answers matters more than anything else. It will be hard to make people understand our lives, but taking the time to understand it will be the most important tasks any of us would ever take. As I began that journey years ago, I did not realize the complete dynamics of a life in science. But lucky for me I did have the past Gods, the giants of a lonely era who painstakingly walked a new path and left it open for me. I’m not alone in this hard journey into the future, but I choose to build on this pillars, the ideas of science that helped us for better or worst to progress into this future. I’m as eager as anyone else to usher in that new future, a future full of technological inventions and peaceful ambitions, but at the same time I had this chance to understand that not everyone is meant to ride easy into it. The dawn of the 21st century also signaled the end of ages of legends. As I said before Stephen Hawking could be the only remaining star of science. Before him, the legacies of Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Chandra and Feynman inspired generations to love science. Who do we have today?

More than being a scientist, the giants of science were also one of us. They went through life like any of us, faced problems, walls along their journey that would have turned many of us away. But they carried on, and it serves as an inspiration to us. There were many more that did climb the walls but fell of peer pressure and the scrutiny of the political world who doesn’t understand science anymore. It’s true that Einstein or Hawking did not steer billions in public money to build grand experiments, but the reality of this world is that we do need those experiments. More that ever do we need this as an inspiration for the present generation and generations to come to ensure that humanity can survive. When we stood to justify the fallacies of politics, the world war against invisible tyrants, we had not the heart to stand and support science. This is the state of the 21st century science.

What the Sputnik and Apollo generation struggled hard to build and in turn inspired millions of hero’s and heroines to continue their aspirations lay in an uncertain future. We live at a time when the next astronaut would probably remain in office rather than fly to space; we don’t have anyone to continue the dream of Kalpana Chawla and the fallen comrades who risked their lives for us. We continue to tap away into the Internet without appreciating the very people who made all this possible. We’re so obsessed with pop cult figures and business men who sell soft wares rather than the creators of microchips. When did you last stop to learn of the lives of scientists and the less know women scientist. We build this cage where the only superstars were male when women played an equal part in the new age science revolution. The books did justice to them, but humanity did not. We stand to loose everything today, something we can never regain. Our roles are clear, we learned from the best, had the best teachers, and now it’s our turn. We need to answer the cosmiccode, and to build a bright future for everyone we need a new generation of scientists and science superstars alike.

Only when men shall roll up space like a piece of leather,
will there be an end of sorrow apart from knowing god…
-Svetasvatara Upanishad*

* From the book ‘Lonely Hearts Of The Cosmos' by Dennis Overby.

[-] Thus ends another struggle to build a pillar for the house of Mr. Ghost. More of the topic of the Giants of science will come in the future.

[-] Stephen Hawking, A Life In Science by Michael White and John Gribbin is an amazing adventure peering deep into the man and myth, Dr. Stephen Hawking. It’s an interesting and fun read that would inspire all of us and most importantly tells the story of a human and a star scientist who faced destiny and walked on.

[-] I have another post on the movie Constant Gardener below and cross posted it in 2050: A Journey. Below the post is a new poem I wrote.

[-] I won’t be posting until next week as I'm heading to the Funky Town for Thaipusam celebrations. So boys and girls, be nice, be happy, be safe and remember, you are more than you think you are.



Nahuatl said...

Great post as you brilliant as u are :)

Keep up the good work GP.. Have a great time.. have fun. :)

I will always be with you :)

nomadic_waves said...

Dropped by....

karthik m said...

great post... (and ALS stands Amyloid lateral sclerosis)...with most of the part below his neck paralysed... speaking with a synthesiser... its hard to praise his works with mere words!

Marutham said...

THAIPUSAM.......Anga? Surprising.Whats that Towns name where u celbrate TPSM?Have a great time and let us know how you celebrate it there. Take care!

humankind said...

nice blog, nice pictures, nice texts,

Kerry said...

happy valentines day sweets!

i look forward to reading your post when you return!

*mauhz and hugs*


Demi Goddezz said...

happy valentines! great post


it rains around the world sleep welcomes the dream, and  enigmatic souls awaken along the eternal shores of destiny